I come from a family of people who struggle with sleep. One of my cousins once had a period of time where he slept only about an hour a day. I neither fall asleep easily, nor do I stay asleep easily. But sometimes I think it's more to do with some generalized anxiety thing than just some neurological weirdness. I've ardently resisted having a sleep study done, since the idea of falling asleep with electrodes all over my head and body, in a bed not my own, is just unpalatable, not least because of my back and neck problems.
The stuff that keeps me up at night, these days, feels almost like I'm suffocating. There is of course, the biggest issue of all, that of my Mom, worrying about her, as I see her growing ever frailer by the week. She gets annoyed if I hover (defined as too many welfare checks and not enough appreciation for Fox News and the GOP) and annoyed/sad/lonely if I don't hover. I worry about her being in pain and not trusting that I'll keep her at home with nursing services if she tells me. I worry she is having more GI bleeding than she's willing to admit to, since she looks so pale. I worry she still insists on driving to her daily acupuncture appointment, though I've suggested getting her a driver. Today, we had a huge fight about her wanting to give a potted ground orchid to her beloved acupuncturist. That would be the same acupuncturist that told me she mustn't lift anything heavy because of the risk of hemorrhaging. And you know, I'm thinking fifty pounds of heavy Chinese-style glazed pot and rain-wet potting soil was probably the kind of thing her acupuncturist was thinking was heavy for a 5' 1" tall, 118 lb woman who's had a number of GI bleeds in recent months. After a bitter discussion in which she tried every diversion tactic and misdirection ("Do I hear that you don't like my getting my primary treatment from an acupuncturist?" "No, Mom, you hear that I don't like it that you're ignoring her very sensible and clearly stated to you advice!" "I'm not lifting it. I'm going to roll it to the car and push it up an 8 foot long ramp to get it in the back of the car!" "All of which still uses ab muscles, last I heard. How about my husband I lift it together and carry it a good 15 feet to a car parked outside that gate and then take it to her house so she doesn't have to lift it either?" "Why do you have to try to micromanage me?!" Because I'm following your Chinese doctor's advice you wanted me to follow, remember?") we agreed that tomorrow she would ask her acupuncturist when she could bring it to her for her birthday. Of course, I went behind her back and talked to the acupuncturist in person, in her office, about my husband and I bringing the plant to her. I am sure now, after it's gotten thoroughly soaked in the rain, that she'll try to roll it to her car and take it tomorrow morning, because... that's just how oppositional she is. Let's hope she doesn't get any bleeds. My mom... Oy. She's the kind of person who worries that when she dies that someone will take the decades old appliances out of the house when she's gone, in spite of my pointing out anyone buying the house will likely gut it in order to make all those new-fangled updates people like in houses these days and that it might be more salient to think about who will take her kitties. Things I worry about are the placement for her three shy indoor cats, and her two outdoor kitties. (I already have 7 cats and her cats cannot join us. I already have one refugee from her household.) These are all reasonable things to worry about. Aren't they?
But... there's more. Of course, there's more.
My husband and I are headed toward retirement. We want to leave Florida, and there is another worry. Having become a professional guardian, I wonder what will happen to my wards when they transition to successor guardianship. And I struggle with what to do about one of my GAL kids, who plainly needs a guardianship, in about 15 months time. She is an incredibly behaviorally disturbed, low cognitive functioning youth who has almost been trafficked and who is prone to aggressive outbursts. Like, I'm sure if she does what she does now, at 18, I'll be explaining to a Criminal Court judge that she is incapacitated and doesn't bear responsibility for assaulting her school teachers and showing the judge my letters of guardianship. If my husband retires in 5 years, that will mean a scant 3-4 years of guardianship to get her circumstances in order well enough, and to find a successor guardian or guardian entity. And therein lies yet another problem. Our public guardian provider does not take these cases anymore. Who will take care of these still young, lifelong, low functioning, high needs wards? These disabled adult children, as the Social Security Administration calls them. I have known this soon to be 17 year old child since 2008. How can I turn my back on her, given her history? Do I give it a good 3-4 years and then hope I can find a new and caring professional guardian for her, as well?
These are the things that keep me up at night. Trying to sleep shouldn't breed monsters.
Artist Unknown but boy does it capture the feeling of a balanced heart...
So you know, in the last few months, I have had all kinds of challenge to my intention to do good and stay sane and unfatigued, compassion-wise.
There was the foster parent who told me that she was disappointed that I didn't get the foster youth placed with her and didn't try hard enough, when the youth and her placement agency wanted to place her elsewhere, and oh, by the way, I was trying to stay in touch while my terminally ill mother was getting her PET scan only she didn't because she didn't adhere to the instructions and I was trying to reschedule it. My bad for not picking up the phone. Yeah, that one really sticks in my craw. Personality disordered much?
There are the group or EFC (Extended Foster Care) home providers who seem to think I am a taxi service and that I'm failing in my transportation duties. (Let's just forget all commitments to other youth and to my own family, because, hey, let's just.)
There's the group home provider that won't even give you the courtesy of a hello or eye contact, because your GAL youth is a difficult youth. Hey, you're right. It's all my fault. I just love it when you won't reply to a text message or only call me to rant.
There is the judiciary, kind of forgetting they're talking in front of a person's 12, 15 and 16 year olds about how terrible their parent (who still has custody for 2 of 3) is and how long their criminal history (back before 1990) is. Kids just love to hear their parents called bad apples. Love. It.
There are all the bashing emails. The ones where you reply trying to point out all the good things the case manager did. The ones where the one thing that went wrong today is all everyone's fault, evidently. Every. One's.
There are the aged out teenage kids, who sometimes resemble leeches until you realize that you are the only one that picks up the phone call. That helps them move from one placement to another. The only one that will give them the money for the spontaneous GED test or the daycare they need for their child if they have any hope of getting that GED. And maybe they aren't leeches as much as desperate, because for sure they are not getting that from anyone else in the system.
There's the fact that I haven't had time to see my mom this week. Not since Sunday. Wow is that messed up.
How do we maintain the boundaries that keep people from draining us dry, and still have heart enough to truly care?