I’m cranky. I didn’t wake up and medicate before everyone was awake. Instead I started working. In the process I found a bunch of stuff of our current roommate. Much of it is stuff I would throw away without thinking twice. But it’s not mine. So I asked. I’m not allowed to throw it away.
Today is going to be very rough for me. This is important for me to acknowledge to myself so that I don’t take it out on other people. I am a flaming asshole about my space. This is why I’ve never lived all that well with other people.
This time it isn’t just hurting my adult friend and our well established friendship. This time it would be hurting a friend who is going through some trauma and her two already challenged children.
I can’t fuck up this time.
I haven’t yelled yet. Instead I noticed that I was about to start and I said out loud, “You know what? It’s a good time for some medication. I don’t need to take my feelings out on any one around me.”
The funny thing was most of the children in the house chorused, “Yup! It’s a great time!”
Sarah, I’m not your mom. If my children notice that a coping method makes me easier to put up with, instead of eschewing it I will embrace it.
I will decide these children are pretty fucking smart and they can notice patterns. I’m a much easier person to put up with when I am appropriately medicated with the medication I have been given by doctors. Right. I’ll get on that.
I’m not good at medicating. I don’t want to do it. I think I’m a gross dirty drug addict. Everyone around me says No. You. Aren’t. So I medicate. As my doctors want me to do.
Reality is a very difficult thing to perceive. When I’m adequately medicated do I mind that my friend has stuff when she’s staying at my house? Not one little bit. When I’m not medicated I kind of mind people having the audacity to breathe in my presence let alone have stuff that impacts me in any way.
I don’t perceive this as a rational reaction. Nor an appropriate one. Nor a nice one. But it’s the one I have. I’m trying to get better about managing it.
I’m fucking medicating, ok?
The people in this house deserve every ounce of self control I can come up with. Even if that requires medicating. That is what I have to deliver.
This morning I had one of those chats with Eldest Child that remind me I’m on the path I want to be on. She sat there and explicitly listed off all the things she really likes about her life. The list was long and detailed. At the end she said, “I like that dad teaches me about video games and I like that you teach me about white supremacy so I can do something about it.”
I swear to shiny green apples I almost threw her off of me so I could jump up and down and do a touchdown dance.
Fuck yes. This is doing exactly what I wanted it to do. She can’t unsee what she’s seen. This trip really and truly did what I wanted it to do.
I don’t care that she isn’t reading yet. She isn’t ready physically. She’s an “emergent reader”. She’s improving dramatically but she’s not fluent yet.
She has the passion that will fuel her in life. She’ll learn to read. She’ll learn to read fast because she thinks incredibly quickly and she has a genuine thirst for knowledge. She wants detailed explanations often faster than people are capable of speaking. She gets impatient.
She’ll learn to read like me. I have no fear. But I have weird anxiety because when she interacts with school age peers they are all much more fluent and she’s starting to get comments. I notice them.
Do you know how she responds, “Enh. I’ve been working on things I care about more. I’ll get to that. For now you read to me, ok?”
I almost fucking hyperventilated. Her friend blinked, shrugged, and started reading.
Oh. My. God.
I think it is funny that I feel guilty for sitting down to write. I should be working. There is so much to do. But I will work better, I will be less cranky, I will be more patient with everyone around me if I get my head together.
This is, essentially, my form of meditation. That’s part of why it is so stream of conscious and random seeming to folks who don’t know me. I put together a lot of very random pieces of my life in this writing. I make connections that allow me to be in the moment with people in a way I can’t when I’m flailing around in my emotions and reacting moment by moment.
I was completely shocked by how hard the driving was on my arms. I literally couldn’t type like this. My arms burned for months. There were days it was… really pretty sketchy. Typing like this was just out of the question. So I sent Twitter some diatribes. They are approximately 1/10 of the typing damage. It’s not that they are no damage. It is that it is harm management.
I need to hiccup my emotions into the ether. That allows me to put them down. Yeah, I know I’m weird. Duh.
I can be patient if I put my frustration here. If I acknowledge to myself that I’m feeling it and why I’m feeling it. I can say, “Oh. You would feel sad for someone else who had that frustration… but you would tell them they still have to knock their shit off and get it together.”
It’s easier to do that if I create distance from myself and my behavior. Writing it down forces me to examine it.
Part of the reason I need to never go read troll threads again is because I am constantly paranoid I am the most abusive, nightmarish monster on the planet.
Then I talk to a guy who casually tell me that his mother nailed his foot to the floor because she got sick of him running in the house.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
You know what? I’m not the worst. I’m really really not.
So if this is instead some big gray area and spectrum… oh gosh. That’s so much harder to figure out.
I mean good grief. No, I’m not the worst. I’m really really really not. It isn’t just that I don’t nail my kids feet to the floor. I don’t make a practice of hitting them and we talk about how anyone who ever hits them is someone who has lost control and it isn’t their fault and these are the steps to dealing with it. When I have fucked up (and I have) they absolutely respond as if that was a violation of their basic human rights and it stops now.
I don’t feel proud of fucking up. I feel proud of the fact that they think they are worth such vociferous defense. That’s the kind of entitlement I want them to have.
It isn’t that the people around you will be perfect. They won’t. People are a fucking mixed bag. Some of the best, brightest, most amazing people in history have also done horrifying things.
It’s complicated. I’m not perfect. I’m not even that good. But I’m not near the worst. It is hard to figure out where the boundaries are, exactly. There is no guide book. There is no way to be “perfect”.
EC asked me “Why is it hard for parents to learn how to be gentle? Why do parents hit their children?”
I said, “That is a really fantastic question. It has really deep cultural and historical roots as well as some simple psychological explanations. This is one we will come back to a lot of times before you understand it more fully. The most basic explanation is: things are changing. In the past parents thought it was ok to hit. It was more common and normal. At this point in time human beings are finding out about the problems that hitting causes and as a massive group we are trying to change a very ingrained behavior. That’s complicated. In many cases we hit because we were hit. That doesn’t make it right. But it makes it something you have to consciously choose to change. And you have to make that decision over and over and over every day for years because when you are really frustrated… you revert back to your most basic training.
Changing your basic impulses is really hard. That’s why we spend so much time working on your habits. So that for you, this won’t be a struggle. For you it will be as natural as breathing. You will be more like our friend ____. You’ve seen how she mothers, right? Your instincts are more like what her mother taught than like what my mother taught. I’m using her as a model.”
She smiled at me and told me she really appreciates me. I told her that I appreciate her. I told her that every single day she teaches me more about who I want to be and I will never ever stop being grateful for such a magnificent gift. She hugged me. She ran off to play.
Maybe this is all too much for a seven year old. I don’t really know. All I know is in life we get what we get. Some people have their house blown up by enemy insurgents. Some people are beaten and raped. Some people live in one place in safety and never ever hear about one upsetting things because they are sheltered from knowing that bad things exist in the world.
What are the limits?
I don’t know.
I’m not trying to cause PTSD in my children. I am, in full consciousness of the fact that PTSD is in some ways genetically related, trying to consciously teach them resiliency skills without having to expose them to direct trauma.
You parent the children you have. If I look at my family tree… I see a lot of very broken people. Many of these issues are genetically linked as well as being cultural and the result of generational poverty.
If you want to change things you have to have some idea of what you have. Then you can figure out what your resources will allow you to accomplish.
Everyone is different.
I am an abject failure at many parts of life. I am not in denial about this. I try not to spend too much time focusing on my failures and I get on with the parts I do better. Sometimes this makes me sound like a braggart. I’m trying to convince myself that maybe I do have something to offer.
Having my friend and her children here is providing a whole bunch of quick lessons. I apologized for starting off this morning ambushing my friend. Good grief that was stupid of me. Why in the hell did I wake up yelling about the fact that the house wasn’t already clean?
Why in the fuck do I do that?
Well, I hadn’t medicated, eaten, or given anyone a chance to wake up and help me. No fucking shit things didn’t go well.
I’m kind of ridiculous sometimes.
I’m so sorry.
But when we had a poop miss (potty training involves accidents–the parental/adult attitude is what decides if mistakes are a big deal or just part of the learning process) I was the only adult in a position to drop what I was doing and deal with bath time.
I wanted to be sitting outside medicating and writing to myself. I’m selfish like that. You know what I did?
I gave the baby a fucking bath. And I smiled. And I was super gentle. And I talked about how proud I was of her for recognizing that it was happening and running to the potty. It’s ok that she didn’t make it. She’s didn’t have one miss yesterday. She is learning. Mistakes are ok. I love you. I love you.
She beamed through the bath. Then we cuddled as we dried her off and played silly games. Then I dressed her.
Then I got to go be selfish again because the other three fucking adults in the house can handle what is going on with the four kids.
Holy crap for Crisco I like this ratio of adults. Ahhhhhhh.
We can all do work and we can all pay attention to the kids. This is like magic.
I really do better when I medicate first thing instead of getting distracted by my idiotic “Must start work” thing I do.
I need to work on that. Today didn’t need to start cranky.
You have to get yourself ready for work before you are ready to work. I’m not very good at that. I don’t want to take care of me. I want to just be a tool doing the work that kind of runs on air and impatience.
It doesn’t work very well. Shit.
I’m completely codependently handing off responsibility right this minute. I got home and told Noah and the roommate “I’m going to be an idiot for a while. I’m going to work. If you think it is a good idea for me to eat so I’m not a nasty bitch you should probably put food in front of me sometimes. No I don’t care what it is. Don’t ask me.”
They are doing splendidly.
This isn’t permanent. But the house being utter chaos is driving me completely batshit and I just have to fucking sort everything. Everything. It’s kind of insane. I do this.
They have both been kind of gently teasing me about the fact that things stayed in one place while I was gone and that was kind of novel.
If I didn’t know that they really like this aspect of my personality I’d worry. They are happy the mess is evaporating around them like magic without them having to do anything. Other than deal with me being stupid about self care so I get nasty. Sigh.
I’m in the house with two feeders who don’t like to clean. Surely we can make a trade.
(I ain’t complaining. That part is going great. The food is lovely. Thank you, dears.)
I’ve been thinking really hard about gossip and reputations and community. I’ve been thinking about black lists and patterns and missing stairs.
Do you know who gets kicked out? The people who don’t freely offer to do enough work for people around them. People who don’t make the people around them feel better about existing.
It isn’t that the monsters get kicked out.
Often the monsters are the fucking pillars of the community and that is why they are allowed to stay no matter what they do.
Am I am abuser? Yes. I have abused people. That is absolutely, unequivocally true.
The question I need to focus more on: am I currently abusing people?
Holy fucking shit that is complex. People are so different. What they need is so different.
Figuring out if you are abusing people is partially about figuring out if you are even capable of seeing the needs you are not meeting. That’s god damn hard. How do you know what you don’t know?!
You ask for the opinions of lots and lots and lots of people who have actual reason for having an opinion.
Do you know who you don’t fucking ask?
It was fascinating traveling with my children and feeling what it is like to be far from people who know you and are accustomed to you.
Everyone in my life feels absolutely comfortable telling me I’ve crossed a line because I tell people that I need that and I welcome it and I respond positively when it happens.
Do you know why I wanted to go see the woman in Missouri? Because years ago when I was breaking up with my family she sent me a piece of artwork in conjunction with providing support online.
But I’m a gross weirdo for wanting to meet her. Even though her art is on my wall.
That feels really bad to me.
I’m going to be getting rid of the artwork. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I feel like a yucky person for touching something that was made by someone who has so little regard for me that they would publicly shame me for wanting to be friendly.
Hey, I’ll put something I like better there. Something from someone who doesn’t despise me.
I have lots of options.
It’s ok for things to not work out with people. I acknowledge that in ways other people don’t. I can live with being something different.
And I’ll stay in my sandbox. I will not act like a cat wandering over to shit in someone else’s sandbox and argue.
I think I need to be done with forums. I’m not trying to tell people what they should do or not do. I need to just focus on me.
That’s kind of hard.
I’ve spent… kind of a ridiculous amount of times in internet forums. At this point I’m probably busy enough that I don’t need them in the same way.
I know how to make a web that touches my real life better. I’m very happy about that. It means I am less eager to jump through hoops to prove my status to strangers.
I need to not care what you think. That is vitally important to my continued good health and success in life.
If I care about you I will fail. I won’t base my decisions on the people who are in front of me. I would be wrong.
I don’t need to live up to the demands of your culture. I need to live up to mine. That’s complicated.
I don’t think yours is wrong. I don’t think you should stop.
But it wouldn’t work for me for oceans of reasons. It isn’t your fault and it isn’t mine. It isn’t bad and it isn’t wrong.
It takes all kinds.
I’m sorry I don’t always do a good job of pointing out where I need accommodation from your culture to mine. I’m trying to learn how. It’s very very hard.
There are a bleepin lot of you.
It has been hard for me to understand the size and shape of my culture. It’s been hard for me to understand what makes it different from the people around me. That makes it really hard to explain. I’m trying. I’m learning.
How in the hell does a fish explain water?
I think it is funny that a lot of my training for this skill came from being a bdsm demo bottom. How do you explain the physical sensations that are happening right now and why you want them to happen and what is pleasurable and challenging about them and…
Skills generalize in some fascinating ways.
Do you know why we missed the poop? Because the adults have backed off on a lot of the supportive “fun” structure we had in the first few days. We are acting like she just needs to do it.
Which is a whole new level of skill. It’s a huge step up of expectation for her in terms of body awareness. Of course she will make mistakes.
That’s what people do.
If you smile and say, “Whoops! Now you know what that feels like” and you gently help them take a bath…
They want to learn. They get bloody sick of the baths.
Aversive training doesn’t need to be mean or awful.
Diapers sure were convenient. But you aren’t a baby any more, my love. It’s time to help you learn a new part of taking care of yourself. I know you don’t want to. I don’t want to either. But life is like that. We all change.
I want nine kids. Damn his vasectomy.
I would die. Bless his vasectomy.
Fuck you for bringing reality into this relationship. (I say as I talk to myself.)
I decided I should spend as much of babysitting time sitting still as I could force myself to do between bathroom breaks. I’m drinking a lot of tea cause it is damn cold out here.
But this is the only peace to be had. There’s no room at the inn. Ha.
I understand smokers so much more now.
I’m back to my noisy as heck neighborhood. It’s a busy suburb under a bunch of different airports with a railroad track right next to our house between two major freeways.
I don’t live in a city. I don’t want to. In cities… I don’t fit. I’m wrong and wrong and wrong and wrong.
I don’t do that much better in truly rural settings.
I’m something different.
But you know what? My neighbors like me.
My next door neighbor laughed when I told him about people ranting about how they don’t like those weirdos in California.
He laughed and said, “We are weird.”
This was intensely amusing to me.
Given that I am… weird.
He’s uhm yeah. He’s not much like me. Nope nope nope. He is what I would think of as the stereotype of someone who is a suburban dad because that is his dream come true. We’ve talked through some (entertaining to me) personality issues he’s had as a coach over the years. He’s a good guy. And he says stuff I absolutely yell at him for because they are not ok and I call him on that. You know what? He tells me all the time he is glad he knows me.
When I was younger I’d get really pissed off about people saying “Don’t hold back, tell me how you really feel.”
I absolutely fucking exploded.
Because it means, “Shut up.”
These days people say, “I really like that you don’t hold back. You tell me how you really feel.”
I don’t know how much it is that I am different and how much it is that my methods are different and how much it is that peoples perception of my position in life and the relative worth of my opinions has changed.
That whole fucking spectrum baffles the fucking shit out of me.
I don’t spend that much time bragging about my victories because my arms fucking hurt. I save my damage for preventing other self harm. I record my fuck ups. So I can never ever deny them. Or if I start to deny something I’ll check myself and say, “Wait. You say I did ____ when you were _____. I would have written that down. Let’s go check. Yup. I totally did that. I really did and it was completely wrong. You are right to remember it as a I time I violated your boundaries. I’m sorry. I should not have done that. I should have done _____ or _____ or ____. But I didn’t.”
And then they will get to decide how they feel about that.
I don’t want to be able to rewrite history.
Yes, it is technically possible for me to rewrite blog entries. Know how I don’t edit much? That’s part of that.
I don’t want to change the story.
I know that if I go back and edit things based on a different mood I may very well change things in ways that dramatically alter the perception of what happened.
I don’t want to do that. If I want to add more on a topic, I do that. I don’t go back and rewrite it though.
It happened. I was wrong. I am very very very very wrong sometimes.
It is not your fault. It is my fault.
I wish people didn’t have to forgive me for fucking up. I am not at that point yet. I am not sure I will ever get there.
But I sure hope the fuck ups are… something different. You know?
Am I abusing my children? Goodness I hope not. I’m told I am not. But I’m afraid. I’m afraid the people saying so don’t really know. But my children say no. I try not to pester them with asking.
I “know” I should never ever ask. I should just know. But I have to ask because I don’t know and I don’t think I am a very good judge.
I know that is an unfair burden. I should be good at judging. I’m not. I have never been good at that. People are so different.
I don’t ask them if I abuse them. I ask them if they would like to change aspects of how we are interacting or if things are working for them. “When x happens I do y and I’m not sure if that is your preference. There are a, b, or c as options if that would be more appropriate.”
And the “work” they do is mostly drawing and playing lego’s and destroying my house as they tell fantastic stories involving almost everything we own going on the floor.
They are learning how to build with what they have. They are also learning how to clean up and how to be a person who is capable of caring for themselves.
I think this is the work of their lives.
I’m ok with you having different plans for your children.
It takes all kinds.
Time to go in.