Chicken Soup and the Written Word…. for the Soul

*When I was a kid I devoured as many Chicken Soup for the Soul books that I could get my hands on. I remember they stirred something in my empathic soul. I can still remember some of the stories to this day. I kind of wonder how much of my value system was formed in those, always telling tales of people who would go above and beyond and then the effect that had. 

Let’s see what kind of Sunday thoughts I can organize (or not organize) with a house full of eight girls. Am I having a birthday party you might ask? I am not. My daughters are very social and love to host their friends. With such a great group of friends how can a mother argue. It’s such a wonderful thing to hear their laughter and to watch them all experimenting with who they are and coming into their own. This is one of those moments where I am at the top of the parenting mountain and able to catch my breath for a few moments and take in the breath taking view. These moments will quickly blur into the rearview and the next challenge will be on the horizon, but it’s incredibly important to soak them up and log them into the long term memories folder. The issues I was speaking about in previous posts with twin A have subsided for now. We finally came to an understanding, a partway meeting of sorts. Her attitude has been better ever since.

Today’s blog title began with me buying ingredients after I dropped my son and my adopted son (emotionally not literally) off for a day of work at Trader Joes. They are sixteen and part of the my first work program, and I couldn’t be more proud. It’s a great company to begin learning from, and a job that was able to carry me financially and personally in ways I only am able to see now through a painful divorce and many transitions in my life. My Trader Joes family will always be an important piece of my personal history. It is so good for my son to be out in the world learning about new things and people, rather than just holed up in his room playing video games. I am proud of the balance I have encouraged in his life. Granted it is not always easy to know how much to intervene and how much to let him have his own lessons and conclusions. I am putting a lot of work into that recently as a parent. A Client session recently and the movie I love Simon, brought to my awareness that I can be a little overly intrusive into my kids lives. You know trying to pry them open like using a knife to open a can of tuna, for their every feeling. I mean I know the value and necessity of having a space for that, but with my own children I just may not be that space. It’s heart breaking to acknowledge that. But seriously where is the magic formula for when to make sure you are involved, and for when to give them space? If I ever find one I’ll let you know.

So my trip to Trader Joes was for ingredients to make chicken soup. They are chilling on the counter right now, waiting for the teenage girls to depart the kitchen. The reason I am making a pot of chicken soup (not that I need one, it’s delicious and becoming a staple in our home) is because I am really struggling with my Crohn’s Disease right now. It’s flaring it’s ugly head. My typical MO is to try and deny or ignore, or reduce it. In the past I have told my self that I was sick, and therefore felt even more sick, believed I was sick. I believe in the power of the mind. This is a good thing except when that belief reduces the validity of my very real experience with this disease. It’s coming up on five years now since my diagnosis. The testing and my own knowledge suggests I had it for long before it was known though. I guess the theme of today is balance as my trouble here is trying to strike a balance between acknowledging and validating my disease, and yet not letting it take over my life. How do I know then when I am really sick … (ok the teenagers have asked me to play computer video games with them, and I’m actually really thrilled at this age I would even be asked, so I’ll have to come back to this).

This turned out to be a lot later. I just finished separating the bones from the chicken and the soup is nearly done. Turns out it is the perfect thing, because twin B has a sore throat and hardly slept. I got sidetracked and ended up trying to delete some of the 18,000 pictures/videos on my laptop. That task, much like cleaning out my e-mail feels insurmountable, and probably is. I wanted to sit and read for a good solid hour. It’s gorgeous outside so perhaps I will try for out there. It is still chilly though. I started reading Every Love Story is a Ghost Story, a book about the life of David Foster Wallace (author of The Infinite Jest). Something about it was calling to me. I have yet to figure out whether this reading ADHD is pure genius and exactly as it is meant to be or whether I could definitely be doing better.

Here are the books I am currently reading: Lisey’s Story by Stephen King (thought its been months since I picked this one up). Bird by Bird Anne Lamott (I don’t want it to be over). Carry on Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton (Wambach). 3 or 4 books on brain and behavior wiring etc that are all WILDLY interesting. The whole series of Julia Cameron’s the Artist’s Way. The 3rd installment in the Ripley series (Ripley’s Game I think)  (the book series that the movie The Talented Mr. Ripley was derived from, by Patricia Highsmith.) I am also trying to read magazine articles, because lately I am wondering if a way to begin with a smaller goal of getting my writing out there, would be to try to do articles first. I just started listening to 11-22-64 I think it is? by Stephen King on audiobook. It hasn’t captured me the way The Dead Zone did, but I also have been doing different things with my time.

On the home-front my first born son, (and only son I will ever give birth to) just passed his driver’s license exam, and pending some insurance sorting will be making his maiden voyage of a first solo car ride shortly. I am proud, astounded, nervous, awed, reflective, contemplative… and so many things about this. I told him this morning that if he isn’t careful and something happens to him I would stop breathing on the spot. Too much pressure? Seriously though I would. I feel simultaneously like still my 20 year old self, and also this foreign entity that has a 16 year old boy with a driver’s license. I am both selves, rich with everything in between.

The thing that is happening the most lately is the writing piece. If I look back over the past couple of years my reading and writing has grown exponentially. If I can avoid the gremlins who say things like: yes BUT you aren’t published, and who really reads what you’re writing anyway, and couldn’t you be doing something more productive to make money during that time, and it’s frivolous, and it’s already been said, and on and on and on. If I avoid those guys and just take an objective look at the facts. This is my 41st blog post, and even as I am writing it I feel it is just disjointed, and who would get something out of reading it, and my ADHD and Crohn’s is trying to sabotage my existence.

Speaking of Crohn’s to bring this post full circle. I am really struggling right now. The migraine’s have spiked up again, which likely means inflammation is wreaking havoc in my body. Last week I thought I was going to pass out while a new client sat across from me, I felt heavy and far away from my own body, and for a second I almost warned them. It passed, but the memory of the feeling and the fear it would soon return did not. I have been having ringing in my ears followed by rushing and pressure in my head often throughout the day, my hands and legs and fingers etc have been going completely numb or unpleasantly tingly during the night. I’ll wake up with a swollen hand, severe nausea, terrible stomach pain until I use the bathroom. My temperature regulator feels broken, I can be freezing and not able to get warm or too hot and puffy and swollen. My abdomen without warning will swell to a 5 month pregnant status. I can hear my stomach running and it feels like my food tries to call back out of my esophagus. At night I have been “flushing”, red hot feverish episodes that come on without any warning and leave people asking if I am ok. The only remedy is to lay down and rest. I don’t want to lay down and rest. My body is sabotaging my natural enthusiasm and joy for life, and it’s so hard not to be angry about this, to deal with it with grace and to not fear the worst. The possibility of surgeries etc. But even that is a distraction from the very real fact that each day having some unpleasant physical symptom that I am attempting to ignore, banish, push through etc, adds a gigantic extra layer of exhaustion to my life. More overwhelm, and lately this is the thing that feels the biggest threat to the breakthrough of me writing. 🙁

One of the worst aspects is the having 0 idea of when it will strike. Another terrible aspect is trying to look for ways that I have caused it by being unhealthy etc. From my understanding while certainly you can make it worse by being excessive in certain behaviors etc, for the most part you can’t really do anything when you have a disease to control whether you have symptoms or not. I mean you can try to be as healthy as possible, but it may or may not stop the symptoms, and unless you want to live in a bubble and not enjoy anything. I mean there needs to be what’s this b word again? BALANCE as with everything. But even then. It is hit or miss. I can eat something one time and be fine, and eat the same thing another time and be miserable for hours.

There have been times when I have had a few “bad tummy days” that I was afraid that I was coming out of remission, but I recognized that to be just fear. However I think this is different this time. Whether it is or isn’t the process is completely draining and sends me pummeling the air with my fists until I break into a fit of tears. I don’t want to give one ounce of my life up to Crohn’s. I refuse. My will is not enough here, and I have never come up against something where this was true. Somtimes when you write yourself all the way to the spot you needed to reach the emotions just end up flowing. This always happens for me, the dead center of the fear or the helplessness when touched with the tip of the needle bursts. I am at the mercy of this disease. Not since I was a child have a felt so helpless, and that was not a place that was very pleasant for me, so being brought back in this way evokes strong emotions from my core.

Back to David Foster Wallace for now. Oh a quick thought about that. I am still always more interested in reading about the creator, than what they created themselves. People will always be the most interesting thing… the why, the how, the when, the where of their lives. Endless fascination….

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