Monday, August 5, 2019

The Eighth Hour of Battle

It’s the eighth hour of battle. There are fewer enemies to fight. But the sights, smells, and sounds that surround me trigger me into believing I’m cornered. My battle gear seems too heavy to bear. In this state, how could I even lift my sword if I needed to? I’m immobile. It’s no longer necessary to fight, but I can’t remove my armor. I’m too weary and too afraid. The next vile enemy is probably lurking right around the bend. 

The words “IEP meeting”, “psychoeducational evaluation”, or even “school” can send me into a tailspin. My head swims with images of the last seven hours of battle- my child wearing a vacant expression, lying in a hospital bed after his school repeatedly allowed teachers and students to bully him. Another child battling migraines at only six-years-old because it was too much to deal with the enormous emotional load at home while adhering to a rigid behavioral code of conduct at school. For two years he received not one demerit, but he did spend time visiting multiple emergency rooms and one children’s hospital team of neurologists. I picture our lovely previous neighborhood, and my coming to the realization that my urban ideal was less-than-ideal for two of my children who had sensory needs that were being neglected in that environment. 

The solution to each of the above instances involved me carrying a greater burden. School abuses my son. I’ll teach him at home. My son needs more time being emotionally heard and less time in a strict classroom. He can come home too. Sensory needs aren’t met in our current home. I’ll spend two years patching, sanding, and painting while homeschooling multiple children so we can sell our house and have enough equity to purchase in a location that’s healthier for our family. When the planned house purchase falls through and we end up renting for a few months in a lovely area that lacks cultural diversity, my path forward is clear. I order a few more textbooks, brush up on the special education skills I never had, and teach everyone at home. 

Observers don’t know I’ve been in battle or that I’m dealing with toxic stress from that battle. After years of being perpetually unavailable, I’ve become unknown. I don’t have time for life-giving activities. Rarely do I have time for life-sustaining breaks. In my current existence, those infrequent breaks have to be enough. I’ve forgotten what relationships and activities bring me joy. I’m not sure I have energy for joy. My expectation is that the next season will only require more of me. And there isn’t much of me left. So I withdraw. Who wants to be around a person as depleted as me anyway? 

I don’t. 

Sometimes I just stare at my phone and imagine having the energy to make a phone call, send an email, or invite friends I truly miss into my current life. 

But the realization that I have nothing to give those friends causes me to pause. 

The eighth hour of battle is far less intense than the first seven, but it’s in the eighth hour that the realization finally comes;  even when the conflict is over, there’s no going back. I will never be who I once was. 

This fall is scheduled to bring changes in our family. Our plan and our hope is that all four children will be in school. If all goes according to plan, I’ll have predictable breaks for the first time in almost nine years. 

With privilege comes responsibility. I’m just now realizing that my first responsibility is to learn who I am and who I want to be given my life-altering journey.


  1. All I can offer is wholly inadequate prayers and hugs from afar, friend. I desperately hope this turns out to be a season of some semblance of peace, however temporary, and a much-deserved period of introspection. <3 Much love, Amanda

    1. Your prayers are much appreciated and I'm grateful for you and for the fact that you pray for us (...visit us, listen, share your wisdom...I could go on). Much love to you and to your delightful family!


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