motherhood

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

We never really had a chance to grow in a relationship together. You were gone from my life too soon. Before that, you were busy battling your inner demons on your own, unbeknownst to me. All I know is that we never had a chance to grow together and learn who the other was, firsthand.

I resented and despised you for so long. Since I was already that resentful, angry, confused, lost little girl, I was numb when I learned of your suicide. The women around me were wailing and crying. I knew they thought I was wrong for not crying, too. So, I manufactured the tears that would keep me “safe” from their stares of condemnation. My grief was an empty, hollow thing, amorphous and disconnected.

It’s been walled away for such a long time. I don’t think I believed it really existed. Though, there have been times it seeped through the cracks and manifested.

The first time was eight or nine months after that fateful night.

There was a boy who I’d started a friendship with, once school started that year. 7th grade is hard enough. But, I was the new kid, again. My saving grace was that it was everyone’s first day at the new school. So, I made a friend a little easier than all the times before. Anyway, I told him about you and what you had done. I don’t remember how he reacted to that news.

I do know that I rather quickly fell out of favor. But, that probably had more to do with my highly reactive emotions and physical attacks toward anyone, any boy, I thought was teasing and making fun of me…mostly for being fat. Anyway, by the end of the school year, I had one friend…and it wasn’t Jason.

There was one girl, Cathy, who was friendly to everyone. I wanted her friendship, but didn’t know how to be a friend. So, I hovered on the fringes. One day, in the cafeteria. I wanted to talk to her. She was surrounded by others, including Jason. He got irritated by my presence and said something rude, telling me to go away. I told him to go to Hell.

“I’ve already been there…and your mother’s just fine.”

For the first time, my tears for you were real. Of course, I only let the walls of the bathroom stall see them. Then, I pushed them away. Later that day, I marched to Jason’s house and basically threatened his life if he ever talked about you again. But that was pretty much the last time you were part of my childhood.

The next time, I was about 22 and going through my first nervous breakdown. I saw your face, instead of my own, in the bathroom mirror. Obviously, I was more than a little freaked out. So, I did what I do. I wrote it out in the form of a poem:

The Dolphin and The Sea

I saw your face this morning,
as I peered into the glass.
I was startled into yearning,
and knew I had to ask.

I reached beyond the present,
deep into the past;
to find the answer, so unpleasant,
to discover peace at last.

Why did you leave? Where did you go?
I had no chance to tell you all I wanted you to know.

You were my heroine. You were my bane.
You were bright and shining, and not quite sane.

You were full of madness, yet masked it well.
You hid your sadness, ’til your wall fell.

Once that happened, there was no hope.
You were so frightened, you could not cope.

I turned from you as you turned toward me.
I disappointed you. You disappointed me.

I never intended to be your disciple.
I never intended to repeat your strife.
The time has come to break the cycle.
It is time for me to separate from your life.

Though your time on earth is ended,
You are still a part of me.
You and I are spirits, kindred,
as the dolphin and the sea.

The point is, I miss you. I always have, even though I didn’t know it. I miss not having a mom I can turn to when my heart is hurting because I see my kids struggling and I want to ask you how you did it…except, you didn’t. You couldn’t. I know that, if you could have made other choices, you would have.

But, I did learn from you. You taught me to never give up on myself and to never leave my kids behind, no matter how lost, alone, confused, and overwhelmed I became. You also taught me that no matter how angry, mean, and rejecting my kids were, to never let them go.

Those lessons have paid off. I’m turning 50 in a few weeks, Momma. 50. Can you believe it? You didn’t make it to 29. My kids are 32, 25, and 10. I have three grandkids: 5, 4, and 1.

It hasn’t been easy. It’s still hard today. But, it’s getting better. My oldest, who was so wounded by me and who basically disowned me seven years ago, called the other day. (We both worked hard and reconnected over the past several years.) Anyway, he called me to tell me he realized and is glad that I never left them. I get to have a relationship with my adult daughter and her three children. I’m actively parenting a brilliant, challenging daughter who experiences the world through the Autism Spectrum.

I’m sorry the Depression robbed you of so much. I hope you know how much you gave to me and to the world. I’m here. Your grandchildren are here. Your great-grandchildren are here. None of us would be, if you hadn’t been first. I miss you. I love you.

Forever your daughter,
Me

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C’mon Get Happy

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This week’s WW topic is “Happiness.”

Today was the first of seven of these workshops I’ll be attending this week on my “90 meetings in 90 Days” journey. (I owe you a post to explain that. Tomorrow. Maybe.) Today’s discussion was interesting. I’m looking forward to see how it gets addressed in the other workshops.

The weekly handout suggested that being happy makes the healthy activities we do in our lives more possible and increases the experience of those things. It also acknowledged that partaking of those activities increases happiness.

The workshop’s Coach listed a formula that determines one’s happiness level:

50% Genetics
+10% Life Circumstances
+40% Attitude, Thoughts, & Actions

My immediate reaction was to scoff at the Life Circumstances percentage. I mean, although it hasn’t been as painful and difficult as other people’s, it’s been generously peppered with a lot of trauma. Consequently, I have PTSD. Plus, I experience Depression, Bipolar 2 Disorder, fibromyalgia, and am parenting a child with regularly tells me things like she wishes I would kill myself or that I had been born dead.

Yeah. Happiness is HARD. That’s a LOT of genetics and life circumstances.

I spend a lot of time fighting tears, dealing with bureaucracy, and managing conflict. I’m skeptical that Happiness is a state of being that’s more than occasionally possible for me.

I think Acceptance and Contentedness are much more doable. I think there can be moments of happiness. I think we have to be emotionally and mentally healthy and functional to be able to experience even those moments of happiness. I simply don’t believe that Happiness is achievable as a permanent state.

All that being said, I have my own formula:

Psych meds
+Therapy
+A supportive community
+Activity
+Self-Care
+Choosing to be in positive environments


The ability to experience happiness.

What say you?

This is the 5th post of

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Sleep…or lack thereof

Back in September, immediately prior to the rebranding, I joined Weight Watchers (more about that later. Or you can head over to IG @humaninrecovery and see what’s been happening.)

Every week is a new topic of discussion about mindset, behavior changes, and achieving goals. I call it DBT Lite. This week’s topic is sleep.

Sleep doesn’t love me as much as I love it. It seems as if it never has…at least not since adolescence. I mean, I’m writing this at 2:45 A.M. because sleep abandoned me.

Correction: my lovely, not so little, daughter chased it away and it’s eluded me ever since, four+ hours now. Now, she’s sound asleep and I’m wide awake. *sigh*

Supposedly, not having my phone in the bedroom with me would help with getting back to sleep. I’ve tried. Can’t do it. It’s my alarm. It’s my fidget. It’s where I do the brain dump. It’s how I run my brain down until sleep is possible again.

I have horrible sleep hygiene…always have. My room is a cluttered mess. My bedroom & bed are multipurpose locations. My bed is shared with a growing, nearly 10 year old child with sensory issues and needs. So, she’s either burrowing into me, flailing arms in my face, and/or hogging the covers. Occasionally, she snores and breathes through her mouth…Her dad sent me an article yesterday which suggested an exam with an ENT could turn up some medical condition causing sleep disruption which can present like ADHD. More on that later.

In addition to clinging to me like a baby gorilla, she insists on listening to “girl music” when she’s ready to go to sleep. Read: female pop artists. She goes to sleep fairly easy once the music is going. Not me. For someone who has words constantly flowing through her brain, pop music is especially unhelpful when trying to go to sleep. Any music with words is, including what she calls “God music,” my CCM Pandora channel, heavily salted with music by MercyMe.

Then there’s temperature.

I can’t sleep if it’s warm…she freezes and turns into a heat seeking baby gorilla. I like it cool enough to want my feet under the comforter…yeah, I know, weird. The problem with that is the baby gorilla blanket thief.

Let’s see, what else?

Oh, yeah. My body & brain. I’m a premenopausal spoonie with Bipolar 2 Disorder & PTSD. If the nighttime neuropathy doesn’t get me or the busy brain, the night sweats and apparently shrinking bladder will.

And, so, I guess it isn’t that sleep doesn’t love me. It just doesn’t feel welcomed or wanted. *sigh*

The kicker is that I don’t even drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages to get and stay functional. Apparently, I’m a deceptively alive and youthful looking zombie vampire.

Yes. I’m 49.

This is Day 2 of

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April 2018: A mindful month

Happy Easter for those who celebrate it…Happy April Fool’s Day to the rest.

Last week, I met with the therapist I’ve seen for the past two years for the last time. No, it wasn’t a milestone for my healing and recovery from PTSD & Depression or a sign I’ve got this Bipolar thing under control. I wish. She’s moving away. 😔

The good news is she helped me get back in with my original therapist – I’d transitioned when she had to take a leave of absence. Since I saw her the two years prior to moving over to my other therapist, it’s really good to go back to her. I don’t have to start over with a brand new person. YAY! 😃

Unfortunately, I can’t get in to see her until April 20th.

Considering all the life issues I’m dealing with, in addition to the mental health issues, this isn’t a good thing.

One positive thing is that I got the parent-child therapy started for me and my youngest – she’s on the high end of the Autism Spectrum and was recently identified with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). We get to see that therapist weekly. We’re going to work on attachment issues and the signs of depression the therapist saw in my daughter during our initial visit.

Now, I have 2/3 of the month of April without access to a therapist of my own. Considering I just came out of a two and a half month period of mania because I mismanaged my meds, I need something to keep me grounded and my newly stabilized sanity intact.

My therapist and I recognize that avoidance is a MAJOR issue of mine. Specifically avoidance of facing and processing emotions triggered by and/or triggering to the past trauma.

My primary tool of avoidance is self distraction and self-harm with food.

During the first two months of the manic episode the distraction was sex and risk-taking. The past two weeks, it’s been food and obsessive focus on a certain guy.

I’ve gotten my meds under control again…mostly. So, sanity is returning as I stabilize.

Typically, after a manic or hypomanic episode I’ll experience a short period of stability on my way down into a depressive episode. I can already hear that particular demon knocking on the door.

My therapist suggested mindfulness as a way to stay present to my emotions…allow all the big, scary, overwhelming feels to flow through me. To acknowledge them, without judging them. I need to give myself permission to experience my feeling and to stop running from them.

So, this month, I’m going to be accountable here to actually putting mindfulness into action. Anyone reading is invited to participate in the accountability…just be gentle, please.

In tonight’s mindful moment, I notice tension in my body, my breathing feels shallow, but isn’t, and I am experiencing achiness and pain in my legs and feet. As I lie (lay? – I always confuse those two) here I notice my thoughts wandering all over the place: frustration, exhaustion, thinking about the guy.

Anyway, it seems motherhood is calling and disrupting this moment of mindfulness.

I’ll check in tomorrow.

When life goes awry: It’s ok to not be ok

Last Friday was one of those days where the first domino got knocked down and the remainder of the day’s plans and goals crashed one by one.

I’m sure you’ve experienced something like that at one time or another. If you haven’t, best be prepared because you will.

My daughter had a MAJOR meltdown that morning – it got physically violent (she’s on the Autism Spectrum) and she wound up not going to school.

That meant I couldn’t go to the gym or pool. There’s no space or place in my tiny, overcrowded apartment for me to do anything, including stretching. It’s THAT crowded and cluttered.

I was frustrated and irritable at this disruption in the new routine of self-care by exercise. I didn’t take it out on my daughter, but I was experiencing a significant amount of resentment.

Parenting a child with special needs is HARD and I NEED the stress release of the exercise.

When there is a spike in stress hormones coursing through my body, especially in combination with other hormonal changes, a fibroflare is likely to occur.

“What’s that?” you may be asking.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 28 years ago. Symptoms include persistent, fatigue and increased pain response to anything and everything. During my most intense episodes, just running a finger across my skin feels like a razor blade.

So, I’m struggling against the fatigue to still make exercise a priority. Each day I exercise, the fatigue makes me feel like I’m moving through molasses once the exercise is done. I feel completely drained. It doesn’t help that I also happen to be an insomniac.

There are days when I fight to get the kid to school and to bed, go to the gym or pool, and, maybe, wash dishes. The rest of the time I’m sitting and dozing off.

I’m trading the energy from other things so I can exercise. But, the exercise is what helps me mentally get through the day.

In the past, I criticized myself for not getting more done, or anything done for that matter. I couldn’t let myself be okay with not being okay.

This process is showing me that I can be.

Mental illness, physical illness, and mommy guilt

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I have been walking around with undiagnosed back pain that I believe is a herniated disc, for almost a year now. I think that because of the increasing symptoms of sciatica. Factored in with the pain and fatigue amplification from the fibromyalgia and how that plays into insomnia which feeds both aspects of the cyclothemia (a “mild” form of bi-polar I just recently realized explains so much about my life up to this point). I’m one lump of a hot mess of a momma to little Luna.

I rely too heavily on processed, frozen preformed potatoes & breaded chicken, lunchmeat, and Pizza Hut. I always purchase clementine oranges and 10 – 20 nutrition bars, such as Cliff Bars or Odwalla bars, when I can, so she has some regular access to nutrition. I avoid keeping soda in the home between her dad’s home times (he loves his Dr. Pepper) and use Ovaltine instead of chocolate syrup to make her chocolate milk. I will get blueberries and grapes when I can. She will devour them inside of a couple of days.

The point is, I feel guilt and shame for not providing her the scratch cooked, organic, free-range, antibiotic & nitrate free, certified non-GMO diet that would help me regain health and help prevent her from potentially developing health complications later in life.

I have trouble concentrating and my skin feels hypersensitive and raw much of the time. I am easily agitated and irritable when I don’t want to be. My eyes are sensitive to light and my ears are sensitive to sound. In other words: don’t touch, don’t talk, don’t turn all the lights on, don’t make noise and LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

I do my very best to not act on these feelings and sensations. I use active listening skills often and repeat things she’s said back to her as questions, either getting, “No, I said…” or “Uh huh, that’s right…”

But, then there are my fibrofog induced ADD moments:

Mooom, I’m hungry. Get me something to eat please

“Uh huh, okay, let me finish…”

I then proceed to lose track of what I was doing and who knows how much later I get pounced on by the whiny, frustrated child proclaiming, “MOM! I tooold you get something to eat.”

I worry and fret that I can’t/don’t give her the structure and routine she needs. The foundation for developing good and healthy self-care practices:
• Oral Hygeine – she has cavities from too much sugary, carb heavy food and not enough tooth brushing.
• Sleep Hygeine – no set bedtimes or nap times. Days without naps when she’s not awake until after 9 am after a night she didn’t get to sleep until midnight or later because she fell asleep at 5 pm and woke up at 8 pm the day before.
• Too much television. Today I turned Strawberry Shortcake on at loud volume to wake her up without a fuss and a fight. I just sat her in front of The Swan Princess so I could re-create this post – after losing updated content I’d just spent 45 minutes on while she was watching Beverly Hills Chihuahua II.
• Not enough physical activity. There are weeks when we can go four days without ever opening the front door. She uses the furniture as her gym: she climbs onto the arm of the couch and either uses the back as a balance beam or uses the arm as a diving platform. The bed is her trampoline.
• She still wears Pull-Ups some days and at night. She stays dry overnight mostly, but if I forget to make sure I take her to the bathroom, she tends to have accidents because she hasn’t learned to listen to her body yet.

I carry a huge weight of unmet expectations and mommy guilt. Then we have a day like yesterday.

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Luna “reading” and singing the stories in her book.

She used to have me repeatedly read this book every night, until it got misplaced and we moved onto other things.

She was so excited when she found it yesterday morning, “Read my cat book to me mommy!”

I read the first story and two pages in she told the character where it could go to be accepted, after being rejected by the zoo.

Then, she was reading the pictures and telling the story with a combination of remembering how I read it to her as well as her interpreting and inferring from the pictures.

She’s full of creative, imaginative energy and has built her version of Horseland using a combination of multi-colored blocks of diverse shapes, empty shoe boxes, rectangular word/letter puzzles, and her shoes. It is inhabited by Disney Princess figures, brightly colored plastic ponies and molded equine figures of varying design – fantastical and mundane.

Her Head Start Home Visitor measured and weighed her on Monday, with no concerns. Her pediatrician was happy with her growth and health at her 4 year check-up in December. She’s got another appointment with a pediatric dentist on Monday. She was too wiggly and anxious at the county clinics in January and February, so she’s been referred to a private dentist. I met with her Respite Care teacher last week and the county’s Educational Support Specialist today – neither expressed concerns.

Luna is a happy, healthy, active, engaged, inquisitive, innovative, creative, independent, affectionate, alert, and intelligent four year old girl.

I experience disruptions with my physical, cognitive, and emotional functioning. Apparently, all that means is that my parenting abilities are affected, not impaired. I have adapted. I am overcoming. I am a good mom.

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Mother Lands by Seventh Voice

Mother Lands.

Got mommy guilt? Click on the link above and rest your burden for a few minutes.

Got a word of criticism or two for a mom you know? Go read this and stfu.

Got a friend or loved one who is trying to be the best mom she knows how? Share this with her, give her a hug, and then ask what you can do to support and encourage her.

Go. Read. Now.