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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

To my best friend’s children, I am “Auntie”.  After taking the boys to the playground several times a few weeks ago, apparently I’ve been associated with that place.  Now, when anyone says “Auntie” at my friend’s house, her two year old looks up, eyes wide and hopeful and exclaims “paygwound!”  He is presently parading around my living room with a Nerf sword as long as he is tall and I am remembering just how much more energy toddlers require.  I remember calling my friend when my boys were small.  I’d call her in the morning and she’d still be asleep.  She’d smile and laugh and tell me “someday your kids will be big enough to get their own breakfast and you can sleep in again!”  Now I’m the one with older kids and she has a second round of little ones waking her up at the ass-crack of dawn.

Strangely, though, I miss my kids needing me more.  There was never any question about being bored or not knowing what to do.  Each moment required me to do something.  I had to keep the house clean for their safety, I had to prepare endless meals, snacks and drinks, I was constantly doing laundry or changing someone and if they were sleeping, there was a long list of things I had to accomplish before they woke.  Now I sit, lost in my thoughts and confusion.  Wasting the day clicking and reading and plaing games on the computer – sometimes curled up with a book.  They occupy themselves and I only prepare meals once or twice a day.  I need to be busier.  I just don’t know what to do.

Lately I’ve been craving extremes.  I want to feel something big.  I’ve worked overtime the past few weeks to suppress the intensity of feeling released by the EMDR.  I’ve been angry about my fears with therapy possibly ending and overwhelmed about finances and car repairs.  I can’t let myself be really angry, though.  There was something that felt so dangerous and vulnerable about how I cried that day that terrified me.  My therapists office has shifted into the category of places where Bad Things Happen.  I’ve been irritable and sullen.  My body is sore and tired all the time.  I’m being pretty productive, but almost on auto-pilot.  I feel like somethings gotta give.  I’m going to explode or implode.  I feel like I just need to keep it together until my little one goes to camp and his brother goes to his grandfather’s, then maybe I can let my hair down.  Maybe I can find some way to let loose.  I don’ know.  I feel reckless and dangerous.  I feel tired and scared.  I feel lost and confused.  But I keep on keepin on.  I’ve got to put on a bra and take the kids to the beach.

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Ten days of feeling good.  Ten straight days.  What have I done to deserve such respite?  It isn’t the weather – we’ve had a few sunny, warm days, but there have been a number of gray, stormy days and today is chilly and gray.

I was wondering about good days and bad days and noticed that The Warm Milk Journal posted on the subject today.  I found an affirmation there one day that really struck me – I adapted it to my screen saver to remind me “life is safe to live”.

I was wondering about wondering… and saw Gemma’s post earlier.  I left this comment:

I think we need to give ourselves credit for wondering why. As long as you are able to question and examine what is happening in your life and mind you are not just a passenger whisked along the ride, but a participant and sometime navigator. There’s power in asking why, even when the answers are hard to reveal…

I wonder if wondering is enough?  In terms of dealing with depression or anxiety, when the answer was medication, I could expect to see changes in a matter of weeks.  If the answer is therapy, I’m expected to understand that this is a process which can last years.  I’ve chosen therapy because the pills only ever offered me temporary relief and extended upset – I describe that story here.  So now it has been almost a year since my breakdown – the end of May – and what have I achieved?  How far have I come?  I worry that I’m standing still, so I need to take an inventory.  I need to identify what I’ve done in the past year and is where I’m sitting today better than where I was a year ago.

I think the short answer is yes.  One of the best parts being that I can read again.  I’ve been reading blogs about mental illness, mental health, child abuse and PTSD.  I’ve read a number of memoirs about journeys through mental illness and I’ve picked up a fair amount of non-fiction on the subject, the latest being “The Body Remembers” by Babette Rothschild.  This last is a real eye-opener and is helping me understand how my body and brain have processed the trauma in my past and how that manifests itself in my adult life.  Again, this reinforces that the healing process is not a short one – there’s no quick fix.  I feel optimistic about therapy, more so now than I have in a while, knowing that the EMDR feels like something concrete and productive.  I still can’t get over the physical reaction I had to it – this incredible sensation on movement inside my body as if a dam had literally burst and I could rid myself of the negative energy.

So, I’ll go back to therapy tomorrow and tell her about my son nearly burning down the house, how I disowned my mother, how I survived mother’s day and how I am still – for now – okay.

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I’m in tears after reading this post about baby steps… I use that term all the time and I’ve never really thought about just how scary and hard baby steps are.  I imagine my kids, tentative and wobbly and working so very hard for those first steps.  I pat myself on the back when I achieve something or make some little progress and I tell myself – baby steps.  But I feel guilty and ashamed, because it seems silly to get excited about something so small.  This post really got me thinking how hard each of those steps are for me and I have to give myself credit for it.  I’ve come a long way.  I’m HERE for crying out loud.  I’ve walked in the land of crazy and survived to tell the tale…  I’m working so frigging hard to get better, to be productive, to be HERE… and it is hard.  Every aching, terrifying, teetering, fucking baby step.

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Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be? . . . Your playing small does not serve the world. . . . as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same…”

– Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love

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This is what my teacher, Mrs. Plum, overheard my friend asking me in the coatroom in kindergarten.  Apparently I answered with great solemnity – “I think it’s because I can read.”

I can read.  I spent months and months in such a fog that I couldn’t focus on the page – the lines just scrolled across the page like a tv needing adjustment.  Now I can read.  I started reading the news online – moving from the headlines to full articles, then magazines.  Now, in just the past month or so, I can read entire books.  This is how I know I’m getting better – a measurable outcome.

I learned to read early, but once I mastered the concept it got harder.  It was too easy, I couldn’t focus on the words and would read the same sentences over and over.  So I would sing.  In order to read, I had to sing.  I wasn’t singing the words I was reading, I’d just sing songs I liked or sing whatever tune came out.  When I was singing, my brain was busy enough to let me read.  I’ve since learned that with ADHD, sometimes you need to divide attention in order to access it, and that’s what my clever young brain had figured out.  Until sixth grade.

I was lying on the top bunk in the old boy scout camp we rented with some of our neighbors to go cross country skiing in the winter.  Caroline and Polly were playing cards on another bed.  They hadn’t invited me to play.  I was reading a big book – Little Women, Little Men and Good Wives, I think.  I chose the fattest books I could find, because I read quickly.  I was singing.  They laughed at me and said I couldn’t be reading and singing at the same time.  I was confused – who couldn’t read and sing at the same time?  It was the ONLY way I could read…  They taunted me to prove it, so I recapped what had happened in the book while Polly snatched it away to confirm what I said.  They didn’t believe me.  They said I was lying and had probably read it before.  That I was just trying to show off.  These girls were pretty and preppy.  They had both parents at home.  They took horseback riding lessons and knew how to ice skate.  I wanted to BE these girls.  Taunting me wasn’t enough – they went upstairs and ran around telling everyone that I was a liar and trying to trick them – that I was a show-off.  No one believed me.  My mother still doesn’t understand why I wasn’t friends with those girls – I can’t count the number of awkward birthday parties I attended just because our parents were friends.  I never let anyone hear me sing while I was reading again.  I didn’t say it out loud again until I was in my thirties, getting the neuro-psych testing for ADHD.

Many people learn to be multi-taskers, they go to workshops, read articles about how to manage their time and accomplish more than one thing at a time.  I’m not just a good multi-tasker – it is the only way I can function.  On a given day, I’m usually watching tv, playing online Scrabble (up to 20 games at a time), playing Solitaire if the Scrabble turns aren’t coming fast enough, reading Facebook and checking the news or high-school wrestling forums (my son is a wrestler).  I need to do that many things at once.  The alternative is that I literally turn in circles trying to figure out what to do.  Tell me to clean the kitchen – I’ll stand there and think of the long list of things that need to be done and get so overwhelmed because I don’t know where to start, that I’ll go back to the computer.  Or I just go back to bed.

Sitting down to read (admittedly with the tv on, and singing in my head), is a victory, because it limits the number of things I’m doing at a given moment and it feels healthy.  Instead of multi-tasking, UNI-tasking is a measure of wellness for me.  You’ll gather that I can also write now :).  Yep.  Just one thing – victory!  A measurable outcome of wellness.  Some of my friends worry that I spend too much time in front of the computer – they think it is making the depression worse – but they don’t realize how far I’ve come in the past three months since I stopped the medication.  They see me in my bathrobe at three in the afternoon or they call and hear that I haven’t been out all day and they worry.  I don’t think they understand that as I find my way out of the darkness I can only take tiny steps.  Big steps are terrifying and overwhelming.  Incrementally, I’ve come this far – reading and writing – that is progress.  I know I’ve got to work on the personal hygiene and the furry bathrobe… they are on that very long, very overwhelming list of things I need to improve, achieve, conquer or master in order to close the gap between me and a socially-accepted, functioning grown-up who pays her bills and keeps a job.  Today I feel like I might not ever get there, but I’m closer than I was last week, and that has gotta count for something.

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