A kitchen backsplash inspired meltdown of epic proportions

Last Monday a guy came over to install a long-overdue backsplash in our kitchen. The installation was to span early morning Monday through Wednesday afternoon. At first said backsplash installation started off all nostalgic… A reasonably good looking, fit guy in his mid-thirties, with creative tendencies (he’d auditioned for American Idol several years prior), our installer resembled this personal trainer I saw a few years back who often read aloud his dark, erotic poetry in his gym in preparation for open-mic night at the local bar and practically dry-humped his clients post-workout under the masquerade of “stretching them.” (For my fellow St. Louisians who are interested, I can probably dig up his number.)

But ANYWAY, things were going, for the most part, well. This installer was nice enough, and he was super detail oriented, polishing each of the glass tiles to perfection, cutting the tiniest of pieces to fit into spaces that other tilers might have just grouted, because these spaces couldn’t really be seen by the naked eye from a standing position, as they were tucked up under cabinets. During our conversation we agreed we were basically the same anal retentive, OCD person – he channeling his analness into tile, I into spreadsheets. Joel liked him too. And so did Emily. So it was like a three-day tile party.

We also laughed at his stories of all of the people who paid him thousands of dollars to install ugly backsplashes, and we made fun of all of the crazy (and rich) people who, upon the big reveal, decided they hated their backsplash and thus requested him to rip it all out and install a new, equally expensive one. Who knew one could spend $9,000 on a backsplash? At one point, I threw back my head snickering, “Haha – what idiots!”

Mid-install this guy made some offhanded remark like, “You better make sure you choose the appropriate grout color to tie in the counter… You know? Since the tile comes off a bit cooler, and the counter comes off a bit warmer…”

I didn’t think *much* of it, but this comment caused me to agonize over the grout color choice as well as gave me a complex resulting in me repeatedly ruminating over my tile choice. But throughout the job, I was always able to conclude that it looked maybe not excellent, but at least great.

But then Wednesday came, and upon the job’s conclusion, I decided I no longer liked the tile. I decided the tile looked blue, or at best a cool grey, which I decided completely clashed with our wall color and our counter tops, both of which lean towards more of a warmer grey.

I tried to be positive about it for a couple of hours…

But then I eventually lost my shit.

Most times grief gives me perspective. Like I’m able to remind myself that basically everything isn’t the worst thing that could happen compared to what I’ve been through, which is true. On 99 out of 100 days, someone could install a kitchen backsplash made out of cow pies, and I’d be like, “Welp – this isn’t a tragedy. Moving on.”

But the other one percent of the time, a newly-installed, glass, neutral “Foggy Morning” backsplash throwing off what I perceive to be an unintentional slight blue cast, can be the straw that breaks my back. – just another wrong in what feels like a life gone entirely wrong.

Because even though it’s such a first world problem to not like my kitchen backsplash, sometimes I cannot take one more setback or disappointment no matter how minor. Sometimes I feel like I’m entitled to nothing going wrong in my life ever again, because it’s already gone so, so wrong in the worst way possible. Sometimes I think I’m, at the very least, entitled to liking my freaking kitchen backsplash.

In a way it shows how far I’ve come. After losing Matthew, for months I could not care about trivial things such as this. If someone would have told me that someday I would care about home décor again, I would not have believed it.

But in other ways, it shows how far I have yet to go. That an imperfect kitchen backsplash could be the spark that ignites my life going up in flames for almost four days… Because my freak out over my new backsplash snowballed into paralyzing feelings of doom. In a matter of hours I’d convinced myself that either Joel would become seriously ill or die or that Mark or I would become seriously ill or die. I obsessed over all of the bad things that could take out any one of us at any time. And no one could talk me out of it. No one can ever talk me out of it, comfort me with, “It isn’t likely or probable.” Because the improbable has already happened to me. It’s almost as though, when I’m in such a state, I need someone to be able to guarantee to me that nothing remotely this bad will ever happen to me again, and, when I realize that no such guarantee will ever exist, I want to die, because the memories and the grief and the scary thoughts – they’re almost too much.

There were also the feelings of failure… The negative self-talk, “You can’t pick a kitchen backsplash. You are horrible at your job – you can’t reconcile your $19,352 difference on your spreadsheet. You are a horrible mother – one of your sons keeps crying, and your other one is dead.”

It always ends up here. Every problem ends with, “And your son is dead.” I don’t know if there will come a day when this will stop.

After Emily left on Wednesday, Mark had to come home early. I had to go eat dinner by myself, just to get out of the house. After putting Joel to bed, I googled scary stuff until I eventually fell asleep around 11:00pm, but then I woke up at 12:00am, and, in another fit of anxiety frantically raided our cabinet to see if I could find any remaining Xanax from when it was first prescribed to me in summer of 2015. (I only found some prenatal vitamins from January 2015, which caused yet another overwhelming wave of grief.)

On Friday, I was still in a really bad place, and Emily couldn’t make it in. (I love her, so if she wants to take a day off to go mushroom hunting or make maple syrup in the wilderness, I usually grant her request. No, I am not shitting you.) So Mark called his mom and my mom, and they both dropped everything to come to my rescue yet again. (Bless their souls.)

Currently, I’m doing much better… This huge wave of anxiety and grief has passed, yet again. But geeeez, this was a bad one, so yes, I’m seeking more help.

There are many, many days when I function relatively well, and then I experience ones like these… It’s such a rollercoaster, this life after loss… I feel like almost two years in I should be doing better than I am, but there are so many times when I am not. I’m so thankful for those who are patient with me. And for family who keeps coming to my rescue. Sometimes I get the sense that they miss the old me – I am not sure they have accepted that the old me isn’t coming back. I hope, in time, the new me can be less high-maintenance, more likable… Also, I know a lot of my relationships are somewhat one-sided – like it probably seems like I don’t give much while taking a lot… I also hope, in time, it can be less this way…

And, I think the most ridiculous part of it all is that now, I sort of like the kitchen backsplash…



Oh, and I’m hoping to make my next post about something other than my latest meltdown. #lifegoals

NOTE: Full disclosure, Mark read this post and wants to point out that it is wayyyyy too positive and disingenuous – like my meltdown was wayyyyy worse than what I’m depicting here, but I disclosed that my crippling feelings of doom knocked me out for four days and that I raided the cabinet for Xanax and I wanted to die and our moms came to my rescue, so I’m not sure what else I can say other than maybe I lack the writing skills and vocabulary to adequately convey my darkness. So thanks, Mark.

Oh, and also, if anyone has less than the most positive things to say about my kitchen backsplash, please keep that shit to yourself. I’m obviously not stable enough to handle any criticism.

20 thoughts on “A kitchen backsplash inspired meltdown of epic proportions

  1. I totally get and have felt everything you have written. It may have not been over backsplash, but it has been other things. Right after losing Sullivan nothing seemed to bother me because the worst had happened. I thought I was fixed from caring about unimportant things. Over time all those things came flooding back and I started caring again, but obsessing more about them because of the anxiety. And I am the same way. My mind always go back to “and my son is dead.” You are doing the best you can! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, exactly. I’m so sorry that we both have to return to, “Annnnd, my son is dead.” So heart breaking and gut wrenching. How are you sweet mama? You’re getting so close to meeting your rainbow. Sending so many positive thoughts your way!!


  2. Really do love the backsplash-it looks great and I love the color you picked! Your whole kitchen is gorgeous!

    Kenny and I have a running list of things that no one should have to deal with once their child has died. The list includes minor annoyances like weeding and waiting in line at Costco, and then more hair-pulling and triggering things like dealing with insurance companies and medical bills after your child died.

    I have similar feelings regarding not being where I “should” be at almost 15 months out, and my relationships being one-sided. I over analyze everything too, which really doesn’t help me with these feelings, and often worry that people are exhausted by me and I’m being too high maintenance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The list includes minor annoyances like weeding and waiting in line at Costco, and then more hair-pulling and triggering things like dealing with insurance companies and medical bills after your child died.” This exactly. So well said. Thinking of you and Steam Bun!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh bless you for your honesty! Thank you for sharing your story, & how lucky you are that two Mums could come support you. Grief takes its own time to unfold- do not give yourself a hard time if you can about how you are doing… Be kind to yourself 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the backsplash. We just redid our kitchen and we haven’t picked out a backsplash yet. For some reason my stillbirth occasionally gives me the side effect of being totally incapable of decision making.

    After the stillbirth I had a miscarriage and right around that time we got a letter from the water company that they suspected we had a leak somewhere. I called a plumber, they spent about 30 minutes looking at the faucet we suspected was the problem, and he was all that’s not the leak, you need a new faucet, I can’t help you with that, that’ll be $150. And after he left I cried and cried and cried because after all the serious problems I’d be struggling with I just couldn’t handle anything else going wrong. I had reached my limit. I almost wish there was some sort of tragedy quota. I mean, of course I wish that there was zero tragedy for anyone. But given tragedy exists, it should be a one tragedy per lifetime per person sort of thing. Then I could be done. Then I wouldn’t have a jealous rage that it sometimes feels like everyone else gets to live tragedy free happy lives and I get to mourn my son forever like some freak.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my gosh- everything you write I feel so strongly. I’m so bitter towards people I perceive as having experienced zero tragedy. And grief has completely stunted my decision making ability as well. Good luck picking your backsplash. May it be a better experience for you than it was for me! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If it makes you feel less alone in your experience, my husband and I both had a meltdown over our new hardwood floors a couple days ago. When they started installing them we realized they weren’t quite what we expected but were soon like big whoop, floors aren’t perfect, it’s not like someone died so let’s just let it go.

        Fast forward 1.5 weeks and the floors are done and we are all…we don’t really like them! We then thought we should buy rugs, or have them stained on even replaced (even though cabinets are installed over them and look awesome). And then we had a good cry about how the stillbirth made it hard for us to both speak up about the floors earlier and also cope with the disappointment of them not being exactly what we wanted. I never would have been able to predict the myriad ways this loss has impacted our lives.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Love the backsplash, and love you.

    I had a similar meltdown (as you know) earlier in the week when the airline lost my luggage upon my return from
    D.C. While I sobbed in the luggage claims room, (aka second most hopeless room ever,) I felt like a crazy person. I knew this was minor sauce compared to the tragedy someone is experiencing like right now, but having experienced one such tragedy myself I am keenly aware that the world owes me something (it does). And so how does one not get super pissed/emotional/scared when said world seemingly shits on one again? Even in a minor way?

    I wish our concerns and reactions were not warranted, but in my opinion, they are exactly that. We have endured the worst and thus, we deserve the best. Always. Every time.

    I don’t have the answers but I’m here, hanging on right next to you. Sending my love and understanding.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey Christine,
    I’ve been meaning to reply to this since I read it days ago… yes, to everything you wrote! The crippling sense of doom, the feeling that everyone misses the old me, the feeling of ‘life gone entirely wrong’… I feel so bitter towards people who haven’t experienced tragedy- they are so freaking blasé and happy and relaxed about everything! Every since we had Albert (6 weeks ago tomorrow) people keep telling me I need to start focusing on him and stop dwelling on Freddie, that I’m missing out on enjoying motherhood to Albert- like it’s somehow my fault I’m not all sunshine and rainbows! I didn’t ask to have a miscarriage then a full term stillbirth one after the other, how the hell can you enjoy motherhood when you’ve been given two lessons back-to-back about how life is increasingly cruel?! I’m constantly looking for the next time life is going to shit on us.. SIDS, child snatcher, random tragic accident??

    One thing you said in particular about feelings of failure is so true. I gave up teaching 3 years ago in July after our miscarriage to try and be more relaxed to conceive again… the negative self talk is always there… “my friends have demanding successful careers and two living children or three living children. You haven’t taught for 3 years and “You are a horrible mother – one of your sons keeps crying, and your other one is dead” is so familiar, it’s so hard to feel anything but a sense of failure. Anxiety after child-loss sucks. How do we ever move on from having to give birth to our child’s dead body? It never leaves you. I was doing the ironing a couple of days ago, just ironing, and all my mind could think about was the fact that I’d had to give birth to my son’s dead body and then had to have a funeral and how life was forever going to be tainted by this fact. Will it always be inescapable? Thank you for sharing your truths and being so candid. It really does help to know other mums are going through similar emotions and that we’re not alone.



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