Wednesday, April 23, 2014

News of the EVEN weirder

D sliced his finger open about two weeks ago in a freak dish-washing accident, which means I have been both cooking AND cleaning up.  I would have made just a terrible pioneer woman because I hate all this housekeeping work.

With him being out of dish-washing commission, I recognized how much he does for which I really don't often mentally or verbally give him credit.

The first few days after his injury I even had to clean the litter box out, which I haven't done since my first pregnancy 11 years ago.

He hasn't been able to help with baths, either, although our routine generally tends to be that I bath the boys and he dries off and dresses.  But there have been some occasions when I needed him to wash them while I was doing something with N, and he wasn't able to do so.

All this annoying appreciating of him, along with my thoughts on being on the periphery, made me realize how well-suited he and I are for each other.

I've said jokingly really totally seriously but people think I'm joking that the reason I married him was due to his complete lack of interest in sports.  He also tends to like independent and/or obscure movies rather than macho dude flicks, which is a big plus.

But it occurred to me that what he and I really have in common is our general insistence on doing things our own way, our quiet disdain for authority, and our feelings of being outside the fold.  We just sorta get each other.  He thinks I'm funny all the time, and I think he's not funny most of the time, but when he is funny it is totally worth all those other times when his sense of humor falls in the just plain goofy category.

Now this does not mean I think he is my soulmate.  I abhor that word and wouldn't call him or anyone my soulmate unless a gun was pointed at my head.

But occasionally, I do understand that in its own way, our relationship does actually feed my soul a bit.

Now to take my temperature because this is the second totally-unlike-Carrie posts in a row.  

News of the weird

I cannot believe I am writing this, but I am starting to have feelings of......ahem......looking forward to summer break.

No, I haven't forgotten to take my medication, and I have been getting enough sleep, and I am not having a break with reality of the Beautiful Mind variety.

As much as I love routine, I am also tired of the school routine at present, both my teaching routine and my kids' homework and projects and paperwork and activities.  I am ready for the routine of summer....visiting the pool and playing outside and picking berries/fruit and going to the beach.

For those who would comment on my public dissatisfaction with snow days, summer break differs tremendously. It is not a random event for which one can't prepare.  It is not being trapped inside the house with kids who thought they were supposed to go to school and are now losing IQ points on the Xbox and who WILL COMPLAIN MIGHTILY when they are forced to go back to school, especially if there is still a flake of snow on the ground.

I am already making my mental list of things I can do with the kids and ways to organize the day.  The weather rarely makes it impossible to go outside in summer.  Even in the most stifling of heat, we can head to the pool for a few hours.

Of course, I won't get my beloved 6 hours of Carrie time a week for awhile, but the kids feel a little easier than they used to.  We're not trapped by nap-schedules, and at some point I finally, finally relaxed around the kids.  It was so gradual and subtle I didn't even notice that it happened.  I only noticed the lack of worrying.

I used to feel, every second of every day, so tense when my children were left to their own devices.  I felt like at those moments I should be engaging them, working with them, enhancing their experiences, building their knowledge.  Call it "Third Child Disengagement" or whatever, but not only do I need to leave them to their own devices, they find each other far more funny and entertaining than I ever am.

So having the summer months.....the routine of summer with me planning some fun activities for us.....is a welcome break from the rigor of the school routine.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Periphery player

I took the kids to church last Sunday, and when I, perhaps, should have been focusing on it being Palm Sunday and all, I went where my mind meandered which was to the periphery.

I've written about feeling like I'm on the periphery before.  But it has been seven years since I wrote about it, so I thought I would revisit the idea.

Maybe it was the Palm Sunday "drama" that led me down the periphery pathway of thought.  Jesus was sorta a periphery guy.  He had his disciples, but he wasn't totally "with them" if we go by the whole Son of God thing.  And he certainly wasn't with the bigwig Jews or the Romans.  He kinda did his own thing.

Anyway, after many years, I finally realized that while I might have temporary yearnings for a very tight, text & call each other friendship, the truth is that kind of friendship would feel stifling.  I think I would quickly become annoyed and resent that my "friend" kept calling & texting me.  The yearnings only come when I hear someone else refer to their friendship that is "tight" in this way.  I'm not far enough removed from middle school (are we ever, fully?) to not think, "Well, something must be wrong with me if I don't have this."

I forget that I could probably have this, but I don't seek it out, which must mean I don't want it.

This is not to say I don't have friends with whom I really and truly enjoy spending time.  There are a number of women I try to get together with as time allows; we take walks or have breakfast or chat as our kids play, and I really get a lot out of those friendships and conversations.

But I don't feel the need to talk to any of them multiple times a day.
I don't feel the need to talk to my husband multiple times a day and am always amazed when I am with someone whose husband calls at all (but especially more than once).

I am definitely on the periphery at church, which is really ok until I see other people who seem far more involved.  (I have to remind myself, when I see these "tight" friends and committed church-goers, that I am seeing .05% of the picture, and my perception may be completely off the mark.)  Sometimes I think, "Maybe I should officially join this church," but that whole idea triggers a surge of uncomfortable feelings in me.  I like this church, and I like the people I've met who go to this church, but I don't feel comfortable committing that much.

It occurred to me yesterday that this inability to "commit" in a very complete way goes back even to my marriage.  I never took D's last name.  After three children and almost 17 years, I sometimes think maybe I should just take his name.  But I can't.  Again, the whole idea triggers all sorts of anxious feelings.

Basically, whenever I think to myself "Maybe I should have a "tight" friendship or officially join the church or change my name" or anything else that I consider that would lock me in (like going back to work full-time), the thought pops into my head, "I DON'T WANT TO."

I'm enough of a worrier to wonder if there is a problem with my feelings of "I DON'T WANT TO," and the older I get the more I feel like I can stew over this all I like, but ultimately if I wanted to change anything I would.  I am certainly not the kind of person who sits back and lets things happen around her.  I am all about projects and trying new things and exploring and doing something proactive if the urge fits.

Perhaps I have commitment issues, but so what?  Maybe the commitment of staying married and being a mom is all that I can manage?

Or maybe somewhere inside me, the smart part of me that doesn't allow middle school feelings of awkwardness to slip in, I realize that what is important is finding women I like and giving them my stories, my concern, and my time when I feel like it.  What is important is when I feel like it I make a point to go to church.  All the time, I give myself, my time, my love to my husband and family, even when I don't feel like it.

But I don't and can't give them everything.  The name has to stay mine.  I can't put on paper or in words that I am officially committed to the church because I don't want to back out and then feel guilt.  I don't want to make promises to people, give them expectations of friendship, that I can't meet.

Maybe this necessary feeling of holding something back is the correlate for me being so open in so many other respects. People tell me all the time, even those I really don't know very well, that I am so real.  I don't mask my feelings.  I don't try to ensure that my life looks polished and wonderful.  If anything, I feel a strong need to tell it like it is because I hate feeling like everyone else around me (that danged perception thing mentioned above) has a handle on things.

I have spent much time feeling like my openness is a flaw.  That I am too real, too honest, that people get annoyed with me for letting it all hang out.  And perhaps they do, but that is their problem and not mine.

As time goes on, I begin to feel that perhaps this realness is my god-given gift.  This thing that puts other people at ease, makes them feel that they are not alone in their flaws...that is a gift, and I have only been able to understand this as people have thanked me for it.  For making them feel not so alone when they have unpleasant feelings.

Maybe the periphery, where I feel I am (whether I am actually there or not), is just the way it has to be in order for my gift to work.

I'm ok with that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A parent's worst nightmare

I couldn't watch the video.  I started to, but I just couldn't listen to the girl.  I couldn't bear to hear her say, "depression and anxiety are just fancy words for selfish."  I didn't want to witness where she was going since I had already read the news reports about where it ended.

I can't read the commentaries from the masses on twitter, even those that wish to be thoughtful and supportive and kind.

There is much I want to say, so I will just lay it out in all its unprettiness.



Dear Girl who Committed Suicide,

I wish you hadn't done it; I really, really wish you hadn't done it.

But I understand why you did.  I hope in the beyond, wherever you stand, hopefully with peace draped around you like warm flannel, you understand why you did.  I hope you can see that what you were feeling was terribly real and painful and biting, but what you were thinking and saying was completely off the mark.  Depression and anxiety were not your fault.  As much as suicide seemed a way for you to take control over the sadness and pain, you never had control over it at all.  The sickness of your mind killed you.

I hope death has blessed you with the ability to see with a wisdom that life would have made you wait 20 or more years to hold tenderly in your arms.  I don't think there is regret in the beyond, only a full and complete understanding.  I hope that you see now that things probably would have improved.  I know that when one's brain is sick, as sick as mine has been and as sick as yours was, you don't see everything as clearly as things actually are.

But perhaps if you had not killed yourself now, you wouldn't have made it 20 years.  Perhaps your sickness may have made the exact same choice for you five years from now....or ten years.  Waiting would have given you a little more time....to make sure that things wouldn't maybe, possibly, potentially, turn around.  Hope is hard....no, impossible, to find when your brain is sick.
I hope light surrounds you now.  I hope you can shine some of that light on your family.

In the fullness of the hereafter, I know you understand the crippling pain that has been left by your decision.  As a mom, my worst nightmare is that any of my children would commit suicide.  A terminal physical illness, an accidental drug overdose, a flipped car after speeding...all of these things would cause me terrible grief, but for my child to lose all hope and abandon the gift of life is simply unbearable.  I don't say this to be cruel because infinite wisdom is yours now.  You understand without guilt and fear and pain.

There will be much chatter about your suicide.  There will be much talk of "getting people the help they need" and "looking for signs" and "find someone to talk to," and all those other things people say when they can't wrap their heads around something.

I'm sorry your pain was so great.
I'm sorry the things that have worked for others, to help them regain some ability to control their minds, hadn't worked for you.
I'm sorry it takes going through the awfulness of mental illness to know just how deep in the sludge you were stuck.
I'm sorry a lifeline didn't come through.

Godspeed.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Momentarily sucking the marrow out of life

I am very much down on the concept of trying to savor every minute with my children.  I read articles and blogs in which mothers (it's always mothers) should drop whatever it is they are doing and just enjoy their children.  

I call bullshit on this nonsense.  

Because me feeling guilty every second of the day because I'm not savoring every instant of my kids' childhoods is more exhausting than if I were actually savoring every second of their existence.  

I am going to go about the business of ignoring each of my children's every single solitary utterance and listening to my instincts that seem to jerk me into paying attention when it seems I really and truly need to pay attention.  

I am going to get done what needs to be done and when one of my children is on a roll of awesomeness.....THEN I am going to pay attention because nature is telling me at that moment, "Hey Lady, pay attention!" 

M happens to be on an awesome streak....saying really amusing things, being especially cute (although he is often still a complete douche nozzle when he throws a fit because I got him a glass instead of letting him pick a plastic cup, which I would have done had he relied on speech to say, "Mommy, I want to get my own cup," instead of attempting a failed mind-meld with me to parley his cup preferences). 

Signs of awesomeness:

*The other night, he saw my copy of The Old Man and the Sea in the bathroom.  He said to me, "I saw dat movie at Nana & Pa's.  But da man had a hat."  

(I'm not sure what impressed me most---that he was able to connect the visual of the book jacket with the movie without being able to read the words on the cover or that he was able to focus his eyes on the television in the midst of the sugar coma that ensues whenever he visits my parents' house.)

*When I watched a bit of Jimmy Fallon & Stevie Nicks, he walked over and asked me, 'Is dis da cowbells?" (Although I fail mightily as a mother at times, I did well by showing him the SNL Blue Oyster Cult skit.)

*Yesterday in the car, he requested "Da Back of da bar" song.  I had no earthly idea what song he wanted so he attempted to clarify by saying, "Da Panda" song.  It took a moment, but the light came on:  He wanted to hear Kesha's "C'Mon."  A close listening to the second verse indeed featured the line, "Write our names on the wall at the back of the bar."  He has watched and danced to this song on Just Dance 2014 with his siblings, and apparently this 1 line stuck out more than the 1,000 times she sings the refrain.

*This week I worked on digging yet another trench for a French Drain in our backyard.  After asking first if he could get muddy, to which I replied, "Well of course!" he had a time (from which the seat of his pants will never recover).  






Sunday, April 6, 2014

Elysium, Grapes of Wrath and the Supreme Court

Last weekend I finished reading The Grapes of Wrath, and I watched Elysium.
This weekend I have been reading about the Supreme Court's decision regarding campaign contributions.

The past, the present and the imagined future.  The disenfranchised remain held down by the rich who are, by the fact of their richness, powerful.

As I read The Grapes of Wrath, it pained me to think of the families, the Okies, who lived through the 1930s in California.  The mothers whose children died of starvation.  The complete loss of everything they knew, everything they had, their entire way of life.  It was much more profound to me than the visual in Elysium of poverty and disease and rampant degradation.  I could imagine in my mind's eye the slow disintegration of the Joad family, of their pride, their dignity.  Perhaps Matt Damon's horse-teeth distracted me a bit from feeling more than I did at his plight....although I certainly got the theme.

The novel was despair, and the increasing role of the feminine to fight poverty as best it could under dire circumstances.  The film was aggressive, masculine destruction of the rich.  Intellectually, I can appreciate the value of both.

And then there is the here and now.  The rich continuing to manipulate elections, while the ever-shrinking middle class and the poor are waylaid.

I would like to send a copy of both the novel and the film to Justice Roberts, although I doubt he would understand the significance of either.  

Monday, March 31, 2014

The default

Now I can recognize when I'm having irrational thoughts, which I couldn't do before therapy, although sometimes it takes me awhile to see them for what they are.

Still, even when I see them, even though I know the skills of CBT and I'm medicated, I can't make these anxiety-inducing thoughts go away.  They ping in my brain over and over again, which is extremely annoying and the source of additional anxiety.

So I call my GP and say, "I'm experiencing such-and-such, and can I come in because it is almost assuredly nothing but I'm having trouble talking myself down."  Because they know me, know my OCD and GAD, they say come on it.  Doesn't hurt to check you out.

That is where I'm headed today.

I fell down the steps on Dec 27, and my tailbone still hurts.  Although every "medical" website says healing should take place after 4 weeks, it seems the actual discomfort of a bruised or broken tailbone can take years to go away.....if it ever does fully.

I can handle that.

But this past week, my brain took it upon itself to remember that my two students' mother, who lost her battle with cancer in January at the age of 45, had lung cancer that spread to her tailbone.
So even though rationally I know there is an actual legitimate reason for my tailbone hurting (the fall), even though I know the chances of me having tailbone cancer (that sounds so completely ridiculous) are way less than me being killed on my way to the GP this afternoon, even though I know that my body is taking ever longer to recover from injuries as I age, even though I know that because the boys have been waking me up from sleep more often lately which makes panic even harder to manage, none of this matters to the default setting of my brain----the anxious, catastrophic, highly irrational side.

I hate the default setting.  It makes me feel stupid.

Eleanor Roosevelt had it almost right.  The rub is when the thing making you feel inferior is your own brain.