Monday, June 28, 2010

Mama Bear Goes Crazy

I tend to be a very logical person.  I'm not super emotional most of the time.  I don't get flat out angry very often.  I get irritated.  I get frustrated.  I snap at my family.  But it takes a lot to provoke me into a full blown chew out of someone outside of my own home.

(I am a very direct person, so I think people feel like they are being chewed out by me more than I do.)

But every now and then something happens that I just can't let go.  I process it.  I stew over it.  I can't stop thinking about it.  If I can't let it go, I believe it's only fair to the person to let them know that it bothered me.  That way, if there's been some kind of mistake or miscommunication they can clear it up.

When this happens I try to really think about it first.  I try to make sure that I can communicate my feelings accurately without attacking or accusing them.  I try to find a place of peace in myself.  I try to communicate with love and a desire that everyone involved grows from the experience.

And then there's Mama Bear.  Every once in a while something will happen that I sense is a threat to one of my children.  Maybe it's a physical threat.  Maybe it's a spiritual threat.  Maybe it's a psychological threat.  Whatever the case, if you cross this line -- WATCH OUT!

This is when I lose my mind.  This is when I say something that is pure vile.  Totally mean.  With every intent to make the receiver incredibly penitent.  And sometimes I even take that jab in that tender place that I know will hurt their feelings.

My weapon of choice is generally email.  Words are my strength so I hit hard.  And that way the tears of anger I'm crying don't weaken my position or make it so that I can't speak clearly.

In an intense heat of fury I rattle off a scathing email.  I can almost feel the fire under my fingers as I type.  I feel as though I am channeling a demon out to destroy.

And I have that moment.  The moment when the email is finished, fully composed, and I have that little voice that tells me to think a little more before I send it.  Wait just a while.  You might regret this.

But my darker angels win and I hit send.

It is usually within a day that I begin to regret it.  And I compose another email.  This one says, while I still mean what I said about the problem, I do not think you are the devil incarnate and I hope we can still be friends.

I am not proud of this behavior.  It is animalistic at it's purest.  And so far people have been understanding and we've been able to work things out.

But I have learned one very important rule:  You'd better respect Mama Bear.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What Makes a Writer?

My brother is a doctor.  He went to school for about 70 years so I could say that (okay probably not quite that long, but his wife claims it's close).

I am a mother.  I had sex and gave birth.

Some titles are easier to qualify for than others.

What about writer?  What is necessary to qualify for that title?  Who gets to decide when you can rightfully wear it?

I've asked myself that question a lot lately.  I write a lot.  Other people read my stuff.  Does that make me a writer?

I'm not published (no, I haven't tried).  My daughter is, so I guess she's a writer.

Is there a difference between being a writer and being an author?

I think it's tough.  Some people claim that title for themselves rather easily even though I wouldn't give it to them (yes, I'm talking about Stephanie Meyer again -- I know, I've got issues). 

And there are many published authors out there making a lot of money on serial novels that are very formulaic, no originality, no thinking (no, I don't feel this way about all of them; don't send me hate comments; I'm sure the ones you read are awesome).

The real question here is if I am a writer.  No, I'm not asking you.  I know that you can easily answer in the comments, but that won't do it for me.  Unfortunately, no amount of telling me something positive about myself will convince me.  Not from the outside.

I need to feel it from the inside.  That's the only way to convince myself, to wear the title.

I have received many wonderful compliments on my writing (thank you, all you wonderful people -- you rock!).  I have had people tell me that I've helped them through a difficult time.  I've had people tell me that I made them laugh or made them think.  These things are very cool.

But I think what finally convinced me is that I enjoy it so much.  It feels right.  It feels like I am exercising a muscle, stretching and growing, progressing.  It fits me.

It's part of me, part of who I am.  Writing. 

So I guess that makes me . . . *gulp* . . . a writer.  Identity crisis averted.  For now.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Things I am Totally Hypocritical About

May I just tell you how much I HATE hypocrisy?  I can't stand it when people preach one thing and do something completely opposite.  Who do they think they are?  Are they so righteous that the rules don't apply to them?  Man, the superiority complex.

Have you ever heard that those things which irritate us most in others are frequently the traits we hate about ourselves?

Allow me to present Exhibit A -- Me.  (There's really only one exhibit, but in all the law shows they always label them with letters and it just sounds stupid without it.)

*Don't eat at the computer.  Oh, how many times I have chanted this mantra.  The amount of punishment I have dished out.  The frustration I've expressed at the greasy mouse and crumby keyboard.  Don't these kids know how to take care of anything?

Exhibit A -- Me sitting at the computer after the kids have gone to bed, eating chips (greasy ones, crumby ones) and placing my full glass of milk on the desk right next to the mouse.

*Get plenty of sleep.  Why do kids ever give up naps?  Why do they get up early when they don't have to go to work or school?  Why do they think summertime means they are entitled to stay up as late as they want because they don't have to get up early to go to work or school?  Don't they realize that their minds and bodies need sleep in order to function properly and be healthy?

Exhibit A -- Me staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning because the house is finally quiet.  Reading a book.  Watching the latest episode of The Good Wife.  Blogging.  And suddenly realizing that it's 4:30am and I'd better go to sleep soon or my husband will catch me awake when he gets up to go to work in an hour -- BUSTED!  Wondering why I find everyone so irritating the next day.

*Don't spend so much time on the computer.  I have to monitor the time my kids spend on the computer like a hawk or they would be on it all day.  It's not healthy for my son to play World of Warcraft for five hours straight, only to take a break when I call him up for dinner.  It's not okay with me that my daughter has been on facebook for the past two hours taking quizzes and feeding her pets.  Their bodies need physical exercise, not just their fingers.

Exhibit A -- Me telling my kids that I ran errands and did laundry while they were at school.  Of course I wasn't on the computer all day.  While I secretly know that I read 68 blog posts, played 25 games of solitaire, and took care of my pet on facebook.

*Walk into the other room to talk to me; don't shout.  Don't call me on the cell phone from the living room.  I chastise every person I live with for this one at least a couple of times a week.  I mean seriously, you can't get up and walk the fifteen steps it would take to communicate with me without shouting?  Do I not deserve a little more consideration than that?  Are you really that lazy?

Exhibit A -- Me yelling at Kid 4 to leave Kid 5 alone from my bedroom while they are in the living room.  Me calling Kid 3 on her cell phone to wake her up in the morning because I don't want to get out of bed.

*Be kind.  Why is it so hard for siblings to be nice to each other?  Can you really not walk past her without touching her?  Can't you say something nice about that person instead of always tearing them down?

Exhibit A -- Me and a couple of friends griping about a neighbor who's driving us crazy.

Unfortunately, I rest my case.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Slight Change of Plans

I did not want this blog to become a heavy, dark, therapeutic place.  On my present course it has great potential to be that and only that.  So in an effort to remain true to my original vision of this blog, while still remaining true to my desire to write about the tough stuff and possibly help someone, I have decided to create a new blog.

This blog will go back to being eclectic.  A little of this, a little of that.  My other blog will be for the hard stuff.

I will continue to announce new blog posts for this blog on my facebook status.  I will not do so for my new blog.  You can access my new blog through my profile, through the link under Cool Blogs I Follow, or here.

That feels better to me.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

More on The Difficult Things

I've decided that I will use the word Difficult in the title to identify which posts are about traumatic events.  And I have learned that we all have a different view of what is traumatic.  Some of my things may not seem traumatic to you at all.  Some may seem pretty ugly.  It's hard for me to judge.

My daughter accused me of being a tease in my post yesterday.  Saying I have something important to say but not saying what it is.  I can understand that perception.  It was not meant that way.

It has been my experience that as people come to a point where they are really ready to talk about traumatic events, they ease into them.  Often they have tried telling one or two select people and been re-traumatized by the response.  Disbelief.  Shame.  Mockery.  Anger.  Denial.  Belittlement.  Shock.  Abandonment.  Judgment.  Any of these things can happen when someone tells their story.  A person telling a story like this is open and raw.  They are extremely vulnerable.  Any of these reactions will most likely shut them down so tightly they are unlikely to try again for years, if ever.  It is sometimes called re-victimization.  The person feels victimized all over again.

So, instead, they tiptoe into it.  They reveal a little.  Watch the reaction.  Reveal a little more.  If anywhere along the line the reaction is negative, they will most likely pull back.

I did not realize that this is what I was doing.  I guess there is still a part of me that fears judgment even though I wasn't aware of it.  But it's worth the risk.

Let me begin by saying that my life has not been limited to one traumatic event -- not by a long shot.  So, those of you who know me may think you know what I meant to write about.  Many of you know some of the events.  But few of you know all of them.  I do plan to write about more than one, over time.  I don't know if I'll be able to write about all of them.  It's tricky to know what to put out there, what is wise.  In a few cases there is potential danger involved. 

I will go slowly.  I will follow my heart and trust my instincts.

Let's start with this one.  I started talking about this one 5 years ago.  I would not talk about it here if it were still like this.  Let me make that disclaimer clear upfront:  This is no longer the situation.  This is important to note.

I was having great emotional difficulty at the time; a friend noticed and expressed concern.  This friend expressed a willingness to listen no matter what it was.  And this person happened to be a trained professional.  I do not believe it was luck or coincidence that brought this person into my life at that time.

But still, I could not make myself talk about it.  We emailed back and forth for a while, dancing around the subject, alluding to it, but not directly naming it.  A few days before I finally named it I sent this email.  It represents well the feelings people often have about experiences like this.

"Okay, I want to talk about it and I don't.  These are the conflicts I'm having:

I'm afraid you won't understand.
I'm afraid you will.
I'm afraid you'll think worse of me.
I'm afraid you'll think worse of him.
I'm afraid I'll find out I'm overreacting.
I'm afraid I'll find out I'm not.
I'm afraid you won't believe me.
I'm afraid you will.

If I wait, it will all get better and there will be no need for this.

Okay, I've decided.  I don't want to talk about it yet."

You see.  It really is terrifying to reveal these things.  Intimate things.  And at the time you're so confused about how much is your fault and if it's really a big deal because it's become such a part of your life.

I apologize for making this another tease.  But this is the way it unfolds.  More to come.

*****
Author's note -- This storyline will be continued on my other blog, The Difficult Things.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Difficult Things

I have pondered this for a long time.  I have debated writing here about the difficult things in my life.  You may think I have already done so.  You are wrong.  The things I have written about so far were much easier for me to write than what is yet to come.  If things I have written so far are too difficult for you, you might not want to read the other difficult things.  I will certainly understand and will not judge you.

I'm not quite there.  Just thinking about it today, remembering it, brought me to tears.  I need more time.  I need privacy to write.  But soon.

I will try to find a way to identify it in the title so that you can easily recognize it and skip it if you'd like.  I do not want anyone to carry these things that isn't ready.

I do have important things to say.  It's not so much that I want to say them as that I need to.  Writing is a way to cleanse the toxins out of our systems, the emotional toxins that infect us due to traumatic experiences.

I have written about them, but just for myself and a few select friends.  I think my soul would heal without writing about them again.

The reason I feel compelled to write about them is for others.  There are many women (too many) with similar stories who have not found their voices, who have lost themselves.  I want them to know that they are not alone.  I want them to know that they are not crazy.  I want to support them, if only by believing them.  By validating them.

I am strong.  I am supported.  I know my voice.

So I will use my voice to tell my story, and theirs to some extent.  It's amazing how similar these stories are.  I have heard so many of them from incredible women -- women who don't know they are incredible.

But they are.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

This is Just a Crisis

So, I got some great words of wisdom from a dog recently.  Okay, it wasn't really from a dog.  It was in a book written from a dog's perspective.  But this was a very wise dog.

In a difficult moment for his owner he said, "This is just a crisis, a flash in time."

I loved it.

When we hear crisis it is never connected with the word just.  Saying that it's just this seems to downplay it.  And that was the point.

It's easy to let a crisis take over our lives.  It's easy to get lost in the crisis, to hold onto it, to carry it with us.  But it's just a flash in time.  It's temporary.  Usually really, really temporary.

So if it's such a small part of life, why does it have such power?  I think it's because it's almost always painful.  We are always more aware of pain than lack of pain. 

Unless you've been in pain for a very long time I doubt you get out of bed in the morning and say, "Wow!  I'm not in pain today."  But I'll bet all of us have gotten out of bed and said, "I don't feel good" or "Ouch, that hurts."

I certainly do not mean to minimize crises.  They suck.  They hurt.  They can be devastating.

But we don't need to give them anymore power than they take.  And I think sometimes we do.  I know I do.

There have been times in my life when I was in deep personal crisis, I mean deep enough that my therapist wanted to see me twice a week and called me at home to check up on me.  And then something happened, something out of the blue, that distracted me for a while.  For a brief while I was not thinking about myself and my situation.  And the dark sky got a little lighter.

The problems didn't go away, but I seemed to have a slightly different perspective -- a little more power to go on.  It's not a cure, just another tool to fight with.

So, in my next personal crisis, I will try to remember that it is just a flash in time.  The sky will clear again someday.  Birds will sing.  And I will laugh.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hope

Hope can be a tricky thing.  It's important to not be cynical, to believe that things can get better.  And without it I would be hopeless.  But sometimes I've had to put hope on hold because the letdown was just too much.

I have hoped for many things in life.  Some of them have turned out well.  I hope I can carry this baby close enough to term that all is well; I did.  I hope it turns out that this headache isn't being caused by a brain tumor and I'm not going to die and leave my children without me; it wasn't and I didn't.  I hope my kids turn out okay despite all I/we do to screw them up; so far, so good.

But there are also things I've hoped for that didn't turn out so well.  I hope my husband figures out what he needs to and doesn't leave the church; he left.  I hope my parents get divorced (as a child); they didn't.  I hope someone asks the right question so I can finally tell someone about what's going on in my life that's so horrible and that I'm so scared to talk about; no such luck.

I think I've worked through those disappointments.  Sometimes they still bite me in the backside, but mostly I'm okay.

And then there's my health.  I have hoped for answers for so long.  I tried so many things, and hoped that they would work, only to be devestated when they didn't.  In fact, it was harder to try something and not have it work than to just not try.  So I would go for a long time without trying anything because I couldn't take the disappointment.  I would just try to find a way to manage my life in the state I was in.  I had accepted the fact that I would probably not ever really feel any better.  I was moving on in that mindset.

But then something happened.  In a routine yearly physical my bloodwork came back with a problem.  A giant spike in my cholesteral.  Now just let me tell you, I wasn't nearly as worried about this as the doctors seemed to be.  I had a sneaking suspicion that it had something to do with the fact that I'd eaten almost nothing except an entire bag of potato chips the day before the test (apparently a 12-hour fast isn't enough to make up for a bag of potato chips).  But they were concerned.  So a few months later (last week, to be precise) we did a follow up test.

Knowing I was going to have this follow up, I was more careful about my diet.  Low and behold, the cholesteral was back down to a safe level. 

But something else showed up.  My blood test showed that my thyroid was not functioning properly.  Now, this is something that we'd suspected many times over the years, because of the severe fatigue.  I'd had many blood tests and none of them had even been questionable in this regard.  And then, BAM!, this one shows a problem.

I had a moment of hesitation.  A moment in which I didn't dare hope.  What if I believed this new medication would help and it didn't?  How could I go through that again?

But hope is an amazing thing.  The hesitancy was only for a minute.  Then I rejoiced.  I was thrilled.  I am filled to the brim with hope.  My life could be normal again -- okay, my health could be normal.

Hoping is a risk; but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Little Miss Persnickety

You know her.  She's your niece or your neighbor that you agreed to watch for the day (or maybe several days).  It's time for a meal.  You prepare the food.  Everyone sits down.  They all start eating.  Everyone but her.

If she's been drilled to be polite, she just looks at the food and pushes it around on her plate hoping to find enough that she likes to no longer be starving.  If she hasn't learned manners well yet you'll likely get a big EW!

Boy, if that's not flattering of your cooking.

She's such a brat.  She's so picky.  Nothing will make her happy.  Her parents have spoiled her, overindulged her.  Fine.  She can go hungry then.  She'll eat it when she gets hungry enough.

Maybe.  And maybe not.

I would like to introduce myself.  I am Little Miss Persnickety.  I eat like a five-year old.  I refer to the food you eat and I don't as grown up food.  I know people find me irritating.  I know they judge me.  I've had to learn to live with that.  But there is more to it than you might know.  Have you ever really considered it from the child's point of view?

I have been picky about food my whole life.  There are so many things I don't like.  It might be the taste.  It might be the texture.  Who knows?  In fact, sometimes I don't like food at all.  Any of it.  Sometimes just the thought of food makes me gag.  But it's necessary.  I get weak when I don't eat.  My headache escalates.  I have learned to see food as medicine to keep me healthy.

I spent my childhood being chastised for it.  I didn't understand why people got so upset.  I was the one going hungry.  It's not that I don't like YOUR potato salad -- I don't like potato salad.  I guess people take their cooking pretty seriously and get highly offended if you don't like it.  I have offended many people.

But I am so jealous of people who like food.  When I go to a restaurant with others I watch them scour the menu.  So many options.  So many things look so delicious to them.  They are so excited.  They are eagerly anticipating.  And when the food comes they revel in it.  Other people get so much enjoyment from food.

I scour the menu for a different reason.  Is there anything here I can eat?  Will the meat be done?  How irritated will my dining mates and waitress get if I send it back?  What if I send it back more than once?

Seriously, I avoid eating out with certain people just because I can't take the judgment.

It's my money.  I am paying for the food.  Shouldn't I get to have something I like?

I don't ask people to prepare special food just for me.  If I don't like what you're serving then I just won't eat.  Why are your knickers in such a twist?  It's just food.

I don't know why I'm so picky.  Maybe it was the only thing I had even a little control over as a child.  Maybe it's because my sense of taste and smell seems to be stronger than most.  Maybe I'm just an irritating little brat who wants my own way.

Whatever the reason, I accept it about myself.  I'm okay with it.  If you are that sensitive about whether I'll eat your food or not then don't invite me for dinner. 

I'm sure there are foods you don't like, too.  I'm sure there are things that would make you gag to even think about eating.  My list is just longer and contains more foods that most people eat.  But I don't.  I don't like eggs, cheese, bananas, mayonnaise, barbeque sauce, meatloaf, sloppy joes, onions, onion rings, hot dogs, fry sauce, and many more every day things.  I want my meat well done, no pink at all.  And I don't like processed meat.  I don't like hamburger, although I will sometimes eat it under the right circumstances.  I want my meat to look like the striated muscle tissue that it is.  I want it in the form that it came off the animal, only a lot more cooked. 

There are so many other things, an endless list.  I have learned to eat bananas even though I don't like them.  And I now eat spinach in my salad.  But that's it for my growth for now.

But maybe you could do me a favor.  Next time you have someone who doesn't like what you're serving, instead of feeling hurt or thinking them a brat, maybe you can remember that thing you don't like to eat -- and cut Little Miss Persnickety a little slack.

**********
To read more about my food issues, go here.
To read about my psychiatrist visit connected to my food issues, go here.

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