Posted in anxiety, Depression, family, happiness, kids, Life, love, Mental Health, mental illness, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, women

It’s Not Just About Me

I come to you this morning with my messy pony-tail and my ratty old robe, having not left this house once since around 3 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, and only then because I had no choice. I was out of kitty litter, and the house was starting to smell pretty bad. The only reason I even noticed this was because I shielded my tender little eyeballs from the sun and ran a bag of trash out to the cans in another one of my weird surges of efficiency earlier that day. When I came back in, the smell about knocked me over. Apparently, sitting in the reek all day was fine, but discovering it after a brief moment of fresh air was unacceptable. So, to the store I went.

Of course, I went to the store in my beat up old sweatshirt I’d slept in, didn’t bother with my hair, and had a face so free of makeup that it looked as if I’d left my eyelashes at home on the bathroom counter. I have absolutely colorless eyelashes, I tell you. Anyway, it follows that I ran into a “friend” from Facebook in the produce section at Target. I say “friend” in quotations because, although we have interacted quite often, and for some length of time, this was our first time meeting in real life. At least she recognized me. I was about as mortified as I am capable of being at this point, which is to say, not much.

Here’s the thing. My anxiety has been strangled into submission by pure stubbornness, it seems. But left in its wake has been something I can ONLY describe as depression. Like, I have never been so disinterested in everything before in my freaking life. I’m even bored with the idea of being depressed. Like seriously, what the fucking fuck? Can I just pull it together for five minutes or WHAT? I’m sure it has everything to do with my period showing up Sunday, and that the minute my hormone levels start rising or falling or whatever they’re supposed to do, I’ll feel marginally better, but…my God, I’m OVER IT.

I’ve even been grouchy to my pets. It seems like Lucy (my black lab) is forever nudging her head into my lap, probably sensing that I desperately need some kind of support. And I am forever perfunctorily patting at her ears for half a second before pushing her away irritably, telling her “GO!”

I watched this little video snippet yesterday of a mother reading aloud a little thing she wrote about the fleeting nature of childhood- the way our babies turn to toddlers, then children, then adolescents and so on. And how, at every stage, we think we have so much more time…but really, we don’t. Take it from me, with my 21 year old and my 8 year old who were both, somehow, born like a year ago. It feels that way, anyway.

That video jarred something open in me. You know, I’ve been so incredibly busy being self-obsessed, trying to figure out not only what is wrong with me but how to fix it, that I had completely forgotten that I am shaping the life experience of others. Namely, my small daughter and my pets. I wasn’t thinking about anyone else because I was thinking so much about me. You know, I don’t have forever. Camryn won’t be small for too much longer, and Lucy…well, she’s 7 already. For a Lab, that’s up there in years. I may not be Camryn’s whole world, but I’m a huge part of it, and for Lucy, I AM it. I have no right to push her away when she needs a pat or a little reassurance that I’m okay.

So, just like that, I changed my attitude. On my lunch break, when I jumped in bed to take a little snooze, I patted the bed and invited Lucy up there with me- a rare treat- and we snuggled for 30 minutes. It didn’t escape my notice that she yelped a little bit in pain when she attempted to leap up onto the bed. I don’t have forever. I am her person. She deserves my love, even when I don’t feel very loving.

Cam, who’d spent the day with her dad, came home to find a big sign I’d made for her- big bubble letters of her name, decorated with flowers and vines, and various declarations of love. Just a little dumb thing to let her know I was thinking of her.

Here’s the thing- it made ME feel a thousand times better. Loving on my dog, playing with the kitten (who, incidentally, has the best, loudest, juiciest purr you’ve ever heard), petting the more stoic and reserved Frankenstein (my black kitty), taking a moment to do something sweet for my kid…I did it for them, but it helped me. I forgot how that worked. I forgot that when we think of and do for others, it takes us out of ourselves and fills us up with something wonderful.

So, I’m a mess- there’s no getting around that. I’m a mess that is always working towards a solution, though, and I am proud of that. But I figured something out yesterday at least- I’m not going to find happiness searching the very place where all the trouble is originating. That happiness I want is not inside my head. It’s over on the couch as we speak, snoring way too loudly for a dog, waiting for me to stand up so she can follow me anywhere I happen to be going. It’s in the little body in my bedroom, drooling on my pillow, waiting to see what adventures this day holds. Yes, I’m a mess. But I have the best tools in the world to lift me up, out and over. People and creatures who love me far more than I probably deserve.

Today, that is more than enough.

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Posted in adventure, aging, Dreams, fun, Goals, Life, Musings, People

It’s Time

live

In my head, there is an alternate reality, an entire life that contains all (most) of the same people that my actual life holds, with some pointed differences. In the life unfolding in my head, we do a lot more travelling. We do things that I am afraid of ( i.e., pretend to hate) such as camping- I can see myself and my daughter smiling around a campfire, looking up at the stars. In this alternate life, there are other differences, too. We are much better at togetherness, and I don’t mean laying in bed together while one of us watches season two of The Office (me), and the other one watches other people play video games on their tablet (her). I mean actual togetherness, laughing and eating waffle cones full of fresh churned ice cream at some food festival in Maine kind of togetherness.

In my imagined life, I am more organized, I am not such a freaking hoarder, the rooms in my home are neat and sensible, and I have tracked down the source of the moldy smell in the big bathroom and eradicated it. We get homework done without crying (that could be either of us on a bad day) and Cam reads to me without stubbornly insisting that she doesn’t know how, even though we both know she can read just fine when SHE feels like it. Or better yet, instead of pretending like she hates Harry Potter, she begs me to keep reading. In my other life, I always have extra blankets, nice ones, clean and folded neatly, in the linen closet. And I have a linen closet.

There is nothing wrong with the life I already have- as a matter of fact, it’s pretty great. But could it use some fine tuning? Um, yes. For the first time in memory, however, I already have all the main ingredients needed to make the leap from the actual-life-I-am-living to the-life-in-my-head. All I need to do is figure out the right measurements. Reduce the generous helping of pure laziness to maybe a pinch or two, and double the amount of effort and elbow grease. Buy some garbage bags, make a few trips to Goodwill to drop off the 17 pairs of “goal jeans” that, let’s be honest, if they ever do fit again, they aren’t even going to be in style anymore. I have an entire drawer filled with shirts that I dig through every day, and refuse to wear any of them. Why? What am I keeping them for, then?

For some reason, a truly clean house- like, every nook and cranny clean- plays a central role in my fantasy life. I have no idea what that has to do with food festivals in Maine or camping, but I guess it would make packing easier. It would definitely make coming home from a trip away more pleasant. In true ADHD fashion, though, cleaning properly is never a straightforward event for me. It involves a lot of half finished projects that stall out when I get distracted by something else that needs to be done, over and over, until I drop from exhaustion, leaving the house looking ten times worse than it did when I started. This is not an exaggeration, this has actually happened to me before.

But here is the thing- I KNOW there is a way to make this other life happen. I KNOW it. I can feel it in my bones, that I can have the life I want. I just need to keep taking steps towards it, every day, no matter what. There have been plenty of times when I got off work and wanted to veg on the couch and binge watch whatever thing I am currently into, but instead chose to push myself a little harder to get a few more things done…and it felt great! I need to choose to do that more often, instead of occasionally. It’s amazing, the amount of energy I find myself to have, compared to what I think I do.

My 20’s and 30’s were a blur…most of it, I wasted on self loathing and addiction, and the times when I actually had my act together, I was desperately trying to catch up, or to keep my family from going under. But there was always the sense that I had ample time to figure it out. I am 43 now, and although that is not old, there is definitely a feeling of “It’s time”. Time to pull it all the way together, or as much as I can. Time to take all of the trips and clean all of the closets, and generally figure shit out. Before my knees start protesting, and my back starts being really difficult, and my hormones jump ship, or whatever hormones do when they get old.

There is absolutely nothing standing in my way for once, except for me. And I refuse to be the reason my life falters anymore. I’ve done that for as long as I can remember, and it has never served me, not once. So I am going to challenge myself to try harder, dig deeper, and really start living the juiciest, most exciting, most awesome life ever. In a super clean house, naturally. Now excuse me, I need to go order some camping gear.