Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Seriously, WHY does the finish line keep moving??

Let me walk through something with you guys.

In 2012 lots of stuff was falling apart, so I went to therapy. Blah blah blah, Bipolar II. Blah blah blah, I can handle this. Yadda yadda I quit therapy. Almost 2 years later I end up back in therapy because things are again not going well.

Then today.... at the end of today's session, New Therapist (Meg2.0) tells me, "hey, I'd like to lift something off of you if you're ok with that." Well sure! You can do anything you want to!

"I want to lift that Bipolar II diagnosis off of you. I've been with you for a bunch of months now and I've heard a lot of things about your life now and your life in the past... and I'm sure a lot of things really do look like bipolar II, but I'm here to tell you right now- it's not that. You don't have that. You have different challenges, but not that. So I'm sorry to drop this on you at the end, and we will definitely talk about it more later. But there you go."

Thud. And also yay. And also also. Wow.

I'm not sure what even to think about this. I'm not sure I totally believe her yet. I have a lot to think about. But if it's true that I don't have that particular flavor of crazy, then a lot of things I think about myself are totally different. A lot of the things I've been afraid of don't exist anymore. A lot of things I thought were permanent, or inevitable, or impossible, are totally changed.

SO much to think about.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I've Probably Lost My Mind

Between Daycare, life, life, and church, I'm pretty busy. But I promised a few people I would run something this year for DetermiNation, and this week I finally picked it. It'll be my first medalled race since Ragnar two years ago. And it's my first DNation race for three years.

And then Bowie died. And THEN Rickman died. And I just had to move before I lost that momentum. This is a big disease. This stupid thing takes SO many people. And I know that it's technically lots of different diseases that are grouped together.

And I also know that the American Cancer Society is a behemoth organization with occasionally questionable spending habits. But I can't deny that they run the world's largest research, support, and advocacy groups for cancer. And when anyone (against MY advice) Google's their diagnosis, is the first hit. And I just keep hoping that ACS keeps putting out thorough, balanced, intelligent information for people to read. Because the internet is scary. And Cancer is scary. Combining those two can freak people out hard core.

So I'm running. And Stephan is running. We picked the Soldier Field 10-Mile because it had no fundraising minimum, and was our first DNation race together. And we're recruiting like mad for more people to run with us because so many people are hurting right now because of cancer and this one small (?) thing can help lighten that pain. Training and fundraising for a race feels good. It's how I'm fighting back against the scary, the sad, and the angry.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Caution: I've Been Drinking

This is about being married. I know a few people who are getting married in the next 12 months. And I've been married for 7 years (maybe 8.... it's almost midnight and I'm not prepared for counting).

If you're one of those people, think about this please.... When you're "getting married" to this person, you're signing up for SO much more than a wedding, maybe a house, probably kids. You are essentially saying to that other person....

I'm ok with washing your clothes.

I'll be awake with you at 1am wrapping Christmas presents for our kids while watching stand-up and drinking rum out of wine glasses.

It's cool that I know where your 8th grade dinner-dance was.

You like eating Spam sometimes, and I won't move out when I have to smell it.

Maybe you'll always put your toothbrush away wet and that means that MY toothbrush will be in contact with your toothbrush-water. And I'm ok with that.

We will naturally know who will hold the vomiting child and who will gather necessary materials (i.e. wash cloths, rags, buckets, thermometer). And sometimes we will switch to keep things interesting.

Occasionally we will text each other instead of talking because we are in different parts of the house and we don't want the kids to know what we are really thinking because it involves swearing.

I'll always save the last drink's worth of your alcohol in the bottle, and find something else to drink for myself. Because I love you.

I'm going to wear your clothes in emergency situations.

I'm going to look at you some days with a look that says, "I can't do this anymore" and you'll know that I need to walk into another room. And you'll take the kids to the store and when you're back you'll just hold me and let me cry and not tell me that it'll be ok because you know I might not believe you tonight. But that I might believe you tomorrow so you just let me be for right now.

Other days I'll get a text that you're going out for drinks with your friend after work and I'll actually go to sleep earlier because I know you need to eat wings and drink beer, and that you'll come home and be happy you're married to me and not anyone else's wife. Because really, other guys have it much worse.

And we'll teach Sunday School together.

And we'll cook together.

And we'll plan things. And execute those plans. And plan more things, and decide that we don't have to do EVERYTHING. And we'll help each other get dressed to go out. And I'll tell you if you have hair growing on your ears, and you'll tell me I have a zit on my back, and I'll throw away your really thin underwear and you'll laugh when I try to shove underwire back into a bra.

And we'll hold each other and cry sometimes because we know that life goes really fast and that however much time we've been given with each other will NEVER EVER EVER seem like enough. And that one day one of us will be gone and the other one will be alone. So we'll stay awake another hour tonight just knowing that for right now, we have everything we need.

That's what being married means.

Friday, December 18, 2015

It's Electric (LONG post)

I know how muscle fibers work. There's a sodium/potassium pump that exchanges electrical charges, producing a pulse that stimulates muscle fibers to contract. To build muscle, you stimulate these fibers so much that they break down. When the body goes to rebuild the fibers, it adds more this time so the body is better prepared for the work you're probably going to ask it to do next time. This process hurts some- it definitely produces soreness. And you, as the human in charge, can usually feel it when you're exerting yourself enough physically to get stronger.

So here's my question: how do we get emotionally stronger? Is it a brain-chemical thing? Like you shoot through your chemical connections enough and your body begins preparing a stronger response for the next time?

Here's why I'm asking... over the last few years I've had a bunch of moments when all I can think of is, "This is hard and I hate it." Times when it feels difficult simply to exist in the current situation. It's hard to be in my body. It's hard to breathe in and out and stand up and walk to the kitchen. It feels the same as trying to do 25 squats, or 30, or 50. Toward the end, it's hard and it hurts- physically. Sometimes, life hurts mentally/emotionally.

But then we get stronger. Right? You push yourself to do those last 5 squats- and it's easier the next time you do squats. You get to the kitchen and wash the dishes, and next time it's..... here's where the analogy breaks down. Because sometimes it's easier, but sometimes it's harder and you just never make it into the kitchen and your husband gets home and you're on your 3rd episode of Intervention and you both end up staying awake until midnight cleaning the kitchen and getting ready for the next day.

And here's the other part: parenting. Parenting is the hardest exercise I've ever done. Because there's poop. And laundry, and cooking, and crying, and banged heads/knees/toes, and whining, and more crying and laughing, and kissing, and napping, and snuggling, and loving, and powerful joy, and awe-some pride. All of these things happen in an hour. It's like emotional High Intensity Interval Training.

New Therapist recently told me that the best thing an adult can do with a kid is to witness their emotions. Acknowledge that what they feel is real, live in that feeling so they really learn about it, and help them move through it safely. That's a LOT of 'feeling' every day. As I've been doing it the last few weeks (with three to four kids a day in daycare) I'm wondering if I'm building up my 'feeling' muscles. I have no idea how to answer it. But it's interesting to think about.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Awkward Jello

The best thing about seeing a new therapist?? An entirely new set of metaphors to rest my mind on.

So we were talking about how I have this tendency to let insane things out of the mouth part of my face when trying to make small talk with people. Here's one story: Mom-of-a-First-Grader (who I've met maybe 2 times and don't know ANYTHING about), says hi. "How was your day?" And I reply with, "Oh my gosh, I was listening to the police scanner this morning and heard a grade school practicing an Active Shooter Drill. It was terrifying. So if you ever listen to a police scanner during a shooter drill, turn it off because parents with kids in school should NOT be picturing that stuff."

Honestly, that's how my day was. But the woman looked horrified and we haven't spoken since then. It's a situation I brought to Meg2.0 as an example of why I shouldn't be allowed to talk to strangers. She thought that it was very brave of me to give such a truthful answer to a question like that. But... that maybe I started having a conversation with myself earlier in the day that First-Grade-Mom accidentally stumbled into the middle of. So she just got a small cut-out of the entire conversation. And yeah, that can be fairly confusing. She didn't know why I listen to the police scanner (because of drug dealers), or that I'd only recently started listening to the scanner (that very day), or that I wasn't even listening to the scanner for the town we live in (because it isn't available online). So she didn't get the whole picture.

It's like this......

Say that talking to people is like making dessert. And most people, when they make small talk (and the quickest, easiest, most readily-acceptable dessert) make normal Jello. "Hey, it's chilly today." "Did your kids enjoy the pumpkin patch?" I think these things are boring so I usually space out and get a dazed look on my face (I've seen it in pictures). Talking about these things tells me nothing about the person I'm talking to either. So in an effort to make life more interesting, and elicit memorable conversations from people, I make Jello Jigglers!! They are much more dense, and have fun shapes, and last a lot longer sitting on the counter!! It's a denser version of small talk that's cut out of whatever is going on in my life at the moment.

Apparently, though, not everyone is a fan of the more formed, slightly rubberier, jello cutouts. And if they're looking for normal squishy jello, giving them something they're not ready for might turn a few people off.

BUT........ Meg2.0 forced me to think of all of the times that I've given someone the awkward jello ("Yeah, I'm just not sure how to explain felony aggravated robbery to my six-year old") and they LOVE IT and respond back with something memorable and honest ("No kidding! Schizophrenia is really a tough topic, but it's totally manageable if you frame it the right way.") and a friendship starts that is actually pretty fun and comfortable.

The risk can be pretty scary, but the friendship reward is actually super cool. Awkward Jello. It's what's for dinner (or dessert, whatever).

Monday, November 23, 2015

1-2-3, 1-2-3, Count. With. Me.

Week 2. I mean, Week Whatever since I started this daycare thing 4 months ago with a healthy break in September/October.

Ya'll. This is not easy. No one napped today. And everyone wanted their Mommies. Even me for a while. The bar I aim to hit moves constantly. Do you know what a circle is? Can I work it so that only one child is crying at a time? 4 diapers in 20 minutes (I only have 3 kids here so....)?

The good news: Everyone eats. Everyone poops. Everyone survives the day.

The better news: I haven't lost it yet. Well, not while the kids are here. I did a bit of drinking over the weekend, with Stephan, in the kitchen, over the Christmas planning/budget/ordering. But 8 hours of work is manageable. Because time marches on. 4:30 arrives. Every day. No matter who's pooped, who threw grapes, who tried to eat rubber bands (all of these are my own kid). 4:30 happens, and then it's just me and mine (which, again, isn't always easy either, but my standards are much lower for my own kids).

8 hours goes pretty fast. Sometimes it's the 3-5 minutes of triple crying that can feel super slow. And when that happens, we all just take a breath and Count. With. Me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

.... All Through the Town

Dude. You guys. I was in full-on mental-meltdown-mode last weekend. My 8 weeks off of "work" (i.e. the daycare kid was at home because her mom had a baby) ended. And I was freaking out because I had no idea how I was going to handle three kids in my house:

A 2 year old
My 1 year old
A 2 month old

Sunday I kicked Stephan out of the house and prepped lunches and dinners for the whole week. It took 3 hours. Curriculum for the week (this is a circle; it goes round and round) was another 30 minutes, and cleaning, laundry, furniture moving was the last hour.

And yesterday and today were easy.

I mean, not easy, but it wasn't hard. The baby cried. Adam was mad that I wasn't holding him and decided he wanted to nurse all day. The little girl stared deeply into my eyes and calmly told me "I'm not doing that" when I asked her to put something away. But they all slept (never at one time), they all ate (always at the same time), and no one cried for more than 5 minutes before I could empty my hands and pick them up. And at the end of they day I zoomed through each room to tidy up, cleared the sink of dirty dishes, folded the laundry and prepped the next day's lunch/dinner.

And the circle... it DID go round and round!!! And I... can TOTALLY do this! Why did I think I couldn't do this?? Stephan knew I could do it. The parents knew I could do it (or at least appeared to when they handed me their kids and a check). And I'm not just not failing. I'm kinda rocking this. That little girl totally knows what a circle is (despite telling her dad tonight that it was a heart). That baby drank 9oz of milk. And Adam......... well, he's asleep so let's just be happy with him not hitching his own ride to a grandparent's house yet.