Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Guilt and Anxiety

In other words, same old, same old.

I've been quiet of late because, well, because my writing here seems really unfocused, and I don't feel like I'm saying much of anything, and I jump from issue to issue. But also because I'm feeling skittish and jumpy and anxious and ever-so-slightly manic in my life in general. I know where it's coming from; not from a mental illness or a psychological break of some kind, but rather because I'm currently negotiating with not one but TWO potential employers for part-time-but-long-term freelance-type jobs, both of which I'll likely end up taking on, but neither of which--not even when I put them together--will allow me to quit my job here. So I'm both excited by the prospect of new challenges and new subject matter and more money coming in, but I'm terrified that I'm getting in way over my head. I'm caught in that place between thinking that I shouldn't turn down something that sounds interesting, since it may be the first step on my way out of here, and thinking that I'm going to bury myself so deeply in these various project that I'm going to miss the REAL opportunity to escape when it presents itself.

If I do get one or both of these jobs, though, I'm likely to have some work for you struggling-writer types. Stay tuned.

Also, yesterday I received the long-overdue report from the developmental pediatrician who saw N a few months ago. I don't have it here in my office, and it really didn't say much that was different from the school district's evaluation (he's not on the autism spectrum, anywhere, but he has issues with peer relationships). The main difference was that she noted some real issues with some aspects of his speech--the same sorts of issues I'd pushed the school district to look at but they ignored. You know, pragmatic stuff like responding to a question even if he's not interested in the subject matter, or maintaining a conversation over a longer period of time than just a few back-and-forths.

But that's not the point here. The point is that in this eight-page, single-spaced report, only one or two phrases jumped out at me, and they are the ones that haunted me all night long, so much so that I couldn't fall asleep and ended up going downstairs and huddling on our futon couch for a few hours (and yes, it was as pathetic as all that). The phrases? "Attention-seeking behavior," and "looking for attention." Because, see, from the very very beginning, when N was a newborn, I worried about his not getting my undivided attention. I had a very lively, very smart, very headstrong 3.5-year-old in the house, and she COMMANDED attention. The little guy asleep in my arms or suckling at my breast? He just needed warmth and skin and milk. And I gave him plenty of that. But eye contact or speech directed at him and him alone? Not so much. So when it became clear that he was having some issues making his way in the world, and when I began to realize that he does have some difficulty maintaining eye contact and initiating relationships and carrying on conversations with people--all those things I didn't do so well at giving him as an infant--it preyed on me. And despite the subsequent months and months of having various people insist "it's not your fault," all it takes is the musings of a professional that his behaviors may indeed be coming from some place inside him that is lonely and unfilled and needy...well, all I can think is, not my fault, my ass.

Poor little guy. He's working so hard at filling in those holes in his development and his psyche, and he's doing such a great job. And I'm helping him, and doing a good job of it, too. But knowing that I had a role in digging the holes in the first place...just makes me sad, that's all. And if it's attention from me he's seeking, my taking on two new jobs right now isn't exactly going to do the trick with regards to helping him catch up.

Rock. Me. Hard place.

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