(Thank you, Jen McConnell)
Spoon Theory: A disability metaphor and neologism used to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of living and productive tasks that may result from disability or chronic illness.
I typically have an abundance of spoons. Even through the worst of the worst in my life, I’ve always had spoons to spare, spoons to hand out to others. It’s just who I am. But once in a while, my subconscious tells me when I’m running low, that maybe I should just stop. Rest. Be kind to myself. I’m not always savvy enough to heed, and then my subconscious gets serious.
Those of you who know me have probably guessed that when my spoons are running low, I go quiet. I pull away from here, from friends, even from family. It’s not necessarily that I don’t want to worry anyone (though there is a bit of that in there) and more that I just can’t deal with “it” (whatever “it” is) taking up any more of my energy. But going quiet is the opposite of who I am, and it only works for so long.
We’ve been dealing with a lot here, chez DeFino. Frank’s consulting gig ended, and we are once again on that precipice. My uterus tried to kill me again. Let me tell you, losing that much blood over the course of four weeks takes its toll on body and mind.
And it was Christofer’s 29th birthday last week.
“Everything’s fine.” My stock phrase. I know, logically, that just because others have it worse than I do, suffered more, have less, struggle with issues far beyond my white, middle class world, doesn’t mean my experience isn’t valid. It doesn’t mean I have to smile through it all and thank my lucky stars. Here, my friends, there be dragons. And not the fun kind.
Everything is fine. Until it’s not fine.
I had a dream last week. Kind of. It was a memory, tossed out and clear as the moment it happened in striking, horrible detail. One that has blared through my brain, danced behind my eyes ever since. I suppose it’s my own form of PTSD, this flashback. It’s one that comes to me when I’m at my lowest in the spoon department, because it takes a whole fuck-ton of spoons to keep this demon at bay.
Eleven o’clock, and Chris still isn’t up. We have an appointment with the guy who makes the braces for his leg. I finish up an email and go to his door.
Knock, knock. “Hey, buddy, we have to go soon.”
No answer. He usually at least groans.
Knock, knock. “Hey, you alive in there?”
I take the “key” we keep over his door (he’s slept with it locked since he was a little kid, to keep the monsters and night-time robbers from getting him) and pop the lock.
The light is the first thing I see. That god-damn-fucking light. My heart bucks. He’s on his back, feet on the floor. There’s a needle on the bed beside him.
No. No, no, no, no, no.
I detach from myself. He’s cold. There is foam on his lips. The smell…sulphury. His skin feels greasy. I’m screaming. I don’t hear the screams. They’re out there, someplace, still echoing off those walls. I’m alone. Just me and my dead son.
I call 911. I’m still screaming. Into the phone. My son is dead! My son is dead!
“I’m so sorry,” she says. “I went through the same thing last year. I’m so sorry.”
These are the first words I remember. I must have given her the address, because the police officers are already at the door.
Since “dreaming” this last week, when my spoons were so low and I was still giving them out to others, this demon has come back to me and back to me. When I’m cooking. When I’m in the car. When I’m in the movie theater. Just creeps up on me, smacks me in the head and dances off. It leaves me shaky and teary, and I’ve been pushing it down and pushing it down. I don’t want anyone to see me cry. I don’t want anyone to know. Frank has it hard enough, right now. I don’t want my kids to worry, to know this demon lives in my head. Even now, as I write this, I’ve already texted them all to say, “Don’t read today’s blog post.” But they will.
So here it is. I don’t write this here so you’ll feel bad for me, or to make you cry. My demons are masochistic, and require a stage before they’ll leave me the fuck alone. I acknowledge this, because this is the consequence of going silent. I should know this by now. Maybe next time I’ll remember before my spoons run out.