Day Two

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The kids rebelled against me today. Well, two of them did. Cam just whined a bunch about how much he hates vegetables and then ended up eating a full chicken breast at dinner (he loved it!). Sophie, though, had a major breakdown, at BJ’s no less. She had started really complaining after lunch and kept bringing up that I had said the kids were relatively healthy so why did they have to be on this diet? I told her I wanted her to be more healthy than average and she retorted with “but maybe I want to be average” and some guff about how not everyone is meant to be above average. At BJ’s, she decided she would rather go hungry than eat with us. I told her that she’d eat eventually; she responded with a defiant “I’ll just get skinnier and skinnier and then I’ll be a skeleton on my bed!” The drama is strong with her. I couldn’t help it: I laughed. She told me she was running away. I finished my shopping and found her at the front of the store. She didn’t eat dinner but I made her sit at the table with us. I give her until lunch tomorrow.

So, some of us had headaches today and others were in the “kill you” stage. Surprisingly, I feel pretty good, other than being sick and tired of just drinking water all the time. I miss my tea. I’m noticing my feet hurt a lot from all of the prep work I’m doing in the kitchen before meals. Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan of cooking so all of this is very boring and tiring to me. I finally learned to pre-cut some stuff for tomorrow’s breakfast and Tim’s lunch.

Two days down, 28 to go!

Day One

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Very early this morning, around 2am or so, Tom woke up and promptly began to hurl violently (into the toilet, at least). He was up until around 4ish with that. We had wicked thunderstorms half the night and I had planned on getting up early (5:30am) to cook my husband eggs on our first day of doing the whole30. Sufficed to say, my day did not start well. I’m still tired, but I wanted to get this out.

So, we made it past the first day. Tom ate like a champ; we’re thinking he had food poisoning and not some stomach bug, but either way he chowed down at all three meals. Sophie was feeling ‘meh’ about the new diet. She liked breakfast (eggs and a smoothie), lunch was okay (salad with ham), and she hated dinner (mussels and zucchini ‘pasta’). Cam hated everything. It’s so much for him to be able to handle: new foods mean new textures and tastes. I wanted to free up freezer space, hence the mussels; tomorrow night we’re probably doing chicken. Tim and I did fine, even if I did eat two banana chips before checking the label. Sad face: they have added cane sugar.

I’m trying to valiantly stay awake and failing. Before I forget, I want to record my starting measurements. I’m a 40(F)-50-54 and I weight 256 pounds. I’m hoping on August 26th at least 3 of those numbers will have gotten smaller!

New Leaves and Turning them Over

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It’s been over a month since I last put thought to blog. I’ve had a lot on my mind but no motivation to actually do anything other than ruminate about my life inside the confines of my skull. It has been decided that we aren’t going to pursue fertility treatments; I don’t want to talk about that right now but I might in the future. Instead, I’m going to focus on some things I want to change with myself and my life.

First, starting on Monday (the 28th), my husband and I are going to be attempting the whole30 challenge. To put it simply, I’m addicted to food. It sucks, because we need food to live. I’ve gained a bit of weight due to all of the emotional eating I’ve been doing and all the Cherry Coke I’ve been sucking down. I can snarf a loaf of bread and still feel hungry, which is why we’re trying the Paleo route. That, and I have a couple of friends who have cut out grains and I’m encouraged by their results. I’m going to try and check in every few days with how I’m doing with this purge.

Second, I’m going to get more involved in my crafting. I’m working on a magnificent blackwork chessboard and I want to show it off. I’ve got scarves to knit too.

Third, I might give up Facebook for a while. I’m not too sure about this one, though. I think I’m addicted to Facebook even more than I am to food.

My boys are getting hungry for breakfast and since I already purged the house of most naughty food (and require a trip to the store to get real food), they’re begging me for sustenance. Ordinarily, I’d let them beg, but I’m hungry (legitimately) too. I’m going to try to not keep all my contemplations to myself from now on; I’ll be back. I promise.

Father’s Day

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As a mother, I have an appreciation for Mother’s Day; I know that my kids love and appreciate me every other day of the year, but as a person who’s first love language is gift giving/receiving, I’m down with a day where my kids shower me with food, affection, and handmade crafts. My husband does not have the same fondness for gifts, coming or going, as I do, which tends to make Father’s Day a little bit different. That’s a subject for a different rant.

My husband is a great father. He took on the responsibility of a child that is not biologically his and has raised her as his own since the day she was born. He has helped me with the task of raising twins that were premature, developmentally delayed, and who have become rough and tumble man-beasts in the past couple of years (I say that lovingly). I know how absolutely frakking privileged my children are to have their father actively in their lives.

I don’t have my own father actively in my life. Hell, I don’t even have him passively in my life. He’s a name on a birth certificate; a hair color that I don’t even possess (he’s blonde, I’m auburn); tallish where I’m short. He’s a nebulous figure from my mother’s past that she has chosen to not share with me but in passing glimpses, often when she’s not quite aware of it. I’m 31 years old and I don’t know my father and my mother has chosen to keep any other information a tightly-guarded secret.

I’m aware that my daughter will also grow up not knowing who her biological father is. I went through a phase of my life where first names barely mattered: last names never registered. It’s something I will always feel shame over. However, my husband has always been and will always be there as a father figure for her.

I had my grandfather as a father-figure (I named my firstborn son after him); in high school, I had two male teachers that filled that role. But it’s not the same as having an actual father in my life. My mother, as a lesbian and a feminist, just didn’t see the need for me to have a father in my life. Remember my friend Resentment from the other post? I’ve got a lot of that going on when it comes to this subject too. So every time Father’s Day comes around, I get angry, sad, frustrated. I have my husband to wish a happy day to, and my father-in-law (who is a really great guy), and to all of my friends who are fathers. I can think of my grandfather, who wasn’t the best father but he was an awesome grandfather. But I have never wished my own father “Happy Father’s Day.” At this point in my life, I don’t think I ever will, at least directly.

To my husband, father-in-law, friends who are dads, my grandfather: Happy Father’s Day. To my own dad, where ever, whomever you are: Happy Father’s Day too.

Squirrels in My Head

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One of the things I find hardest about putting my thoughts down is that I have concentration issues. Wait, that’s putting it too lightly. The television is on and I’ve paused to look at it four times since starting this sentence. Actual pauses. And who can blame me, since it was the opening to Real Steel and Hugh Jackman is a hottie. I love a good-looking man who can sing and dance and play a badass, muscled action guy too. There you have it, friends: one of the squirrels in my head has dropped in for a hello.

You know the movie Up? One of the best movies I’ve ever seen, hands down. I’m like that dog (I forget his name, I’m bad with names) who keeps getting distracted by what he thinks are squirrels. I doubt they were really squirrels; the bulk of the action takes place in the South American jungle and I’ve played the animal game often enough that I am reasonably sure squirrels don’t live in the jungle. But he was a dog, also not from the jungle, and apparently instinctively knew what squirrels were. Anyway, the dog would interrupt thoughts and say “squirrel” and then go back to his conversation. Doug. I just remembered his name is Doug. That came out of nowhere.

The dog Doug has a leg up on me: I get distracted and then I *don’t* remember what the hell I was talking about once the distraction clears my processors. I know I’ve forgotten something, but that’s about at useful as tits on a bull. The thought just occurred to me that tits on a bull might be useful if the tits eat pests that would plague a bull, but I’m not really sure what tits eat, only vaguely that it’s a type of bird. I was totally talking about boobs, though, and not the blue-footed booby (also a bird). Ahem.

So, some of the time I’ve got this under control, unless I’m tired/hungry/angry/flustered/stressed/busy/or otherwise emotional or overly stimulated. The more out of it I am, the worse the concentration. Which is terribly unfortunate, because there are time when I want to actually forget things and that’s when the squirrels decide to play hooky. So I stumble around forgetting things that are vitally important and irrationally focusing on subjects I’d like to desperately get out of my head. It’s a wonder I can get anything done.

Anytime I get a random distraction (mid-thought, mid-sentence, mid-breath), my husband will call that distraction a squirrel. Which is really cute and funny until you notice that every other word out of his mouth is “squirrel.” It can get very… distracting. I really do struggle with the spoken word, though, and having this bastard type of ADHD doesn’t help. Interestingly enough. it affects my writing as well. I’m not the type if person who can always bust out a quick thought and publish it online: the post the other night ended up taking me over 5 hours when it was all said and done. (Just got up and switched the laundry around). I had to tend to my children, my husband, the people texting me, I had to check Facebook and my email, answer the door and talk to my neighbor about the HOA (I’m president), and a few other things I don’t even remember. So if it ever seems like my writing jumps around a lot, or the ending is weak, blame the squirrels. Those malicious bastards have been kicking it up a notch lately and I’m blown away that I managed to get shit done today.

I seriously had a great post to write tonight. Seriously. The squirrels ate it. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Grief

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Emotions: inside this crazy head of mine, I have a vast collection of them, all jumbled and heaped up against the walls in various shades and intensities. There’s the entire spectrum in there, ranging from the colorful Joy, to the stormy Anger, to the somber Melancholy. I have a full palate of emotions, although I will admit I have more of some and a lot less of others. Unfortunately, because I don’t treat my emotions any better than a child’s paint supply, some of them have run together and all are generally tainted by the stain of Grief. I was trying to think of an actual color but Grief isn’t a color, it’s like a texture. Sticky and wrinkly and it makes the colors off on everything else, like a bad top coat of cheap nail polish.

That’s not to say that Grief is always bad or such a horrible emotion; none of the emotions are inherently good or evil. They just exist and the way we respond and react to them give them life. When we mourn something or someone, the Grief helps define the other emotions we feel about our loss. There are healthy ways to grieve. There are unhealthy ways to grieve. It can also be ignored, but that comes at a price. That’s when it ends up congealing all over your other emotions, leaving marks and generally becoming a blighted mess everywhere.

I don’t just try to ignore my Grief: I try to hog-tie it with duct tape and shove it into a utility locker three counties over. I keep it bottled up, feeding into it and letting it fester until there’s no more room and the pressure is too much and then my Grief Mount St. Helen’s all over the place. More like Pinatubo. Hell, I’m pretty sure there is enough evidence to compare my trapped Grief with the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park. And yes, I totally used Mount St. Helen’s as a verb. The resulting casualties are just as emotionally serious as the physical ones from a volcano: the Grief inflames Anger, Frustration, Sadness, and Hurt; it smothers Love, Gratitude, and Cheer; it destroys Happiness and the sense of being Content. In other words, it fucks everything up pretty damn good.

Grief scares me more than any other emotion. It’s my monster in the closet, the scary shadow in the dark corners of my life. It stabs me in my kidney so I can’t shout for help and then leaves me cowering on the floor desperately trying to staunch the flow of raw pain leaking out from my open wound. Grief tangles and encrypts my speech centers, rendering me incapable of using words to describe what the hell is going on inside of me. Is it any wonder that I set traps for Grief, to engage in preemptive warfare against the enemy? I’m not sure who started the fight but I know instinctively that I want to win because I’m competitive and rampant personification aside, I’m the human here.

I’ve been battling my Grief for years now. Mortal enemies locked in vicious combat, with me tucking the Grief away and it periodically exploding back into my life. Yay, stalemate. It latched on years ago in response to a single event and now I have no honest relationship with Grief when I actually need to have one. In mourning a lost friend, I need to grieve in order to overcome my very real issues with my own mortality and the nature of living. In grieving a lost relationship, I need to be able to take solace in my memories and to stop crying that it’s over and smile that it happened. In overcoming the loss of my cat, I need to take comfort that I gave him a good life and use that love to give our new cat a good life too. I can type it all out here and it sounds so easy, so simple, so doable. So why can’t I just embrace my Grief and move on with my life?

I’m infertile. It’s not something I like to talk about. It’s definitely not something that’s easy to acknowledge. My husband and I put off having one last pregnancy because reasons. It was not a mutual decision, instead a contentious one fraught with Anger, Fear, Worry, and their like-minded siblings. Resentment and I are BFFs after all this time and Chort knows I’m loathe to let it go anytime soon. A couple of years ago Resentment and I were at the point of planning to disconnect me physically from my relationship with my husband; the emotional connection had been left and long neglected in Resentment’s care. It’s not the best caretaker. I wanted another child badly enough I was willing to end my marriage over it. Let that crazy sink in for a moment. After a serious discussion, though, I was willing to give Tim another chance at being the husband I needed and he reconsidered his objection to another child and realized it wouldn’t be the end of the world. And then he left for Afghanistan. That was three years ago. After a year over there, he came home and I was ready to get knocked up. I had been charting my cycle while he was gone and I knew when and where and how to do everything to maximize our conceptual chances. This wasn’t my first rodeo; we had planned my second pregnancy for when Tim got back from a ship deployment and we were successful first time trying. Lightening didn’t strike twice. It also skipped the next few cycles. Someone Tim knew from his Afghanistan deployment and his wife announced their pregnancy. Hell, I swear a third of my Facebook friend’s list was popping prenatals and picking out names/onesies/rhinestone encrusted binkies. We tried like rabbits. We tried like dolphins. We tried like bunnies again. We tried like our very existence depended on it. I know my Happiness certainly was riding on it. Fail fail fail. Negative test upon negative test. I’m so glad the Dollar Tree sells those tests because I took a lot of them.

After many frustrating, tear-soaked months, we sought out specialists. I had fraternal twins naturally and I got pregnant on birth control with my oldest. Maybe it wasn’t me! But life was busy and finding the time and making the effort to get my husband checked out just fed into Resentment. Seriously, my Resentment is a competitive eater. Omnomnomnomnom. The problem wasn’t on his end anyway. Terribly boring rest of the story short, I ended up going in for a hysterosalpingogram, which is medical jargon for “cramming a tube up where your body doesn’t want it and injecting dye to see if your fallopian tubes are blocked but in your case since your cervix has a vendetta it’s going to bleed all over the place and cause the doctor to have to forcibly clamp said irritable cervix and then inject even more dye, making a really nasty TMI mess for a very long time.” In all the chaos, one of the way-too-many people in the room managed to take a gander at the x-ray thingy and made the pronouncement that my left tube was blocked, and maybe my right, but there was so much dye in there I could have hidden a giant squid and it was fouling up the results just a little. In the end, it didn’t matter. My left ovary works; my right one thinks eggs are too mainstream and pops out little pretty pearly cysts instead. One almost good tube, one good ovary: star-crossed lovers in the depths of my abdomen. My doctor flaked out on me and I shut down. The date was November 12th, 2013.

I knew Grief was stalking me. I tossed that sucker into a box, wrapped the box with chains and padlocks, dropped it into a trash bag filled with poison, duct taped that bad boy shut, and then slipped it into the Pandorica, which is the Whovian version of Pandora’s Box and way harder to open. I did my best to kill Grief. I did my best to kill all my emotions. Did you know that despite my best efforts, you can’t actually kill something that’s an intangible concept that only lives with the firing of synapses within our brains? Okay, I knew that too, but I’ve explained that I’m not the most rational bulb on the tree and so I tried to do the impossible. For over six months I’ve carried around the weight of the Grief death trap, which in retrospect is a far heavier burden to bear. All the while, Grief bubbled and fermented and plotted its revenge. May kicked my ass left and right and left again; I saluted her departure with two malted beverages and 7 shots of vodka. Events during my Month of Hell just added to the Grief I already had inside. Finally, though, my fragile prison proved useless Tuesday evening. It was an extinction-level event. ELE, if you’ve watched Deep Impact and remember that bit of trivia (it was pronounced Ellie and the reporter thought the Congress Critter was having an affair, not that we were all in deep poop). My poor husband was caught at the epicenter and bore the brunt of the impact. Turns out Grief had enlisted the underhanded efforts of Anger and Frustration, because they are in the same fraternity or something. I raged. It was pretty damn epic. It was also past midnight. I was ready to start choking it back down, but I couldn’t. So I cried. I let Tim hold me as I just cried and cried and blew my nose and mumbled incoherently while crying. I saw Grief standing there confused and bewildered and while Tim was hugging me I embraced my Grief. It was a revelation.

I still have grieving to do. I still have to learn to open up to those who love me, so that I may start to heal. I’m tired of fighting my emotions, of hiding them away so I don’t have to deal with them or deal with people who are curious, nosy, or otherwise wanting to know about my life and my feelings. Yes, I’m mourning the potential of the child I might never have, the loss of possibilities and interactions that another child would have had on me, my husband, the kids, grandparents, strangers 20 years from now. I am fortunate to have my family but I’m not afraid anymore to acknowledge that this is a very real pain for me. I’m still mourning the other losses that have affected me lately. I can’t keep bottling everything up inside, letting my unheeded Grief infect and affect my ability to feel Happiness, an emotion that is conspicuously absent in my junk pile of other emotions.

This is not going to be easy. Suppression is a well-formed habit, born of necessity and a general desire to not feel anything because I felt nothing but negative emotions for so long. I still have Resentment, because it’s parasitic and I can’t kick out my former BFF so easily. Some of my Grief unrelated to my infertility still needs to be locked away for reasons that are my own, but I intend to make that a temporary stay. Too much emotion is overwhelming for anyone: for me, it’s physically harmful. I will not let that Grief be a Vesuvius to the unsuspecting Pompeiians in my midst. It’ll be more like a controlled demolition. Maybe. This is all so very new to me and it’s almost as scary as confronting my own Grief. I will continue to try.

If you’ve made it this far, congrats. At this point I’m just trying to hit 2000 words and I’m awfully close. I’d like to take this opportunity to rant about the phrase “have your cake and eat it too.” Why is that a bad thing? Why have cake if you’re not supposed to eat it? I want my cake in order to eat it too. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having your cake and eating it too. There might be something wrong with wanting your neighbor’s cake, calling it your own, and eating it too, but we’ll play around with sexual euphemisms some other time. After we eat our cake.

 

 

 

90%

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So, I’m getting back into the swing of things. Well, I’m trying to at least. So much has changed since the last time I heavily blogged: so much has changed since I remembered I had a damn blog to begin with. The kids are older, I’m older, we’re all older, duh. Now Stevie Nicks is singing in my head. I’m just going to dive right in and pretend that everybody already knows my backstory.

The school that my children go to is a wonderful little private school that I have dedicated myself fully to for a multitude of reasons, the least of which is that volunteering reduces how much we have to pay in tuition. Cynical and accurate. One of the great things about this school is that they have a daily all-school meeting, in which a fact of the day is discussed and on Mondays, a quote for the week. A while back, one of the boys got hurt while in the neighborhood and came home to me, sporting a couple of bandaids that another, more-attentive parent had lovingly placed upon his scratches. He proudly showed them off, telling me he had tumbled off his scooter and then got up and kept on going. He then rattled off to me about how life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react and that’s why he didn’t get upset when he hurt himself. Yep. He learned this quote at school and integrated it seamlessly into his world view. I was so damn proud and a little blown away.

I don’t disagree with the quote one iota. But I know I need to take a lesson from my son and change my 90%. I have a tendency to over-analyze everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. I spend more time thinking about each consequence of each consequence of each decision than I do actually doing whatever it is I should be doing. Tell me hello and three hours later I’m still trying to figure out if there was a subliminal message in the way your tongue processed the l’s. Ask my husband sometime about how easy it is for me to choose what to eat when I’m hungry: I’ve skipped meals because I can’t make a decision. So when something happens to me that sends me into emotional turmoil, my brain goes into overdrive and I become a lost cause for rationality. Everything is analyzed to a sub-atomic scale; I’m fairly certain I have an emotional-electron microscope in my frontal lobe somewhere. It’s pretty awesome in its awfulness.

Where am I going with all this? A few weeks ago I lost a dear friend of mine, someone my age and who shared a birthday with my daughter. For his family, it was not entirely unexpected, but for me, it was traumatic and completely out of left field. I had been friends with him from the first few days of language school, but as time ticked by we drifted apart, as all friendships with me are wont to do. I regret not keeping up with him, as he left behind a child not too much younger than my twins and a wife with whom I spent a considerable amount of drinking time with back in the day. The whole thing has devastated his family and forced me to reexamine my own life. I’m not old enough to be in a mid-life crisis, I’m not about to trade my husband in for a younger man or my van in for a new convertible, but I am finding it hard to focus on the things I’ve traditionally focused on (my husband, my kids, my volunteer commitments, my house). I lied. I’ve never been focused on the upkeep of the house, although I seriously consider doing so on occasion. I’m wrapped up and thinking about all the other things I want to do or say or see because I could develop some awful disease and kick the bucket in a year or two. Or I could die tomorrow. Or live seventy more years. I don’t know what’s going to happen and that is sending my overly-analytical, haphazardly-organized, chaotically-emotional brain into a tail spin of just bat guano insanity. I’m feel like I’m lacking in control and so I just want to live life like my field of fucks is barren and withered.

And yet, a glimmer of hope. I know that this is not the rational approach to the loss in my life.  My 90% should not be about making bad, selfish, or irresponsible choices. It should be about taking pleasure in the awesome people in my life, about the richness that I already possess and the things I’ve been able to experience and see so far. Unfortunately, that’s not how my mind works. My 90% is split right down the middle: 45% is rational appreciation of my life and 45% is Crazy Town Express. And I shit you not, but I’m going to sit here for a while and contemplate the implications of everything I’ve just written and hesitate to publish and hem and haw and generally act like the neurotic nutbag that I’ve developed into. I guess being aware that I have a problem is the first step to figuring out how to change it, right?

In the meantime, I’m going to take solace that my children appear to be relatively normal, at least when it comes to a tendency to over-analyze everything. I’m glad that at least one of my children has got his head on right.