Please open your Bibles to the second book of Scentapotamus, chapter 3, and read with me,
“Thou shalt not release acidic flatulence whilst participating in a church service.”
It has come to my attention that some church-goers have a moral failing in the area of gastric abstinence.
Are we all human? Yes! Does everyone pass gas at one point or another? Yes! It is part of our humanness, our biology, our need to digest potato chips, beans and broccoli.
But let us not forget our fellow humans, our compatriots in this earthly race. Releasing the SBDF (Silent But Deadly Fart) in the company of strangers, particularly within the confines of a church service and pew, places an unfair burden on our friends who struggle to cast off the mortal coil.
There is nowhere for the innocent bystander to escape. They are caught in your web of fluffer-doodle, trying to maintain a sanctimonious and worshipful attitude while covering their nose with a bulletin, regretful it is not a scented Kleenex or an oxygen mask fed by Axe deodorant spray.
While our Heavenly Father understands and forgives the release of toxic aromas (knowing and loving us despite our disgrace and sin), there is a need to throw off our selfishness, our lack of self-control, and our disrespect for others. Spiritual maturity is gained while holding the stink within your abdominal cavity until it can be freed in an appropriate environment: the bathroom, outside where the air is fresh and clean, or in the sanctity of your solitude.
In the meantime: hold the southerly wind.
To you naysayers out there, who fear intrinsic intestinal damage at the suppression of the stink bomb, may I remind you:
Every time you spew an air biscuit in public, an innocent kitten dies.
Please. Consider the kittens.
This post was originally published May 4, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
In fact, I’m pretty sure I was using “groovy” in the late 90s, which means I was at least two decades behind on that particular phrase.
I sent my first text message in 2008. Wikipedia says the first text message sent was in 1992, so you do the math on how far behind the curve I was on that one.
Because I’m so un-cool, it takes me awhile to figure things out. (For the record, I’ve never “gotten” the scarf phase or a Snugli. There’s nothing wrong with this… just haven’t figured out how to get on board.) For example, it took me two days to decode the “c u l8r” text message from a friend.
I’ve become used to being naive in some areas, so it took me months and months to actually Google the “fml” tag I saw on so many facebook posts. Now, boy, do I wish I hadn’t figured it out.
Not only do I now have a curse word I don’t want in my brain every time I see it (come on, I can’t be the only one who un-shortens acronyms when I see them! From the CDC to ttyl, I always read the letters as their whole words), but I’m remembering all the times I’ve seen “fml” on a status update.
Here’s a list of some “fml” references I can remember from the past few months:
Overslept for class.
Car battery dead.
Had to stay late at work because of someone else’s mistake.
Catching a cold.
Neighbor played music all night and sleep was interrupted.
Bank was closed and couldn’t make a deposit.
Kid is teething.
At the risk of being incredibly rude… are these really situations that require a “fml”?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t use the term if the term actually fits the situation. (At that point it’s a matter of taste.) But “fml” gives me the impression there should be something truly awful taking place that far exceeds the experience of the fast food joint being out of Dr. Pepper when that’s what you’ve been craving all day.
Take a look at this poster:
I don’t think we have to compare our hurts with everyone in the world. Our hurts are real and valid.
But is it too much to ask that people not mention the “fml” without taking a moment to realize they’re updating their status on a social media platform they only have access to because they’re residents of a country with one of the highest standards of living in the world?
That their smart phone cost more to purchase than families live on in a year in Vietnam? The internet they are connected to works and isn’t monitored by an oppressive government? They don’t live in fear that soldiers could come and legally rape them whenever they choose? That their children and nieces and nephews and neighbors aren’t literally starving to death or dying from diarrhea because they drank unclean water out of thirsty desperation?
Is “fml” really a phrase that should be commonly thrown around? Really?
A friend suggested I start using the phrase “LML” – “love my life.” I think I will. Want to join me?
This post was originally published March 1, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
There’s a little bit of a punk in me. Maybe it’s in you as well?
Because I’m a stinker, sometimes I do things just to get a rise. I guess it’s my way of checking my mental pulse.
One of the ways I do this is to follow blogs and news from sources holding different values than I hold. I’m a firm believer that untested philosophies are worthless, so if I can be challenged to defend my point of view I’m likely going to be more intelligent about my opinion and more likely to convince others I’m right!
(Let’s be honest, it’s all about being right, right??)
I recently read an article about how underutilized the IUD is as a form of birth control. If you’d like to read the entire story, here’s the link.
Here’s this nasty, hard-looking device being promoted as awesome. Forgive me, I like to avoid a plastic anchor being placed into my body just so I won’t possibly be burdened with a child!
What really made my blood boil was the innocently offered statement:
“Today’s options are t-shaped and work by damaging and killing sperm, as well as changing the uterine lining to make it an especially inhospitable environment for little embryos (should the sperm survive).”
I can’t help but become outraged because that’s not just an inhospitable environment for the sperm to survive… that’s a fully viable child that’s being destroyed because the fertilized egg can’t implant!
When I think about the absolute magic that comes with childbearing and the odds against a child being conceived and carried to term it makes me incredibly sad that so many people make the choice to halt the life of a child based on thoughtlessness and convenience.
(In case you haven’t figured out, I believe life starts at conception, the moment that little sperm hits that little egg and fireworks erupt.)
Going cold turkey with birth control isn’t a viable option for most people, I realize. After all, I am pro-child but fully terrified of ending up living in an asylum for small children à la Dugger-style.
I didn’t want to be on the birth control pill anymore but I didn’t want to practice free lovin’ either. I didn’t like the hormones of the Pill and I didn’t like learning that during each year I had been on the Pill I had likely conceived three times but my body had created an “especially inhospitable environment” and flushed that baby out.
While there were definitely other options available I wanted something that was easy, logical and effective. (And not so messy, either. Because I’m a sissy and don’t like messes.)
At the time I was exploring options for birth control a friend passed on a very valuable resource, here it is.
My friend told me about the book Love and Fertility published by the Family of the Americas Foundation. The explanation of this method is logical, easy to understand, and it also helped me understand my own body.
For us, it has been 100% effective.
So I’d like to share it with you. I hope this makes you at least think of birth control options – and perhaps take a chance on going natural!
(I recommend buying the book from the Family of the Americas Foundation. I included the link to the book on Amazon.com just because I thought you might enjoy reading the comments.)
This post was originally published May 23, 2011 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
(Caveat Emptor, I haven’t read this book, just the review of it by Lamott. And what I did read of the interview told me there would be several philosophical items I wouldn’t embrace.)
Rouche’s face was severely disfigured by a tumor as a youngster. He’s now in his 60s; he’s spent a lifetime presenting his face to a public that fears, scorns, and judges him. And he’s come through it with a pretty amazing philosophy about life.
Rouche believes he’s blessed, that his ugly is external and clearly evident, giving him no reason to try to be fake to fool the people around him. He looks at people and sees how hard they try to hide their imperfections to present an attractive image.. and feels relief that he’s not in their shoes.
If we’re honest with ourselves, I think we all acknowledge there are hurt, scarred and ugly pieces woven in with the character traits and brilliant decisions we claim with pride. So what do we do with those unsavory bits?
Do we hide them? Pretend they aren’t there? Live in fear others will find out? Worry that the love of the people around us is conditional and can’t accept our flaws?
Even though we know no one is perfect, we tend to glance around at others, see their “highlight reels,” and assume we are lacking. Our brains and our hearts are at war over insecurity.
This concept has haunted me for several weeks, since I read an article about a middle school dance offering a VIP lounge for the attendees. One student’s mother, Marcy Magiera, wrote a blog post condemning the idea… and I can’t get a few of her sentences out of my mind:
“Let’s face it, any middle school is a pit of roiling emotions and hormones, where awkwardness abounds and everyone–even the most popular kids–are struggling on some level to fit in. To figure out, even, who they want to fit in with. There are already invisible velvet ropes aplenty, segregating the popular kids, the smartest kids, the jocks.”
Doesn’t that resonate with you?
The desire to fit in is so evident in our children. I can watch my six-year-old adopt the mannerisms of those she esteems… it’s easy to see her learn to copy and seek approval.
We don’t grow out of that need to fit in. We just learn how to disguise its desperation. As adults we become better at playing off the miming we do.
As adults, we see and respond to the invisible ropes, separating image from authenticity, making us believe if we dare show our true self we will be humiliated, despised, shunned.
But, really, what are we so worried about?
If a friend came to us with the exact struggle, scar, and hurt we bear, wouldn’t we treat them with love and grace? So why are we unwilling to accept they would love on us… “despite” our issue?
In so many ways, I think Roche has nailed disfigurement on the head. We all fight battles. His are forcibly truthful… most of ours… require exposed bravery.
I prefer authenticity to a cover up. I believe it tears the invisible ropes apart.
What do you prefer?
This post was originally published July 2, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Do you watch the Olympics and wonder where you fall on the spectrum of exceptionalism?
Not that there’s a lot of attraction for me in prancing around in a bedazzled gymnastics leotard or running, running, running in circles around an arena for 30+ minutes (athletics not being my strong calling in life), but there is an utter fascination I have for watching a fellow human being excel to the level of an Olympian.
In my own arena I am competitive, I want to be noticed, to have a story my children tell their children, to leave a legacy that will be noted as unusual and inherently useful.
I don’t think I’m unusual in that desire.
I also don’t think I always set myself up for success. Sometimes the lure of the sofa, of that extra episode of The Bachelor or Wipeout, or that difficult conversation that has to take place before the next step of progress… well, those obstacles crop up and it’s easier to embrace mediocrity, go with the flow, or relax a little.
Too much of that and you realize you never swam out to meet your ship coming in.
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” Randy Pausch, Last Lecture. (Here’s the You Tube link for this quote, the video is 76 minutes long. I listened to the audiobook with Lizard on a cross-country journey. Both of us were changed. Really.)
There are times I wake up to four little faces and feel completely overwhelmed by this life I’m living. I always knew I wanted to be a mother and have a larger family, but I also had a strong desire to be the president of a university, a published and successful author, and a secular, feminine success story.
These children’s faces, they crowd out my other dreams and make me wonder at what point I’ll come to my senses, realize four children is an insanely, irresponsibly large number of children for any family? (Much less a family whose birther is a woman who doesn’t rank highly on the maternal aptitude test?!)
I’m not up to this challenge. It’s messy. It’s exhausting. It’s rewarding, but it’s not always pretty. Yet it’s also more important, long-term, than anything else I can conceive, any figurative gold medal that can be hung from my neck.
We all love our stories of ridiculous success, the Michael Phelps, the Secretariat. We love tales of greatness that make our throats close and eyes mist with inspiration while stirring music plays in the background.
But in searching for our own BIG story, we tend to forget the greatness in our everyday, in the willingness to make irrational sacrifices of consistency are what make up success. We ignore or forget the truth that every success story looks hard, ugly and — in some lights — broken before they become worthy of soul-stirring musical accompaniment.
Yet success stories don’t ever look like quitters. Because the little, everyday, consistent choices create a story titled “Exception.”
No television cameras were there for Michael Phelps’ early morning practices day in and day out. No one was applauding his mom while she figured out how to feed that kid massively high calorie meals on the vague guess that the potential and passion she saw in her son would come to fruition and be rewarded with golden medallions on a world-wide stage.
I’ve been reading posts of parents sending their kids to school this morning. I suppose it’s the first day of a month of various first days of school.
What are these kids being taught about success? That it’s only for the fortunate few, those gifted with athletic ability, uncommon intelligence or unusual moxie?
Or are they being taught that success in any arena is the result of courage and repetitive hard-fought, smelly, sticky, sweaty, unreasonable effort?
They’re being taught what you believe to be true because they’re watching you find your BIG story.
So. What are you going to do with that?
This post was originally published August 6, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Every once in awhile I get a wee bit of the devil in me, don’t we all?!
Admittedly, when the devil crops up in my life, my poor husband is usually the recipient. Tonight, inspired by this blog post, I want to share a few things that will likely inspire ire in your spouse.
1. Wake them up at dawn by singing the fight song of your college alma mater.
2. Eat chips in bed… on their side.
3. Leave cabinet doors open at eye level, begging for their head to be smashed.
4. Spend a lot of time on the toilet, the sacrosanct room of the house. But make sure you bring your smart phone to play Words with Friends or check status updates.
5. Place Saran Wrap over the toilet seat before going to bed at night.
6. Put yogurt in the mayonnaise jar but forget to mention the swap.
7. Sell possessions they brought into the marriage on Craig’s List.
8. Ask if you can talk during critical moments of television time.
9. Cry. Inexplicably. Just cry. Get it all out.
10. Order a different beverage than they order, then drink all of their beverage.
11. Leave the bathroom door cracked open while they shower.
12. Take the batteries out of the remote control. Ask them to fix it for you.
13. Put a rubber band around the handle on the kitchen sink spray nozzle. Point it towards the front of the sink and wait for them to turn on the water.
14. Reverse their contact lenses in the case.
15. Switch around the contacts on their phone. Exchange their best friend’s name for their parent’s.
16. Fill the mail box with ping pong balls or packing nuts. Ask them to get the mail for you.
17. Remove the plastic bags from cereal boxes and switch them around. Leave them wondering why Cheerios came out of a box of Lucky Charms.
18. Take some nail polish and coat a bar of soap with it. Let it dry. Then put it in the bathroom shower. When they try to use it, they will go nuts trying to get it to lather up.
19. Barely unscrew the lightbulb in their nightstand. Repeatedly.
20. Hide a large inflatable or scarecrow-type item behind the shower curtain.
For the record, I was born missing the “fun” gene. So, while I tend to think teasing my husband is great fun, I get mad when he turns these pranks around on me.
So I’ve learned not prank him. Because he always gets me back… worse. And then I get angry and that’s not awesome for marital harmony. So use your best judgement for your own relationship and don’t blame me for the consequences.
If all these pranks and annoying goodies are making you feel badly about how you treat your significant other, then take a gander over here to get some ideas of how to really love your mate.
In the meantime, what ideas do you have for annoying your spouse or playing an innocent prank on them?
This post was originally published September 28, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
A few weeks ago a friend asked if I would write about being inadequate.
I’ve been waiting for the right words to appear. Partially out of respect to my friend and wanting to do the topic justice, partly because I fight feelings of inadequacy on a daily basis.
Something happened to make today The Day to respond to my friend’s request.
I followed click through to click to discover this post over at The Douglass Diaries. As I read I realized I was looking at something profound, something beautiful and something agonizing all at the same time. Her post was inspired by this post by Single Dad Laughing.
Take a minute to click through and read both posts.
Sunday morning I spent an hour in an upscale mall drinking a cup of coffee and trying to sort out what’s happening in my life; my priorities, my motivations, my hurts, my surrenders, my successes, my failures. As I was grappling with my internal stuff I watched women walk by who made me grieve.
They looked beautiful.
They looked fake.
And, based on the conversations I heard, they didn’t seem to know there was more going on in the world than a tantalizing discussion of their friend who just purchased a Jimmy Choo handbag.
I was offended by those women because I sensed they didn’t want to struggle with all the complexity life serves up. Because even from a distance of 25 feet I could scent their facade.
Because even though they were physically arresting and carried themselves with confidence, they aren’t perfect. But instead of acknowledging that, they covered it up with long, straight hair, manicured fingernails, and wedge heels.
Later I read these posts and realized I’m craving people who can be real. Not raw, but real. I want people around me who can look me straight in the eyes and say, “Yep. This part we’re in right here, yep, it sucks. But we can move forward and the future will be stronger, more pure, more meaningful than what you’re experiencing right now. And remember this other stuff? Isn’t it amazing?!”
When I write here I do my best to be real, not raw. I try to share the quirky bits of life so we can all get a chance to smile.
But I’m not perfect, I don’t think I have the most perfect life ever. It’s fun for me to take topics and twist the words so it sounds humorous… but the reality is many days I write with sarcasm because if I don’t I’ll likely pull my hair out or do my best to get a one-way ticket to an undisclosed location.
All this to say…
Read those posts. This one and this one. It won’t take you long. Then come back over here and help me answer this question:
Can StealingFaith be about acknowledging the real? Can we build a community over here of people who are flawed but still able to accomplish great things? Do you want to be a part of a community where we can celebrate each other’s successes and grieve together, but never lose hope for an intentional and glowing future?
Because I want that. I want to see my own failures and losses and still have the courage to stand tall because I know we are people who are learning to love unconditionally. I want to love unconditionally. I want to recognize my imperfections but refuse to wallow in them.
This is me … asking the good people of the world to find somebody to put their arm around and be “real”. This is me, wishing that people would realize how beautiful they are, even with all of their imperfections. This is me, sad and desperate for the girls in this world to love themselves. This is me, a very imperfect man, trying to help others feel a little more perfect by asking you to act a little less perfect.
Will you help me spread “Real”? Tell us below just how perfect you aren’t. You never know who might be alive tomorrow because you were real today. You never know who needs to feel like they aren’t alone in their inability to be perfect. Even if you comment as an anonymous guest, please comment. Tell us what you struggle with. Tell a sad or dark secret. Get vulnerable. Get real.
Will you be brave today? Will you be real? Your ability to state your struggle out loud could be the key to changing someone else’s life. I know these other posts have changed mine. Will you accept the Imperfection Challenge, leave a comment and tell just how perfect you aren’t?
This post was originally published October 17, 2011 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Have you ever found yourself in the spiral of hopelessness?
Earlier this week I revisited a piece of writing by Viktor Frankl, Experiences in a Concentration Camp. Frankl writes honestly of his time in what most of us of would consider a living hell — and how he walked through with his sanity intact.
I love his writing for several reasons. One, I have first-hand experience of postpartum depression and situational resentment/distress and I need the reminders that there is hope. Two, Frankl writes with practical roadmarkers that anyone can apply to their life!
Here you have it, then, practical, applicable ways to step out of the cycle of hopelessness* and regain your zest for life:
1. Take your thoughts captive. Frankl writes of his obsession with what to do to make his daily life better, should he trade a cigarette for a bowl of soup, how could he get a piece of wire to replace a broken shoestring? “I became disgusted with the state of affairs which compelled me, daily and hourly, to think of only such trivial things. I forced my thoughts to turn to another subject.”
Our thoughts on the spiral of hopelessness may not be so survival-oriented as Frankl’s, but they can be obsessive and unproductive. Intervene in the obsession. Try addiction breakers, like wearing a rubber band on your wrist and snapping it whenever you catch yourself in the thought mode.
A key component is to go a step farther than simply stopping the thought – replace it with something. Repeat a phrase/verse that has significance to you. When my mom was in emergency surgery I found myself repeating the words to a child’s song over, and over, and over again. (“My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do!”)
2. Give thanks. Being thankful in circumstances no one would choose is crazy, right? It is. But is also works. This spring I’ve read Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts. It’s changed my entire philosophy of thankfulness to list the gifts I have in my life — especially what she terms the “Ugly/Beautiful.”
Similar to the lyrics in Laura Story’s song, Blessings, Voskamp writes, “That which tears open our souls… may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond.”
Start a list of the grand and practically invisible good things in your life – don’t stop until you’ve found 1,000. See where your thought process is at that point.
3. Recognize there are tasks only you can do. The spiral of hopelessness causes people to feel alone and insignificant. That’s simply not true. Yes, other people can probably do your job. No one can replace your personality and your ability.
Frankl goes all JFK, (“ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”) on us for awhile by writing, “We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life — daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and mediation, but in right action and right conduct.”
You have something you were specifically designed to do. Period. It may be great, it may be small, it may be pleasurable, it may be distasteful. You and only YOU, were created to do it well and with dignity.
Frankl acknowledges something I absolutely hate, our distinct duty may be ugly: “When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.”
This attitude flies in the face of everything we believe in America about expectations and a take-charge attitude and the prosperity gospel. But it rings true, doesn’t it? (And, FYI, bearing your burden of suffering by committing suicide is NOT admirable. It’s selfish.) Frankl continues by suggesting “getting through suffering” in the same way you might “get through work” at an unpleasant task.
4. Get out of yourself. We are, by nature, selfish little clods of humanity. When left to our own devices we revert to a “me, first!” mentality instead of one of sacrifice. If you’re caught in the spiral of hopelessness, get out of yourself. Donate your time to a literacy program. Volunteer in a food bank. Walk up and down the streets picking up trash. Just Do Something. Do it for no reason other than you’re not doing it for yourself and you receive no physical benefit from the act. Your spirit will change.
5. Figure out your Why. I’m going to get all churchy on you with this one. Guess what? There is a God. There just Is. You’re surrounded by the evidence all around you, and God doesn’t just live in churches or synagogues or anyplace we’ve created to seek Him. There’s no right way to find God, except to admit you need help:
“Help is a prayer that is always answered. It doesn’t matter how you pray — with your head bowed in silence , or crying out in grief, or dancing. Churches are good for prayer, but so are garages and cars and mountains and showers and dance floors… some people think God is in the details but I have come to believe that God is in the bathroom.” Anne Lamott, Plan B
Have you considered making God your why? Even in the face of spiritual silence, have you made a choice to be crazy and simply persevere? In the midst of the crisis it’s easy to give up on God, assuming God has given up on us. The opposite is true. We need to cling to the beliefs we had in times of spiritual joy, accept the doubts, and hold on to our Why.
Find your Why for life. Commit to it with frantic energy, don’t allow the apathy that has infected the culture to apply to you! Discover, pursue, cultivate passion. “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how,” Nietzsche.
If you’re in the spiral, I’m so sorry. I can’t possibly know the details of your situation, but I do care!
Do you have any tips that have helped demolish despair?
*If you like this post, would you please share it with your “tribe” via email, facebook, twitter, pinterest, etc.?*
*There are authentic chemical imbalances that happen in our bodies that medical intervention can help. There is no shame in receiving treatment for these, in the same way refusing insulin if you were diabetic would be foolish! Talk to your doctor, if needed, and remember — you’re not alone!*
This post was originally published May 16, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Something very bad has happened to my email inbox. It is full of stuff. Lots of stuff.
This morning I looked down and saw there were well over 300 emails in my inbox. Now that seems like a lot of emails to any rational human being who isn’t dealing with a major job or extraordinary crisis. It was time for a spring cleaning.
I started at the top and worked my way down. In the process I came across an update I sent to friends and extended family after Tres turned one. And I ended up crying.
Generally I try to keep things lighthearted around here, that’s what Stealing Faith is all about… but I think all of us know that sometimes life isn’t as lighthearted as we might prefer. And today, well, it just seemed like the right time to share a bit of personal experience with you.
I should warn you it’s a bit raw. And it’s really scary for me to put it out there. But I’m going to throw this into the winds of the internet because maybe, just maybe, there’s one person out there who needs to know right now… this minute… you’re not alone. Here goes:
“I know you’re not supposed to have favorites, but, Tres’ first year has been my favorite “first year” of all our kids!
With Uno I was way too ridiculous about what a mom should do. Dos was way too colicky and we had just moved to a new place and I was too lonely to spend a lot of time in enjoyment! But Tres? She’s been a bright ray of sunshine. She laughs, she interacts, she has a sense of humor. We get a lot out of her for an infant!
(In a weird sort of way it makes me want to have about 16 more kids because with her I feel like I’ve finally “come into my own” as a mother!)
What all but about 10 people DON’T know is this precious little body of sunshine that is Tres was also the instigator for some challenging experiences for me, personally.
Here’s what I wrote in September, when Tres was 5 months old:
“Today, in the whole day, I had two times of maybe a minute each where I thought, “oh, here I am! I forgot what this looked like!”
They were moments free of feeling overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted, angry, frustrated, hopeless, insane. Moments where my head wasn’t spinning in circles and my over-riding conscious thought wasn’t, “Normal… What is real here? React to what is real, not what you feel…”
Yesterday I went to my OB/Gyn and found out that I have a very easily diagnosed case of postpartum depression. He reassured me that I’m not going crazy, I’m not weak, this is real and that no matter how much I try to control it I can’t.
“It would be of tremendous benefit to you and your family if you were to take medication for 3-6 months to help your neurotransmitters stabilize,” he recommended.
I think that’s what he said. What I actually processed was:
So, I agreed to take a drug. I’m scared to death of it and incredibly ashamed, but this morning I took the pill.
And this evening… For two moments… I felt a release of the pressure. I was getting milk for Uno and Dos talked to me and I didn’t have a heart palpitation from trying to concentrate on more than one thing and their little girl voices didn’t rub me raw and make my brain twitch.
I didn’t know it had been that bad until I had a moment that suddenly felt ok.
If I can take my melodramatic perceptions and lay them out, I feel like I’ve been standing next to the Grand Canyon. I’m right on the edge, where every once in awhile my foot slips and sends rocks hurtling down. I’m scared of that canyon because I know if I go down there I’ll just be… Gone.
As much as it terrifies me, there’s also a little part of me that wants to fling myself over and GO.
Just fall, fall, fall and never, ever resurface.
That part of me has a constant voice in my head chanting: “Sucks as a mom, sucks as a wife, sucks as a professional, sucks as a daughter, sucks as a sister, will never live up, will never get it right, never, never, never, useless, useless, useless.”
I suspect maybe everyone is standing next to the Grand Canyon in their insides. But maybe most people are farther from the edge and have a safety fence that makes it so they don’t even realize that there’s a gaping hole available for them to drop into.
I don’t know. Maybe.
My feelings and knowledge of reality are almost always separate right now. Instead of a good angel and bad devil on my shoulders I have the Id, Ego, Superego, whatever, running commentary on what I’m SUPPOSED to be doing and thinking right now in order to function appropriately for my life.
That voice fights constantly for attention with the other one inside. When other people talk to me it’s sometimes hard to listen or even hear what they’re saying.
I haven’t been able to control it. I haven’t been able to remember what anyone tells me. I haven’t been able to enjoy my children or my family. I haven’t been able to let go of an irrational fear that we’re not going to have food to feed our family, or that I’m actually insane.
So that’s the long and short of it. The thick and skinny.
I’m terrified. I’m ashamed. I’m humiliated and I am internally convinced I’m a failure.
I’m hoping there’s hope, though. Because for two moments today the noise inside of me stopped.
And that’s enough to give me hope for tomorrow.”
Just reading this makes me cringe inside. It’s absolutely terrifying to even put this piece of writing out into the real world.
So, why would I bring you in when I’ve been quiet about it for so many months?
Well, for a couple of reasons:
1. It’s Tres’ birthday. Her birth sent my hormones into the crazy tango and yet, she was the only think that I would smile about during the dark months. Even knowing how the hormones affected me, I would have her again. She’s been that incredibly awesome.
2. I still find the concept of postpartum depression shameful. And yet, I experienced it, I was treated for it, it is real. Maybe if I speak up someone else won’t feel as ashamed as I did because they know it’s not the end.
3. I took the medication and it was worth it. Against my own personal belief that you shouldn’t take medication unless absolutely necessary, I followed my doctor’s recommendation and took it. Those two moments I wrote about above turned into a life this past fall where I rediscovered how to laugh! I was so scared I would lose that when I stopped taking the medication… And I didn’t! Now that I’m drug-free (yay!) I can say with assurance I haven’t forgotten how to laugh, I enjoy my children more, I’m a healthy participant in my marriage, and I’m excited about living each day! That’s all good stuff.”
Maybe one of the worst things about going through a hard time is you lose the ability to think that things can’t actually get that bad.
For example, early in our marriage someone close to us committed suicide. It’s a long story but the upshot is that act and event changed us. It changed our marriage, our parenting, our view of life. We suddenly realized how bad things could feel. And how precious life is that how deep the web of relationships go.
Once the damage was done, we realized a few things: One, life can be grim. Painfully grim. Two, you can make it through. One step at a time, one day at a time, and sometimes it’s about accepting help as it comes.
And then there’s the day you find yourself laughing and realize it’s been a long, long time since your belly hurt because of joy. And you feel alive.
Today my overwhelming thought is to encourage people don’t give up. Even when it looks dark and overwhelming, find the little spark that makes you step away from the ledge.
I’d love to hear your responses to this post… and actually, I’d also love to see some things that help us smile. So… please! Post your favorite corny jokes in the comments. Or good jokes. Totally up to you. I’ll award a gold star to the comment that makes me laugh out loud! Ha!
This post was originally published February 6, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
There will come a day when my children will walk by a coffee shop and say, “That’s the scent of my childhood. My mom always smelled of coffee.”
I say that today about Downy fabric softener – but my kids will likely say that about coffee, as I drink that caffeinated beverage far more frequently than I complete laundry using Downy.
If they ever confront me about my addictions to Coca-Cola and coffee I will put down what I’m doing and give them my full attention. Then I will very carefully explain:
“We had four children in six years. Not a one of those children slept more than six hours at a time until well past 10 months old. Don’t judge; you owe caffeine a debt of gratitude as it saved your life more than once.”
My children, at their tender ages, do not realize the importance of coffee and soda in my daily routine. They act like getting a cup of coffee upon awakening is a privilege instead of a medical necessity!
Each morning I stumble from bed, hair sticking up like a peacock’s crest, eyes unfocused and crusty. Instead of clearing the path to the coffee machine before, the children create a footpath obstacle course of small acrylic horses, lip gloss applicators, and colored pencils while I have to battle my way through a spiderweb of words and requests for milk, breakfast, clothing, and justice.
They’ve even flopped themselves onto the floor in front of me in a desperate attempt to divert my single-minded java pot target.
No pain, no gain, they say.
And I say, “Challenge? Accepted.”
Then I stumble over them, enter the kitchen, and wrap my hands around a coffee mug while angels sing the Hallelujah Chorus.
Two moments later I am a functional human being. Thank you, coffee.
Do you have a special relationship with coffee? Are you children to blame?
This post was originally published November 8, 2012 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!