I often wake up in the morning with mild anxiety weighing on me, only to realize it's outlived it's purpose. It's hard to shake. It sneaks up on me while I'm driving J Boy to school, attacks me as I look through our mail, and bathes my brain in gentle waves while I'm trying to go back to sleep in the middle of the night. James tells me everyone deals with it and he's probably right, but I've settled into a routine of self-talk to remind myself that we survived the storm. We're still here, still together, and for the first time in a long time the future looks bright.
Our first years together were bad. It wasn't our relationship, really. It was that the bottom fell out and we were two people with our hands clasped together on either side of the chasm where our security used to be, trying to keep ourselves and each other from falling in. The recession hit us, so hard, and we were old enough to have briefly held our ambitions in our hands and young enough to not be able to pick them back up very easily. I've mentioned before that I quit my job as a reporter because I couldn't afford the daycare or the time away from J Boy, and guess who never got back in the saddle? My former employers frequently asked me when I wanted to come back, and I was planning to, but major layoffs happened at exactly the time when our lives rearranged themselves so I could. James continued working for that company and we were terrified he'd be called into one of the "state of the company" meetings at a local hotel to find he was out of a job, too. It never happened, he was lucky enough to be one of the salesmen who stayed and watched his commissions shrink and shrink and shrink until some months there wasn't one. My mother had to sell the business that provided me with part-time work and free childcare, and so all of us were plunged into a crisis that now surpassed our new little family.
Oh, and we had a toddler at home who I didn't understand. He had a fascination with Harry Potter that was baffling, wasn't talking, wasn't sleeping, wasn't playing or finding trouble. His new pediatrician flat out told me that he needed to be evaluated (wasn't that why we switched doctors to begin with?) and I ignored her. I just couldn't sort through the imminent destruction our family was facing and think about that, too. A few months later, I wasted precious time with worthless "professionals" and their pointless "therapies" and wondering what would happen to him if we ended up divorcing.
And all this time, I didn't realize how brave we were being. How I swallowed my pride and took a crap job far below my paygrade because that's what I needed to do. How James sold the shit out of some advertising at a job he despised and kept going to work a second job at night and not come home until midnight four days a week. How we gave up every miniscule little pleasure so we could save money by growling at each other at home. How we fought and fought and fought and still came home and woke up the next day to continue to be married. How we fought the wolves at the door and told people to piss off who deserved it, because our family couldn't be concerned any longer with the crap they were dishing out. How I spent my days trying to untangle our affairs. How eventually we looked at our prospects and decided we were going to take some dramatic steps that would save us and our kids so we could eventually get up every day knowing there would be more good to come.
And now the sun is shining, the tank is clean. J Boy is doing beautifully and there are no assessments to dread, no immediate action that needs to be taken. My family is healthy, everyone is closer to happy than ever. We finally have some mental space to sort out what we will do to make a full and happy life for ourselves.
What did I learn from this? Nothing sorts itself out. The best laid plans often depend on circumstances I can't control. And courage is found in the mundane and sometimes harrowing battles you fight with yourself.