Notes to Self

March 9, 2015

How normal is my abnormal?

Yes; it’s been a really long time since my last post. I am just too damned busy. While I haven’t been writing in this blog, I am still going to therapy so progress is still being made. I have often wanted to post; even came up with the title and started writing it in my head, but just couldn’t get the carved out time to sit and type. How lucky I feel to be doing this now!

 

So, to the point: yesterday was an awful day. I was alone with the kids. I started the day exhausted (my now 1.5 yr old is constantly waking throughout the night and screaming until you rock him back to sleep). The weather was to be nice so I wanted to take the kids to the park. My daughter wanted to ride her bike. OK. Before my husband went to work I unloaded some stuff from the trunk and got the bike and pump for my daughter and then shoveled out a push-trike for my son (it was buried under many feet of snow). A few frustrating hours later we got into the car. Toddler fell asleep quickly so we drove for a bit – went to a drive thru coffee shop (I could barely keep my eyes open). The “awful” of yesterday started here. The shop didn’t have the cake pop my daughter wanted and she didn’t want anything else they did have. As soon as I drove onto the highway she starts screaming that she wanted this or that. Oh how hungry she was and now what was she going to do? (Of course she didn’t want to eat before we left the house and also didn’t want to eat any of the food I brought with me). As she continues to scream and cry the toddler then starts crying. Such fun. Soon she calms down and we get to the park. I ask again if she will eat something but she declines. Then we have to fight over her outerwear; too cold for the minimal vest she wants to wear but I let her get out of the car and find out for herself. As I unload the bike and trike my son falls and hits his head (not hard but keep this in mind for later). So, finally everyone is properly dressed and we are ready to go. The coffee I so desperately need still hasn’t made its way into my bloodstream, but continues to spill out everywhere else (oh what fun). I have to navigate a kid on a push trike, a 4 year old and a bike (with my coffee) through the parking lot and across a patch of ice, slush and water. My daughter finally gets on her bike and three seconds later is screaming to get off. The wind is too strong and she is scared. I realize that she is also hungry and feeling weak. Tears and screams and I declare we are going home. Daughter wants ice-cream from the shoppe. I say no (she hasn’t had anything decent to eat all day and I am not filling them with ice-cream). More tears and screams. And no, you’re not watching anymore TV either (after several hours in the morning it was too much). Silence on the way home.

Get home and ask her to pick what she wants to eat. She chooses frozen pizza. I make it. Neither kid will eat it. Chicken nuggets it is. At this point I have totally shut down. I am withdrawn and unavailable to my kids. No emotion (other than some annoyance). My daughter asks me if I am frustrated. I tell her to let it go and take opportunities to tell her it’s not her fault. Nuggets are done. The toddler just wants to use the nugget to suck on ketchup. Eventually he eats some. Need to change his clothes. Done eating and they go play. I start cooking. Amazingly the two kids play together without me and they are having fun. So I am cooking and I think all I have to do is pretend I don’t love my kids – then they’ll play together (instead of fighting) and I can do chores. I think that’s absolutely pathetic, ridiculous and it makes me feel totally useless and unloved. Then I start feeling selfish and childish and shouldn’t I just grow up. They asked for ice-cream; I gave them an ice-cram pop. They ate silently. My daughter even wiped off my son’s face. I finish cooking (I imagine that the kids won’t eat it anyway so wasn’t that a total waste of time). I sit down with them. My daughter offers me a hug. I start crying (just tearing)- she starts crying/tearing. I again remind her it’s not her fault (within context of a conversation).

 

Not wanting to play with them I turn on the TV. I can’t bring myself to open back up. I can’t initiate interaction without feeling like I would be a big fake. I literally feel turned off, as if a switch was thrown and I don’t know how to flip it back on. On top of the event itself, I am dealing with guilt. Guilt over losing my patience and getting snippy. Guilt that I let myself get like this again. Guilt that I ruined the day. Guilt that my kids have to suffer me. So the inward hatred gets worse. I just stare.

So the toddler heads up the stairs and I must follow (a favorite game is to go up and down, up and down…on the plus side, my daughter, who did the same thing. was really good at the stairs!). My daughter runs up to be with us, yelling that she’s angry with me for leaving her alone. The two kids play on the bed. The toddler spits up a bit but it gets in my daughter’s hair. Yeah – now I need to figure out how to bathe her and deal with him. Eventually I have to put him in his crib so I can wash her hair. He does nothing but scream and cry. Ok. Now everyone’s washed and dressed. They play some more and he spits up a bit more (not on her) – third change of clothes. Takes some time to calm him down but eventually he falls asleep. I told my daughter (who is now watching TV) that I was going upstairs to get my son to go to sleep and that she wasn’t to call me unless she saw fire; I wasn’t coming back down until he was asleep (she has a habit of calling me for every little thing and it ends up taking 3 times as  long to get my son to sleep). Fine – done – he’s asleep. I return downstairs and she tells me she didn’t see fire and didn’t call me. My heart breaks a little.

We sit there as I try to offer some love. Try to cuddle her. Watch TV. Finally my husband comes home and my daughter tells him all about the awful day (in snippets that aren’t cohesive): she said no to ice-cream and I didn’t see fire and then she came downstairs again (I thought it was interesting that my daughter referred to me as “she” and not “mommy”). Then the remainder of the night was all around frustration. Everyone annoyed and tired. Everyone being cranky. What a wretched day.

 

So, today I woke tired and unhappy to have to get up. The toddler was cranky too (daycare called to say he is hitting and they think he should move to the next class). My daughter seemed to remember the pain I caused her the day before. Dropped the kids off at school and the toddler didn’t care that I was leaving. Gave his sister a sweet kiss and long hug. When it came time for me to leave my daughter clung to me. Eventually we both start crying. I didn’t want to let go either. I wanted her to know how sorry I was and how sad it made me to know that I made her sad. But I didn’t know how to apologize again. I didn’t know how to apologize for being a shitty mom and a selfish person. How can I say I am sorry that I am so pathetic?

 

Today I am trying to make sense of this. Trying to figure out what went wrong, why and how I can stop it from happening again. I get annoyed that things don’t go smoothly; perfectly. That my daughter didn’t have her food and that I didn’t then have anything that she wanted to eat. That I was on the highway and couldn’t stop. That somehow any other mom would have done this morning better and no one would be crying and everyone would be having fun. I am the reason my kids’ life sucks. I am incapable of being a good mom and I am failing, and failing them. So from there, on to the fight about clothes and that my son fell (which, had me thinking later that he had a concussion b/c of the spit up, which wasn’t a lot and his crankiness), the spilling coffee and trying to do too much with only two hands. I think the internal message to myself is that there must be something I am not realizing – there is a better way to do this and I just don’t know what it is. I am inherently a failure and I am pathetic. My kids will grow up unhappy and hate me and really I don’t deserve to be their mom. Frustration descends as I tell myself how much I suck. I feel trapped and helpless. Now trying to maneuver the push-trike, the bike and the kid back over the slush, ice and water…and then there’s a guy who seems to be telling me I am in his way – I ‘m not sure what he’s doing but it’s adding to my frustration (or is it anxiety??). I am aware that I have fallen into this again. I am aware that it is happening but I feel like it is too late. Like I have gone too far and the feeling of failing (that I let it happen again) is consuming me. I am consumed by guilt and hatred (for myself) and a feeling of helplessness.

 

I have to wonder how much of the first part of yesterday is normal. Do other kids cry and scream when the shoppe doesn’t have what they want? Was I stupid to take the kids with the bikes to the park? Was the coffee just too much? What is normal, what did I do that was abnormal or silly to even attempt? Shouldn’t I be able to do it all? Doesn’t everyone else? What’s wrong with me? My therapist and I have talked about the fact that while I may realize how unrealistic my expectations are or how irrational my thought process is, the emotional piece is on autopilot and I have the emotional reaction and can’t stop it. He says that the more I am aware of the reaction and sort of talk it down, then the less it will occur. I am not sure that the state of “less” is happening, although I really have no data to support it one way or the other. All I know is that I feel awful – guilty and sad and so so sorry for making my kids’ day full of sadness. I grew up sad and I don’t want that for them. I just can’ seem to change this reactive state.

I don’t know how to make it up to my kids. How to undo the damage I have done. Will they hold it against me? Will they remember? Do they hate me already? These precious years that I can never get back and I am wasting them on silly frustrations.

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July 23, 2014

Trying to cope

After nearly a year, my husband recently became employed. Hip-hip hooray, right?

No good deed goes unpunished (I really am trying to work on my optimism here)….his employment has left me alone with both kids for 4 out of 7 nights (for bed time) and one full weekend day. Not my idea of ideal.

Initially it was REALLY tough to juggle the two kids and I had a lot of self-induced pressure and I failed miserably at keeping my cool. Tears were rampant.

Then we sort of figured it out and now it’s anybody’s guess as to how the evening will go. Regardless if there are tears or smiles, I am not coping well.

 

Here’s an example:

I am still breastfeeding and the baby nurses to sleep. He’s at the age where he’s easily distracted and his sister is the highlight of his life (ergo when she makes noise he pays attention). Last night I nursed him four times and he still didn’t fall asleep. This took 1.5+hours. I was spent. I was done. I didn’t want to nurse ANYMORE. On top of it, my 3 yr old was tired of being quiet (or relatively) and alone and it was getting way past her bedtime so I just became more and more enraged. I was fully aware that there was some vague, instinctual, negative message that I was telling myself but I couldn’t quite hear it and I couldn’t get past it. I just worked myself into tears and a fit of rage (which I could only partially hide). Finally the three of us laid in the bed and soon the baby stopped crying and fell asleep. Meanwhile I was stuck on my back with a kid laying on both arms and a full bladder. I just laid there thinking how poorly I had done that evening (let’s not even go into the park visit we did early that evening) and how I had to stop and the more I thought about it the more guilt I felt, the more I beat myself up and the more angry I became. Just beside myself with frustration and anxiety. So I decided it was time to make time for therapy.

That being said there have been a few (maybe 3?) nights where the baby falls asleep no problem and I get to read a few books to my daughter before she goes to bed at a decent time.

I am still not in contact with my family (although they still send emails every now and again, but nothing of note). I continue to uncover fundamental problems in my life that all go back to them (I am past blame, just amazed at how simple the cause and effect is when the consequences have become so difficult to tease apart). I see how my daughter is becoming as easily frustrated as I am and I cannot handle that I have taught her that. I have failed her; and that’s the truth. I don’t know if I can undo it but this will first require that I fix myself.

 

I remember having several conversations about parenting and folks saying that you just had to be good enough. I think about that and wonder if the good outweighs the bad. Does my daughter feel loved more than she feels hurt? Does she laugh more than she cries? I don’t know. I feel like she is sad and feels unloved and I hurt because of this. And I have no objective way to evaluate her emotional health.

 

I feel like I am not bonding well with either of my children. I feel sad and lonely. I feel hopeless and helpless (and did I mention that I hate my job due to recent changes in org structure, etc?). I struggle to smile and find a happy thought. I’d rather sit in silence in the car than try to make my child smile. I am worried I’ll just make her cry.

 

I feel like all I do is tell her no or not now. “Mommy do you want to paint with me?” ; “Mommy do you want to make a craft with me?”; Mommy do you want to play with me?” and all I can say is I do but right now I have to…..(pack their bottles/lunch….nurse the baby…get dinner together….play with the baby and walk him around….whatever). It really hurts me. It really makes me sad and then it makes me angry because all I can think is that this child is sad and lonely and feels unloved.

 

So I feel like a constant failure. Like nothing I do works. And I am not capable of making it work. I don’t care that taking care of two kids at once is difficult – that means nothing to each individual child who is left without quality time.

May 9, 2014

It just has to stop

I hate that phrase…with a Passion.

 

My mother always said that. As if saying it would magically make it happen and as if it was never her fault or her responsibility to change it. I recall watching her go through her tantrums and realizing one day that I  had stopped caring. I think it was somewhere around the time she said “I don’t get paid to be a mother”.

My father is a hoarder. It took us (me and my siblings) quite a while (into adulthood) to realize it. My mother is one but to a lesser extent. I think she just liked stuff and never had anywhere to put it because my father took up all the free space. But growing up our house always had stuff around. You could never find a pen, there was never counter or table space and we never learned the value or importance of keeping things tidy. My mom used to threaten to throw our stuff away if we didn’t clean up our room.

So of course we all developed anxiety over clutter. I can’t handle chaotic places either. Once I went to a mall near Christmas time and almost exploded. For years I would get upset and cry over my unorganized nature but only recently realized the etiology. My life is cluttered, disorganized and chaotic, as evidenced by my messy home, car and head (yes, my psyche is included in this list) because (as my mother used to say) I am a horrible, rotten, disgusting person who is lazy and ungrateful.

I can see the scowl on her face and hear my mother’s voice as I write these words: Rotten Children. My sisters told me that once my mother threatened to drive us all off of a cliff. Yes; she had trouble dealing with stress. I guess she suffers from similar pathologies as I do. But that’s why I cut them out of my life – so I could heal and so that they wouldn’t teach the same to my children. Legacy broken folks.

 

HOWEVER, lately the stress has just been so great that I find myself in bouts of tears and anxiety (frustration) and muttering these words: it just has to stop. As I trip over crap on the floor (if you have two children you know what I am talking about!), as I struggle to find counter space to make my son’s bottles and as I just sit and look around at all the chaos. I shake my head, fight back tears and think “it just has to stop”.
This morning as I pondered this in the shower (one of my only times to think clearly as I find some relaxation in hot showers) I also thought that I have been dealing with stress, much like a line backer, and waiting for something to give (related to yesterday’s post). I am fully expecting something to change and all the pieces hanging above my head will fall perfectly back into place. No harm, no foul. I feel like I am in a dream and waiting to wake up. And this is a problem because there is no dream (or nightmare!) and nothing will put it all peacefully back together. We are screwed and I have to face it.

I guess I need to find a way to take responsibility and control and realize that the “it” is me. Lemons out of lemonade simply means not dwelling in the negativity and sadness. Finding someway to make it work regardless, and in spite of.

No magic will happen here and this is a life lesson I need to execute. It just has to stop being the same way it has been for years – I have to change the way I respond and stop reacting.

So, take a deep breath, count and remember what’s important.

April 7, 2014

Giggles in the kitchen

I had a moment yesterday. It was lovely and sweet and had a big impact on me. And I thought I would share something positive.

 

My daughter likes to help us cook. She is actually quite good at cracking eggs! Yesterday I was making a pizza and she wanted to help (she says “I need the ladder!”, which is the step ladder). I was spreading the dough and she was eating mozzarella, and then she wanted to help spread the dough. After she touched it and found out it had oil on it she made a silly noise and we both laughed.

 

And then it occurred to me –  this little moment in time was bigger than I realized.

These are the happy moments that build memories and propensities and help her grow up happy and feeling loved.

These giggles were some maybe she would recall in fondness one day as she stood over the stove making pizza for her family. “My mother and I always made pizza together” she would tell her child(ren) as they ate mozzarella and squealed at oily dough.

I am filled with joy that I was able to live in that moment.

My cup runneth over.

April 4, 2014

Afraid to talk or have nothing to say?

Silence is difficult to deal with.

You wonder – is the person not talking because they don’t know what to say or do they not care to participate or are they actively shutting you out completely?

When you finally get the nerve to open a difficult conversation (albeit at maybe not the most appropriate time), it is a hard pill to swallow when the other person says nothing.

So, you know that wall of defense that may have only been a 12 foot fence? Consider my heart now surrounded by the Great Wall of China.

 

I have been thinking lately about how lonely I am. I lack a sense of true connection with anyone right now. Sometimes I want to pick up the phone or reach out for a hug and I can’t think of who would be on the receiving end.

 

I am at a loss in terms of my relationship with my husband. Not sure what to do to get back on the right terms. There isn’t a heck of a lot of time to talk and we are both tired and depressed. He says he’s afraid to say anything because anything he says will make it worse. But not saying anything makes me feel like he doesn’t care. We can’t move forward if we can’t talk.

 

Any advice is welcome.

March 11, 2014

If it’s in your dream it must be…

If you dream it then it must be bullshit, true or a little bit of both?

I feel like that’s the way I answer my life: somewhat full of shit and somewhat true – no, wait, only the first one. No, no it’s both at the same time. Wait, what? I’m sorry, what was the question again? I wasn’t paying attention; I was too busy dealing with my anxiety over what you will think of me when I answer and should I answer differently to make sure you don’t think I’m crazy…..

Last night I had a dream that my daughter was being comforted by the perfect mom – she looked like Darling from Lady and the Tramp (beautiful, hair and make up perfect…soft glow about her). I recall looking on as my daughter felt so loved as she was being sung to in a perfect voice and was engulfed in a warm (yes, glowing) embrace and thinking how ugly I must be to her and how unfortunate she is to have me as a mom. I could never look or sound like that. Maybe she’s better off…

 

So here’s the crazy part – last night during bedtime I spent a good 30-40 min nursing the baby to sleep. Just as I was going to put him in his crib I coughed (I have a cold) and he woke up. I was so annoyed as I am just so, so tired and stressed. My husband took him for a bit and my daughter cuddled in our bed. At one point my daughter decided she wanted to go back into her bed. She started caressing my face and telling me to sleep well and that she loved me. She even sat up and sang me a lullaby, pulling the covers up to my face. I thought to myself how wonderful she is and didn’t I do a good job making her feel loved and respected, since here she was giving it back to me. This motivated me to get up and nurse the baby again – to give him the same unconditional love and affection I gave her.

So what’s with the dream? I fell asleep thinking how lovely my family was.

February 25, 2014

It’s begun again

I am starting to (again) get angry at myself for making what I always deem as wrong choices (e.g., taking a different route to work and not sure it was any faster and maybe even longer….by 2 minutes).

I feel like I’ve taken a giant leap backwards in the progress I made over the last year+.

I feel like everything is always a fight or a hassle or a negative. I rush rush from this task or event to that one. If I spend time on one thing I feel like anxious about the other things I didn’t work on (like right now- wanting to get this off my chest and write in this blog but really I have so many other things I need to be doing; and the anxiety is just building). I constantly forget to do things and I seem to always have to pee!

Life shouldn’t be this kind of constant battle. I know I have my issues/pathologies and I am far from perfect, but why do I feel so alone; like no one has my back? And on top of it, I don’t feel like I deserve to ask for help.

It will be almost a year since I last spoke to my family members. I still don’t regret my decision, but I sometimes feel like I lost all my roots. Well, I guess I did! Ha! But how do I replace that or what do I build in its place? Who’s looking out for me?

I feel like if I don’t reach out to people I wouldn’t have any friends or communication with them. I struggle with always thinking people don’t really like me. I struggle with trying to figure out what “normal” is. How does a normal person react, respond or act in any given situation. I always feel like my thought and action is pathological. Everything I am and everything I do is pathological. I don’t know how to cope with that.

So the recent email from my husband, albeit riddled with whatever he brings to the table, has left me feeling like there is no possible resolution. If I am always to blame, if I am always wrong and always the problem…and if I can’t “fix” myself….

Each day I do the best I can for my family. I work hard to make sure I always have a job (my husband has basically been unemployed for three years). For my children I am always trying to make sure that the tone in my voice and the words I use are loving, supportive and in their best interest (ok, I do lose my temper sometimes, get stern and threaten to take away her toys…). I try to make sure my daughter has activities to encourage growth in all aspects of development. It’s about what they need to grow up feeling unconditionally loved and with the self-esteem needed to be un-pathological (whatever – make up your own words and you’ll see how much fun it is!).

I am exhausted. I don’t have any outlet for stress and no time or mechanism for exercise. I am lonely. I don’t sleep well, I cry and lately all I do is eat (so not psyched about my fat). I guess I am depressed.

And no time for therapy. I think I am screwed. Worst part (ha!) is, I can’t even drink because I am breastfeeding.

February 22, 2014

There’s nothing to say

Filed under: Family, Relationships, Therapy — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — me2self @ 11:15 am

“As you presented your argument, it is impossible to address it without making things worse.

This is big and beyond my ability to address fairly.  Your statements are unfair.  I fear it will do me no service to  return them in kind.

I am spending way too much time deciding how to address this.  Because I must.  Point by erroneous point, play armchair psychologist, or give you absolution for your misplaced guilt and take it all upon myself.

At the root of this email seems to be your feelings of guilt and unwillingness to let the past remain in the past.  You are also attacking to off-lay some of that guilt so that you can be free of the burden.”

 

This is how my husband responded to an email I sent to him.

 

I think I need to see my therapist.

 

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