>What a difference a day makes! I knew that I would pay a price for staying yesterday (and for not worrying about the energy that I was expending), but I had no idea that level, extent, or immediacy that the payback would affect my entire family. Narcolepsy reared its ugly head and brought along some other friends as soon as my day began today. We all got up slowly because we had gotten home so late. At the same time, I knew that my wife desperately wanted to get us all to Church – we have missed Mass far too often of late. Even though my body had NO interesting in getting going, I was determined to get moving so we could get to Mass.
Our daughter was far less enthusiastic about the prospect of Mass, but she did hope into the shower after my wife’s quick shower. Unfortunately, my daughter stayed in the shower until minutes before our agreed upon departure time. My wife, who was rightfully cranky given our late night and the horrid traffic on the way home, let us both know that she was frustrated that we were likely not leaving at the agreed upon time. Hoping to mitigate the situation, I decided to forgo a shower (since there was NO way I could take one and have us leave on time), but I also resented that fact and that my daughter was not being respectful of the time or my wife. Nonetheless, we were ready to go at 9:35 AM which had been the agreement. Unfortunately, I could hear my daughter and my wife still exchanging comments before I even left the house. Since I was already frustrated and upset, their fighting only exacerbated my own angst, but I knew that my wife needed me to stay “upbeat” so I stuffed those emotions too.
My daughter continued to push my wife, even after my wife said the discussion was over. As a result, we had gone now more that a quarter of a mile and were sitting at a stop light. My wife then chose to mutter more negative and general comments under her breathe. I, of course, heard them. I had already been fighting the urge to scold my daughter for her behavior, and the reality is that I had not wanted to go to church in the first place. In fact, I was struggling to understand how we could be on our way to church when we were clearly being extremely UNchristian to each other. Finally, my fury over the fact that we had stayed late because of my daughter (which she had already forgotten) boiled over. Rather than blow up in the car (and make things worse), I got out of the car and said that I was going home. Of course, that action only served to make things worse, particularly for my wife, who was already feeling unsupported and disrespected. By the time I had gone a block and a half, my wife had turned around and had returned to get me. Her tone and behavior told me that she was not going to let me walk home, so I got back in the car.
We were then silent all the way to Mass. My nerves were a tad frayed because my wife’s driving was a bit aggressive, but I was also furious because I did not want to be there and because my daughter’s behavior had been at the core of much of this, yet she was oblivious to that (as she should be at age twelve). As my wife shut off the car, she asked us to go into the church without her. I said, “No.” She then told me she needed the time, and I still declined because, “I am only here because you want me here.” The statement was true, but was not fair to my wife. I also realized later that a deeper concern was also behind the response. I was worried both about what my wife might do (she was horribly upset) and what I might say to my daughter.
I have struggled a great deal in the last few years with how to talk to my daughter, particularly when it involves my narcolepsy. She has actually told me, twice, that I use my narcolepsy as an excuse. She, of course, has NO idea how hurtful that comment is, but my mind reels at what might have happened had I gone towards church with my daughter, but without my wife. If I had tried to talk to our daughter about how her behavior (and ours) had led to the fight, particularly the fact that we had stayed so late because our daughter was bent out of shape when we tried to leave at a reasonable time, I know that she would have lashed out at me. Given where I was at, I have no doubt that awful things would have ensued.
Fortunately, Mass was wonderful, as it so often is. Both my wife and I noted that the opening song was all about forgiveness. We did have a long conversation when we got home. At one level, all is forgiven, but the tenor of the conversation also impacted me in another way. Clearly, I hurt my wife today, and she hurt me. We also need to do a better job of helping our daughter understand our expectations of her and of her comments to us. But, we have been trying to do that. My wife and I both know that we need to do “more,” but neither of us knows where we will find that “more.” Certainly, we will work through our fights and forgive each other and our daughter. That does not change the reality that sitting in the middle of all of this is the narcolepsy. My wife DOES do more of the housework and planning. She is already tapped out by full-time work, ful-time parenting, and full-time partnering. I, too, am doing my best, but I have a chronic condition that limits my abilities. If I put too much into my work, everything else suffers. If I neglect myself, everything else suffers. If I dote on my wife or daughter, everything else suffers. Such is the nature of a chronic condition.
The deepest lesson out of today is to continue to let go. I control little of what happens in my life. Bad days come, sometimes sooner, sometimes later. I knew that having fun yesterday would exact a cost, but I was unprepared to face it when it arrived because I didn’t think it would come like this. I need to be more honest with myself and my wife. I should have voiced my concerns about church the moment we got up. Even better though, I should have helped my wife figure out what might or might not happen if we stayed late yesterday. Better still, would have been for all three of us to agree to a plan well before the Fourth of July ever arrived. By doing that, we would have all had clear understandings of how the day would play out. What I con’t do is let a day like today cause me to only worry about what might come. I also need to keep pushing myself to enjoy the moment. I think my realization of that is progress in and of itself. I have no doubt that if something like this would have happened even a year ago that I would have sworn that I would never stay out past ten PM. That is, of course, unreasonable and irrational, but it tends to be my baseline reaction to “mistakes.” I have made numerous mistakes in the last two days. I need to own them, ask for forgiveness, forgive myself, and appreciate the good things that happened in between my errors. I am not “feeling” that yet, but at least I “know” that it is a far more appropriate response. Hopefully, I will continue to learn as my journey continues with my narcolepsy in tow.
Today, though, that attitude is hard to maintain. I am wiped out in general, and then I got way off my current sleep schedule and spent tremendous amounts of energy wrestling with my thoughts and emotions today. Things will get better, but I feel like I am once again muddling through a Sunday, barely doing anything productive, and wondering how I will find a decent groove to be healthy and mildly productive in my life while not grossly upsetting my wife and daughter on a frequent basis. I deeply dislikes days like this!