Borrowed Time

Posted on | May 31, 2011 | 32 Comments

Driving home from my first day of work, I felt like there was someone sitting in the back seat holding a ticking time bomb to the back of my head.  I could hear the ticking as clearly as if I were a child again, pressing my head to the large gold wrist watch on my grandfather’s arm.

And suddenly, I was struck with the feeling that I was operating on borrowed time.

It was as though a flood was pounding against a weather-worn dam and I was firmly planted at the wrong end of the canal.  Everything I’d been holding back, every thought, every whispered negative, every “you can’t do this” and every “you’re not strong enough” was being held at bay by a small wad of chewing gum and the outstretched hand and half-witted smile of a very young and very small girl.

My feet are dry, but the water is coming… and there is absolutely no escaping it.

Perhaps it was because I made it through my first day at my new job, wide-eyed and dizzy, and was heading home to a child who was already starving, as my cousin had told me, and who was impatiently waiting for his mother to come home and give him dinner.  Perhaps it was because I was running later than I wanted to run and running emptier than I’d planned to be.  Perhaps it was because I discovered I didn’t know which end was up or the answer to any question at work, and I knew I’d face the same when I walked into my house.  I was broad-sided with the understanding that in less than two weeks, there will be no cousin at my house.  In less than two weeks, if I am running late, my child will be the last child in daycare and I will pay a fine.  In less than two weeks, I will not have the luxury of showering while someone else watches my son or drying my hair without explaining the process, step-by-step.  In less than two weeks, I will get up, mother, go to work, come home, mother, go to bed.  There will be no one to tell about my day.  There will be no one to run to the store if I’ve forgotten a key ingredient for whatever culinary disaster I’ve decided to make.  There will be no one to bring me a glass of wine, no one to say “I’ve got this” when J cries, no one to pick me up when I crumple in a pile on the floor from the sheer weight of all the no one.

Cracks are forming in the dam.  I can see them, even from a distance, racing a snail’s pace of crackle down the stone wall, and the intense, powerless feeling of knowing you are moments away from drowning can not possibly be any better than the drowning itself.

A tidal wave is headed my way.

I am rooted in mud and I can not escape from where my feet have fallen.

The wrist watch is ticking, my heart is racing, the tears are welling in my eyes… and the tidal wave is still coming.

I am living on borrowed time.


32 Responses to “Borrowed Time”

  1. Emily
    May 31st, 2011 @ 10:42 pm

    I hate this for you, I really, really do. You’re doing a great job, don’t let that self doubt creep up on you!

  2. Joanna
    May 31st, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

    This makes me so sad. I know nothing I say can make it any better but you have a whole lot of people, including me, who want to hear about your day and make sure you’re doing okay.

  3. Chunky Mama
    May 31st, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

    First of all, even Moms who do have back-up totally lose it some times. So, if it gets to the point that you need to crumple up and cry for while, just stick J in his room/bed and do it. He will survive, and it may help you get your head back on straight to LET yourself lose it.
    Second, you have all your readers to tell about your day. I, for one, live on the West Coast and am on Twitter all night long. So if you need to vent, at least one person will be around to listen. 🙂

  4. Headmistress Yca
    May 31st, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

    The best thing to do when you see a tidal wave coming is to grab a surf board and ride it out! Show your self some grace, babe. Rest in the comfort of your cousin being here for the next two weeks and use her presence to gain ground and confidence. Yes, it will suck when she goes and you’re on your own, but I still have faith that you’re going to find your inner surf board in the exact moment you’re going to need it. xo

  5. Carrie
    May 31st, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

    One day at a time. Just get through the day at hand. Reflect on what you’ve already accomplished when you get nervous about the future because you’ve already accomplished so much. Enjoy the good things you can find in each day, focus on the good things, no matter how small.

  6. Miranda
    May 31st, 2011 @ 10:51 pm

    I have read your last few posts and I am trying to think of something, anything to say that will take away this hurt and pain and muck that you’re feeling right now. I want so desperately to patch up your heart and soul with my words but they aren’t coming.

    I am here for you. I WANT to hear about your day. I want to hear about you.

    I am thinking of you and even if I don’t have the words to adequately convey that, I’m sending every positive thought I have southward to you.

  7. Alena Chandler
    May 31st, 2011 @ 11:14 pm

    Like some of the others…I know my words won’t heal anything for you. But I hope you are reassured with each one of us that someone cares!

  8. Tara@DoTheseKidsMakeMeLookCrazy?
    May 31st, 2011 @ 11:16 pm

    “sheer weight of all the no one”. Powerful words.

    You can do this.

  9. Kari
    May 31st, 2011 @ 11:17 pm

    I read your posts faithfully and even though there are no words i can say to make things better, just know you are touching people and someone, somewhere, is reading this, going through what you are, seeing the grace and class you are demonstrating, and feeling not so alone and lost. Don’t be so hard on yourself, this is just a moment and it will get better and amazing things will come to you 🙂

  10. Rachel D
    May 31st, 2011 @ 11:35 pm

    I think you should try to take it one day at a time. Thinking about the future and how you will feel is too overwhelming right now. Chances are that your imaginary future is scarier than the real one will be.

  11. Cate
    May 31st, 2011 @ 11:51 pm

    I’m sorry I have no words of wisdom for you; but I’m thinking of you.

    Ooohhh – I’ve just realised that’s probably thinking of you while you sleep! Sounds freaky? But it’s not – really… I live on the other side of the world, so it’s brilliantly sunny (on the first day of winter) here while I’m wishing you the best.


  12. Maureen
    June 1st, 2011 @ 12:08 am

    I am going to echo what others have said already…just take it one day at a time. I know that make sound impossible, but the more you do it, the clearer your mind will be. You will be in a different place when your cousin leaves in two weeks. You will be 2 weeks into your new job, and more settled. Enjoy the time you have with your cousin as best as you can.

    You have been through so much in the last months. Give yourself a break. You have come this far, and you have done so with dignity. As others have said, you are not alone. I care about you, and I admire you. You are stronger than you realize, and you will get through this.

  13. aw
    June 1st, 2011 @ 12:32 am

    i am here for you! i know you feel helpless and lost, but know, deep down; you are strong. you will weather the storm and move on with your life. for now you just have to pretend that everything is alright just to make it thru for now, soon you won’t be pretending. do the best you can, i know you can do it. you are an amazing woman and mom.

  14. Erica Snipes
    June 1st, 2011 @ 6:47 am

    Whew. Your words can’t help but hit anybody straight in the heart and make it break a little, no matter if they have had a similar experience or not. You have read what others have said here, and I twelfth it, or whatever number I am here. Please share with us about your days. We all want to here about how you’re doing and support you. I think you are a person that finds writing and sharing emotions cathartic and helpful. I don’t know the “how” of what you are going to be accomplishing from here on out, or the universal answer to the “why” of having to accomplish it at all. However, I did like that surfboard analogy. Allow yourself the emotional release, though…damming it up is not going to be good for you or your son. You have extended family around, and friends, yes? I will pray that they can be helpful to you. I will also pray for your daycare provider, that they can support you by taking very good care of J, and maybe cutting you a break if you are two minutes late on the pick up. You are a very gifted writer, you are a very gifted Mom, and you are a very good person. Repeat those things to yourself until you believe them too, and eventually the seas will calm and you’ll enjoy a peaceful boatride. Big hugs.

  15. Jennifer
    June 1st, 2011 @ 8:23 am

    Sounds like it’s time you learned how to swim. The flood may very well come, but that doesn’t mean you have to drown. Drowning is a choice.

  16. sarah
    June 1st, 2011 @ 9:02 am

    to weather a storm of mass proportions….you must banten down the hatches, stock up on (soul) food and rely on perfect strangers to get you through this. its a nasty storm and it can kill you OR it can make you become a survivor. this sucks. no doubt about it but there are many people that have weathered this type of storm. reach out to us, ask us how we survived the darkest of nights, ask us for help and never never never forget….you are not alone.

    call me anytime, anywhere….i not only have gone through the impending storm but i have survived it…and i help others through it now. its important to surround yourself with hope, strength AND fight. we will all fight to save you but we can only fight if you join us….

    im waiting, we all are waiting to help you….all you have to do is trust (its hard!!!) and close your eyes to the darkest and reach out to us…we will catch you and ride the waves of emotion with you.


  17. Carm Owens
    June 1st, 2011 @ 9:04 am


  18. Chandler
    June 1st, 2011 @ 9:41 am

    One step at a time. It all looks overwhelming now, but just break off one piece at a time, and muddle through. You and J will figure it out together– at the end of the day, all that matters is that the two of you love each other and are making it. Some days it won’t be pretty, but it will be done. And the next day, the sun still rises, and you pick up where you left off.

    You can do this….

  19. KLZ
    June 1st, 2011 @ 10:51 am

    You there!

    I love you with my whole heart and I want you to hear this: stop being so hard on yourself! It is ok to cry and ok to be stressed and ok to be afraid. None of those things mean you can’t do it. All of those things are part of processing.

    This is terrifying. But you are moving through it. Each day is another step forward, no matter how hard it is.

    Remember – this is just the walk down the hall. And it can, and will, be hell. But you’re gonna get to that other door.

  20. Celeste
    June 1st, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

    The dam will crumble. Then it will be rebuilt. It might crumble one or two more times, but soon it will be stronger than ever. It will withstand any Katrina, any F5 tornado, any amount of big ole bullsh*t life could possibly hand you. And you won’t rebuild because you have the strength, or because you want to, but because, for you, giving up just isn’t a luxury you have. We (the interwebs community) are here for you any time, any day, any way you need us.

  21. Celeste
    June 1st, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

    Ps. And when all else fails, ask your doctor if he’d prescribe you a valium salt-lick. 🙂

  22. Andrea
    June 1st, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

    Hugs to you my friend. I wish I was closer and could lend you a hand, because I would be there in an instant. The only advice I have is this: focus on today and not two weeks from now.

    Your life is changing day-by-day. You and J are going to be so much more settled into your new routine in two weeks than you are now. In two weeks, you’ll be coming home from a job that you’re settling in at – not a job that you just started. It’s impossible not to think about how things will be, but try not to focus on it too much.

    You will find a routine- maybe it’s showering at night so you just have to fix your hair in the morning, or taking J in the shower with you, or whatever. You’re a smart, strong, amazing, wonderful lady. I know you will find your own way.

  23. Lizzie
    June 1st, 2011 @ 1:53 pm

    My heart aches for you; it really does. But it also seems like a little tough love is in order:

    First, you do have a therapist in Macon, right? I don’t mean that condescendingly, but if you really feel like the dam is going to break, you need to have some professional help supporting you. It’s starting to appear in your posts that you are suffering from something I suffered from — when I went through a life changing event, I developed a kind of depression that manifested itself as obsession. You need to stop obsessing about how hard this will be (and it will be hard, I’m not down playing that)or how much you wanted things to be different, and just focus on plowing ahead. This is your reality. You can forge ahead and get to the other side, or you can fall apart and wallow in “woe is me I’m a single mom.” The choice is yours.

    Also, you need to be more comfortable asking for and receiving help, and you need to lower your standards about what a “perfect” mom would do. I’ve long noticed…since you began blogging…that you have serious control issues. And I see that manifesting in comments now like “J was impatiently waiting for me to come home and feed him dinner.” Your cousin is here — why wasn’t she feeding him dinner if he weas hungry? If she didn’t volunteer, you need to be okay delegating things like that. You frequently make comments like “J only wants me” but I think that you foster that behavior in him. But then you also frequently mention that you never get a break and that the weight of this is too much. There’s a disconnect here…it seems like you want to do everything, but you don’t want to do everything. And you need to figure out what the answer is, for your own sanity.

    Finally, know that it’s okay to leave J in his crib sometimes with toys. It’s okay if he cries sometimes. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not advocating ignoring him. But if you need to put him in his crib while you shower, get dressed, etc., that’s okay.

    Good luck. I really do sincerely mean that.

  24. Sarah
    June 1st, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

    Yay for Lizzie! I was reading this post thinking the same thing as her. It’s time to get over yourself already. Millions of people do this every day. And so will you. It’s time to get your ass out of bed and start living your own life. Stop waiting for someone else to swoop in and solve all of your problems. You’re a grown woman. You solve them. And if all you can do right now is get up and put one foot in front of the other, that’s what you do.

  25. Lisa
    June 1st, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

    Here’s a crazy thought–an au pair is actually fairly inexpensive. You give them a place to live plus a modest salary of about $350 per week for forty hours of childcare. It would solve some of your alone problems and give you a break. Just a thought.

  26. molly
    June 1st, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

    Honey, I know you have all of us crazies to talk to out in the internet world. But puh-lease tell me you have a professional therapist too. You need an unbiased person to talk to about this. Someone who is not family and not a friend. It could help immensely.

    I mean, that’s just my opinion. I have no right to an opinion on separation because I haven’t lived it but I have lived through the hell that is recurring depressive episodes. I needed help to get through it.


  27. kerri
    June 1st, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    i have to agree with some of the tough-er love posters on here…you are unquestionably facing a very difficult transition and what happened to you is and was and will continue to be incredibly traumatic and unfair. but you also made choices in your life that led you to where you are, and you seem to have lost that (positive) sense of control and are clinging, as noted above to a (negative) need to control little things (i also wondered why your cousin wasn’t feeding j and you were rushing home to do it, e.g.). it’s relatively normal to over-emphasize control on little things when you feel your life is largely out of your control, but it’s still not good. i worry that the tone of your posts sounds like you’re descending into a pretty significant depression. please don’t be too proud to seek professional help. there is medication for this, and it helps. a lot. do it for j.

  28. KristinaYellow
    June 1st, 2011 @ 10:07 pm

    Focus on getting home. Small steps. “baby steps” as “What About Bob?” (such a nutty movie I can’t help to watch for a laugh) your way through this. Giving up the control is the hardest thing in the world-speaking as a control freak perfectionist myself. I have to give it up. I have to focus on the now and what I can do currently-not what I wish I could being doing or what I have done in the past or what others can do. You have to cut yourself some slack and know you are doing your best. That’s all anyone can ask. And things will get more routine-you’ll feel more in control-you’ll have a better backup plan for running late-and you’ll laugh. I promise. But you have to let go a little–let this out. Talk with someone unbiased and meet your fellow daycare parents or teachers–maybe one of them will be a great “I’m running late can you take J for me until I get home” person. It’ll happen–but it’ll take time. Which sucks. Until then-hug J. Hug your cousin. And smile.

  29. Steph
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 12:06 am

    You know what? I’m not sure where all of these people with the “tough love” came from and why when one started they all jumped in, but let me tell you something. You’re 2 months out from having the rug completely swept out from under you and they don’t get to tell you when to feel better or how to feel or when.

    Things do get better, they do. But they’re not rosy all of the time and just because someone decides to slap at you on your blog won’t make them get better faster or make you feel better faster so if you feel like crying you cry and if you feel like venting you vent. It’s your blog and your world and you have the power to delete comments for a reason.

    Just shy of 3 years in to my battle with PTSD and my world being rocked I am not as better as I would like. Therapists, support groups, blah, blah, blah. Those go along with the meds I down every night to keep the nightmares at bay. I recently wrote a post directed at people who “think I should be better”. I get so sick of hearing “this will pass” or “when are you going to get over it?”. My pat answer now is “when I damn well do and you don’t get to decide when that is”. Feel free to use that line as often as necessary because you heal on your timeline and because you haven’t over shared here no one knows but you and your ex what built up to this so they have no right to judge you and the above swarm kinda set me off. Sorry for the rant. But just know that you will heal on your own time and in your own way and you can tell anyone you like to butt out.

  30. Tiffany @MomNom
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 11:03 am

    Take it one day at a time…and ignore the douchebags who think you need their tough love. An au pair might be worth looking into though, for after the cousin is gone…just a thought.

    Also, I love you.

  31. Adrienne
    June 2nd, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

    It hurts and it’s hard and it sucks some serious ass. I’m here listening to you, and I will continue to be here because I know how much healing there is in sharing yourself and being heard.

    You are kicking ass and taking names (I know it doesn’t feel like it, but I promise you it’s true anyway) and I deeply appreciate your honesty, no matter what tone that honesty takes.

    Keep doing whatever you have to do to make it through and I’ll be here, no tough love. Just regular love.

  32. Fancy
    June 3rd, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

    I’m late to comment on this one because I was on vacation visiting family. No time to keep up with my reading. 😉

    I just wanted to say (more to the “tough-lovers” than to you, really) that you’re only two months into a separation. You moved, you started a new job, you need to figure out how to make a completely new and unexpected lifestyle work… These are all crazy life altering events!

    I’d save the tough love for a more appropriate time.

    I don’t believe that all you’re doing is wallowing in self pity. Have the tough-lovers not been reading all of your posts? Cause some of the posts have been positive and filled with hope and optimism. You’ve been figuring things out, and getting things done. It’s okay for things to just be sh!tty once in a while. Just sayin’.

    Sometimes wallowing in self pity is required. I still have days or moments when I do it and I’ve been separated for almost two years! You do it, give yourself permission to wallow for a little while, then you get through it.

    It’s been TWO MONTHS since your entire world was turned upside down! Your ENTIRE WORLD… Good grief!

    Don’t suppress your feelings. Feel them, deal with them and move on.

    You can’t have the ups if you don’t let yourself have the downs.

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