It seems like everyone has an opinion about every step I make.
Have you ever gotten a lot of unsolicited advice from people at a time when you really weren't looking for it? I find that this happens to me pretty often. Every decision I come to is picked apart and judged and deemed good or bad when I'm not even asking others what they think. I hear from my friends that they encounter the same problem as well.
Take, for example, our upcoming move.
It was not a decision made lightly, and it is anxiety provoking for everyone in our family (except for my 2 year-old....he will be happy as long as we remember to take him with!). We have gotten both positive and negative feedback about it. We have heard how it will be good for our daughter to start over in a brand new school with people who will not judge her by any past mistakes. We have also heard how detrimental to her psyche it will be because of the fact that she is 10 years old and will be leaving behind a core group of friends here. I have been lectured on my poor parenting and my lack of consideration for my daughter's feelings about this move.
Why is it that others feel as though it is acceptable to weigh in on a situation that is not their own?
I do not think that anybody does this to purposely hurt our feelings or cause more trepidation in an already stressful situation. I do realize that it is my fault that this happens so often in so many aspects of our lives. I had my daughter when I was 20 years old. I was young and inexperienced. When I started out, I had a lot of "help" from well-meaning individuals who had something to say about every step I took before I took it. It was second nature for a lot of people to offer up advice on how to best raise a child. I get that, I truly do. I have never been very vocal when it comes to shutting people down when they have criticized my choices. However (!!), now I would like to say, thank you for caring enough to be concerned...but I've got it from here.
I am no longer a half-grown woman starting out in a big, scary world.
I've proven time and time again that I can do this. I am, in fact, doing this as we speak. I am strong and and I am competent. I have made many mistakes in my 32 years....but I have also overcome SO MUCH. The bad parts have always been glaringly obvious, and I've learned that failures seem to stick in people's minds a lot more than accomplishments. Yes, I've fallen down a lot. I have also gotten back up every single time and carried on to get myself to where I am today. I am a mother of two amazing kids. They are not perfect, but that is because they are human...not because I have done everything wrong in the process of raising them.
I have also been a nurse for over 6 years now. I worked my butt off and completed nursing school while continuing to take care of my daughter. I got good grades and I graduated because I pushed through and never gave up. I am not currently working due to a medical issue that is 100% out of my control, and I have been doing everything in my power to find a way to continue to contribute to my family so that my husband isn't carrying all of our financial burden. I also endured Marine Corps bootcamp when I was just 17, for Christ's sake. Give me a little credit. I'm not helpless and I'm not unqualified for my role of Mom.
Thank you for all of the continuous love and concern regarding our well-being.
I greatly appreciate how much interest people have in our welfare, and I will continue to be grateful for any support from here on out. I will not, however, be tolerating any more negative opinions that I receive from those who feel that they have the right to weigh in on all of my life decisions. I am focusing on making the future as positive and peaceful as I can for myself and my family.
I welcome everyone to continue on our journey with us.
Just, please, leave any nasty comments at the door.
Ain't nobody got time for that.
Always loving you,
... PS - All in all, I think everyone's pretty happy.
Yesterday was really, really hard.
Our two kids were home with fevers, and the youngest was completely inconsolable. We had electricians here working on the house and the power had to be shut off for the majority of the day. No heat, no Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, no microwave to heat up my little buddy's milk. My husband was at work all day and it was just me trying to keep everyone from completely falling apart. By the time he got home, my nerves were so frayed that I was afraid I was going to completely break down. I passed him the baby and took a break to go to Walgreens and pick up some germ-fighting necessities.
The evening got worse as it went on.
We had power back by late afternoon, but even "Mickey Haha" wasn't enough to soothe our feverish munchkin. His older sister was feeling a lot better than she had in the morning, so at least we were down to one patient to take care of. He was a sweaty, glassy-eyed zombie. He was so anxious about how he felt that he kept up a continuous whimper. Any parent knows what that sound can do to you after an extended period of time. Your body is in the heightened state of stress - it is almost worse when there were periods of calm because we were just waiting for the crying to start again.
It is an awful feeling to contend with.
When we finally laid him down in bed for the night, he fell into a restless sleep. Every 45 minutes he would wake up crying, and we would go up to find him just sitting on his bed with his blankie clutched in his little hand, reaching out in the dark and waiting for us to save him. We took turns rocking him back to sleep until my husband had to lay down himself to get rest before work in the morning.
After he had retired, I was left alone in our living room finishing up my TV show and shutting down the house for the night. I switched off the last light and sat down on the couch. The house was silent but for the dog's soft snores on the blanket next to me.
It was that moment that I finally found my breath.
I sat there, staring at the walls of this house we have lived in together for the past 5 years. I let myself feel everything that I was feeling without interrupting it with worries about what the next half hour would bring. I didn't revisit the trying hours we had throughout the day.
I allowed myself to have a minute.
When I stood up a short time later to put myself to bed, I felt more grounded than I have been in a long time. The feeling continued as I tucked myself in and laid there next to my sleeping husband. There I was with my head on my pillow, breathing deeply and taking in my surroundings. I took stock of everything I had in that instant. At that exact point in time, I had everything that I could hope for. My husband, my kids, my life.
I was alive, and I was safe, and everything was all right for this one, precious moment.
I kept breathing in and out and let the feeling of calm cover me like the most comfortable blanket. I was here. Here I was. Our family was whole. Our kids were okay. We were all together. Nothing terrible or terrifying was harrying us. I was aware of the fact that 5 seconds from then, our lives could become something else. The future is always a mystery. There is nothing you can do to stop it or change it or prepare for it. Life brings what it brings.
So I clung to my moment of serenity and I carefully filed it away.
I know that horrible things will happen some days. I know that there will be times when I will feel like I cannot go on, and I will be desperately trying to gulp a breath of air without finding relief. That is when I will pull out this memory. I will be able to alleviate that panic with the knowledge that peace exists. I have been there. I have held it tightly in my hands. It is not a fantasy, nor is it unattainable. It will come again.
And when it does, I will stock up on it.
Life is unpredictable. We are promised nothing. We only have what we have in this very second.
Allow yourself to be where you are. It is everything you have for now. It is all that is guaranteed.
This is your life. Not a goal you are working towards, or a problem in the middle of being fixed.
Breathe it in and live it right now.
I made sugar cookies the other day.
This probably sounds like a mundane, everyday thing that isn't even worth mentioning. But it was such a big step for me that I wanted to scream it out my window.
I MADE COOKIES, WORLD!!
Cooking anything has always been a risky undertaking for me. When my brain was still being steered by ED, anything that involved me having carte blanche over what was being put into a meal was a recipe for disaster. (No pun intended!) I would inevitably add a ton of extra ingredients - whatever my heart desired - and end up with this supersized dish that was then consumed and purged. There was no leeway. There was no happiness or comfort in it. ED would lie to me from the start. He'd insist that I needed to eat everything in sight, and then the second I couldn't eat anymore, he would demand that I undo what I did before my world collapsed. It was an exhausting, miserable process that I felt compelled to repeat over, and over, and OVER.
Until I punched ED in the face and called him on his lies.
When I went into residential treatment last summer, I was finally able to loosen ED's grip on my brain long enough to reevaluate everything. Without him SCREAMING in my head every second of every day, I had the chance to actually think about things clearly. This was a double-edged sword. I saw how horrible and damaging and absurd engaging in this torturous cycle was. It made no sense. I was being tricked into believing that stuffing myself full of food would make me happy. It would erase my anxiety! It would help me deal with whatever I was stressing about at the time! It was the cure for everything!
But then he flipped the tables on me.
Literally the MOMENT I finished the first task he set upon me, he would claim that I now had to dispose of all of that food I had eaten before it magically turned into extra girth around my stomach and on my thighs. Because things really work that way, right? (Insert eyeroll here.)
Newsflash: ED is a lying SOB who will not be happy until he kills you.
I was so ANGRY when I first came to this realization. All of those years that I had been striving to please my brain were in vain. I had wasted so much time. I had hurt my body. Nothing good came out of what I had done.
NOT ONE DAMN THING.
So I changed things. These days I am so much happier than I was when I was so committed to ED. The only person I am trying to please is me. The only goals that drive are my peace of mind and happiness. I can still hear his lies, but I don't listen to them. I don't yield to his every whim. I don't allow his opinion to sway my decisions in any way, shape, or form.
In doing so I have found stability and relief.
Don't get me wrong - the road to get here was not an easy one. I was fighting back urges to slip at every turn and there were many times I was so tired of fighting that I just wanted to lay down and give up.
But I didn't. And I lived. And I persevered.
I beat him down until his power was gone. All I had to do was NOT GIVE UP. Keep breathing, keep hoping, and keep moving forward. It is completely achievable if you just follow those 3 steps.
You CAN do it.
I did. I will always have ED waiting in the back of my mind for an opportunity to slip in and take it all away. He won't find one. Even if I fall down and mess up, I will get back up and keep going. The desire to be at peace far outweighs anything ED tries to offer.
I like my life. I think I'll stay here.
Keep the faith, guys.
Before you know it, you'll be making sugar cookies, too!
Sending so much love your way.
For anybody who has a mental health diagnosis, or a history of addiction, or has just plain done something that still makes them cringe when they think back on it....this one is for you.
We had a situation with our 10 year-old daughter this week that threw us into through a loop as parents. I'm not going to go into detail about what went on because it is her situation to share with other people and not mine. I will, however, be sharing what I learned as a parent who has always worried that choices I made in the past would end up being detrimental to my children's growth and development.
I had my daughter when I was 21 years old and I have worried about her since she was the size of a kidney bean. I've worried that I would do something to screw her up, I've worried that I wouldn't be the perfect parent, and I've worried that I would make every wrong decision possible and she would end up in juvie by the age of 12 with tattoos all over her face and piercings from head to toe. (I may have been indulging in some catastrophic thinking...)
Fast forward to 2016.
My baby girl is about to turn 11 in a month. 11!! Two more years and she will be a teenager. She has been referring to herself as a "preteen" since last year with such pride and insistence that I want to pack her in a box with a bunch of barbies and tell her to SLOW DOWN! I don't know about you, but I am not ready for her to be a teenager yet.
I'm not ready, but it's coming anyway.
On Tuesday, we were in that position where as parents you immediately question how you got there. What did you do wrong that got you to this place? You are going back in your mind and thinking of the millions of mistakes you have made since you were 5, desperately trying to find that exact moment that decided this fate. You are the adult. You are the mom. These two things make it YOUR fault. Right?
That is not how it automatically works, my friend! Pull yourself out of your puddle of misery and listen to me. Think about all of the people you know. Your friends, your family, your neighbors, that familiar stranger you always run into at Dunkin' Donuts on your morning commute and the "perfect" mom you see at the bus stop. (You know the one I am talking about - her hair is always straightened by 7:00am with no frizz in sight. She's dressed all business casual even though you know for a fact that she is a stay-at-home-mom who is going to be sitting on her floor playing with Mickey and Thomas toys with her 9 month-old in less than 10 minutes. She even bakes. WHO HAS TIME FOR ALL OF THIS?!!) Sorry, that was a bit of a tangent. (Honestly, we don't even GO to a bus stop in the morning...but I know that woman exists somewhere!) You may think about how they all have it together while you are fumbling through life trying to keep your kids alive and fed and not forget to let the dog out before he pees on the floor. It's a lot of stuff. It may sound easy when you say it like that, but life throws you curve balls. Usually these come in the shape of a tiny Lego your toddler decides to put in their mouth and swallow before you even saw that your older kid had dropped it on the floor, or the broken elbow your 8 year-old got from falling off of the swing because they decided to let go mid-air to try to catch a falling leaf.
I don't care how much you plan ahead, there will always be a crisis that hits that smacks you in the face and pulls the rug out from under you all in one fell swoop.
When it happens, your brain is going to go into that mode where you are berating yourself for being such a bad parent. It is telling you that because you have children, there is no room for accidents or mistakes - you were supposed to become a superhuman the second you decided to procreate.
I'm sorry, but that's not how it works. You are not given a magic wand, or a cape, or even a Ninja Turtles face mask on the day your child is born. (Which would be AWESOME!) You are still you. Please don't spend all of your time trying to undo all of those moments that you have stuffed back into a closet, desperately trying to hide them from your child and the rest of the world so that they won't judge your parenting abilities.
Take them out and look through them. Organize them in a way that you will be able to use them.
That time that you got caught smoking weed and got suspended from high school? Use it. That night when you were stupid enough to drive drunk in college and thankyoubabyjesus didn't hurt anybody, but DID acquire a DUI that will forever be on your record? Use it. That time you followed an old boyfriend across the country only to have your heart broken and your entire world come crashing down and spent the next 6 months in a deep, deep depression where you hated the world and hated yourself even more? Use it.
You cannot change your past. You cannot change the things that make you you. The only thing you have control over is what you are doing in this exact moment on this exact day. All of those yucky things that make your stomach sick and your head hurt when you look back on them....sorry to tell you, but no matter how much you hate them they are NEVER GOING AWAY. Everyone has them. Nobody likes them. But your mistakes mean that you have already gone down the wrong path at some point in time, and that you have the ability to steer your kid away from it before they land in the same place! You have inside information. You know exactly what it feels like to be there, which makes you kind of an expert in that area. Not only did YOU learn from your mistakes - you can pass those lessons onto your kids before they even make them. Stop punishing yourself for being human and start putting your experiences to good use.
And for the times when your kid makes their own mistakes? Stop standing in front of that vicious mirror and blaming yourself. Ain't nobody got time for that! Swallow your pride and just be there for your child. You were in this same place (probably many, many moons ago), so you know how horrible they are feeling right now. They aren't sitting there focusing on your past. They are worried about their own present. Your stupid mistakes aren't even crossing their mind right now. They are busy focusing on their own negative thoughts and feelings about themselves, and that is something you can do something about.
Give them a hug. Tell them it's okay. Tell them everybody screws up. Nobody's perfect. The world feels like it is ending right this moment, but tomorrow the sun is still going to rise and things are going to be a little better and no matter what, YOU ARE GOING TO BE THERE FOR THEM.
That is what matters.
You need to let go of your mistakes and forgive yourself so that you can teach your kids how to do that, too.
Give them a lollipop and snuggle up on the couch in front of a good movie. Hell, get yourself a lollipop as well! Lean on each other and use that love and compassion to get through it. You've totally got this. It's a piece of cake. Don't overthink things. Just do what you feel is right.
You're an expert, remember?
Smile, my friends, and be kind to yourself.
Mother and wife by day, psych RN by night. So many different ways to view life. I try to take everything in and be very slow to judge.