Friday, August 17, 2012

Sustainable loads

Brain chemistry is unpredictable. I try to stay level but unfortunately my brain is extra hard to predict. I'm trying to go to sleep earlier. The kids have been very disrupted lately. I only need seven or so hours of sleep and it's a good idea for me to go to sleep at 8pm if I want to get a full night of sleep. That feels lame. Yet I feel like sleep is one of the biggest factors between me and emotional stability lately. I'm very under slept and as a result I am weepy and depressed. It's lame.

I don't like that I cry in front of my kids so much. I feel like that is a bad lesson. I try to explain it to Shanna in a fairly value neutral way. "I had life experiences that make it unusually easy for me to cry. It's kind of weird and annoying. Not everyone does this--in fact most people don't. But I cry as I'm just going about my daily life. It's inconvenient but it's not always a sign that anything is wrong right now. I do like hugs and kisses, thank you. I'm glad you are here. I have a lot more reason to be happy now." That's pretty much my schpeal.

I feel humiliated when I have to casually explain how and why I am defective compared to so-called normal people. The more extreme I worry my current sense of symptoms are (I have very little ability to judge this as life goes--I can be retrospective but in the moment evaluation is hard) the more I struggle with being out in public. I don't want my kids to be tarred with the same crazy brush I am tarred with.

I feel like a whiner. I am in the very safest period of my life right now. I haven't been raped in eight years. I should stop feeling paranoid and scared, right? The more than two decades when I was raped over and over are done. Get over it.

Yeah. You go do it. If you think it is so fucking easy you do it. Wait, you weren't raped over and over for two decades so you don't know what that even means? Oh. Then shut the fuck up already.

It sounds like an excuse. My brain is *wired* to feel fear and distrust. I was brought up in an abusive environment. I volunteered for a PTSD brain scan study at Stanford. I was told that my case is too complicated to be useful for research. I'm pretty damn sure my brain is non-standard. And I have to deal with that. And it sounds like whining to people who do not have similar brain patterns.

"Hey, whiner, stop having your life experiences and start having my life experiences so you can act like me and I can feel comfortable."

Wait. Yeah. Too late.

I feel like a whiner because I can't function under the same constraints as a lot of people I know. I simply cannot be as busy as they are. I can't think. I cry all the time. I'm scared. I can't follow simple directions because I am shaking and unable to think coherently and learn new information. This isn't my fault. This is simply how going through the world works for me.

What do I need? I need less going on. I need to not feel guilty because I'm not providing Shanna exactly what some people are having. She's having a good life even though she isn't having the same experiences as her peers. She won't be permanently fucked up by not being in contact with people exactly her age all day every day. Truly. Biologically that is not normal. But I feel guilty. She would love it.

Life is full of a lot of different paths. I did go out yesterday and buy her a bunch of craft supplies that she wanted. She is thrilled. She has doileys and pom poms and glitter and pipe cleaners and glue sticks and popsicle sticks. It's in the budget. I'm supposed to buy this stuff. She has paint and play-dough substitute. She does play with children. She just doesn't do it all day in a place where someone else will clean up her mess because they are paid to do so.

I distinctly notice a difference in how the kids play based on how clean the house is. When things are put away and orderly they are capable of cleaning stuff up as they are done with it and putting it away. They won't do it at all if the house is messy. And when the house is basically tidy they go from one imaginative game to another all day. When the house is messy they whine at me to read to them or for the iPad. It's interesting to watch. When the house is basically clean  I spend an hour or two on chores in the early morning and then spend the rest of the day on stuff where I am "interruptable". If the house is a huge mess I get bitchy and tense.

I'm not being very nice lately. I have too many projects ongoing. I need to finish things and back off. I'm looking forward to the marathon so much. I need a break from running. I need to move on and do something more approachable for people in my life. Seven weeks.

I really and truly didn't think she would say yes when I told her, "You know, if you ran 20 miles this weekend you could *totally* handle a marathon in seven weeks. Just sayin'." Now she has plane tickets. She's going to run with me. She will pace me. I know that no matter how scared and apprehensive I am in advance she will get me through. That's this enormous comfort. I'm shit at pacing. It's just not a skill I have developed yet. She's really good at it. She has a lot of practice. This will be her first marathon too. I feel extremely weepy at the idea of being part of her "first" experience. That feels special. She's doing something new and hard with me. Gosh. That feels like a big deal. I feel really loved.

I think about Sarah a lot as I run. It's been enough months of her not speaking to me that I feel like I can probably call it done and try to move on. It's hard. I feel like we spent so much time reacting to our phantom issues with our respective mothers that we didn't really get around to looking at each other. We are both broken in different ways. I feel like the biggest asshole on the planet because a big part of my problem was that I really and truly could not physically handle another adult showing up in my house who needed me to do a bunch of cleaning for her. I thought I could. I really did. I knew she would be hard to clean up after. I thought I could do it. I failed. I feel bad that I couldn't handle being the support she needs. I think she deserves it. But I can't do it.

I'm so sorry that I failed her and hurt her. I do that. I do that a lot. I feel like it is inevitable that I will do it with/for everyone. I will fail you. I will hurt you. It feels like it is an unavoidable part of being me. I am a failure. I hurt everyone just by existing. If I could shut my stupid, selfish, self-absorbed mouth maybe I could learn to be a decent person. Naw. That's a pipe dream.

I feel so guilty for all the things I can't be. I feel ashamed of myself. Why can't I just be normal? I'm not even sure I know what that means. Whatever it means it would involve wiping my memory so that I no longer react from the point of view I have always had. I am defective.

Today I am going to can tomatoes. And mail two boxes. One cross country and one internationally. The boxes won't have tomatoes in them. But those are my tasks for today. That is all I can have on my agenda if I want to be nice to my kids. Because they need some attention today. I've been ignoring them a lot lately as I finish the garage. I need to figure out earthquake strapping. I think this is how my house is going to look for the next ten years. It's time to strap things to the walls. I've never done earthquake preparedness with furniture before. If you move your furniture every 3-6 months then it truly isn't worth the effort to strap it to the wall over and over. You make holes in the walls and landlords hate you. My life is different now.

Every day of my life is blazing a new path. I have never lived in a stable environment for this long. I have never had ongoing daily relationships that have gone on this long. In another two or three years I will have lived with Shanna longer than I ever lived with my brothers at all. Probably about how much time I lived with my sister if you add it all up. Longer than I ever lived with my mother in one go. Far far longer than I lived with my father.

I'm scared of depending on her in inappropriate ways. I'm less scared of it with Calli, which is weird. When I ask Shanna if I can keep her forever she says yes enthusiastically. When I ask Calli if I can keep her she smiles and says no. She says, "Baby bye bye." I'm just not real worried about having an odd overly dependent codependent relationship with Calli. Kid has boundaries. Shanna is my me-not-me.

Shanna is good at asking me why I am experiencing an emotion. She's really good at figuring out, "Oh you are frustrated because I did ______ but you weren't frustrated last time I did it. Why are you frustrated this time?" That seems weirdly complex from a four year old to me. But I explain, "Well last time I was able to focus on only you and I wasn't in the middle of something else and last time the spill was water instead of juice and juice is sticky. And..." I try to talk about things in a level voice. "Well I find this frustrating because I dislike having to do _________." It's not about her. It's about what I am doing. It's about how many ways my attention is divided.

I'm trying hard to train her to come and find me and declare, "Mother! I had an idea! I must experiment!" Then when I find a huge mess I don't get mad at her. I gird my loins and do my deep breathing exercises before I come to see what she did. It works out.

Everyone who parents does so from a self-centered point of view. This little amoeba is in orbit around your life. What does that mean? What kind of support do you need? What do they do all day to facilitate you getting to do what you want to do all day?

I want to can tomatoes. And mail boxes. I assume we will walk to the post office. It will be a multi-hour walk. We will probably come home by way of the park. That's about a 3.5 mile loop. Shanna needs to get out and exercise. We haven't done much this week. Let me rephrase: I have been fucking exhausted from the 32 miles I am running this week so I haven't done as much at Shanna's speed. It kind of changes the tone, no? It's not that I am lazy. I'm tired. I'm sore. I think a slow walk will be good today. Stretch out my legs before I run 16 miles tomorrow. Ew.

But I feel like an asshole. Because I am supposed to be facilitating her life. Naw. Children are supposed to orbit around their parents. That is how it works. For the next seven weeks her life is impacted by the fact that I am too physically tired to do what I normally do with her. It won't kill her. Maybe she will learn something about the physical requirements of taking athletics seriously. Not that I am a serious athlete. But I'm as tired as one.

I feel like my weakness is inexcusable. Suck it up. Get moving. There is a limit to how much I can do that. I can't be miserable all day every day and function. I can only suck up so many things. I'm terribly sorry so much of my brain cycles are wasted on things that happened long ago. I would give just about anything to change it. My understanding is time will help and pretty much nothing else. I have to be patient and wait for things to get better. Stop fucking rushing me. It takes as long as it takes. Oh wait, I'm not perfectly mentally healthy on the schedule you think I should keep? Let me care about that. I think I have 2.4 seconds free a week from Tuesday.

I was told when I was pregnant with Shanna that people like me shouldn't have children. It may be true. But it's too late. They are here. I am here. We have to do the best we can. In the overall scheme of things I think my kids are doing very well. They get the occasional shriek of frustration from me over large messes but I think I am fairly patient. I got the shit beat out of me for things that I barely react to. I feel like I am doing well. The only marker I have for behavior says that I am really awesome and patient and wonderful. I'm not perfectly patient, but I'm not sure that is useful either. My kids will grow up with a slow life because of me.

Some days all we will do is can tomatoes and walk to the post office. That's ok. I am actually preparing them for the world. Last I checked it wasn't terribly important for me to sit and do worksheets all day. I guess all those years of preparing I did was kind of useless. I was extensively trained in how to fill out forms. Sure, I do great in the DMV. I'm not sure it needed thirteen years of harping.

Life is complicated. Things that are mandatory parts of life for lots of people are completely absent from the lives of every one else. We feel our priorities are important because they are what we know.

What do I need to do to get through the next seven weeks with as little impact on the kids as possible? I keep feeling like I should schedule. But then I'm depressed and tired and I want too much from myself and I stop doing it again. What is reasonable to expect of myself? I don't even know. I really don't.

1 comment:

  1. The next few weeks will pass and you are doing fine by your kids, really! Hang in there, Krissy.

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