Monday, June 06, 2005

Pain, Dark, and Light (eventually)

I woke up last night around 2 in the morning with a full-on panic attack. Have you ever had one? For me, panic attacks are a searing pressure and pain in my upper left chest, right over my heart. I woke up, gasped, and tried to concentrate on the comforting feeling of my husband's skin next to me in our bed. I took deep breaths. I concentrated on not going to the bathroom and emptying the contents of my stomach, which is what I usually do when I get this stressed out. I haven't thrown up from stress since January. The husband is so good for me - if I think about how comforting he is, I can calm down. If I just take a lot of deep breaths and think about how wonderful my life actually is, I can calm down. When I remember that I have people who love me, and a house now, and dental care, and a refridgerator full of groceries, and solid transportation, and comics all organized - I can calm down. I petted my husband, and he rolled over and kissed me and fell all unconcious again.

Eventually the dawn started to peek around the curtains, and I fell asleep again.

I know why I had the panic attack. The surface (micro) reason would be that I'm taking half a day off of work today even thoiugh I was out for two days last week, and I have loads of work to do, and I *need* to be at work this week. The deeper reason (macro) would be that I spent Sunday in Augusta, and had some dealings with my father's family, and, at a distance, my father. I haven't written publicly about any of that for a long time because people who know me know how bad everything has been and I haven't felt the need to broadcast details. I have been told that whenever you blog, you should pretend that you're yelling whatever you say from the top of a high mountain, and that everyone - everyone can hear you.

So let me yell this from the top of my small mountain: last night before bedtime I got a call from Nashville. Neighbors at my parent's old house had called my mom to tell her that my father's dog was at their door, smelly and hungry and confused. When my parents split last year, they split the house too, and that was sold two months ago. When the house was sold, my father simply turned his dog loose in the neighborhood. God knows what he did to her to get her to run from him, because that dog never ran, but only loved to be petted and to sleep in his garage when the weather was bad. The dog must have been confused and sad - the children had left, and now so had dad, and the garage that she lived in and next to for so long was closed up or had all of her favorite things missing. Cold, and hungry, I imagine she ate garbage for a while before just sitting on the neighbor's porch, afraid and howling. There would have been no clean water, nor the dog house that my sisters decorated with old doll blankets. Her chew toys had probably been thrown away when the new owner cleaned the yard.

She was abandoned. My mother cried when the neighbors called her, and then had to try and find my teenage sister, who was out with friends and had the car. I suppose Sara today will try to help dad's dog. We have a friend of the family who works at a no-kill shelter who could have taken the dog months ago - but no, no, dad did this, dad abused the dog.

My father is an alcoholic. He has been one all my life, but only in the past few years has his slow slide down been accelerated, bringing him faster and closer to permanent brain damage and losing everyone, everything. It's all gone - he threw everything away. His marriage, his kids, and even his dog. Even his car was taken away a few weeks ago. His health, his teeth are slipping. I don't know how much longer it will be until he dies. People can live for years like that, rolling, tumbling down a mountainside of addiction and pain that they thow out to everyone around them.

I went to Augusta Sunday and saw my father's mother, and a cousin who happened to be seeing her at the same time. We did not talk of my father. I did not see any other members of my father's family. No one wants to talk about anything, no one wants to face the truth. There is nothing I can do, or say.

Eventually things will get better - for myself, for my sisters, for my mother. There is pain in the darkness, but eventually, if you wait in the dark long enough and remember that everything will be fine, that life is beautiful - the sun will rise. And when the sun comes up you can use half a personal day to take your youngest sister to breakfast and then give custody of her over to your aunt and uncle for the summer. There will be cousins playing, and blackberries for picking, and a funny story about the fourth of July. Then you can go to work and fel accomplished. You can come home at night to your husband, and if you happen to wake up at 2 a.m. with a terrible pressure in your chest you can remember that things will get better. Dawn will come, and the sun will rise.

No comments: