real help?

I feel like crap.

My birthday is on saturday. I think that may be a big part of it. I used to love birthdays because they were all about me. And being the 4th of six kids, being quiet and shy, being sensitive and afraid of attention–rarely in my life has it been all about me. Except on my birthday.

Then I became a mom. After that it was no longer about me. Ever. Not even on so-called “Mother’s Day.”

Plus, some of you may know this. My big brother, the other “em” in my life, was killed five and a half years ago. We weren’t close-close…but we were? We were the “ems” in the family. Mike & Mary. When our parents had us do the “See no evil; Speak no evil; Hear no evil” family pose, he always put his hands over my eyes. Though he was very active in the Catholic church and was dangerously Republican, he never judged my Punk rock Pagan Socialism. He accepted that that was who I am. At least I felt that way. I may never know for sure how he felt because I never got a chance to ask. I was always too busy. Then I decided I should get to know him better–after talking to him on his birthday. Twenty days later, he was dead.

Anyway. One time I always heard from him was on my birthday.
But he doesn’t call anymore. And I know that now, going into each birthday. So I feel sad.

And I found myself browsing the DAIS webpage wondering if I should talk to someone. Am I really being abused? Are the kids in danger? Am I over-reacting?

The dad has a bunch of stuff coming up about his own so-awful-no-kid-should-ever-ever-ever-have-to-experience-that childhood. And I find myself void of sympathy. Have I always been void of sympathy? Am I terrible and that is why he treats me badly? I wonder these things.

Then I see how people grossly misunderstand my six-year-old, painting him the bad guy. And I think, “He gets that from me.” And I wish it were different for him because it really sucks being misunderstood all your life. My older son gets his father’s ability to charm and woo no matter what behavior he exhibits, but the six-year-old constantly gets judged and labelled for his behavior.

Then I read one of those so-called inspirational I’m-a-Mom-so-I-know-what-you’re-going-through blogs that is addressing the anger a mom feels. And the moms are all like “give your kid a hug & a tickle.” And this just makes me more angry because it is not helpful. Is this helpful to someone else? Are there Hallmark moms out there who respond with, “Oh, of course, put down the cleaver and just give the little beast a tickle.” No, I would never take a cleaver to my kids, but I do have some pretty dark thoughts that don’t just go away with a hug.

No, it’s not these fucking Hallmark moms’ fault that I have a dark voice inside me from growing up abused and having subjected myself to abusive, non-supportive, non-validating relationships all of my life. It is not their fault that I want my roommate/ex-husband/co-parent to just move the fuck out, and he won’t. It’s not their fault that I am seemingly unable to give myself enough self-care to keep myself out of these horrible dips of depression.


I should say something whimsical and quippy here to lighten the mood, but this is not a true mommy blog, so I’m not gonna.

cryin’ on my therapist’s couch

Soon to be a Lifetime original movie.

I feel better today. For the moment, anyway. I have been having my ups & downs more rapidly than I am comfortable with. My therapist attributes it to my having summers off of my degree-seeking schooling. She believes I do not know how to manage the lack of direction I perceive when I am not engulfed by my studies and motherhood. There is an awesome collection of essays about how writer’s tend to lose their identities and their minds a bit when they become mothers. It is called Mother Reader, and I really need to re-read it.

One step I have taken towards feeling a bit more sane is limiting my time goofing off on Facebook. Generally, I believe, I go on there desperately seeking adult interaction. I also look for parenting ideas and knowledge of issues in which I am interested. However, I go on there a bit manically throughout the day–compromising my ability to be present for my kids. I have even noticed that their demands escalate when I am on Facebook. Plus, I do not spend time blogging or working on finding editing work, etc. when I am obsessively scrolling through Facebook. I figure if I can quit eating after 8 pm (which I have done in order to be healthier & more fit,) I can avoid checking Facebook when I am wearing my “mom” hat and only interact on Facebook when it is mostly “me time.” Is there ever an entirely me time for a mom with small children?

I’m sure by the title, you are expecting more about my therapist visit–or are simply relieved to know that I am in therapy.
Here’s what I was thinking after seeing her yesterday. She asked me, “What is the one thing, be it sleep or more time, that you feel you need in order to feel less overwhelmed?”

I did not have to think long. “To have the dad gone,” I answered. Not “gone” in the way he suspects I want him gone (lately he has been accusing me of plotting his death??) But gone in the sense that we do not live together, and in the sense that I do not have to deal with his stuff on top of my own stuff as I try to be a good mom.

Which then made me realize, that is exactly the reason I gave her almost three years ago when I first started seeing her. She asked me my one big reason for being in therapy. I gave her…the dad.

At that time we were living in a 30 plus person cooperative house in downtown Madison. We were sharing a room in order to save money and because we were, once more, trying to work things out. I had just had a baby, my daughter, and she had suffered a rough birth. I wanted to move out of the dad’s room in the co-op, but there were no other rooms available for me. Imagine two adults, two kids, and a baby sharing a room in a house shared with 30 some other adults. Now imagine that those two adults have the communication skills of cranky preschoolers. Hence I sought therapy.

Shortly after this I was ill-treated (and illegally discriminated against) by members of my co-op for having kids, but eventually I managed to get a small space of my own and then a bigger space after that. At which point it was rather obvious that the dad and I were broken up again, so I said to him, “If you do decide to date someone, please wait six months–to make sure it is serious–before bringing that person to our home.” I felt that needed to be said since we did share space in a cooperative house. He agreed and immediately started having sex with one of our housemates whom I believed to be a friend of mine, though our relationship was difficult for me.

I found out about their relationship when she betrayed my trust and told him something I said in–I assume–an effort to turn him against me. I found this especially abominable considering the dad & I had a difficult relationship to begin with but were doing our best to co-parent and be friends while living in close proximity.

This began a horrific cycle of obsession, hate, and anger between the dad and I as well as other members of our house. Having been out of that house for a year now, I feel I must have been half insane while I was living there. I am a highly sensitive person and living in a cooperative house with as much drama as that one had–I must have been in a constant state of arousal–not the good kind.

When I moved out, I meant to leave the dad once more. However, my co-signer on my lease fell through, and the dad offered help. Still reeling from the drama and damage of my cooperative experience, I was vulnerable enough and desperate enough to think we could work things out. And, of course, I was pregnant again.

Which brings us to present day on my therapist’s couch, realizing I am in the same boat I was in when I entered therapy three years ago…but with one more kid on board.

Boy, I am a slow learner.

looking for the lost mama

When I had my first child, it was easy to get lost in motherhood. After all, I was well used to losing myself. I often hid from myself in relationships. Preoccupying myself with throwing myself, heart & soul, at one person or another. Then, in cherished moments of clarity, running as fast as I could to find myself again. Leaving. I loved leaving a terrible relationship. With a note, with a changed phone number, with a move to a new town. Like fasting to get rid of toxins. I fasted and got rid of toxic relationships.

I was fast buried in the relationship with the dad when I became pregnant. I’ve read recently that it is normal for women to immerse themselves in motherhood and how romantic relationships suffer for it. Mine was destroyed by this phenomenon.

The dad who did not want to be a dad in the first place could not understand how he had lost me to our baby. However, he did nothing to win me back, as–in retrospect–he had done nothing to win me in the first place. My being a whirling dervish of epiphanic revelations & neurosis–I never required being won. I was used to doing all of the work. In fact, should a man try to win me, it would only cause me to spin away–confused by the foreign notion of kind words, supportive efforts, and loving gestures.

I want to be treated nicely, but I don’t know how…or what it looks like, exactly. I know what abuse looks like. It’s not that I trust abuse. I just recognize it. Therefore, it enters my life more easily than love and support.

When I look at a picture a friend has posted, with sweet words, of his wife and children. A picture worth a thousand words. You can read the love he feels so thoroughly through the lens of a camera and the screen of a laptop. He adores his wife and kids. He probably even washes the dishes. He probably helps with his children and comforts them when they are upset instead of referring to them as “shit stains.” He probably never accuses her of plotting to kill him, blaming her for everything he feels is wrong with his life.

There are no pictures like that of me and my babies.

I wonder how lost I would feel in my role as a mother if I had a partner telling me that everything was going to be okay instead of disappearing, physically and emotionally, as if our existence is more than he can bear.

I want to know how it feels to find myself again. Long enough to breathe again and be a good mom and be who I am without feeling like I am wrong for it.

I need to leave. It should have happened a long time ago. All I can tell myself is that I had to create these four beautiful souls from our union before severing the relationship the kills me a little more each day.