Posts Tagged With: fear

learning to do what’s right

I know what it’s like to be poor in America.
And I mean poor. The kind of poor in which a family is chronically on the verge of homelessness.
I know what it’s like to be a woman in America.
A place in which my rights to my own bodily autonomy hang by a thread. A place where I remain constantly vigilant whenever and wherever I am out in the world.
I understand being fearful.
I understand being hungry.
I understand feeling my effort to improve my life falling consistently short.
But even though I know these situations, I cannot fathom the depth of feelings they would bring if I was a person of color instead of a white woman.

I understand grief. I understand trauma. I know how hard it is to experience these huge feelings.
I understand the need for peaceful protest. My God, I understand the need for non-peaceful protest.
I find myself working so hard to understand how deep and wide is the pool of fear and grief that causes people to destroy their homes and businesses. That the only way to express that desperate depth of feeling is to lash out at your own neighborhoods.
I have no way of understanding the endless generational racial trauma constantly pounding down on people of color. That level of pain. That constant barrage of fear and grief and killing.
No human should be made to live like that!

What is going on in America is frightening!
The status quo is sick and wrong! It needs to change!
I have so many feels and no where to go with them.
I don’t know how to help. I don’t know what to do.
But I have to try!

I don’t know what’s the right thing to do.
I am fearful of doing the wrong thing.
I am fearful that by doing the wrong thing, I’ll contribute to making the situation worse.
I am fearful that by doing nothing to avoid doing the wrong thing I am actively making the situation worse.

Because I’m a white woman, I feel like my voice can be easily misconstrued as disingenuous and I feel unsure about speaking out. However, I realize my silence is me being complicit.
I feel like my duty is to listen and learn as much as I can.
I feel like my duty is to support those who need it.
I feel like my duty is to help educate people. Especially people like me who won’t ever have to worry because of the color of their skin.

We are one human family.
I am resolved learn how to be a true ally.
I may stumble and make things temporarily worse. But I am committed to doing what is right. I am working toward being a true member of this human family.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

expressing all the irrational feels

LA wrote this post and it jump-started the hatching of thoughts.
In case you don’t actually click the link and read the post, she had some allergy symptoms mixed with anxiety, and before she knew it, she’d panicked herself into full on covid mode. She knew better, but couldn’t shake the feels.

I’m suffering from allergies, I’m taking my allergy meds, but if it’s sunny, I’m opening the house and letting the pollen in by the bucket load just to get fresh air in this place.
I know it’s allergies, but the ‘what ifs’ are actively punching me in the face.
I know it’s allergies, and even though I know it’s allergies, I continue to talk myself off the ledge.
And I think, ‘FUUUUUUUUUUCK I have this virus’, instead of thinking, ‘I’ll probably get this virus sooner or later.’

It’s natural to feel all these irrational feels, with all our heightened anxiety in a time when the world is in pandemic mode.
It’s especially tricky when you logically think and understand one thing, yet feel so strongly another.
When the feels are big, logic goes out the window.

This week YBW is home. I don’t feel comforted by that. It’s actually more stressful.
That feels awful to say, but when he’s at work, I can focus on what I’m doing, and even though he’s coming in and out of the house, I feel hopeful we’re still safe.
When he’s here, I find it distracting. I have more trouble staying focused, or on task.
As much as I want to spend time with him, I’m more panicky when he’s here than when he’s not.
That has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with me. It’s one less thing I can control about my environment.

I was fired up Wednesday morning.
I was mad the kitchen was a mess. I was mad there was food on the coffee table from where Thing G ate the night before when I was folding laundry and needed a place to put it. I was mad that before 9 am I’m showered and dressed, doing laundry, and putting a pork shoulder in the crock pot so we’ll have dinner.
I was grouchy and complaining and YBW was sighing.
I went upstairs mad.
About twenty minutes later, I went to YBW and told him I wanted to apologize for being grouchy. That because I’m tired of feeling anxious and cooped up everything I feel is heightened. Things like feeling frustrated that the kid takes no responsibility for himself or as a human being in this household.
He sighs when I express my frustration. When I say that, he asks what he should do instead of sigh.
I stopped and worked hard to express the sighing is fine, it’s that he’s taking it personally is what I don’t like.
He feels responsible that the kid does or does not do the things.

I’ve come to the realization and acceptance that Thing G isn’t going to change his behavior. But it still frustrates me. So, to stop YBW from feeling responsible, I’m going to stop expressing my frustration.
The kid is what the kid is. He has no interest in being different. No amount of ignoring, shouting, guidance, or love makes a difference. No matter what we’ve said, or done, he doesn’t change his behavior. At this point, I’m honestly just counting down the days until he goes to live with his mother and I don’t have to watch it anymore.
At some point YBW has to let go of feeling responsible because the kid chooses not to be responsible for himself.
These are the real and frustrating thoughts I have, but can’t express because they’re hurtful to the man I love most.

When we express ourselves, we can’t control how it’s received. Especially in the current environment of heightened anxiety. What we can control is the way in which we express our thoughts and feels.
LA was feeling anxious and reached out to a friend she loves and trusts, but her friend was at the same level of anxious and it just went sideways.
I was feeling anxious. Cooped up. Tired of these four walls. Tired of doing the things that run the house while other people don’t. I took out my anxiety and frustration on YBW.
Neither LA nor her friend intended to make as stressful situation worse. I didn’t intend to have my frustration escalate to the point of starting our day off in a such a way.
It took me twenty minutes, but I knew how important it was to nip it in the bud.
I needed a pause.
I chose to press reset.

We love our friends and family dearly. We’re all in an anxious state. This works against us when we’re expressing ourselves.
We’re off kilter just enough that logic takes a backseat. Instead of being able to say, I’m having a crap day and need some loving reassurance, LA expressed her anxiety in the form of verbal vomit about how allergies were covid.
Instead of going about my business and quietly cleaning up the messes, I expressed my anxiety as verbal vomit about being frustrated over normal everyday occurrences.
But in addition to the anxious expression of our feels, they were received by those in a heightened anxious state.

Now is the time for us to do the hard work of effective communication.
To be crystal clear about our communication expectations.
We need to do our best to state clearly at the beginning of a conversation, or to ask clearly before engaging in the conversation, I (or do you) need a listener. Or I (or do you) need help problem solving.

We’re going to fail at this sometimes, because we can’t be in both the front and back of our brain at the same time. But if we can stop for a moment and move from the back to the front of our brain, we’re going to be able to communicate more effectively even though we’re anxious.

This whole situation is stressful!
I’m having moments of hanging by a thread. I want to have the biggest fucking temper tantrum you’ve ever seen.
The anxiety in me thinks that sounds straight up amazing!

Y’all it’s a crap situation.
It’s going to get worse before it gets better.
And that’s even if none of us or any one we love gets sick.

At the end of her post, LA wrote:

I verbalized all the stuff swirling in my head, which in turn released the fifty pound weight that had centered itself on my chest…

Same, LA, saaaaaaame.
It feels wonderful to be able to say what I think and feel in a safe and neutral environment.
I’m grateful we’re all here to read and respond to each other’s words.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

worried but grateful

Our governor announced that Virginia schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year.
I am sad. And to be perfectly honest, sad isn’t a big enough word.

I’m sad for my school family.
I’m sad for my neighborhood kids.
I’m sad for the high school seniors who won’t experience the wonderful ritual of their senior year. No skip day. No prom. No graduation.

I’m worried for these kids.
For these educators. Y’all, if you don’t know, they are broken-hearted about not being in the classroom with their kids. I’m broken-hearted not to be in the classroom.
I miss being at school.
I miss being around kids and adults, teaching and learning together.
I’m worried because YBW had to go back to work today. Is he safe? Will he be exposed? Will he bring it home?

I am grateful that I am not sick. That none of my family is sick.
I am grateful I’m not worried about how to keep the lights on, or where our next meal is coming from.
I’m grateful for internet and streaming services and books and wine.
I am grateful that I have the ability to write about how this feels.

I’m reminded of something Hagrid tells Harry in the Philosopher’s Stone. “It was dark times, Harry, dark times.”
My heart hurts today.
But I’m quietly hopeful.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

we are not our feelings

Thing 2 was feeling her feels this morning.
Anxious and fearful.
Her sister and I (and Baby K) showed up ready to rock.
Y’all, I’m talking loving, supportive girl power to the nth degree. But that’s what we do for each other.

Thing 2 works in a cool Asian fusion restaurant. She is currently the senior-most server.

She wrote in our group chat: There’s a 35 top coming in as soon as we open
Me: May the Force be with you!

Thing 1: You are amazing, just be your charming self and you’ll get good tips and you’re going to be OK

I stopped for a moment. I realized we both jumped in to ‘rescue’ her. I considered that she might simply be expressing herself. Perhaps she didn’t need to be bucked up, perhaps she needed to be heard.

Me: It sounds like a complicated situation. Your anxiety makes sense. It’s overwhelming af! You’re feeling your feels

Thing 1: You got this!
Me: So wig out for a couple more moments. Like, seriously, set a timer. Then steel yourself. You are so capable. And(!!!) you can guide them along instead of waiting to see what they want.

Thing 1: (FTW) Don’t do that. Be pleasant and gregarious, and you’ll be great!

Thing 1: You’re the Thing 2est Thing 2 that ever Thing 2ed!

Me: Your anxiety makes sense in this situation. However, you actually possess the skills and abilities to make this situation successful for yourself and your customers!

Thing 1: And once it’s all over, you’ll be done! My therapist always says there’s a finish line, you just have to get to it and you can move on to the next thing. It will end and it will be behind you and you can move on.
Me: YESSSSSSSS!
Thing 2: Wow. I like her.

Thing 1:

Me: Breathe. You’ve got this! Look, if chubby, somewhat drunk looking Baby K believes in you…you can’t possibly fail!
Thing 2: I WAS JUST GONNA SAY SHE LOOKS DRUNK! What a beautiful tiny encourager
Me: You have the most powerful women on your side! We’ve got you, and you’ve got this! I love you more than the moon and the stars!

We did that.
We were her cheerleaders.
We encouraged her.
We reminded her of what she’s capable of doing.

We also honored her feelings.
We acknowledged her fear and anxiety.
We reassured her that her feelings are valid, and in this situation, made sense.
We reminded her she is not her feelings.

I think we all need to be reminded of that.
We are not our feelings.
We experience them but we are not them.
I read somewhere, I can’t for the life of me remember where, but it went something like this.
Feelings are like the rain, we might walk in the rain, but we are not the rain.

We don’t become our feelings.
We feel our feelings.

Thing 2 was feeling the hell out of her feelings today.
But, with a little bit of love and support from her momma, big sister, and baby niece, she didn’t let herself become them.

Later this afternoon we got this:

Me: Brava, Thing 2! You DID it!
Thing 1: Way to go! We knew you could do it!!!!

Taking a break to sit in the grass.
(I’m purposely ignoring the smoking.)
She needed to feel connected to the earth. She needed to feel grounded.

35 people came into the restaurant and Thing 2 served them.
The world didn’t explode, and neither did she.

Though she be but little, she is fierce.
Even the fiercest among us need a bit of encouragement now and again.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

what kind of mother does that? or love and hope make me whole

It’s no secret I have mother issues. Normally they’re on the DL, you know, just kind of there minding their own business. But Tuesday? Well, Tuesday they threw a f**king parade.
YBW and I were with our therapist Tuesday. And while discussing something (that at the time seemed) completely unrelated the teenage girl in me was triggered.

*****
The summer after my freshman year of high school, my mother literally removed all trace of me from my home. She packed up all my belongings in black trash bags and left them on the porch. When my father took me to pick up my things, my mother would not allow me in the house. She actually stood behind the storm door long enough to deny me entrance before closing the big door in my face. I wasn’t allowed to say goodbye to my brother. I never got to hug my Grandaddy. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to my cat.
When I was fifteen years old, my mother sent me to live with the father who abandoned me when I was five.

I know you want to ask why.
Believe me, I asked it enough. In fact, the last time I made the attempt to speak with my mother about it, she politely told me she was not going to discuss it. That it was over and there was no reason to go back to it.
UM…NO REASON TO DISCUSS THE SEMINAL MOMENT IN MY LIFE!?!?
So, to answer your question, I don’t know why.

I do know that she didn’t like the fact that I was beginning to become my own person. I no longer wanted to be a girl scout. I no longer wanted to be a memember of the CAR. I didn’t want to do the things she forced me to do. I wanted to do things I was curious about, interested in, not just what she decided I would do.
I wanted to play softball. I wanted to take theater, and dance classes.
I played briefly at not turning in homework and skipping classes. That didn’t last long, I love(d) learning and understood it was ridiculous to miss out on something I loved to spite my mother.
I started dating a very sweet guy that was instantly hated simply because of the timing. He was kind and caring and was actually good for me, encouraging me to be more focused in school, etc.
I wanted to choose more for myself. I was weary of living the life she designed, I wanted to be my own person.
Of course, this is actually developmentally appropriate behavior for teenagers.
And I was not drinking. I was not doing drugs. I was just trying to figure out what I wanted my life to look like.
That was not what my mother wanted. She expected me to do all the things she wanted me to do. She expected me to live my life for her. She didn’t want any part of a daughter that didn’t keep her head down and do what she was told.

According to my father, my mother called him one day at work and when he answered she said, “If you don’t take her, I’m putting her in a home.” His reply…? “Who is this?”
(I learned this as a 40-something year old woman)
Yeah, these two f**kwits were my parents. Yay. (sarcasm, just so we’re clear)

I didn’t do what she wanted me to so she got rid of me.
Let that sink in. I didn’t do what she wanted me to do so she got rid of me.
No conversation, no talk with me about ‘getting it together’, no warning. Just me calling her from my dad’s one afternoon in the summer asking her to pick me up so I could come home and her telling me, “You’re not coming home.”
Let that sink in. “You’re not coming home.”
That was her solution to her problem of me. Her first born child, her only daughter. Her solution to the problem of me not doing what she wanted was to get rid of me.
What kind of mother does that?
*****

And even after my deep-heel-digging-in resistance, this all (and more) came out in our therapy session.
So. Many. Tears.
I didn’t want YBW there. I didn’t want the therapist there. I’d rather never have to be there, but of course, ‘there’ is always down deep in me.
Here’s why I don’t want anyone there.
First of all, it was the most damaging moment of my life. In that moment I was taught that if I didn’t do what someone else wanted/expected/told me to do, I was so unlovable that I needed to be disposed of. In that moment I learned that without knowing all the rules all the time I was never going to be safe. In that moment I learned that home is nothing but a noun.
Secondly, I have so much shame regarding every single bit of that.
I am so ashamed it happened to me. Ashamed because I feel like I’m betraying my mother if I tell this story.
No one should experience what I did. Even secondhand.

Of course, that’s not how therapy works. And I’m a weeping, gasping, snotty mess talking about how my mother didn’t love me. Talking about how I was sent away from my little brother. How I was sent away from my own precious Grandaddy.
I wanted to run as far away from that room as my feet could carry me. I hated every single moment of sharing that story. To be perfectly honest, I would rather have removed my own tongue than share that experience.

After the worst of it, I talked about Grandaddy. How he was the first man I ever loved. How he taught me how to give and receive love. How he taught me to express myself and not be passive aggressive like my mother. How he once told me that if anything every happened to my mother, I never had to worry, I didn’t have to leave him, he would keep me with him always. How until the day I left Thing 2 in the NICU, the day he died was the worst day of my life. How even though he could sometimes be a grouchy old man, he was chock full of love.
Our therapist suggested that I’m kind of a grouch in love because that’s how I learned to love.
I actually laughed out loud! She’s right.
I’m gruff but loving.
Velvet hammer, much?
I love the way I was loved by the only adult who loved me consistently and unconditionally.
(I suspect the girls will experience a great “Ah ha” moment at reading this.)

What kind of mother throws away her child because she can no longer control her?
My kind of mother.
All my issues with trust, with always having to know and understand what the rules are. All my issues of never feeling good enough, or truly lovable. All my issues regarding feeling safe. And my issues regarding house vs home, wondering if I’ll ever feel at home anywhere again?
These are directly related to that trauma.
That trauma she caused.
The one she flat refused to discuss later on in our lives.
And still I have the guilt. Still I have the shame.
It feels like, I shouldn’t talk mad shit about my mother. I should protect her. She loved me. She did the best she could.
How every single bit of it still feels like my fault.

Our therapist asked YBW to be my fifteen year old self’s ‘champion’ as a way of having an adult speak to my mother.
First he told her that I am an amazing, beautiful, loving, woman and mother no thanks to her.
He told her I was fractured, but she did not break me.
He told her that I learned love from her father and that he is a part of me every single day and she is not.
He told her that I am a really wonderful mother, and she should never have told me otherwise.
He told her that because I’m so lovely he was blessed and honored to be my husband.
He told her a great big f**k you!
And finally, he told her that all I wanted to do was go home, why wouldn’t she let me go home?

Years ago, I used to say, “Home is where the Roby is.”
I didn’t realize it was because I felt so f**king homeless. But I was determined to create a home where I felt safe, so wherever I was, that was home. Only I couldn’t love myself unconditionally enough, so that didn’t quite work out.
That’s why I’m so hell-bent to build a home with YBW that’s just ours, not one he already had, not one with any of our kids in it. Just him and me, in the home we create. Where we’ll both feel safe and sound and loved and wanted.
One day…

This story has been in me for thirty two years.
This experience of sharing it has been upsetting me for the last couple days.
I’m feeling pathetic and needy. I’m wanting to be snuggly. I want to, as Grandaddy used to say, “crawl into a hole and pull the hole in after you”. Mostly I want reassurance that I’m lovable and not disposable. YBW’s on it.
I laid my head on him this morning, and he asked if I was OK.
No, I’m not remotely OK, I told him, but I feel better now.

Here’s what I know now.
If I hadn’t been sent to my father’s I wouldn’t have met my ex-husband, and while that may have been a bonus, I would not have my girls. And my girls are everything!
I wouldn’t have been in British Lit senior year of high school with a boy I took no notice of, but twenty years later took great notice of. So much so that six years later, we got hitched.
I wouldn’t have Sundance, or Sally. Don’t want to live with out them!
I might not have Jessica, or Nicole, or Becca in my world.

I know that I’m not the perfect mother, I know I’ve f**ked shit right up for my girls. But, I do know that I did everything in my power to make sure they felt loved. To make sure they felt safe. To make sure they could make their own choices.
It is my ultimate hope that they know I love them more than anything else. Ever. In the history of the world!
For me, however bad things were, I wanted them fiercely and I wanted them to know that.

I know that I’m flawed.
Jesus, by this time in my life, it’s simply part of my charm!
I know why I’m flawed. I know my responsibilities in my flaws. I know that these flaws make me the woman I am. And steaming hot mess or not, I’m full of love. I’m full of hope. It slips in and fills in the cracks from those long ago fractures. Love and hope make me a whole woman.
For how much more could I ask?

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

do it anyway

This right here.
do-it-anyway
This has taken me a lifetime to truly understand.
A lifetime to understand how to actually ‘do it anyway’.
If I’m anything it’s stubborn. Sometimes stubborn is tenacious…but only when you’re using that stubbornness as motivation to keep ‘doing it anyway’.
Being tenacious doesn’t mean I’m not frightened sometimes.
Fear will always try to drive. I say, make that bitch ride in the back and ‘do it anyway’. You never know what surprises await you.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

my defining moment as a frog in cold water

Acute stress feels like it will crush you where you stand.
I promise you it won’t. Your fight or flight instinct will kick in and save you. Acute stress feels overwhelming and most of us would do anything to get away from it. But, acute stress won’t kill, no matter how much you believe it might.
Chronic stress is what will kill you.
Chronic stress is like putting a frog in a pot of cold water and then slowly turning up the heat. The frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s already boiling! That’s when one of two things happens. Fight or flight kicks in to save you, or you just die.

I’m an expert in chronic stress. I’m that frog in the pot of water. I was lucky enough that my instinct for flight is so strong. It saved my life.
I spent seventeen years with a man who emotionally abused me.
His sabotage so subtle, his manipulation so nuanced, it was poetry of pure unadulterated evil. He brought passive aggression to new and frightening depths. For the most part I was unaware on a conscious level. I went about my daily life feeling anxious without actually realizing it.
Sometimes I would wonder…Why did I require so much sleep? Why did I turn so much of my focus to my children? Why did I feel nauseous when he would come home? But never for long because there would be some sudden kindness and I would smile and believe him when he told me everything was lovely.

But on some level, I did know what was going on. I did know that something was amiss. I focused on my children to be a buffer between him and them so he couldn’t treat them the way he treated me. I presented the picture of the perfect little family to the rest of the world so no one would realize that he was not what he seemed.
I was scared of him. And scared isn’t a big enough word, but I’m honestly too lazy to thesaurus right now. He frightened every fiber of my being. Somehow I knew he’d never lay hands on me. I wasn’t worried about that. I didn’t realize the internal wounds could occasionally be worse.

He used to tell me that I was crazy. That I was certifiable. That they would put me in a straight jacket in the padded cell and that was where I belonged. He told me no judge in his right mind would give the girls to me. I had nothing and I was crazy. He told me that he would take the girls and I would never see them again.
I would have done and would still do anything for my girls. So I stayed with this man.
He read my journals. He read my email.
He even tried to sabotage my friendships…he had to do that carefully because he didn’t want to show his true colors. I was lucky that most of my friendships were strong enough to withstand his tricks.

I was trapped in a hell I helped create.
Every single day of my life I was scared.
Every single day of my life I was anxious.
Every single day of my life I was angry.
I was miserable. My girls were miserable. I was failing at being a mother. I was failing at being a person.
I was the frog in the pot of water suddenly aware that I was boiling!

This was the defining moment.
Would I die in that pot of boiling water?
No! I would save my own life!

The chronic stress was literally killing me. I was dying. I had to do something to preserve my own life.
I told him that I was done. I told him that I was empty and dead inside. I told him that I had nothing left to give. I told him I was leaving because I knew he would never leave.
When I finally left, he acted as though he was surprised. As though I’d never expressed any of my concerns. I didn’t even argue. I just walked away.
That’s when he turned on my girls. He manipulated them. He used them as weapons to hurt me.
That’s the only thing I regret about leaving him…what he did to my babies. You want to hurt me? Come at me directly.
My poor babies had to suffer for me to live.
That doesn’t seem right. But it was how it was.
A dying person is a desperate person.
I had to save my own life.
They’ve moved through that part of their lives. Will they ever heal? I honestly don’t know.
I know the only one who came out unscathed was their father. He has no clue what he’s done…or he doesn’t care. How’s that for crazy?

I was told by friends and family that I was strong. That I was brave. I felt neither. I felt as frightened as I’d ever been. I did what I had to do to stay alive.
It was the hardest thing I ever did, saving my own life. I only wish I’d been strong enough to do it sooner. Of course, the frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until the water comes to a boil…

I’m writing about this because of a conversation I had with my friend Nora last night, and a conversation I had with my sister in law today. Nora and I talked of relationships and life and celebs and sports stars we’d like to have our way with. We talked of previous lives and choices we make. We discussed “winning” at divorce. (When your life is better than it was before AND better than your ex’s current life.) We talked about being mothers. We ate pasta and drank a goodly bit of wine. We were “just girls” together, but we talked of important topics.
She’s actually the one who verbalized the frog in water analogy.

This afternoon I had a distressing conversation with my sister in law about her relationship with her children’s father. Apparently their state of chronic stress has escalated to acute and he’s announced he’s leaving. Knowing him as long as I have, I think he’s having a bit of a temper tantrum and it will blow over and they’ll go back to their life of chronic stress.
It is killing my sister in law. Now, there is a fairly decent amount of her stress that has little or nothing to do with him. She has some of her own shit to sort.
I told I knew what she was capable of. I suggested she tap into that deeply rooted power and make a better life for herself.
She expressed her fear.
Fear can ride shotgun, get it out of the driver’s seat. Fear will never drive me again. But it sure as hell likes to go along for the ride. I was scared half to death to make that huge change. Especially considering what impact it had on my children.
She’s not ready to do that hard work. She will eventually have to decide to save her own life or she will die.

I can’t run other people’s lives.
Some days I can barely run my own life. Seems that way lately.
I have stress in my life. But it’s acute stress. It causes an immediate reaction. And though my flight instinct is the strongest, I’m learning to fight. Fight the good fight. Fight for what’s right.

I fought the good fight by flying all those years ago. The fight to save my life. Because I tell you, I was dying. Not metaphorically dying. Actually. Physically. Emotionally. I was actively dying.
I learned the most important lesson about myself by saving my own life.
I learned that I can do anything.

Categories: divorce, loss, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

pipe the f**k down, Marcus Aurelius

When you arise in the morning think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love. ~ Marcus Aurelius
Well, this morning I woke rather grouchy, so why don’t you just pipe the f**k down, Marcus Aurelius.

I had bad dreams again last night. My body exhausted when I woke. These dreams fill me with pain and anxiety. My body produces adrenaline and cortisol but has no outlet for it because I’m sleeping. So I’m flooded with these stress hormones that my body has to somehow reabsorb. No wonder I’m grouchy AF.

Normally, I can remember and recount the particulars of my dreams. These icky ones aren’t like that. All I can call up is imagery and the way it felt.
There was water in my dreams. It was dark and rippling. This water made me fearful. I was frightened that it would drown me.
My one true pathological fear is to smother. Drowning is essentially the same thing. So what is happening to me that I’m experiencing this level of fear and anxiety?

The logical part of my brain considers this:
Every thought we have causes a ripple. Every choice we make causes a ripple. Every action causes a ripple. Ripples move away from the starting point out in all directions and pretty much looks like this.
ripple

So when you’re having many thoughts, or making many choices at once it rather looks like this.
ripples

The feeling part of my brain sees only that the water is dark and moving rapidly. I become frightened. I become overwhelmed. I begin to panic. Stress hormones get released. I go to my brain stem and enter fight or flight mode. I don’t understand what’s happening to me but I feel that water is going to overtake and drown me. I’m not frightened enough to wake. I’m trapped in this cycle of fear and anxiety.
Here’s the part that I cannot wrap my brain around. I never enter the water. I’m never swimming or fighting to stay afloat. I’m just paralyzed by fear at seeing the water. I absolutely know that it will drown me even though I’m not actually in the water.

What is happening to me that this is my sleep?
What am I struggling with so hard?
What needs to be done to quiet my brain?

Apart from today and of course, Monday, I’ve been feeling overall well emotionally.
Obviously something is stuck and whatever it is needs help getting sorted. This cannot be my sleeping life. My fear of smothering is something that rides with me every single day, I can’t have it decide to try and drive once I’m sleeping.
Sleep is supposed to give your body a chance to rest. To restore. To recharge. Right now sleep is making me its bitch and wearing me out.

Something’s got to give.
My instinct to run is present. And getting harder and harder to ignore.

So, when being alive and able to think and enjoy and love is precious privilege, you’re waking from deliciously restful and restorative sleep, not from stressed and scary dreams.
While I appreciate the sentiment,Marcus Aurelius, I’m not feeling especially privileged today. Maybe I’ll get lucky tomorrow.

Categories: me, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

we cannot function from a place of fear

I have to admit I’m uncomfortable with what I’m seeing on social media after the events in Paris Friday night. I know that people honestly believe they’re being helpful and supportive, but I can’t see how painting over your facebook photo with the French flag makes a real difference. The desire to rally around the people of France is real and natural, but does it need a hashtag?
People lost their lives. Their families are grieving. A nation, the entire world grieves with them.
I absolutely want the ability to wrap my arms around all the people of the world to help them feel safe. I can’t do that.
Perhaps that’s what the flag overlay is about, feeling like you’re helping when you can’t actually help.
I suspect a percentage of those people have done it just because it’s in vogue. The French people can’t see their flag superimposed over all these photos. Only the friends and followers can see. This is why I question it.
It feels so politicized to me.
I see people talking about hanging a “closed” sign on the doors of the US. They want the people of Europe to do the same. Lock out anyone who might bring terror.
Are not the people fleeing their homes and country running from the threat of terror?

I sound like I’m judging. I’m not.
I’m uncomfortable because it almost feels more like an agenda than solidarité.

I have not changed my facebook profile photo and I won’t. I have not gotten on a soapbox. But that doesn’t mean I’m not frightened and horrified by what’s happening in the world. It doesn’t mean that I’m not supportive of the people of France, or the people of Lebanon. It doesn’t mean that I’m not supportive of the Kenyan students.
It means I don’t know how my support can and will manifest itself.
I choose not to speak about what I don’t know, what I struggle to understand.

I don’t understand this desire to kill innocent people to create chaos and fear. How does belief in God warrant that kind of action? What kind of God wants that?

I am blessed to know that the people I love are safe. My heart aches for those who cannot say the same.
I’m staying quiet because I don’t understand.
My quiet does not reflect my lack of concern, love, or desire for peace.
I send love and light into the world trusting that it will grow.
I don’t need a flag for that.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

on being a mom

I write a goodly bit about being a mom. It’s all I ever wanted to do with my life, be a mom.
That might not sound like I had great aspirations when I was a little girl, but it’s the truth. All I wanted to do was grow up and be a mommy.
I made sure I found someone who would make that happen as soon as I possibly could. I was twenty two when Thing 1 was born and twenty six when Thing 2 was born.
I’ve been a mom half my life…well technically not till March when Thing 1 has her birthday…but speaking strictly mathematically, half of forty four is twenty two.

My goal was to raise strong and independent girls. They would be ready to take on the world when the time came.
Of course it all got derailed along the way.
We lost everything in 2008. Our business. Our home. It was the final straw that killed my already broken marriage.
When that happened, there was subterfuge and betrayal. My first daughter was used maliciously as a pawn against me. I wasn’t able to protect her from that. She walked headlong into it. She has since told me: I’m so sorry. I didn’t know how bad it was for you. Daddy brainwashed me and I believed him.
I was able to protect my baby daughter a little better. But only for so long.

We were trapped in a waking nightmare. I was the one who was brave enough to change it by moving out. The plan was to bring Thing 2 with me and leave Thing 1 with her father. She wouldn’t have come with me even under duress. Thing 2 used to worship her big sister and wanted to be just like her and in this case, she temporarily joined the “I hate Momma” team. She chose to stay with her sister instead of coming with me.
This was not my first mistake.

To keep myself sane, I turned my back on Thing 1. She was horrid and my pain and anger made it so simple.
We tried to come back together several times…each time driving ourselves further apart.
Until she tried to take her life. I’m the one she came to with the desperate plea: Please help me.
None of that was in my childhood mommy-ing plan. But I did what was necessary to keep her safe. To keep her alive. Even though I believe she still resents me for it.
It wasn’t better after she came back from the hospital. She didn’t seem changed. She just seemed more angry.

A few months later, we got into a physical brawl, she held me down by my hair and I bit her so hard there was a perfect ring of teeth marks on her arm but she didn’t let go. Thing 2 was screaming and crying and I think that’s what finally made her let go.
Her therapist saw the bite mark and reported me to child protective services. The investigation showed no real abuse and it all went away. That doesn’t change the fact that my baby daughter had to tell a stranger: No, my Momma doesn’t hurt us.

Thing 1 damaged her relationship with Thing 2. They have good moments, but nothing like the way they used to love each other.
I don’t think Thing 1 understands this and Thing 2 won’t ever feel brave enough tell her.

Their father stood back and let it all happen. He watched with twisted joy. I was being punished for my sins and he didn’t have to lift a finger. He just planted the ideas and watched as my first born and I not only ruined our relationship, but she ruined any chance of a real and positive future.

I am not without fault. I didn’t just let her go, I pushed her away. I only loved her because she came out of my body. I didn’t love her for herself. It was easier to not love her than be in that much pain every day.
Shame on me. I should have fought harder. For her.
I was manipulated by the situation just as she was. Only I’m the grown up. I should have worked harder to keep her safe.

Thing 2 and I went through the hell of her not wanting me to be her mom anymore. She was “tired of always being responsible for my happiness”. She’s not entirely wrong. But neither is she right.
She wasn’t responsible for my happiness. She simply brought me joy.
I’ve learned that telling someone: You’re my favorite person in the world. can be too much pressure. However much the truth it is.
When I came here we chose for her to stay there. I wanted her to understand that I respected the life she’d built for herself. School, friends, theater. I knew in my gut she needed to come with me. But I didn’t feel like I could force her.
She accused me of setting her up to fail. That if I hadn’t “protected” her all her childhood she would never have been in that situation.
I never wanted her to see her father for what he really is. I wanted her to simply love her dad.
I also never thought she’d ever be alone with him.

I failed her too. Not because I was the buffer but because I didn’t trust my parenting gut. I didn’t want to make her unhappy so I ignored what I felt was best for her.
She’s lost. She has no support from her father. And I can only do so much from five hundred miles away.
I can’t fix that.

The masochist in me thinks they like it this way. They can always blame everything on somebody else. They can blame me for the way it turned out.
They don’t remember when it was good. When we were safe and sane and actually happy. They only remember how awful it was.
I think Thing 1 blames me for not protecting her from her father and his manipulations.
I blame her for disregarding the first fourteen years of her life.
I know Thing 2 blames me for protecting her from her father and his manipulations.
I did what I thought was best for them. Most of it I would do all over again.

If I had been braver I would have left their father sooner. Maybe I could have protected them better that way. I know I could have protected myself better.

I am trying. Trying to reconnect with these girls of mine. They’re so jaded. They’re so hard. It pains me so to see them this way.
Thing 1 is trying too. I believe we both want more than we have. We want to love each other freely and without fear. It is so hard.

She sent me a message last week about a wedding gift for YBW and me. I told her she didn’t have to give us a gift, that her participating and loving and supporting us was enough.
Then she wrote: I feel like I don’t show you how special you are to me enough and I haven’t for a long time and I want you to know that you are and that I’m happy you’re starting a new life and that’s a special thing and I want to give you something to commemorate that.

I don’t show her how special she is to me enough either.
I don’t remember how to do that. I shut her out for so long to feel safe that I worry I’ve lost my love for her.

All I ever wanted to do was be a mom. I was so damn good at it for so long. And then I failed epically.
I can’t make that go away. For any of us.
All I can do is sort my own shit and then I’ll be ready to move forward with them.
I’ve worked hard to sort mine. I think it’s finally time to help sort theirs.

The love of a mother for her child is easily understood conceptually. The reality of it is indescribable. There are truly no words to express the ferocity of it.
I know they don’t understand. I know they listen and hear. But how can they possibly understand? Perhaps one day when they become mothers they’ll get it.
What they do understand is that nothing they can do will truly make me not love them. Therefore they continue to test that theory.
They don’t do that with their father. They both know intrinsically that to test his love would be to lose it. Perhaps that’s the curse of being their Momma. They’re going to try me to see if I break because they know I won’t.

This is my love letter to them.
Being their mother has been perfect and horrible and the happiest and most painful experience of my life.
My love for Thing 1 is remembering how to be unconditional. My love for Thing 2 is trying not be be too much pressure for her to handle.
Thing 1 was the most perfect human equivalent of all my hopes and dreams. I loved her because she was my wish come true.
Thing 2 was the gift I didn’t even know I wanted. I fell in love with her because she was there.
There’s a difference between loving and being in love. But one does not diminish the other.

Categories: love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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