Fibromyalgia, parenting, love and loss

Archive for November, 2011

Perfection

I was raised in a home where appearances meant quite a lot.  My mom was often found in the kitchen weighing her food on her white Weight Watchers scale.  She couldn’t even walk down the mall without stopping at one of those infernal scales you often find there.  God forbid she had gained a couple of pounds; the world would tilt on its axis.  Where my father was concerned, life was all about being the most intelligent.  He had a borderline genius IQ, and he expected a lot from my sister and me.  She was older, made straight A’s in school, and was a virgin until after high school even though she dated the same boy all through high school.  How could I compete with her?  She took the pressure off me somewhat, but still…in my mind, I was never as intelligent as she.  I was the popular one, into hairstyles, makeup, clothing and boys.  That was the role I took on.  I struggled in mathematics, while my sister eventually earned her Master’s degree in Statistics.  In the world in which I was raised, if you were not talented in math and science, you were ignorant.  Nevermind the fact that I excelled in English Literature and French, and loved to write poetry.  Those things weren’t indicative of intelligence to my father.  Mom often said “You’re just like me-not good at math.”  So, that’s what I believed.  It didn’t even occur to me that the block could’ve been in my head, not based in reality.

I started rebelling against my all-too conservative parents around age 12.  I had my own views on things.  I am sure I was a pain in the ass-stubborn to a fault and I certainly smarted off to my mom more than I should have.  I seldom did to my father, though, because I was always somewhat afraid of him.  Now that I have a teen with a penchant for smarting off to me, I feel karma has come around for sure.  I always loved to sing, and so piano teacher mother that I had, she enrolled me in voice lessons.  During my very first recital, I walked up onstage, saw my parents and sister looking up at me from the audience, and began crying while attempting to sing “The Lonely Ash Grove.”  I knew they were all mortified, for I had embarrassed them.  I managed to get through the song, but after that fiasco, I quit voice lessons.  I eventually began lessons again with a different teacher, but again I quit prior to recital time.  I’ve never sung publicly since that awful recital, even though it’s been a dream of mine to be a singer for as long as I can recall.

I started making myself vomit when I was around age 17.  My friends were built with the enviable stick legs I always wished I’d been born with, and I guess I thought that if I starved myself enough, I’d end up with them as well.  I would not eat breakfast or lunch, but then I’d eat dinner and a snack and make myself throw up.  Sometimes I would vomit 4-5 times per day.  The weight came off (I was never overweight to begin with), and at some point my mom realized what I was doing, but she never really did anything about it.  That doesn’t really make sense to me, as a parent now.  She was naive, though, and maybe that’s the reason for her inaction.  I loved the sense of control I had over what I put in my body and what I allowed my body to digest.  I felt more attractive than ever, and was completely and utterly obsessed with food and losing weight.  During this time, I had a boyfriend that I saw through most of high school.  He was older and quite good to me most of the time.  I think he knew what I was doing as well; he certainly noticed I was losing weight.

Fast forward to about five years later, when I was newly married and living in Oklahoma (I grew up in West Texas).  My then-husband and I flew home to see my parents, and the first thing my mom said to me was “I thought you said you lost weight.”  Great to see you too, mom.  I was overweight then because I was a practicing alcoholic.  If you drink at least 12 beers a day, guess what?  You’re going to gain weight.  No way around it.  So admittedly, I was fat.  I knew it and I hated it.  During that same visit, I was chatting in the kitchen with my parents.  I tried to jump up onto the kitchen counter to sit, as I’d done hundreds of times growing up.  I couldn’t lift myself, and my dad said “You can’t lift yourself up there” while laughing.  While on the same lovely visit, we were somehow talking about driver licenses, and my mom asked to see mine.  When I showed her the photo on my license, she made a face.  I can’t recall what she said, but she didn’t need to say anything.  She never did; it was always written all over her face.  The photo was horrid because my face looked fat.  Shortly after this trip, I got sober because I knew I was an alcoholic and headed for destruction, and the weight fell off.  I began working out, cooking healthy food, I was in nursing school, and I really turned things around.  My marriage flourished and my parents were proud of me.  I was afraid to do anything to disappoint them or damage our happy relationship.

Thus began my many years of pretending to be the perfectly happy wife and eventually mother, too.  I kept my spiritual and political views to myself when talking to my parents on the phone (I lived in Oklahoma, Kansas and Washington state during my marriage), I stifled my bohemian nature and morphed into the person I thought I was and should be.  What others thought of me mattered a great deal.  I remember one time, I had to run to the store at night.  I was very pregnant and didn’t have my wedding ring on.  I was horrified that someone at the store would think I was unmarried and pregnant!  This is particularly funny to me now, as I sit here typing while nearly 8 months pregnant and unmarried-funny how life works out.

I, of course, am concerned with losing the weight once I have my baby.  I’m pretty confident that I will struggle with body dysmorphia throughout my life.  I will always think that bones sticking out look better than fat.  Sick, I know, but that’s just the way I see things.  I always hoped to be one of those women who would age gracefully, grow gray, not get plastic surgery and be fine with it all.  Before I became pregnant, I had Botox and Juvederm done.  Vain as it must sound, I’ll do it again after I have my baby.  I understand that I will probably never look good enough to suit myself, and I absolutely believe that it’s completely superficial.  There’s always that voice in my head, though that tells me I need to be the prettiest, the thinnest, the most intelligent, the most creative, the best mother, and on and on.  I wonder if there will ever be a point at which I allow myself to believe and truly feel that mediocrity is really okay-that no one is keeping score anymore and the competition at this stage of the game is only in my own mind.

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Getting through the day when you broke down the night before…

The weekend was filled with getting the house in some semblance of order.  We moved in a couple months ago now, and there are always little things here and there to do.  We also had Rich’s family visiting for the day, and being the perfectionist that I am, I wanted everything to look “just so.”  R has many talents, but keeping a clean house is not one of them.  He’s home all day with our son, writing for a couple sports websites, and the pace is grueling.  Even if he were a neatnik, there would be no time for it.  So, it all falls on me to do.  I was so wrapped up in being busy  most of the weekend, so when there was time to reflect I literally fell apart.

R finished writing and went to lie down, as he had been up late the night before with our night owl son (who inherited his night owl tendencies from his father).  I began thinking about life these days, and how hard everything has been.  The depression grabbed me by the ankles and pulled me under once again.  R and I have been in a bad spot over the last couple of months.  It’s been building ever since he took this particular writing job.  One would think that writing at home would be a piece of cake, but this one isn’t.  He works 10.5 hour days and cranks out one article after another all day long.  During this writing, he is also caring for our son.  By the time he’s finished, he is completely wiped out.  I work in Seattle five days a week, and my drive time alone is three hours per day, not to mention the fact that I have four kids and am in my last trimester of pregnancy with my last child.  So I too am wiped out at the end of the day.  We haven’t been connecting with each other, and resentment (on my part) has been building.  I feel huge and unattractive in this pregnancy, and because we don’t feel truly connected right now, the intimacy has fallen by the wayside.   I was always confident in his attraction to me, but not anymore, and it hurts me deeply.  He says that he doesn’t initiate intimacy with me like he used to because I don’t initiate it with him.  Yet I don’t initiate because I don’t feel he’s attracted to me any longer.  Which came first-the chicken or the egg?

He also has this aspect of his personality that makes him secretive.  It’s not out of any maliciousness-he just has his own world.  I do too, so I understand it.  But, his is more dangerous.  He does not share things that I would think most couples would share.  Details of his life are irrelevant to him, so he feels no need to share them with me.  He also does not feel a desire to tell me of his comings and goings, so even if it is benign, it seems dangerous to me when I find out about it.  There always seems to be something I discover he was doing that I did not know he was doing, which in turn leads me to wonder what else he has done/is doing that I’m unaware of….  We have trust issues to begin with, and these things just compound those problems.  One of the sports blogs for which he writes has his crank out articles on any subject having to do with sports-any sport.  From time to time, he also is asked to write about the attractiveness of certain female athletes.  I’ve told him how bothered I am by is; it just feels disrespectful to me.  I would never publicly expound on the “hotness” of some random guy out of respect for R, so for him to do this feels like a betrayal to me-even though he was asked by his employer to do it.  Am I being ridiculous?  The cycle goes like this:  He will write an article about a hot athlete, at some point I’ll discover it, then I will let him know how much it hurt my feelings.  He’ll explain that it was for his job and agree that it is shallow, but state that that is what people like to read.  We will eventually move past it until I discover yet again that he has written another article.  It’s never-ending and it never stops feeling hurtful to me, right or wrong.  I guess it boils down to this-the thought of him looking at another woman that way makes me ill.  For the four years we have been together, he’s all I’ve seen.  I’ve been so consumed with love for and attraction to him that other men are seldom noticed by me.  The fact that he is noticing other women, compounded by the fact that I’m big and pregnant and he and I aren’t intimate nearly as often as we used to be, saddens and hurts me deeply.

My work life is not fulfilling me, and that is not helping my depression.  My days (with the commute time thrown in) are long and I am completely exhausted most of the time.  As I’ve mentioned before, I work for a non-profit.  We do amazing work putting people with disabilities to work, building their skills, and helping them realize their potential.  My specific job within this company is demanding, though.  People are in and out of my office all day long needing things from me.  People even seem to get offended if they stopped by my office and I wasn’t here for them!  God forbid I should ever take a break or go on lunch.  I’m the Safety person in a manufacturing facility, so I handle first aid needs as well as OSHA regulations, L&I claims, etc.  Some days, I just want to shut my door and be left alone to do my paperwork and have some quiet.  Yet I am forced to interact with people from every department off and on all day long, and right now, it is really wearing on me.  I don’t want to chit chat, not do I want to put on my fake smile and act like everything is “just fine” when it is in fact not fine at all.  I am as low as I have ever been, it’s not getting better, and I can’t take depression medications for it (because of the possible risk to my baby). 

I feel as if all that I am doing in this blog is complaining, and no one (including myself) likes a complainer.  I’ve read countless books on being positive and creating one’s own world with positive thinking.  I believe those things, too.  I know on some level I am creating all this.  Yet, I also know that chemically things are “off” with me at this moment in time, and I need medication to help level me.  My depression is affecting every aspect of my life.  I see my kids being their wonderful selves, and I will still laugh with them and show them lots of affection, but those are moments in time.  The joy doesn’t last long, and god….I wish it would.  Just to feel that lightness of being again.  They deserve all of my joy and laughter, not my sorrow.  I felt horrible last night for crying in front of my two-year old.  He would come up to me and be his usual hilarious self, and I would stop crying and hug him and talk to him, but then he would go to the other end of the room to play and I would break down again.  Happiness, true lasting happiness, feels so far away now.  I don’t know how to get it back, and I don’t know how to get back to feeling connected to the love of my life.  We are about to have another child, and this should be the happiest of times.  I see him and I feel all the love I have always felt, but it’s as if I don’t know how to move the walls out of the way so I can get to him and tell him I still (and always will) love him.  We’ve reached an impasse that is beyond anything we’ve encountered before, and getting back to where we were feels impossible now.  That thought breaks my heart.