Thursday, April 3, 2008

Don't Read This, It's Awful

I don't know what to say when people tell me I am okay.

Like the people who ask in a real way, "So how are you, honestly?" Because sometimes I tell them, honestly, I'm awful, and they tell me I'm not. I know where they come from, a good place, but the little angry shrew who lives inside me insists on speaking up tonight, and so she's going to write about (please don't read this) her awful truth:

Yes, even if it's a good day, I mostly feel awful. There aren't enough of those good days, and they're sandwiched between tortures. I don't sleep enough, and I'll never ever catch up on the sleep I've lost -- I'm a hundred years old, based on how many hours I've spent awake. And it's not all the Rooster's fault. He's gotten lots better. Add to the mix a newly two-year-old with a thing for 3 a.m. contact, and I'm awful. I am too fat, and when on earth does any well meaning suggester fathom I might exercise? Puleaze. I look awful. Tired, fat, immersed in negativity, with nothing to wear and a bunch of miserable gluten free crap in the fridge. I hear the word "no" at least 60 times on the average day, and I mean a weekday, when I send them to school for seven or eight hours. Weekends? Awful. I hear the word "want" 200 times a day on a weekend, sometimes by dinner. Awful. And you know what I hate? While I drive with my left hand (I'm right handed) through heinous urban traffic, I serve food, manage requests like a book-on-tape dj, retrieve books, settle fights, hold hands, wipe noses, serve more food, clean up food, and... "ANOTHER TAPE! ANOTHER TAPE NOW, MOOOOMMMMMY, NOW. NOOOOOOWWWWWWW!" Awful. I complain, and that makes me feel awful. I hold it in, AWFUL AWFUL. Really AWFUL, like I'm decaying and putrid. I manage to find (by delaying the needed sleep a bit) only enough moments by myself each week to blog here, and NOTHING ELSE. I don't get haircuts, I don't see friends, I don't shop, I don't go to classes, clubs, meetings, nothing. I am never, ever alone. Not even in the bathroom. I get behind on paperwork and housekeeping so I can keep up on laundry, diapers-times-two, GFCF organizing, therapy hunting, and it's all worth it, it is all my choice, it is all for a family that I long prayed for and deeply adore, that was the only thing I ever really wanted, but I swear to you, there are sickly awful times amidst the gratitude, because it sometimes feels like there is no ME left anywhere in the whole world.

My rooster can make it better with a hug and a kiss, and a moment of growth, of good pragmatics, of happiness, but the truth is that the vast majority of the time, the rooster's mood is one hundred percent awful, the kind of awful you would not tolerate in your friend, your employee, your boss, your boyfriend, your mother-in-law, or your hairdresser. But you can't break up with your Rooster. You have to take the awful and try not let it show. The Peaches can help with smiles and play, but did I mention she just turned two? Even if it isn't awful, it isn't as Peachy as one.

Someone says, "No, you're okay, you're doing okay, you really do seem okay." I have nothing left to say to that. I can just add that to the awful pile inside me.

Yeah, okay, I might be dramatic and intense, I've been called that before, but I'm pathologically honest, and if I ever get checked into a padded room somewhere, I guarantee you no one will be able to say, "Gosh, and she never gave us any signs that anything was off!"

In my family, the highest compliment I ever heard any of my elders bestow on any sainted figure goes something like this, "She's been through thus-and-such, but you would never know it. You never hear a word about it." I know that I am an utter, complete, unmitigated failure at silent suffering, and therefore that black mark plagues me. It's awful. I can name 50 stoic friends and family who have suffered awfulness and never once uttered the word. I don't deserve to walk in their presence. They are good. You know exactly what I am, and the word good is not it.

Plenty of times I manage to feel grateful for the big and small blessings in my life. I do. I really swear that I DO. I notice the good, I revel in what I can, I avoid keeping score. You might not believe that side of me, as I rant out of my head here in this space filled with my pettiness and greed, but I do seek the good and wallow in simple joy with abandon when I can. I'm sure you know the result of that: the Deity Smackdown, the one step forward, three steps backward dance.

When I come back around to awful, there's nothing for it but to blog.

I really hope you didn't read this, because you'll surely and rightly despise me, but I'm glad I wrote it. It took the edge off of awful. Maybe now I can rest.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, I read it, every word of it. Because I am a person who likes to see people feel aweful? No its because I wanted a chance to empathize. I was in that place last summer, the place of more awful than good. Unfortunately I didn't have a blog for it. Blogs are like writing a letter with the intentions of trashing it....except you have all of us strangers reading it! I will get the same black mark as you, no silent suffering for me either. Its bad for the soul.
I hope you will be able to find more quiet time to yourself soon.

Niksmom said...

Gayle, I so understand this post; truly, I do. It makes me feel sad (NOT pitying, please don't read that into sad!) for you b/c I know what those feelings are like.

I don't have any magic answers except to start in baby steps withsomething like taking a walk with Peaches while Rooster is at school. Not for exercise...for freedom of movement, breathing, sunshine, and a moment of peace. A moment to allow yourself to begin to create a vision for yourself of maybe ONE thing being different, easier. I know it sounds like crap, I used to think so too, but when you allow yourself to create a positive vision and hold onto it, you CAN begin to create it.

Little steps...and give yourself lots of self-acceptance. You don't hav to BE any particular way for anyone but yourself and your family. Those people who say "You're fine!" IGNORE THEIR WORDS. Don't add it to the "Awful Pile." You don't need to take on their shit too.

You may not feel "okay" or "fine" right now but you ARE reaching out and that can make a huge difference.

Anonymous said...

this is SO ME!!!! i could have written every word and i did. so many times, my dear, when i was in the throws of it. it helped me. to get it off my chest.

you know, there are ways in which i am in a very different place now but also ways in which i am still struggling to find the balance, to have a pal or two to pal around with here in this new town, to have more people in our lives, to find a way to consistently eat better and exercise AT LEAST A LITTLE so i don't feel so puffy and old, like i'm draggin' my club foot.

hang in there. just keep getting it all down. i'm cheering for you on the sidelines, with confidence. you're okay in not being okay. as much as they sucks to hear.

gretchen said...

Yes- that's why we blog. To let it out and let people tell us they get it. I don't write it all on my public blog- I have a private one that only a few people have read where I tell even more deep dark secrets.

With the crap we are going through lately, I look at myself in the mirror and I don't recognize me. I think I look old. The radio station I listen to in the morning had a "younger by spring" contest and announced the winner this morning. I cried. WTF?

I started seeing a shrink this week- maybe it will help. I could tell you more, but this is YOUR blog :-)

Just hope it helps to know that some of us love our lives but feel awful also. That's why we need to talk to each other.


redheadmomma said...

I have so much to say and wish I could just give you a big hug, first off. I just don't get where the "strength" is in silently suffering. It's the reaching out and yelling, "I AM NOT OKAY!" that takes huge amounts of strength, because you are choosing to make yourself vulnerable. And by writing in your blog, that's exactly what you're doing - you're showing us the messy parts of yourself. And you know what? That's totally fine! ALL of us have messy parts about us! The trick is to be smart about who you share that with...we all have people in our lives that we feel truly safe with, and those that we do not. Let your focus go on the latter group, and work on opening up to those you feel safe around. (One thing I think is happening is that people around you love you and just want to make you feel better. Tell them that you need to vent, that you just need them to listen, and that it's okay not to be okay right now. I bet that would make a huge difference.) This blog is such a great start for you! I am SO PROUD that you wrote this post!

Secondly, sounds like you're sending up the red flag -- You sound depleted. You need time to yourself. And there are many ways to get that, none of them easy. What's easy about finding childcare? Nothing! But it's deciding that you are worth the effort of making that happen. I could have written all of this too - we just put ourselves last, and it's such a slippery slope...because if we are depleted, we are not the best moms we could be, and we're not the best people you could be.

So if you would allow me to make a suggestion, it would be a homework assignment: think of one time this week when you can plan on time to yourself. Make a list of things that sound lovely to you: a nap? Shopping? Seeing a friend? Wandering around aimlessly? Standing in a field and screaming? Driving to the beach and watching the waves? List them. Then negotiate some time with your husband. If you find that you're resisting being away even for an hour, really listen to your reasons why. It's such valuable information.

Lastly, I'm fat too. Quite fat, in fact. Write me at redheadmomma at msn dot com if you want to talk more, I'll even tell you my weight. :) I get all the negative thinking that goes along with that, I totally do. And I fight like hell to get time to exercise. I hate exercising, but it does three things for me:
- It allows me to be proud of something.
- It gives me a break from my kids.
- It gets my endorphins working, which I need desperately.

So, more than exercising right now, you need a BREAK. That break could come in whatever form you feel like, but please, please, plan to take a break this week, guard it with your life, and treat yourself. You are doing SO much for your family, and you're losing yourself in the process. Hearing the constant chatter & NOOOOOs drives me nuts too, and the only way I stay SANE is to fight like hell for my breaks.

I really hope this helped a little, I write this all from understanding, and love, and empathy. Please write me offline if you want to vent some more.


PBear said...

I read it too, and easily could have written it as well. I don't suffer silently (just ask my OT, who has taken the place of my therapist, poor dear, now that insurance won't let me go to the counselor anymore.) Ask any of my friends (or at least the three who will still listen to me :-) Ever since I was 5 I wanted to be Beth in Little Women - you know, the one who suffered with such dignity and grace, and even helped OTHERS while she was dying? Not me, I was Jo. Always wanting to do something else. Never being the pretty one, or the patient one, or the one everyone wanted to be with.

Fat? Um, yeah, I'm there too. Haven't done any exercising since last summer when I got back from vacation, and promptly fell and broke my wrist. My exercising these days consists of 3x week therapy to try and get it and my shoulder to something approximating working order. Had more surgery in February; we're finally making progress, but there is no more ME time left for silly things like exercise.

What you really need is SLEEP. Line up some friends, relatives, whatever you can get. Swap houses with them - you sleep at theirs, they sleep at yours with the kids. After a week (heck, even after a night) of uninterrupted sleep (ok, it will take more than one night, because you'll wake YOURSELF up the first night, wondering why no one else is), you will be able to regain some perspective. Yes, it's awful, but at least it's dealable when you've had some sleep. And if you can't line someone up, work it out with your husband. You get to sleep one night, hidden in the basement if you have to, and he deals with the kids at night, then you switch off.

It will get different (I hesitate to say better, although that's almost certainly true, but there will always be issues.) As you both grow, you'll be better able to deal with it, and it won't seem so overwhelming. But get some sleep, no matter what you have to do to get it!


Anonymous said...

When things were really bad here, I used to fantasize about checking into a hotel room and sleeping for 24 hours. People thought I was kidding. I was not.

I think you have to figure out the sleep thing. Creatively, like pbear need a couple of uninterrupted nights to clear your head so you can deal with the hard stuff.

Joeymom said...

Welcome to my house.

I'm 329 pounds. I can't find the floor in my bedroom. I have a path through the livingroom, diningroom, and kitchen, and consider the house "picked up." I have my passenger seat carefully arrayed for quick access. It gets screwed up regularly when my mom comes with us, but the good part is she cleans out the floorboards of McDonald's bags and cups and other trash for me. And who sleeps anymore? that is SO old-fashioned.

And I also get tired of the comments when you try to talk to anybody about it. "This too shall pass." "Oh, it could be worse." "Get a grip." Or the reams of useless and irrelevant "adivce" for fixing any of this, especially from friends who have either "normal" lives and non-disabled kids, or had no kids at all. Oh please.

There are times for perspective. And there are times for stomping one's feet a little. Yes, the stomping offends some people, but parents are human beings, too. And you know what? We're not saints. We want something left for ourselves. When you are in the thick of it, that "something" is often impossible to see. No sleep, no time, no money, no food, no mercy. Parenting is already a 24/7 job. Special needs parents also have to be occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, teachers, and specialists in our child's disability(ies)- on top of the regular routines of teaching and expertise required of other parents.

I love being Joey's mom... but that doesn't mean it ain't a challenge, and that doesn't mean Mr. Depression doesn't make any visits.

We love you, babe. You are doing a spectacular job.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there. I know things are really hard right now. You know what Kristen said, about fantasizing about staying in a hotel for 24 hours? I know of a couple moms who have done it. They say it's been their saving grace.