Posted in anxiety, family, kids, Life, Mental Health, motherhood, Musings, women

Challenged

Warning: This post will mention periods- and I don’t mean the kind at the end of this sentence. You’ve been warned.

Yesterday was kind of a disaster. I tried, I really did- I wrangled most of the dishes into the dishwasher and remembered to turn it on. I also remembered to put the chicken I’d thawed out into the crockpot, AND I remembered to turn it on, too, so that’s a win. I managed to get a good chunk of work done, as well, although…I did notice that by 10:30 yesterday morning, I was extremely stressed out, trying to navigate my way through our new system while seeming to have forgotten everything I’d learned over the past two weeks. Everything looked different. I was sure they’d done updates or something over the weekend and forgotten to tell us. I switched from one work queue to another, hoping it would sort itself out. Eventually, I just took a break, if for no other reason than to unclench my jaw and try to turn the volume down on my anxiety. I was just about to take the garbage out when my boss called me- she asked me some questions that I didn’t know the answer to, mostly because I didn’t understand what she was saying- yes, she was speaking English, but my already frazzled brain couldn’t quite wrap itself around this new lingo that came with the new system. Sigh. I muddled through. I must have given her some semblance of a proper answer because she let me off the phone- either that or I confused her so much that she gave up. Either way, the garbage went out. Another small win.

By the time I clocked out, I was feeling incredibly drained and ready for a nap. I had planned on going to the gym, but I couldn’t figure out how to fit in a nap, AND my daughter’s first day of second grade homework, AND the gym, and somehow not die. So the gym was out. This is where things shoot straight the hell downhill. Homework. It’s always homework that pushes me over the edge.

I had such high hopes this year. I imagined Cam and I sitting together, peacefully working through her spelling words, me a bastion of patience and support, her a shining little genius, impressing me with her brilliance. HA! I forgot about the whining, the tears, the outrageous behavior. And that’s just me- you should see how she acts! Hahaha. Seriously though, WTF? How hard is it to trace over some letters and copy a few sentences? Why is this such a struggle? And why oh why oh why have I not learned by now that me yelling does nothing at ALL to help the situation? I am so utterly sick of my yelling…I’ve just had it. I’m the adult, and sometimes I am as prone to fits as a two year old. It’s embarrassing.

There was one moment of grace in all of that, at least. After I completely lost my shit, and after she had lost her video privileges for the rest of the night, we moved on to our 20 minutes of reading. I decided that she would read to me for five minutes, and I would read to her for 15, at least for now. We started “The Boxcar Children”, and to my surprise, she really liked it. For at least those 20 minutes we matched the vision in my head- a mother and daughter, totally sane, curled up together on the couch reading, in a house that smelled like delicious dinner. When the timer went off, she asked me to keep reading! That was a first!

Unfortunately, I was dead on my feet by 7:30 and insisted that we go to bed early. Everything would have been fine if I hadn’t suddenly realized I’d forgotten to take my vitamins and gotten back out of bed. That’s when all hell broke loose. Somehow, on my way back to bed, my cat got a little frisky with me and bit my hand- this is fine, we play like this all the time. Except this time, the cat somehow got his claw STUCK in my little finger. STUCK. I had to pull it out of my own finger while it was still attached to the cat. To say that I was furious would be about correct. It HURT! It was bleeding, and my finger was throbbing like a heart beat. I banished the cat from the room, and Camryn was crying because I was so mean, and I was mad at everyone, and…then I started my period.

And everything suddenly made sense.

Why I was so angry. Why the Kids Baking Competition on TV made me cry. Why homework was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. Why I could not stop eating all day. And why I was so exhausted.

Listen, this is no excuse, I know it. Lots of times I still act up and it has nothing to do with my hormones at all. But hormones are REAL. When they are out of whack, you really do have less room for error, less space to negotiate with before spouting off. At least I do. And I know that is not true for everyone, and congratulations to you if you are one of those rare birds, but I am not. I have to track my cycle like a pro, and even then it can catch me off guard sometimes. Like yesterday.

Now I’m getting to my point, and yes, I actually have one- You know I love nothing more than a good challenge, right? So today, I am going to see if I can go just 24 hours without raising my voice once. Just 24 hours. No excuses. Unless, you know, someone is about to unwittingly walk off a cliff or in front of a car or something. No raising my voice in anger or frustration. Do you think I can do it? Well, I’m about to find out. Wish me luck.

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Posted in Addiction, faith, family, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, living, love, Mental Health, mindfulness, parenting, People, recovery, relationships, spirituality

Learning how to Love

anger chinese proverb

Of all the things I have struggled with since I have been clean, practicing loving kindness is highest on the list. I know, I know- I don’t think I come off as someone who has a rough time with something like this. For sure, I know the appropriate way to act, and how to say the right thing, the thing people need to hear, most of the time. But there is a difference between how we intentionally show up in the world and the way we act, react, and even the way we think, when it’s only us alone with the chosen few who live their lives closely entwined with ours.

In other words, sometimes- too much of the time- I am an impatient asshole to my ex, who lives in close quarters with me ( supposedly a win-win for all parties, but in practice, not always the best), to my friends, and worst of all, to my kids. I struggle to be nice. I have a hard time keeping my temper in check. I yell too much. I say things I regret- if not immediately, then eventually. I hurt the people I care the most about, and it’s crazy because, you might recall from some of my earlier posts- this was one of the main reasons I wanted to get clean in the first place. I wanted to stop hurting people, especially the people I loved.

Well, here’s a news flash: You Don’t Get Better Over Night. Look, I am nowhere near as bad as I used to be, but I am also not the same person I used to be. The person I am now has a different tolerance for pain- because believe me, if I am hurting people with my behavior, I am suffering too. As a matter of fact, it has come to my attention that it’s possible I might beat myself up much harder than I do anyone else. But my truth remains the same- these are people I love, I want to treat them that way. Period. Without fail. And I could do better…in my head, I can almost always see where I went wrong, when I should have walked away, where I could have taken a breath, how I could have chosen to say nothing. Why? I ask myself all the time, Why couldn’t you have done better?

I think I know at least part of the answer- Anger has been a huge defensive tool for me for so much of my life. Anger kept me safe, kept people at arms length, kept questions from being asked that I didn’t know how to answer. When you are a volatile person, people tread lightly around you. Walk on eggshells, even. When being vulnerable is the thing you most fear, anger is a heady drug.

And there is the whole matter of habit- all those pathways burned into my brain, all the things that I let make me angry for all those hundreds or thousands of days in a row. Any switch I had lead to anger, because it was safer. Safer than being unsure, safer than being hurt, safer than being afraid. Anger is big, powerful, and much easier for me to deal with than the “softer” options, such as crying or, I don’t know, admitting that I messed up, that I am in deep trouble, that I need help.

But that was me BEFORE. And this is me NOW. And the woman I am today cannot tolerate the way it feels to behave this way. This morning, when I prayed my daily prayer, I asked sincerely for help- “Look God, I am serious, I NEED YOU to help me with this. Please, please, pretty please. I can’t do this on my own.” And then I said the rest of the stuff I said, and moved on to the meditation practice part of my morning. I had to smile when the theme of the day was “loving kindness”. My God does not mess around.

I have been deliberate with my words and actions all day today, trying to be gentle with myself, because I am growing, and because I am still starting out on the path to who I want to be, and because I just deserve it. And I have been gentle with others, because it has been easy to- it’s when things get rough, or I am tired, or overwhelmed, when it gets hard.

But I believe that when we truly want to change, we begin to change. And that when we sincerely ask God for help (again, feel free to exchange the word God for whatever word you feel comfortable with), help comes. We must do the footwork. We can’t just say “help me!” and then keep going on like we always have. You show up, and the benevolent forces of the Universe show up with you.

I am trying so hard to be someone who knows how to love other people in a way that is beautiful, rather than damaging, and I know it won’t happen over night. But I also know that it has to start somewhere. Why not here?

Posted in aging, family, Goals, kids, Life, Uncategorized

Time Flies By…

Hellloooo! Man, if I can’t manage to finish and post this blog, then I give up. I have been trying for what seems like a very long time to blog about SOMETHING…but for one reason or another, I either couldn’t finish it, and/or decided not to publicize my most private goings-on. I’m fairly certain my life is pretty averagely dysfunctional, but it really makes me wonder about the secrets within families and between people who are closely bound in ANY kind of relationship. I used to talk about everything with anyone, and I still do talk very openly about a lot of stuff-most stuff, even. But time and experience taught me (the slow and painful way, naturally) that some things are not open for discussion. If you discuss something, you are inviting the opinion, advice and judgement of the person you are confiding in, and you just never know who you can really trust 100%. I used to have the biggest mouth in the entire world- I didn’t mean to, and when I said I promised not to tell, I meant it. But even when I tried my hardest, I’d let some small detail slip, and then get so nervous trying to backtrack that eventually, I’d just miserably repeat the gossip, verbatim. Now, I’m older, and not only do I have more self control than I once did, but I also don’t care nearly as much about other peoples issues. That sounds mean, but it’s at least a good indicator that I’m trustworthy. By the time you finish telling me your secret, I’ve already forgotten the first part. Also, if someone wants to know something I don’t want to tell, I just say “yes, I know, but I’m not telling you, so quit fucking bugging me.” which was hard for me in decades past. Ahh…the finer points of growing up.

Speaking of which, my birthday is just a few days off- I am blown away that I am turning 37. Not because I feel like I am old, really, but because I can’t believe how insanely fast my life is going by. It feels like as soon as I get used to being who I am, where I’m at, everything changes again…I honestly remember the day that I turned ten years old so clearly; I was, what? Fourth grade? I sat at the very top of the monkey bars and contemplated the fact that I was now a DECADE old. From here on out, my age would have TWO numbers in it. I literally thought about that, twenty seven years ago, in Fresno, California, at Del Mar Elementary school. That same little girl is still right here, as well as the chubby middle school kid, the mouthy teenager who thought she knew it all. That teenager succumbed to a lifestyle that took her away from dreams she never even had a chance to start dreaming, and that teenager gave way to a young woman who was beautiful and insecure and sick, funny, weak, smart and unkind. Lots and lots of things occurred, lots of time went by, and she didn’t go very far. That same, scared, defeated girl is still here, too. I have been so many different women in my lifetime…life is not perfect, but at least today I am not afraid. I am not terrified of tomorrow. I don’t have to rely on anyone else for my life to move forward. Sometimes I forget the difference between FEELING AS IF my life depends on someone else, and HAVING my life rely on someone else. I’m okay with the person I am today. I turned out all right after all!

There were some blissful times in my life where I really kind of had it all…well, not “all” in the sense of tangible, luxurious things. I had none of that. What I actually had was NOTHING. No rush, no worries, no responsibilities, no place I needed to be. I just did my thing, all the time, partying, up for nights in a row, staying wherever I wound up and never feeling like I had anything less than all the time in the world to get down to business.  I dragged that stage out quite a while past where it was appropriate, and it wasn’t the same anymore. I felt time going by, felt the need to be more, have more, see more than I was seeing from that place. So I moved along, finally, and started filling up my life with grown up things. I enjoyed, and still enjoy, the sense of achievement that comes with accomplishing a dream, however small. What I don’t like is the worry and problems that come attached to everything I love or want or value. I worry about my kids, my job, my relationships with people. I worry about money and bills, my car, my phone and my laptop. I worry about my teenager not fitting in, and then about her fitting in too well. I worry about things that happened a long time ago, and things that may very well never happen. I NEVER used to worry about stuff, and now it’s always happening, like background music…I’m humming along, not even aware of the song. Also, I feel stretched a little thin, a lot of the time. These are the things I don’t love about this phase of my life. I want to be calm enough to enjoy all the good stuff that is right in front of me, but there’s so much to do, and so many things going on, and I get that tight, tense, angry feeling…like one little minuscule thing, and I’m going to snap. I don’t like all the chores and rules and activity of being this kind of adult. I feel like I still haven’t quite caught on yet.

Every year, around my birthday, I sort of look at my life and see what’s what, and come up with an idea of where I’d like to go next. Things I’d like to work on, eliminate, think about, and so on. This year, I just want to cut the shit. I want to stop knowing what I need to do, and doing something else instead, and then hating myself for it later. I want to plant my feet firmly on the earth and do what is best for myself, even when I’m scared to death of what that could mean. I want to enjoy the beautiful faces of my daughters, and never forget for a minute how blessed I am or how fast it goes by. I want to find the right words to say to Aisley, to make her softer. I want my Camryn never to have a reason to be so hard. I want to be with people who love me and have my best interest at heart, and I want to recognize when that is not the case. I want to laugh more, cry some, and be angry a LOT less. I want to slow down. I want to stop running, and just slow down. What is the point to this life if I’m too busy to see all of the real and valuable things it contains? I want to remember how much I love, and am loved. That’s my goal this year…and maybe the rest of them, too.

I’m wondering if you guys have that same, surreal feeling about your life ever? Does it seem impossible that you could be however old you are? Are you a worrier, and if so, have you always been, or is it new? Thanks for reading, and I’m so glad to be back!