You make out to do lists - reorganize linen cupboard, learn two sonnets. You dole out little treats to yourself - slices of ice cream cake, concerts at Wigmore Hall. And then, every once in a while, you wake up... and think I cannot do this anymore. I cannot pull myself together again and spend the next fifteen hours of wakefullness fending off the fact of my own misery."*
Today turned out to not be my best day ever... My original plan was to spend the day shopping with my mom and my sister, maybe have lunch, just be out in the world. (And, not incidentally, away from our house where my dad had declared he would be having a "taking care of me" weekend, the prospect of which is frightening at the very least.) But then my sister didn't feel up to going, so it was just me and my mom, who was in an off mood for whatever reason. But, equipped with lists and coupons and I even remembered to bring my own basket (mine is made of cloth as opposed to the ones in the stores which hurt like hell on my lap), we headed to our first scheduled stop, the craft store.
The store turned out to be wicked crowded and incredibly hot. And about 10 minutes after we got there, I knew that things were going wrong with me: There were a few too many smells, and too much noise, and it was so hot. I started getting weak and bumping into things, and even looking at my list, I was having a hard time concentrating on what I was looking for. I spent a while waiting for my mom to finish up her shopping, and trying not to slide out of the chair or topple over. I don't know why - it just happens like that sometimes. That's one of the things with CFIDS: you can't tell/plan when/why things are going to go to hell. It was so bad I thought I was going to pass out in the store, and waited outside while my mom went through line (she would not approve of that behavior, had she known).
I got the things I needed at the craft store, but between the intense heat and whatever was going on with my body, I was just done. Plum worn out. So instead of a full day of shopping and lunch and being out of the house, we headed home after less than an hour, where I was barely able to crawl back into bed.
A couple of hours of resting and Buffy marathoning later, I was feeling a bit better (less spinning head, more umph), so I turned the computer back on and started checking out the usual haunts. (For the record, those are basically my Reader, my mail, Facebook for chatting, and whatever other tabs I happened to not have finished the last time I signed off.) Reading through my FB activity feed, I see that one of my college friends has a new profile picture up, so I clicked on it.
And there sat nine little children on a couch, posing (as nicely as 9 children under 7 can) for the camera. Nine little children of all the girls I was most friendly with in college, our group of "Alumni Girls." The children of my closest friends, sitting on the couch of one of those friends, about oh 12 minutes down the road from where I am. Which means all of their mothers are sitting there too, and that I was not invited.
And I've missed out on a lot of things over the years - birthday parties and get togethers and weddings and whatnot - and I've not been invited to a few things too, as some of the girls and I hadn't seen each other for years, and grew further apart as time continued to pass. I know that, and, while it's hurt to have to miss things for health reasons, or because I just can't go, I've never really felt unwelcome before, never felt like I was deliberately not included.
And I know that's not what it will wind up being - that there's no way anybody thought "Hey, let's not include NTE, because she's such a bitch," or whatever. I know that's not it. The way I figure it either my name never came up because all of my friends were arranging a playdate for their kids, and I don't have any kids, or they just decided not to ask me because the girl whose house it's at is inaccessible to me. So either I was forgotten because I'm not a mom, or I was not asked because they assumed I couldn't make it - but neither of those reasons really makes me feel all that much better.
And looking at that picture, of all those little smiling faces and bald heads and stuffed animals really just reminds me of how much I don't have, of how much I'm missing out on.
I don't have the family, or the kids. And I don't have a bunch of girlfriends that I can just have over to the house (I also don't have) whenever I want. I don't even really have anybody, outside of this computer, who will understand what it's like to not have those things. To want them so badly and just not be able to have them.
To instead be sitting here, with this body that won't even let you go unaided the 6 feet it takes to get into the bathroom, wondering what the fuck happened to the life you were supposed to have. To instead be sitting here in tears staring at nine kids - some of whom you've never even met, and others who call you auntie honorarily - and wishing there was a tenth. Wishing that their moms had thought to call you and say "Sorry you can't make it, but we'll be down the street today, want us to drop by after?" Wishing I'd managed being out in the world for longer than 45 minutes without having to rest for four hours. Wishing I knew how to get from where I am to where I want to be. Wishing I'd never seen the damn picture, and just kept watching Buffy instead, even if it was the one with the praying mantis teacher, and I've seen it 19 times before.
*Zoe Heller, What Was She Thinking