Meeting

Our school meeting went…surprisingly well.  The VP spoke to my daughter like she was a human being, and made her feel like she is part of the decision about how to manage her phone use at school.

She’s happy with the result.  Whether it is helpful remains to be seen – but I know that her buying in is more than half the battle.

So the solution is this:  When a teacher sees her using her phone inappropriately, they will casually walk by and place a hand on her desk. A non-verbal cue, so that she doesn’t feel singled out.  Her job then will be to put it away.

The final thought left with her this meeting was that she has control over what happens next.  If it goes well, then there will be no need to change anything.  If not, she knows that things will escalate.  But, whether or not they escalate is up to her.

It’s a compromise between her phone being a tool to cope with anxiety, and it being a hindrance to schoolwork.

Fingers crossed.

Therapy day

The best thing that happened to me today happened on my way into therapy.  I parked my car outside the hospital, and went to the machine to pay for parking.  Just as I was about to stick my coins in, a woman leaving the lot waved to me from her car.  I walked over, she smiled as she handed her all-day pass to me.

There is kindness.

The rest of my day was not so heartening.  We had a two hour all-staff meeting at work.  I hate these meetings.  They happen a few times a year, and they’re supposed to be an opportunity to meet new staff, and find out what is going on in each section.

My section has been grossly understaffed until a few weeks ago, when they finally filled a position that had been vacant for a year.  A year in which I had to wear many hats- or I should say, all of the hats.  I wore all of the hats, covering three positions in total, while all the while management’s expectations remained high.  I felt like I was being set up to fail.  Even though I think I fucking performed miracles daily, I constantly felt like I was saying no more than yes, and looking like I was underperforming, which I know, is ridiculous.

In comes in new team member.  She is great, I really like her, but the thing is, she has way less experience than me.  She is constantly coming to me for advice, which she willingly takes (it could be worse that way, I know).  She is grateful, I know that.

Thing is, the rest of the office sees her as some sort of messiah, as if nothing was happening while that position was vacant.  UM, HELLO? And now I am invisible.  People are going to her, not responding to my emails, and worst of all, attributing credit for some great things happening on our team to her.  They don’t realize that this work didn’t come from nowhere.  It was months of my planning and implementation and ironing out glitches.

That all said, it is not about my ego.  I’m not looking for glory, just credit where credit is due, and more importantly, recognition that I did pretty fucking well considering I was doing three jobs on my own.

So yes, I am bitter.

And in the background simmers my anxiety about my daughter and what this school meeting tomorrow will bring.  I know it is going to get worse with her before it gets better.  I am tired of people saying to me, “You just have to do it- take her phone away.”  Well, duh.  I will do what I have to do- that doesn’t mean I don’t know what that will look like- the yelling, the meltdowns (hers *and* mine), the refusal to go to school, the hours I will have to miss from work, the alcohol I will feel compelled to consume to give me a bit of relief at the end of the day.  She is a kid who will resist and defy and argue and protest just to wear. me. down. at a time that I have so many other things wearing me down.

So with all that and more, I got myself to therapy for session 2 with A.  I just sort of went on and all over the place with the many sources of my stress and anxiety, to the point of breathlessness.  My mother, my ex-husband and his years of infidelity, blending families, my old house which isn’t selling, the trauma of anonymous cyberharassment.  And more.  I think she was a bit stunned.

I pondered out loud that the universe is trying to tell me something, but that I couldn’t figure out what it is.

I’m trying to recognize that there isn’t much I can do about the various sources of shit being flung at me.  We all get it at some point in our lives. It is how we react that matters.  How we cope.  What I can have a teensy bit of control over is how I replenish and take care of myself – which right now consists of alcohol and hours lost to playing 1010.

She said, start with 10 minutes a day.  Read a favourite book.  Or listen to music.  Or go for a walk.

I will have to mull that one over.  I don’t even know what feels good anymore.  I just know that what I am currently doing is not getting me into a better place.

Didn’t didn’t done

Never did ride my bike today.  I set myself up, big time.  The boy missed his bus, he ran back home in a panic, off I sent him, back to the bus stop to wait for the next one.  By the time I got my lunch together (and blogged) it was already 8:45.  Too late.

I need to be out of the house by 8:00 a.m. to really do that.

Then I thought, it’s okay.  I’ll get on the spin bike when I get home.  But, just before I left the office, an email from the girl’s school.  She’s having problems staying off her phone in class.  A meeting is scheduled for later this week to come up with a “solution.”

Drama ensued when I got home from work.  I don’t understand her anxiety and what she needs to cope (chatting with her friends online, apparently).

I do understand anxiety.  Big time.  She doesn’t see (or want to see) that her ‘anxiety’ became more of a problem when she got a phone.  I don’t doubt it is part of her constellation- but I hate also feeling like I am being played because really, she just would rather chat with her friends that do school work.

I am weary.  This is only the third week of school.

I feel like I am never going to get back to a world where I have time to take care of myself.  To exercise a few times week.  Maybe get a pedicure, or go out with a friend.  Instead self-care has become about making it through the day so that I can escape with some Netflix and wine before bed.  I know this isn’t right.

I go back to therapy today after a long absence.  I don’t know where to start with A.  We’d only had one session before she went off on vacation. I only have to focus on getting there I guess, for now.

Ok.  Time to get off my butt and moving.  The day is beginning.

And…in other news…

I had an appointment with my pdoc the other day.  The last time I’d seen her I was in high stress, high parenting crisis mode.  We talked about supports, therapy, etc.  And she asked to see me in a month.

I’m not in crisis anymore–I don’t even think I’m depressed.  But, there’s an annoying low-level of anxiety that flares up in certain contexts, like work (where I’m working in a no-win, understaffed situation which management barely gives lip service too), and of course, when my daughter isn’t doing well.  It is said that you’re only as happy as your least happy child when you’re a parent, and I think that rings true.

It is awful to say, but she does trigger me.  It triggers anxiety and guilt and even despair at times.  At the end of it all, it exhausts me and it takes all my effort to just get the basics done.

So pdoc and I discussed this.  I used to have so much motivation.  I was the one who Got Things Done.  That feels like a lifetime ago.  It’s weird because in my head I feel that there are things I want to do, but then there’s a break in the circuit of actually getting started.

Which…all means that I walked out of her office with a prescription for Wellbutrin.  I’ve been on it before.  It helped.  I know all about dopamine and what it does (woohoo!  let’s PARTY!) and I hope it gives me some motivation back, because fuck knows I have a lot to do in the next while.

Detachment, Depletion, and Subjugation

(How’s that for a light and fluffy title?)

There’s a certain conversation I’ve had with many of the professionals involved in my daughter’s care.  She has struggles, of course.  Right now, school and studying are front and centre as we head into exam time.

While she’s extremely bright (like over 95th percentile bright in her psych ed testing) she struggles with the typical things that many people with ASD and/or ADHD struggle with- executive functioning, organization, working through things slowly and methodically, dealing with frustration when things aren’t easy.  It drives her nuts when I say this, but she really does have the potential to do so well.  She interprets this as pressure.

Thing is, she doesn’t because, at the end of the day, she really doesn’t care.  I have to cajole and humour and convince.  She resists.  Then we devolve into yelling, frustration on both ends, and when it’s really bad, tears.  The bottom line, as her psychologist Dr. B has told me so many times…is that I can’t make her care.  It will happen when she wants it to happen. She will reap both the rewards and the consequences of her actions.

Dr. B is always quick to remind me as well that she’s not just a kid with ASD,  she is a typical, defiant almost-15 year old girl and well who is wont to disagree with her parents at every possible opportunity.  Like it is for sport.  Because that’s what almost-15 year olds do.

Better to let her fail now, and understand what that means now, rather than later, Dr B tells me.  My head knows this is right.  But it goes against what I want for her as my child.  I want my child to be happy, successful, capable, fulfilled.

Then I catch myself–all those sentences up there begin with I.  It’s all about me.  This is where I wonder if I am projecting.  If I want her success to be my definition of success.  Then I think about her holding down a job, having to pay bills, meeting her basic needs–and I start to get anxious. And then between the two of us, our collective anxiety spirals up and up until one or both of us has a meltdown of some kind.  This is never pretty.

So the only thing I can realistically counsel myself to do is detach, detach, detach.  Caring while not investing my very being into it, letting her lead her own way, with positive, gentle support and guidance from me in the background.  Remembering that my job is to create a healthy environment to facilitate her own good decision making, give her the right tools–and then remembering that it is up to her at the end of it all to pick up those tools and use them.

***

Too much focus and anxiety over her well-being also has done me harm. It has been a rough two years.  Ex-h’s drama did a number on me, then realizing that he is a narcissist has totally reframed how I deal with him now, and what our relationship was about.  It took me a long time to figure out the latter, and I’m still stunned (and a bit disappointed in myself) that it took me that long to figure him out.

It is time for me to step back and engage in some serious self-care.  I’ve been good at it at various points in my life, but at some point something has always derailed me.  I can’t afford to let that happen any more.  I can’t subjugate my needs to the changing tides of others.

Tomorrow June 1, is day one.  I am going to start by doing something good for me every single day.  I don’t know what it’ll be, big or small, but I have to feel like I am enriching myself in some way.

I’m also starting a new meds tweak – my pdoc has added Wellbutrin.  She thinks it might help with my lack of energy and motivation.  I sure hope so. I am tired of being tired, always being in a rush but walking through mud at the same time.

Wish me luck, oh internets…

How to pop a blood vessel

I sometimes have moments where I think, it can’t get any crazier or scarier or more stressful.  Then, without fail, I’m proven wrong.

I’m doing my best to keep the anxiety at bay.  The man helps me in this way immensely, but when he’s not around, it creeps up again.

I am stressed/anxious about many, many things right now.  The prospect of child support and/or alimony coming to a halt.  The Boy wanting to live at one house because he is tired of dragging his possessions around and having to keep track of what is wear.  The Girl sucking up all the energy in the room, day in and day out, not leaving space for anyone else’s needs to be met.  My mother being 89 and me waiting for the phone call that will change everything.  Moving.  Buying a house and blending a family, selling another.  A job where I am working three jobs at once and slowly losing. my. mind.

If I hear another person tell me that all I have to do is prioritize, say no, make things simple I am going to pop a blood vessel.

I need something good, something unexpected to happen.

I need to really, really believe that this too, all of it, shall pass.

I need to just be, instead of always doing.

Suicidal ideation

I’m at the local children’s hospital, with my daughter. After a particularly epic meltdown, she told me that she sometimes thought about killing herself. She said that she knows how much of a burden she is to me, to her father, and to her brother.

I have to take this seriously, which explains why we are here, surrounded by sniffling toddlers and weary parents. Every once in a while I glance up and see someone staring, then quickly looking away. I don’t even bother trying to hide my tears. We all have a story, after all.

I feel lost, stuck, scared, worried, hopeless. I wonder about her future, if she will ever be able to tear herself from the internet to make a meal, get to a job on time, or even just brush her teeth. Her internet addiction is that bad.

She has told me over and over that she escapes to her devices because she’s learned to use them as a coping mechanism for the huge anxiety she feels. I believe her, but I don’t think it’s the full story. She doesn’t care about marks, about brushing teeth, about picking up the piles of garbage that quickly accumulate in her room. All she cares about is connecting with her online friends, who live in many different time zones. It doesn’t matter that she has a test tomorrow or a dishwasher to empty.

Her brother is miserable. He can’t stand being around all the conflict. I feel guilty because some days I literally don’t have energy to parent him. When the kids are with me, he wants to go back to his dad’s to escape her, and when they’re at my ex’s, my son wants to be in the peace of my house.

That’s when I catch myself thinking, she’s right – she IS a burden. But she doesn’t get that I do everything I do because I so badly want to see her happy, to see her build a life.

I’m so sad and I don’t think there is any clear path for me to take.

Feelings

The last couple of days I think I have had some of my worst parenting moments ever.  I am doing better but I am still feeling guilty, and sad.

My girl is intense.  When she’s happy she’s HAPPY, and when she’s not, well, batten down the hatches.  Sunday came at the end of a particularly brutal week, which was brutal for reasons completely unrelated to her.  She was angry and anxious and argumentative and completely unwilling and unable to accept advice, or even just sympathy.  Even just getting away from her was futile- she seemed to have a need to rage.  Thing is, I can only be the target of such a rage for so long, and then my own rage comes out.

Anger.  Anger about not being listened to, anger about the lot in life I’ve been given, frustration that I just. can’t. make. her. happy.  Feeling put upon that I am her punching bag, her case manager, her caretaker…all rolled into one harried package.  It is not a nice feeling to resent your own child, especially when they can’t help who they are.

Or, can they?  People are a mix of what they are born with, and what they are able to do by virtue of their own free will, decision-making, or whatever you want to call it.  I vacillate between thinking, none of this is her fault, she is what she is…and then…DAMMIT STOP BEING SO OBSTINATE?  Her psychologist said, you can’t always blame Asperger’s.  Remember that she is also just a typical 14 year old girl with typical 14 year old issues.

As difficult as yesterday was, we made some good progress.  We dealt with one source of her recent anxiety:  drama class.  She switched into a tech class as one of her electives instead.  Drama had far too much group work, and she was constantly being reminded that she doesn’t fit it.  Kids would be told to get into pairs, or groups, and they naturally go with their friends.  Thing is, this girl doesn’t have friends.  In tech class there isn’t much group work, and given how into computers she is anyways…it is probably a better fit interest-wise as well.

She also started her PEERS group program.  Last night was the first session, and so far so good.  As far as I go, it is great to meet a group of parents who know exactly what I mean when I describe how my girl will talk and talk and talk and talk in conversations but not show any interest in how the other person in doing.

I also sent her new teachers a Girl 101 email.  I let them know about her IEP, her quirks, how she is doing, her addiction to her iPhone, etc.  I want them to feel like they have an open line with me, and knowing about her ASD will help them understand why she is the way she is, and how they can help her and their ability to teach her at the same time.

Onwards and upwards.  I am grateful it is a short week.  I am grateful that I remembered to take steak out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner.  I am grateful that her brother is such a good kid.  And am grateful that my Girl is upstairs right now, laughing and relaxing and in a much better place than she was 48 hours ago.

 

 

Balance

Balance.  That elusive thing that so many of us struggle with, women especially.  I have been struggling with it more so than usual since I started full-time hours.  Have I ever really had it though?  In the years that I was at home with the kids, no.  I had an orderly house, reasonably stimulated and entertained kids, but a husband that had checked out, and a deep, lingering sense of purposelessness that I tried to mask with my increasing mastery of the domestic arts.  But I felt unappreciated, unloved, frumpy.
The end of my marriage was a very sudden amputation.  But a miraculous new limb grew from my wound, and very quickly.  I felt freer from the moment the moving van left.  I was a better friend, a happier mother, and had nothing but open, wide road in front of me.
That was five years ago.  It’s been quite a ride, with many highs and a handful of lows.  I experimented with relationships and discovered that I could be desirable. I created a new career for myself.  I became healthier in mind and body.  I revelled in the ability and freedom to make adult decisions on my own, unencumbered by resentment and silent acquiescence.
I have come so far, left so many things behind, keeping only the best of the best.
Then the smallest little comment, said in a careful, loving way, but offhand at the same time, sent my mind back to those years of being married to someone disengaged, resentful and passive-aggressive.  A trigger, set unwittingly by my most loving partner, but one that set off a cascade of anxiety and fear.
All because he commented that my saying to him (even in the humorous way that I did) to tell him it was his job on Christmas day to make sure that everyone had drinks.  It triggered him back to his own unhealthy marriage, where his ex-wife was controlling and demeaning to the worst degree.
He said to me, but you are not her.  You are not like this at all.
Which is how it, momentarily, took him by surprise.  He mentioned it then moved on.  But my mind dwelled.  And days later I am still trying to shake it off.
I guess we all live with ghost that come out of the woodwork from time to time.  He is not my ex.  He is engaged, happy, loves me like he’s loved no one before.  My reaction is disproportionate to his intent.  I know that.  But it is still unsettling.
Today though I will move on, press through, focus on the good and what I can do with a full week of vacation still ahead of me.
Which leads me back to balance.  I have only one resolution for 2015:  to work less.  I went full throttle into full-time work in the fall, at the expense of the other things in my life that contribute to my wellness.  Healthy eating, downtime, and above everything, exercise.  My body doesn’t feel or look as good as I am used to, and this has dragged me down too.  It is cumulative.
If I were feeling as healthy and attractive as I normally do, maybe that comment wouldn’t have brought up everything it did?  It is the little things. Little things that cumulatively add up to a lot.
So now I’m going to get dressed for the gym.  Make my bed.  Put a bit of makeup on.  Make the kids a nice breakfast. Get out of the house and get some sun on my face.

Stormy weather

The weather in my part of the world has been messed up lately.  Two weeks ago it was sweltering hot, spaghetti straps and flip-flops weather.  A week ago people were wearing boots and winter jackets.  Today it started off windy, humid and threatening to rain.  Then it poured, like a monsoon. And then, sun!  Sun and *cool*.  Like the weather gods just can’t make up their fucking mind.

And, neither can I.  I am in a constant self-assessment mode it seems. Mostly I hover around feeling ok, but just ok.  Often I feel a non-specific anxiety.  Very often I feel bored and unmotivated, but if I push myself, I can get stuff done.  Sometimes, but just sometimes, I feel happy.  I am happiest at the end of a work week, happiest when I am shuffling the kids off to their dad’s for their week with him (yes it does make me feel guilty to be glad they are leaving), happiest when I don’t have anything pressing on my that I have to do.

I’m better, but not quite there.

I have decided that I hate the Seroquel and am pretty much going to insist I go off of it when I go back to the pdoc in a couple of weeks.  I have gained 15 lb on it.  It makes getting up in the morning impossible.  I mentioned switching to Wellbutrin (which I’ve been on before) as an adjunct to the Effexor instead of the bleeping Seroquel, and she wasn’t against it.  We agreed though to try cutting the Seroquel in half first.  Well, I did that and I am as groggy as ever in the morning, and my appetite is still carb-craving ravenous.  I. hate. Seroquel.  And that’s that.

Anyhow, I’m not giving up until then.  I’m going to try in the meanwhile to cut out as many carbs as I can and get in some more exercise.  I’m not going to drink during the week- aside from the temptation to self-medicate, it’s just too many damn calories.  I’m going to make sure I get enough sleep and pack healthy lunches for work.

Which is why on this cool, rainy Sunday evening I am on my porch, sipping a Bloody Caesar.  I love the promise of Mondays and new beginnings.

In other news…

This week will be challenging.  I am going from working 3 days a week right up to a full 5.  I was offered a job with a different organization in my building in addition to the one I already have, doing much the same thing. I am excited yet scared at the same time.  It will be intense the weeks I have the kids, like this one.  Less so when I am not.  It has been 14 years since I worked full-time, egads.  Since before I had kids.

This is what the real world is though.  Jobs and kids and problems and little bits of joy in there when you can grab them.  I am going to try, try hard to make this, all of this, work.  I owe it to myself.