Did My Brain Fall Out?

Haven't we all asked ourselves this question? There are days I am quite sure my brain did fall out - I can barely put one foot in front of the other and I forget everything. I know you can relate!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Confessions of a Crowded Mind: Purge

Have you ever sat down and thought, "damn this past year really________". If you're like me I often focus on the negatives because it's the negatives that really stick with you. It's an 80's cassette mix tape loop of "WTF. How did this go so wrong?!"

In my new "evolved" state (don't giggle) I'm really really really really trying to focus on the positives and let the negatives roll off my back. Impossible? Some days, hell yes. My amazing therapist *Marla asks me this question at every session "What does this <event> make you believe about yourself?" and darn, that's hard to answer. Try that one on for size.

*Marla is really helping me sort through the old school fake denim luggage set I drag around. My goal is to eventually just have a carry-on sized bag, and one of those efficient ones I'm always jealous of at the airport...compact, compartments, trendy and with wheels for easy escapes. I'm exhausted from dragging around my fear, guilt and self-loathing. So how will I fit all of this into my carry-on? I have no earthly idea, but I am sure going to try.

STEP ONE: Let the purging begin. I am prepared to purge three very weighty items today. It's certainly not all of it, but I think they're the biggest ones.

*I left my marriage of 24 years to a man I love dearly (yes, not past tense). I don't regret one day I spent with him. I couldn't have ever dreamed of a man who loves our kids as much as he does. I couldn't have asked for a man who was more apt at loving me out of my crazy. Out of respect for him and my kids I will not go into particulars, but sometimes the hardest and healthiest thing is to walk away. I've been horribly lonely, bone-weary sad, dated quite a few losers, a prince (another blog post on that cluster someday) and felt guilt and shame. But in all that chaos I have also had incredible moments of happiness, peace and validation. I have had to force myself to ask for help and then, tada, let others help me.

Wikipedia Images
*My mom died - most likely because of my stubbornness and
laissez-faire attitude toward her ailments - but hey I live with that anvil of guilt every single day. I could have been a better daughter; I could have cared for her affairs and feelings with more patience and kindness. She was incredibly loved and taken way too soon from me and her girls. I can't go back and change things, but I can look forward to the future she envisioned for me. All she ever wanted was for me to be happy. I'm working on that, Mom.

*Years ago we had an encounter with bed bugs, a mild infestation by exterminator standards. Yes, everyone shudder. It's been 4 years this month and I am still acutely and horribly scarred by that experience. It was expensive.  I avoided people and places for a long time for fear I was a walking bed bug pez dispenser. I became a recluse - work and home, that was it.  Most people can treat and move on. This CHANGED me so profoundly that it has become a part of my EVERY DAY LIFE! Imagine, a bug being able to get into your psyche like that? Yes, it's insane. I often think I am insane. For the past four years I have spent thousands of hours searching with reading glasses, a flashlight and magnifying glass in hand. I have spent hours asking my kids and friends intimate questions about their skin. So many wasted hours resulting in some ruined relationships. I basically owe everyone I know an apology for this phobia and my obsession. I also apologize if I surreptitiously checked your house for them too 😉. Some days I do o.k., but other's one red bump on my skin can push me over the edge. I've cried an infinite amount of tears. This is eating me up and I can't go on like this anymore. I've been in intense therapy and we're making progress. I have some unresolved issues from my life that have created this hyper-vigilance and it has manifested itself in this phobia. Funny, not funny, how the mind works.

Through all this my biggest struggle has been accepting myself and understanding that even with all the negative things about myself that I can rattle right off the top of my head, that I am essentially GOOD. A worthy person. A funny person. A loving person.  But that mix-tape creeps back in and asks me questions..."if you were a good person, you wouldn't have gotten bed bugs, left your marriage, been lazy financially, emotionally and physically. You would have payed more attention to your mother. You wouldn't suffer from crippling depression and anxiety. You would get up off the couch. You would write more, complain less, volunteer, craft a program for CLM1, ask CLM2 to see you more, be calm and live in the moment. You wouldn't need validation because that validation comes from inside." But yet, here I am constantly seeking validation in the weirdest ways.

So, my carry-on bag can only contain self-validation, a feeling of worthiness and the belief that I am lovable, in-spite of bugs, guilt and fear. That's STEP TWO!

What's your carry-on packed with?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

For My Beautiful Mom

My mom loved pictures. She was known to run to 60 minute photo the morning after a wedding, a shower, or any event to get her pictures developed. She never really got on board with digital photos, much preferring the tangible pictures. Toward the end of her life, she craved pictures - the walls of her room were covered with them. Flipping through pictures of family and friends on “FacePage” wasn’t enough for her. Me, being of the digital age, couldn’t understand this obsession, but as I looked through all of the family photos, I realized something. My mother knew pictures told a story, and these snapshots, tangible or those engraved in our minds, is how she is leaving all of us evidence of her love. “We keep this love in a photograph. We make these memories for ourselves, where our eyes are never closing, hearts are never broken, time’s forever frozen still. We won’t ever be alone”. The story of my mom’s life and her love for all of us is present in every picture, every memory, frozen in time, a bittersweet reminder of our moments with her. My mom’s love was fierce and loyal and gentle and generous and thoughtful. These are her gifts to us.

My mother had a fierce kind of love. I saw this watching her with her brother Joe and sisters Patti and Joann. I saw this as they all cared for Nana and Poppy. This was evident in her concern for her grandson and granddaughters. Courtney and Cearra were always on her mind. She loved them fiercely and unconditionally. Nothing made her happier than spending time with her girls. She was keenly interested in what they were doing and was more than happy to share her opinion on their decisions.  In fact, mom had very set ideas of what we should ALL be doing with our lives. However, regardless if she agreed with our decisions or not, she would unfailingly support them even if she thought they were “dopey”. Everything my mother did, she did with purpose and force.

My mother had a loyal kind of love. Family always came first and she believed that you “Show Up!”. It didn’t matter how significant or insignificant the event, you couldn’t keep her away. She was a presence, a force of nature. Other than family, nothing expressed her loyalty more than her friendships. My mother never met a stranger and she would quickly envelop her friends into her family. In fact, there was no line between friend and family. To my mother, they were the one and the same. My mother knew how blessed she was to be surrounded by such an amazing group of friends and she spent her life making sure that they knew how thankful she was for them. She was more than just a mother and a grandmother, aunt or sister. She was a true friend.

My mother had a gentle, sensitive kind of love. Hugs, kisses, backrubs, smoothing my hair back from my forehead. Her love was communicated through touch. I can remember how as a child she took such gentle care of me when I was sick or skinned my knee or fought with a friend. I saw this gentleness when she cared for her granddaughters, how she would scoop them up when they would cry, rub their backs and sing to them. If you hurt, she hurt too. I can remember teasing her my whole life because she was always so quick to cry. Sometimes she wouldn’t make it past “hello” on the phone before the tears started.  She cried when she was happy and she cried when she was sad. Her love was communicated through her tears and her smile and laugh. Her gentle nature was also illustrated by her love of animals. She may have forgotten someone’s name, but she always remembered the names of your pets.  

My mother had a generous and thoughtful kind of love. She rarely thought of herself first. You all were always on her mind. Buying little tokens from the dollar store. Sending a card in the mail. Remembering important events even though she was so far away. All of these acts of kindness and generosity were her way of loving us. She was incredibly giving with her time as well. She would often drive the little old ladies from St. Hugh’s around to run their errands. She was compelled to give whatever she could. When I would visit her, I would bring her her favorite kind of cookie or candy.  When I would come back to visit a few days later she would have none left. I would ask,  “Mom, where’s all the candy I brought you?” and she would answer “Oh everyone who came in my room, I gave them some.” My mother was the most thoughtful person I have ever met and her compassion was not reserved just for her friends and family. She instilled in me generosity, consideration and compassion for anyone in need, and I am so proud to have learned that from her.  

In each picture, time is frozen, our hearts are never broken, our eyes are never closing. In each picture we have a memory of my mother, her life and her love for all of us. When you look at pictures of my mother, when you think of her, please remember that these were her gifts to us.  Know she is always with you.
I love you, mom.