Without My Words, Who Am I?

 

Dancing Still

Words are my world. They are my comfort and my solace, they are my protection,  they help me find peace inside when there is non to be found elsewhere. They open me up and empty me out and yet. And yet. And yet.

They are my weapon. They are my barrier. They keep a deep high wall between me and those I love. As much as I find threads of myself with words, I lose them again in the chatter. Those tender strands need to be found, yes, but they need to be followed in quiet, in awe, in silence. In order to hear the words of the heart, the sounds of Spirit, the call of the wild, there must be silence, hush, space.  I fill the spaces with words, questions, curiosity, anxiety, guilt ridden searching. I would rather talk than make love. Talk than hug. Talk than sit in the quiet embrace of a friends non-conversation. I would rather see than feel and speak than listen because that has always been my way.

Before I was a writer I was a dancer. I emptied out my sadness and anger with movement that came from deep within myself. I allowed the language of my heart to flow through all of my limbs and not just my hands. When you dance you are fully present to each moment, to each emotion and after the dance comes stillness. A warm, softened stillness. A prayer has been offered and answered and all is well.

And then youth started to flee. Age and responsibility began to weigh upon me. Time was scarce, other people’s needs began to outweigh my own. It was easier to write my feelings than to really feel them, to work them out. I started to believe that it was too ridiculous, to embarrassing for me to dance. I stopped believing in the beauty of my body’s graceful prayer. I allowed myself to become stagnant with inertia, heavy with words my mouth couldn’t shape. I hated feeling foolish when I danced. I hated the way my once strong and graceful body now sagged and lumped along. I watched myself with a cruel and critical eye and I judged myself unworthy.

I cannot tell you when this became my truth. When did I began to care more about the messenger than the message? I only know that it truly doesn’t matter to Spirit what I look like when I dance, only that I dance, only that the prayer is offered. Even if it is offered imperfectly and halteringly and in shame and embarrassment. Even if it is offered by a short, fat, middle-aged woman, flapping chubby arms and stomping chubby legs and balancing on little toes and stretching out long fingers to meet the unknown presence, the Beloved, who dances unseen with me. Even then – the silent prayer is sweet. I don’t know when I forgot that but I’m remembering it now.

And so I wonder, who am I without my words? Who am I without my humour armour and my wit weapons? Who am I with my mouth closed and my heart, my mind, and my ears open?

Who am I when the page is blank?

Who am I?

Nourish Me:: Week Eight - I Spy

Only dance, and your illusions will blow in the wind 
Dance, and make joyous the love around you 
Dance, and your veils which hide the Light 
Shall swirl in a heap at your feet. – Rumi

This Deep Longing

The Highlands of Scotland

The Highlands of Scotland

Some days are just tightly strung with this unbidden longing for the wild places of my home. The places that stir my breath and my heart into quickened beating, where my soul expands beyond the confines of this life and into empty cold air, dancing on the rain driven winds. I am not a child of summer. I am an autumn changeling, a winter wisp, twinkling in the frosted air, creeping in the ponderous fog towards the tiny cabin and the glittering lonely fire shining in the deepening dark. I ache for the wind to kiss my face with it’s salt encrusted lips. I ache for the dark smell of wet earth as night trails in blazing stars. I ache for the silence and the solitude, the ancientness and the awe and the tingling fear of aloneness that lives in me there.

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My life is full. It is brimming over with needs and wants and I am happy to give most of the time. Grateful I am called upon to give in these limitless ways to these cherished hearts. But there are just days when simply looking at an image of some part of my far away homeland startles a cry of sorrow from my mouth. Unbidden, unwanted, misunderstood – it is soft and yet so broken. I can look into the reality of this place and see where so many joins don’t fit. I can see the reality of that place and see how many parts of my soul have fled there in the deepest wretchedness of my darkest nights, despite its many imperfections. There will always be a healing hum that comes from the place of my birth. Not the place my mamma lives. Not the places I have necessarily dwelt, though they were splendid too, but the deep dark green, the grey, green ocean, the slate grey skies and the wind, the cruel, cold, enlivening winds that smack your face and wake you to full attention. The high places and the low, the forest and the glen, the shore and the cliffs that crown it, the cave and the fossilised remnants of a life no longer mine. These all call to me because I am a part of them and my many lives there float around me keening a howling lament to the north. And I, here where I have found a different kind of happiness, hear my whining rejection of the south and all it’s strangeness. An ancientness that does not connect with my soul but leaves me hungrier, ever hungrier for the taste of deep dark soil in my mouth and for the weak and watery sun that lights up the mist as it coils itself around my feet and the soaking earth that I walk upon. I miss it like a lost child. And yet. I am here and here I must forseeably stay. And that is the source of the keening in my soul. That is the source of this restless spirit and the brackish taste of resentment in my mouth. This knowledge that the little hearts and the mighty loves that keep me here, hold fast that part of me that beats in the wildness that remains so far out of reach.

And so I ache.

What The Heart Wants

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Ooh look! Something shiny! And with that she was gone for nearly 2 years.

Ahem. I realise that I am now talking to myself and the big void of space that lies beyond this post but hey ho, here we go. Again. After a somewhat prolonged absence. I think it was the glitter, it got in my hair, in my eyes and other, weirder, places and it took me so long to get rid of it that, well, etc.

So what have I been doing with myself for these last 2 years? I honestly couldn’t tell you. The only thing I know for sure is that my then 5.5 yr old, is now a wild and excitable 7 yr old and my then 2 yr old is now a cantankerous wee beastie of a 3.5 year old, mostly dressed up like a pirate (fairy wings optional), who enjoys shooting people through their eyeballs. Still, rather than banging on about all the things I seem to have banged on endlessly about for the last 7 years, I’m going to give it a rest. At least for this post. Just know this, motherhood is like raw cheesecake, it looks all lovely on the outside but ultimately you are chewing through a big bag of nuts.

In the last 2 years of not writing here, I have done many things none of which seem at all important right now. I’ve half knitted many things and then left them so long that I no longer know how to finish knitting them. I have sewn things that are almost wearable. I have negotiated people I love no longer loving each other and dwelt in the sadness of that.  I have wondered if things will ever change or if I should quietly acquiesce to the inevitable. I know how to hold on but I just don’t want to be that guy in the corner with the saxophone who doesn’t know when to quit. I have started study and stopped study, despite doing exceptionally well – toot toot!, because I’m not sure what my heart wants. And I have tried to sit with what my heart wants while my life rages around me. You can tell Adele that setting fire to the rain is a snap after that.

What Women Want – is not a man that fulfills all their unspoken desires, it is to know what their own unique and vulnerable heart wants. Plus maybe enough courage to follow it, even if it’s not pretty. I fear the not pretty. I’ve been balls deep in the not pretty and I have no desire to go there again, but the heart wants what the heart wants, as someone famous and obviously forgettable, once sagely said. It seems that, for me at least, talking endlessly about my problems does not get me to what my heart wants (blog notwithstanding). I want to listen to my heart talk, not my neuroses. There are many good books out there I’m sure that deal with exactly this and I’m sure they would be helpful but I don’t have time to read books. I’m too busy fighting the fires of motherhood on the nature/nurture frontline to sit down. Plus my hair is singed and it smells weird.

So I am looking forward to slowly dropping into the dark mossy goodness of Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere because I know that with the Autumn and Winter, my favourite two seasons, will come  answers. (Or at the very least open fires and mulled wine – answers enough for some. And by some, I mean me.) They won’t be BIG, LOUD, DEFINITIVE answers, they will be teeny, tiny nudges to do more of something or less. To pay attention to the questions that pour from this bloody wound I call my heart, to follow the signs or maybe simply allow the questions to hollow me out until I remember who and what I am. I doubt any of it will be easy. I seem to be hardwired towards doing things the hard way. I just know that in the last two years not much has changed, so it must be time to change the things I’m doing.

And with that, I am here.

Peace out.

The Beautiful Darkness

Emerging From The Darkness by Tim Rosier (via DeviantART)

Emerging From The Darkness by Tim Rosier (via DeviantART)

Emerging

In which I will write in the first person, because it feels important.

It’s an odd thing to realise that I have been cocooning myself away from the world without even realising that I was doing so. Slowly winding layers and layers of soft ‘not coping’ around me to protect myself from the rigorous expectations of others and the punishing expectations of my own self. Hiding in the darkness of my PND and using it as a barrier between me and the world ‘out there’, where I am ‘talented’, ‘strong’ and ‘capable’. The ‘out there’ where the bar is set so high in every area of my life, I have no hope of ever getting close to it.

In here, in this beautiful darkness, I am safe. It is quiet and peaceful and manageable. Out there is push and shove and noise and chaos and there is always drama and limits must be met and exceeded. In here, I am slow and sometimes melancholic and often angry but I have been given permission by my illness to simply put one foot in front of the other until the end of the long mothering day. In here, it is tight and restrictive and often uncomfortable, both mentally and emotionally, because it is the safety of failure, of ‘not good enough’ and in this small, tight darkness I have companions like Shame and Guilt and Anger. Yet squashed in here is still so much better than bearing the weight of all that other ‘stuff’ that waits for me, like a hungry wolf, out there.

I have come to realise that I have been cowed under the weight of everyone elses expectations of me. That carrying these expectations around on my shoulders has caused me to feel like I am simply going around and around in circles as I slowly grind myself into the ground. I was raised (unconsciously to be sure) to be ‘better than’. To always pit myself against the best and win. And if i didn’t? Well, there was sadness and guilt and shame. If I did, it was the best feeling in the world. I was loved and accepted by those whose love and acceptance I so desperately craved. Moreover, I was ‘Special’ and that seemed to be the most important thing to be. The problem with this type of early conditioning is that it becomes a part of your DNA without you even being aware of it. It’s not like, at the age of five, I had some kind of bullshit radar which kicked in  with a, ‘Hang on just a damn minute! You don’t have to better than X,Y & Z – or achieve X,Y, Z medals/distinctions, you just have to enjoy what you are doing!’ I only had the quiet urging in my ear to be the best. I am not blaming here. I want to make that absolutely clear. Everything that was said and done was said and done with the best of intentions. I am also aware of the old adage about the ‘road to hell’ being paved with such intentions. We do what we do when we know no better. And let’s face it, I am hardly without ‘sin’ when it comes to this shit. But still, since then I have always carried those expectations of greatness, high achieving and ‘better than’s’ with me and unconsciously tried to live up to them. The problem with this is that they are impossible to attain. Seriously. Equally problematic is the fact that logical argument (especially my own) never made me give up anything, let alone these deeply held beliefs about my own magnificence. I have, quite simply, grown up with the expectation that I will be something extraordinary and with an absolute horror of being ordinary. I am not tooting my own horn. I am stating a plain fact. I have always believed I was meant for something better. Something much more magical than a plain and ordinary life.

My lovely therapist, Kat, thinks this belief stems, not from unbelievable arrogance – as it may first appear, but from being ‘incorrectly mirrored’ as a child. I was a very clever little girl, precociously so. Because of this and the realisation that I was a bit smarter than the average bear, and also because of the many un-lived lives of my mother, I was expected to become something amazing. With all this cleverness, (and later with all the talent for dance and drama and such), I was expected to really excel at something. I was pitted against every other little girl or boy in every area of my life until I became so stressed out and so guilt ridden at the thought of failure, I began to experience severe migraines, vomiting and awful stage fright. I literally became sick of the pressure I was under to achieve. It was never enough to be good at things and I was and still am, naturally pretty good at stuff. I can pick things up very easily. At least, I could.  And I was always pretty capable. But it was never enough. I was never enough.

Slowly I am coming to realise that maybe I was not meant to be extraordinary or to live an extraordinary life. Maybe my talent is simply for enjoying life and enjoying the many and varied things it offers. Maybe my talent is to be a great writer. Maybe it’s to be a mediocre writer (look how well many of them are doing!) or maybe it’s to be no kind of writer at all. All that pressure, all those weighty expectations, all they ever did was make me afraid to fail. Afraid to really try those things to which I was most drawn in case I did badly and lost the love and respect of those I most dearly needed it from. And so. When my beautiful, challenging, heart expanding, anxiety inducing children came along, I again had a bar set so high for parenting that I couldn’t hope to ever attain it and I began the fast and angry descent into PND where I became one with this Beautiful Darkness. And here I have been ever since.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have thought all along that I was trying to climb out of this pit of self-loathing and angry parenting. Trying to escape from the feelings of overwhelm and terrible sadness at my own inability to parent well and with real heart. And I do believe I have. The trouble is that the pay off for being inside this angry little cocoon is that I am not expected to do or be or achieve ANYTHING. I don’t have to strive to be a perfect anything because just getting through an average day is achievement enough. I am not expected to have it all together because I clearly don’t have it all together. My husband comes home earlier, takes a bit more care, gives me more time and parents a bit more than I fear he will when I am well. He doesn’t expect a home cooked meal on the table every night or a perfectly clean house or a sexy little minx in the bedroom. He expects an exasperated, frazzled, chubby little house frau who may or may not be writhing in a puddle of parenting self loathing, when he comes home. And that means I don’t have to try so damn hard all the fucking time. I mean, it’s just so exhausting – all this stuff we are supposed to do/achieve/become. Being broken means never having to carry that heavy burden of other people’s expectations.

I know. It’s faulty logic. I will be so much happier without this black dog stalking me through every day. I know that I will be able to experience more joy if I can just let go of my little black cloud, but I’m scared. I’m scared that when I am well all of those expectations will come crashing back down on me like a comet and I will find myself pushing and pushing and pushing myself uphill, trying to achieve every last one of those golden dreams until I break. Out there, there is always more to want, more to need, more to achieve. In here, it’s just me. For better or worse.

The Boleigh Fogou in Penzance Cornwall

The Boleigh Fogou in Penzance Cornwall by Richard Stocker (richard_stocker via flickr)

Sadly, the cracks in the cocoon are showing and the light is starting to filter in. I know that I can’t stay in here much longer. I honestly don’t want to – not really. I know that I have to try to figure out some kind of middle ground, some bar setting skills that are not so cruel and remorseless. I have to find a way to put one foot in front of the other and see where that takes me, without looking up for the bigger and better dream all the time. Because, and I know this down to my boots, I need to live life at a pace that can be sustained by me without lots of support, because support won’t always be available. I need to find a way to live my life that makes me happy, that allows for more moments of ordinary grace, that gives me room to BE without always trying to be more. I need to find a lower bar and be ok with that.

I am Emerging – slowly – from this safe little hideaway. I am learning to put down the heavy burden of expectation. I am unravelling all the ideas, the beliefs, the un-lived lives – to see what remains at the end.

And that’s the journey my friends.

That is the journey.

A Day

So true.

So true.

I was going to call this post, A Day in The Life Of… but I’m not always sure this IS a life. At least not one that resembles the one I remember anyway. So, it’s simply a day.

The day begins. Oh Arse.

I get up reluctantly even though this bed is so uncomfortable I would probably feel better if I slept outside on the terracotta tiles of the patio. Upside down.

Bear hurtles in, jumps all over my arthritic feeling bones and cheerily demands ‘Bekfuss’ and also ‘Boobies?’ Ha! Nice try, buddy.

Michael jumps in the shower as I try to distract Bear with songs beginning, ‘I like the flowers. I like the daffodils,’ as he punctuates each line with the appropriate action and Beanie punctuates both of us with girded steel elbows to tender parts. Good Morning World.

After finally convincing my children into their respective car seats, (a feat worthy of the Nobel Peace price in my opinion), I drop Beanie off at school with strict instructions to find and bring home her many lost ‘things’. AS soon as Beanie is out of the car, Bear asks his trademark, “Where Lily gorn, Mamma?” And I explain, as I do every day, that she has gone to school as he could plainly see as he was sitting in the car as we dropped her off. Sorry, but it’s only cute the first 150 times you hear it. In. A. Day.

We go shopping. Bear is still in his PJ’s (what a terrible mother). As soon as we enter the supermarket, Bear asks for a banana. I give him a fresh, organic banana and continue to shop. We turn the first aisle and the tantrums begin. During the entire shopping experience, he screams and cries because I won’t let him have the assortment of sugary temptations he has set his heart on, and keep suggesting he continue to eat the half eaten organic banana he had begun only minutes earlier. Apparently, everyone else has enjoyed a surfeit of his particular brand of insouciance because a friendly, if slightly strained looking supermarket employee whizzes over with the offer of a ‘toy’. It is small, plastic and likely to choke him. I suspect that is the point. I decline graciously and explain that we are merely setting limits. The checkout chick looks at me with suspicion and asks, ‘Is he tired?” “No, just complaining.” I respond with a mild look. (If you knew me and my stress levels, you would be applauding my calmness about now.) And then, because I feel I have to. I explain the banana story – has banana, doesn’t want banana wants sugary treats or chips, mamma says no because he is not hungry merely testing boundaries and wanting sugar. She still eyes me warily. I buy two boxes of wine on the way back to my car.

When I get home from the supermarket, Bear is sound asleep in his car seat. I empty car, put groceries away and then try to extricate my boy from his seat. He sleepily flops onto my shoulder and I have that moment of sweet surrender that every mother loves. When the child is completely relaxed, trusting and heavy and you are full of love and pain all at the same time because you know that this time in their lives, when they are completely yours, will soon be gone and you try to savour it as you squelch to the house through the six inches of mud where your carport used to be. As soon as his heavy little bonce touches his pillow, he springs awake with an indignant “Not sleepy!” I sigh.

I administer snacks/lunch. He eats mine. I am too tired to make myself anything else. I play jigsaws with him until I have to put in what feels like the 13th load of washing since Friday and then get out the hoover. “Why don’t you go and play outside for a little while? Mamma will be out soon.” I promise with a somewhat tight smile. I HATE hoovering. No. That’s not precise enough. I don’t just hate hoovering. I want to smash its face in and then bury it in lime in a very, very deep grave. Hoovering is one on a long list of pointless tasks to which I am expected to daily subject myself. If it gets done once a fortnight, the carpets feel lucky. However, lest my house get up and walk away by itself in disgust, I persevere. I hoover the carpets, being careful to monitor the barometric air pressure for each and every tiny variation, lest the carpet cleaning part of the hoover decide to have a hissy fit and stop working. Again. My son comes in with his car and muddy boots. I turn him gently around and point out that his car (and boots) are for outside only, not inside on mummy’s freshly hoovered carpets. Not if he wishes to see his third birthday. I continue to hoover as fast as I can. He comes back in.I send him back out. He comes back in. I send him back out. He bangs on the glass with a badmington racquet. I remove racquet and send him back out. He comes back in. I state very calmly that if he is coming inside he must take off his boots and not go outside again. He agrees. I am amazed.

I look at the clock in mild alarm. It is nearly 2pm. WAY past his usual naptime of 11.30/12. I didn’t try to put him down at his usual time because of the earlier nap in the car. Now I am late. In one hour I have to pack him into the car to collect his sister from school. I haven’t even thought about dinner and unless he goes to sleep right NOW, he will not even have an hour and will most likely be feral when I wake him to take him to the car. I try anyway. I read him two stories, kiss, cuddle, sing his favourite lullaby and attempt to extricate his fingers from his nose, oh say, 30 times? Then I leave the room promising to check on him again shortly. I fold laundry in the bedroom and put it away. I hear him climbing out of his cot. I go in, resettle and tell him not to climb out of his cot. I repeat this exact sequence of events four more time before I concede defeat. It’s nearly time to collect Beanie anyway. Dinner is a far off dream of efficiency I once had and, like Lindsay Lohan giving up partying, it ain’t happening.

I load us both into the car and drive to the school. I park in a small lake surrounded by mud. Bear begins shouting indecipherable gibberish at the top of his lungs. I calmly ask him to use his quiet voice and attempt to decipher this thing he is apparently enraged about. I fail. Beanie arrives arms full of school projects and various items of clothing. Some of it is hers.

I administer the 100% fruit bars hidden in my bag and, when I turn around to dole them out, find that Bear has taken his arms out of the straps of his car seat again. He gives me that chin up, pouty lipped stern look that says he’s not going to put them back in until he absotively posolutely HAS to. I remain calm. I insist that he puts his arms back in or we will be sitting here, outside the school, where there is no food, or playdough, or dinosaurs, for quite some time. He puts his arms back in. I ask Beanie what she did at school today and get the heavily edited, “I can’t remember.”

By the time I get the kids home and out of the car, I have to shift into dinner prep mode. I insist that Beanie changes out of her school uniform before dinner, which is met with huge heartfelt sighs of displeasure. I explain that it’s better to do it now than to cover her skirt in dinner. Better for me that is. I scroll through my menu options to find something new and tasty to tempt my fussy eaters with. I am met with cries of “What’s for dinner, mum?” and “Me hungy toooo!” so I tell them. My chosen menu is met with a suspicious look from my daughter and stony silence from both. I press on regardless.

They begin what passes for playing in this house. Beanie starts to help Bear build a farm house. Bear, gets involved only to throw something solid at Beanie’s head and/or knock it all down a minute or two later, as Beanie shrieks a bloodcurdling, “Noooooo Finn!!!” only to concede half a second later that’s its ‘Ok’ to knock it down and then they both stand on the debris. Then they hit each other with dinosaurs until someone starts to cry. Usually it’s me.

I am deep into dinner prep as the kids begin to rev up. I hear the theme tune from Jaws in my head. I have chicken under the grill, a sauce bubbling on the stove and pasta about to boil over when the glass shattering, ear piercing, brain melting screaming begins. Wee Bear – absolutely past it, over-tired and hungry, has had some precious artifact removed from his hot little hands, none too gently by his boisterous, hungry and desperate for attention Big Sister. He opens his mouth and molten fire, in the form of prehistoric sounds, spews forth. Beanie looks to me for what? Guidance? Admonishment? I don’t honestly know. All I know is that for someone on the 25th percentile for everything else in his life, Bear hits the 105th percentile for screams that make me want to shoot him into outer space. He combines this with throwing of random things, stomping and finally, throwing himself down onto the kitchen floor with a desperate heartbroken flourish last demonstrated by Bette Davis in All About Eve. He lies there and continues to howl. I have managed, I know not how, to remain calm and collected until this point. Because just as I am about to deal with small person number 2, small person number 1 kicks off. I then have dinner boiling over, burning and thickening into some snot like goo of cosmic proportions plus two demented evil dwarves, pretending to be my children, boiling over also. I snap. I have promised myself that today I will not shout. That, in fact, I will never shout at my kids again. I break my promise.

Just as I’m trying to explain, through gritted teeth, that whatever just happened, should not have happened in the way that it happened – Beanie shouts something unintelligible at me and bursts into tears. I want to help her. I want to help Bear. I want to stop that frustrated, throat tightening anger that is threatening to wash over the sides of my heavily fortified ‘good mummy’ walls but I just can’t. I have tried SO FUCKING HARD today to keep it all together and now, at dinner time, as has happened so often in the demented days of my life, I lose it. I shout. I am as frazzled as it’s about possible to be, trying to get dinner into hungry tummies, my own included as I realise I have eaten exactly one third of a sausage roll all day,  and needing to deal with two wee people in full on meltdown. And I can’t.

And this is the story of my life. Every. Damn. Day.

As I stare at another plate of nutricious, delicious food that has barely been given the evil eye by my offspring, as I pick up another pile of small cars, dinosaurs or jigsaw pieces which have been ground into the carpet along with hardened pieces of ham and cheese and random crusts of bread, as I dig into my paltry reserves of energy to slap a smile on my face and greet my small child’s demands for yet more ‘milk’ or ‘ham’ or ‘cocalek’ (chocolate) – I wonder how the hell I got here and when I can go home again.

Then I realise that I AM home. Or at least, someone is. I just don’t recognise her at the moment. She doesn’t sound like me, or smile like I did, or even go at life like I used to. She weeps on a daily basis, she fails at everything even remotely connected to parenting, she barely has the energy to get out of bed in the morning and she runs on coffee and hope. She can’t be me. Surely.

I’m sure that many people think that the life of a stay at home mum is all daytime TV and bonbons. Well, we don’t have TV and I’m not allowed to eat bonbons, so that pretty much explodes that idea. If only. Some days I find myself looking longingly at the clock to see if it is a ‘reasonable’ hour to hoe into the wine or the gin. Some days the clock says 10am. So that’s a ‘No.’ then. Yes, no reason to add alcoholic to the already long list of parental crimes I am guilty of.

Anyway, before I go foetal I will simply go. I just wanted to get down an average day on paper. And I didn’t even get to the eating of dinner, the throwing of dinner, the cleaning up after dinner, the bathing of small people, the dressing of small people, the small people that pee on the carpet of the room that they share with their siblings, like a tom cat marking its territory. I also didn’t get to the part of the night where, worn to an absolute frazzle, and having apologised to my kids for yelling at them, I enjoy another round of earsplitting screams as my cortisol flooded Bear lets me know in no uncertain terms that he is not tired. Nor the part where, as he finally drifts off into a snot coated sleep, his big sister opens the door and stares down my whispered wrath with the dreaded sentence, ‘I just needed to…’ which ALWAYS ends badly. Luckily for her, and for my desire to stay out of prison, he is simply too exhausted to wake. She gets a lecture, I take a shower and then we finally snuggle into bed to read ‘Boris’s Big Bogie’ and I sneak a well deserved (in my opinion at least) cuddle. Lily shows me her bogies and then goes to sleep with mamma whispering to her how much she loves her, and demonstrating how she used to cover her Beanie’s little face in lightning quick kisses when she was little. Actually, I still do. I just miss the big cheeks.

Here endeth the Gin, the Lesson and the (bloody long) Day.

Lost

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I am lost.

I am so totally, utterly and completely lost.

I don’t know which parenting book to read first, which website to visit, which therapist to call. I am struggling with the heavy weight of despair closing around me like a cage. It’s not so much my own depression that I am battling – though that war wages on (and on and on), it’s the added weight of feeling lost in my own family.

My beautiful baby girl – Beanie – I don’t think I could feel further away from her than I do right now. I think I have spent more time crying in the last few weeks than I have in the previous few years. I’m sure not having the buffer of the antidepressants makes things that much rawer but I also feel that it is the cumulative weight of my mothering grief that is really pouring out of me right now. Every day there is a new row, a new argument, a new drama to negotiate. Beanie is not yet 6 and she behaves like a hormonal teenager right down to the ‘”I’m not listening!” and the slamming of her bedroom door.

The hubble and I are struggling to understand what happened to our happy, funny little girl. When did this angry, sullen, overly sensitive teenager slip into our home and take her over? When did she decide that the only way to get our attention was to defy, challenge, ignore, scream, shout and push against us continually? Is this what being 5 is normally like? I keep hoping that it is a phase but I don’t think that it is. I had hoped that starting school would help her settle into a rhythm, help her to learn to listen and act as part of a little team. It has not. Her teacher, a lovely woman very experienced in teaching, has told us that Beanie is very ‘challenging’. Tell me about it. But where does that leave us? If a woman who has over 20 years of teaching calls our daughter challenging and finds her difficult to deal with, then what hope have we? We have a grand total of nearly 6 years experience of having children and most of those have been fraught. At least they have for me.

I can honestly say with my hand over my heart that I do not enjoy parenting. It’s not that I don’t love my children. Of course I do. With my whole conditional, demented heart but I do not enjoy the endlessness of this ‘difficult’ phase in my mothering journey. I have been on this road too long and no matter what help I seek, I am still here, still sitting in the shit and wishing it smelled differently. I cannot seem to move away from the sadness and the grief and the enormous guilt that I am forever saying and doing the wrong thing. I say things in anger that make my cheeks sting with shame afterwards. I try to reason with her like an adult, even though I know that she is still so very little. I lack the ability and the tools to know how to manage my angry child and not make it all worse. Not make my own anger and sadness worse. I’m sitting here, sobbing over my keyboard and trying to empty it all onto a page, so that i can at least find some space inside of me to figure out what to do next. Where to go now with my precious, rebellious, angry daughter.

Discipline doesn’t work, time-outs don’t work, consequences don’t work, taking things away from her doesn’t work. We have tried time-in’s but they are not working. I am desperately trying to master active listening, so that she feels heard – God knows with me for a mother and my own rage evident much of the time, she probably feels completely unheard – but I am trying so hard. I truly am.  Nothing changes her behaviour. She is rude and disobedient to us in particular, but it has started spreading to other adults too – her grandparents, her aunty, whom she absolutely adores, and to people she barely knows. I’m only surprised that it hasn’t been more evident at school. She isn’t rude there, just disobedient. And she doesn’t listen to anyone. Not ever. And then we will have a week where very little behaviour is evident, where we seem to have turned a corner and then BANG! for no apparent reason, she overflows with brattishness all over again and we are left standing in the debris wondering what the fuck happened. And I sit there feeling like it is ALL my fault. That my anger, my difficulties with mothering, my impossibly high standards for myself (and therefore probably others too), have just fucked up my bright beautiful little girl and I deserve everything I get. And I’m sure everyone feels like this from time to time but I know how bad it gets here when I am way out of control with frustration and resentment and every little thing sets me off. I am on simmer all the time with this PND and yes, I decided to come off the medication anyway. Mainly because it was simply detaching me even more than I do myself, every time things got tough – which is EVERY DAY. I don’t want to be emotionally disconnected from my children. I don’t want to not feel anything or feel through cotton wool. I thought that it would help, but it didn’t and the withdrawal from even the low dose of SSRI’s that I was on, was phenomenally bad. I will not ever take that kind of drug again. Not ever.

She is struggling and I don’t know how to help her because I am struggling too. I can work through some of my difficulties with my therapist, but what can she do? The only person she really has to talk to is me, or the hubble, and obviously we are the last people she wants to talk to right now. So we have made the decision to take her to see a child psychologist/family therapist. This is a major step for me because I feel so horribly responsible for the whole situation. I am terrified that when I explain honestly to the therapist what has been happening, that he will recommend that Lily be immediately taken away from me. Thus realising my absolute worst nightmare – that I am such a shitty excuse for a mother that I am not safe to be around my babies.

What the fuck do I do? How do I turn this horrible heartbreaking situation around and make it into something good before she hits her teens and we find ourselves in every parent’s worst teen nightmare. I am scared for our family and I am scared for her. This much wilfulness needs to find an outlet that is positive and self nourishing or it will destroy her and everything around her. I know. I’m jumping ahead wildly, she is only 5, but I can see it coming the way a rabbit can see the headlights of an oncoming truck and can’t seem to move out of its way. I am a staring down a semi with ‘out of control Wild Child’ written on its grille. And it terrifies me.

Wildling in the Forest

Wildling in the Forest

If you could see her – you would immediately know how wonderful she is. She is so smart, and so capable and she has such perseverance – she will try something over and over again until she masters it. That’s not to say that she does it with any kind of patience – we have many, many tantrums over her inability to do something initially, but she keeps going back. I know that feeling. I am the same. I don’t want her to be like me. I don’t want her to carry my issues as her own. I want her Spirit to remain intact. I just also want her to understand that in finding some way to express herself that is not defiance or downright rudeness, she is giving herself tools to manage her own volatile emotions and that can only be a good thing.

Didgeridooing

Didgeridooing

But if you did meet her, you might be amazed at how often we have to ask her to do something before it gets done. Or you might notice how cheeky she can be, how inappropriately she often behaves – like flashing her bottom at people for no apparent reason, or at us because she knows it incenses us. Or you might notice that she has seemingly boundless energy, which she more often than not uses to get into mischief or to just push buttons until something snaps and we go spiralling into another argument, another weepy tantrum, another round of screaming and door slamming. Even my patient, kind, playful hubble is losing the plot.

Dancing Queen (from the 1980's!)

Dancing Queen (from the 1980’s!)

When she sleeps, I go and sit by her bed and tuck her into her blankets. I kiss her softly on the cheek and stroke her head or hand and I tell her how much I love her. I tell it to her as she sleeps because I keep praying that in that open unconscious state, she will hear me as she can’t seem to when she is awake. My heart is breaking for our relationship. I don’t know how to move forward with her. I don’t know how to mend all that is broken between us and it is torture and pain and so much sadness I can’t contain it all. I think that I have spent most of the time between school drop off and this entry, crying. I am not someone who cries much. But these last few weeks I have made up for that in spades. I have never felt so ineffectual and there is only so much gentle discipline I can try with my exasperating child before I revert back to the disciplinarian and get angry again.

Me & My Girl

Me & My Girl

I am crying for myself and for her – that she feels so wounded that all we have is this fractured connection. I am crying for my wee Bear who is already picking up on her behaviour and copying it – as he does everything else she does. I am crying for the strain it is putting on my relationship with my beautiful, compassionate husband – and though I know he loves me and trusts me and understands how hard I’m trying, I also know that in his heart, he blames me a little too. I am crying for the nurturing mamma in me who can’t seem to catch a break and who would tear herself in half if she thought it would make everyone happier. I am crying for her because I so want to step into the role of mother and I cannot.  I just don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to travel this path with any kind of grace or understanding. I feel as if I am just swinging wildly from one problem to another with no way of making the pendulum stop.

I keep asking the Great Mystery to reach out a hand to help me. I need some guidance to figure out how to do this right. I don’t expect a life filled with roses and sunsets on the beach but it would be nice to know that there is even a chance I can spend one whole day with my child where we love each other and enjoy each other’s company. One day in which there is no drama, no tears, no anger, no pulling away or withdrawing. One day in which I can hold her hand and see the child she is inside and make her laugh again.

For her and for myself I am asking The Powers That Be – please, please help me. Please show me a way to make this right before it gets stuck in wrong, forever.

{This Moment} Splish Splosh

Friday inspiration from Soulemama
A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.
 A simple, special, extraordinary moment. 
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
Puddle Jumping Bear

Puddle Jumping Bear

Please feel free to add your moment.