An Anvil Named Norma

“Don’t let me go.” I told her.

“Don’t let you go where?”

“I don’t know. Just…don’t.”

This conversation probably concerned my dear friend. As it should. That was a few weeks ago at a girls’ night out. Cheery company I am, huh? I knew I was on the brink. And now I’m falling. I recently described my, um, well let’s just say “messy” home as the Pit of Despair. Is there a bottom to the pit? Is it just depression? Or is it the realization that this pit is truly my assigned station in life? Is it just a final realization of…well, reality?

Maybe a week before the don’t-let-me-go conversation, I was hit over the head with an anvil. Very sudden and very cartoon-like. Only I didn’t laugh, because it scared the poo out of me. Of course I didn’t actually poo, nor did I actually get hit with an anvil. If anything actually ever scares the poo out of me, I will be sure to make note that it is no longer just a metaphor. And if I ever actually get hit on the head with an anvil, you will probably never hear about it because I will be dead.

I take allergy shots twice a week. The new rule is that you have to remain in the office for a thirty minute observation period in case after the last 200 uneventful injections you suddenly develop a life-threatening response to the medicine. My son HATES the “allergy shot place.” I try very hard not to have to take him there, but as there are approximately two people besides me that can care for him during the day, circumstances arise where he has to accompany me. The anvil dropped on just such a day.

Her name is Norma. I have begun a friendly relationship with Norma, and I think she is a dear, sweet woman who would never in her life attempt to wallop an unsuspecting patient over the head, but alas, anvils cannot always help themselves. She can’t weigh more than a hundred pounds, which is probably why I am still alive.

While we were waiting in the kids’ area of the office, Javan was an absolute terror. As usual. It is a very nice kids’ room with a tv and movies, plenty of well-organized toys, and a nice comfy couch by the window. The two walls that join it to the main part of the waiting room are glass. Which allows Javan to make enough growly don’t-you-dare faces to make most children aware that they should not enter his territory. In fact, we usually get this room to ourselves even if other children are present, although I try to take him at the least busy time of the day.

On this day, however, there was another child present. And she was sitting in the main part of the waiting room on a couch sharing one of the glass walls with “our room.” She kept looking longingly over at us and the playthings. Her mom was engrossed in a magazine and didn’t spare a glance at her daughter. So the little girl, probably about 5 years old, gestured to me through the window asking if she could come in. I nodded yes and waved her in, but Javan wasn’t having it. He growled and he actually clawed the glass in front of her face. She looked nonplussed and did not attempt to enter the playroom. Then Javan started going berserk, like he usually does there, and trying to leave the play room and head for the main waiting area where he could claw and attack others. Well, short of illegally drugging him, I cannot prevent him from scowling at other people, but I can and must prevent him from attacking on sight. So, I had to hold him back a few times. The screaming only went on for a minute or two. We still had 15 minutes to go.

When my time to leave had finally come, Norma, a nurse I hadn’t seen before due to the timing of our previous visits, asked, “Who was that doing all the screaming?” I gestured to my son. She simply said, “My daughter was like that. She’s bipolar.” Just like that. She knew. Just like moms of children with autism can usually tell pretty quickly that Javan is autistic, she knew he was “like that.” Bipolar. Just from hearing him scream. Smack! The anvil falls.

I asked how on Earth she could tell from a simple cry or scream. I mean, she’s a nurse who gives allergy shots and many patients are children. She’s no stranger to a good scream. She just said, “They have a different scream.” And, she’s right. They do. It’s a more intense, primal fear kind of scream. Blood curdling. Since then, she and I have spoken many times of her daughter, who is now grown, and her experiences with raising a bipolar child. Her daughter was never “diagnosed,” but it was so obvious and some of the stories she’s told me, some involving razors, some involving fire…they turn my spine to ice.

But the thing that makes my blood freeze the most was her final remark that day.It echos in my mind. Do not judge her for having said this, because I believe she may have spoken the truth and she has listened to and supported me through my trials as she is given opportunity. As I left the office that day, she said, “It doesn’t get any better.”

You know, I think I already realized that. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how relentless the cycle is. It gets better for a while, you think you’re doing something right and things will be okay, and then BAM! things start to slip and you watch your world break apart again and stand there trying to keep it together with superglue, knowing from the hundreds of other times you’ve tried that your effort is in vain.

But hearing someone else who’s really been there, who’s really raised a kid like mine say those words even as she still watches and deals with her daughter’s adult struggles, somehow made it so much more real. Though I’ve searched through many, many different avenues, I have only ever found one other mother who has a child “like mine.” And I have only talked with her online. She has been valuable in supporting me, encouraging me, and giving me ideas and tools to use to help Javan. But Norma is the first mother I’ve ever met face-to-face who’s gone through what I’m going through. And she knew right away.

I believe God has placed this particular anvil in my path as a much needed life-line. I am sinking. The Pit is consuming me. It is consuming my family. Anvils hurt. But, once you crawl out from under them, you are left with a solid, strong tool to use to your benefit. I could see the anvil as a tool that I can use to hammer my son of steel into the shape I think he should be. But I have a feeling that is not what is meant to be. I have the distinct feeling that God is holding the hammer in one hand, and me in the other. He can use Norma, the Anvil (which is, by the way, her new super hero name) to shape me into whatever I am supposed to be to help my son.

I cannot imagine how this is possible. Nothing I do helps him. Nothing I try makes him better. I may think it does for a time, but the progress always melts away.Right now, the progress is like a glacier that is melting away so quickly that it is flooding our safe places. It is flooding our mountain tops. And I don’t know how to swim in this kind of ocean. As of yet, God has not invited me into an ark, nor given me instructions to build one of my own.

But, a piece of iron does not have to understand what it is to become or what it will be used for. It just has to yield itself to the fire and the hammer and trust that its Maker knows what he’s doing.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Querida Duncalfe
    Feb 28, 2012 @ 22:24:28

    Damn, girl. I’m so glad you have this blog and use it as a forum to share your struggles and triumphs. Keep fighting the good fight and know that I’m praying for you. ❤


  2. marcie
    Feb 29, 2012 @ 05:59:53

    I also, love reading this – getting insight into what your world is like, Krista. Thank you for your frankness and well…you are just a really good writer. Love to you all.


  3. Ruthie
    Feb 29, 2012 @ 08:37:45

    I wish I could wave a magic wand and let you see the future. Javen is where God has him. You are God’s tool and being a tool is often a thankless job. But one day somewhere in the future Javen will be able to verbalize to you that he appreciates what you do for him. (these words of thanks are few and far between but oh so sweet when you get them.) That isn’t to say that many of the days don’t suck, they do. But those few carefully chosen words can be held in your heart for the days when he growls in public, and/or thrashes you with whatever is handy. Keep up the good fight. Remember, you are both doing your best most of the time and don’t give up just because you have a rough day of it most days. You are a good Mom and some days will be better. That is what you hope for, at least that is what I hope for. And at 20, I still have hopes for my child’s success. I just have to keep fighting the fight, and know God has his place picked out in the world. I am saying prayers for you guys often. I know one prayer is enough, God has heard, But I figure the more the marrier. I know people pray for me and it is what holds me together most days. They do get better, just not “better” like most people think of, Better on our scale and that is what matters to us.
    Here’s hoping for a better day today.
    Ruthie <


  4. Annie
    Mar 02, 2012 @ 23:06:45

    Krista, you are amazing, and so is Javan. The state of your house is so much less important than the tremendous investment you are making in his life. And sometimes, ignoring some things so you can face the more important things is the only way to stay sane. Love you and pray for you. Proud of you!


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