On Motherhood & Social Awkwardness

Since becoming a mom and 2009, I have become even more socially awkward. So socially awkward that my sixteen year old self literally cringes with embarrassment whenever I have to socialize.

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I’ve never been very good at socializing. I’ve been told that “I am bubbly and enthusiastic”, but I get the sense that I am not those things in a good way. Maybe I’m a little bit endearing, my social awkwardness appearing cute thanks to the rise of socially awkward protagonists. But I feel like I’m mostly…awkward. Painfully so.

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I go out to a function, where I must interact and be social, and I hear myself doing and saying awkward things. Inappropriate things. I know what I want to say, how I want to act, but it never comes out the way I want.

I feel like my social awkwardness has gotten worse since the birth of my kids. My social anxiety is almost crippling now, which is why I say and do awkward things, because I panic. I mean, before…when I had to go out and do social things I’d usually just be drunk and wouldn’t notice how awkward I was.

Unfortunately, the majority of my responsibilities and engagements are inappropriate venues for drinking large amounts of alcohol (and I can’t just pass out on my friends couch, I have to drive home). Plus, I’ve got kids.

I think I could handle my social awkwardness and anxiety a little better if I contributed intelligent things to conversations instead of blurting out the first, and most times extremely dense sounding, thing that comes to mind. I promise I’m not dumb, I just sound it. Often. Because, panic.

I guess I’ll just have to get used to embarrassing the hell out of myself at social engagements, then not leaving the house for another week or two.

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Sludge

I’ve been pretty occupied lately. I wouldn’t say busy, because although I’ve been doing a lot of, well, things…I’ve not been doing enough to be “busy”, just “occupied”. My mind is occupied with a hundred various thoughts and worries, and my day is occupied with parenting, cleaning, running my Scentsy business and getting some writing done. I’m tired when I go to bed and my mind rarely shuts off long enough for me to feel “rested”.

I’m anxious and on edge, my brow constantly furrowed with perpetual frustration.

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I’m trying to calm down, to turn off the thoughts and worries and anxieties, but if only it were that easy. Of course it isn’t. It couldn’t be.

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I find myself shutting down often. It’s a side effect to caring too much. When it gets to be too much, you shut it off because it becomes too big and complicated to process. It doesn’t mean you don’t care, because you do…you just can’t find a way to break through your own emotions to reach out and make a difference. Your head races with thoughts, things you could say or do, but you remain stuck in shut down mode.

I feel like I’m trudging through sludge. Thick, gooey sludge. Each step is an effort.

I’m wary, emotionally and physically. I need a rest, a way to rejuvenate my spirits. I feel like I’m no good to anyone when stuck in this sludgy mess.

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Delusions of Parenthood

Before having kids, I thought this gig would be easy. I know! I can’t believe how delusional pre-kid me was, but I honestly was so very delusional. I look back on pre-kid and want to laugh in my own face.

I knew I would have challenges, but I didn’t know how hard they would be. I thought I’d get through each challenge (sleepless nights, potty training, temper tantrums, so on and so forth) with patience and ease.

I thought I’d show them or teach them something once, and that would be it. They’d catch on, and everyone would hold hands and dance around together in a circle of utter happiness.

I foolishly thought life would be easy after the first year, that my baby would sleep through the night and be potty trained no later than 3. I didn’t envision the amount of chaos that ensues when my two boys play together, the destructive, intense nature of them combined. I didn’t think their messes and loudness would bother me, because I would be that mom that let their kids enjoy being kids and wouldn’t sweat about the small things or get twisted over messes.

I assumed the hard days wouldn’t be, well…hard. It’s difficult to envision how hard a situation will be on us until it’s upon us. So many times, I’ve thought this will be hard about a situation, and then when I’m going through it, it is hard…so hard, harder than I could have imagined.

When Archer was waking up every hour for the first 2 years of his life, it was hard. So damn hard. It was harder than I ever anticipated it would be. Each day that passed, I was honestly shocked I came through and didn’t completely lose my mind. I came close, many times, but I didn’t actually go off the deep end. A few (okay, a thousand) mommy tantrums, tears and yelling included, was the worst I got. Back then, I felt so guilty for “losing it” like that, but now…I give past-me huge props for keeping it that together on that little sleep.

But then…that hard time passes, and it becomes difficult to recall just how hard it was when it was happening. I know, in my head, that it was harder than I thought it would be, but the depth is lost in my memories.

I want to cry when my friends of newborns tell me how little sleep they are getting, because I remember that. I can’t recall the exact feeling, because the depth of it is lost…but I know it was terrible and it felt impossible. I also know that one day, it won’t be that hard for them. It isn’t for me, anymore…at least not in the sleep department. Things are starting to level out. I still want to fast forward that for them, but then…you fast forward through all the new stages, and they do make up for the lack of sleep. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard, though…terribly so.

Memory is a funny thing. To lessen the blow on ourselves, we can’t often recall the intensity of emotions in past situations. We can label them, difficult, exhausting,  heartbreaking, exciting, incredible…but once the moment is gone, the intensity of those feelings are gone too. We never feel it the same way, you know? Or at least…I don’t.

I suppose, in a lot of ways, that’s a good thing.

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Depression + Chronic Pain

I’m not sure what came first…depression or chronic pain? Probably chronic pain, but it’s likely that the depression has always been there too…lurking in the background, ready to jump in and throw punches and kicks when I’m already down and hurting…

Anyway, I suffer from both…and you know what? Some days are hard. Really, really hard. Today is one of those days. Most days this week have been like this. They’ve started out bad and gotten progressively worse over the coarse of the day.

My pain levels are high. I can take absolutely nothing for it. Tylenol does nothing, and anything with Ibeuprofen is out because of my bleeding disorder. Anything that could cause addictions is out because I can’t deal with depression, chronic pain and an addiction. I’ll be honest, I’ve tried a few of them and they may have numbed the pain a little, but they also made me feel sick to my stomach and dizzy.

I don’t deal with that well.

When I was younger, before I had responsibilities, my pain coping method was lots of rest and taking it easy. I would at least be able to give myself slow starts to the day.

I can’t do that now, with my kids. They don’t understand what a “slow start” means. The younger one still can’t be trusted alone for any length of time, and both of them have been known to cause mass destruction in my brief absences. For example, it took them all of five minutes to rip the mattresses off their beds yesterday while I showered. FIVE MINUTES, to move mattresses that I can barely move on my own.

So, “slow days” and “rest days” do not mean the same thing they once meant. I can sometimes deal with that, I mean…often I can. It is what it is and my boys are the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. I know I am blessed and I love spending time with them…

But then there are the days where the pain is so high, and it clasps gleeful hands with the depression…pulling it up to greater heights too. They are “twinsies” in making me miserable, and on those days…I don’t want to be around anyone because I am miserable and snappy and not the self I want to be.

It’s hard to come out of it on my own, because I haven’t found a successful way of dealing with the chronic pain that eases it. I can’t help but think, surely if I ease the chronic pain symptoms…I’ll be able to ease the depression. I can’t help but wonder if I could be happy and feel…free…if I weren’t weighed down with chronic pain. The chronic pain is the instigator.

I feel guilty for my bad days, because my bad days are everyone else’s bad days. Misery loves it’s company, after all. Some times, throwing a little fit and crying my eyes out helps me to release the negative energy that threatens to consume me.

All I can do is press on though, trying to push past the over whelming feelings of sadness and desperation. I can’t change my situation. I can’t stop things from hurting and get rid of the pain fog I am constantly stuck in.

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Robin Williams

We need to fight the stigma of mental illness because people keep dying from it. Most recently, Robin Williams. I was beyond sad to discover that the articles allegedly saying he’d killed himself were not merely a new Internet death hoax, but actual truth. Robin Williams took his own life because of depression.

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It hits close to home. Not only was he a remarkable actor that brought so much laughter through his craft, but he was a comrade in the trenches of depression. He was an advocate against the stigma. He taught us that people with mental illnesses are many things, not just the mental illness. You never would have guessed how bad his troubles were, and neither could his family until it became too much for him.

This hits close to home because it’s something that most of us deal with daily…the shame baring, the secret keeping, the shrugging of shoulders when we say we are okay, even when we’re not. Despite how far we’ve come with our quest to break the stigma, we have not yet broken it, and there are still enormous levels of shame and embarrassment when it comes to discussing mental illness and seeking help.

Part of it’s the medical field. Often, trying to get treatment is embarrassing. You’re made to feel like it isn’t common and that you’re weak. The wait time to see a psychologist is extremely long…I’ve been waiting for one since 2012. Health coverage does not cover psychologists, or at least not most of them.

A greater part of it is the eyeroll of society. It’s almost like they’re thinking, “Oh, another depressed person? Shocking. We all have problems.”.

I’ve had to tell myself every day that I am not alone, that depression is lying to me when it says I am, that not everyone is rolling their eyes at me. Sure, some people are…but most are not (and screw the ones that are; they’re the reason this stigma still exists).

I am devasated for Robin Williams’ family and friends, but I am also hoping his death…unexpected in the eyes of so many of his fans…pushes the vast majority of society that didn’t see the stigma into thinking about it, into joining the cause to break it. I’m hoping people will realize that you can smile, you can be a comedian or a doctor, a teacher, or anything at all and still suffer greatly from depression.

It is the silent killer. We need to change that, we need to unsilence it, we need to stop it from taking our friends and loved ones.

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Creek

On Saturday, I took the boys out on a playdate with some friends I’ve had for a very long time. They happen to live across the street from my old house, the house I grew up in. I can no longer see the yellow house my father built from the road, the trees have grown to encase it in its own little world.

But the boys did get to play in the creek that ran through my old property, and they loved it.

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That town, that creek…it just feels like home. I don’t know why, after all this time…but it does. I miss the yellow house. I miss my spot by the creek that I used to go to every chance I got. I had to hop across a rock to get there, and I would read or write in the shade of the trees for hours.

There are a lot of happy memories about that house.

The pond my dad made so we would have somewhere to skate in the winter, holiday dinners at the big oak table, every occasion spent together in that house. The summer days we’d spend by the pool with an array of friends and family, the summer nights we’d spend trying to catch fireflies. Sleep-over attempts in the treehouse (we always chickened out). The barn that we believed was truly haunted, and would dare each other to go in it. Alone. The circular driveway I practiced driving in. The muddy part of the creek by the neighbors farm that was perfect for fishing for crayfish in. Bike rides down country roads, even to my old public school a few times.

I debated on driving up the driveway, of looking at the house my dad built, of letting myself remember all those memories in the place I was lucky enough to grow up in just one more time, but I didn’t. It’s not my home anymore, it belongs to another family. I hope they love living there as much as I did.

I guess I long for it because it represents a time that wasn’t as complicated. I was a kid in that house, racing through the fields out front and dipping my feet in the creek. I didn’t really know hardship or troubles back then. I mean, I did…but I didn’t, you know? They seem so insignificant now. I had surgeries and bad pain days, but I had the freedom of country living to return to. I would get to recuperate on a blanket in the shade of the birch tree, reading my books.

I’ll be honest, when I was younger…I never thought the yellow house that I called home would ever not be there. I knew I would leave it, go off and on to my own adventures…but I always thought I’d be able to return, to have Christmas dinner with the whole family and their families around the big oak table. I always thought that my kids would get to sleep in my old bedroom during weekends at Gramma & Papa’s.

At least I got to see my boys enjoying the creek I once played in, the creek that was so much a part of my childhood. That made me feel at peace and happy.

Maybe one day, we’ll move to a place just like that one…with lots of land and a little creek running through. But maybe not…who knows what the future will entail? I just hope that wherever we are, I’m giving my kids fond memories of childhood and family, just like my parents gave me. I had an amazing childhood, and I really don’t take it for granted. I can look back on it with fondless and happiness.

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“No Mope Day”

I’ve been feeling really down in the dumps lately. Most days, I scarcely leave the house (if going out into your own back yard doesn’t count, I mean). I haven’t had the motivation or energy to do anything.

My friend, Jess S, has been feeling the same. So, we decided to have a “no mope day” and get out of the house with our kids.

We drove all the way to the Riverview Zoo on Thursday, and spent most of the day walking around the zoo and playing in the park.

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After we decided we’d had enough of the zoo, we went to visit JD. I haven’t seen JD in literally a year.

We chatted about our lives and continued on with the no mope day rule. We watched our boys play together, while we snuggled Jess S’ baby girl.

It was a great day, spent with great people. I spent all of Friday scarcely moving though….after walking around all day, my heel was swollen and in all kinds of icky, throbbing pain. Still is today, but the rest of my body doesn’t ache as much. It’s my bad for deciding the double stroller would be easier…nope, not at all. The zoo is mostly hills and pushing two kids in a stroller up hills all ways wasn’t exactly smart, even if Nolan walked the majority of the time.

We’ve decided to make “no mope day” a common thing.

I’m trying not to let myself fall into the “black pit of despair”, and keep busy. Today’s plans are a play/coffee date with friends I haven’t seen in a while, as well as making a few Scentsy deliveries. Tomorrow’s plans are more Scentsy deliveries and maybe hit up a cool park a few towns over.

I’m not going to let myself back out of arrangements anymore either. Some times, it’s just cause (like missing a birthday party because I’ve had to administer chocolate laxatives to a very constipated 5 year old), but other times, it’s just blah-ness. Letting myself fall into the pit of despair.

☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Other random bits of news/musings:

● Last night, I nearly bite my own tongue in half. That’s what happens when you get a little beer drunk with your neighbors and decide to eat a panzerotti.

● Matt has been having a lot of trouble with his knee, ever since the accident. His entire left leg does not have the muscle it used to, it’s noticeable when you look at his right leg (which is all toned with muscle). He can’t move his leg certain ways without there being a lot of pain. It’s gotten worse lately, what with going back to roofing. It’s so bad that he’s actually going to the doctors to get a referral for a knee specialist. I’m worried about him, and so is he…he needs his knees to work to, well…work.

Liz and I have exciting things in the works for indie authors. I can’t wait to share about it, but for now, we are just hashing out the details. Stay tuned though, it’s going to be awesome!

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