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Emotional Exhaustion Stems From Fear

I found today to be extraordinarily exhausting. This morning was Dr. Rosenbaum’s memorial service, and though it was incredibly uplifting I found myself tired. Exhausted even.

I spent too much of the afternoon trying to understand just why I was so tired, and I realized it was fear. I’m not a fearful woman, and I spent the day afraid.

I was afraid of feeling so very sad.

I was afraid that my son would need another surgery, and that I wouldn’t find a doctor to do it.

I was afraid of my children feeling sad, but even more afraid of them being nonplussed.

I was afraid of walking into the service alone, and even more afraid that I wanted to be alone.

At the service I ran into Mary. More than eight years ago when I was afraid of Alexander’s pending surgery Mary grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “I needed this when I was a baby, I didn’t have it and I spent my childhood with no one looking me in the eye.” She went on to tell me about how difficult that was for her, and how her social development was hindered.

Mary gave me very straight talk about how to be a good mother all those years ago. The words she gave me were an incredible gift. Seeing Mary was like being wrapped in a cozy blanket, you know it isn’t a coat of armor, but certainly it feels like one.

Dr. Rosenbaum’s family was exactly as I’d expected they’d be. Kind, generous, gracious and giving. I stood and hiccuped and wept as they thanked me for kind words. There is something about the Midwestern grace and manner that I will always love and work toward. When I find the words for it, surely I will write them.

More than a few people close to me have been touched by cancer. Drew Olanoff has us following his battles with cancer, and he takes the fear away by beating it again, but memorial services put the fear right back in me. Every time someone says cancer I silently pray that it’s not someone I love, and then I feel horrible because every cancer patient is loved by someone.

At the end of the day I’m a one trick pony. I like a lot of time alone, I love time with friends and family, and I like a lot of exercise. I enjoy numbers and puzzles, I like order and rules, I do not like chaos, large emotional gatherings or the feeling of being alone (which is profoundly different than time alone). Days like today are out of my comfort zone by a wide margin.

Because of his amblyopia and strabismus Alexander is supposed to wear a patch three hours each day. A typical week gets him in the patch 5 days, and a crummy week will have us fighting with him to wear it, and (of course) it has to be changed if he cries, which he does. Typically I remind Alexander to put his patch on, and about half the time I help him with the process. Today Alexander put his own patch without either of us asking him to or reminding him. It was a first, and it should have been a reason to celebrate, but we didn’t. I think we all felt confused and conflicted. I think my whole house felt grateful and nervous. We just felt off. All of us.

I spent the day wishing I could go running, but there simply wasn’t time. My running is more than metaphorical, I run away from feelings that are distasteful to me, and there’s not a very good chance of that changing any time soon.

I’m tired because I spent the day simmering with fear, and, quite simply, it takes more energy than I have to expend.

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