Writing

24 Jan

I’ve been trying to write a book lately. But it’s really more suited to a series of blog posts. They’re all disjointed thoughts about random things; and that’s what a blog is for, really, isn’t it?

Here’s the first:

I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t wake up one more day and wedge myself into this too small, itchy sweater that my everyday had turned into somehow. I’m a mother; I’m mentally ill; and I didn’t want to stay home full-time anymore.  Maybe I didn’t even want to be a part of my family. I had no idea what I wanted or needed; what sweet salve my soul was crying out for. I just wanted something.

Life happened fast. And it tends to repeat itself if you’re not paying any attention. I grew up insecure and unsure of my mom’s feelings for me; I got married to a man who wasn’t ready to be married and felt the same way. I felt depressed because I was uneasy in the mother-daughter realm; I was depressed because the husband-wife dynamic we had sucked and even more depressed when we added in children and became the mother in the mother-daughter scene.  There’s more.

I cried a lot my first year of marriage. We were constantly fighting, each of us clinging to something that wasn’t even there. We were prepared to not get along all the time; that we would bicker about small things and where to put the plates versus the cups; that it would take WORK to be married. We had no idea that we’d get married after our emotionally draining and tumultuous courtship. I’m surprised we made it out alive after all the back-and-forth, bargaining, and emotionally charged conversations.

Joe and I got married somewhere between a whim and a hard place. We were both 21 and had been dating for about eight months. It was the summer between our junior and senior years of college. He went to UIndy, and I was at IUPUI. (Same city, different schools.) We knew each other since high school; that’s when I broke his heart because I started to ignore him after we had a disagreement about a boy I liked that he didn’t want me to like– we weren’t dating at the time, for the record.

We were both part of the same college ministry. Joe was kind of well known in this young Christian world. When we started dating, almost everyone I was introduced to thought he was this amazing, influential guy. The first Cru party we went to after we started dating, I was told that I must be “something special” to have Joe be my boyfriend. (WTF?!) I had only recently become a Christian, so Joe did seem like a Bible study superstar to me, too. He was everything they teach you to want in Christian circles: loving, kind, and compassionate yet strong, brave, and distinctly masculine.

God, I was in love with Joe. He annoyed me sometimes with his strong opinions and seeming unthoughtfulness in emotional situations, but he was also someone I could, and did, talk to until the wee hours of the morning. He was deeply interested in understanding me in all my broken ways.  He was pretty easy to fall for, really. I was mad over him; we told each other that we were each in love with the other at Christmas Conference, just 3 months after we had started dating.

Unfortunately, our conservative, evangelical brand of Christianity made sex somewhat frightening and permanent. Neither one of us wanted to have sex in the way that our higher brains gave ascent to the idea that God designed sex to be only between the married. Both of us absolutely wanted us to have sex, though. We tried to keep a lid on this from the beginning. First, when we initially started dating, Joe initiated a strict no touching policy– no hand holding, no pecks on the cheeks, maybe hugs? This didn’t last long. So then it was: okay, hand holding and quick hugs. Then, and this is still perplexing to me so don’t try to make sense of it: we were giving each other kisses on the neck.  Yeah. In terms of innocent behavior, we sort of went from 1 to 100.

Well, okay, then there was way too much sexual tension. So, hey, let’s just kiss and get it over with! Geez! And we did. And it was awesome. That first kiss is something I plan to tell my grandkids about. Then we were making out.  I think the first time we had a kissing spree, it went on for 5 hours.  I wish I were kidding. I fell asleep once with Joe in his bed one night; when I woke up, I jogged out of his place at a respectable pace.

But we managed not to do any groping or hand stuff, so we were still in the clear-ish. I don’t mean that we were “technical” virgins, but we were creeping up on a line that was a little blurry to begin with. Until one night, after we went to a friend’s wedding, we just took a leap over this line since we already had a running start.

I still can’t remember how we ended up having sex. We must have been lying down together, but past that I have no clue. But we did have sex, and we weren’t married. I wanted Joe to commit to me and finally make up his mind, and Joe wanted to do the right thing. When we had finished, it was almost the first thing that was said: we were going to get married.

Everyone’s reaction is almost always of shock to this story. Even conservative, evangelical Christians give it the crooked eye (excluding the ones who told Joe he was doing the right thing in marrying me…I’m still not sure about that). What the hell was wrong with us?! Couldn’t we just not have sex again and go from there?

But, there we were. Married.

Advertisements
26 Apr

Mid-June 2014:

I have been tired for a long time.  Days; months; years; decades; centuries; eons and eons and eons of time.  I have never not been tired.  My bones are made of rotten, dry wood; my flesh is wearing thin with holes in the elbows and knees.  I feel my blood, sluggishly oozing through my veins, trying desperately to bring oxygen and nutrients to my body in entropy.

 

I feel a waste in this life.  Full of ideas but unable to make myself do anything.  Unable to care enough to make any of the things that spring into my imagination.  I still struggle to feel good enough; to feel worthy to create a thing with my own two hands.  I am not an artist because I’m not cool enough.  I am not an artist because I cannot bring myself to see my horrible ideas come into horrible fruition.  I don’t want to make something that isn’t simply perfect the first try.  But I have to try.  Right?  I have all these ideas and feelings pulsing in me, trying to make me move, wanting to be made into something tangible.  I’m overly idealistic and pessimistic.  I can make things if I want.  Why not?  Why couldn’t I?  Because I didn’t go to school for art?  Because I’m a stay at home mother to 3 kids and I want to have more?  Because I don’t feel smart enough to have ideas that anyone else would actually be interested in?  And, at the same time, because I’m so ego-maniacal that each time I receive a compliment on something I’ve done, I feel validated and like that I knew it was a good idea all along.  Deep inside me, I am desperately thirsty for approval and validation.  I need to know someone else thinks I’m smart and clever; my ideas are good; my mind works clearly still, and I am not just stuck with a stupid brain.

//////

I’m still often tired, but I’m not nearly as upset about it.  Plus, now I’m able to blame it on medication instead of depression.  It feels better to do that, for whatever reason.

I would also shakily admit to being an artist now.  I took the chance and plunged into making things this past November.  I was accepted into the group show I submitted my very first piece to.  That felt good.  Real good.  I’ve made several more pieces and been accepted to 2 more exhibitions this month. Also good-feeling inducing.

I make shit with my hands, man. It is an incredible feeling: to imagine, sculpt, and see a thing come out of thin air.

The Night is Loud

25 Apr

Apparently, I wrote this as a draft in early December this past year.  I don’t remember writing it, but I sure as hell remember feeling this way. 

////////

I am alone around others. Not all of the time; just some of it. And I try to curl into myself, but I can never get away from the tepid loneliness that I carry with me.  It is in my intestinal lining, slowly eating away like the acid in my stomach does to food.  What does it eat, though?  My self-worth and esteem; my feeling of connectedness to my family and friends; my desire to continue being vulnerable and work toward mental health.

At the end of the day, I’m done.  I am overwhelmed by the overstimulation that comes with parenting small children.  I wonder if I can even call it “parenting”; maybe “surviving” would be a better description. I wonder what my blood pressure looks like around 5pm each day?  Maybe it all just evens out, in the end, after not being able to feed myself lunch until nearly dinner time and my racing pulse from listening to two small boys scream and dance and stomp and run and cry and sing at the top of their lungs.

Maybe it’s time to quit.  But it also isn’t. This is a job, a project, a lifestyle I’m unable to walk out on. But I don’t feel real today.  I don’t feel happy today.  I feel sad and alone. I feel guilt for feeling sad and alone when there’s so many people who love me and care for me and want me around. But I also don’t believe that’s true tonight. Who wants you, I say to myself.  Who needs you?  Who would care if you weren’t there tomorrow? I know who, but they just seem to be erased from my memory right now.

And now I’m smoking.  Not just on the weekends and not just one a day, like I used to do.  I smoke several (usually no more than 4 or I start to feel manic) times a day.  Mostly at night; mostly outside; sometimes hanging out of the bathroom window with the door locked, fan on, and all cloth things removed from the room with a towel pressed at the bottom seam of the door. I get a lot of shit about it, too, from those who know about my new iniquity, my newest sin.  I just don’t care.  I just want to smoke.  I just want to be in control of something and, for now, this is it.

For a while I thought I couldn’t possibly workout and be a smoker; but I’m doing them both because I won’t give up the smoking right now, and I need to exercise to keep healthy in other ways.  I try to drink tea, but God knows that is not the same as nicotine.

I feel like I’m trying a lot; and I’m tired of all the work I have to put in to simply remain on even keel.  I’m tired of the pills already, although they seem to be helping.  I’m tired of trying to stick to a morning and evening routine, of going to bed at the same time and waking up at the same time each day.  I hate routine; I feel constrained by schedules and simply want to be free.  I wouldn’t even know what to do if I was free, though. I’d be overwhelmed and afraid, probably.  Just like I am now.  So I suppose there’s not good reason to want to be “free”; it’d just be more of the same.

////////

Ps: I’ve stopped smoking. Mostly.

Aside

One Time, I Freaked Out.

16 Jun

Lazarus almost choked on a penny.  I don’t even know if that’s a fair description, really.  It was more like he gagged on a penny for a second before expelling it from his mouth.  But I flipped out.  I mean:  FLIPPED OUT.  Allow me to paint a picture:

He was lying on the ground (probably in a dress or naked, his usual uniform) talking to me, and I noticed there was something in his mouth and knew that we hadn’t eaten recently.  So I asked what was in his mouth?  And as he was saying it, I was realizing with some dismay that it was a penny.  I told him to spit it out!  Now!  As he moved the penny from the pocket of his cheek to his tongue, I could feel what was going to happen vibrate through me:  that penny was going to slide down into his throat and he was going to choke and he was probably going to die because Lord knows I do not know what to do in emergency situations.  I yanked him up (by his head, if I remember right) as he started to gag and saw a look of, albeit brief, panic.  I started to spin him so his back was facing me and was starting to reach around him with my hands to find the spot to start giving him the Heimlich, when the penny popped out of his mouth onto the couch in an aura of spit.  You could’ve choked!  You could’ve died!  Why do you do things like this?!  I demanded of him, my voice quivering.  His face rumpled into it’s pre-crying visage, but so did mine.  I couldn’t stand it– this could have been the day he died.  This could’ve been the story I told for years to come.  This moment– so short; so uneventful, really; a moment of almost-but-not-quite disaster– was too much for me to handle.  I began sobbing, shuddering with fear and anxiety and premature grief.

Why doesn’t he listen to me?  Why doesn’t he stop putting small things in his mouth at this age?  Why is he always getting hurt?  Why is this so scary to me?

As I sat on the couch sobbing into my hands wondering all these things, the kids would wander in and out, near and far.  They suggested I go upstairs to scream.  Maybe I could leave the room or something?  Here.  This animal will help you feel better, Mommy.  These little people are kind to me when I’m obviously upset.

I called Joe and sobbed to him for about 15 minutes; he tried his best to calm me down.  But there’s not much you can do to calm down a person in a completely irrational panic.  Yeah, it was scary for the nanosecond it was happening.  But it was over, and no one was hurt.  (Well, I was hurting, I guess, but that’s not what I mean.)  I know that I have emotional responses that are past what would be expected sometimes; and I know that I can become really scared of something that could possibly maybe potentially happen without actually experiencing the “thing”.  And that’s part of why I was so upset.

But I was also beside myself because of this:  As soon as I was able to calm down enough to stop crying, it was back to business with the kids.  And that’s exactly what happened.  As soon as I was done letting my chest heave and my breath run short, Laz wanted me to make the tent that I said I’d make and Zoe wanted to eat.  My whole world was being held together, loosely, with delicate threads of silk, and they wanted food and a tent.  They wanted me back to normal.  They wanted life to go on.  And I wanted to stop.  I wanted to lie in bed and cry for hours and fall asleep.  I wanted to lose control and sob and scream and be exactly what I felt in that moment.  But I couldn’t.  I mean, okay, I did tell Lazarus to shut up (NOT MY PROUDEST MOMENT, TELLING A 3-YEAR-OLD TO SHUT UP, MIND YOU) at some point during the wailing when he asked for his tent to be made.  So I did indulge in my despair some.  But I couldn’t sit in it like I wanted to, like I sometimes need to.  I had to calm myself down as quickly as possible and get over it for then.  I didn’t like it.  I don’t like it.  Sometimes, I hate being a mom because you always have to take care of the kids.  Always.  Having a panic attack?  Kids still want lunch.  Sobbing so hard you might faint?  Kids still need to go to bed.  Just generally freaking out?  Kids are still going to hit you, hug you, lick you, ignore you.

Sometimes I feel so trapped in motherhood.  And it is scary as f**k.  Seriously.  Sometimes I feel so scared of loving them because, hey, maybe they’ll choke on pennies suddenly and die because I couldn’t protect them and care for them like I’m supposed to.  I love them and hate them sometimes for making me step outside of myself.  These little people– so needy, so want-y, so sweet and lovely and caring and callous all at the same time– are my people, my family, my children and what does it even mean?

It means sometimes I freak out but have to come right out of it; that I cannot be as selfish as depression and anxiety tend to make me; that sometimes I keep moving solely because I have to in order to keep 3 other people alive.  Kids, for me, have been both trigger and cure.  It is kind of horrifying (man, do I love to exaggerate and use hyperbole…) to feel such conflicting things about someone you made in your body.

Depressive Episode

9 Jun

I had family in town this past weekend, and I seem to always lose a bit of self-control whenever a visit is over.  I love getting to see my family enjoy my kids and play with them and my kids put on a show for everyone.  It’s overwhelming but delightful to see my kids love other people.

But, like for so many others, family for me is painful, too.  Family are the people who don’t understand me and might not ever try.  Family are the people I put on a mask for.  The ones I turn much more introverted for.  Become less opinionated around.  Speak up for myself less.  I shrink any part of me that might become offensive because I’m not sure anyone’s love is unconditional.

The other day, I read this confession from an adult adoptee and realized I related to so, so much of what she wrote.  Obviously, my life has not been the same as an adoptee; please don’t think I’m saying that.  But my life isn’t like yours with both biological parents around, either.  I often feel like I’m in some weird other place, and it’s hard to find voices saying familiar things.  Adoption is the closest scenario to mine, I guess, and so I’m finding a lot in common when reading the stories of adoptees.

I also wanted to read more about ambiguous grief that I’d heard mentioned in talk about adoption.  So, I did what any Millennial would do:  I Googled it.  And this is what I read.  And, all of a sudden, I felt like I could forgive myself.  All this jumble of feelings; all these times of feeling sad and confused around holidays and, as I’ve gotten older, my birthday; all the faulty coping I’ve engineered for myself— all of this has a reason behind it.  I mean, I guess I knew that; but I’ve never been exposed to the idea of ambiguous grief before very recently, and the ability to name something is so very powerful.

Because, even though I know that I’m not the only one to feel sad at Christmas because I don’t know my bio dad/my family of origin doesn’t really know me/whatever else is in the mix , it can feel that way.  It can feel like an impossible hurdle to overcome, this being different thing.  But I’m not so different; I fall into a whole lot of categories.  And while the teenaged rebel in me still hopes thinks I am undefinable, I feel a lot calmer and merciful with myself when I figure out that I’m not so outside these distinct, knowable boxes.

I’ve been reading a lot about “peaceful/gentle/positive parenting” stuff (see herehere, or here for what I’ve been reading), and something that gets brought up frequently is knowing your own stuff– your deep wounds, your painful associations, your traumas and triggers and tipping points– so that you can parent well.  And I feel like I’m digging deep into myself and dragging out all kinds of sad, mangled feelings; things that I’d rather not think about or deal with.  But my daughter reminds me of myself as a child, and I have to let things go so I don’t go on being jealous of her.  Of a 4-almost-5-year-old.  Yes, my heart is an ugly place at times; but I am more than the sum of my past hurts, and I can be different.  I can try to love myself so that I can love my kids better than how I was treated.

 

Here’s to breaking the cycle.

To making a family where we can know each other even if we are not alike.

To loving fully and totally and painfully.

To having a vulnerable heart even though it can be more easily bruised.

To being who I am even though it’s scary.

I’m not really a doer.

8 May

I often have a lot of ideas.  I’m an active imaginer and thinker.  I quickly put together different information and decide what I think should happen based on that.  But that’s usually as far as I ever get.

I probably have 20 notebooks with some, but not nearly all, of the pages scribbled on in pen and pencil.  Little lists jotted down of things I want to do or buy or think about.

I also am an avid quitter of activities.  I am not the type of person who just has to finish a book for the simple reason that I started it.  Oh, hell no.  I can very easily put a book down that I find boring or too cumbersome and never think about it again (For Whom the Bell Tolls, I’m looking at you).

Oh, and I just say no a lot.  Like to everything.  Almost always.  I seem to know a lot of people who have to work really hard to find margin/space/whatever in their lives because they often feel obligated to do certain things for this or that reason (Joe is this way, actually, sometimes); I, however, know almost immediately if I would like to do something or be involved with something and, you guessed it, usually I do not want to do whatever the thing is.  I’ve tried putting myself into new situations by trying to become involved with organizations and activities; but, so far, few things have stuck for long.

Sometimes, I feel like I’ve completely given up on trying to do things.  Sometimes, I think maybe I’m simply being what I deem as countercultural by staying unbusy.  Sometimes, I’m pretty certain it all has to do with how lazy I am.  It can be weird to not be a doer or an achiever in a culture where that seems to be the pinnacle of being.  Am I even real if I don’t care deeply about some…thing?

Well, suddenly I feel self-conscious of how that took an existential twist.  But I feel like I’m always wondering what it means to be real and when I’ll finally be real.  Am I real already?  I must be simply because I’m alive, right?  Suddenly, all those strange philosophical movements make a lot more sense to me.  Maybe all philosophers have been stay-at-home moms in their mid-twenties.  My life would suddenly make a lot more sense…

Root-y Toot Toot

13 Mar

I like to think I’m a lot calmer than I used to be.   Or that one day it would be possible to feel like I was less intense, emotional, or what have you.  In my mind, that is when I’ll finally feel real.  You know, like the Velveteen Rabbit or something.  But I guess he was first real because somebody loved him, so maybe I’m real now anyway?

And what exactly do I think I am now?  I think sometimes things are hard for me.  I think sometimes I get lost in the forest and can’t see the trees.  I think I am bombarded with touch that I don’t really want but am forced to accept and indulge because the little baby hands don’t understand that mommy wants to take a break from all the babies.  I think I’m just a person and sometimes stuff that’s seemingly easy for most is trying for me but that’s okay ‘cuz people are different.

Part of why I don’t feel real is that I don’t totally understand where I come from.  Like the whole “I don’t know my biological father” thing.  That comes out a lot more the older I get for some reason.  It is a wiggling worm inside of me that I try to squash with distractions and don’t cares and whatever else I can scrounge up.  But it never goes away.  Ethnicity and race are still two huge questions in my mind.  If I look white, am culturally white, and feel white– what do I do with the alleged fact that my bio dad is Hispanic (via Mexico, to be super specific)?  Does that hold any meaning in my life?  Does it do anything for my kids or, hell, their kids or their kids’ kids?

I feel rootless.  Or, more accurately, only about half-rooted.  In my mind’s eye I see a tree clinging to a cliff’s gravelly edge, teetering and swaying in the wind.  That’s me.  I don’t really know what my cliff is… but I’m probably a Weeping Willow, just FYI.  But, to mix my metaphor some, now I have this fruit, and it’s dangerous for it to be attached to me but it is.  Now I’m not the only one trying to hang on to loose ground, but my apples and pears (which are obviously the fruit of a Weeping Willows) are too.

Maybe it’s just hard to feel real when you only feel half-attached to your life or who you are in this really existential, weird sense.  But I feel this need to figure it out; for myself, but now ever more so for my kids.  What kind of confusing legacy to I have to pass down to them?