Impact’s first weekend.

I spent the weekend at a self defense class offered from Impact Bay Area.  If you are curious what they teach there will be a public demonstration next Sunday from 4-5:30 that you can come watch. Let me know you are interested and I’ll give you the address.

I have been to a public demo in the past. It was intense and a little scary to watch but it inspired me to want to take the class. I want to be able to do those skills! I’ve got to say, there isn’t much in life that is more viscerally satisfying than kneeing someone in the head and watching them fly four feet before they land on the ground.

After one of my “fight” sessions I managed to deescalate things verbally so I didn’t actually physically fight. The instructor could see I was disappointed so she asked if I wanted to go again for an actual fight. Then everyone burst into laughter. No one else was nearly as eager to physically fight. I felt quite blood thirsty.

It is a very tightly structured class which is both good and bad. The good is: they have a lot of material and they cover it very well. The bad: I have a hard time with people who want to have that much control over my bladder. *I* don’t have that much control over my bladder and I tend to feel pretty humiliated about that. Sorry. I haven’t been able to stick to the bathroom breaks other people assign ever in my life. I just can’t. Physically. That’s an ongoing issue for me in life. I will break the rules and go to the bathroom when I have to. But I’ll feel ashamed of myself and like I am bad the whole time and that dynamic sucks.

I get that they don’t want people wandering off to text for a while and waste time. That’s fine. I pee quickly. I just have to do it right when my body says.

The techniques they are teaching are challenging, but easy to start picking up. I’m going to need to practice a number of them. I’m pretty bad about punching when I shouldn’t. I have hurt my hands pretty badly in fights in the past so I understand why they have the guidance around not punching. Hands are delicate little objects–all those miraculously small bones are easy to break. I’m aware. I’ve worn multiple casts. (Not from fights. I’m klutzy–not that blood thirsty.)

I am unsurprisingly vicious when I’m taken from behind. One of the instructors commented, “Wow. I could hear the suit’s plastic thunk from across the room when you hit him. That doesn’t happen very often. You had to hit him very hard to make that sound.” Well… I was scared. What do you expect? Oh. You think I am here to *learn* to hit people. Naw. I’m here to learn more about *where* to hit them and *how* to hit them. I’m already very good with the whole “hit” part. Done lots of that. I’m totally comfortable with the idea of making someone else hurt very badly in defense of my body.

Based on the classroom discussions (lead by the teacher) I don’t think they get all that many students who are happy to hit people outside of martial arts. They don’t talk as if that is common.

I’m struggling with a few things the teacher has said. Not because she was wrong to say them–because I struggle with these things. There was a lot of conversation about how it is very legally necessary to verbally deescalate things. If you swear at someone and try to piss them off to provoke a fight you are on shaky legal ground to beat the shit out of them. It’s not exactly self defense if you egg a fight on.

The thing is: my attempts at verbal deescalation don’t work that well. A lot of my experience is that I do better to bring an absolute torrent of swearwords then guys will back off and leave me alone. My experience is that if I try to be firm but not engage I have more problems. I understand that legally I have no right to piss someone off and then hit them. I get it. It’s just something I am going to struggle with mightily. My experience is that the best tool in my arsenal for getting people to leave me alone is demonstrating (correctly) that I’m crazy and a random attacker has no god damn idea what I might do. I might just completely go ballistic and make your life a living hell. I’m like that sometimes. But only if provoked.

I try to believe that defending myself is a worthy cause. If it is a worthy cause it is worth absolutely all the energy I can throw at it.

I have deep respect and gratitude for the teachers at Impact. Even when they said or did things I didn’t especially like they were always very clear about why they said what they said. They had justifications and reasons and data. They did not *ever* rely on “because I said so” which I appreciate.

Saturday (day one) was a lot less hard than Sunday and I don’t think it is just because the techniques were more simple. The first day we worked on scenarios I don’t have a lot of personal experience losing. I’ve never been assaulted by a random person walking by and it’s a little baffling to me that people (in the most general sense possible) are terrified of those kinds of occurrences. My issues have always happened with people I know.

Sunday wasn’t necessarily about “people you know” but there was more direct fighting off sexual assault techniques. That was hard for me. I cried through part of the class because just watching the other students was very upsetting. I was grateful that I had a support network in class.

It was sorta funny. One of the lovely women whom I’ve never met before offered me a hug, I suspect because she saw me hugging the people I already knew before the class. I got to say, “Actually I’m not very comfortable letting people touch me until I’ve known them for many years.” One of the women whose hand I’d been holding said, “Yes I’ve known her for many years and today is the first time I’ve ever touched Krissy.” The nice stranger kind of blinked for a bit and said, “Well ok then.”

Yeah, I’ve got boundaries.

But it was the nice kind of running into a boundary. It was safe to express in a nice voice. I like it when that happens.

*I’m* not ok with people touching me until I have known them for a long time. It’s ok that I have that boundary now. No, I didn’t have it when I was much younger and that’s ok too. I’m allowed to have it now even though I haven’t always had it in exactly the same way. People are allowed to change.

I’m finding the class to be incredibly empowering. I highly recommend it for men and women. Not only do you learn more about how to effectively use your body as a weapon when necessary, you get to beat the shit out of suited instructors for days and that is just ridiculously fun. Uhm, maybe not everyone has as much fun with beating the crap out of people as I do. I’m practically giddy.

One technique, what to do when you are grabbed from behind and lifted to the floor, was hard for me to master because when it starts happening I go into a blind panic. Then my sweet helpful classmates were yelling “Bite!” at me because the next step is sayingBite!” Yeah well, when I’m scared and lots of people are screaming bite at me… guess what I do. Whoops. The suited instructors were universal in their response, “Never ever ever apologize for hurting someone who is trying to hurt you. Even in a demo. Never apologize to the bad guy. Never. If you hurt slightly more than you intended to, it is the instructors responsibility to know how to keep himself safe.”

I am pretty ridiculously grateful to those kind men who volunteer to let group after group after group of people beat on them. That is true service to your community. They help people feel more confident in their bodies. It is wonderful to watch.

Luckily my arms are already less sore than they were yesterday. I’m going to have to be conservative about how I use my arms this week. My elbows are very sore. I have rug burn on my knee. I think it is kind of funny that I ended up with rug burn and I didn’t even get laid. That seems… counter intuitive.

I’m looking forward to next weekend.

Day 5: now we’re cooking.

Breakfast: yet again with the puffed rice cereal. I can’t 100% get apples out of my diet till the box is gone so hurry up already. Almond milk, pecans, banana, and blueberries this time.

Lunch: big bowl of the vegetable/chicken soup.

Dinner: leftover stir fry and rice with blueberries for dessert.

I felt way less hungry today. I felt more like the food kept me full. That was nice. I walked 3 miles (very slowly–took me an hour) in the morning before the self-defense class. I probably drank 11 or 12 cups of water again.

Which leads me to…. The cut tag! This is, once again, your warning that the upcoming material is g-r-o-s-s. Reader beware.

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Day 4

Breakfast has been consistent so far with minor variation. Puffed rice cereal, almond milk, pecans, banana. I added pineapple juice and peppermint tea.

Snack of raspberries and potato chips.

1st lunch: big bowl of mostly veggie/chicken soup.

2nd lunch: raw carrots and cucumber, 1/2 a GF English muffin with peanut butter and jelly, banana, lots of raspberries, and turkey bacon.

Dinner: big bowl of peanut butter puff cereal with almond milk.

3 BMs. Copious. Getting more brown. Not getting more firm.

Yesterday was challenging physically. A 7 mile run–I took it slow (1 hour and 40 minutes) because I knew I had a six hour self defense class. I’m glad I didn’t run harder. I was tired at the end of the day. I had a lot of fun in the class. Apparently I hit quite hard. I had to consciously pull my punches so that I could have an opportunity to knee the instructor in the head. Ha.

Day three

Brekkie: more of the forking rice cereal with banana, sliced almonds, and almond milk. I had some peppermint tea. (Peppermint tea seems to be the only kind I “should” be drinking right now.)

Lunch #1: BIG bowl of soup I made yesterday. Mmm veggies.

Lunch #2: cucumbers and carrots raw (I know raw isn’t ideal–I had a lot of belly distention yesterday and I suspect the raw food. I am trying to have mostly cooked stuff but I’m still working on having enough variety sitting around), peanut butter on a gluten free English muffin, some diced up chicken, and another banana. (Bananas are starting to taste SO Sweet when normally I’m kind of meh on them.)

Snack: two gluten free waffles with a big handful of raspberries on top and some maple syrup. Mmmmmmm. Syrup. Maple is one of the few sweeteners I’m supposed to have, and I need to go easy on it.

Dinner: white rice and a huge vegetable stir fry. Cabbage, bok choy, carrots, green beans and broccoli with venison. (Less fatty meat than beef. Apparently fatty cuts of meat can irritate your intestine if you already have diarrhea problems.)

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Moody as hell.

The last three days have been quite a roller coaster. I have minutes or even hours where I feel great. I feel happy. I feel like I can overcome any difficulty because I have people who love me who help me and history has proven that all you need is a small group of dedicated people to change everything.

Then I’m raging and so angry that I feel like I want to break many bones. I want to make people bleed. I haven’t screamed even once, but the surges of emotion are so intense I feel like I am choking.

Then I’m sad and depressed and I feel like of course I’m not going to figure out anything with this stupid diet. I’m torturing myself and Noah for nothing because it won’t work. Nothing has ever worked. I’m a fucking failure and I should die.

Then all of a sudden I am pumped and anxious and I want people to PROVE THEY LOVE ME GOD DAMNIT. HERE ARE SOME HOOPS. PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEEEEEEEE.

And then the cycle starts all over again. It’s not really a cycle. It’s jumping around very unpredictably. The triggers are small and stupid and really not worth the degree of emotion I experience afterwards.

I’m not talking much. I am reading a lot and trying not to express my range of emotions where other people have to live with them while I’m living with them.

My feelings are real. They are happening. But everyone doesn’t have to be on the roller coaster with me.

Yesterday a brace of birds came and sat on my neighbors roof and looked at me through the window. I hadn’t filled the bird seed container in a few days. So I gave them more food. Then all of the trees within a block of my house exploded in song once they could see my head over the roof.

These small moments feel like magic.

I have the most patient husband. My kids are so kind to me. I’m sorry that my emotions are all over the place. I can’t control them. I’m doing everything I know to do. I’m doing my best.

I’m sorry.

Day 2

I am thrilled and delighted to say that day 2 was better than day 1 despite the internet warning me it would be much worse. Less body pain (though still hanging out in the 4-5 range) and I am super excited about less nausea. We went on a nice long walk for my ‘cross-training’ and I didn’t feel dizzy or sick. Woo!

Food:

Breakfast continues to be the puffed rice cereal. I am conscious of the fact that it “may” be sweetened with apple juice which means I’m not 100% off apples yet. But I need to eat the damn box of cereal. Almond milk and pecans and bananas to make it feel like more of a meal.

Snack: another banana and a few pieces of raw cucumber. I don’t know a way to cook cucumber and it is on my “safe” food list.

Lunch: GF English muffin (it’s kind of… weird…) and peanut butter

2nd lunch: soup! (I made it!) chicken, chicken stock (home made!), carrots, cabbage, brown rice, potatoes.

Dinner: more soup

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Day 1

I am having feelings. Noah and I aren’t communicating very well about what I should or shouldn’t be eating so dinner wasn’t “clean” and right this second I am flipping out that I had a day that shitty so that it doesn’t “really” count as day one. I want to beat my head on concrete so fucking bad.

I didn’t feel good for most of yesterday.

For breakfast I ate: puffed rice cereal (which possibly has apple juice in it so it probably doesn’t count as “clean” anyway. I want to jump off a cliff) with almond milk, banana, and pecans.

I had lots of turkey bacon as snack.

Lunch: more turkey bacon, brown rice, raw carrot. I probably shouldn’t be eating raw vegetables at all during this, but I don’t have a lot of food options right now.

Dinner was pad see ewe. I very carefully ensured that the noodles were gluten free and the soy sauce was gluten free (soy is a tricky thing–I’m not supposed to have tofu but a little soy sauce is on the IBS approved list though it isn’t on normal elimination diet lists) he added corn starch, which is borderline but I approved it. This morning he told me he added egg. I’m not supposed to have egg. Which means that all the leftovers, which I was counting on, I shouldn’t eat.

I am not happy at all this second. My body hurts so much. I don’t know how I am going to do this.

I feel like shit and trying to do better is pointless because well meaning people are helpful. I want to die. It will not be possible to stop hurting until I am dead.

I think I am going to have to be responsible for 100% of my food. I can’t do this. I can’t try this hard and sit very still all day because I feel so sick and have Noah come home and helpfully make dinner that means all the feeling shitty was stupid and pointless anyway.

I feel stupid and I want to die. I want to hurt myself so much. I am so upset.

See, this is why I just live with permanent terrible diarrhea.

 

Towards the end of day 1

Holy moly this is likely to be rough. I feel so bad. I feel dizzy and I feel like I will puke. The internet tells me that days 2-7 are the worst. That sounds pretty heinous right this minute. I *know* that part of the problem is inadequate calories. I’ve dropped ten pounds in the last month. It’s that time of year. I *did* eat. I ate as much as I could force myself to eat of those foods. Not sure they were calorie dense enough. This is an ongoing problem I try to manage. Density of calories vs. bulk of food.

Luckily Noah and Pam made me dinner so I’m going to eat more food any second. I feel so grateful for Pam today. She came over and did all the dinner prep. Noah did the actual cooking.

I have a good life and I am grateful for the people I have in my life. I have such good friends.

I’m scared because this weekend is the Impact class with Sarah. I’m also deep into half marathon training. And I feel *shitty*. Power through, motherfucker.

I would say that dropping the elimination diet is smart only I felt like shit before I started. I have felt like shit for almost a week because I ate something that set me off. (Judging by the FODMAP list probably the cauliflower… but it doesn’t always make me sick! And never ever this sick before!)

Dinner is ready.

Food history

Every one has their own journey with food. It differs from culture to culture and between socio-economic groups. If I had to pick one word for my food journey it would be: disrupted. Or maybe inconsistent.

My parents didn’t divorce until I was three. I assume that the first three years of my life involved fairly normal eating. When I was a kid I would look at my mother’s recipe book and look at the menu plans she had in the back. Pot roast, lamb chops, roast chicken. I assume I ate just fine for the first few years. The main thing my mother and my sister had to say was that I was very picky about my eggs. I would ONLY eat them if they were scrambled and cooked hard–basically to the point of being burnt. Both of them would tell me stories about that throughout my childhood in that way that made it sound like they accommodated me endlessly.

Then the divorce happened. We stayed in the house for a while. My mom started working and my sister was supposed to be my caretaker. My sister was a teenager dealing with extreme trauma so she wasn’t a very good caregiver. I knew how to cook my own ramen before I was four.

Then we moved out of the house and into our car. I don’t know what I ate. My mom worked at Denny’s and I remember long hours sitting in the car during her shift. I had nowhere else to be. Eventually I was sent to Auntie’s house for the first time. While I was gone my mom got married.

With Auntie we ate either rice or potatoes and beef every night. That is what Uncle Bob wanted. There would generally be a side of canned vegetables: corn, green beans, or peas.

So the malnutrition didn’t start that early.

I think things got bad when we moved to Oklahoma. We were very poor. We moved there to get away from my mom’s abusive second husband. My mom worked at Jack in the Box and we lived in a double wide in the middle of the woods. We ate a lot of game. I’ve eaten squirrel, chipmunk, fox, venison and I don’t know what all else. Her boyfriend was a pretty good hunter. Other than that I’m not sure what we were eating.

Then we moved to Texas and lost the game meals and my mom got another job (I don’t know doing what) and we lived in a trailer park. My sister moved in with us. We ate junk food, period. My sister was pregnant and mean as a snake. (Drug withdrawals combined with the ick of pregnancy wouldn’t be fun.) I ate food from bags: chips, etc.

Things didn’t get really bad until Tommy was hit by the car. That’s when my mom stopped feeding me. Realizing that right now, I feel very sad for her. I’m not sure I would be a better mother under such conditions.

My mom came back to California while Tommy was in a coma. Things were tumultuous during the five months he was in a coma. I was bounced around all over the place. My mom wasn’t capable of seeing me or taking care of me. I stole a lot of food to eat. I lived with people I didn’t know and I got very rigid about my food preferences. I would eat ramen or nothing in many of the houses I lived in. Food became very traumatic because I was dropped on these random mothers and they had different food culture. I wasn’t familiar with anything they served and I was punished if I didn’t dig in with gusto. I learned to be very difficult about food in order to ensure that I ate food that felt familiar to me. My pickiness was actually very self-destructive, but I didn’t understand that.

I didn’t eat green things, except for pickles and I ate pickles like a banana–I left the skin. I told my mom “green means mold–I’m not eating that”.

I also found weevils in the Nissin ramen packets guaranteeing that I have never been able to eat this brand again. You’ve never experienced horror until ramen is the only food in the house and every package is full of bugs. I ate them. I had to or starve. I cried while I did it.

I was seven when Tommy’s accident happened. I turned eight while he was in the coma. When I was eight or nine we moved to Whittier, in a house my father paid for so my mom could be close to Tommy during his recovery. We were there eighteen months.

Whittier was bad. When I think about the height of my hunger, that’s the period of time I’m thinking about. I was with my mom full time and my sister lived with us. My nephew was born while Tommy was in the coma. After he woke up from the coma he moved in with us and things got worse.

My mom and my sister and Tommy ate food. I ate ramen. They ate out a lot. I remember my mom coming home from work with Orange Julius cups. To this day I experience irrational hatred and anger when I even see the brand name. To be fair they were happy with “food” like liver and onions. No I didn’t fucking eat it with them. There wasn’t much food in the house. They didn’t cook very much. Grocery shopping was a nightmare–we had to go a long way and we had to walk or take the bus. I remember pushing an empty stroller to the store so we didn’t have to carry our things home.

I remember my mom crying as she counted out my packets of ramen. She got things like Lunchables. She told me they were too expensive for me. She wasn’t willing to eat ramen–she thought it was disgusting. Lunchables were palatable to her and about the cheapest food she would eat.

Fruits and vegetables didn’t exist.

We moved to Apple Valley after that. I stole a lot of food in Apple Valley. We moved there to be close to a group home facility Tommy could live in–the only one in the state that would allow adolescents. There are surprisingly few facilities for treating long-term brain injury issues.

My mom worked in City of Industry. Her commute was 90 miles each way. I was alone. I ate ramen.

We moved back to the bay area after that when things became untenable in Apple Valley. My dad was harassing my mom and I was getting beat up in school so much that even my mom couldn’t ignore it any more. We came back to Auntie.

I had diarrhea through most of my childhood. I missed so much school because my belly hurt. My mom read some stupid astrology book that told her that Virgos are prone to stomach complaints and she decided that my whining about my belly had to be that. She didn’t take me to see a doctor. She didn’t talk to me about my food or health. We did not have conversations about nutrition in my family of origin. I’m not sure my mom knew anything. She thought Pepsi and Snickers was a dandy breakfast.

My mom ate other foods. I ate ramen. When I was a kid I rebelled by not having a sweet tooth. I didn’t want to be like my mom.

I got to middle school and for some reason my mom didn’t apply for free lunch at school. I had eaten nachos every day for lunch through most of my childhood. Almost every school across the nation offers shitty nachos as a free lunch option. Mmmmm shitty free nachos. That was my primary school lunch. So in middle school I mixed it up. Every day I took one baggie to school and in it I placed a piece of string cheese, two pickle spears, and beef jerky. That was lunch for a few years. The scary part is that is a more balanced lunch than I had ever eaten previously. (Ok, I’m sure I had individual meals that were more healthy, but not often.)

High school I switched to instant noodles at school. It was a $1/day. Nachos were $2.50/day. I had $20/week for food. Oh, in Bakersfield I spent one semester at a school that had pastrami sandwiches for $2/day. Those were so good.

I started buying baguettes and blocks of cheese. That would be my food for the day.

For some reason, I feel like my mom rarely had food stamps. I think she just didn’t do the paper work. My sister had food stamps on and off throughout my childhood. I ate government cheese at her house. She was the asshole who insisted on fucking Nissin ramen “for variety”.

I don’t like peanut butter nor hot dogs because fucking everyone was always trying to get me to eat one or the other. No fucking thank you.

So I got to adulthood having eaten very little vegetables and even less fruit. My boyfriend at seventeen is the one who forced me to start eating vegetables. It wasn’t acceptable to him that I eat ramen at every meal. He made me eat broccoli. Really, he was a good guy to me.

We moved in together and I started trying to cook because I wanted him to like me and stay with me. If you want a guy to stay with you, you have to be good at cooking–right?

Eventually I decided I didn’t want to stay with him because he was too uhm conservative for me. So I left. I had broadened my food palate enormously. I ate Thai food for the first time. I tried Indian. I ate dim sum for the first time. (My previous entire Chinese experience was Mr. Chau’s fried rice, chow mein, and sweet and sour pork.) I ate Ethiopian food. I started eating vegetables of all kinds.

Then I moved in with my Owner. (He wasn’t my Owner to start with and really there was over a year of moving around and couch surfing and staying with friends in between the fiance and the Owner.) When I was couch surfing I ate out several times a week (it felt like magic–I had the settlement money so all of a sudden I felt like I wasn’t poor any more! I had over $200/month I could spend on food! *swoon*) and I still ate a lot of bread and cheese.

Now I think it is hilarious that $200/month felt like being rich. I spend more than $1200 every month on food now. That was how much money I lived on every month for years.

I got to know more vegetarians and vegans and pescetarians. I learned to feel enormous guilt and shame over my lack of “healthy” diet. When I spend time in a raw vegans house I walk out feeling like a monster who doesn’t care about animals. I tried really hard to add vegetables in my diet. The result was even more diarrhea.

Having kids has been the real kicker though. I eat vegetables now. Daily. We eat 3-5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. My kids often eat more than that by choice. We go through so much fruit it is kind of bizarre to me.

I live with a lot of pain. It doesn’t make being nice easier.

I have done food diaries at various points. I was a champ at Weight Watchers. I have done them for the purpose of bringing them to doctors. What I was told was, “Wow you have a healthy diet! Maybe a little less sausage.” (That happened to be a slightly sausage heavy week… but the sausage isn’t why I have chronic diarrhea you asshole.) A different doctor said, “You need to eat more Fiber 1 cereal.”

So a casual food diary with notation of symptoms isn’t going to be real effective at this stage. I’ve done that. Repeatedly with no resulting help. I can’t narrow down what is causing the problems that way.

My mom spent my childhood mocking me because I knew where every public toilet in town was. I had chronic diarrhea. Why in the hell do you need to make fun of me for needing to shit fire every day? Ok, and I have a small and urgent bladder. I am lead to believe that is exceedingly common amongst people who experience early childhood sexual assault. I suppose that’s another great reason to make fun of me.

Yesterday I went to the store and spent a bunch of money on foods that fall under the auspice of “clean foods”. I feel like such an asshole. Then a friend pointed me to FODMAPS and I feel that is a slightly better focus for my upcoming journey. Let me tell you, elimination diets look like a big fat pain in my ass. The recommended lists of foods contradict one another. I suspect I should stay on the end of the IBS recommendations, regardless of the fact that I don’t have a diagnosis.

I can’t get a doctor to give me a diagnosis. Decades of diarrhea. I hate doctors. I don’t know how to work with them. I don’t know how to get help. And apparently this is a big failure on my part.

I’m not entirely sure what my next steps will be. I know that I go to Hawaii in 24 days. I know that Halloween and its candy bacchanalia is coming up. Thanksgiving is coming. Christmas. I would like to have a better idea what is hurting me. If I wait until a convenient time then I will never do it. I have gotten to 33 years old without ever doing an elimination diet because it is never convenient.

Several people have told me to switch to Soylent. The thing is… at some point I will have to eat again. And if I just switch to Soylent without trying to figure out the problem… it will still be there waiting for me. Even if Soylent did cure my diarrhea… what do I do when I need to eat food? Just suffer the whole time because I don’t know how to treat my body right?

I need more information before I can make different choices. If I could have the option of deciding that diarrhea is worth it for a specific event… that would be different than dreading every meal with friends who are vegetarian or vegan because I will be sick for a week afterwards. We had a vegan meal last Thursday? Wednesday? I’m still shitting fire. Did so this morning.

I’m not saying my diarrhea is anyone else’s fault. I picked the menu for the meal. I don’t know what is hurting me so I don’t know what to avoid.

I get so much conflicting information about “health”. I am at the point where I believe that any and all population wide beliefs about health are not that applicable to me. I need to figure out what health is *for me*. That is going to take data mining. Good thing I’m a control freak.

A thought.

I’m pretty sure that my rage around food issues is just my abandonment issues writ large. This is my continued fury and sorrow and rage that my mother didn’t take care of me. It is a lot easier to blame people who are in my life now than it is to look at the fact that I am still mourning that I did not have anyone to care for me when I was a child.

I’ve had chronic diarrhea all my life. Why didn’t my mom ever say anything to me? Did she just not know? I don’t know.

But this anger isn’t about the people in my life right now. I really hope it doesn’t sound like I’m actually saying that people who know me now are to blame for my issues.

Next day, still on food.

I’m not mad today. That feels better. I’m not sure I could carry mad with how much excitement I feel about Hawaii.

More on food stuff: I find it funny that I get more comments about poop than anything else.

I don’t think a single solitary person has ever tried to hurt me with food. I do not believe that in following their preferences/needs/restrictions a single person has had malice in my direction. I hope I didn’t actually make it sound like I thought people were cackling with glee as they deliberately inflict diarrhea on me. That’s not it.

I suspect that part of my feelings of rage is how helpless I feel to fix this problem. I have tried. I’ve tried lots of things over many years and things are a lot better than they used to be but they still aren’t great.

I suspect that part of my feelings of rage is how much I consciously try to accommodate other people and I don’t feel like other people do the same to me. (I ask people over and over about food restrictions/allergies/etc. Things change.) It is important to note that people DO ask me if I have any allergies and I tell them no. So people are trying. I don’t know what to tell them to make the question useful and that is really hard for me. It is NOT someone else’s fault I don’t know what to tell them. It isn’t anyone else’s fault that people ask if I have allergies and I say no. No one is to blame. I’m not mad AT anyone.

I think that part of me feels like… maybe other people had help figuring out what was broken in their body and I don’t have help and I don’t know how to figure it out. I know that isn’t accurate. I know that I perceive other people as getting more help and love than they actually do. I know this is jealousy talking as much as anything else. I’m jealous of having people who take care of you who help you figure out what is going on with you.

I want a mommy who will handle the food diary and elimination diet and tell me what I can and can’t have. I would meekly go along. But doing it for myself is so hard. I know it is way harder than it should be.

In order to do an elimination diet I will have to cut back on what we do. We will have to stay home basically every day because I depend a lot on eating out to bridge the gap between my spoons and our requirements for food. If I’m doing an elimination diet I can’t eat out.

And I have a lot of food issues. So many issues. If I eat the same thing day after day I feel rage and I feel violent and I feel like I deeply need to go do physical damage to other people to punish them for having this horrible taste in my mouth. Eating repetitively is really hard for me. I feel like a petty bitch, but I have finally managed to figure this out enough to work around it and not make other people miserable.

But if I want to figure out what is making me sick I have to drop my coping methods.

I feel like my whole life right now is “All of your coping methods are shit. Stop it. Do something else.” With no ramp up, no support, no idea of what else to do other than things that are super hard and require education, time, and support I don’t have.

If I live on white rice and plain meat for weeks I am not going to be a very nice person. It’s just a fact. And I won’t be able to go out much and I won’t be able to do many projects because I will have zero patience and I will lose my temper and scream at the slightest provocation. I will spend a lot of time thinking that cutting myself is way the fuck more interesting as a means of controlling my behavior than punishing myself with terrible food for months.

Ok, it is in service of the goal of having my body hurt less. I’ve tried a lot of things in the name of that goal. Not much works out. Instead I get to the end of months of horrible trying to help myself and utterly fail. So I’ve tortured myself for nothing. And then people turn around and say, “Well I guess you just aren’t trying hard enough.”

I would like to die. I would like to stop trying. I can’t try hard enough to get my body to stop hurting and I don’t really want to live like this for more and more and more decades.

I would like to have my asshole not hurt for a whole week straight.

I’m scared. I feel helpless to help myself. I feel like no one else cares. (I’m not saying that is true or accurate or part of reality.) I know it is bullshit that no one else cares. There are lots of people in my life who have offered advice, support, they would make me food within the restrictions that tasted better than stuff I am capable of cooking for myself…

I feel so bad that I can’t see that. I “know” it. But it doesn’t feel real. It feels like a lie. It feels like taking the risk of trying so I can be let down again is so so so so so stupid.

The thing about trying a lot of things and trying really hard to have relationships with lots of people is… it doesn’t always work out. That has to be ok when you are using the shotgun approach to everything. (Do you know the shotgun approach? Shotguns don’t use the same kind of bullet as a hand gun. There are lots of tiny little pieces in a larger cartridge. When you shoot something some parts of the bullet may hit the target and some may miss but you figure it is close enough because it did get hit. But you know going in that lots of your effort is going to fail.)

It’s like how I used to hunt for sexual partners. If you ask enough people… someone will say yes. You just have to learn how to not let the “no’s” bother you.

I am really struggling to over come the failures on trying to eliminate the pain my body feels. Every new try requires more and more and more energy to get over the opening hurdles.

I know that the next step is a food diary and elimination diet. I am not looking forward to this. Just the idea makes me cry and feel helpless and angry.

I sure as shit won’t be going over to dinner at anyone’s house for months. I don’t want to talk about the fucking steps. It will be shitty and horrible and I will hate just about every fucking thing I eat the whole fucking time even if I normally am ok with eating something. Just the fact that it is part of this process will breed so much resentment.

I’m afraid that my hatred and rage for this process will make it less than effective.

Balance?

I’ve got to tell you… adding a surprise trip to Hawaii when we are going to do the bathroom remodel and go on a big trip next year and and and…

It feels like a manic cycle. It feels dangerous and stupid. But I’m looking at Mint and jumping up and down and yelling “But I have saved up my god damn fun money!!!!!!!!! I have not been having fun! Clearly! There are MANY hundreds of dollars sitting there waiting in that part of the budget!!!  Why is it god damn mental illness to want to go have fun with my fucking friends without being  MOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMY?”

I sure don’t want to be nice to me. But this trip is going to be fun. Even though I don’t like being nice to me D and A do. (Being nice to them is easy.) They are both very bossy-plan-having women. If I want to be passive and let someone take care of me I picked a rather good duo. Not that I’m planning a codependent weekend. But if I said, “I’m getting to the point of being hungry where I can’t think and I’ll get angry if I have to make decisions. Can you arrange for us to magically arrive in an eating establishment. I’ll find something on any menu” they would drag me off. They wouldn’t turn and ask me fifty fucking questions or expect me to make a long series of nuanced decisions. They wouldn’t need me to be the boss.

I was a 24/7 slave for years. I am deeply ok with not being the boss in a way that makes my current life very difficult at times. And Noah and I do not have an M/s dynamic. We have agreed that regardless of what we will do in the future, while we have young children we will have an egalitarian relationship. That is what we want to model and teach.

I’m not saying people who make different choices are bad. I’m saying this is what we decided. Ok?

I am the boss around here. We have an egalitarian relationship except for the part where I’m a bossy pain in the ass and Noah follows my orders. Ahem. I love my husband.

My friends want very badly to be respectful of me. I make it clear that I have a huge long list of picky ways I need to be in control and they tactfully make room for that. Which leaves me feeling like the boss a lot of the time. I miss being a slave sometimes.

I don’t think that A or D are going to be my short-term owners or anything but it is going to be really awesome to follow other people who have a plan. I like being a follower. I really do sometimes. I rarely let myself get into it. Normally I resist for reasons I don’t even understand. When I can really do it I love it.

Three bossy, controlling women. It’ll be awesome (and I have zero sarcasm in my voice there–I’m vibrating with excitement). Yeah, the plans are flowing now (they are SMSing me while I type). I pinned them down and booked everything. They are off like rockets. Oh this is so wonderful to watch.

I’m scared I’m going to fuck everything up. Luckily, when I do stupid shit A has this death glare that is followed with, “You need to stop” and then … all of a sudden I haven’t fucked everything up because there is a brick wall in front of my face and we are back on neutral territory.

I admire people with strong boundaries so much.

Noah has been commenting that this down cycle has been longer than almost any I’ve had during our marriage. I’m partially doing this trip because I need something to change the way my hormones are working. Long term stuff is not feeling satisfying. Small petty stuff doesn’t help. I saved up the money.

Is it really ok to be selfish?

This is one of those times when I feel like I have a split life. I have this self-perception that I have nothing and no one and I’m worthless and I should die. Then I notice that I’m incredibly well off financially, I have amazing friends and I have a husband who says go have fun.

I’m not very good at living in the now when the now isn’t very exciting. When the now is a fuck-ton of work… I get worn down. My bucket is empty. There’s a hole in the bottom. It’s a metal bucket and they spent a lot of time dragging it back and forth across concrete and now… not so water tight. That’s just how it works sometimes. They didn’t mean to do it. They were just trying to reach the dipper and couldn’t quite get there and the bucket slid. It was an accident.

But here I am.

I’m ridiculously excited that I get to run away with two wonderfully fun women. They will even do part of the long run with me on Saturday. My life is pretty ridiculously blessed.

Food accommodation

I know a lot of people with rigorous food preferences/allergies/intolerances/religious restrictions/etc. I am starting to think that I should paint a grid inside my cabinet so I can track who is gluten free/dairy free/vegetarian/allergic to tomatoes and potatoes/ allergic to corn/allergic to soy…. It would be a complicated grid.

I was thinking about this as I talked to a friend yesterday who is vegetarian, gluten free, and dairy free. He always causes me to think about my food choices in more detail. I try hard to do it from a consciously evaluating point of view and not from a defensive point of view.

This week he said something I found very interesting, “I’m not sure if I am actually allergic to gluten but when I eat it I have urgent, painful diarrhea that causes me to need to run to the toilet eight times a day. So I don’t eat it. I don’t care if I’m actually allergic.”

That… That made me think very hard. Huh. It isn’t normal to run to the bathroom with diarrhea eight times a day? I try very hard to accommodate my friends who have different dietary needs. It’s a big deal to me that people should be loved and fed in the ways that are appropriate for THEM.

We had some completely different friends over earlier in the week and that meant accommodating a vegan and a vegetarian with diabetes. H’okay. Guess what? The dinner we prepared for them had me dealing with violent, burning, painful diarrhea for over a day.

So uhm… Hm.

This morning I lay in bed and I got really really angry for (what I believe to be) the very first time about my food needs not seeming as important as the vegetarian/vegan/allergies in my social circle. I don’t know very many people with anaphylactic allergies. I know people who get sore butts, mostly.

I try very hard to ensure that I’m not damaging anyone else’s body. But when I go over to the home of a vegetarian or a vegan there is little consideration for how their food will effect me. It’s my problem.

All of a sudden this morning I felt lots of rage about that. I don’t think I’ve ever felt angry about this before. I don’t think I have ever seen it as an injustice before. This morning, as I lay in bed unable to sleep all of a sudden I felt violently full of rage. Why in the hell does everyone else’s ass matter and mine doesn’t!?

I have no idea what to do with this sudden burst of new-thing-to-be-pissy-about. Probably I won’t do anything. I’m not going to start demanding that vegans supply meat for me at their parties.

But I’m wondering if maybe I should stop going to dinner at their houses. Because I’m kind of tired of it not mattering that my body does not process vegetables well. It causes me terrible pain for days. Yes yes yes, they are “healthy” and EVERYONE should GO VEG!! Or obviously you are a piece of shit who doesn’t care about anyone but yourself and certainly not the POOR LITTLE ANIMALS. WHAT KIND OF MONSTER ARE YOU!?

Uhm, I’m the kind who lived with terrible malnutrition for decades and now I can’t digest vegetables. And fuck you.

I don’t think that people who are gluten free need to buy “regular” pasta when I come over. I don’t think dairy free people need to buy me cow milk. I don’t think that vegans are required to cook me meat. But when we are ordering pizzas?…. Then I feel kind of shit on. Because the pizza you will order means I either get to have horrible diarrhea for days or I don’t eat.

I haven’t felt pissy or defensive about this in the past. I’m not sure if this will last longer than today.

Having relationships is really hard. How do we all manage to be respectful of one another and the varying needs that their bodies have? I don’t know.

That said, the friend who came over yesterday has a wife who can cook the best vegan food in the world. If I could finally narrow it down to a handful of vegetables that are the “trigger” foods (I think a food diary is coming at some point) she would be able to feed me vegan food that didn’t hurt me.

I have done a lot to narrow the range of triggers for my terrible diarrhea. I get way less of it than I used to. But apparently eating cauliflower soup, pasta with tomato/garlic/basil/carrots, and salad is not ok. I knew the salad would be pushing my luck. I ate very little of the raw veggies. I ate like two pieces of lettuce and three cucumber slices. Mostly I ate cooked stuff. Supposedly cooking the vegetables should make me better able to process them. These are all food we eat on a regular basis and I don’t always have the terrible burning diarrhea.

A lot of the reason I haven’t tried harder on food diary stuff is it is very discouraging. My “triggers” clearly move around. It is much more important how much stress I am under generally. Clearly tomatoes aren’t always a problem. Clearly potatoes aren’t even usually a problem. (I have weeks where I eat potatoes daily and don’t have a diarrhea problem.) Alcohol is fine if I am under basically no stress and horrifying if I feel even a little bit of anxiety to start with.

Fuck all food forever.

It doesn’t help that I’m in a phase where basically all food is revolting and nasty and I feel sick all the time. Running is fun. I hate weather changes. My poor intestine.

I do my best (I’ve been slipping) to eat humanely sourced meat. I can afford it and I think that is the ethical choice given my financial resources and my physical dietary needs. I slip when I’m buried with every other part of life and I don’t have the spoons to deal with sourcing “better raised” meat.

I know that it is sad that animals have to die so I can live. I agree that it is not “fun”. I agree that it isn’t “nice”. But my alternative is to live with horrifying pain or kill myself. If you don’t know what it is like to have diarrhea for months in a row then you can’t really talk to me about my food choices. Also: no doctor has been useful in this process. I’ve tried going in to talk about it and I’ve tried asking for advice. I wasn’t told much useful. I was told to do my own food diary and figure out what to eliminate. When I asked about bringing in the diary to talk to them I was told that there wasn’t much they could do. Maybe I should have insisted on talking to a nutritionist? An intestine specialist? I don’t know how to advocate for myself on this issue. Doctors are not out checking on patients to find out how they can be most useful. You have to walk in knowing what to tell them to do. I don’t know what to do.

I’m feeling overwhelmed. And this one little piece jumped out at me this morning. Interesting to think about.

Hindi study

Last year we somehow stumbled across an advertisement for Hindi lessons at the local temple. (It is on the end of our block.) All four of us went to the first round of classes and it was pretty fun. This year Shanna said she didn’t want to sit still every week and only Calli asked to enroll.

I find the study of Hindi to be stimulating in a way that few things have been. Having to memorize different letters and connect them to sounds that don’t exist in my language feels an order of magnitude different from studying languages with a similar alphabet (like Spanish). I’m not saying harder–I’m not sure if it is harder. But it feels different.

I studied Spanish in school–both high school and college. I am nothing near fluent. But the study of Hindi is teaching me that I have a significant vocabulary–my problem is verb conjugation. When the teacher asks us to create a sentence in Hindi to answer a question I always have a complete sentence in Spanish pop into my head and I have to consciously not say it. Wrong language. But having these little epiphanies over and over that I could probably actually go to South America and communicate fine after a month is pretty huge for me. I have lots of impostor syndrome. I think I am stupid and incapable of learning many things. Then I find out that I ALREADY KNOW THINGS!!!

It is hard to explain how exciting this feels. On one hand, people regularly tell me I am intimidating because I am smart/educated. On the other hand, I feel like I’m not talented nor smart nor educated because I know people who have gone way deeper into almost any topic than I have. I’m good at viewing things in the way that makes me look bad.

Hindi is causing me to feel pride in my ability to learn in a way that few things have. For one thing: I’m turning around and teaching Shanna once we get home. She is making progress as fast or faster than Calli and Calli is actually attending the class. It is like ASL only better. ASL was harder for me to feel pride in because Shanna picked it up at two or three times the rate I did and I always felt stupid and like I am too slow to be able to say what is happening in my mind. I just can’t make my hands go fast enough.

Hindi isn’t like this. I shouldn’t feel so much pride that I am picking up concepts faster than many of the 6-7-8 year old kids in the class.. but they are growing up in houses where this language is a daily occurrence. I do feel pride that I am managing to study on my own well enough that I am picking things up faster than people who are learning more about their native language. (They all speak English in most of their lives and Hindi almost exclusively at home based on what they say in class.)

I’m not competing with the kids. That’s not the point. But I have fairly clear proof that I am learning and I am not stupid. I’m progressing quickly. Having it be so crystal clear that I am learning is… it feels really good. I feel proud of myself.

Today we had kind of a weird class. Some of the teachers were ill so they combined levels 1, 2, 3, and 4. This meant that the class was too slow for half the people and way too fast for the other half. Ahhh group teaching. The teacher who teaching level 4 was disappointed in me that I couldn’t come up with a Hindi sentence describing what I will do on Halloween. Uhm, the only verb I know is “is”. I know colors. I can count. I’m on my way to knowing the alphabet. No… I don’t yet know how to say, “On October 31st we will dress up and go trick or treating.” Nope, don’t have that vocabulary yet. But I may work on it this week and write down the phonetic sentence and say it next week. Because she’d be thrilled I looked it up.

I find it strange that I feel so good about the positive affirmations from the teachers. Why do I care? They are strangers and it’s not like this is going on my permanent record. But I care.

Hindi requires a similar kind of discipline as training for the marathon. I have to show up consistently and do the study. Every single day. I have to train. I have to live my life as if attaining mastery of the language is a goal. Just like training for the marathon. I have to not skip runs because I feel whiny. I have to do it anyway or my body will not be ready on the crucial day. If I don’t study Hindi I won’t ever be able to go to India and study farming with people who have questionable English. I want it so bad I feel an ache in my bones.

I want to be able to talk to people in other countries about farming and incest. I’m kind of weird. I want to go meet people when I learn farming and build relationships and come back years later after they know me and trust me and then get their communities to talk to me about incest. I have a plan.

I feel grateful that some days I wake up and it doesn’t feel like I’m trapped in limbo. I’m on a journey. I’m not waiting for the future to happen to me. I’m living my future. I am doing what I always wanted to do. I am home schooling my children in security and love. I am learning languages so I can go learn from people who have entirely different life experiences than me. I am getting to enjoy the companionship and growth of my children such that I am truly getting to see a happy, healthy childhood up close. I am ridiculously blessed.

When I have conflicts with my kids and I feel very anxious about them it is important to keep in mind that I get along with them better than I’ve ever gotten along with anyone. That doesn’t mean it is always smooth sailing. I am pretty sure I will never have a relationship that is all smooth sailing. That doesn’t mean I should opt-out of relationships and it doesn’t mean I should try hard to keep people away from me.

Life is complicated. I’m grateful that this portion of my journey involves getting to engage in study that improves my sense of self esteem while also significantly furthering my life goals. Often those two aspects do not move in tandem. I am lucky.

Ok, now that I’ve done my Hindi for the day time to run. It’s a wonderfully easy Saturday. This is my shortest Saturday run until April. I should find joy in that. From here on out it gets harder.

Luckily, I can do it. I already have so I have no fear. The half marathon Thanksgiving weekend (my race is on Saturday) will be easy. My informalish goal is to manage a 11:50 or better pace. I was super close last time until mile 11 when my ankles seized. More stretching this training schedule. I’m also doing more weight lifting. Being stronger seems mandatory for more speed at this stage. And 26.2 miles just doesn’t sound that far any more. March will be here soon and I’ll run that far and be fine. It blows my mind.

I am more than I ever thought I could be.

Pressure

I’m going to try and explain this better. We’ll see how spectacularly I fail.

I appreciate that people call/text to check on me. I do genuinely appreciate it. I appreciate that people notice me enough to care about my presence. That doesn’t change the fact that it can feel like pressure. Pressure is not always a bad thing. I have pretty severe mental illness. I have to work very consciously on not staying home and hiding from life. Knowing that people like me enough to reach out to me when I am bailing on social events is a positive thing.

That doesn’t change the fact that self-care is very hard for me. I tend to think that just about anyone else’s needs are more important than mine. If people want to see me it is incredibly rare for me to say no.need to have people need me. I need to have people like me. That is part of being part of a community and I want that so badly.

But when four people message me in an hour saying, “Why aren’t you coming?” it can feel like pressure. Pressure isn’t always bad. Noticing that it feels like pressure is important for me in particular.

Subtle small pressures build on me and I end up screaming and freaking out. I have to manage my emotional/physical load and that’s complicated.

For example, my ladies and I are negotiating for a trip (sounds like Hawaii is the current front runner on places to go) and we were giggling about the possibility of a bikini clad babes on the beach picture. I said I might be willing to buy a bikini and wear it for the picture and then I was putting my Islamic bathing suit back on. My friend… more or less tactfully expressed confusion as to why I feel the need to wear a modest suit.

I explained that it really isn’t about the modesty. I don’t like sun block. Putting sun block on my skin causes me emotional problems. I can feel it the whole time and I feel angry and frustrated. If irritation is on a scale of 1-10 and I start out the day feeling a 2 if I put sun block on I will instantly be at an 8. I will feel violent and angry and hostile. Nail polish makes me feel the same way. Having my pores feel clogged is just….. I’m not ok. I have sensory issues and I just cannot cope with having things on my skin. So I dress like a nice Islamic lady when I’m going to the pool.

She could understand that perspective. But it has to be explained or it really isn’t obvious why I care so much about the modest swimsuit thing. I’m not actually what you might call “modest”. If I’m going to places with hot springs I’m cranky if I must wear a bathing suit. I prefer being in water nekkid. But I don’t stay in hot springs that long and when I get out I get fully dressed so I don’t have to put sun block on. I’m kind of weird.

I’m perfectly happy to wear a skimpy bathing suit in front of people. I’m not ashamed. I like my body. (I actually do. My body has been very good to me.) But I have sensitivity issues and I’m trying my best to learn to cope with them in a way that makes me more socially appropriate.

It is a little odd socially that I wear modest swimsuits. People ask me questions about it a lot. It is clearly “weird”. (I don’t cover my hair so I am obviously not doing it for religious reasons so… why?) If I wanted to “fit in” better I should wear a more “normal” swim suit. Then people wouldn’t look at me funny and ask me “why do you want to do that?” But I am capable of being a nice person if I just accommodate my weird sensory issues. So you have to pick some kinds of weird in order to fit in with other metrics.

I need to be part of a community. I feel deeply grateful that the home schoolers have so cheerfully embraced me. Other communities have tried and I was more resistant. The pressure I feel from the home schoolers feels positive and life affirming. They want me to be part of their lives. They want my kids to be friends with their kids. They want me to not feel invisible. They want me to know that I am a noticeable part of their life–my absence is notable. That’s good. I’m not writing about it because I want to make people feel bad.

But I need to figure out how to balance the fact that sometimes I need to stay home with the fact that people like me and want to see me. That doesn’t mean anyone is doing anything wrong. It means I’m still working on my social skills and boundaries.

I consciously put similar pressure on people in my life. Especially those who suffer from mental illness. I try to make sure I reach out every so often and remind them that they still matter to me. I think it is important. I think it is positive. I don’t think people should withdraw such pressure. I think that loving people involves some pressure sometimes. Having relationships involves feeling the weight of the presence of the people in your life. That’s not bad.

But I am not particularly tactful in my process of learning to be. Having relationships is complicated and hard. Skills learned with a particular person may or may not be transferable to the next person. That is hard. You have to just keep trying things.

Checking in

I’m sorry that I sound like I’m complaining about people caring about me. I don’t mean to do so. I appreciate that people like me and check on what is happening. The fact that I have feelings about that isn’t anyone else’s fault. I don’t actually think that people check on me because they don’t care about me.

Communicating is so complicated.

Limits

Or maybe we aren’t going to the pumpkin patch. My darling youngest daughter thought that it was a good idea to start off the day refusing to do any chores and yelling at me. Well, that’s fine. I’ll do the work. But then I’m not taking you to play with your friends.

I have trouble with this because I feel like I am letting down the other home schoolers who would like to see us. The thing is: I’m really tired of the back talk. I have a limited number of ways I can respond. The thing that feels least punitive is I just don’t go through extra labor for people who are refusing to do their share. I didn’t scream, threaten, or yell. I just said (very calmly for me) “If you refuse to do your work that is fine. I will do it. But then I will not be interested in taking you out to play with your friends for most of the day.” She screeched in response. Ok. That’s fine. You can stay home today.

If I felt more confident about doing this more often I think it would be a solid technique that dealt with a fair bit of *my* issues. But I frequently feel like it isn’t ok to flake on the people who saw our name on the RSVP list. So I go and feel bitter and angry and hateful. Today I’m not really in the mood to suck it up so that other people can have what they want regardless of how I feel.

We will leave the house because we have to go grocery shopping. But I don’t need to entertain people who are screaming at me. Nope, nope, nope.

In other news: Shanna spent the morning copying Eloise books because she wants the reading/writing practice. She asked me what she would be doing in school to learn more about writing. I said “practice”. As much time as you can spend looking at written words is best. Lots of time. Practice practice practice. If it turns out you aren’t picking it up in a year or so we will do an evaluation for dyslexia just because boy she reverses a lot of letters. But it is totally normal at this age so I’m not panicking yet. (Dyslexia is very common in my family.)

No matter what kind of facilitation she needs to help her make progress, I believe I am capable of giving it. That’s why I trained all those years. It’s just up to her to want it. I can’t make you want something.

And I can’t make you do your chores. But I can say, “If I do more than my share I will be tired and I will want to rest.”

This is what I mean. People are already sending me text messages to let me know they are upset we aren’t coming today. They mean well. They want me to feel loved.

I … I feel pressured. I feel like my exhaustion doesn’t matter. I feel like I don’t matter.

Why unschooling?

I can’t sleep so I might as well pontificate. I wanted to unschool before I had a word for it. I knew in the pit of my stomach that the best way to learn is to be given access to materials that can help you learn and minimal instruction. I believed it was true and I felt overwhelming disdain and anger for the curriculum I was forced to follow in schools. I don’t think I can adequately describe the years of anger, frustration, and rage I felt about school.

Public school was an interesting journey for me. On one hand clearly I was exposed to concepts and I learned. On the other hand I was beaten, shamed, taunted, and bullied constantly by students and teachers alike. Ok, the California teachers couldn’t hit me. Just the teachers in Oklahoma and Texas.

I understand that my children would have different experiences. I also understand that public education has gone down hill in the intervening years between when I was in school and now. That’s not a good thing. It wasn’t great then.

Learning happens in so many ways I can’t begin to address them all in this blog entry. Suffice it to say that learning can be horizontal or vertical. You can go deep or you can go broad. You can find out everything about one species of dog or you can become obsessed with the organization of biological organisms and their relationships. Personally I’m a generalist. I don’t go deep on many subjects: the primary ones being education, incest, and suicide. Otherwise I tend to stick to having a better than average grasp of a subject then I move on. I don’t need to be an expert on everything. In schools they require you to do everything on a level before you move up. Rarely they will allow someone to bump up in math or reading if they are “very advanced” but mostly you have to “cover everything in the 3rd grade textbook before you can go on to 4th grade” and that just seems silly to me.

Shanna (my six year old) told me recently that she thinks maybe it would be easier to learn to read in school. I asked why she thought that would be easier. Her response was, “Well in school I would have to do it or get punished so I wouldn’t keep putting it off.”

You know what? I’d rather she learn to read for a reason other than avoiding punishment. I’d rather she learn to read because reading is wonderful and engrossing and a fabulous way to spend time. Could she learn to read at a faster pace than she is currently using? Yes. I could force her to learn reading faster. I don’t see a point. I think that as long as she is learning and progressing in many areas at a good speed it doesn’t matter when she learns that skill. She sits down with books every single day. We read to her. She has memorized a large percentage of our library and she “reads” to herself. She’ll get there. It’s ok that she isn’t an early reader. It doesn’t make her stupid and it doesn’t mean unschooling is failing.

I am deeply bitter that coloring is emotionally stressful and painful for me. I had too many teachers who told me “No no no. You are doing it all wrong.” So I’m afraid to try. I don’t want my children having such an experience.

I don’t think that home schooling is necessary for all children. I do not believe that unschooling is the One Twue Way. I think it is what will work best for my family. This is part of why I don’t want to be part of public policy decisions. What is best for me may not be best for you and I’d be a serious jerk to try and change the tone of education in a country based on my personal preferences. But I believe it is very important that people be allowed to participate in whatever educational path is most fitting for them.

I believe that other people have mothers who managed the public education system without trauma and those mothers are capable of dealing with the conflicts inherent within the system. I am not those mothers. I would be printing out whole trees worth of research and I would wall-paper the school with data about why homework is deeply harmful to children. I would not be popular. My kids would suffer for my behavior.

You have to make life choices based on a deep understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses. I am not suitable for meekly going along with the public system. That doesn’t mean the public system should be burned down. The simple truth is that it is a necessary part of life for most of our society. I do not believe that every parent is constitutionally, nor financially able to home school. It’s a super hard job.

If I think back over my life by far the easiest job I’ve ever had was being a library “tech”. I don’t understand why I was called that. I fixed the copy machines and organized the magazines. I had lots of time to sit around and read and do my homework. Other than that I wouldn’t say I’ve had an “easy” job. Some of my jobs have been physically hard, some mentally hard, some emotionally hard, some have been a combination of different kinds of hard.

I don’t think I will ever pick an “easy” path. If I’m going to pick a hard path I might as well pick the one that has the most to offer me personally. I really should pick the path that opens up the most doors to the future. I should pick the path that will present the fewest obstacles for me.

It doesn’t really matter what someone else would prefer. No one else has to spend every day in my life. Just me. I have hard days, but I like what I’m doing. I feel very happy about unschooling my kids. I have self-doubt. I have periods where I am afraid I am not making the best choice. I genuinely do not see a better for my family option. There are other arrangements that could be made to work. But I don’t think they would be better and they would involve an enormous amount of stressful change and emotional separation.

I’m a selfish person. I don’t really want to allow anyone else to get most of Shanna and Calli’s time. I want it. I want to be the person who sees them all day every day. I want to be the one who knows exactly where every bump and scratch came from. I want to be the one who is available for hugs and kisses whenever they are needed.

Being present for that heals something in me. I can’t get this pit of need met any other way. I’ve tried.

Sometimes I feel a little weird about the idea that I am making the parenting choices I’m making partially because this feels like the road to my Zen. What I want from life is the ability to feel connection to people. Shanna and Calli are my best chances hands down. It is hard sometimes in the way that any spiritual path involves hardship and strife. It wouldn’t be worth very much if it was always easy.

Unschooling gives me time I can’t get any other way. I feel deeply grateful that Noah (my husband) is able to make this lifestyle easy and comfortable. It would not be possible for me to have this life without him.

Even on days when I’m not very good at interacting with my kids I feel good about the fact that they have freedom to explore and make mistakes without being told constantly how bad they are.

When Shanna breaks things, mostly I laugh it off and say, “Yup. You are my kid.” I’m a huge klutz. I break things frequently. I have no soap box to stand on for preaching about “be careful”. I break things so often. It is hard to handle sometimes but it feels like a journey we have to go on together.

I tell them sometimes, “I don’t know what to do in response to this situation. This is outside my entire realm of experience and I don’t know what the right answer is. Do you have any ideas?”

Whatever self-doubt I feel about whether or not I am making the right choice would be magnified if I gave up on home schooling. I would consider moving to an online charter with more interactive teachers long before I just up and put my kids in public school.

Can we try problem solving that doesn’t involve “Get a new life”?

Today these little unschoolers are going to spend the day at a pumpkin patch. There’s a maze and a huge corn kernel pit that the kids can play in. We’ve been before. We will be there with dozens of friends. It will be a long, hot, fun day.