Stuck in Neutral

I am sitting in my morning chair, watching the swallows swoop about the skies, check out the birdhouses, chirping, chirping, chirping. The pair of goldfinch paused for a moment in the tree outside my window; just for a moment. The bluebird couple visited the birdhouse down below briefly; very briefly. And here I sit. Stuck in neutral, or is it perhaps park?

I look out at my bedraggled flower beds, at the pine needles and pine cones strewn about. I think the thoughts I have been thinking for many mornings – I need to get out there and start the spring cleanup. It is my job to do now, and I must get started. Daffodils and iris are sprouting, and the taller they get the more difficult it is to work around them.

I think these thoughts every morning. I make plans to start cleaning up every morning. Later, I say – later in the day when it is warmer, after I have gotten husband his coffee and his morning pills, once he is settled for awhile. Later.

Later never comes. Distraction happens, perhaps a little bit of a feeling of being defeated. Perhaps it all seems too much, too difficult. Perhaps a large dose of laziness. I sit. Stuck in neutral. Or park.

Thursday husband had an IV push of a radioactive fluid – a fluid designed to attack the cancer in his bones, thereby reducing his pain. We hope. A fluid that has been him somewhat radioactive, so Shasta and I have been sleeping in the middle bedroom, and Shasta is not understanding why she is not allowed on the bed with her dad. By tomorrow we should be able to launder his bedding, start fresh and go back to our normal sleeping arrangements. Assuming I do not get stuck in neutral. Assuming the increase in pain, temporary the literature says, has begun to fade so that he does not spend the night moaning and crying out as he has been.

And I sit – stuck in neutral. Afraid to start something in case husband needs my attention. Working through emotions, practicing patience, trying to determine what kind of food to prepare for husband, whose eating habits have become very fickle and whose hunger appears at odd times of the day and night. I resent being required to prepare food after 7 p.m. Then again, preparing food has never been my dream job. And then I chastise myself – the world has millions of people who would give the skies to be able to prepare food at 7 p.m., to have someone to prepare food for, to have food to prepare. How shallow I am.

It is a constant battle – this need to do, this urge to do nothing, this feeling of defeat, this searching for hope, this wanting so badly to have spring in my heart but instead knowing my heart is weeping, listening to husband’s pain, seeing his pain. And my way of protecting myself, with impatience, with resentment.

Stuck in neutral. But with hope that I will soon be able to get to at least first gear.

Outside, the swallows swoop and chirp. They are not stuck in neutral.


About Carol

I'm me - nothing unusual, just me. Widowed, 2 grown children who are my best friends, 1 dog, retired, loving being retired. I am woman, I am strong.
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14 Responses to Stuck in Neutral

  1. Kathy says:

    Oh, Carol, I’m sorry. When stuck in neutral…perhaps the only thing we can do is to try to relax for a while. It must be so hard.


  2. Sheri B says:

    Thoughts and prayers go out to you. Cannot begin to imagine your frustration at not being able to “fix it” for him. Here’s hoping his pain subsides . . . soon. Hugs to you


  3. Oh Carol, this post is so heartfelt. I can so feel, and understand, your pain. I know it must be hard every day dealing with your husband’s illness and pain. Do you have a sense of waiting, waiting, for something, anything to happen? I remember when my mother was ill, feeling that, the same, no relief for her or for us and no end in sight and day after day of it. I felt paralyzed at that time too. Afraid to do anything in case something happened. My heart is with you. I understand what you’re feeling, to some degree, but then again, I can’t possibly REALLY understand it. I can’t be in your shoes. I can only imagine. I wish I could be there to take a walk outside with you and just listen. Hugs and blessings. xxx


  4. Carol – Neutral. Still.

    It’s not secret that stillness (being still, in neutral) is a natural rhythm in the cycle of life. In the space that stillness creates—sacred space—we have the opportunity to quiet the mind and body; to re-group, re-charge, re-connect, and to find a point of reference; something to measure against. To find the wisdom we need to move forward. It’s here (idling in neutral) we’re embraced by the strength of calm serenity.


  5. Colleen says:

    Carol, your words have gone straight to my heart, there is so much wisdom in your place of neutral. I hope your husbands pain eases soon.


  6. SuziCate says:

    Praying for you, your husband, and your situation. Hugs to you, dear Carol.


  7. Heather says:

    That there may be others in the world suffering more than you does not mean that your feelings are not valid. It seems like neutral may be just what you need. I hope the birds bring some cheer and peace to your heart, and I hope your husband gets some relief soon. Sending kind thoughts your way.


  8. Dawn says:

    Oh Carol….I think neutral might be a coping mechanism and a natural one too. You have so much on your plate it must be overwhelming. I wish we lived closer. I’d come over and we’d weed a little spot or rake a little pine straw together. It would be a start. Sometimes that’s all it takes… a small start. The whole project is just too big…the taking care of your husband and the helpless feeling that must instill is just too big. But little bits of it can be done and little bits combine to bigger bits.

    And, on the other hand…neutral is not wrong either. The pine straw and the spring garden work will be there tomorrow. Today will be what it will be. My own gardens need attention. Likely they will still need attention tomorrow.

    Enough of my rambling. The point is…whatever you decide to do with your day is what is right for you. Even if it is nothing.

    Hugs…lots of them…to you and your husband.


  9. Cee Neuner says:

    Carol, I really feel and appreciate your pain. With me having been the sick one for years, I’ve seen how it wears down Chris. Stuck in neutral is a good way to put it. Can’t look forward or backward…for too many reasons. All I can say is be gentle with yourself. Honor your feelings and don’t ignore them. You will get through it. With scars but also with a greater understanding and love for both yourself and your husband. Just hold on as tight as you can. Appreciate your photography and time for yourself. I know those moments are few and far between but they will get you through. Ton of hugs and blessings. Energy going your way!


  10. Don’t feel stuck… they also serve who sit and wait. As difficult and frustrating this is, there will come an “un-sticking point,” and then you won’t know what to do first. In the meantime, you and your husband are in my (and I suspect many others’) thoughts and prayers. Please don’t forget to take care of yourself. XOXO


  11. lisa says:

    I can sooo relate these days! I went out on Sunday to catch up on some yard work….and promptly lost all motivation. It’s been happening a lot, mainly around 9pm when I finally sit down for the night. Neutral isn’t all bad. It keeps us from speeding ahead too fast…or going in reverse! Hang in there, my friend. xoxox


  12. Jayne says:

    I so recognise this feeling and oh how I sympathise. Life crises have a way of swallowing up our lives so that it’s hard to focus on much more than the here and now and at their worst (speaking from my own experience) can actually make us feel cruelly trapped in stasis.. I’m very glad to read that you have good friends around you for support and that they undertook the task of helping to clear your land. Little changes and improvements no matter how mundane they may seem help us to focus on the way ahead. {{ Hugs }}


  13. Joanne says:

    Oh dear Carol, don’t ever regard yourself as shallow, you are human! Sending a huge hug to you. xxxxxx
    PS ~ I read an article recently about a tree called a “Graviola” or “Sour Sop”. It is a friut tree and the fruit is said to be helpful for cancer sufferers. I don’t know a lot about it, but it may be a lead, to help perhaps. xx


  14. Oh, Carol, this made me cry. I do so feel for you–I was my mother’s live-in caregiver, and I know how wearing it is, physically and emotionally. Not just the loss of sleep, and the stress, but that agonizing feel of helplessness. No one who loves can ever do enough, and no matter how hard and tirelessly you work, how patient you are, you still feel guilty because you can not make it all better. I know how patient and loving and kind and courageous you are. I expect your husband does too. Give Shasta a big hug, and think of it as one from me to you.
    Much love,


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