I’ve been at my job for nearly 10 years. I got to travel to Mohegan Sun two years in a row for a couple of days for a sales meeting. That was the furthest I’ve gone since I’ve been with the company…until tomorrow. There’s been a lot of changes going on and like any company, it’s bound to happen. With those changes came an opportunity to travel with my boss and he gave me the option to go with him to Charlotte. I told him that I needed to talk it over with my husband first and then I’d let him know – to give me 24 hours and I’d have an answer. After talking it over with Jimmy, I made the decision to go.
I leave tomorrow afternoon, I get to drop my child off at school and then head into the office to do some work and then I’m airport bound. I’ve been in Charlotte’s airport, that’s it. This is the first time I’ll be in the city, and while it’s only for 24 hours I get to add another city to my list of places I’ve been. We get in tomorrow early evening, leave tomorrow early evening. Quick trip, but it feels like I’m going to be gone for a week.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll miss my husband. I adore the shit out of him and he makes me nuts but being married to me is probably the most stressful shit he’s ever had to endure so I can’t complain. But my heart hurts. Legitimately HURTS. For the past week I’ve dreaded this because I knew that I wasn’t going to be okay when the time came. I started crying last night, and I’ve been doing it at random times looking like a lunatic.
I’m going to miss my kid so damn much.
I know, it’s just 24 hours. He’s been at my mom’s and my mother in law’s for a night – but they’re both in driving distance (my MIL lives in the same town as I do). I’m getting on a plane. I’m going to be 650 miles from home. I’m going to have to say goodnight via FaceTime and say good morning the same way. I’m going to have to go to sleep without cuddling him tight before I do so and make sure he’s all tucked into his bed. I won’t be getting his hugs and kisses and he’s adorable little face nuzzled into my shoulder as he leans on me. I’m a damn mess, people.
This is the furthest that I’ve been away from my son since I had to leave him in the NICU unit when he was first born. It killed me then to do that, I felt like the worst mother in the world even though I knew he was where he needed to be. And now, I feel like the worst mother in the world because I’m leaving him for a night because I have to work. I carry that guilt with me daily that I’m a working mother. I know it’s normal to do that nowadays, I know that I’m not the only one who feels that guilt. What pulls me out of it is knowing that I am doing this to make sure he never has to worry a day in his life about where he’s getting his next meal from or if he’ll have a place to live. My husband and I work very hard to make sure we’re providing for our boy – but it doesn’t make this whole thing easier.
Of course my anxiety is telling me that the worst will happen. I took everything as a bad sign. “Oh my god, that movie is about plane crashes WHY.” Yes, I am overthinking it but that’s what I do sometimes. All the time. I have anxiety.
I know that I have to do this because it’s going to be good for ALL of us in this house. It’s going to be the longest 24 hours that I’ve endured since my baby was born but I can get through it. If I could get through that entire week from hell, maybe I can do just about anything.
I’ve never been the super pretty girl that every dude has a crush on. I’ll keep it 100 with all of you reading this – I don’t think I was ever the girl that any guy wanted to date but was too afraid to ask. Even as an adult, I look at the dime pieces that my friends are and I look like a scrub in comparison. I know, don’t compare. I know, I know, I know. But it’s very difficult at times. Today, I looked at myself in the mirror and realized how much I like the color of my eyes. They’re green but have specks of yellow and brown. Sometimes they’re light green, sometimes they turn this beautiful shade of emerald. I dig ’em. They’re mine.
That started a domino effect of self affirmations. What else do I like about myself? A lot, actually.
It drives me bonkers when men can only comment on their significant other’s appearance. I love that my husband tells people about my love for politics, Hamilton and Stranger Things. I overheard him tell someone once, “My wife likes sports more than I do.” It makes me feel like he truly pays attention to the things that I enjoy or hold close to my heart. I think we should all want that kind of feeling from somebody – and that’s just one of the things that made me realize that he really is the right one for me.
I’ve made strides since last week. I know I’ve got a long ways to go but then again, I’m always going to be a work in progress.
Saturday was a very dark day. I’m not talking about it being cloudy and disgusting out, I can’t even remember what the weather was like that day if that’s any indication of where my head was at (or wasn’t). I don’t know what happened, but things just took a turn for the worse. I found myself storming out of my home and walking aimlessly until I found somewhere indoors to sit. I sat there for an hour, and contemplated. I wrote things. I cried. I begged for some sort of relief from this pain that I feel every single day.
I finally walked myself home and went to sleep for two hours. I woke up and apologized for being such an asshole. I felt like the worst yesterday – the worst wife, the worst mother. Earlier in the week, I had a panic attack and I was an hour late to work because I was having trouble getting myself out of the house. All I can think of is how I can remember my birth mother being an absolute basket case and how I don’t want to subject my child to that. Then again, she was an alcoholic and I’m nowhere near that. She was also an alcoholic who lost her first born unexpectedly so yeah, we’re different kind of basket cases I guess. I fear that my son will end up feeling about me the way that I did about my birth mother. Except it can’t be, he’s so young that he’ll forget that his Mommy was crying in the kitchen. At least that’s my hope.
Parenting with anxiety is very difficult. And depression? Even more so. My toddler is in his THREENAGER stage. Oh, we’ve seen him flip his shit over things not being as he wanted them to be or even a pair of socks not being the ones he wanted to wear. Sunday morning, he didn’t want anything but candy for breakfast. I gave him a lot of options, he wanted none of them. Said he didn’t like the food that I offered him even if I KNOW he likes it. If this were Saturday, I would have bickered back and forth with him. But not Sunday morning, my friends. I just kept going on as I pleased in the kitchen and he realized he wasn’t getting anywhere with his whining and crying.
Sunday night, I curled up into my husband’s lap and cried. He reminded me of how good of a life we have and that we’ll get through this. He’s right, we’ll get through it. I’m not alone, and I know that I won’t ever be. Things are different for me now in ways that they weren’t 15 years ago. Heck, even 10 years ago. I’ve changed my ways and I’ve dealt with the consequences for the things that I’ve done. I don’t live with a sea of regrets, I just know that the person I used to be isn’t the person I want to revert to. I have some pretty great things in my life – and I have to continue to focus on that. Every single day until I see that light.
Monday was not dark. Today was not dark. There is light.
This was a sentence that I uttered last week to my mother-in-law. It’s a sentence that when I read it back or even say it again, I feel a little ache on the inside.
People grieve in their own way, and in the age of social media I see it constantly. Be it a family member, friend or a former classmate…and even celebrity. There are those of us who are truly stricken by it, where we really don’t want to talk about it much or we just try to get through the day without having a breakdown. Then there are people who will throw the dramatics out there, claiming how close they were or how they’ll miss the deceased when they barely even called, visited, wrote, etc. That’s the part that gets to me, because there are people that are truly heartbroken over the loss and don’t want attention or a pat on the back for it. They just want their loved one back, they don’t want to have to make funeral arrangements or pack up their belongings. Marinate in that for a second, if you will.
And when it comes to celebrities, I can count on one hand how many celebrity deaths have truly upset me. Fingers left over.
I will remember where I was, what I was wearing, and exactly what I said when I got the phone call on Wednesday. It was already a bad day for me because it would have been Andy’s 40th birthday. Top it off with having a sick toddler at home, hoping to goodness he doesn’t throw up again. The second I heard my mother’s voice and her sobbing, I thought the worst thing happened. Then I thought the second worst thing happened. But what did happen was very unexpected and I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.
Days later, I still can’t. Sitting with my parents and aunt, talking about what food we’re going to serve at the repast and going through old pictures…still couldn’t wrap my head around it. Four hours at the funeral home, still can’t wrap my head around it. All I have said is, “This fucking sucks.” Because it does, for lack of better words and term.
I cried here and there days leading up to the wake. Not too badly, but I cried. I knew that eventually, the dam would break and it sure did. The second I walked into the funeral home and saw my brother, I lost it. I hugged him and just sobbed, then hugged his girlfriend and sobbed. I did well up until my Pastor spoke, then when my mom said something I felt that all too familiar break in my heart. This. Fucking. Sucks. I was feeling drained, after hours of hugging people and talking about the past few days, I just had nothing left. Then it was time to say our final goodbye and I wasn’t able to stop myself from crying. My husband held onto me as I knelt down and just let it all out. Repeating, “I’m going to miss you so much. I love you.”
I never got to say goodbye. A lot of us didn’t get to have that one last goodbye, get in that last dig or break chops. Our family took a hit on this one, and it’s going to be truly felt. I’m still unable to say I feel better, or that I’m ready to be among civilization and go back to work. I’ve been staying up late, moping around, binging Netflix shows. I know that this road of grief isn’t the easiest to travel on, but I’m going to do it anyway. I just am having a very hard time with this, even if I am ‘seasoned’. If you know me, you know that I still am not okay with the loss of my older brother and my grandmother…so none of this should be a surprise for anyone. But do you know who is surprised the most by how I’ve taken this? Me.
Rest easy, Uncle Tommy. You have no idea how bright of a spot in our lives you truly were.
When I was pregnant, I would read all of these articles about becoming a mom. What might happen, what will definitely happen, what won’t happen. What I was never prepared for – along with motherhood because you’re never prepared – was the amount of judgment that would be coming my way. Other moms, people without kids, soon-to-be moms, mothers who have raised their children to watch them grow up to be adults. It’s crazy to think that people who have been in your parenting shoes would really cast a stone at you for making a decision that you felt was beneficial to your flesh and blood…but it happens. I know it also happens to single mothers, non-custodial mothers, birth mothers who have open adoptions, birth mothers who don’t have open adoptions. I can empathize but I can’t say that I know what their degree of it is first hand. I know from what I have read in some blogs that my fellow Momfriends have written and sheesh…WHAT THE HECK, MAN?!
I’m going to talk about my own experiences though, as I’m never at liberty to speak of someone else’s. From getting the overwhelming guilt thrown on me about being a working mother to people acting disgusted that I’ve had my child in daycare since he was three months old, it’s been a whirlwind of know-it-alls and sanctimonious people coming at me from ALL sides. Let me break it down for you: My child is well rounded for three years old. His vocabulary is amazing, the doctor was so impressed by him at his 3 year old well visit. Despite his latest bout of ‘threenager’ tantrums, he’s a wonderful little boy. He shows empathy, is very affectionate, and picks up on things that most children older then him don’t. We do have our struggles when it comes to certain things like potty training, but I feel that is something I’m definitely not alone in.
I try my hardest not to judge another parent, and sometimes I fail miserably. I will keep my thoughts to myself rather than leave comments on social media for that other parent to see. Even on those days where I find myself saying aloud – “why is that baby’s coat on in the car seat?” or “stop plopping the kid in front of the tv” I have to stop and remember that I’ve been there. Every parent is dealing with their own set of issues, every parent has a different situation. I’ve said this so much about a plethora of things but what’s good for you may not be good for someone else – this definitely goes for parenting.
My husband and I work very hard to make sure our son has a roof over his head, clothes on his back, and food on the table. Right before Andrew’s first Christmas, my husband lost his job. The pressure was on me to provide for the family – I was now the breadwinner and I also was the one with the health insurance. Every day was a constant battle for me because I was so terrified of losing my job. I was so worried for my husband and what being a stay at home dad would do to him. He’s a lot like my father in that sense where he’s a proud man and a very hard worker…so for him to be out of a job crushed him. My husband found a new job six months later, and while it wasn’t a dream job and it wasn’t a salary job he took it because he knew that his pride had to take a backseat. The important thing was our son and making sure we were providing for him together as a cohesive unit.
Not all couples have the same situation as we do, but this is the choice that my husband and I made together when we decided to try to have a baby. We were going to be working parents, unless one of us had a great situation that allowed for the other to stay home. No, Andrew would not be staying at home with either one of us in that case – he’d be going to school. We’re very happy that he has interaction with other children, that he’s at a daycare that takes amazing care of him and it’s a place he LOVES. The amount of crap I’ve gotten for saying that I need a life outside of being my son’s mother is insurmountable at best. People take that far out of context as if I dislike being a mother, but that is so far from the truth it’s ridiculous. I LOVE being a mom. It’s my jam, I tell people that constantly. But I cannot be just a mom. I need to be myself, I need to have days for me and nights where I go to dinner with my best friend. Just like my husband needs the same thing. This isn’t just limited to my needs and wants, because his are important, too.
I would sell hot dogs on a street corner if it meant that’s what I had to do in order to care for my child and also, my husband. Nothing is beneath me, because when it comes to my husband and son would do anything for either one of them. Parenting in the age of social media is very trying, and not because you’re expected to share the details of your child’s first everything but other parents will look at pictures or statuses and decide to rip you apart because it’s “not what they would do.” I don’t get the feeling that men do this to one another, so it makes me really think about where we are in society as a whole. Women will tear one another down repeatedly and being a mother doesn’t mean you’re exempt from that. And with my anxiety, I constantly worry about the way people are perceiving me and my interactions with my child. That’s when I feel the most alone, even though I know that there are other parents out there that feel what I do.
So when you’re browsing social media and you see your friend’s posts about their child – take a second before you react or even start picking it all apart. Try to understand that maybe there’s something far beyond the surface going on. There is no instruction manual on how to be a parent. We’re all winging it. We’re all figuring it out and even then, we can’t figure it out. Everyone’s parenting style differs, and everyone’s child is different in how they take to things. The sooner we remember that, the better off we’ll be when trying to raise a tiny human being. I still have hope that common decency will prevail, and we can live and let live.
It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. In fact, he got some initial questions out of the way and it opened up the channel for more topics to be discussed. I left feeling a little better, I had gotten some weight off of my shoulders and I was definitely happy to have found a therapist this quickly. I continued to go weekly, my conversations range from personal things to current events. It doesn’t always have to be about my depression and anxiety, my past with sexual abuse, my issues that still linger thanks to my birth parents. It’s a safe place for me, somewhere that I can go and talk freely. Sometimes, my therapist says things in response, he’ll give me some advice or ask me some more questions.
On the weeks I don’t go because he’s on vacation or I have to skip a week due to my own schedule (that’s very rare), something always happens where I hit complete meltdown mode. And then I have to save it all up for the next week until I sit down on the couch and (probably) begin crying. Going to therapy for the past year has helped me immensely. I am able to deal with situations a lot better than I had before. I know that I can’t control what people say/do, I can only control how I react to it. I have been able to go through the grieving process of my older brother and grandmother, even if they passed many years ago. I’ve been able to overcome a lot of my fears. There’s still bad days, but they’re not as frequent as they used to be.
Let me backtrack for a second about the grieving thing. Every year on August 9th, I am a complete waste of space. I cry all day, I’m sensitive, I’m absolutely miserable. I hated the day so much because it was a reminder of another year without Andy. Another year we’re not celebrating his birthday, another year I have to say, “Andy would have been ______ today if he were still alive.” Last year, that all changed for me. Sure, I was miserable and sad but thanks to therapy, I knew that sitting around the house wasn’t going to do me any favors. I began to go through the motions and process the fact that my brother is never coming back, and that I need to keep living. I see him every time I look at my son, I have a picture of him at my desk and on my mirror at home. I don’t know if I could have his picture everywhere I look, but when I do see the ones I have I no longer sob. It still hurts, I still miss him terribly, nothing can ever change that. I can only continue to keep living my life.
I have dealt with a lot of death in my life. My birth parents are dead, my grandmother is dead, my brother is dead. I have other family members that have passed on, as well as friends. It’s not an easy pill to swallow, but I think it’s been somewhat easier since being able to openly discuss my brother and grandmother with someone who just will listen and help me sort out my feelings. I have dealt with a lot of things in my life that would cause most to turn to a life of drugs, alcohol, and other things you read about in the news. I blamed myself for many years for a lot of the things that happened to me, but now I know that none of it is my fault, nor did I deserve it. I have always questioned whether or not I deserve to be loved, I felt that everyone gets sick of my shit and leaves anyway – and I always attribute that to my father never wanting to be clean so he can be my father. I always attribute that to my mother who could never be sober to be my mother. So to this day, I often question if I deserve my husband’s love. Last year, I would have said absolutely not, I’m the worst and everyone should just stay away. But not anymore.
I am worthy of a lot of things, I’ve made my mistakes and I’ve learned from them. I have done some pretty craptacular things in my past and I take ownership of it, but it doesn’t make me the person that I am today. I know that now, and it’s only taken a year out of my 37 years of life to realize that. I know that I can change my appointments to once a month or every other week – but I truly don’t want to. I know that the only way that I can continue down this path is to stay consistent with what I’ve been doing for the past year. As I go over the past 365 days, I have to say that I am finally in a place where I can admit that the good days are going to happen as well as the bad, I have a very good life and it’s one that I deserve to have, and that no matter what – the life that I have is worth every second of living and to make the most of it.
My mood is a biiiiiiiiiiiiig contrast from what it was yesterday.
I’ll be honest, I had a meltdown yesterday. I got home a little later than I wanted to, so that put me further in the ‘I’m so done with this commute’ category. I’ve been stressed out about my son’s birthday, worried that I’m not doing enough because I’m not having a dog and pony show to celebrate him turning three. I’ve been worried about my husband, who was very sick over Easter. I’ve been worried about my dad, who had a really bad foot infection. For those of you who aren’t in the know, my father is a diabetic and had a kidney transplant last year. It’s a big deal for a diabetic to take care of their feet, so hearing my father had to be rushed to the doctor because he’s not taking care of his feet just sent me into a constant state of worry for him (and for my mother because she’s trying not to show her worry but I know she’s a mess over it). I worry that I’m being an asshole for not being able to have family events where my father-in-law can attend without having to worry how he’s getting into the house.
I just worry. A lot. About stupid things and then about things that are natural to worry about. But there are a lot of things that I can’t control that I continue to get myself in a frenzy over and thus – the crying and sobbing in the kitchen while trying to clean up after dinner. I say things to my husband that sound like this: I’m a horrible person. I suck as a mother. I’m a shitty wife. I’m a shitty daughter. I’m just shitty all around. All of you would be better without me. And this gets him very upset, and rather than try to calm me down or even comfort me, my husband in his husband ways gets very upset and his emotions trigger mine to continue to go whack-a-doodle. It’s a vicious cycle. And it’s so exhausting.
So exhausting that I fell asleep around 9:00 last night and woke up at 10:30 only to ask my husband why he wasn’t at work yet and if he was showering first. Yeah, I was THAT done for. So I tucked Andrew into bed, and rather than doing my usual nightly routine to prep for bed…I just rolled right back into mine and passed out. I had a dream that I met Jenny Lawson and told her that her books inspired me to be more open about my mental illness. I don’t remember anything else, only that. I had a list of things that I had to do last night, but oh well. It’ll get done. Eventually. And I can’t stress out over it.
I hadn’t gone to therapy in a week, he was on vacation. Today, I told my therapist about what happened last night. I told him that I stress out about the most ridiculous things and they become big things because everything else that I worry about just magnifies the dumb things by 10. I know that I do and I’m aware of that, and he talks me through the whole process. I left my session today feeling like I had made a huge leap, because I recognize the problem and I know it’s just so ridiculous. I know that everything will be just fine. My child is a very happy child. My husband and I do all that we can and what’s within our means for our family.
That will always be enough.
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