Sunday, January 16, 2022

A Neurodivergent Sunrise

Every day has it's sweet spot.  A fleeting instant that catches your eye and your breath at the same time.  An ordinary moment that feels like a miracle.  The problem is that most of us are too busy or absorbed in the difficulties of every day life, that we miss them.  But this morning, I caught it, and I'd like to share.

Before I continue, I'm compelled to say that I often wonder how many people have similar moments, and don't share them?  Maybe out of fear of judgement or shame for finding something so ordinary breathtaking?  That's why I keep most of these to myself.  In my head, I hear the voice of a well-meaning relative saying "she has too much time on her hands".  It was in response to a little family update letter I had sent with a Christmas card 19 years ago. As a new mom, I felt like I finally had something important enough to talk about, and wasted no time in doing so.  But that statement eliminated the joy of my intentions, and repeats in my head whenever I want to write about things like this.

Now back to the point.

This morning, I caught the day's sweet spot.  It was uncharacteristically quiet in the house.  The animals, kids, and hubby were all sound asleep.  I stood at the kitchen window, waiting for my cup of coffee to finish brewing, and that's when I saw it.  The orangey-yellow sunrise shedding light on the glittery frost that covered every single surface of the backyard.  I didn't see the grass in need of mowing, or the trellis that fell over in a windstorm that needs to be fixed.  I saw sweetness and simplicity and calm and home.  My home.  Imperfect, disordered, and slightly damaged, yet beautiful.

I snapped a picture, and wondered quietly if it would actually capture the scene as my mind did.  (Spoiler alert: of course it didn't.)  My breath caught, unable to pass the lump in my throat. My eyes welled slightly with tears.  It was the peace in those few minutes that hit me square in the jaw.  

As with all things, time marched on and I was pulled back to reality.  I poured creamer in my coffee, and took another peak out the window to try to recapture the magic.  It was gone, and so I went about the rest of my morning.  Business as usual.

I'm posting this not to sound like some philosophical 21st century Thoreau-type suburbanite on a journey of enlightenment.  If you know me in real life, you know that's hardly my vibe.  (Bitch, I'm just trying to get through each day!)  I'm writing this because surely I'm not the only person who is blown away by mundane things?!?  I can't be. So I guess you could say this is my attempt at normalizing our shared weirdness by exposing mine.

Hi, my name is Trish, and sometimes the sunrise and a messy backyard heals my soul a little.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Cracked and Glued

Random things trigger memories and sometimes the best way to make it make sense is to write it out.  That happened today and now I have a story to tell, but I need to preface this with a very important point: I do not share these stories for sympathy or attention.  My past is a part of what makes me who I am; the good, bad, and ugly.  I feel like I understand people better when I hear their stories, and that's what I hope for when I tell mine.  So please keep that in mind if you choose to read further.

When I was moving my Mom into residential care, she had a storage unit full of stuff, and she gave me the task of clearing it out.  I brought it all to my house and had her go through it to decide what to keep and what to sell or donate.  Of the sell/donate items, I was given her blessing to keep what I wanted, so I did.  What little I chose to keep immediately got tucked away in my bedroom closet, or stored in the catch-all spot in our media room, and forgotten.  The latter happens to be the place where my son found the item that triggered this post.

I recall this cloche vividly, though I was never particularly fond of it as a child.  It sat near the TV in every house we lived in since the mid-to-late 80s.  I'm not entirely sure why I kept it at the time, but I can guess it had something to do with it being a tangible piece of my childhood, which is a pretty rare thing.  Most material possessions or keepsakes have long since been lost or tossed.  

My son carried it to me today, asking why it's empty and if we can put food in it.  I tried to explain that's not what it is used for, that it's just for decoration, and then took it out of his hands to put it away.  As my palm landed on one of the cracks in the lid, my mind raced backward to a time when it wasn't cracked.  I thought back to when it was in pristine condition, and was one of my Mom's most prized pieces of decor.  No matter how many places we moved into, it always sat proudly on a shelf on the entertainment center with a doily underneath.  I assume it was a gift from my Grandma Wilson because one of her poems is written inside.  And I can assume it was a wedding or anniversary gift, based on the content of the poem.

If I think back to when it was whole, I'm also immediately reminded of it being thrown in the midst of one of my Mom and her husband's explosive fights, and the crashing sound it made when it hit the ground.  That single memory conjures up countless others. I remember how they'd fight and how I'd silently gauge their tones in anticipation for how it would escalate.  I got very good at predicting when the yelling was about to turn into smashing up the house, and when that would turn into physical violence.  I'm reminded of how myself, and sometimes my brother, would cautiously and quietly help pick up whatever got broken, trying so hard not to be seen as we erased all evidence of what just happened. I remember being extremely aware of my face, knowing that any sideways glances or furrowed brows could cause either of them to feel guilt and would reignite the fire, but direct it right at me.  It felt like walking a tightrope.  

After the lid of the cloche was glued back together, my Mom adjusted how she displayed it so that the cracks were off to the side, making them less obvious.  She didn't want anyone to see the brokenness of the decor, or of our family.  After a certain amount of time, she couldn't hide either, but she always tried.  To this day, she won't admit to anything unless it's to paint herself as the valiant protector of her children against a tyrannical husband.  The truth is, she didn't do anything to protect us. She taught us to hide the cracks, and pretend as if everything wasn't being precariously held together by super glue. 

In spite of the bad memories, I guess I kept this piece of decor because it is a stark reminder of what I grew up in vs where I am now.  When I look at the haphazard way it was put back together, I marvel at how something that was once in pieces on the floor of a trailer has managed to remain intact for decades.  I can profoundly relate to that. We've both been broken, and could have easily stayed that way; exposing our sharp edges and cutting anyone who dared to touch us.  The fact that my kids won't ever witness a tempestuous fight, or be left to pick up shattered pieces of household decor, is a testament to my own healing.  I've got a long way to go, even at 40, but I'm holding it together.  Me and my cloche.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Catch and Release

Motherhood is such a strange and torturous thing.  You literally grow a human being inside your own body, experience the worst pain to bring them into the world, pour every ounce of energy into raising them, only to have them eventually start a completely independent existence.  If you're lucky, that existence will be adjacent to your own, with varying degrees of attachment, but still very much separate.

Like all parents, we know the day will come when our child will be a legal adult, and will no longer depend on us in the way they had up to that point. It's this invisible, intangible finish line that they will reach sometime after they turn 18.  All the years leading up to that moment are a roller coaster in the best and worst ways.  So much information, so many skills, so much love needs to be instilled in this being, and even if you had infinite time, it wouldn't be quite enough to give you total peace.  But time marches on and you hope you provided all of the care they will need to be happy and healthy and successful at meeting the challenges they're about to face.  No matter how many times you thought "damn, why can't they grow up and move out already?!", the game changes completely when they finally do.

Yesterday was the big day for my very first baby.  While I have been relatively prepared for it to come, there was an internal list I had been keeping of all the things that needed to happen first.  However, my list really is just mine, and my very first baby decided she was ready now.  My list sits unchecked and I'm grieving that, as I also feel what I imagine is the typical sadness and nostalgia that comes with an emptying nest.  The sadness, the anger, the disappointment, the has all mixed together into this heavy sludge that feels like it's pouring into my lungs and stealing all the air.  Maybe that's just the tears, which were plentiful and painful last night, anticipating that moment when she'd get in her car and pull out of our driveway.  

There is so much I wanted to say and do, but I just lay in my bed, paralyzed by all the emotions.  The deep sobs wracked my body and I swear I cried an ocean.  I heard her singing to herself as she was packing, and the realization that this would no longer be a daily occurrence hit me like a speeding freight train. And I sobbed harder.  My unchecked internal list screamed inside my brain.  She hasn't graduated. She doesn't have a real place to live. She'll be so far away. We don't get to have a proper send-off.  I cannot emphasize enough the grief of losing all of these opportunities and being powerless to change it.

After a broken night's sleep, I woke up with red, puffy eyes and a gaping wound on my heart.  I went through the motions of getting ready for work.  I cried in the car on the way to the office, and then put every bit of myself into focusing on the tasks in front of me.  After several hours alternating between ignoring the pain and marinating in it, I knew I needed to write. It's the only way I can drain the sludge and start to breathe again.

I know that this is something most parents experience and that time will make it easier. I know that the end of one era is just the beginning of a new one. Logic reminds me that each phase of life comes with growing pains, and this is certainly no exception.  The relationship my daughter and I have is not ending; it's under construction.  We're creating room for what is to come.  But I also just need time to sit in these feelings for a minute, to mourn my child's childhood, before I can be completely happy for her adulthood. She isn't mine to keep.  The memories of late night feedings, field trip chaperoning, bedtime snuggles are what I can hold tight.  All the rest has to be released.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Weight of Failure

I made a goal, I reached it, and I was still unhappy.  I still felt uncomfortable in my skin and tangled in thoughts of hatred and self-loathing. That was pre-covid.

The beginning of last spring, when we were first given the stay-at-home orders, was pretty great. The pressure to go and do and be all the things was lifted from my shoulders.  Justin and I watched a lot of shows and ate a lot of take-out because we were staying home, staying safe, and helping small business, of course.  It wasn't until right before summer that the joy of staying home began to change. My mental health, which is a powder-keg on a good day, teetered into a downward spiral the likes of which I've never experienced.  And that is saying a lot because shit was intense in my late teens/early twenties.  

As my mind started declining, my body mass began increasing.  At first, I brushed it off because we were in "the apocalypse" and who has time to care about health when the world is on fire?! I don't even know when I hit the point where I couldn't hide it anymore, but I can tell you that when the realization hit me, in my already precarious state of mind, I gave up. I gave up caring and started getting self-destructive.  Binge eating, not getting outside to walk, drinking every day, and not reaching out to anyone.  

Here is the absolute truth: I look at myself  and I feel like an utter failure. My outward appearance is a physical manifestation of what is happening inside. I really fooled myself into believing I had healed my relationship with who I am as a person and with food.  But the reality is that I hadn't. I had just learned to fake it enough to lose some weight, wear a smile and some better clothes, and pretend I was well.  I didn't fix the root of the issue so of course it resurfaced with barely any resistance. Healing is a journey, not a destination.  There is no magical finish line where everything is effortlessly perfect.  Healing is a verb.  I thought if I did X, Y, and Z, and hit that ever-elusive "perfect" number on the scale, that would be it. All the past trauma, all the self-esteem issues, all the internal self-abuse would evaporate into the ether.  

Spoiler alert: it didn't.

I still don't care about myself and therefore don't take care of myself.  Not on the inside or the outside. I just slide down my slippery slope, feeling powerless and numb. Meanwhile, my inner voice is relentless.  RELENTLESS.  I ping-pong back and forth between "fuck it, who cares" and "you're a weak piece of shit and know you should be doing better".  Every meal is a battle.  Every. Single. One.  When I was "doing good" aka going through the motions, I ignored the fact that what needed my attention wasn't my waistline.  It's easy to change your outward appearance compared to what it takes to change your mindset.  I'm good at hating myself.  It's easy. It's familiar. It's hard to unlearn that.  Even though it hurts, it's a hurt that I'm used to feeling.  

These things on their own are difficult enough to navigate that I'm not even going to attempt to articulate the added pressure of trying to be well enough to not pass this nonsense on to my children.  Motherhood brings with it a responsibility to do better and be better.  Not perfect, but better.  Better than my own childhood, better than my mental struggles, better than my insecurities and biases.  My poor, poor kids.  If they had any clue how sorry I am that I'm not the Mom they deserve....

All of that to say this: I suck. I'm lost and struggling. I don't know what "getting better" looks like. I've given up for the moment. Not to the point of hurting myself, but to the point of feeling like I'm just biding my time until the end.  

Monday, September 2, 2019

The Finish Line

It was a random day in mid-July when I hit my weight loss "finish line". I've towed that line for the last 2 months, with the typical 0-3 lb fluctuation, depending on the day, how much sodium I've consumed, whether I pooped, etc.  You know, sexy stuff.  I truly expected to be more proud of the accomplishment, but I've really just felt let down by it.  Not let down by myself, because I slayed a goal and I'm insanely proud of that. I'm let down by the fact that I've conquered a physical change, but all the insecurities and frustrations are still there.  I still hate my face.  I still see the mid-section pudge protruding through my high-wasted mom jeans. And now I also see deflated boobs (which used to be one of my best features), and a flapjack ass.  I'm older now, so I'm noticing old lady skin spots and my thick, frizzy hair is OUT OF CONTROL.  I can't hide behind the chub anymore, so I have to face all of these things and somehow learn to love them.  How do you do that?!

My husband has told me no less than a thousand times that he wishes I could see myself through his eyes.  He doesn't understand how much I wish I could, too.  I don't want to feel ugly and insecure and disgusted by my reflection.  I want to love that girl.  She deserves to be loved and I'm the only person who can love her the way she needs to be loved.  She has friends who love her.  She has a husband who loves her.  She has children who love her (most of the time).  She needs to look herself in the face and be cool with who is staring back.  To look deep into those hazel eyes and see all the brokenness she has fixed and all the ways she is strong and amazing and one of a kind.  Instead, I see that girl in the mirror and immediately avert my eyes b/c if I spend any time looking, I find all of the things wrong with her.  She's nothing special.  She's a teensy fish in a really big pond. No talents, no gifts to make the world a better place.  She's a terrible mom with a broken brain. How could I possibly love someone I hate?

There's this huge self-care, self-love movement happening all around.  It's in the news and on social media. Everyone tells you that you need to learn to love yourself, but I have yet to see a step-by-step tutorial on how to do that.  No one has ever shown me how it is done.  I wasn't born thinking I'm awesome.  When I say I'm awesome, it's usually sarcasm.  How does one find self-worth when they have lived 39 years without it?  I need tangible, real-life advice and steps to follow.  You can't just tell me to love myself and not explain how.  I DON'T KNOW HOW!!!!!

I knew a smaller body wouldn't be the magical fix for all my confidence issues.  I guess I just expected that the amount of pride I'd feel in accomplishing something would boost me up and that might lead to the next boost and the next one, until I'm riding a domino wave all the way to this enlightened state where I unapologetically love myself.  That didn't happen, though.  I hit my goal, and then sunk into one of the deepest depressions I've ever experienced.  There have been peaks out of the fog, but mostly I've spent 2 months wishing I didn't exist at all because being a human hurts. 

As I navigate this weird state of being, I wonder if I haven't figured this whole thing out by now, will it ever end?  Is this my usual seasonal birthday depression hitting, or is this just who I am meant to be? Should I settle in with a fluffy blanket and a nice hot cup of coffee and get comfy here? Accept that I'm not the person who will ever be secure with myself?  I mean, what the hell else can I possibly do that I haven't done already?! 

And this, my friends, is what it feels like at the finish line.  My advice is to run the other way.  It's not all it's cracked up to be here.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

What's New Pussycat?

A blog post every 6 months is totally enough to keep follower engaged, right?!  *cue rolling tumbleweed*

Day to day life is pretty busy, but more than that, I've really been lacking inspiration and motivation when it comes to writing.  This is new territory for me b/c writing is my "thang".  To be completely honest, motherhood is sucking the life right outta me.  And I mean that in the best and worst possible way.  (If you have kids, you know what I'm talkin' 'bout.)  My 3 kids consume every waking hour and that leaves so little energy to put into stringing semi-complete sentences together in a way that makes sense to other humans.  There's the metaphor folks like to throw around about self-care being the equivolent of filling an empty cup. Let's just say that my cup is not only empty, but is gathering dust and cobwebs.  So the idea of doing more than what I do already is unappealing and damn near impossible.

That being said, I felt moved to pop over to this here bloggy-blog and post.  Since it's not something I've given much effort in several months, I thought it wise to grab this moment by the balls.

First order of business is the obligatory update.  The most newsworthy happening since my last post has been my health journey (God, I really hate that term.  But I lack a better one, so I'm rolling with it...and puking in my mouth a little every time I use it.)  I'm 52 lbs down since March 2018, with a measly and stubborn 12 lbs until I can transition from weight loss to maintenance mode.  Something I'm extremely excited for, but feels just out of reach. The first question every person has if they haven't seen me in awhile is "how did you do it"?  If you're not a FB friend, then this will be new info. If you are a FB friend, this is old news and you probably want to skip over this paragraph.  Here's the magical trick: eat healthy and move your ass.  That's it. I use SparkPeople to track my calories and macros and until recently kept my daily calorie count between 1500-1800.  In an effort to break a nearly 2 month plateau, I am reducing my calories to 1300.  Once I reach my goal weight of 130 lbs, I'll gradually increase my calories to 1800-2000 per day and truthfully, I'll probably slack off of the food tracking and just keep making good choices.  I also walk or dance between 30-100 minutes as a form of "working out".  I do this 5-7 days per week because it's fun and keeps my stress levels slighly in check. I've recently added in some strength training stuff to get some booty gains.  Nothing wild and crazy; just squats and these torturous things called "fire hydrants".  None of this is going to change when I hit my goal weight.  My body likes to be in motion.

I am still working for the same company, working from home so that I can be with my kiddos.  It's a blessing and can be really freaking hard, too.  But I love it and wouldn't change it for the world.  I'm on my 2nd year as a board member for Labrys Society.  Last year I was just a plain ole' board member, but this year I'm the Secretary.  Or Madame Secretary, as I like to be addressed.  It makes me want to wear pencil skirts and pointy glasses.  The role doesn't bring with it much change from last year, except I have to be better at taking notes during the monthly meetings and then type them up and email them to the rest of the board.  And it puts me up close with a rotating cast of drag queens and kings, while raising funds for local non-profits.  It's pretty much the coolest thing in the world.

The hubs and I also became the new owners of a mobile movie business where we rent out a 12 foot tall inflatable screen and projector so people can host outdoor movie nights.  I don't anticipate that business will bring in much income, but it is a fun side hustle and is very closely related to our original dream of one day owning a video rental store. 

In other news, we're 47 days away from our first big vacation in YEARS!!  The 5 of us will be loading up in the family truckster aka Duncan Highlander and will be driving down for a full week of fun in Anaheim, CA.  We're doing Disneyland and Universal with 3 kids.  So thoughts and prayers are appreciated.

Back to my original train of thought re: my absence from blog-land, I have some words to share.  My blog reads very much like a diary.  This is where I come to dump my thoughts in the most eloquent way I know how.  It isn't a popular style of blogging in the grand scheme of things, but it's what works for me.  I have gotten more entrenched in Insta life and follow several local Mom bloggers.  These are women who are way cooler than me (not a high standard to live up to), and their blogs are prettier and more topic-centric.  For awhile I thought about scrapping this blog and trying to go for something that would garner a stronger following.  Something more "professional" and less personal.  Maybe even something that could bring in a small source of income.  That idea sent me into a spiral of anxiety because it meant that I would have to be able to come up with real content, make a presence on social media, and be dilligent.  It would become work and bring with it a whole slew of new ways to fail. 

Don't get me wrong: I'm all for reaching new goals, breaking out of comfort zones, and trying something new.  That is AWESOME.  I am just not there yet.  I'm not in a place where I can plan and post relevent content.  I am not in a place where what I experience or have to say would appeal to many people.  I have to come to terms with this fact and be okay with it, because while part of me wants to jump up on that bandwagon, another part of me feels like it's overdone and will be another passing fad by the time I get started.  I'm always a day late and a dollar short when it comes to trends and I don't necessarily feel called to use my writing skills in that way.  I do know I want to eventually do more than post my diary online for 80-100 people to read and I want to post more often.  Right now, though, I don't know what that looks like for me.  My family, work, and gypsy volunteerism consumes me.  Maybe I need to rearrange; or maybe I need to sit in this season and enjoy it until it passes and I have more freedom to pursue something solely for myself.  I can't really tell yet how this will all pan out.  In the meantime, I do plan to make more of an effort to post here, even if it's more journalling than anything else.  I hope you will keep reading, and I think it would be grand if a few new people stumbled their way over here and found something I said inspiring or interesting, or even funny.  And if anything changes and I discover my passion and the way to bring it out in some creative way, you know I'll share that here, too, because oversharing is also my "thang".

Thursday, September 6, 2018

The anti-birthday argument

In the last year, I decided that while I have no issues with aging, I don't see the point in acknowledging or celebrating my actual birthday.  It used to be something I looked forward to, but inevitably that excitement would be dashed by an unfortunate reminder that I am not terribly special to the people who are most special to me.  I was used to disappointing birthdays as a child, but I assumed that as I got older it would get better. I could throw my own parties and people would join in celebration.  That did happen on occasion, but it was marred by years when one or another of my parents would forget, or my hubs and I would argue, or my kids would be buttheads, or a good friend would be MIA.  After awhile, it stopped being fun and started becoming a trigger to an annual bout of depression.  Thus, I declared that this year we would treat "my" day as any other.  No expectations of special treatment, no free coffees from Dutch Bros, no well wishes.  Pretend it is just a regular day, because it is.

At this point, I can sense all the eye rolls.  I can feel the judgement from folks who think this is a ploy for attention or a woe-is-me moment that will pass when I'm feeling better.  To that, I say: FUCK YOU.  I genuinely prefer to age without a designated day where people feel obligated to say nice things to me or give me gifts.  It all makes me uncomfortable.  Yes, part of it is rooted in a history of let-downs and sadness, but that's a minute portion.  I have also had some incredible celebrations that I hold near and dear to my heart and remember fondly.  I honestly just don't see the point in having a birthday.  I am still going to age.  It's not like I am trying to deny that fact, or even impede it in any way.  Each year I get to experience life at a new level.  This year, I'm on level 38.

In all my level 38 wisdom, I can see that a lot of folks wish others a happy birthday out of obligation and not out of honest-to-goodness affection.  It is a chore.  Something we do because we feel bad if we don't.  My feeling is that if I am loved, love me every day.  If I am appreciated, appreciate me every day.  Or at least, in the moment.  Don't wait for a set date to give me some half-assed clap on the back.  Tell me when you feel compelled to; not when you're forced.  This holds especially true for those who can't be bothered to say hello any other day of the year, but then pop out of their rabbit hole for a quick, empty congratulatory statement before retreating back into their regular life.  It feels gross and I want no part of it.

So call it whatever you want.  Judge it and pick it apart and make jokes.  Ignore my request and brush it off as if it's just a part of the dark and twisty funk I have found myself in these past few months.  I can't control how you react; I can only state how I feel and hope that those who truly care for me will be supportive. 

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