Christmas Eve Tradition

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xmasWhile I know it is not yet Christmas Eve, I decided now was the time to do some annual reflection on my life.  If you look back through my two years of posting you will see that every year at this time of year I take a quick sneak look back at the last year in preparation of moving forward into the next.

I am not a big proponent of looking back.  While I believe that not learning the lessons of the past will ultimately defeat you, I do believe that spending so much time in regret and remembrance of days gone by gives you no time to enjoy the day.

I usually reflect on my children this time of year. What they have done; who they now are. I like to read posts that I have written about my children and my reactions to them. I like to flip through photos and take my time enjoying the memories I have made with them.  I am blessed to have them and I know that I reflect and think about my children every day, every second.

This year I am going to reflect instead on myself.  My marriage is what it is.  My family are what they are. But I feel like I have undergone some monumental changes this year.

I would say this year has probably been one of the hardest I have ever lived.  Between moving, not selling our home, living out of storage and under my mother’s roof my definition as a mother and as a person have radically changed.  My husband has drank than decided not to drink as much.  My husband smoked and now has decided to quit. And I still don’t have a dime to my name.

But I am stronger.  I can feel that deep down inside. When the world around you changes so radically you are forced to take a look deep inside yourself and discover what it is that is important.  When everything becomes a suppression to who and what you are and you have to find yourself fighting to define yourself in a space that is limited, you learn that who you want to be isn’t as important as who you actually are.

I spent the year in my definition of hell. I can’t go into all the ways this life seems to have completely defeated me this year but I can tell you that I am still standing.  For instance, living under my mother’s roof for a year I have had to redefine who I am as a mother and who I am as a daughter.  You would be amazed how much you change when you go back home. No longer am I the only mother in the house; but I had to learn that I am the mother that counts.  I had to learn that my voice must be spoken and my actions must be accomplished because otherwise I am drowned out by the well-wishers and do-gooders.

I have lived surrounded by opinionated and strong-willed women (all who are in my family).  I have had to cement in my mind who that makes me.  Do I want to be cruel? Do I want to be the kind of person that steps over a dollar to save a penny? Do I want to focus on the minute details of life or try and enjoy the whole of it? And what will happen if I say no?

These are questions that some learn and some never have to learn.  Have you ever tried to say no without explanation to the people that essentially raised you? It is really, really hard.  But I am figuring out that what is best for my children isn’t best for the group; however my children take precedence.

I have not had a job in months.  I have had to learn what to do with my time, what to do with my world without escaping into my bed for hours at a time.  I have had to understand that those trinkets I want so much aren’t as important as trying to get back on my family’s financial feet.  I have had to learn to smile and walk away from something that could have meant the world in order to save my world. I am not used to sacrificing as much as deciding I just couldn’t afford something.  And there is a world a deference in those two things.

I have learned this year that I have allowed myself to spend the past so many years to lean on the world and not truly take part.  As a child this was expected; but I never grew out of that.  I never took responsibility for my part instead using my disease, my sickness and oftentimes my own laziness as an excuse.  I have used other people in order to avoid doing mundane things in my life than expected those I have loved to compliment the little I did do.  I have made others run on the hamster wheel because I didn’t want to admit that I was too lazy to do it. I am not very proud of this one but I am glad that this life has finally taught it to me.

As a mother I have learned that children are exactly what we make them to be. If we expect them to be out of control horrible beings than that is what they will be. I have learned if we skip the step where we explain why they can’t do something they will never learn. And I have learned that children will test you and test and you will fail and fail.  Part of being a parent.

I think I knew most of those things about parenthood before this year, but there is nothing like having your own mother helping with daily child care to make those lessons permanent.

I like who I am growing up to be.  I like the lessons that I have had to learn this year. For the world there won’t be any outside sign that these lessons have been learned, but I know them.  I know that I am more sure of who I am, more confident in being not what they expect but what I expect.  I know that no matter what my life is like, it isn’t because He deserted me or because karma has come to bite me on the ass. I know it is simply life.

I hope that the next year will be easier. But I hope that every year. I suppose in lieu of easier I will take happier.  I have learned not to expect happier, but then that is a lesson I learned long, long ago.

Publish or Perish

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poetryI am not writing much these days.  Could be the holidays, could be that they just changed my meds, or it is possible I simply have nothing to say.  Despite the fact that I have written two books that are simply waiting for the editing process to begin, I don’t consider writing a job…yet.

I hope that there will be a day when I have to see writing as a job; an enterprise that makes money.  I hope there comes a day when I force myself to sit in front of the computer whether I have anything to say or not.  I hope there comes a time when my voice is found in a story and not in the imaginations left alone in my mind.

I like the voices in my head. I like the stories that are within me, simply calling out to be heard.  Those voices are not yet yelling, they are not yet screaming.  The voices are still content to simply allow me to find my own time.

Again, the voices may be satisfied with the two stories that I have already written. Maybe the edge, the curve has gotten steadier now that I have written two works.  And let us not forget this blog and its ability to apply a band-aid on the compulsion to write my stories.

I find it strange that this little blog can be a band-aid on my compulsions. I find it odd that I can write for a couple of minutes each day and satisfy myself until the next day. The urge, the craving is only satisfied for minutes but it seems to get me through the day.

Today, in order to publish something, I literally had to begin typing and simply hope that by the end of this post there will be something worth reading.  I could be wrong.

How is it that our compulsions, our desires, our urges, our cravings can be satisfied for moments? How is that our soul knowingly understands that this simple post is a blip on the screen, and yet find satisfaction? Is it like pickles? Do I have a craving, eat one pickle and then am satisfied for months until the next craving comes along?

I like to write. I would even venture to say I love writing.  I don’t currently have a place to write that I feel is mine.  Some place comfortable and clean; a place that is my retreat.  But I have designed that space in my mind. Am I simply waiting for the design in my mind to become real before I am willing to push myself harder on my writing?

Or am I lazy? I am lazy about an awful lot of things…my home, my looks, even my to do list. I am not a procrastinator as much as a person that can literally convince herself that what she thinks she needs is nothing close to what is actually wanted. I am lazy because it is easy. I am lazy because the alternative is as boring as the laziness.

I don’t know where I am right now. I don’t know what I am currently going through. I know that I am tired. I know that I feel hurt and confused. I know that no matter how much I wish it were different my life is in a holding pattern.  And I know that at the end of the day there isn’t much I can do about life; at least not my life.

And I don’t say that because I am lazy. I say that because the truth is my life is in a pattern that I don’t yet have the power to change.  I know, I know. Millions of voices out there are currently yelling that I can change anything I want to change. This is not true.

Sometimes we simply have to wait. Wait for the voices to get louder, wait for the desires to get stronger and wait for the cravings to be satisfied. Sometimes the only thing that we can do is get up in the morning and go to sleep in the evening. Sometimes we can only picture what we want to change and wait for the time when the change will be acceptable. Sometimes the reality is that a simple quote about the power we each have is nothing but a series of letters that don’t mean anything.

Sometimes we simply have to wait.

The Friend Magic

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chicksI am a difficult person to like. I am not altogether sure why this is or why it has plagued me for most of my life.  I don’t know how I come across or why people tended to go out of their way to avoid me – it has always been there.  I was the kid with one or two friends, sometimes even one or two best friends.  But never more than that.

I have been aware of this deficiency in me since long before anyone pointed it out to me. It has never really been my looks, my grades, my voice or any other easy to define issue that has always caused me problems.  Don’t mistake me, I am not a queen of anything, certainly not beauty, but I am average.  I try in so many ways to be normal.

My default position these days is to simply ignore or deny all of it.  I speak of the mothers on my son’s baseball team as being snooty, or more interested in their shoes than their child.  I talk about the men in my son’s boy scout troop as being ridiculous or frustrating.

But the truth is I know even when I write those posts, even when I am able to convince my readers of this truth, that I am really just putting up defenses.  The truth is those other parents are probably perfectly nice people; they just don’t like me.  The truth is those other parents seem to have that same magic all those people in college had that I just seemed to have missed.

But I do dismiss them with the power of all my anonymity. I dismiss them because they dismiss me.  And despite my age, my child’s age, it still really hurts.  It hurts that it doesn’t happen to my husband and it hurts that it doesn’t happen to my sister; it hurts because no matter how many people say that I need to try harder or worse that it is only in my mind, the truth is I am simply not like-able.

I think that over the years it has become harder and harder for people that are in some way part of my life to see me as a potential friend.  It is a horrible cycle – I pretend it doesn’t matter which pushes people away.  And every time I think it really doesn’t matter I am reminded that to me, it very much does.

I took my five year old daughter to a birthday party this weekend.  A typical party for a five year it contained enough sugary sweet love to make Disney look like an amateur. My daughter had a grand time running around, eating pizza, playing with the toys, and eating cake.  The other girls were nice to her and while I never got the impression she was the most popular child but I wonder if at five years old there is such a thing.

I sat on the sidelines as directed, one to keep an eye on my child, but mostly because this time I was determined to make an effort.  I had never spent any time with these women, the mothers of the other girls, so I wanted to be open, friendly and seemingly willing to be friends with whoever.  I injected myself politely in a couple of brief conversations and answered every question with a kind and smiling response.  In other words, I tried hard.

And what happened? I was ignored. I sat while the other mothers around me made plans for the next weekend in my ear shot, never once thinking of my child or of me.  I sat there and listened to them talk about their teacher, their lives, and their other children.  And not once was I asked about my thoughts, opinions, goals, or even my daughter’s thoughts.  I was literally shunned.

Before you immediately make excuses for these ladies, don’t worry I already have for you.  It is the only way I can protect myself. I know that I am new to the group and it is hard to engage someone who doesn’t know everyone’s history.  I know that they probably don’t see each other very often except at their daughter’s birthday parties so it turns into a time of gossip.  I know that they don’t think of the price of that purse or shoes in the same way I have been raised.  I know that they see a girl, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and no make-up as a bum and someone who is uncomfortable to be around.  I know all of this – and it still hurts so much.

I always thought that I was bigger than this.  I always thought that at least I was smarter than everyone else or that I at least had a family that no one could compare to. I always thought that I was apart from the need for others to like me.  I thought I was past the part that I need approval from someone else.  I always thought that I could handle this being alone.  But it hurts.

My daughter or my son for that matter are not yet affected by their mother’s lack of desirability. They won’t have the same issue with their father as he seems to have that what ever it is that people want to get closer to.  But I am scared for my daughter especially when she realizes that all the other girls are being invited to places she isn’t; and the reason she isn’t is because of her mother.

I am scared that I am going to hurt my daughter’s chance to be whatever it is that she wants to be.  I am scared that she won’t be able to ultimately find her dreams because her mother stood so firmly in her way. I am very scared that she will be painted with the same brush I always have.

I watch my children, I watch over my children.  I find myself scrutinizing every move every five year old around my daughter is making. I find myself almost obsessed with wondering how a five year old girl likes my five year old girl. Disappointment is part of life but it shouldn’t come at the price of your own mother. Will I lose my daughter when she finally has to realize that her mother is a liability, the ultimate roadblock to everything that seems so important when you are young?

I am desperate to find a way to make perfect strangers like me in a way I haven’t done since I was very young. And I feel ridiculous actually believing that these women are for one moment ever thinking about me. I feel ridiculous that I am not yet old enough to ignore what has happened my whole life.  I feel ridiculous that even as I type this I am crying because there is literally no one I can call to talk to about it.

I am not on the top.  I am not on the bottom.  I am an average girl wishing that someone liked me too.  I have always been the average girl since the day I was born, wishing that I too had that special magic that gave you friends.  I am not sure why I was denied that magic or who exactly denied me that magic.  But in this cold, lonely world, I wish for that magic with all my heart.

The Dreaded Expectations of Motherhood

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boysMotherhood is an adventure that not one writer has ever gotten exactly right. Motherhood is an adventure that the poets, the men, the children, even the mother herself can never prepare for.  It requires patience, love, loyalty, lies, deception, stealth fighting, hand-to-hand combat, snotty spots that last all day, laughter, giggles, snuggles and numerous and octave changing words that are synonymous with the word “mom”.

I love my children.  I would and have done anything that is required of me for my children. And if you have ever taken the time to read any of my posts then you will know this is a feat of God himself.

I am a bipolar mom.  Motherhood is the hardest and easiest job that you will ever have. Having a disease like bipolar in the mix creates obstacles that will either buoy you up or drown you. There are moments that are required of a mom and moments that a mother is required simply to be wholly present.  This means as a writer, as a patient, as a mother of two intelligent children, I haven’t known real peace in seven years.

If I actually sit down and think about everything in a selfish context, I wouldn’t be able to get up in the morning.  If I sit and think about the sacrifices, the times of sheer nerve and literal guessing, I probably would cry.  And I haven’t cried in ten years.

I don’t think about it.  I don’t listen to my favorite songs that are playing on my personal radio right now as I type this.  I compartmentalize, I hide, I throw a blanket over my shoulders and pretend to have nothing.  In my writing, in the course of this disease and now perfected in motherhood I literally can have fifteen things happening and only know of one.  Not because I can’t be aware, but because I choose not to be aware for my own sake.

One of the biggest things my children have taught me is that for love I will do astonishing things.  A mother’s love for her child will compel her to do almost anything. And if you don’t believe me, ask all the mothers who stood in the way of a bullet to protect their children.  For some it may be instinctual, for others it is just the way they are built.  Of course, there is the other side to all this but I choose not to be aware of that either.

For the love of my children I have gone to two year old, three year old, four year old, five and six year old birthday parties.  I hate parties.  I hate having to talk to the rest of the mothers, I hate having to pretend that I care in anyway about either the child or the child’s reaction to the hoopla. I hate birthday cake and I hate having to sit there with a smile on my face while the forty-sixth present is being opened.  But I do it; I do it despite all my loathing because my children want to go.

I eat pizza a lot. And I mean a lot.  And I hate pizza. All pizzas. Every kind, every sauce and every crust, I hate pizza.  I have never met a pizza that stood up for me and said oh yeah, I want this; I like this.  Pizza and I do not get along.  It simply tastes like what I imagine cauliflower tastes for others. But I eat it because it is my children’s favorite food.

This is the lot of motherhood. While I never signed on for it when they gave me that beautiful baby after twelve hours of hell;  I was probably so out of it from the drugs it wouldn’t stand up in a court of law anyways.

Tonight is another example of doing things that I absolutely hate.  I have to go, again, to my son’s boy scout meeting.

Here is the truth, I don’t mind taking my kid to boy scouts.  I don’t mind listening to the parent portion, and I really don’t mind sitting in my car until he is done.  I don’t mind making sure he is in his uniform and that he is as ready as I can make him.  That is okay with me; part of motherhood.

But having to go to these meetings with twenty to thirty boys after getting their “Good Manners” badges behaving like monsters afterwards is a problem.  Having to go to these meetings where the boys deface church property because no one is stopping them is a problem.  Listening to the ‘Den Masters’ make up excuses, and pretty much deal with these kids in no way whatsoever gets to me.

I hate children who are disruptive to others. I hate children who literally skip around in circles around me while I am trying to walk.  I hate children who run up and down halls looking for their buddies.  And I hate that these children are doing what their doing for one simple reason – there isn’t anyone to stop them.

Despite the fact the ‘Den Masters’ are typically fathers, there is no telling of whom. They spend just enough time to get the boys their badges and then they flee like rats on a ship.  They watch their children run around while they sit there with their arms crossed in front of their beer bellies and pretend to be someone life has never granted them the right to be.  I despise it all.

Last week I actually got into it with one of the fathers which should make this week even more fun.  I won’t bore you anymore and I will try to now control my ranting. Let’s just say the gentleman in question was one of the ones I was describing above.

I love my son so I will continue to go until he makes the decision not to participate in this organization.  I will continue to do everything in my power to support my son’s endeavors and for the most part try and keep my opinions to myself.

Apparently it is what mothers do.  And it sucks sometimes.

Agoraphobia, Need I Say More?

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chainI recently began seeing a new doctor.  This isn’t really news worthy as I have to see doctor’s often.  It is part of having and living with a mental illness; especially if you want to have any success with it.  And like my times with many of the doctors I see, this one to wanted to began changing my medications.

There can be a number of reasons for changing medications.  Sometimes the doctor’s ego can’t be assuaged without the knowledge that he put you on the path of freedom. This is normal as those without a serious drive for perfection rarely make great doctors. Many times it is necessary to change medications because the ones that a patient has been taking for years and years is no longer as effective as it once was – again normal. Or you may change medications because a new chemical compound that promises greater results is available to you.

All of these reasons can be valid.

The biggest problem with changing medication is, of course, the side effects.  When we are talking about drugs that mess with the brain it is often the case that the side effects are worse than the disease itself.  I have had one or two drugs that did much more damage than I could ever have done to myself.

Side effects for those who take medication relating to mental illness can be sleepiness or insomnia, weight gain or weight loss, clear skin or acne everywhere.  You get my point. There never seems to be an accurate guide to the possibilities of a certain side effect when starting a new medication.  It is more like looking at a vial of poison, drinking it and hoping it doesn’t kill you.  This is the life of a mentally ill patient who chooses to actually take their medication.

So when I am given new medication I do two things: one, I don’t read anything about the side effects on any literature, anywhere and two, I watch myself like a hawk.

I have the ability to make up side effects in my body because I have read somewhere that it is possible to have them.  I call this the placebo effect.  You could give me a pill, tell me that it will make me gain weight, and I promise with everything that I am that the scale in the bathroom will literally rise to higher numbers.  Doesn’t matter if that pill is a sugar pill, a pill with only water in it, or a weight loss pill – if you tell me the side effects that is exactly what is going to happen.  May be a part of mental illness, or may be just a part of me.

And when I get new medications I have to watch myself like a hawk.  I have to try and anticipate bad days or bad side effects. I have to be able to react to problems with my health before they become an issue.  Not because I might die, but because once I am far enough gone, I can’t stop it.

For instance, once I took a pill that made me so high, I literally ran for miles each day.  I couldn’t sit still; I had to pace back and forth just to be able to deal with the pure adrenaline that was constantly flooding my muscles.  If you have never felt the pain of literally not being able to rest or even sit for a moment, I advise you skip the whole thing.  But my point is, that I took those pills much longer than I should have.  I went down to 90 pounds (think walking, talking skeleton), I could barely work or take care of my new son.  It was awful.

So I spend an inordinate amount of time on myself usually. Yes, I fascinate myself but it is also a protective exercise in order to help prevent some of the issues I have had in the past.

When I change medications, I look even closer.  I have to be able to react and I have to be able to know what outside influences are changing me.  And I have to be in a position to make changes (and when you are too busy running there isn’t much time for contemplation.)

I began awhile ago looking and watching myself.  To be perfectly about twenty years ago. But there are issues that have always been there that I choose to ignore.  There have always been this darkness waiting for me to shine my little light into and find out what is going to happen.  Despite the fact I enjoy self-examination, I don’t often delve too deeply into those dark corners.

Those dark corners are something much different than the depression and the madness I deal with on a daily basis.  Those dark corners are the truth, the ugly little truths, about who and what I will have to deal with one day.  They are the realizations that I don’t talk about in any doctor’s office and they are certainly not conversation to have with my husband.  They are the things we hide from for as long as possible.  The things that we deliberately deceive our own selves about; simply to continue.  They are the things that will one day be a ghost haunting us, but until that day, they are not to even be talked about.

These dark corners are scary; and I have a couple.  I know they are there.  Sins too big to contemplate may be the most accurate way to describe them.  They are not haunting me; truthfully, most days I don’t even remember that they are there.  It is only when I am forced to look beyond the surface of my mental disease into the darkness of my own self that I have to admit the truth.

One of the truths that I have realized is that there will come a day that I may be a agoraphobic.  In case you are wondering, an agoraphobic is someone who fears the outside. The outside as in anything beyond the four walls in which they live.  Some agoraphobics can’t go outside their home, others can’t go out of their rooms.  They are various levels and like most mental illnesses, various reasons, explanations and ridiculous solutions to these problems.

I am not making like of agoraphobia and I truly don’t know if I will ever be one. I don’t have a crystal ball into my future and may never have to realize this very real fear of mine.

For this moment I know a couple of things: I hate going out in public, any public.  I hate pumping my gas as much as I hate picking my kids up at school.  I hate the idea that I have to go to both of my children’s Christmas concerts – I fear it and I loathe it.  I hate talking to cashiers, attendants, even those really nice people checking you into your hotel.  I spend most of the conversation not making eye contact and working hard to simply get away.

I have started to literally hide behind my husband when we go out.  I am two steps behind him, watching his shoes in front of me.  Or if my children are there I can look at them, and smile at them, and try and ignore the rest of it.

One of the hardest things to deal with is the noise.  The noise of a crowd hurts my ears. It makes me crunch up my shoulders to my ears and work hard to single the alphabet song in my head.

I have dreamed of a home of my own for awhile now.  I have designed every room and every piece of furniture.  It is exactly what I want.  The only problem I worry about is if I build and design this home, will I ever be able to physically leave it.  Or will it represent everything that I have always wanted and will I be able to convince myself there is no reason to ever leave.

I am not there yet.  I am not an agoraphobic.  The fear of being touched is getting worse as the days go by but that seems to be the only real symptom so far; and that has been building since birth.

But I can see myself building my walls and never leaving.  I can see myself teaching and training those I love in such a way that they will not notice it until it is too late.  I can see what is in that dark corner.

I believe that self-examination is amazingly freeing and important to our own growth.  I think realizing that you have the tendencies and proclivities to be a phobic sucks.

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