growinghumans


Big Emotions in Small Spaces
November 30, 2015, 10:27 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Nobody walks into the middle of a ballroom and has a nervous breakdown.

We never feel that urge of complete and utter emotional collapse coming and feel the need to make it a spectacle.

We always retreat–to a bathroom, a closet, under the covers.

We curl into ourselves, like an armadillo. We brace for the hurricane and keep the structure around us as tightly compressed as possible.

We have big emotions in small spaces.

That was always me. I would lock myself away, allowing no one access. I would scream, cry, hurt myself. This was my struggle, no one else was allowed to help. People couldn’t handle it, I told myself. No one wanted to be a part of this. This was ugly. This was scary and dark and not how I wanted the world to see me.

The problem with big emotions in small spaces is that it doesn’t give the emotions anywhere to go. They bounce off the walls and land right back in your lap, your mind, your heart. You recycle your dysfunction. You become a compost pile for turmoil.

This month, this blog, has been an exercise in expanding my space. I have slowly–ever so subtly–let the walls out, inch by inch. I have let my emotional breakdowns trickle out of me in articulate and calculated posts, instead of a vomit of emotion on my bathroom floor at 8 pm on a Tuesday.

I don’t know what I’ve done, really. I know that people have taken my words and found their own words. I know that some people think I am brave for baring myself in the way that I have, that I will continue to do. It never really feels brave. It feels like I am doing something potentially stupid but I do it anyway. When I write, I imagine I am in therapy–I have been in therapy multiple times before. I have never excelled at therapy, because I can never ever find the right damn words.

With this blog, with this form of therapy, I have control over my words. I can type out a sentence, look at it, and say to myself, “No, Carrie. That’s not at all what you are feeling. That’s just some bullshit.”

I can delete. Re-do. Draft.

And then, when I am ready and have read it over and over again and thought long and hard about it

I hit publish.

And I send my big emotions out into the world–to the giant ballroom.

And the most glorious thing has happened since I started doing that, guys.

The emotions aren’t coming back to me as quickly. Sometimes they don’t come back at all. People, readers, catch these emotions. They hold my scary thoughts and my depression in their hands and they do things with them. Some people look at it and say, “Hey, I’m feeling this, too. Thank you.” Some people turn them into joy and courage. Some people just throw them far, far away.

What I am saying, to you all at the end of this monthly blogging, is that you don’t have to do this by yourself. You don’t have be be afraid to let people see the real you.

Stand in the middle of a big room and have your big emotions. Small spaces are meant for prisoners.

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Love Vigilantes
November 29, 2015, 12:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I want to report a crime, dear readers.

I was a victim today.

Today started off pretty terrible–

My mother was admitted to the hospital Thanksgiving night with bronchitis. For about two hours today they thought she had a blood clot in her lungs. Life started off hard today.

So. I had a good cry. I put a third day’s worth of dry shampoo on my hair. I got dressed and went to the damn mall. I bought myself $30 worth of luxury bath products. I visited my mother on the way home. I sat next to her hospital bed, listening to her oxygen machine moan and her bed hiss. We watched NCIS and I nibbled on her uneaten lunch. She apologized for ruining the holiday and I cried some more because she didn’t but the holiday was ruined just the same.

I left my mother there, with my father, and drove myself home. Mostly crying off and on because things were happening that I had no control over and that is not how I maintain my life AT ALL SO THE UNIVERSE BETTER GET WITH IT.

Anyway.

I decided that when I got home I was going to put up my outdoor Christmas decorations. I have complete control over this show. I usually almost die about 4 times between balancing on chairs and handling a staple gun, but it always looks wonderful and tacky in the end–we are all going for tacky, right? That’s the point of outdoor decorations, right? Okay, good. Mine wins.

Anyway.

So I get home with my mission on my mind. My walls were back up and I stopped crying like baby. I walked into the house, got my dog out of the crate and let her out to do her business. I let the dog back in and went to plug in the Christmas tree.

Just then, the dog started barking at the door. Her intruder bark.

I ran to the front door just in time to see a blue mini van speed away from my cul-de-sac. On the windshield of my SUV was an extra large Mickey Mouse balloon, a gift bag with crayons, coloring pages, and glow sticks and a large sign that says “We can do hard things. Love, Life.”

These people are out there. These love vigilantes will stop at nothing until the weeping has stopped and the hysterical laughter begins. They will resort to ridiculous stalking measures if need be.

Let this be a warning to you all; if you are sad, in a dark place, drowning and going through the motions of life, people like this will find you. Be on your guards, not that it matters. They will strike when you least expect it.

When you think you least deserve it.

When you didn’t even realize kindness to this magnitude existed.

But, don’t worry. Revenge will be mine.

Oh yes.

Rue the day that one of my friends finds themselves in a hard spot. They will get a taste of their own sweet medicine.

This crime wave will continue until the land is purged of empty feelings and all that is left is pure joy.



The Christmas Tree
November 28, 2015, 2:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Every year, the night of Thanksgiving, I put up my Christmas decorations. Every year for the past 5 years, I have used the same decorations–woodland, rustic, etc.

For some reason this year, about a few months ago, I decided that I wanted a change. I wanted an eclectic, colorful, and vintage look for Christmas this year.

I scoured the internet, thrift stores, Target and amassed my haul. I waited anxiously for the day to come where I could put my vision to fruition.

That day came this week.

I put my new vintage ornaments on my tree with my giant bulbed lights. I hung colorful new stockings from the mantle.

I distracted myself from my current life dilemmas for hours while decorating my house for Christmas.

When it was done, I stepped all the way back to my front door and surveyed the land. I hated it. It looked ridiculous and different and not at all like Christmas.

Even as I sit here typing this, I am looking at this stupid old-fashioned looking tree and hating it.

My husband brought up the fact that for the last few days I have hated just about everything. Things in my life are dysfunctional in a way that I cannot really control and it is absolutely breaking me. I feel weak, helpless, broken down.

This stupid ass tree probably isn’t even ugly. It’s probably great. But it’s a change; it’s different. I usually only use red and green ornaments. I have a plaid ribbon wrapping around it. I use woodland creature figurines all around to decorate.

In life, I always need a color scheme. I need to know what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable. Within those parameters, I can control what I do. Right now, I have no color scheme. These ornaments are all different colors. There’s too many of them. It’s not organized like how I usually do it.

Everything around me is changing faster than I can adapt. I am usually a champ at handling external issues; people come to me because I am so good at it. But, this week, I am at a loss.

I suppose I’ll just give this tree some time. I’ll give myself some time. I’m sure it’s a lovely tree.

 



Pie
November 26, 2015, 10:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

5 pm. I made it all the way until 5 pm on Thanksgiving before the emotional instability hit me like a sack of bricks.

All day I have been graceful. I have been organized and precise. I smiled and enjoyed the attention of my family.

But now, as the guests leave my house and the plates get loaded into the dishwasher, I find myself sinking into the floor. I want to put on my sweats. I want to get into bed. I want to give this day up.

Keep the skirt on, my husband urged. Let’s put up a Christmas tree.

Holiday to holiday I keep myself buoyant. Birthdays, holidays, family visits–I lean on these occasions like a crutch. I fear the times when I have nothing on the horizon; I fear being idle. That is when I lay in bed and think of what I could be doing with my life and why oh why can’t I seem to make anything ever happen. I think about what is wrong with me.

But, on these special days, I get out of bed with a bound. I do my hair. I put on a full face of makeup. I wear a special outfit and take picture after picture with my family. I smile. I smile so hard that I think my heart might get the message.

I use those pictures as propaganda. Look how happy this girl is right here. Who cares if all you have to do today is take care of your child. Get the hell out of bed and look like this. Feel like this. It’s going to be okay. You are capable of this sort of happy and more importantly you deserve this sort of happy.

So now, at 5:15 pm on Thanksgiving evening, I am going to eat another piece of pie. I am going to miss my very pregnant sister who couldn’t be with me this year. I am going to take down my fall decorations and haul them out to the garage and just like that it will be Christmas in my house. I will sit on the couch tonight. I will light a fire and drink spiked egg nog and look at the tree. I will keep my head above water for now.

I am thankful for everything that you’ve probably already read on social media today–my health, my family, my husband, my house, good food, God.

But mostly, I am thankful for small reasons to keep my head above the water. I am thankful for this pie, right now in this moment.



The Nursery
November 25, 2015, 10:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I found my lullaby cd the other day; the one with all of the songs we played when Tiny Human was an even tinier human. It was a gift from a cousin–a mixed tape of all songs she thought would help the baby sleep soundly.

I put the cd on and sat down. I made it halfway through the first song and started to cry.

I was transported back in time, back in space, to that room. I was suddenly sitting in my rocking chair, in the dark, in some unknown hour. I was rocking my crying child. The cd was playing. It was on repeat. It looped three times as I sat there, holding my half slumbering newborn.

The songs on this cd became the story of us; mother and child. These songs were sacred.

The nursery itself was a sanctuary. It was a battleground. It was a cocoon. Nesting is a very real thing for mothers. We aren’t just picking out colors and placing pictures just so they will look nice. Something hardwired into our brains is making us act like birds. We are constructing. We are designing a very small space where big, hard things are about to happen. It needs to be safe. It needs to be sheltered from the outside world. It needs to be filled with love and patience and hope.

I remember when we dismantled the crib, when the rocking chair was moved out, when we got rid of the changing table. I remember when her nursery went from a safe harbor to just a bedroom. It is now filled with her toys, her books. It has a pink twin bed that you can sometimes see under the mountain of stuffed animals. This is no longer my room. This is her room.

But I will always remember this very small room and what it meant to me. When we bought the house, when we were viewing the house, I stepped into the room and sat down in the middle and took a deep breath. Things could happen here. A life could be made here. This is the room that made us buy the house.

When you bring a baby home, the nursery immediately becomes a separate entity from the rest of the house. My living room might be a disaster. My carpets might need vacuuming. There might be 5 loads of laundry on my own bed. But, in the nursery, everything is clean, everything is soft and welcoming. It is inside of those four small walls that you discover what it is to be a mother. You go beyond sleepless nights, beyond failed breastfeeding, beyond colic. You and your baby sit in the dark of the room, rocking back and forth back forth and listen to the same songs over and over again. That, in that moment, is when you become a mother.

And I will always remember it.



5
November 24, 2015, 10:30 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was emotional yesterday. I was on the verge of tears most of the day.

Today is my Tiny Human’s 5th birthday.

I spent the day thinking about how precious she was to me. How hard it was to deliver her. How I never thought I would sleep again. How, once the hard part was over, she became my side kick. How much fun I realized having a small version of myself was. We would go places together. We would pick out clothes, food, things for our house. We would go to the park, to the movies, to restaurants. We would charm everyone we met.

I thought about how it felt when she placed her little hand in mine–how at first, it was to ¬†hold her up, to help her walk; there was weight behind her little hand.

And how, now, her hand simply rests in my palm. She laces her fingers through mine and the weight is gone. Her hand is just there because it is where it belongs.

I thought about how her eyes are exactly like mine. Brown, almond shaped, and expressive. Everyone always exclaims how much she looks like me and all I can do is agree and hope they mean it as a compliment.

I thought about all of these things at work yesterday, weeping on the inside because turning 5 feels like a full departure from anything that ever resembled having a baby. I have a young lady now. Today, she is just a kid.

Just a kid.

Kids have opinions. Kids have obstacles. Kids have social politics. Being a kid is more complicated and I am not sure I am ready for this next step, to be honest. I am not sure I am brave enough.

These are all of the things I romanticized about yesterday at work, quietly. Sadly.

But then, I came home from work. I took her out for a pancake dinner because I thought it could be one last thing we do together before she becomes too cool for me. I thought we could sit next to each other in a booth and eat sugar covered pancakes and hold hands.

My Tiny Human, however, did not care about my plans.

She wanted a waffle. She wouldn’t sit still. She kept sticking her tongue out at me even after I told her I would remove it if I saw it leave her mouth again. She talked in baby voice. She looked into other people’s booths. She wasn’t polite.

I was heart broken. I had an idea of how the evening before her birthday would go and she didn’t care.

But isn’t that how it’s always been? Parents always have these plans. Parents always want everything wonderful and enriching and sentimental. But, we want it at certain times. Birthdays, holidays, when we are feeling sad. When we need validation.

Kids, Tiny Humans, will give you all of these experiences. They will sit nicely at a restaurant. They will hold your hand and kiss your cheek and charm the waiter. They will finish their meal and thank you for taking them out.

But they will do it when you aren’t expecting it. They may even do it without you realizing it.

So, dear readers, on this momentous day, I urge you to pay more attention. If you Tiny Human voluntarily grabs your hand as you cross a parking lot, take a breath. Slow down time. Lace your fingers through theirs and remember how small they feel in the spaces between them.

To my own Tiny Human, if you ever read this, my hand will always be here for you. No matter how big you get, your fingers will always feel small wrapped around mine.

Happy Birthday, my sweet and special girl.



Birthday Parties
November 23, 2015, 10:45 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

BIRTHDAY PARTIES

Now, I should start this by saying that my Tiny Human is incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by family members that want her to have the best party possible. I had to do an incredibly small amount of work to have this birthday party happen.

However.

I woke up yesterday morning already feeling defeated. The day that was supposed to hold a great time of horse back riding and farm outside games was cold and raining.

I had one Klonipin (autocorrect thinks this word should be Klondike so there’s that) left and made the executive decision to save it for later in the day.

This proved to be the correct notion.

My Tiny Human has been sick for a few days so the thought of her hanging around outside with animals in the damp cold was filling me with parenting doubt.

I could smell a failure. I could sense stress and tension and maybe even a break down.

I hadn’t even left my bed.

Enough. Let’s go. Let’s get out of bed and be a fucking mom about this.

I got up. Got dressed. Got my Tiny Human dressed in her cowgirl outfit. I picked up the birthday cake. I bought candles. I wrangled everyone into my SUV at the designated hour and we departed for my disaster.

We got to the party location–a relative’s house. They have horses and had offered to have a million 5 year olds ride their horses. The kindness of people is astounding.

We got to the party and I found myself standing in the middle of rooms with my hand over my mouth, helpless. This happened for about the first half an hour. People kept asking what we were doing–where were we eating? Were we opening gifts? What’s going on?

I finally found myself, alone, in the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror.

Quick, concise decisions. It was time. The rain had stopped but it was still cold outside. We would eat inside. We would set up an extra table, right there. Yes, thank you. We will eat pizza first, then ride horses, then come inside to warm up, eat cake and then open presents.

I don’t normally have my Tiny Human open gifts at her party, but we needed another warm activity.

And suddenly, the party was starting. It seemed that everyone descended at the same time and I was swept up in it. I was organizing straight lines of 5 year olds at the door to walk to the horse ring. I was monitoring who was next in turn. I was bringing everyone inside and taking coats. I was sitting everyone down and then and then and then we were singing. We were singing happy birthday to my Tiny Human and I took 8 good breaths during it and realized that this moment, this moment when all eyes were on her and her eyes were shining with candle light, was the only moment that mattered.

That I had already succeeded. I had succeeded with this party without even needing to do anything else. As long as she was happy, I was happy.

Eight breaths of that was all I needed. It affected me so greatly that I had the kids sing to her one last time after opening the gifts. There is no greater gift, no greater medication, than that of a smiling child as she is being sung Happy Birthday to.

I won today.