Mirrors

I feel grateful every day for my family. My children give me reason to see myself in different ways.

I snapped at Calli last night. It was a stupid situation. I wanted chocolate milk and Noah made me a nice cup of water with whey powder stuff in it. Not the same. He meant well. He was being lovely. But Noah asked why I looked so disappointed when I saw the glass (oh this stuff makes me gag) and I told him what I wanted instead and he looked kind of crestfallen (I feel so bad when his efforts to be sweet don’t land how he means them) and Calli piped up that she wanted chocolate added to her cup. I said if I didn’t get any she sure wasn’t getting any.

She covered her face with her hands. I felt really guilty. I told her it wasn’t nice of me to say that just because I was disappointed. I told her that it was not loving of me to be sharp with her when she was just asking.

The look on her face.

“It wasn’t all my fault?”

No baby. It wasn’t your fault I was mad. I was already having those feelings before you said a word. I’m really sorry I took it out on you.

“So it was ok for me to ask? It is alright to ask for things?”

Yes. You can ask. I’m sorry that sometimes I’m a jerk when you ask. That’s my fault and not yours. I’m really sorry that I’m like that sometimes.

She told me that she would forgive me. She said she understands feeling frustrated.

I pray that I give them even a fraction of the forgiveness they have offered me. Shanna has repeatedly said over the past two days, “I would like to argue with you about doing my chores. But I’m grounded. So I’m not going to argue. I’d like to argue though. Just so you know.”

I smile and tell her I appreciate her forbearance. They are so kind to me.

I watched a movie this week called Call Me Crazy. One of the five short segments in the movie was about a girl growing up with a bipolar mother. As guilty as I feel about my issues, I’m functioning. I don’t actually hide for days any more. I hide for up to an hour each day–that’s all I allow myself. I don’t feel guilty about forcing the kids to have an hour alone daily. Ok, I feel guilty but I do it anyway.

I don’t risk my kids health or safety. I don’t actually have anything that resembles clinical manic episodes–I have hypomania issues, but they aren’t the same. Sometimes I am glad to feel reminded that I’m not actually as bad as I want to believe about myself.

I find it funny that the kids being grounded means we are spending more time on the couch reading together than usual. If I’m not careful they might start thinking that grounding is something to shoot for. At this point they are certainly very happy about how it has gone.

Noah says I didn’t step over the line this time. I’m glad about that. (The kids went out back and dug up a raised bed and cut the lines to a swing.) I told them to go to bed early and I told them that they need to do their chores for a week without arguing with me and they don’t get the iPad. I told them they need to suck up because it wasn’t cool to wreck a bunch of plants.

I never know if what I am doing is right or wrong. I comfort myself with the chant, “I have never hit them.” I don’t think it is adequate though. I yell so much. I know that yelling can cause as many long-term problems as judicious spanking. I’ve read the research. So comforting myself with my lack of hitting seems… dubious at best.

I yell a lot. But my kids show no sign of deleterious effects. I check over and over to see what the effects are of verbal abuse. Are my kids showing signs of damage? Am I fucking up? Am I making “normal human mistakes” or am I actually a monster?

Mostly they show no signs. They have very high self-esteem. They feel very secure and loved and like the world is on their side. They are highly social and adaptive. My kids show no sign of feeling like a scapegoat. They are both quick to explain, “Sometimes my mom yells too much because things in her brain are kind of wonky and she has trouble controlling it–it isn’t my fault. She’s always been like this.” I feel… weird when they bust out this phrasing. It’s true. But it feels weird to have 4/5/6 year olds say this.

It’s true, but it doesn’t feel like a good excuse.

My kids don’t walk on egg shells with me (that I can detect–maybe I’m wrong). I don’t know yet if they will have long-term issues with anxiety or depression. Even if I did manage to be “perfect” somehow their gene pool has anxiety, depression, and a variety of other mental illness issues from every branch. It wouldn’t necessarily have anything to do with my actions.

But I’m not modeling the kind of behavior I want them to be able to have. I see it so clearly when Shanna can get her shit together better than I can. I struggle with how small and ashamed I feel when I watch her social acumen. That kid has charisma and polish and charm I lack. She is much better at dealing with minor frustrations. She reroutes around problems and doesn’t take them seriously or personally. I envy her detachment sometimes.

They show me what I want to be. I pray I show them what they need to see.

I’m looking forward to passing this anniversary. I hope that soon I can get through this cycle of self-hatred and suicidal ideation quickly. Just fucking end already. But the more I rage about wanting the cycle to end, the longer it drags on. I’ve tried that route before.

There is no getting over this. There is just getting through it.

I have a lot of days where I want to die. Today has mostly been a good day other than those niggling little voices telling me that I don’t deserve to breathe the same air as good people. My kids have been really nice to me.

I don’t think I talk about being suicidal (out loud, with my voice) much at all. My kids are in a phase where they tell me frequently that losing me would be the worst thing ever and absolutely ANYTHING would be better than that. I don’t know what to make of it. I know it is a normal phase and all. I try to just respond in the moment with reassurance.

I feel like a liar. No, I feel like a fraud. I carefully don’t lie explicitly. I will stay with you as long as I can. I will stay with you until you are a grown up and you can take care of yourself. I love you.

That part is true. I love you. I love you so much. You are the reason I wake up every single day and feel glad I’m not dead yet. I’m not lying when I tell you every morning that I am so glad to see you. I am glad. I am so glad.

One thought on “Mirrors

  1. inflectionpoint

    I’m sorry it is so hard for you. I wish I could make the time pass faster but time is weird and it seems to change speed at it’s own decision.

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