Jackalope

A jackalope was used by my eldest child, Jason, as part of his email address.   And here I am, four years after he died, looking back at this site I forgot about until now. It’s given me perspective, this elapsed time. I’ve become seriously focused on my mental and physical health. So as not to give the wrong impression, I have in no way, “arrived.” But I have realized I deserve to start the journey.

So what’s the end goal? Being better. Everyone wants that, right? But most don’t pay much attention, just tootling along until they wind-down into a previously purchased hole in the ground.

Who pays attention? Who truly becomes mindful of daily habits, time passing, lessons learned? And then – Who watched the watchman?

I have learned not to let things lie; to try to heal relationships, something I couldn’t do with my son. I didn’t know how.

How many things contributed to this disconnect with a child I so cherished when he was born? I can point to the difficulty of raising a child who was smart, but had a need to seek out, or create from whole cloth, crisis after crisis. Or I can  blame being a child raising a child. Should I have done the mature thing; given him up for adoption? But the genetic factor was there. I saw it in his father, as well as other relatives. I sometimes wonder if this potential adoptive family would have had the same problems as I had. Would they agonize over their parental mistakes, blaming themselves for something that was twined within Jason’s DNA? Would he have been an eternal source of frustration an guilt? Or would a better environment allowed him to focus on his positive attributes, and become someone a mother would be proud of? Either way, the brain hemorrhage would most likely have happened,

He had begun to settle down to some extent. he rented a beautiful house in the Virginia woods with this girlfriend and had a good job working for a security company.  I wish I had called more, but keeping him at a distance had become a habit. He was not a good influence during the times he stayed with us, and I wanted to protect my other children. but then, calling him when he was across the country owuld not have injured them in any way. I will always feel guilty about that.

I have worked very hard to become more of myself; to trust myself, to stand up for myself, and to make myself accountable. I think I’ve made some progress. Here’s an excerpt from four years agao, unchanged.

I am worn out from life. I will try to write with some regularity, but this post has taken over a week to finish and I haven’t even said anything. But this is the month my son died, and I don’t have the energy to fight this  depression right now.

 

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Pregnancy

I was sixteen and pregnant the first time I went to therapy.  It was attached to the  facility I was to give birth in, which was also attached to a home for unwed mothers. It was 1973, New England, and Catholic. Three strikes and you’re out. Of the house, that is. Strangely, as much as I hated living at home, I loathed being in that place.  I had already arrived a the conclusion I was no good, so looking back, it was like the final decision – get rid of the defective child.

I know now that it was to protect me and the family name from the shame of my pregnancy. I wonder if my parents believed I was some sort of bad seed, someone who followed in her original mother’s footsteps. At any rate, everyone knew, although my mother felt that seeing it worse than knowing, so when I dug in hard and refused to go back to the Home after my second weekend “leave,” I was kept in the house all week, but allowed to go to my boyfriend’s house, which was a farm, far from people who might see me. And I was brought to Boston (where said home and related facilities resided) for medical checkups and to visit the therapist to see what was wrong with the broken girl, and could be fixed.

Actually

It was a women’s lying in hospital, or whatevr they called it at the time. It wasa in Dorchestr  I was to have my son, Jason I wholeheartedly endorse it. a WomeEMDR, CBT, and whatever else helps you oust your demons and settle down into your own soul. It’s yours; you should have a say-so on who gets to visit.

When I say soul, take it as you will. Being in a 12-step program (CoDA) the idea of a higher power is accepted, and it’s also how I see the soul — like CoDA, your soul is however you conceptualize it. Don’t feel you have to follow anyone else’s idea.  Therefore, atheists are allowed to have souls. And they can call it whatever they wish. Bob, for instance.

I’m still looking for mine.

Went to my therapist today, and I have a revelation. I need friends. For those of you who are relatively normal, this may seem silly. Of course a person needs friends. But, although if you had asked me I would have agreed, I haven’t really made any serious efforts in that direction. Habits are hard to break, and not having any kind of a normal social life has become a habit. One that I now intend to break

The thought of having friends both energizes and terrifies me. So maybe I’m getting better.

Recovery

Going through the Mindfulness book, and I’ve added a book called “Feeling Good,” a recommendation from my therapist. So meditation and working that book are two things I do for myself. Going to my therapist and doing EMDR is also helping with the triggers I get from childhood. She is retiring from seeing patients (though not retiring) and two therapists are taking over her office. One does EMDR, the other CBT (Cognitive Based Therapy, the same thing the Feeling Good book covers) so I will likely at least give each of them a chance to help me. And the meditation. And then there’s CoDA, a 12-step support group I go to (for co-dependents). It’s amazing I have time to do anything else!

Okay, not really. And one thing I’m not doing at present is taking medication for my depression/anxiety. I’ve done it for 20 years; time to give these other methods a try.

I actually applied for two jobs on Craigslist this week, and ended up with two interview appointments. Weird. One is with a Japanese school – they teach Japanese to anyone who’s interested, but they also help Japanese students whose parents are here for business (usually a term of five years) keep up with kanji so they’re not behind when they return to Japan. But while they’re here, they need to learns a bit of English, and that’s what I’m interviewing for. Just part-time, 5-10 hours a week. I think this might work, because I’m also putting together a profile for Italki, an on-line language site. Then I’d have pretty flexible hours.

The other job is with a private high school (though the grades are from 7-12) which looks to be associated with a private international preschool and grade school. The students are generally Asian, maybe kids of Chinese immigrants who want their kids to get into the best US universities. It’s 18 hours a week, and those are spread out so it’s more like a full day. It looks like they want me to teach SAT and TOEFL prep courses in addition to general ESL. Not sure I can do that, but maybe I would just be an assistant to the man I saw on the website (unless he’s left and that’s why they’re looking for an ESL teacher.) If I did this job, I doubt I’d have time for much online tutoring, but it pays pretty well ($25/hr as compared with $14 for the other class). But again, I need to have positive in my life, and I’m not sure the atmosphere  on this campus would fit that particular bill. And there’s a school-year contact.

Only one way to find if either of these would be a good fit – and that’s why it’s called an Inter-view. We’ll be viewing each other.

These mini panic attacks aren’t helping either.

Revelation

I need positive input. Not much of a revelation, I admit, but for me, important. I have been giving myself negative input for so long, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be positive. This is important. I used to be a very positive person; at least I considered myself as such. But over the years, that’s turned negative. I need the positive.

Better to demand positivity. Is that a word? Spell check doesn’t think so, but the hell with that. It’s what I need; it’s what everyone needs, so it must be demanded. Even so, it must be demanded gently. No sense in being a bitch about wanting positive input, and, more importantly, it wouldn’t help.

But most important – I must demand it of myself. I find myself constantly berating myself about – everything, essentially. I am not perfect, but I try to be the best person I can be, so I need to be as forgiving of myself as I try to be of other people. At my best, I try to understand why someone does what they do, instead of judging them harshly. I need to do that for me to. After all, it’s good practice.

I shared some of my worries with my second daughter and felt better because of it. I need to keep doing this. I also did something I should have done sooner – told her how talented she was (only because she is 😉 ) and that she could achieve her goals.

What a small thing to do. And so easy. And now I need to do this for myself.

Parenting is hard. And then you die.

As you can see from the title, still feeling upbeat and cheery.So onto more parenthood joys.

Seeing a meme on FaceBook about parenting your children being most difficult after they’re grown really hit home. I’ve had four children, and I can easily remember many times of failure to be a good mother. No, nothing that would get me posted on the Child Protective Services website as an example not to follow; fairly mundane failures. Some worse than others. Not wanting to deal with a difficult child – my oldest, though if I remember hard enough, I can remember starting every day determined to be a good parent, and feeling spent and useless by the end of the day. Every day. He was a tough one. And I purposely distanced myself and my family from him because I believed that my younger children deserved protection from my oldest child. He would do really stupid things, like give them inappropriate  books (Game of Thrones for a ten year-old — that kind of stuff) or tell inappropriate jokes, as well as take advantage of others while he visited. But I could have tried harder.

He died, thankfully from natural, though not understood, causes. So now I no longer have the opportunity to make things right with him.Could I have done it? There’s no saying either way. But it’s something I have no hope of fixing. So I keep working on this Mindfulness thing to see if I can’t get a better perspective.

And my other children. Have I managed to cripple them with my over-protectiveness? First daughter has been in a relationship with someone who seems to have no goals except to make her happy. Not sure if that’s a great plan. It sure didn’t work for me. She seems happy only sporadically, and sometimes I think she’s with this guy because she believes that no one else would tolerate her moods. She is most like her father, who is much like his own mother, who seems to find the cloud in every silver lining.

She’s incredibly talented, smart as hell, and beautiful. But too thin; there’s something about that side of the family. Even she makes fun of her grandmother for only eating a half banana at a time, but she doesn’t even eat that. I worry about her, but I have no power. As far as her boyfriend, I can’t even make her admit he needs to wash his laundry more frequently. I’m afraid I’ll send her into a depression

And then I end up skirting one myself – damn.

 

MB something or other

Mindfulness Based “Let’s not feel like shit” practice. I’ve been doing it for several days, and I’m beginning to suspect it’s going to be like when I have a particularly painful and deep infection. It’s going to hurt like hell until it’s dealt with.

I really hope this is how it works. I don’t mind severe and intense pain if I know it will culminate in blessed relief. I seem to be remembering past goals and aspirations that I feel I’ve failed to accomplish. This is painful because I can’t redo parenthood, for instance.

I was determined my children would not have the childhood I had, that I would meet their needs and help them navigate through the continuing confusion of growing up. It was hard. I tried to balance giving my first daughter everything she needed while giving my second daughter the same. Giving 100% of myself to two people (forgetting husband all together; not a good idea) was impossible, but I did try. I wanted them both to be happy, and when their brother came along, I wanted to give him 100% too.

I set myself an impossible task, and I failed. and now I feel badly about it. And now I realize that trying to give anyone 100% of yourself leaves nothing for you. No wonder I feel so awful.

 

The many (too many) Faces of Depression

So here I am, still fighting what I know is a simple depressive episode. Feeling a bit better, really, possibly due to finally picking up one of the books my husband keeps buying. They seem to have helped him, and, in desperation, I grabbed his latest find, Full Catastrophe Living, reading the introduction before he mentioned that I might enjoy a slightly shorter book to start, The Mindful Way Through Depression. (Good call. The introduction alone is fifty pages.)  I think he’s right, although I plan to read both. Plus, the smaller book has an accompanying CD, which sounds promising. It revolves around MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) which makes total sense to me. I know that, over the years, I have forged pathways in my brain that lead straight to a depressive episode. Time to use science to short-circuit at least some of them.

Ironically, Pokemon Go has also helped me. No, I haven’t joined a team, but my husband tries to walk at night, and my son, who rarely leaves his room (And that bothers me, not him. He considers me to be quite the extrovert, which I am not, although compared to him, I guess I am.) Anyway, my husband, my son, and I have been walking the neighborhood (and even the library) so that he (my son) can find Pokemon. I’m not surprised that it’s been cited for helping some people help to lesson their depression; it’s a pleasant sensation seeing all the different types of people looking for the little buggers.

Of course, there are those who would distort it to wreak a bit of havoc. People.

So at present, I have a tenuous hold on placidity, which is good enough for now. If this MBSR stuff works, perhaps my children will make use of it.

And now to see if I can get up the courage (because my anxiety is another thing altogether) to call my mom to say “hi”. Ah, to clarify. This is my “other” mom; the one who was forced to relinquish me for adoption. I’ve known her (and accompanying family) for less than two years, but wow, it’s been a lovely feeling to interact with people who don’t treat me like an outsider.Weird, since technically I am.

New Normal?

At the moment, I choose to believe that this latest round of depression is simply the result of the stress I experienced last month in my CELTA course. Since I am still feeling the effects of both the food poisoning and the fall I took while I “recovered” from the course, I’m hoping this is a reasonable expectation, and not just an attempt to put off taking my meds.

I have nothing against taking needed medications. Presently, I am taking two medications for my asthma, which I will likely do for the rest of my life, at least until something better comes along. I am also taking a pill for high blood pressure, which I hope I won’t need forever, but that I will take until I don’t need it anymore.

I worry that won’t happen until my depression issues are resolved; but does that ever happen? I recently started taking Deplin, a methylfolate that my body, for whatever reason, doesn’t produce, or utilize, or something. Suffice to say I have a genetic glitch, and this is supposed to fill in the gap it causes. Since I started Deplin not long before I went to Mexico, I don’t know if it’s helped or hurt. It would be ironic if the Deplin made me feel worse, though I’m not sure how a vitamin could do that.

Prozac definitely pulls up the lows to make them bearable; unfortunately, it also fogs up my mind so that I can’t write. I’ve tried other meds; maybe it’s time to try again.

But I’ll wait a month before I consider this.

Back to so-called normal

I’m almost over the food poisoning I acquired in Mexico, although my elbow and arm are still hurting. The doctors aren’t sure whether it’s a soft tissue injury or an occluded break of the elbow; either way, it’s 6-8 weeks of recovery.  So no archery until the fall.

I started this blog with the beginning of the CELTA course I’ve miraculously passed (at least, after the experience, it seems like  a miracle), but I’m in it for the greater question – What am I doing here?  Just taking up space, another random grouping of cells that will eventually become another random grouping of cells? Or is there a purpose, a reason I’m at this moment and in this place?

And although I’ve been taught that imperfection is part of this existence, why these particular imperfections? I’m not talking about a tendency to talk too much, or my asthma – well, maybe that too. Mostly, why has the universe decided to lay the twins imperfection of depression and anxiety on me. Did I do something horrible in another life? Is it to teach me some sort of philosophy I wouldn’t be aware of otherwise?

Or is it because I grew up with an abusive mother, who herself was abused. And is there some sort of higher power that wished this upon me? If so, I’m not understanding this existence thing at all. It’s like, “Life if suffering, and then you die.” Really, there should be a point to all of this. Shouldn’t there?

And yet, there are die-hard atheists who live perfectly happy lives, believing that when they die, that will be it, forever and ever, amen.

Ironically, when I try to think logically about this whole universe in existence thing, it seems to me that there’s more to our microscopic existence than meets the eye. Logically speaking, that is.

 

Back in the States

Before I left for Mexico, five weeks ago, our neighbors came around with a release form so they could build an addition to their house that was not standard. Since the addition was on the other neighbor’s side — and they had signed off – we did too.  Funny how they forgot to mention they were also adding a pool – on our side, the other being taken up by the addition. So at 8AM the pounding started. These neighbors have come over several times, complaining about our cat sitting on their lawn furniture (for those of you who believe cats should only be indoors, he was a stray and he wasn’t putting up with that crap) and had their gardeners put their pots (giant pots) in front of our gate, making it unusable. So I am not sympathetic.  Since they also complained to the neighbors on their other side about their bushes having berries their kids might eat (these kids are like eight years old. Give me a break) I suspect they are not really into the whole “let’s work together” thing.

But yesterday we had our nephews (and grand-niece) and daughters’ boyfriends over for a 4th of July cookout. It was nice to see them, and it was especially nice to have my own bathroom (still haven’t completely recovered from Mexico)

So what do I write about now? What am I doing here was not just about Mexico, although it was a way to start. That question has a bigger meaning for me. So brain squiggles are on the horizon.