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Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Running Away – Want to go?

I am a runner – although I rarely call myself one – I make excuses why I’m not really a runner.  I’m wimpy, I don’t LOVE it (except when I do), I have only ever run 6 miles, sometimes I walk.  But one thing I am usually pretty good at is running away from my feelings.  But they catch up to me and I am one big ball of snot and tears, and I can’t figure out why I’m crying.

Today is that day. It’s Tuesday at noon and I am in bed.  My head is killing me and I spent 2 unproductive hours running around work trying not to cry.  I eventually came home. I work in a school, and I really don’t like the students or other visitors to see me crying so I usually stay in my office.  My colleagues there – I’m not so worried about, because I’m certain they have felt like crying before.  Adults get it – – – except some of them don’t!

Once  a few years ago I was crying in my office (away from students) about 3 days after my brother (who was only in his 50’s) died suddenly.  A colleague/friend was with me, and an adult walked in the room and said, “What’s the matter!?!?”  I said, “My brother died.”  She said, “Oh my God, your other brother?” As if, after 3 days, I shouldn’t be crying over this loss.

This sadness today has been brewing. But I have been too stubborn to simply sit and let it steep.  Nooooo, I had to keep running.  Sunday I was headed to a spiritual gathering.  I was so heavy with sadness, and I started thinking how peaceful and joyous I felt just a week ago. So I start with the bad talk, “What is your problem? Look around at the beautiful tress, and feel the breeze.  There is nothing wrong – stop feeling like this!”  It’s been brewing.

I started leaking yesterday, but today was full force!  The worse thing is – I tried to work. Things got complicated. I began crying, and the person I was with said, “Are you still in therapy?”  I really just wanted to scream!  There is so much to be sad about that I think people who don’t cry are the ones who are unstable! Granted – if we all went around crying all the time – that wouldn’t be good, but most folks know I’ve had multiple losses in the past year or two, so crying is the norm – – -sometimes.

I did receive a blessing. My boss needed something from me as I was leaking. She came in my office and asked if I was okay.  I shook my head.  She asked, “Is there anything I can do?” Again, I shook my head, but this time I said, “I just wish I could keep it together!”  She gave me a hug and said, “You keep it together 99% of the time. Why don’t you just go home and fall apart.  I’ll see you tomorrow” I didn’t even have to make up some problem or explain – she didn’t judge me on my falling apart – she actually judged me on the whole shebang! The whole kit and caboodle (is any of that spelled right?). Falling apart is simply a moment – it does not define me.

I’m not good at this coming home to fall apart.  I am actually all cried out, and my head hurts so I will try to sleep.  But writing helps.  It gets it out, and I am hoping that someone reading this someday will simply let themselves fall apart.  Fall apart – for God sakes.  Just do it.  If you are too afraid to fall apart – borrow my faith! You must have the faith to know you will be back together again soon – laughing, enjoying the sunshine, and feeling the breeze.  So go fall apart, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

And – if you aren’t the one who needs to fall apart, but you are in the presence of someone who does – PLEASE, PLEASE just let them! It is a gift that cannot be repaid. It is God working through you.

Peace.

Mother’s Day

Simply reading the title of this blog may elicit a plethora of emotions and expectations. Reading it knowing that this will be the first Mother’s Day I celebrate without my mom, may make some cringe and think, “Oh boy, another post about death and darkness.”  I’m not feeling one way or the other about Mother’s Day this year, and maybe it’s because I’ve never been one to fully engage in what I once heard described as “Hallmark Holidays.”

A few years ago, I read an excellent blog post by Anne Lamott about Mother’s Day (Salon, 2010) and I revisited it again yesterday on the advice of a friend.  Anne Lamott did not raise her son to celebrate Mother’s Day.  I wish I had that insight when my kids were young, but I was too hung up on cultural norms and guilt and control. I expected my husband to perform, when the kids were too small, and make sure the kids got me a present, blah, blah blah.

I am a mother of two incredible children, but what does that mean – being a mother? Does that mean I should never leave them alone with any one that isn’t related until they are old enough to tell me if anything bad happened? Does that mean I should sacrifice things I may enjoy to be a stay at home mom? Does it mean I should put all my needs on hold while parenting my children? Does it mean I should attend every game, recital, parent visiting day at school, etc.? Well yes and no.  It depends.

What if staying home with my kids makes me angry and resentful? What if finding a balance between work and home brings me peace? What if I find safe, nurturing people who enjoy being with kids 8 hours a day while I do things that make me feel confident and darn good about myself? Does this make me unworthy of Mother’s Day cards? Am I the reason the current generation is so self-centered and out of control? (As most generations feel about the younger one).  Or am I simply  a human being who doesn’t meet the expectations of those sickening verses on Mother’s Day cards?

My sister and I used to hate picking out Mother’s Day cards – okay maybe we didn’t hate it because we used our humor to help us through. We made fun of them and made up what a true verse would sound like coming from our family.  It was difficult to find a card that was true; our childhood was not rainbows and cupcakes, but we loved and admired our mom for many things.  However we didn’t love and admire her for any of the things that are written about in those verses.  I don’t remember my mom being around much when I was younger. My mom struggled with many issues – and I bet a big one was trying to live up to the societal norms of motherhood – and boy oh boy – I think that one can really mess with you.

My mom and I lived together as adults; she lived with me and my family.  Ninety percent of those 13 years were just fine.  The last few were very, very, very difficult.  I went to therapy during those years, and I remember one of my first sessions complaining about the stress in the home and saying, “I would never ask my mom to leave!” My therapist responded with something like, “That sounds like a really dangerous and unhealthy statement.”  I had this Mother’s Day verse mentality.  She did not tell me to kick my mom out, but she pointed out to me that in some homes, it just doesn’t work. If my mom got too sick or mentally ill, or if the tension just got to be too much, I would of course need to look at other options.  Once I created some space away from the Mother’s Day verse, I was able to exhale and see how difficult and tense this Mother/Daughter Dance had become.  I was then able to be kind (most of the time), lower my expectations, ask others for help, and most importantly: not feel guilty about it being so damn difficult sometimes.

It feels good to throw off the old ideas I carried for so long. Not just about Mother’s Day, but Valentine’s Day, our Wedding Anniversary, even big ones like Christmas or birthdays.  I am turning 50 in a few months, and I am throwing my own party!  It won’t make me feel any more or less loved or valued if you do it for me!  Just like tomorrow – Mother’s Day – doesn’t mean I need to sit in a chair with my feet up – that would just feel stupid to me.  Being a Mother means I birthed a child – if you didn’t – it shouldn’t make you any more or less valuable than me.  In fact – having a special day just comes with baggage about how I’m supposed to act, and it gets in the way of the true me, and for me, it gets in the way of true joy.

One disclaimer: if you are a mom and feel good about being with your kids 24/7 – that is awesome for you, but not for everyone.  Maybe this is just my issue, but I feel a lot of times we moms are posturing to be close to others that are just like us so that we can judge the ones that are different.  Not all families need the same things emotionally. Not all kids need to be parented the same way. Not all couples need the same things for their relationships to be successful.  It’s okay.  It’s okay. (I say this twice as a mantra for myself). There isn’t a template for human relationships – it always all depends.

One of the best things about being a mom – is finally letting my mom off the hook.  Finally realizing that those silly storybook or Hollywood or Leave It to Beaver moms where not REAL.  I am not a perfect mom – nor do I want my kids to see me as perfect for that may set up some sickness in them to go out and be perfect.  We are all raised by human beings and I have yet to meet one that is perfect. Real moms come with baggage . . . and personalty.  The  personality is what brings me joy.  I laughed so hard with my mom at times that I cried.  She was a goof, and I loved her. I can’t fit her into a verse on a Mother’s Day card.  I certainly will take some time tomorrow to remember her, and miss her, but guess what, I kind of do that everyday.

Peace.

On the Fence?

We are all living on the fence.  Think about it – we all want it to be this or that, but it is often (I’d say always) this and that. I was in my therapist’s office the other day asking what she thinks of procrastination   “Do you think it is laziness or fear?” She has this way of never giving me an answer because she too believes it is always both this and that. She says, “Why can’t it be many things that cause one to procrastinate?” Well – because you are the doctor and I want answers!

I then go on to talk about the anxiety.  How for many years I never felt my skin crawl with pins and needles, or the lump in my throat that blocks the air to my brain, or the racing thoughts at 4 a.m. I ask her, “is it all the grief, is it the fear of raising teen girls after experiencing a horrendous teen girl adolescence myself, or is it menopause that heightens anxiety.”  Again she responds, “It seems like you have many things to explain the anxiety.”

We seem to come to the same conclusion in each session – life is living on the fence.  It is being the mom of a newborn and being brought to tears by so much love and gratitude, while at the same time needing sleep or a shower so badly that you feel intense anger and resentment against that same precious newborn.

And what a set up that is!  How many women instead of allowing themselves to feel this anger and resentment (because what would people think!?), instead screams at her partner or blames hormones, or in-laws for the anger?  What would happen if we just started saying, “Yes, I love my kids, but some days I really want to run away from home.”

Why do I get such weird looks when I talk about how difficult it is living with teens, and that I am looking forward to them finding their way in the world.  This doesn’t mean my kids are bad, or mean, or even obnoxious for that matter.  It doesn’t even mean I won’t feel blue when they actually do leave home. Mostly it means I have learned that at this point, I can’t do much to control, soothe or help them, and that is an incredibly uncomfortable fence on which to sit.  I need to hang here until they pass through this phase.  I heard a great analogy for parenting teens: “You want to stand far enough away so that when they crash you don’t get hit by the shrapnel, and just close enough so that when they crash (not if), you can go in to help them.”

Isn’t that why new love is so grand, because we lean into the euphoria that clouds any humanness and we get hooked into only goodness? Then once our relationship transitions from the new, euphoric stage into the adolescent stage, we realize our beloved is actually human. . .well divorce seems the cultural answer.  When really our partners are both lovely and hideous. Most people who leave a relationship because they get uncomfortable about not being loved or appreciated enough – or sometimes being loved too much – being smothered. Our partner doesn’t act the way he or she should, we can’t get what we want when we want it so we leave for a new relationship.  Then, voila within a few months or a few years there we are struggling in a different relationship with the same stuff trying to find comfort in our own skin – on the fence – sitting with the good and the bad.

The beauty of being on the fence is that it is very uncomfortable.  However,  the more we can simply live with the uncomfortableness until it passes, because it ALWAYS passes, then we don’t have to react.  We wait on the fence until we reach a place that doesn’t feel so desperate, and then we make a decision.  Sometimes the decision is to remain on the fence.

Peace.

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