Notes to Self

May 25, 2017

Shoulder tap that anxiety tantrum

Filed under: Healing, Take a deep breath, Them vs. Me, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — me2self @ 4:34 pm

I haven’t been to therapy in perhaps a year. I haven’t written on this blog for a long time as well. I have been busy with daily routine, and busy trying to ignore what makes me miserable.

I am happy to admit that I have made some progress over the past months…catching myself soon after I enter a anxiety tantrum (you know, when you get all upset, angry, frustrated, annoyed and just pissed off miserable and you don’t know why)…. I’ve had fewer of these (or so I think; I really should check with my husband). My therapist once told me that what I needed was someone to tap me on the shoulder and tell me I have headed down this path, so I can stop myself and backup. I tried to get my husband to do this, but 1) that isn’t fair to him and 2) he doesn’t necessarily know when I am on that path. So it is up to me.

It seems that this should be an easy thing to do…when I find myself enraged, annoyed, or have swirling thoughts in my head, I need to stop and backup. But that’s the key…FINDING your self. These anxiety tantrums are like having a blindfold over your sense of self-awareness. You simply lose sight of the bigger picture and get lost in these minute details of things that you think are life altering and/or catastrophic.

Hmmm…self-awareness. Like realizing that the thing you are being anxious about is directly related to the horrible things your mother would say to you on a daily basis (Or the things that you now say to yourself because why stop the negativity after all these years?) and not really a problem in a normal world or frame of mind.

I am certain that most anxiety is all about the tug between feeling that we are not living up to the standards put forth and knowing that these standards that are unreasonable, unattainable, and irrational. We are functioning at the mercy of the lessons we learned as children and/or by our current understanding of what “society” expects of us, and our gut reactions to them. The opposition and confrontation of these two sides happen subconsciously. We, then, need to have a shoulder tap to come to a place of self-awareness, backup out of that situation and stop the two sides from fighting – to stop the anxiety tantrum.

But how?

September 17, 2015

The baggage I carry

I mean this literally…the number of bags I carry each day is pissing me off. I feel like a mule.

 

Each school and workday morning I pack four lunches; one for each of my two children, one for me and one for my husband. That’s 3 bags I have to carry (I take the kids to school on my way to work). Then I have a purse. I downgraded from a backpack to a relatively large messenger bag. That makes 4 bags. Sometimes my eldest want to bring toys to school so she needs her backpack. Of course then my youngest wants his backpack as well. Guess who ends up carrying them? We’re up to 6 bags. On occasion, I go to the grocery store before I pick up the kids so I will either have the empty reusable (and insulated) grocery bags to take to the car in the morning and/or (if they are already in the car) I have a few bags of groceries to bring into the house ALONG WITH the kids (I can’t leave them in the house alone and it would take a good 30 minutes or more to permit them to return outside so I can make a second trip, once you add on all the playtime, dawdling on the stairs, etc. That can bring the total up to 8 or 12. But that’s not all. Some days I either have to carry my son or end up bending down with the 8-12 bags to pick him up because he’s too busy playing and won’t just walk into the house so I can put down all of these bags. The kicker is that I wonder why I am so annoyed by the time I actually get into the house and struggle to walk around my kids or their shoes (which my daughter takes off as soon as she gets into the door and then leaves in the middle of the floor) or the meowing cat to peel the bags off of my body and use the bathroom.

 

Yesterday was show and tell for my daughter’s class. I suggested that she bring the pop-up tent my kids had been playing with for the last few days. Of course that meant that I had to carry this awkward item, in addition to all the bags and my son. Great idea! Anyway. Last night I propped the tent against the car and apparently forgot it because it was leaning against the stairs of the daycare this morning. My kids saw it and were very upset. I planned to bring the tent to the car after I dropped off the kids but my daughter wanted to retrieve the tent immediately. So, carrying the two lunch bags and watching my son so he doesn’t run into the street or get hit by a car coming out of the driveway, I also then had to take the tent from my daughter, chase down my son and pick him up so I could put the damned tent into the car. As I began losing my temper and becoming overwhelmed with anxiety/frustration, I heard myself complaining mumbling something like “this is why I wasn’t going to take it until later”. I looked up and caught a glimpse of a man sitting in a car watching us. I felt awful. What he must think of me and my parenting. How terrible that must look to everyone and how absolutely wretched it must be for my children to experience. And for what? The inconvenience of too many things to carry?

 

Sure, that seems like a simple thing. Oh – what’s the problem…it’s a few bags! But it isn’t that simply and we shouldn’t downplay these kinds of situations. If it were one day, here and there of too many things then it may not be cause for a blog post. But every day (weekends are not much different because I have the diaper bag, extra clothes, water, food, toys…..) of carrying and struggling is just too much for me to handle. I strap the lunch bags and my purse across my body so they don’t fall off my arm but then they strangle me and fall forward when I bend down. I am weak and sometimes feel as though the muscles in my shoulders are ripping from the weight. It’s very painful. And I look around and don’t see ANYONE with as many bags as I have. Sure; there are other folks who pack their kids lunch but the bags are small and don’t even have straps. Because I pack so many things in my kids’ lunch bags (two fruits, a hot meal, yogurt, vege’s, etc), I purchased larger lunch bags. I didn’t realize how large they actually were, but I wanted to make sure there was enough room for all the Tupperware and the ice-packs. And they have pockets for miscellaneous things (hair clips, vitamins, extra clothes, etc). So from the start I created this enlarged baggage. But it’s form fits function….right?

 

But the issue isn’t really about the bags. Sure; it’s not easy and not fun and no one would voluntarily do what I do (well, actually, mothers do voluntarily do what I do – I just haven’t met any like me and with a similar number of bags!). The issue is my perception of the situation and of me and my performance as a mother and a woman. When it comes down to it I feel like, and believe that I look like, complete chaos; a “hot mess” as some would say. I feel silly. Lame. Pathetic and clumsy. There is something inherently wrong with me that creates this situation, and many more like it, and makes me feel completely isolated and like a total failure. There is a better way to do this and I am not capable of figuring that out. Here’s another fundamental belief; one of a few songs that get sung over and over in my head without me realizing it until it’s too late. They cloud my judgement, fill me with anxiety and make me say and do things I instantly regret. I may realize I am in this state but not until I am too far gone. I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t know how to calm down and pour water on the fire. I thought about getting a really tight bracelet with “CTFD” written on it….perhaps it would be so tight that I could never ignore it and I would have a constant reminder to calm the fuck down. But I didn’t think it would be workplace appropriate, and wasn’t sure it would work – feared it would actually make me more anxious.

 

So. How to start “fixing” this? Medication. I have an appointment with a psychiatrist to see about some medication for my anxiety. I haven’t been to therapy in a while (too much going on in my life that demands my time) but I plan to return soon. I wanted to start medication several months ago but couldn’t get an appointment. Funny….mental health practitioners can’t give appointments for 1-2 months. Somehow that seems contrary to the purpose of the care. But I digress. I am hoping with all my might that medication will help lessen the reaction and I can stop myself before it’s too late; that I’ll stop becoming my anxiety and exploding inside and out. It’s all about behavior modification. But without a trainer following me around I need help.

 

I cannot stop carrying so many bags but hopefully I can stop doing so with so much baggage (and yes, I am now referring to baggage in the figurative sense! LOL!). What baggage do you carry with you every day?

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.

May 8, 2014

So what gives?

Filed under: Take a deep breath — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — me2self @ 10:22 am

I feel defeated today.

As if I lost the game; I am left with the shortest straw; I fell and cannot get back up.

Everyday I am wane somewhere between large extremes; on one side is the immeasurable joy of my family and happy, healthy children and on the other is our financial doom. In between are the daily struggles of stress at work, fatigue and being overweight and filled with anxiety. If I stop moving or focusing on a specific task I eventually start crying.

The question of “so what gives” is just as two sided – I have to wonder why we are suffering like this (both karma-wise and that a well educated, competent man cannot find work) and also what is going to give to prevent us from diving whole body into debt. Options all come with strings – sell the house but that takes money to first fix it up. Take the kids out of daycare and my husband can’t go back to school, which could help him find a job. Move to another state – lose the security of my job.

At night when I am nursing my son to sleep is the time when my mind most wanders about these troubles. I try hard to stay in the moment so I don’t waste these precious times on negative thoughts. But it’s hard to keep my mind on point.

I think back to when our current situation seemed like a nightmare that we’d never experience. I couldn’t have guessed that we’d be here. I don’t understand why. I guess I need a reason to help make it all make sense. I’ll never get one, which leaves me feeling so unsettled about it all; it means there is nothing for me to fix – no undo and no redo.

I grew up broke and so did my husband. I recall what we did and didn’t do and when we had our first child I was able to imagine the summer vacations I never got to do. Why yes little girl, we can go to Disney. But not anymore. No summer rental near a lake. No plane rides to fantastic natural wonders.

My grandfather used to say “Money can’t buy you happiness….but it sure helps”.

April 22, 2014

The mirror of the mind

I saw a picture of myself that was taken just a few days ago. I had no idea I looked so horrifyingly wretched.

I gained weight during my last pregnancy and haven’t lost any of it yet. So on top of the 40-50 extra pounds I was already carrying, I now have 30 more. I’m enormous. And hideous. I’m disgustingly fat.

When I was in college the eating disorder I struggled with all my life finally manifested in full blown bulimia. As I attempted to recover, I learned a lot about myself and my life’s battle with weight. In the years to follow, as I struggled to recover (stop purging), I gained a lot of weight but I also gained a valuable perspective- I had always thought I was fat yet now I really was. I looked back on pictures and couldn’t believe how ugly I thought I was compared to what I had become.

How we see ourselves is always with this ever changing mirror, distorted by the emotionally of our current psychological state. For many years I thought I was fatter than I actually was. Now I don’t realize how fat I am (that’s not to say I don’t think I’m fat, just that I didn’t realize the severity of the situation). In the past, all I thought about was my weight, how my clothes fit and what I imagined everyone was thinking about me and my weight. Now, I don’t think about me at all. I hope that my clothes are clean and not too raged. Most days I get dressed in the dark or out of laundry baskets – “sure, this will work” is my dress code.

I used to stand in front of the mirror and comment to myself how this or that was unfortunate and I recall reading how folks with body image distortions only see individual parts of their bodies and can’t see it as a unit. So the thighs may look big but in reality they fit the body as a whole. I have no concept of how I appear to other people. I don’t even know how I appear to myself. I stopped looking in the mirror. I don’t want to. I don’t want to see the wrinkles, grey hair and cellulite. When I do happen to catch my reflection the reaction is always a generalized, demoralizing, self-bashing qualification of my worth as a human being. But that’s not the point of this post.

What I find interesting is that since I became a mother, and maybe more so since I cut my family out of my life, I see my image as more than the reflection in the mirror. I see myself in the way my daughter looks at me. I see myself in the way that my new mom friends value me. And I see myself in the really big smile that my son gives me whenever his eyes meet mine.

Even though I am aware of my pathetic physical shape, and realize that my lack of any sort of personal time whatsoever is temporary, I am glad to have this realization that my weight is no longer the only way in which I define myself. It is a big part of my mental health, even in my current state of denial and avoidance. But lying in bed, cuddling my daughter and reading her a book – I realized she doesn’t care (right now) how I look…she cares how I love her.

March 24, 2014

Why can’t I ever just…

This morning I finally got up (sort of) on time and hopped in the shower while my toddler was sleeping and the baby was content (enough). My husband was awake so I wasn’t worried. And then I heard the crying…

Shortly after my daughter was born I joined a gym to go swimming. I used to swim competitively and I really needed exercise and some time out of the house. After all, babies can’t always have their mommy’s, right (or so everyone continuously told me)? The last night I went swimming (which was only the first few times that I went) I recall being in the water and thinking how wonderful this was and how I felt like I had come home again. I was enjoying the feel of the water, the smell of the chlorine and the fatigue that slowly overcame my (out of shape) muscles. And then I got home.

When I walked in the door my daughter was screaming crying and my husband was sitting on the couch looking completely spent and helpless. I can still feel the shock. I thought here I was thinking all was well and enjoying my time in the water and all the while the two of them were absolutely miserable. I felt guilty and frustrated at the same time. So that was the last time I left my little girl at night, that is until I was in the hospital when my second child was born (she was 2.5 yrs old).

Many times over the course of the first year or so of my daughters life I would be in the shower (getting ready for work) and thinking all was well, until I turned off the water and heard the crying. Soon I would always hear crying and got in the habit of shutting of the water int he middle of my shower to figure out if it was my imagination or was she actually crying. Regardless of whether or not she was crying, I would rush out of the shower, rush to get dressed and end up being overcome by the time I actually left for work. I had spent the morning nursing and pumping, packing bottles and lunches. I was tired! But my husband was able to have over one hour of personal time in the morning. I always thought that this wasn’t fair and the less personal time I had, the more angry I became over it (and this is the point of this post…keep reading).

 

This morning while I showered (and note that I hadn’t showered since Friday morning), I was in the middle of loving the hot water when I heard the knock on the bathroom door (which I only closed to avoid waking my daughter) and then the pouting. Oh crap I thought, this is terrific. I even thought I heard the baby crying so in the middle of brushing my teeth (yes, I do this in the shower to save time) I turned off the water. Yes little girl, I will be out soon! I shouted. But still she whimpered, sitting on the floor outside of the bathroom.  Great I thought and I turned the water back on – back to RUSH RUSH RUSH RUSH. And then I said to myself why can’t I ever just –

 

And then it hit me.

 

All this time I have been thinking that the fact that my children cry when I am not around, or when I am trying to do something (like go to the bathroom or make some seriously needed caffeine, I mean coffee) means that I have somehow failed.

 

Ah yes, that old chant. You are a failure, everything you do you don’t do right. People are miserable because of you.

 

I never thought your babies want their mommy because you have bonded so well with them and you breastfeed so of course they want you to hold them. Of course they miss you when you are gone.

 

Nope. I just think that I am a rotten mom and an even worse wife. This morning I thought how much my husband must hate me because I left him with this mess of crying kids. I should have done better, I should have made it easier for him and there were things I could have and should have done (that is if I were capable of knowing what the right thing is) so that everyone woke up with smiles and were happy, happy, happy.

 

Seriously? Even Mary Poppins can’t do that.

 

As for my jealous (ok, anger) toward my husband who gets to spend time clipping his nails every morning (I do this only when they start to dig into adjacent toes…keeping them trimmed is just a waste of precious time I don’t have)- it’s just self-loathing turned outward. I don’t do it right and I am a failure and terrible mom, which is why I don’t get any personal time but look at him all free and clear. No stress, no worry. I hate him (I really don’t – I truly love my husband, even when we are fighting). Why doesn’t he do the same for me? Why oh why can’t I feel free from the constant stress of worrying whether or not I am screwing up my kids and making them hate me and feel as unloved and as worthless as my parents made me feel – all because I want to make some damned coffee or sit without someone or something hanging on me for 10 f’in minutes.

 

And how exactly is that his problem?

 

So the theme of my current rehabilitation has changed from figuring (identifying) all the ways my parents taught me to hate myself and how it has manifested in my life, to figuring out how all that shit has fucked up my marriage. You don’t know what you don’t know. So help me know. I don’t think I am solely to blame for all our marital issues, but I also think that I have been difficult to be with for nearly 17 years and don’t you think he has developed some defense mechanisms and ways to tune me out just so he could survive? Like the other night when the baby was up crying and I didn’t want to get back in the habit of nursing him all night (he finally sleeps and only wakes 2 times!!!!) so my husband was trying to put him back to sleep – I said do you want to try a pacifier? I had one in my hand but instead my husband got up, brought the crying baby into the room where my toddler was sleeping to fetch the pacifier from the crib. Then I went in and said forget it, I’ll just nurse him. That must have been fun for him. (and there’s another lesson in this but I don’t have time to write about it right now). I realized that I have always said “do you want to…” when I really meant “would you please…”.  So last night when I wanted my husband to go to the basement and get the blankets from the drying I said wanna go get the blankets and then quickly corrected myself saying would you mind getting the blankets from the dryer.

 

It’s a small step, but a step. I wonder if he recognized it.

 

As for my lack of personal time and the effect any personal time has on my children…it is temporary. It will pass. And I need to see it as them wanting to be with me and not me being punished for not doing things right. I am a good mom and I show my kids love and respect and by wanting me to be with them they are telling me they feel the love and want more.

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 18, 2014

It’s anxiety time!

Filed under: Take a deep breath, Whatever — Tags: , , , , , , — me2self @ 4:11 pm

The past two days I have felt like my brain is swirling around in my skull. Slight headache, tensed facial muscles and slightly blurred eyesight.

At first I thought it was a cabin fever from being stuck inside the house with two kids for four days (lots of snow!), but then this morning it hit me. It’s anxiety.

Since I can remember my family has never hesitated to tell me how impatient I am, how I rush to make decisions and how I have to fix things immediately. Well the jokes on them because all this time I have suffered from anxiety, not innate negative qualities resulting in my being a complete failure (or is the joke on me?).

Up until this morning I felt that my anxiety was focused on one event or issue; acute attacks which eventually pass when I feel resolution has been achieved. But now I feel inhabited.

I am disappointed by this development. I thought I was more accomplished than this in my journey to freedom from my pathologies of old.

I guess I should focus on the positive – that I am aware enough to have realized this. But I cannot, I am too annoyed.

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