Tuesday, January 31, 2012
There is something about the fact that my family has accused me of lying despite the fact that my father confessed. It haunts me. The detective who interrogated my father let me know that he had never heard anything more extreme in his career. My lovely father set the bell curve on disgusting atrocities to children. And my family thinks I am lying. I don't know what to do with that. That sort of basic dishonesty is probably the basis for a lot of personality issues right there. My humanity has been assaulted from babyhood and I'm not allowed to experience it as real. I am told to forget because I just made it up anyway. Who wouldn't go crazy?
Only I'm not really crazy. I am. Certifiable. But I'm not. I'm complicated and I'm difficult. I'm not crazy. I am hurt. I am sad. I have terrible anxiety. I have a hard time perceiving people liking me. That isn't crazy that is good plain sense. I had to grow up disbelieving people who told me they loved me. People who love you are not a party to child rape. Sorry.
I think about the people who visit this blog looking for that phrase. Some of you have stories that would make me cry. If people say they love you but disbelieve you were raped, that's dangerous to you. Don't let them convince you that you deserve what you got. You didn't. I don't give a shit who you are. If your father rapes you, you bear no blame.
You get to decide how you move forward. Even if you never make waves in your family because you can't for some reason, never let them define you. Don't become their crazy person. You aren't. They are liars and trying to take away your truth. Your truth lives inside of you. No one can take it. I write mine down because I can't live with it being only inside me. My family denies my reality. Well, I picked the scorched earth policy. You don't have to follow me. It hurts a lot.
If you are raped by your father you do not deserve it. You did not in any way encourage it. Your father did something terribly wrong. He took advantage of the most power he can ever have in his life. He is entirely to blame. That is a relationship with a one way stream of responsibility for sexual contact.
I'm trying to learn to stop hurting myself because I am the kind of person who deserves terrible things. I hope you don't hurt yourself either. You deserve better than that. I'm not sure yet what better than that looks like. If you find out, let me know.
But the idea I want to get down is one that is making me feel pretty nervous. Noah has been holding me down and forcing me to read comic books. (Ok, not exactly. But close.) I don't want to do an actual graphic novel, but I want to draw a series of pictures of houses that I have lived in. Certainly not everywhere I lived, I moved too many times. There will be a few "amalgam" houses as well. I want to use the pictures as a base and produce many volleys of text that will eventually mostly fill the pages in a format that looks kind of like "pull out" descriptions of the houses.
The first book will have very few words. It will be a general outline that is totally appropriate for a three year to look at while learning about my life. Pictures can be pretty scary. I'm scared because this is a serious artistic endeavor. I'm not usually real fond of my art. Eek.
I have always been obsessed with drawing houses. Other people seem to have other things that they draw over and over or doodle. For me it is houses. I want to find a way to have my house pictures communicate a lot before I say anything about them. I want to figure out a way to talk to my kids about my life.
Shanna asked me recently, after I apologized for yelling, why I yell so much. She makes me happy. I told her, "Well, when I was a kid people thought nothing of yelling at me, hitting me too. It wasn't nice. It made me feel bad. I decided that I didn't want to grow up and do that to kids. But I was yelled at a really lot and I wasn't taught any other way of dealing with frustrations. I'm trying to learn but it's hard. I'm hoping that if I work hard to learn and you help me learn, both of us won't need to yell just because something frustrates us." She said that sounded like a good plan.
Children believe they have a lot of responsibility. They think that things happen because of them. It's normal and healthy. I want my daughter to really understand in her soul that when I over react to things it isn't about her. She is perfect. She is exactly what a child and human should be. I'm not. Not "it's not my fault I'm an asshole... I had a bad childhood!" Rather, there are things that are genuinely harder for me than other people. I work hard at them but I make mistakes. I want my daughter to understand that I am making a mistake and there is an appropriate way of acting out there and we are striving towards it. Everyone makes mistakes. My mistakes are not because of her. They are because I am trying so hard at so many things all the time that sometimes I'm not able to put my all into every step and I make a mistake. How do I fix that? How do I repair that?
I know other people don't think that telling their story is a necessary part of that. I guess that's what makes me a writer. I really want to put a smiley with a tongue sticking our right here. But I won't. Because I am dignified and adult and I promised myself I would avoid them in my blog. Damnit.
The house in Whittier needs to have a conspicuously open window on the side; it won't be drawn the way my actual window worked because it would be hard to get the angles. A lot of the focus of that picture will be the tree. And the hill of gravel I fell down on rollerskates. And the rock.
The houses in the mountains. Oh those are going to have details. I think the first book should say, "This is where I learned to love the trees."
The apartment row in Apple Valley with that bitch sitting on my front walkway waiting to kick the crap out of me. Early on Shanna will probably assume she is a friend. I won't mention the constant ass-kickings for a few years.
The best part is drawing pictures is something I can do with the kids around. I'm thinking about playing with mediums. Some crayon, some paint... not sure what else. Pencils. The house in Whittier is going to be the only picture done solely in black ink. It was an evil place.
I've been thinking about this while running. I'm really enjoying how much thinking I do. I daydream more than I can at other times. Usually I get interrupted. I'm so glad today is a rest day. I'm exhausted. I need to stretch. And I need to go edit that book. If I want to release it on March 1st I'd better get my ass in gear.
Sunday, January 29, 2012
I started thinking about how much Noah really wishes he got to go from girl to girl. He wants that so much. From the outset, with that want, I can never be enough. No matter what. I can't be multiple people. I can't give him that thrill. I could stand there and watch (or not) him have it. I can't give it to him. Given how much trouble I'm having with sex right now it feels like I have completely cock blocked him in every way. He didn't promise celibacy.
I feel like such a failure. I'm feeling eaten away by stress and failure and all the things I will never be good enough for. This morning as I was crying at Noah I told him that whenI was a kid I would say: "I'm sorry", the response was: "Yeah, you're sorry. You are the sorriest piece of shit ever born." I'm realizing why I don't notice that I am expressing contempt. I don't know much else.
This book is very hard to read. I don't really want to think hard about the fact that this is my life. How can I have these experiences and come out anything but a piece of shit. An angry waste of air. Yes, yes, happiness is a state of mind, not a circumstance. I don't know how to forget everything that happened and just go on to be happy. I'm hopeful that some day other people will know the story. Enough people will tell me that I'm not bad that maybe I will believe it. I still feel like I deserve everything that happened. It wouldn't have happened to a nice person. Someone who was good. Someone kind. Someone who wasn't a piece of shit. Instead it happened to me. That must be how it is supposed to work.
Today is going to be kind of rough. I had planned to take the girls to Fairyland. But I'm dizzy and weak. I don't think that is a good idea. I wish the stupid place was open during the week. I've been taking sleeping pills for almost two weeks. I've gotten 7.5+ hours for almost that many nights. I wish my body felt better. Everything hurts. I remember my stomach hurting like this when I was a kid. This was usually my reason for staying home from school. My mom would always yell at me that I was a hypochondriac or a liar. At least she let me stay home anyway. I'm scared. I'm so very scared.
I just sent an email to some of my co-owners in the coffee shop. I guess that money is going to be a donation after all. I asked to have my name taken off the ownership paperwork. I don't want the stress going forward. I bought it when I thought I had more help. Things change. If they could give the money back some day that would be great but I won't be holding my breath. I wasn't looking for that. I wanted to do good in the world. I hope I did.
I want to be someone who can take care of a lot of people and fix a lot of problems. Unfortunately I only seem to be able to fix knots in capes. I can clean up toys. And three people is the absolute physical limit of how many people I can take care of. I wish I didn't know that for sure. I wish I hadn't hit that wall. I wish I got to still have the fantasy of being very competent. I'm very competent on my best days. I don't have best days very often. I have to plan my life around my very worst days. Because I have to determine what I can truly carry on my own. Because I have things I have to carry no matter what. I have to take care of my family. I have to. There is no one else to do it. No one else is available to just come take care of my kids. I tried to see if it was possible. It's not. Well, I could pay someone but that would require getting a job. No thanks. Once you start upping the ante like that it isn't figuring out how to adapt my life it is going out and getting a whole new life.
I like my life. I like hanging out with my kids. I like writing. I'm even quite house proud. I like looking around and seeing the things that bring joy to me. I've created my house very intentionally. I didn't pick it but it's mine. Maybe the only house I will live in for the rest of my life. I want it to bring me joy. I'm pretty selfish. Luckily Noah doesn't seem to worry too much about what I do. For some odd reason he trusts me. Or he just doesn't care. Either way.
Noah told me that he isn't sure what to say. I'm convinced I have no value. He disagrees. I told him that I'm afraid he is lying. I am. I'm terrified.
I don't feel much pride in myself. All I see are my failures. It's interesting how differently Noah and I view failures. He tells me often that you learn more from doing things wrong. It feels like such a privileged thing to say. It may be true, but only some people keep getting second chances. I think that's part of it. Noah rarely fails at anything that matters. I do. When I fail I have to once again deal with the consequences of the fact that I am a piece of shit and everyone is going to leave me in the end for being a nasty, angry, bitter person. My mistakes in the past twelve months have cost me three friendships. I run people off. My mistakes mean that I spent seven years in graduate school but I have no degree to show for it. Yes, I learned things. That's still an awful lot of time and money to spend. I'm glad I was able to pay off my student loan debt so fast. If I was still paying for it I would be much more bitter.
Only time will tell how I am as a mother. I'm afraid. The stakes are so high. Even if some day I manage to run Noah off, which I think is more possible than he gives me credit for, I really am afraid that I won't deserve my children. It was decided so long ago that I am bad. What hubris do I have to think I can change that?
Today I hate me. And I'm sorry. So very sorry.
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Sometimes Noah says things to me that really bother me. He said that it isn't actually surprising that things started so bad so early because otherwise I never would have adapted. If you are treated well at all you can't handle being hurt like I was when I was older. You just don't have the instincts for it. I feel rather mixed. Ok, that's not what he said word for word. But that is as close as I remember.
As I'm editing this book I'm thinking hard about what the next book will be. I think it should be a children's book. I want to find a way to explain me to my kids in a way that is appropriate for very young children. Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry is a good book, but it doesn't feel all that applicable to my kids. If I want them to have a story I think I have to write it. I want to find a way to introduce the issues around my anger and defensiveness in a way that clearly lets them know it is never their fault and never about them. It really isn't. I have issues. That happens sometimes. How do my kids grow up understanding that not everyone is like me? Mostly they will meet lots of people and just notice on their own. I don't want to excuse my behavior. But I do want them to have a chance of understanding.
I don't take it for granted that I will have a relationship with any of the people I know today in twenty years. Not Noah, not my kids, none of my friends. I am still in contact with very few people I knew twenty years ago. B. That's it. Our contact is kind of tentative and nebulous and often absent for months or years. I hope I deserve to still have a relationship with my daughters in twenty years.
I'm struggling emotionally with the vast array of things I have no control over. Right now I am appreciating my therapist. She's good at kind of smirking at me in a way that lets me know that I am over-extending my desire to control. There is so little I have actual control over in this world. It's hard to admit that out loud. It's galling.
I'm not sure if I am getting sick or if I am just having physical symptoms of stress. I fell down today after a lovely dizziness episode. I wish I hadn't done it outside on a gravel bed, but oh well. After that my abdomen was so sensitive my pants felt horribly tight. I felt like I was very pregnant trying to wear too-tight pants. That feeling seems to have stopped. I have had a blinding headache since yesterday. The muscles in my neck are locked up tight and spasming. Good times. I think I've been remarkably chipper. I won't be taking the kids to Fairyland tomorrow by myself. Holy moly am I not up for that right now. I didn't even run today. I've been managing three days a week of running pretty well but I am having a nasty transition to running four days a week. I also feel kind of weird about my continued weight loss. Today I dropped below 150 pounds. That's thinner than I thought I could maintain while actually eating food. As I sit here about to polish off half a box of cookies... I'm just not concerned. I primarily eat locally raised organic vegetables and fruit, local pastured meat, and a mildly excessive amount of noodles. It's ok that I eat cookies sometimes. I'm dropping weight like I made a New Years resolution. I swear I'm not trying to lose weight.
I feel really weird about how my body is changing. I feel like I have lost any right to ever talk about my body experiences as a fat person. I'm not fat any more. I can't use the terms for myself I am used to using. I have been this thin as an adult. The last time I was this weight my stomach was concave and you could count my ribs. That isn't at all what I look like this time. I don't understand bodies. I'm not even eighteen months postpartum. I still have a fair bit of belly, though it shrinks by the day. I have had these firm beliefs most of my life that I simply couldn't be a thin person. My German-peasant-stock body just wasn't going to do that. I was wrong. Apparently it just takes 10+ miles of running a week. No wonder I never bothered doing this before.
I am finally getting to the point where I can attain runners high. I've never pushed myself that hard before. It's an interesting experience. I don't think I am going to ever be passionate about running. I'm doing it because I want to know that I ran in the same race as my brother. I did it. I can do this with him. I am really and truly part of that piece of shit family. It hurts to feel like you are never going to be allowed to think of yourself as part of the family. Even though I don't want them. Even though I am going to avoid contact with my family for the rest of my life. I love them and want them so much. I wish they wanted me. I wish they saw me and were proud. I wish that at the end of the marathon my brother would smile at me and hug me. I'm not going to hold my breath.
My brother believes that the only way for people like us to be good parents is to keep our fucking mouths shut and just not pass on the trauma to the next generation. I disagree with him. I think that part of being a good parent is talking about things. I also think that part of being a good parent is going out and doing very hard things and showing your children that it is possible. Anything is possible if you want it bad enough. Even though I feel like a piece of shit now, I can change that. I can find a way to have worth in my own eyes. Eventually I will be able to feel like I am a good person. Anything is possible if you want it bad enough.
Ok, I actually only ate two cookies. But they were hella good.
Friday, January 27, 2012
I have screwed up a lot of money stuff this month. I'm experiencing a lot of anxiety around that. It's all stuff that will even out and be ok in the long run. I feel stupid though. I feel wasteful and inattentive and bad. I think it might be harder that Noah isn't mad. I spend a lot of time feeling like I don't deserve someone who will be this nice to me. He really is just plain nice. I feel like this nasty bitch he got saddled with. I can't understand why he would take pleasure in the company of a miserable harpy. That's what I feel like when I get to the point of being able to loudly put my foot down about my boundaries. I don't know how to do it in a friendly and loving way.
I ignore things until I blow up. That's not useful. I'm handling things badly with Sarah because I don't know what to do. I've said my part of things, badly and with hostility because I'm a piece of shit, and now I wait. There is nothing else I can do. I'm not good at waiting. Waiting makes me edgy. Waiting makes me feel like someone doesn't think I deserve to be answered which escalates my fuss. I feel ignored and unimportant. Ignoring a situation I am heavily involved with means that I feel ignored. And that makes me angrier and harder to talk to. It's not a great cycle.
I'm reading a book about successful marriages. I'm generalizing a lot of the advice to other areas of my life. I'm not very good at a lot of parts of relationships. That makes sense. You learn how to have relationships by watching the people in your family. I'm worried about my explosive anger because even if I never do anything that qualifies as textbook abuse to my kids I'm still teaching them how to be an adult. I'm still teaching them how to have relationships. I feel quite guilty that someone as fucked up and pathetic as me is their example. I'm sorry I'm not better at this.
When I was pregnant with Shanna a long time friend told me that she thought someone with my emotional problems has no business being a mother. I don't think I will ever get that out of my head. I feel like such a horrible person. How dare someone as pathetic and awful and broken as me think they have the right to pass on how to be a person. It seems like such a horrible offense. It can never be taken back.
It's hard knowing that I'm not the only person who thinks I am a piece of shit. I'm not the only person who thinks I am awful. I'm not the only person who thinks I am bad. I don't really want my children to grow up knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that someone like them deserves to be looked down on and loathed.
One of the things I fucked up this month was billpay. I sent extra checks to the maid who quit in December. I sent her emails asking her to not deposit the money. She deposited the money and told me it was all my fault and I brought it on myself. I investigated my options. I probably can't get the money back. She is currently in a homeless shelter. I could press charges and make it so she can't get a decent job. She graduates from college in February. I can't have that on my soul. I can't take her life away from her over this. She broke the law. She committed a crime. But I think she committed the kind of crime I can't judge her for. She is trying desperately to survive. I can't turn around and make that harder for her. The deck is already stacked against her in every way. I can't live with having ruined her life. Yes, she brought it on herself. I still get to decide what kind of person I am.
I don't want to be angry. I don't want to go after vengeance. Justice, sure. Not vengeance. I can't get justice by ruining the life of a twenty year old homeless girl. That's not justice.
I have a hard time feeling like I'm a sucker. I'm doing this because when I was fifteen the police officer told me very clearly that he should arrest me for grand theft auto. Instead he called my mom. That was a time and a place where punishing me wouldn't have improved my life. If I had been "held accountable" for my actions it probably would have prevented most of the good that came later. I was given a chance. I was told very clearly what the consequences of my actions should be. Then he let me go home and sob and cry and feel like a terrible person. I have never fucked up that big again. From that day forward it wouldn't be a mistake again. It wouldn't be a fuck up. It would be a choice to not care about how my actions affect other people. I can't live with that on my conscious.
It's going to be hard to stop reacting to Sarah in angry ways but I need to do it. I need to do it for me first and foremost. Sarah is one of my closest friends and I don't want to lose her. I love her very much. The fact that I can't handle living with her does not make her a piece of shit. It just means I can't live with her. I'm having a hard time because with my family in order to keep myself safe from them I have to be actively angry. When something isn't working for me I don't know how to stop it other than this extreme anger. I have to feel like my personhood is being insulted. But Sarah isn't insulting me. She isn't trying to hurt me. She is trying to get through her life as best she can. Sometimes her ways don't work for me. If I manage to remove the franticness from my longing for family I can feel ok with the fact that I just can't live with Sarah.
Sarah is amazing and wonderful. She is talented and kind. She is patient. She is also not me. Her priorities are not mine. That's probably a good thing. As I am going full-speed-ahead on my life I can't expect someone with wildly different priorities to be able to just do the things I want done. It's not reasonable. A lot of why I am so angry is because I wanted this to work so much. I feel so much disappointment. I don't react to that well. That's on the long list of things I need to improve on and fast. I have already done major damage to our relationship. If I don't want to be responsible for ending our friendship I need to get my shit together now. Sarah will not be able to survive my hostility. She doesn't have that in her. If I want to still have her in my life in ten years I need to grow the fuck up.
What do I want from a relationship with Sarah? Instead of being so angry about the parts I don't want it is time for me to figure out what I really get from the relationship and work towards that. There is so much good there. I'm really not in a place in my life where I should be pissing all over a good thing.
Breakfast is ready. Cinnamon bread french toast. My husband loves me.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Tonight my therapist asked me an interesting question. I was ranting, as I do, and she said, "what can you learn from this?" I can continue to learn that people suck or I can learn that I get to change my life now. When I am dealing with something unpleasant in some way I get to pick how much of that I allow in my life. I'm not a kid any more. Even Noah doesn't have much power over me. I get to choose what I allow into my life on an ongoing basis. Sure I can't prevent one off crappy behavior. I get to decide how to respond and if I will stand there waiting for another kick.
That's power. I guess I learned that I have a lot more of it than I think.
I told her that she is easy to love. We still know each other because she is easy to love. Not because I am so worth loving. She is blessed with a thick skin, short memory, and the rock solid belief that people only say harsh self-improvement things with the best of intentions. Yeah, we can stay friends. Because you believe that when I point out bad things I'm doing it because I love you.
Yesterday I was talking to her about a different conflict in my life. One I've written about. One I very carefully write about. I was telling her a different side to the story. Being the girl she is her response was, "Whoa. That's a much bigger thing to feel ________ about than everything you have written. The fact that this is going on makes me think this is the real issue. And the fact that you won't write about it... that's big. Yeah, this is probably the real crux of the issue." My jaw actually dropped. I'm not completely sure she's right, but she's mostly right. That was interesting for me to note for several reasons. First and most importantly, holy shit she can play me. I have deep respect for that in my friends. That means they have paid attention.
I have had several big issues with my "chosen family" in the past year and a while. I found the breaking point. I have an increasingly interesting thought process around the things I used to put up with and things I am willing to model putting up with in front of my kids. I'm having a hard time with those differences. I don't want my kids growing up with the idea that its ok to use me, everyone else does. I'm not a fan of being the one who does all the work for a bunch of semi-grateful people. I don't get off on that. I get nothing but exhaustion and anger that no one fucking helped. Again. But I want to see people. Apparently if you want to see people it requires doing a lot of work. Fuck that. I'd rather not see people. Attempting to put my foot down on this issue is not going well.
Most of my best friends are hoarders who need people to sit around and tell them how awesome they are. I could go down a list. It's actually pretty funny. If someone is not a hoarder who wants me to come clean their house for them we probably won't build a friendship. What can our friendship be based on if not my work? Or there are the guys I fuck. I have one or two fierce women friends I pretty much exclusively talk to online and I don't clean for them. But I don't see them either. Maybe once a year.
If people are hoarders who need me to clean up after them I have a pattern for that. I have a whole broken dynamic I picked up in my family of origin around this issue and I moved it forward. It's interesting to think about. I'm not sure if I'm an enabler or what if I come over and force them to get rid of a bunch of shit so it can't be as big of a mess for a while. My organization systems usually last at least months if not years. They just put new shit around what I organize. It's hilarious to watch.
All of them remind me of my family. If I speak of the hoarders as a collective I can come up with: charming, manipulative, lying, alcoholism, drug addiction, severe avoidance issues, agoraphobia, racist, sexist, cheating, everything is always someone else's fault.
Once we had some former students over (that's actually happened a bunch--they are great people) and we were all drunk and Noah got a bit overly intense when he was explaining to one of them how she was helping to create abusive relationships over and over. He was outlining how her behavior correlated with stuff that is known to be a problem. She was visibly uncomfortable and I made him stop. But I do that. I'm ridiculously codependent. I don't have the energy to care for more people and I have no desire to do so in the first place, but I really wish I had people in my life. I only seem to make friends with people who want me to do a lot of work for them. I am having a hard time changing this pattern. And in the process I seem to have to put some dynamite in my chosen family and find out if anyone is still around in a few years.
So far it looks like unless I call and make invitations I won't see some of them. I'm sad but not surprised. That is the pattern. Others have changed the dynamic. We are trying to find a balance. I need support and have none to give. They are trying to work with me. It's hard to accept help. It's very uncomfortable. Times up. Gotta go start kid time.
D-- don't you admire how I still avoided that one issue?
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
How can you bring someone to your house who you admittedly barely know and met through adult sex venues at that, and let him meet your daughters? That is truly scary. I think a mother should be extremely selective who she brings in the house and to top it all off lets meet the kids. Just my 0.02 cents. "
Today both of the girls are actually asleep for naps. It's been an interesting few days for sleep. And moodiness. Lots of moodiness. Well, different moodiness. More sadness. My over all anger level is much lower. There is still a lot of unfinished business and I never like limbo. Patience, Grasshopper. Uprooting takes time. Not everyone uproots in less than forty-eight hours at the slightest provocation. (I've done that multiple times as an adult. And I can't count how many as a kid.)
I'm learning a lot about my life during my childhood. I have a different perspective on interactions now. I struggle endlessly with my inability to grant forgiveness. I am trying to understand that people now are not people then. I can forgive everything that has been done to me as an adult. I think that is why I generally do not think of my adult less-than-consensual sex as rape, fully. Because I do not shun the men. Because I understand their point of view and I know that I did get in over my head. I courted danger and I let my guard down at the wrong time. My bad, right? But now I understand that no one wants to be the bad guy in their own story. Except for me. I don't seem to want to be anything else.
What does it mean to not be the bad guy? I think I have been an asshole. I think I have been volatile and threatening. I have lost my temper in front of people in ways that scared them. Effectively I lost control. That makes me the bad guy. I was telling Shanna just the other day that bad guys can be girls too.
I want to be something else though. I don't want to be the bad guy forever. I hear this involves learning to "let go". I'm never sure what of. They certainly don't mean of control. I don't know what people want. What does it take to be a good guy? Damned if I know.
Today both of my children napped. Tonight someone is coming over to supper. I'm going to actually cook. Using ingredients I grew in my yard. That's so fucking cool. I need to go start figuring out food.
I left off there yesterday. I'm resuming for no reason beyond I don't think I have enough mental energy to really write again today. I feel slow and stupid and sad. I'm pretty sure this is chemical depression. I'm trying hard to not get too far mired in the idea that I am a tremendous failure at everything in life. Just because I can't do everything that doesn't make me a failure. It's not all or nothing. Today that is hard to believe because I'm grieving. My body aches and feels heavy and weary. It doesn't really matter how I feel though. I have chores to get through. Then I really need to take the kids out of the house. I'm thinking Discovery Museum. We are all cooped up and frustrated.
I think I am at the limit of what I can do. Now I wait. I wait and feel this creeping sadness. I failed. I failed.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
That is what I am having so much trouble with. I feel guilty that I will never be able to be a placid, mellow, just happy mom. That's not an option this lifetime. I am often happy. I am sometimes mellow. But I am also quick to anger. My anger burns hot. I get very sad. I may be one of the only women I know who isn't bothered by the term "hysterical". Even though I know it has nothing to do with my uterus, I really do get a kind of freaked out that men don't get. At least not in places I can see. Sometimes it seems like I am the example of what is wrong with women. I should try to be more stable. More like the men in my life and all. Because the women in my life are more stable than me, but not by much. I'm sure that's not a nice thing to say.
I've been really enjoying reading Austen novels lately. That's funny because I avoided them like the plague when I was in college for that English degree. I'm enjoying seeing how very slow their lives are. It feels like it is giving me permission to strive for less. If I want to be a developed and accomplished person I need to have a lot of time spent in my house just improving myself. If I am running around with too many things I am obliged to get done in a day I will spin my wheels in place and not improve much. I'll be too angry and frustrated to get the lessons from things I want to get.
Writing with Shanna here is different. I'm being vague and that's funny because she can't read yet. I'm not trying to spare her. If I want Shanna to grow up reading I need to read in front of her. If I want her to grow up being curious and interested in everything she can reach her hands out and touch I have to be free to walk with her and talk about the things she sees. I have to be non-distracted enough to focus on her questions. If I'm busy then I snap at her to leave me alone. I don't want that to be our relationship.
I want my daughter to be one of the blessed few. I'm not striving for a "normal" childhood. I don't think I could create one if I wanted. But she will grow up in this cocoon of love and acceptance and constant education. That's why I am drawn to Unschooling. We really do sit and talk about things happening all day long. I'm learning how much I know as I talk to her. I know a great deal more about biology than I would have guessed. I am thinking about getting a few books so I can learn more.
Now I am in the garage. Calli called for me after that last paragraph and I spent an hour nursing and cuddling. I got to sit and think about how weird and defensive I feel right now. I'm often not sure what I am writing about until I am done. Randomly: last night I was thanked for writing the post about admiring women. I was weird and awkward and I almost cried. But I didn't. Self control! I have it!
I don't think I know how to be a mother, exactly. I'm not sure I know what that means. But I do know how to talk to my children as if they are humans-in-progress and someday, not that long from now, they will know everything I know and more. I tell Shanna every day that my job is to teach her everything I can so that she can be any kind of grown up she wants, regardless of my preferences. I talk to her constantly about how different people have different things they like and she gets to decide how much she will agree with my opinions. I feel weird about how often she wants to be like me. It feels like a lot of pressure for me to think hard about why I have the opinions I have. I don't want her to have opinions based on my ignorance and bigotry. I don't want her to become an angry person because I am angry.
I feel like there is a certain level of anger that is normal and occasional and everyone gets to have. I have no idea what that line is because I am often derided for any show of anger about any subject. There doesn't seem to be a consistent scale. Or, whatever the scale is, it is also combined with the rule "And you are never to express any anger where any one else can hear you." I missed the rule if it exists.
I often feel like it is perfectly appropriate for me to be angry, but I should probably max out at seven when I express it and I seem to read to other people as much higher than that. What am I teaching? The funny thing is, I don't have much desire to change this behavior pattern of mine for the sake of the relationships I'm missing out on because people are uncomfortable with my anger. At this stage of my life I really and truly have to just be ok with making people uncomfortable, period. I don't want to teach my children to do the same thing though. Or, rather, I want them to be able to make a decision for themselves. I want them to have an understanding that I may get intensely angry but most people don't and most people dislike it. They get to have their own lives and figure out if they are angry or not.
Calli is at a different stage of development. She has grown increasingly cuddly and desirous of physical contact with me. She is starting to imprint pretty rapidly. She is absolutely copying my physical movements, facial expressions, and tone of voice. I have to stop yelling. I don't actually want to live in a house where yelling happens so quickly and constantly. That places it on my head.
I'm dealing with a lot of my sources of anger. I am going to decide by the end of today if I think I am willing to do the books for the business. The answer is probably. I would like to have a way to be involved with the community. The owners and managers would become people I communicated with more. I would be able to go visit when I wanted. I was told that it isn't reasonable for me to spend my only off-time doing more dishes. I feel valued. Thanks D.
I am figuring out my limits with regards to house cleaning and how I will manage that. I can't live in a big mess and Shanna was born messy. When I make sure that Shanna and Calli are the only ones I'm cleaning up after, it's a different conversation. This is my job. This is what I am doing with my life. I am caring for my children. That means I do have the entire obligation for the tornado. I'm talking to Shanna about why I clean. I show her how I do it. I am increasingly asking her for help. Often she is told, "I will clean up everything but _________. If you want to go to the park today, you need to help me clean up." I work hard at encouraging her to play with one thing at a time and clean it up when you are done. But that's not how Shanna plays. When Shanna plays the whole damn house is part of the game and every item of clothing and block and blanket and item of furniture is part of the story. It's amazing to me that she really and truly has an explanation of what everything is doing. It's not that she's messy. She is highly creative. She needs to interact with a lot of items in order to fill her need to manipulate things. I'm trying very hard to talk to her about cleaning in a neutral tone of voice. I only manage when I'm alone.
When I'm not alone I'm angry that the other adults aren't helping and it creeps into my voice. When I'm alone with the kids I don't expect any one else to be doing anything so I don't have a reason to be upset. I'm just muddling along doing my job. I care about doing my job well. When I worked at Ross Dress for Less as a teenager I was a ridiculously good employee. I kept my areas spotless and I always covered more area than I was technically assigned. I knew they weren't giving me enough work because they were assigning work based on how much other people could get done. I have never been able to tell if I have much more energy and ability to work than other people or if other people are lazy. I think that most of it is that other people just aren't as invested in (thing of the moment) as I am. I was told over and over and over, "If you are going to do a job, do it right." And I consider so many parts of life, and therefore work, not optional. If it's not optional and you have to do a job right... that means you put 100% of your energy into everything you touch, right?
This is hard to sustain. I feel like I am deficient as a person if I leave a job half done. I do it sometimes but I beat myself up for a long time. I'm learning how to put the housework into categories for myself. Right now the living room is a disaster. It looks like it hasn't been cleaned in weeks. The entire house was completely spotless and I vacuumed and dusted and swept and mopped yesterday. I just can't get upset. I have times of the day where I am supposed to get up and clean until the house is clean again. Then I am supposed to stop at a certain time. The house always has areas I could be doing more in. I need to deal with filing again, for example. Right now I am trying to not worry about those things because I have (deleted future stressful event) coming up. Lots of feelings.
But it's time to get back to where I was before I dropped my basket. My kids are getting easier to care for. Calli is still a baby, but barely. She's very nearly a kid. I realized this week that I need to get my sign language books out. She's not going to match Shanna's early learning curve so I need to teach her more signs. She wants to learn them but I haven't been modeling them this time. That is something I should do. Calli clearly has opinions and wants to communicate. I haven't been giving her enough scaffolding for being able to do that. I get the impression that her tantrums would disappear if she could just bloody say what she is thinking. Development is an interesting thing.
I'm developing an increasing appreciation of having two girls. I think I would have been the kind of asshole who thought they had boys and girls figured out because they have one of each. Calli is emerging more by the day and I find her so fascinating. She moves like me. By which I mean, she moves like my mother. I see so much family resemblance in her. I see my brothers. I don't remember what my father looked like, not really. I don't see my sister. She strongly resembles her biological father. But Calli has the same skull shape as me. I have a picture of me at thirteen months up on the wall in the hallway. Right next to Calli's six week pictures. It looks like it could be the same kid.
Part of the reason this feels weird is because Shanna has always felt like a mini-me. But Shanna and Calli don't share any of the things that make Calli feel so very startlingly like me. It feels like a strange split personality situation. They each took very different things from me. Shanna has a lot more of my personality. Shanna acts like me on my very best days. She is friendly and empathetic and eager to bring joy to people. Calli looks and moves like me but is much more reserved. She is very clearly going to be an introvert. She's seventeen months old and she needs alone time. It's funny because I have only started to recognize how clearly I need that as an adult. So Calli then feels like more a reflection of my moody and difficult days. That terrifies me.
I have a friend who has a very troubled relationship with her teenage daughter. I'm terrified. I'm terrified of how I will manage to get through the next two decades of trying to impersonate a stable and good mother so that my adult children will want to know me. I don't exactly take that as a given. When I talk about my fears it's funny how people always say, "Your kids obviously know they are loved." My mommy does love me. She just couldn't take care of me. And when she didn't take care of me she told me it was my fault bad things happened to me. I'm not afraid of my kids not knowing that I love them. A lot of the reason that incestuous families are so intense is because there is just so gosh. darn. much. love. I'm not worried about my children knowing that I love them. I'm worried about my children only being exposed to age appropriate things. I'm worried about my children being told that they are to blame for circumstances beyond their control.
My children are bright and curious and indulged in activities that encourage both. That means they are going to fuck up a lot as they figure out how everything works. I get to decide what their experience of fucking up is. Do they grow up learning that perfectionist attitude of: if I ever fail I am a Failure? I think not. Everyone makes mistakes. Kids and grown ups alike. Shanna broke a glass yesterday. I can't remember the last time she broke a glass. I think it has only happened once before. I didn't yell. I didn't shame. I didn't say anything nasty. I said, "Ah man! Ok, that's why I ask you not to set your glass on the edge of the table. Can you look around and see how far the glass shards went? Don't get off your chair! I'll get the broom." Then we talked about what it means that we have broken glass on the floor. We talked about safe clean up. We talked about where glasses are supposed to sit on the table. And she got a hug and a kiss and a hope that I got all the glass shards up because I don't want my sweet girls getting cuts on their feet. I did it right. I don't do that every time.
But isn't teaching interactions one of those things I'm supposed to be teaching? Ok. So I don't do it right every time. How badly do I fuck up? How often? I don't know. How badly do I fuck up? Not very. Not really. How often? Enh, depends on what you mean. How often do I use a tone of voice I regret? Daily. How often do I say something I regret? That's hard to measure. It goes in bursts. I'll have like five of them in two days because I'll feel guilty and off-kilter after the first one. Then I won't have one for a long time. How often do I do something I regret? Very rarely. I don't spank not because of some crunchy ideal but because I don't think I could use it appropriately as a consistent tool and there are much more effective tools out there. My big punishment is three minutes of time out. I lost my temper and kicked things where the kids could see once. And then I dealt with the consequences. If it happens again then there can be a reevaluation of my monster status. Everyone gets to fuck up once.
Right now I feel like I am drowning in my feelings of obligations. I can't have interactions with people unless I am working to earn them. I'm not sure exactly what the mechanism of this is for me. But I sure treat it in-my-head like I am required to always work in exchange for someone tolerating my company. I must be paying for the effort of dealing with me. I'll make dinner. I'll wash your dishes. I'll do the driving even though you are a single person and this is going to be a nightmare for me with my two kids.
I have friends who have helped me massively. I now have this huge feeling of guilt. I have been in this needy phase of life for a few years now and I feel terrible that I require so much help and I can give so little. I will never discharge this guilt though. And I don't want to pass it on. I don't want to feel it. I feel so much less deserving of help than other people. Other people don't have to rely on their friends so much. Other people have families. My family wouldn't really be able to help me even if they wanted to. Sure, they could provide "babysitting" but it would be in a neglectful and abusive environment. No thanks. I feel so much jealousy and rage that other people have families and I don't. To that end I'm supporting Noah's fledgling efforts to introduce our kids to his family. They aren't perfect, but they are something. And they want to love the girls. I don't want my kids to grow up like me. I don't want them to grow up knowing that there are all these relatives but none of them have any interest in them.
All these feelings around housework and obligation and love and caring for people and physical limitations and support and abandonment... it's all one big mess. I'm going to be an asshole for a minute and say that acts of service is probably my primary 'spoken' love language. Having someone see that I am tired and offer to carry my load? That is a lot of what lets me feel loved and seen. I'm not invisible. Yes, I am happy to do all this work because I love you. But I need to be coaxed too. I need to be coddled too. I am tired too.
Noah spent a while last night laying out his timeline on burdening me. We talked about how it has gone in the past, how it is currently, and how things will go in the future. Noah went down a long list of reasons explaining why he thinks he needs to just step up and do a bunch of things right now. Noah specifically talked about the things I have done for him and why he wants to turn around and help me. I can't ask for that help. I can't direct it. I don't know why. I know that is a failure on my part. Noah explained in detail that he has learned over time to notice a variety of signs that my difficulty level is much higher than I am expressing. On one hand it feels kind of weird being decoded and on the other hand I didn't know how much I was apparently hiding or lying about or something.
Yesterday I found out that one person recognizes that I am past my breaking point and I am going to get help. In the past week I have made it such that I am not going to be providing much help to anyone but the kids any more. It feels needlessly extreme, but it seems to be necessary for me. I can't be one of the modern women who gets everything done for everyone. I don't want to figure out how to rescue an unproductive day. I want to revel in days where we spend all day lying in the sun talking about all the things I see. I talk about plants and clouds and buildings. I talk about how people behave. I talk about how things are made. I talk about metal and plastic and rubber. I talk about what it means to be responsible. Unproductive days mean I am too busy enjoying what I am doing. I can live with that.
I want my daughters to learn that for everything there is a season. Some day they will work. I will almost certainly work at some point. I'll get bored without something to do. But for now what we are doing is learning together. I have to spend all the time that I can with my kids learning about the world because there is so much to learn. How will we get it all done?
I have let Shanna have basically unfettered access to the iPad. She watches a lot of Fraggle Rock, Thomas, She-Ra and then she has her movies. She is increasingly playing with games. She is doing the letter tracing. She's fascinated with youtube and what she can learn there. I uhhh don't know how she found nail polish and makeup tutorials, but she has had fun playing with those. I don't let her have access to youtube on the iPad. That has to be used with an adult because bad links pop up. I feel comfortable with this now because she uses it for a variety of things and she is incredibly physically active. She likes to go on multiple mile walks with me. I keep telling Calli that iPads are three year old toys. We'll see how long that goes.
So much is in my head and so much of it I can't write about. Life is really complicated. I keep telling myself that everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end.
From here on out Noah is the person I have lived with the longest of anyone in my life. With the exception of Jenny and our other housemate, I don't have contact with anyone I have ever lived with. Ok, sometimes I run into Tom, but our lives have diverged. Noah is the only carrier of my story. Noah is the only one I have to worry about being appropriate for. Wow. That's actually an interesting thought. When I'm having my ambient feelings of guilt for my behavior, Noah is the only one I will really have to worry about. I have the kids for ~17 more years and then they are adults.
That's a lot more pressure than it seems like. A specific kind of pressure I don't do well with. I feel I owe my children a decent childhood. I brought them into a world they didn't make. I have obligations to them. I have a very different relationship with Noah. I owe him nothing but what I choose to owe him. Yet in every way that matters I would be a fool to not see Noah as "rescuing" me. I feel like he took a chance on a stupid gutter kid, and this is how I repay him? By being needy and whiny and incompetent and angry? I feel like he is getting a bad deal. And that makes me feel savagely angry that all I have to give is a bad deal. I am a bad deal.
I was certainly a bad deal for Sarah. I failed her. I need far more help than she can give and I can't help feeling angry about it. That's not her fault. That's not something she is actually to blame for. She's not doing anything wrong. But I feel it. And I take it out on her. And that's wrong. I am wrong. I don't know why I need so much help. It doesn't seem like other mothers I know get even as much help as I get. They don't seem to fail as often. They seem to be able to handle getting things done in a lot of different places. I can't track it. I need to have my responsibilities all lie pretty close to one source.
There are a lot of things I don't know or understand. Right now I know that the sun is up and the sky is a beautiful blue. The clouds are all drifting out of sight. It's been raining for a few days here. For once I don't hear a bunch of people whining about rain. Almost everyone who has commented on the weather has been grateful for it. I feel like for one storm we are all collectively breathing a sigh of thanks. We need the rain. The drought is ongoing. I hope the clouds come back. We need more rain. Besides, when it rains I don't have to go outside and water. I've made a bunch of progress on the front yard recently. Now that the rain washed all those obnoxious white rocks clean, I should probably take pictures. It's looking more like a garden. I don't know when I will get the playhouse made. I screwed up billpay and we had some unexpected expenses. The house part of the budget is overspent for many months. I'm sad about that. Oh well. It just means I have more time to dream about it. My kids are getting the house and yard I would have enjoyed growing up in. I hope they like the experience. I'm trying to not be oppressive about it.
Time to go inside.
Friday, January 20, 2012
What life am I choosing and how do I want to live it? I wanted to give the money to Occupy and be done with it. I knew I didn't have extra spoons. Instead I was asked to invest in a company that exists to support a community I am only kind of attached to any more. And now I am a business owner. And now I have Responsibilities. And simultaneously I have also discovered that I was inappropriately depending on help from some sources.
Lately Shanna is increasingly cranky. Some of it is her age and normal development. A lot of it is me. I can see my facial expressions and I can hear my tone of voice. I am teaching her to be an angry person. I am teaching her that life is overwhelming and not something that can be done to ones satisfaction. I am teaching her that life is a series of failures and let-downs to be bitter about. On one hand, not everything works out and learning to roll with that is part of life.
I don't think that I can truly be accused of not coping with the things life throws at me. I do it. But I'm not a nice person. When people promise me things and then don't deliver I am so angry I can't function any more. Part of that is I am over-scheduled and over-promised as well. When someone lets me down I have to either suck it up and find a way to do even more with less or I have to let someone else down. A large number of my biggest fuck ups in life have happened because I was terrified of letting someone else down.
My children are 17 months old and 3.5 years old. They must be supervised 24 hours a day. When I am trying to figure out what I can accomplish in a day the very first thing I have to account for is watching my children. Once again it is me and Noah. Noah is working from home one day a week now so that I can continue to see my therapist. That means he is down to being unavailable for ~55 hours/week. That is better than it was. If I am going to go anywhere during any of that time I have to pay someone to watch my children. I don't have enough money in the budget to pay for a date night with my husband once a week. I am sure as shit not going to pay a babysitter so I can go work for free. I can't. That's a hobby I can't afford.
Because of how much our income has been reduced my driving is severely curtailed. I get to put about a tank and a half of gas in the van every month. That's it. And my kids deserve to still go to homeschooling activities. Sorry, that's basically all of my gas money.
I get $100/month to spend on all of my personal entertainment. My extra commuting money comes out of that and means I don't get to do anything fun. This fund also has to buy my running shoes and running bra (that I still don't have).
I have less than two hours a day where the children are guaranteed to be ok-to-ignore. That's only if they nap at the same time. That happens most week days, but certainly not all and Shanna is trying hard to drop naps entirely and Calli really wishes I would move the start time of nap-time up by 2 hours. But then I would be in the house having to keep kids (alternately) quiet for four hours and never get five minutes off.
I am of the opinion that my children are rather freakishly independent and able to entertain themselves. Unfortunately Shanna's favorite game is still, "Let's dump every drawer, shelf, item of bedding, toys, and anything else I can find all over the floor!" She has been a force of destruction all day every day since she attained mobility. I refold every item of clothing in their room multiple times a week. Often multiple times a day. Now that Sarah has moved out I think I am going to give them a sleeping room and a play room. The sleeping room will have about five toys in it so that during quiet time Shanna can't rip them all out. Her clothes can go in a different damn room.
During the day I have to deal with the fact that if I am absorbed in something I am doing (delete details I am not allowed to give in public about something very hard to learn that requires a lot of training, education, and higher learning thinking) Shanna is probably going to decide that when she pees she wants to use the little potty. And she wants to be helpful and dump it into the toilet herself. In the process she sprays half of the god damn bathroom with pee. Do you think this is an isolated incident? Oh god no. It's worse when she shits.
You have to supervise children. You can't ignore them to go do adult things at these ages. You just can't. It's not ok to do. They get into trouble. And when they get into trouble guess what happens? I get angry. And then inevitably I say something I shouldn't. I don't name call. But I'm louder and fiercer and more blaming than is appropriate. "It's your fault I have to do ________ and I don't want to." Whereas it's true that I wouldn't be doing whatever I was doing if not for her making the mess the blame is on me for not supervising my freaking three year old.
I can't have so many adult things requiring a lot of my time and attention. It doesn't work. I know it is the modern way that people have to be multi-tasking at all times but multi-tasking means I do everything badly. I have to supervise my children.
And the second most important priority in my life has to be sleep. If I don't sleep I get physically ill and my emotional problems go through the roof. The single most important piece of holding my mental health together going forward is probably going to be sleep. Not sleeping makes me crazy and suicidal. The strain of feeling that way makes me incredibly difficult to live with. I'm quite sorry I wake up as early in the morning as I do. I would give just about anything to change that, but I can't. If I go to bed at 8pm I get enough sleep. That is just how my life has to be for a while until my body decides to allow this to change.
Those are some pretty big limits to have in this life. If I was more able to deal with sleep disruption or change my sleep schedule I would have a lot more options. But I really and truly can't. This is the make or break of me getting to be sane. No one can ask me to give that up.
That does still leave me some wiggle room. Not a lot, but a little. I could start using Noah-home time for business related stuff that I can do from home. There is a fair bit of that. I am not going to give up the marathon training, but that doesn't use up that much time yet. I'm not happy about it. I think I shouldn't.
I wanted to donate the money to a cause I believed in not get tied to something that was going to steal what little down time I have. I'm not sure how this is going to work. But I think I am going to have to push really hard and really fast for limits on what I am giving. We need to find a way that will make it work or walk away. I'm not killing myself for a business I can't set foot in because I am stupid enough to be a breeder.
I don't want to be angry at my children because they need my attention. And I don't want to be doing tag team parenting so that I can go put in more work for someone else. That's not something I can support right now. I'm not getting anything other than the knowledge that other people get to enjoy it. Fuck that.
I'm not being effective. I'm spinning my wheels and focusing on the wrong things. I'm not thinking like Sebastian here. I'm acting like my time doesn't need to be treated as valuable. That's really not an approach to life that is going to work for me long term.
Keeping this business would mean giving up writing. There just isn't enough time in the day for me to do both. I'm not going to do that. I think that's another limit. If something is going to cut in on my time to such a degree that I can't write... I should strongly consider just not having it in my life. Writing is how I find my way through this life. I decide things and think things while I am writing. I can't do the same thing any other way.
When I am going through the day working I can't finish my thoughts. I can't make connections. I have to be in the moment responding constantly. I have to have time to finish my thoughts or I feel increasingly angry all the time. I am not going to get much socializing out of this business experience. I'm not going up there to schmooze I'm going up there because we need someone to fucking wash dishes and we can't pay people right now. And the smell of coffee makes me want to vomit. I'm not going to learn how to barista. Having to wash the dishes is disgusting enough.
I gave the money to this company because I was willing to walk out front and dump the pile of money on the ground and light it on fire if I thought that would do something in the world I cared about. That doesn't mean I have the energy to go get a job. I don't. That's a big difference. Ok. I've been negotiating wrong so far. I need to change my approach if I am going to get what I want. It's time to go inside. Noah is going to work soon.