Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Define Mother's Day


Mother’s Day just past. It’s that day that is bitter sweet to me each year before I had kids and now, even now, that I am the Mom. I think I have mostly developed a thick skin through the years against the happy, sweet things people write about their mothers and how amazing and grateful they are that their mothers have always been there for them pushing them to succeed to become the people they are today. The grainy photos of their happy childhood memories and an iPhone picture showcasing not only what a lovely mother they still have but what a beautiful and kind grandmother she is too. I am not bitter I promise. I hope one day for my daughter and son to be so proud of me and that they have kind things to say on Mother’s Day. I long for that in fact because I know, finally now after many years of figuring I was just like her, that I am not. Here’s the thing about motherhood for me.  It brought on a crushing intensity that I would be a gigantic failure at being a mother because I assumed the worst assumption of all – that I would be just like my Mother.
Let me back track here because one of the last communications I had with my sister, who is very much like my Mom, she pointed out that my childhood was not so bad (she who railed every time I saw her about how rotten her childhood was…) How I had the best of everything, how I was not physically abused or underfed or harmed.  All of which is true to some degree. I was fed and mostly cared for but the thing about having my Mother is that I never knew what to expect moment to moment sometimes. That my friends is called emotional abuse.

And that was constant and tragic and painful and hurtful and I grew up alternately cowering and hiding myself away or steeling myself against what would come next. I could never see that or say that to anyone. It would hurt my heart to feel so badly about Mom. I wanted to love her the way others seemed to love their mothers but when I tried I felt crushed under the weight of it all. Mom was the hardest because I was under her care the longest. She made people believe that she was something that she was not. She was more than fake it till you make it, she was just fake it. Mainly in private, though I have seen her personal brand of crazy in public too, she threw things and sobbed and screamed and patted my hand afterward any of those things and she would me I was a good girl, her very best bestie, who should never leave her because she needed me to be her bestie and care for her when she gets old, that’s what kids do and her other rotten kids would never do that but I would! If I ever dared tried to date or have close friends she instantly found something wrong with those people. If I asked about something that happened – for instance, the last time Oma visited CA and you screamed so loudly at her and ran away from the house, remember that? – she would tell me I was crazy, that never happened, I remembered it all wrong and on and on the stories go just like that – I was crazy, she was not. She pitted me against my siblings and father and aunts and uncles and cousins and I grew up cowering in a proverbial corner unaware that life did not need to be like that.

It amazes me sometimes that she left me leave California for Michigan. Hell, that she left me leave San Jose for Hayward. Of course by that time I was too old with a serious chip on my shoulder to entirely control so she did “her thing” differently, more subtly and it was like breathing – it would grow and deflate depending on what was happening in her life. I would pray for her to fixate on others to give me relief and freedom to be me for a bit.  And on and on this went until recently.
Till I found myself cowering in a corner screaming my head off at HER about what a horrific person she is in my own house several thousand miles from her… then it dawned on me. This is my life, my world, my home – no one can take any of that away from me but me. In that moment of clarity I realized she has no more power over me. I am a grownup who makes big girl decisions and takes care of my own children and house and husband and life. It was then that I realized that she was not ever going to change or be the person I hoped she would be when I was ten nor would she be the person I wanted her to be at 41. I could go to the end of my life and hers and she would not change. But I could.

So while I dread Mother’s Day and all of that sentiment, I let go of the vision of perfection that those around me give to the world one day per year and enjoy each moment I have with my kids as best I can. I do fail and I do yell and I do show my ‘ugly’ side but mostly I am the best Mom I can be and I am my own person. I am not her because I am not. Every day I strive to be a better, kind, more humble, helpful, loving person in spite of the experiences I had growing up. And yes dear sister my childhood was not so bad but it was not so great either. I lived in my own hell but now I know I not only survived it, I thrived in spite of it. I am glad I ignored all of those voices in my head that said ‘do not become a mother because you will be just like your own mother”.  I am glad I have had the opportunity to be called mother by the most amazing children so for that I celebrate being called Mom (Momma, Mommy and yes sometimes even Mother ;) every single day of the year.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cliff Jumping


Every moment that passes when I do not say or do anything is inching me toward the end. I know I need to care for our lives and in my heart I do but I feel hollowed out sometimes in a way that inexplicable to anyone. I believe this comes from years of thrashing past the emotional highs and lows of my life, working with almost tunnel vision to escape that emotional see saw that I am now so completely adverse to dealing with any of it that when confronted by any emotional situation I look immediately for my proverbial hide-y hole. I dip my head in the sand and whisper to myself the usual garbage I have whispered to my broken emotional self for years.  You are the one at fault, fix yourself and this will change, you are bad, if you were a better person, this would be better” and on and on and on…
I remember last spring just reaching the same old cliff, that jumping off point where I usually leave all of my emotions hanging, the place that I would run blindly from I realized I was done. I needed to change I need to find myself in a way that I have never allowed. I could no longer ride the see saw and be okay with it. I needed to take control of the life I was given and make it what I wanted. However in that process I saw myself changing. I saw the raw emotions that usually motivated me, more aptly, demotivated me, slipping away. I could no longer hang my hat on the mean angry internal voice I was used to and I have slowly taken charge of my life, at forty-one I stopped drifting and climbed aboard a life raft that taken me slowly to who I want to be and where I want to go.

I can see more clearly the person I was and who I allowed myself to become and I wanted to be more and better and all the things I have missed out on in that state of not being anything at all. Except you are back there in my mind drifting with the old me and I want to pull you up on my raft, I want you on my journey, our journey, for the long haul but I am not sure how to get there. I am at the next precipice and I am ready to jump off that one too. I hope with all of my heart that you join me in the journey before life swallows us whole. I know I won’t give up, yet I worry and fret and it seems my head is back in the sand with all of those negative voices about what could happen when what I would really prefer to have you standing at this next precipice holding my hand and make this next leap together.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ghost Morning

Sometimes in the wee early morning hours of a day before the sun has crept over the edge of the world, I pad softly down the hallway to the sliding glass door in the kitchen to peek outside to see the world stuck between darkness and light. It makes me feel like a ghost standing on the edge of the world. There are other ghosts all around me at that moment, all those who have taught me lessons in ways they do not know and those ghosts and their lessons live within me. I find myself straining to see those people, alive and dead, who stand before me, who have no idea what they have meant to me. The hurt and sadness and laughter and love and frustration and a million other human emotions I do not have time to name here have come from those ghosts hanging around me in the early morning air.  They are in my head and my heart and some are even intricately interwoven into my soul. My hair is matted and funny from sleep, I scratch my arm a funny papery sound in the still air. I am wearing faded blue polar bear pajamas and a ratty shirt from some event I never attended. I press my nose to the cool glass of the window and wonder if I have made an impact on others lives like they have made on mine. I wonder if somewhere else in this world someone is pressing their nose against the glass in the world caught between daylight and nighttime thinking about their ghosts.  Their moments. Their lives. I hope so. For good or bad, I hope so. I close my eyes and breath in those memories: exhale the bad, inhale the good. I turn on my heel and quietly steal back to my room, to our warm bed, past the shadows that are already fading away in the morning sunshine.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Unreachable

"I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone." Robin Williams

I have written before about depression and the way it feels and the dark places it can take me.  I am at the moment I am feeling ambivalent. I am neither up nor down. I am okay.

However, Robin Williams’ suicide is tragic and the media of course reports too much on what happened.  I need to tune it out and stop watching tributes and reading sad stories about him because it is hard to do.  It is hard to do because I feel a rush of emotions about it all. Like so many Robin Williams played a vast part in my life in terms of movies and television shows and comedy.  I used to play tapes of his act in my car when I could finally drive and I would giggle at his fantastically amazing use of the word FUCK!  I distinctly remember sitting on the ground watching Mork and Mindy. I know exactly where I was the first time I watched Popeye who was also a favorite, much watched cartoon character to me.  I was awed by how amazingly well his movies matched up to my life dramas when those movies came out.  There is more I could say – the many hours of watch Comedy Network and the lesser known movies that were shit panned by the critics that I went to see because he was in it and who cares how crappy the movie was, I was watching comedic genius! 

This is not just about Mr. Williams because he was amazingly brilliant and funny and he could use the f-word in ways that quite frankly still astounds me!  Honestly, depression is heinous. It is a deep dark wound.  It is not like a broken arm or scar across one’s face.  Depression often cannot be seen or heard or understood by those who have never had it. It is tragic and harsh and vile and unwitting.  I can feel great, light and happy, and suddenly I won’t. Only that moment where I seem okay to feeling horrible happens on the inside – a chemical reaction, an emotional affliction, a tragedy in the comedy of life. I will find myself groping around in the dark looking for ways out and yet on the outside I appear to just be me.  No one suspects otherwise.  No one knows that I spent hours in the dark of night, pacing the hallway in my house, trying to calm the noise in my head, dealing with the dark feelings in the dark.  No one knows that when I am alone I contemplate the darkest recesses of my brain much to the horror of emotional self, all of the fucked up stupidity I have ever claimed as my own making it much, much worse than it actually was. Sure I can keep depression at bay to some degree.  I can read or screw around on the computer playing games, I can watch television and run miles on end but at the end of it, the depression lurks waiting to drag me back into the dark.

For someone who has spent years grappling with those demons, I get it.  It is the years and years of fighting and losing and fighting again and the desire to not be like that which makes it increasing difficult in life. I see each failure in my life with intensity and if I allow myself to wallow in those failings, it drives home what an awful person I am. The thing about depression and the subsequent ways that we find to fight depression (alcohol, drugs, harmful relationships, etc…) is that it has no rhyme or reason.  And only I can change how I am feeling. I could have “it all” and yet in the end I am my own worst enemy. I see all of the failure and all of the bright wonderful things in my life appear to be dull and blur in those moments. I may be laughing and cracking smart ass jokes on the outside but on the inside an enemy deeper and darker than I could ever explain is waiting to well up and crush me. I have often said that depression sits on my chest crushing the air out of me, devouring me, dividing me from me.  Depression seems inescapable when I am in the midst of it. Eventually I get past it and when things become clear again and I look back on how I was feeling and the question is always why?  Why did I feel that way?  Why do I let myself get that way?  Why me?

It is very hard to explain to most. It is very hard to explain here.  I want to give more words, more thoughts to help people understand it.  Depression hurts and I am left raw and guilty for being that way so I hide it. Again and again because I want to see the next day and the next but at what point does fighting get old, more difficult, and tiresome. 

My one wish, the wish I have for humanity – reach out to those you love even if they are unreachable.  Hug them however you need to.  Give them what you can emotionally and do not stop doing it, do not give up on someone.  Just know that someone you least suspect is suffering with this pain inside and even if it seems hopeless because you do not know it for sure, there is always hope.  Keep giving out your love unconditionally because you just never know who that will help.


And for the love of god, ignore the media. Let this go. We should have been telling Mr. Williams how he changed our lives before he died and we did not.  We need to grow our worlds, tell people what we are thinking before this happens.  That is how we will change the world and those who are in it now.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

Trying

Over the years, I have contemplated many things on this here little blog.  I have discussed how I was going to change this or that or do this to change that. Blah blah blah.  I was considering this the other day because I really do want to write here more often. However, I did not want to write another 'I am doing this now' type posts only to either do it for one day or you know just not ever do it.  Or seemingly never do it because WHY on earth would I report back on things here especially when I really did accomplish something. That would be absurd!  I digress. 

I have been working on being gentler with myself internally (WTF?) I have been thinking about how hard I am trying all of the time and that has to count for something, right? Like for instance, I am trying to not be so judgmental to myself. I am trying to stay on the fitness track. I am trying to eat healthier. I am trying to be calmer with the kids when they start pushing my buttons and omg my PMS lasts for like two weeks a month these days and I cannot handle all this {{sob}} {{WAIL}}… ahem.  SO I am trying a lot more. I am working on saying that is enough. I am proud of that. I am proud of the hard work that I often put in.  AND I am easier on myself that I sometimes fail because the thing about failure sometimes is that I have chance to try again. 

I have had the same training plan on my fridge pretty much since May. It was a mere 5k training plan but summer plans and sicknesses and events kept mucking it up.  I had to re-set the plan multiple times.  Like okay I cannot run on this day so I will do the cross training and man I am tired like mad (see two weeks plus of PMS above) I am taking a break for a couple of days and I would have to start over.  Then I was about three weeks in having started this plan over at least six times and I realized it was too much. It was too much running too soon.  My foot still gets sore and began to wonder why am I pushing myself to go longer when what I really need to do is just start over.  It stinks to start over and the old me, the one who thinks in perfectionist terms and go hard or go home attitudes, would have pushed harder and gotten it done even if it hurt and I was miserable. I went back, printed off the beginning training plan and put that one on the fridge instead. I can start out lower in mileage and add on if I feel like it. I want to start with a solid base and build up. It makes more sense to go back and build a good base then just jump in and land myself back where I was - injured and miserable.


I am not very good at trying… I am better at doing or not doing. I think the thing that I am trying to do here is get over doing or not doing.  I am trying to just try things. It opens more doors; it makes me happier, it feels better, I am a stronger, better person for it.  It shoves the anxiety I often feel out of the way because rather than being fixated on the doing it or not doing it part, I am just trying things, for good or bad, I am trying.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Power of Positive Definitions

Life has been unusual and changed a lot since April. April seems like a different life! Mainly my work life has changed. At times between April and July I have thought about dropping my emotions, thoughts and ideas here but I have held back.  No real reason... it was just intense and I could not take on even more intensity by writing about it. It was like a wound, an open sore, painful and itchy and uncomfortable and not really something I wanted to poke at again and again. I decided at some point there that I was in a lot of pain emotionally and decided to meet with a therapist whom I am still seeing. It is hard because I am unsure if it is the right thing for me to do but I want to keep doing it, to see it through for me. I started out seeing this therapist about my relationship with my mom and family but it has turned to me more and more. I think it is scary to expose myself in ways I am not sure I want to but I feel like at forty I am on the precipice of change. I need to talk to someone who can take apart what I am feeling and help me to reconstruct it. I also needed an escape from the depression that seems to invade my life nearly constantly.

To that end, I was given the chance to change my role at work. I went from being an recruiter/consultant to being on our business development team part time 25 hours a week with an solid hourly wage and the hours are defined by me.  It is definitely not where I see myself five years from now but I do not have the same drive and motivation to be a recruiter any more so I feel this is a fair transition for me. I have significantly reduced my stress levels in terms of work and to some degree the money side of things should increase my stress levels but I am trying with all of my heart to quiet the noise in my head about this. It also helps that we paid off our mortgage the same week I decided to go part time - it was our only major debt/loan so we freed up a huge chunk of our money. I have found myself thinking about what is most important to me in terms of work.  I want a great team environment, I want fun, positive team players, I want a comfortable steady income (ie: NOT on a draw), and I want excellent health benefits.  When the right thing comes my way I will know it. Until then I am just trying to enjoy the choice I made which I do honestly feel is a good one.

One thing I have been working on in my life is the power of positive thoughts. My entire life has been a series of buts and what if's and if I only's.  I am frankly ready to change my life and make it more inwardly and outwardly positive. I have had more time to step back and listen to my kids.  This made me realize that my constant negative undertone was pervasive. I have been teaching the kids my positive thought BUT material.  I do not have one defining story - it just the attitude and yes they say but a lot.  I am working on cutting myself off at the but stage.  Stay happy with what I have.  The positive is just the positive.  I do not need to say 'I am sorry but'. I have been working on this exercise for a couple of weeks and it is really hard. I have lived an entire lifetime one way and now I am trying to do it another way.  It is interesting as I listen more closely to my internal self how that one positive but five negatives thing shoves me headlong into a depressive state too. I think at this point my main goal is to tap into the positive me that exists under the layers of negative. I have for several years found that I did this with work. I love my job or I love where I work BUUUUT... In fact, work became my biggest priority the past few years and there was inverse relation going on there.

I was working harder, worrying about work all of the time, trying to make work work for me, making myself sick and tired and stressed out about work and I was doing worse and worse at work.  Now there is more at work (heh, pun) than just not being successful at work but the lack of success at work is the part I find worth mentioning. The more I failed, the more I felt like a failure. The ultimate failure was giving it up for something "less". K told me that if I took this lesser position I was not allowed to say I failed but that is how I have felt. Like a giant red rubber stamp on my ten plus years at this job: FAILED.  It went along with all of the other FAILED rubber stamps I felt I had in my life: FAILED relationships, FAILED swimming, FAILED school.  Okay not really because I have a fantastic relationship with K and various other friends and family but I can only see the failures like my Mom or various odd friendships that in hindsight were... odd. I swam for 14 years USS to college - not everyone can say that but I was very good at it, I was average. I graduated from HS and college twice (BS, MPA) but I went to an eh school and I was an average student.  See how that but thing works in my life.  Rounding back to the sense of failure at work, I am working on learning that my work does not necessarily define me. I have so many other things that define me beyond any job or work that I do in this life.  So I am working hard to let that rubber stamp FAILED go. It is not true and I am survivor. I am stronger than I perceive myself to be.  Now I just need to believe in that!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Finding My Way...

I always like an unexpectedly hard workout.  I find myself dragging myself to get to the workout part of my evening but once I do, once I get moving, I am excited and into it.  It helped that I had Survivor to keep me entertained for most of it!  My legs are sore today and I feel tired. I think the feeling tired part comes from emotional stuff I am fighting with.

The thing with emotional stuff is several folds. I am finding myself unable to control my emotions the past few months – like the outbursts from me are downright strong and angry and tearful… to the point where I have decided, after several years of weighing this thought, to see a therapist.  I just cannot go on like this nor do I want to go on like this.  I feel like it will help me to get out of the emotional tunnel of hell I have walking in for months now. 

I also realized in the past I turned to alcohol. For instance, if I was having a rough day, I felt I deserved a beer or two.  Since I have removed that option, I know that I have to deal with things on their own and well let’s face is alcohol dulls things, numbs me to the feelings, and makes me feel a little out of it so that I cannot spend time mulling over what it happening inside emotionally at that moment. 

The other thing I have turned to over the years was eating.  Stuffing food into my mouth to make myself feel better did work albeit temporarily. I would bake cookies or a cake and then watch out - eating it all mostly by myself.  Ice cream binges and candy and SUGAR.  Or a slab of cheese and sleeve of crackers or nachos smothered in cheese or… you get the idea.  When I was younger, I used to go in the other direction with food – not eating to control things whereas now I eat to make myself feel better.  Either way it was a rotten cycle that I broke when I decided to change my eating habits late last year.  Well now I have very little to “eat” that makes me feel better and while I still eat, I eat healthy whole foods that are good for me but do not necessarily fill that void of feeling empty/sad/depressed/angry. 

I think the energy it takes for all of this “emotional” stuff is just crushing me. I have been working the past couple of days to get myself in bed by 11 pm which is a huge change for me – I was going to bed after 12:30 or later most nights and generally not sleeping well. I figure if I can train myself to be in bed by 11 pm I can eventually cut that down to an earlier time frame 10:45 or 10:30 but baby steps.  Beyond just getting sleep however I think my exhaustion is really from feeling so much right now– I am worn out and because I am Mom and I work full time and I have a house and dogs and huge life to contend with I never get a chance to truly really deeply find rest in my mind.  On top of that there are mounds of old shit I know still floating around inside my head plus the hormonal upheaval as of late… I am a wreck to say the least!

At the end of the day, I feel like some of this is hormonal changes that are happening but I also know that I am fighting with my “old” self – the one I always think I have put to rest years ago and the person who I really want to be.  This dynamic along with my job are creating a… okay for lack of better term – a shit storm in my life.  I want and need to dig out. I want and need to find generally speaking happiness and calm on the inside. I want and need to be a better person/friend/mother/co-worker/wife/daughter. I want and need to succeed at the goals I laid out yesterday because I want and need to. 

Ack.  Off to make a phone call now…