Dr. Deena Stacer describes it as negative anticipation. It’s when life seems to be raining on if not, bombing your parade. It’s when you’re waiting for the next bad event, and thus your glasses have turned gray and you are viewing the world from a negative perspective.
I’ve always been a true optimist and I think that just means I never see bad things when I look into the future. And speaking as an optimist, it’s been a serious bummer that the last few years have procured me very little respite or joy to balance out the trauma infused in my current divorce reality. There has hardly been a week without a dark cloud of newly procured “crisis” hanging over it. And it has been getting to me.
Yesterday Mr. Worm took my daughter to her dance recital two hours late. She was so late, in fact, that she missed it altogether. Evangeline is my beautiful and sweet angel who has been working her tail off to be the best of her ballet class. This is the angel who has been excitedly talking about her recital for months. And she showed up with her costume and makeup all ready to pirouette… two hours late. I remember it like it was yesterday (it was actually). My heart was pounding as I anxiously scanned the theater for her while texting her father. I usually avoid all communication but this was an emergency.
“Where are you?! They already rehearsed and took the class photo!” read my frantic texts.
When her class got up to perform and I didn’t see her in the group, I broke down in tears. I was there in the third row wearing the fancy hat I had promised to wear while my mother sat next to me clutching a bouquet of pink and white Gerber daisies. It was yet another disappointment, another memory for the children to surmount. She called me that night explaining that her father had gotten the time “mixed up” and that she was OK with that reality. She seemed to be taking it better than I had, but we made a plan to hold another solo recital during summer vacation in Normandy with the family. We were getting excited thinking of the possibilities, like adding a twirling ribbon segment. I cried again after getting off the phone, knowing that this would not be the last time she would face disappointment. Oh, the never-ending guilt of having had children with a child! What did I expect?
Today, I went on a neighborhood walk with my mother and we heard cries coming from a corn silo nearby. As I was fearing, we found three abandoned orange striped kittens, one of which had become stuck in a 15-foot deep truck loading ditch covered with very narrow grates. We immediately ran back to the house for supplies and called the firemen and the mayor (yes mayors take care of everything in these small french villages). We tried for hours to get the kitten to climb out in vain. The kitten had an eye injury and was too weak to hang onto the scarves and sheets we lowered. When he would make it to the top, his head was too large to fit through the grates. We desperately tried to find another opening, but it seemed that the rates had been fused shut.
Our elderly and handicapped mayor came and put forth significant physical efforts to get the kitten out. He finally concluded that the kitten would inevitably die of dehydration since the volunteer village firemen did not rescue animals. Defeated, we walked home with the other two kittens following closely behind, our hearts broken again. It is likely that the kitten will die in a way that I don’t even want to think about and that we will be there to witness it. My poor mother has been subject to every heartbreaking episode in season three of “My Catastrophic Divorce.” Tomorrow morning we will try again to get someone, anyone, to come and help us. The trapped kitten would have been harsh under any circumstance. But today it feels like the straw on my back that says suffering is present every day like an admission ticket to life.
My friend says that I have way too much stress in my life to be dealing with this kitten. He’s right. He also suggests that shooting the kitten would be preferable to having it die slowly. I agree.
But it seems that I have a desperate connection with this kitten. I see myself in the hole with him. I see myself growing tired, paws raw from trying, hungry and too weak to hold on. I see that we’re going to have to move mountains to make it out. I understand that today is all we can handle for now. I understand when people don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with my divorce and that some may even kill our friendship to avoid pain. I understand that my dark circumstances have painted our conversations black for awhile now. It’s too much to ask anyone to bear it with me.
I have lost and will continue to lose a lot through this process. But I also believe my situation is temporary and is building me up, not just tearing me down. I am building positive anticipation daily as I brainstorm for activities and goals I can look forward to with joy. My girls and I have a long list of amazing projects we’re planning together. And I am trying to make PTSD or dreadful anticipation a thing of the past. This summer we are vacationing on the beach in Normandy. We are planning a rose themed tea party. We are planning a dance recital for family and friends where I will no doubt add a chorus of a silly song. We are going to make picture memory books of all the girls artwork. We have things to be excited about now – a real positive anticipation for our shared time this summer.
We are made of the same life essence, this kitten and I. We’re both fighters, but we both haven’t been eating enough to fight properly. Tomorrow we will rise again with some more energy and we will have another go at it. Tomorrow I will prepare my job interview.