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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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.

Blackout Anger Part Two

Thank God for Google, because after I wrote that post yesterday my mind went “eep, I just self-disclosed to the ENTIRE internet (or all 90 of you followers) that I am batshit crazy sometimes and WHAT IF YOU CALL CPS ON ME?” Yeah, a tad melodramatic, but still, my mind wanders in that direction. Plus, what mom do you know shouts “hey, I get crazy angry when I’m sleep deprived,” in normal coffee-conversations?

Apparently, at least according to Google, there are lots of “sleep disorders” and that waking up angry and not remembering it is common in something called a “sleep arousal disorder” (which, in mom speak can be coined as “fucking tired, yo”) and typically happens when someone’s woken up prematurely during the first part of the night (yep!). Whoa, so I’m not the only one who’s had this issue? Yesssss! I came across sleep forums and Y!A questions and personal stories that sounded so similar to me two nights ago.

Phew.

And I guess, the answer is…get more sleep and don’t get woken up suddenly in the first hour of sleep at night (barring any medical emergencies or something like that). Hopefully Boof can be on board with that plan, right?

Blackout Anger

When you drink so much that you blackout, that experience where the events that happen the night before are hazy (at best) or absent altogether, you might have a drinking problem. And there is something you can do about it. But what happens when you have sometimes moments of rage that you can’t remember but vague details the next day? How do you stop THAT from happening?

I used to watch crime shows where some defendant in a murder trial would claim ‘I can’t remember anything,’ from the horrible murder, and the audience (and jury) tend to scoff at such assertions. But, while not on the level of murder, I’ve had instances of anger/rage that I haven’t remembered much the next day, which is scary as fuck.

Like, last night for instance (it always happens at night), where I was exhausted and had been in bed for about 45 minutes before Potamus woke up. And that’s when I have to rely on Boof for the rest of the memory, because I don’t remember much except one encounter with my fist and a wall and yelling ‘Potamus! GO TO SLEEP!” I was asleep, myself, and with earplugs in I couldn’t hear much to begin with. Boof said I was initially very concerned about Potamus crying (Boof was changing him because he had peed through his diaper) and he wouldn’t stop. I guess I was concerned and sweet and then went to pee and punched the wall twice and slammed a few doors. And then there was yelling, but that was 30 minutes later. And then Boof told me to go back to bed, and I woke up at 2am because Potamus was crying, and I found him out on the couch, asleep in Boof’s arms (who was also asleep).

I don’t remember any of that. Except yelling that 1 time. I don’t remember hitting the wall with my hand or cussing Boof out or the fact that it wasn’t a 30 second ‘grumble grumble’ encounter. Becuase I was asleep.

What’s strange is that I had read several articles yesterday on sleep deprivation in moms (or parents) and the importance of communication. When Boof and I debriefed this morning he was shocked to hear my account of the events. He said that I am ‘an amazing mom 99% of the time, but when I see you like that, it’s time for me to step in, to save you from you,’ which I definitely agreed to. Because I don’t even know I’m doing it. Honestly. I was asleep.

Though I do know that my frustration level is not always that great, and I could work on better coping tools for when I am awake and withit and able to make mindful choices. But what do I do about these other times? I get scared that I might do something to hurt myself or my child in moments like that where I am not totally aware, because in my head I say ‘well, that’s never happened when Boof isn’t there,’ but I guess I can’t 100% be sure of that, you know?

A sledgehammer to November

Potamus stuck his snot-nose hands in my mouth last week and gave me his green germy nose bug, including sore throat, stuffy nose when trying to sleep, and runny faucet during the awake hours. I am so fucking tired that I seriously want to punch someone. It doesn’t help that Boof still has little job prospects and I feel like I am tasked with the enormous burden of providing for my family and still having emotional energy leftover for a whiny snot-nosed baby who hasn’t seen me all day.

I didn’t sign up for this.

In fact, it was my worst fear. Because, after all, I don’t really like children all that much. On any given day, about 95% of the time I am in love with Potamus, but the other times I am pissed that I have to, yet again, deal with his needs.

And I can’t imagine NOT co-sleeping, but my sleeping is for shit, and I can’t seem to find the magic sweet-spot that accommodates both of our needs: his to nurse all night because of reverse cycling and mine to sleep more than 1:30 at a time.

Add insult to injury, Scrummy will not stop peeing and shitting all over the house. But not like “accident” puddles, they are full on puddles marking the corner of the chair, the jumparoo, the high chair, the bookshelf we store Potamus’ carseat on, and the kitchen counter. Pooping in strategic shmeary places, too.

My emotions come leaking out in destructive ways, like wanting to take a sledgehammer to Facebook, as it is the month of sappy “gratitude” posts from all my friends whose lives seem full of “snuggly kitties” and “lost 20 dollar bills found in couch cushions,” and “breathmints,” all making their life so fucking wonderful.

And then, my natural tendency toward depression as the light gets less each day, is supposed to be assuaged by the “end of daylight savings,” which really just means “fuck over your circadian rhythm and spend the next week fighting sleep even more.”

Sigh.

So tonight, I’m grateful I don’t actually own a sledgehammer, and that Amazon doesn’t do same day deliveries…

 

Burnout

There’s a clinical term for the rage I fee: secondary trauma…vicarious trauma…burnout. Try to explain that rage, funneled into one angry outburst of angry “stop screaming!” at my teething/growing/over-stimulated baby tonight.

Not my finest mother-moment.

Sure there are many contributing factors to this rage: Boof being out of work due to his own dumbass mistakes and taking this intensive 10 week class while also working for the Mariners when they are at home (currently there tonight, yes, part of my frustration), and a family caregiver who loves Potamus dearly, but hasn’t quite gotten into a very good rythym of watching him due to the up-and-down nature of my job. She’s gotten too comfortable, scheduling hair appointments one day, nail appointments another, and while I’ve been okay for the most part, I am actually getting paid a salary, even if my work is slow, things come up and Potamus needs to be minded, and I can’t be the village raising my child. And as my clients get better, I seem to be getting worse, but then I beat myself up about wanting a new job.

Today I consulted with a dear friend, former colleague, and former classmate. She made me laugh when she said, “oh, you aren’t supposed to be affected by seeing suicidal kids everyday? by seeing the worst of the worst situations?” I do see the seedy underbelly of mental health and family life. I impart wisdom and coping skills and education to my clients, and am losing just a little bit of myself in each of these exchanges. I am havingĀ  a hard time stopping the slow leakage and its effecting me deeply.

The look on Potamus’ face when I yelled at him, was heartbreaking. While this isn’t my first time, when he was only a few weeks old, he reacted out of what seemed to be simply instinct. Tonight there was awareness. There was this flitting look on his face that seemed to say (before he broke out in even more tears) “but this is my mom who is yelling, why? why?”

After 30 more minutes of nursing/rocking/stroking of sweet baby hair, he was finally asleep. Will he wake up with forgiveness? Will I?