Mad as Hell

I’m wondering if therapy every 2 weeks is enough and my therapist agrees.  She said that things seem to accumulate in me and I get overwhelmed.  For instance, yesterday’s appointment I come in, sit down and just dump.  I feel comfortable with her now and I just let it all out quickly.

I started with telling her about how I’m relating to people around me which is to say I’m very very guarded right now.  I feel like I’m hugging myself and shielding me from most other than a trusted few.  A person that I considered a friend who hasn’t been treating me like a friend for awhile came out of nowhere last week and offered to take me to lunch.  I immediately felt anxious so I declined kindly and offered to email to chat, which she never followed up on.  I’ve felt guilty about it ever since and have almost contacted her by text or Facebook since, but have not.  In the meantime I’m finding out that other people in my life don’t like her or trust her at all and only kept her around because they knew I did, which I had no idea was the case.  My therapist asked me why I felt guilty.  When I explained it was because I knew her life was hard and she had a hard upbringing she said quite bluntly, “You can’t fix any of that for her, nor should you.”

She advised me that I will be feeling things very intensely now that I’m examining parts of myself and my life more closely.  I also need to really think about what I want my circle to be made up of and to not be surprised when in 2, 5 or 10 years the people around me will be very different.  Right now I do not need or want drama and as I get better about setting boundaries the guilt will disappear because I will automatically be comfortable asking myself “what does this person offer me or bring me to the friendship?”  If it’s not healthy, I will easily turn away.

I also talked to her about how I took her advice and tried to think about what I want, really want in a relationship.  I struggled with coming up with things I deserved vs. what I thought I could have.  I also struggled with writing down things I thought John could provide me vs. my ultimate needs.  I’m supposed to keep working on this, and when I get overwhelmed take a break and come back to it.

This lead me to my next “confession” to her.  Today we had an employee dealing with some domestic violence situations and I confessed to my boss that I also lived through that as a child.  I have no idea why I said it, but when I told her the story of how in the middle of the night we had to pack up what we could and escape to Kentucky with the help of my grandparents from an abusive stepfather, I got very emotional.  I NEVER get emotional telling this story when I have relayed it to people in my life.  Mostly I get mad or proud that I lived through it.  This time I couldn’t fight back how sad I was.  This took me by complete surprise.

My therapist again reminded me I was now in a place, doing real work on myself, where I was going to feel everything I should have felt all along about the trauma in my life.  That it was real trauma and a lot of it, but I didn’t have the outlet or validation to properly deal with it.  Now I do.  I agreed, of course.  I’ve spent my entire life being the strong one or overlooking it because it made me stronger.  Which are all great things that I am grateful I was able to take and build from, but at the same time I need to be sad and angry.  And that led me to my next question.

I told her about my mother coming up for Mother’s Day last weekend and how she was pretty awful.  Overbearing, telling me about weight loss pills then bringing in donuts, nothing I made or said was good enough or couldn’t be better with her suggestion, even the care of my kid when she was sick.  The food she sorta made for brunch was the best thing there, including her dessert and no one could say otherwise.  That I couldn’t wait for her to leave and then I felt really guilty.  Followed by a discussion today about her on-going medical situation and how her doctor said therapy wasn’t right for her  (after I suggested it) right now and was just giving her pills and shots instead.  As in “I know better and it’s cute you are going.”

“Is it okay to feel mad?  Because I am so mad.  I’m so pissed off that my parents just couldn’t be decent parents to me.  How hard is it to make it about me for one second in my entire life? To tell me I’m a great artist, or that I’m beautiful or to let me be me to take up space.  I’m so mad.  I look at my kid and realize how easy it is to give myself to her and I’m pissed off and tired of making excuses for my parents being bad at it.  On the other hand I hate blaming my parents for how I turned out, but I really want to, even briefly acknowledge that I’m here in this chair because they are so selfish.”

To which she answered, “Would you allow me to have two arms?  If I told you I had one arm you would look at me like I was crazy.  Clearly I have two.  That is the same thing with feelings.  They are real and you need to feel them.”

As far as my mother goes, she is my mother and it will always be different than any other relationship.  I will one day just be better about boundaries.

She made this great and profound statement as well about feelings.  She said that I probably feel like I have a lot of holes.  I told her I feel as if wind could pass through me.  She said that when we don’t process feelings correctly or let ourselves grieve and cry or get mad, we create holes we try to fill with over eating, shopping, self-harm, etc. when if we let ourselves have the cry or the anger, it will fill those holes back up properly.

That night I came home and made a healthy dinner, went for a long walk and had a good talk with a neighbor, and ended up having a few glasses of wine and a couple smores.  I suppose that’s balance, but I could tell the wine and smores were masking something I didn’t want to deal with from that session too.  I got out my notebook but instead of writing fell asleep.  Something to work on.

My goal for the next couple weeks until my next appointment is to continue with the self care: sitting alone, reading, exercising, eating healthy meals, surrounding myself with people I can trust and love me, even if it seems selfish, keep going.  I’m going to continue working on writing out what I want.  I’m going to sit in my feelings a bit as well.  Writing here will help that for sure.

I feel better this morning, out of sorts but better.  I like that she asks me how I’m feeling at the start and end of each session.  I should ask myself that more as well.

-Lulu

 

Not Starting Over

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My goddess, it’s been so long.  SOOO long.  I’ve decided to come back here to write and get out everything I need to say in my brain somewhere safe and therapeutic.  I can’t promise it’s going to be good writing, but I’m trying to learn to not care about outcomes, just be big and myself.

So to catch us all up…I have been through a lot since my last post.  I live with that handsome carpenter I talked about awhile back.  My child is 7.  My ex-husband is engaged to a decent enough woman that I trust with my kid.  I weigh 40 lbs more than I did back then.  I have a new job, making more money, that I don’t necessarily love but it’s easy and I need that.  I was hired to model and I adored it, so much that I may try to pursue it more and more and that terrifies me.  I have a great group of friends around me in my life that sustain me most days.

What I’m bad at? I’m still bad at mail and communicating.  Giving my kid too much dairy.  Being reactive when it’s unnecessary, procrastinating and not believing in myself.  Assuming negative outcomes.  Being unprofessional at work because I just don’t care to be otherwise.

What I’m good at?  Being brave, loving myself when I jiggle and falter, being a mother, taking care of people, paying my bills, picking out wine, event planning, and sex.

Why am I back here?  I’ve been spiraling for the past year and all of my innate compulsive behaviors have been coming out in full force.  I’ve been overeating, overspending, wanting to make rash decisions and spending time in a dark room in tears on more than one occasion.  I forgot to add to my “what I’m good at” list and that’s “making a plan.”  So here’s my plan: I decided to start seeing a therapist, start taking B Complex vitamins, focus on self care, and start a regular exercise routine that I actually enjoy.

On the exercise front: I quit my gym.  Now that’s not the usual way one goes about it, but I have been cleansing my life of things that don’t serve me.  Paying for a gym membership I had to guilt myself to use wasn’t doing it.  So I stopped.  Instead I invested a small bit of money into some DVDs I can do at home.  When I got bored of those, I bought different ones and now I’m learning dance.  I also take long walks when I don’t feel like doing that.  Changing my attitude about exercise is a steep uphill battle but I feel myself on the incline for once.  What I do know is I have to exercise for my mental health, but I don’t need to do any one set way of moving my body.

On the self care front: I spend a little more money on quality skin and hair products, including facials.  I’ve been practicing using nice make-up. I’ve been purchasing quality clothing and even been a little adventurous with my style.  I’ve also accepted that some days I like wearing cut off jean shorts, my hair in a braid, a ratty tank top and driving alone singing along to CDs, and it’s fine.  I go on long walks when I need to decompress.  I let my kid stay up later on nights I need to be with her or read.  I have been drawing again, which I missed so much.  I go out to eat and to a bar alone and I make my own plans when I need to.

On the therapy front: When I was in a low spiral making my plan I decided I didn’t want to get back on anti-depressants just yet, but I needed to definitely do something.  If my doctor thinks I need to, then I will, but right now that’s not on the table.  I was told about B-Complex and how it’s helping my cousin, so I have started taking that along with biweekly therapy sessions for an hour.  After 2 months, I can say my PMS has been incredibly light with the vitamins.  Here’s hoping.  With the therapy, I got lucky and just in time.

I found a therapist online that is 5 minutes from my house and will take cash at a rate I negotiated because she doesn’t take my insurance.  That first session every molecule in my body told me to run.  Up until I got to her door, in this dark old building that smelled like an old bank, where this tall, thin, gypsy looking, beautiful Russian woman popped out and said “Are you Lulu?  Come in.”  No turning back at that point.

The first two sessions were good but frustrating because I wanted her to give me solutions to act on…of which she called me out on.  She said “You want to do right now, but that’s not how this works and it’s never served you well has it?”  Touche.  Then the third session last week was mind-blowing.  We got into my mother and sister, my relationship with my boyfriend, how I shape my world by believing negative outcomes.  I’m still processing it and have been carrying my journal around for a week, every day in order to write down things I think about.

My homework this week from her was to say exactly what I want, then she’s going to help me believe I can get all of it.

Universe, wish me luck.  I don’t know exactly what I want, but I want it so bad.

-Lulu

Mail Call

Confession Booth time: I have a crushing fear of mail.  Well, fear might not be the right word, maybe just laziness. It overwhelms me, all of it.  Even a few pieces.  Cue #firstworldproblems tag immediately. I let it pile up, I put it in bags to “open later”, I pay my bills online so I don’t have to deal with it and no cute organizing system from Target can probably make me change for any length of time.  Two things about me: I don’t like calling on the phone and I don’t like mail. I adore technology for these reasons.  The only exception is I adore writing thank you cards and invites.  I refuse to use eVite, I know, I don’t get it either.  Not sure if it’s the technology that made me this way or vice versa, but whatever, it is me.

I officially apologize to the Post Office.

What has this “fear/laziness” done to me?

  • I just paid $2,000 for dental procedures that weren’t covered by my insurance because the dentist I chose was out of network.  Had I opened my policy, I would have known my company switched providers & could have saved probably $1,000 or more.  I found this out midway through a root canal.
  • I was missing over $20k in my 401k due to a “administrative error” that I only found after I had to take out a small loan to cover my divorce.  I would have known about it a YEAR earlier.  I handled it and they paid me interest, but still.  I cringe to think the money I lost in investments.
  • I overpaid on a bill by a LOT and am now riding out a credit that I didn’t need to accumulate.  (i.e. I could have used that money elsewhere more effectively.)
  • I am probably not investing the way I should or could.  I let “someone handle it.”  This is the very opposite of me in every other aspect of my life.
  • When I need something like tax returns or information for banking purposes, it takes me ages to find it and track it down.  Often hunting through bags like a hoarder.

 God, just writing that makes me feel incredibly embarrassed.

Lately I have been very very overwhelmed with life in general and decided to start at the “external spots” to get myself back in step.  i.e. I’m kinda sick of my own internal voice trying to fix my thoughts, feelings and concerns, my relationships, etc. so I’m going for the exterior portion for awhile.  It’s like a vacation from analyzing everything and still making progress!

 

I’m working out, I’m eating better, I overcame my fear of the dentist, I made a very strict budget for 2012 to get me on track financially, including some big financial goals (buy a house, fix my teeth) and now it’s time to get the clutter in order.  I’ve been spending Wednesdays while my kid is away dwindling this down.  I’m throwing out bags of baby clothes, getting my closet down to the bare essentials, I’ve started doing the No-Pants Challenge (HIGHLY recommend signing up for this e-newsletter, btw).  It’s all working and I’m feeling lighter than ever.  Physically and emotionally.

 As for the mail…I’m tackling it too.

I’m currently going through bags of mail that I just never opened. I’d stash it in a plastic bag and hope for the best.  Now I’m going through it to get things in order like my 401k, shred unwanted papers (which most of it is thank Goddess).  I’ve been bringing in a bag every couple weeks and throwing it in the shredder at work after I leave.

 

However, a weird bonus feature is happening.  I’m walking down memory lane and sweeping up the last few bits of marriage crud on the drive.  I’m finding bank statements from when I first separated from my ex-husband, including tax returns, how we split the money, and his doctor bills that came through on my insurance. I just figured out I never took him off my car insurance so I’m going to call and see if it lowers my rate!  (Note: It doesn’t.  I lost the “marriage” discount.  Oh well, best $20 I ever spent.) This feels so incredibly freeing.  It’s like cleaning up scraps I didn’t know were there still.  I’m literally cleaning house.

 

I found an old “bill box” from when we were married and it was FULL of all of his work-outs, screen-printing documents and my old budgets where I tried to piece together a life from our salaries and from when he wasn’t working so he could just “work out.”  I can’t tell you how GOOD it felt to throw all of that out.  I saw how hard I was trying to make our lives work with those budgets, the re-working and number crunching, our life blood.  Me trying to keep us afloat while his concerns were himself.  It felt incredibly good to throw it all away.  I think I threw away the last bits of anger I had over it along with it.

 

I did give him his print-outs, but I kept the bill box and now it’s all labeled and organized with MY life.

 

 I also found all my little lists when I first moved out: i.e. “What I want in my own place” and “What I need for my place” And I compared it to what I actually have in my place.  It almost matches.  I really did take care of myself for the first time in my adult life and I still am.

I never knew going through mail could be this scary and yet, comforting.  This bagged way, once-a-month thing is better than any cute organizer from Target, for sure.  Suddenly I’m only embarrassed about not doing this sooner.

 -LuLu

The Shit Whisperer

We’ve been busy at Bebe’s for a while now. The current issue at home is poop. I once thought poop was hilarious, because deep down I am a 12-year-old boy when it comes to stinky humor. However I have currently become overrun by it at home and it’s causing me to really lose my mind when all I would really like to lose is my sense of smell.

The boy has been inflicted with chronic constipation since birth. We have tried everything to help him with it, and some days are good. Some are bad. This has developed into Encopresis, which is a behavioral disorder. He holds in his bowel movements as a matter of control, and to avoid pain while going. And this causes more pain when his body eventually makes himself go. And go he does. He might only go every few weeks but when he does, he breaks my toilet. I am not even kidding. We have done diet changes, bribery, rewards, kisses, seriousness, jokes, yelling, and against my better judgement I looked up the patron saint of constipation. He exists. The Catholics think of everything! In between shitting out meteoric sized balls into my now delicate and frightened toilet, his body compensates for waste removal by expelling brown liquid, day in, and day out.

It’s messy. It’s stinky. We have underwear drying out on every railing in our house. I smell like shit every night. I wipe it from remote controls, bath tubs, toys, walls, floors, socks, pants, carpets, beds and shirts. On some days, I get beaten up and scratched trying to get him for a sit on the toilet. I try to calm him down and let him know that I know he is angry and scared, and that’s okay. But hitting your mom or anyone out of anger and fear is never okay. Honestly though, if I didn’t have a fear of raising an abusive man, I would let him hit me all he wanted if it made him feel better. I will just lie and say I am in a roller derby league to explain the scratches. For a family experiencing constipation, we are in the throes of shit.

All of the time.

We do attend psychiatric counseling with the boy, to learn new parenting techniques. To try to understand where his mind is when this happens. To be less frustrated, angry and confused. It’s helped us as a family a great deal. I wish it could cure him but it hasn’t. My husband has learned a bit more about himself and his role as a parent, and even though our Saturday is really busy and sometimes sad, we are chipping away at years worth of issues that needed to be tackled. So hey, that’s good, right? All it took was my kid being in pain, afraid of what should be a hilarious rite of passage for any 4-year-old, and my sudden need to gag whenever I see anything brown, up to and including chocolate. Is nothing sacred, man?

I have questioned why I have been going through this and felt great sympathy for myself. Aggravation, frustration, disgust, and pure anger are also feelings that pop up now and then. It stays with me quite a lot, until I remember a couple of things. My kid is really fucking cool. No, I don’t really need to add the curse word to accentuate how much I love him and how cool he is. But some people deserve the added color. And he does. Aside from his issues, like his possible Aspergers, his SPD, his delays, and his iron strong will, he is healthy to the core. He eats, plays, grows, smiles, laughs, and has no other problems in life, other than future embarrassment of his parents, and with good reason. He is profoundly lucky and in turn, I am profoundly lucky. So many parents with so many more issues, their babies being very sick their whole lives. Or worse, dying. Those parents, they just do what they do. It’s not easy for them. I know that. I really do.

More importantly though, when my son is in pain, or has neurological issues, I just try really hard to know that this is HIS reality more so than mine. I am his mother and it’s MY job to help him through this and be strong, be patient, and be his biggest advocate when doctors blow you off and your best laid plans don’t seem to work. I cannot imagine what it’s like to BE HIM. I would love to learn what makes him tick, and I hope to really tap into that. So I keep working for it. If I have to be knee-deep in shit to learn to stay the course and keep fighting for my kid, then so be it. Jesus H, if you read my posts regularly you will know I just shit my own pants not too long ago. It’s my destiny, people! 

The Shit Whisperer. That’s my roller derby name.

Bebe

 

A Joyful Firehose

I told a man that I loved him recently and I meant it.  I blurted it out while we were laying in bed laughing and talking, after a night of listening to albums curled up on the couch with some wine and a dinner we made together, and a year of growing closer and closer.  After hours of talking about our life, it just felt right.  We were rolling around naked, being silly and I stopped him and said “I have to tell you something.”

Then it all came running out of my face-hole in a blur.

I have loved this man for months, maybe since day one.  He is one of the most kind, thoughtful, sweet and loving men I have ever met.  He makes me feel calm inside, happy, light and always taken care of.  I trust him more than anyone else I know with my heart.  I feel love towards him stronger than I think I ever did for my ex-husband or any man before.  It’s a quiet, mature, peaceful, trusting love with no drama or hard to resolve misunderstandings or conflict.  It’s completely new to me, it’s full of hard work and it’s fantastic.

So why do I feel like telling him I loved him wasn’t big enough?  Like I didn’t say it right?  Like there is still some guarded piece of me that refuses to give up the armor?

I broke another rule of mine, I wouldn’t say those 3 words first again.  A man can say it to me first.  With some of these rules though?  A huge part of me thinks my brain needs to shut the fuck up occasionally.  I overthink everything to make sure I’m “doing it right.”  It is the most frustrating thing about myself, other than how easy the hail damage shows on my thighs.  I told him I loved him because I love him.  Why is that so weird, self?

Sure I could write it off as the bullshit anxiety which stems from a very long childhood of absent biological fathers and shitty step-fathers, not feeling whole, always waiting for the shoe to drop, etc. but I’m not going there now.  We ALL know what that does to people, there are songs written about it by John Mayer for Christ sake.  It’s real and it’s long lasting and it sucks.  While I’m sympathetic to people not being provided with the right skills, I also want to say a loud: FUCK YOU shitty parents for the trauma you cause with your selfishness and this goes to the parents before you too that caused you to be that way.

Another part of me thinks I’m guarded because I do not deserve to find this kind of love because of things I’ve done in my past.  I cheated on my ex-husband and I cheated on boyfriends before that.  I callously and coldly did what I did because I couldn’t bring myself to have the balls to deal with the current situation, so I went the lazy way.  I got what I needed from someone else.  I hurt a lot of people, including my self esteem.  And I know that no matter what they were doing to me, even cruelly, I should have never taken the lower road.  Ever.

I am a person who cheats or I should say I was a person who cheated.  I have not totally accepted this yet.  I mean, I accept the responsibility for what I did and put in place things in my life that make sure it does not happen again.  But some part of me feels like I’m just keeping that inevitable monster at bay for now.  That I’ll find myself swept up again in that drama completely out of my control. 

Like my body is going to get up in the middle of the night and sleep walk into an adulterous affair without my soul’s consent.  Yes, I’m probably nuts.  Another way of looking at it?  Perhaps the armor I feel is what is holding this monster in the dungeon.

I know I wear that scarlet A to this day.  But as Bebe says, experiences like that leave a psychic scar but it’s a consequence, not a punishment.  I should cross-stitch this on a pillow.

So what do we do with all of these experiences?  These scars in the shape of: divorce, affairs, bad relationships, bad choices?  Take inventory of what we know?

What I know is I am now a much stronger person than I was.  I did a shit load of introspection and work over the past 2 years that I am proud of and I know what needs to be done to be happy. I choose not to be a cheater again, to others or myself.  I don’t only choose, I refuse.  My self worth and self esteem have climbed more than I can properly describe.  Self worth makes it impossible to cheat, I should rest on these laurels.  I’m a way more open communicator in my present relationships.

I also know there are still some areas I can improve and that might be part of this too.  For instance, there are a few major issues I need to talk with this man I love about that I haven’t found the balls yet.  Maybe it’s time to remedy that to drop a few plates of this armor because it’s bringing back a ton of unresolved fears of that monster from the deep.  If I have these conversations that monster can go find a new home.

A very smart co-editor of this blog told me once: “Never regret sharing joy, no matter the outcome or people’s reaction to it.  We need joy in our lives.”  She may have also added in an “asshole” at the end, but hey, the gist of the message is clear.

I have no idea where I’m going and what I’m doing ultimately but I’m going to try to stop worrying about it being perfect. I’m going to start spreading joy and this includes to myself.  I will be joyful if I am honest with everyone, including me.

And honestly, I love this man.

-Lulu

Rules are like A-holes, everyone has them

After almost 2 years of dating in my adult life, my past and present includes: an ex-husband, several really toxic men, a fuck buddy, lots of good dates and good conversation with decent men, and now one absolute love of my life. I feel like I should sum up a few things about the new self I’ve become.  Some things I put actively into place and some that naturally came about to make me a billion times more comfortable in my skin in this whole love thing and has ultimately made the relationship I’m in now, a lot stronger.  

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m no expert and I’m certainly not in the position to think just because I have a lovely man that I need to tell you how to live YOUR LIFE.  I ain’t that smug.  I am a work in progress, as we all are.  If you see my rules below, you’ll know this is about me.  I just like to share in case you think any of this could be helpful to you.

I will never beg someone to like/love/want/need/stay with me if they explicitly say they do not want to.  If you want to go, then go.  Just like those meth ads: not even once.

I am not and will never be in the business of competing for men with other women, men, or their own personal baggage.  I won’t.  I am worth not doing that more than any one person is worth trying.  If you want me and I want you, let’s do this.  End of story.  Which leads me to my next point…

I will not expend energy getting someone to agree with me/prove I’m right.  I won’t be mute, but it’s become less important to me as I get older to spend any time trying to convince someone with opposing positions otherwise.  This includes friendship, love, business, etc.  It’s pointless to me.  You can only control yourself and how you let people make you feel.

If someone I love has some baggage, I will support THEM working through it, but I will no longer try to fix it for them.  I cannot do anything more powerful than listen, isn’t that what we all really want?  Why do we waste time doing more when that is always enough?

Weirdly, all of those rules make it so I can love completely and without my guard up, no matter that I can’t see the future.  It has made all of this less scary. 

 

If I lose someone I adore, it will not lessen the hurt for me to not beg them to stay, especially if they are important to me. It’s always going to hurt like hell.  But I now know the hurt would show me I tried and I did love them completely.  If I didn’t feel a thing, then I never really cared either.  I don’t want to live like a zombie and I don’t want to live without someone’s full heart either.  Both rules take care of each other, in a sense.

 

Recently on Suburban Bliss, the lovely Melissa said the following about her new adventures in dating/divorce:

“People can be assholes and it doesn’t matter if you’re an asshole, or nice, or stupid, or smart, or kind, or hateful.  You can’t convince them to not be assholes. You can’t make them understand the pain they’ve caused you. You have to accept it and move on. You’ll be hurt whether you deserve it or not.”

I agree with this completely in a sense.  You cannot make someone love you the way you need it and there will always always always be assholes.  In any situation: families, work, relationships, the line at the grocery store.  All you can control is yourself.  Sometimes you can be an asshole too.

This made me wonder how we survive with that universal truth.  Best I can figure, the only way for ME to keep going is to know I do what I can do, I loved, I cared, I adored and I stayed true and loyal.  To me first and then it will naturally go outward to people in my life.  I’ll hurt sometimes, but I’ll always be comforted knowing I stuck to my “rules” because they make it so I can keep loving, adoring, fully caring going forward.

Because rules, just like hearts, are easily broken, it’s best to hold both in your arms as tenderly as you can in order to keep them intact.

 

-Lulu

Thanks Staind.…

Thanks Staind.  Now I can’t say “It’s been awhile…” without thinking of that early 00’s song of same name.  But yea, it’s been awhile.  It’s been amazing and eye opening too.  I got through my second holiday season as a single mom with visitation schedules and boyfriends/girlfriends and drop-offs and pick-ups and discussion on gifts and keeping her sleep schedule, etc.  We got through! 

Though, there were some bumps.  This wasn’t “my year” to have her on Xmas eve and Xmas morning.  I suddenly found myself sobbing on Xmas eve as I sat by my tree wrapping a few remaining gifts.  I teared up when I sat at my boyfriend’s house watching his nieces and nephews open gifts while my little girl was at her dad’s. 

Honestly, I was glad to know I still feel something because I admit, 2 ½ has been kicking my ass.  She’s beautiful, hilarious and wicked smart and also firey, strong-willed and argumentative just like I was.  My grandmother said I should be a lawyer because I argued about EVERYTHING.  Now I get it.  SORRY GRAMS!!!

It’s not her fault it’s kicking my ass, by any means.  But I find myself having to daily remind myself there is a balance I need to find.

It’s amazing how your life can give you that balance if you sit up in bed at 2:00 a.m. and yell out “I GIVE UP!” as you are sobbing while your kid is flipping out next to you.

We recently spent about 3 weeks solid of her having night terrors at only my house, 5 nights a week like clockwork.  It was maddening that at her dad’s she was fine but at my house she’d wake up between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m.-ish screaming, kicking me, hitting me and yet when I’d try to comfort her she’d flip out.  If I left the room she clawed at me in a panic.  It took anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours every night to calm her down.  I never knew when it would happen so I’d stay on pins and needles every night, barely sleeping.  It reminded me of when she was a newborn.  That newborn mother sleep that wakes you at the slightest little sneeze or purr.

Let’s just say I wasn’t at my best.  At one point I was ready to call either a priest or a psychiatrist.  I finally consulted Google and mothers on Facebook.  Who knew.

What I found out?  My kid needs structure along with her freedom.  It’s my responsibility to provide both.  Thank you night terrors for teaching me that.  Apparently night terrors can be triggered by sleep deprivation.  A quick rally conversation and plan between her dad, babysitter and myself and after 1 day, she’s sleeping in her own bed all night, no problems for the past 8 days. 
Let’s just go ahead and see that in all caps again: ALL I NEEDED TO DO WAS PUT HER TO BED AT A REASONABLE HOUR AND MAKE SURE SHE WELL RESTED DAILY.

Why is she sleep deprived?  Because I let her lead too much of her own life.  My loosey-goosey mothering might not be the best idea for this particular child.  Some of it is still my guilt over breaking up her family and having her go between 2 houses, etc. Now I know it physically isn’t helping her by letting her get away with going to bed when she wants, eating whatever and not instituting some sort of time-out for punishments.  She needs structure and she needs me to be the rule-maker. 

I hate making rules for her because I feel like in the 2 hours I see her a day now that she goes to bed early, I spend it just disciplining her.  I want her to paint her entire body and run around naked dancing to “princess music” if she feels like it.  I want her to mess up her room and just create chaos for an afternoon.  I mostly want her to tell me what to do because most days I don’t have a fucking clue.

So now, in order to not sob at 2:00 a.m. (me AND her) she can still paint naked and make a mess and call me a “meatball sandwich” because it makes us both laugh.  But she can also go to bed at 8:00 p.m. on the dot in her bed, she can sit in her “time-out” spot when she hits, she can also have healthy food and less snacks in between meals and eat at the table every single day.  Now I see they go together, not either/or.

I also learned it’s really difficult to not feel guilty about dating and being a mother.  I’d feel it when I would count the days until my Friday off because I can’t wait to wake up naked with my boyfriend, a little before sunrise the next morning.  We lay in his comfortable, warm bed and be lazy while the sun comes through his blinds on a Saturday morning and I pretend as hard as I can I have nowhere I have to be.  I push that experience up through breakfast until the last possible minute before I have to run into town and pick her up.  I usually then have a great day with her where she’s just hilarious and I think I should just STFU.  However by about Tuesday, the countdown starts again to my Saturday morning in bed.

After a particularly long day, I’ll put her to bed but she still stirs for about an hour.  As I’m back at her bedside rocking her for the third time, I see him sitting peacefully on the couch watching our shows and I just want her to go to sleep, please.  PLEASE.  So momma can sit down for the first time today and lower my IQ with TV.  Then she puts her little hand on my cheek and says “Just hold my hand, mama.”

I know, I know.  These times are short, but the days are endless.

My boyfriend is absolutely wonderful, thank god.  He sat up with me during a night terror and helped calm us both down.  He’s an active part in giving me ideas on how to be a stronger rule maker.  He also tells me he’s constantly amazed by how much I tell her I love her and let her be her.  He’s like the inner voice I need to tell myself!  He takes us on hikes, doesn’t lose his temper and now shows up by 7:30 so he doesn’t miss storytime with her almost every night.
I’m eternally blessed and I deserve it.

Looking back at 2011, there really seems to be a theme in my life.  I moan and bitch about wishing someone would just write a handbook on a normal life so I could follow it like Ikea instructions.  Then I go about writing my own without really trying.

My theme for 2012: Gratefulness.

Aside

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