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…

Wicked witch of the west, that’s me

I am having one of these moments where I’m realizing that sometimes, I really don’t like my daughter very much.

Pretty much the second I picked her up from her dad’s she started in on me. I’m mean because I don’t let her have access to the internet 24/7. She tells me she hates neurotypicals. That I’m looking, yes, LOOKING, for ways to make her miserable. And oh, can we pick up Lebanese food on the way home?

I said very little in the car. I tried my best to not react. But, when we were approaching the intersection to turn towards her favourite take-out, I said, I changed my mind.

I’m not going to buy dinner for someone who is actively trying to pick a fight and make me upset.

I said, I can’t change the way you talk to me, the way you treat me. But I can change how I react to it.

And right now, I said, my reaction is that I don’t want to buy you dinner.

She started crying. I kept driving towards home.

***

She denies she is addicted to her screens. (I don’t use the phrase addiction lightly, either.) It’s interfering with her academics, her ability to socialize…everything.

But I have my online friends, she protests loudly.

I can’t even go there.

Her dependence, she says, is a result of her experiences with so-called friends in the real world. She’s anxious, untrusting. She uses her phone as an escape, an antidote to the great stress she feels.

Honey, I say, this is why your father and I are trying to get you help. To alleviate your stress. To build up your social skills, to give you more confidence.

But you’re abusing me by not letting me have internet! You are isolating me from the only friends I have! I bet you wish I was still at dad’s!

I’m clearly the wicked witch of the west.

***

I don’t like her very much right now. That’s a very un-motherly thing to admit. I’m tired of her drama, of her sucking all the energy out of this family. I’m resentful. Her brother, who doesn’t get even close to the amount of attention he should, resents her. I resent her father, who cares about himself more than anyone else and lives through this by faking the motions of fatherhood.

***

There are three floors in this house and right now each of us is on our floor.

At least my son comes to chat once in awhile.

Keep calm and carry on

A few days ago I got some bad news.  Nothing directly about me, but about something that has the potential to affect me financially down the road.  I used to joke about how this particular form of financial disaster might happen to me one day, but I thought I was just being funny in an edgy way.  I didn’t really think it would happen.

On Saturday I found out it did.  My ex-husband was fired.  One of the first things he said to me was “this could affect support payments.”  Not right away, but eventually.

I took a deep breath.  Every time I think he has reached some sort of nadir, he proves me wrong by sinking deeper.

Once upon a time I would get sucked into his drama. Panic when he panicked. It took me years to realize that this is the energy he draws on.  He creates drama because he needs it.  And as a narcissist, his needs always came first. They still do.

So, I didn’t challenge him on what he said.  Instead I just took it in, and said little.  I got the information I needed, and kept the phone call as short as possible.

Inside, I felt calm, but alert.  I am concerned, yes, but not panicked.  I am as resourceful as anyone out there.  More importantly, I see him for what he is. He may try to challenge me, or more likely, get me into a position of emotional vulnerability so that I let him off the hook, but I’m not biting.  His obligations remain what they have been, and I expect him to honour them.  He has the means to honour them- particularly if he stops indulging in German cars, designer clothes, and his huge collection of expensive toys.

I don’t expect him to change.  He’s a spoiled little boy in a 50-something body, no matter how much he tries to sell himself as a martyr.

The only expectations I have are on myself.  I expect myself to honour my end of the business agreement I have to raise our children.  I expect myself, always, to act in their best interest.  I expect myself to no longer enable his shitty behaviour.  I expect myself to carry on, with the good and the bad, to ride the tough times, plan as best as I can, and enjoy the moments of bliss, big and small, when they suddenly emerge.

 

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.

Plugging along

So.

It is pretty safe to say I am doing well with respect to living in depression/anxiety land.  Sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m a bit sad, much of the time I’m somewhere in the middle.  But I am definitely not where I was a few months ago.

The Seroquel thing is still bugging me.  I don’t feel the apathy that I did when I was at a higher dose, but it is hard as fuck to get up in the morning still.  And, that’s not going to fly for long.  The kids are back in school and every second week I need to be up at 6:45 – stat.  Not to mention that as of next month I will be working a full 5 days per week – go ME.  One step closer to financial emancipation from the ex-husband.  So….there will be less slack in my schedule.  Working 5 days is a far cry from 3.  I will have to up my game, and the Seroquel is not helping to that end.  I brought up the idea of switching it up to Wellbutrin at my last appointment, and my lovely pdoc kind of nodded her head, and said yes, that’s a possibility, but lets lower the dose of Seroquel first.  Two weeks in, I guess I am getting up, but it is still hell.  And I am still 10 lb up from where I was when this whole fiasco started.

The thing I haven’t talked about to *anyone* is my drinking.  I am drinking most nights.  I have anywhere from 2 to 3 glasses and it helps me unwind. Most of the time, dare I say, it makes me feel happier.  It makes me less anxious, easier going.  I know this is not good.  Not good as a coping mechanism, not good from a weight loss perspective…just not good.

So that makes me think, maybe my depression isn’t being adequately treated…if I still feel this need to unwind at the end of the day.  But really, I just think I have developed a habit.  A habit that is less than healthy.

Anyhow.

I got the promotion I wanted.  And now I am scared.  There will be that much less room for slack in my life.  I’m a single parent 50% of the time. One of my kids is fairly needy.  My ex is a benign presence.  I am functionally responsible for the kids’ lives in so many ways.  I schedule the dental and other appointments, I submit all the claims to not one but *two* insurance companies and follow up when something goes wonky.  I make sure their bike helmets still fit, check to see if last year’s snowsuits will do, arrange for music lessons.  I am the Operations Manager of our kids.  He pays for things when I ask him to.  He is flexible with our schedule when I need him to be and buys things for them when I ask him to.  It could be worse – I never lose sight of that.  But I am Captain Kirk of this family and I think, whether he resents me for it or not, he very much knows it and, furthermore, prefers it that way.

I am rambling, probably because I am tired and wired and coming to the end of a crazy, two-week sprint with the kids.

Next week is for me.  For working and puttering and catching up and just watching Netflix and snuggling with my awesome hunky man.

Over and out.