I mean, not that I am the queen of denial at all or anything...and I'm not talking about a river in Egypt here, folks. Aside from humor, denial is probably my go-to defense mechanism to use. I ignore my health until it whacks me upside my head and takes me out. I avoid dealing with unpleasant things such as making phone calls and having to actually talk to people. I frequently avoid looking at my bank account, but I maintain that is an act of self-preservation more so than actual denial.
I need to do better and to be better, though. So here goes it, the re-cap of the three most important things that have happened that I have been avoiding talking about, in chronological order.
1.) Alexis turned 10 years old. Yes, ten. As in double digits. As in now she has less years to go until 18 than she has lived. As in a full decade.
Why I am able to accept Elizabeth turning 18 but not Alexis turning 10, I have no clue. Maybe it is because I can tell myself that I am still young with Elizabeth. Maybe it's because Alexis has always had a kind of sweet innocence about her, stubborn as she may be, that lends itself to being incompatible with growing up and I don't want to see that go away. Maybe it's because I see how the world is a cruel and unforgiving place sometimes and I don't want to see her crushed and I know that it is going to happen someday and I can't stop it.
Alexis is my child who once told me after I commented on how low the clouds were that she was excited about this because she always wanted to taste them. Alexis, my baby who hated everyone from birth but me, and then only tolerated me because I had the food. Alexis, the child who once had to be told at a competition to stop turning cartwheels because she had done so many we were afraid that she was going to wear herself out. Alexis, the child who is so energetic that another therapist who worked with ADHD kids turned to me and asked, "Is she always this hyper?" Alexis, the child who went from crying every dance class to dancing solos in competitions. My child who is a mixture of steel and softness and innocence and light. I once had a teacher say about Alexis that "even when she is trying to be sassy she is still sweet."
I never want those qualities to go away from her. The only surefire way I see to prevent this is to never have her grow up. So yes, I am in denial that she is 10.
2.) I quit my full time job at the agency and went to private practice full time.
This should be a great thing, right? I did not want to hospitalize people any more. While that job was a noble job, a necessary one, and I know that I did in fact save many people's lives...I did not want to be on that end of things anymore. I wanted to be more involved in the actual work that went into claiming back your mental health.
However...I did my internship at this agency. I started out as a terrified intern who did not know what the hell I was doing and worked my way to my independent license. I worked there the longest out of my professional career. I built a great reputation in the community with other stakeholders, I believe. Change is hard, especially for the already anxious person that I am. Private practice is very different, and while I am sure that I have any kind of clinical advice I need available, I still miss the stability that working for an agency provides. I miss my coworkers, who all helped shape me professionally. I miss being confident in my paychecks and not worrying if people cancel or I don't have people scheduled.
Don't get me wrong, I am very happy in my current job. I am just still in denial that this is my actual life's work now because it seems too good to be true.
3.) Spartacus died.
Yes, my bubby; the first dog that was mine. I trained him and housebroke him, all on my own. He was there when I brought the little girls home from the hospital; he was there when we brought Deogie and Maximus home. He helped train them. He was always willing to allow me to wrap my arms around him and snuggle; albeit for only a minute because he was a veritable walking furnace with his thick fur.
His death, though he was 10 years old, was unexpected. Friday night, he was running around, albeit slowing down a little bit which I chalked up to being 10 years old. Saturday, he was not eating. Sunday, he started to vomit and was still not eating, so Monday Charles took him to the vet. They did labs and sent him home with medicines. His liver enzymes were way off as were his white blood cell counts. Charles took him home and only a few hours later, Spartacus had a seizure, vomited up some blood, and died.
It does not surprise me that he went when I was not around. I would not have been able to handle watching that. I would not have been able to handle seeing his body lifeless. I have the memory of petting him before I left for work, and him leaning into my leg as I did so, versus what happened to him in the last hours of his life.
Dealing with that is hard. Maximus still looks for him, and when he can't find him he gets tears in his eyes. The day that he died, when I got home from work, he literally climbed up into my lap and gave me a hug with his front paws. Charles said that when he was carrying Spartacus's body to the truck (he took him to his parents' to bury) Maximus was losing his shit.
My bubby, the Friday before he passed.
So yes, life has been interesting these last few weeks. I'm trying to get away from the Freudian defense mechanisms; hence the honesty in this post. I'll get back to my regularly scheduled inanity soon, I promise.