May

29

Stuck on Repreat

Do you ever get stuck in a moment?

I’m not talking about a whistful remembrance of a memory from long ago. No, really stuck. Your mind racing over all the “what if’s”, the “I wish I would’ve”, or “if only I could of”and of course, the “I should’ve”. What if those moments never stop? What if every new moment, is you stuck in an old moment? And then your new moments are regrets of not using your new moments to be better or change but to continually be your “if only” moments…. and it never ends…. the cycle never ceases.

I have a million “moments” from my youth. From high school. From college. From being a new wife. From being a new mother. From having my second child. From when I didn’t realize I wasn’t emotionally well. From realizing I had a problem. From how I chose to solve that problem. From the repercussions of trying to fix myself and failing. From all the things I have done and the hundreds of things I haven’t done. To realize I am getting too old to do so many of the things I dreamed I wanted to do because for so many years I thought I couldn’t do it.

I am constantly thinking of all the years wasted, only to get to a year later and realize I am in the same place I was the year before, and the year before that and that I’m constantly filled with guilt and anger that I didn’t change or do ANYTHING. That I barely tried. I’m thirty-two now, and I have missed out on so much. That isn’t to take away from what I have done but deep down I know it’s not enough. I have no specifics tonight. There are too many things to name. This post is vague and incompete but that, that is what I feel like my whole life is right now.

My days are vague, monotonous, and incomplete. The same thing day in and day out. Not growing, or changing, or achieving what I wish I would and the next day comes and instead of doing something different, it ever so carefully slips into that comfortable, yet terribly uncomfortable, existence that is my life.

But, I’m not the only one. I am paving the way for my family to be filled with regret too.

My life is playing on a continuous repeat. Rationally, it feels like it would be so easy to change. But truthfully, it feels like my life ended years ago, or maybe, it never actually begun.

Feb

27

Playing the Beauty

I have never been the most confident woman.  Even when I was young and beautiful, my body dysmorphia made it difficult to see those things about myself. I look back and feel regret for not loving myself.  I am trying to love who I am now despite not feeling attractive but it has been difficult.  When I was a size 10-12 I was so self-conscience about my body that I couldn’t even go swimming without my shorts.  So the Summer of 2015 I decided that all though I was the heaviest I had been I would start to accept myself so that IF I ever got back to my ideal size I would be more willing to love myself. It was the first time since I was 8 years old I didn’t go swimming in shorts. I felt self-conscience but empowered.

A couple weeks ago I put on my big girl panties and step out to audition for a theater company I had never worked with before. I was nervous and I, at times, doubt my own talent.  As I auditioned for And Then There Were None, I saw I was up against about 20 beautiful girls. About 1/2 were pretty good contenders in the acting category and there are only 3 women roles. A small 4-page role (Mrs. Rogers), and old spinster woman (Miss. Brent) and the young ingenue (Vera Claythorne). I tried my best but I watched a beautifully thin girl play the role perfectly.  I knew I had a good rehearsal and so I figured I would be cast as the old woman. After all, I have always been a good “character actor” especially since getting bigger. When the cast list was sent out I was in disbelief. I got the young and beautiful Vera Claythorne, who some of the men hit on.

I was excited, thrilled, and felt so happy to be cast into his role. But then my self-doubt hit me.  How can I play the beauty?  It’s hard for me to see myself as pretty.  I mean sometimes I do, so I know that is not a far-fetched thing, but the problem is I feel too big to feel attractive… And definitely not the “that woman is so attractive I’m sure 2 handsome men will hit on her constantly and one kisses her” attractive.  There are lines that feel like they sting instead of flatter.  And when I have to run and panic, I feel my body fails me every time.

The book’s description of Vera Claythorne:

-The athletic type (pg. 168)
-Quite attractive but schoolmistressy (p. 5)

The play description:

-A good-looking girl in her twenties.

Pictures of actresses who have played Vera:

vera collage See… gorgeous! And thin!!

I try to get into character but my doubts and lack of confidence in my body cause me to doubt everything I do.  I want to succeed, I want to act and I  know that to be a good actress you have to throw away all abandonment but I can’t help feel like I am a stranger in my own skin.

How can I do my job and push aside my insecurities? I am working on it and I believe that there is a reason I was cast as this role and not someone else.  I have made some friends in the cast already and the girl who was cast as Miss Brent, who happens to be in her 20’s, thin, and beautiful, gave me one of the nicest compliments.  She said, “I’m so glad you were cast as Vera. I thought they were going to go with one of those overly young girls.  Your monologue was so good! You deserved this role.”

I do deserve this role and I am not going to let my demons take that away from me. It may be a tug-of-war but I believe I will win out in the end. I have to!

Aug

25

Backsliding

It’s amazing how much can change in so little of time.   I had a whole 2 months of hope.  2 months of feeling I am on my way towards a better life for myself and my family. Then it was gone. No warning. No chance to brace myself or my family.

In April I had found a moment of energy that pushed me to getting things in order.  I busted my butt, and got the house clean, I mean REALLY clean.  Not just straightened up and things thrown in the random corners. It felt nice. It inspired me. I started making goals of all the things I wanted to do in our house. All the things I have put off for 2 years since moving into our house.  I wanted to decorate and make the place a home. I didn’t want that work to be in vain so I maintained it, and it was easy.  The kids were willing to help me, to do their chores with no complaining because it was “doable”. The attitude in the home switched.  Dinners became easier.  Cleaning up as we lived was easier. We started doing more together, the kids would rather play a family board game than watch TV. I even felt motivated to blog, I felt hope and couldn’t work on my old drafts that felt, for lack of a better word, depressing.  I thought this was what I was waiting for. Maybe things will be different now. I was wrong.

Within a blink of an eye I lost it and couldn’t get it back. The motivation, the joy and pride, gone.  I had hit a wall and couldn’t recover.

My cousin was getting married and with only a week left before her wedding my Mother informs me she needs help.  She has no decorations, no one helping nor even really supporting this wedding.  My Mom just wanted opinions and ideas but then she got some bad news. My Mom needed knee surgery and they could only get her in on the Friday (the day before the wedding when she was suppose to decorate and get things ready for the wedding).  So to help my mother and cousin I stepped up.  I took over the decorations and spent a whole lot of time and energy to get things perfect for my cousin’s wedding. I was exhausted.  It took a lot out of me. My cousin never even said thank you, which was surprisingly not a surprise.

As the reception ended I stayed after to clean up and realized my Mother who just had extensive knee surgery was going to be on her own in a very cluttery house (thanks to my father).  I knew she would not take the time she needed to rest her knee.  She would be getting up too often to make food and wouldn’t be able to escape the temptation to clean her house.  So I insisted on her staying at our house.  She was there for 1 1/2 weeks.  With me feeling drained it took all I had left in me to care for her and all of my routines that I had set up to keep the house clean went out the window.  I never recovered. The house never recovered. The burden and failure of being unable to maintain and stay on that positive road pushed me even further down into despair.  The temperature even changed, literally.  In Phoenix we had one of the coolest Mays we have ever had then suddenly in the last weekend of May we went from high 80s to the 100’s.  Trying to work and clean during the day sucks when it’s hot, then factoring in physical and emotional exhaustion, lack of motivation and disappointment, it’s nearly impossible.  I couldn’t do it.  I backslided into a puddle of quicksand. I couldn’t escape.  It feels like I never will.

I look back and think, “Why is this so hard? I did it before and thrived!” but then all those deep dark thoughts steep and stew in my mind and take up all the space in my brain.  All those little hidden pockets of dim hope have been blackened into a cancerous ooze.

It’s times like these that I get so angry.  Why is this my life? Why is this my lot? Why do I have to suffer so? Why does my family have to go through this? I want to give up.  However, I never could do that with a clear conscience. I suppose that’s a good thing. Right?

Apr

17

Parenting with Depression: Something’s wrong with Mommy

It is a well know fact that parenting is no easy task. It is not for the weak of heart. It takes time, energy, diligence, patience, kindness, love, selflessness, discipline, having fun and so much more than I can even name.

When I was young, I always knew I would be a Mom. I thought how my child would never go through what I suffered. I had this ideal in my head, that most ‘never been mothers’ have.  I knew it would be hard.  Something I never factored in was depression and anxiety. How could I know it would hit me so hard and so deep?

After years of struggle and feeling like I have failed and have damaged my children beyond repair (Please see Parenting with Depression: The Fear of Neglect), I had to hope and pray that it wasn’t true and that my kids could still be alright.  Despite all of the struggles and failings, I knew that my kids KNEW that I LOVED them. I also knew that they still LOVE ME. My husband and I realized that my kids weren’t little anymore.  They needed to know that what is going on with Mommy is NOT normal.

As much as it hurt, I swallowed my pride and told them, “There’s something wrong with Mommy”.

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There are going to be times that I am so tired I can’t get up out of bed or off the couch.  That this is a result of the sickness, it is not normal and Mommy is trying to get better.  There are going to be times where Mommy gets mad for no reason, and I may yell.  This is not normal and Mommy will sometimes need a time out to calm down.  There are times when Mommy can’t stop crying but I will be okay. I had always thought that a Mother comforts her children, not the other way around. Sometimes we have to accept that this is what our family has to do. ( I seriously have the sweetest children alive!)

mom_comforting_siblings_

We have always been honest at telling our kids that we make mistakes and when we are wrong we apologize.  When I have a bad mood swing or can’t play with them the way I need to and want to; I apologize and remind them that I love them with all my heart, that I am going to keep on trying to get better.

The reason I wanted to share this post was because of an incident last Monday with my eldest, Blake.  Last Monday I was beat from a very tiring weekend.  We had guests over so I busted my butt getting things cleaned; 1- to avoid embarrassment and 2- it was a great excuse/reason/motivation whatever you want to call it, to get my house clean, something I desperately want to be done but struggle to do.

So Monday rolls around and I have been trying really hard to be “present” with my kids.  Liam and I decided to make banana muffins, however,  the kids must have woken up super early because they were all grumps.  I took Liam and Keira to the store to get walnuts and on the way home Keira fell asleep.  It was barely 10:30am and I am beyond exhausted.  I try to convince Liam to watch a show so I can lay down for a moment while Keira was sleeping but he insisted on making the muffins right then.  So we did.  Then Keira wakes up. She barely took a 45 minute nap.  The rest of the day felt like it was moving so slowly. By around 3 I knew Blake would be home soon.  Keira was intently watching Tumble Leaf on Amazon while Liam was playing games on my phone and I decided to lay down.  It’s something I always feel terrible about.   I don’t feel as bad when Keira is napping because I know Liam loves having TV time for himself without having to watch Curious George, Tinker Bell or any other “kiddie” show.  However, on Monday Keira was up and I couldn’t last any longer.  I laid down in my bed (which is only 5 1/2 ft away from the Living Room) and I was hoping to just rest but I fell asleep.  I briefly woke up when I heard Blake come home. I reminded him today was his last day of dance and that we will need to leave soon but then I quickly drifted back to sleep. I woke up abruptly only to see it was already time for dance class and he would be late.

I was so mad.  It was his last day of class, they were having rehearsal on the stage where they would be performing this Saturday and he was missing it!  I came out of my room angry! Rushing everyone to get shoes on and taking it out on Blake.  “You knew you had dance at 4. Why aren’t you ready?  Why didn’t you get me?” This anger and frustration and blaming continued as we got in our van and then it hit me! “What are you doing AVA?!?!  This isn’t HIS fault! You are the Mother, it is your responsibility! You are mad at yourself NOT him.”  In the past when I heard that voice, I don’t know if it was pride or fear or what, but I wouldn’t listen to it. I use to not want to admit when I was wrong and when I did it was after the fact. Luckily, the me that wants to get better made a decision that had always been so hard to do int he past. I stopped.

“Blake, I’m sorry.  It is not your fault. It’s mine.  I fell asleep and should have been more aware.  I am mad at me, not you. Do you Understand?  Do you Forgive me?”

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I have always apologized in the past, but this time I not only recognized my mistake IN the moment, I didn’t let it continue.  I stopped it right away. I didn’t let it fester and build. I didn’t realize I was wrong then feel guilty, get more mad at myself and continue to take it out on my innocent son( like I have so many other times in the past). I was honest and in that moment instead of being a mean Mom, an unfair Mom. I became a teacher.  I taught my child that we are in control of emotions, even though it is very hard.  That if they get carried away in the moment, we have the power and control to stop it. We can recognize our faults and fix it there and then if we allow ourselves to.  Apologies and forgiveness can be immediate, powerful and can be healing.

mother and son

Yes, there is something wrong with Mommy but I am getting better.  I  can recognize my faults and so can my kids.  I can teach them even when I don’t always think it’s possible.  I can and will always love them.  Most importantly; they show me that I can be loved in return.

parentchild

 

Mar

27

Too many feelings.

I have heard that some people who are depressed feel numb, feel nothing. Many who feel this way often turn to things that make them “feel” again, like cutting. They would rather feel pain than nothing at all. Anything to prove they are alive.

I, on the other hand, feel every negative feeling you can think of, only harder, stronger and all the time.  It feels like the emotions never end.  There have been days where I will cry for hours upon hours.  Usually having no understanding for why I feel the way I do.  So much sadness, fear, loss, helplessness, hopelessness, regret, guilt, anger, hate, misery, self-loathing, pain… I feel all of it at once.  It causes me to have migraines, feel physically sick and weak.  And all though I feel mostly negative feelings there are moments when I do find joy.  These moments of happiness are usually brief and fleeting. Many times when I do feel the lift of positivity, something inside me says “you don’t deserve this”. I then fall back down into my cesspool of inadequacy, loneliness, rage, rejection, embarrassment, doubt, shame, jealousy, grief… I often find myself wishing I could hold onto the joy but more often, I would do anything to just feel Nothing.