I should have taken a knee-jerk sleeping pill. I didn't. I had therapy in the morning and I went to bed at my normal time. I've been mostly awake since 12:45. I just wasn't able to get back to sleep today. That's ~5 hours of sleep. Not enough but not completely insignificant either.
She asked me about the last time I seriously cried. It was that last post on the parenting book. The one that ended with my self-pity running like the river of my snot. Cause I'm classy. I had to sit and think about the things I was thinking about that day. While I had headphones beeping weirdly into my ears and little gizmos were alternating vibrating in my hands. It's kind of a weird system. It does work though.
Part of what came up for me while reading the book is how fucking jealous I am of my kids. Why didn't anyone love me enough to take care of me and keep me safe? Why am I the product of rape and I got to grow up and be raped by my father and everyone else who wanted to take a turn? Why was I not worthy of protecting as a child?
In situations like mine I have seen adults consciously choose that they want their child to understand them so the child needs to be abused too. I don't want my kids to understand me. I want to be a confusing non-sequitur in their lives. No one is quite like me.
I told my therapist that it's really hard that in order to feel understood I have to go looking for the people who have been beat on and raped repeatedly. I need to go find the people who have been habitually abused their entire lives. "Normal" people literally cannot wrap their brains around me. There is something wrong with me.
We spent a fair bit of time talking about the point and purpose of confrontation. My therapist enthusiastically agrees with me that I should confront if and only if I feel I need to and not if someone I know who is kind of weirdly overly enmeshed with my life feels I should. That's not my problem.
I can love people. I can wish that I was good enough for them. I can't jump through the hoops they put in front of me. I just can't. Maybe someone less broken could, but I can't. It is something that would cause me to hate myself more than I do right now. Right now I have a grudging respect for myself. Even I have to admit that I really am doing what I said--and I'm doing it well. I have respect for that.
I respect myself because when I fuck up I say, "Ok, I screwed up by not doing ______. I'm really sorry I made that choice. I can't fix it this time. But next time I will do ______ so that I don't hurt you again. I'm sorry I screwed up. I didn't mean to."
I don't immediately start blaming someone else.
We had issues yesterday with the kids. We didn't make it to Fairyland. We had food issues. It was my fault. I should have packed lunch before we left in the morning. Then we would have done ok. But I didn't. So we stopped at the store to buy food. It was Whole Foods so the lunch was kind of ridiculously expensive. Then Shanna refused to eat anything because it was "yucky". After she picked the damn sandwich. I told her that I wasn't going to take her to Fairyland hungry so she could immediately start whining at me to buy her something--no. I just wasn't up for being patient with that.
But it was all my fault. I didn't prepare for the consistent and predictable needs of my children. If Shanna decides to be a bit fussy on a given day that is an annoyance--but it isn't her fault that I'm unprepared to handle her. I know the drill. I know how things work. If I don't handle it there is no one to blame.
My children are never to blame for my temper and my ability to handle their needs. If I fail to plan or if things happen that surprise me... they are just being normal kids. It is all part of the deal. I have no choice but sucking it up and coping. Because that is life when you are the god damn grown up.
But sometimes I feel so jealous of my kids. And it's hard to be nice when I'm feeling that way. Why are you good enough and I'm not?!
I thought about this a lot during EMDR.
By the end of that session I was instead stuck in the thought loop that even though I didn't get to have it as a child--I do get to have it now. My children give it back to me.
In our house every day starts with hugs and kisses and cuddling and, "Good mownin! I missed you. Did you sleep well?"
My kids greet almost every meal with, "This looks delicious. Thank you!"
I am really nice to them. They don't see other examples of behavior. I don't model being an asshole. I am considerate and loving.
And when they are screaming at me that they hate me and I am the biggest stupid ever and they think I am the worst mother on the planet my response is, "It's fine for you to say you hate me--I did something that made you really upset. But I am not stupid and it is not ok to call me that."
And I have to do it without screaming or getting fiercely upset. I have to do it in a reasonable voice.
I will admit that I more or less dragged Shanna across the street because she decided to throw a screaming fit just as we were crossing a street. As soon as we got across the street I let go of her hand and apologized for pulling so hard. It's a short light. We had to hurry.
My self-pity is kind of interesting to navigate. I feel like I constantly come across reminders that at this point my life is ridiculously privileged. I am lucky. I am fortunate. I have an easier life than almost anyone in my age cohort.
So much for me being that fucking loser my whole life.
When the movie The Craft came out the kids at school started calling me Nancy and trying to avoid me. I was "that scary girl on the bus."
I'm not really friendly or personable. Only I am.
You choose your behavior. You choose what you want to send off into the world. Sometimes I need to be scary. It has been a survival trait. One I don't know if my kids will ever need so I haven't taught it yet.
But I am teaching them how to get along. It feels like teaching them to lie. It feels like teaching them that other people matter more than them. I don't matter more than them.
I tried to explain to Shanna (but she found it scarce comfort) that when we go out for a long time I have to be able to get them both home at the end. If they don't eat and end up freaking out a long way from the car I can't physically carry them the whole distance any more. I'm not strong enough. I have to plan around my limits even though that is really inconvenient. It's ok to get mad that I have these limits. But next time we will pack a backpack with food so Shanna can be responsible for carrying around her own food so I will know she has enough to keep going even if she doesn't feel like sitting down for a meal.
Dealing with kids is weird. They are semi-rational and increasingly difficult to just manage. You need cooperation. You have to convince them to take care of themselves so that your fuck ups have less impact. "I'm sorry that I planned poorly. In the future we really have to remember to pack a lunch because this isn't a fight I want to have again." "That's right. Next time I will pack my own lunch." I hope she does. That would be cool. She can make her own pbj, grab an apple, string cheese, and a couple of carrots and call it good. That is entirely within her range of coping. And no one will end up getting screamed at. Life will be better. I don't enjoy being screamed at.
Why does thinking about my kids make so jealous? My therapist says it is totally normal only most people don't admit what is going on and instead they are just mean to their kids. I don't want to be mean to my kids. If I'm mean to my kids they have the right to walk away from me when they are 18 and never speak to me again. I want a relationship. I would like to someday be friends. Not that they will ever be my "support" but I would like to be friends someday. That means we can't be friends now. I have to be the mom.
I feel completely inadequate to this task. Reading parenting books, especially ones that specifically lay out "If you were wounded during this phase of development you will act out in these ways: x, y, and z" is hard because I can't really deny how fucked up I am. Oh. That part of being broken is probably related to ______ trauma. Oh. Ok, the next part of being broken is probably related to ______ trauma.
The best this husband/wife team recommends is to become more and more aware of how and why you are broken so you can consciously choose to not pass it on to your kids.
God I'm so broken. So very broken. I am "disrupted" at every god damn stage of development. It is weirdly miraculous that I am so high functioning at all. I shouldn't be. I should be so broken I can't see anyone but my own pain. But I don't actually work that way.
It's weird to be told so emphatically how and why I am fucked up while being told, "Now just think about it and don't be broken like that anymore!"
*beat head on wall*
I'd love a good head banging session right now. My lesser demons are outshouting my greater angels. I'd love to beat the noise out of my head. I would like to cut and experience the tunnel of attention--the inability to notice or think about anything else. Pretty much any source of pain would work--I want to stop thinking. I want to be distracted.
Only I don't. I did that for a long time. It made nothing better and it lowered my opinion of myself.
I have carved out a path for me. It's slow progress. I haven't backslid in a long time. I have rather good control of myself these days. I avoid the situations that would make me lose control. My kids can't be that kind of trigger. They are allowed to exist without my emotional turmoil. I respect myself for that.
I may be someone that other people look down on--I can do nothing about that but I don't feel particularly ashamed of myself lately. What do I do? I homeschool my kids. I garden. I keep the house tidy and organized and don't complain about huge messes because that is how the kids learn. I am polite. I am kind. I think really hard about the conflicting needs that exist in my house and I try to meet them in a way that is fair to everyone. I'm not the only important one.
Children do what is modeled for them. My children wake up excited to see me and they hug me and gently stroke my face and tell me they love me. I do get to have this during this lifetime. I didn't get to have it when I was little but I get to have it now. Some people never get it at all. Some people have never gotten to have the magical experience of having someone tell them day after day that they are loved and wonderful.
I am privileged. I am lucky. Very few people have as much safety and security as I have now. Few people get to just sit around and love on their kids the way I get to. My whole job is watching them grow and exclaiming how wonderful their progress is. It's a fucking good gig if you can get it.
One of the women in my incest support group looks like my mom. I'm going to have an interesting time with her. She's the other really angry person. And she wishes that she had children. But she's 50 and she doesn't. She's gay so the kids thing would have been challenging and expensive to arrange. She is really angry and sad because she is as emotionally damaged as I am and there is no one hanging out telling her how beautiful she is all day.
I am one of the lucky ones. It is so weird to look at the intersection of life experiences. Isn't it kind of weird for me to think of myself as lucky? But I am. I'm lucky that I managed to catch the eye of someone who is a good provider. Noah has basically doubled his income in the six years of our marriage because he takes it very seriously that he has to support us.
I feel so overwhelmed. It's hard to wrap my brain around how undeserving, how unworthy, how bad I feel while knowing that I am in a position that women of my species have viewed as the the ultimate goal for most of history. I have a provider who is very skilled. I am lucky. I have someone to give me children and give me support and give me love. I am treated very well by my husband.
My husband wakes up every day and makes breakfast for our family. Then he works hard all day. Then he comes home and plays with the kids or reads to them. He isn't doing anything extra right now. We get to monopolize all of his time. I feel so lucky and so loved.
So feeling jealous of my kids feels kind of extra bad. If I have it so good it makes me a ridiculous asshole to be jealous. They may be having a more secure and loving childhood than I had but that is no guarantee of anything for their future life. Ask me how your childhood is no guarantee of anything about your future. I'll cheerfully tell you.
My therapist said to expect sleep disturbance and dizziness and fuzziness for a day or two after EMDR. My brain is rewiring. I have to be patient. All this damage happened over a long period of time. Fixing it is hard.
The goal is that some day I can think about my children having it better than me without losing three hours to crying and self-pity. It's a goal. I haven't cried more than a few individual tears today. I guess that's a start.