Can’t Concentrate Enough to Meditate
I generally don’t do well with meditation. I’ve had my problems with medication.
Wow, that sounds like a song. Don’t steal it, okay? . . . but I digress . . .
I just can’t seem to quiet my mind. It’s an ongoing problem. I’m better at researching issues and attempting suggested solutions from a list. Those have been my biggest breakthroughs in dealing with my crap. But lately I’ve been feeling almost new-age-like — until the books talk about meditation, intoning aspirations and such. I believe it does work for some people but I have trouble. I know it takes practice. The books say so.
It reminds me of the time my sister was on a girl scout camping trip. All of the girls were looking into the night sky at the stars and trying to identify the constellations. My sister and her friend were not impressed and a little bored. They realized that since everyone was focused and looking up to the sky they could just walk away — unnoticed. And they did.
That’s what my mind does. It just walks away. I almost actually walked away at a group therapy meditation session, but the therapist gave me a dirty look. I just closed my eyes. Whatever.
Anywho . . .
What was I talking about?
Oh yeah, meditation.
I’ve tried it and fallen asleep, I’ve tried it and gotten very angry that THESE PEOPLE ARE MAKING ME SIT HERE!!!! And, truth be told, I haven’t tried it very diligently. I did try massage once. I could not relax. Waste of money.
So it’s really weird that I’m walking around with my Feng Shui books and compass looking for my creativity and wealth corner.
Just Me With . . . random thoughts.
I’m tempted to preempt the trolls who will tell me to shut the f**k up and stop whining and go out and do something productive. Tell ya what, I’ll meditate on that, m’kay?
But seriously, I may write a song. Maybe that’s more of my meditation style.
Somewhat related: Getting Off The Meds
Mood Altering Paint Colors — Well, At Least That’s The Plan
I haven’t blogged in a while. I’ve been painting. Obsessively painting. I wouldn’t quite call it manic on a clinical level, but yes, it had to be done.
Looking back, this has happened to me before. I paint when something isn’t quite right. The day after I had a miscarriage, I painted all of the hallway paneling in the old house. I should have been resting. I should have been crying. Instead, I painted.
Then there was when my then husband went away on vacation with his club when we had many young children at home. This, to me, was the perfect time to paint — everything– bold colors. He came home to a purple kitchen, a hunter green eat in area and a bright sky blue play area. I think I was jealous of his freedom, so, stuck at home, I changed my surroundings. All while caring for multiple toddlers with open cans of paint around. Perhaps not well-advised, but it had to be done.
Later, after my husband left for good (or so I thought . . . but I digress . . . See Surveillance with My Mother and the When My Husband Moved Back Home — The Tale of Three Carries ) I slapped beige paint over all of those colors in order to make my kaleidoscope house neutral for potential buyers. My children didn’t help me at all. They resented the change, hated the beige.
“We’re colorful people,” they said.
They were right. We are colorful people, but the HGTV gods told me I had to hide my crazy (Oops, I mean color).
Accordingly, all the evidence of my color rebellion against my husband’s hobbies and freedom was – neutralized.
I promised the children, however, that when we moved to our new house, we would bring color back. As that little hoarders house smelled so badly, I painted right away, see That Hoarder’s Smell, and I went bold: I had red living room, and the TV (family room) was a dark slate blue.
At one point I had an orange accent wall in my bedroom.
But lately, my little house had been pissing me off. Well, everything has been pissing me off. The red was making me angry, I think. I’m already bitter, I don’t need to see red, literally. The dark blue was making me feel sad and closed in, like I was living in an elevator.
My home’s overall darkness screamed despair and denial and hinted at failure, or maybe that was me . . .
I moved to this little hoarders’ house so that my kids could stay in the same schools. I had to move, and it was all I could afford. I was lucky to find it. I’m fine with living small, but I hate the neighborhood — which is on the lower end of the socio-economic scale — and it shows. Also, we are six tall people, and do our fair share of stepping over each other and our stuff. But I can’t move until they graduate, not even to a nearby neighborhood, unless there’s a big chunk of change in my near future. I’m still dealing with divorce debt. Freedom ain’t free.
If I wanted to pull them out of school and move across country — well, I can’t do that either. I’m divorced; I’m not allowed to move without my ex-husband’s permission. I’m stuck.
Until my youngest kids turn 18, my options are severely limited. Yes, I’m blessed to have a roof over my head, but sometimes it feels more incarceration than protection from the elements.
However, HGTV, the teachings of Feng Shui, and countless blogs suggest that if I change my surroundings I’ll change my life.
I took a shot.
So I’ve been painting, lightening up the color, lightening up my life. It goes along with my constant search for non-medicinal treatments for anxiety and depression.
I have to say, the rooms do appear bigger, brighter, calmer.
Still, I need color, so the plan is to get the color back through art and accessories. That’s the plan anyway.
It’s a good plan.
Well, it was a good plan.
Now I’m on the other side of not quite clinically manic, back to the depressed side of things. Suddenly I’m too tired. I don’t feel like hanging my old pictures or scouring yard sales for something colorful, because, at the end of the day, I’ll still be here. And whatever I do, someone in my house will hate it and loudly voice his or her displeasure. So why bother, right?
It’s like hanging posters in a jail cell. Sure, it helps, but the most important thing on the wall is the calendar, marking off the days until release.
Just Me With . . . a bright new look, but not complete. Methinks the angry red and the crying blues are bleeding through a bit. But, hell, I’m giving it a shot.
Release date? Sometime in 2017.
Laughter Is The Best Medicine
I’m just trying to make it “One Day At A Time” like divorced TV mom Annie Romano, except that I have two Barbaras and two Julies, and a boy.
Let me set the scene. As per usual I was unsuccessful in getting certain tasks completed before the kids came back from a visit with their dad. As per usual none of the kids gave the requested heads up text to let me know they were on their way before they came. (I didn’t know what time they were coming home, only that they’d be home earlier than the required drop off time because one of the kids had a rehearsal.)
So the kids walked in to me in the middle of various projects — hanging a shelf, bagging their clothes they refused to wash, my private journal open on the kitchen table and Sex and The City blaring on all three TVs. (It’s one of my secret single behaviors to turn on all the TVs while cleaning so as I’m walking around the house I can still hear and glance at whatever is on. Don’t judge.) I was startled and felt like I got caught doing something wrong.
Turns out, I apparently had done something wrong.
My cleaning and organizing efforts were rewarded with a fit of rage from the Anxious child. Her twin, the Angry child was — guess what? Angry. As per usual, she did not enjoy her visit with her dad and brought her frustration home to me. The other kids just breezed in, dropped their stuff where they felt like it and perched various places in the house to eat the fast food their dad sent them home with. Someone got the Angry child’s order wrong and she was angry about that, too, no surprise. Somehow this anger was directed toward me.
It is always stressful when the kids get home. They’d only been gone for twenty-eight hours but the whole visitation process: getting them ready and out of the door when they’d rather not go, their behavior when they return, my guilt over how I choose spend my time when they are gone (not getting enough done, not having any fun) is always difficult. See Weekends Off.
After the tirade from the Anxious and Angry twins and my frustrated response, I still had to drive the oldest to rehearsal and get some dinner for myself.
During the drive I tried some relaxation techniques I’ve been reading about. I took deep breaths. I sat in my car for a bit to calm down. And, in an uncharacteristic move, when I returned I decided to sit down and watch something funny. Normally I would hide from my ill-tempered children or launch into a series of chores and attempt to get them to do the same. But instead I loaded the DVD player with my new favorite guilty pleasure, Pitch Perfect. Don’t judge. Okay, go ahead and judge. And yes, we own it.
The girls joined me. When he returned from his rehearsal, the Arrogant one — the boy, retired to his boudoir as per usual. To his credit, he was doing a massive amount of homework that he saved for when he got back from the visit. His choice, his stress.
What people say about humor and music is true. Watching Pitch Perfect made me feel better. Miraculously, both the Anxious child and her twin, the Angry child, calmed down.
But when I got up to go into the kitchen to get a drink, however, I was met with a surprise.
Someone had opened every single cabinet and drawer in the kitchen.
It’s not just a matter of neatness, leaving cabinets open has scared the bejesus out of me way back to The Sixth Sense!
Do you remember the abused ghost wife and the open cabinets in The Sixth Sense?
I stopped dead in my tracks. I was already emotionally fragile.
I WAS TRYING TO CALM DOWN!!!!!
But those people I made, those people I grew in my belly like mold, those people know that having all the cabinets and drawers open frightens me!
It probably goes back to Poltergeist as well.
I just don’t do well with kitchen surprises. I’m okay with bugs, I’ve dealt with some nasty stuff, see Piss, Puke and Porn, but open cabinets — scare me.
I froze in my steps, mouth agape. When I could finally move I gingerly walked the five steps back into the family room and cried to my four female spawn,
“WHO DID THAT? You know that scares me!”
Then I collapsed on the floor and laughed so hard I cried. I didn’t go back in my kitchen until I got a confession out of the Quirky one and ordered her to go in there and close everything up.
Oh, those people I made all had a good laugh about it. Great big belly laughs. I was a hysterical mess on the floor, but unlike some of my past days, it was in a good way.
I guess the experts are right that laughter helps with depression and anxiety.
But does it have to be at my expense? Does it?
I just looked at my girl, the Quirky one — the Offender, and said,
“You used to be one of the ones that I liked.”
Just Me With . . . a weird phobia, an unexpectedly devious Quirky child and a good laugh — on the floor.
Given my mood, it was a bold move on the Quirky One’s part. I have to respect her risk-taking.
Shout out to Merbear who inspired me to write something positive about my girls. Well, I don’t know if it was positive, damn kids.
Other Kitchen Surprises:
A Rat In My House and Toilet or Kitchen Sink — Who Can Tell?
Another Kind Heart
Last week I had another surprise interaction that touched me, deeply.
I was leaving my daughter’s basketball game and was stopped by another mother who I’ve been acquainted with for at least ten years, meaning before the separation and divorce. Our oldest boys went to pre-school together and are in the same activities now. Our daughters play the same sport. We’ve never socialized outside of school events, though. She’s married, well-to-do (understatement), attractive and always stylish, and I suppose I always thought we didn’t have much in common on a personal level. But unlike some of the downright snobby parents I’ve met, though, she’s always been friendly, genuine, and approachable.
That day, she approached me, and we chatted about some upcoming events. Then she got personal. She asked about my ex-husband’s new family. Apparently he’d brought them all to a game recently. I wasn’t there. She must have been. Seeing them must have made an impact. She asked if I spent time with him, and I answered honestly, “No, we do things separately.”
She paused a moment, took a deep breath, then shared that her father had suddenly left her mother when she was a child, and that it had deeply affected her mother and the whole family and does to this day. She spoke of eventual healing but said that according to her mother, who had no choice but to accept the situation, it just “wasn’t what she signed up for.” She offered her support, saying that women should help each other more, but often we’re left feeling alone, just holding the bag.
She looked me square in the eyes and said,
“This must be hard for you. And I want you to know that I know that.”
And, standing there in the high school gym, I felt like it was okay to admit that, yes, it is hard for me. It felt good not to pretend otherwise, for just a moment.
Just Me With . . . support, from an unlikely source, who knew just what to say. I was deeply touched.
Other kind words:
Paint, Interrupted — a DIY Surrender
I’m getting my house painted this week. I know I’ve written about painting it myself, describing how That Hoarders Smell inside the house was so bad that it engulfed me even while I was painting outside. So yeah, I painted the house already.
But I never finished.
I painted the front under the porch. Then I stood on the porch roof to paint the second floor. And, along with my nephew, I perched on scaffolding temporarily left by another contractor as I prepped, primed and painted the back of the house.
That left the sides, where the paint was peeling so badly that barely brushing by it caused a snow flurry of dirty paint flakes, some big, some small, some lead-based, some not.
So although usually one preps, primes and paints from the top down, I started from the bottom up, reasoning that since we were about to move into this house I didn’t want the children to be exposed to this peeling paint at eye level. The upper floors weren’t peeling or flaking as badly as the lower level and at least no one would be touching it. So, for safety’s sake I tackled the first floor. Well, safety and the fact that I could reach the lower level and paint it myself without scaffolding or big ladders that I didn’t own.
The top side sections, however, have not been prepped, primed, or painted.
It’s tacky. It’s been this way for over two years.
I had every intention of painting the rest of the house myself. A contractor friend even lent me some scaffolding and we put it up on one side of the house. Then, well, stuff happened, and I changed and eventually went off my meds, which gave me vertigo, poor equilibrium, extreme dizziness, and severe sensitivity to light. I couldn’t even think about doing it then. My friend eventually took his scaffolding back, unused.
Since then I have struggled with my half-painted house. I struggled to find the energy to paint my house, struggled to find the motivation and money, struggled to conquer my newly developed fear of heights, that I will fall and lay broken and bleeding in my yard —and no one will know.
And, I lost my Mojo. I’d done so much work on this little Hoarders house. I’d tried to make it nice. I did make it nice. But recently I’ve been feeling that no matter what I do to this house, which sits on a busy street and backs up onto the perimeter of an poor neighborhood, it will always be compared to the much larger marital home situated in a park-like setting. I don’t miss that home at all, and selling that home was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made — that decision may be a subject of another post — but I don’t love where we are now, I tried . . .
- I installed a stone patio and fire-pit for us to enjoy — that no one uses.
- I partially finished the basement so that we’d have a place for the drums and could jam — but no one does.
- I made a music room for lessons for students that are fewer and fewer in number each year.
- I planted shrubs to give us some privacy — that died.
- I bought a shed to house bicycles — that nobody rides.
But. . . I never finished painting the house. Perhaps part of me became comfortable with my half painted house. Maybe it was some sort of admission of defeat. The move been an adjustment, a difficult adjustment. I’m not going pretend otherwise — anymore.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of my accomplishments with respect to this home and my family. I’m happy that we have a roof over our heads and that the kids didn’t have to change schools — which was the reason why I bought the little hoarders home in the first place. And I know things could be a lot worse, and that things aren’t really that bad, or really bad at all.
Still, the unfinished paint job screams that there are still struggles in this home.
Anyone looking at it would ask,
“Cute house. But when is she going to finish painting it?”
Well, the answer is “Now.” I’m borrowing from Peter to pay Paul to pay some Painters that gave me a good deal because one of my “Friends Without Benefits” told them to.
I’m waving the white flag in surrender. I will not finish painting the house myself. But I will not leave it partially unpainted for another year as a shrine to my failure to renovate our way into happiness — or the land of denial. I’ve got to think of resale value and protect my investment. So, I’ve called in the professionals.
It is what it is. And it has to get done. At least it won’t look tacky anymore.
“Maybe it will lift my spirits,” I thought, as I’ve been feeling a bit blue lately.
And then, the universe threw me a bone.
The painters here are very nice guys. Just now one of them stopped me and said,
“I don’t want you to get a big head or anything, but I gotta tell you . . . you look just like Halle Berry. Hasn’t anyone ever told you that? Mike (the other painter) said it yesterday, too. I’m a movie buff, so I would know.”
I have to say, I’m starting to feel a lot better about hiring these guys to paint my house. A lot better.
Just Me With . . . a paint job in progress, in butter cream with hunter green trim, done expertly by — my new best friends.
Postscript: The painting is finished. The house looks great, it really does, and just in time for Winter.
Sadly, one of my kids informed me that her friends told her that they aren’t allowed to come to our neighborhood, for fear they might get mugged.
The Adultery Diet
Anyone remember that scene from Sex and The City where Miranda, after the birth of little Brady, discovers that she can fit into her skinny jeans?
(And by the way, for you people who don’t know, the original “skinny jeans” do not refer to a particular cut of denim pants. They refer to those old jeans that women keep in their closet in hopes that losing enough weight to be able to wear them again.)
Well, Miranda shows up at the club looking great in her skinny jeans and Charlotte asks how she lost the weight:
- Miranda: Well, I got pregnant, became a single mother, and stopped having any time to eat.
- Samantha: Oh, that’s a diet I won’t be trying.
There’s also another weight loss regimen that women don’t rush to try. I call it,
“The Adultery Diet“
Simply put, it is when a married woman suddenly drops the pounds, without the assistance of a gym membership or Jenny Craig. No, it’s none of that pesky diet and exercise stuff. Rather, a woman is on The Adultery Diet when her husband is having an affair and it is making her sick.
There’s just something about finding out or suspecting that your man is screwing somebody else that really kills the appetite.
This revelation may or may not end in separation or divorce, that’s not really relevant to this diet, it’s just a sick, sinking feeling that suddenly makes food intolerable, hence the weight loss.
I bet we’ve all seen the signs.
In walks a female friend you haven’t seen in a while. Her clothes are literally falling off of her. Unfortunately, her eyes are sunken, red, swollen and downcast, and she’s unnaturally quiet. She’ll explain, perhaps, that she’s had a bit of a cold. In her mind, however, she’s screaming, “Oh my God, this is not happening. What am I going to do? How could he? ” And then, she simply doesn’t eat, while continuing her daily responsibilities. She functions, but just knowing that there are some very uncomfortable silences, discussions and possibly life changing decisions that will have to be made in the near future — well, it just doesn’t make her want a sandwich. In fact, the mere thought of the situation makes her food taste bland and causes nausea.
Then there’s the time alone — while it is quite possible her mate is not spending time alone — well, it can make a girl literally sick to her stomach. Pounds melt away, baby weight — gone, along with muscle. Suddenly skinny jeans fit and she needs to tighten her belts.
He has to work late. Again. I fed the kids; they’re good. Everybody is fine. Everything is fine, except that it’s not. So I’m just gonna sit here in the dark on the kitchen floor while my life falls apart. I’m not hungry. I really don’t feel well.
And the coolness of the kitchen floor is somehow so comforting . . . but I digress.
This Adultery Diet is usually available to married or cohabitating women — because there is something about living with someone who is sleeping with someone else that is particularly offensive to the palate.
So if you are surprised by a sudden weight loss of a friend, don’t just tell her how wonderful she looks and ask about her dress size, her diet, or whether she’s working out. Ask about her marriage. Ask if she needs — anything.
Don’t ask me how I know.
Just Me With . . . a weight loss regimen no one wants to try.
Just found this pic of Demi Moore:
Message to Demi: Give me a call. We should talk.
See also: On Angelina Jolie — At Least No One Will Say She “Got Fat”
I’ve Declared Myself Undateable — Online and in General
I’ve made a conscious decision not to attempt online dating right now, or any kind of dating. It’s not that I’m afraid of getting hurt or afraid of the crazies. It’s just that, well, I hate all the boxes I have to check that define me. It becomes an exercise in self-examination (humiliation) that is just no fun. As in “How did this happen to me!!!!!”
I’m not so good on paper online. I have been married before; it ended in divorce. Of course, that’s not uncommon, but I have a whole bunch of children (five, yes, five children) from that marriage, who live with me. My career and net worth are, at least at present, not what they had the potential to be, for many reasons, some of which are related to the fact that I was married, had a lot of children in a very short period of time, got dumped and flipped out.
I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be so good in person, either. I’ve got nothing to talk about. The course of my life and accomplishments have in no small part been influenced by my prior relationship, which, I know, is not appropriate casual dating conversation. For the last few years I have been dealing with the end of that relationship, recovery from that relationship, and depression. Again, not topics of casual coffee talk with a stranger. And talking about kids is also a dating no-no. Plus, I don’t have a list of exciting hobbies and activities I’d like to discuss and share with a potential mate, except for the music stuff which I don’t feel the need to bring a man into. And no, I don’t go to the gym, unless, of course, you count the physical therapy I’m still attending to recover from the injuries I received from the dangerous and stupid combination of starting an exercise regimen and fighting with my daughter (she won, by the way). My Aching Back. So I’m not a lot of fun in person, I fear. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot to offer, but I don’t have the energy or inclination or time to peddle my potential to a stranger.
I realize how negative I sound. I’m depressed. I should be dating Eeyore. Now Eeyore and I, yeah, we could hang out . . . but I digress.
Regardless of all the reasons not to do it, I could put myself out there anyway and pretend to be a good date. But here’s part two of the problem. What (oh I’m sorry) Who would I get in response to my online profiles? I’d get guys who are attracted to what I appear to be on paper online. Well, that’s just scary. I’m a little scary. I know that. Damn, I wouldn’t even respond to my own profile. Still, when I create these profiles (and never pay), I do get poked or pinged or prodded or winked at or whatever from men –men who apparently can tolerate the boxes that I’ve checked (oh the boxes, I check too many and too few). When I see these connections, I just want to scratch my head and say, “Dude, really, you’re into this?” I mean, I can barely tolerate the boxes I check. And if he checks the same boxes? Oh what a motley crew we would make.
My checked boxes may accurately describe my situation, but they don’t define me. Really, they don’t.
Wait, do they?
Do they? !!!!! (Singing: “Excuse me, while I start to cry . . . ” Playing air guitar.)
Perhaps it comes down to the fact that I don’t want someone to share this current on paper online profile life with, I’d like some company in a very different life that I have yet to create, or failed to create in the past (Shut up, Eeyore). So, no, I’m not ready online or otherwise to force a dating life. I need to take care of me, manage or overcome this depression, work to get out of this financial hole my divorce left me in. Yada yada yada . . .
That is the reasoned, socially correct conclusion.
That’s not me, either.
To be continued . . .
Just Me With . . . a decision not to force a dating situation.
See, Undateable, Part II.
She Wants To Break Me
The social worker said, “She wants to break you.” She, being my daughter.
The reasons why there is a social worker in my house are beyond what I feel like writing about now. But know that it was my reaching out for help, not a protective services situation. My daughter is struggling with anger and depression and literally ran — I mean ran from traditional counseling. You haven’t lived until you’ve chased a child around a therapist’s office, but I digress. Consequently, I sought another route which brings professionals to the house.
Over the years I had done what I was supposed to do. I told the children what they needed to know about the separation and divorce and move based on their age and capacity to understand. I did not talk about the legal aspects of it. The children never knew that I suffered through dealing with various court filings (actually for me I was usually responding to my husband’s filings) and court appearances. They don’t know about the financial and professional ruin and my poor health. They were too little, it was appropriate to shield them. The younger ones don’t seem to remember my good old-fashioned nervous breakdown and years, literally — years of tears. I suppose that’s good. I know it’s good. When my children are grown and thinking back on their childhood and mother I don’t want them to recall an image of me lying on the kitchen floor sobbing. That’s not cool.
She has stated that her misery is because we moved from the big marital home in the nice neighborhood, but I think it’s more. I agree, she wants to break me. I believe she thinks any appearance of strength or acceptance on my part somehow negates her feelings of loss. The more comfortable I get with leaving the old life — the old house, the more miserable she seems.
What she doesn’t know is that I’m already broken, I broke down long ago, my loss was substantial. For the last few years I’ve just been in survival and repair mode, with medications and counseling as needed, along with a fair amount of carpentry. As the children have gotten older I’ve enhanced explanations and have told them they can ask me anything and I will respond (age appropriately). I’ve explained why we had to move, and why we moved to where we are now . . . but she’s too young and too miserable right now to hear it.
Still, she is old enough to know that our move to a much smaller house in a poor neighborhood is not merely a new adventure; she can see that we have taken a step down, socio-economically. She also knows that her Dad also has a new life — with new people in it — and that’s just the way it is.
But, without acceptance of it all, it stinks.
Plus, my daughter is savvy, suspicious, practical and depressed enough to outright reject the “positive spin” talk. I’ve tried. She’ll need a different angle. She’s a lot like me that way.
And let’s face it, misery loves company, and she wants me to be miserable and angry, too. (I am, but I try not to show it.)
Though I’m thankful she feels comfortable enough with me to express her feelings, especially since she is uncomfortable with her Dad, I still want to (but won’t) say,
“Don’t break me, girl. You need me, more than you know. I’m all you got. I am not invincible. I am human, even though I am your mother. Don’t break me. Please. I’ve been broken before, you don’t remember — but it ain’t pretty.“
So when I recently tweeted, “I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not cry” after the heart wrenching session with my daughter and the social worker, it was because it hurt me to my soul and I feared that if I cried I would never stop. I know, sounds overly dramatic, but sometimes . . . it is.
Just Me With . . . some struggles.
My Aching Back
I’m not an exercise monger, but I’ve always been active one way or another. I’ve only thrown my back out three times in my life. The first time was at the beach. It was a drive-by water gun shooting incident initiated by my nieces and nephew.
My niece, the driver, drove up all slow like, the mini-van door silently opened, and her brother opened fire (water) on my sisters and I, which included his own mother. We scattered. I pivoted hard to dive into the brush to avoid the assault. They hit and drove off quickly into the night. My sisters and I walked back to the beach house — dripping and sore. By the next day I couldn’t move. It only lasted a day, though.
Fast forward to last year. I was laying a natural flagstone patio in my back yard. And by “I” — I mean “I”. I had help from guy friends for a couple of days for the really big stones, see Friends Without Benefits, but most days I was on my own. I’m always so careful with my projects, safety first, safety last, safety always. After the drive-by incident I have been living by the mottoes: “Lift with your knees, not your back” and “Take your time.” But one night after I’d completed the work for the day, actually after I’d completed the whole patio, I made a mistake. Instead of getting up to get my toolbox, I turned to grab it. I was probably already weakened from the heavy lifting anyway, but it was that quarter turn that got me down, literally. I felt a sudden pain in my lower back. After two or three days of back pain and walking funny, I got better. Still, I was benched from hard labor for a couple of weeks.
This was supposed to be part of my trying to manage my chronic depression. Changing what I can, acknowledging what I can’t, making attainable goals, knowing that I can’t do it all, taking care of me. Blah, blah, blah. I had gotten off the daily meds, see Getting Off The Meds, but I still have to be able to combat the depression without them. Universally the pros say that exercise is key. Now, I’ve been extremely physically active over the last couple of years, practically speaking. In addition to dealing with five kids, I’ve packed up, moved and renovated a house. I’m talking about being on ladders, heavy lifting, digging, up and down stairs constantly. But much of that work is done now. I thought I would try to start running. It’s cheap and effective.
Always so careful, I decided that running on a nice rubber track would be easier on my body and bones, plus I could keep track of how far I have gone and avoid being seen by the general public. I was surprised at how well I was able to keep going, running painfully slowly but continuing nonetheless. Mind you, I hate running, but I knew it would be good for me. I used to run track in school, which I loved, but absent the chance of getting a medal at the end, well, running for the sake of running has never been as fun for me.
Coming off of the back to school preparation with five kids, who can be difficult (autism, anxiety, depression), I was feeling overwhelmed. Still, I had been so proud of myself about getting the things done on my do-to list, getting the paperwork and physicals ready for five kids in a more timely fashion than in previous years, making sure they had the school supplies and clothing needed to start school, getting organized, girls’ hair done, etc. and having done all of this after having taken the kids on our first cross-country road trip.
Despite my careful planning, budgeting, “to do” lists and many trips to stores, one of my daughters (the anxious one) flipped out about not having “the right” pair of sneakers for volleyball try-outs. I tried to tell her that she has the perfect shoes to wear for the first day, actually for the whole season — basketball shoes. Volleyball is played on the basketball court, so that made sense to me. Plus, if she made the team and actually needed different shoes we could deal with that later. She wasn’t hearing it. She also refused to acknowledge that fact that even if I wanted to, I could not take her shoe shopping in one hour we had before her dad was scheduled to pick her up for the dinner visit (he doesn’t do any of the school preparation —- don’t ask). I tried to tell her that by the time we got to the store, parked and looked at shoes it would be time to come home. She did not believe me. Instead, she became furious with me. She was completely agitated. She said everyone would notice she had the wrong shoes. The more I told her that was not the case, the angrier she got, accusing me of causing her never to be prepared.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite movies lines, from a woman to her grown daughter: “I never should have encouraged you to speak.” I talked to my babies incessantly, so they would learn. Now? They spew nastiness at me.
We weren’t going to the store and she was angry about it. She was completely convinced that she would not be prepared for try-outs and would be embarrassed. And that this was all my fault.
I had not anticipated this. This was not on my things to do list. I tried to explain that she would not be the only one wearing basketball shoes on the basketball court. (By the by, I know this for a fact because her three sisters would be there, also wearing basketball shoes on the basketball court). She wasn’t hearing that, saying that people (always these unnamed people) would notice her shoes because her shoes were different from her sisters’ black basketball shoes because her shoes have a red swoop (gasp!) Whoa. I did not see that coming either. I tried to explain that if she chose not to wear her basketball shoes she could wear her other sneakers. Her response? They were too small . ( She was wearing them at the time.) I explained that if she’s grown out of her every day sneakers and needed new ones that I would take her to get some but I just could not take her then (because of the visitation order and all, which pisses me off, too, but I digress.)
Why couldn’t she understand?
But she was being completely unreasonable. Generally speaking, an unreasonable person cannot be reasoned with. This I know. I must have forgotten it then, though.
So many things send this child into a frenzy — from having a braid that doesn’t hang properly, to someone burping in the car, to thinking everyone will notice that her sister’s hair is longer, to seeing a bug, to hearing someone talk about a book or movie, to being asked if her homework is done, to someone using her soap, to not being the first at . . . well, everything. etc. Note to parents of boys: This is not typical girl behavior. This is over the top. I’m only scratching the surface here.
I lost it.
Well, I lost sight of the fact that there was no reasoning with her. I wanted her to understand. I was tired of the back talk and the refusal to hear common sense — i.e. there is simply no time to go to the store right now! So when she tried to walk away from me, I blocked her. Physically blocked her. I just wanted her to hear me say that — yes she would be prepared for try-outs, that no one will notice her shoes, that I will take her shopping when the schedule permits. I don’t know, maybe I wanted some recognition for trying to get her what she needs, if not everything she wants. Mostly, I didn’t want her to walk away from me while I was talking.
So I blocked her. Or at least I tried. Rookie mistake.
My body was already weakened by my previous day’s running. This child is my smallest child, but she’s strong . . . and headstrong.
She dropped to all fours, like some sort of ninja wrestler, and began to push by me . . . with her head!
I admit, this pissed me off. “This child was not going to physically intimidate me.” Or so I thought.
I reached down to pull her up. (Lift with your knees, not your back, lift with your knees not your back, LIFT WITH YOUR KNEES, NOT YOUR BACK!!!!!!)
But it was too late.
I had reached down and pulled up. It was classic poor lifting technique. I heard a snap, felt a sudden pain in my left lower back and fell to the floor.
She stepped over me. I was roadkill.
Volleyball? Really? Clearly this child has missed her calling — I’d say wrestling or football are in her future — or prison.
This back injury has by far been the worst and the longest.
I rested it. It started to feel better. Then a different child wanted her hair flat ironed for her class picture. I thought I could do it, if I took my time and rested. No, the bending or whatever, the next day I was almost as bad as the first day. Then I caught a cold from another daughter who has a disgusting habit of letting her used tissues lie about the house. But, of course, when I caught it, I got it much worse than she had it. Every time I coughed or sneezed or had a chill it sent my back into spasm. That was the first week.
The second week came with one gig and two back-to-school nights which prohibited any real rest for me. Too much walking and lifting. For the gig I had to swallow my pride and out of necessity asked a fellow musician help me carry and set up my gear. At the last minute, though, he couldn’t help. I often rely on the kindness of strangers, and got the sound man to help, I had no choice. But it was not ideal, and it was stressful. Then I came home to children who had not done their homework or cleaned up after themselves. My progress regressed. So sore.
Later in the week I had to attend two back-to-school nights, one of which in theory required me to be in four places at once, eight periods in a row. I felt beat down. But the kicker was when the anxious ninja wrestling child had yet another fit because she needed my help with her homework — at midnight. She had refused to do it earlier. She refused to let me rest. I could not remove her physically and she followed me where ever I went. She was in tears worrying that she would be in trouble and unprepared. Again, somehow, it was all my fault. Still, my help, in her world, must not include actually talking to her or reviewing the assignment. No, no, it consisted of me just sitting being there and taking the verbal assault from a child who is truly distressed and anxiety ridden. (I’m looking to get her some help, in case you’re wondering.) It was hard to sit in one position while she worked so I thought, stupidly, “I’ll empty the dishwasher.” ( “Resting” my back had turned my house into potential Hoarders episode). So, I carefully leaned over to pick up one plate, just one plate . . . and . . . snap!
My progress had regressed yet again.
The pain! It had gotten so bad I actually went to the doctor, not usually my thing. He gave me muscle relaxants, told me to take Tylenol, gave me back exercises, and I got a flu shot.
Oh yeah, and did I mention the dog was sick? She was vomiting and had diarrhea all over the downstairs, the floors are tile and therefore easy to clean — but not if you can’t bend over. Lovely.
By the time the dog was pooping blood I figured she had to go to the vet. She weighs only 12 pounds yet I had trouble picking her up. I made the girls go with me to help. I had a back spasm at the vet parking lot, good thing the girls were with me, they had to check in for us while I was outside leaning against the railing, waiting for the spasms to subside long enough to go in.
The Vet said, “You don’t look like you’re doing too good.” Yeah, ya think? Embarrassing. Painful. Typical.
Well, things got bad before they got better, the cold with the back spasms continued throughout the weekend. The kids went with their Dad for their half-weekend, which left me to deal with the dog’s poop and vomit — alone.
The kids had only been gone for 34 hours but when they got back they immediately asked me,
“What’s wrong with your face, Mommy? Why do you have droopy eyes like Daddy?”
“I do not have droopy eyes!!” My indignant response. (I have my suspicions as to why Daddy has droopy eyes, but I digress.)
I was deeply hurt. I mean, I was in pain and I had a cold and certainly was not at my best, but still there was no need to insult my looks. When I finally hobbled to a mirror I was slapped with understanding. Bumps, welts, and swelling all over my face, neck, shoulders. Lovely.
Then the itching began. Lovely and fun.
What was it? The muscle relaxants? The flu shot?
Back to the doctor, who determined I had developed hives . . . probably from the Ibuprofen, and told me to switch to Acetaminophen.
More attempts to rest my back, which meant no housework, but I still had to do everything else. Not to mention the anxious child and the depressed child have been fighting . . . a lot. But I kept my physical distance. I’ve learned my lesson. And I had another gig, which required moving the gear again. But this was week three and I’d started to feel a little bit better. I thought I could handle it. I moved my gear slowly, using my knees, not my back. I asked for and accepted help when I could get it, but I was still alone. I’m always alone . . . I digress again. At least by this time the hives were small and couldn’t be seen from a distance, even though my face felt like sandpaper. No matter, nobody was going to be touching me. Sigh. I got my gear moved and played the gig. But the next day?
Apparently the pain was just packing up to move elsewhere. Since the gig I have had excruciating constant pain from my hip to my knee. Both interior muscular and exterior pain — it hurts to the touch like a burn. The internet gods tell me that this is sciatica, nerve damage which can follow a back injury. Whatever, it hurts.
This time I just made a call to the doctor, because I don’t feel like going anywhere. (Plus, I’m afraid he thinks I have a crush on him by this point.) My doctor referred me to physical therapy. I’m still taking the muscle relaxants and I can also take sleeping pills, he advised, since I’ve been unable to sleep. Let’s hope I don’t end up on Intervention. (Wow, a Hoarders and Intervention reference in the same post, A&E should be paying me, but I digress, yet again.)
In the meantime, the demands from my kids are unrelenting. At least the dog got better. But the complaints from the kids about our house being too small and that everybody else has an iPhone and iPad and “I’m so bored” coupled with, can you pick me up or . . . can you take me . . . can you buy me . . . and can I do . . . blah, blah, blah . . . Well, it’s all a bit much these days. Feeling this badly for so long has not helped my depression. I’m coming up on week four. The tears are back, one time in public. Ugh.
My grand plans for taking care of me, taking charge of some things, well, everything has been “back-burnered.” heh heh. Actually, this sh*t ain’t funny.
My load is a bit too heavy right now. Ask my back.
Anyone out there considering running? — Or having children, for that matter? Give me a call. I’ll have you channel surfing on your couch, popping birth control pills and swaddled in a body condom in no time.
Just Me With . . . a different kind of “back story.”