Perspective After a Good Night’s Sleep

The night of sleep, long but fitful, did not serve to reset my heart and mind. Potamus’s sweet voice, saying “let’s get up mama,” roused me from my already-awake-but-not-wanting-to-face-the-day musings. Bowl of cheerios. Dog trying to steal cheerios. A few games of Candyland. Another glass of orange juice. All normal morning routine. Except for the slumbering husband still peaceful in bed. And my bad attitude.

I did self care. Coloring in my new National Parks coloring book. Yoga class at my local gym. Boof took Potamus to the store and to watch the Blue Angels land at Boeing field while I got a chance to write. There was downtime for me. And yet, my nerves were shot. The brushing teeth struggle particularly highlighted it, while he, yet again would not brush his teeth without a rabid coyote battle, I cussed and imagined myself smashing every dish in the house.

I bowed out of bedtime routine and watched trashy TLC TV while self-loathing on York peppermint patties.

My Queen Mother rage inside me is frightening. My unpredictable emotions scare me, and I look into the face of my sweetness and think about how I must be breaking his spirit, or creating a fear of pissing me off in him, like I’ve somehow managed to do in every other person who knows me. The flashbacks to the time in high school when I was so out of control with rage that I was throwing glasses on the ground in a giant 15 year old tantrum of depression and not being understood plays in my mind. Knowing that exists inside me is scary as fuck.

I woke up this morning in a different place. Potamus snuggled into me and said, “I want to be big like mommy and daddy.” Some of my softness had returned, and so I explored, “what do you mean buddy.” “Just, I want to do things like mommy and daddy. Like play ball. And be big.”

“Is it hard that you’re little, and mommy and daddy make you do things you don’t want to do, like brush your teeth.”

“Yeah,” he said, burrowing his head into my neck.

“Yeah, it’s hard for mommy and daddy, too. We tell you to do those things because we want you to grow up to be big like mommy and daddy. It would be more fun if we didn’t have to make you do those things.”

My heart is tender today. I feel so bad for this sensitive kid I’m raising. I feel bad for myself as a sensitive parents, who gets so overstimulated that I shut down and act like an insane person. I’m glad for re-connection and perspective. Maybe I’ll be able to take it going forward, when I forget my compassion and empathy.

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Forever Hold Your Peace

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I wasn’t nice to my brother’s girlfriend. She was 17, and he was 20, and I was jaded by the string of girls he brought along before and thought “it’s not like he’s going to marry this girl,” and so I gave her the cold-shoulder. And then he married her. And boy was that awkward for awhile (like, even now, 8 years and a sorta-divorce later). I didn’t have the decency to treat her nicely at the beginning, though, deep down, I have a pocketful of reasons to give in defense of my bad behavior, if it’s ever necessary. What I learned from that experience, was my relatively shitty inability to articulate my feelings in the moment, which could have saved years of conflict down the road.

All of this was brought up in my mind, yesterday, when I was chatting with my bestie Ruth about a conflicted experience she had recently. In my brilliant wisdom (sarcasm? maybe?) I reminded her that emotions are stored on one side of the brain, and language on the other, and that sometimes it’s hard to get the language and emotions to match up nicely and to be able to articulate all those fee-fees that you’re having. Not to mention, it’s fucking awkward to confront someone, regardless, because very few of us were taught how to do this type of communication in our formative years (and as adults, do we really want to risk losing relationships if the conflict goes badly?).

It’s reminiscent of the “forever hold your peace,” line they say in movie weddings (because, that’s not a real wedding thing…right?). But you know what, this ‘forever hold your peace,’ shit is pretty fucking hard when you’re someone who has lots of opinions and thoughts and wants things to be logical.

I don’t like things that feel incongruent. I have a hard time when I see people say one thing and then do something else. I have a hard time when things don’t seem to add up or make sense, at least on some level. When I sense these mixed messages, I feel confused, and frustrated, while also unable to articulate my feelings in a way that doesn’t seem rude or attacking because it’s hard to verbalize frustration with unspoken energy actions. Does that even make remote sense?

I’m good with conflict in the moment, when I feel something and am able to say, “I’m annoyed,” or “I’m feeling uncomfortable.” What I have a hard time with, is feeling annoyed or uncomfortable with something, brushing it off as ‘no big deal,’ and then having something else happen, and something else, and something else, until finally I’m at the point where I’m unfriending them on facebook (true story: hi sis!) and they’re like “um, wtf just happened?” If I had just told my sister that I was annoyed with her inconsistent love and open acceptance paired with terribly racist retweets on facebook, the first time it happened, maybe I wouldn’t have been so far down the line that I either wanted to shut down (or cut off) or scream and throw things.

So I’m stuck in this dilemma and I don’t know what to do, how to change, to be a different person. It feels unfair to bring up conflict or frustration over something that happened six months, two years, ten years, ago, especially when realized that is bottled up and I might not be able to say it in a nice way. And yet, I feel like trying to live in the ‘forever hold your peace,’ camp is eating away at me. And I would feel shitty, too, if a friend came to me six months later, I might be like “why didn’t you tell me when this happened? Why did you pretend everything was okay?”

What to do?

Because avoiding it is only adding to the pressure, and I don’t want to be a fucking psycho, you know?

 

Compassion for Difficult Family Members?

Last night my mom left a voicemail to call her back. Assuming that a voicemail like that was bad news, I called back pretty immediately. And she proceeded to say:

“Your Uncle Matt is currently in the hospital. He lost his voice last week, and they went in for a checkup and turns out he has a really large tumor in his neck. And two tumors at the base of his skull. And so they’re operating on the one in his throat, first, because it’s the biggest. They’re not sure if it’s cancerous, but it’s probably a side effect from the radiation he had as a kid for that tumor in his face.”

I tried to muster some compassion. This is my mother’s youngest sibling, twelve years her junior, and she was calling to ‘keep [you] in the loop so you don’t hear from the grapevine.’ But honestly…honestly? I couldn’t muster compassion. I tried to imagine my mother’s perspective, caring for her younger brother, especially since she was a mother figure to him growing up, but I just couldn’t do it. I thanked her for letting me know, and got off the phone quickly to head into my yoga class.

And before you start labeling me a horrible human, for taking this news so lightly, I must explain:

My uncle is an asshole.

I mean, not your average run-of-the-mill asshole, but like a certified ASSHOLE of asshole extremes.

It’s hard to put all the stories into one blog post. But he’s 50 years old (ish?) and lives next door to my parents…in the upstairs part of my grandparents house. He hasn’t worked a job in 30ish years, and spends his days sleeping and his nights playing pool tournaments. He is the angriest person I have ever met, and has done shitty things like strangling my parent’s pitbull (not to death, but still), calling and cussing out my family on their voicemail, dispatching the sheriff to the school my mom works at to complain about ‘noise’ (aka the dog barking…note, my parents live in the countryside), disowning his daughter because she married a black man, screaming obscenities at his 3 year old nephew for not shutting the door quick enough, etc. etc. etc.

These incidents have been happening since I was a child. He is angry, probably mentally ill, and has caused HUGE tensions in the family. The most difficult part is seeing my grandparents enable his bad behavior, and justify it, though now as a mom I wonder if I should be less hard on my grandma, specifically. And while his ASSHOLE behavior is no reason to wish cancer, or tumors, on him, I am still having a difficult time mustering up any compassion for his condition.

I am wondering what to do about this feeling. Not going to lie, there have been times in the past that I wished ill upon him because of how awful he has treated members of the family. But lately I have mostly felt neutral. Like, if I don’t have to think about him, or experience him in any way (can you believe it, after 8 years of being together, Boof has still never met him?) then I am much happier. At the end of the day, though, he is my mother’s brother, and she is worried about his health.

 

Thoughts? How do you have compassion or empathy for assholes difficult family members?

Ten Thousand Angels

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…the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children. Mathew 14: 15-21
 

I’m overwhelmed. This morning as I was scrolling through Twitter, I cam across a tweet stating that last week 10,000 sponsorships were dropped at World Vision.

Wait, let me stop using shiny language: 10,000 kids weren’t going to get their next meal, or school day’s education, or clean water because  evangelical “Christians” didn’t like a policy change. Ten thousand. Let that sink in for a second. A news story goes out, and in less than 48 hours is reversed, because 10,000 kids weren’t going to get fed. As a former-evangelical-Christian I want to ask…where was the prayer? I mean, I grew up praying over almost every decision (not quite like “God should I buy this prom dress?” but close), and so I want to fucking know:

WHY DIDN’T THOSE DUMBASSES FUCKING PRAY FOR FIVE MINUTES ABOUT WHETHER THEY SHOULD FEED A STARVING CHILD OR GO ON SOME POLITICAL POWER TRIP?

Whoa, sorry, got carried away there for a second.

But seriously.

In the passage above, Jesus is out, doing his thing and some people get hungry. You know what he does? He feeds them. 5,000 of them (just the men, clearly more with children and women). Last week the evangelical ‘disciples’ turned away TWICE AS MANY legitimately hungry children because of a political agenda. Jesus didn’t ask questions, he just fed them. The disciples wanted the families to buy their own damn dinner, but Jesus didn’t turn them away, and somehow multiplied a small amount of food into enough to feed all of them.

I’m angry.

Part of me feels relief that I no longer subscribe to evangelicalism, that I’m one of the ones who has left (escaped?). But another part of me is sad that the reason I don’t is because of how shittily their doing this whole Christlike thing. Because there was a time, and I miss it greatly, where I sat in the pews with good people and felt love and peace and a longing to follow and belong forever. I’m not in that place anymore, but have resonated with blogs like this on those who stay in the church.

I hope those children got their sponsorships back, and that they didn’t go hungry. I hope those people who pulled their sponsorships can face themselves in the mirror each morning.  I hope that I can figure out how to be more than just angry about this whole mess.

 
 

The Price of Anger: Exhaustion

Typically my anger is directed toward others, and is mostly in the form of smallish annoyances. The emotion is like a match: quick to light and quick to burn out. For those that see my annoyance on an almost daily basis they get used to the quickness of it, though I suppose some would say that if you’re burned by a match it leaves a mark even if the flame goes out quickly.

My sister says that I have the ability to change the temperature in a room. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know that my energy is powerful and when not harnessed it has caused destruction. Maybe I’m thinking of Rogue from the X Men type ‘powers.’ At any rate, I cycle through annoyance on a daily basis, but the anger I felt the other day is much more insidious and harder to shake. It’s exhausting.

I feel like I’ve run a marathon through mud or molasses. My mind wants me to believe that I’ve learned something from that experience on Tuesday, but I’m not quite sure that it’s accurate. What’s challenging is that I KNOW that being a teacher is like being a therapist and that the cliche of leading horses to water is true. I know that. I really do know that. And believe it. And I’m still stuck. Which is the most frustrating part of it all.

The self-loathing that comes with this level of anger (dare I say rage?) is awful. I could curl up in bed all day with this shitty stomach ache. It leads to more destructive activities, like an obsession with alcohol (for which I haven’t consumed, because I am mostly afraid that choosing alcohol while I’m so angry will only make things worse), and a desire to give up yoga completely, and to lash out at all the lovely supportive people around me.

And I don’t want to hear about your damn problems, either. That’s the thing…I tried calling a friend the other day, and as she chattered on about whatever she was talking about I found myself seething with even more anger. I didn’t want to hear it. Not one more complaint about her job or her schooling or her dogs who chewed something up. Nope. Wasn’t going to have it. Emotionally and mentally spent.

It’s the end of my work week. Today the student’s are giving their speeches. And we will all go home early. I’ll probably go to yoga and hopefully can pull myself out of this funk, because it’s a terrible feeling.

I’m Not the Angry One

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It was an emotionally exhausting journey across the mountains. Potamus slept until Issaquah (which is about…um…thirty minutes), and then cried until we got to Cle Elum for a snack. And then he ate a lot of french fries, and cried some more because he was out of water, and then he was content for five minutes down the road before he started to scream again because he had pooped.

We had three stops on the “2.5 hour” drive. It was hell. There might have been a ten minute stretch where I plugged my ears and shut my eyes (I wasn’t driving) and tried to notice my breath like I did when I was in labor or in Savasana in yoga. It helped me to keep myself from hurling out of the speeding car at 70 mph.

But other than that, the trip was brilliant. There was a wound-up kiddo who loved his gifts, and plenty of cupcakes that induced sugar highs for all of us, and maybe some good natured teasing. I even managed to only shout one time, out of passion and not anger, about how cool I actually think The Pope is (because my dad insinuated he was evil because he was ‘Marxist,’ which I later debunked). And then, about ten minutes until we left, the shit hit the fan. Somehow my dad managed to start yelling at me and saying that I had been yelling at him and it became a crazy convoluted argument about who-the-fuck-knows-why, of which I left feeling confused and sad and might have cried for twenty minutes until we got out of the city limits. Ad if you know me, you know that I cry approximately every 2 years, so it’s a pretty freaking big deal.

Because no matter what I do, I somehow am always pegged as the ‘angry one’ in the family. I’m tired of having a perfectly good time and still not ‘doing it right enough,’ to show my family t hat I’m not the angry  depressed teenager I used to be. But somehow in pouring my heart out to Boof, I realized…I am not the angry one. I haven’t ever really been the angry one. In fact, my dad, who has been so pegged as jovial and overly rational (let’s sit down and discuss this conflict using I statements) is actually the angry one. He is angry. I am not. And that realization shifted something in me.

I am not angry.

Knowing that he is angry relieves me. It makes sense for why he’s been lashing out and blaming me for things that I didn’t actually do. I don’t know why he’s angry, what hes’ bottled up over the years, but that’s not my job to figure out. My job is to work on myself, which I have been doing in therapy, and it’s my job to continue to treat him compassionately. So while I don’t like having to have experienced that explosiveness earlier today, I do like the insight, because now I feel like I am better prepared to handle myself in the future.

What have you learned about your parents over the years that has re-shaped how you view yourself, your childhood, or them?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

My overly tired toddler, who whined for two plus hours on our “over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go,” journey had just fallen asleep. I spent thirty minutes nursing him with my practically empty weaning boobs. He was in that sweet sleep, where he kept reaching for me.
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It lasted maybe twenty minutes, but thanks to the shitty acoustics and five non-toddler minded adults (plus Boof who should have fucking known better) the noise woke our sleeping boy and I couldn’t be more pissed. I feel so disrespected. I’m working my ass off to keep my toddler from having a full blown meltdown and they are too self centered to realize that shouting across the house rather than just walking to get whatever they need, is loud and unnecessary. I’m so tired of it, and the drinking hasn’t even started.

Everyone thinks I’m blowing things out of proportion, wondering why I’m so annoyed and that I should just chill out. I want to punch them all in the face. So instead I went for a drive. Now I’m sitting in my high school parking lot with waves of equally shitty memories from a time I was equally misunderstood and disrespected.

Fuck shitty holidays. Fuck pretending to be grateful.
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