Balancing Act

by Monique Duell

It’s just another “typical” day in the Duell house. Yeah right! I’m still not settled from spending nearly three months in a hotel with my two sons due to flood damage to our home. Hotel life was sweet. I didn’t have to clean, make breakfast, or make dinner three days a week because the beautiful hotel had free food and free breakfast. I was pampered beyond my wildest dreams, and then reality set in once again.

I had to return home. I had to return home to endless stress, decisions, deadlines, schoolwork, housework, and errands.

I am two weeks behind in schoolwork and frankly unbothered by it. You would think that since I’m three classes away from earning my degree that I would be like flash lightning. I am not! I’m more like a slug. I do things at the absolute last minute, and my self-care is currently not to care. I am always on the back burner and I’ve learned through this whole process that some people only care about you when it benefits them. Once they have no collective interest in getting what they want or need from you, it’s bye, bye birdie.

I am drained. Something as simple as grocery shopping or getting a pedicure has become a chore. I don’t want to drive unless I absolutely have to.

I have been incognito and my phone has been so quiet I have to check it to make sure my ringer works. One by one, I’ve lost dear friends who are not dead for no good reason. I guess our friendship wasn’t that valuable or important to them. Life goes on. My circle is not even a half moon. I don’t know what it is. I have this innate ability to totally disconnect and it’s scary, yet amazing.

My body is weak and I’m barely able to eat or drink. Most days, I’m on a BRAT diet because my stomach is in knots. I’ve been to the ER three times, and still no relief. I have to find a specialist, and that’s just the beginning. I am extremely anemic, which is dangerous. My levels are so low, it’s a miracle that I’m alive.

I have spent days in parking lots and outside in my driveway, crying uncontrollably. Feeling frustrated, afraid, inadequate, lonely, like a burden, and trying to keep it all together. Smiling on the outside while screaming, “Help me!” on the inside.

Who takes care of the caregiver? The mother like me who’s trying to balance it all while fighting the good fight of faith? I can’t even begin to tell you how this is impacting my body physically and mentally. What were once solutions have become problematic due to a lack of support. I barely have “me” time anymore.

I am drowning trying to keep up with my son’s needs, my needs, and life’s needs. I am only one person, performing the tasks of many in an effort to be the “perfect” mother of a son with a disability. The guilt, the anger, the sadness, the wrestling back and forth with hard choices and emotions are overwhelming most days. I do my best to stay positive and reach out to the faithful few friends that I have, but truthfully, I still suffer in silence because I don’t want to dump all of that on them.

Despite all of that, I have found a glimmer of happiness along the way. I have found some positive outlets that are fun and uplifting to my spirit. I decided to take one day at a time, take better care of myself, and I learned that saying no is a wonderful thing. I don’t have all the answers and I never will. What I do know is that I will survive.

Author: Monique Duell • Date: 8/17/2018

About the Author

Monique Duell is an Author, Blogger, Speaker and Singer. She is currently a Christian Psychology major at Liberty University. In April 2014, she published her first inspirational book, How Do I Handle a Special Needs Child? Her book was featured in the winter issue of Legacy in the Making Magazine, where she was featured as one of three “Rising Brilliant Authors.” It is based on her life experience as both a special needs, single mother to her two teenage sons as well as being the sole caregiver to her brother with Autism and Epilepsy. Her youngest son is diagnosed with Spastic Diplegia, a severe form of Cerebral Palsy. Monique is a truly a survivor. She has also written a memoire entitled Handicapped Mom: Lessons I Learned through Cerebral PalsyMonique is a parent contributor for both Parenting Special Needs Magazine and for the non-profit group, Special Shades of Color. You can check out her blog, Breaking Free. Contact Monique Duell via email

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