Twice now, when I’m in the midst of a hard day, I’ve described the things I carry to someone else. In both cases the response was “Wow, you really are the one holding your family together.” I hear the words and I want to protest, because while it is true, it also isn’t.
I do a lot for my kids and for Howard. This is particularly true on “bad brain days” which is what we’ve taken to calling a day where everything hurts even though it didn’t yesterday. We could also call them depressed days, or anxious days, or crying days, or OCD days, or any number of epithets with the word “day” appended to them. On the bad days I’m there. I stand nearby, helping to redirect, running interference, helping get through the day in the hope that the next day will be better. It usually is.
The thing is, if I was not there, they would survive these people of mine. They are stronger than they believe they are. It would be harder, deeper, darker, but that would only make them stronger and more determined. Sometimes I wonder if I do them a disservice by being there. Perhaps I am preventing them from developing skills and strength that they need. Perhaps I am wearing myself out by being in the middle when the truth is that we would all be better off if I would step out of that space.
Stepping out is hard when I am scared. I’m scared a lot. And I can’t always tell if the fears have merit or if they are my own anxieties lying to me.
Sometimes I feel like if I step away, it will all fall into disaster. Then we hit a day when I am the one with the bad brain. Then my family comes to my rescue. They all have, both individually and as a group. I’ve watched them help each other in the same way. We all rescue each other. We hold together because all of us are holding tight against the winds and waves. It would definitely make a mess if I were pulled out, but they would sort that mess and continue onward. I’m glad of this. Dependence on me is not the end goal here. Not for any of them.
I am not the center. I am a nexus in a net. We all are.