Two Years ago my partner, John, had unexpected strokes that led us on down an unbeknownst path of a heart infection which led to open heart surgery and a fight for his life.  Our children were 5,3, and 1 years old, and we were faced literally with John’s mortality.  What ensued for the next year or so after was deep grief (which was confusing as you can imagine because he lived to tell the tale) and deep altering of our lives, marriage, and way of living.  It was disruptive, wholly complicated and deeply affected us.  It literally touched everything in our lives and our family.  John is healthy and well but, right before the year turned to 2021 he broke his leg taking our children sledding and required surgery.  This piece emerged from me. I hesitated posting it, however, it was so raw and therapeutic for me to write and edit that I had to honor my discomfort in sharing such words that represent what it means for me to touch the nerve and get close to the spiralic aspects of healing and excavating.  Call it shadow work, call it what you may, this was a deep cavern that actually led me out to another healthy, beautiful side of myself. 


I don’t wanna caretake no more, no more, no more, no more.  Dumping your bright yellow piss in the toilet in the morning while one kid called ‘mommy,’ and I said to you put your shirt up, I have to give you your shot, it felt sinful to take pleasure in poking you with the needle.  ‘Ow,’ you’d say, your stomach was bruised and beaten, chewed and pebbled by little knots of pinpricks.  Sorry, I’d mutter, but I didn’t mean it.  It didn’t touch me way down there, in that sorry place.   I was nursing a wound that was telling me what a horrible person I was because I couldn’t get my shit together enough to be gloriously happy you were home, caretake by your side and take care of children.  Take care of these needy children, 5, 3, 1, they needed so much and every time you sneezed or coughed, your eyes would dilate, it looked like pain, just pure, pure pain, every time you did that I wanted to scream. 

I was supposed to be asking are you ok but instead I wanted to slap your face and say damnit, i don’t have anymore kindness to throw at you.  I’m lost here I’m tired I’m scared I’m beaten down I have nothing. I am nothing. 

I remember when I went back to work, 6 weeks later, all I wanted to do was lay on my carpet and sleep.  I had this comforter chair and I wanted to curl up in it, put my feet under me, fetal, warmed by the window and close my eyes, maybe to wake up, maybe not.  But there would be a ping on an email, a knock at the door, I had a fucking schedule to attend to that nursed and suckled me.  So I worked out.  I drank more.  I journaled and asked for a sabbatical.  And then I quit. I changed it all because I couldn’t make it fit well, everyone and everything wanted something from me.  And I felt like I was being clawed and mauled and squeezed and clutched at and I wanted to scream but even screaming didn’t touch that deep down place that was exhausted. 

I asked John for a beach vacation the two of us. I said let’s get away, I need to get away, I need to reconnect with you as a partner.  I want to fuck you and suck on you I want to cuddle and caress, I want to reconcile this memory I have of wiping your ass, washing your balls, getting your medicine, pulling up your pants like a child, having you lean on me from the shower, placing the covers on you and wiping your brow, shushing you, rocking you, can I not be a mother to everything please?  Can I please not have to tend and be tender and mend the world?  I don’t want to walk around with band aids and wisdom and hand sanitizer.  I want to get dirty too.  I want to eat greasy food late at night by the moonlight and walk streets drunk and be curiously lost.  Please, please, please.  How did I find myself here? 

We didn’t go to the beach, we went to his family vacation instead and I lost my mind.  I broke, I thought I was going to kill and pillage and die.  But mainly I was sad.  It looked like rage, but I was a girl, a woman, who was in such depleted pain, like a debt of pain that had gained interest.  And every time the baby cried or the tv was too loud or Aaron made me chase him in the goddamn ice cream parlor and I pinched his sweet baby side so that there were two little fingerprint bruises, I teetered off my rocker.  I lost balance with the world around me, I thought this is madness.  I started to dream of leaving my husband. Of leaving my family.  Of driving away so that I could rest. 

Do I have to leave this to rest? So I started talking and writing and telling the truth and do you know what happened?  It got fucking harder.  Co vid happened and two jobs and I said I think I want to write and do therapy maybe on my own and you said yes, yes let’s do it, and then you broke your goddamn leg.  No joke, no lie, I’ve seen the x ray, I went away for 2 days to honor that I am a mother who needs rest, I am a woman who is not patron saint Amy of anything, instead I am simply a person who if given too much burns like a sheet of paper and then you have to throw me in the toilet so I don’t burn the whole world down. 

No, no, no, I was away and you broke your leg.  Oh, and because you did it just right, twisted and turned as you tumbled, now you need surgery, and oh, you can’t walk on the damn thing for a month.  So , let’s add it up, because I know better now.  I’m without a partner to help me, again, for over a month.  I am caretaking again and I hate it.  I said it. I hate it. 

I mean it not being patron saint of whatever, this is not what fills my cup.  This is not what makes me get up in the morning and say, welcome day.  Welcome.  No. No, there are dirty toilets and broken boxes and the fucking Christmas decorations to put away, the box is heavy you say, might want to take it all downstairs one branch at a time.  Fuck you I want to say.  Fuck you for trapping me and I know we have talked about it so, so much, but fuck you for not taking me to that beach trip so long ago.  I can’t let it go.  It wouldn’t have even made this all better, I would still be a fucking trainwreck of nerves and emotions and fear, but, but, you may have eased the debt a little, because you are a patient to me.  A goddamn patient of a person.  Who needs things, and if you don’t need physical help you need emotional help, and I’m so fucking sick of it. 

I’m so fucking sick of giving.  And I’m lost. I’m so lost.  I wanted to do a private practice thing for at least a year, ok, I’ll do a year to see if the writing takes off and now it feel superfluous, now, i think how am I to write and to tend and to do therapy while I feel like a goddamn caretaker again???  How?  Please tell me how and I’ll know my way. I was just finding my way and now I am here again and I want to know why, why am I stuck here?  With these devilish thoughts like I have no money to leave, he made me without money and now I’m stuck here, how can I run away when I have nothing to run to?

I don’t want to caretake anymore.  Who is taking care of me?  Who is listening to me?

Wait, wait, thank god, thank you ancestors I have listened to myself, I need help to support myself to keep plugging away, keep chugging away, it’s not quite over yet.

A breath.  A deep exhale.