Down in the Dumps

This episode with my kids knocked me way, way down.

And I’m guessing it’s obvious to my friends, or I’ve gotten them scared to death, because they are checking, checking, checking on me a couple times a day.

I can’t knock it.

First, the physical. I feel like I want to cry, like really cry. Get it out. I can’t. I just can’t for some reason. My insides are still buzzy as if they are in high alert. I don’t like this consistent feeling as it signals to me I’m waiting for something bad to happen.

Next, the mental. I’m playing some sort of waiting game. I don’t even know what I’m waiting for but that’s how it feels. I feel like I’m looking for something that’s coming and I don’t know when or how. A couple weeks back, when this feeling started, it felt positive a like great things around the corner. It’s turned into something else, like dreaded anticipation.

I have forgiven my kids and myself for the argument. I made an appt with the therapist for the 4 of us and all of them are angry and rebellious about it. They have some said things that I attribute to their Dad, but I find myself questioning if I really am “that person.” One son said “get a boyfriend already and take the pressure off of us.” Another one said “you expect too much from us and you’re always disappointed”. My toughest guy told me that no one will ever love the way I love and that’s a direct quote from his Dad. I can’t figure out if they are sort of brainwashed or if this is how they see me through their “adult” eyes now. It’s really upsetting me.

I haven’t heard from Mike which admittedly unbalanced me, but I know there’s nothing I can do about it.

I’m upset my sisters mother doesn’t want me to have a plus one at the wedding AND the fact I don’t even have a plus one to ask. I feel like the next 3-4 months of family events that I am ALONE in capital letters.

This feeling of being alone is bothering me. I’ve said it many times but I just want a relationship of some sort already.

I do see, at least, how to help myself beware of my anxious attachment. I think it takes practice as I’ve still gotten little hurts along the way.

I don’t understand exactly how my mind works in terms of the attachment. Tom and Charles were pretty close to “getting it right from go” but my mind selected Mike above them in a way I’ve been able to disconnect from Tom and Charles easily, but less so from Mike. And before anyone says much, this is me in my head, I’m not acting on anything – there’s nothing to act on. In my opinion anyone who says “we’ve been on two dates” just drew a clear line in the sand that I’m not on his radar the way he might be in mine.

My friends think I have more on my plate than I am acknowledging and it’s slightly reminiscent of last summer. Kids, men and work all culminating into concerns at one time and layering on the anxiety. I truly don’t think I’m built for the same level of intensity I was able to put out before, I don’t feel that drive that makes me so strong. Not consistently.

I will write about work in a separate post but at the moment I can’t seem to pull myself up out of my depression.

Crap Travels Downward

The day passed as most do at my new role, uneventfully.

But not in my head. In my head my world seems to be be suffocating me. My body is anxious and disturbed.

On Mikes advice, I try to speak to the x. I knew this wasn’t the right advice for me but I want to try anything at this point to feel better.

What a waste of an hour. This man doesn’t even know his own child. I can’t deal with his stupidity. Even worse, he says he can’t take care of all 3 kids because he doesn’t have the room, he’s busy renovating his mothers basement and he has a life. This lit me right up. I’ve had those kids for 2+ years full time. I need a break and you better fucking figure it out for a few weeks. His answer: no, let them stay “home”. I was livid.

My answer to him was “not my problem you live in a 2 bedroom apartment for 5 years and don’t have space, that’s been your decision, for now you need to parent all 3 of your children together”.

I know I shouldn’t be. This is a man who only cares about himself, his mother and his own satisfaction. A mother who needs a break from a full time adult child has no choice but to care for her child or they are on the street because their father basically rejects his parental responsibility.

His answer: they are 20. Well, two of them will be twenty in a week, but our youngest is 16. Either way, we are responsible for them until they are out of college. He doesn’t see it that way. Nor does he care. He’s got a girlfriend and he’s got a sleepover on Thursday so my son has no where to sleep.

Their Dad is ok telling them to get lost that he has plans.

I am not ok with that. I am not that parent. He knows this so I am left with full time care of 3 kids while the father lives his life and I have a nervous breakdown.

I am so angry. I’m so angry that I made myself sick today. I had to call the therapist for an emergency appt on the phone – that’s how worried about myself I was. I could feel the gently wrapped threads unraveling at a very fast pace.

I took another hour to speak with her. She was genuinely concerned and worried, but had little to offer at the beginning than “you are in a very difficult, nearly impossible, situation”. Yes! I know that! But I’m calling you for answers and strategies!

Eventually we got there. I got a script together for my next steps. It’s not what I expected but it makes sense to me.

I really couldn’t function properly the rest of the day.

The sexting with Mike had me feeling regretful for some unknown reason and the behavior I had with my kids was just leaving me unsettled.

I did tell my group what’s going on with me. Closest friend took me out for drinks and listened. She’s single and in her 40s not much she can add in the way of parenting. But she was there for me when I needed her. Another friend thinks the boys deserve strong consequences (read punishment). When I asked her what she would do differently she couldn’t come up with anything different but insisted she would be tougher than me. This friend is the antithesis of me – never wants to be in another relationship as long as she lives, including parenting her children or being obligated as an adult child to her mother or sisters. She does it better than anyone I know but literally hates it. Again, she was there for me.

I hate that I feel like I need a male partner to support me. Is it because I didn’t get any male parenting while I was a child and haven’t ever seen my x parenting our children? I think there may be something in there. I need male validation and partnership because this has always been a void in my life.

That evening I made another mistake texting Mike while I was at the bar 2 solid glasses of wine in and starting the third on an empty stomach. It started funny and silly but then I made a comment that maybe he could be less distant and just more like the guy I met.

The response: you are really off base. I’ve been nothing but nice to you. We’ve been out twice. I’m sorry you had a bad day and a shitty x

Nothing like being put in your place.

I reread my text and I don’t know how he went from A to Z but he did. I apologized that he misinterpreted my request for him to just be flirty while I was having a bad night.

No mixed signals in his text, eh? When you remind someone you’ve only “been out twice” it’s pretty clear that’s all it was and all it will be. I knew that. Of course I did. I was the idiot who crossed a line because I should never have text him today AT ALL.

He would have come back when he was ready for more sex and not before. But my anxiety got the better of me. I was needy and went to the wrong person for comfort. I knew he wouldn’t or couldn’t give me what I needed but, yet, I still went.

After all – no one, not one person, could help me today. I wanted to go numb. I wanted to sit in a corner and rock and cry. That might have been better than trying to be strong. Maybe I should have taken the time to let it all out. I know that only I can help myself. If I had taken the time to walk through today’s scenarios calmly in my head I would never have made the call to the x or to Mike. I can only help myself. I know this and continue to fight it.

Now I am on a bus home, sitting next to a man who (if he bumps into me once more) I might punch. Dreading the fact that I need to have a conversation with two of my kids when I get home. It can’t wait.

The other kid is with his Dad but I don’t know what he will do Thursday and Friday if his dad kicks him out.

Is getting upset over the x and some dumb text to Mike the end of the world? No. However – I’m always concerned about losing control now. It was the same for a long while with the exercise, I was so afraid to miss even one day I exercised myself into oblivion. It was very, very hard to adjust to less exercise and not crucify myself when I missed a day for good reason. This little derailment is the same. I lost some control, I knew it what happening, I took mostly the right steps to correct it and I will get myself back on track (I think).

I’m obsessing at the moment and I think that’s pretty standard process for me. My mind has to flip everything over and beat it blue before I let go. I get into my head and spin myself into an endless loop that I have quite a bit of trouble breaking. I analyze over and over to see if different actions would have different results. It’s like replaying a horrible highlight reel.

I read an article that helped with post conflict redirection through mantra, and while this helps, I need to find one while I’m in the conflict (or on the brink of making poor decision or exhibit bad behavior)

I know I cannot Define myself by what happened. It’s a bump in the road and I will inch forward and recover. I’m writing as the outlet to help stop the rumination.

I need to reinforce to myself that I am valuable. I am worthy. I am god enough, strong enough, and smart enough. I need to establish a mantra I can repeat when feeling dating or kid anxiety. Mantras cut through the noise in my head and create peace and space. I’ve learned this from almost daily meditation but I need a short and sweet one I can put in my pocket and put on repeat.

I’m just struggling with this pit in my stomach I can’t seem to move past. Then I worry the pit is there for a reason I haven’t acknowledge and that scares me. My intuition is so sensitive and not often wrong. I’m not trying to ignore it I just don’t know what it’s telling me right now.

At the moment I am trying to repeat:

Whatever is meant to be, will be.

There is a time and place for everything.

This too shall pass.

I am still healing, learning and growing.

Everything happens for a reason, even if don’t understand that reason today.

The only thing under my control is me. Deep breaths. Chin up. One foot in front of the other.

Hinge

So I’m going to try a new dating app called Hinge. Tinder is too much for men who are not serious, Bumble is ok but I’m frustrated after John, and Match is downright disgusting.

So far, I like the app. You have to post 6 photos and there’s 3 questions to answer which can range from funny to serious. There is some required info and some additional info you can add. The filter system is overall better than the other apps. I’ve seen lots of new faces and some older ones from the other apps too. We shall see how it goes.

I’m not pining over John and it may sounded like more than it was since I wrote 3 posts, but it was no more than a good connection he’s not interested in pursuing. That sucks, but such is life.

What did I learn?

There is, in fact, another man similar to Tony in values, communication and behavior. I think that’s what caused the most excitement because he’s the first I found.

My boxes can be checked and I don’t have to compromise. However, it may mean a very long wait for another good man to pop up.

He reinforced that my physical “requirements” in a man are flexible if I feel like there is decent substance. He was 6’1″ but super narrow from his face all the way down – I have always preferred more meat on man. Sex was just fine with a small penis, because he was very good. It definitely isn’t as immediately pleasurable as it is with a larger penis and requires some additional work, but it was nice to learn that doesn’t need to be as heavily considered (and yes, I’ve had almost all large men in my life so I was a bit jaded.).

He was ambitious, kind, emotionally generous and fun. He was a great Dad. He travels often and love the lessons learned from travel. I know my list is long but somehow he checked all the right boxes in the right combination.

I agree too much texting and talking before a date is detrimental. But only because it seems the men can’t manage it – I love it and don’t see how it really matters. I also don’t agree in an immediate meeting without a proper vetting. So I will go back to making good choices and only move forward with the ones I really find appealing so I’m not wasting my time.

So here’s to hoping there are other Tony, Bobby’s and Johns out there who are ready for relationship. And that I can find them through all the flotsam and jetsam of the dating world.

When I’m the Needy One

If you read my blog I’m sure you think I’m needy all the time. But that ain’t so – I’m pretty independent. I manage my home and children on my own. When I’m working I commute and travel long distances. Things get done.

But when I’m sick or sad I’m super needy. And there’s no one that fills Tony’s absence.

I guess it’s pretty normal that when I’m happy and busy that I think of him much less. When I’m sad and depressed he’s at the front of my mind.

A long, long time ago Anne questioned how much I loved Bobby or just loved the experience of Bobby or how he made me feel. In the end, I did have love for Bobby but in hindsight he turned out to be much more about how he made me feel.

I think about that with Tony too. I want to feel absorbed by someone again I want that person to call and tell everything to. I got a job. I got sick. I worked out and did good. Or bad. Whatever. I want to share these things.

So first, let’s get out of the way, I got no answers at the surgeon today because he’s baffled. Now it’s a waiting game. If it’s a fistula it will either resolve on its own (unlikely but not impossible) or make itself known clearly (pain, vomiting, fever). Until then, watch and wait. He wants me to change nothing in my diet or exercise. The only concern at the moment is the skin around the wound is very, very thin and close the bowel and could tear. I just need to pay extra special attention to the wound area as it’s aggravated from the leaking.

I weigh less than I did in my 20s right now. Every day I lose more weight. He says this isn’t the first problem as long as I feel fine.

And, I do feel fine. Other than this damn wound I feel better than ever.

So there’s that. I’m a leaky faucet at the moment.

Oh – and this isn’t exactly related to the VSG surgery. It’s a side effect of any abdominal surgery and there are reasons why it happens in some and not in others. I’ve had multiple same site surgeries and there is a lot of scar tissue and adhesion. There is also some leftover flotsam and jetsam from my childhood surgeries in my body – foreign objects. Never heard that before. But I saw it on the scans and it’s one of the reasons my belly is so disfigured from surgery in 1970.

Of course after the surgeon today I called my family and friends – the Mexico Unit I call them. The ones who brought me through and stand by me and made it clear they love me and want me around. I spoke to them. They listened and offered advice.

But they were not Tony. They don’t love me the same. The feeling isn’t there. I miss being so enveloped in his love. I really do ok on the other days…it’s just days like this….I miss him and how he loved me.

I suppose the good news is – I don’t go looking for that in someone else because I’m missing him. I’m not on the apps or reaching out to anyone else because I feel needy. I just feel needy and miss him.

And I try to care for myself. ❤️

Bitter Envy

I’ve identified a feeling that’s more deeply seated than I realized and I’m not sure how to work through this one. This is when I wish I could afford the therapist.

I realize I am very, very envious of Tony’s life. One of the reasons I can’t seem to let go is I identified with his life as the life I always wanted.

I don’t know exactly how this came to be, but it hit me hard last night. Add that to the list of horrid traits I have.

Tony has everything I want. It’s making me crazy that I don’t, or can’t, have it and it’s right there embodied in one human. How is that even possible? He works for a company I am proud of and thrilled to be a part of as a consumer. He’s respected and intelligent in the workplace. His children love and adore him and he is willing to lay his life on the line for his family. He liked all the same things I liked, including travel. He was a fantastic lover and communicator and oh so kind and gentle. He cared for me and looked after me.

I hate that I still feel bitterness over my divorce and my poor choice of a husband. My x never gave me what I needed, nor could he – but I didn’t or wouldn’t realize this until so many years later. I don’t exactly feel like I’ve wasted time because I have my family, but because we can’t even parent together, I feel the lack of cohesive family painfully. When I look at Tony’s, or other families that function lovingly, I really feel serious and deep envy.

Compared to the Summer of ’16 when I really thought I had it all – the kids seemed to be adapting to our lives well, I was at the start of a love affair, and being offered what I considered to be my penultimate job. I have actually now accepted my job will change and I have become ok with that. I am so confident in my abilities that it will work out. But when it comes to love and my kids, maybe I lack confidence and it’s why I feel envy and regret?

I did feel like a complete failure last summer, which led to the series of events bringing me to Mexico. But, in hindsight, it was coupled with envy and regret. My lover was leaving to live a life he loved and chose over me, and (all of) my kids were not the loving children I thought I raised them to be. These two things I haven’t fully dig deep enough to eradicate. I still feel pain from these things. And I think it stems from being envious that he is the embodiment of the life I wish I had. I believe it must raise my biggest internal fear that I am inadequate.

What are the chances (and why) that one person can have everything you want so exactly? I don’t truly covet many material things (well, I am a little bit bougie) – but a good life with a loving family and partner who cares for me first – that’s all I’ve ever wanted. I’ve always said his life was perfect and I mean perfect for me.

It’s less so about comparing my life to his. I don’t think I have a bad life and I do feel pride (on some level, I should probably learn to feel more honestly) of all I have accomplished. I just look at his life and wish it was how mine played out (minus the cheating husband). Why am I counting his blessings while ignoring my own? How do I remember to be grateful for my accomplishments and my family without feeling envy for what I don’t have? Is it because I saw it and tasted it for myself – I know it’s out there in human form and I can’t have it? It’s not a vanity thing, not something outward – it was his ability to love so wholly and envelope the people he loved the way he did. I’ve never been part of something like that.

And since I’m spilling my guts I also have to admit to texting him from a burner yesterday and asking him to speak. He didn’t reply. As bad as that is, it could have been worse since I was at Peloton for a studio ride and could have gone to his floor (I’m sure I could find him if I went looking). Trixie peeked out, but was seriously chastised by my better self being afraid of utter rejection if I saw him face to face.

I know talking about Tony is like vomit. But this is my safe space while I am without therapy and I can’t speak it out loud anymore. Even I want to knock myself over the head. It’s been 2 years since he stayed in his marriage and a year since I’ve seen him. But, I always say, better out than in – and these ugly thoughts have to come out.

I am learning meditation and yoga. And, as I mentioned yesterday, I do wonder how people who are great coaches always have the best positive self-talk. It just ALWAYS feels false to me. I can do it for a bit then I’m exhausted because it doesn’t feel genuine. Maybe that’s why I’m not the best parent? Maybe I don’t encourage and instill enough confidence because I’m so negative? I always try and out my kids first but feel like they take complete advantage of me rather than love and adore me for it. Do some people just win the patent lottery? (I actually don’t believe that – I do believe Tony and Kelly are excellent parents and they reap what they sowed so that’s why it bothers me more….I clearly did not sow the right seeds).

My kids say I blame everyone and everything else for my problems? Do I? Do I look outward instead of inward? I thought (and so did the therapist) that I was pretty good at identifying my pitfalls and the error of my ways. Their Dad is a master of telling them that I never accept blame. I will admit I am very good at getting away from it and directing blame elsewhere for many things, but I don’t think I shy away from the important things. I would love to be able to say that my kids and my unhappy home life is all because of my x and his poor parenting skills. But he can’t take all the credit, nor have I ever assigned it all to him. I would love to be able to identify why my home/family life isn’t what I hoped/dreamed it would be. I even shied away from blaming my parents in therapy for the way I was raised and what, most likely, created the girl who never felt good enough. I can see the reasons I feel inadequate and I can sort of understand how those would lead to being envious of Tony’s life – but how do I stop wishing it was mine? (just to be clear – I don’t wish I was his wife or replacing his wife – this is much more figurative than that)

One of these days I will figure out why I can’t let go and learn to love what I have along with loving myself. I just don’t know when.

When You See Your Reflection

My son is home from college and is deeply depressed. I knew there was only one thing I could say to him “No matter what you chose, I will support you.”

I knew he needed to hear that from me in order to release his tension and anxiety. He doesn’t want to go back to the college he chose.

I understand, he made a dumb decision. There was a lot of bad reasons he made that dumb decision and I wasn’t happy about it but he’s 19 and has to start making some of his own decisions. For better or for worse. At least this dumb decision created the opportunity for me to say to him “will you please listen to my advice this time and consider it more seriously?” He realizes now I know him better than he gave me credit for. He also realized his father is useless when it comes to serious decision-making.

What he hasn’t realized is that he is accountable for his actions.  Sometimes, he just gives up before he starts.  Re-enrolling him in college has been painful, and I mean like stepping on a Lego painful.  Some of his statements have been “I’ve done it already” “I knew this would happen to me” “Whats the point?”   Ok, registering late sucks because everything is accelerated, but it’s not the end of the world and I’m helping you every step of the way – but I cannot DO it for you.  I’ve been to college, this is your responsibility.

I don’t even have the energy to blog about all the things he’s said and the conclusions he’s come to. I would prefer he go back (to his original college) and make a try of it. In my opinion, he’s giving up and it smacks of lazy. I hate lazy. But, in my current state of apathy, it’s really hard to engage him when I understand so well what he feels. I just didn’t feel it at 19.

This week we had to move fast to exit him from one school and get him into another, temporarily. My belief, ultimately, is he’s young enough to start all over again and I’m not opposed to that. What I do fear is his ability to get under my skin and cause massive disruption in this house and family. I notice his twin is angry (at me) because his brother is home and being disruptive. The eldest is one entitled kid and while he knows I’m helping him and he understands, he doesn’t change.

He admitted to me some of his characteristics which bother him and it’s hard to keep my mouth shut when he’s such a reflection of both my x and myself.  He lies like crazy which is probably one of my biggest pet peeves with his Dad. I hate lying. My parents and brother were masters at it, then my x husband and now my twins. It’s a craft that makes me want to kill someone. I don’t even understand the need to lie – I can see some reasons – like they don’t want their “appearance” to be affected. They want to maintain a certain face to the world. Lying catches up to you. The truth almost always finds a way to the surface. Just writing about lying makes me angry.

I brought the boys to therapy last week so they each had an opportunity to discuss with my therapist. I was due for a follow-up Monday but had a stomach bug and couldn’t go. I don’t know what they said. They wouldn’t discuss it any more with me but said it’s mostly stuff I already know. As much as I believe I need to try to listen to my children to be able to help them, there’s a large part of me that just wants them to act like small adults and grow a pair of respect balls. I was probably no different as a teen – maybe meaner, even. But I held up my end of the parent/child relationship: good grades, a full-time job, responsibility for myself (doctors, laundry, car, school etc) and activity in general. My boys barely do a damn thing for themselves other than school – and I’m not that impressed with their grades. Sleep, eat and video games. That’s it. Is it too much as a parent to ask for more? Good grades and get a job are top of mind for my 19 year olds.

I see so much of myself in my eldest twin. I suffered in my first year of college and made irrevocable poor decisions. I want him to avoid the same fate. But he needs to listen and be open to accepting that he screwed up and can actually take a step backwards in order to leap forwards. I wish I understood that. I wish I knew there was time and opportunity if I was just patient and smart about my choices, but I didn’t have that kind of guidance. I did have support – my father didn’t understand how to support, but my mom did.  My eldest has both support and guidance.  Honestly, at 19, he’s got it great and still takes advantage of me.

I’m also angry as his father doesn’t seem to be invested. Maybe they have their own conversations but it infuriates me that his father has zero communication with me regarding our children. We didn’t parent together in marriage so I see nothing has changed with him but I don’t understand how a parent can be so far removed from their children. The boys barely see him and he doesn’t seem to care. He believes if they want him they will find him. There’s a large part of me that’s so angry with him that I hope they end up not giving a shit about him the same way he’s treating them. It’s amazing to me how little involvement he needs and they still love him. I hate parenting on my own (here’s where I say I miss Tony). I hate having to figure out these life choices alone. I hate not knowing what he is saying to them. Kids need parental consistency and I feel angry that we don’t give it to him because he refuses to have a co-parenting relationship.

My friend says I have to just ignore him entirely. What he says and does doesn’t matter and I have to focus on what I can do alone.

This just makes me feel more pressure because I don’t want to do it and certainly not alone. The only comfort I have is knowing this would be much worse if I was still married to him. I try and calm my anger by reminding myself that I’m glad he’s gone. Some days I can’t even believe it’s 4.5 years we’ve been apart – I’m so thankful to not be married to that man. I suppose I need to remember how grateful I am that I got out of it. Ever since the surgery I’ve been more angry at him than ever. He allows all the weight of parenting to fall in my shoulders and doesn’t share any burden. It is making me crazy because I am so weak at the moment.

I don’t know anymore if I am capable of holding the weight of my world on my shoulders anymore.  I’m not working (or doing anything else) and I can just about manage these kids.

Growing Up

Growing up….gosh I don’t recall as much as some other folks do. I think I had a decent childhood earmarked by things I loved and adored.

But when someone reframed events and circumstances for you (hello my therapist) you start to rethink HOW you remembered things. And I have an amazing knack for taking the good forward and leaving the bad behind. Sometimes even eliminating the bad so I don’t have to feel those negative things again.

My father never really engaged in a positive way with his children. I recall begging for any positive attention. I never really liked my father and it took a deathbed promise to my mother to stop arguing with him. My most outstanding memory was being hit by my father, or chased and punished. Until I was 16. Years later my mother and father denied he ever “hit” me. Because of my father ever “hit”Me I would be dead. He simply gave me “love taps” as they liked to call them. Nothing like gaslighting your own child, right?

My father now speaks and behaves as if my mother was the only person that mattered in his life. He has no engagement with his 5 grandchildren unless he eats a meal with us. I’m sure he loves all of us in his own way, but his way is something I will never understand.

I don’t recall him ever encouraging me as a child. I was always “fat” and he called me by a nickname I hated and begged not to be called. Even to this day he tells me how I don’t know anything. When I first got a job (in an office) he thought I would never have “hard work” because I wasn’t a laborer. At least his opinion of that has changed as he’s watched me kill myself working over the years.

I got my work ethic from him. And my ability to be stubborn and argue before listening. I am most unlike my father. I am pretty sure he didn’t like me as a child, but he is proud of me as an adult because he can see the fruit of my labor. I never told him about the surgeries or Mexico because he would never understand.

I still blame him for my mother’s end. Not her death, but how she lived in squalor because he was so possessive and wouldn’t allow anyone else to care for her when he clearly couldn’t. When I think of it I get so angry I could hurt him. My mother had to be carted around like a doll when she was in stage 4 cancer, diapers, and incoherent because of what “he wanted” to do. It was always his way or the highway. Still is. Now I just allow him into our lives on my terms since I know I have to accept him as he is. I feel sad he is my father and tried the best he could. I don’t think he really wanted children the way my mom did. He just wanted her to himself.

My mom, I still have a hard time admitting I wasn’t the child she wanted. An even harder time admitting she didn’t know how to mother a child like me. If she had lived longer we might have found our stride – but we didn’t for most of my life. I regret this immensely and hope this doesn’t happen with my own children. It scares me to death.

My poor mother had to deal with my father who was cruel and possessive, her mother who was mentally unstable and needy (and the two of them hated each other) and then I come along and I’m high strung and aggressive and want to be left alone. I don’t want to do the girl things she wants me to do. I don’t want to take care of her the way she cared for her mother at her beck and call. I watched her be miserable and refused it for myself. I watched her live my brothers life for him, coddling him to a point where he is incapable of being an adult (until he met a woman who kicked his ass!). Her life scared me. I know she wanted better for me and always encouraged me and was my biggest cheerleader – but she was disappointed in my lack of empathy and compassion when I was young (it was her hallmark). I have it now….but not sure if it would have been enough for her.

The hallmark of my entire young life was “not enough” or “too much” and then that carried through to my marriage. How do you forgive your inner child or begin to like her again when she was never just “enough”.

I also realized the first forms of validation I received on being enough came from boyfriends. This is probably why I continue to seek validation with men. The early boyfriends I had were so good to me. Every one of them wanted to marry me. They were all good men for that point in my life but I grew out of each one for one reason or another.

Looking back a growing up I realize I never really liked myself because my parents didn’t like me. I didn’t make solid friends until high school, around the same time I became interested in boys. We had moved twice when I was young and I just couldn’t connect to the girls until I joined Flag Squad In High School and became a part of a “team.” By that time the boys came on the scene and I never really developed those female relationships that so many do. I depended on men for validation from the very beginning.

So much work to do still and it’s so hard. How do you forgive and accept yourself for so many years ago? What if I never like that child? She was always awkward and needy. She never felt pretty until very late – 10th grade – when she realized how sexual she was. Will I always feel like that little girl? With peaks of happiness but not truly satisfied with herself underneath it all? Thinking and feeling that no one really knew her and loved her for who she was. They always wanted her to be someone else until she met her boyfriends. They wanted her just as she was. They would have stayed by her side. Why didn’t her parents feel that way? That she was good enough just the way she was?

Adoption

How do I really feel about adoption?

Other than exploring alternative feelings in therapy, I would always say I am very positive about adoption.   I do not truly understand the stigma people feel related to adoption.

I was adopted the day after I was born, because my mother desperately wanted a child. She told me that she wouldn’t have stayed married to my father had they not gotten the call for me so many years ago.  Her family was thrilled for her because she was the beloved only-child in a large family of cousins.  I never felt anything less than wanted growing up, and never, to this day, question who my parents are.  I even get a bit annoyed when people call them my  “adoptive parents.”   There is no need to label my parents other than parents, they raised me, loved me, cared for me and provided for me my entire life. My birthparents need a distinguishing label because they created me, but did not nurture or parent me.   I literally gag when people refer to my birthparents as “your real parents.’  My real parents are the ones who raised me, no one else is more real to me than my parents.

I do get angry when people feel the need to distinguish the people who raised me with any moniker other than parent.

The back story of my adoption is very interesting, but much too long to share (literally deserves a book) so I will provide and edited version:  Hank and Judy met in High School and were from different sides of the tracks, so to speak.  Hank came from a wealthy and social family and Judy from a less-affluent family.   Hank went off to college and during his first  Christmas break, had sex with Judy.  She got pregnant.  I never asked him if they were having regular sex or not – I will have to ask him more details.  It never really crossed my mind.

Just recently, I came across a family photo on Facebook of Judy around April 1967 – which means she was pregnant with me!  The caption under reads “Family photo for Mothers Day 1967” a little bit of irony there, eh?  The family was embarrassed she was pregnant out of wedlock and sent her away to live with an Aunt until she had the baby.  She doesn’t recall much of my birth, because women were fully sedated in 1967, and won’t speak to me about the pregnancy.  I don’t know how depressed she was, or if it was a healthy pregnancy.  I know from our first conversation that I was a full secret to her family, and her parents did not want her to acknowledge me when I finally found her in 1996.  I know she has real issues acknowledging me in general, but every once in a while her curiosity gets the better of her and she will reach out to me with a note on Facebook (though she will not friend me).

When I first found her, I was angry that she wouldn’t acknowledge me.  I was trying to get pregnant and wanted my medical history.  Because of this, I then pursued my birthfather.  Finding Hank was en entirely different story.

Hank and his wife, Debbie, immediately welcomed me into their hearts and home.  Hank and Debbie also had my beloved sister, whom I believe is the real reason all this fell into place at all.  My little sister, Kiki, and I have developed a wonderful relationship over the years and I adore her.  She just got engaged and I will be her maid-of-honor, even though I am 20 years older!  Finding Hank’s family showed me how nature is just as important as nurture.  Anyone who knows me and knows Hank would agree.  I am his child through and through.  I keep close contact with this family to this day, and my children call him Poppa Hank.

Once I found my birthparents the years have provided a more complete idea of my genetics, and maybe there was something in me that was silenced.  Perhaps the intense curiosity of knowing who I was?  Of why I did the things I did, or thought the way I thought?  I don’t recall how I felt at the time I found them except satisfied.  I was unlike my parents in most ways and everyone would always say “where did you come from!” because my mother was so gentle and I was not.  I was a busy, hyperactive, curious child – that was too much of a handful for my parents.  Looking back, I realize my mother carried the full burden of parenting, my father rarely participated in parenting unless it was to hit me for discipline.  In any case, I don’t think I ever felt resentment towards my birthparents for giving me up for adoption because my life was really good.  If my birthparents had kept me, I would have been a child of a single, unhappy mother.  God chose a better path for me placing me into my mothers loving arms.

That’s pretty much my adoption story.  In therapy we are exploring a few topics related to adoption.   The idea that I wasn’t wanted/loved in utero (this one bothers me quite a deal) and the idea that I was abandoned by my birth parents.  Honestly, I prefer to exclude these ideas in favor of the way I was actually parented, and how that affected my behaviors.  While I still struggle with acknowledging anything about my parents parenting style (because my mother is not alive and my father is 82 – whats the point) I do see value in understanding and exploring my inner child and the lengths she went to in order to be seen, heard and loved – and how my needs as a child were not met with my parents parenting style and how that developed into bad coping mechanisms for me.

I am in the process of reading a book on how to re-parent your inner child, and I can’t say I love it.   While I believe in the theory, the exercises feel just plain stupid to me.  Drawing with your left hand (or non dominant hand) your inner child has more of an ability to speak to you.  I can’t draw a straight line with my dominant hand so this exercise feels simply ridiculous to me.  I have tried a few times now and I give up – this type of creative therapy doesn’t resonate for me.  I will have to speak to the therapist today about that as she feels its significant that I can’t do the art therapy.

In my next few posts I plan to explore what I have rediscovered about my childhood.  The memories I prefer to suppress in favor of the really good, positive and nurturing memories.  I don’t know how much posting I will get to this week as I actually have to go back into the city a couple days…which is already causing me great anxiety.

 

Inner Child

Hello Madeline, meet Trixie.

Oh, you know each other already?

Hmmmm….

So work with my therapist has begun on my inner child. Basically, learning how to like and accept that young wounded girl and then learning how to re-parent her.

Truthfully, I don’t know how I feel about this work. I don’t like going back to revisit difficult things and I am a champion at forgetting bad things – also known as my stellar behavior to crucify myself on a daily basis.

A friend said to me: what you have been doing and how you have been doing it isn’t working, why not try another way? Open your mind and listen.

Because this is my nearest and dearest friend whom I trust the most, I agreed to try something different. This also includes a therapist who is also non-secular. I promised, while begging for life in Mexico, that I would try and turn to God. More on this piece to come at a later time.

This post is simply to introduce the idea of my inner child and how she will help me learn why my behaviors, especially my bad behaviors, have become my ultimate coping mechanism.

We spent a little time talking about my childhood and my parents. If you asked me, I would say I had a very good, and happy, childhood. That’s only partly true. I was a very dissatisfied child, worse so when my younger brother came on the scene almost 6 years later. I actually no longer dwelt on the cards I was dealt as a child, I thought – and still think, to some degree – going back to explore these issues doesn’t hold and value on how I choose to live today. I am aware of the things I was uncomfortable with in childhood, but prefer not to dwell. Further, I’ve been taught that it just sounds like privilege complaining. People had it way worse than me in their lives, my parents tried their best, my mother is no longer alive, and my father is nearly 82. What’s the point of reliving painful memories that can stir up old feelings of anger and sadness (amongst many other feelings) when I have moved past all of that?

Or, have I?

I am willing to explore it and think about it. Try to learn what I don’t love about myself that I allow so many others to determine my self-worth. And then learn how to love and accept all of me, so that I may share myself fully with others.

I will start with my adoption. I may have told the story in a past blog somewhere, but I’m going to write again. I will walk through some childhood memories and try to think about why my inner child is so unhappy and feels so unwanted. I think I have many answers already but I want to do the work in writing.

I feel a need to apologize to my mother in heaven before I start this work:

Momma, I love you more than anything and I’m sorry I was never the daughter you needed, but I loved you fully and know you would be so proud of the woman I’ve become. I know you won’t like this….I need to explore what’s making me so unhappy in my womanhood that must be stemming from my childhood. I no longer blame anyone, it’s only a process of realization. I know you didn’t like so many things I’ve done in my life that must have felt like direct attacks on your parenting, but you always, ultimately, supported me in the end. We were always uncomfortable together, you and I. It was never a fully harmonious relationship. We always questioned one another. I wish I understood you sooner so you could have felt more love from me than you did, but believe me, it was always there. You have, and always will be, my first love and number one. Please support this hard work I have to do. I don’t want to remember things that hurt because you are not here with me anymore and I feel it’s unfair, but I believe it can help. Please continue to stay by my side throughout. I love you.