Eggs in a Basket


I’ve been told lately that I have some obsessive-compulsive tendencies. This isn’t really surprising to me. I’ve also been told that I make things harder on myself than they have to be, due to this. In fact, my therapy homework last week was to stop trying to wash, fold, and put away all my laundry in one day. I’m supposed to try and do a load every day or so. Oh, and I’m supposed to let people help me fold the laundry. Even though they don’t do it right and it makes me anxious. So that’s what I’ve been working on. Being less insane about laundry.

In addition to my laundry homework, things were just totally insane over the last week. I let myself be too busy, and my husband’s work was absolute crazytown, and then his car broke down on Friday, exactly one week before we planned to replace it, and then I had to call and yell at the people at again because they still hadn’t refunded me the money from the order I had cancelled two weeks ago, and it was all too much and I had another panic attack and I hadn’t taken my anxiety medication even thought I promised the shrink I would take it like he prescribed but I never do because I don’t like it because it makes me sleepy and dumb. So I got hit with another panic attack and had to double up on my anxiety medication and felt extra sleepy and dumb for the rest of the day.

Every time I start to think I’m doing a little better, I start to wean myself off my anxiety meds and every time I have some kind of incident that reinforces the current need for some outside help. My doctor is begging me, “Please, just take the meds like I prescribed! We will get you off of them as soon as possible.” Apparently two more panic attacks in just over a week is not making “possible” any sooner.

Now I’m taking two medications to help with my “mood disorder” and one to help with my anxiety/panic attacks. I hate this. I’ve been on the doctor/drug merry-go-round before. They just keep prescribing drugs and more drugs to try and hit on something that might work, and I don’t think they really know all that much what they’re doing. At the height of my ride on the merry-go-round, I was taking about 13 prescriptions to manage symptoms from the Fibromyalgia I knew I had, but couldn’t find anybody to diagnose or treat me. Recognizing that I was talking a shitload of meds and continuing to feel worse, I quit. Everything. Cold turkey. When my current month’s prescription ran out, I just didn’t get it refilled. I started yoga and powerful nutritional supplements and never looked back.

Fast-forward to ten years later. I feel like I’m literally losing my mind. I’ve known for months that I “probably, sort of, kind of, needed to go ‘talk to’ somebody.” I can’t do anything without crying. Or screaming in rage. It’s like there is so much pain built up in my body that it’s bursting out every chance it gets. I can’t hold it in anymore, maybe because I didn’t realize it was still there. But it showed up. It showed up in my rage because I had to stop at one more goddam red light. It showed up when I sat curled on the couch, wrapped in blankets, shaking and sobbing for no reason that I could figure out. I was crippled by my anxiety and the knowledge that I probably couldn’t go more than a couple of hours without needing to cry again.

I was so desperate that during my first visit with my therapist, when he asked if I would like to see the psychiatrist as well, my answer was an emphatic “Yes! Whatever it takes,” I said, “I have to get better!” So here I am, five months later. For a while it was one step forward, two steps back. I like to think that maybe now I’ve reduced my back-stepping from two to one. I’m so uncomfortable with taking medication to affect my mood. What if I start relying on the medication to help manage my emotions and my anxiety? What if I forget what it feels like to have a normal mood? What if I get numb and stop experiencing life? What if I forget all I’ve learned about the mental health benefits of yoga and meditation? I know it works. What if I just keep being prescribed more and more drugs? Ok, well I know the answer to that one – I just won’t take them. I’m giving them long enough to work, and if they don’t help, forget it.

I’m going to keep working with what I have right now. I’m going to keep pushing back the darkness that I still wake up with every morning that asks, “How are we going to do this again today?” Maybe, just maybe, it’s taking a little less work to push it back than it did a few months ago. I’m gonna keep working, using all the tools I have, (and trying not to be scared of them), to put all my stuff back in my basket.

If I’ve learned anything from all this (well, actually, I’m sure I’ve learned several things), it’s that it doesn’t take any time at all for the basket to slip out of your hands, but it can take quite some time to gather it all back up again. And, like a little kid picking up Easter eggs, every time you bend over to pick another one up, something else will fall out. But little kids are really good at asking for help when they need it. Sometimes after pitching a hellacious fit, but they usually get there eventually. And all the eggs get placed safely in the basket where they belong. So I’m taking notes from little kids Easter egg hunting. Pick up your eggs. Be careful when you bend down to pick up more eggs. If they keep falling out, ask a grownup for help. Don’t be scared to pitch a hissy fit first. Sometimes it’s therapeutic.

Posted in Philosophisizing, Therapy and Mental Health, You are Enough | Leave a comment

Bah Humbug


“I’m not sure I even like Christmas anymore,” I tell Patrick as we’re driving to get our Christmas tree. “I’m having a hard time finding anything to be excited about.” We get to Home Depot and pick out our tree. The kids are very excited. I’m reserved. I have Christmas tree…issues.

Every year, I say I’m not going to do it. Every year, I say I’m just going to wrap the lights around, like twinkly garland. Then I look at the tree. All the branches smooshed together from the ride home. And I grab my string of lights and start at the bottom. I wrap every branch, from trunk to end and back again. I think maybe somebody can help me, this year. I carefully show the oldest how to to it, taking each individual branch and covering it with lights. I give her a little while and check on her progress. It looks like she has just grabbed a whole bunch of branches and tied them together with a strand of lights. “No, No NO! Is that, in any way, what I told you to do? Is that what I’m doing?” I ask, my voice going up an octave with every word. “Just stop. I’ll do it all myself.”

None of the kids are enjoying this. They aren’t allowed to touch the tree until I get all the lights on it. They’re behaving like kids do, if you put something super-fun in front of them that they’ve been all excited about and tell the not to touch it. This is not good.

I’m not enjoying this. I feel like a crazy person. I’m acting like a crazy person, but I can’t stop. Every branch must be covered, and it must be perfect. I’m cranky, and I would love a glass of wine. The wine I’ve stopped drinking. Six hours later, I run out of lights. With the entire top quarter of the tree unlit. I all but fling the final short string at the top of the tree and run to my room. I break down. I curl into a little ball, crying, sobbing. I worked so hard. I didn’t want to fucking do it in the first place, but I couldn’t stop. And now I can’t even finish what I started. And I’m having a total breakdown – over the fucking Christmas tree.

This isn’t right. This isn’t how this is supposed to be. I’m not supposed to be driven crazy by the tree. I’m not supposed to dread the Christmas holidays when my kids are out of school because they are so excited and crazy that they will drive me out of my mind. They will escalate and continue to do so until something happens and they crash and burn, and then it’s them curled into a little ball, crying. I’m not supposed to be so stressed about money and spend way more than I should because I’m so scared that they might be disappointed on Christmas morning. I shouldn’t be so stressed about trying to choose and buy gifts for everyone.

Christmas is supposed to be a fun, festive time, right? When did it turn into this? Am I the only mom out there who has reached this point? How do we come back from it without totally giving up?

Disclaimer: I am aware that I am not quite myself right now, and that my reactions to things are not typical, even for me. But this has been brewing for several years now. It just seems to have peaked this year, like everything else.

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Conditioned like a Seal


“I really should be better at this by now. I’ve been doing it for twelve-and-a-half years.” This is what I’m thinking to myself as I open my computer to write a little post. A completely different post than the one I’m currently writing. It was going to have some updates on the current situation inside my head, some references to the gems I’m currently using to treat myself, such as Braving the Wilderness, The Happiness Trap (basically the non-spiritual version of The Untethered Soul), Intuitive Eating and, of course, The Book of Joy, and some thoughts on other things.

All those thoughts left my head as the one above entered. The catalyst for that thought was the banshee screams issuing from the bedroom the little banshee had been banished to for crying and flinging herself in the floor when asked to pick up twelve sheets of paper. Oh, and also for refusing to accept the reality that “rice” is not an acceptable and complete dinner. And more floor-flinging and wailing ensued. The result of this was her tired and stressed mother, yelling, in a very un-Waldorf voice, completely devoid of any trace of gentleness or sing-song cadence – but much more in the voice of the dragon who’s going to eat the witch after her broom broke in two – to GO TO HER ROOM!

This is the four-year-old. The one I’ve had the most practice for. She’s number three. That means I’ve had two other four-year-olds to practice on. Maybe they were slightly less…challenging. I remember being pregnant with her and feeling totally confident. I was a baby pro. I had already done it twice and number three was going to be a piece of cake. In reality, the first two were training so I had some conditioning (like a Navy Seal) so I didn’t drown myself within a month after she was born. I mean, the other two were never nicknamed “The Tiny Tyrant” by my friends and family. But still. She’s mostly a delightful little fairy child. Spending time with her makes me feel better and happier. But then there are those moments like tonight where everybody loses their temper and Mommy yells like an evil dragon. Maybe we’re both tired. This kid can’t sleep. She does ok once she gets to sleep but it takes forever. Until she was eighteen months old I spent an hour and a half nursing her to sleep every night, and usually she still wouldn’t go to sleep. Now she will tell you, “I don’t know how to go to sleep.” I believe her.

Sometimes well-meaning people who witness the occasional moments of tyranny suggest that a “good spanking” or a “smack with the ‘ole wooden spoon”‘ might be helpful. I maintain that my un-spanked kids behave as well as, or perhaps better than kids who do get the “ole wooden spoon”. I believe anybody who has been to a restaurant with them, or has listened to them agreeably go off to perform an assigned task (this evening’s events notwithstanding) will concur.

But times like tonight, I wonder, “Why am I not better at this? Why is it so hard? I should know how to get a four-year-old to do the simple task I’ve asked her to do.” And then I think about her biggest sister. She has the worst mom of all of them. She’s the guinea pig. When I had her I had never even changed a diaper in my life. And now she’s twelve. And I haven’t had to deal with any twelve-year-olds other than myself, and that was a long time ago. I mostly just remember it sucked, I cried a lot, and felt like I would never fit in anywhere. Perhaps this is a phase we actually go through several times in our lives at various intervals (based on recent data I’ve acquired). I don’t know what to do with this either. I’ve stuck her in therapy with basically the rest of the family. I figure if I’m at a loss for how to help, it’s time to call in the professionals. Hopefully, when the other two get to that age I will have had more practice and know how to handle it all a little better.

I guess all this is just to say, that this is hard, and some times are harder than others. Sometimes I get frustrated because I want to be better at it than I feel like I am. I try and offer my clients gentle and unconditional nurturing and understanding. I want to do that with my kids. Of course, I don’t live with my clients, so that might have something to do with it.

I do know I’ve learned a lot since I started all this craziness of trying to be a mom, and I’ve had some really excellent resources and mentors and teachers, for whom I’m eternally grateful, and the Waldorf model to help give me structure and a for real parenting philosophy. Maybe I’m not a lost as I feel like I am sometimes. When we fall off the boat, we just look for the lifeline and pull ourselves back on deck.

Or however you get back on a boat after you fall off.

After the banshee had been wailing for a while and I had opened my computer to start writing, I heard her crying, over and over again, “I want Mommy!” I went into her room and asked her why she wanted me. She asked to cuddle. So I lay down with her and held her close to me, and stroked her little wispy hairs. We talked about why Mommy yelled and what we both could have done differently. We talked about how turkey is basically chicken and compromised that turkey and rice would make an acceptable dinner. We talked about the importance of cleaning up the messes you make, and why. We also remembered how “many hands make light work”, and ways to ask for and receive help. The wailing ceased, smiling happened, and picking up occurred while dinner was plated.

Maybe that’s how you get back on a boat after you fall off.


Posted in Children, My Crazy Family | Leave a comment