Buyers Remorse

In six days the 5K happens. As of yesterday I have only run 5K twice in my entire life. I don’t really know the course. But I have seen the course markers on one part of it-they are orange. I don’t know how to register the day of. I still haven’t arranged a babysitter. I have a rather severe anxiety disorder and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. What the fuck was I thinking when I signed up for this thing?

Yesterday morning I set out to make sure jogging for 3.1 miles wasn’t a bizarre fluke but something I could actually make myself do on purpose. The first time I tricked myself. Ran 2.25 miles and made a last second decision to keep on going. Yesterday it was much harder to start knowing I had almost an extra mile before stopping. If that makes sense. In fact, the whole jog was harder mentally. But I did it. Actually, I did it a minute faster than the first time.

Unfortunately I also had diarrhea for about 20 minutes before I went. Hardcore anxiety diarrhea. The kind where I’m sitting on the pot and my anxiety is telling me I’m getting way too big for my britches by thinking I can do a 5K race. The kind where she tells me I shouldn’t open myself up to embarrassment by doing the race.

Sometimes I get so fucking tired of fighting her. Sometimes I want to collapse under the weight of her incessant criticism. Sometimes I believe her, I think my efforts to live a normal life are a joke, that everyone who crosses my path is filled with pity and repulsion, I should just give up a battle I will never win.

These days the main topic in therapy is accepting that the anxiety isn’t going to go away. Ever. There is no magic cure, I must learn to live with the bitch who is most certainly not moving out of my brain. Most days I feel proud that I’m engaging in life despite the anxiety, but I also get overwhelmed that fighting her is required to complete the most straightforward tasks. I want going apple picking with friends to be a no brainer. Instead it requires a benzo, three imodium, and I’m sure I’m going to bail right up until the last moment we get into the car. That stupid fight is never going to go away. The fear I feel whenever the car pulls away from our home with me in it is permanent.

The trick is to remind myself that the fight is worth it. We had a terrific time picking apples and pumpkins yesterday. The payoff is worth the fear. How else am I going to get the opportunity to have an apple fritter sundae for lunch?

Doing the 5K is also worth it. I am proving to myself that I can do hard things. The me of a year ago would have never believed I could do this. I’ve surprised myself and my family and three months and one week after stumbling into this exercise thing I am doing my first race.

Do you want to know the whole truth? I hate this truth. Because the exercise thing is good. It is healthy for me, I am doing something to take care of myself. But the truth is the exercise has become winning a game of solitaire before I sleep. I believe it is the only thing keeping me together emotionally and if I stop my life will fall apart. So my anxiety is telling me I can’t do a 5K at the same time she is telling me if I stop exercising I will not be able to go to class or do my homework or take the boys to school or grocery shop or get to my shrink appointments or do laundry or leave the house or get out of bed.

For years I’ve been told that exercise is as good as drugs when it comes to fighting mental illness. For years I couldn’t convince myself to just do it. And now I am. I exercise five days a week. So what happens if I stop? It stands to reason (in my completely unreasonable mind) that my life will fall apart. The binding that is holding me together is jogging five days a week. It doesn’t matter that I’ve only been doing it for three months, suddenly it is the most important thing I do.

Friends, I know. This all sounds ridiculous. Am I actively courting drama? Why can’t I enjoy that I’m doing something good for myself? What the fuck is my problem? Why can’t I just decide not to be anxious? Believe me, I ask these questions constantly. I know how good my life is and how lucky I am. The mental illness seems like it should be totally surmountable. I still wonder if it is even real. My shrink asks if my asthma is real whenever I start down that line of questioning. Listen, I’m pretty damn open about living with mental illness. And yet I still don’t understand why I can’t quite seem to pull myself up by my bootstraps.

I am living with mental illness. I am managing it and am participating in life more than I have since…..really since I became an adult. Z is proud of me and I’m proud of myself. But it still demoralizing some days. I still fantasize about getting better or simply giving up.

It’s the boys who keep me going. They deserve a functioning Mother.

I’m going to run the damn race on Sunday. Even if I have to take a million imodium to get me there. I’m going to keep exercising. I’m going to keep fighting the anxiety. And in case you’ve had enough of this crap-fair warning I’m going to keep writing about it all.

non vanity shot

On instagram I dubbed this the opposite of vanity shot. Bought running tights. Felt naked wearing them. Also, I look like humpty dumpty around the middle and my friend hilariously pointed out it looks like I have a penis head. Bottom line is this if I can go out into public looking like this you can totally do it, too. You can also make fun of me. Because seriously, I look ridiculous.

C picks pumpkin

C picked out his pumpkin yesterday.

wheelbarrow boys

Boys in wheelbarrows.

friends

I’m a lucky duck to have this crew as friends.

Big/Bigger

T, “John Smith is a boy and I am a boy.” (I’m calling his classmate John Smith for privacy reasons. Actually John Smith isn’t working for me. I’m going to call him Jebediah Snodgrass. Yes, that is better.)

T, “Jebediah Snodgrass is bigger than me.”

Me, “Yup. He is.”

T, “Is Jebediah older than me?”

Me, “Nope. He is your age.”

T, “Why is he bigger? He is a boy and I am a boy.”

Me, “Because people come in all sizes. Everyone who is a certain age isn’t a certain size. You know X? She is a girl and Mommy is a girl and she is bigger. You know X? She is a girl and Mommy is a girl and she is bigger.” (Ok, I’m now using X because I’m in a hurry and can’t think up a couple of cool names.)

Grandpa, “And you know your Aunt X? She is a girl and your Mommy is a girl and your Mommy is bigger.”

Me, “Um, Dad? We were talking about height. But thank you. Thank you for that.”

Now, my Dad really is a terrific guy. In his defence everyone puts their foot in their mouth sometimes. I make quite an art out of it actually. But it is a special occasion when you shove your foot so far down your throat that it comes out of your butt. Today was Dad’s lucky day.

And Mom? Thank you for smacking the back of his head when you heard the story. He totally deserved that.

vader and grandpa

Get him Darth Vader!

When this boy grows up and stops looking just like Tweety Bird it will be absolutely heartbreaking for me.

T Rocks

Ok, ok, got my homework done at a reasonable hour last night so I’m giving myself permission to do a super quick post.

Two T moments in a timespan of less than 12 hours that perfectly define him:

On Sunday night Z got home in time for bath which meant we were able to settle into our regular bedtime routine. After we pulled the boys out of the tub Z whisked C off to his room to get him dressed and I stayed with T in the bathroom. I brushed his teeth then he brushed his teeth. I brushed his hair. He was wiggling with excitement because it was time for me to lift him so he could take a gander at himself in the mirror. I think it is one of the highlights of his existence and we hadn’t done it for three days. He really enjoys what he sees and that delight in himself thrills me.

Mirrors have been my enemy for so long. When I walk down the street I avert my eyes and don’t glance at my reflection in the building windows. I don’t look up in the bathroom mirror much. It is easier to ignore my face instead of sneaking a peak only to spend the next 10 minutes tearing apart my physical appearance in my head. So if my little man digs on his reflection I will hold him up so he can see his freshly brushed hair every damn night.

He sighed with pleasure at the sight of himself. Looked for a moment and with an enormous amount of sass hollered, “I’m BACK!”

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Monday morning C started fussing at 6:30. After silently celebrating the fact that we got to sleep in an extra 30 minutes I stumbled to the bathroom to have a pee before heading into C’s room. A moment later I heard T open his door and head down the hall towards me. T stopped right in front of me, his little legs almost touching my knees, “I have to pee.” Me, “Well you are going to have to hold it because as you can see I am currently peeing.”

We stared at each other for a while. My bladder was really full. And then I let one rip. This fart. It was amazing. Like 5 seconds long (which doesn’t sound like a lot, but really count to 5, that is l-o-n-g for a fart) and amplified by the toilet bowl and really very flappy sounding. It was a thing of beauty. It was a work of art. T burst out laughing. I joined him feeling rather proud of myself. Suddenly he stopped and looked at me with deadly seriousness. “That wasn’t me.”

dark side

Grandma and Grandpa came bearing gifts. Seems the boys have turned to the dark side.

racoon monster

My happy raccoon and suspicious monster.

no stitch

Hey smart friends! You guys rock! Took your advice and ate two bananas, drank a shitload of water, did a bunch of stretches, puffed on my albuterol inhaler and jogged this morning without a stitch. My side felt tender, almost bruised. And I did walk for about .2 of the total 2 miles. During that walk I pinched the hell out of the stitch area and bent over a bit. So I used all of the advice and it really worked. Thank you for your help!

Even More Questions For My Smart Friends

Question One

Woke up on the mend health-wise. The boys even let us sleep in until 6:30, so Z and I were scrambling a bit to start the day. In order to save time I didn’t do my usual stretches before heading out the door for my jog. Ok, so my chest still is a bit tight. I might have hacked up a violently yellow and nearly solid luggie (sorry) and blown an alarming amount of snot out of my nose. But really, I am feeling better than I was. And I did skip an extra day of jogging to I could recuperate.

So smart exercising friends of mine, can you tell me why I developed the worst stitch of my life about a tenth of a mile in? At first I thought I would just slowly jog through the pain (located on the right side about a third of the way up between my pelvis and bellybutton). Less than half a mile along I found myself walking even though I was very clearly telling my body to stop being a baby and continue jogging. The pain started to ease a bit, but I knew Z was late to work already and I couldn’t add a bunch of extra time to my work out. At about .6 of a mile I turned around and headed home, rather horrified by my defeat. Halfway home I tried jogging again, did not make it far before the stitch came back and the sharp pain was too much. Walked the rest of the way with my tail between my legs. What the fuck, smart friends? Was it skipping stretching? Still being a little sick? This is my first stitch since starting the exercising. And at the beginning I was drinking a huge cup of coffee before heading out. I’m pissed, kind of embarrassed, and I really don’t want this to happen tomorrow.

Question Two

Hey smart friends who are shampoo free! Hi there fellow hair hippies! Here’s the deal. November will mark two years since I’ve stopped using shampoo. While the baking soda/apple cider vinegar combo is not perfect I’ve been happier with it than I have with regular shampoo and conditioner. And I have really loved getting into the habit of only washing once or twice a week. Until I started exercising almost three months ago. When I exercise I sweat. Like a whore in church. Who has just jogged two miles. My hair is wet and gross and just rinsing with water does not cut it. I jog five days a week so suddenly I am using baking soda/apple cider vinegar 5 days. And my hair feels disgusting. I’ve tried less baking soda and less vinegar. Still gross. My hair feels like it has a film on it and it is really dull. What gives? I am so close to throwing in the towel and going back to shampoo and conditioner. Because if I need to choose between the two it is the shampoo free that is going to go.

Sorry for the selfish and boring “help me!” post. Picking up my parents at the airport this afternoon, so posting is going to be on the light side this week. Not that no posts over here is going to be crushing to anyone, just thought I’d provide the info….

daddy home

Look who’s home. He forgot to pack a razor and didn’t shave for the whole trip. Looked like a stranger when he got home.

nothing to see here

The face of a child who has been up to no good.

piano percher

Perching on the piano. No pants, of course.

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Here’s the hair unfiltered. Also not really combed and not fully dry from my shower, but personal grooming is not my forte. I’m super excited about the new sweater I’m wearing, though. Yay JCrew clearance sales for 75% off the original price! Yay trompe l’oeil! Yay Peter Pan collars!

Personality Flaws

Deep down, ok, so not so deep down I am a small person. I am jealous, I hold onto grudges, I am hateful, I am judgemental. It is ugly and honest and true. Did you hurt me a decade and a half ago? Did you hurt someone I love? I remember. Are you successful? My first impulse is to feel sorry for myself before I can be glad for you. Did you lash out because you are hurting? I struggle to have compassion for you even though I do the same thing. I wonder why you can’t just be happy for others even if I can’t do it myself.

Imagine being married to me. Z knows I can recite a novel worth of anger and hurt at a moment’s notice. Fifteen years is a long time to hold on to shit, I truly want to just let it all go.

Yesterday was a rough one. T is acting out a lot at home, which is particularly frustrating because he was doing so well a few weeks ago. Then school started, and while we are grateful that he loves it so much the reality is it tires him so completely that he has trouble holding himself together on the homefront. Thursday morning Z was trying to spend a little time with him and T was being a dick. Z was exasperated, “I am leaving for four days! Please pull yourself together and be nice for a few minutes!” Didn’t happen.

Bedtime was a little late because we went to our friends’ for dinner. T and C were the only kids there which put a spotlight on their rude and destructive behavior in my mind. Social anxiety is a big problem for me. It isn’t fair to them at all, in fact it is shitty parenting, but when I am struggling with anxiety and they are being normal little kids it is humiliating to me. Yes, I’m working on it so that isn’t what they end up discussing in therapy 20 years from now. (It also isn’t fair to my friends. We were with our closest friends in Syracuse, the ones who we trust to watch our boys overnight. They invited us because they wanted us there. The anxiety is incredibly ungracious.)

Finally, finally I left T’s room just gone 8:30 pm. Two minutes later I was taking my nightly pills-vitamin, fish oil, allergy/asthma, birth control, crazy person and he opened his door. I was done. It wasn’t my finest moment, but I yelled at him. So he told me he was mad at me. I asked him if this was really how he wanted to leave it for the night, with us furious at each other. I was crying by that point. He said he did want to leave it that way, so I flounced out of that room shaking with anger.

Back in the bathroom I looked at myself in the mirror. Was this really what I was going to do? Let my anger at a four year old dictate my behavior? I knew I was small, but was I really that small? Was I going to let him go to sleep knowing I was royally pissed off at him? He had been a shit all day, but I hadn’t done that well in the behavior department. Why did I have the right to punish him with my chilly disappointment and anger? What the fuck was wrong with me?

When I opened his door his eyes were open. I crossed the room and stroked his hair off his face. “I am sorry I was so angry at you. I love you. I will always love you no matter what. And I should not have lost my cool.”

“I love you, too, Mommy.” I hugged him hard.

“I love you so much.”

“And Mommy? I’m also sorry you were so angry at me.”

Ok. Not the apology I was hoping for. But perhaps the one I deserved.

A babysitter will be here in four and a half hours. I’m not going to lie, I cannot fucking wait. The weekends when I have the boys on my own are awful for me not just because of their behavior, but because of how I handle them. It puts a spotlight on the fact that I am not the Mom I want to be. I want to breeze through 4 days with a smile on my face, I hate that I am resentful and need a break and count hours until bedtime.

Parenthood has made my personality flaws as obvious to me as they are to the rest of the world. I don’t much like what I see. It was a hard weekend. I’m still freaking out about the homework I haven’t done and the house which was clean when Z left, but is now a disaster and the fact that my parents will be here to visit our little shitshow tomorrow afternoon.

Yet parenting is the best thing that could have happened to me as a human being. It’s shown me what my weaknesses are. And it might be a tiny thing, but walking back into T’s room last night was huge for me. It was a step towards being a better person. I mean, I’ve got a marathon to go in the better person department, I wish that I didn’t have so far to go because the ones who will suffer are my boys, but I’ve gotta start somewhere.

I hate today

This morning did not get off to a very good start.

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For the last few days I’ve had the first cold since my exercising experiment began. Friday I felt like shit, but managed to do my two miles in a respectable amount of time without throwing up. Usually I go early morning, with Z gone I went after I dropped the boys at school. Was feeling worse on Saturday, so took the whole weekend off instead of just one day. My body needed the rest. Trying not to feel terribly guilty about it. I’m scared if I start skipping days that I’ll quit. I hate still jogging, but for some reason it has become hugely important for me to do this. I really don’t want to quit.

Idiot

Some dickweek cut me off while I was pulling into Wegmans this morning. I showed what I thought was supreme restraint in front of the boys by wildly gesturing without using my middle finger and yelling, “YOU ARE AN….IDIOT!”

T, “What does idiot mean?”

Me, “Um. Well, it’s a bad word that grown ups sometimes use. I shouldn’t have said it and I don’t want you to say it.”

T, “Ok. But what does it mean?”

Me, “It means not smart.”

T, “Why did you say it? I think that was a nice guy!”

Wow. Way to have my back little man.

Me, “He was most certainly not a nice guy! I was driving responsibly with my two boys in the car and he did something extremely dangerous. Listen dude, I care about you and your brother so much that I will get very angry anytime anyone does something that could hurt you.”

T, “Oh…..Then he was an idiot.”

Me, “Yes he was. But seriously, if you use that word again I’m not getting you a cupcake.”

The boys got me up at 6am on the dot. We have been to the bank, the farmer’s market, the grocery store, and the local pizza place. I have not bathed. I am sick with a gross cold. Z won’t get home till tomorrow night. Please wish me and my tenuous grasp on sanity good luck for the rest of the weekend.

c ready for bed

I tend to get flustered, oh…basically all the time, but specifically when I put both boys to bed. Last night I was rushing around and burst into C’s room to read to him. Seems he calmly got started without me.

playdoh transformers

The two on the left are autobots and the two on the right are decepticons. The outside ones are in robot mode and the inside ones are in vehicle mode. All made by him.

From Sixty To Zero

It looked like I had a stomach bug. After dinner I apologized and told Z I needed to lie down.

Lately I’ve developed a stupid little habit. I play solitaire until I win on my phone and then I go to sleep. There was only an hour and a bit until the boy’s bath time when I retreated to our room. I was nauseous, my bowels were in an uproar, I was achy and exhausted.

For 45 minutes I played the damn game of solitaire, losing over and over, drifting off to sleep mid move only to jerk awake moments later. Finally, finally I completed a game and immediately fell asleep for 20 minutes.

Why didn’t I just stop? It was stupid. It was pointless. In the light of day I realize that. Hell, I realized it while I was playing last night. But the voice in my head was louder, the voice of the anxiety. The bitch that tells me I am worthless. Last night she told me if I didn’t finish the game something catastrophic would happen. It was life and death. I was not allowed to escape the terror of the anxiety–because I don’t have a stomach bug, it was a particularly violent and sudden panic attack–by slipping into sleep until I won the damn game. Something terrible would happen if I just let myself sleep. I don’t even want to type the thoughts that went through my head. I don’t want to make them that real. So I followed the bizarre and arbitrary and always changing rules set up by my anxiety. I played until I won. I robbed myself of the relief of sleep for three quarters of an hour.

It was the worst panic attack I’ve had for a while.

Z left this morning for a trip to Maine. The last time he did a trip with this particular group the boys and I got a stomach bug. My class is ramping up and I have two large assignments due next week. But I’m solo with the boys until Sunday night so I’m worried about getting the stuff done. My parents arrive on Monday. The house is a mess. I don’t know how I’m going to spend any time with my folks if I need to do schoolwork. C’s first speech therapy session is this afternoon. In the messy house. Do they report you to child services if your kids live in filth? I have class today. I am trying to figure out how to go running while Z is out of town. I just signed up for a 5K.

It’s all regular stuff. I just need to plod through deal with life like every other person on this planet does. And I’ve got it better than the vast majority of people. Which is why I find the anxiety so humiliating. My life is pretty easy. Why can’t I hack it?

Life is better than it used to be. I figured out I was having a panic attack last night before Z pointed it out to me. I understand why it happened. When the anxiety tells me I’m getting a bit too big for my britches, when she tries to bring me down a peg by informing me there is no way in hell I can do a 5K or get my homework done or survive without Z for 4 days I now know it isn’t the truth. I know she is trying to sabotage me. Still, it’s hard not to believe her.

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Five years ago this kind of anxiety would send me to bed for a full day. Ten years ago I’d be in a tailspin that might last for weeks or a month. These days I figure out what is going on within the hour. I feel angry and scared and frustrated and weak. And then I take the boys to school. I write for a bit. I tidy the house. I pick them up. I go to class. I tidy some more. I do the therapy session with C. I make dinner. I take the boys to the bakery for dessert. I write a pissy status update on FB. I put the boys to bed. I finish writing this. For the most part I’m meeting my obligations. Not with grace or willingness or awesome parenting. But I’m meeting them.

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Had to delete a bunch of photos from my phone to make room for the new ios today. How about a little #TBT from when I first got my phone? Jesus, do I ever miss this little baby.

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And this toddler. Back when we were potty training. I can tell because kid is naked.

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This guy has stayed pretty much the same for the last year and a half. Sorry to get sappy, but I find him to be completely delicious.