Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thank You, Laura

When I was pregnant with C I ran out of my Singulair one night. Total pregnancy brain moment, I never noticed I was close to being out, the prescription was supposed to be on auto-refill, I just spaced it. I realized I'd been taking the drug every day for years to control my very mild asthma and allergies and I also realized I couldn't remember the last time I'd had a problem with asthma. I decided I the prescription was totally needless. It was good I ran out because it made me come to my senses and gave me an opportunity to stop taking a drug every day.

Two nights later I woke up at about 2am gasping for breath. I frantically searched the house for my almost empty and definitely expired albuterol inhaler desperate for some relief. Remember, I was pregnant at the time and completely freaked that I was depriving the baby of oxygen. It didn't even occur to me what was going on until the next day. Seriously, pregnancy brain is a thing. So yeah, it was the Singulair, stupid. I immediately got it refilled. Within a couple of days I was fine.

That little story is the exact reason a lot of people go off their psych meds. I'm fine! I've been fine for years! I don't need this shit! It's how I felt in 2006. Talk therapy has always been effective for me. I'd become a functioning human being again. I wanted off the drugs. At that point I was only on Zoloft, taking 200 mg a day down from my all time high of 250 mg. The thing with SSRIs is you can't just stop one day. The withdrawal is brutal. Getting off the drugs took months.

Getting on the drugs takes months, too. You start with a tiny bit. See how you tolerate it. Increase it. Wait. Increase again. Increase again. And sometimes the drugs are misses-you get way more anxious. You need to stop taking it. You try another one that also may actually make your mental illness worse before it gets better. It's all a guessing game. Unfortunately the game didn't go in my favor the first few times I tried meds. In college I gave up altogether. A few years later I stuck with it until finally we figured out I could tolerate 200 mg Zoloft and I was on it for a long time. I also got fat and completely and totally lost my sex drive. The side effects of a larger dose are real and they can have a pretty big impact on one's daily life.

I know the Zoloft helped (after the Wellbutrin, Paxil, Luvox, Abilify, and others I can't even remember all failed spectacularly) despite the side effects. Getting there was tremendously painful. I have a very bad history with psychotropic drugs.

Last night, about an hour after I took my first dose of buspirone I started to feel a bit dizzy and lightheaded. I know that can be one of the side effects. I know that the dose I took is so small it is possible that I won't be able to feel side effects for days. The dosage for this drug is split up to either twice or three times a day. About an hour after taking it this morning I started to feel a bit dizzy and lightheaded again.

Is it the drug? Is it me? Am I unable to tolerate it? Is this a mistake? Will it be ok if I just give it a chance? Three times a day. Timed so it isn't near when I breastfeed. But what if C wants to nurse early? My mind will race with these questions three times a day plus all the other times I happen to remember I'm embarking on a big experiment that can go spectacularly wrong. Only this time I'm in charge of the safety of two other humans while I roll the dice.

I'm not supposed to think about the drug at first. My therapist told me I probably won't feel anything for weeks. "Just put it out of your mind" she said. Um, I have an anticipatory anxiety disorder. Worrying things until they are bloody and raw is my specialty. It's why we are in the drug place to begin with. How can I possibly not think about it a million times a day? How do I know if I'm feeling the drug or feeling the anxiety? How do I know if it's working? How do I shut the anxiety up so the pill has a chance?

Last night a former colleague and friend commented on yesterday's post over on facebook. "Anxiety=dementor...pill=patronus...use your patronus to save the lovely Karen from the dementor. xoxo"

It is one of my favorite comments ever. Thank you L, for speaking my language. You got through to me. And I'm going to give it a shot. Maybe I can get the dementor to shut up a bit, maybe I can give my patronus a chance to work. I always imagined my patronus would be a super nervous squirrel or mouse. But I guess a lozenge shaped pill can work just as well.


Expecto Patronum Motherfucker! 

T's hair is crazy long when it's wet. 

I'm not sure what this game is. I'm not sure I'm ok with it. But they are actually playing with each other these days which is pretty damn cool.



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Prescription In Hand...

Sometimes people aren't ready to face needing psychotropic meds because they feel like their mental illness is an integral part of who they are. They fear that they wouldn't be themselves if they got better. Sometimes people aren't ready to face needing the drugs because they can't admit there is something that needs fixing. I've never been the first kind of person. Once acknowledged my illness felt like a cancer. It grows on who I am, suffocating the good parts of myself. I've been the second kind of person. When things were rock bottom, in the middle of my breakdown, I couldn't admit I had a problem. It's one of the most awful things about mental illness. Those who really need help often can't admit it.

I know I need to be on a daily medication. Honestly, there has been a significant easing of the anxiety in the last few weeks. I haven't felt as desperate or frightened. But it is still a problem. It's been a problem for quite a while now. I know I need to be on a daily medication.

While I was waiting for my therapist to photocopy the prescription for buspirone today I said this day was a long time coming. She agreed. "You finally wore me down." I joked. She laughed, although it clearly made her uncomfortable. Making people uncomfortable is my specialty.

She has been bringing up daily drugs for several years now. Breastfeeding, the pregnancy I lost, and C's pregnancy have all been convenient excuses to avoid the drugs. But now C is 17 months old. I'm nursing less frequently. My excuses have dried up. My anxiety isn't getting more manageable. I know I need to be on a daily medication.

But I don't want to.

When I take my first dose tonight I will feel like a complete and total failure. I wanted to beat the anxiety. I wanted to fight that stupid bitch on my own, pound her nasty face into the pavement, I wanted to fucking kill her. By myself. With no outside help. I wanted to win. I wanted to kill her and move on with my life and never worry about anxiety again. I wanted to be strong and powerful and successful for once.

Mental illness stole my 20s. I feel like a loser who hasn't ever had a real career. Who is 36 and doesn't have a direction in life. Who was given and given and given every advantage in this world and squandered it all. The only thing I haven't fucked up yet is my relationship with Z. I look at him and my peers and I'm jealous. They have laundry lists of accomplishments  they have established careers. What have I done with my life?

When I look back on what a waste my adulthood has been I am so ashamed. What can I do to salvage it? I could beat the mental illness on my own. That is why I don't want to start taking the drugs that my therapist thinks I'll be on for the rest of my life. Because the anxiety wins yet another round. I'll be a slave to a pill in order to control her. And I fucking hate it.

I know I need to be on a daily medication. I will do the right thing. I will avail myself of help in order to get better for my boys. But it is a fucking bitter pill to swallow.

My handsome little man.
You ready for some awesome news? It's not going to sound awesome at first. Little man woke up with a fever of 102. But the doc was able to see him first thing and he doesn't have an ear infection, which is terrific. Even more terrific is the fact that he weighs 20lbs 12 oz. In less than a month he has put on 1lb 12 oz. He's back to being in the 5% for weight.  I told his doc we were putting in a feeding tube at bedtime which made her laugh. If you told me two months ago that I'd be cheering if he was in the 5% I'd have rolled my eyes. But there you have it. I'm thrilled that he's in a place where only 95% of his peers are bigger than him. His doc could tell how happy I was. "You should go home and have cake!" she said to me, "Seriously, give him some cake."

And yes, I'm having a pretty elaborate pity party for myself right now. But we manage to have fun around here despite all that. The picture above captures T's very favorite moment of the entire day. I don't know what possessed Z to start wrapping T in a blanket and wilding spinning him around. And I must admit, I'm really not crazy about it. But T adores it. Begs for it. Kids are weird. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Trash Night

After dinner we let the boys sit in front of the TV while we gathered the trash and recycling. We were continuing a conversation from earlier. Me, "You know what? I wouldn't mind going to rehab." Z, "Huh. No kids for 2 weeks or so." Me, "All the sleep you want. And lots of therapy." Z, "And art projects! And probably TV and internet!" Me, "Actually, rehab sounds awesome!"

I know, I know, rehab is serious business. Addiction is nothing to laugh at-hell I swore I wasn't addicted to smoking for years until I tried to quite. I was quitting for about four more years. Addiction sucks ass. But as I've mentioned we are exhausted. To the point where rehab sounds pretty swell. I mean, I hear they make all your meals in there as well.

While we were working away I realized I couldn't find my phone. Thought I left it out in the car. Z offered to call it from his before I put on my boots and stomped out to the driveway. I heard it ringing somewhere in the kitchen. I stepped towards the sound and Z grabbed me in a bear hug from behind and wouldn't let me go. I laughed and thrashed around and yelled and he only released me when it stopped ringing.

I looked for it, couldn't find it, and asked him to call it again. He did and then lunged for me and dragged me out of the kitchen and fell onto the sofa with me on top of him. I was laughing so hard I was crying as I yelled at him to cut it out.

He agreed to stop. Called again, and goddammit he did it again. Grabbed me and wouldn't let go until the ringing stopped. I was weak from the giggles. Had the sense not to ask him again and finally found it on my own. The asshole had spotted it and knew where it was the whole time.

Would you believe it was the most fun I had all day? I couldn't believe he could manhandle me like that. I outweigh him by at least 10lbs. Nothing makes you feel like a beautiful and delicate flower like outweighing your spouse. For every single fucking day of the almost 15 years you've been together. Including day one when you were barely 120lbs. Yup, he was about 115 back then. It's my own fault for loving the skinny boys...

My baby is now a boy. 

These boys got a nap yesterday. 


Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Weekend Can Suck It

You want to hear a secret? I sort of hate the weekend. That sounds really shitty and ungrateful, I know. Let me backup a bit.

The fall that C joined our family was astonishingly manageable. When dude was a few weeks old he started sleeping through the night. At first we thought something was wrong because babies are not supposed to sleep through the night. Based on our previous experience we thought babies actually weren't able to sleep at all. But C loved to sleep. He loved to sleep when we loved to sleep. On top of that he was incredibly chill during the day. T was two that fall and needed a lot of attention. C was happy to watch T from the comfort of his bouncy seat. He was relaxed about hopping in the car to take T to school. He loved cuddling with me in his Ergo. He was so easy we couldn't believe he was real. He was so easy we immediately thought we wanted to have a third. Z and I loved being a family of four, having another kid made us love the first one so much more, made us love each other more as well. If more kids meant more love we thought we'd be crazy not to have another.

A year ago things started to change a bit. C stopped sleeping through the night, he started needing more attention during the day. Well, that was perfectly fine. Things were still pretty manageable. And he'd been so easy during the fall he totally deserved to have a little bit of a rough time. I remember talking to one of my very smartest of smart friends, one of my favorite people of all time, during that period. Her youngest is in between my boys, her eldest is a year older than T. And she was struggling big time. She had nothing left, at that point she was home with the kids and they were unrelenting in their constant and simultaneous need. She said the first year with two was so much easier than the second year.

It scared me, but I was still firmly in the comfortable first year bubble. And she wasn't telling me to scare me. She needed to talk, I am her friend. But she has told me so many true things since she has become a mom that I listened. I absorbed the knowledge that year two was going to be harder. Well, it's nice that I knew so I wouldn't think I was going bat shit insane when it happened, but knowing something is gong to be tough doesn't necessarily prepare you for how tough things are going to be. I'm in it now. And it fucking sucks. It is unrelenting. They fucking need us all the time. They can't entertain themselves well on their own, and if they are entertaining themselves we need to worry about them maiming each other. My sister, who has two boys nearly the same age, explained it like this: the boys play beautifully side by side for an indeterminate amount of time, then out of the blue they attack each other like feral dogs. You never know when it's coming.

So they are exhausting during the day and now C wakes anywhere between 2 and 5 times a night. I know, I know this is as temporary as the lovely fall after C was born. I know we probably have another year, maybe two of the extremely physically grueling part of parenting. I know when they are able to occupy themselves safely and when we have more time to ourselves that the demands will be no less difficult, just different. Z and I also know that there is no way in fucking hell we are having another. We are tapped out.

But knowing that stuff doesn't matter much when I am at the end of my rope. I look forward to the weekend all week long. I look forward to spending time with Z and to getting a break. Um, there is little time with Z, certainly no time with just the two of us. We are juggling the boys, juggling housework and homework for me. We are exhausted and frustrated and short with each other. Don't get me wrong, he takes the boys to help me. Yesterday morning he let me sleep in. I woke up on my own at 8:15 and it was amazing. But the shitty part is a couple extra hours of sleep does not restore me. And I feel terrible about it. Z tries to do nice things to make my life better and it's not enough? I'm not grateful? What kind of asshole am I? The reality is my job is the boys and on the weekend my job doesn't go away. And if I did have a job outside the home? Z loves his job. Like actually wants to go to work. But he is spent by the time Friday rolls around. He needs a break as well. If he goes and gets a couple of drinks with some friends on a Saturday night after the boys go down he still needs to be up at 6am, hungover or not. Forget up at 6am, he needs to deal with T being up at 4am while I'm dealing with C.

So on FB I read about friends who doen't have kids, or who have older kids doing awesome stuff on the weekends. And I love facebook, really I do, but for once I am jealous as hell. I might be most jealous of the people who do absolutely nothing during a weekend day. Who just hang out and nap and only have to worry about themselves. So during the week I get overwhelmed and frustrated and I need a fucking break. To get through I tell myself, just make it till the weekend. Everything will be better during the weekend. I lie to myself every week. And even though I really know what is going to happen I am surprised and frustrated every damn weekend.

Are the people who don't have kids asking why the fuck would they ever do it? Remember the part about the kids increasing your capacity to love everyone in your life more? The love makes it all worth it. I know. Doesn't make any sense to me, either. But it is true.

 
My little man was trying to keep warm this chilly morning. Thankfully the heating register is bigger than he is. 

Rough morning all around. 

A little unfiltered honestly uncomfortable action. This is what Sunday morning looks like. Unbathed. Hair full of coconut oil from last night. Forehead wrinkles that are getting bigger every week. Tired as fuck. Also, my kid just threw cheese at me.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gun Play

This morning after my shower I found my three guys hanging out in Z and my bedroom while Z ironed his shirts (What? Did you think I iron them? I don't iron my own clothing. Why the fuck would I iron his?). A couple of years ago Z gave me a 12" vintage Boba Fett toy for my birthday. Mine isn't in perfect condition and it better not have cost anywhere near $400. And yes, the gift was like me getting him a massage gift certificate...for myself. We talked about it.

So, T had my Boba Fett in his hands and he was playing with the gun the action figure came with and asking me all sorts of questions about it. T "Mom, what is this part?" Me, "Um, I think it's the handle." T, "No. THIS is the handle. What is this part?" Me, "I don't know. I don't really want to know.  I don't like guns, T. I don't want to touch them or talk about them or be near them. Guns hurt people." T, "Well, I like guns." Me, "Ok, that makes me pretty sad. Guns hurt good people." T, "No they don't, Mom! Guns just kill bad guys." Me, "Oh T. That just isn't true. Guns kill good people all the time. They are very dangerous." T, "But Mom! Luke and Leia use guns! They are good!"

Oh boy. Luke and Leia do use guns. And they are good. Z and I are not hunters, and I don't believe we ever will be. We don't shoot recreationally. In all honesty, I've never touched a real firearm in my life. And I don't want to. Guns scare the hell out of me. And that is my prerogative  just like it is someone else's prerogative to be a gun enthusiast. Free country and all that jazz. But Z and I made a decision to introduce a movie with adult themes to our kid. Star Wars has been on in the background since he was an infant. It's too familiar to be scary, but now that he is older we need to deal with the repercussions of him being exposed to guns. A dear friend of mine called Star Wars our religion. She is an observant Jew and is raising her kids in the faith and compared their learning about the bloodier aspects of religious history to our kids watching A New Hope. It was incredibly generous of her. But the bottom line is Luke and Leia shoot guns. And policemen have guns. And soldiers have guns. And he is going to be hearing about guns for the rest of his life. He is too little to understand the nuance of gun use. He thinks they can only hurt bad people like storm troopers. It's important for him to know that people with guns can protect other people. But it's also important that he learns people use guns to hurt others.

I know his fascination is developmentally appropriate. We talked to his preschool teacher about it and she agreed it is normal. It's a hard topic, but we have the responsibility to address it as his parents. We do not want to be around guns, but after he grows up and is able to be responsible if he wants to hunt or join the rifle team in high school (is that still a thing?) we will let him make his own decisions. We need to explain to him that guns are dangerous and that he is not allowed to ever touch one while he is a child. We also need to explain to him that different people have different attitudes about guns. A lot of people incorporate guns into their life responsibly. A lot of people are irresponsible with guns and the consequences are horrifying.

I think I can handle the hard stuff when it comes to teaching our kids about guns, but here is where I'm worried. I keep reading crazy articles about kindergartners being suspended for pretending to shoot an imaginary gun. This behavior is developmentally normal in kids. Should it be corrected? Hell, yes. It's cool to let a kid know they are behaving in a way that is not going to be accepted. But draconian disciplinary measures that will be on their record for the rest of time? What the fuck? They are five or six. They can't understand what they are doing. Isn't it our job to explain it to them?

I don't have the answers. I'm still not sure what to say to T. Maybe I said the wrong thing this morning. Maybe we royally fucked up by showing him Star Wars. But I'll keep on trying to figure it out. I just hope our local school is also figuring it out and can handle little kids playing like little kids. I hope they have a system in place that helps them learn to be better people, not that harshly punishes them for behavior they can't understand.

My fun little man and his Daddy are making a fish tank filled with aquatic life this fine afternoon.  


Last night the "fish tank" was a robot head for my little guy. 

My big guy and I are just trying to figure out how to do right by our boys. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hey Smart Friends, Need a Little More Help Over Here

Friends. Smart, smart friends. I'm bugging you again because I need help. Clearly I can't to this parenting thing without a ton of backup. So can we talk about pacifiers?

T wasn't a pacifier guy. From day one he showed little interest. When C was an infant he didn't use them either. Then one day last spring he was fussy while our lovely babysitter was over. She found a pacifier somewhere in the living room-it came home from the hospital with us when T was born. I know, gross. I should have thrown it out, you know, several years ago. But the damn thing shut C up.

I know people have strong feelings about the use of pacifiers. I am not one of those people. T didn't like them, so I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about them. C was very late to using them, they provided a lot of comfort for him so I really didn't give a shit. An added bonus was when he went through that stick-every-fucking-thing-you-touch-in-your-mouth phase the pacifier blocked him. It was hilarious to watch and he didn't get dirt and grass and stuff he could choke on in his mouth.

A while ago our pediatrician told us she was totally cool with pacifiers, but she warned us that kids start to really get addicted to them at 18 months and the habit becomes difficult to break. He is 18 months at the end of February. We decided we'd "wean" him from the pacifier when we got back from our trip down south. But when we got home he was still a sick little boy. Also, you know, breaking him of the habit is really hard. I think the addiction boat sailed a little early with our guy.

He has the pacifier in and out of his mouth all day. But at night he needs it to sleep. And when it falls out he freaks and cries. And he really won't go back to sleep unless I nurse him. There have been nights where I've nursed him 5 times, although the average is 2. He is going on 17 months old. It's fucking ridiculous. And not to be completely selfish, ok who am I kidding, I'm always completely selfish. So yes, to be completely selfish, I fucking want to sleep through the night. I'm tired. C's tired. Z's tired. T is fine, totally well rested. Z and I resent the shit out of him.

So what do I do? How to we get him off the pacifier? Do we just pull the bandaid off? Do we take it away during the day and let him have it at night for a while? Do we put him down without it and give it to him when he wakes? Should we just give him to gypsies? What did you do with your pacifier addicted child? Did you send him/her to rehab? Was it expensive? Did the quite in your house while s/he was gone heal you and make you into a functioning human again? Can we send both of them to rehab? Please? HELP ME!


Yes, he also climbs inside the cabinets. I think that is a separate post.

Daddy and C doing a little early morning facebooking. Oh, guess what? He's walking almost all of the time now. Guess I just should have written about it months ago....

And and old one of this guy. He is going to be serious trouble when he gets older. I just hope he doesn't figure out how damn good looking he is. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Before 9 This Morning:

T's old training potty is still in his room because I'm lazy. He was upstairs playing while I was in the kitchen when he decided to pull it off the shelf and take a big shit in it. Drives me nuts when he does this every month or so. Because it is gross to clean up. And yet I keep forgetting to remove it. Of course the shit turned into diarrhea half way through. While I was dealing with that the little guy took advantage of the open bathroom door and the fact that my hands were full and pushed the lid to the toilet up and stuck his arm inside. I found him that way when I hustled back to the bathroom with a bowl full of shit in my hand. We have a "if it's yellow let it mellow" policy in our upstairs bathroom and the toilet hadn't been flushed in quite a while. I used my defcon 6 yell in order to try and scare him away. He just looked at me and kept fishing. We got all the piss and shit and dirty kids cleaned up and went downstairs. A few minutes later the little guy took a crap. At first I thought it was the big guy. Me, "Are you farting some more? Is your stomach ok?" I mean the kid did just have diarrhea. T, "Um.....I don't think so." I figured out it was C, took him to the changing table and he managed to thrust his hand into the shit and wipe it on the sock he was holding.

People, poop cracks me up, but this is quite enough mess for one day. I am done, DONE. If these kids want to messily create and play in bodily fluids someone else can clean it up. Man, I wish a poop fairy lived in our house.


This is what happens when you deny C popcorn. Forget the multiple hospitalizations  my cruelty was clearly the worst thing that had ever happened in his life. Do you see the tears?

T and Daddy made an awesome monster mask.

Trying to figure out chopsticks the last time I made stir fry. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Walking...Again

You screw up all the time with this parenting gig. You screw up, dust yourself off, think about the kind of parent you want to be, vow to do better...and then you screw up again. More than two years ago I wrote this and a few months later I wrote this. You'd figure that when my second kid also ended up being a late walker I'd be more relaxed about it. And at first I was. T didn't walk until 15 1/2 months, so even though 13 months is average for walking I didn't stress as C passed that milestone. I didn't let it bother me (much) when kids of my friends who were younger than him started toddling all over the place. My boys are late walkers. Doesn't mean anything.

C was just under 16 months at Christmas. My memories of T during his second Christmas involve him tearing around on two legs and last summer and fall when I imagined C during the holiday season it was always as a walker. He passed 15 1/2 months. No real walking. He passed Christmas, New Years, two overnight hospital visits, the trip home, half of January.....not much walking. I mean, dude stands up and takes about 8 goose steps before dropping to his knees and crawling. His pediatrician reassures me that it counts. But compared to kids his age, hell compared to kids younger than him he is quite a bit behind.

While T was late at walking he was also early at talking. During a bath when he was 9 months old T started saying "duck" in reference to his rubber ducky with stunningly clear enunciation and he never looked back. As much as I worried about the physical stuff it was comforting to me that he was crushing another area of development. C is...a different kid. At this point he is only saying a handful of words.

And here I am, after struggling with my feelings about having a late walker the first time, after thinking I came to terms with them, here I am not only worrying about the development of my second, but fucking comparing him to my first.  He deserves better.

So yet again I screw up with this parenting job. And yet again I dust myself off. And yet again I vow to do better.

He's making major progress, he's moments away from being a full time walker. Perhaps it is time to cut him some slack and enjoy what a spectacular kid he is.

I will say one developmental area where he has his brother beat is climbing. Why does he have to excel at climbing?

He's also a Grade A cuddler. Which is one of my all time favorite things about him.

And a ham. We all think he's the coolest thing since sliced bread.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pooping Iguanas

Last night T announced, "Iguanas keep food in their tails!" Z said, "That's right." I quietly asked Z if that was true, because I'm no Iguana expert, but it sounded ridiculous. Z said, "Of course it's not true."  He told me T watched an episode of Go Diego Go in which there was a Strawberry Festival and the gang had to transport strawberry seeds so the Iguana ate them and pooped them out in the fields. Me, "Wow. I don't even know....just wow. That happened on a Diego episode?" Z, "Yup." And now T thinks Iguanas store food in their tales?" Z, "Yup." Me, "That is awesome. That is fucking amazing. That is the best thing I've heard today." And then, because Z loves me, he found a clip of it on youtube. The audio is awful, but behold:

You're welcome.

I wept as I watched it, which isn't unusual these days. But for once they were happy tears. I didn't understand why Z wasn't enjoying it as much as I was. Did he not hear the Iguana inform Diego that she was about to shit herself? Did he not watch her take said shit all over the strawberry field? He shrugged and said poop didn't rule his life the way it rules mine, so the fascination isn't there for him. I kind of feel bad for him. Because that, my friends, is comedy gold.

I swear that T looked like this 5 minutes ago. Hell, I swear that C was this size yesterday. 

And now he's a big kid. Wearing a pink hat that someone left at our house and learning that Iguanas store food in their tales. Yeah, we are never going to correct him on that one.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Saturday Night, Friend Night, Food Night

In the middle of all this overblown drama about mental illness sometimes nice shit happens. There is a couple here in town who have become family to us over the last couple of years. His birthday is a few days away from Z's in May and last year I gave him the promise of 4 meals of his choosing over the course of the year. This week he decided to cash one in-he ordered gnocchi and a key lime pie.

There is zero anxiety when these friends come over. I mean this as the highest compliment--we don't clean or even tidy for them. They know us in all our messy and honest glory and somehow they love us anyway.

Interacting with people in real life is fraught for me, but it is important to remember that the payoff is tremendous. The class I took last fall was an incredible experience. Our circle of friends is widening, we are friends with some really cool and kind couples who planned our welcome home along with J and C. Putting myself out there is worth it, it's worth fighting for. Part of the reason I blog and am an avid facebooker is because is feels much less risky than engaging in real life. I get to interact with others without fear. The awesome thing about J and C is there is no risk when I interact with them either. It is such a fucking relief to have friends who I can be easy around.

The only bad thing about last night was J is sick and needed to stay home. But one of the many awesome things about the friendship is we are all friends with each other, it's completely natural to have C over alone, just like J has been here without him many times.

Baking the key lime pie made me want margaritas. So Z whipped some up and if any of you have had a drink mixed by him you know he has a bit of a heavy hand. C and I were tipsy by the time we sat down to eat and I was flat out drunk when I overwhipped the whipping cream for the pie. Drunk isn't a common occurrence for me. But every once in a long while cutting loose is a great idea. And you know what? We had a hell of a lot of fun. We had some great conversations. We had a terrific night.

My mother-in-law gave us this beautiful pie plate that she made for Christmas this year. We christened it with the key lime pie. And it was delicious. 

This morning I was pretty hung over. Bacon and eggs helped. So did sharing a meal with these three adorable guys. 

Z was using the shop press and T was lending a hand. Clearly he was not amused by my interruption. 


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ugly Imagination, Ugly Reality

Yesterday was another rough one in anxiety land. I texted Z to let him know I forgot to buy a key ingredient for dinner, so how about take out instead? He reasonably suggested just buying the ingredient on his way home. I told him I was also anxious, which was code for I don't think dinner is going to happen. He told me he'd help. Sometimes when he presses me it backfires and I shut down, but it worked yesterday.

He came in the door with the dried mushrooms I needed and said, "I've invited some people over, that's ok, right?" He couldn't even get to the end of the sentence without giggling like a schoolgirl. I told him not to waste my time teasing me if he couldn't even do it with a straight face. He was appropriately disapointed with his performance. We got started making dinner and he began to tell me about his day.

He's super excited about this elective he's teaching this semester. The class is working with a local business to design products that might go into production through a small business that is being started through grants and with the help of a local nonprofit which will provide job training and employ jobless people from a very economically depressed neighborhood in Syracuse. I'm going to be very braggy right now, but Z was part of the team that came up with the small business idea. I'm really proud of him. All the players involved were at the first class yesterday and he was telling me about how it went.

Mid thought I interrupted him and asked him to check on C who was in the other room to make sure he wasn't choking. He was very cool about me raining on his parade and humored me. A couple of seconds later he was back to tell me everything was fine. I told him I was very worried about C, very worried about him choking. Z asked if I'd taken a pill. I had. Then I took a breath and told him that I found out some terrible news. A family friend has a friend with two kids our boy's ages. This week the youngest one choked. And he died. He died.

Z held me as we thought about and then tried not to think about the absolute worst thing that could ever happen in our lives. "Is this why you kept asking me to make sure C wasn't choking when we were driving home from down south?" he asked me. "No. This happened a couple of days ago." I said, "I've been scared of choking since the beginning. It gets worse when I'm not well and I've been thinking about it nonstop lately." He asked why I'd never said anything to him.

I don't know what the answer to that is. Mostly I think of myself as an open book, hell the shit I blog about here? I'm the queen of over sharing. But I also live in my head a lot and I forget to keep Z up to speed. On my birthday I wrote a little about the horrific shooting in Connecticut. After Z read it he said my behavior of the prior few days made sense. He said "You've been thinking about this a lot, huh?" I thought he knew. He asked how he was supposed to know if I didn't tell him. This probably doesn't make sense, but I don't know I'm not telling him stuff. I assume he knows everything that goes on in my brain. Which is supremely unhelpful, especially because my brain doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense much of the time. So the things I expect him to figure out are not at all intuitive.

The mother of the child who choked lives hundreds of miles away. We do not know each other, she will never come across this post. But she has been in my thoughts for days. I don't pray to a god, but I pray for her and her family. And I wish there was something I could do to alleviate her suffering somehow. The awful truth is there is nothing that will make her life make sense ever again. The world is simply that fragile for all of us, there is no pattern, we just try and blunder our way through with our fingers crossed that random horrors won't find us. I feel hopeless for her, for all of us. The risk we take by engaging in life is paralyzing some days. My anxiety tells me the smartest thing to do would be to wrap my boys in cotton and never let them out of my sight.

Pain in our lives is unavoidable. Anxiety disorders are a coping mechanism-some of us have messed up brain wiring and the resulting anxiety disorder is actually our subconscious trying to keep us safe. It tells us if we take zero risks we will avoid all pain. The sentiment is from a good place, but what a crock of shit. We can't avoid it, the pain is coming for us. But if we choose to live life we can have joy and beauty and love as well as hurt. That is what the anxiety accidentally takes away.

The mother of that child will always be in my thoughts now. For my boys, my husband, for her I hope to fight to choose joy and beauty and love as I navigate the hurt and hold my breath hoping I'll never experience what she has.

I almost didn't include a picture today. I'm writing about a terrible loss and here is my adorable kid? Actually, I was on the fence about posting this at all. I do not want to exploit this woman's pain in any way. And I hope it doesn't read as such. But ultimately I think this will cause the woman no additional pain, she will never know. And it is real, it happens, it bears thinking about. 

And the picture makes me happy, I hope it makes you happy, too. A little happy after this post is a good thing. 
I took his pacifier away at the store because he threw it at the sweet gal checking us out. He figured out a workaround on the drive home. 


Friday, January 18, 2013

A Little Advice For Fellow Crazies

Last weekend I finally got to see Silver Linings Playbook. I'd read the book which captured the feeling of being out of control crazy so well. Reading is my drug, my escape from reality. I've been obsessive about it since I learned how. And I can still become completely lost in a world on the page. In fact, when the real world became to hard to deal with as a kid, when the anxiety issues were developing I escaped to the worlds inside books because they made me feel safe. Um, perhaps not the healthiest reason to become a voracious reader, but still way better than a heroin addiction or alcoholism.

This is probably low-brow sacrilege, but for me it is less about the quality of writing and more about if the author has been able to perfectly capture a piece of what it means to be human. Did I enjoy Twilight? Hell yeah. Was I kind of horrified and embarrassed by the writing? Yup. But getting caught up in the love story, no matter how stupid it was, enabled me to get over the painful prose. I'm a big rereader and Twilight doesn't make the cut in that department. The Harry Potter series will be read by me for the rest of my life. I'll return to Ann Patchett's world, or Geraldine Brook's, or Michael Chabon's, or John Steinbeck's. The beauty of the writing doesn't matter to me, the beauty of the story does.

Um, sorry. Major tangent. Back to Silver Linings Playbook...the movie was great. It wasn't a particularly faithful adaptation, in fact the father character was completely different, but it still communicated that feeling of unbridled crazy in which you are making no sense, but feel like you are totally lucid. It scared me to remember living that, but made me feel better about where I am at the same time. Ok, things are bad right now. It is important to remember that they are nowhere near as bad as they were back when I had my breakdown. I mean, I know I'm being crazy. The problem with crazy people arises when they have no idea they are nuts.

Going to the movies was a good couple of hours, I laughed, I cried, I enjoyed the hell out of Robert De Niro. But here's the thing, folks. And I'm not giving anything away, but this is the story of two crazy people falling in love. I told one of my dearest friends about it, someone who also deals with the crazy and he immediately knew what I was talking about. "Oh no." he said. "There can't be two crazy people together. That's breaking the rules." And it's true. Every crazy person knows you can't be in a relationship with another crazy person. You just can't. Because....that is bat shit crazy. It's in the handbook we get when we are welcomed into the club. There needs to be one person in touch with reality at all times in a relationship. If you are the only crazy do you run the risk of always being the bad guy? Might the whole world pity your spouse for what s/he puts up with? Yes. So...speak up for yourself. Being crazy doesn't make your partner right all the time. Your illness isn't an excuse for that other person to not work at the relationship. No matter how bad things get your husband (or whatever) is not your parent. But two crazy people? That is just fucking insane.  Good movie, though.


Yes, please find someone who is completely and totally normal.
Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith 

T would spend all day every day getting tickled if he could. It is really rather strange.

All of a sudden he isn't a baby anymore. Not sure I'm comfortable with that.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ugly On the Inside

Yesterday as Z and I were having our ritual goodbye-for-the-day hug I told him that I worried he would decide he was done dealing with my crazy. He pulled his jacket around me and held me tight, "Um, if I was going to be done dealing with your crazy I would have made that decision a really long time ago." Thank god he can make me laugh when I'm a mess, it doesn't cure me but it makes life a little easier to bear. And thank god he is used to dealing with me. We have a version of this conversation almost every day when I'm not doing well.

Everyone who suffers from an anxiety disorder experiences it in a different way. Yes, your anxiety is its own unique little flower. Mine comes with a large side of self-loathing. When things are bad I think that every person who is interacting with me does so out of pity and just wants to be able to get away from me. I feel like I have zero redeeming qualities, nothing to offer anyone in return for their friendship.

When close friends who know how bad things are ask how I am I pause for a second-do I tell them the truth? When are they going to get sick of me being unwell? When are they going to stop wanting to be around someone who is a tremendous bummer? I feel like I offer nothing in return for their friendship. I take and take and take.

It's like I forget how to be around people who care about me. I'm scared I will fuck up every relationship in my life because the real fear is that I'll end up alone. The fear is that everyone I love will figure out I'm a worthless piece of crap, that they'll realize their lives would be better without me in it. And I wouldn't blame them one bit.

You'd never know this stuff was going through my head if we met on the street. Acting normal is of the utmost importance to me, I do it like it's my job. T and a little gal from his preschool have fallen deeply in love. Her mom and I arranged a play date for the kiddos, T's first with a kid from school. She, her mom, and her little sister came over for a few hours this morning. Was I a mess for the 24 hours before the get together? Yup. But I don't know this woman well. It was imperative she think I'm normal and not in the middle of a metal health situation. I believe I passed. It felt like a rush, like I have some shred of control over my life. And on top of it I had a really nice time, the girls are sweet as hell and their Mom is lovely as well.

So what is the point here? I don't tell you guys this so you'll blow smoke up my ass about my friends wanting to be my friends. Do you have a loved one who suffers from mental illness? I tell you this because it is the kind of shit they are thinking. Again, they have their own special crazy, the details are different. But the result is the same. They are uncomfortable in their skin, they feel like they are living a lie, they know they are worthless. They want your help, but don't know how to accept it. They are hurt, they are sorry, they love you, too.

Do you know what will make you fell better when you aren't doing so hot? Israeli chocolate with pop rocks in it. Sounds kinda gross, tastes kinda magical. Perhaps chocolate is a good antidote to sadness in real life just like it is after being exposed to dementors. Lupin really was the best Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.

See the chopsticks? They aren't chopsticks. They were inside slippers Z got, T found them in the shoebox and put them on his plate while I was getting food for his brother. He called over, "Mom? Can you help me use my chopsticks?" He's frustrating the hell out of me and his Dad right now, but he also injects so much fun into our day. Man, do I want to be well for him.

This morning I was in the kitchen getting food for his brother (Do you sense a theme? I'm trying to fatten C up-he has a weigh-in in less than a month!) and he called, "Mom! Look at the Lego star destroyer I built!" First of all, I love that he calls me Mom like he's a big kid. Second of all, clearly it was a good idea to introduce him to Star Wars while he was an infant. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Daily Drugs

My biggest fear in the world isn't really having diarrhea in public, it's losing control. Ok, so it is having diarrhea in public, but that is just one of the many manifestations of the fear. It's also having an anxiety attack, getting a migraine, making a fool of myself, people discovering that I'm not perfectly normal. You know those friends you have who effortlessly load your dishwasher for you after having dinner at you house? Or who clean up the kids' toys before heading home? Or who even just clear the table of dirty dishes? I'm fascinated by those people and jealous of them. I want to help when I'm with friends, but I can't. My body feels like a huge unwieldy blob, I know I will break things, or have to ask too many questions, or I'll make a bigger mess than the one I'm trying to tidy. When I'm around other people I want to move as little as humanly possible. If I'm still maybe I can contain the damage my body is always ready to unleash.

When the migraine started yesterday I was able to get C down for his nap and settle T in front of his other Mom, um I mean the TV before taking my medicine and collapsing in my bed. I laid there as still as possible, praying I wouldn't puke from the pain as I waited for the drug to do its thing. And I felt completely and totally out of control. My mind was racing-what if C woke up or T needed something? I could do nothing to help my kids. The anxiety had won, it had completely incapacitated me. Game over. All fall it has been gaining more and more control over my actions. Since we've gotten back into town it has absolutely been ruling my life.

I don't want to take a daily psychotropic medication. I haven't been on one since 2006. I know I'm not magically cured, but I thought the use of rescue meds, therapy, and coping mechanisms I've developed over the years were enough to get me through life. When I started down the SSRI road I was told I'd probably be on them for the rest of my life. That was back when my diagnosis was Borderline Personality Disorder. But I beat that diagnosis. Why couldn't I permanently beat the need for daily drugs? I was so proud to get off of them, I felt powerful and like I could accomplish anything.

Today my therapist (who is also my prescriber) told me we need to figure out what the right "cocktail" of drugs is for me and once we find it that I should undertand I will probably be taking daily meds permanently. Surprisingly, I'm not a huge crier in therapy. Yeah, I started weeping hysterically. I know drugs don't equal failure. I know that seeking help means you are strong and on your way to getting better. But when it comes to my own care I'm a huge hypocrite. My anxiety disorder means I am useless. Taking a daily drug makes me pathetic. Admitting things are bad means I have lost control and I'll never get it back. Because part of my illness is the voice that tells me I am unloveable, a worthless piece of shit, a waste of space, a drain on everyone's resources, and fat and ugly on top of all that.

I know, I know, I'm a delight. Wanna be friends?


My beautiful boy. I'll go on meds for him. Hell, I'll do anything for him.

And the beautiful baby. Ditto. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Z Makes Life Better

Some days suck balls because you get your 4th migraine in just over a week and a pretty spectacular anxiety attack on top of it.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some evenings rock because you pulled it together enough to attend the first class of the semester that had you such an anxious mess to begin with.

And because you know you have a therapy session in the morning and are willing to face the music about maybe going on a daily med because things really can't go on like this.

And most especially because your husband was nothing but supportive all day. When you apologized for your meltdown and said you knew it wasn't fair he told you fair wasn't a part of it. When you confessed you'd need to take a chill pill he told you he wished you didn't beat yourself up about it. "They are there because you need them" he said, "You should think about it differently--you earned that chill pill today." When you told him you couldn't get it together to make dinner he said he'd take the boys to the pizza place around the corner.

So you get to swallow the pill of chill, sit alone in the house, write a quick post, eat a couple of peanut butter Kandy Kakes, and know that Z and the boys will be back with an order of mozzarella sticks for you in a few minutes.

I'm not in a good way, people. And frankly, I'm pretty scared about it. Hopefully I'll be able to write more about it tomorrow, but tonight I need to try and calm the fuck down. The second of a two parter of NCIS should help. Thank you god-I'm-not-sure-I-believe-in for stupid television and amazing husbands. Although, if you are also responsible for anxiety disorders, well, I'm sorry but you can suck it.


My boys wresting. 

And a staggeringly unflattering picture of me along with my wonderful and adorable sister-in-law.  Evidently she likes when I mention her in the blog. Which cracks me up because she has a hugely over-inflated idea of my internet popularity. But I'm happy to include more of her-she rocks. I couldn't have picked out a more perfect sister-in-law. I love that I get to be family with her. And her amazing wife.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Bad Behavior All Around

T and I threw on rain boots and took a leisurely walk through the quickly melting piles of snow to  the coffeeshop two blocks from our house. I convinced him to make the trip by promising him he could pick out a treat when we got there. Coffee shops are not toddler friendly environments, and I try to be respectful of the folks clacking away on their laptops. We always get our stuff to go while being as quiet at possible. T picked out his chocolate chip muffin and as I settled up he took the truck he carried with him and started roughly running it on a low table in front of two arm chairs. I asked him to stop, explaining that it might mark up the table which didn't belong to him. He looked at me and shouted, "NO!"

Ok. So we've made it almost three and a half years before he talked, well yelled, back at me in public. Is that average? What I wish is that I was mature and confident enough to just deal with his behavior rather than feel completely humiliated by having a brat for a kid. Because that humiliation clouds my judgement. My mind races, I wonder if my shitty parenting isn't what is making him act out. He is misbehaving so much lately that punishment isn't working. If we went that direction dude would spent almost every waking moment in time out. I'm not as consistant as I've promised myself I would be. If he is being a shit and I'm up to my elbows in C's poop diaper, or making dinner, or unloading the dishwasher, or on the can myself, or just fucking done and unable to handle him any more I can't address the behavior. I've taken the time to download a book about parenting a defiant child on my Nook, but I haven't bothered to actually read the fucking thing. In the second between him yelling and everyone in the shop staring at us that is the stuff I think about. And I have no idea what the right thing to do is.

I grabbed him by the arm, bent down to his level and hissed at him that if he told me no again he would not get the treat. I snatched the truck from him, and out of hands myself I passed it to C who was on my chest in the Ergo. I told him to apologize. Right. Now. He sullenly did.

I finished paying without being able to make eye contact with the nice gal behind the counter and face burning I hustled his ass out of there. Once we reached the street I launched into a monologue which included such gems as "I am trying to raise you to be a contributing member of society and that includes being respectful to both me and any person we come across." and "If you are unable to listen to me and behave yourself I will not take you places and get you treats." and that perennial favorite "Do you understand me? Do you? Do you? Well, you need to tell me."

He's three. Three. Yes, he is a raging asshole. But evidently so I am. Because my reaction is doing zero to help the situation. I can't reason with him. I can't ask him to be a fucking contributing member of society.

My sisters-in-law are having a baby kind of any day now. A couple of days ago one posted this article to the other's wall on FB. It's a good article. But my reaction to it was completely illogical. I felt searing and all consuming jealousy of them. Because I remember being at the point just before T was born when Z and I were having intense discussions about how we planned on raising them. Our intentions were pure, we were ready for the hard work, and we hadn't made a single mistake yet. Sweet fucking jesus I want to go back to the moment where I haven't made a mistake yet. Parenting is so much harder than I expected it to be. And Z and I expected it to be really hard. I feel completely defeated so many days, like I'm failing the boys and failing myself. Before I had T I swore I'd never bribe my kid. We bribe him all the time. We also yell, plead, beg. All stuff I'd watched parents do before I was one with contempt, judgement, superiority. I'm not a huge fan of the word "humble". I think it is constantly misused--"I'm humbled by your adoration", etc. Well, parenthood has completely humbled me. Here is something I knew would be hard, but I thought I could handle it. I screw up every day. I doubt what I'm doing. And there is no way out, no way to start over. The only alternative is pushing up my sleeves and trying again. Even though I know I'll continue to fail them.

The amazing thing is I'm glad we did it. As much as I suck at it some days I'm so glad I get to be T and C's Mom. It is fun to stomp in melting snow piles on the way to the coffee shop. It is fun to watch your kid look at all the baked goodies and pick his favorite. It is fun to cuddle with C, the huggiest baby in the history of the universe. It is fun to throw T over my shoulder and pretend I don't know where he is as he squeals with delight.

It's fun to have spontaneous dance parties to Postal Service on Saturday night.

It's fun to throw snow.
And it is important to remind myself that it is worth it. 

New topic: 
And another No Shampoo update. It's been around 14 months. I really don't see myself going back to using shampoo. But this winter I've had terrible dry scalp. Like itching all the time. Like tiny little horrifying flakes. Got my hair cut a few days ago and the stylist told me that it wasn't dandruff, that stuff is much larger. She said my skin was just really super dry and she suggested coconut oil. I'm still doing the oil pulling and I'm a big fan of the stuff. So Saturday night I slathered a ton onto my scalp and slept in it. On Sunday I didn't even use the baking soda/apple cider vinegar. I just rinsed it really well. It didn't look greasy and my scalp didn't itch at all. I also didn't notice any flakes. Pretty damn awesome.

Update: I forgot! That's my great-grandfather in the picture with me, Alfredo Cordano! Handsome son of a gun, huh?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Humble Pie

Back when I was in store leadership at Whole Foods the team members evaluated the management annually. It happened when I was in the bakery as well, but that more more manageable. Our team was only 18 or so people, there were no big surprises. In store leadership somewhere between 100-200 people were rating your performance. Not 18 people you knew really well and with whom you had  purposefully developed a working relationship, but 100-200 people who were often casual acquaintances at best. Or who were pissed at you because you had fired their best friend, or who simply didn't like you, or who legitimately thought you were a shitty boss. I remember being crushed by my results one year. The negative comments were overwhelming and the worst part was they were true. I had so much to work on and felt like the worst 2nd Associate Store Team Leader in the history of the universe. My Store Team Leader saw I was working myself into a tailspin and she did something really smart-she counted the number of negative comments vs. positive comments. There were substantially more positive. It was a valuable object lesson not only for that situation, but for life. The negative stuff carries ten times the weight of the positive stuff (Thanks D, you taught me a bunch of really excellent life lessons).

A couple of days ago I came across a Mommy blog with a large audience that I'd never read before. The post I saw was a direct response to negative comments received in reference to little stories posted on her FB fan page. It was a thoughtful and thorough response that was free of malice. I was impressed. So I scooted over to the FB page to see what these comments were in the first place. There were two of them. By the same person. And I had to search through a couple dozen positive ones to find them. All the sudden her response didn't seem so brave. The post read like folks were putting her through the wringer. I would have respected her more if she was honest-one person hurt me deeply and I feel the need to reply.

And then someone privately shared with me that they find my blog inappropriate and perhaps damaging to relationships in my life to the point where this person can no longer read and in a sincere act of caring wanted to let me know so I could avoid doing further and perhaps irreparable damage. I felt terrible. Like sick to my stomach terrible. The worst part was I felt like this person thought I was cruel. Then I decided that everyone who reads must think the same thing. And finally I concluded that I was the world's worst writer because what I'm trying to express was so completely misconstrued by this person.

At no time did I think this person was being unkind to me. S/he was trying to help me, trying to be a friend. Because of that I wrote back and tried to explain myself. And s/he responded that s/he understood where I was coming from which made me feel a little better.

Suddenly I had a hell of a lot more empathy for the woman who wrote the blog post earlier in the week. Because if I'm honest my first reaction was pretty ugly. I was angry. How dare someone write such a thing to me? It took about a minute before the more reasonable part of me reminded the rest of me that I'd opened up this dialogue myself. I make the choice to write this blog. I make the choice to put it out there. My friends have been incredibly generous by reading and being supportive. They are under no obligation to do either. The person who wrote to me had my best interests at heart. S/he was being supportive.

The bottom line is all of us folks who are over-sharing on the internet, no matter what the reason, need to take responsibility for opening ourselves up to criticism, constructive or otherwise. Not everyone is going to agree with us or our approach. Not everyone is going to be nice to us. Although, I've been extremely lucky in that regard. Partially because my friends are stellar humans and partially because I have a tiny readership I just haven't had to deal with nastiness. But if I do get meanies eventually I'll need to figure out how to cope-if it hurts too much maybe I don't blog. Or maybe I'll be able to remember that anonymous nastiness on the internet is to be pitied rather than valued. But everyone is entitled to their opinion. No one has to read anything. And if I've been making you uncomfortable I'm sorry about that. Really. But I am still going to write here.

The day that I got the message that was hard to read I also got several messages that indicated my writing was helping some of the folks who were reading it. I'm ashamed that I forgot those messages and just concentrated on the one that found my blog distasteful. Which is self indulgent bullshit. Everyone's opinions and feedback are equally valid. I don't get to give the negative one more weight any more than I should only pay attention to the positive ones.

I'm not going for confession-for-the-sake-of-confession here. My goal is to help de-stigmatize mental illness, to acknowledge how hard it is to parent and be a part of marriage, to celebrate the hard work, to remind myself and others that failures will happen but we need to dust ourselves off and try again. If you don't agree with my approach I get it. If I'm upsetting you and you want to respond I'd be happy to engage in a respectful dialogue. If you've given me a chance and I'm not your cup of tea I wish you well. I appreciate the time you did spend here. But time is valuable. I do not want to waste yours.

In the spirit of openness I'm also taking off the verification for the comments and enabling anonymous commenting. If it turns into a shit show I'll put them back, but a lot of people have mentioned they have tried to comment and been unable to. I'm not expecting some love fest where everyone just agrees with me. We are all entitled to our opinions. I may be wrong about everything. But writing here has helped me a lot. For now I'm going to keep on keeping on.

The boys saying goodbye to their Daddy a few days ago.

And he's back! With a cool bow tie made by a former student! And he's with a little guy who couldn't be more thrilled to see him!

Sunsets in Syracuse aren't bad either.

Got a haircut today. Z can't tell a difference. But it's two inches! That is kind of a lot...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Unwell

The other day my Mother-in-law kindly called to share some suggestions about how to bulk up C's diet. Z was a tiny guy as well and she was constantly trying to get his weight up. She had some great ideas, I've already bought some of the items she brought up. She was talking about adding ingredients to baked goods when she caught herself and said I wouldn't have time to be baking him stuff right now. She and my Father-in-law are extremely supportive of my choice to stay at home with the boys, they treat it with import equal to Z's job that actually supports us. I'm really lucky.

But when she said I wouldn't have time to bake right now I wanted to laugh. I could be baking, could be cleaning, could be fucking interacting with my children who are currently watching Nick Jr. On Wednesday I let them watch TV all day while I looked at a Harry Potter Tumblr. Yes, I just typed that. Yes, I'm completely ashamed of myself.

Yet again I've forgotten how fast my mental health can deteriorate. A week ago I was fine. It was a stressful time, but I was coping. I handled C's return trip to the hospital without falling apart. And now here we are at home, completely safe and where I wanted us to be, and gravity feels ten times more crushing than it did last Friday. It is pinning me to the ground and I don't have the energy to fight back. There is a neighborhood playgroup scheduled for today. I'd been planing on going, but I can't. I can't face pretending that I'm fine. So T is stuck in the house again. Z is headed back from his work trip and right into managing an unwell wife. And I feel so raw I just want to disappear into nothing.

When this starts I always wonder if this will be the time that I can't catch a foothold. There are no guarantees I'll be able to get better. The next breakdown could be around any corner. It scares me that I don't even feel like I could fight it right now. I look at my boys who deserve so much and I feel so worthless. I'm not enough for them. I know I need to try. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to. I don't think it is going to happen today.

I love this kid. Bought him a $1 cup at Target yesterday of Dora the Explorer. He loves it. He also really misses his dad. In the bath last night he suggested I buy one for Z as well. He's got a big heart, this one.

And the other one. He is so straightforward and happy and a pleasure to be around. If we could just get him healthy.  

A sunset at my folk's place in Georgia last week. I might need today to wallow, but I will try tomorrow. Because of my beautiful boys and because of lovely sunsets and because mental illness can suck it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fight

Let's get my compulsion to be fair out of the way. I hurt Z all the time. In fact, I've written about it before. This isn't about keeping score, it's about how we try to pick our way through a long term marriage. It's what is on my mind today, and I write about what is on my mind. Isn't it fortunate that you aren't married to me?

If I started writing this right after our fight last night the post would be a hell of a lot bleaker. I was so hurt and angry when I went to bed I could only see the bad-how fights seem to happen right before he leaves for a few days, how the same hurts happen over and over again, how it is easier to hurt each other than face disappointing other people in our lives. But I wasn't being fair to him or to myself.

Five years ago if he hurt me I would have thought of the meanest thing possible and said it to him. I didn't do that last night. Five years ago if he hurt me and he knew he hurt me he would have gotten defensive about it and pretended it was my fault. He didn't do that last night. A year ago I would have talked the thing to death-explained exactly how he hurt me over and over again from every different angle possible. I didn't do that. A year ago he wouldn't have agreed to address the situation and try to change it, he would have told me to get over it. And he didn't do that.

During a fight it is hard to remember all the hard work we've done. Almost 15 years in and I'm still shocked by our capacity to hurt each other. And we do need to work to prevent that hurt in the first place, I'm not excusing either of our bad behavior. At the same time we aren't perfect. We are going to hurt each other. A lot. For years the hurt was all that mattered to me-I raked both him and me over the coals for causing it and didn't pay attention at all to what happened after-how we were both behaving in a way that made things worse.

We are trying. Sometimes we mess up, but it feels like we are succeeding more than we are failing these days. I love him. He loves me. We both appreciate how fragile this marriage gig is-I'm grateful that we are willing to continue to fight to keep it. It's the one fight I don't mind having.

How could I not love a guy who got me this mug for Christmas? Used it for the first time this morning. It worked!

Some photos from Christmas. T draws Santa a picture. Photo by ellieleonardsmith.com


Our sweet baby in a box. Photo by ellieleonardsmith.com

My current favorite family shot. Might put this one up as the main blog picture. Photo by ellieleonardsmith.com