I don't know if that's "Ah! I look upon you, the glorious peaks and valleys of Hell" or if it's "Aw, dammit it all to Hell." Or maybe it's both.
I've just come back from escorting my son to New York City and back. Overall, it was a fine trip, including a jaunt to the Natural History Museum, a day at the Met, and a small explosion at Grandma's Gramercy Park apartment which involved a bite on my arm. We visited with family which he enjoyed when he usually doesn't, we went to Chinatown to get some cheap fans (where I spent the day waiting for a blow-up because he hates strong smells yet rotting fish smells wafting up from the gutter bothered him not at all), and we decided not to go to a movie after the ticket counter was determined to "smell like sour soap."
I can't figure out any more what normal is.
I keep getting asked by people, "How's Saul doing?" I'm not trying to be coy or pull people into a long dissertation of recent events, but I quite honestly don't know how to answer that question anymore. Mostly, people don't really care to know, truth be told. They just want to hear that he's dong better, and for the most part, the news is great. So I can honestly say, "He's doing great." Except then people move on from that question to further conversation where it's clear that they think that he's "all better" and the family has no more problems. Uh, not so much.
So I'm left with saying, "What's your definition of normal? Depending on what you think normal is, Saul is doing great. Better than normal." For me, a bite on the arm after one week of being away from home and traipsing through museums with no other explosions or runaways is a pretty good thing. A huge improvement. Yay!
On the other hand, I still really do not like being bitten. It gets me angry and depressed.
I keep bouncing back and forth between these two islands. Things Are Better and This Life Sucks. The worst place is when I'm standing on the bridge between the two thinking, "Things are better and STILL this life sucks."
I had a week of people watching in Manhattan. Weird thoughts kept flitting through my mind: I wonder how many books that man has read. I wonder how long that couple drinking Rob Roys has been married. I wonder how that mother with the Prada bag would react if her son attacked her. I wonder if that young girl is flattered when he stands so close to her in the door of subway, his back to the crowd, or is that annoyance at his presumption I see in that flick of her hair?
I'm doing a bit of people watching on myself, truth be told. I'm not sure how well I'm doing, but on the other hand, what's normal here? I have a friend who was abusing sleeping pills; I spent on weekend a few years ago trying to convince her to check herself into a psychiatric hospital. She kept coming back to her children not doing well, and I kept saying back to her, "That's normal. They're father left them for a younger woman. He got married and he wants them to never be angry at him. Of course they're stressed. They're in a stressful situation. So are you. It's normal to show signs of stress." That conversation keeps coming back to me, now that I'm on the other end of it, so to speak. What's normal here? What's expected?
Saul's therapist asked me a few weeks ago if I was depressed. I answered quickly, "Yup. Been depressed for a while, but I've been much more depressed than this." Last week he privately said that he was amazed that I had said "Yes" so easily to a question which most people stumbled across. "Come on now. Three months ago I was seriously considering putting my son in a psychiatric hospital for observation. I've been fighting this THING, whatever it is, for years. I keep running right into walls in his education. Wouldn't YOU be depressed? Isn't that a normal reaction? What if I had said "No"? Would you have believed me?"
People are constantly looking for any sign of depression. But what if you find it? Is finding it "bad"? Or is it a normal response to some very abnormal situations?
I don't quite know the answers to those yet.