I am more than the sum of my parts

It’s been a while since I’ve written. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say. It’s that I had too much to say and no words to say it with.

I’ve been grappling with an unfortunate reality that women are judged and valued in pieces. Not just by men. Everyone does this. I look around at billboards with just a stomach or thighs showing, advertising an ideal body and a less than ideal way to obtain perfection. I look at memes saying that you should always take a gal swimming on the first date because her face may not be as perfect as the paint-job implies. I hate that one.

We are parceled off by body types and roles. Our appearance is paramount. Our ability to attract a man is more important than our ability to contribute to society as a whole person, or even our ability to just love ourselves for who we are. Either that, or we are expected to be sainted mothers who sacrifice everything for their families and leave nothing left for themselves. We’re allowed to martyr ourselves for others and then when we hit the wall, we are chastised for not doing any “self-care”. It’s impossible to please.

Women aren’t human.

That’s the long and short of things, right?

I am here for your pleasure and criticism. I am here purely to please others. If I dress to “provocatively” I am asking for men to comment, ogle, or even take ownership of. If I don’t get dolled up enough, I am told I need to take better care of my appearance, smile more, or make myself more presentable. My body is not my own. Hell! I can’t even be trusted to make my own healthcare choices.

Sexism is the way the world goes round.

A woman can be called crazy when she’s justifiably upset and it’s okay. That’s not okay. A woman can be called shrill or bitchy when she is setting and holding personal boundaries and it’s okay. That’s not okay. It’s okay to fault a woman for being too skinny or too large. This is not okay. Just because a woman is intelligent or has an opinion on a matter doesn’t make it okay for her to be called a know-it-all or “opinionated” like it’s a bad thing. Again…not okay. A handful of women can step up and speak out against an abusive man (which takes guts ladies, so remember your courage) and get shot down because the man says they’re lying, or it’s a he said/she said situation, or it’s dismissed as a rumor, a personal matter, or not that big of a deal. THIS IS NOT OKAY! 

And just in case you’re wondering…This isn’t a gender specific problem. Women do this to each other as well. Why? What purpose does it serve to devalue another person? What do you gain when you mock another woman for her appearance? How could you take lightly the abuse or mistreatment of another human being? It’s not a personal matter…it’s a public problem!

I shared an opinion/blog piece on Facebook about instances where men were whistling at, or making inappropriate gestures towards young girls. I stated that we, as parents, need to teach all of our children that this is not okay. This isn’t the girls’ fault and it isn’t okay for anyone to be treated with disrespect. Ya know, basic shit. The only positive responses I received were from other women. Where’s my mantastic support fellas?????

A friend posted an image that said “Men Are Trash” and stipulated that not all men are trash and thanked those that are fighting the good fight, but that women still face a world of trashy men head on, LIKE BOSSES YO, and this needs to change (I’m paraphrasing here but it’s the jist of what she was saying). After several men complained about the unfair generalization, she was reported and had a ban from posting on FB for 24 hours because she “violated community standards”. Seriously. I see posts degrading women ALL. THE. TIME. but a statement like “Men Are Trash” with the comment explaining why it was posted and that not all men are like that, is violating community standards.

The phrase MAN UP comes to mind. That’s supposed to mean get tough, face things head on, and have courage. Frankly I think this is garbage. Nothing is tougher than having to face the world knowing that you are not viewed as a whole person, but instead as parts to be admired or admonished. Nothing is more courageous than to go on living a life, knowing that statistically, you will be assaulted or abused by the weaker of the species who are just trying to drag you down below them.

We need to WOMAN UP and support the half of the population get keeps getting a bum wrap.

Seriously.

 

Translating the unspoken words

I’m a fixer. My playa* name is Ratchet and not because I’m a tool (or maybe I am a tool but that’s a tangent I’m not wanting to get into now.) My fixing skills are usually more of the interpersonal kind. My handyman skills are a mix between MacGyver and the Red Green Show so I usually leave the mechanical stuff to the professionals. My main goal in life is to attempt to leave things better than I found them. If someone is feeling low, I will do what I can to lift their spirits. If someone feels unappreciated, I will try to find a way to show them how valued they are to those around them. I give hugs to strangers if it looks like they need one. I will feed people, lend a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and an extra set of hands to pitch in where ever needed. In the case of Mr. T, I get to act as a mediator and translator on a regular basis. As his mother, I am honored to play this role.

T speaks a language that is so far out from the mainstream that there is a constant stream of misunderstandings that can be devastating to a little person. All of the unwritten rules most people intrinsically know are so foreign to him.  When I am with him I am able to translate. I can guide him around all the ins and outs of social interactions because I had to learn all of these rules myself. I can mediate arguments between peers or family, most of which are caused by a series of misunderstanding and misreading situations. I have 25 years on him so I’m a bit more fluent in NT talk (even if I miss the mark at times).  I cannot always be there to translate the unspoken words so I have to hope T will remember the scripts and take deep breathes when he gets frustrated. T is a 9 year old boy. He doesn’t always remember to change his underwear so remembering coping skills may be asking a lot and remembering social nuance may be too hard right now.

Yesterday went off script for T and he didn’t have the necessary skills needed to improvise. It didn’t end well.

I found him clutching a chain link fence with his filthy fingers, tears and snot running down his face.  His eyes were wild. There was a goose egg forming on his forehead. His shoes tossed to the side, his socks soaked in mud and covered in pine needles, and his favorite pants streaked with dirt and grass stains. There were two police cruisers with their lights on and a troupe of five concerned adults talking about him like he wasn’t there. My boy was lost in translation.

T works tirelessly to fit in with his peers. He is desperate for friendship and acceptance. When a child in his class proclaimed that she isn’t his friend and never was, T felt betrayed. I’m not blaming his classmate. How is she supposed to know that one cruel remark could set of a chain of events that would lead to T streaked with mud and clutching for dear life onto cold links of a fence? She’s just a child doing childish things and reacting to T’s attempts at mimicking “normal” peer interactions. I can’t really blame the well-meaning adults for attempting to calm him down by a soothing touch to his arm or back. Many children love this touch. T isn’t one of them. He needs to prepare for touch so he’s not stimulated in a way that’s uncomfortable or painful for him. I can’t really blame anyone at the school at all. They are all doing their best and they truly care about my son.

If anyone is to blame, it’s me. I blame myself for not  being able to fix this for him. Maybe the countless hours of practice using coping skills and rehearsing what to do with various possible scenarios wasn’t enough. I need to prepare him for the heartbreak that has recently become a daily occurrence. I feel like I’m constantly hitting that proverbial wall and I can’t seem to get around this.

I can’t fix this for him. I can’t stop children behaving like children. I can’t step in each time and remind T to take deep breathes and ask for help. I can’t block the school doors when he gets so overstimulated he runs for the nearest escape hatch. I can’t keep him from hitting his head against the pavement in anger and embarrassment. I can’t stop the hushed tones as strangers point and stare.

All I can do is give T the dignity of asking permission for a hug. I can ask the police to turn off their lights and take a few steps away. I can talk to the teachers and principal who are scared and worried for T’s safety. I can hold T in my arms, pick up his shoes and walk him to the car. I can put ice on his bump, get him clean clothes and wash the dirty ones. I can listen to T as he cries out at the unfairness of the world. I can remind him that he is worthwhile and loved. I can reassure him that things will get easier (even if I don’t always believe this myself). I can do all of this but I cannot fix the world for him.

As a fixer, this is so impossibly hard to accept.

I cannot fix the world for T and T doesn’t need fixing for the world. He is perfect the way he is. He is generous and kind. He is loving. He is artistic. He is so. incredibly. smart. He is also struggling through a world that doesn’t understand his language. This world expects him to change to fit into the NT expectations of him, instead of trying to understand him allowing some grace when he doesn’t get it right. I can mediate, advocate, and translate until I’m blue in the face.  I  just can’t fix it…

…but I’ll do my best to patch up the holes.

*This is part of the Burner scene to have a name used during events or with other Burners that isn’t a legal or given name. It’s like a nickname but shinier.

How do you know when you’re on the mend?

At what point can I say I’m on the mend? I know when I have a cold that I’m headed towards healed when I can breathe again and I don’t need the tissue box next to me at all times. I know when a cut is almost healed when the scab starts shrinking. There are tests for cancer and cures for infections. All sorts of ailments have boxes that get checked and progress milestones that someone can look forward to reaching.

So how can I tell?

I feel like I’m on a deadline to get all fixed up before I become more of a nuisance and less of a patient. I intentionally schedule something each day just so I have to drag myself out of the pillow fort I’ve created and pretend to be a functioning adult. I dread not getting enough done during my day/week/month. I worry my support system will get fed up and say they don’t want to deal with me anymore because I’m taking too long to be “normal”. I’m terrified of the prospects of ending up completely alone because I didn’t hit the marks soon enough.

What do I need to do to show that I’m almost there? When will that be?

I follow the doctors’ orders. I take all the drugs. I do the therapy homework. Yet I slog through the day doing my best to put one foot in front of the other. I make up easy tasks to complete so I can feign productivity. I’m still a far cry from what I know I can do and that frustrates me. I’m still hiding from the world and myself. I still have internal arguments over the benefits of existing verses the cost of weighing down those that I love. My internal mediating voice is getting fed up and my pro-survival voice is getting hoarse.

Why is this taking so. damned. long?

I want a specific road map. I want to know that if I check these boxes and do these tasks that I WILL improve. I want to be able to put a mark on my progress and see exactly how far I have to go. All I really need to know is…

Where do I go from here?

Mole’ Monday – There is something perfect about petting a dog

There is no word that accurately describes how perfect a moment is when I am petting a dog. Any dog really. I prefer to snuggle with my pup, obviously, yet I cannot think of something better to improve my mood than some puppy love. I gave my pup some extra snuggles this morning after I read a news story my husband had sent my way.

A woman lost her life yesterday evening at a dog park my family and I frequent. There was a fast moving stream that swept up her pups and she jumped in to try to save them. The dogs were able to pull themselves out of the fast moving water. She was not. The cold spring water took her life. Now her family and her fur babies have to mourn the loss of a loved one and everyone who witnessed this tragedy need to come to terms with their own experience.

This is a small city. I have probably had conversations with this woman and I have probably pet her pups. Her identity hasn’t been released so I cannot be sure. All I can know for sure is that the world lost someone yesterday. Someone who loved her dogs and her family. Someone who was trying to do a good thing and in her impulsiveness, lost her life.

Give some extra love to your fur babies today. Remind those that you love how much they mean to you. And please don’t jump in the fast moving water, literally or metaphorically. There are people and pups depending on you.

 

It’s not a competition

Funny thing about having various struggles in life; a person can find themselves in a competition they didn’t even know existed. No one wins any real prize. There are very few teams, some occasional walks or 5k’s, and maybe an ice bucket or two. I’m sure y’all have had someone try to compare their stats with yours.

Depressed? Well so-and-so is SO depressed she hasn’t left her bed for six whole months! AND she’s been fighting depression for two whole decades! Clearly that person wins in being depressed, right? Your depression isn’t as real and you have less sadness cred. You now have no room to talk about your struggles because they aren’t nearly as bad as someone else’s. Keep all that to yourself and count those blessings.

Marital issues or blended family problems? Let me tell you a story about this other guy whose ex was. the. worst! She used their kids as spies to overthrow a government in a military coup just to get back at the guy. Or this other lady whose spouse cheated with every single lady on their street and then wrote a book about it. Then he asked her to be his copy editor and that’s how she found out about the rampant infidelity. There is no way your marital or blended family issues could even compare!

Do you have a special needs kiddo? That family over there has four special needs kiddos AND they all have at least three different diagnosis’s EACH! Their family life is so. much. harder. than yours. Their kiddos need more adaptations in school, spend more time and money with medical care, and have more developmental delays than your child. You have no idea how lucky you have it so don’t even try to commiserate. Your family’s hardship doesn’t even compare to theirs so keep all that to yourself and count those blessing because that other family clearly wins.

Chronic medial need? Diabetes, back injury, other mental or physical distress that constantly plagues you and takes up far more of your life than you’d like? There are other people who have it so much worse and you aren’t even close to being in the running for most soul crushing chronic ailment. Stand aside and let others tell you how bad it could be and count your blessings.

At least you aren’t like those other people who have it far worse than you, right?

So who wins?

I hate the “one-up” thing that folks just seem to do. I may find myself doing it too and it drives me crazy! (I can say that because I’ve had experience being crazy…you don’t even know how hard it can be.)

Your shit is still rough. Their shit is still rough. We all have our stuff. Maybe we can just help each other up instead of putting folks down because their struggle isn’t nearly as hard as yours.

At least you don’t have to copy edit your spouses infidelity while your step kids pull off a military coup as a way for their mother to get back at their father. No one can compete with that.

 

All my best ideas come after dark

I swear it…all the best things come to me after I take my night time meds, turn off the light, and get settled into bed. So many things I could write about that would tickle the fancy of folks other than just me, or at least I think it would. Problem being, I forget by the time I can get mobile enough to write it down on some scratch paper on my nightstand.

Apparently my sleep self agreed with this assertion. Unfortunately, my sleep self has horrible handwriting.  I woke up with scribbling all over my arm which could possibly be a message from beyond. Or just the ramblings of an overtired mind. My sleep self also has a sense of humor. Instead of picking the blue inked pen on my nightstand, the ink of choice was a reddish pink ink from the gel pen options next to my adult coloring books. My first thought was that my sleep self was having a rough time and scratching hieroglyphics into my skin. That or the dog got creative in her quest to exact revenge for the haircut forced upon her earlier this week. Thankfully this isn’t the case. I’d have far more ‘splaining to do if it was. (The hubby isn’t super excited about me playing “etch a sketch” on my skin, and Mole’ would have some serious ‘splaining to do if she had the fine motor skills of a preschooler).

Now to figure out what the hell I was trying to say.

G’night folks.

Things I used to be good at and I suck at now

This week has been a rough one for me. I feel like I haven’t seen my husband in ages and I’ve been walking around in a fog. I’m hoping next week will be better. This is my list of everything I currently suck at that used to be relatively easy.

Getting out of bed and staying out of bed for an entire day.

This week has been a real struggle on this one. I truly want to get out in the world and do all the things, or even some of the things. My problem is that my body has decided to pretend that the Earth has the gravitational pull of Jupiter. It’s incredibly difficult to force your physical being to move when each cell is at least 2.36 times its normal weight. Yeah, I looked it up and it seems about right. I can still accomplish the task of dragging myself out of bed but it’s extremely exhausting and by the time I make it all the way down the stairs, I need to rest.

Feeding myself.

I used to dream of food. I loved planning meals, prepping, and creating something that I can savor each bite. Many of my conversations would inevitably end up centered around various dishes and eateries I’d like to try. Now the idea of eating has little to no appeal. I still make dinner for the family but it doesn’t have the same sort of magic it used to have. I blame the medication for this but maybe it’s more than that.

Remembering things.

I was like an elephant and I rarely, if ever, forgot things. Now I can’t keep anything straight and even with my list I have, I forget. I know this is frustrating for the hubby but it’s unbearable for me. I feel like an entirely different person. How am I supposed to find myself if I can’t remember where I put my shoes, let alone my marbles?!?!

Doing more than one thing – at all.

I miss multitasking. I didn’t think that was possible. Considering how difficult it’s been to do the things above, I suppose this isn’t a surprise issue. I hate not being productive all of the time though. I feel completely worthless if I can’t get all the things done all at once. I used to be a competent individual, now I’m crap.

I’m hoping I can eventually get back to being good at things again. Maybe not great at things. I need to have more realistic expectations regarding what I can actually accomplish in the 24 hours each day allots me. But anything has to be better than this.

My son just asked my pup to prom

This is a sweet testament to my son’s innocent nature. When he loves something, it is completely. Sometimes it’s not that clear if he does love or even notices someone and other times it’s with such obvious ferocity that the object of his love can be taken aback. It’s part of his charm. No matter what type of love you receive from him, T feels it. Deeply. One recipient of his more aggressive affection is clearly the dog.

I can’t blame him. Mole’ is pretty darn amazing.

Mr T has a twisted up and mixed around version of what exactly is his relationship with his furry companion. Some days, she’s his baby sister. Others, his best friend. And still others, his worst enemy. She’s been proposed to, screeched at, ridden on, blamed, danced with, sung to, and loved on. She is his everything. She is the perfect pup for him and he is a lot of work for her. Mole’ definitely earns her keep.

T recently overheard a conversation between his cousin and his aunts regarding various school dances, local dress code violations, and of course the cost of Prom dresses and  the elaborate invitations. This sparked his interest in all things Prom. When do you go? What is the point of it? Who goes to this Prom? Does everyone need to borrow pants to go, or is it just the girls?

After what seems like an almost hopeless attempt at answering his questions, T seemed content with my explanation. Immediately after that – Mole’ received her first invitation to Promenade. I suppose, considering T is only in the third grade, I have time to budget for her gown. I also suppose I have some time to convince T that pups don’t commonly attend formal high school dances.

Just in case…what do you suppose the dress code is for a four-legged friend?

But that’s what I’ve always done.

I told my therapist that I started the blog. She told me I needed to write down my thoughts and feelings so I could process things. I did. Apparently she wanted something a bit more private. I suppose I may have missed exactly what the point was. In the conversation about my last few weeks (which is WAY too long of a stint between sessions according to every doctor I see) and how I handled all the things, I thought she’d be pleased that I was actually writing things down and reviewing each post and making adjustments/edits.

We talked about how stressed I was with the birthday prep, finally getting results from a biopsy, Spring break, Mr. T, the Cleaver affect, the usual stuff. We had the talk about my self-care and exactly what I was doing. When she asked about my sewing – I didn’t get around to it. My sleep? I’ve been researching survival gear for the post-apocalyptic shit show that I’m positive will happen within the next four years…who has time for sleep? Exercise? Does following kids around to pick up messes count? No. It doesn’t. So why am I so exhausted with life? Oh yeah..that self care bit. Oops.

I did spend time with family. I love them and that’s important to me. But holidays and birthdays are a lot of work and I usually overdo things and spread myself thin trying to please all the people. Apparently that’s not self-care. It’s what I’ve always done.

I did make sure that my boys felt loved and had the support they needed to navigate recess politics, or birthday blues, or just the pains of growing up with a sibling. I may have forgotten to build in some quiet space for me. Apparently that’s not self-care. It’s what I’ve always done though.

I did spend time with friends. I dearly love my friends. They are amazing human beings that make this world we live in a better and brighter place to be. I may have also scheduled that time with them into already over-packed days because I don’t want to say no to any one of them and I do want to get a chance to give them all my hugs and attention. I just adore these folks and it’s not that often we get together. It just happens to happen all at once. Considering the amount of effort it takes to get up and out of bed some days, this isn’t necessarily good self-care.  But it’s what I’ve always done.

I did make sure to go “off duty” with the kiddos a couple of times this weekend so that Daddio could take the reigns and do the mantastic stuff boys need from their dad (or bonus dad). I tend to take over a bit much with the parenting and it’s good for me to step back and know that just because it’s not always done my way, it doesn’t make it wrong. That’s a step in the right direction, right?

I did decline a couple of invitations or reschedule things, even though I REALLY wanted to go and participate in the fun, see the show, and make the music. Those things would have been wonderful and I do feel sad for missing out. I also needed to add in some down-time so that I didn’t get over-stimulated and completely shut down. That’s a step in the right direction, right?

According to my therapist, my writing this blog and then editing those thoughts to fit what I’m comfortable sharing with the world isn’t allowing me to check my thought trends and applaud my progress. I’ll have to think on this.

I do see where she’s coming from though.

I need to edit my processes and not my thoughts. But that’s not something I’ve always done. I can edit work processes to create efficiency and order. I can edit parenting processes to encourage growth and self-esteem while teaching kindness and respect. I just seem to have a rough time re-programming my own personal processes. I suppose this is the whole point to getting some professional help. That’s a step in the right direction, right?

I guess doing what I’ve always done took me down a dark and somewhat unhealthy path.

But that’s what I’ve always done.

Mole’ Monday – What to do when your best friend is mad at you, and other poodle problems.

A couple of times a year, Mole’ goes from the most Muppety of pups to a pretty pretty princess and she hates it. With. a. PASSION. If she wouldn’t make it so hard to keep her moppy hair all nice and kept up, we would only shave her down for the Summer. Since she thinks brushing time should take a couple of hours and reenact Wrestle Mania, we have to shear her down more frequently.

I just picked her up from the groomers and now she won’t talk to me. She won’t look at me. She won’t give me hugs. Nothing. She did this last time too. I thought it was the bows. She hated the bows, so no bows this time.  Still mad. I thought maybe it was the super fluffed ears. Nope. No fluffy ears and still mad.  Maybe it was the flag tail that I couldn’t stop laughing at. Once again, not it. Still pissed. We did a simple shave with a nice afro and a lion tail.  Nothing too fancy.  She is going out of her way to throw shade my direction. She’ll give Mr. T loves, bring him her toys, follow him around, the usual business. Me? She actually turned her back on me while I was dishing up her dinner. She’s actually laying on MY bed, using MY pillow, and she is GLARING at me. When I turn my head to look at her, or when I say her name, she turns her head AND shoulders away from me.

I guess she’s not fond of forced nudism.

I guess I don’t blame her.

In a couple of days or maybe a couple of weeks she’ll forgive me. For now? My best friend is mad at me and she looks so cute when she’s angry.

UPDATE: 

I found her hiding under my very modern, very low bed. This is the look she gave me.

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