Posts Tagged With: healthy boundaries

practice makes perfect or don’t come in here with your bullshit

If I learned anything this week, it’s that I must continue to work at accepting what I can’t change, paying attention to my feelings and behavior, and creating healthy boundaries.

I feel good that however wrapped around the axle I was in my frustration, I did not behave reactively.
I sat with my thoughts and feels and made an attempt to sort through them by writing.
I’m willing to admit I may have overreacted. But I did that in my head, and here on this blog.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not even mad about it anymore.
I’m concerned about the unfairness of YBW being taken advantage of, but trust he’s capable of handling it.
I’m concerned Thing 1 felt responsible for causing drama, but I was clear that I didn’t believe she was at fault.

I was mad because people I love were unfairly treated.
Do not fuck with my brood.
I am the mistress of all evil and I. Will. Cut. You.

But the reality is I cannot change anything about how anyone else behaved in the situation.
Only me.
I was respectful to Thing C as he was explaining the conversation with his mother. I was less respectful when YBW read the text from his ex.
I sometimes wonder if he tells me those things because he knows I’ll get fired up. And if I’m over here being mad AF, he can just breathe. He doesn’t have to get frustrated and angry with her behavior because he knows I’ll do it enough for everyone.
I don’t mean he does it purposefully, he may not even be aware that it happens.
But I know she frustrates him. I know he will sometimes feel angry about her behavior. But perhaps it’s simpler for him to not because I do.
I don’t know. I could be way off base.

I work very hard to walk my talk. And I’m committed to paying attention to what I can and cannot change, and accepting as much as possible.
So if I’m honest and unmerciful with myself, I have to admit I got more spun up than necessary.
I said more than once, I’m so tired of the drama.
YBW was over there like, only drama I’m seeing is you overreacting to this bullshit.
He’s not entirely wrong.
I didn’t start the drama, but I reacted to it.
I mean, I know why I did. I felt protective of my husband. I don’t think he gets treated fairly and I’m not afraid to say it.

I’m also struggling with being apart from him for Christmas.
Like I’m choosing Baby K over him.
Of course it’s not actually like that.
I’m stuck in my feeling place.

Can I control the situation? Perhaps not.
Can I control what I feel? Perhaps not.
But I can sure as fuck control how I behave based upon what I feel.

I said it just last week, we are not our feelings.
I am not my feelings.
I feel them. Oh, I feel the fuck out of them.
But I am not them.

I am working hard to pay attention, working hard to accept.
I realize not being able to change something might frustrate me, but doesn’t have to impact my behavior.
So I keep working.
Sometimes I’m better at it than others.
So, I practice.
They say, ‘practice makes perfect’ but what they mean is, ‘don’t come in here with your bullshit’.
And I’m coming in with my bullshit like,

Practice is life long.
I’m never going to be perfect. I’m going to do the best I possibly can.
That’s not me coming in with my bullshit. That’s me being self aware. That’s me doing the hard work of making a better me.
My me won’t be perfect. I don’t want to be perfect. I want to be the best possible me.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

I just wanted some f**king cookies

It all started with a cookie recipe.

Salted Caramel Snickerdoodles

I love salted caramel, and I love snickerdoodles.
This recipe was a match made in Roby Heaven.
I posted it on social media and tagged Thing 1, asking her to make these cookies for her Momma.
She asked if I wanted them when she was here for Halloween, or when I was there for Christmas. (Um…both!)

Apparently YBW’s exwife, the mother of Thing C and Thing G, read the comment and texted YBW to see if he was going with me to Thing 1’s for Christmas and would Thing G be left here alone.

I’m over here like, OK, first of all…(actual content not fit for public consumption)

In the past, as part of their informal custody agreement, YBW and his sons mother have alternated holidays. You know, one gets the kids for Thanksgiving, the other for Christmas, and the swap each year.
Well, since the boys are adults, and one of them is currently living with his girlfriend, YBW is of the mind that they should do what works best for them. They’re no longer obligated to abide by the system in which they grew up.
That said, if they continued following the system, this year, holidays would be Thanksgiving with their mother and Christmas with us.

Baby K will experience her first Christmas this year. Both YBW and I want to share that joy, only here’s the problem with that, YBW just started a new job, and we’re going away for three weeks in November.
He has no PTO.
He’s figured a way to bank hours between now and when we leave to get through the first pay period, but the second pay period, with the exception of Thanksgiving will be all leave without pay.
Now, he was paid for his unused leave from the company he left, and it’s not like we’re going to starve or be homeless if he doesn’t get paid. It’s just that he’s trying to be mindful.

So we’ve kind of landed in the space that looks like me going to Baby K’s for Christmas, and YBW staying here and going to work.
I don’t love this arrangement.
But I want to be with Baby K for her first Christmas!
It’s so selfish though. She won’t know WTF is going on. She’ll just be her cute, chubby self. But I’ll know, you know?

Returning to the text…
It turns out that the mother already had a long conversation with Thing C about going to his grandparent’s house on Christmas. I watched him ‘song and dance’ around the subject with his father yesterday.
I felt at once sorry for this young man, and fiercely protective of his father.
Thing C is borderline incapable of making a decision when it comes to his parents. I’ve seen him do it more times than I can count. And it hurts my heart. He seems so desperate to keep the peace, to walk the line, that he won’t make a choice lest it err on the ‘wrong’ side of either of his parents.
He simply cannot be honest with either one of them.

As of last month, the plan was Thing C and Thing G would celebrate Christmas with their mother and grandparents the Saturday after Christmas, and we were considering celebrating together the weekend before Christmas if that didn’t interfere with Girlfriend L’s family plans.
Yesterday, Thing C was doing everything in his power to not admit he has decided to be with his mother and grandparents on Christmas day.
Their mother did send YBW a text inviting him to come too, so he didn’t have to be alone on Christmas.

I feel frustrated, and I’m struggling to distinguish whether or not it’s one of those things I can or cannot change.
YBW is more accommodating than most people, and I feel like he gets taken advantage of because of it.
It feels to me that his exwife saw an opportunity to get exactly what she wants and is doing what she can to take it.
It feels to me that his son is caught up in this opportunity, an accomplice, if you will.
That may sound harsh to call Thing C an accomplice, but that’s his behavior.
Meanwhile, nobody even considers Thing G.
I believe with my whole heart that their mother is pleased to be loosed her responsibilities towards that one. I mean, she loves him, but she is perfectly content that he’s here and she’s there.

So because I want to celebrate Christmas with our granddaughter, YBW is getting the shaft from his eldest son, who is actively following the plan concocted by his mother.

I am indignant!
They cannot treat him this way!

YBW doesn’t seem to think he’s being mistreated.
He seems to just kind of take it all in stride.
I suspect he’d rather be with Baby K for her first Christmas.

I am struggling.
Is this a situation I cannot change?
Is this a case of me needing to shift my whole ‘it’s the principle of the thing’ point of view?
I feel like YBW deserves better.
I cannot change the way other’s treat him. I can only control how I treat him.
I am seriously considering missing Baby K’s first Christmas to ensure he has a lovely Christmas.
I won’t disappoint the baby, she won’t know or care that it’s her first Christmas. I’ll be disappointed to miss it. But, I don’t want YBW to have a disappointing Christmas either.

Is this even about YBW or Baby K?
Or is this about me?
Do I just need to get over myself?
Is it just the principle of the thing?

I suspect if the girls and their father were treating me the way YBW’s son and his mother are treating him, YBW would feel defensive for me. I’m not sure he’s considered it that way. I’m not sure he understands how fiercely protective I feel about him. I mean, I know he’s a grown ass man and doesn’t need me to protect him, but that doesn’t stop me feeling protective.
He is my beloved, I want to help keep him safe.
If he did the kind of shit his ex wife does, she’d string him up so fast it would make everybody’s head spin.
But he doesn’t seem all that fazed.
I suspect it’s because he’s been conditioned.

I’m so disappointed in Thing C.
He will side with his mother every single time yet never actually own that to his father. He doesn’t want to hurt his father by being honest, yet hasn’t figured out that by not being honest his behavior is more hurtful.

It doesn’t have to be this way.
Yet this is the way it is.

I can’t control what they do.
I can only control what I do.
I can create and maintain healthy boundaries.

What I want to do is go full on flame thrower.
What I’ll most likely do is go be with our granddaughter, and trust that my husband will make the best choice for himself.
I know he can, and will.
I hate that he has to.
He is so precious to me! Even when he annoys me and I want to kick him in his face, I love him and want to help keep him safe.

I’m inclined to admit I’m getting worked up over the principle of the thing, but this is the principle of my husband, and I will get worked up over him until the end of time.
I love him and feel protective of him.
I believe he should be treated with more honesty and respect.

And then I find myself over here like, all this drama because I wanted some fucking cookies.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

“No, thank you.”

I’ve finally spent some time at school subbing.
I like it.
I like the social aspect of being around young people.
I like the freedom it gives me.
I like being able to go to school when it suits me.
I like being with the staff and kids I care so much about.

The principal came to see me in a classroom the other day to offer me a part time position.
The position is to shadow a kindergartner.
This little by has epilepsy. Because he has epilepsy, his physical development is delayed. He has almost no use of his entire left side. He suffers mini seizures throughout the day and occasionally can fall over while simply sitting in his chair.
I spent about an hour with him on Thursday. Cognitively he’s on it. Socially too. He’s got a great little personality and quite the sense of humor.
The principal and classroom teacher are eager for me to start working with him. They’re fighting to get his part time assistance to full time assistance.

After spending time with this little dude, I know I can help him. I know I can provide the support he needs to be successful in the classroom.
However, if I’m being perfectly honest, it’s more labor intensive than I want. It’s more responsibility than I want. If something happened to this kid on my watch? I mean, just NO!
I want to substitute teach. I want to spend time in different areas of the building, with different kids and adults. I don’t want to be responsible for this little boy.
I want to have the freedom to choose. And if I committed to this kid there would be no choice for me.
Subbing fits perfectly into my life right now and I’d like to keep it this way.

I’m going to say no.
I’m anxious about saying no.
Why is it so hard to say no?
Is it because I don’t want to offend, or disappoint?
Is it because I think saying no will change other people’s opinion of me?

I don’t know how honest I can actually be.
I don’t know how what I say will land.
And the biggest part of me knows I must speak my truth, but there is a small part of me that doesn’t want to offend or whatever.
I’m thinking of all the excuses I can make. How elaborate must they be?
How much explanation will be enough to assuage my guilt of saying no?

It seems to me that saying no is particularly hard for women. I mean, doesn’t it feel like we’re trained to be compliant from the youngest age? Like we’ve been bred to feel so bad and guilty about making decisions for ourselves that we are borderline incapable of saying no? Like we’re not meant to have the power to decide what is and isn’t right for us?

I must remember my work.
Where I have power.
Be honest and unmerciful.
Create healthy boundaries.

It doesn’t matter why I don’t want to accept this position.
Only that I don’t.
I can say ‘no, thank you.’ without worrying about how to excuse it.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

covert narcissism and emotional incest syndrome

I learned the term emotional incest syndrome last week. It is sometimes referred to as covert incest.
I know the word incest is a trigger. Reading it makes me anxious and shaky. That word is icky.
What’s even more icky is that parents actually do this to their children.
What’s even more icky is that the other parent of my children did, and continues to do this.

The Things father is a classic covert narcissist, and there’s no two ways about it. He is masterful at manipulating situations to shift the blame, embracing the rage, and twisting words in such as way as to seemingly impact reality.
Nothing is ever his fault, and he buys his own delusions to the point of borderline insanity. It’s only gotten worse as he’s aged, so much so that he is trapped in this fantasy of his own design without any real ability to see the world as it actually is.

When Thing 1 was about twelve years old, I would ‘tuck her in’ at night with a quick, loving conversation and a hug or kiss. Her dad started following me in the night time ritual so he could ‘talk with her’.

To be abundantly clear: I was truly never concerned with him being physically inappropriate with her, he is the least sexual human with whom I’ve ever come in contact.

Their bed time talks became longer and she became more sullen and withdrawn. I mean, she was a tweenager and all, but this seemed different to me. When I encouraged her to talk with me about how she was feeling, she shared that her daddy was telling her things that made her uncomfortable.
He talked with her about his grief after the death of his mother. About his dissatisfaction in his personal and professional life. Even about his marriage to me.
I reassured her that her discomfort was appropriate, that his behavior was not. I promised her I would handle the situation. I encouraged her to tell him that she didn’t like when he talked with her about these things, gave her some tools and encouraged her to build healthy boundaries.
I had many conversations with him about the inappropriateness of him oversharing to a child.
I remember saying these exact words, “She’s a little girl and you cannot talk to her that way. Get a therapist. Get some friends. Please stop using her as your confidant.”
Like any good narcissist, he twisted the truth and manipulated us all, but never acknowledged or changed the behavior. I began to find excuses not to leave them alone at bedtime.
Nothing I did made a difference and the only way it slowed and then stopped was when she left home for college.
His current relationship with her is strained because she’s married another man and he can’t control her anymore.
Neither does he like that she and I are close, he actually told Thing 2 that Thing 1 is ‘drinking the Robyn koolaid’ and that’s why she didn’t love him anymore.

Thing 2 is his current child-wife. He sucked her into his emotional incest hook line and sinker. And she bought into it for quite some time.
She’s said, Poor daddy, nobody should have to die alone.
Um…your daddy actively chooses to be alone.

But of late, Thing 2 is empowering herself. She is actively in a healthy pattern of growth for her emotional and physical life. She’s begun dealing with her childhood trauma. Her emotional baggage. Unraveling her own augmented reality.

I don’t feel like what she is doing, or how she’s going about this is my story to tell, but when she shares her efforts and progress with me, I am truly awed by the difficult and serious work she is doing.

She shared with me that someone recommended a book about this phenomenon and she told me “I’m very curious about it, I want to research on it but I think it’s going to be really helpful with dealing with (her father’s given name) using me as his therapist.”
I shared with her a quick version of how it played with her sister, how I tried and failed to protect either of of them.
She said to me, “You have to remember that I chose this, you didn’t put me here. I did.”
Talk about owning your stuff.
But I’m her momma, I will always have a desire to protect her. Especially from her father.

I once overheard my girls sharing that their father told them (independently) that if he had been more willing to have sex, I would never have left him.
I literally stopped in my tracks.
I went back to where they sat, and told them I couldn’t help but overhear them and asked them to verify if what I thought I heard was correct. They confirmed.
I sighed and said, “First of all, I’m so sorry that happened to you. You didn’t need to hear that. And secondly, that’s not why I left your dad.”
What the actual fuck, yo?

When Baby K was born, Thing 2 and I left the hospital in Savannah and went home to Thing 1’s house. We cleaned the house top to bottom. Did all the laundry. Grocery shopped. We wanted everything to be ready to rock when Thing 1 and Husband N brought Baby K home.
Their dad actually told Thing 2 that he was jealous that she was spending time with me alone, he was worried she would drink the same koolaid as her sister and love me and not him.
He even told her before she left, “Now, I know you’re taking care of your sister, but make sure you take care of yourself too. I need you to come back to me. You’re my rock.”

So. Fucking. Icky.

I get so frustrated!
You’re her parent, you emotional fucking cripple! You’re supposed to be her rock!

I know I am guilty of sometimes saying, “I wish you could be my mommy”, and perhaps that means I’m just as guilty as him.
Is there a difference?
I mean, I hope so. I don’t actually expect my twenty-two year old daughter to be my mommy.

I love that we have an open and nurturing relationship based upon love and respect and genetics. And it feels nice sometimes to be loved by a female who doesn’t want anything from me, who isn’t going to shame me for wanting to be loved. But I am her momma and she is my daughter and that means it’s my job to nurture and provide help and do a bit of protecting even though she’s a grown ass person.

My daughters and I have had our own share of chaos in our relationships.
Good. Bad. Ugly. And indifference.
I have worked to create and maintain healthy boundaries, and if ever I overstepped, I corrected and made every attempt to discuss and apologize where appropriate.
We have been to hell and back, my daughters and I. And from my point of view, this strengthens our love, our bonds, and our boundaries.
And though we talk about any and every thing, and they’re as engaged and (for the most part) supportive of me, and my decisions, and my life as I am of theirs, I can’t fathom using them as ‘sounding board’ (one of their father’s favorite words) for inappropriate things.
I can think of one specific time I did that to Thing 2. She claims to find it humorous, especially because I was inebriated, but I am wracked with guilt and have apologized with every fiber of my being.

This covert incest thing has eaten at the very heart of me since that quick conversation with Thing 2 on Monday last.
Knowing it exists.
Knowing the only other person in this world who is meant to protect them is the perpetrator of this abuse.
It makes me sick. Truly and deeply sick.

I can’t protect them from him.
I never have, I never will.
That cuts my momma heart to a depth that may never heal.
Only I’m not worried about healing my heart. I worry about them healing theirs.
I can’t protect them.
I can’t take away their pain.
All I can do is listen. Offer guidance and support. But above all, love.
And sweet baby Jesus, do I love them.
I love them as they learn more about themselves, the world, and their place in it.
I love them as they struggle and fight the good fight.
I love them as they call me out on my failings.
I love them as they accept and forgive.

I am awed by their resilience as they do the hard self work to discover, and heal, and become whole.
I know I made them and raised them, but this is not selfish pride of ownership, this is the awe of faith, and pride for them, and their ability to continue to learn and grow and love.
I am overwhelmed by their capacity to love.
I cherish being a part of their lives.

These women.
These absolute marvels.
They are truly awe inspiring.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

so far, so good, what’s next?

Now, you know I’m a planner.
I like lists and calendars and color coding by subject.
So, once I recognized what I can and cannot change, I broke it down further.

I ask loads of questions.
I know that.
Y’all know that.
My family and friends know that.
But what’s different about this process is that I answered my own questions.

I asked and answered questions to come up with a plan.
I used the same system of dividing the page in my big sketch book so I could see it all together.

The first question is:
What frustrates me?

*stagnation
(no real growth, no movement, no real participation in life or household, etc.)
*lack of effort to create growth or movement
*caring about (these things)
*wondering if it will ever change

OK, now what do I do about it?

How to stop being frustrated?

*accept that these are the choices YBW and Thing G are making
*accept that nothing I do will change their choices
*focus on myself and my choices
*accept that this is the situation I’m in…until…?

So far, so good. What’s next?

I know it’s hard to read.

Ways to feel more comfortable.

*let go of wife and ‘mom’ guilt
*stop apologizing for choosing growth
*accept as much as possible
*pay attention to myself and where my power is
*be kind and courageous
*stop judging
*accept limitations (cannot change situation, only how I function in it)

Ways to regroup if I’m triggered.
(frustrated)

*immediately stop and breathe
*quickly assess if it’s something I can change (if not – do my best to accept and let it go, if so – make the appropriate change)
*accept that this is my work and I may not ever be met with the same
*remove myself gently from the situation
*tap into vast support network without engaging in ‘shit talk’

OK, so in the meantime I have a plan.
But…

How to remain sane in the long game?

*accept this is my work
*accept change may never come
*be peaceful in the knowledge I did all I could do the best way I could
*love

I don’t know how or even if the situation will change.
I do know that if I can do these things I will feel better. I will make the relationship with my husband more positive.
Maybe that’s all I can do?
While I know I have magic down deep in me, I only have power over myself.
If these changes I’m making serve only to keep me from being frustrated, angry, and resentful in an unchanging situation, at least I’m content in the knowledge I am going at this in a mindful and loving way.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

accept don’t judge, or the time of ‘if this then that’ is over

When I got to work on my me things, I meant business.
I used my big sketch book so I could see both what I can and cannot change at the same time.
I wrote in pen so it remains as I wrote it. It is unchangeable. (the irony is not lost on me, further proof of my commitment to this process)

What I cannot change:

*the living situation
*YBW’s point of view
*Thing G’s willingness to do or be
*why it frustrates me

This is what I’ve been on about. I want all this stuff to change. I want it to be different.
I can’t do anything about these things.

What I can change:

*how I function in the living situation
*how I choose to behave when I’m frustrated
*the way I go about discussing it
*what I pay attention to
*how I apply myself

This is where I have the power!

These are the things I can do something about. Now to figure out the how.
I think it must start with to what am I paying attention.
The trick with this is to decide what I need/should/desire to pay attention to.
I’m hopeful that by paying attention to the ‘right’ things, I’ll automatically change how I go about functioning, and behave when I’m frustrated. Perhaps not get as frustrated?

Is that how I can facilitate change?
Not that that’s the goal.
I. Cannot. Change. Any. Thing. But. Me.

I have to figure out how to shift my whole ‘it’s the principle of the thing’ point of view.
I mean, is that really getting me anywhere?

Maybe the concept of ignoring that which bothers me isn’t quite right. How can I accept it without it bothering me so much?
This is a conversation to start with my therapist.

I think I need to brainstorm a bit more.
Maybe it’s baby steps, not jumping in up to my ass.

Accept, don’t judge.

May be key.
This is the situation I’m in. What can I do or not do to be comfortable and content in it?

The time of ‘if this, then that’ is over.
I can’t change the situation. I can only change myself within it.

You might find yourself asking:
How much responsibility can one person take in a multi-person situation?
Is it equitable if one person is making changes for the betterment of the group?
What happens when one member of the group achieves their change making goals and the situation remains the same?
I’m asking the same questions.
Stay tuned for the answers…

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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