"Which of my all important nothings should I tell you first?" ~ Jane Austen, in a letter to her sister

Friday, June 17, 2011

A spoonful of sugar

Friends, I'm writing with a heavy heart. Someone I love very much is hurting and I can't help her. But I can sympathize. And, even more importantly, I can empathize

Babydoll, I've been there. 

I have SO been there, more than once, and I've looked down at the depths of my despair, sprawled out in front of me, and I have crawled back up out of that pit. More than once. The thing is - it gets easier because the 2nd time, and the 3rd and the 4th, you recognize the path better. You see the signs and don't let yourself get quite so far down that it's harder to come back up. Oh, my girl, I have been there. 

But I'm okay right now. My little family unit - we are okay right now. Like, literally, at this moment. But tomorrow could change. And yesterday may not have been as good as today. 

Marriage & divorce, sickness & health, babies & kids, money (lack of) and bills, time and energy leeches, housecleaning, cars, pets, grocery shopping, dentist & doctors appointments, lack of sleep, lack of motivation, fear, worry, resentment, anger, and, finally, hopelessness and despair.

Show of hands: who has been there? Yes, no?

If any of you said no than, please, walk away right now. This blog, today, isn't for you. Much love to you - but get the hell outta here and come back when you can say, "Oh yeah, I've visited that big-fat-monkey-ball-sucking-place and I have your back."

Here's my hand. Way, way up high.

I have lived, for long, long periods of time, with nary two pennies to my name. When I have maybe paid *some* of my bills and had 10 days until my next paycheck, $20 in my bank account, and four mouths to feed, two cars needing gas (to take us to daycare and work everyday), and somehow we all survived. I would make myself sick with worry (sometimes that still happens, but I try to let it go). I thought if I didn't pay my bills by the due date something awful would happen. Or, at the very least, my power company, or credit card company, or whatever, would judge me and I didn't want to be one of "those people" who didn't pay their bills. 

You know what I've learned? Eff that. Life is too short to let something stupid like money dictate my happiness. I try, more than ever, to live in the moment these days. To enjoy the time I'm with my kids and not spend that time worrying about something that, at that moment, I'm powerless to fix. 

JUST LET IT GO.

But what if, just for arguments sake, that you're broke and barely getting by on one paycheck. Your kids seem determined to throw every elbow they can at you - including getting diagnosed ADD, or Autistic, or OCD - and rant and rampage and say every mean thing they can to tear down your already fragile confidence. You know, you really do, that they aren't doing it to be mean but because they are scared and confused and don't know how to express it so they are lashing out at you - their rock - because they simply CAN and they know you'll still be there. Because you are their MOM and you live your life for THEM. That, coupled with your guilt, all-consuming, mind-imploding, never-ending, wrack-your-body-until-you-are-sick GUILT for making the hard, hard decisions you have made that, yes, may sometimes seem to be a mistake but in moments of great clarity you KNOW, in your very heart, that it was absolutely the right decision - for you and for your little angels. But what if you just don't have that clarity all the time and the guilt, and the arguing, and the signs of mental anguish you see in your kids, and the lack of money, and the all-consuming oh-dear-god-I'm-just-going-to-die feeling doesn't go away. What if it doesn't go away? And they still need you to be their rock? 

I'm not a psychologist and I don't have any fancy answers . . . but I say: go to your happy place. Sound cliche? It is. Totally. But this is how you crawl out of that pit. This is how you shrug off the despair. You find your happy place. Your happy thoughts. Your silver lining. The brightness in an otherwise dark and dreadful sky. 

Let me ask you this: What is good in your life RIGHT NOW? Name one thing. Then, tomorrow morning, name two things. Then, tomorrow before bed, name three things. Before you know it you will have climbed out of that pit and, damn, if the world isn't much, much brighter. 

Will your troubles be gone? Nope, not at all. They don't just disappear. (I'm not delusional, after all). It's all about perspective, honey-child. You know that old saying that you can catch more flies with honey? The same is true for walking through a quagmire of problems. Be confident and optimistic and things tend to work out a little better. Or at least you feel better about it and that's the part that matters, right? YOU choose how you deal with problems. You, or me - we - are humans with thinking brains and, hopefully, above-average reasoning skills (my readers, you see) and we can conquer the negativity that threatens our healthy perspective. Ooh, I like that. Let's say it again, shouting, in all caps:

HEALTHY PERSPECTIVE.

Can you parent effectively if you are simultaneously wading through a deep, dark pit of despair? No, right? Are you taking good care of yourself then? No, right? Then let's turn on our thinking caps and dial into the healthy perspective channel. Then we can parent with love, compassion and understanding rather than guilt, fear and anger.

Choose to be happy. Choose acceptance - in your lot, in your kid's foibles, and in the consequences of your decisions - and let.it.go. Let it all go. Choose to honor the decisions you made with faith in yourself. 

I love you, my dear girl. You are not alone. You are smart and beautiful and kind and devoted. Please don't, any of you, forget that ever. Bring yourself back from that pit. Love yourself. Do what you need to to understand that. You deserve it and you need it. To be the best mom, person, employee and just the YOU in you.

Gentle readers - holla back if you've been there, por favor. Let's build up one of our sisters. Mwah.

10 comments:

  1. "Choose acceptance" - that is the key (for me). Thanks for the awesome post.

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  2. Sometimes I forget how smart you are. Wait, not just smart, but wise. I always knew you had a writer inside you fighting to get out!

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  3. Been there...doing that all now! Someone told me to look at my problems with a pin light and not a flood light-- one thing at a time! We will all get through some how.

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  4. Stef, you've done it again. I think I need a box of tissues ready when I come to your blog.

    I've so been there...when you think you're at the bottom of the pit, you are such a miserable failure and you think nothing or no one can make you feel better. You know what... for just one moment, forget all the negativity swirling in your little universe. Look at those tiny beings you carried and grew for 9 months and remember that you have a bigger purpose in life. It's not all about you and your baggage. F'ing take those bags and throw them off the damn cliff. Good bye forever.

    Take five minutes out of your miserable day and just sit and hold your babies. Crank on the radio and act like a total goof ball and just DANCE with them. I know it sounds crazy (trust me - I AM!) but for those brief 5 minutes, all your troubles are forgotten and your living in the moment. Act like a maniac and laugh like a lunatic! When you're all done and have composed yourself, yeah your troubles are still there, but they are just a tiny bit less intimidating.

    Inch by inch, crawl up that hill... until you can stand at the top of that mountain and "F U"... I can do this!

    I hope your friend sees this and can get just a little glimmer of hope from it. Crazy... undoubtedly yes... cathartic.. absolutely! <3 Much love!

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  5. Oh. My. God. I have been there. I HAVE BEEN ALL AROUND THERE. I got the t-shirt from there and the sno-globe from there and a fridge magnet from there. If there was a four-square account for there I'd be the President of there (that only works if you know what four square is).

    I try really hard to live my life by the old "you're about as happy as you make up your mind to be" but you know sometimes that shit just doesn't work. Sometimes I get sad and sometimes I cry and sometimes I want to pull the covers over my head and say EFF IT. EFF IT ALL. And last week this could have been about me (well a lot of it anyway). I have been depressed. Like DE-PRESSED. I have been BROKE. Flat ass damn not two nickels to rub together broke. I have been late on my bills to the point that I turned my phone OFF. I have bought only what the store had on sale and invented meals I can't even stomach. I have rolled pennies for gas. I have searched couch cushions for change to buy milk. Yep. I have had my kids tell me that my divorce is MY FAULT because *I* left him (and that every divorce that happened in our family since then was my fault because I gave them the IDEA). And because I'd never ever tell them how their dad was an ASSHOLE I live with that blame. I have had my family disown me. My own mother tell me she wish she'd never had me.

    So sister, whoever you are, know you are not alone. You are in the company of women who have been where you are. Good. Bad. Ugly. We've been there. Chin up. EVen if it feels like it will never get better. I SWEAR TO YOU IT WILL.

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  6. I read this early this morning and was well into a long beautiful response when life demanded my attention...needless to say, I have cried many times this week because my daughter is so sick that she can't get out of bed and I feel so helpless. Sometimes I want to scream...and that was just an hour ago. :-/
    The truth is, I have to choose to be happy and positive for her sake, it's a fake it til you make it...survive at all costs type of approach...Trust me sweet soul sister whoever you are, you are not alone. Most days, the best we can do as mommies and women is just to DO our best...trust me you are enough, just exactly as you
    are. Noone is as together as they seem, we are all right there with you.

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  7. And lol that parts of my comment are so close to Joni's...told you we are more alike than we are different.

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  8. Well I had a happy little family. A loving, fun and interesting, supportive husband. A 13 year old and a three year old. We had a cute house, steady income, I was a stay at home mom. Life was good. Then one day, out of the blue I had a panic attack.

    Okay not out of the blue. A panic attack because, to be honest, I took a job I KNEW I SHOULDN'T to help someone out and because the money was more than I'd ever made before. Second day there I wanted OUT of there and knew I'd made a BAD decision. The woman was really counting on me but I had to say "Hasta never Chica!" When I did she freaked but I was relieved.

    I thought everything would be great but it wasn't. The panic attack triggered a big gnarly ass depression. Even thought I got out. Even though I was back at home with my little fam. Even though.

    For two YEARS I tried to jack myself out of it. The "it" was chronic insomnia and just anxiety ridden style depression. I journaled y'all. I meditated. I read spiritual self help books. I saw a shrink twice a month. After a while he suggested anti-depressants but OH NO! NOT for THIS girl. I knew it was just a spiritual problem. I was gonna meditate my way out of it.

    Fast forward two years and nothing has changed and the shrink begs me to try meds. I cry and carry on and feel like a failure. But I finally give in. I'm so miserable that when I am at home, I'm crawling on the floor and sobbing in my bedroom. This is a normal occurrence. But I take the meds. Within 3 weeks, on just 1/3 of the dose I am: sleeping a nice 8 hours per night. My appetite is back. I am laughing again. The light has come back into my eyes and I am relaxed and happy. Serious.

    I go back to the shrink who was with me during all of my journal epiphanies that led nowhere. I ask him "Does this mean that ALL THE TIME, ALL ALONG, what was wrong was freakin' brain chemistry??!" He said "It looks that way doesn't it."

    I will NEVER diss the meds for the heads ever AGAIN. Saved my life; gave it back to me. That was in '97 and I went off of them a few years later. Been fine ever since.

    Turns out the panic attack triggered a drop in seratonin which never bounced back. It happens.

    I hope your buddy can bounce back, but if it gets critical there IS better living through chemistry.

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  9. I usually like to post something super hilarious, because I'm just that funny...but to this I say, AMEN.

    Great blog. Thank you

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  10. Thank you all so, so much for your comments, stories and feedback. I may have written this post with my friend in mind but I think it's going to serve as a useful reminder to myself as well - especially your comments!

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