Category Archives: holiday

Top 5 moments of 2015

My friend has an annual tradition of asking about the best 5 moments you remember from the year.

  1. Crazy Horse Memorial. It touched my soul and I need to get back to South Dakota to spend more time here.
  2. Watching my glorious children swim in the water of the Florida Keys in their bikini’s. That’s a once in a lifetime memory for me. They were so happy. So relaxed. So eager to just find out what it meant to exist in a new space.
  3. I’m going to combine two into one because I’m like that. I had two situations on the trip where I felt uncomfortable. In both cases I packed up and left early instead of creating a big scene. I’m proud of myself. I was not capable of doing that in the past.
  4. I think I will always remember 2015 as the year I came back to Noah. It was hard being gone. It was hard having him come visit then leave again. Having him reappear in my life like this feels magical. It feels like I gift I couldn’t possibly deserve. He is so good to me.
  5. Another multi-thing because ha. Childrens museums. I will never forget what it meant to go from museum to museum to museum seeing what different communities think children need to learn. That was a fascinating, educational, enlightening experience. I learned so much about the size and shape of communities as much as I learned about what the communities expect of members.

I know 2015 was hard for lots of people. It was often hard while it was going on for me. But it was amazing and wonderful and awe inspiring too.

Wonderful Christmas

This was a great holiday. The kids did a little bit of fighting and I responded with “Be nice or be silent” and the day went fine. I don’t pull that card very often. But once in a while I’m willing to do so. I have to follow that rule most of the time so I don’t see a reason to not-share it.

We went for a walk and passed out Christmas presents to our friend-neighbors. We sang Christmas carols while we walked.

Noah made lots of wonderful food, including snickerdoodles. Because I’m eating wheat and dairy.

At this point I’m off-leash and my poop is varying but pretty acceptable. I wonder how long I will keep tracking. I still have the book going. Well, I am avoiding the high FODMAP fruits and vegetables still, but I’m on wheat and dairy and eggs and I’m pooping well.

I’m really wondering about the fasting. There is interesting science around the body needing breaks once in a while. Dinno.

Something that I should pay more attention to: the best days of my life are days when I’m with Noah and the kids alone. I can handle those expectations. I feel the least anxiety. I feel tired sometimes, but I feel like I’m ok.

My kids show no signs that they are being hurt by growing up with me. They are happy and healthy individuals. I can’t be all bad.

But when I deal with other people I never know when all of a sudden I will be bad and scary and a problem.

My lawyer wants me to work on feeling indignant that I am being forced to go to court for the “crime” of writing a date on a piece of paper forcefully. I’m really good at indignance in defense of other people and not so much in defense of myself.

My next therapy session will be interesting. I latched onto a few phrases from the last session and I am going to have to bring them up in a very soft tone of voice or she will get huffy. Even though I’m supposed to use the word “scoffed” in court instead of huffy I don’t think my shrink will scoff. I think she gets a little impatient and huffy. The implication of “You like being this way” and “You refuse to change” really bother me from a therapist.

I may not be changing at the rate you would like to see but it is absolute horse pucky to say I’m not changing.

The reversion to suicidal impulse is fucking annoying. I get it. I don’t know how to stop feeling like I am bad and I am going to hurt people so I should die for the good of the herd. It’s a pervasive problem. (Santa brought me a cool book Crazy Like Us about how America is exporting its mental health problems onto the rest of the world. The information on PTSD and depression was fascinating.)

It was interesting reading about how American big Pharma companies consciously tries to change national character through marketing. The Japanese, (apparently, according to this book) don’t have a hugely negative attitude towards suicide, well at least traditionally. It was seen as something that people sometimes feel they need to do.

Man that would be a different culture. I live with the feeling that the best thing I could do for my community would be to stop being a waste of resources AND the feeling that anyone who would kill themselves is a lame, weak, disgusting piece of shit. I love my country. Or something.

I read a lot of nasty, hysterical, awfulness written about people who commit suicide. I’m curious. Whoa. People really hate that others sometimes get out of being in pain before they think it should be allowed.

But, I didn’t have suicidal impulses yesterday. I had a great day. I was with my family. Calli asked once if we were “really done” opening presents and I said,”Given that you have been opening them all month, yes–that’s enough.” She looked sad for about a minute then she moved on to playing and having fun.

Truly this was a mellow and happy Christmas. It wasn’t a screaming, crying, sobbing kind of holiday. It almost didn’t feel like a holiday because there was so little misery.

I think I should remember this lesson in the future. Even though I wish I had a larger family, constructing one is a complicated process at which I do not excel. Other people can build large chosen families and feel ok. I don’t seem to be capable. But I do ok with my husband and kids. I can handle that level of building a family. It seems to be all I have to give.

Man I spent some time being mad at Noah last night for having a vasectomy though. My hormone cycle is wicked. I want a baby so bad. I didn’t yell or act mean. But I had feelings. I think it is utterly bizarre that I went from being basically a sex addict to being pissed that more of my sex life isn’t procreational.

Hormones are weird. Weird. Weird.

It isn’t like I actually want to get pregnant right now. I want to leave on a trip in six months. Not a great time to get pregnant. And trying to talk Noah into a kid after the trip wouldn’t work. The age gap would be way too big. I don’t want a 6/8 year gap. That went so badly for me as a kid. My window of having babies is over.

I’m a little bitter. Ok, a lot bitter. But if that is the only upset I feel on Christmas it is still a good day. That is a wacky unconscious hormonal thing. That’s evolution being a pain in the ass.

I love you Noah. You make such wonderful children. I wish I got to meet a whole bunch more of them. Sometimes some of my two-children friends want me to share criticism of large family sizes. I can’t even bash the Duggars. If I could bear the children I would love them. I just understand I can’t take care of them. And physically I would die. Not everyone is capable of having lots of children. We are doing great that so many women stay alive through childbearing these days. I’d be a statistic. And then poor Noah would be hosed.

So it’s going to be a small Christmas forever. But it was so nice. I had a lot of fun. I felt a lot of joy. I was very very glad to be there. I have a family. They like me and love me. I am so very blessed.

Day 23

Breakfast: gf pancakes, strawberries, maple syrup, grape juice

Lunch: turkey soup and homemade smoothie: (orange juice I froze from our tree last year, blueberries, strawberries, banana, grape juice)

Dinner: we went out. It was glorious. We went to a Mongolian BBQ restaurant we love. I had lamb and chicken and bell peppers and cabbage and bean sprouts and carrots and I feel like there was at least one other vegetable. Pineapple out of a can. Wheat noodles. Soy sauce, sugar, cooking wine, vinegar, a splash of bbq oil, I winked at the sweet and sour sauce but didn’t really add much. It tasted really good.

Yesterday I woke up at 1:30am with diarrhea. I assume Toxic Smell was getting even with me. It was so tasty I don’t care. It’s been a rough few weeks of sometimes having diarrhea but not getting to eat what I want.

At 9:50 am There was a long, on the thin side (but not pencil thin, closer to a normal log)paste-like log. So it is up and down in consistency.

I’m very likely to go off-plan this weekend. Unfortunately for you all, I will tell you all about my poop as a result. You’re welcome.

Drips, drabs, ups, and downs.

We went up to San Pablo yesterday to see some friends. This is after that specific friend coming to my house monthly for ohhh four years now? I am starting to try and do some trips up there in exchange for all the trips to my house. The distance between us is not shorter just because he is a guy with no kids. I can do effort too.

And when I drive up there I get to spend time with his lovely wife. I find the visits to be highly educational in diverse arenas. For one thing: she knows way the fuck more about gardening than I do and she’s happy to talk about plants. Lately getting near someone with lots of plant knowledge who does not eschew my children is somewhat tricky. I’ve tried to sign up for gardening classes THAT ARE BEING ADVERTISED ON AN UNSCHOOLING MAILING LIST and I was told I would have to get babysitting. Stop fucking advertising in this space if my fucking kids aren’t welcome you fucking fuckers. I didn’t say fuck to the people in question. I just dropped it.

Beyond the gardening stuff, I am having a bit of trouble with Callidora. Well, phrasing it that way sounds more extreme than it is. Many of my parenting approaches work really well for Shanna and don’t work at all with Calli. Luckily my friends’ wife seems to identify really strongly with Calli. They are very similar temperamentally and she is giving me a lot of feedback for how to tweak our interactions so they work better.

I feel so much gratitude I don’t have words. Someone is willing to look at me and look at my daughter and look at our relationship and say, “You are doing ok, but you both might be happier if you did……”

Err, in defense of my hubris more than once I have said, “I’m afraid I am going to have to do ____” and her response was “Yes. That is exactly what you have to do.” So she isn’t entirely telling me new information. But she is very good at skimming out the bullshit and getting to the heart of the matter. “This is failing because of x.”

I don’t trust many people to give me feedback. I’m not sure why I trust her feedback as much as I do. For one thing she doesn’t use the word “should” and I’m not sure if that has become a specific trigger. Maybe I explode at people for that word rather than because I am completely unwilling to accept advice? It’s hard to tease out.

Also, she tends to say “Calli seems to be a lot like me. When I was a kid I had x and y and z experiences and this is how it went well and this is how it went badly. If Calli is as much like me as she seems right now, you are going to have to deal with a and b and c. It’s not a good idea to do d.”

I guess there is an implied “should” in that but she doesn’t say it.

It also occurs to me that I push Calli in a way I have never pushed Shanna. When Shanna was three I had a one year old. We did not spend a lot of time pushing the absolute physical limits of what she could accomplish until she collapsed in frustrated tears.

I’m having a hard time understanding fully that Calli wants to be able to do things she isn’t ready to do yet and I need to find a tactful way of bailing her out even as I push Shanna to try. Differentiated instruction is a bitch.

(Err, the bicycle riding project is coming along. We’ve hit a few hiccups. As my wise new running mate commented, “Dude. You’ve been out with them four times? Relax and do more low pressured practice.”

Yeah yeah. You may have a point. But we bought the bikes because we want to ride to the park. I need to decide in my adult brain that even if that is the eventual goal… we sure as shit can’t start by doing that. I should probably not try to leave our housing development again until June. We need more low-stakes practice than we have had. Hours and hours and hours and hours.

It is not just a form of transportation. It is about entertainment. It has to be about entertainment at first or they won’t gain enough proficiency to use it as transportation later. The transportation part doesn’t have to be worked out at three, instantly. Relax you bitch.

Medication has been spotty this week. I (re?)noticed a pattern. Whenever I get to the point of using sufficient medication that I actually feel good instead of having just the edge of the pain taken away I punish myself for days with under medicating so I feel a lot more pain. I’m not supposed to be using pot like a pot head. I’m not supposed to be trying to get high. I’m supposed to be just managing the pain.

I think I am too much of a Puritan. My sister told me I had ancestors on the Mayflower (Not her–different fathers.). Maybe it is too deeply buried within my DNA? I can’t stop believing that I must suffer. Anything that feels good MUST BE BAD.

I have been very consistent lately about giving up my morning “off time” to wake up with the kids. I’m not sure if this is good or bad. On one hand I’m more frazzled and I’m not taking a compensatory amount of time later. On the other hand… we are getting along better. When the kids open their eyes in the morning to me in their bed smiling at them… the whole day is easier. The first thing they hear every day is, “Good morning. I’m so glad to see you again. I’m looking forward to our wonderful day together.”

They smile back and say, “Me too!” then grab my neck and pull me close. Then I get a sleepy “Good morning.”

Sometimes it feels weird knowing that I do this as a parenting gesture in large part to make up for the hole in my heart. No one was ever happy to see me during my childhood. I was a terrible, unwanted burden.

I completely support mothers who need to abort children born of rape. I wish my mother hadn’t allowed her religion to force her to keep me. I was not wanted. And they made my life hell.

Now I have something different. It is so very nice. But it’s a lot of emotional and mental and physical work. And I get really tired.

When I’m tired it is harder to be consistent. When I’m scared I start screaming. That’s consistent.

Calli has asked me to stop raising my voice at her when I’m repeating orders/requests/whatever you want to call them. Demands? She told me (while making eye contact so this is serious as a fucking heart attack) “I will be able to listen to you better if you get close to me and whisper in my ear that it is important.”

If a three year old can so clearly ask for the kind of interaction she needs then I am a fucking asshole if I ignore the request. This is how I teach them ownership of their body and consent and boundaries.

I’ve been working on it. I kind of feel that I should create some accountability tool for myself. Maybe another sheet of paper on the wall. I can ask Calli to help me decide whether I approached her correctly or not and we can decide if I get a mark in the “right behavior” column or the “not so right” column. It will also help her clarify which aspects of the raised voice stuff are a problem for her.

My kids are not going to grow up thinking adults are perfect and kids need to bend to the adults around them. Ha. Ha. Ha. No. We want to live together. We need to adapt to one another.

I’m happy about the upcoming social stuff. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed that people are agreeing so delightedly to come to my events. My RSVPs fill up fast. (Err, RSVP for Easter if you are coming… not many spaces left.)

I have had something like six people in the last two weeks get really excited when I confirm that I’m hosting Easter again. “OH! You throw the best parties!”

I do?

Oh.

Well that’s awesome. How do I do that? What makes them “the best” for you? Because I spend my parties in kind of an anxious hell hoping I don’t offend everyone and run them off such that they never want to come back.

And yet I keep hosting. Irony.

I don’t seem to be running people off. I mean… I do… but I don’t. I run some people off.

I feel very guilty when I admit to myself that I run off people who need things from me that I can’t give. My anxiety and shame around not being able to meet their needs makes me angry and cruel. It isn’t my fault I can’t meet their needs. It isn’t their fault I can’t meet their needs. It isn’t their fault they have needs. I have needs they can’t meet either. But I get mean. This is a major character flaw of mine.

I don’t do this with people who have small needs I can easily meet. If people need something from me that is going to be an up to five hour commitment one time… I love doing that. That helps me feel like I am part of a community and I’m useful and all kinds of good feelings. When someone starts to need 3-10 hours of work from me every fucking week in order to have a relationship with them…

I get mean. I am awful. I am not a nice person. I don’t know how to have healthy limits without being an asshole. I’m not making excuses or justifying my behavior. It’s wrong.

I have been talking to a friend a lot about how different it is in America versus other more crowded countries. Americans apologize for bumping into someone. In China you would never say any word other than “sorry”. So they don’t bother.

I spend a lot of time apologizing for taking up space. I spend a lot of time apologizing for being inconvenient. I spend a lot of time apologizing for not being able to do/be what someone else wants/needs.

I am sorry I am so inadequate. I clearly see that I am.

Right now I’m having anxiety attacks because some folks are mad at me. Folks I don’t really need to “care” about per se. They aren’t my friends. They are the close friends of one of my friends. They are mad at me because my vomiting on Friday caused them some inconvenience. I have apologized profusely for inconveniencing them. I’m sorry they were brought into the situation by our mutual friend. But yeah. I’m the bitch.

And I feel consumed with shame and I have for days. I inconvenienced them. I stole hours of their life and made them about me when they already kind of hate me. I’m really sorry. I did apologize. I have not been acknowledged and that is what I assumed would happen.

I get into these situations. I’m sorry I inconvenienced you. I have very little control over when I vomit. I’m just glad I didn’t make a mess on my floor.

But it impacted your life. And you wish I didn’t impact your life. So you are angry with me because I popped up and existed in a way you couldn’t tune out.

I’m really sorry.

This is more or less why I avoid that whole segment of the “community”. I don’t really like feeling like I am doing something wrong by breathing in a way they can hear.

So yeah. I don’t think I will teach with my friend again. There is a bunch of stress in the lead up and if I get sick there is lots of acrimony, blame, and anger. Not from my friend. He was mellow about the situation. But he didn’t feel qualified to handle the class alone and those are the other people he has in his life to turn to for support.

Yeah well, me hanging around near them feels like an abusive family reunion where they all wish I would drop dead. The sooner the better.

More one of them than the other but… well that’s not a story I’ll write down yet. Maybe a few more decades. It being thirteen years ago still isn’t long enough. Some day.

It’s not all her fault. I was a bitch. But man. Oh man. Ok. Shiny change of topic.

I’ve been having a lot of feelings all week over that. I was doing great last week until I started vomiting on Friday.

I associate vomiting with letting people down and being a bad and weak person. When I get sick my association is that I will also be in trouble for some reason. I am inconvenient when I’m sick.

Noah is working hard to change some of these patterns. He’s nice when I’m sick. He does a lot of telling me that it isn’t my fault and I didn’t do anything bad. I feel really pathetic for needing it. But I do. And he does it. I am so grateful for him as a partner.

I like teaching though. I will look for more opportunities to teach. Just no co-teaching in a situation potentially wrapped in shame-inducing trauma. When I had to cancel a class as a professional teacher… no one made me write a formal apology. I’d like to go back to that kind of treatment. Thanks.

My running mate wants me to stop thinking of writing as a hobby and start thinking of it as a business. I’ve sold enough forking copies of my book that I can stop pretending I’m not a real writer. I shouldn’t have to pay for my book editing and publishing stuff out of my “fun money”. It’s not my hobby. Noah doesn’t take his business expenses out of his fun money. It’s a separate category in the budget. It’s not very healthy for me to demean myself in this fashion.

I will severely limit my career as a writer if I can’t employ an editor until I save up enough fun money by denying myself everything. Denial as a full-time lifestyle in a household that otherwise has a lot of privilege… that’s kinda self-hating. It’s being weird. It’s unhealthy.

Why do women do this to themselves? My writing “doesn’t count”. It’s just… something I do. Like the laundry. And when there are expenses for it, well, they are “mine”, right?

I developed a lot of habits over the years of having the annuities and living with men. What I could have was very strictly limited to what I had in that $1200 every month. I didn’t over extend. And now I have no real personal income and… I’m flailing. The $100/month of fun money is… not enough. Not for me to feel like I can track all of “my” spending separately from household stuff.

We just have a clothes budget. It is for all four of us. If someone gets something then the other three have to wait a while. *shrug* But it changes how I think of things. Although… when I bought the pretty clothes in Portland I took a big chunk out of my personal money. I spent more than $500 on two items of clothing. It didn’t seem fair to make my family give up that large a share of the clothes budget on me getting two items. So more than $300 came out of my fun money. That seemed fair to me.

When the kids really get a big clothes splurge… it goes in the “kid” section even though mostly they come out of the main category.

The kids have a big section of the budget that is amorphously used for classes, home school supplies. books, toys, gear of whatever kind (was baby carriers and diapers now it has moved on to bikes), and rarely clothes.

A long time ago I consciously went out and started spending time with older men. They could talk to me about money. How they got it. What they did with it. I made my own judgments about who lived in which kind of house and who had how much money. I’ve always been tactless as fuck. I would point blank ask them how much cash they had in the bank and whether or not they had investments.

I didn’t understand most of what they told me. But I remembered it. It’s kind of funny to have little memories float up now and again as I’m trying new things with investing.

Be sure you are right, then go ahead. I will, Davey. I will research and research and research and I’ll figure out what I think is right. Of course I know I could always be wrong. Some minute change in my life might make all of my careful risk calculations moot and irrelevant.

I have no way of predicting that. So I have to just act and hope for the best.

Save.

Debt is evil.

Make your money work for you.

Pay yourself first.

Sometimes I think I turn to these mantras as the only way I have of blocking out all the voices in my head who want me to think I am stupid and a bitch and I should just stop inconveniencing them by breathing.

I’ve been really stunned by the intensity of my suicidal ideation this week.

I also haven’t been doing my daily check in calls with my friend. She’s really busy on a project. She’ll be back in a week or so. I support and respect her participation in this event and that means she has no time to think about me. I am a big girl and I’ll keep my big girl panties on.

It is interesting how suicidal ideation is not always about depression. I don’t feel like I am feeling depression symptoms. This is more on the anxious/overwhelmed side. Manic is a word people like. But I’m not… doing anything manic.

Just out of the blue driving on the freeway I see a weird opening where it would be possible to turn and be hit by a semi-truck and I want to do it more than I want anything in the world. I want in that moment to feel a lot of pain and then die. I want it as much as my heart wants to beat. It is immediate and visceral and all encompassing.

I have to breathe very lightly and lift my hands so I have a very light guiding pressure on the steering wheel. Sometimes I get off the freeway to breathe and stretch my neck and remind myself, “Not today.”

The reasons I don’t like driving are varied and complicated and… I’m willing to bet that someday I will not be able to drive any more. It is part of the reason I am as strongly motivated to make friends near my house as I am. Walking will always be a good idea. Forever. For my health.

Thanks, Pam, for letting me write this morning.

My head feels better. I feel a lot less shame. Writing it down helps.

I don’t need to feel shame because other people would prefer that their world didn’t overlap with mine. I could reject our mutual friend so that they never have to hear about me again, but given that he values his relationship with me that seems kind of awful.

But I think I should have different boundaries. Still working on where those need to be. Boundaries are tricky things. You only find out you have them when they are transgressed. Ha. THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT OF THE CLASS. And what I got out of it is: I need to make sure I never have to deal with your extended friends again. Awesome.

That’s a lesson I can learn.

They aren’t going to like me. No matter what. Ever. I need to not care about that. They are allowed to have their experience of the world where I am… something. I don’t know what. I shouldn’t speculate. I would surely overstate my importance. I certainly don’t suspect that either of them while away hours just hating me. I’m not that important.

So I don’t need to feel shame because they are feeling irritation. That’s not something I need to take on. I gave an apology. I offered restitution to the best of my ability. That’s what I’ve got. Move on. I didn’t vomit on purpose.

And when I feel shame for my social behavior I rush home to assure myself that I am managing my money properly. No one is going to be able to force me to move. I’m allowed to stay here. I’m jumping through all the hoops that actually matter for my life. I don’t have to care that they dislike me. There won’t be any consequences.

And then I can stop thinking about it.

Thank you internet. That’s the end of my confession for today. I have some dirt to play with and a fence to sand. Tomorrow a bunch of little kids are going to come paint a few sections. We are adding more year by year. Drips and drabs. It’s really fun.

Saturday is the Girl Genius Volume 1 read aloud. Email me for details if you want to come hear Noah do all the hilarious voices.

Clear your head.

I think it is a good thing that Noah and I are planning to hibernate for about a week. Both of us are getting tetchy and short-tempered even about things that don’t usually bother us. Not optimal.

I think that next Christmas I will buy fewer gifts for my kids. I have a hard time with being buried under the avalanche of kind gifts from friends. It is a double edged sword. Other people show my children love through gift giving–it is a fine old tradition. My kids don’t notice what comes from me as a result. Nothing I do feels special to them because it is eclipsed by the nice things from other people.

I don’t think I should continue this gift-giving-love-language thing. I feel sad that nothing I do seems special to them. They have an embarrassment of riches. I don’t want to encourage anyone else to stop (often the gift giving is a large part of the relationship and my kids NEED relationships with other people) but I need to handle my feelings.

The friend who was over sat here and criticized me for not getting enough presents and he was very critical that I didn’t give the kids clothes for Christmas. “But that is part of the process!”

Uhm, my kids are sent boxes of hand made clothes from their grandmother. Nothing I do is going to make a dent next to that. So I don’t waste my time and money trying. He spent a bunch of time telling me how that wasn’t really good enough because I’m not giving the kids what they want. I just… I don’t even know how to respond. Fine. I’m not doing it right. How dare I not give my kids clothes when they have no room in their closet or drawers. I am such a bad parent.

The more presents the kids unwrap on Christmas the more screaming happens. There are never “enough” and yet the kids struggle with feeling overwhelmed. “That’s MY toy.” Dude. There were two identical ones. You don’t even know for sure that the one in your hand came with your name on it. Truly this does not require screaming.

Overall it was a nice day. I think the kids were very normal and fine. I just…

Sometimes I think that “happiness” is the awareness of non-suffering. If you aren’t aware of your lack of suffering you don’t feel happiness.

I am not suffering right now. Is that the same thing as happiness? I’m not sure. I feel tense. My hands are shaking and my belly is cramping. I still know that I will have a good day.

Partially the hand shaking bit is that I have been slowly coming off the pot. Less and less each day. Yesterday was nearly non-medicated. I am growing more afraid of the pain I feel in my body. I’ve been masking it for a long time. Dealing with it as a full-effect-affront is really hard. It steals my spoons away from every other emotional use.

But I will continue. Maybe happiness isn’t about the lack of suffering. Maybe happiness has to be orthogonal to the suffering. Maybe you have to figure out how to be happy *while* suffering.

I am grateful right now, this minute that I get to have the life I have. Today I will get to see my wonderful daughters and my very kind husband. Today I will get to relax and slowly putter on housework (The house is actually quite tidy) and play with the kids.

I notice that part of my shiver–part of the constant feeling of wrongness is the feeling that I’m doing it wrong if no one is there watching me to tell me I’m doing it right. I am not good at giving myself approval for what I do. My approval is worthless. Really less than worthless. If I think I am doing right then I shake with terror that I must be lying to myself.

But I *am* doing what I want to do. Is it “right”? Who decides? Is there a universal standard? First: pick a country, religion, race, and socio-economic setting. Then maybe you can decide what is right or not. But then you get into things like “Some people are temperamentally suited to being a stay at home parent and some people aren’t–regardless of gender.”

So there is no right. There is just what you do.

I love people so much. I love my kids. I love my husband. I love my friends. Some times I feel like I will drown in the waves of emotion. I feel so overwhelmed. I don’t know how to handle these feelings. I feel… unfamiliar with this process. I should get mean and drive people away because at least then I will feel more comfortable. I will be alone, which is what I’m used to anyway.

But I love them so much. I don’t want to hurt them. These feelings are confusing and hard and overwhelming but so what? They just are. Just go with it.

Love people. Do your best. Try to be kind. I’m reading about predators and I’m reminded over and over “Nice is not a personality trait–it is a behavioral choice. The most terrible of people are often extremely nice.”

If what I want from my life is to have impact on people in a positive way it has nothing to do with how I feel. That has to be pretty much irrelevant.

I think part of the emotional fraught-ness right this minute is this continual feeling of having people be missing. I miss my family. I miss my mother. I miss my sister. I miss my Auntie. I miss my niece and nephew. I try to replace them with other people who love me and it just isn’t the same. I feel guilty for the fact that the love of my friends does not obliterate this ache. I feel ungrateful and bad.

But I won’t scream today. I will be kind. I will be gentle and loving. I will make sure that other people don’t have the same holes inside of them. That’s all I can do with this day.

Christmas shopping is over.

I’m annoyed I had to spend time out shopping today. My dear sweet 5 year old decided that yesterday was a great day to go through my dresser. So she saw her Santa present.

I can’t handle the guilt that would come with ruining the Santa secret this year. And the only other “toys” she was getting from us for Christmas was a board game she can’t play alone yet (Goldiblocks!) or a wooden stick with a horse head on it. Those both struck me as thoroughly lame Santa presents. Because I have issues.

The firefighter outfit would have been perfect. Freakin kid!!!!

So she will get musical instruments. Because I’ve been dithering about getting them for three years already. I have mixed feelings.

Mostly I feel guilty and like I am going overboard on Christmas.

We won’t have very many wrapped presents under the tree.

I think I’m having issues with feeling like I am undersupplying too. My childhood training of mountains of gifts is hard to overcome. I feel like I am not very fun. Mostly these days I don’t get my kids toys. Their grandparents send enough combined with random presents from friends. I don’t give toys for birthdays.

I want to give my kids toys for Christmas. I wish I didn’t feel so ashamed of myself.

This is what having privilege is about, right? If you are able to do it, there is no shame in doing it. I’m not going so overboard that we will suffer next year for this. I’m not running up debt I can’t pay off. I’m spending cash I have on hand.

I wish I didn’t feel so bad about buying things I want with Noah’s money. Really? I feel guilty about buying a musical instrument set? I feel guilty about the Lego’s too.

Calli’s Santa present is a Lego set. Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Because it is her favorite show.

I don’t think they are too spoiled…

Thankful

I think yesterday is going to be a shining memory for me. That was one of the least stressful and least anxious holidays I’ve ever had. My kids got to watch cartoons on grandpa’s giant tv screen which seemed like a ridiculous luxury to them. My lovely men cooked me dinner. (I did a little prep work but they did all the cooking.) I cleaned up because it seems all nice and such.

Dad and I are still working out our little I-have-anxiety-so-I’m-a-control-freak issues. It is a more relaxed process than it sounds like. “Oh. You have strong opinions about how this soup gets microwaved. Ok. Show me how you want it done then. No, I’m not cranky–I just don’t know what you want and you have a specific process in mind because you complain when I deviate. Just show me the process.”

We don’t actually know one another that well. If you add up all the hours we’ve spent together in all the years it is a lot less than a month of time. Getting to know someone is effort.

I went on a run. This place is fucking cold and I hate the hills. I love Fremont more with every passing year. Lovely perfectly flat Fremont. Ahhhhh. But I could feel my ass muscles going, “Oh YES! THIS IS WHAT WE NEED” so it was kind of weird.

Dad is trying so hard to make me feel comfortable. He flat asked why I was reacting so anxiously. I think I managed to explain sufficiently that he understands that I vibrate with anxiety when I’m alone in a room. He doesn’t have to do anything for me to react anxiously. When I’m kind of freaking about my kids playing with the random glass “art” shit you have sitting around? That’s not because you have been a stress monkey. I just do that.

It was a really peaceful, nice day. The three grown ups were mellow. The kids played and seemed pretty happy all day. We had extremely tasty food. Most of it made by Dad.

I somehow managed to escape feeling like I did everything wrong. I’m nervous about our plans for today. I am afraid of a misstep around this family. I like them so much. I don’t want to become uninvited because I screw up around a member of the extended family.

I can usually manage to not horrify people who like me. I’m not so suave at meeting the extended families of my friends. I often manage to say something horrifically inappropriate and then I’m not invited back again. Woo anxiety.

The stakes seem so much higher now. I don’t want to uninvite my kids. Every person I offend and run off from here on out is an injury I am doing to my children.

Dad and I were talking about how perception of risk changes over time. He made a comment about how I’m feeling my mortality. Oh, we were talking about seeing a doctor and doing the elimination diet stuff. He said that of course I care more about my body now because I recognize that I’m mortal.

I said, that’s not it. Before now I wanted to die so much that being in pain was just part of the process. I didn’t care about maintaining my body because I hoped I would die. It isn’t that I thought I was immortal. It is that I wanted to die. Right now. Today. So why fix things?

Now I want to see my kids grow up. Now I know that I have to stop feeling this much pain in my body so that I can be a nice person with them. I don’t have enough reserves of patience to deal with chronic pain and be nice. Some people can. I can’t. You have to know your limits. I need to feel less pain.

In general I feel that 2013 has been one of the kindest years I have lived through. Fewer big blow ups than usual. Less drama. More effective planning and work. I don’t think I have done anything to earn additional opprobrium this year. It hasn’t been my highest sex-having-year ever but it would be hard to top the first year of my marriage. Really hard. We would have to consciously work for a whole year in order to beat that year. It was a really good year. That will probably be a project one year. Just for fun. When the kids are older.

Life is always about moving towards new things, right? You can’t spend your life focusing on what is behind you.

But what is behind you shaped who you are. If you never figure out why you behave the way you do then it is harder to adapt to your current circumstances.

I’m trying. I’m trying as hard as I can.

Next year I need to figure out how to manage my shit without pot. The money I save on pot can be spent on a big fancy Disney cruise for my 10th anniversary.

I have things to look forward to. I want to figure out how to hurt less. I don’t want to need a crutch.

My life is really good. I need to walk unassisted now. Even though it is scary.

When I am feeling kind towards myself I acknowledge that for me to want the degree of control over my anxiety that I want will be not that different from people who are severely disabled working towards the Paralympics. My brain was severely damaged by my childhood. What I want it to turn around and do is hard for people like me.

I’m going to do it anyway.

Didn’t wake up crying.

I’m up to 38, 471 words. It is getting harder to think of topics I should cover. Almost through the process. Thank goodness.

Therapy was good yesterday. I got to have some time off afterwards because K told me not to come home until two. Yes, ma’am. I sat and ate and wrote. Good thing because I was falling behind in word count.

I have a blank white wall in my garage. Noah suggests islands. My garage is much warmer now. The wall is tilted because it was built around the garage door in such a way that I could believably tell the city inspector that I can dismantle it myself in an hour so SURELY this isn’t a permanent room and thus breaking city code. But it is much warmer now!

Today I need to put plant bulbs in the ground. Daffodils and tulips of joy oh my. So “need” is probably a strong word. They are in the fridge and according to planting guides they want to go in the ground sometime in the next five days. Today is the best day. The lovely rain softened up the ground for me. How convenient.

My therapist and I talked about the whole unmet needs thing. I told her that I’m struggling with the fact that I have actual needs at this point in my life but they are going unmet and they will continue to go unmet and at some point my kids will grow up and I won’t have these needs anymore and hopefully it will be easier then.

I’m kind of used to having needs that aren’t met.

But sometimes even when you have actual needs they will never be met and it won’t kill you. And you have to just get up and keep moving anyway. Even though your needs aren’t being met.

I keep checking the internet. My mother told me that if I took my children away from her she would kill herself. She isn’t dead yet. I guess the need for my children wasn’t as strong as she thought. I think I’m glad. I’m not sure.

I have a lot of good reasons for being an angry person. That doesn’t make it easier for anyone to put up with. That doesn’t mean that people should put up with me lashing out at them.

I asked Noah if I am still harsh with him. He said not anymore but I used to be. I used to be that harsh when I didn’t believe that he would respond well to boundaries or support me or believe me. But I’m not harsh any more. I stopped a while ago.

I blog the way I do, in this stream of conscious sometimes I regret volunteering all of my inner drama to the world sort of way because people like me usually never find a voice.

Being inside my head is not pretty. I really and truly want to accurately reflect it. Being a real person means that you are not always what other people want you to be. That means the difficulties and the good things too.

When I die it will be possible for people to still know a lot about me. The good, the bad, the ugly. It is really important to me for reasons I couldn’t possibly explain. It just is. I hope I am this obnoxious for the rest of my life. Not because everyone deserves to be trashed–that’s not the point. I’m not trashing people.

When I complain about issues I tend to complain about larger patterns and not particular people. I have had a large number of people over the years tell me that they have thought about helping me and they decided not to. That pretty much exact exchange has happened numerous times. I don’t think I have ever blogged about it before (can’t recall off the top of my head) so it is this invisible pattern in my life. It’s a pattern that is causing me problems.

I haven’t talked about it because I know the people involved “mean well”. I don’t actually want to hurt people. I have way more tact than anyone would believe.

But sometimes I am not able to put my head down and shut my mouth and just smile and say thank you. Sometimes I can’t. I regret my lack of control but I’m not sure mastery of this subject is within my grasp in this decade. Maybe later.

If you need to exist out in public that means you will be judged and that means that sometimes you will fuck up in public. Sometimes people will not like how you are acting. That has to be part of the process.

I don’t promise to talk nice in my blog. I promise I will do my best to always treat you exactly how you deserve in person. I’m very sorry that knowing about the difference between what I think and how I act is hard. I am trying to learn how to not be offensive. I don’t know how to turn my brain off though.

I am looking forward to planting and spreading some mulch today. I’ll move slowly.

I’m not going to paint the garage wall this winter. Can’t do it. That means the garage is put back together for a few months. Today I will attach the bookshelves to the wall. That’s the non-self-hating thing to do. I hear.

I’m very glad I get to pick what I do in a day.

I’m very glad I get to spend today with my girls.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time thinking about the fact that when I was Calli’s age my parents divorced. My mom moved a boyfriend in to support her and I was “mean to him” and he left resulting in my mom and sister hating me. We became homeless. I was sent off to live with the first in a long string of homes. That was when I started rocking and crying myself to sleep.

I’m glad I get to be with my kids all day. I want this life so bad.

The house is clean so the kids can help with cooking stuff. There is room and space and I won’t freak out as I trip over things. I can be patient enough to let them make another mess.

I’m not teaching them to be kids. I’m teaching them how to be an adult. Adults have to go do a lot of different things. You have to have skills. We’ll get to academics. Later.

Today will probably be good. I’m almost done with my reading list. I’m almost done with my gardening projects for the whole year. I’m done with house stuff for the year.

I want to put up the outside Christmas lights. We haven’t gotten a tree yet but we’ve done the rest of the decorating. (I had to move the cabinet the decorations were in–I might as well put them up at the time. Also we will be out of town for 10 days of Christmas. I’d rather not have to do the decorating during the shortened time period. I instead get to come home to Christmas. Yay!)

Noah is making cookies already. I should freeze some. He’s made three kinds so far. Sugar is love. Ha.

My house is already clean enough and set up enough for the party in a month. I will only have to do flight of the bumble bee.

We are in the process of eating all the carbs in the house (almost done with the backlog in the freezer) because come January I will have to do an elimination diet. Yes I will work with medical professionals. I need to need less pot to deal with the pain in my body. I need to stop paying for the ability to eat. This isn’t working. It is too expensive. I need to do something else.

I would like to be fully off of pot before I go on the cross country road trip with the kids in 2015. I don’t think I should be driving during the days and getting stoned every night while I camp alone with my kids. That strikes me as wildly inappropriate and unsafe. So I have to be functional in my body alone before then. I have a year to make it work. Ok. That’s what next year will have to be about. Shit.

Some people need a crutch for their whole life and there is no shame in it. Sometimes you need a crutch for a temporary period. I went about 25 years unmedicated (there were some stupid periods mid-way where I tried meds–I was so sick the whole time) so I will have to get back to that. Stress management has always been how I have done it.

Sex, exercise, better food choices for my body (which I don’t have a fucking clue about right this minute), and I don’t even know what else.

I feel good about the fact that my life is so clearly plugging along. I may be whiny but I get shit done. Things are changing.

I will have tulips in the spring and for every spring afterwards.

I don’t know how much gardening this year will bring. I may be growing very different foods next year if I can’t have nightshades any more. We’ll see.

I am trying to organize some local families into a fruit gleaning group. I have buy-in and initiative. I just need to figure out the details and do the back end work. That will probably be part of next year.

Next year I am going to have to find the courage to go get rejected by a bunch of publishing houses. Woo. bleh.

Good thing next year is next year and this year is this year and I am almost DONE WITH MY CHORE LIST!! Ahem. I uhh probably take too much self-identity from this.

I have completed 50 new-to-me books so far and I am more than halfway through two more.

I really changed the yard this year. Man I’m grateful for the help I got. I sing hallelujahs and praise the names. Paying for help does not invalidate that it is help.

I’m happy with the house progress. I’m overjoyed that my garage will no longer flood. I like the pantry set up a lot more than I did. This is better. Once I have the boxes outside for the tools I think the pantry will be perfect for at least five minutes. Then I’ll find a reason to whine. I’m talented.

No, I’m kidding. I think I may have found a configuration that can just last for years. I feel… way more feelings than I should about this. I’m happy with the idea that my house is settling into a shape where I might stop ripping it apart constantly.

I get to be here. I get to stay here. I’m allowed to make this into what I really want. Nope, it isn’t polished and perfect and an expensive looking house. I’m kind of a cheap date. I’m happy with cotton batting over the pipes as a line of clouds instead of a wooden enclosure. I think it is pretty fun.

I don’t need perfect. I’m not perfect. I’m having fun.

Off-schedule freak out.

It is very rare for me to wake up at midnight freaked out. I usually make it to 4am before I wake up and start feeling anxiety. I went to bed with abdominal discomfort. I woke up with more. It’s obviously not just carbonated beverages.

For some reason when I woke up this time I started thinking about Thanksgiving. I kind of spend most of my life planning for the future. I think I will make it up to Portland this year for Thanksgiving because I want the kids to see Dad’s house this year. I want my kids to get to know him.

Then I leap-frogged to thinking about the Amanda Fucking Palmer concert on the 7th of December. I will probably drive south on the 6th of December. I am hopefully going to not do that drive alone.

December 6th is my mother’s birthday. She will be 63 this year.

I feel so bad for missing my mother. All of this separation is my fault. But I do miss her. I miss her so much that sometimes I feel like I cannot breathe. Thank goodness my kids don’t ask about her much.

I’ve been thinking about my mom and crying on and off for a few days. Do I want to be a stay at home mom so much because she was? I want to prove that one can do what she did *and* keep children safe at the same time.

I feel so needy and pathetic.

I am considering NaNoWriMo. Apparently if you want to participate in the mid-month Night of Writing Dangerously (more or less a mid-month party to help you catch up on word count) you aren’t supposed to just buy a ticket. You are supposed to ask for sponsorships. I’m not sure if I have the courage for that. This may actually keep me out of NaNoWriMo this year. Because the party sounds fun and if I’m not allowed to just decide to go I won’t go. If I have to ask other people if I can get to do it… I just won’t. There are too many people and things in this world much more important than this. I’m not going to ask anyone to fund my hobbies.

I don’t know how to live with this lack of feeling deserving.

Mostly what I am doing is changing my house and yard. I don’t get to control much in this life. I get to control what my environment is like. I know I don’t deserve much but I have the ability to do this anyway.

Hide. Refocus energy. I don’t have to deserve something in order to get it. I don’t necessarily avoid the things I don’t deserve. It all seems so random.

I think I work so hard because I wish that I could share it with my family. I wish my mother knew how hard I work. I wish my mother was proud of me. I wish my sister bragged about me. I do a lot of stuff. I’m pretty neat. Instead they hate me and deride me.

Just keep breathing.  Just keep walking.

I try as hard as I can to not get my hopes up that something, anything, will ever make me feel “better”. I don’t do things “to make me happy”. I don’t think I can make me happy. I don’t think that improving my backyard will “make me happy” but I certainly hide grief in activity.

It’s a lot more comfortable to think about hanging plants and rope lights. It’s a lot more fun to think of ground-cover plants that will make my feet more comfy. It’s a LOT more fun to think of swinging outside and watching my garden grow. I really like thinking about having parties and watching hordes of children run back and forth.

I like imagining that I won’t always be alone in my space. I like imagining that maybe me and my house will be so fun to visit that I won’t have to spend my life alone. It’s a dream.

Heck, I’m not alone now. I have the usual three people sleeping and a guest. I’m not alone now. I just feel alone. I feel unworthy of love.

Hopefully I will get back to sleep soon. Thursday involves a trip to the zoo and painting. Must paint. Eleven hours in. So far to go. The month is more than half over. I need this task off my list. There is too much anxiety associated with this project.

When my friend’s husband finishes his list of AWESOME things to do I will need to take a break and not spend more money on the house this year. That’s not great because the bathroom is in dire straights. I will probably try to schedule that remodel next year. I know it is becoming urgent but I want to expand the front of the house anyway. I don’t think it will matter that much that the wall has to be ripped out. That will be done no matter what. Yet I can’t wait until the damage causes my time frame to be tomorrow. Then it will be more expensive.

Distraction is awesome and terrible.

Is it distraction or is it just not allowing my general sense of self-worth define what I am allowed to hope for? I’m not sure.

Always look on the bright side.

Given the behavior of everyone in my household yesterday and how I feel today I’m glad I don’t have to drive to Portland tomorrow. That would suck. However I am fully confident that I will be better by say Tuesday or Wednesday which gives me an unexpected few days to prepare for the Easter party.

I uhm think I will be going overboard as compensation. It’ll be fun. Pinterest oh how you eat my brain.

I am pretty confident that we will have at least twelve fifteen kids. I’ve had that many “yes we are coming” actual confirmations. (re-checked email) A whole bunch of other people just haven’t responded at all. Thank you to my wonderful blog readers. You all responded. When I fuss I am not fussing about you. (My blog readers said “no” if they can’t make it. See how polite people are when they read about your inner process?)

Thank you, hormones, that’s better.

I participate on a support forum for PTSD. I was just refreshing my memory of how PTSD effects body stress levels and coping. It is hard not to feel ashamed of being broken in the ways I am. It isn’t my fault though.

I haven’t thought about killing myself in over twelve hours. I track these things not to make other people nervous but rather because I have to believe there is enough of a pattern that I can make sense of it over time even if it never makes sense to anyone else.

My friend K has talked me through some blow ups with the kids over the past few days. She came and spent Wednesday with us because she was worried about me. I appreciate her a lot. She talked to me about how it is actually ok to have consequences with your kids and I’m not a meanie head. Life has consequences. Not punishments–that’s a horse of a different color–but there are sometimes unfortunate results to your actions. Bummer.

Having to be the heavy significantly depresses me. It is a fat load of stress and it feels terrible. I prefer it when my kids just kind of go along and do as they are told. Ha. Specifically at 9am the house was clean and I said, “Ok, remember that when you play with stuff you have to put it away when you are done. We are leaving in about three hours for an event and I do want the living room neat when we go.” I went to take a shower in the last half hour. Apparently Barbie needed a pixie cut. And some confetti. And and and and and and and. When I walked out and nearly had a heart attack my dear daughter smirked at me and said, “This is too much for me to clean up. I guess you are going to have to do it.”

We didn’t go to the event. Once she had the consequence and we talked about it and I had the few minutes of being mad while I did indeed clean up the mess we talked about responsibility and consequences we had a better day. It was like we needed to have a blow up. Then we got along. I don’t mean she did what I said for the rest of the day. (Cue hysterical laughter.) I mean that getting to say, “No. If you ignore your responsibilities there are consequences” made me more patient with the other boundary incursions all day. I got to put up one brick wall. This is a line. I WILL DEFEND IT. Then I felt better for the rest of the day. I could be more gentle.

We were sad to miss our friends. I think that was actually a lot of why the day went well after that. We did a lot of commiserating about how much we miss our friends and how sad it was that we didn’t get to visit with them yesterday. We were “on the same team” about being sad about not going. We had another chat about who is responsible for doing what in this house. “No actually it isn’t my job to follow you around all day picking up after you. It is your responsibility to clean up after your stuff. If you can’t clean up your stuff clearly you have too much and we should get rid of a bunch of it. What would you like to start with?” I do a lot. And often I am happy to help with stuff that isn’t “my job” just because I’m a nice lady–do not take advantage of me. I won’t be real friendly.

Alright, confession time. I left the room where the kids were and I put another dent in the drywall yesterday after I came out and saw the Barbie hair everywhere. (Really child. If you are going to give a haircut STAND STILL AND DON’T WALK AROUND THE WHOLE LIVING ROOM WHILE YOU DO IT.) I didn’t mean to. I was barefoot and I didn’t actually feel like I was kicking with force.

We went to Home Desperate and got drywall patch. I fixed the new one and the hole that has been in the wall for about five years now. While I fixed the holes I talked to Shanna about consequences. See, I have consequences for my bad behavior too. I have to fix the holes. It is a very bad idea to put holes in your wall. I am not being very responsible when I do it. I have to fix them now and that is annoying and inconvenient. But–better walls than people. Walls are easier to fix. You never never never kick a person when you are angry. Or hit a person. Walls don’t have feelings. It isn’t good to hit or kick them but better than a person. I waked into the wrong room.

I have been trying not to walk into the garage every time I get upset. The punching bag is in the garage. Unfortunately pot is also in the garage and the associate me going in the garage with smoking and I don’t want them to think that every single time I get upset I smoke. I don’t. It’s hard having this feel like an image problem.

I think that having kind of a scene was what broke the suicidal ideation this time. I don’t like that as a pattern. I don’t need to blow up at my kids in order to convince myself that I shouldn’t die. To be fair I don’t think it is a major pattern at this point. That hasn’t happened many times–specifically blowing up at the kids to deal with being suicidal, I mean.

But I do need some kind of stress-clear-the-air thing sometimes. How can I do that and preserve my relationship with the kids? So far they don’t hold a grudge against me for getting angry. It doesn’t happen all that often and it always blows over quickly and I don’t hold a grudge against them. I don’t stay angry with my kids. That’s a big thing for me.

Right before dinner I asked if the kids were upset with me for not going out. I was told that they missed their friends but they weren’t upset with me. Consequences happen. Both of them said it. I understand that they are at an age where sucking up to me is a survival trait. I hope I am not teaching them to squash their anger or upset because only I am allowed to have feelings. I comforted them when they were sad about not seeing their friends. We talked about when we will get to see them soon. We talked about how to ensure that we don’t have to miss out on seeing our friends again.

I also didn’t let them have the screen. We did have dessert and all other privileges. I don’t want to be too over-kill. But if you get in so much trouble you can’t go play with your friends I’m not going to give you the iPad to distract you with. Hell no. I talked about how I have to create my own entertainment and so does their dad. They have to learn how as well.

I don’t feel ashamed of how I handled it overall. That’s good. No, I’m not perfect. There is always room for improvement but I did ok. I have to understand that given how hysterical I was on Tuesday during the EMDR that my mood on Wednesday and Thursday was close to unavoidable. It will happen again. Welcome to deep trauma work. It has consequences.

How do I apply the principles of harm reduction to this new stress? Well, I’m only seeing my shrink twice a month because I can’t handle more. I feel like doing as much EMDR and as much group work as we have done is causing me to feel really emotionally guarded with my shrink. I feel besieged. I am very used to client directed talk therapy. Therapist directed EMDR heavy therapy is… different. I’m having a hard time adjusting to this whole, “Here. We’ll do this EMDR on you for basically all of our time together because that is a magic button that will fix you even though we don’t have a relationship.” It feels a lot like a fuck buddy, really. Here, let’s get together to do ____ together because even though _____ is fun on your own it is more fun with someone else! Now go away because I don’t actually want to talk to you afterwards. Err, maybe I don’t think about processing like other people do.

Just keep swimming, right? I’m busy. I’m keeping very busy. Only a few people have RSVPed for the Easter party even though I have had a lot more people get excited in person. I don’t know if people are coming or not. Maybe we will end up with ten pounds of sugar for five kids. That would be scary. Could be up to thirty kids. I guess I’ll find out the morning after a hellish drive. Ha. I’m pretty stupid. (Yes, 1/3 of a pound of sugar per kid is still a lot but I figure the parents will steal some as well.)

Today is my last full work day at home before I go to Portland and before the Easter party. That’s kind of intimidating. I am technically capable of doing work on days when I have other obligations but if I want to be nice to my kids I keep it to a bare minimum. It will all work out.

Drywall patching. Laundry. Clean the kitchen. Put out Easter decorations. Make lunch and dinner. Fill eggs with candy. Clean bathroom (really). And I’m sure my kids will want me to read to them and play with them and snuggle them. That sounds like a full day. I’m already tired. I haven’t slept well all week. I feel bad when my discombobulated cycles coincide with Noah having a rockin sort of week (he was interviewed by this internet business guru guy and he’s selling a lot of books) because then he feels guilty.

I don’t want Noah to feel bad about being successful because I am a loser. That’s not a healthy dynamic. I specifically and directly benefit from him maximizing his awesome. I don’t want that to be a fuzzy thing.

And all of a sudden I am having a full stream of words in my head for the wedding ceremony in May. I’m going to close this window and go work on that.

Christmas

Noah and I are having a hard time settling into Christmas. We both have a lot of baggage. Even though he is quite unfair and he doesn’t have time to sit down and write me essays about what he is feeling I persist in laying my emotions before the internet.

Shanna has been asking me about Christmas. What it means. Why we do it. I told her that just about every religion has some kind of ritual in late December around the longest night of the year. Sometimes it is a few days away and folks try very hard to come up with some kind of “rational” story about why they need to have a celebration then. Stories are very easy to come up with.

I told her that just about every human being has trouble sustaining hope and through the winter is when it is hardest. You feel like everything is terrible and bad. There is no point in trying. Many people feel sad and rejected and unloved at this time of year. It feels like there will never be a return of light.

So in this country we call our mid-winter celebration Christmas (mostly, unless you have a specific reason to call it something else) and if you notice there are a lot of lights associated with it. People like light. It makes us feel like we don’t have to be alone and scared in the dark.

I keep my Christmas tree lit for basically all of December. I understand that it is technically a fire risk. I also sleep out there near the tree several times. I always have.

I need the light. I need that renewal of hope every year. It is a subtle thing, but very important to me.

Then of course she wants to know why presents. I said that generosity (giving stuff) and avarice (getting stuff) both make people feel very good. It has to do with the chemicals in our brain. I said that people like combining symbols because that makes them more powerful. If you give gifts as part of a ceremony of lights that is about restoring hope it is like a promise every December that good things will come again.

Even though you are scared–even though it feels like there is no hope. There is always hope. The longest, darkest, most terrible day of the year always brings hope.

Thus we mark it with gifts. Both to keep us from being afraid and to make us happy. And because getting stuff is kind of fun.

In our house we use this as a time of restocking necessary things but getting slightly higher quality or fancier version.

Socks, underwear (if needed), pajamas, soap, consumable objects–both edible and otherwise–provide the bulk of gifts.

I really like giving food. There is something primal and intense for me about being able to feed people. I feel like that is one of the primary ways I have of actually being supportive and loving of the people in my life.

Almost no one in my life needs me to buy them soap or socks. They just don’t have need in that area. They do need to eat multiple times a day every day. I can allow them to skip a step of work or save money. That is something I can actually do. That makes me feel good in the same kind of way that going out and picking up garbage in our neighborhood makes me feel good.

And sugar is just awesome. So I give a lot of sweets to go along with my lights and subliminal message of hope. No matter how bitter your life is right now, here is some sweet to go along with it. This too shall pass. Just like the long night will pass. There is always hope.

In our culture we have Christmas and New Years right together. What better hope is there than having a clean slate right after the festival of lights?

Oh, and there was this historical guy named Jesus and the Christians are very big on him so that’s why you see Nativities. It’s part of their mythology. Luckily we live right next to a Hindu temple so the expression, “It’s part of their mythology” gets used a lot. Especially with the uber intense Christian homeschooling family a few doors down.

“Why does she talk about Jesus all the time?” Because it brings her comfort. Don’t worry about it.

Our advent calendar is full of things to do. Like fill out Christmas cards. Put up the outside lights. Make cookies. Have a party. Go on a walk and look at the lights. I may try to talk my similarly-community-crazy neighbors into caroling. That would be rad.

I like for Christmas to be a time of spending time together. I have hope because of and for the people in this house. Let’s be honest here. I’m a cold bastard. I may love people outside of my house but I can’t spend much time having hope for them. It wears me out. I have no control over their lives.

I have to keep my hope in house. This is a far more pleasant experience now than it used to be. Trying to have a renewal of hope alone with yourself is very hard. Now I have these wonderful people to be with.

And I’m freaking out. The kids have broken four tree ornaments and two other decoration pieces in the first three days of having stuff out. I got mad. I yelled. Noah pointed out that I should put the breakable things away before I create a situation I will regret. He’s a smart boy. They broke ornaments that were my mothers. They broke the stable that is part of the nativity set that belonged to my family of origin before I was born. I have no idea if it is 35 or 50 years old. Now it is broken.

It is just a thing. Noah is right that it isn’t appropriate to get mad at the kids. They are two and four. If I have breakable things I need to keep them out of reach or it is on my head.

That’s the part that is different from what I experienced. That is the most important part. I can’t get angry with them for being two and four. Well, I can. But making a habit of it is stupid. I think it is ok that Shanna and Calli saw me get angry about so many things getting broken so fast. But that anger needs to stay in that ten minute period and I can’t dwell on it.

I’ve been sick and the kids are cooped up and fussy. And we are all cold. The pilot light will be lit today. Woo.

Getting through all the tasks I associate with Christmas is overwhelming if not structured. That’s why I do the advent calendar. Otherwise I freak out and get stuck doing too much on one day and I’m overwhelmed and I end up crying. I cry when I get frustrated being getting mad feels so unacceptable.

I don’t feel like I wrapped that up coherently but I have to go start the day.

Be Thankful

I often hear people say: You shouldn’t compare abuse.  There is no use.  Trauma is unique and people react differently.  Today I am going to say: yes you should fucking compare.  You probably have no god damn perspective on your life and you really should go out and compare.  You should find out how good you have it.

I feel deeply uncomfortable with how good my life is now.  I’m aware that my current safety and stability is not about deserve.  This is not the natural results of a lot of hard work.  It’s a fucking fluke.  I managed to marry someone rich.  Whoo hoo.  What. An. Accomplishment.  And yet people want to tell me that my life is awesome because I deserve it.

Does that mean I deserved to be raped?  Does that mean I deserved to live in poverty when I was a kid?  No.  There is. no. deserve.  I’m kind of angry that people use that word ever in conversations about money.    It’s not just the money though.

I think that people should sit down and compare abuse for a few minutes.  My father told me that I was a literally-evil-as-in-descended-from witches-evil and a whore.  That it was all I would ever be.  My father taught me that pain should go with sexual contact.  That I should endure it with a stony face.  From when I was a baby.

Did that happen to you?  No?  Well then maybe you should go thank your father.  Maybe you could take a moment to realize that if your dad is an asshole, but never did anything actually bad maybe that was him showing restraint.  Maybe he is not your cup of tea, but not exactly someone who should die in a fire.  Say fucking thank you.  Because I’m here to tell you that you weren’t treated how you were treated because you deserved it.  You were treated that well because no one wanted to treat you worse.  And for one fucking day I think people should stop and realize that it isn’t a birth right.

When people are kind to you, don’t expect it as your due.  Thank them for it.  It’s a gift.  Maybe grudgingly given, maybe cheerfully given.

Did your mother tell you that you deserved what you got after you were raped?  No?  Maybe you should say thank you to her.  Maybe you actually have a much better mother than you know.  Maybe you don’t know just how good you have it.

Did your brother tell you that the only career you would be good at was being a prostitute?  No?  Maybe you should say thank you to your brother.  He might be an asshole, but he recognizes that there is a line. And he didn’t cross.  He doesn’t degrade your humanity and think you are a piece of shit hole.  I promise you he isn’t doing it because you are so fucking awesome that of course you deserve to be treated well.  He’s doing it because he has made a choice about the kind of person he wants to be and how he wants to treat people.  Even if he doesn’t know it.  Because this is a choice.  Be thankful.

When I called my big sister sobbing, begging her for help she laughed at me and told me I was interrupting her having sex.  Then she hung up on me.  I spent the rest of the night trying to OD on crank.  Because no really, no one gave a shit about me.

I think people should compare abuse.  I really do.  I think these conversations should be explicit.  I think they should be candid.  I think people should stop walking on eggshells around this topic.  Given how many people tell me, “Oh I had a hard childhood too” then backpedal fast when I start talking this is a conversation that needs to be had.  People don’t know what a hard childhood is.  They have nothing to compare their own childhoods to most of the time.  There aren’t many books about genuinely bad childhoods.  So people don’t know what it means.  I think people should.  Most people have a lot more to be thankful for than they think.

It’s hard sometimes when people complain bitterly about their families.  I miss my family.  I’ve spent a month telling all the worst stories I can about my family.  I still miss them.  I still know my place there.  Yesterday was hard.  I spent all day rehearsing negative awful things to say in my head.  Because I know that my role at big holidays is to be the one who starts a fight and then runs off crying.  That way everyone has an opening to say how awesome it is when I’m not there any more.

I used to listen to those conversations as a kid.  They would comment idly once I left, “Oh thank god she finally left.”  I don’t think there were very many days in my childhood where my mother didn’t comment about how nasty and awful I was.  I was too critical, always.

Maybe your family wants you to call on Thanksgiving because they love you and miss you and really wish they got to see you more.  And they don’t know how to effect that.  You ran away from them to have your own life and they miss you.  Is that really so bad?  Is that really so terrible?  Is a five minute or even fifteen minute phone call really so onerous?  Really?

I wasn’t alone yesterday.  I have Noah.  I have Sarah.  I have Shanna.  I have Calli.  My Complication (who has yet to tell me if it is ok to use her name) was here.  A friend named Dave (who doesn’t get to opt-out of using his name because there are 3,000 Daves in my community) also came to dinner.  That was nice.  The food was excellent.  Pre-dinner another couple of friends stopped by for a chat.  We all went to bed really early.

I wasn’t alone.  But I can’t shake the feeling that I’m still the problem.  I’m still the wild card.  I’m still the one who might break out crying and stomp off.  I’m still the one who is difficult to predict and triggery and an asshole.  I’m so fucking self-absorbed.

But I tried really hard to talk about the things I am thankful for.  Because I don’t deserve them.  I didn’t deserve the things that happened to me as a kid and I don’t deserve the things that happen to me know.  It’s not about deserve.  I changed my luck.  I’m excited that my life is different now.  But it’s not about deserve.  It just happened.  Life is like that.  I think that people can work their whole life and never get what they want.  I think that people can work for five minutes and get more than they ever dreamed.  It’s not about deserve.  It just happens.

I have relatively good health.  I have a safe, stable home.  I have friends who are willing to tolerate a torrential flow of shit-talk from me.  I have a husband who thinks I can do or be anything I want in the whole wide world.  Well, maybe not an NBA player.  Or an astronaut.  Oh well.

I am thankful for the privilege and security I have because it is allowing me to be a good mother.  Other women can be good mothers with less support.  I don’t think I would be able to.  My life is set up around babying my mood swings and impatience.  I have created space for dealing with my rage.  Because I have Noah and Sarah and a big pile of money.  I’m not a good mother because my kids deserve it.  I’m a good mother because I am lucky enough to set up my life in a way that allows me to be.  I can play to my strengths and minimize my weaknesses.  That isn’t about deserve.  But it is really nice that my kids get to have that.  I would like to find a way to teach them that it isn’t a right without having to hurt them in the process.

I am really thankful that I get to sit down and think about these things and make decisions about them because of my raging privilege.  I am so fucking lucky.  That makes it harder that I’m still bitter.

I’m bitter when I hear people sit around trading off how onerous it is to have families.  I can’t have a family because I believe that it is unhealthy for me to have ongoing relationships with people who enabled me being raped for more than a decade.  What’s your fucking excuse?  Oh, they aren’t your same chosen culture?  Uh.  Grow some fucking balls and learn to deal with the fact that world isn’t just like you.  I promise you that the world isn’t just like me.  I have to find a way of talking to them anyway or I get to be alone.  I think it is hubris to toss away your family.  You never know when you might want them again.  And some wounds can’t heal.

I think people should catalogue their abuse.  And then actually compare.  No really.  Make a decision for yourself.  Either be ok with it or walk away.  The back and forth is bullshit.  Holding on to bitterness for things that happened decades ago is bullshit.

And I do it.  I know I am hurting my life with this bullshit.  This was one of the best Thanksgivings of my life.  Yeah, I spent some of the day in my room crying.  But less than usual.  Far less than any given year from my childhood.  No one had anything resembling a fight.  I had one explosion where I told people to stop bitching about having to call their families.  That was it.  That’s pretty good for me.

I feel really bad that I know that my pretty good would be unacceptable for most people.  Only one melodramatic meltdown ending in tears.  But if you are going to compare you have to really compare.  I had 18 years of people telling me on Thanksgiving that I was unpleasant to be around and difficult and I should just leave.  Was that the experience of most people?  Probably not.  Maybe it’s ok that I still cry.

But I also try really hard to notice that I have it really good.  My life is exceptionally easy and good right now.  I have the kind of life that people dream about.  Maybe I need to stop crying.  I may have had a bad childhood, but whether I have a bad adulthood is up to me.  I can choose to spend every Thanksgiving crying or I can work on not doing that.  It’s not making my life better.  It is no longer a good thing for me to isolate myself.  Once it was a good and necessary thing.  I need to learn how to deal with the discomfort of being around other people.  Even though it is hard and it hurts.  Because I have these amazing people who have stepped up.  I need to be thankful for them, not bitter about my bio-family.  Because there is no deserve.  I don’t have this now because the universe adjusted from an inappropriate tilt and now I have what I deserve finally.

I’m just really fucking lucky.  And not everyone is as lucky as me.  For me to piss and moan and whine is pretty disrespectful, honestly.  It’s bullshit.  And I should change it.

So my first living on less challenge for myself. We have Easter coming up and I would like to host a brunch for some friends. I think it sounds like fun. Because I am a huge dorkwad a lot of what I want to do is get my back yard to a place where it would be fun to be in. I need a short-term goal to reach. I want to spend no more than $50, to be taken out of our entertainment budget. How am I going to reach this goal? There are many things to figure out. How many people would I like to host? In particular, Shanna and I are both excited about the upcoming egg hunt. I’m not sure if our friends-with-small-kids will want to come over though. Well, you have to ask if you want things so I’ll figure that bit out. We’ll have to decide what kinds of foods to serve and decorating. On $50. It’s a good thing I have some time to plan.

Luckily I already have someone coming (hopefully today) to take the shed out of my back yard and I found a table/chair/umbrella set on freecycle a couple of weeks ago. That’s the first big step towards making the backyard more fun for a party. I also need to go find some free fill dirt for some of the fuss in the yard. That’s going to be exciting. But! This can be done!

I would like to have some decorations as well. I wonder what Shanna and I can make. 🙂