Tag Archives: anger

What Are You Grieving?

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92423AB4-92CD-46BA-BC35-F29338DB7AC7In the midst of the general death and destruction wrought by Covid-19, a grown woman took the time to complain on social media that she would not have a birthday party this year. She was devastated there would be no restaurant, no margaritas, no tapas, no cake, no friends to make her feel special and celebrated.

My first thought? What a selfish brat! 

This is a grown up we are talking about, not an eight year old who already picked out unicorn party favors. Has she not read the posts written by traumatized, sweaty ICU staff who are actually risking life and limb to care for victims of this pandemic?

I was angry, but not just with Birthday Girl. I was angry with our country and all the interlocking systems that have failed in keeping us safe, in working cooperatively, and in providing resources to treat us humanely. The more I thought about it, the more depressed I felt. Then, like many have already observed, I realized I was bouncing around in the cycle of grief.

We are all grieving different things right now.

Some of us are grieving celebrations in which we cannot partake. Others are grieving loss of employment, or income needed to stay afloat. Some bear the palpable loss of a loved one to this pernicious disease, while others suffer isolation, and the grief of loneliness.

It made me stop and realize what a judgey twat I was being.

It also made me question what I was grieving.

I’m certainly wandering around in a haze of sad uncertainty that feels a lot like grief. I miss simple structure, routine, consistency. I’ve lost all the ways I typically “do” life. I’ve lost being able to see and embrace my friends and family. I bear witness to my children’s pain at separation from their grandparents (who they typically see daily), their friends, and routines of school and activities.

I definitely miss leaving the house and listening to music really loud in the car on my way to work. Who’d have thunk it? And I miss sitting with my clients, face to face. I miss the things you see on people’s face that you can’t experience in their disembodied voices, or in pics, or in ticktoc vids.

So, maybe it’s a bunch of things? Maybe I really just miss being able to race out to the market to fetch that one thing I’ve forgotten without it being a big HAZMAT issue that puts all our lives at risk?

Maybe I miss when life wasn’t such a hyperbole and I could use hyperboles in fun and actual hyperbolic ways?

Yeah, I guess, I’m not grieving anything greater than a birthday party either. We all know the horrors that are right outside our doors (or at least the ones of us choosing to stay in and socially distance do).

I’d like to tell you that the nice thing about this grief is that it will be impermanent. A vaccine will be developed, treatment will come, and we will be free to roam about the world again. Things will get better. Those are all facts.

But will we go back to normal?

If I’ve learned one thing about grief, it is that grief, when traumatic enough, has the potential to change us, to alter us right down at our DNA level. Don’t believe me? Google the epigenetics of trauma. I swear to you it is an actual thing.

So, the good news is if we stay kind, supportive, and connected, we have a far better chance of surviving and getting back to our baselines. If this situation has taught us anything, it is how much we need one another, how essential the embrace of humanity is to our health and existence.

I’m so sorry I forgot that, even for a moment.

What are you grieving? Please feel free to share in the comments below. I try to respond to any and all who take the time to share their time and thoughts with me. Thank you for being here. 

STOP “Looking For The Helpers” /Avert Your Eyes or Get Busy

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crowd reflection color toy

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

If I NEVER see the Mister Rogers quote to “Look for the helpers; there are always people who are helping,” when something goes dreadfully awry in our world again, it will be too soon.

Unfortunately, in the mist of our latest and greatest (by greatest I mean completely camel shit dick ball sucking craptastic) international disaster, I’ve found this platitude of the famous children’s TV show personality almost everywhere I look.

Sure, on the surface, it’s sweet, kind; it offers hope in the midst of despair. Hope is a good thing. I have nothing against hope.

What I DO resent is the bastardization of a sentiment intended to comfort children and reassure them their adults were in control of dangerous, traumatizing situations.

While it is natural this quote might comfort adults of children to whom they might offer it, it is often held aloft by adults instead, a sort of shield against their own anxiety.

In a way it pretends nothing more need be done than utter those magic words, and presto! Instant comfort and hope. All better.

Mister Rogers has had a moment over the past couple years. Our frenetic, mean world seems to crave his slow-spoken kindness. But with any figure who becomes pop icon, there is a sort of revisionist hagiography, a blurring of flaws so only goodness and purity shine through.

On a lot of pages and sites online, I see people asking, “What would Mister Rogers tell us about Covid-19?” And the invariable answer is, “He would tell us to look for the helpers!”

I didn’t know him personally, but I guess he might tell you that if you were in the four to eight-year-old demographic his show targeted.

But an adult?

I have to believe a man with his intelligence would have challenged us a bit more than just to look for arbitrary people doing important jobs in order to comfort ourselves in the paralysis of our own helplessness, or worse, our laziness.

If I am to continue having ANY respect for Mister Rogers, I must believe he would not encourage us to simply look for helpers while the world literally falls apart around us.

Here’s another reason I truly resent the use of that phrase: I’m a helper myself.

I’m a therapist. This time has been unbelievably unsettling for my clients, my colleagues, my profession.

Within a couple days, we had to figure out how to do our jobs completely differently to continue helping during this time of unprecedented challenge.

Anxiety, isolation, depression. Addiction. Abuse. Hunger. Homelessness.

Loneliness.

In a world with billions upon billions of humans, people are lonelier than ever.

I also have a family. My kids are scared. They are schooling at home. I am helping them while juggling my entire caseload. The idea people would look for me as a helper and not see the entirety of my humanity agonizes me.

I’m only doing telehealth from the comfort and safety of home. Doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, bus drivers, pharmacists, and millions of other people who can be considered “helpers” don’t have that luxury.

One thing we all have in common? Fear.

You want to look for us? Know this: We are burnt out. Terrified. We are scared of getting infected, but even more than that, of infecting our families. We carry the weight of our clients and patients every waking moment and into our dreams. We experience vicarious trauma that keeps us up at night.

Right now, the usual boundaries we set for ourselves to stay balanced and healthy are askew. We are being asked to do more, take on more, be more flexible. It comes with the territory, but damn it feels dirty and unfair.

Being a helper gives me chest pains and raging shits. Sometimes I shake. Being a helper leaves me with very little for my own family. Being a helper makes me cry and feel hopeless. Often, my heart races. Being a helper makes me angry, full of rage. Being a helper makes me so tired, but doesn’t let me sleep.

Does this mean I shouldn’t be a helper? No. I don’t believe so. I believe it means I’m human.

Watch the clip of Fred Rogers, in the 2018 documentary, trying to address the nation after 911. He felt it too. He wasn’t perfect. He didn’t have endless reserves of compassion or patience. He despaired just like the rest of us. You can see it in his eyes, the slump of his shoulders. The rest of that documentary was dross to me for its desire to propel him to sainthood, but that one scene felt so real to me. It was the one moment to which I could relate to his actual humanity.

We are all of us squishy, stupid, flawed, fucking human beans.

We are imperfect, but we have a gift of being able to connect with people. If I didn’t care so much, I wouldn’t be this tired. If I didn’t truly care, I wouldn’t bother speaking out right now.

Here’s the other thing: As a helper, I can’t help anyone who isn’t willing to help themselves. You depressed? You got trauma? Cool. Let’s work. But let me be abundantly clear, you will be getting busy. My job is to open a door. It is your job to get up and walk through it. I can point to the thread that might start to untangle your messy web. It is your job to start pulling.

The reductive idea helpers exist to endlessly help is not only tiring, it is quite frankly offensive.

I don’t expect anyone to agree with me. That’s fine.

When pain, fear, or sorrow trigger us we tend to go where we are familiar and feel comfort. For many, Mister Rogers provides such refuge, and has since they were young. Do what you need, but I beg you, if you want to look for me as a helper- look at all of me.

Look for me with my greasy hair and baggy eyes. Look for me with the ugliness of my stress acne. Look for me falling asleep watching TV with my kids. Look for me taking walks and trying to crawl out of my own skin because the world scares me and I want to fly away.

Please don’t just look for me hanging up after a telehealth session when I’ve said something wise to create connective tissue with a client, massaged an old scar with clinical theory, helped someone establish safety. Please don’t just look at me when I am “winning” at helping. Helping is hard, fucking drudgery.

And for the love of milkshakes, please don’t just stand there and look! Spring into action!

None of us can know what Mister Rogers would say if he were here. Honestly, I can’t imagine he’d have any point of reference to say anything remotely cohesive about the horror happening on our planet. It doesn’t really matter what he would say.

I wonder if he would want adults to be more proactive with helping children and each other, as opposed to just sitting back and “looking” around.

What words of comfort or motivation can you offer?

There are a lot of ways that start within ourselves and have nothing to do with looking for others.

Reach out to someone to see if they are okay. Reach out to a helper to see if they are okay! I promise you, they are almost certainly not okay even if they say they are.

Draw, journal, listen to music, dance. Infuse the brilliance of art into the bleakness of trauma. Take walks. Sing. Nurture your body and soul.

Make cards and send them to a nursing home for the residents, or even to the staff to pick up their spirits during this time.

Start a gratitude journal. Studies show that focusing on things about which we can be thankful, as opposed to concentrating on the negative, helps encourage positive feelings to take root.

Take time and talk to the children in your life. Check in with them. Read them stories. Allow them time to ask questions about what is going on and to process their own feelings.

Focus on facts, not feelings. Consume social media and the news in smaller doses so you don’t fuel your own anxiety. This will allow you more energy for helping others.

If you are able, donate to a food pantry or to a shelter that is helping the most vulnerable of our citizens during this time. There are so many who don’t even have the luxury of what many of us take for granted every morning.

Together we can do so much to lift each other up during times of trouble, but only if we move beyond our comfort zone, past the shallows of familiar platitudes to the places where authentic connection can truly heal.

 

 

Walking and Waiting for the Answers to Grief

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My friend died.

Over the past week, I have been walking down a shadowy hall.  It is dark and tight.  The walls press on me.  It makes me want to scream in claustrophobic panic.  I believe it is called grief and loss.

Every once in a while lights flash, startle me, and make me nauseous.  My heart races.  I think that’s trauma.

There are doors that open into little waiting rooms with chairs.  Films of memory play on vast, white walls.  But it hurts to go in and watch, so I keep walking down the narrow corridor.

I walk at a really slow pace.  My husband might call it moving at the speed of cheese.

How I’d love to call her up and talk about cheese.  She loved food.

See how that works?  I start to have a thought and then circle back around to her.   My head is so full.  Overloaded.  People are left staring and waiting around me, because my brain can’t move any faster.  It’s a slow computer.  God, that woman could not use a computer to save herself. . .  There.  I did it again.

As a clinical social worker (which by the way my friend also was), I know all about the stages of grief:  Denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance.  It sounds so tidy, laid out like that, and yet it is more of a mangled wreck than anyone could imagine.  On one level, I understand that the so-called stages are more circuitous than linear.

I know it was normal after I kissed her cold forehead to feel a surge of anger well up inside me as I left the funeral parlor.

Anger at her.  Anger at myself.  Anger at the universe.

Why couldn’t she have taken better care of herself?  Why did she have to go and deprive the world of herself?  Why did I not know sooner how truly ill and tired she was?

In addition to knowing it is normal, friends have assured me it is normal.  So a part of me can accept this anger for what it is.

But there is another part of me that is just her friend, a mere mortal who is still alive, and doesn’t know what to do with the thread of anger in this tapestry of pain I clutch at my throat as I walk down this hall.

Her head was so hard under my lips.  Like marble.

I know it is totally understandable to feel rational and accepting one moment, and then to circle back to denial and depression the next.

Bargaining is another “stage,” but it doesn’t seem necessary to bargain. Dead is dead.  But oh god (who by the way I don’t believe in), if I could just get one more minute. . .

And what would I do with that minute?

I’d ask her what to think.  I’d ask her what she would say to me upon learning of her death.  I’d ask her if she loved me as much as I loved her.

I’d ask her if she had given up, if the taste of death she’d had a month ago had made her want the real thing.  I would ask her why she didn’t call me back when I called her a week before she died.  Was it because I had been so adamant about her following the doctor’s instructions, and she didn’t want to?  Did she not want me to harp?  Had she accepted a fate that she knew would be too difficult for me to support?

Was I a bad friend for nagging her, for not being ready to be in the world without her?

At some point, I recognize, my heart will probably tell me the answers to these questions.  That after I get through the dark passageway and back to the land of the living, I’ll be able to see more clearly.

I’d spent so many hours sitting and chatting with that woman.  She listened endlessly to the minutia of my existence.  Birds in my yard. The fox. My children.

She looked at my pictures.

She kept my secrets.

She always took my side. Always.

Her patience and wisdom were never ending.  I’m sure at some point during those many times, she gave me all I needed to know, but until it is clear, I am left waiting, scowling, tapping my toe impatiently, for answers.

One more minute couldn’t scratch the surface. . .  but I’d give some teeth for it anyway.  One more minute to thank her for championing me when I felt like I had no one else.  One more minute to tell her I love her.  One more minute to ask her if she is ready, if she feels okay about this transition, if there is anything she wants me to do for her widow.

My friend had dozens of friends to whom she was close.  She was amazing that way.  She didn’t have casual acquaintances.  If you made it into her circle, you were under her wing of family.

I am sure they would all wish for another minute or three, not to mention her beloved of over 30 years, or her BFF of 54 years. . .  what makes me so special that I should feel hypothetically entitled to be granted one more imaginary minute?

Was I special?

What is it about death that makes me doubt my special-ness.  Does it die with the one who was loved?  Does it disappear behind the veil with their persistence and laughter?

Or is it, perhaps, if I believe I wasn’t special, then it won’t hurt as much because it didn’t mean so much?

I believe in love, and I think I believe that love is a bond that cannot die.  I think I have to believe this about love, because if it is not portable to the great beyond, then I don’t think I could really get out of bed again.

Enduring love is the only “afterlife” in which I believe.

My friend was elderly, and yet, there must have been a rather foolish part of me that thought she would live forever, that believed I’d never have to face a world without her zany humor.

Somehow, her voice continues to fill my head.  I hear her make those noises she’d make when she was amazed or delighted by something, the oooohhhs, and gasps of wonder.  Despite seeing over 75 years of the world, she never ceased to be amazed by the smallest gestures of tenderness, by the beauty of nature, by the majesty of animals.

I did the stuff you’re supposed to do.

I cried.  I brought food to her wife.  I went to the services.  I cried more.  I got piss drunk and fell down.  I collected all the cards and little treasures she had ever given me and looked at her sloppy handwriting and laughed.

I walked in the woods.  I sat at her grave and talked to her.  I patted the freshly rolled out sod, crumpled into a ball, and cried again.

I started to feel better, as though the hallway were lit with skylights.

Then I felt like shit again, and it was dark and I was bumping into stuff.

At the burial, one of the funereal directors plucked roses off of the arrangement on the casket and passed them around.  She said we could place the rose with a prayer on the top of the casket to go down with my friend, or we could keep it in memory of her.  I clutched at mine while everyone else kissed theirs and placed them on the casket.

I thought of the red rose corsage I wore a year ago at her wedding, how I’ve kept it tucked into my mirror in my bedroom.

How could it be?  How could all of this be real?

It’s confusing how my brain is trying to fold around this information and digest it like a carnivorous plant.  I suppose the good news is that I don’t have to completely get over my grief for her today.  It’ll take time.  One minute at a time; one breath at a time.

I’ve never cried such fat, wet tears.

If I were sitting with her, she wouldn’t hug me.  I know that sounds weird and kind of cold, but it isn’t at all.  It’s perfect.

She listens to me with her hands on her thighs, fingers curled in towards her thumbs.  She breathes and nods slightly while I cry.  She gives my space and lets me have my feeling, my dignity, my rage.  

Then she pushes a box of tissues toward me.  She tells me with a wry grin that she has examined the woman before her, and she does not find her lacking.  She hands me a candle.

I dry my face, and plod forward.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/waiting/

Grinch of Mother’s Day

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I’m shaking with rage.

It’s “Mother’s Day” and I am doing laundry and cleaning up the art supplies and dried paint from the craft my husband planned for the kids.  The craft that ended up flopping and was unusable for gifts for the grandmothers so I had to come up with and execute something last minute.

I hate Mother’s Day.

I hate everything about it.

I hate the commercialism.  I hate the expectations that are never met.  I hate having to do stuff when really I just want to stay in bed, or wander the mall by myself.

I hate the added pressure to do special crap that I really don’t want to do for my own mother and mother in law.

And then I hate the guilt I feel for not loving a day that is supposed to be all about glistening gratitude and love.

I’m like the Grinch of Mother’s day.

And like the Grinch who stole Christmas, I dread Mother’s Day every year.  Every.  Fucking.  Year.

Last year was halfway decent with mimosas and breakfast in bed followed by a walk on my own at the beach.

But this year it was like the goal of the day was to make me feel as un-special and pedestrian as humanly possible.

Look.  My kids are alive and healthy.  I have a beautiful roof over my head and a cute dog.  To the naked eye, my life is perfect.  I’m grateful for all of this.  Really.  I do not mean to sound like some harping fishwife about Mother’s Day, even though I probably am.

I’ve also learned that expectations are usually not met, so it is best not to have any.

And I’m not actually a high maintenance person.  Really.

But when my husband is going out at 8 pm the night before to buy me a card, and then making the kids make me half-assed cards the morning of. . .  Well, it just kind of highlights the fact that no one really gives a fucking rat’s ass about what I do the rest of the 364 days per year.

It is usually one of the two days per year that my husband gives me some kind of flower arrangement.  This year, he gave me coloring books.

Yup.  Adult coloring books and some colored pencils.

Had I EVER expressed even the slightest interest in coloring, it might have been thoughtful.

OR, had I the time to color, then maybe the gift wouldn’t have seemed like such a slap in the face.

Maybe if I hadn’t actually mocked and reviled adult coloring as a hobby for myself. . .  but no.  This was the gift that basically screamed, “Hey, I have to give you something and I really didn’t want to put much thought into it, so here.”

I’ve been trying all day to breathe and allow and accept that it is really just another day, and it is alright that no one made me breakfast in bed or took me to the ocean or even folded the children’s laundry for me.  I’ve been offering gratitude for my children who are alive and never had cancer or anything horrible happen to them.

I’ve been offering gratitude for the opportunity to clean the toilet, and to run all around the state dropping off my handmade gifts to the mother and mother in law.  They deserve it.  They do tons of shit for us.  If anyone deserves recognition on Mother’s Day, it is them.

I’ve been attempting not to be resentful that my husband did basically nothing for his mother and that I had to step up to recognize her.  And I have been trying to not be a dick and be upset that my own brother is mentally ill and missing in action, and my sister moved 3,000 miles away so I am the only one to give and show love to my own mother these days, despite the fact that I can never really seem to please her and anything I do pales in comparison to my sister’s Facebook status from 3,000 miles away.

But come on.

What the fuck?

When am I allowed to say enough is fucking enough and I feel like shit and I hate coloring books and it would have been nice if you could have even kept the kids from waking me up before seven this morning?

I mean, come on.  Dude.  Don’t we stress as moms like every second of every day during the year?  Is it way too much to ask that we get even an hour of feeling special on our fucking “Day”?!

What.

The.

Fuck???

Tomorrow I will get up and bring the kids to school and go to work.  And it will be another day.  People at work will talk about the flowers from their kids, or the perfume they got for their moms and I will smile and nod.

I will quietly wonder if there is a word that encompasses a middle ground between “mediocre” and “crappy” and will silently use that imagined word to describe my Mother’s Day to myself.  Because no one likes a Grinch.  And no one wants to hear about how sucky, passive-aggressive, and enraged you felt on Mother’s Day.  Goddess Forbid.

In the mean time I want to slam shit and have a tantrum because Hallmark set me up for yet another incredible disappointment.

I know for a fact there are a lot of you out there for whom Mother’s Day is really rough.

Maybe you lost the baby you always dreamed would make you a mother.  Maybe your child is desperately sick, or caught in the grasp of addiction or mental illness.

Maybe your mother was not kind to you when you were young and a tide of disruptive memories comes flooding back and sweeps you off your feet and into its angry current.

Maybe you are battling your own demons of depression and despair.

Well, you are not alone, my sister-friends.  You are most certainly not alone.

So next year, I say we take all the coloring books and crappy cards that weren’t hand made, and everyone else’s bouquets to the top of Mt. Crumpet to dump it.

And maybe if we strain our ears, and peer into the rising sun, we will hear a sound.  Maybe we will hear the sweet song that actually clues us in to whatever the hell this day was supposed to be all about.

This Is Batshit Crazy. For Reals. Or, About the Time My Family Got a Crash Course in Rabies

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So, if you ever wanted a crash course on rabies and America’s culture of fear, here it is…

Friday night found me tired and eager to go to bed. I went down to use the bathroom, brush teeth, and then went out to the living room to say goodnight to my hubs who was watching television.

All of a sudden a small, brown bat swooped around us!

Naturally, I squealed and jumped out of my skin.

My husband calmly got up to open the front door to let the bat out. But the bat swooped back through our dining room and disappeared.  Or, I lost sight of it because I screamed like a monkey, and ran to lock myself in the bathroom.  (Yes, it is a well known fact that batwings can manipulate door handles quite well.  They are more pernicious than octopus, people.)

Over the next hour we searched high and low for the bat. We were all Mulder and Scully with flashlights and a Swiffer duster thing I grabbed to smack at the bat if it flew into my face.  The bat is out there, Scully. . .  Trust no one.  

We couldn’t find it.

Long story short, my daring (and darling) husband finally located it up in a crawl space in our attic maser suite.

It is a goddamn good thing I did not marry a squeamish man, folks.

Because, it was in our bedroom, people. The bat had burrowed into the insulation in our room, under an eave, just a few feet away from where we rest our heads.

And there were piles of icky guano (bat poo) that indicated he had been in residency for a while.

Hubs couldn’t get the bat to come back out, and it was getting really late.  My adrenaline surge had succumbed to the melatonin I’d taken only moments prior to the bat showing up. I was on my way to bed, remember?

So the Spousal unit sealed up the crawl space with some tarp and duct tape. Then we hit the hay for a very jumpy and tense sleep.

The next day we worked on inspecting our eaves and then sealing stuff up. By “us,” I mean my husband did that crap.  He’s awesome like that. I’ve never been so happy I married him.  He put piles of moth balls in there, installed LED lights, and put on a radio with NPR blaring into the eave, all to discourage the bats from returning.  He reinforced certain places and secured the bat hatches, so to speak.

We went out to dinner with friend and chuckled about the bat. We’ve had bats in our house where we lived prior to this house and we let them out and got on with our lives.

It was never a big deal.

So imagine my surprise when my daughter’s pediatrician insisted we needed to call the department of health post haste.

I’d brought Emily in because she had a cough. Guano can cause respiratory illness and Em had been present when my husband was using the shop vac in the bat cave.  So, I mentioned the bat situation to the doc, feeling a sense of chagrin, and certain that she would laugh me out of the office.

The doc shuffled through a drawer to get the number.  Call now, she insisted.

Not one to be indoctrinated into a culture of fear, I waited and called the next morning, again feeling chagrin and certain that the hard working folks at the department of health would laugh at me for wasting their time with my bat story.

But they transferred me to triage.

And then triage transferred me to a nurse.

And the nurse took down all the pertinent info about my entire family and instructed us to go to the hospital for rabies vaccination.

Are you fucking kidding me, I wanted to ask?  But I didn’t.


My husband was not convinced.  He’s done a lot of reading on the subject and insists that you are no more likely to get rabies from a bat than from any other wild animal.

Yeah, I countered, but these wild animals were maybe swooping around our heads as we slept, drooling all over our slumbering bodies.

I learned that while rabies can be transferred from animal to human by a bite or a scratch, it is also transmissible just through proximity.  And drool.  So, if the bat swooped over us and just one droplet of its juicy, contagious saliva fell on us, we would be at risk.

I was scared enough to leave work early to collect my children and make our way to the ER.

The health department lady had called ahead, so they were already going on the journey into the bowels of the hospital’s rabies clinic to collect our precious serum.  We got to the hospital, went through triage and registration, and then were brought to a holding room where we waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Eventually, a doctor came in to explain what would happen, and he confirmed what my husband and I thought–  that the health department was being overly reactive and borderline ridiculous.

The doctor said if we lived in any other country, this would not be an issue, but for whatever reason, our state’s department of health has gotten crazy vigilant about bats and rabies.

While rabies in bats is still pretty rare, it has grown in our state over the past four years from 4% to 8%.  Rabies is 100% fatal, and by the time you develop symptoms, it is too late.  There is no cure.  This information made me 75% freaked out, and 25% annoyed, and that is where my percentages end.

It was a long wait.  We all grew tired and hungry, but I was a very proud mama bear at how well my children sat and played and handled the long wait, way past their bedtimes.

On the other hand, I got pretty punchy and wondered if the guys at the nursing station would play Grey’s Anatomy with me.  I texted my BFF to see if she thought it would be cool if I casually sauntered up to one of them and mentioned that I was scrubbing in on a craniotomy.

She texted back, LOL, go get some FOOD in you.  

We sat with the kids and waited for hours until they finally came in with four trays of syringes.

And here is where it gets fun, folks:  The first round of treatment is a course of rabies vac, and a dose of immunoglobulin  (whatever the hell that is).  The immunoglobulin is based on weight, so the more you weigh, the more you get.  Super awesome!!  Since my hubs and I are “Fatties for life” (fist bump!), we got to have six shots each.

Our poor children had three apiece.

The kids went first.  Emily was psyched that she got to hold a shiny, light-up ball, and she didn’t bat an eye (no pun intended, I swear) as they plunged the medicine into her.  Not even one tear.  Damn, she’s incredible.

Jack sat on my lap and knew enough to know it was going to suck, but he was brave and got through it with merely a whimper.

It is worth noting that they no longer give the shots in the stomach. The kids got theirs in their thighs, and my husband and I got two in each thigh and one in each arm. I guess that is slightly less repulsive.

I was not so dignified as the rest of my family.

I saw them coming at me with all those syringes and got dizzy and nauseous.  They had to lay me down, and my husband held my hand through my hyperventilating, as they all coached me to breathe.  Let me tell you, I would much rather give birth every day of the week than have six needles simultaneously plunged into my flesh.


The immunoglobin was thick going in, and it burned (That’s what she said!!  Holla!!  Did you see that, I made a joke!)

After it was all done, we sat and were observed for any ill effects for fifteen minutes. By this time we were all cranky and really ready to go home. We were discharged and trudged out to our cars, decorated in what seemed like an entire box of Angry Bird bandaids.

We will have to go back for four boosters over then next few weeks.  The good news there is that we only get one shot at each one.  But the best news is that we get to pay our insurance’s hospital copay for every single one of us for our foray the other night.  $150 apiece!

Obviously I am being bitterly sarcastic about that.  Shelling out $600 for rabies medicine fucking sucks bat balls (excuse my French).  It feels horribly discouraging that we are paying what could have been enough for  a weekend away at a nice resort, or half of what it is going to cost to professionally “bat proof” our bedroom, for a treatment we likely do not need, simply because Americans love to get all scared about shit and layer on tons of cure.  But I guess that is probably another blog post there.

Right now, I am trying to focus on my family’s health and safety, and my gratitude for those blessings.  I think I will feel heaps better after I finally manage to get a good night’s sleep.  If that ever happens again. . .

To be Continued… 

Chasing Anger With Self Recrimination. . . and Then More Anger

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Yesterday I ranted about frustration with my husband.  He had allowed our daughter to do something after I said she couldn’t.

I stayed good and pissed for the better part of the morning, but I actually felt better after posting and hearing back from you all who left generous and supportive comments.

While surfing Facebook, I happened across a post from a dear friend who was reflecting on how she never deals low blows with her spouse, and how she thanks her family for this because her mother and father taught her how to fight fair.  It had nothing to do with me or my situation, but because all my stupid sensitive senses were on high alert, I took it as a personal affront.  I am a bad person because I can’t be more mature when I bicker with my Spouse.

I am setting a crappy example for my children who are going to grow up completely screwed up because mommy and daddy fought.  My children are anxious, uncooperative, and angry because I suck at adulting.

 I.  Am.  A.  Failure.  With a capital “F”.


I held onto these feelings until I was distracted by other things.

Like:

Last night, I ended up working late.  It is a rarity.  My schedule is fairly set in stone because I usually need to be someplace either at the beginning or end of the day with my children.  

But a teen in the community had completed suicide and we were opening the doors at our center to support the community.   I agreed to stay a couple hours later than usual to be on stand by. It ended up being a very quiet few hours, which was fine.  I got a lot of other stuff done, then I went home.

At home I was deciding how I wanted to play things with Spouse.  He had bathed Emily, but he had allowed Jack to go out past his 7pm curfew to play with his bud.  I was tired and hungry, but Emily seemed sleepy so I figured bedtime would be a breeze and then I could microwave some frozen rectangle of food and get my couch and Masterchef on.  Chill.  Decompress.  Ponder the meaning of life and how gut twistingly terrible it is when a teen takes their life.

Then he disappeared.  

As I was putting my daughter to bed, the Spouse just took off to parts unknown.  Emily would not settle because she wanted her dad to hug her goodnight and he was no where in the house or yard.  I still had not eaten dinner and was starting to spiral out into anger once again.  

At 8:45 Em still would not settle and I still had not eaten. He wasn’t picking up his phone so I sent a ragey text.

Apparently, he had gone down the street to watch a ball game at the fields with our son and the neighbors.  This seemed reasonable to him, and it seemed reasonable that I would telepathically know where the fuck he was even though he’d not mentioned a word of it to me.  Well, where else would I be?  He asked like he goes down to watch ballgames at the fields down the street all the time. (He never has.)

I really lost it.  He and Jack came trundling home.  I screamed.  I ranted.  I raved.

I called him a Doofus.  In front of the kids, no less.

So much for fighting fair.

Now I’m back to being a failure and crappy mom and wife.  And I’m still angry.  So, there’s that. . .

I stormed off while he put both children to bed.  I read the last two chapters of Gone Girl.  I watched Masterchef.  I stressed about if I was really angry because I am a crazy bitch with raging hormones, or if my feelings were based anywhere in reality.  I went to bed fuming and woke up still fuming.

My behavior was not cool.  Not.  Cool.  I get that.

But in all fairness, disappearing on a weeknight at bedtime is not cool either.

I wasn’t angry that he went to watch the game. I’m not “that girl.”

I was angry he didn’t tell me where the fuck he was going.  Because I am not a fucking mind reader.  All of that could have been avoided by him telling me what was going on.

This morning I’m in a vapid brain space.  But I look amazing. I’m wearing a new dress that I bought with birthday money.  It has this splashy pink and navy blue flower pattern on it and the cut is very flattering.  I’ve had my coffee.  The kids are fresh and clean.  Lunches are packed and we are ready to face our day.

I think the Spouse knows he is in the dog house because he cleaned up the whole kitchen after the children had breakfast, which is usually my chore.  

We have a long holiday weekend ahead of us and somehow will have to get on the same page.

So Mad I Could. . .

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I’m fuming.

I’m so mad right now I could punch a kitten.  I could scream at the elderly.  I could spit.  I could go out and get drunk and not come home tonight.  I could break all the glass in the house, smash my wedding china, and shatter the windows with my screams.

Or I could make a list of the worst things I can think of and leave it at that.

My Spousal Unit and I do not argue that much.  I mean we bicker and banter, but we never really have it out with each other.  Most of the time it is just the minutia of the everyday overwhelmed, working parents, etc., etc.  Like you forgot to do the cat box, or why didn’t you mail the mortgage payment?

We are both entirely overwhelmed and exhausted.  I don’t really know how we are going to keep all this up.  So, I will give him that.  Plus, he is the sort who avoids confrontation and takes the path of least resistance.  Always.  Especially when it comes to the children.

i told Emily she could not have her pacifier in the car this morning.  She is really too old for  pacifier anyway, and we really only allow it at night.  The dentist noticed that she has a gap in her bite and of course that means shit tons of money in orthodontics later on.

As my Spouse was scuttling around the house mismanaging his time and stressing about being late, I specifically told him, no bubby in the car for Em.

I know.  I know.

I sound like a shrew and a harpy and all of those evil, nasty wifey comparisons.

And if it hadn’t been for the clap of thunder that totally shook the entire house, I would never have known.  But I just so happened to look out the window to see if Em and Spouse were in the car okay.  There was Em, in her car seat, sucking on her bubby.

I.  Saw.  Red.

He is constantly undercutting me on shit like this.  I think it is one of the reasons that we have such trouble with Jack following rules.  I say one thing.  He does another.  My question for him is “what does this teach the children?”

Answer:  It teaches them that what Mama says does not matter.  It teaches them that they do not have to respect Mama.  It teaches them that they can go to their dad and split us against each other.

That seems abundantly simple and clear to me.  I’ve had this discussion with the Spouse about a hundred times, since Jack was a toddler.

I don’t get it.

It hurts me.  It hurts me that while we are so freaking busy and overwhelmed we can’t be on the same fucking page about something very basic.  It makes me feel unsupported and incredibly sad.  It makes me question my entire life and my efficacy as a human because I am a highly sensitive person and little stupid shit like this totally affects my entire fucking day.

Life is fucking hard.

So.  I’m pissed.  100% butthurt that I get no back up from the person who is supposed to have my back on our most primative chore–  raising the children.

I sent a pissy text to him.  I did the crazy thing where I tried to call about 18 times.  But he wasn’t answering because he was driving, or because he forgot his phone because he can’t get himself organized.

Ok, that was a low blow.  I get it.  I know.  But it is also true, and like I said.  I’m so mad.  I am so mad I could make dumb, immature statements about my spouse and vent about him on my blog because talking shit out just seems to get nowhere.

What kinds of differences do you have with your mate?  How do you handle them?  

The Suck Fest That is Working Motherhood 

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My day started with my son crying that he doesn’t want to go to YMCA camp this summer. He doesn’t handle transition well, sensitive soul that he is, and summers are always a rough jumble of our schedules that causes additional stress to fester throughout the entire family.

“I just don’t like it there, mom,” he cried.

I was washing the coffee pot and trying to corral my daughter so I could braid her hair before we all rushed out the door. I brushed off his concerns with “We’ll talk about it later.”  It took all my self control not to scream “BEING A WORKING MOM SUCKS!!”

Because it does. It fucking sucks so bad.

My day ended with a flurry of hysterical texts from my husband who was stuck in traffic for an hour and a half and ended up late to pick up poor Jack from the YMCA after school program.

Our work days are orchestrated almost down to the second to accommodate drop offs and pick ups of our children. My husband has slightly more flexibility in his schedule, so he is usually the one to pick up, while I drop off Jack in the morning, sometimes drop off Emily, and have a combination of family doing random drop offs and pick ups.  It’s complicated.  As carefully as we construct this schedule, it seems there are days my children don’t know when they are coming and going or who is fetching them.

At random intervals throughout the day, I am gripped with panic as I try to recall where my children are and who they are with.  Then I sigh and relax because I know they are going to be safe, but it is a strange, crazy, and uncomfortable leap of faith.

When I drop Jack off at school in the morning, I hug and kiss him and then get back into my car and watch him stride into the school yard.  Sometimes he sees a pal and breaks into a gleeful run to go and play with them.  His happy confidence inspires me to drive away.

But then I drive off and it feels like I am free falling into the day, relying on a flimsy parachute of faith that all will be well with my littles while I am apart from them.

As moms, being away from our children is unnatural at best, and a downright suck fest at worst.

So, when I am stuck at work, a 45 minute commute away, getting texts that my little boy is going to be stuck at daycare past pick up time, I freak a bit.  It makes me feel sucky and angry that our society has chipped away at the family in this manner; that we have to work so hard just to keep things barely afloat.  There is nothing that makes me angrier than feeling helpless when it comes to my children.

Sure, we all always get home in one piece. For that I am very thankful.

But it is so hard to relax into the evening when grumpy, tired children need feeding and bathing and bedtime routines.  Lately I am trying my best to be aware of my tendency to rush and do stuff just to get to the next thing.  For example, chiding Emily to hurry up and finish her snack so we can brush teeth, hurry up and brush teeth so we can read stories, hurry up and get through stories so we can all go the fuck to sleep.

It is so difficult to just be in the moment, where I want to be, when I feel pressure on all sides of me and just want to leap away from the discomfort.

I don’t want my family to work this way.  And other than changing jobs or winning the lottery, both of which are equally impossible and improbable at the moment, I don’t really know how to make it work any differently.

We do our best.  But since my husband started his new job in February, things have been stretched so thin that they seem about to be torn to tatters.  The clock ticks off seconds of my life I am simply not enjoying, and I am keenly aware and anxious about the toll this will take on my precious offspring.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m ranting a bit here, but it is not all doom and gloom.  Some days are just so hard.  Some days it just really hits me how much time I spend away from my family, and how much trust I am placing in others to raise and nurture my children when I am not there for them.

I think about the cardinal Jack drew.  He was so proud of it, he made copies for every child in his class and also for his teacher.  “Mama, my teacher told me it was very meaningful to her, and she is going to take it home and hang it up!” he told me when I walked in the door from work.

I think about the excitement with which Emily tells me, “Mama, I climbed on the spider web on the pway gwound at school!  I was a yittle scared, but it was fun!”

I think about the hugs and kisses and the sound of Emily’s breathing growing slower and deeper as I sit in the chair and wait for her to drift off to sleep.

My kids are growing to be independent, resilient, creative, and kind.

I’ve got to remember that, even when it feels like doing my best is still sucking ass.

OK.  Rant over.

Little Talks– Best and Worst

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I was rocking Emily before bed. She had just finished nursing on one side and was scooching around to the other.

“So what was the best part of your day, Em?” I asked.

“Um. I yiked chatting wiff you,” she answered decisively.

“You mean when I was making dinner?”

“Yes.”

We got a couple of stools for the kitchen island cheap from Target. They are really too tall for it, and an adult can’t sit comfortably in them, but they work perfectly for the kids with an added bonus of providing a place to plunk one or the other of them while I putter in the kitchen.

I was really touched my three year old daughter’s best part of the day was chatting with her mama. But I had sad feelings about the next question I asked.

“What was the worst part of your day.”

“When I dwop my food,” she replied so quietly I could barely hear her.

She was referring to the full plate of food she had tipped over onto the kitchen floor when she was trying to clear it from the table.

She was trying to be helpful.

And she’s three.

And it was totally an accident.

It wasn’t even that messy, but I got stupid angry.

Dinners have been trying events in our home lately. The kids bicker and tease each other. No one wants to eat what I cook. The kids don’t stay in their seats and my husband and I are usually tired and fed up (no pun intended).

A lot of nights we all leave the table feeling frustrated.

Tonight was one of those nights. I could almost see in slow motion the grilled cheese, tater tots and half eaten chunks of cucumber spilling with a blob of ranch dressing onto the floor as Emily tipped her little face up, sheepishly, to see my reaction.

I yelled at her.

She cried.

I stomped around like an asshole while my husband cleaned up and tried to comfort our little girl. Even Jack put his arms around Emily and said something to the extent of, “It’s okay. Mama’s just unreasonably upset.” This from the kid who has tantrums to beat the band!

I was simultaneously touched but still too “unreasonably upset” to do anything about it.

I went and cooled off. Life reset itself. My family forgave me without a word.

So when Emily acknowledged that was the worst part of her day, I expected it but it stung.

“Mama got too upset, huh?”

“Yeah.”

“I’m really sorry honey. Sometimes Mama gets cross. But I always love you.”

“I’m sowee too, Mama,” she said and reached up to touch my face. “I yuv you too.”

We kissed and cuddled and rocked. While I was really grateful for the opportunity to apologize to her, I still felt bad about making her cry. I swore to myself to do better next time, and was also really thankful for the strength of my relationship with this tender little person who is willing to forgive and continue trusting and chatting with me.

It’s not a little thing.

End Of The World– Getting Cozy With Dukkha

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The world is ending right now because there are dirty dishes in the sink and a bunch of moldering, half-eaten yogurt cups and tubes strewn throughout the house.

I just got home from the Urgent Care Center.  It is 8 p.m., and any mom who got up as early as I did this morning knows that 8 p.m. is the middle of the fucking night.

My husband is engaged in a power struggle with our seven year old son, Jack, over universe knows what.  My three year old, Emily, is wandering around like a lost lamb because she wants mama milk and cuddles before bed.

But first things first.

Since a huge vat of Purell or rubbing alcohol isn’t available, I hop in the shower.  It serves the dual purpose of warming my chilled, aching body, and cleansing off the filth of the walk in treatment place.  I had anxiety upon anxiety the entire time I was there as people coughed, hacked, wheezed, and made all sorts of moaning cacophony.  In the curtained area next to me, there was a woman chanting, “Germs, germs, germs, germs, germs,” over and over in a haunted whisper.  True story.  I can’t make this shit up.

The chest X-ray confirmed bronchitis and the doctor wrote me a script for antibiotic and a cough medicine, but then changed his mind when I told him I still breast feed twice a day.  He forgot to call the pharmacy and change the prescription, which resulted in an hour-long wait in the parking lot of the pharmacy, where I sat in my car, heat on full blast, shivering and crying.

Wait!  Before you stop reading because you hate me for bitching about First World Problems, please know it was pretty much the worst week of my life, followed by an exhausting weekend of poorly behaved children, and ending in body aches that rate waaaaayyyy at the grumpy and sad end of that smiley to grimace chart.

A client killed himself last week, and it left me reeling in confusion, guilt, panic, and fear.  While I have forced myself to accept there was nothing I could have done to prevent this tragedy, my heart has not caught up with my head on the matter, and being sick wears down the professional buffer I might have for such matters.

After spending the entire week in the aftermath of suicide, another employee of my program gave me her notice along with a few dozen clients to reassign.  Since my other clinician quit my program before the holidays, I have no one to reassign these clients to.  When I went, shaking and sobbing, to my supervisor for support, I was basically told to figure it out.

I came home looking for some solace, only to find my husband intended to work all weekend.  This is good news, in one way, because we need the money and he is freelance.  But it is bad news in terms of having the children, house duties, etc. ,and so on all to myself for the entire weekend.

So, contracting bronchitis was just the frosting on the crap cake I felt had been baked for me this week.  I feel like a jerk even writing that, while knowing I have access to better medical care and pharmaceuticals than 87% of the world.  (Note:  that is not a real statistic.  I’m making shit up because like I said, the world is fucking ending and who cares anyway.)

Sometimes I just need to vent.  Then I get sick of myself and get on with my life.

Some people have real problems.  I know this.  People like the family who lost their child in the most confounding, shocking, and traumatizing way last week.

After my shower, I hustle to put on PJ’s.  I ignore Jack’s tantrum and go straight to Emily, who is sleepy and sweet. She puts her hand on my heart as she snuggles into my breast, and touches my chin as light as a butterfly.

I’ve been contemplating the Buddhist concept of dukkha lately.  Dukkha roughly translates as “suffering,” and it is an important concept in Buddhism.  There has been ample dukkha in my life over the past few months. . .  the dukkha of motherhood; the dukkha of clinging to things during the process of our move last November; the dukkha of family issues at the holidays; the dukkha of yearning for things to be a certain way at work; the dukkha of physical illness; the dukkha of my anxiety and depression which has been rearing its ugly head over the past few weeks like a powerful and frightening dragon.

The dukkha of wanting to change the unchangeable, and to understand the incomprehensible.

And tonight, the dukkha of dishes left undone at the end of the night when I am sick and tired, and have already done dishes 17 times over the course of the weekend.

Basically, Buddha teaches that life is dukkha—  not that everything sucks, but that by its nature, our existence is flawed, impermanent, and difficult.  We can struggle against it and fight with it as something bad, or we can accept it for what it is and go from there.

What does that mean?

I don’t know.  And at the moment, I don’t really care.

I started writing a post last weekend about trying to sit with the grief and anxiety I felt in the light of my client’s death.  It was hard–  both to sit with and to write about–  because it made me fiercely restless.  I didn’t end up posting it.

Kuan Yin sat with the dragons and made friends with them.  What would it be like to do that?

I guess I could do the dishes.

Or I could not.

Maybe dukkha and I will cuddle up in bed with some Ceftin and Mucinex and try to get to know each other.  And maybe the world will keep ending, and I will lie in bed and hear things screeching and banging and popping outside my window.