The Art of Distractability

Last night after dinner, Alex and I were sitting on the couch scratching the dogs, trying to put into words how we are feeling these days.  Weirdly, we don’t talk about it often.  It’s like the air around us or the wind blowing or the sun coming up each morning.  It is just there.  All the time.  Every moment.  The presence and effects of The Waiting is so real and tangible and yet so normal to us now, talking about it is almost strangely redundant, like asking my husband if he has ever noticed that he has two eyes and a nose on his face.

Even so, every now and then I feel the need to state the obvious and hear Alex do the same, to remind me that I am not the only one feeling a little lost in this world right now.  I didn’t need Alex to tell me that he is feeling exactly the same way I am, but he looks at the world differently than I do, so I was curious to hear how he would try to verbalize the feelings of The Waiting – sometime I find myself struggling to do.

People often ask how we are doing and how we are feeling and what it is like to be in The Waiting.  In those moments, I feel a huge rush of emotions so rich in complicated feelings that it feels like it is going to overflow and pour out of me.  And yet, when I open my mouth … nothing.  Some things just don’t lend themselves well to words.

Instead, we usually spout rehearsed, pithy statements about how we are just praying! and staying busy! and enjoying the quiet! and happy about what is coming! and we know it is all in God’s timing!

Blah. Blah. Blaaaaah.

And then turn and walk away and pry the plastic smiles off our faces, and look at each other to say without words, “It’s okay … if how you’re feeling means you are crazy, then I’m crazy too.”

Alex is the only person IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE who wordlessly understands the weirdness of The Feelings right now.  But out of curiosity, I wanted to know how he would put it into words if he could.

“Bored.” He said, without missing a beat.  Bored with everyone and everything.

It wasn’t a word I had thought to use, but it resonated with me too.

“But … nothing in our lifestyle is different now than it ever has been.  Why does it feel boring now?” I asked him, myself, and no no one in particular.

We tossed more words around, trying to wrestle The Feelings into a box, as if that would make them more manageable.

Apathetic.

Ambivalent.

Cut off.

Distant.

Unsettled.

Like I have blinders on.

Distracted.

Like I have to try really hard to focus on what people are saying.

Exhausted by social interactions.

Bored.

 

In the end, the best we could do was summarize it like this:

There is only one thing in the world I want to be doing, so everything else pales in comparison.

 

The reason why life is boring is because we’ve moved on.  We are no longer in the mindset of “married without kids”.  We are married with a kid … and yet without a kid.  We used to LOVE our “married without kids” lifestyle, to the point where we occasionally discussed the possibility of having kids, and then decided this stage of life was too much fun to leave just yet.  But we have left it.  Even if we haven’t physically, we left that stage emotionally and mentally months ago.

Even after we began our adoption, there were moments when I thought to myself that I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to leave the “married without kids” stage.  Part of me still wanted to cling to that lifestyle.  Something about that made The Waiting bearable, as if I was soaking up the last savory drips of this phase, like a piece of bread in the bottom of a bowl of soup.

Eventually I moved passed that and focused instead on how even though I felt ready to leave “married without kids”, I wasn’t sure I was capable of being successful at “married with kids”.  What if I was bad at it?  What if I messed it up?  How am I supposed to know what to do?  Even that made The Waiting bearable, because it meant I still had time to work that out and get ready (as if that is possible).

But now … even that is behind me, and behind Alex.  It is not that we feel we are suddenly Super Parents who are ready and equipped for anything.  We just don’t care anymore.  All we want is our son.

Suddenly, all of our hangups are in the past.  “Married without kids” is a chapter that we have closed, yet the first page of “married with kids” chapter refuses to turn over.

Now we are terrible at things we used to love, like being with friends and family.  Every topic falls into two categories for us: “Adoption” and “Not Adoption”.  We are impossible right now, because usually talking about “adoption” is too raw (or fake: see above) and everything “not adoption” just feels like watching black & white TV when there is technicolor available.  We truly suck at most forms of social interaction right now.  Friends and Family … our apologies.  We will make you cookies one day when we are capable of looking you in the eye and having a real conversation when our brains aren’t a million miles away.

Right now, it feels like the world is whizzing by around us, and we are just sitting still, unable or unwilling to keep up.

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So, what do we do?  We are no longer capable of enjoying the wait, because we just can’t.  We know it is “all in God’s timing”, but that doesn’t make things any easier.  We aren’t even trying to put a big spiritual bow on it by recognizing the lessons we can take from this, because we know sometime the lesson is just that God is with you in the struggle, and that is enough.

Right now, we are just enduring each day and congratulating ourselves each night.  We don’t really have the emotional energy for anything else.

 

And so, we ended our conversation with what has become a daily norm: “How shall we distract ourselves tonight?”

 

 

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