I want to live on a commune with my friends.
Obviously this fills me with joy. It has not been an easy week having him gone, frantically calling people to beg for help, having to reschedule or miss work at a very bad time to be doing that, juggling Jake's schedule and mine and flailing about wildly in the effort to find him free childcare, because we cannot afford daycare. Also doing all of Mike's chores around the house (actually I don't think I did them all because I only did the obvious ones, and he does a lot of cleaning and maintenance that is not immediately obvious) and trying to get in touch with Jobs and Family Services about the job assessment he missed, with absolutely no success.
I have not exactly been shining this week. I've been failing a lot, and my mother and my stepfather stepped in to pick up my slack. They've kept my son EVERY SINGLE DAY so I could go to work. And today when my mom brought my boo back, sobbing and sniffling because he apparently had a huge tantrum moments before the drive home, she took a few moments to scold me for relying on her for help. Her kitchen is in the middle of a huge remodel, so she's had to deal with a very energetic four-year-old plus the contractors, not to mention upending her entire schedule so she can watch him, as well as staying up until 2-3am to get her actual work done after he goes home. And I feel terrible for putting that burden on her. She told me that it was a horrible, packed week, she got no sleep, and she cannot continue to be my support system. She said, "I know it's hard for you, but you need to make some friends. We can't be your go-to people."
She made it clear the only reason she did this was familial obligation.
I have a lot of feelings right now and many of them are conflicting. I feel a little angry with her, a little offended. I also feel humiliated and shamed and guilty. Because of course, I'm a grown-up, I should be able to deal with this. So my husband has a severe, disabling mental illness. I should have a support system in place and ready to care for my child for free at the drop of a hat. There is some point to this, as this is the third time this breakdown has occurred... and I support Mike going to the hospital because he needs those services and the stability they offer, and he really needs somebody to give a flying fuck about whether he's being properly treated. Which is a crapshoot in this country's health system. I'm sure she's getting tired of picking up my slack and wondering why I married someone so broken.
I think most of my family wonders that aloud behind my back. At least they know better than to do it in front of my face?
On the other hand, eventually my parents will be elderly. They probably will not want to live in a nursing home. At what point should I get frustrated with the need to care for them? At what point should I say "I'm only doing this because you're family, but frankly, it's horrible"? When will it be permissible for me to discharge my obligation? Similarly, when will it be permissible for me to discharge my obligation to my son, when he's older and needs my help and support? We're not talking about bailing me out of jail here. Bipolar disorder is nobody's fault, I didn't do anything wrong, Mike is SICK and he needs help and very few people in the medical profession are willing to offer him any real help. His doctor at the hospital just figured out that two of the medications he was prescribed have potentially dangerous side-effects when taken together, plus one of them doesn't even treat his condition. How much more clearly could his psych NOT give a flying fuck about his health?
As for the charge that it's difficult for me to make friends, no, actually, it's not. I am not the withdrawn child I once was. I am a confident and outgoing, cheerful, friendly adult, in person. I am not nearly as snarky in person as I am on the web. I happily meet new people, I smile while making painful small talk with them, and I try to discuss things in which they're interested. But I lack opportunities around here. I'm not part of a religious group, I don't have a book club... I would LIKE to do these things but I have not had any luck finding a venue. Also, Mike and I do have friends. They are our age. Which means they are just as unable to miss work, just as unable to work from home, and just as unable to miss important labs and tests for their college classes. There's a reason I couldn't afford to miss a lot of work. WE ARE DIRT FUCKING POOR. Also, if I want more hours, and thus more money, Human Resources has to approve our request to be changed to high-time employees so we can work more than 30 hours a week. HR has concerns about our ability to cover in case of emergencies. Me promptly having an emergency is not helping our case AT ALL. So I needed to be there, for my future as well as my present paycheck. My coworkers and my company are awesome, but they need to be convinced I'm dedicated.
She also assumes that she was my go-to person for childcare during this period. Actually, she wasn't. I asked her about the first couple days, yes, but when I found they were changing Mike's medications completely, I called everyone I had access to. Amy is far too busy with work and school, Alyssa also had tests and labs she couldn't miss, Mish likewise. Amber and Amanda were willing to drive a couple hours to stay with me and look after Jake for a few days in exchange for baked goods, but both of them are disabled and finding a ride, as well as health circumstances, prevented them from being able to do this. Mike's mom strung me along by telling me she could totally take him over the weekend, oh wait no she can't, but she can take him Thursday, what do I mean take him Thursday she couldn't possibly take him Thursday, only Friday might potentially work but I need to drive him both ways. My mom's friend who has occasionally babysat for us has a job so we didn't even ask her because my mom preemptively said there was no possible way. And daycare is at least $8.50 an hour. We don't spend $5 for a fucking foot-long sub that would feed all three of us more than once a month, let alone $8.50/hour, five hours per day, for four days ($170). There is no way that would have fit into our already shoestring budget. My shoes are cracked right down the middle of the soles, and my pants are two sizes too big, but I do not get new clothes until spring. How the fuck do we afford $170? We don't. That is the reality of our situation. That is why I was willing to smile and side-hug my emotionally abusive stepfather and thank him graciously for watching my son. Some things are more dire than my pride.
This entire debacle has made me feel very much like I would kill for some kind of reliable support system. That is, theoretically, why we are living in Columbus, so my parents can be that, but now that I've fallen out with my stepfather, maybe I'm being too stubborn about staying here. What I dearly wish more than anything in the world is that I could live on a commune with my friends. I would totally pick up disability slack for Amber and Amanda if they'd pick up child-watching slack for me. I am perfectly happy to cook and bake and make sure they have food and drive them places and I'm sure Mike would be happy to clean (he's a compulsive cleaner), if we could just work together to create some kind of reasonable distribution of labor. There are plenty of things all of us can and cannot do. If we could pick up each others' slack, possibly we could make something work pretty well for all of us. I've been invited to come down, and I've demurred because I have this really awesome job right now, and I love my job, and I love my coworkers, and I want to move up in this company and this business, and I was going to go back to school in the fall and maybe take the notary exam this spring. But I'm starting to think my job isn't worth it. I'm starting to think I need more support than I'm getting. I'm starting to feel really, really lonely.