Daddy Issues are A Thing for a Reason

For anyone who’s ever wondered what my problem is, why I’m “so sensitive” or why I struggle with feeling a sense of self-worth, why I can be so outspoken about other people’s journeys but not my own, why I have anxiety and depression, or why it’s so important to me that I do a really good job parenting my children…

My dad just posted this on Facebook:

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Not ironically, not jokingly, and I have no problem believing that this might be true.

I unfollowed him. Naturally. But it doesn’t matter. The damage has been done.

 

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It’s My Potty and I’ll Cry If I Want To

In my mid-twenties when everything was a mess and I didn’t know what to do or how to get control over the rollercoaster of expectations of how my life was supposed to be, sometimes I… would just run to the restroom and have a little cry.

No one, not even in HR, wanted to confront a young woman who claimed to be pooping for 15 minutes and that’s why she wasn’t at her desk when you needed her today. Not if it was only once or twice a week at most.

The job I’ve got now, I could take a three hour lunch break and no one would even notice. So when it came time for the damn to finally break, I took a walk to the restroom. And I cried.

I can’t say it’s the first time I’ve done so since those early roller coaster days. I’ve been in the same stall, 7 months pregnant and trying to psych myself up to prick my own finger and check my glucose levels while crying hysterically because I was obviously a terrible mother for having gestational diabetes. I’ve been here at four months postpartum and suffering  from postpartum depression, trying to keep myself sane by reading Riverdale fanfic on my phone and crying because Betty and Jughead broke up again.

And I was in there today, composing a blog post in my head while freaking the eff out about money and work and childcare and healthcare and trying to explain to my White Man Privilege boss that I can’t just change my schedule on a whim because CHILDREN and SECOND JOB and PITIFULLY POOR PAY.

Not quite two decades later and despite all the progress I’ve made emotionally, financially, mentally, career-wise, lifestyle choices, everything EVERYTHING I’ve done, I’m still running to the bathroom to cry.

I’ve seen Parenthood. I know the roller coaster goes on forever. I know you can get off once in a while to puke it out and regroup before you get back on. But you have to get back on. You have to keep going. Because if you’re not in the arena with Brene Brown, well then you’re just not living your life.

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She likes the ride.

I’m telling myself to revel in the bathroom cries. They are a much deserved break in the facade of keeping it together. And no one–at work at least–will interfere with your Me Time as long as they think you’re pooping.

 

Guess Who’s Got Issues

From the manuscript I’m currently editing, I think I’ve established a thematic pattern:

I know you’re supposed to respect them and honor them and everything. And you have to appreciate what they do because, I mean, they brought you into the world and clothed you and fed you and brought you to school and Science Camp and everything, right? But does that mean you can’t… like, see them for who they are? Like see their flaws and think, ‘maybe I don’t want to be like that.’?”

 

I cracked the saddest smile. I knew exactly what she meant. I knew how heartbreaking it is to love someone unconditionally when you’re fully aware of the conditions they’ve put in place to continue loving you. “I think…” I started. I wanted to say it right this time. “Your parents are probably the hardest people to see clearly because you want so badly to love them and be loved by them. But they’re not perfect. They’re just people, like anyone else. And sometimes, they screw up. I think it’s still possible to love someone and still see their flaws. I think it’s probably a good thing because it gives you a way to … to like, maybe not repeat their mistakes or patterns or whatever. Does that make sense?”

It’s also in…

Like Two Opposite Things when Heather is talking about her otherwise perfect-seeming mom who gossips to the point of ruining friendships and how she’d rather use the info she gathers to help people instead.

Lay Her Ghosts to Rest where Catori is recognizing that the culture her workplace has established nurtures terrible habits out of efficiency, effectively causing the employee burnout it purports to resolve.

And in a more personal memoir I’m having trouble finishing because it’s so much about breaking old unhelpful patterns for the sake of my own mental health and the healthy parenting of my children.

Ahh, writing is the best therapy. Besides… therapy.

Shout out to Dr. Jonice Webb and her book Running on Empty for helping me figure these things out!

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Helia, is that you? Nah, can’t be. She’s not hiding in a sweatshirt. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How to Fill a Page

Before my first child was born, I told my OB/GYN that I was concerned I was a good strong candidate for some hardcore postpartum depression. She referred me to a therapist and suggested I see her before the birth so I could start working on coping strategies before the big event.

I spent three sessions of an hour each complaining about my mother-in-law.

Now, a good therapist–which she was not–would have read between the lines and addressed my issues with expressing emotion and how having a child was scary for me because it came alone with BIG EMOTIONS that I didn’t feel prepared for. My mother-in-law is a frequent expresser of emotions, you see. I did explain that. I did explain a lot of things. But when I said, “I don’t really think these sessions are helping me,” she said, “Well, you managed to fill the hour well enough.”

Let’s skip past the obviousness of her ineptitude and touch upon the most relevant nugget of wisdom for a busy person trying to fulfill a word quota for a Camp Nano project:

If you’re a good enough complainer, you can fill several hours–or several thousand pages–just with that. The good stuff, we’ll leave for next month when the pressure to perform is off.

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Tell me more about my paycheck…

Also, writing is my best therapy. It doesn’t always make for great copy but it does force me to express and examine my issues several times over. And it’s free.

Russian Bots Aren’t My Problem

There are days I spend away from the internet and while I can’t say I feel refreshed and renewed (because I’m not out camping and enjoying nature so much as running the kids all over town and catching up on To Do tasks), I do feel moderately less annoyed with humanity.

I blame Facebook. For many things, actually, but hating other people has a lot to do with inane and/or offensive garbage I see on Facebook mostly from people I know in real life and the people they know in real life who maybe I need to know a little less about.

Twitter is a different story for me because I’m on there almost exclusively to engage the writing community and stalk Riverdale creators and actors. All of those people are lovely and I can easily ignore anyone who isn’t.

Instagram is fairly new to me, my personal account is private, and I really only engage with a select few people… and Riverdale creators and actors.

Tumblr, I abandoned long ago, back when raging Teen Wolf fans couldn’t handle life and stopped creating adorable memes to lash out in grammatically infeasible ways that hurt my brain.

And I don’t do anything else because I’m a Gen Xer and I’m too busy being broody and polishing my CD collection to learn anything new.

So I will continue to look at the pretty pictures on Instagram and play writer hashtag games on Twitter and feel all peach fuzz and puppies about it.

But how… do I get away… from Facebook? Honestly? I have business-related pages and an author page and a private friend group comprised entirely of pictures of my children so I can continue minimal interaction with family while still providing life updates. But I want to stop all the rest. How do you just… stop the rest? How do you kill the Facebook feed?

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This is definitely me in a Calvin Klein crop top with my manicured nails and dangling bracelets being all addicted to social media and whatnot. Certainly not a generic pic that google has allowed me to use.

Being the Good Voice

Let me preface this preaching with a musical interlude:

I’ve been listening to a playlist in my car of new songs I’ve purchased in the order I’ve purchased them which is how I heard just now, on my way here, Believer by Imagine Dragons followed by Hall of Fame by The Script. “My life, my love, my drive, it came from PAIN!” followed by “You can be the greatest, you can be the best, dedicate yourself and you’ll be standing in the hall of fame.” As parenting philosophies according to popular music go, there’s a pretty clear winner in this battle.

Which made me start thinking about how children are influenced by their parents long after childhood ends.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, kids actually do listen to their parents and they really do internalize those things we say most often. As teens and adults, a lot of those things we said often become the voice in their head that guides them. For better or for worse.

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I know of too many people for whom the voice in their head is that of fear or doubt, indecision, conformity, derision, punishment, undeservingness, lack of acceptance. It’s the voice that tells you you’ll never succeed, you’re too stupid or fat, too weak or too weird, that you should let someone else do it, that you’re not ok the way you are, that you should just melt into the background because every action is too much of a risk.

And with the lyrics of those two songs echoing in my head, I’m determined not to be that voice.

I want to be the voice in my kids’ heads that says…

You can do it

I believe in you

Make good decisions

Do your best

Try again 

Take care of yourself

Be respectful of others

Brush your teeth

Just try to go pee before we leave the house

Eat more good food than treats

I love you!

And then I hear my son say to himself, “That’s ok. Twy again. You can do it,” and I feel like maybe I’m doing an ok job at this whole parenting thing.

Simpler Times for Scumbags

Well, I certainly did try to edit my NaNo project into something cohesive and I’m not saying I’m ready to give up on it. But I do believe it needs some space to breath.

This is true for most of the things I write, that I need some space between the writing and the editing, but especially so for a mostly true story about a totally shit time in my life.

So I’ve started something new! Something fun! Something that started out as a merry jaunt through time and space, an attempt to recreate a nostalgic event in the lives of the main character’s parents… but then… my mind went to the dark place and so did the story. Now the main character will share her story with her mom who’s been reading a lot about the #TimesUp movement and following coverage of a fictionalized version of that scumbag gymnastics doctor’s trial and reexamining some of those nostalgic events through the lens of a more cynical and much more informed adult eye.

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Also… woo! Road trip!

Pineapple Hot Dog of Doom

The last dream I had before I woke up this morning was of living in an unstable tower-type building, trying to find an appropriate outfit to go get a hot dog and pick up my mom from work. I had just plugged in my long-sleeve white bathing suit, not to wear but so that it would be charged for later, and was marveling at the length and breadth of my favorite jeans as they eclipsed my legs and feet. For sure not hot dog getting wear, I thought.

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Home sweet… whoooaaaaaa!

As I dug through the pile of cleanish clothes on the floor in my tower bedroom, wind blew or an earthquake quaked or an explosion exploded and the building began to rock. That happens when you live in an unstable tower building but usually, it straightened itself out, I reminded myself. I scrolled through the hot dog menu in my mind, considering a more classic relish and mustard or a more exotic chili and pineapple.
But my thoughts, my piles of clothes, my reassurances were all interrupted by the disequilibrium that wasn’t re-equalizing. The tower leaned too far to the left. My body rotated in space until I was looking straight ahead at the floor. My stomach flipped over and warmed slowly like a toaster until my breakfast was burnt. I thought, “this is it,”
and “I’m going to die now,” and “Goddess bless my children and keep them safe. Help the people who love me to grieve me without too much suffering…”
But then the building jerked up straight like those dancing balloons outside the car wash. My white bathing suit was fully charged and stain resistant. And I remembered that hot dogs don’t get themselves.
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Fully charged, surprisingly stain-resistant

Then my son woke up–my real son in the waking world–and called for me. So I woke up, under the dark cloud of impending doom, and have been feeling this way ever since.
Happy Monday, everyone. May your day not be overshadowed by subconscious gloom.
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Pigs are for Bacon, Not That… not that

I’ve been hearing all the hullabaloo about Black Mirror and decided to dive in to season 1 the other day. I didn’t get past that first episode.

This is what people like to watch? I mean… besides the part with the pig? That was nasty enough. But… like… people enjoy being judged in such a cruel and demoralizing way on their viewing habits? Or did they just not get it?

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Sadly, probably not.

Because it worked for me. I turned that crap off right quick and picked up a book.

Legit question: does the series get better? Or is it always pointing out how hollow a life lived in front of a screen can be?

Meanwhile, have you seen Kevin (Probably) Saves the World? It’s like, a Black Mirror antidote.

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I… yeah, I’d rather be watching Kevin. The real world is harsh enough.

 

How to Deal with the Indecisive

I have this simple rule with my toddler when I have to ask him the same question more than 3 times: If you won’t decide, then I’ll do it for you.

It always works. Either he makes the decision quickly–which is what usually happens–or I do and the thing gets done.

Meanwhile, I asked my husband 5 or 6 times to help me decide who and in what order to put the emergency contacts on my son’s preschool enrollment application and he has blown it off repeatedly. I don’t have time for this nonsense. I decided, it’s done, and now he has no say in the matter.

So… henceforth… my toddler rule applies to EVERYONE.

Listen up, all the indecisive people in my life:

IF YOU WON’T DECIDE, THEN I WILL DO IT FOR YOU

and guess what else:

YOU GET WHAT YOU GET AND I DO NOT CARE IF YOU ARE UPSET.

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