Category Archives: Mental Health

facing the monster

This week I finally faced down the big bad monster.

A few months ago I wrote this post about my experience getting my first ever ticket for anything.  Two days after my 50th birthday, riding a wave of good self-esteem, it was as if I’d gotten into a headlong collision with a tractor trailer.  Really.

I know it sounds very over dramatic, and compared to everything in my life that HAS or COULD go wrong, getting a ticket should not have been a big deal.  But it was. A HUGE deal.  Not the ticket in and of itself, but the experience of it, which I described in the earlier post.

I had some decisions to make.  I was so tempted to just pay it and move on with my life.  That would’ve been the easiest thing to do even though it would have meant points on my license and the possibility of my insurance premium rising.  Finances are tight, and my sense of guilt at being “bad” and getting “caught” led me to want to throw myself on the mercy of the court.  But – even more than that, I was so shaken by my encounter with the officer, I felt like I needed to face him again and not feel so weak or afraid.  My hands and body literally shook as I signed the form that declared my plea “not guilty.” And then I waited to hear about my court date.

anxiety_0Overall I’ve been doing ok processing the experience, although I must say that I have had waves of anxiety about it at times.  It’s been a kind of free-floating anxiety because I didn’t know when it would be resolved, so I was living with this question mark over my head and on my shoulders.  It’s been taking up a lot of space in my thoughts and worries.  Fighting off the bad girl feelings.  I have had moments thinking about it that I have felt very weak and vulnerable – two feelings I despise.  When you grow up in an abusive/alcoholic home the two things you do NOT want to feel are weak and vulnerable.  You want to disappear from view, or be a strong superhero.

Well, a few weeks ago I got a letter from the court telling me my appearance would be on May 4th – so I had weeks to psych myself up for it.  I was tempted once more to just drop it, and go with whatever the court decided, saving myself from having to face the police officer who wouldn’t even look me in the eye when he handed me the ticket.  (Really, he never made direct eye contact with me.  If he were in a line-up I wouldn’t have been able to pick him out.)  Also, because of the authority issues I described when I got the ticket, he had become larger than life.  I didn’t want to face him.  But I knew it was important.  I needed to face the monster.

It was much different than I expected.  I’ve never been to court before except when I was picked for jury duty and when I divorced my first husband.  As I drove to the courthouse my heart was racing and I had to do a lot of positive self-talk.  “It will be alright.  You’ll be fine.”  I repeated Jesus’ words from a few weeks ago in worship reading:  “Peace be with you.”  “Peace.”  I continued this as I walked through the town hall and courthouse and went through the metal detector and was directed by the court’s officer to the corner of the courtroom where THE officer was standing.  There he was, the monster that wreaked havoc with my mental stability and self-esteem.  THERE HE WAS.

As I walked over to the officer – as I went to face the man who became a bully to me – I felt a wave of panic, and had to do a lot more self-talk to present myself in a respectful but strong manner.  This was the reality…  He didn’t look as tall as I remembered (which is logical since in my only other encounter with him I was sitting down and he was standing up).  He still didn’t look at me straight on, more like a side-glance, but his features didn’t seem as harsh (perhaps because I was seeing him in a fully lighted room and not outside in the dark).  He actually looked kind of SHY.  He also had a bit of a slouch to his shoulders.  Even with his uniform he didn’t seem threatening at all.  It was all a quite pleasant let-down.

He quickly asked me what he gave me the ticket for, I told him, and he responded with a lesser charge, which would NOT include points on my license.  And I quickly agreed.  After this I had time to sit and watch those ahead of me go before the judge, so I knew how to respond when it was my turn to walk up to the podium.  The sitting and waiting my turn was the longest part.  My brief conversation with the officer and my time before the judge?  Maybe five minutes.

When I walked out of the court my legs were shaky and I felt like I could’ve cried – FROM RELIEF.  All the build-up of five months was now gone.  I felt tired and spent.  I went home, took off my dressy court clothes, put my pajamas back on, and went to bed for a much needed nap.

I faced the monster – who really wasn’t a monster at all.  And I never would have known that if I ran away from the situation and taken the easy way out.  I’m glad I did it.  I just wish I didn’t need to.  I wish I didn’t have such issues with vulnerability and authority and power and control and anxiety.  But I do.  I’m working on them though – and facing a monster is a big step.  A big deal.

hodgepodge

It’s been over a month of silence here and for that I apologize.  There’s been a lot going on, but not the kind of stuff that merits a whole post – so perhaps one post with a lot of little things will have to do – hence the title “hodgepodge.”

My 13 year old autistic daughter had her yearly IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting a few weeks ago and she’s doing brilliantly.  She started in a new program back in September and has really flourished. She’s doing so well, in fact, that she’s going to “graduate” from occupational therapy this coming September.  It  was kind of a shock when her occupational therapist suggested it, but it seems the right thing to do.  The tasks she struggles with are not the kind that they help with at school (like maneuvering her bra clasp).  Most of O.T. in the school setting is focused on handwriting, and she has become a pro.  Her O.T. has known her for years and we had the chance to reminisce about the days when we wondered if she would EVER write.  The breakthrough for her came with cursive.  When her teachers introduced that she took to it like a fish to water.  She no longer had to struggle with lifting up and putting down the pencil with each letter – it’s like cursive was made just for her.  Anyway… in September her twice-weekly O.T. sessions will end, and the O.T. will do monthly check-ins with her teacher just to make sure she isn’t regressing in any way.  Great job!

Sweet sixteen is continuing her dream of wanting to be a professional wrestler.  I had hoped this was a passing phase, but it doesn’t look like it.  How I, as a peace-loving and generally gentle soul, ended up with a daughter who loves to fight and punch and throw people around I don’t know (ok, maybe I have a clue or two, but that’s for another post).  Our children are their own people, that’s for sure.  I spend a lot of time taking her to training (wrestling, jiu jitsu & MMA) and trying to understand her need for violence (albeit controlled, “acceptable” violence).

My nine year old son is getting into Minecraft.  I’ve written that he likes to play with dolls and that this makes him feel very insecure since he doesn’t want his friends to know.  Even at nine he’s aware of gender pressures, which is sad.  But Minecraft is generally a boy thing, so at least now he’ll have something in common with some of the other boys at school, since he also isn’t very athletic.

I don’t generally write about my husband since he’s a really private person, but I will share that pressure at work has been exceptionally high lately and money has been a huge concern, so he’s been EXTREMELY stressed and unhappy.  That’s about all I can write, although I wish I could share more because it would be therapeutic for me – but out of respect for him I need to just stop here.

As for me?  My husband’s stress has been rubbing off.  I mean, how can you see someone you love struggle and not be stressed about it?  I’ve also continued to have problems with my fibroids (I have two whoppers in my uterus) – almost constant discomfort, although not what I would call “pain.”  About six years ago I had lost all my baby weight and ran almost everyday and felt really great about my body. Since this fibroid/menopause junk started about three years ago running is uncomfortable – even sitting still can be uncomfortable – and I’ve gained all that weight back.  I’m tired of it and I’ve had enough.  I had my yearly check-up with the gynecologist last week and go for a pelvic ultrasound next week to check on the fibroids.  I also have my yearly check up with my primary doctor coming up and will discuss things with her too.  I’m trying to formulate a course of treatment since it seems like my body is taking its bloody time with menopause (pun intended).   I’ll fill you in when I develop a plan.

With all that’s going on I’m surprised I’m in a generally good place psychologically, even with the stress of my husband’s situation and my physical health.  I’ve been off my psychiatric medication for a year now, and other than the bad day or bad week which is part of LIFE, I’ve been steady.  I am VIGILANT in monitoring myself though – how I’m eating, how I’m sleeping, how much I laugh, how much I cry, my attitude towards the tasks of daily living etc…

Can’t take care of anyone else if I’m not taking care of myself.  That’s true for all of us.  I hope you all are taking care of yourselves.

What have you been up to?

brief encounters

I was in Target the other day, by myself, eating lunch before doing some grocery and Christmas shopping.  The past few weeks have been so filled with anxiety that I was relishing having a few minutes to sit at the counter and eat some pizza in peace while the store was bustling around me.  It was noisy and people were moving all about, but I was able to put myself in a bubble for those moments, enjoying people-watching.  Until Olivia burst my bubble.

Seemingly out of nowhere came a little voice, “Hi there!”  I looked and saw this tiny munchkin of a girl, maybe three years old, looking up at me with big beautiful eyes.  I couldn’t help but smile.  “Well hello,” I answered back.  Then I heard her mother call for her to come back to their table and sit down, which she did.  I went back to eating, people watching and scrolling my twitter feed.

A few moments later, “Hi friend!  What’s your name?”  There she was again.  It surprised me and warmed my heart that she called me friend, reminding me of preschool etiquette and Mr. Rogers (who I deeply miss – the world needs more like him!).  “My name is Lisa.  What’s yours?” I replied.  “Olivia,” she answered, and again, her mother called her back, this time with a warning that she either needed to stay put, or BE put in the toddler high chair.  I watched her as she went back to her mom.

Mom looked a little frazzled.  Schlepping a toddler through Target so close to Christmas would frazzle the best of us, and I felt compassion for her.  I’ve been there myself.  I pondered whether or not to go over and introduce myself and sit with them since Olivia was clearly interested in getting to know me better, but the introvert in me won out and I just smiled at her mom, hopefully conveying an “it’s okay, she’s not bothering me,” look.  I always go out of my way to be gentle to moms struggling with kids in stores – like I said, I’ve been there myself, and looks of reassurance always meant so much to me.

Something changed in me in that moment.  Olivia and her mom had given me a gift.  Instead of being in my own little bubble, trying to escape from my worries and fears, I suddenly felt grateful.  Grateful for that tiny beautiful face calling me “friend,” grateful that my children were in school so I could shop in peace, yet also grateful (in the present) for those years when they were young and curious and wouldn’t stay in their seats.  My worries and anxiety melted away for a few minutes, replaced by the joy of this little girl’s curiosity and trust.

I thought of how I could help Olivia’s mom if Olivia escaped her seat again – and of course I had my chance.  She came over to me and said hello again, and her mom looked at me with a face that said, “I’m SO sorry she’s being a pest.”  Well, she wasn’t being a pest in the least, but it was time for me to help this tired mama.  I got off my stool and got eye-level with Olivia and gently but firmly told her (loud enough so her mom could hear), “You know Olivia, I’m a mommy too, and we mommies stick together.  I can tell your mommy really needs for you to sit in your seat and finish your lunch, so I want you to do that for her okay?”  She looked disappointed, but her mother looked relieved and mouthed “thank you.”  I gave them both a big smile as Olivia went back to her seat.  I gathered up my garbage, said goodbye to them and left to do my shopping.

We mommies do (or at least should) stick together.  Our children are beautiful gifts, but they can also challenge our sanity.  When we can show just a little patience and kindness for each other, it can go a long long way.  It means the world but doesn’t cost a cent.

authority

Remember last week when I posted about how proud I was of my birthday and thankful to be in a good place?  Yeah, that.

What a difference a week makes.

One of the things that can happen when you grow up in a house with alcoholism and/or other types of abuse is that you spend your life trying to fly under the radar.  You don’t want to call attention to yourself, you don’t want to stand out, you try VERY hard to play by the rules.  You do your best to BE the best because you take the responsibility of the whole world (or at the very least the survival of your family) onto YOUR shoulders.  Failure is not an option.  Yet you KNOW you’re not perfect.  In fact, you feel pretty badly about yourself, so fear and shame and embarrassment of being exposed are constantly hanging over your head.  You can’t let anyone see how imperfect you (and your family) are.  The other thing that happens when you have a history such as mine is that when it comes to authority figures you either develop a tough chip on your shoulder, or you shrink and become a timid, cowering shell (I am the latter).

I’ve worked for YEARS in therapy on this stuff.  I’ve worked for years OUT of therapy on this stuff – which is my way of saying, that “in or out” of therapy, the work is ongoing – because LIFE is ongoing.

So, something happened last week, right after celebrating my birthday, which has brought my sense of pride and confidence to a screeching halt, and it has to do with authority.

I got pulled over by a police officer last week.  I won’t go into details, because honestly I really am embarrassed about the whole incident, and I’m only telling you so I can discuss the larger authority issues and how I’m coping.

Here has been my response.  I stayed pulled over long after the police officer drove away – crying. Sobbing.  Unable to drive.  I called my husband from the car and he was able to “talk me down” so that I would be able to drive home.  When I got home I had a mini-breakdown.  I cried and sobbed and cried some more, giving myself a monster headache, crying myself to sleep and waking up the next morning with my eyes practically swollen shut from crying.  I’ve experienced massive anxiety (although not panic) every time I have gotten behind the wheel to drive since.  While I’m driving my anxiety is high, checking and double checking almost every move I make (or don’t make).  And I haven’t been sleeping well.

Last night I had to go to the same place I was travelling to last week and purposefully went out of my way to avoid the route I took then, because I couldn’t face driving past the spot where I was pulled over.  By the time I got home, I was in tears, shaking.  Another headache…

This reaction is more than the police officer, more than being pulled over.  It’s about how I cope (or don’t cope) with authority figures – with those who have real or perceived power over me.

This is about stripping away the facade.  This is about my failure to live up to the good girl image – of always trying to do the right thing, to follow the rules, to fly under the radar – of being caught and even called out for not being perfect, for falling short and being bad.  The feelings of shame and embarrassment have, at times, been overwhelming.  I’m walking around with a sense of dread, like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, and I’m failing.  I’m sure my husband would love to repeat the, “Snap out of it!” scene of Cher in “Moonstruck.”¹  Heck, I’d love to snap myself out of it too! Instead, what he IS saying is, “This happened.  Move on.  You’re going to make yourself sick.”

But moving on, removing the weight from my shoulders, is easier said than done.  Once those old weights of shame, fear and embarrassment hit, they don’t let up very easily.  It’s hard to move on when the ball and chain keep you from picking up your feet.

But there are a few things that give me hope that this won’t turn into a major episode.

  • I am recognizing my reaction for what it is – an authority figure problem.  I know this is more than my interaction with this one particular officer, and I’m not trying to ignore it, or hope it will just go away.
  • I am able to stick up for myself with my husband.  When, at one point, he started to feed the flames of my shame (without knowing it) I told him point blank, “You need to stop.  You are NOT being helpful.” To his credit he asked what he could do/say that would be helpful.  I told him, and he listened and responded (he’s a good guy!).
  • I am practicing good self talk.  Deep down I know that I’m not a horrible person.  This is the biggest change.  It used to be that deep down I knew I was a horrible person and had to convince myself otherwise.  Saying to myself, “You know you’re a good person Lisa, you’ll get through this,” is VERY different than, “This is just proof of how awful you are.”  I am actively combating the negative thoughts, with positive messages of my self worth, and accepting the love of my family.
  • I am using my anger positively to fuel my “moving on.”  I’m angry at the officer for being so cold and robotic.  I’m angry at my father for, well, EVERYTHING.  I was in a good place till this happened, and I will not let this drive me back to a dark place.  I’m channeling my anger OUT, and not IN.

Sometimes these things happen – events that remind us of pain and suffering, being brought back to places of shame and weakness.  Many times they hit us when we least expect it, and that too, is part of our reaction – “Damn it.  I thought I had gotten over this.  I didn’t see THAT coming.”  So the reaction isn’t just about the actual literal event, it’s about connecting it back to our past, and our SHOCK that we still make that connection.

It’s been a week.  Both my husband and I are keeping an eye on this.  If I don’t start to “lighten up” in what we both consider a reasonable amount of time, then I guess I’ll have to call the doctor.²  This is a difference from the past too, when I would keep all this stuff bottled inside and shut him out – a sign that, overall, I’m in a much healthier place.  Still, prayers and good thoughts are much appreciated. Thanks.


¹My husband has never EVER hit me.  I am the one who is thinking of this scene as an example of his feelings of frustration and concern, NOT him.  Actually it represents my own frustration with myself! I just wanted to make that perfectly clear.

²My reluctance to call the doctor comes not from a disrespect of the medical/psychiatric profession.  If you’ve spent any time reading this blog you know I have the HIGHEST respect for both therapy and medication.  I’ve gotten to where I am now BECAUSE of the work I’ve done in therapy.  But finances are tight, so if I possibly can, I’d rather handle this without having to pay a bill in the process.

the gift of life

Today is my birthday.  I am 50 years old.  Some people lie about their age – not me.  I am proud of every candle on the cake.   I feel like shouting from my rootop, “It’s my birthday!  I’m 50!  I am AWESOME!”  That may sound conceited, but I don’t mean it to be.  I mean it as a sign of true hard work, of fierce determination, of deep thankfulness.

I live with depression.  Now is a good time, but there have been many years that have been quite dark.  I have spent a fortune I’m sure on therapy, hospital bills and medication.  My depression has been serious and deep and dark and lonely and fearful and agonizing.  There have been moments where I was sure I would never make it to 50, let alone 40 or even 30.  I tried to die and was hospitalized TWICE before I was 25.  And for each time I tried to kill myself there were countless other times I just didn’t have the energy or the opportunity.  There were times I couldn’t get out of bed or take a shower, or make it to class and/or work.  I cut and/or burned myself to try to get the pain out of me.

My last depressive episode was just a few years ago – not reaching the point of suicidal ideation but serious enough to get me back into therapy and on medication.  I cried over getting out of bed, over getting my kids up for school, over doing the dishes, the laundry, over cooking dinner, over helping my kids with their homework.  With this depression I wasn’t sleeping all the time – I was suffering from insomnia, so there was no blessed escape in sleep.

Like I said above, I’m sure I have spent a fortune on therapy, hospitalizations and medication.  Some therapists were better than others, one hospital was certainly better than the other, and medication – well, you have to do some experimentation to find which one works best for each situation.  I’ve never done well on just one medication; each episode has been helped by a different anti-depressants and/or anti-anxiety medications.  I have worked HARD in therapy – confronting demons both real and imagined.  I scraped and clawed my way out of the black hole that is depression and I’m in a good place now.

I’m in a good place now thank God (and my therapist and my medication and my family and my friends and you all…).

And because I’m in a good place, I can truly appreciate the hard work I have done to get to this milestone in my life.  I can truly appreciate the hard work and worry of my therapists (I’ve had quite a few).  I can truly appreciate the worry and care of my friends and family.  I can truly appreciate the gift of these years and the gift of life.

I am happy to be 50 because I KNOW the alternative almost happened.  I am happy to be 50 because I could be dead and buried, never having had a career, a spouse or children.  I am happy to be 50 because I’m getting to see my kids (who at one point I thought I would never have) grow up.  I am happy to be 50 because there were times in my life I thought I’d never be here.

So I am thankful.  I think 50 is awesome.  I think 50 is amazing.  I am in awe.

Is it perfect?  There is no such thing.  I would be lying if I told you I wake up every day with a smile on my face and a song on my lips.  There is NO such pill that can make us be happy all the time.  The first time I went on medication the doctor explained it to me like this:  “Medication won’t make you giddy and smile all the time.  That’s not how it works.  What it WILL do is give you a higher threshold for tolerating pain, so you can deal with it more appropriately and heal.m  It raises your threshold for coping.”  That sums it up pretty well.  There is no such thing as a happy pill.  Life is hard and sometimes life just plain sucks.  But I’ve got it, and as long as I’ve got it I have a chance to work and make things better.

So I am wearing my age like a badge of honor – honor that comes through battles hard fought and victories hard won.  I never lie about my age, because I’m so darn thankful and proud to have made it this far.

I am 50, and it’s wonderful.

Thanksgiving

Today in the United States we celebrate a national holiday called Thanksgiving.  It’s a day to stop and remember to be grateful – grateful as a nation for our freedoms, and grateful as individuals.  There’s been A LOT of debate about that “national” part of it recently, with hysteria in some circles over refugees, but other than asserting that our national history dictates we MUST welcome refugees, I don’t want to talk about that now.  (Just wanted you to know where I stood.)

In this space, right now, I would like to share the things for which I am thankful.  It’s an important thing to do once in a while, because if we aren’t conscious about naming the things we’re thankful for, we can either 1) forget, or 2) take them for granted.  Naming those things helps keep us grounded, and in the chaotic world in which we live that is certainly important.

I am thankful for my ever-patient husband.  We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this year.  As with any couple who have been together that long, we’ve been through a lot together.  We’ve had bumpy patches – we still do.  There are days we don’t like each other very much; days where conversation is strained; days where marriage feels HEAVY.  I am not an easy person to live with – I require too much time alone, I keep too much to myself.  I am SO thankful that he accepts me, and pushes me out of my solitude (even when I push back).  He loves me, and that tells you A LOT about his character.  I’m a lucky woman.

I am thankful for my older daughter, now sixteen.  She is pushing way too many buttons for me to even mention here.  She reminds me of myself, yet she is a person I never was.  I am struggling mightily right now (along with my husband) to strike the balance between protecting her (from others and herself) and giving her the freedom to be herself and even to make mistakes from which to learn.  I feel like I’m walking a tightrope with no net.  It’s more frightening than I ever could’ve imagined.  As she gets closer to legal independence the more serious this tightrope walk gets.  Dang.  But she is AMAZING.  She is forging her own path, making her own way.  She is smart, funny, loyal, passionate, and she is (and will be) a tremendous gift to the world.

I am thankful for my younger daughter, who next month will officially become a teenager.  With her autism she has overcome in her almost thirteen years more than some people have been through in a lifetime.  She works SO hard everyday.  Her teachers and my husband and I have worked SO hard with her.  And that hard work is paying off.  A few months ago she made the leap from an autism focused program, to a district special education classroom!  We are all so proud of her.  She is friendly and cheerful, wanting to make connections with people.  She wants to be a teacher or a fashion designer.  I’m not sure if either of those things will/can happen, but whatever she does she brings light with her.

I am thankful for my son, nine.  He still loves to hug his mama.  He still loves to cuddle.  Although he can very well go to sleep by himself, he still likes me to sit with him while he does – and I don’t mind. He draws better at nine than I do at almost 50!  He has his struggles being at the end of the “child” line in the house.  He has his struggles being a boy that likes to play with dolls (shhh… don’t tell his friends).  He is smart, sensitive, creative and energetic and I can’t wait to see how he continues to grow.

I am thankful for my online community, which includes all of you who read this.  Those of you who follow me through WordPress or on Twitter have given me a life-giving creative and supportive outlet for all my musings.  The various camps I hop between:  autism, parenthood, mental health, and faith have been true lifesavers – keeping me from feeling isolated and alone – and not just alone but from the feeling like I am in the only one in world going through some of this stuff!  I am so incredibly thankful for you – you really have no idea…

I am thankful for the people in my past – the ones who held me and even the ones who hurt me.  They are all part of the person I am today, and for the most part I like myself.  I am thankful for the people in my present.  I am thankful for the country in which I live.  It is most certainly not perfect, and right now my level of frustration if pretty high.  I know that there are people within our borders who do not have the same level of freedom I do, even if we claim it on paper.  I know there are people who have even more freedom than me.  I promise to do everything I can to point out the flaws when I see them, and celebrate the successes when we have them.

I am thankful first of all, most of all, for my faith.  I can’t put it neatly into one paragraph, but without faith, the family above never would’ve come into being.  My faith grounds me, keeps me humble, lifts me up, pushes me, gives me strength.  Faith is the beginning of the person I am and the person I am becoming – a journey not a destination.

Enough about me.  What are you thankful for today – and why?  May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  And for those who struggle with these family related holidays – remember family isn’t just blood.  Family is the people who love you and look out for you and push you and protect you and laugh with you and cry with you.  (just my 2 cents…)

Not the picture I would’ve painted

I told myself when I was growing up that I would be such a better parent than mine were.  MY kids would be valued and respected.  I would LISTEN to them instead of always dictating.  I would give them the right to DISAGREE with me without fear.  I wouldn’t smother them and depend on them and expect them to be my companions.  MY kids would be happy with their lives and confident in their approach TO life.  Not like my parents.  Not like my childhood.

Fast forward.

I have three kids – 15, 12 and 9.  I LOVE my children.  I have tried my absolute best not to repeat the mistakes of my parents.  But this is not the picture I would’ve painted for myself.

  • I have a teenager on antidepressants whose teeth are in horrible shape after a serious bout of bulimia (which I won’t go into detail about because we’re all still trying to process, plus that’s HER story not mine),
  • a daughter with autism (which is never on anyone’s parental wish list),
  • and a son with self-esteem issues because he’d rather play with dolls than trucks (and he’s afraid his school friends will find out).

So yeah.

I may not be my mother (really. thank. God.).  And my husband may not be my father (REALLY. THANK. GOD.).  But my kids are still struggling with some of the same issues I did, albeit for different reasons. It’s been so incredibly frustrating.  Fucking frustrating.  And the cause of a good deal of marital stress, especially as my husband and I discover we have different parenting styles and expectations.  Honestly, you’d be surprised at how stuff can hit the marital fan when your kids become older teenagers!  It’s been tense around here lately let me tell you.

I’ve got no great words of wisdom to share.  No solutions for how to give my kids an easier ride over the bumps of childhood and adolescence than I had.  They’ve been spared A LOT of what I went through.  They don’t have an overbearing mother, helplessly enabling an addict, and dependent upon them for her own happiness.  They don’t have a mean tyrant alcoholic father.  Yet they still have therapy and pharmacy bills and anxiety and tears on their pillows.  I didn’t plan on any of this.  These are not the children I expected.  This is not the childhood I expected for them.  But here we are.

I LOVE MY CHILDREN.  Let there be NO doubt.  Just because they’re not the children I expected doesn’t mean I don’t love them.  My love and devotion are so fierce and deep it’s scary sometimes.

Because of that love, I expected a better childhood for them (meaning less painful).  I expected a better childhood, because I expected more from myself.   I expected to be a better mother.  The learning here is that even though I have indeed risen to the occasion, it hasn’t been good enough.  I can’t, as no mother can, spare my children from LIFE.  And that’s a hard pill to swallow.  Really hard.