Goodbye (for now)….

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Tired of feeling lost, tired of letting go.
Tear the whole world down, tear the whole world down.
Tired of wasted breath, tired of nothing left.
Tear the whole world down, tear the whole world down.
Failure.
Breaking Benjamin, Failure (March 2015)

I had a really hot shower this afternoon and as I sat there letting the hot water scald my skin and the loud, angry music envelope me, I knew I was breaking and broken. My body resonated on the same frequency as the music as if it felt my pain and my anger deep down inside. I realized I need to release that anger but I need to change direction to do that and find a different outlet.

When I started this blog I had hoped it would be a cathartic experience to let everything out but it has become the shackles to my pen. So much of what I need to say I can’t even say on here because I might offend or hurt someone’s feelings, and often someone I care deeply about and don’t want to hurt but the repercussions of not letting out the anger and frustration is it is devouring me alive. I need a safer place. A place without censorship, without judgment. This isn’t it.

I know I could write just for me in a journal but having this blog here felt suffocating like every word that went through my head was being filtered through a lens of whether it was publishable or not, and lately most of my words are not!  So for now I am taking a break. I am finding a more private outlet where I can write without censoring myself but still have a few select people that I trust wholeheartedly to hold space for my breaking and rebuilding. I may or may not be back on this specific blog. Truthfully I don’t have any idea what my rebuild will look like as I must burn myself completely to the ground as a forest fire destroys a forest to make way for new stronger growth. Just be assured in some capacity I will be back.

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Thank you to those who have read my words, who have shared my words, who have taken the time to comment and to be a part of this blog as I tested the waters of this venture. It has taught me a great deal, and I have no regrets. It’s just time to say goodbye, for now….

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Dear Me: You are enough.

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Be patient with yourself. The healing will come as you do the work and show up for yourself. I know some days that is really hard because you have a little one who needs so much of you but you’ve been through this before, it will get easier. Babies grow up into toddlers, then preschoolers and then five-year-olds with no patience who can do so much without your help but still need you to be the audience to their big imaginations. Then they will be 12-year-olds who know so much and have such big ideas for their lives but still want game nights and bear hugs and to show off their newest pieces of artwork, and still ask permission to put on nail polish. Then will come 19, so ready to leave the nest and live on their own but still bringing home their laundry on weekends to be washed.

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This new baby will grow up too and all too quickly you will wonder where the small, helpless babe at your breast has gone. You will regain some degree of freedom as he stretches his legs and learns to let go of your hand but the freedom comes at the cost of your sweet babe growing up so try not to rush it. Enjoy your afternoons of rocking together, his head curled tight against your chest, his newborn smell still filling your nostrils for time steals these precious moments away and fades the memories to dull aches of longing for more of those quiet uninterrupted afternoons of just dozing and rocking.

The healing will happen but there’s no need to rush it at the expense of this time with your little one. Don’t let the guilt of unwashed dishes, large piles of laundry and consecutive nights of boxed meals interfere with your healing for it’s in the raw quiet moments that you can let everything go, all the years of pain, disappointment, anger that has built up like uric acid in aching joints so that even when all is well your brain is plaguing you with anxiety and worry, wondering when it will all fall apart, just like last time and the time before that.

I have something really important to tell you, it doesn’t have to be like last time ever again.

You are learning better ways, you are finding your voice, creating your own path to a new future where you will be doing what you want to do and providing for your family while doing it. Right now is just a temporary bump in the road while you nurture and love the newest member of the family in the way that works best for you while navigating your demons from the past and not letting them get a foothold in the present, no matter how hard they might try.

You are stronger than you have ever been but when you are feeling weak know that you are surrounded by people ready and willing to lift you up and remind you that you are enough just as you are and it will be enough to accomplish everything you want to. You just need to reach out to them, they will remind you of your worth when you have forgotten.

And it’s okay to cry. It’s safe now. You’re safe now. You are loved and held. Space has been made for you to release all that pain you hold so tight like an armour around you, keeping everyone out. You don’t have to do that anymore. Let the pain and anger that poisons your soul flow out of you, let the tears come and let them cleanse you. In that cleansing you will be reborn, stronger, more beautiful and with a trust in yourself and your abilities that you can only imagine right now. Let the floodgates open, let the ink on the page be smudged with your tears and know that you are strong and you are more than enough just as you are right now. The tears are just a really long overdue cleansing.

Love yourself, because that’s important too. You are worthy of your own attention. You do not need permission from anyone else to do the basic tasks of self-care. It’s okay to get your hair done and to go to spiritual meet ups and to find time to clear out your space in the house.  It’s okay to read books, to cross-stitch, and to write. It’s more than acceptable to find time for your on-line classes and work on your future, and to purchase the needed materials. I know it feels selfish to do those things for yourself but it’s not, so make your lists, set your goals and get up in the morning and tackle them, one at a time. And if you need to, it’s also okay to ask for help.

I love you and I’m tired of being your punching bag for every little perceived wrong you have done in your life because you have also done so much right. Stop measuring yourself by your failures and start measuring yourself by your successes, and others around you will have no other choice but to also do the same.  You are worthy of your own love and you are worthy of the love of others but you must open yourself up and let them in. I know being vulnerable is really hard for you but it will be so worth it, trust me!

I will write again. You need more pep-talks, someone to remind you how wonderful and amazing and strong you are. Who else is better to do that than me?

Love yourself!

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She Just Needs to Be Heard!

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The other night I took the time to re-read some of my published words. Some words seemed to come from another world that I had forgotten. Others jarred me back to reality from the fog I have been living in since the positive sign on the pregnancy test changed the course of my life.

I am on a new journey now, albeit reluctantly.

8272758921_df6a8055fe_oI am learning as I go, trying to figure out how to make everything work, how to not let my dreams and hopes be buried yet again under a pile of anger, resentment and responsibility. Trying to work out how all the many pieces are going to fit together in at least some attempt at a coalescing and functional reality.

Most days I just crawl back into bed and try to forget….

My body aches with the exhaustion of figuring it all out so I sleep to forget, to ignore, to pretend that everything will work itself out and that I am strong enough to bear the weight of all the pain, the frustration at yet again re-writing the script of my life, even though deep down I doubt my ability to keep it all together.

Yes, I am working on believing that this pregnancy is happening for a reason, that this baby is an amazing gift to our family but some days I just want my old path back, without the added complications of the needs and space of a new child to worry about. Yes, that’s my inner two-year old throwing a temper tantrum. At the end of the day all my inner two-year-old wants is to be heard. She can’t let go of her anger and frustration until she is heard.

14956794780_c404fa5ec1_oSociety struggles to make space for the real temper tantrums of two-year-olds let alone those of the inner two-year-olds of adults. When our youngest children throw temper tantrums we shame them into behaving or isolate them in time-out corners until they submit to our wishes. What if instead we helped them work through their anger and frustration and just allowed their emotions to be okay? Perhaps there would be less adults running around with repressed inner two-year-olds screaming to be heard. Perhaps there would be less shame around feeling uncomfortable feelings. Perhaps it would be okay to just be angry.

My inner two-year old is refusing to be silenced. She needs to be heard and loved so I can move forward and re-write my script in the best way possible, where I don’t sacrifice all my dreams yet again to the overwhelming needs of my family. Where we find a better balance for everyone with what we have in the place we are right now instead of always believing that when we have more money or when we have a bigger house or when the basement is cleaned up or when my 18-year-old goes to treatment and gets better, that then we’ll be able to work everything out and make our dreams a reality.

Even if all that was achieved, there is always another hurdle, another excuse….

So let me let my inner two-year old out to throw her temper tantrum. Let her stomp, scream and cry. When she’s done, just hold us, love us and help us figure out our way forward

If you make space for my two-year old, I will make space for yours….

I Hold Your Anger Ever So Close

A dialogue with my inner two-year-old

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7473064878_9df4de6a00_o2 yo: Look at me. Listen to me.

Me: No. You need to listen to me. I don’t have time to deal with this now.

2 yo: (louder) Look at me. Listen to me. (Stomps foot)

Me: Listen here, I am in charge. We have to grow up. I have things I need to do, places to be. Expectations to fill. You don’t understand so just stop this and come along. Maybe later we can talk…

2 yo: NOW! NOW! NOW! (getting louder)

Me: You’re being ridiculous and stubborn. People are watching. You’re making a fool of me. Now just calm down, we’ll talk later, I promise.

2 yo: You always say that. You never do. (sits down, crosses arms) I’m not moving.

Me: Oh damn it all! I don’t have time for this. (grabs hand to start dragging her along)

2 yo: (screaming) Let go! You are hurting me!

Me: No, I’m not. If you’d just listen I wouldn’t have to drag you. You’re just being a stupid little girl. You have no idea about real life and responsibilities. I do, and life just sucks sometimes. It isn’t fair.

2 yo: (crying harder, whimpering) You’re hurting me, stop…

Me: (screaming) Oh just grow up will you!

2 yo: (whimpering) No. I just want you to listen to me.

Me: Oh go to your room! You can come out when you are ready to cooperate.

2 yo slinks back to the dark recesses of my soul. I can still hear her whimpering and sobbing. I carry that weight with me everywhere I go. It drags me down. Every once and awhile she comes out again, trying to get me to listen but I am too busy, too proud, too wounded to hear.

I think it’s time to listen and to be heard…

Gaming Addiction – It’s a Real Thing

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5225188282_cc1c7fa459_oI had full intentions of writing more regularly after my last post but the last couple of months have tested every part of me, physically, mentally and emotionally, and the cracks are showing. My words have failed me. Part of the problem is I don’t know what is my story to tell anymore. All the stories are so intertwined. My husband’s, my 18 year-old’s, my baby growing in uteri and the filaments of each story are tangled together with the filaments of the other stories, impossible to completely separate.

I write this blog anonymously but I do know that many of my friends and some family do read this so I have to be careful about what information goes out there that has the potential to hurt the people I love. So my voice and my pen are silenced by fear, fear of betraying the one’s I love and telling too much of a story that’s not mine to tell.

In the same breath the story is one that is becoming all too familiar a story across many spectrums of society, touching so many people. To break the stigma the stories must be told, we must reach out and ask for help. In so doing we put our souls on the line, knowing there will always be those that have negative things to say. My hope is that those people are in the minority and most will try to understand and some may feel comfortable enough reaching out a helping hand.

My 18 year-old suffers with a gaming addiction and depression. It has impacted every part of our lives. It has complicated this pregnancy as I am utterly emotionally exhausted by the unrelenting barrage of craziness that has become my life in dealing day in and day out with an addicted youth. As a mother my heart breaks every day watching him suffer and being unable to help him in any significant way because he has yet to reach the point of helping himself. Options for help are so very few despite all the mental health fundraising and information campaigns to raise awareness. Where does all the money go? It’s just not enough…

It also doesn’t help that gaming addiction is a brand new addiction (no not really) and it is just becoming more recognized by the healthcare community so resources are slow to be directed towards it. Many who suffer with the addiction also suffer with depression or other mental disorders such as ADHD/ADD, or have suffered through some form of abuse or difficult episodes in their lives that like an alcoholic drinks to forget, they game to forget.

Game companies also know exactly what they are doing when they design these games, even some of the simplest ones. The designers build an element of addiction right into the games and anybody who is prone to addiction gets sucked right in. It becomes expensive and like a meth addict needing their next high, the kids look to the gaming companies to source their next hit and they find ways to get the money to pay for it. They can’t control the need or the impulse to do what they need to do to get that hit.

There is no applying rationality to the problem. We can say all the things that make sense but none of it makes sense to the addicted gamer. It’s all about losing oneself in a game, hiding from reality in a fabricated world that allows you to forget everything that sucks in your life, that you aren’t good enough, that you can’t live up to the expectations of others. The outlets into these games are everywhere now, through smart phones, through tablets, through gaming stations, and through traditional laptops and desktop computers. The companies are ruthless and far-reaching with their advertisements and their upgrades and their extra fees that keep you hooked and coming back for more.

So what do you do?

If I knew, I’d tell you. Every day I wake up to this toxic reality running my life and draining my energy. Separating my child from his gaming addiction and seeing him as a lost soul is hard some days. I can’t sit by and enable him. Since he’s not in school and has no job, we lock up the Xbox but he finds other ways to get his fix. The anger and resentment build, on both sides, and it only adds to the problem.

There is a silver lining in this story. I have found a residential treatment program for gaming addicts. It’s only three weeks long. Hopefully it’s a start. I am not naïve, three weeks will not solve everything but if all goes well, he will be admitted very soon and return in time to start his full-time summer job, as well as continue to be supported by his social worker over the summer.

Right now that’s the best help I can find and it beats putting him on the street, which was beginning to feel like my only option and my heart was breaking at the thought of having to take that step. So I am putting out there into the universe a request to anyone who feels called to do so, to hold space for my family’s healing and send us positive energy and prayers as we move through this difficult path. I have to believe there’s healing on the other side and in the baby steps along the way but through all the pain and hurt that shackles my life it’s hard to see those glimmers of hope.

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Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

It’s Not About Willpower!

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2576209288_2747b80538_oPicking, picking, picking

Fingernails digging into flesh

looking for imperfect skin

to claw away.

Making blemishes worse,

bleeding.

I can’t stop.

Fingers always need to be busy,

hurting myself is too easy.

Sometimes boredom,

sometimes stress,

always pain.

No body part is safe.

Blackheads, pimples, ingrown hairs

and imaginary imperfections.

Making a mess.

Shoulders, back, chest, legs, face

my fingers go everywhere

and I can’t make them stop.

I stick them under my pillow

and breathe into the need

to pick, pick, pick….

3711055069_43e819b138_oI wrote this poem as I lay in bed this past weekend trying to stop picking so I could go to sleep and then the following scenario played out in my home the other night before bed: my daughter came looking for a band-aid. Her finger was bleeding and I asked what she had done. Then, as she held her thumb clenched in the fingers of her other hand, I asked her if she’d been picking at herself again?

She had picked at the dry skin on her thumb until she had drawn blood.

I flash back to myself, I’m about her age and I am picking at the dry skin on my big toe and I dig and dig until it suddenly starts to bleed. The blood startles me and I panic. I get a band-aid, I make up a story, why didn’t I stop before I drew blood? Why couldn’t I stop?

Neither of these stories are isolated incidents and though separated by years and time, both feel all too familiar.

As my husband is tucking our daughter into bed he catches her picking or scratching again and he gives her a stern look. Some words are exchanged and then he says,

“Or you can use willpower to make yourself stop.”

5610963733_f775bd4601_oMy heart breaks as I hear those words. I have heard them too and I know how hard it is to stop. I am all too familiar with the feelings of wanting so desperately to stop because my skin hurts. It is red and blistered and raw from scratching and digging and no matter how much I might want to stop, I do not feel like I am the one in control.

Time means nothing, it could be one minute, fifteen minutes or an hour. Yes, I’ve easily spent more than an hour digging at my skin, sometimes two or three. It’s not about willpower. Of course I want to stop and if it were that easy, willpower would be enough but it’s not.  It’s a repetitive behaviour that soothes the constantly churning whirl of thoughts and anxieties. I have to literally fight with my hands, repress them, restrain them to make myself stop. Sometimes I just want to cry I get so frustrated with myself and now I see my daughter struggling with the same impulses, damaging herself and I don’t know how to help because I have yet to figure out how to help myself.

I do know that telling her to use her willpower is not helpful, it just makes you feel more broken.

I look back over my life and there is a history of self-mutilation but as I would conquer one bad habit I’d replace it with another. I used to bite my tongue and the inside of my mouth until I bled. It hurt, a lot. I finally made myself stop by stuffing Kleenexes in my cheeks at bedtime. Once I stopped, then the picking started.

I still pick though not as badly because I’ve discovered something else to keep my hands and mind busy – my cell phone. I’m always trading up one bad habit for another, and now I see my daughter struggling too, inheriting, copying, trapped.

I do have a theory behind my daughter’s and I’s behaviours. She is diagnosed ADHD and I believe her picking is how she copes with her feelings of being hyper and restless. She hates boredom, mentally and physically, and when there is nowhere else for her energy to go, she picks. It calms her mind, it becomes trance-like, even the pain offers some stimulation, something for her to focus on.

Last year I was reading a book entitled “Driven to Distraction” by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Rodey, M.D. I was reading it so I could better help and understand my oldest child but it opened my eyes to my own ADD issues, something I didn’t think was a problem for me. I did well in school, I didn’t portray the classic signs of ADD growing up but I believe it was and continues to be something I struggle with. It also helps explain my need to constantly be doing stuff with my hands and the constantly whirling thoughts in my head that I struggle to pin down and sort through and follow to conclusions instead of things just piling up around me as UFO’s (Un-Finished Objects), or forgotten as I move to the next thing. My picking, my incessant need to fiddle with my phone quiets those impulses and crazy thoughts, allows me to zone out the stimuli that are over-whelming me, including the emotions I have not learned to cope with. For those moments, I’m focused.

Through my daughter, I am gaining an understanding of my own habits and through understanding my own habits, I am understanding her.

So what is the solution, how do I fix this, change how the story ends for my daughter?

Right now, I don’t know but I am going to explore this further through my blog, as well as how we live and cope with ADD/ADHD in my family. Almost every one of us has some degree of handicap because of this disorder, and the one thing I do know, willpower alone is not enough to break the cycle of self-harm, negative thoughts and bad habits.

I do believe that there is a power that is more than up to the task: love.

“…. love works. Positive human relationships work. The human connection is indispensable. I call it “the other Vitamin C,” Vitamin Connection. And if you do not get enough of it, you will languish and never thrive.” pg xvii, Driven to Distraction.

For more information about excoriation or the need to pick at one’s skin, follow this link: http://www.trich.org/about/skin-picking.html

I Feel Pregnant…

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The Beauty Of Pregnancy

I am not actually pregnant but I have been experiencing sensations as if there is something going on within my body akin to the process of growing new life.

I have been sitting with the feelings trying to hear the messages, decipher the tenderness of my breasts and delve into the warmth of my womb to investigate the percolatings, what it is that is evolving and how it wants to change my world.

3572990050_345a844585_oIt is a knot, a knot comprised of the DNA of all my thoughts, my investigations, my dreams, my experiences of the last year coming together, entwining in their awesomeness to show me my future but not quite coalesced. It’s still looking for form and shape, right now it is just raw DNA material, as an embryo at conception.

It’s questions but not quite answers. It’s paint and canvas but not yet a painting. It’s threads and fabric but not a finished piece. The building blocks are there, now I must figure out the finished piece and how I will birth it into the world. I’ve been given the tools, the people, the foundation, the love I need to blossom but only I can bear down and bring the life forward.

3468330509_db1ded1c1b_oI go in-ward, I feel the pulsing energy looking for form. The ideas and memories finding each other, connecting the dots and duplicating like the cells of an embryo growing into a fetus, burrowing down, implanting in my soul, nourished by my enthusiasm, my words, my hopes.

But there is also fear. There is holding back. There is doubt. I am learning my worth and slowly believing in my abilities, letting go of my perceptions of myself as unworthy, and developing new behaviours that when the darkness of doubt knocks on my soul’s door, I can look it in the eyes and claim my worth, my value to this world, and not let any more darkness in.

Where the darkness has already taken up residency, I am serving eviction notices. There is resistance, 20 years of pain, shame and anger does not simply pack its bags and move on. Those emotions are too comfortably enmeshed into the fabric of my soul, they believe they’ve earned the right to live there and they are filing appeals to my eviction notices and organizing demonstrations with picket signs “We will not go!”, but I say “Yes, you are. Be gone!”

I am re-writing my story, finding a new narrative, my voice has power, people are listening, hearing, seeing me, taking notice.

3971578022_fe5fd2475a_oThe fetus nourishes and grows on that evolving power and grace. It is calling to me the people and resources I need. In the last year I have come so far from the beginning tentative steps into the ways of the older religions and traditions. Last New Year’s Eve I included a smudging ceremony as part of our evening with friends, a way to cleanse the negativity of 2013 and open ourselves to the possibilities of 2014, and now a year later those ways have become an integral part of my path and I’m thirsty to learn more.

I’m not ready to label myself pagan or Wicca or whatever variance thereof I am drawn to. There is not enough that I really understand yet, but names come with birth and so 2015 is all about birthing this energy growing within me, it’s about giving this embryo bones, a heartbeat, lungs and all its senses to hear, feel, touch, smell and taste with. And, of course, a name….

As this child gets stronger, the negative gunk will have no choice but to leave. I will finish re-writing my narratives and finally leave the past in the past. The child will grow, will organize itself into the finished work of art, and will let herself be known and seen, her limbs pushing against my insides as she stretches, flexes and expands, filling every cell of my body with her newness, her power, her beauty.

When she is ready to be born, she will become me and I will become her and we will become one, ready to take on the world.

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