Monday Musings on Writing and on Being

I have been writing since I was a child; I can’t remember a time I didn’t have a notebook next to my bed. I’d wake up in the middle of the night to record my dreams. I wrote plays and forced my friends to perform them (I was a very demanding director, I hear…). When I wanted to learn Spanish, I started writing short stories in Spanish. I learn by writing things down. I think in written words. Writing is who I am, or who I should be.

Why is it, then, that I stopped? I still have a notebook by my bed (albeit an empty one). I still think in words and revel at the sound of them, at the glorious way they are spelled: that two or three or four sounds come together in just such a way. I love imagining what different people understand as they hear words, and trying to fashion them in such a way as to create a replica of my image in their head, however difficult and futile an intention. When I meet new people, I create elaborate background stories about difficulties they might have faced or the unique lives they’ve led up until this point or imagine in depth characters and dream about the stories I could insert them into. Yet I never write them down anymore. I never go beyond the dreaming phase.

My father has always imagined me his child of action. He tells me I’m the business mind in our family, whereas my brother is the artist and the creative spirit (the latter is true). He tells me I’m strong and determined and can do anything I set my mind to. All of this may be true of my character, my real character, hidden deep inside. However, I haven’t actuated many of my true goals. I don’t commit 100% to anything that I do. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t even committed myself fully to my family and my life.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my children – and my husband – with the depth and breadth of my very being. I would (and do) live and die for them. But those are the easy things. They came out of my body, small, needing me, pure souls with eyes that could break right through me. The hard part is committing day to day to be there for them 100%. To get up in the morning the way (and at the time – meaning, early) that is best for them, to set my husband up for success in his day and to give all of them my full attention and being when we are together.

Of course in this modern world of mobile phones, iPads and constant news chatter, there are few that even think of being so mindful in their daily interactions. But this is where suffering comes from (at least, according to that Buddhist CD my mom gave me…). The days, even the small moments, I choose to give my all – to anything, even cleaning (without the TV on or the news or anything else), that’s where joy lives. That’s where I feel connected to my children, my husband, my friends, my neighbors and more importantly, to myself.

And in those moments, it flashes back to me. No matter what I’m doing, even if it has nothing to do with that moment, my soul whispers, “I want to write. I want to be a writer. I am a writer.”

Of course, that scares the crap out of my head and my heart and I instantly start to think about all the ways I’d do it wrong (as if that’s a thing – writing wrong?), all the ways I’d fail, all the ways people would judge what I wrote and all of the ways I’d be lacking, always lacking. Why is it that our consciousness believes that in order to protect our tender souls, it must push us away from being who we truly are? From what we truly desire?

It is a lie that one can fail. There is no such thing as failure, or success. There is only doing. There is only joy and fear.

I am always, constantly, daily tired of living in fear and I am always, constantly, daily afraid of letting go of my fear. Yet this too is because I’m afraid I’ll fail. I’m afraid I won’t let go of my fear properly. I’m afraid it will come back (it will) and that this will mean I can’t do it (it doesn’t). When in fact, I did do it, it just came back and I must do it again. Constantly. Every moment. I must do it again, until it too, just like living in fear is now, becomes habit.

“Yet,” my brain says, “how tiring it will be to be so vigilant, to constantly be aware and mindful of your thoughts. To have to stop yourself and reprogram your mind. Aren’t you tired already, just thinking about it?” However, I’m already doing that. My mind is so vigilant that even when I’m asleep, if I try to let go, it grasps ahold of me, sometimes even waking me up to make sure that I don’t let go of my anxiety and my fear. To ensure that I am always aware of it. That is tiring already. So, why does it matter if this would be tiring also? Exhausted with a purpose and all that jazz.

I have a home now. A beautiful home, surrounded by trees and covered in their fallen leaves. My children pick them up and excitedly show me the colors, in awe of what they’ve just created by their finding. In the morning, we wake up and gaze out the window to see deer wandering through the leaves, eating the grass underneath.

I have friends. I have kindred spirits who make my heart burst with happiness just to think of them. People that truly love me and want me in their lives because of the unique joy I bring.

I have a husband who loves me and chose to live his future with me, combining our lives into one family, one shared experience. Yet I doubt this. Constantly. I fight with him to make him prove how he loves me, as if our life isn’t daily proof. As if his going to work in a job he doesn’t like in order to support our family isn’t proof. As if his living in America and always making the best choices for our family isn’t proof. As if his care and love for his children isn’t somehow connected to me always and isn’t proof. I committed to him, yet I didn’t accept that commitment, either by him or by myself. I am still holding back in order not to get hurt. But were anything to happen to our relationship, to our family, to our love, I would be devastated. So it didn’t work; I haven’t protected myself at all.

Years ago, after I was hospitalized for an overdose, I made the tentative decision to choose life. I asked for help. I “got better”. Now, and ever since, I grow. I change. I better myself. I strive. I take my medication. I want to live. Yet, I never committed fully to that choice either. I chose to live, but I didn’t choose to live in joy. I didn’t chose to let go of everything that was holding me back. I’m striving and seeking to better myself blind, with my hands tied behind my back. Of course it feels hard. Of course it’s a daily struggle. If I just release my binds, my life would soar, I would soar.

A therapist I came to trust once told me it was like flipping a switch. I didn’t believe him at the time because if it were that easy, why wasn’t I already doing it? Why wasn’t everyone doing it? I don’t really know how to continue the metaphor, but I believe there is some truth to it being that easy in theory, it just must be done over and over again in every moment until it’s habit. Because my thinking now, my deliberately turning the switch off the moment any glimmer of hope creeps in, is a habit. One that is harder to break than the drugs, harder to quit than cigarettes.

“Live mindfully” has become as common an expression as any (at least in the circles I run in), but it’s rarely talked about what that actually means. Or how hard it actually is to start. Imagine how hard it is to quiet your mind the first time you try to meditate? That’s what living mindfully is like, except every second of the day. Every second you must silence the chatter that your brain is feeding you and calling your own voice. Yet you must do it without a struggle, or else it is just your brain fighting with itself, and that is not actually being mindful at all.

So, here I am. Sitting by my window with a cup of coffee on this cold, dreary, rainy Monday morning and I’m writing. I’m not thinking. I’m just writing. So, that’s a start.

Advertisements

My Happy Place

I went to Bikram today for the first time in ages. In fact, I think I’ve been a total of twice since I became pregnant with the boy (in 2011). However, even though it’s been about four years since I’ve been and even another year or so before then since I’ve been regularly, it still felt just like coming home.

I was so nervous before – worried about everything from the way I look in my yoga pants to passing out or throwing up in class. The latter didn’t happen and though I didn’t look the way I did the last time I went to class, right when I entered that room and looked at myself in the mirror, all the judgement escaped. I realized that those are the only times I ever feel that way. I’m always so hard on myself, constantly critical. Until, that is, I’m standing in front of a huge mirror with myriad other people in various levels of undress. It’s a bit odd, but I seriously just found my people.

Now, however, I have a headache and I’m really sore.

I can’t wait to keep going and I can’t wait to start feeling that sense of peace within myself outside of the yoga studio and for longer amounts of time. I desperately long for it. Though I feel slightly trepidatious, I also feel pretty excited.

Today is Just as Good as Tomorrow and Tomorrow is Just as Good as Monday 

 

This is not me. Nor is it a realistic portrayal of anyone actually meditating.
 
Read that title again. Bam. Mind blown, right? You’re welcome. And yes, you can quote me. 

Okay, so it didn’t really come from me and the idea isn’t completely unique, either. A friend who’s a personal trainer said it to me when we were talking about my exercise regimen. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I’ve since lied to her a few times about having accomplished said regimen, when in fact, I’ve done nothing. Though I haven’t reaped the benefits as of yet, what she said really stuck with me, and though I don’t recall her exact quote, it’s turned into what I’ve written in the title: Today is just as good as tomorrow and tomorrow is just as good as Monday. 

I’m pretty sure it has something to do with not being a perfectionist. Or not putting off things that are important. Or something. 

Like I said, this hasn’t yet inspired me to start exercising (Though, I will. I’m starting Monday. I kid, I kid.), but it has inspired me. Oddly enough, that and a post I read on Elephant Journal (I’m not going to link it today because I’ve already read my 3 free articles for the day. If I remember, I’ll come back and link it. It’s definitely better reading than this post.) has inspired me to start meditating. Now. As in, I just did. For all of 5 minutes. On a Tuesday. #winning

I’m embarking on a journey that has been long overdue and that has been on my mind for some time. My soul is not at peace. And I don’t mean the sort of peace that comes with enlightenment or anything. I mean, I am not okay. Im not okay with God, with life, or with myself. I don’t handle stress well. I’m having major physical problems and lack the will power to do anything to change what’s causing the problems. I’m impatient and out-of-control. And I’m spiraling. Furthermore, if I’m really honest, I don’t know how much more I can take. I haven’t actually thought about killing myself, as the idea of leaving my children without their mother makes me want to climb into bed with each of them right now and kiss every inch of their beautiful selves, but I know that those thoughts will come if I let this go on. I’m stuck in all the horrible traps that most people in this modern age are (according to any hippie magazine, at least): addictive behaviors, inflammatory diet, wallowing in negativity, excessive self-involvement/ego and anger. I’m angry at myself, at my husband, my son and daughter, my parents, my friends, strangers I pass on the street, but most of all, I think, I’m angry at God. 

So, I’ve been slowly working my way up to doing something about it. And I really do mean slowly. But that’s okay. Because today is also as good as yesterday, I hear. Okay, I’ve never heard that and just made it up, but I’m sure it’s also true. 

So here we go. 30 days of meditating. NO EXCUSES. No judgment, no expectations and no dogma (of my own invention). 

How did the first night go, you ask? Well, I’ve already learned one thing: the bedroom of your child who has a cold is not the best location to choose. Every sniffle and cough had me opening my eyes, no matter what I told myself about letting sleeping babies lie (Or something. I’m continuing with the cliché theme.). 

Beyond that, I felt a bit silly and yet really amazing for doing it. Just the act of sitting and straightening my back into proper posture felt like the promise of relief to come. 

I tried to delve into love. I realized, if I know what I’m missing – this joyful, unconditional true love that I can almost imagine, then that means I must have felt it before. Which means it’s real. Which maybe means God is real and perhaps He hasn’t abandoned me. 

Anyway, nothing too deep to report. I basically started writing this post in my head about 30 seconds in and kept trying to bring my attention back to my breath… But I sort of wish I hadn’t because what I wrote then is waaaay better than what I’m writing now. Regardless, I shall continue. For 29 more days. 

Not Monday, but tomorrow. 

Everything Will Be Awesome

So we recently watched The Lego Movie and I’ve pretty much had the song, “Everything Is Awesome” in my head ever since. Which, to be honest, isn’t so awesome. However, I’m feeling really pumped right now (and it’s a pretty good “feeling pumped” song) and I think it’s safe to say that while things have not changed much for the better as of yet, things are looking up up up.

We are moving. Yes, that’s right. Moving to an ENGLISH. SPEAKING. COUNTRY. Yes, I was yelling. That’s how excited I am. We’re moving to the U.S. in September; specifically, to New Jersey. I know it seems awful and cliche and like I’m setting myself up for failure, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to win at life once we move. We’re going to save money and possibly even buy a house! We’ve got quotes from lenders and everything! I’m going to exercise and everything will be fantastic.

Okay, I know it won’t be that easy, but it will be easier and right now, that’s huge. Because it’s been so hard for so long, I’m ready to give up. Except I don’t have to.

What I’m going to do, though, is start setting goals. During the week, I’m going to do one thing for myself every day. Saturday, I’m going to yoga (Starting this Saturday – Eek!!). One day (TBA), I will blog. Another, I will paint. The others will be exercise related. I will also stretch and clean every day for fifteen minutes each. No more, no less. Beyond, of course, the laundry and dishes.

What inspired this? Besides the fact that I’m “thinking” of doing this all the time? My husband said that we weren’t ready to own a house. And though he’s right, I want to prove him wrong. I want to be ready. I want to take my life back because I’m ready to have one and I finally have the opportunity.

More to come.

To Add Insult to Injury

I’m so tired, I laughed out loud at this after googling “insomnia”…

Now I can’t sleep! For the first two months of my newborn daughter’s life, I was falling asleep everywhere (as most mothers of a newborn and a toddler are, I’m sure): in the rocker nursing, on the sofa watching Monsters, Inc, on the futon reading the boy a story, occasionally in bed and again, every night, at least twice, in the rocker nursing. Now, insomnia has joined the already amazing party of depression, anxiety and stress. Welcome, old friend.

My nine week old baby (today) slept six and a half hours in a row last night. That should be cause for celebration. I should feel like the most well-rested, happy mom that ever was. Instead, it took me about an hour of that to fall asleep and then I woke up about five times for about ten minutes or so each and then, when she did finally wake up at 4:15, I couldn’t fall back asleep.

FOUR FIFTEEN IN THE MORNING.

Just letting that sink in. I nursed her for about 45 minutes and got caught up with the world (cough. Facebook.), then lay in bed for what seemed like an infinity pondering every conceivable thing I could possibly have on my mind for half an hour until finally, like a grown up, I got up.

This is the first time I have ever gotten up when I had insomnia. Usually I stay in bed hating myself – thinking about how amazing it is that when I open my eyes, my whole body feels like lead and all I want to do most in the world is close them so that I, the most tired person ever, can go to sleep, yet when I close my eyes, I’m solving world hunger and mapping out my whole life for the next ten years and really I should get up and write this down before it’s all gone (Hint: it’s all gone.).

I settled for tea and toast and reading a bit.

Postpartum

I really didn’t think postpartum depression would be an issue for me – mainly because I’m already depressed. How could you have two forms of depression? Well, it turns out, you can. Postpartum, it seems, is much more physical. Or perhaps that’s just because it’s anxiety? Really, I don’t even know how to write about this because I don’t even know how to feel about it. Frankly, I don’t understand how to even feel it, let alone analyze or describe it. It’s new, and different. And with my history of depression and anxiety, I wasn’t expecting that. I was completely sidelined.

People keep saying to me that I’m just being too hard on myself and expecting perfection and having two kids is supposed to be hard. I know that it is. But, even though the boy is in Kita, I still can’t seem to function. Even though the girl sleeps pretty well at night, I still don’t seem rested and up to the task of caring for them. My nerves are on edge. Just a little whine or cry sets me off and I am horrified to find myself thinking about shaking her or throwing her or punching him or just leaving them on the train platform and walking away. Now, scary as that may sound (and believe me, it scares me), I know that I’m still “together” enough not to actually do those things. But it is still pretty scary. And horrible. I look at their little faces and my heart breaks because I love them so much that I just can’t.

I wake up and try to prepare myself to have a good day. After all, I’m pretty lucky. My husband takes the wild child to school every morning so that I can sleep in with the baby. I have a cleaner that comes once a week. My husband will also pick up the slack in the evenings: he makes dinner, he cleans the kitchen, and takes over caring for the boy. Literally ALL I have to do is get out of the house around midday to pick up the boy, get home, put him down for a nap and put on a movie when he wakes up (or better yet, actually play with him, but that’s another level entirely). That’s it. I should be able to handle that. And some days I can. Occasionally I can even do it without breaking down and crying.

But most days, she doesn’t cooperate. Or he doesn’t. She would usually fall asleep on the way to pick him up – Great! Then, there is something about his school that wakes her up. Always. So I try to put his coat on and get him out the door as quickly as possible so that the movement of the stroller/carrier (I’m willing to try anything) will lull her back to sleep quickly so that I can give some attention to poor little boy who I love so much I start crying just thinking about it. However, said beautiful little boy rarely cooperated. He would lag. He would stop to look at sticks. He would try and run in puddles. It would be raining and of course he won’t carry his umbrella or keep his hood up. It would end in her screaming and then him screaming as well, seemingly trying to match her in volume, all to get my attention.

I bought a double stroller. That solved the problem with him, yet she still wakes up and cries and then he cries. And then I cry. On the train. In public. In the rain.

Often, she falls asleep again before we get home and I put him to bed fine and honestly, the rest of the day could proceed well. But it doesn’t. Because that in and of itself is enough to completely destroy me. I’m shattered for the rest of the day. So that when, during our movie (AKA my minimal parenting time), she wakes up and I have to feed her, I sob when he looks at her and moves slightly away. Then of course, he starts crying and saying, “Stop, mommy. Stop. It’s OK. Stop, mommy.”, which just makes me cry all the more.

Those are good days. When she sleeps. When it isn’t raining or snowing so much that taking her out isn’t just ridiculous.

I’m so tired. My body feels slack, like there is nothing holding my shoulders up above my back and head up on my neck. I have actually body aches like flu symptoms and searing headaches.The instant the baby cries, I start having a panic attack. Yet I try my best to smile at my boy and tell him it’ll be fine and that his baby sister just cries sometimes and that that is OK. And it is in that trying that I lose it. It is somehow that trying that is too much for my heart.

Apparently my husband, who doesn’t understand at all and who is getting more and more frustrated with me and with whom I have resorted to communicating with in either passive aggressive or defensive snaps and snarls, was worried enough to call my mom. So she flew out. Which helps, in that I now have time to sit here and drink tea and write this while someone else tries to put my two beautiful children to sleep. And I’m eating much better. But I’m still crying. And I the baby crying or fussing still makes me so anxious, my stomach hurts. And my little boy’s face still breaks my heart.

I have called my midwife and emailed a therapist. I am going to call my doctor tomorrow, but I don’t have a lot of hope that this will be cleared up. And I really worry about what it’s doing to my marriage.

But then, I worry about everything.