Introspection and Retrospection

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2456241182_d6a41cc0e7_oWhy did I go quiet last year? I had only just begun to find my words again after a long painful hiatus so why did I put my pen down and stop writing?

The words were in my head but I feared the power I could give them if I gave them substance. I still do. All the good “stuff” I could have focused on with my pregnancy was overwhelmed by the swirling craziness around me: my oldest child’s mental health issues, our precarious financial situation, the chaos of my house and even my own struggles with facing starting motherhood all over again when I was just beginning to find my own feet and carve my own path in the world.

I had all these plans at the beginning of 2015. More writing, lots more writing about Sacred Pregnancy and many other sacred endeavours, plus courses I would attend and complete with the end result being the starting of my business so that I could contribute to the financial stability of my family and our household.

By March most of those plans were falling a part and I was trying to pick up the pieces and figure out how to put the puzzle back together again without any idea of what it was supposed to look like.

I remember a day in late March about a week or so after the positive pregnancy test, I was crying in the kitchen, unable to stand up for the sheer weight of the anger, frustration and helplessness I felt due to the poor choices of my oldest child and the impact they had on the whole family, as well as my own overwhelming guilt for not being able to help my son more.

I remember wanting my mother but we hadn’t told the family about the pregnancy yet because my brother and his wife we’re due any day with their second child and we did not want to overshadow their happy time with our own news. So I sat there in the kitchen, shaking, alone and I reached out to my Reiki healer friend and my Sacred Sisters via Facebook messenger. They talked me through it and held space for me to just be angry, sad and hurt. They held space for my guilt and my pain.

But I couldn’t write about any of it.

Even after the news of our pregnancy went public, these were not words I could share with the world for a couple of reasons. My oldest child is 19, (18 at the time of these events) and many people who read this blog know him. He has enough issues stacked against him that releasing any more details of his struggles with gaming addiction was not in his best interest, which is why I continue to be deliberately vague when discussing specifics of what actually happened. It is not my story to tell. Yes, as his mother, I have a big part in his story but the main story is his and treading that oh so thin line that loops and curves and often gets tangled up with my own story was near impossible so my pen went silent. I’m still working out the parameters of what I will and won’t say and they could change every time I pick up my pen.

6045365685_3ceb314223_oIntrospection and retrospection have and are key components of my starting to write again. It’s been a year since the positive pregnancy test, a year since I sat paralyzed on my kitchen floor having no idea how to process the events and the emotions that were coming up. I felt like a complete failure as a mom and yet I was about to become a mom again for the fourth time. I felt like I did not deserve to be a mom again and yet the child that was growing within me was counting on me to provide them with everything they needed. How could I do that when I was failing so badly as a parent of the children I already had?

Those are pretty big and polar emotions for anyone let alone a hormonally compromised mother to digest. I was very lost and maybe that’s when I should have turned to my words for comfort and clarity but I was terrified of what my words might say as I worked through the anger so it was safer to put the pen down and do what I had taught myself to do over many years of extensive practicing, bottle it up, push it down and show the world a brave face.

But I was not brave.

Brave would have been facing my pain and anger and being honest about my feelings. I put my pen down because I was scared. I took the easy way out and shut down. I stopped working to take my wall down and instead worked to reinforce it. I had no idea how to process all the emotions so I just didn’t, and here I find myself a year later, with a 4.5 month old child and a solid brick wall built around me keeping everyone out, almost back where I started before I began the work of taking the wall down and freeing myself from its confines.

The difference is this time I know the path forward and what I need to do, and part of that path involves picking up my pen again and letting the words flow, working through the hard, painful emotions and facing some difficult truths about myself and my world and everything that happened in 2015. It’s time to start chiseling away at my wall again and to give myself permission to break free of it and find my way out of its shadow so I can follow my dreams and write my words and learn my truths.

It won’t be easy but it is time.

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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 black hole

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WARNING – DEPRESSIVE CONTENT, EMOTIONAL TRIGGER

I am completely overwhelmed.

I am in a very dark head space. That is why I have not been writing. I don’t want to share how I feel because admitting to it means admitting I’m losing the battle with my depression.

I have better days. I didn’t write a to-do list this past week but Monday through Wednesday I worked hard to spend time doing the things I want to be doing. Reading with my daughter. Playing with my son. Turning off the computer more. Just trying to focus on the little things.

It’s hard to keep it up….every day….when I just feel utterly miserable inside… all the time….

Most days I barely drag myself out of bed. Just the act of waking up reminds me of my pain, and all I want is to cry, yet I can’t even find relief in tears. I push them down and force myself to get out of bed and do the bare necessities of what needs doing. Get my daughter on the bus in the morning with a lunch. Do laundry so my family has clean clothes to wear. Get myself dressed.

Most days I don’t even manage getting dressed. I live in pajamas and yoga pants, and on more occasions than I’d care to actually admit to, I have worn the same clothes for nearly 36 hours straight.

As a human being I feel like a complete and utter failure.

I feel beaten up. My bruises invisible to the world so there are few words of comfort or understanding. Mostly a lot of messages of “just deal with it” and “why can’t you manage this?”, even if they aren’t said in so many words and many come disguised as words of encouragement.

I took a college course in the spring of 2013 on communication. I loved it. One of the exercises the teacher had us do was draw a picture of an object that represented how we felt.

I drew a black hole.

I drew a blackBlack hole hole because it felt like my whole life was being sucked into one and no matter how hard I fought against it, everything, including myself, was being pulled in. It was dark and angry and destructive.

Then the teacher asked us to take that same image and change it, turn it into a positive image. At the time I couldn’t do it. I just stared at the page and swirled my black pen around and around, making the black hole bigger and darker. I didn’t see anything positive in that black hole or its existence in my life.

But what if there is….

In science fiction there is a theory that a black hole is a gateway between worlds or galaxies, that while its immense gravity pulls everything into it and initially destroys it, something different is reconstructed from the pieces on the other side. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. Either way it’s a one way trip, you are changed forever.

Surrendering to the pull of the black hole is overwhelming and my first instinct is to fight against it with all my might, holding to the familiar, holding to the comforting lull of even the most destructive habits because it’s all I know, and while it hurts, it’s pain I’m familiar with.

The act of being deconstructed is violent and painful. My whole life must flex and break, shattering everything that was so that there is room for the new, and it requires a level of trust in the universe that I will admit I don’t currently possess. A trust that the universe has a better plan for me.

Does it?

I have seen glimpses of a better world for myself. I’m afraid to reach out and take it. I’m afraid to let go of the doubt, the self-loathing, the destructive voices in my head that convince me I’m not good enough, not good enough to be a doula or birth instructor, that I’m not good enough to be a mom or wife, that I’m not good enough to even be me. Failure becomes my only option because it’s the only thing I’ve convinced myself I’m good at, and the voices constantly remind me of my short-comings.  I’m just not good enough…

But what if I am?

What if accepting that I, as I am right now, am good enough, and letting go of all the burdens of angst and anger that weigh me down is the first step of surrendering to the pull of the black hole and allowing the process of deconstruction to happen, so that I can find out what I’m truly capable of?

I just have to be willing to surrender to it.

To take the risk.

To believe I can survive being pulled apart at the very essence of my soul and then be put back together again.

I really, really, really want to but I’m completely and utterly terrified…. What if the result of this cosmic deconstruction means the end of my family as I know it? What if I end up losing some really important stuff a long the way? What if, what if, what if…. There are so many what ifs…

Thus I remain trapped between what is and what could be, frozen by my fear, imprisoned by my loneliness, ensnared by my pain and betrayed by my anger. I just find myself wondering how much worse things can get before the power of the black hole sucks me in and forces the changes on me, willingly or unwillingly?

So what now?

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There is so much I want to write about but right now my brain has been high-jacked by the latest craziness in my life.  My car isn’t going to be fixed.  I will never drive her again.  I am grieving more than the physical loss of her, but what driving has meant for me in general.

Yes, I am getting a good pay out, but the question is do we just take a break for a while from being a two car family and save some money, pay off some debts?  Or do I go out and get another car right away?

I’m undecided.

Driving is everything for me.  It is a key to a level of freedom that otherwise is not attainable.  Yes, I have access to buses.  Yes, I live within walking distance of all major grocery stores and banks.  Yes, my parents’ live a 20/30 minute walk from my house, and my mom is willing to loan me her car if I need it occasionally.  Right now I’m not working so many weeks go by that the car doesn’t move much.  But having my own car allows me to set my own schedule, to go places that busing is inconvenient, like Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo.  It allows me to go up to the airport and sit and watch planes with my youngest son.  It means I can go for a big grocery run all by myself or with just my youngest son and not be constrained by the size of the wagon or stroller as far as how much I can buy and carry.  It means being able to leave at a moment’s notice if someone calls me, or needs me, like my kids at school.  The small housecleaning job I have on the side is made easier by having a car.  I can even meet my husband for lunch once and awhile.

That level of freedom comes with a price.  Not having a car could save us around $400/mth.  That could go a long way to paying bills and catching up our debt load.  Maybe giving up that freedom for six months or so is worth it to regain our financial stability again, and with some luck maybe even move to a more accommodating home.  I will stay on as a secondary driver on the van so I will not lose all my status as a driver, and I will be able to have access to the van in the evening and weekends, but it will leave my husband without a vehicle when I do take it.

Driving, or the ability to get away and do things without having to rely on others for help, is a huge anti-depressant for me.  Even if I don’t use the car to go anywhere, I know it’s there, the option is there.  Plus I just renewed our membership to Ray’s Reptiles and just picked up the membership to three of the big Museums here in Ottawa.  I had my youngest out to the Aviation Museum a week or so ago and he loved it.  He keeps asking to go back.  Without a car, it’s a much bigger endeavour.  Busing to the Aviation Museum is a little more complicated, and often my son is exhausted by the time we leave and is asleep in the car within minutes.  A car makes everything easier.

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So what now? I have a difficult decision to make.  To give up my freedom to make my own decisions, and go where I want to go when I want to go and not have to depend on others for getting me places?  It might free up some financial resources for us to be able to move and at that point perhaps it’ll be easier to afford another car for me.  I may also be further along in my studies and be on the point of being able to earn some money from my education, perhaps even ready to start my business.  I will need a car for my business.  So if I can look at this as a temporary suspension of my driving freedoms, perhaps I can make my way through this time and out the other side where a car will be waiting for me.

Or do I get another car right away?  A part of me feels that’s a selfish choice to make.  It’s what I need, not what this family needs right now.  And I’m a mom, so making a selfish decision is against every principle of my being!  But I have to honour my selfish need to drive, my selfish need to not be at the whim and mercy of other people’s schedules and let myself sit with it so I can release it to make room for acceptance of what is best right now, and in my heart I know what’s best.

I will have a car again, I just have to be patient. Patience isn’t always my strong point, but this will be another chance to work on it!

I threw a temper tantrum today…..

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… and I’m not proud of myself.

My thoughts are very dark, very angry.  The lid came off.  I dropped all the balls I’ve tried so hard to keep in the air and going round and round….

Maybe it was the car accident this weekend that’s put me on edge…. More than I’m admitting too.  I’m trying very hard to stay positive.  I’m not hurt, the kids weren’t with me, etc…. But it’s hard not to be affected by it somehow, the process is stressful, physically hurt or not.

I just wanted some help today from my teenager who is off over the exam break.  I even gave him a warning last night before we went to bed that I would be needing his help today.  That I wanted to tackle a job or two that I could use his help with.  They weren’t crazy, difficult jobs.  Just helping me move boxes around and maybe do some dishes.  He’s the first one to complain at the constant disorder of the house, but when I ask for help, it’s not easy getting any, and he’s not the only one who is hard to get motivated.

I started asking him to get up about 10 am, at 1pm he was still in bed.  I called him multiple times, I tried to entice him with food, I nagged and finally, I just lost it.  I said some things I shouldn’t have, my anger spilled over and I became very ugly.  I even kicked an empty cardboard box down the stairs.

What made it worse? My three-year old started yelling at me, feeding me back the same anger I was dishing out.  He was just imitating me… It was very hard being on the receiving end of it.

So then there were tears.  Body shaking, hot, angry, painful tears…

I hid in my room away from my three-year old so he wouldn’t see it.  Only the dog was there, and I’m not sure she even knew what to make of it.  I don’t cry.

I texted my husband and let him know what had happened.  He’s the one who is supposed to lose his cool, and I’m the one that’s supposed to do the patching up.  Who does the patching up when I lose my cool?

Right now, I’m not ready to apologize for my anger.  I’m just sitting with it.  If there’s anything I could use, it’s someone to make me a cup of tea….

If there’s anything I could use, it’s someone to make me a cup of tea….

Earl Grey, two sugars, please… And yes, leave the teabag in!

Blue and Yellow Pills

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“Antidepressants just bury the pain so you don’t have to deal with it.  They don’t actually make you better.”

WARNING – DEPRESSIVE CONTENT, EMOTIONAL TRIGGER

I am tired, the world is spinning around me, and I feel nauseous.  I hate my antidepressants.  This week, between a number of things, I kept forgetting to fill my prescription and so I went three days without taking my medication.

 

Did I mention I hate my antidepressants?

Yet, I am terrified of living life without them.  I have spent the better part of the last eighteen years medicated in one form or another so I can attempt to live life normally.  To function the way society says I should be able to function, and I tried, I really tried, but after a while even the medications could only do so much.

Truly, I believe these medications are more for the benefit of others than for my benefit.  No one wants to actually see or experience my dark side, my angry side, my craziness.  The drugs suppress all that.  They make me act normal around everyone else.  But I hate taking them.  I hate how I feel like I’m trapped inside a cage.  Why can’t I just be angry?  Or sad?  I certainly have plenty to be angry about.  And yes, I have plenty to be grateful for too, but that doesn’t negate the crap, or make the yucky stuff just go away.  Antidepressants just bury the pain so you don’t have to deal with it.  They don’t actually make you better.

I want to actually get better, but some days it’s just easier to take the little blue and yellow pill than to try to figure out how to get better…

I actually have a really wonderful doctor and he knows the truth that these pills, the medications, are just bandages, not solutions.  He’s a family M.D., and while he has offered me quite a bit of support and understanding over the years, it isn’t his job to help make me better.  He’s not a psychologist or psychiatrist, and they cost too much money.  So he renews my medication and when things get really bad, he suggests increasing the dosage to see if it will help tighten the cage around all the nasty stuff nobody wants to actually see me dealing with.  It’s so much easier for the world if they can pretend it doesn’t exist.

But how do you come to grips with a rape that changed your life in fundamental ways, and that no one even wants to admit happened because it’s easier to think it was my fault?  I even lost a friend over my first pregnancy because she thought I should be happy, that I had no right to be angry or hurt.  That having a baby should make up for everything.  It didn’t.  I had every right to be angry, to be hurt.  What she was going through didn’t negate what I was going through, just as what I was going through didn’t negate her own painful experiences.

I remember multiple times during that pregnancy crawling into the shower and curling up in a ball and just crying, hot searing tears, jolts of pain rocking my body.  I felt trapped, and the key to my cell had been thrown away.  There was no way out.

It was no surprise that my son’s delivery and birth ended up being very traumatic, and that I ended up suffering from severe, debilitating postpartum depression.  I didn’t bond with my son the way it is expected a mother should.  I can honestly tell you that if it weren’t for my parents, I’m not sure either my son or I would be here today.  I came very close to going over the edge on a few occasions, but there was one night in particular.

It had been three weeks of breastfeeding every 45 minutes.  No one told me this was normal.  He was almost three-months-old.  After weeks of hell my milk supply was finally establishing itself.  He was feeding around the clock, nearly constantly.  I don’t think I closed my eyes for more than 45 minutes to an hour at any given point for that whole two to three-week period.  Then one night I was done, I couldn’t go on anymore.  I just started screaming at my baby to go to sleep and leave me alone.  I was in a state of total all out psychotic rage.  My parents were there in an instant.  My mother took my son and fed him a bottle, shielded him from his own mother.  My dad held me while I sobbed heart-wrenching tears of madness.

We’ve never talked about this incident but the memory of it can still bring tears to my eyes as if it happened yesterday.  I felt like the worst mother on the face of the planet.  I know in my heart my parents saved my son’s life that night.  Maybe even mine too.

How do you carry that memory, that pain, around with you, without going crazy?

So I take my blue and yellow pills and douse out the pain and put on a happy face, so the world can go on turning, pretending I’m okay when at the heart of it, I’m not.  If I was okay, I’d be able to work.  If I was okay, I wouldn’t be taking these pills in the first place.  If I was okay, I wouldn’t constantly feel like my world is on the brink of falling apart, and somehow, maybe, it’s those little blue and yellow pills that are keeping it together.  But it’s all just a farce.  A big joke.  An elaborate scheme.  A cover-up.

Unfortunately truly getting better is a dirty, painful, awakening process.  It’ll shake the foundation of who I am, who my family is, who my friends are.  It means facing some nasty truths both about myself and about my past.  It means trading in the victim’s shackles for the warrior’s armour.  I’ve tried several times to do this but have not been 100% successful.  I’m ready now.

The big question is though, are my friends and family ready?

The process will be one of redefinition and it will go through many phases.  Spiritual, physical, mental and emotional.  Some days I will need a crutch to lean on and that may be a friend or loved one.  It may even be you.  Other days I may shine and stand on my own two feet.  For every step forward I take, it’ll often feel like I take two back.

Recovery is a dance between the past, present and future, an intricate dance of honouring all the emotions, even the negative ones, maybe most especially the negative ones, and then letting them go.  Sitting with the emotions, giving them their voice, telling myself that it’s okay to feel this way and when I’m at peace, letting go.  Eighteen years may seem like a really long time to hold onto pain, but if you don’t deal with it, you can’t let go of it.  I need to deal with the pain.  All of it, the ugly, the beautiful, the mixed up craziness, all of it.

I also need to be allowed to deal with it.  I won’t apologize for making anyone else uncomfortable with my truths because the minute I start apologizing, I’m assuming the victim role again.  If it makes you uncomfortable, then perhaps it’s you that needs to examine some part of your own life.  I will not feel guilty for your discomfort.  I have carried enough guilt for other people to last a life time and here and now, I put down those loads.  My own guilt is heavy enough.

For now I will continue to take the pills, but I am also going to continue working through the pain of my past, and slowly but surely I will withdraw from the medication completely, and find my way to a more fulfilling, happier existence where I don’t feel the need to hide.  Where I will be legitimately and completely who I am, defined not only by what society deems acceptable, though what society deems acceptable at times is rather questionable, but by the truths of my past, present and future.