Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Eating My Carrots

I think that the 30s are possibly the most transformative of decades.  What do you think? Surely more than your 20s.  I guess I can't speak to the later decades, but it seems that so much growth and change happen in this decade.

Part of that, is that I have been thinking a lot about my perception of myself versus others' perceptions of me.  As a life long people-pleaser this is not necessarily new, but my thoughts on it are.  I am thinking less about whether people like me, and more about the function of the power I place in that.  I am actively attempting to place less power in it.  And to place more value in whether I like someone.  Being a people-pleaser can feel a bit like being a hapless contestant on the The Bachelor... you suddenly catch yourself competing for the love of someone you do not know and might not even like... hell, often you KNOW you do not like them.  It is a sickness, and it can be so toxic.

I think, if you are a people-pleaser, you most likely grew up with self-pleasers and inherently seek them out to replicate that role and your (often hellish) spot in it.  It is essentially a survival mechanism that becomes a crutch.

In my life experience, self-pleasers cannot understand the motives of people-pleasers. (And the reverse is certainly true, as well) They are typically suspicious of a people-pleasers and apt to consider them manipulative or judgmental, not able to understand the reward in the pleasing behavior.  And who can blame them?... it certainly is confusing... because there often isn't one.  They are likely to confuse you for a martyr... but you aren't that... you simply cannot see your worth in being loved for your own merits.  You cannot stomach choking out a request for your own needs, lest they seem selfish.  You believe you need to make people like you (or see you) by being useful/helpful/available.  I can tell you, it doesn't get you anywhere... in those toxic relationships, anyway.  Which sadly comes to cloud your ability to see your worth in other ones.

I have spent my life like this.  In real life.  In every day.

There are people who do like me.  They think I am smart, funny, engaging, and giving.  They respect me, even.  Mr F has to remind me of this (almost nightly), because I have spent my life focusing on the few core people who don't.  It is hard and frustrating to feel trapped in someone's description of who you are.  These negative views are almost always held by people who spend little to no time with you... so how they justify their opinion of you adds even more layers to the accumulating hurt and frustration... because, of course, if they see how inherently unlovable you are with so little contact... it must be true.  And that just feeds the original injury.  It is hard to keep going to those dry wells dug in your childhood and ask to be seen differently.  And yet you feel compelled to.

Anyway.  I just spent a weekend with my family (can you tell?).  It is exhausting for me.  It makes me tense and upset to not understand how to be liked and seen as who I am.  To not have room for my real personality.  To get no positive reinforcement or even just regular conversation that isn't defensive or weird or strange or borderline combative.  To not be talked TO, but around or at.  To feel outside.

This is the normal, and I am coming to understand that less is required of me to maintain it, not more.  There isn't more effort or more time that will result in an understanding among such different perceptions of our world and our interactions in them.  That is what my 30s have gifted me.  Some dynamics are at an impasse and you have to figure out how to cut them down to what will work.  Not keep building them up.  That really only works between brains that process in similar ways.  In this situation, there will always be a language barrier.  There will always be the misinterpretations and misunderstandings inherit with that.  That's okay.  It CAN be okay.

Engage in it less.  That is an option... it might be the first self pleasing move you make, but there is something of value in that after all.

Choose better in the relationships you CAN choose.

I have learned a lot about this, this year, sharing carpool and volunteer positions at school.  The world is a great divide of people-pleasers and self-pleasers and those few sane people in between.  When you remove the emotional ties of your family and work-related dynamics you can see it played out clearly and differently.  You can see that there are healthy ways to be either.  This year has taught me to pay more attention to the positive, because there is so much more of it (really... for you, too).  This has been a wake up call for my sense of self and self esteem.  People want me on their team.  People see my worth and value my input and talents, even those who don't always agree with me or "love" my personality. There are people who see my strengths as strength and not as weakness.  There are people who see my strengths IN SPITE of my weaknesses.... This is a revelation.  And there are people who will see yours that way, too.

I can choose to make the positive interactions more powerful than the negative.  And more frequent.  I can give them more value and more of my time.  I don't need to chase the stick when I have a bushel of carrots sitting right in front of me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Longest Hardest Time

I think I'll name my book that.

The book about raising a family after you start to let them go.

I think I've entered one of the hardest times of my life.

Which is both ironic, and not lost on me, that now that we have less actual hardships (financial, etc)

I feel left with a life that is hard to adjust to, or live through, or maybe to be fulfilled by.

Maybe it is just my midlife reckoning.

Which considering I may very well live into my 100s, feels exhausting to think about, as it may continue on for a good 20 years or so...

Maybe it is the 16 years of co-habitating with someone whose ADD meds have worn off by the time he gets home that is wearing me down...

Or my perimenopausal metabolism and exhaustion (which not enough people talk about!!!!) that leave me in a shame spiral of depression and disappointment.

Or maybe it is the spike in my chronic migraines (see perimenopause, above) which are worse then ever and truthfully leave me wrecked and feeling suicidal for 3 days every other week.... only to wake up on day 4 completely normal like nothing ever happened... relieved that I'm not actually losing my mind.  And, frustratingly, there is no end in sight. (which IS making me lose my mind)

Or that my girls are older, and I love who they are, but miss the time we had... which is getting less and less...

Or the calendar striped with 100 shades of highlighter which direct me, to the minute, from one location to the next, mostly unfulfilling, but necessary, and leave me feeling stressed and over-scheduled and like I am squandering all of my personal time and energy promoting opportunities for everyone but myself.

This is real.

And I know there are countless others living it.

And we all smile and say "I'm fine.  How are you?  Sure, I'll be room parent next year.  Yes, I can bring in two pies tomorrow.  You need a ride home, absolutely.  Help making costumes, yes, I can sew..."

I have chosen a path because it is important for me to be available.  It is important for me, to be able to do what I can for the community that supports my kids.  But the reality of older kids and those needs is very, very, different than with little kids.  You are more in service to their needs and less in service with them.  It is a different commitment and sacrifice, and the rewards are not felt immediately... or maybe at all.

And it is a loss.

And so, yes, this is a period of grieving for me.  And a period of struggle to determine what is important to me and my family.  To assess and prioritize our needs and our desires, and discover which path will accommodate as much of those as possible.... without me feeling wasted in their pursuits (mentally, physically, and emotionally).

Because this path is clearly no longer working.

And that is the truth.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dear Ones

Here I am sitting home with a sick child... AGAIN. Not that I mind the company, but I think we've had nary a full week of school, for one reason or another, since October. And it just makes it very hard to get in a good productive routine, in any department.


This seems like a perfect time to endorse my favorite shows:

The Great British Bake-Off !!!!! Spectacular. WEll, at least to a home baker like myself. American TV just cannot match the quality & humor of this series. You know?? You can find it on PBS.org

Broadchurch Holy shit, this is good. I mean, the kind of good that you grieve for a bit when it is over. The 1st season is available on Netflix. Be prepared to binge watch this. And be forewarned that this is intense and depressing, but in a most well execute fashion. The acting in this series is top notch. The characters are deeply flawed. You will love it.

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries- You guys!!!! Did you ever listen to me the last time I recommened this?! It is so charming. One of my favorite shows to workout to. Fast paced, entertaining. Really enjoyable. I cannot wait for the 3rd season. Available on Netflix.

On other fronts: We went to Disney World. And we loved it.
The girls, ages 12 & 8, were maybe the best ages yet. I mean, we were in the parks, riding ALL the rides, for a good 12 hours a day. Disney continues to be a great vacation for our family... where we are together, engaged, and active. The very very poor wifi-signal also meant very little phone/screen use, and for that I am grateful. Maybe they do that on purpose?... 

After a week enjoying ourselves, lest you think it is all fun and games over here,  I came back to HELL...

Um, yes, those would be live lice.  WTF??!?  Worst outbreak in history at Baby's school.  I went through her hair for 8 straight hours one day.  I was picking nits out like it was a full time job (literally)  So, let me save you a lot of trouble... if you have daughters with long dark blond hair... order the Terminator from Amazon RIGHT NOW.  It is, hands down, the most effective tool.  For $10, it is absolutely worth just having on hand.  No chemicals necessary.

I'm not sure when we'll go back to Disney again, I think Europe is in our traveling future, now that the girls are capable. I'm currently trying to plan out a Spring Break trip for the me and the girls... at this point, after spending their future inheritance at WDW, Paris is off the table, much to Baby's Francophile chagrin.

And speaking of Baby, check out her new haircut:
She feels like a "successful business woman!!"

If only I had cut her hair before the lice... would have made my life a bit easier!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

We Laugh, We Cry

Laughably, I found myself feeling relieved that it was 3 degrees outside.
I guess I'm acclimating to the arctic winters. Also, wind is EVERYTHING. Or lack of wind, I should say. It makes all of the difference.

 Plus, another frigid winter means Baby is actually getting use out of the badass snowsuit I bought her last year:

My 3rd Up by Jawbone band died in a year and my warranty was up, so I switched to the Fitbit Flex. I do find having a fitness band helps me stay motivated (immensely)... although I will say I find the Fitbit much less user friendly. Kind of disappointed, but I just can't condone sinking more money into as flawed a devise (battery-wise) as the Up band.

 I just booked a mid-winter trip to Disney! I think it has been 3 or 4 years (??!) since we were there. Yowza it is much ore expensive... both because it is, because we can't travel during a discounted time, and because Kid is now full price and I cannot (even with our mad acting skills) try to pull of Baby being under 3 and therefore free. So, this will likely be our last trip for quite a few years. We are maxing it out though, staying onsite, doing the meal plan (character meals every single day, baby!), and after much debate... flying. I think I said last time that driving there and back was a Hell I never wanted to go through again (in part because Kid had food poisoning and puked the entire drive home... and in part because two very long days of driving after a vacation kind of negates any relaxation you might have had on your vacation).

 I wish I had a picture of Kid for you (why don't I take any photos anymore?!... Oh, I know, because my iPhone4s has been ruined by iOS8... why did I update?!?!?) Maybe I'll try to post a picture for you, later. She is really good looking. I mean, she had a rough patch (toddlerhood and your strange old man's hair... I'm talking to you), but holy shit she has really grown into herself. She lucked into some rogue supermodel genes. And she is only 12 and completely through puberty... so no awkward teen years. What the heck? And her teeth are naturally nearly perfectly straight... didn't inherited either of our jack-o-lantern mouths. She is like a genetic marvel. I don't know how it happened.

 It almost makes up for the fact that I was inadvertently feeding her a neurotoxin for 4 (formative!!) fucking years and it possibly was the cause of her epilepsy. I kind of want to throw myself off of a bridge. It is done and there is no going back and redoing it. I am compensating with humor. Anytime something is going wrong for Kid, I yell out "Miralax!", as it will now hold the blame for anything that goes wrong (FOREVER). And we laugh instead of cry. Because there is nothing we can do now, and no one to sue (yet).  We had the best doctors and, at the time, they believed it was as safe as water. Seriously (and unfortunately). I am SO glad I spent so much time and energy avoiding BPA! WTF??! But just know, that if I dwell too much on it, I might have a significant mental breakdown.

 Please, let's not have this be a carcinogen we have to pay the price for down the road. PLEASE.

I might start to cry so let's move on...

 In other FANTASTIC news, a goddamn registered sex offender has moved in across the street. He assaulted a child, so good news... I now cannot ever let my kids outside. Awesome. And our neighbor saw him standing fully fucking nude in front of his glass storm door looking out at our side of the street (which is how we all learned he was a sex offender). Our neighbor talked to the police, but there is nothing we can do but wait and WATCH. He was convicted 2 months ago but has not served his prison term yet... why is he not in a county jail or something while he awaits sentencing?? Why are they not sentenced at their trial??? This seems absolutely insane that he would free to live in the community before he gets locked up for 15 years.

 So, yes, DISNEY. Let's just focus on that.
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