“You must open your eyes in order to see.” JSM
During the final trimester of pregnancy, (in some cases, much sooner) the family typically settles into a nesting phase. The nursery is painted and decorated. The diapers, pacifiers, snuggies, receiving blankets and wipies are stocked under the changing table, and tiny clothing sets are tucked away and organized neatly inside small wooden drawers. The room is disinfected, floors cleaned and vacuumed, windows smudge free and wooden sills dusted.
Cupboards may have cans of formula at the ready if breastfeeding is out of the question. Cases of baby food have been purchased ahead of time and all the knick knacks and stuffed animals are distributed among the child’s soon-to-be room.
By the time the baby arrives, the family is ready to rock and roll. Preparedness.
The videos are watched. The Lamaze classes are done. The books on how to be a parent now have their own location on the bookshelf. A rocking chair sits in a corner with a multicolored crocheted blanket draped over the back; a thoughtful gift from Grandma made with her own bare hands, provided at the baby shower earlier in the week.
As ready as can be.
Nesting is important. It’s a mindset.
Not only does the home require preparedness, but the mind does as well. “I’m about to become a parent. I’ll be responsible for the complete safety and health of another human being.”
Mistakes are made. We go through a spell of feeling like a “bad parent” and not doing well by our child(ren). Feelings of hopelessness, doubt, anger. It’s impossible to foresee all potential complications being a parent. Regardless, we try our best to be our best for the kiddo(s).
That’s all that can be done.
The night of the second day at the safe-house I designed my own nest. Everything I owned revolved around the work laptop.
Imagine if you will, being inside your house and all you own sits in a corner of one room. A five foot square section of the floor. The rest of the home is empty. Barren. Only echoes of every noise generated from that spot travel the halls and stairs and bounce around the walls inside. No art. No dishes. Nothing in the fridge or cupboards.
That was my nest. The back corner of the living room. Roughly twenty feet from the glass door which led to the driveway within vicinity of the only internet connection in the neighborhood. My laptop sat on the floor with a wired printer connected at its side. A pile of clothes were stacked against the wall, beside me two piles of paperback novels, and my figurines and trinkets circled around my tiny space. Nearby I kept a two drawer filing cabinet stuffed with kids drawings I had tucked away over the years, important paperwork, pictures and Polaroids from my childhood, a black box, and framed work certificates. Clamped to the side of the cabinet, a bendable desk-lamp.
After my outburst the night before, I tended to three minor gashes along the top of my hand, and knuckles, and with poor lighting, fixing the wounds was a sloppy task. Before the car was handed over to my care it was supplied with a fire extinguisher road side flares and a stocked first aid kit for emergencies. I dove into the kit, pulled out supplies in a panicked huff as I rushed back inside.
The lights throughout the home were dulled. A dim yellow that made the eyes squint and blink. Each of the lighting covers were stained with time, dust and cobweb covered, and piled dead insects rimmed around the insides.
The hall light had burned out long ago and the kitchen was restricted to one flickering fluorescent bulb above the sink.
I’d be better off doing this in the car.
The cuts now covered and wrapped, I retreated to what I believed was immediate safety. My corner of the known universe.
In the second drawer of the filing cabinet I remembered some work equipment, and among the stapler, hole puncher and a variety of pens and highlighters, I retrieved a small lamp I kept attached to my desk in the old life, for my night work. I clamped it to the cabinet, clicked it on, and a bright white beam illuminated my small space. The breadth of the beam seemed to circle my area perfectly.
I pulled myself from the floor, flicked off the living room light and smiled at the lit up area from afar. My first real smile in over a week.
Ain’t that something. My own little world. A damaged prince of darkness with no throne to inherit, and nothing to his name.
When tired, I pivoted to align with the wall and adjusted myself from cross legged to flat on my back. When I awoke the following night, I’d sit up like Dracula from his coffin and return to sitting before the computer. That was my routine for a time. I existed during the night and slept away the day. Reverting back to a normal schedule was an eventual challenge.
The one variable that probably added fuel to the ever growing fire, was the fact I worked from home. Not only was the night spent alone, but each day as well. Sun up to sun down. When I wasn’t sleeping, or having the kids over for a visit, I was alone, everyday; for quite awhile. That was reality.
I didn’t leave the house unless I needed supplies. Most of my food was delivered from local pizza joints. Only one building worth walking to was in proximity, but the bar scene has never been my thing. That, and I did NOT desire to associate with strangers. Best to avoid potential further incidents. Especially with others I’ve never met. I was a short fuse at the top of a massive powder keg.
I chose to stay. I believed at the time safety came first and foremost.
Knowing my luck, I’d leave, walk the road and get hit by a bus. Best to say put. Safer that way… for everyone.
Still unsure of when the kids would arrive, there I remained. Surfing the internet, re-reading my favorite novels, and chatting with Shelby. On the sixth day, I snapped.
I revert to a previous installment when I discuss the Cosmic Joke. Punishment for doing nothing wrong. Wrongfully accused prisoners most go out of their mind with mental anguish. I couldn’t imagine the suffering.
I may have become a prisoner of my own making, but I had the opportunity to leave anytime I wished. The cell door was always wide open and beckoned with open arms. I chose to remain in my cell. My trust issues with the world conquered all my thoughts and manipulated my state of mind. I was so tired with the way reality operated around me, the only way to escape it all was to hide and attempt to ignore it. I transformed into my own worst enemy.
Returning to work was an obstacle all in it’s own, and a hurdle I desired not to jump. Work would force me to interact with humans again. The idea of being physically present anywhere, brought back the waves of nausea. I arranged an emergency leave of absence for another week and continued my festering.
On the sixth day of isolation, gifts were presented to my door. A thin black futon couch that folded down into a bed, one blanket and a pillow. I set the lightweight futon along the wall, folded it down, and draped my body across it.
As thankful as I was for the gift, it was like resting on a waffle iron. Lumpy, bumpy and stiff. I returned to the new found comfort of the hard, flat floor, folded the blanket under me for a sitting cushion and placed the pillow behind my head for leaning against the wall. The computer returned to my lap.
The sixth night, my youngest arrived for a sleepover. I had a situation comedy playing on the laptop for background noise and we had a pleasant visit. She slept on the futon and I crashed beside her on the floor.
Cheek resting on my hands, I stared under the futon in the dark searching for the meaning of life. Eyes wide open and locked onto the wall my subconscious whispered It’s here somewhere. Above me, my child snored with contentment.
This can’t be it. Is this it? Is this the way it’s supposed to be? It can’t be. I can’t be destined to live this kind of life. This is not… the way… it’s supposed… to be!
I pulled myself from the floor and ripped open the door to the outside hating the world and cursing my situation. I kicked the side of the house with my barefoot (my toe is still numb to this day) and dropped my eyes to the ground. I forced my lungs to breathe, curled my toes in the grass, placed my hands on my hips and closed my eyes.
You need balance.
You’ve been nothing but a good guy. How to find balance?
Become the bad guy… Become a villain. Nice guys should not finish last. Embrace evil and perhaps you’ll find center.
I lowered my arms in defeat and raised my eyes to the side of the house. The noise in my head made perfect sense.
Become something you are not. That will tip the scales in favor. Just try it… what’s the worst that can happen?
It’s safe to say I never transformed into Meg Griffin, (thankfully) but I listened to my darker side, embraced the negative I didn’t know existed, and changed some rules.
I opened a can of worms that should’ve remained buried and untouched. A Pandora’s Box I couldn’t close. I was way in over my head.
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