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  • hwilliams0707

Whack-A-Mole Writing

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

The noise is bothering me. I have rules about rowdiness inside. But it keeps on. My options are to yell, keep punishing, send the kids outside, endure it. I balance back and forth between all of these options. This time, I was enduring after several reminders and sending them outside. I literally have earplugs in my ears right now. But the banging toys or the screams (whether excited, angry, or scared) startle me to the point that my arms jolt up and my hands jiggle until my mind conceives the cause of each noise and processes what I can do in the moment about it each time.

I heated my nacho cheese and brought it and my bag of restaurant style tortilla chips outside to eat. There is a little square container that has caught my attention in the grocery stores lately called Gordo’s Cheese Dip. All you do is heat it up, and it is just like that Mexican restaurant style white cheese dip. You can even heat the container itself. There is original, mild, and hot to choose from. Together with these thick, crisp, and perfectly salted tortilla chips that I have discovered from Winn-Dixie’s deli, I have been enjoying the perfect combo for my nacho cravings and/or easy snacks.

This is my escape long enough to eat in peace. I feel very stressed while eating if it is chaotic around me.

Now it hits me as my chips crunch loudly in my jaws:

I am sitting in the exact spot where I escaped to have an emotional moment TWO years ago (HOW 2 YEARS???) I was chomping carrots. I think I was feeling snacky and decided that because carrots take so long to chew, it would be a good choice rather than snacking for the same amount of time on junk. I had three more months until my eighth baby was born. Believe me, I had eaten junk on plenty occasions that pregnancy (all my pregnancies). But on this occasion, I made a healthy choice.

Isn't it interesting how when two or more senses (same scene, same chomping sound) collide with past ones that were very similar, how they trigger the memory associated with them, especially traumatic memories...

I was crying that my husband had shaved his head because of brain cancer, and my son went along and shaved his head, too, in addition to my father-in-law. My husband was diagnosed during the month prior and was a few days into the radiation treatments. It was as if my son got caught up in the hype of the moment because my husband had a way of hyping things up that really were not naturally alluring (I think that could be called manipulation). My son soon regretted his decision when he looked at his bald head in the mirror. I cried so much because not only was I processing this diagnosis about my husband, but now, I thought, it looks like I have a son with childhood cancer, too! This was all TOO MUCH! My in-laws came around and saw me having a moment and made an effort to make me feel like they cared.

A very trying week it was. There is much more to be said one day.

I am wondering how much the jumpiness and forgetting things quickly that I have been noticing lately has to do with these memories that are still replaying. Trauma.

Actually, the jumpiness was every since some of the really trying stuff. I remember telling a counselor one day last year that I literally jumped at a fly that day. To be fair, the way the fly was sitting on my lit-up phone screen looking like it had extra long legs when I looked over, somehow made it look like a cockroach sitting beside me. Who wouldn't jump? At least, my counselor sounded as if she thought it was completely normal. How gentle she was with me. I knew that my nerves had seriously been shaken, though.

Maybe the forgetfulness is that I just have so many thoughts that they are like Whack-A-Mole. They pop up and disappear. Maybe I need to continue getting more of these thoughts out in words!

I was always a list-maker. When I was packing for a trip as a teenager, my mind was busy with all of the things that I would not want to forget. You know how it is. There are even some things that you need to remember, but you can’t pack them while you are remembering because you will use those things once again before leaving for the trip. I was thinking faster than I was doing. So, my idea was to write down all these things I would need and could add to it later as I thought of more. How silly it seemed to my mother to make a list of types of clothes I needed and fingernail clippers and such. She is still amused with this. (Love you, Mama.)

List-making is still a helpful skill that I use when an overwhelmed mind seems that it will fail me in my next several requirements and happenings of this “Mom of 8” position! It seems to take the pressure off of my mind and put it on paper for me to simply look through and slow it down to one thing at a time!

What if writing some of my stories can accomplish this same thing for me? All of the remembering... All of the overwhelming thoughts. I can’t do anything about the memories. I can’t change them. I didn’t choose for things to play out the way that they did.

I am still in unbelief sometimes that all of this happened in MY life. ME! I thought I had a “normal” life, a somewhat easy life. I mean, it is beside the point that I have so many kids and people stop me in stores to express how surprised they are at how many kids I have. Besides that, I wouldn’t have thought that my life was any reason to look at like its much different from anyone else’s.

I think about that so many people have been through much worse than me. I am sure that if I would have gone through their worst, it would also have traumatized me. But no less is it true that I HAVE been through more than I knew was coming, more than I expected, more than was tolerable to me. Therefore, life marked me, too. The aftermath of the blow has partially been seen, and possibly, some is yet to be revealed.

I chose to let the hard times drive me deeper into the hands of God who is my shelter. So, there are some positive effects of the stabs of life. On the other hand, I must also observe lingering effects that are not so positive. We all probably have them. We all have been pushed to our limits in one way or another. I believe that acknowledgement goes a long way. I am not one of those Christians that pretends like life doesn’t touch me—that we Christians are somehow exempt from troubles in this life. Jesus said the exact opposite—this life WILL give us trouble but TAKE HEART, he has already overcome the world for us (John 16:33). So why pretend that we don’t have troubles? I want to write it in all CAPS across the sky, “ACKNOWLEDGEMENT GOES A LONG WAY!!!!!” Pretending it is not there does not make it go away. But facing it head-on might! Or at least, it just may fuel you onward. Acknowledge the hard, and then keep going. Overcome.

People don’t know what to do with pain. So they minimize it. They may act like you are making it up or making it more than what it is, or some even one-up you, as if that invalidates your pain.

I ask myself, Why was that particular week so hard for me? Have I started to block it out? It is too many things to even list! A part of me believes that to tell it all would be to dishonor the ones who stressed me out so much. It’s true that your decisions impact others’ feelings. Yes, my feelings were impacted. It would be in the next two months that I would be tasked (by life) to face some of the things that I had left in a metaphorical box, unprocessed. Life has a way of forcing you to face facts and fears sometimes, right? Unfortunate timing, some would think, to come into realization of the dynamics of the entirety of the relationship between my husband and me. I have been accused of not wanting him anymore because he had cancer. A convenient way to fly under the radar for a person who would never admit any faults. If anyone would truly believe this idea, they would be terribly shallow and uninformed or else, just as malicious as the one who decided this was a good way to sling mud.

Aside from controversy, the other part of me, however, knows inherently that some stories must be told.

“Why” is a big word.

I just looked back at the bald pictures for reference. It was, not to my surprise, too much for me to see all of the pictures around that timeframe, causing me to feel sick. I put the pictures away.

I had a lot to process that week. My birthday week. (No wonder I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday this year.) The most fragile week of my life up to that point. (Since, there has been a more fragile week.) The hardest thing I had yet come across. I could not have imagined that my life could take a turn for that depth of pain.

Little did I know that life would get even harder in the year to come! Like a relentless kid stretching a rubber band until breaking point, and then doing it all over again to a further, new breaking point, is life when you don’t know if you are on the brink of final destruction or a new transformation. Death in the cocoon, maybe.

I thought to be the victim of such a cruel joke. What a fool, I thought. The fact that I fell for the cruel trick life played on me, made it feel 100 times worse. How could I be so stupid? I asked myself over and over.

All this time, I longed so hard for my husband to be more active in his relationship with the kids and me. I longed for him to be an example, a role model, someone who ENJOYS to lead and serve us. During this one long and confusing week, that is what he appeared to suddenly do. Yeah, he was undergoing radiation sessions on his brain for several days in a row. But he started giving the kids music lessons like I had wanted so badly. He was very good in music. He started helping me CLEAN?!?! He started talking about me like he respected me. And he started helping me correct and teach character to the kids?

What pain and confusion this caused me! I SHOULD feel happy, I thought. But it is unbearable, that NOW he is doing these things, now that he could die, when he had ALL THIS TIME to spend with us?... Anyhow, it was confusing and refreshing enough that I fell into it. I went along with him that week. He said enough faith statements and “God said...” statements that I cautiously went along with... hope?

After rearranging many things in our lives, thousand and thousands of dollars later, with million-dollar plans even, I finally started to figure out... he is not himself. How did I not understand this when he started cleaning things and cooking?? How much was all of this his own reach to be everything that he perceived that I always wanted him to be because his time was running out? How much was it his brain condition? And how much was it... other-worldly? He had not been sleeping, but instead, making decisions and plans with finances and such all night while I was sleeping. I was afraid what he would change next if I went to sleep. By the end of that week, he had a “crash.” He had many focal seizures one night. His brain was tired. His doctor said he was in a state of mania.

If I was a negative-talker, words would be said like, “Just my luck. My husband finally helps me clean and pays attention to my kids, and he is finally nice BECAUSE HE HAS MANIA! He has to officially go crazy in order for me to finally be shown love?" Though, I did not say the words—that I recall (ask my support people; they may remember differently), the realization hit me.

I was in the front seat of my father-in-law’s truck with my husband in the back, still talking away. Like a big nasty left hook did that realization come hit me in the forehead. I silently turned as far to the passenger window as I could and let the tears fall. We were on the way to get my husband checked out because of his erratic behavior and focal seizures. My father-in-law said quietly to me to “be strong.” Many times in my mind, I have yelled, WHY DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO BE THE STRONG ONE??!! People tell me all of the time that I am a strong woman. But it is not always fun being strong, you know!

That is when the doctor prescribed a higher dose of the current seizure med and an extra medication “to help with the seizures and the mania.” His words.

I recall keeping my in-laws up-to-date that my husband was back to his normal, grouchy self. They didn’t understand. He “performed” good dad and husband when they were around. But it was weird for me. I had previously felt like a stranger was in my house that week during the mania because he was finally not a bump on a log; he was trying. Which was strangely exciting and scary because I was like, I finally have a helping partner, but there is a stranger in my house—in my bedroom! It felt really wrong. But after the new medication, it was somewhat a relief because regardless of his characteristics, I knew this person. I was used to this person. He was gripey, but I have lived with him a long time.

What a week that was. That week left me so disoriented that I must have been dizzy.

So, I’ve gotten that much out. It’s not all for loss. I was very encouraged last night that my fourth son—and three others, but especially him—was interested in reading a book about persecuted Christians. I started reading it to them at night. It is from Voice of Martyrs (VOM). The kids say that the stories are interesting! And they like to take turns reading out loud! This is a very nice change from the fits that I usually hear from this child if I ask him to read something! But they argue over who reads next! Also, this morning, after a trying night with little ones not sleeping well, I got up early (late for my regular “early” because of the ruckus) and began my reading time. My fourth son got up quietly, picked up a bible, sat across the room from me, and began to read to himself while rubbing his sleepy eyes.

I am making an impact. Thank Jesus!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galations 6:9


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