Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stress reduction

I have been diagnosed with Psoriasis. In the most simple explanation, it is a skin condition that is an autoimmune/allergic response to stress. Nothing more significant than STRESS. I don't understand how my primary doctor missed that it was not eczema this spring but had developed into full-blown psoriasis. What I do know is that I have been absolutely miserabale from this since last fall. I had eczema from stress or allergens for the year prior but this stuff developed last fall and never got any better.

Sadly, Micah was only one of my two insane stressors. The other was my own tendency to want to help people. That led me to offering our home as a sanctuary for a good friend, a single mother fleeing a bad marriage with three children in tow. Of couse, two of her children were autistic, one as severely so as Micah, and the third child was a severely neglected baby that my friend wanted nothing to do with. She came into our home under the agreement she would do childcare and housekeeping in exchange for free housing, and proceeded to sit down and do nothing but expect me to parent for her for the first two months.

I should have run at that point. However, she eventually learned how to assist with Micah's needs, which was golden, and I feel very responsible for her children once I had brought them into my home. It felt monstorous to turn my back on three children I knew would not be safe and cared for if I asked this friend to leave my home. Yet, the stress of parenting her three children on top of my chlidren, the stress of constantly trying to convince her that she really *did* have to do something other than enjoy the advantages of living in my home was a nightmare.

When Micah died, this friend had a bizarre and sudden personality change. She became unpredictable and unsafe. We attempted to direct her towards housekeeping so that she would still earn her housing and her children would be safe. However, she felt that meant she would perform approximately 45 minutes of work on the kitchen three to four days per week only. This too was unacceptable. Her behaviors continued to deteriorate and my stress went through the roof.

Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that we could not sacrifice my heart and soul to attempt to save someone else's children from their own parent, and that our children desperately needed me to devote what was being sucked up by this friend to actually support OUR children. Firing and removing the stress from our home became a month long stressor worse than losing Micah was.

The nanny opted to fall into the company of a trashy boyfriend and decided that acting trashy herself was the optima answer to the conflict. Multiple attempts to mitigate the behaviors and try to part company still friends had to ultimately abandoned for the option of removing someone who was behaving paranoid and bizarre and nothing like the friend I had known for several years.

All of my research indicates there are only three categories of events that cause sudden personality changes in adults. The first are brain injuries. These include head trauma, strokes, tumors, brain infections. We know this category is not the plausible explanation for what occurred to our family. The second category is severe mental health issues. We knew there were underlying mental health struggles and certainly mental health issues is a possible explanation. However, having observed this person in my home for a year and seen the struggles with mental health cycle throughout that year, I can honestly say this event was different. It had a sudden onset which began the week Micah was dying and dramatically escalated from that point forward so that I have been unable to even THINK about my grief process since Micah's death due to this situation. The third category of events is drug usage. Hmm....this is in an interesting category. Certainly, the new trashy boyfriend was a ready supply, and the behaviors do seem consistent.

While I would love to have closure and understanding of what actually happened to my friend, the reality is that it's not important. The Psoraisis and heart palapatations the lies, and the deliberate attempts to cause harm to my family are enough to know that this person is not safe for my family and cannot be permitted to EVER be near my children again. This is also exactly what the police officer she called in finally bothering to remove the last of her possessions informed her when she thought she would find a sympathetic ear--she was to get her stuff without speaking to anyone and to never contact us again.

I haven't had a friend betray me since middle school, and that friend long since apologized for being a typical, lost teenager. This friend was much more malicious and it is my undestanding from mutual friends that she continues to be malicious and dishonest. I am grateful that most of my friends know me and know when something sounds extremely inconsistent to them. We will work to heal the other ramifications of this former friend and nanny's choices and behaviors with our family as well.

What this has taught me is that as much as I strive so desperately to behave in a truly Anabaptist fashion and with the outlook of Anne Frank, ultimately Anne Frank was killed and most Anabaptists don't actually engage in the outside world. As much as I constantly want to help those I love when they need a helping hand, I will never, ever attempt to help someone so intimately and by bringing them into my house again. My home needs to be sacrosanct for my children. They have lost too much and losing a beloved nanny and their best friends in this experience was more loss than they should have had to endure. I cannot make other adults choose to be mature and loving adults, thus I cannot offer my home as sanctuary for anyone beyond the children it is meant to be the sanctuary for in the first place.

When we did the morally right act of contacting the father of the children and providing him with information he will need to protect his children, if he is willing to step up and do so, he said one thing that made me cry. He said my friend must have loved Micah very much for her to have fallen THIS far in his death. This man who was not a kind man to this friend, who has been a marginal, but at least safer than where she is and what she is doing now, parent hit this with such clarity it was shocking. Maybe this friend's underlying mental health struggles predisposed her to fall this way. Maybe it was bound to happen regardless. However, this man is right, she was devoted to my son as much as I was in that final year. She loved Micah very much, and whatever has happened to her since his death, I do believe it is the result of her insistance that she wants to run from the grief and deny that my son mattered in her life or the lives of her children. Whether she has had a total mental breakdown, or whether she has turned to her boyfriend's endless supply of narcotic pain killers and muscle relaxers, she is trying to run and deny the grief that overwhelmed her.

In the process, she nearly killed me as well. The stress of trying to help a friend not fall down, and then trying to get the ropes removed as fast as you can before you fall in and drown with that friend, has been insane. All I wanted to do was learn to live again without my son. TODAY, I can finally close that chapter in our lives that was distracting us and causing my body to stop functioning on me. NOW, we can go back to focusing on the grief and new normalicy from losing Micah.

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