Canvas, Unfinished

All,
My,
Life.

I’ve felt awkward.

Even at thirty-five,
I still feel unpolished.

I don’t belong in my skin.
Someone calls me beautiful,
on a regular basis.
My son still sees me,
Through innocent eyes.

An unfinished canvas.

To me though,
My mind,
My soul,
My body,
feels ungraceful.

There’s still work to do.

I’m stumbling,
Along.
Still,
Living,
My Life,
In awkwardness.

How I Feel About Being a Stay At Home Mom

I read a lot of articles and satire articles about what it’s like to be a stay at home mom. I am one so therefore I relate to them. 

They are often about how it’s tiring and rewarding all at the same time. That 4PM is kind of an evil hour, and it’s a “please bring me some wine hour”. I don’t really like wine unless it’s Rosé. If the day has been kind of bad then I’m more of a “please bring me some Red’s Apple ale, or Rum and Coke.” More likely though I’ll just beg to check out early, and go to bed at 7:30 PM. I’m always happy when my husband walks through the door regardless of how the day went though, probably a little bit more on bad days.

Then this morning I was lying in bed dozing before I actually had to get up. It’s that magic hour where everything is quiet, and I don’t have to quite get myself going. As I was lying there I suddenly thought to myself, “I like being home.” I’ve always liked being home. It’s something a lot of people don’t understand. I don’t actually care if I don’t make it out the door on some days. I don’t feel crazy if I don’t talk to an adult until almost 6pm.

If I weren’t a stay at home Mom I’d still want a job where I had to do very little interacting. In fact the job I had before I had my son I spent most of it behind a computer monitor, and most of my conversations were via email. I wasn’t fond of that job, but I liked that I had very little interaction with the public. It was all interoffice, and I absolutely loved my coworkers. I was good at it too, and so that also made me feel good about it. At the end of the day though, I’d rather be at home in my pajamas.

.There are days where I am running around doing errands, going to the gym, house chores, playing with my kid, and sometimes I’m just present with him. I always shower at night, and so I don’t fall into the non-showering spectrum of being a stay at home mom. Then there are those days where I really do watch TV all day because I’m exhausted.

I like being a stay at home mom. It’s hard. I complain a lot. Especially when my kid has turned into a threenager in more ways then one. (I.E. the power struggle with a toddler is real.) It is tough. Some days end in crying. Some days as I said before end early and I go to bed at 7:30 because I can’t imagine facing the day any more. Some days can be wonderful. Some days are full of good conversation. They are full of laughter, and end with a good book, movie or This Is Us. I write all the different kinds of days down in my journal. It’s good to have the bad so you can appreciate the good. It helps to see what you can truly be grateful for.

If I were to really get down to the nitty gritty of it all, being home is easier on me for my generalized anxiety disorder. I knew a long time ago I wanted to be a stay at home mom if it was ever going to be possible. It is hard to be a mom with anxiety and some times depression. I’ve learned how to function with it, but it can still be hard.

I tried working part time while being a mom, and I found I was more stressed and anxious.  It wasn’t greener on the other side for me. I felt like I was missing things with my just turned one year old. He was learning so much, and I wanted to be there.  So we made the decision that I would go back to being home with him. It was the best decision I ever made for myself. I wouldn’t change it.

I don’t just like being a stay home mom. I love it, even with all the hardships that come along with it.

Building Up

If I were being honest, aside from my family*, I often feel lonely. Sometimes even alone.

I have friends. I get to see them sometimes. I know they care and love me, but as you get older every day life begins to happen. We’re not always in the same place in life, and we struggle with things differently. I Know I can talk to them at any time, but thing is…

The thing IS;

Well back when I first had my son I was fine. I was happy. I loved being his mama. It was my world. I didn’t know. I didn’t know there was a whole outside to this little world that I was acquainted with.

Back then the worst thing would have been spilling my large Diet Coke from McDonald’s. I probably would have cried, ok exaggerating here. I wouldn’t have cried, but it sure would have made the day feel sour.

Now when I spill it, I see it as a thing. I see it as something that while I’m annoyed about, I am just numb to it. I say oh shit, and then clean it up, and hope my kid doesn’t start running around saying “oh shit”. I’m a little sad because I only have half of it left, but it doesn’t matter

I’ve lost far greater things.

Of course I texted a couple people about the incident, but not because I was upset about it. I texted them because I actually thought to myself and saw it happening as I was walking in holding it in a precarious manner. I didn’t spill it in the way I visualized. I spilled it in a completely different way. I said to My son”well that was weird”.

He laughed. I laughed, and said “see we all spill things sometimes, even mama.” Then I cleaned it up and was annoyed because uh it was soda from McDonald’s. They have the most delicious soda ever.

But I brushed it off, because I’ve felt worse.

I don’t mean to take away from anyone that doesn’t know what I’m talking about. I can’t degrade anyone’s pain. We are all struggling with something some days. It’s just some days I feel awfully lonely. I struggle.

I struggle because even though I know I have people that care about what happens to me, but I am still genuinely afraid of rejection.

I’m afraid to ask to make plans. I’d  blame it on being an introvert, but also I just get anxious about everything.

I know a lot of this is my fault. I closed in on myself. I didn’t want to care. I wanted to take an eternal nap, or watch every single episode of The Middle in an entire week.

I’m trying now though, taking baby steps, and they frighten me. I feel lonely. I don’t know how to begin to try again. I don’t know where I stand

I just have to keep building up again.

*the one I grew up with, and the one I married in to.

Finding Me Again

I recently had this thought of wanting to make an impact on the world somehow. The thing is the only impact I may ever make will be on my family, maybe my friends.

After my father died a lot of people came forward and told us stories about what he did for them. We found that he affected far more people then he himself probably ever imagined. It was almost extraordinary, and it made me think about myself. It made me think that I doubt I’ll ever reach people with that much magnitude. This didn’t make me sad, it just made me think.

I’m an introvert. I don’t always like people. I like the people I choose to be my people, but I’m not a people person. I hate crowds. I get overwhelmed easily. If I get myself out of the house to an outing of any kind, I always need a moment to decompress. It literally takes energy out of me to be social. What I can’t decide is that just who I am, or who I’m choosing to be? It’s probably a little bit of both, but I’m ok with that.

Sometimes I feel like I try, and nothing comes from it. Then I accept that either I’m just the wrong tetris piece for that moment in time. I spend the night beating myself up about it. I spend the night sometimes getting irrationally angry, more at myself then anything. We are our own worst enemy.

I just read the Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, and the words she wrote about on her introvertedness (yes I just made up that word) resonate in me. I know what it’s like to fall victim to easily saying no. Saying “no” is actually more of the easy way out for me.

After my father died it became even worse. I lost interest in things that I use to love. I fell into a depression of sorts, and getting out of bed even became hard for me. I had to though. I am wife and a stay at home mom. I have people that depend on me to live. So I did, but I wasn’t really living. I think I was just going along with the flow. I started to eat and drink my feelings. I gained all the weight back I had worked so hard to lose after having my son. This made me sad for myself. I stopped liking any of my clothes. I actually hate getting dressed in the morning right now, but that is something I’ve started working on.

I stopped having alcohol for the most part. I have it on special occasions or Sundays, but otherwise I’ve given it up. Two things have happened; my stomach is happier and I sleep better. That last one came as a surprise to me. For months I’ve been waking up at 3 AM, unable to fall back asleep. Now I sleep through the night. Of course now I stay up later reading so that might have something to do with it. It helps calm my brain and turn it off.

Then I started portion control and calorie counting. I know that shakes, clean eating, and whatever new diet fad is going on work for some people, but it’s just not for me. It’s awesome that people find what works for them! I like to eat food, and so I want to be able to eat what I want, just within reason. It’s what has always worked for me. It’s what I’m doing now.

Now I’m starting to walk again. Maybe I’ll try yoga again, but I’m also kind of interested in Pilates.  I have chronic migraines and muscle pain so I can’t really do any high endurance exercise. It wears me out, so I have to do what I know I can handle.

So this is only the beginning of finding me again. I’m trying to find happiness in little things throughout the day. I’m looking for the good that falls in with the bad. Let’s not lie to ourselves; there will always be some kind of bad that happens. Some kind of drama that unfolds itself when you least expect it, but there is always good in this world too.

I see the good in my son’s laughter, or when he learns something new. I see the good in my husband’s horrible jokes that make me laugh anyway. I love his hugs, and just being quiet with him. I love cooking, and baking. I’ve been scouring Pinterest for recipes I want to try in this “new” year.

I’ve started living again. I’ve started enjoying the little things like the smell of rain in the desert, or a good walk. I’ve discovered Arnold Palmers. Look I know those have been around for a while, but I’ve just now discovered them. They are amazing! They are the perfect afternoon drink.

I like Sunday dinners with my mom, and aunt, trying out new recipes for them or old ones that I tried and true.

I’ve started reading again! Like actually reading, and not just listening to audiobooks. After my father died, audiobooks were a godsend. They were exactly what I needed. The majority of books I read last year were audiobooks. So really I didn’t read them. I listened to them. I still count them though, because it takes brain power to listen actively to them. I still enjoy them, and always have at least one going.

I still miss my father. I still get angry that I didn’t have more time with him. I was sad around the holidays, because it was just hard not having him there. It wasn’t the first holiday season without him, but it was the first one that felt actually real. The one before I was still numb from it all. Things will pop up that remind me of him, and I get sad but also happy. I was lucky to have him as a father.

I was lucky.

I’ve grown since then though. I’ve molded into a new normal. I’m still floundering, but I’m making the most of it. There are still a lot of unknowns in the world, but for now I can live in the day to day mundaneness. I can enjoy that mundaneness. Sometimes it’s just sitting on the couch finishing a book. Other times it’s being in the moment with my son, while he sits on my lap watching whatever new show he likes on Netflix or PBS kids. It’s watching old favorite movies. It’s reading out loud to my son, or watching him play with his father.

It’s laughing again, really laughing, and feeling it deep in your stomach.

So maybe the only impact I’ll make will be on myself, and my family. It’s good though. It’s happiness.

When I say New Year New Me, I mean it. I really really mean it this time.

 

 

In the beginning

In the beginning high school wasn’t easy for me, as I’m sure it isn’t for a lot of people out there. I was in high school in the 90s. I graduated in 1999 to give perspective on the technology at the time. The television shows at the time, and just general sort of living.

I remember my very first day of high school I walked with my first ever friend. We make jokes about meeting each other in the womb, because our moms were friends when they were pregnant with us. I don’t remember the shirt I wore but I’m sure it was big and hid everything because I was self conscious of my baby fat. I was not fat in the least, just had some left over chub from before puberty. It was just typical self conscious feelings a teenager feels.

I wore shorts. They ended just above my knees. I remember sitting in math class, looking down at my pasty white legs and deciding that I would not be wearing shorts ever again. It was in this small but pivotal moment I started to believe that a boy couldn’t possibly like me. I pretty much held on to this style of thinking until after high school, and decided it would be OK to wear a dress. It was flowy and pink Hawaiian style, and I felt pretty in it. That, however, took a long time to get to.

I’m deviating.

I would say that was the beginning of feeling awkward in school, but that really dates all the way back to fourth grade when I had a best friend. Then I made another best friend, and I guess you couldn’t have two best friends. They became best friends, and i was suddenly sitting by myself at lunch time just waiting for the hour to pass by.

I didn’t have the same lunch time as anyone I knew my freshman year of high school, and so I spent a lot of time drifting around the campus. I fell out of friendship with my first ever friend for a brief time. I felt pretty alone, and it was hard for me to make friends. I never cared to be “popular” so that was never on my agenda. I had crushes, but I thought I was pretty shy. The truth is as I’ve gotten older I know I am not shy. I’m a true introvert, and I like quiet. I like to be at home more then out. i just hadn’t figured any of this out at the time.

How I managed to finish my freshman year I will never know, but I did. I read a lot in those times, and still do. Books got me through some tough teenage times. I read things like Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley University, authors like Christopher Pike, R.L. Stine, Lois Duncan, and Caroline B. Cooney. I also developed  passion for movies, especially seeing them in the theater. I was in a youth group outside of school, and so I went to a lot of movies with friends from there. I wasn’t completely without friends.

I grew up with a pool in our back yard. I was basically a fish every summer, spending as much time in the pool as I possibly could. By high school I hated swimming. I hated the idea of putting on a bathing suit. I was also pretty flat chested so I didn’t even need to wear a bra. I wore bralets before they were a popular style. I stopped swimming, and realized the color of my hair was actually a really dark brown. It was no longer sun bleached by long hours hanging out by and in the pool. I also lost my golden tan.

My sophomore year of high school started out the same, but slowly I went down hill. In the middle of class I’d feel like the walls were closing in on me. I thought I would be sick, and my heart would begin to race. I got familiar with the feeling of being clammy. I felt like I couldn’t breath, and that maybe I was going to die or faint. Right there in front of everyone. I couldn’t concentrate on anything my teacher was saying.

I can’t remember the exact day I started feeling this way. I remember moments like sitting in English class, and my desk was on the other side of the room. My teacher asked a question and I raised my hand. Instead of answering the question I asked for a hall pass. It took everything in me just to do that, and I walked quickly to the bathroom that was connected to the library. I went there because it was rarely in use. I needed a moment to try collect myself before the world closed in on me.

Then one day I was doing my math homework while watching Saved By the Bell, and I didn’t feel good. My mom had brought home groceries, and surprised me with Muppet Treasure Island on VHS. Yes you read that right, it was on tape and it was newly released in a clamshell case. To this day that is one of my favorite comfort movies. I remember watching it, but feeling like my stomach was slowly tying itself into knots. I stayed home from school the next day, and the next day my mom drove me to school while I cried. I sat in the parking lot crying, and said I couldn’t go in. I just couldn’t. It wasn’t feeling of not wanting to. It was that I couldn’t. The panic in me had manifested so much that I let the fear control me.

The next day I couldn’t leave the house.

Searching for Compassion

Recently in the news there was a girl that committed suicide in front of her family. Her name was Brandy Vela, and she was a victim of cyberbullying for years. This story really affected me, and not because I was bullied. It was because I felt sad for her. She was so close to finding out that none of these people will matter in the long run.

Then I started reading the comments from people on the internet about the story. Some of them really broke my heart.  They lacked compassion. They spoke of ignorance. Cyber bullying and bullying in general is a real thing, and it’s a real problem in this era. It’s not so simple to just turn off your social media page. She was sad and scared, and she didn’t know any way out but death. She was helpless. Suicide is not the answer, but I give her compassion for what she went through, for why she felt this was the only way out. I also want to give compassion to her family, and what they must be going through. I desperately think this world needs more education on mental health.

This story prompted me to post the following post on my Facebook.

“I think maybe I’m far more empathetic then I realize. I try to see things in different angles. I always wanted to get my MSW, but I was worried I would take the job home with me. I also would love to teach high school English or Social Studies. I truly believe the childhood years and teen years help mold kids. So I hope some day to help them.

I have struggled with anxiety and panic attacks since I was 15 years old. Sometimes depression because the idea of stepping out the door scares me, and I wish I didn’t feel that way. I literally would sit in the parking lot of my school crying my eyes out because I just could not get myself out of the car and into that school building. There was no reason. I was just scared and sad and struggling. I dropped out of school for a full three weeks. It felt like so much longer. I wanted out, and today I still deal with that feeling of panic. Like being stuck. Like there’s no door out. I still have to sit in places with an easy exit.

When I finally went back I had a doctors note that said I could get up and leave if I have to without asking. The sad thing is I was afraid to use that. I panicked about that. I often called my mom to come pick me up because I couldn’t handle it. I made sure I had change to use the pay phone because we didn’t have cell phones.

Today I still struggle. EVERY SINGLE DAY. I wake up at 3 AM almost regularly because my brain doesn’t want to shut off. My heart will be pounding for no reason at all. I get up and watch TV, usually Friends or I listen to an audiobook. Just so I stop thinking irrational thoughts. Just to calm the extra loud beating of my heart I hear.

Yet…I graduated high school. I graduated with a bachelors degree from the U of A. I met and married an amazing man. I have amazing supportive friends, not a lot but definitely ones that I hold close. have a beautiful child. I held a full time job and a part time job while I was a mother. My family has ALWAYS been supportive of me. My parents pushed me to be independent and at the same time let me know they would always be there to fall on. That they would love me and lift me up. They taught me not to judge.

So I hope to do the same for my son. I want to raise him to be independent and loving, but to never be afraid to come to me. But also….I want desperately to be able to some day help other kids. Maybe I’ll get my MSW or maybe I’ll teach English, because reading is my passion. I truly believe the fact that I read regularly is what gives me regular knowledge.

Anyway this was probably too long, but I needed to get it off my chest.”

 

It was something I needed to get out, and so many people said thank you for sharing it. People want to hear this stuff. They want to hear they aren’t alone. This is also the post that prompted me to start blogging again. I have so many thoughts running through my head, and I decided I needed an outlet again, a pensieve if you will. This is only the beginning.

 

Please share this number: 1-800-273-8255

It’s the national suicide hotline. There’s also a chat option on the internet. You could save a life. This beautiful life is worth living.