Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

The Knowing September 13, 2019

I recently came across something I had written (but never posted) on August 7, 2018.

 

 

Therapist:  So, what brings you here today?

Me:  I don’t know.  I just feel overwhelmed.  With my life.

 

That was how my very first therapy session started.  It was the spring of 2013.

At the time, I had a job that I wasn’t happy at.  Pretty much no money.  A 7 year old with not-yet-diagnosed ADHD, who was struggling in school.  A 6 year old, whose autism had a chokehold on the entire house.  The relationships with my husband, father, mother and grandfather varied from shitty to non-existent.  I had curled inward; away from my friends.

I felt very alone.  I was a mess.  Drowning.  And I saw no way out.  I didn’t go to therapy thinking there was anything they could do or say to “fix” my life.  I mean really.  What could they do about any of the things I was anxious about or overwhelmed by?  But what other choice did I have?  I had to try something.

 

I ended up going to 5 sessions.   It helped, but not in the way I think most people go to therapy expecting it to.  My therapist helped me to simplify and organize my thoughts.  It was a relief to say some things out loud that I’d been guarding tightly.  Ultimately, we decided that my life boiled down to 2 things.

  1. Sometimes things suck and you just have to get to a place where you accept that they suck and you have to stop looking for/hoping for/expecting different. Just accept.
  2. Some things – like your job and your marriage – can change, but they won’t change (for good or bad) on their own. You play an active role in what you allow. How much are you willing to tolerate before you make steps towards making that change?

 

 

August 2018.

Shaunie (my wife):  What’s wrong?  You got quiet.

Me:  I’m just in a funk.

 

How do I explain it to her?  She’s a “fixer”.  But there’s no easy fix when depression creeps in.  You know all the things.

You know it could be worse; there are people who love you; you have lots of reasons to be happy and grateful.

You know that if you ask her to do something specific she will make it happen.  It’s who she is.

You also know that she’s dealing with her own schtuff and the last thing she needs is you adding to her plate a bunch of “to-do’s” that will ease you to some extent but won’t magically “un-funk” you so there’s no point in putting her through that.

Everything feels like a huge problem and like it will take energy I don’t have.  The house needs tidying up.  I feel fat.  I look old.  I have to renew my license.  The kids need new passports.  I need to catch up on over 200 work emails.  I have a phone call to a sick friend I’m supposed to make.  I need to make arrangements with the kids dad for him to see them again before the summer is out.  I got an email saying my credit score had dropped.  I always have another dentist appointment I need to schedule.   And I always know that the next one won’t be the last one.  I am SO OVER THE DENTIST.

No, I don’t want tea or to laugh or sex.  I just want to curl up in bed.  It’s all I can manage.  That’s what feels easy.  Doable.

We cuddle and I fall asleep.

It’s a sweet relief.  From life.

But now it’s the next day and I can’t stay in bed.  I have to shower and go to work and make phone calls and wash dishes and hang back up the picture that fell off the wall.

 

I think back to my therapy sessions.

What can I control?  What do I have to let go of?  What feeling is weighing me down that I need to just accept/let go off, instead of trying to make it be different?  One thing at a time – The tension in my brain starts to unwind.

 

Ace starts 7th grade soon.  It comes with certain stresses, but, in quiet honest moments, I am not too worried about that.  It’s his second year of middle school and last year went pretty well.  He has a cell phone now, thanks to his Grandma, so I’ll have to figure out some rules around his use of it as well as install some parental controls; but that’s stuff we can manage.

Jay.

This one is a little harder.

My heart constricted a little when I typed his name.  For the last couple of years, I had not fretted about the start of the new school year.  But he’s going into 5th grade which will be his last year of elementary school.  I cannot handle the thought of him leaving that environment.  Elementary school had begun to feel safe for him.  Comfortable.  Predictable in its own way; even as we moved up the grades.  His teachers, the mostly innocent and friendly and understanding kids, the routine.  The special education team was always the same at IEP meetings etc.  Middle school will be different.  There will be a totally different set of students as none of his current friends will attend the same middle school as him.  A different school staff who don’t know and love him – yet.  A vastly different daily routine.  Different expectations.

“Different” with Jay is scary.

 

BUT, I can’t control these things – And certainly not now.  Why am I already stressing about next year?  I don’t know.  Ask my old friend anxiety.

 

Things will settle down soon enough I reassure myself.  I will get over these feelings eventually OR we will address the things that need addressing – Which will serve to calm me down.  I KNOW this.  I know this because I’ve been down this road before.  More than once.

And in this case, today, the knowing is the force holding me together.  It is my life jacket.

 

 

To Be Continued ………….

 

Asking A Lot May 13, 2014

It’s a natural tendency when someone yells at you to want to yell back.

When someone pushes you – Impulsively you push back.

It’s a difficult thing, not to lash out in response to someone else lashing out at you.

 

I ask a lot of a 7 year old. I ask Ace to exercise restraint that many adults struggle with. That I struggle with.

I ask him to talk softly back to Jay when Jay yells at him. Which is often.

I ask him to open up his space and his heart when Jay pushes him. Which is often.

I ask him to share his fruit snacks and toys with Jay even when Jay has wronged him. Yeah, often.

I ask him to watch shows he doesn’t like and I ask him to engage in scripts that he’s long since tired of.

I ask him to help me by not making things harder.

 

I know. I know I ask a lot of him.

 

Over the weekend we were in a big box store. Everything was going well. I blinked and then it wasn’t. We were in the check-out line and everyone was in their usual spot. Me leading the cart from the front, Ace pushing the cart and Jay riding inside the cart. Before I knew it, Jay climbed out and was pushing Ace out of the way and holding onto the carts handle bar. Ace didn’t take kindly to it and pushed Jay back. Jay yelled. Ace yelled. Jay screamed. Ace screamed. I tried to reason with them in my stern whisper. It did no good. Ace was mad as hell. Jay was stomping and screaming. The other store patrons looked on in shock.

I’m sure that as mad as he was at Jay, Ace was equally mad at me. Why wouldn’t be be?  I was asking him to let Jay push the cart. It wasn’t fair. Why was Jay getting his way when he was being so bad? Driving the cart is Ace’s job. And Jay had pushed him. Pushing is not OK.  Jay had yelled at him. Why did it feel like he was the one getting punished?

I was asking him to give in because in that moment it was easier for me. That was MY instant reflex to Jay’s public meltdown.  Do whatever is quickest to make it stop.

Ace was having none of it.

 

Luckily my friend Angel was there and she stepped in and made a bargain with Ace. He’s recently become a big fan of saving money so she offered to give him some money if he stopped fighting back and let us get out of the store and to the car quietly.

That break in the action allowed me to gather myself and instead of yelling at the boys which I was tempted to do, I gently touched Jays cheek and asked him what was wrong. He was sweating and very upset. I asked him if he would like some juice and if he would like me to pick him up. He quieted.

 

We left the store with Jay in my arms. He was clinging to me tightly and scripting to himself as he tried to calm down. Angel had her arm around Ace and he pushed the cart. God bless her.

 

I definitely don’t get it all right. I don’t know if it’s possible to get it right for both boys at the same time. I just hope that I do right by each of them more times than not and that Ace grows up to understand that I got it. I knew it wasn’t often fair. I knew I was asking a lot. I tried to make things up to him in other ways. I always always did and will love them both equally.

 

Just Another Rainy Weekend October 7, 2012

These are the kinds of weekends I want to remember when the kids are older.  We had no plans.  It’s been windy and rainy.  But I have loved it.

 

Yesterday, CC was out all day helping his Mom move and then hanging out with his friends.  That meant I was home with the kids.  It’s been a while since I spent an entire day at home with them and no CC.  It wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies and I did yell at them a couple few times, but it was still a great day!  Jay had a few miserable moments.  Mostly because he’s mad that the remote for their DVD player is missing and without it, the DVD player is useless.  Ace was attached to me like white on rice and even ended up falling asleep in my bed at night.  I let him stay there till CC came home.  That is usually a big NO NO but every once in a while I let him have that treat.

Despite the few (very short-lived) tantrums and one short time-out for purposely breaking Ace’s lego creation, there was a lot of smiles and laughter from Jay.  I told CC this morning that I think Ace would like it if he and I were Siamese twins. I soaked it up though because I know it won’t be long before he’s too busy with his friends to want to hang out with his Mom.

By 11 am, the place was a MESS.  The kids had been running and jumping and playing and wrestling and getting into all kinds of stuff.  Theirs and mine.  I couldn’t have cared less.  Some time around noon, the 3 of us settled down a bit and were building lego planes and watching Pocoyo and eating cheese doodles.

We spent all afternoon playing games and watching TV and reading books and lighting candles so Jay could blow them out.

I did manage to swap out my summer/winter clothes ,clean up the giant mess and throw together some dinner (pancakes and eggs) while the kids entertained themselves fairly quietly.

We spent the entire day in our pajamas.  Wait, I’m lying.  Jay and I were in pajamas.  Ace spent all day in his Wolverine costume.  Complete with mask.

I even broke out my sewing kit and mended a skirt of mine and Ace’s Iron Man costume.

We didn’t plan anything spectacular.  We didn’t plan anything at all – but it was my kind of day.

 

Today – Sunday – there has been more wind, more rain, more family time.

While CC played the role of jungle gym, I sorted through the kids room and tossed THREE garbage bags full of old and broken toys.  Yeah, they have way too much stuff.

Now, their clothes and books are organized.  They have clean sheets on their beds and their floor has been vacuumed of all Cheerios.  It won’t last long, but for now, their room is just the way I like it.

When I moved to the kitchen make dinner, CC put Star Wars on and he and both kids sat to watch.  It was the kids 1st time seeing that classic.  CC also introduced Ace to the video game Spyro.   I’m not sure who enjoyed playing more.  As much as we enjoyed seeing the kids enjoy The Backyardigans and Thomas and The Fresh Beat Band, I think CC is really loving that he can now share things from his own childhood (that he still loves) with them.

I spoke to my Grandad and my best friend from high school; both of whom still live in Jamaica.

Ace talked too much and got told over and over and over that he was talking too much.

Ace made jello and asked too many times if it was ready yet only to be told repeatedly that it was not.
Can I jump back to my dinner making for a second?  I made a shepards pie for us to eat today AND I set up the crock pot with pork chops for tomorrows dinner.  Boo-yah!!!  We got that crock pot a few years ago for Christmas and I used it for the 1st time a couple months ago.  I LOVE it.  Why didn’t anyone tell me about it before?

OK … that’s enough about dinner.

 

Again, we didn’t plan anything spectacular.  We didn’t plan anything at all but it was my kind of ordinary, regular, amazing day.

 

Oh and the Windies (West Indies) won the Cricket T20 world championship by beating Sri Lanka.  It’s been a long time coming.

 

 

 

New Hat October 3, 2012

Like everyone else, I wear many hats.  From mom, to wife to co-worker to sister and friend.  I’m busy and I’m tired.  I complain a lot about being busy and tired.  Most of my schedule revolves around my children.  I believe in being active and involved in their lives.  I believe in giving them time and attention.  I believe that good childhoods are built from family activities like apple picking and going to the movies and bedtime stories and lego building.  I believe children should take part in neighbourhood activities like boy scouts and sports and participating in fund-raiser bake sales and charity events.  I believe my children benefit from all the time we spend with extended family on the weekends even though we have to drive several hours to get to any.  There’s no slacking off on home work or chores.  Yes, I check (or help as needed) every single night.  I think if your child is sick you take them to the doctor and if your child needs therapy you take them – every single week – even if it’s only Tuesday but it’s already been a long week and it’s raining and you’d rather be curled up on the couch.  I  am a member of the PTA and I am in constant communication with my children’s teachers.

Yes, I’m busy.

 

I was taught that if you want something to change you need to jump in the mix instead of waiting for someone else to make that change happen.

On my Grandma’s head stone it reads “She lead by example.”  It’s so true.  She never turned down the chance to make the world a better place because the job was too dirty or she was “too good” or she was tired or there wasn’t enough money or she didn’t know how.

 

I say all that to say … A couple of weeks ago, I nominated myself to be the special needs parent representative on our districts school board.
I found out today that I got the job!

 

I will attend monthly meetings.  I will communicate back to the schools and other parents about what is happening.  I will make suggestions to the board and fight for what our children need. There will be a good amount of paperwork involved and I’ll need to invest a lot of time if I’m going to make any real difference.

I’m super nervous as I’m not very outspoken by nature.  However, over the last couple of years, I have seen a lot of things that need to be improved where special needs are concerned in our school district.  I cannot stand by and not try to make things better.  It’s too important.

 

Wish me luck.