So what's the matter with me??
The better things have become in the past few weeks, the more I've noticed myself moving in the opposite direction. Particularly over the past 7-10 days, I've been extremely low energy, dull, not much fun, feeling sad and mopey, and not sleeping particularly well.
I've been a little surprised by the timing of this (things are going pretty well!), until I started thinking about everything we/I've been through in the past year. It feels like I've been on an adrenaline surge for a very long time now: waiting for our first referral; waiting for our second referral; waiting to meet the children; waiting for court dates and mowa letters; waiting for immigration; getting through the first eleven weeks at home; the loss of my cat; etc etc.
The adrenaline isn't needed so much now, and it's time to relax a little and get used to life the way it now is. But as I start to relax, I'm noticing that things are catching up with me a little - all of the unprocessed stuff. I'm waking up during the night, still exhausted but unable to sleep; my thoughts are racing around in my head so fast that I can't keep up with them, and my emotions are all over the place as I lie there and try in vain to get back to sleep. During the day, I feel some days/hours that I'm doing the bare minimum to keep things on an even keel; and I find myself wishing for my bed or for time away. It's nothing severe or extreme, but I'm just not my usually optimistic and relatively cheerful self, and I don't like the toll that exhaustion plays on my life's outlook.
I don't think I am experiencing PADS (Post Adoption Depression Syndrome), which a commonly experienced form of depression amongst us long-awaiting adoptive parents whose dreams and expectations don't ultimately match the reality of life when the children finally arrive (it's the equivalent of postpartum depression after the birth of a child). I don't think I had unrealistic expectations of what it would be like to parent children (or these children in particular) - in fact, in hindsight, I think I was fairly well prepared for it. I also don't struggle with ambivalent or resentful feelings towards the children. And I was fully prepared to have it take time to feel for them what I knew I would eventually - in fact, the love I have for them came a lot quicker than I'd expected. I feel pretty comfortable overall, with how things are progressing and even about my own growth as a parent (some flawed or failed parenting strategies aside!). It's not that I think any of these things would be horrible - it's just that I don't think I'm struggling with PADS.
I think it boils down to the fact that I've just been through a lot and I haven't processed it all yet...and I'm a bit of a process-person when it comes to internal stuff. I need to think about stuff, then verbalize it, then think about it again and feel what I need to feel. And lately, all I've been doing it pushing it all down because I'd rather just move on in life rather than dwell on it. Life has been really, really busy and intense of late and it's hard to carve out the time to do the internal work that's needed.
I also realized a few days ago that I'm not getting enough time by myself. I haven't been consistent enough in taking time out from the kids and, when I do have a couple of hours to myself, I've been getting out with friends - which is great, and which I also need. But I think I need time to just think, process, write, maybe cry, maybe just be.
Geoff had an idea on Wednesday: He suggested that I go away for twenty-four hours - to a place I've been once before - for a silent retreat. I talked with the retreat centre yesterday and, though they are normally entirely booked up at least two months in advance, she received a cancellation just around the same time that she read my emailed request. She said that the one night they had available was Friday...today. So Geoff is coming home early today and I'm booked to be there by 4:00pm, for twenty-four hours. They'll cook my meals for me and will give me a private room/bathroom in their silent building, and I can do whatever I want: lock myself in my room; wander the spectacular grounds around the monastery and along the river; watch movies; sleep; read books; whatever. This morning, as I threw a few things into a bag to take along, I started telling myself how I would organize my time while there. Then this afternoon I thought better of that plan; instead, I'm just going to do whatever I want to do in the moment, for a night and a day. That's really what I want: time by myself without any pressure to talk; and the ability to manage my own time without any demands on me.
I leave shortly, and I think/hope it will be a good place to start the work that I need to do.