I’m Not Sure How It Happened But…

•April 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

…suddenly one day…a glimmer of hope appeared. Well, it didn’t exactly appear…not like a star in the sky…or an old friend showing up at your door. It was much more subtle than that. It was so obscure that I didn’t even know how it got there…didn’t even hear it sneaking up…was’t sure who invited it…but I blinked…and there it was. And it just sat there…looking back at me like “what? you thought I’d never come?” I never thought it would come. Hope, that is. I had no idea why he would…what on earth had I done to make him think I wanted him? To make him think I’d be good company to keep? He had no idea. Or maybe he did.

So while I felt bad for him…I was ever so thankful to see him. A smile crept across my face…I actually giggled. How nice. A little weight was lifted. I guess there wasn’t enough room for one more houseguest…so my little friend Despair took a vacation. I sat with Hope for awhile…not speaking. As pleasant as he was, I didn’t trust him. I didn’t even trust myself that Hope was really here…must be another delusion. But I leaned in…looked him staight in the eye…and he didn’t flinch. I guess he was honest after all.

I chatted with him for awhile…it was a pleasure getting to know him. We talked about simple things…children, spouses, life and love. We talked about the future and shared some of our dreams…he dreamt big…making a difference, impacting lives. I dreamt of smaller but equally important things…easing the pain…speaking softly..listening more. His “future” was old age and relaxing. My “future” was tomorrow and surviving to see another day.

I thanked him for visiting. It was so nice to see beyond the moment..even if it was just tomorrow. Tomorrow seemed so far away. But I could see myself there. Living tomorrow…and learning how to live kinder…appreciate more…and forgive.

Recovery Step 7 – Repeat Steps 1-6

•April 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Because it’s worth it…

Yup. Just when you’re making progress…it’s time to re-visit…

Music…

Meditation and Contemplation…

Remorse

Reflection

Surrender

and Faith

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Looking Back I Guess…

•April 26, 2013 • 2 Comments

…I was doing it wrong. I always just assumed I was wrong…inherently wrong. There was no hope for me short of medicating myself into a stupor..and what kind of life was that anyway?

So my doctor tells me that the issue here is the way I think and feel about situations, and then how I act on them. I thought that was nice in theory…nice for other people who fit in that mold. But not nice for me…me who was inherently wrong…sick in the head…a miserable person. I couldn’t think of any situations that made me crazy…I just was crazy…it was my brain.

But I figured I’d think about it a bit more…just to try and pinpoint exactly when I became crazy. Exactly what made me crazy. Was I always crazy? Let’s find out. So I went back to the corners of my memory and I remembered the point when OCD attacked me like a machine gun. It was horrific. I was in 4th grade. I’ll need to write a blog devoted to OCD at another time but this episode was the first time I remember feeling crazy.

Did I think and feel about a situation in a way that brought on the OCD? I’m not sure. I’m sure my brain mis-fired and mis-interpreted and went haywire. I’m sure something triggered it, but I am also sure I am genetically programmed to have OCD..and depression and anxiety. I don’t think my 9 year-old self had any power over OCD…OCD was going to rear its ugly head no matter what. Even if Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was in vogue at the time, I am not convinced I would have had the skills to alter my thinking patterns. I mean, you are programmed to respond in a certain way and I do think that we can train ourselves to think differently to some extent, but even as an adult this is extremely hard and in contrast to a mentally ill persons’ nature. We can pretend…and we can subdue some anxiety…but we can never really be “cured”. Gaining coping skills is great…but that is what we are doing…coping.

Maybe I’m just not there yet on my journey…maybe I am weak…but I think CBT is simplistic in nature. I’d rather find a way to work with my angst and use it for good..rather than try to change how my brain thinks. But again, maybe I am not there yet. I am only at the stage of realizing that I have been affected by things I never realized affected me..that situations were a part of the equation..not the whole equation, but a part of it.

So back to the point…I looked back and remembered 4th grade…moving from the house I loved in the neighborhood with the kids..to a new house with no neighborhood. I remembered living in a motel while we waited for the house to be built. I remembered there was a stray cat that roamed around that I took a liking to, because I loved animals. I remember that this cat had an awful skin condition on his neck…that was hairless and scabby. I remember patting the cat anyway…because he came over. I remember my mother having a fit..making me wash my hands because the cat would make me sick…he had “scabies” she said and she put the fear of God in me that if I touched him I would catch a disease. I can still see that cat’s neck as clearly as if it were yesterday.

Maybe I reacted in a detrimental way to this situation. Maybe I should have thought differently…shouldn’t have let a few stressors and a mom’s admonishment turn me neurotic and trigger me to eventually wash my hands raw to avoid contamination. But my 9 year-old self was destined to acquire OCD…it wasn’t if, it was just a matter of when.

I started this post to chronicle the many events in my life that I’ve come to realize impacted me profoundly..but now that I have veered toward my childhood OCD…I think I’ll be done for now and save the other glorious moments for another post. OCD makes me so sad…I wish I never met him. And yet…I am OCD..I can’t imagine who I’d be without him. And so I need to embrace him, as crazy as he makes me.

It makes me sad to think about when it all started…that scared little girl facing it all alone..and not knowing what “it” was. I can offer her some healing now, but I wish I was there to catch her when it all began. I want to hold my 9 year-old self and tell her everything will be alright..that she doesn’t have to be so scared….when she’s lost she can look and she will find me…time after time.

One Step Forward…Two Steps Back

•April 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Some days it feels just like that…one step forward…two steps back. I work so hard to improve, mend relationships, develop insight and then…something triggers me and BAM! I’m right back to that loathsome person. I’m either losing it…or I want to crawl under a rock…or both. Sometimes I try to distract myself from whatever is bothering me. And. Remain. Calm. That works for a little while…but it either loses it’s power once I actually have to interact with the world…or I slip away into apathy. Either way, I don’t like myself…at all. If only there was a happy medium, where I could be engaged with the world during a stressful situation for me and yet, still behave civily.

I lamented to my husband the frustaration of feeling like I’m slowly slipping backwards at times…while feeling completely exhausted from all of the work I am doing to improve. He assured me that I was improving…that I was better. I want to believe him. Really I do. But he’s so sweet to me. He wants me to be better…to be well. He knows if he is critical, I will slip even further. No one wants that. No one wants the bitch back. I wish I could belive my husband…believe that he is being genuine. I wish I was even certain that he knew what he needed to be happy. Did he really know that I was the best thing for him? If he was really honest with himself, couldn’t he find someone who would treat him better? Was I really worth it? Really?

I can’t fathom how I could be the person he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Even I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with me. He had the chance to leave. Many times. Especially when we were at the crux of our marrital problems…when he walked out to “clear his head”…when he returned to tell me he had an affair and he didn’t feel loved…didn’t feel wanted..that he was lonely and depressed. He could’ve called it quits then…and I wouldn’t even have blamed him. Not one bit. But he stayed. I told him I loved him. Then I showed him I loved him through my actions.

Little by little I changed. Some of the changes came in broad sweeps…I was literally shaken to the core that he would leave me…that he felt unloved. I was jolted into a rude awakening that demanded dramatic change if we were to survive as a couple…as a family. And that’s what we were…family. Even without the kids…we were each other’s family. We had taken that for granted…had disrespected each other. I was ashamed, as was he.

He made dramatic changes that I cannot explain how he managed to do with what seemed so little effort. I made sweeping and subtle changes. The more subtle changes were difficult, deliberate choices. I had to stop. Take a deep breath. Re-think. Make a better choice. Sometimes say nothing at all. Do nothing at all. Often it was just Fake It Til You Make It. I did what I knew I should do…even if it didn’t come naturally. Then, without warning or fan-fare…some of my new choices eventually started to seamlessly be incorporated into my repetoire of behavior. Others feel foreign to me still. I slip up. I make mistakes. I feel worthless and mean…hardened and cruel. Emotionless and disconnected.

Since I’ve had a few tastes of what it feels to be more “normal”, I know there is a glimmer of hope. I lose sight of this glitter in the throes of my discontent. I wish I could be satisfied. With my life. I have so much to be thankful for. I want to shower the people I love with love…let them know how deep my love is. Why do I have such a hard time showing love? Something else to consider.

My doctor tells me that this kind of dwelling doesn’t help. Talking about why we are like we are is usless. What I need to do is teach myself how to change the way I think about things (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). I know this. But it is so hard. I’d rather psycho-analyze myself…much more interesting..and easy to do…all day long. Problem is…it gets me nowhere…except to The Land of Guilt…The Land of Remorse…The Land of Self-Hatred. What a crummy place to be…two steps back.

I’m at the point where I have an understanding of what I need to do. I just need to get motivated to do it. If saving my marriage and family life isn’t enough, I don’t know what is. Soemtimes I am just so dissapointed in myself. I’m going to keep trying…hell, forget two steps back, I’d be happy with standing still at this point;)

You Can Make More Light

•April 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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The World Is Still A Beautiful Place

•April 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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The Fallout

•April 17, 2013 • 4 Comments

I’m not sure yet what the repercussions will be of my behavior…of how I’ve treated people. I’m already riddled with guilt about it, to the point where it makes me very moody and irritable…which, of course, drives people away. Vicious cycle.

I’ve only started to explore my issues with intimacy. Until I started trying to analyze why I was like I was, I didn’t realize I had issues with intimacy. I had boyfriends, I had friends, I was generally social, I got married, had kids…held down jobs…all very social things. Once I started really looking at myself though, I remembered that I rarely let anyone, friends included, get too close. In high school, we partied, we hung out, we talked..but it was all very superficial for me..nothing too intimate or personal that showed the real me…I kept everyone an arm’s length away. In fact, I only let my guard down when I drank. That was when I could be silly and carefree. Otherwise, I was generally pretty serious. I never would have thought of myself as serious. It wasn’t until the past 2 years that I have come to see myself as others do. It took a series of events that happened in a relatively short period of time, for me to admit that I am, in fact, serious.

A student at the school I worked at said to me, “Why don’t you ever smile?”. Huh…I didn’t realize that I didn’t smile. Every time I would see him in the halls after that day, it would remind me to smile. It would make me realize that I wasn’t naturally smiling if seeing him would force the smile…I’m not sure how genuine it looked. He did amuse me though…that he had the hutzpah to tell me what was so obvious to him.

A co-worker would often remark on how different I am from my mother. My mother happens to be the most gregarious, loud, funny person you will ever meet. She loves attention, meeting people and engaging in conversation with anybody she meets. She wants to help..get involved…make a difference. In other words…she is intimate with the world..she connects with everyone she meets…she devours the marrow of the bone of the joy of life..doesn’t waste a minute.

I am different from my mother. Remarkably so. So different, in fact, that she annoys the crap out of me much of the time, which people o not understand..can’t comprehend. “She is such a wonderful person! You are so lucky to have a mother like her!” She is a constant reminder that I am serious. She, being the Pollyanna that she is, is in complete denial as to who I am. Either that, or she is ashamed of who I am. She would never admit that. To admit that, would shatter her distorted view of the world and her self-image. She doesn’t see imperfections in herself or her children. To do so would mean needing to accept the fact that her daughter isn’t a reflection of herself..or worse yet, that there are parts of her that are reflected in me. The parts that she is ashamed of.

Because she’ll never see me for who I am, she hasn’t been able to offer me the support and encouragement that I need. She is so in denial, that even my telling her that I was suicidal didn’t elicit much concern. Her response was, “Oh honey…I am so sorry. This too shall pass.” Seriously? What world are you living in? She blames all of my problems on everyone else in the world..my father, my husband, my in-laws, the neighbors, my co-workers..my friends (I don’t have any really, but she wouldn’t admit that either) all to blame…all out to get me because they are jealous of me. Imagine that. She really thinks people are out to sabotage my life and hurt me because they are jealous of me. Unbelievable.

When my husband, T, walked out, she said “He always thought he wasn’t good enough for you.” No, she always thought he wasn’t good enough for me…her perfect baby. It infuriates me that she can’t see me for who I am. If she could just admit that she isn’t perfect and that she didn’t give birth to perfect children, she could actually be a better mother. Ironic.

When T and I were at the depths of our marriage..devoid of love and intimacy, he tried, one more time to reach out to me, literally and figuratively. As I was getting out of bed in the morning, he reached out to playfully pull me back into bed. I yanked myself away from him and spat, “Stop!”. He asked, “Why are you so angry?” That was the first time that I was able to put a label to what I was. I was angry. It was literally an Aha! moment for me. I know it sounds weird. I knew I was unhappy and anxious but…he was right…I was angry. This was something I had never considered. And yet, it made perfect sense. When my stomach would tie up in knots, it wasn’t always anxiety…being nervous about something. Most of the time, the pit in my stomach was anger…I was completely pissed off at someone or something that had the audacity to annoy me. It would set me on the journey to discovering exactly what was I so angry about?

Around this same time, I looked in the mirror and saw that the line between my eyes was very deep. I frowned so much that the line was very harsh. I stared a long time at my face. It had become so hardened…barely recognizable. Very serious. Who had I become? I hated that line, but by the end of that summer, as I was working through my recovery, I had developed a love/hate relationship with it. I didn’t wish it away anymore. I wanted it to stay right where I could see it clearly, so that I would forever be reminded of what and who I was, so I would never repeat my mistakes and fall back to being that monster again.

I’ve tried to let my guard down…be more spontaneous…be more silly and care free, but it doesn’t suit me. I thought I could do it. I thought just because I recognized that I was serious, I should be able to be less serious…right? Wrong. I just can’t do it. It flies in the face of who I am. I do have moments..when I laugh out loud with my kids…giggle with my husband…but these moment are the exception. I am at the point now, where I am unclear on whether I should be working harder on this personality flaw, or simply learn to embrace it…embrace me. Problem is…I don’t particularly like me. At least I am self-aware now. I am reflective. I just don’t like my reflection.

My only comfort is in knowing that at one point in my life, I was able to be intimate. When my now 19 year old son was born, I know I showed him love. We were very close..he adored me. I know I put a lot of effort into making him happy and bonding with him. There was a point when we were afraid he was too attached to me..that he had such separation anxiety that he wouldn’t be able to make friends..to succeed in school. He hasn’t talked to me in 4 years.

When my now 14 year old son was born, he had several complications. They weren’t sure if he would walk or talk. There were no guarantees. I loved him unconditionally. I spent countless hours working on communication with him. I broke my back helping him to walk. I was his fearless cheerleader in anything and everything. I organized medical appointments and therapies. I enjoyed being his mother so much. He inspired me. He inspired me so much that he sparked my desire to get my Master’s in Education so I could work with special needs children. I can’t pinpoint exactly when I lost patience with him. His transition from a little boy to a teen-ager was tough for me.

I love him with all my heart. He has such a sweet disposition. It is a shame that I become so easily irritated by him. Even more of a shame that I don’t connect with him anymore. I want to apologize to him, but when I have tried, it makes him uncomfortable. I don’t think he understands. Or maybe he does all too well, but it is very uncomfortable for him to see his mother as a bad person with many flaws. He, like my mother, would rather see me through rose-colored glasses. He’s wonderful like that. He sees the good in everyone. He loves unconditionally.

My now 13 year old daughter, K, was born 11 months after her older brother. I don’t know how we did it, but my husband, T, and I managed to care for these babies, one with special needs, as well as their older brother, and to actually enjoy doing it. I was always anxious…afraid I would mess up..feeling like I would never be good enough…but I enjoyed being their mother. I remember T and I, performing our night-time ritual with the kids, dancing around the living room..and then into C’s bedroom, prancing around, singing and dancing like fools. Boy, those were good times. I am so glad I remember being like that…happy. Being a good mom.

K is just like me…cursed with anxiety and OCD. She is also stubborn and emotional. She was such a sweet little girl…my little gypsy child…with long curly hair..dancing on the beach. I grew short with her too..she was in pre-adolescence. I want to say it was hormones, and not me, that made her turn into a moody child, prone to acting quite witchy and nasty to me. I can blame some of it on hormones, but she learned much of her behavior from me. She witnessed me losing it, yelling and complaining…treating people badly..being mean.

My youngest daughter, T, just turned 7. She never got the best of me. By the time she was born, I was already on a slippery slope. I don’t have clear memories of her as a baby. My husband raised her. I was working full-time. He did a marvelous job. She is so laid back and easy-going like him. She is an absolute delight. She actually said to me today, out of the blue, “I am so glad God made us.” What an absolute angel she is. I pray to God I don’t crush that beautiful spirit of hers with my darkness…with my seriousness.

I know the impact of my thoughts..I know the poison in my words and actions. I know I must change. I am on the road, but it is so hard and time is fleeting. I pray my children thrive despite me.

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