Lost

Image

 

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.

Advertisements

The Challenge of Acceptance, The Art of Nourishing

Storms

Have this playing as you read this.

I would love to come to you healed and say that all of your words had made a difference. They did. They do. But they do not undo, unknot, unravel the many shields of my self. I am deeply grateful for such kindness as has been shown to me and ever humbled that people whom I will most likely never meet, have taken the time to share their experiences, offer wisdom and advice (all of it good, sound advice) or to simply ‘be’ with me for a moment. It has been unexpected.

I am feeling a little less ‘Noir’. There are moments of light, laughter and happiness – of course there are. It’s just impossible at this point to tell what is going to happen next. I am, for once, not anxious to ‘fix it’. I am allowing the ‘what is’ to visit and not feel like I have to escape from it. I know that I have been touched by some sort of sadness that goes very deep and that will not let me loose just yet. No matter how much I struggle against its silky grip.

I’m so tired and so weary to my bones of trying and getting nowhere. I’m so tired of never living up to my own expectations. So tired of always falling short and getting up and trying all over again. And so I have decided to stop. Not stop living obviously, that would be stupid. Just stop striving all the time. Stop trying to sit on my anger at the expense of my passion, my joi de vivre, my soul’s yearning to be heard, to be free. Of course, it is easy to say and not so easy to do. Not so easy to ‘surrender’ when one does not know how to bend to the prevailing winds. How do you describe the act of surrender? What does letting go look like? Feel like? How do you know when you have achieved it? And what of anger? My anger is a part of it all too. I have yet to learn how to express my anger in more appropriate and manageable ways. I have sat on it for so long, all of my life really, and now it wells up at the slightest provocation and is destructive to the one person I want to protect from it more than any other. And yet. I don’t know how to let go and it’s not something anyone else can tell me how to do. How do you explain the process, the art, of surrender to someone who does not know what surrender feels like, what being empty feels like?

I have always known what I have to do. (Have to?) I have been searching for a way but seem incapable of actually doing it. Incapable of finding that middle pathway between self-loathing and self-love, between anger and passion, between nurturing others and nurturing myself. It was quite the revelation to discover that I don’t trust myself. I don’t think that I know how to.

My acupuncturist, Aisla, is an amazing and intuitive woman. Today, as I dissolved into tears in her office (yet again), grateful for just a moment when I could be ‘me’ and let the overwhelm come and not pretend to be on top of it all, to be coping, I realised that this is who I really am. This tear streaked, overwhelmed, oh so tired mummy who wants so desperately to be a good mummy and not a bad mummy all the time, who wants so much to be all that she hoped she would be as a parent, but isn’t. This is it. This is as good as it gets. At least for now. And in her office, for those few moments, it’s ok. Or at least, if not ok, ok that its not ok.

She sits her needles into my skin and they crawl or throb or itch and then she asks me what I think that I do well. I am quiet for a long time. Then I realise that I can offer her nothing. I can say nothing good about myself. Find nothing good to bring forward for us to talk about. ‘That’s very telling.’ She says in her quiet way. ‘Your inner critic is dominating. You need to bring out your inner encourager.’ Yes. I’m sure I do. But what I need most of all is to let it go. Let go of the striving for constant perfection (especially when I don’t know that this is what I am doing). I was moulded for the challenge, for the winning of battles, for being the best at stuff and honestly, it pretty much came easily to me. I didn’t fail that much. But I did get scared of making mistakes. I don’t know how else to play. So now I sit with the knowledge that this parenting, nurturing thing may be one battle that I cannot win. And why is it a battle anyway? Surely these things should be soft edged and soft focused and easy, not iron and unyeilding and frosty. If the way is hard, if the road you are on constantly brings you back to the same stiff, cold place of hatred and angst, then you are on the wrong frigging road. You’d think that would be obvious wouldn’t you?

But its not. It never is. We can never see the beauty that stares us in the face or the courage we have in the face of adversity, when we are the ones doing the looking. I am well aware that this applies to me, of course I’m too busy looking at you.

It’s not that I want to be someone else. I don’t. I do sometimes entertain wild fantasies about being somewhere else, but I don’t actually want to be someone else. Unless that someone is Cate Blanchett perhaps or Kate Bush. I’d trade lives with them for a day. But then I’d want to come back here and be me again and cuddle my girl and hug my man. So no. It’s not about that. It’s about not knowing who I am. It’s about not being able to find something lovable, something bright and good and inspiring about myself to offer up to this life. It’s about truly not understanding what about me makes this path so bloody hard when I have so much love to give to it.

If I abandon everthing to a single moment,
then I reach you.
O light-hearted beautiful of the world,
give me that heavy cup.

Give it,
and then I’ll be saved
from sorrow and helplessness both.
I’m so tired of feeling oppressed by anxiety
and all of anxiety’s troublesome friends.

give it to me,
for then I’ll be drunk with God’s glass
and be annihilated completely.
I’ll open my wings in absence and fly away to the placeless place.
RUMI

I have spoken before about the process of ‘becoming’. And it is to this that I want to surrender. I have no choice really because what I am doing is breaking me into a million tiny little pieces. But how? How do I reach into the deepest still beating part of my heart and bring it forth into the light? How do we touch that little part of ourselves that is Divine and allow it to lead? I am so used to putting my intellect before my heart. My mind over my body. But thinking has brought me to here. Again and again. There is no thinking my way out of this.

Nurturing
And what is nurturing?
I can tell you what it is not. It is not driving yourself daily to accomplish the impossible. It is not running like a greyhound around the same well worn track after the same scabby rabbit who is always out of the reach of your snapping jaws. It is not trying to make yourself something that you aren’t and never were. But I cannot tell you what it is. I could reel off some trite magazine worthy observations about ‘time for you’ like having a long soak in a hot bath (my bath isn’t long enough to lie down in – why do they not build them with a sodding head rest for Gods sake?), or taking a mini-break (not when you are mini-broke), eating well and getting enough rest. But then what if you don’t cook well or just simply don’t enjoy cooking? What if your rest is held entirely in two chubby little hands over which your deepest desire to get a full 8 hours have no dominion? What if you truly don’t know what nourishes your deepest self? What then?

Nurturing does not come naturally to me. I’ve said this before. I can’t tell if its because I’m lazy (as I sometimes am) or because I am just lacking in energy and inclination (does that class as lazyness?). Right now, with so little time and energy and freedom, it feels like I have nothing left to give. I am having to learn about nurturing myself and my family one day at a time when I thought that it would all come so easily to me. I realise now that I simply don’t trust myself to be a good parent. I believe in instincts, just not mine.

* Sadness & Light

Acceptance.
So in this place of ‘no trust’ I sit. In this place of ‘self-loathing’ I wait. Inbetween these moments of sadness and light, I open. I wait to accept myself and this and it. And I know that nothing can truly change until acceptance seeps as deeply into my skin as the striving I wear like a tribal tattoo. I am unravelling and it feels raw and frightening and my skin feels blistered with all my shattered hopes and dreams. What comes out of this blistering darkness I wonder? I guess there’s only one way to find out.

‘Some hearts are ghosts and they drown in dark waters,
just as silt grows heavy and drowns with the stone.’