*this blog became by unrefined process very disjointed. So here’s a little help. If you are interested in parenting and the struggle involved, if you are a Highly Sensitive Person, if you struggle with Chronic Illness. If you are seeking balance in your life in any way. If you have a blended family, or are struggling with co-parenting with an ex partner. If you enjoy reading other people’s story, and delicate weavings of past, present, and dreams for the future, then you may enjoy this. If you are willing to sit through a writer who goes off on tendrils of branches, and who is currently finding her rhythm and tone.
So here I am in the midst of daily struggles with teenagers. I want to share with you a raw accounting of my personal experiences, again so you may resonate and find something helpful within. I do this for myself and for my readers: gorgeous reciprocity. I know intuitively and from my daily work in my career that I am not alone in this battle. I spend the largest chunk of my time trying to sort through the insurmountable task of ever keeping the big picture in mind versus getting caught up in moments. This feels nearly impossible. I believe in fact we are wired to respond and react to what is right in front of our face in any given moment, and it takes a considerable larger amount of effort to sort through how we choose to act on any given impulse or reaction to the entire process. Exhausting. I am exhausted a lot of the time. So let me first lay forth the extra complexities of my personal situation at hand.
Factors to consider: I am divorced, their Father is involved and pays his share, which lessens my burdens considerably. I am always aware of this, and how much better I have it than others. Since scales of comparison are rarely helpful I usually don’t use them. But I am careful because parenting is the hottest of all topics I think. We are ever wanting to do it well, and mostly in situations that feel like we are failing. Everytime we figure out the system and make a grand jump over a hurdle clearing it with strength and agility, the course switches up on us, landing us on our faces.
Back to the factors: Despite his support and involvement in the kids lives that I am ever grateful for, our working together to parent has intense complications. He remains at a certain point in our lives that I have moved much further beyond, this means that he has an idea of me that is constantly creating complications. Think believing in the worst possible version of someone, and this is of course MY interpretation and I am aware of that as well as the fact like we all do, I have blind spots. I think it’s being revealed to you this is a loaded topic. So for the purpose of not losing sight of the original plan of this post we shall summarize as the logistics currently are probably the most difficult part. This means that due to his career in the Coast Guard he has mostly lived far away during their lives. Ohio, then Boston, and now Staten Island. He comes for all things important for the kids and shows up, which is lovely. BUT he has no space near here to have them at overnight etc. This is further complicated by the fact that Tyler now has a job and needs rides to it, and he can’t just go to his Grandparents in upstate NY on the weekends. So the time I was able to have just for me while they are with their other parent is really only decided last minute, and often with just hours spent with him, but not overnight and all of them away. This allows for tensions to build between us and difficulty to arise and not much of a break to get insight and recharge. I understand that with families not in divorce perhaps they get no breaks, but also this is their set up. Each of us have unique struggles. I can only write so intimately from my pool of truths, and subsequently learn from those.
I am definitely going into detail to the degree that I might be losing “the point”. I am learning about how my writing process works or doesn’t haha. I try to be concise and summarize, but perhaps in the feeling space, that is more difficult to do. You are getting unrefined writing here. Perhaps the flavor is not nearly as good as something that has been perfected, but we are not there yet. We are just beginning.
So factors: An ex who isn’t my biggest fan and navigating his military career and how that changes the choices, and map of how we handle divorce and co-parenting. The careful tip toeing of honoring another parent’s journey with their kids in the face of criticism and bitter old wounds, that the smallest of things seem to resurface, even all of these years later. A non-traditional, non-consistent custody schedule, a new partner that they are learning, after several partners they became used to who departed, (severed connections are no joke on the heart) their personalities, my personality, their wiring, my wiring. Add in a healthy dose of misunderstandings, high sensitivity, strong strong personalities and character which I love, but is impossibly difficult in practice….
I used to go eat out at buffet’s when I was little. My grandparents loved buffets. Always buffets. JJ North’s Chuckwagon and Home Town Buffet, low in quality and large in quantity and variety, food excursions. They disliked needing to tip (which I think that you are still supposed to, what can I say they lived through the depression), being limited to one type of meal, and not “taking care of it themselves I think”. Also they appreciated the affordability. And my Grandmother bless her church going soul, loved to pack as many cookies as she could possibly nab from the dessert area into napkins and into her cavernous handbag. I recall snickerdoodles and peanut butter being favorites. I chuckle at this memory. He most egregious of sins being all the VHS tapes we rented that she copied with glee and a touch of shame (as the warnings exclaimed that this was a federal offense), and her stolen cookies from the buffet. I imagine she experienced much guilt over this, and yet another part of her was exhilirated with the mischief. Anyway the point of this story was that if life was a restaurant I would choose a buffet (even though I won’t eat at them now, yuck) and I would fill probably 5 plates full of every possible food, and try to eat them all. Yep that’s what I do. And then I end up sorting through the indigestion and gastrointestinal distress of it all. Which is quite the fitting metaphor for someone with Crohns Disease.
Maybe I should have just called this blog post factors? Maybe I’ll just keep going and it will be the book. “Maybe it’s Maybelline at this point”…this popped into my head, a charming and witty line from a dear person who has been in my journey from their blog that I highly recommend. Credit Kat “the Wizard” from. http://www.seekerandthewizard.com
So here I am at present day with three teenagers whose turn it is to be allowed to learn/audition to navigate the world, when some parts of me are still so delayed in my own process. Here my partner and I are trying to establish a new connection and have enough time and resources for that, while having our main task be loving and teaching these kids well. This has gone quite poorly in the past, and my assessment of readiness and also the want to spend life in this way of people I chose in the past did not end up working out in the whole story. But in the scheme of things I have embraced each of those journeys as completely necessary and can find nothing but affection and gratitude for each of them.
We have a full home. We enjoy entertaining and offering what we have in love, food, comfort, and space to others. We both, all of us really, enjoy this. We like entertaining and cooking for others and inviting them over. We are very social creatures. However that takes a huge amount of effort in terms of upkeep. We have two dogs. One of them an overly neurotic border collie with a gargantuan pile of issues, whose favorite pastime is barking at the highest pitch you can imagine at the mail person the entire time they are on the street. We have a couch, it’s a funny story really in the scheme, perhaps I will tell it at some point. But both my person and I came with “stuff” from our past. We have a very over-priced couch she was forced to pay for in their break-up, and it has no place in our home of children, and misbehaved pets. So a great deal of time and stress is keeping this thing nice in a house that is not a museum. We even had a therapy session surrounding it once. This couch is the perfect couch for a single couple (gay of course because of it’s impeccable taste ;)), and for dinner parties and a gorgeous, clean, non-chaotic, floorplan. So both dogs attempt to scale the couch to get into the bay window to bark at anything they could possibly bark at. They are breaking down the cushions and increasing the wear and tear. And my second dog Sigmund Freud the therapy bulldog occasionally likes to mark it as his and relieve himself on it. This of course distressing my person greatly, as if nursing the wounds of the financial inequalities of that relationship were not enough, now the thing she was forced into buying herself is being peed on. To keep perspective I suppose if one of us was to fall ill the couch would become an after thought, as we should train ourselves to make it be without. Learn to have it be a funny story based on a lesson. I know personally I luxuriate over having such a piece of furniture as I probably would have gone my whole life without ever 😉 There are a variety of ways to look at this.
So we have five different personalities under this one roof. Five different people who each hold their priorities and process sacred, and need to learn to work together to acheive balance individually and as a family. How does anyone do this? My guess is with a lot of space, a great sense of humor, and not taking life too seriously? And this is a problem in our home. Highly sensitive people take everything seriously, and they also become easily overwhelmed. If you aren’t overwhelmed by reading the factors in my daily life, whether you have the High Sensitivity trait or not, I would be shocked.
Let’s list the complex factor’s without going further into each one, the blog itself will do that. I’ll just list words and see:
ADHD (most of us, if not all), High Sensitivity, Stubborn, Opinionated, all internal factors of our wiring and personality, how to fit each person’s needs and balance with their wants. Crohn’s Disease, Financial concerns, namely cleaning up after beginning my career very late, and being a “single” mother in the state of Connecticut for many years. I have debt that is impeding the larger than life dreams that I have. Which includes the possibility of another child, wanting to travel and explore, actually more of late really wanting to move to another Country, but seriously. Knowing with evermore certainly that some windows on my dreams are closing in that I cannot have them all. I have to CHOOSE. I have to choose which dreams to give life, and this is a Sophie’s Choice for me. This is deeply painful for me. Apparently I can’t list without elaborating, that has always been present, now how can I capitalize on it rather than thinking it is wrong? In addition to this I want to author books, I want to organize and produce theories from all my labors of love and learning as a counselor. I want to tour, and to talk to others, and to teach. I want to share my gifts on the largest scale possible, not for the wealth and the fame of it (in fact I think I would hate that), but for the purpose of it. I want to help. I want to contribute to society, and my process of needing to heal myself before I had room to do so has been lifelong and taken up so much space. I am aware and grieve that. I can’t help but indulge the what if’s of that.
I burn with desire, sometimes I burn up, and it’s not good at all,…..I burn to create. It is a drive, a compulsion, a non-choice it always seems. It is a brooding and painful thing all of these thoughts, that if I could just untangle I could help. My mind is painfully cluttered, and as I try to de-clutter it, more piles just topple over into the space I have cleared, and on top of it I just continue to add more ALWAYS rather than staying with what I’ve got and putting down roots. This task before me now is to SLOW DOWN and STAY with things, see how much more richness can be produced by choosing three things in particular and sitting with them and seeing them, and allowing my eyes to graze over my greatest works of art. And the fear in this? In this noticing? Is that it could hurt that much more if the connection is ever severed. And severed connections have been a thing most of my life, they are more consistent than safe ones. It’s all I know in a way. Being severed from these: unthinkable. I stop breathing even thinking about it. So I stand at a careful distance at times, from my own life. It is terribly painful knowing my kids can feel that, and may perceive it differently, personally as a way I feel about them, or don’t. And part of my life’s work is at least trying to put down in words enough that they will be able to read and understand who I am inside, and the why’s of my choices. That was something with both of my parents that I will never know. If I do nothing else right in my life: I will always show up for my kids. They may not always understand this or interpret it the same. Sometimes they will have to sort through the pain of their experience, without it being unthinkable to me or a threat to my ability of parenting. We are not there yet. I am a work in progress. But I will never stop trying. I’ll always show back up. These are connections that only death will sever, and perhaps not even that. This is the thing I’ve been so thirsty for in my life, and yet I so often am blind to the ones I already have. Or I move too quickly to stop and see. This is my current task as a person to slow down and develop my relationships I have now, and find a way to still do that while helping others along their journey.
My writing continues to take on a life of it’s own and go on a direction I never planned at the beginning. This is like all of life though. This is something we can count on. So I’m going to try for that to be ok for now, until my next victory opens up before me. They sneak up on you, you know. For one thing I’m writing so much more in so many more ways than I was last year. I write more, and more comes. It is unfolding.
I lost sight of the blog that was meant which was to describe a singular situation that happened with my daughter this morning, and to explain the different choices and outcomes of how it was handled. To illuminate what I have learned. Let’s hope I can learn to come back to this and also make that post. Or maybe it will get lost in the land of ADHD and life in general.
Thanks for listening….I wrote this in the midst as you can probably tell. The midst of real and everyday life. Not at a writing retreat, not on top of a quiet mountain. In the midst of scheduling, random questions (many), my daughter being up set over an overwhelming project, the dogs, the phone… LIFE… I write in the midst of life and I have ADHD, and I am trying to find out how I can produce great works of art without sacrificing my childrens childhood. Without us both missing out. How to be a driven thinker requiring quiet space, and a fully present mother. It is difficult. I think of Pema Chodron and her admissions on parenting at the end of Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better. This was comforting to me.