The end of the year isn’t quite here, but it is drawing closer. Yule is approaching, the weather is colder, and the existential dread associated with long grey sunless winters in Michigan is settling in more each day.
This year hasn’t gone the way I hoped.
Both literally and metaphorically, my life has been violently ripped apart and scattered to the wind by the experience of having a sixteen year old with a bundle of mental illness diagnoses.
Last year in the early spring, I started a job that paid well and gave us great health insurance. I leveraged that job to buy a house near the rest of my chosen family. I think I’ve settled in as much as I could in this new area, since I can go places without GPS directions most of the time. I’ve had the time to get to know my new family, and I love them fiercely.
A little over a year later, I had to put in my notice at that job: not just because the work environment had become toxic, but because I could not hold my family together while I was gone from them for ten or eleven hours a day.
I could not be here to manage Nick’s meltdowns after getting home from school. I could not be here to sit watch while Alexis threatened to run away or tried to secretly set something on fire or attempted suicide again. I could not be here to hold space for Keith while he unburdened himself late at night. I could not be here to help Ian navigate how fragmented our life had become. And I could not help my spouse by being there to pick up the slack when they suddenly just couldn’t fucking do it any more in that moment.
So I quit my job, and I miss it. I miss my coworkers and I miss the regular income and I miss having just my own job to do.
I went back into business for myself, but it wasn’t just picking something back up and continuing on in the same vein: it was a reinvention and a reckoning. It was a deep questioning about what the fuck was I doing and who the fuck was I to do it.
And while I wrestled with those questions, and did my best to build something that can one day sustain me, my savings dried up. My debts grew. And my dependence on the kindness and generosity of friends and family and even strangers has also grown.
I’m not making enough money to keep this roof over our heads or the lights on. I’m barely making enough to keep everyone fed and clothed and gas in the car for all the errands, parenting time trips, and other obligations that I have.
I don’t regret what I had to do, but I’m not sure that it matters one way or another. Things are hard and I am broke, and I will be broke for a while still.
Between all the hours spent in ER waiting rooms, driving to the next facility for Alexis, sitting through three plus hour intakes, advocating for her with the CMH workers and with doctors and nurses, advocating for my other kids and the time I was losing with them, and the sleep I still haven’t recovered, I am exhausted. I am angry. I feel that I’ve been wounded in ways that will take longer than I can imagine to heal.
It has been two years of this. Almost every month, another hospitalization. Another intake where I detail, again, all the incidents that string together to make up Alexis’s life, and ours with her. Another emotional gutting, as if I am a dead thing being processed for someone else’s need.
Making a business that makes money has been something I am doing in fits and starts. I give it my all when I am able, and in between those times I sit at the computer and stare at the open tabs and wonder why I can’t just snap out of it.
I have been through hard times before now, and this is the hardest yet. I am so afraid of what the future will bring, because while I am certain that we will all be okay in the end: between here and that far-off time are shutoff notices, foreclosures, bank accounts in the red, and empty cupboards — this is what the rooms in my mind are full of. My failure is all that I can see, even though I know that this catastrophe is not of my own making.
All I can do, now, is to ask for help.
I will keep going, because I must. I will sometimes fall down. I will fail. I will be overcome by my exhaustion and the battle of my life, from time to time; and then I will get up again. And I need your help.
Clicking this link will take you to my Patreon page, which is set up to explain what kinds of things I pay for in my household, and how much those bills are currently running. You can see that I’ve got some regular support, which is amazing — and not enough yet. If you can send a one-time gift, there’s a link for that. If you can contribute regular support, there are tiers to choose from.