I’m coming out of the closet today and admitting it. As a parent and a working mom, I’m often feeling inadequate and wondering if I’m enough. In fact, I’m so scared of judgment that I hide things from people at work out of shame. I think that my fear of judgment may even have made things worse because I’m often misunderstood. My heart, so full of love and empathy for others, may seem closed off to some people because I close myself off.
Feeling inadequate hurts more than feeling lonely, I guess. Or maybe it doesn’t anymore. Maybe, after a while, I get tired of only having one or two people who talk to me because they get it. It’s hard enough going out in public and having people judge my parenting because they see my son and he looks like a typical child, but he doesn’t behave appropriately. Then, I get judgment for coming to work later than others because the schedule changed and his school starts later than my school and I really can’t help that. Life under a microscope. I do my best. God Forbid something should happen and our morning starts off rough and I come to school feeling sad.
But here’s the thing. My son doesn’t cover all that’s going on with me. I don’t whine about my physical or mental health to people. I don’t talk about my issues with sleep or my memory problems. I don’t mention the constant pain that I’m in. I don’t talk about how I can’t even scoop ice cream anymore or braid my hair without taking breaks. The swelling of my knees and the pain in my back from constantly staying on my feet doesn’t get mentioned. When people look at me expectantly while I try to remember what I was about to say and I just can’t find the word, I’m embarrassed, but I don’t make excuses. Honestly, I don’t even know what I’d say. I don’t have a diagnosis to blame it on yet. I had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever once and that tick bite could mean I might have Lyme Disease now. Or, maybe all this joint pain is Fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis or an autoimmune disease. Or my memory issues are due to the Topomax I’m taking to prevent migraines. Either way, I’m physically and mentally not the person I used to be, which totally sucks.
I used to have awesome comebacks all the time and think quick on my feet. Words were my thing. Hell, I chose Creative Writing as a minor. Now, it’s harder for me to write because words don’t come as easily. It takes so much longer for me to compose. I have so much more appreciation for students with slow processing speed because my brain just doesn’t work as fast as it used to. I would run and play with kids and feel no pain. I can’t lift my children up in the air anymore. How can they understand? They don’t.
I want to feel like myself again, but my body seems to continue to deteriorate. In the meantime, the people around me misunderstand my lack of movement for laziness, my closed-off nature for lack of caring, and my forgetfulness for who-knows-what. I have no idea what people think of me, honestly. I guess I fear the worst. Since I feel inadequate, forgetful, stupid, whatever…and I hate that I’m just a shell of the person I used to be, I huge part of me just doesn’t want people to know that I may have a larger issue going on that may not go away. I’m scared. And I can totally laugh it off to other people and talk about all of the mystery illnesses I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing over my short life span already, but it scares me. As I said to my husband, when have I ever gone to the doctor and not had something wrong with me? It sounds horribly pessimistic, but I’m realist. I’m speaking the truth. I’m fortunate that my colonoscopy turned out well. That is the first procedure in my life that I’ve come out of without a doctor finding something and I’ve had a lot.
So, yeah, I’m tired. I’m feeling drained. I’ve had a temp of 99.5 every time I’ve gone to the doctor. I don’t know what that’s about yet. But, between the blood work scheduled on Monday, referral to a new endocrinologist to get my thyroid meds looked at by someone new, and the upper endoscopy scheduled in July, I guess we’ll figure out what’s going on with my body. Perhaps I can start to feel normal again one day. In the meantime, I think I’ll have to accept the fact that this is the person I am today. No one can expect more from me than I can give. I guess I need to tell myself the same thing and stop trying to push my own boundaries.