Respect the Heart Shell

I returned from vacation at 2 am Tuesday morning.  What a shock to go back to work Wednesday – the contrast of being outside hiking in the woods daily in North Carolina, with now being in my windowless office – is deep.

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During the trip, and a short time prior, I was beginning to work on my opening my heart.  Sounds cheesy, trust me I know.  I have been emotionally numb and stuck for a long time and have recently wanted that to change for various reasons.  I started looking for something – a book, a group – anything to help.  What showed up was a class on opening the heart, which I signed up for and attended a few days before my trip.  Nothing striking there, but it began a slightly different thought process.  Since returning I have noticed that perhaps focusing on my heart has moved something, just a little.  Being in the green lush mountains has healed, perhaps a smidge.  The thing I’ve really come to understand is that my heart is encased in a hard shell for a reason – when it’s ready to crack it will.  When I heal and am ready to move forward, I will.

I haven’t talked to my kids for awhile – and really don’t feel a thing about that.  I have not made any attempt to repair my relationship with my mother – and am not sure it’s my job.  I do not have any contact with my family right now – feels fine.  Nice actually – no guilt trips.  I believe I’ll  just sit here awhile.

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Mother’s Day Etiquette

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Oh mother’s day.  What the hell are you?  A day to recognize that mothers exist?  A day to go over to mom’s and hang out while she cooks and cleans up after us?  Buy flowers? Stupid pointless cards that cost five freaking dollars that don’t fit the nature of your relationship – because let’s just be honest, no one has that kind of relationship with their mother (fluffy, pink, sweet, light of my life shit).  I’d really rather have the option of buying a card that says something like “This is a really awkward day and I don’t like to hang out with you but I’m supposed to do something so here”.  I’d buy that.

Then there’s the I’m a mother and it’s mother’s day situation.  Does age trump number of kids?  Do we always have to defer to our mothers before we take a freaking day to do nothing – including mother?  Do I get to opt out as a mother’s day recipient?  You really want to give me something? Well how about  leave me the feck alone for a day!

What about grandmothers and aunts?   Why are all the cards out there for them if they aren’t our MOTHERS!  Where does it stop people?  Can we please just stop the insanity of having to fake it through another goddamn holiday thing that we have to celebrate because it’s what we do, regardless of reality or beliefs, or lack of religion etc.  I am not a Christian but I’m expected to celebrate easter and Christmas.  I don’t believe the story of Thanksgiving, but I am required to go eat and be thankful for something.  Father’s day, grandparent’s day, blah blah blah.  Let’s just call them all by what they are: Painful Relationships Awareness Day.  Let’s at least be honest about it and forgive each other for being less than we’d hoped for, lower the expectations, accept reality and go see a movie alone, or at least with people we choose to be around because we honestly like them.

Things I’ve Noticed Today…

  • Thick lotion is almost impossible to get out of a bottle.
  • I’ve gained a few pounds.
  • I will lose hair everyday, all day, forever, but it will mostly be found on the bathroom floor when my feet are wet.
  • I hate my clothes.
  • My boyfriend takes up most the bed and for some reason that doesn’t bother me in the least.
  • My neck hurts.
  • I don’t like most HR people, they’re bubbly.
  • I don’t like most people, they’re bubbly.
  • My mom pisses me off.
  • My mom will likely never be able to critically think about anything, least of all me.
  • Other people agree with me, unless of course they’re lying.
  • My neck hurts.
  • Little food has many calories.
  • I’m not like most people I know.
  • I don’t like my job right now.
  • Calluses make you stronger.
  • Chewing gum loses its flavour in about 20 minutes.

Dear My Mom,

Just when I think you’ve undermined my parental authority to the furthest extent humanly possible, you surpass yourself flying mid-air. Let me just explain some things you might have missed during our recent conversations. I’ll try to be brief, as I’m sure you have my kids to coddle, make excuses for, buy things for, pick up, drive around, challenge my authority with, baby, and feed (because apparently there is no food in my house). Aren’t you sick of this yet? I sure am.

Here are a few points I would like you to take in- just take them in and let them move around inside you for awhile until you become aware of their existence. Then you might begin to think about something other than pleasing your husband, God and everyone else – with the exception of me of course, which I’ve not come to understand yet. I’ll work on that next, when I’m done fighting you off my kids.

  • There are reasons we aren’t close, many of which you have not ever begun to consider
  • You are NOT my kids mom, that’s me, remember?
  • Your opinion of anything does not supersede mine, I don’t give a rats ass how old you are, you sure haven’t lived long
  • I’m in charge of my daughter and son, you’re in charge of church and yourself
  • When you tell my daughter my opinion, rules, approach, and really all that I am – is wrong and you actually ignore me and do what you want for and/or with my daughter, you’re creating an impossible situation for us all. I believe it’s called “Triangulation”.
  • If you continue to rescue my daughter from her rules at my house, she will be living at your house, permanently
  • You are teaching her how to manipulate and underhandedly cheat in relationships. Not okay.
  • YOU fucking need boundaries
  • YOU fucking need self-awareness
  • YOU fucking need a life

 

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That’s Just About Enough

I’ve had it up to here, where ever that is.  My blood has been replaced with searing rage and is coursing through my veins at a pace that is near dangerous, though to whom I’m not sure.  I’m always surprised when I can move from one emotion to another – on the opposite end of the spectrum – in 8 hours.  Sleep does a body good, or puts loved ones in danger – it’s yet to be determined.

I actually felt compassion for my daughter last night when she said she was too sad to go to work or school and needed my support.  I almost regretted that I told her she had to go apply for jobs all day at the mall while I was at work instead of sitting on the couch watching movies, eating food and texting me that there was no food.  That is until the C-word was used in reference to my expectations of her which were “insane”.  Enough.  I’m done.  I have no empathy or room for your mouth, needs, wants or sadness anymore.  Let me explain that when you are supporting yourself there is no place for “depression”, being too sad and upset to “do life”.  And I don’t give a rats ass anymore.  You work or you die.  I will no longer be intervening.  Simple as that.  I know about depression and sadness, I really do.  It sucks and it makes life questionable.  But honey, there are times it’s a luxury to be depressed and now is not one of those for you.  E. Nough.

Dear Kids,

You’re fucked.  Both of you.  Seriously.  I’d really like to know what you’re little broken brains are thinking, if that’s what they are even doing. Are you able to imagine what life will be like for you in five minutes after this meal is over and you don’t have means or a plan for getting the next?  You have no idea how hard it is out there just to live, pay rent, buy food, put gas in the car (if you’re lucky enough to have a car).  The way I want to help you is to teach you how to work hard, but that’s backfired and you hate me.

I know, I’m mostly to blame for most all your issues, and I accept that with little to no argument otherwise.  I’ve been an ass.  A mean awful mother at times.  I imagine this is some kind of revenge, and although you have no idea, it’s about the worst kind.  Ouch.  When you are both falling flat on your face it’s hard to look in the mirror.  Though you forget, I also took care of you, fed you, clothed you, read to you and loved you in the best way I could and knew how.

Now I’ve read books, taken classes, gotten degrees and work in the field of families for Christ’s sake, but none of that changes history.  None of that can change my history.  We are all right where we are.  Past and present.  Fortunately our future is not yet determined.  Fortunately for you.  I’m going to attempt to regroup somehow, work on how to lovingly detach and give detached love.  Right now that looks like me spewing anger and impossible questions your way, but I’ll work on it.  That’s all I can do.

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Crooked Starts

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Its mid October, 1995 and we are driving to the hospital at 7 in the morning for the scheduled induced delivery of our twins.  I’m 16 and my boyfriend is 18. Orange and red leaves pepper the view as we drive on a single lane highway toward the hospital, thinking we should really reschedule.  I wasn’t exactly in the mood to be a mother today.  Tomorrow or next week would be better, just not today.  The reality began to hit.  I couldn’t figure it out; why it had taken this long (37 weeks to be exact) to realize what was about to happen could not be undone.   How leaves could fall and look just like they had every other year when everything in my whole world was unfamiliar? I say none of this to my boyfriend, as we sit in silence, each trying to swallow our own pill and somewhat forgetting about the other, something that would continue for years to come.

This whole debacle had started a little less than 9 months ago, though which time exactly I cannot be sure.  Was it in the living room floor at my dad’s house that night we stayed up late and dad was snoring heavily from his bedroom upstairs?  Or maybe it was in his brothers truck parked in the driveway after I finished babysitting for my friends’ kids.  Had I been drunk or sober? There were really too many possibilities to narrow down the moment of conception and really what did it matter.  I was pregnant, of that there was no mistaking.

As we drove I kept having flashbacks to key moments that I wished I could change.  First was the day I realized I had missed two days of birth control pills while standing in the grocery store parking lot talking to my boyfriend while he was on a break from work. Strike one.  Second was the morning I was sitting on the toilet at my dads house remembering a dream I’d just had that I was pregnant with a boy. That was the first time I actually knew, less because of the dream and more because I felt it in my bones.  Third was later that same day with my best friend, Kim.  We had been driving on back gravel roads after school smoking a joint and blaring the radio for a couple hours before I got the courage up to mention that I wanted to buy a pregnancy test.  She almost wrecked.  I explained I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t, you know, to ease my mind.  We decided to drive to the next town over to get the test, as we knew to many people in the  tiny town and someone would almost certainly recognize us and spread the word that one or both of us was a slutty whore.  CVS had a special on Clear-blue that day; buy one get one free.  Ironic.  We drove back to our small town teenage arcade/pizza place hangout and I took the tests in the bathroom, holding up everyone’s peeing very discreetly.  Both were positive.  We sat in her Chevy Blazer in the parking lot staring out the window for a while.  Some random faceless friend came up to the passenger side and asked me for a smoke.  I gave him my whole pack of Winston Lights, stating I wouldn’t be smoking anymore.  I suppose that said a lot, but I missed it at the time.

Weeks escaped as I came to numerous temporary conclusions.  First was the abortion I was going to have with Kim’s money in a nearby state whose laws allowed such a procedure without parental consent.  After scheduling it I no-showed; instincts kicking in telling me it was a waste of gas and time because I would never go through with it.  Then adoption.  I had a close friend who enthusiastically explained her parents knew a couple that were looking to adopt and would be thrilled.  I suddenly felt like the human equivalent of a puppy mill, wondering briefly if I could make some money out of the deal before pooh-poohing that because I knew I couldn’t live in the same town as my kid without it being my kid; even I had a line.   At this point the lovely assortment of choices were dwindling.

To say it was difficult telling my parents would be the equivalent of saying it was challenging to chew off my own leg.  My parents were divorced so I started with the non custodial version, my mom.  She was depressed after their recent divorce and our long and tumultuous falling out, and so was eager to have a revised reason for living.  “You’re going to keep it and we’ll raise it and it will be wonderful” she said.  Or some such bullshit.  She might as well have said “I am so lonely and uninteresting I’d rather sacrifice you and raise my grandchild than continue on in my meager existence”.  My dad was the scarily quiet version of angry.  He calmly mentioned that technically what “we had done” was statutory rape and he was considering pressing charges against my boyfriend.  Ultimately he had no control, which I’m fairly sure he knew at the time but was enjoying the look on our faces while considering what the requirements of “grandpa” meant for him.

Forward one month and I’m laying on a hospital bed with my now tightly fitting jeans pulled down mid thigh having an ultrasound to determine approximate gestation.  Shortly after placing the device on my lubed stomach, the tech inhaled in surprise.  I asked what was wrong, imagining an alien or two headed monkey I would have to parade in public.  She immediately left the room asking in passing if I minded that she brought in interns to view the procedure.  I hadn’t even responded by the time she returned with 5 curious lab coats ogling at the monitor.  “And this…”, she said while I held my breath, “is what fraternal twins look like in an ultrasound”.

My reaction now would be different.  Then I was excited, thinking how unique and original this was.  I called all the usual important people and explained what a miraculous thing my body had done.  I remember being concerned that everyone’s reaction was somewhat confused.  Did this mean I too should be confused?  Yes, it did, but I was not; I was entertained.  The next several months involved morning sickness, trying to retain my adolescent friendships, worry, and arguments with my lying drunk boyfriend and fear.  I was more alone with child (ren) than I could have ever imagined possible.  I never considered the future beyond buying enough diapers.  My brain did not have the capacity.  Apparently neither did anyone else’s.

Eight months and some days later I was laying in a hospital bed, gowned and ready to go.  After the doctor pierced my water sack labor started.  Shortly before I received an epidural to numb me from the waist down, my dream come true.  I had heard that after a certain level of dilation the procedure would not be possible. The only hitch was that by the time I needed to push for delivery it had worn off.  The nurses assured me it would be fine and that by the way there was nothing they could do as the babies were coming.  Somewhere in the middle of the 8 hours of pushing, my boyfriend suggested I should just push harder, as it obviously wasn’t working and he was hungry and tired.  This should have been clue number 4011 that he less than ideal.   It was, but I was more or less tied down and couldn’t appropriately respond.

Everything came out alright.  More or less.  Both babies were healthy and fairly happy.  I was exhausted and scared and felt like I was in a parallel universe in which there was no escape button.  Becoming a parent for the first time is not adequately described in words.  The love is crazy and makes no sense.  All of the sudden you feel willing to do anything to alleviate pain for a stranger, or in my case two.  Anything.  Every known “normal” in your world becomes new viewed through the filter of parenthood.  It all changes permanently and completely.  You now live in a different place.  One where you are not the most important person in your life anymore.  I both resented it and succumbed to it helplessly.

The drive home from the hospital was eternally different than the drive there.  I rode in the back sitting between two tiny car seats to ensure both 5lb babies heads didn’t wobble too much, potentially causing permanent damage and embarrassment.  The awareness of what could happen and my responsibility of keeping it from happening to them was like an albatross chained around my neck, its weight sitting heavily on my chest making it hard to get a full breath.  Somehow I didn’t notice the trees or leaves on that drive.  All I could see was what was in front of me inside the maroon Grand Am.