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 28, 2014

Exahustion of body and mind

I am so tired. Mentally, physically and emotionally (not sure of the difference between the first and last but the trio sounded good…)

So I think I am depressed.

I thought I would write a post to help me feel better, maybe come to some resolution of my current emotional state, but I don’t even feel like doing it now that I’ve started.

Got some bad news and that threw me over the edge on this crappy Monday.

I know that I should find the bright side; the silver lining. But I can’t right now.

I know that my family is a blessing and we aren’t destitute (yet), but that can’t make everything else go away.

It isn’t enough to say that your life doesn’t suck as much as other peoples’ lives do….everything is relative.

If you’re happy and you know it, good for you. But me, I’ve had enough of the bullshit. I just don’t know how to change it.

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.

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.

 

August 31, 2013

The hidden

I’ve read about how parents can react poorly, or inappropriately to their children when something they say or do triggers an old memory or feeling. I never doubted it but just experienced it.

Let me say that it was powerful and very surprising.

I am the youngest of three children and was, in most ways, my fathers favorite. When I was young, I was always helping him, following him around, going on errands with him. I desperately wanted his love and approval, which wasn’t so easy to get or have.

Even though I usually felt saddened and hurt by our interactions (dad let me help but only until I wasn’t doing it right or perfectly), I kept trying. I always felt that I couldn’t please him and that I wasn’t good enough; in short, I felt like a failure.

Today we purchased a new grill. My husband was putting it together and it was a hot and incredibly humid day. There were a ton of Mosquitos and he couldn’t find the bug spray (I was napping with our toddler). Needless to say he was very frustrated.

So when my daughter woke and wanted to “help”, it didn’t go over so well. I tried to find things for her to do so she wasn’t in his way (e.g., putting screws into holes and taking his tools), but it didn’t really go so well. Then I tried to take her to the store and she pitched a fit (didn’t want mommy to leave but wanted to stay and help daddy). When I took her inside and tried to explain at daddy needed to work by himself (note she was already crying), she responded with such hurt and sadness.

When I saw this on her face, I began crying myself. I couldn’t help it. All she wanted was to help her daddy. I was amazed at how sad I felt for this little girl and how this was the exact thing I was always so afraid of happening….that she would feel the way I felt. She saw me crying and the sadness on my face, which I half purposely didn’t hide from her (would she know that I empathized with her?), but she didn’t say anything. Eventually she calmed down and we went back outside- i was determined to find ways she could help. Then there was a second episode where he lost his patience, and I lost my ability to control the tears. She crawled away and sulked. He soon apologized and she seemed to be ok, but I wasn’t.

I went inside to bawl. I can’t figure out if I am/was more sad for myself or for her. In therapy we have been using imagery (“going back on memory lane) to have my adult self show my little girl-self some compassion (so I’d stop blaming myself). Maybe my reaction was similar to this exercise.

Regardless, I am amazed at the psyche and how quickly and strongly emotions can be released. My daughter is fine and there doesn’t appear to be any damage to her relationship with her beloved daddy.

I, on the other hand, am still very upset.

November 14, 2012

It’s like Laundry all over again (or is that Déjà vu?)

Some may say that the common cold is the most humorous (or ironic?) plight of the human race; something so simple yet so debilitating (takes me nearly 4 weeks to get over a cold!).

I, however, think it is laundry. Each time you do it you swear you just did it!

Wash, dry, iron, fold, hang, wear; wash, dry, iron, fold, hang, wear…!

Note how it is called Laundry until it’s clean…then it’s referred to as clothes (I have to do the laundry as opposed to put the clothes in the dryer)!

Before we bought a house (we lived in an apartment complex), we would load up the laundry every two weeks and go to the laundromat. Many hours later we returned home with our clothes to hang or put in drawers. It was an all day event. We established routines and traditions – earlier morning laundry meant Taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwiches from the deli. Later in the day laundry meant pizzeria food on the way home. Sometimes we would hop into a store in the strip mall for some miscellaneous item we needed. Sometimes we read or played travel games. I often remarked at how much I was looking forward to never ever coming back to a laundromat. I swore I wouldn’t spend an entire day doing the laundry!

I think our fundamental internal struggles are a lot like laundry, each with its own cyclical pattern. We design routines around them. We create habits to deal with them.

Anger, sadness, fear, regret; anger, sadness, fear, regret…

Every few years I seem to have to drudge up the major, traumatic events in my life that helped shape my psychoses. I’ve found a new therapist, decided to try once again to deal with them once and for all or something triggered the cycle.

Sometimes the start of Fall is the trigger. The smell, the colors and the chill. A lot happened in the Fall months.

I wash, dry, iron, fold and try to put away the emotions. Somehow I think the more I entertain the cycle the more residue there is left behind.

However, somewhere underneath these memories, I still exist.

How focused I have become on the memories and residues. How far removed I have become from the complete picture.

It’s like when you have a body image disorder and you look in the mirror – all you see are the fat thighs or the wide hips. You never see your entire self; just the parts you’ve decided are the worst.

I am not the sum of my worst moments.

I am not a remnant of my potential.

I am not held together by residue from mistakes made.

But after spending 5 hours washing and drying laundry and folding and packing up the clothes, one is left wondering how else could that time have been spent?

What if I didn’t spend my energy on anger, sadness, fear and regret? What if Fall just meant another day with different weather?

It has been nearly 24 years of dealing with particular internal struggles and I am left stating at the washing machine wondering when I can stop.

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