A bandaid to hide the pain

What is a bandaid? It’s a little piece of plastic to keep a cut clean while our bodies work at healing the wound. The bandaid doesn’t actually heal the cut and, though we may think it does, it doesn’t remove the pain.

A bandaid solution is really not a solution at all. It’s just a cover to try to slow the bleeding while we work on fixing the actual problem that is causing the bleeding. If we ignore the problem now that we can’t see it under the bandaid, it just festers. We need to remove the bandaid and apply the salve.

I hear that people with healthy emotions (I’m working on joining this group) get very upset when someone they love is hurt or suffering. It can seem like a good idea when someone you love is having a hard time to rush in with a bandaid and distract her from her pain.

But sometimes, the best thing that you can do to help someone you love is to see her pain – acknowledge that it is real – and then sit beside her, on your hands. Empower her. Teach her tools to heal herself. Give her a safe space to try to climb her own mountain.

We derive joy from overcoming challenges. We build confidence from overcoming challenges. To deprive our children from struggling (safely), we are denying them the ability to believe in themselves. When we swoop in to save them constantly, we are teaching them that they need to be saved- that we don’t believe that they can handle this.

When we place a bible in the hands of someone who is suffering, it is a bandaid. Bandaids are not necessarily bad, they are not necessarily helpful either. Religion can provide an easy way to feel less afraid of your pain without even having to look at it. Just wear these clothes, and eat this food and say these words and trust that everything will be okay.

But a cut cannot be healed unless you look at it. Unless you examine it and understand what it needs. Sometimes everything will not be okay. And that is okay.

Some people say that religion is empowering, that it helps them feel safe. But really, I think that waiting for god to save you is extremely disempowering on a very deep level. We must always be preparing to save ourselves. We cannot rely on the lifeguard who may or may not be there, we must learn to swim.

A few hours after my sister-in-law had her c-section, the nurse came in to help her to the bathroom. I went to pull her arm up and the nurse stopped me. The nurse insisted that this new mama could get up on her own…and we waited while she struggled, and we walked beside her to catch her if she fell, but she did it. I thought the nurse was being harsh. But really, she was being terribly kind.

When we are willing to stay even for a moment with uncomfortable energy, we gradually learn not to fear it.

She is not me

“Dear Diary, Have you ever had a day when you feel like you were never born? Well that’s sort of what I felt like.” -This is an excerpt from a diary I kept when I was 8 years old. (8 years old!)

My daughter is almost 6 years old. That’s dangerously close to 8 years old. …but she is not me.

I remember when she was 3 days old, I left her in the living room with my mother because I was forced to take a nap in my bedroom. I remember lying there alone and wondering if I still existed or if maybe I was my baby daughter now.  That little baby who I put on my bare chest the moment she came out of my body- so that she wouldn’t feel lost. That little baby who I was scared to take out of my sling, to let out of my sight – lest she feel abandoned. I was so scared that if I was not touching her, we would both cease to exist. I actually convinced myself that she could somehow hear my heartbeat through the walls. It was the only way for me to tolerate being in the other room. If I had to pinpoint when I should have noticed that something was ‘off’, I think it was this moment, when she was 3 days old. (I didn’t get help for another 11 months…)

I still struggle with feeling like my daughter and I are somehow telepathically connected. Last night I was reminded that my daughter has her own secrets, her own internal life that she keeps to herself, as she should.

Last night I realized that she has been asking me to tuck her in with her blanket over her nose and not calling me in after I say goodnight – because she is secretly sucking her thumb. *shocking*. Not really shocking. It actually makes lots of sense. She is almost 6 years old. Of course she is an individual with her own internal private world.  But feeling so tied to my daughter, it’s hard to understand that her secret world could be anything other than one of confusion, fear and pain.

The fears I had when I was her age are not her fears. I know that this is true. This must be true. The family I lived in, the world I knew, it is not her world. I have worked too hard to make sure that life is different for her. But then, I see that her fears include one of my daily deepest fears. The fear of “getting caught”. She probably doesn’t feel it as strongly as I did- I felt it every moment of every day. Maybe she isn’t even afraid, she was just being clever. I really don’t know.

I say my daughter.  She is not me and she is not mine, she is her own. She needs to continue to separate from me and I need to enable her do that. My role is to keep my arms open to catch her when she needs it and let her take reasonable and safe risks as she explores the world for herself.

6 years old. 6 years old is time for more independent activities, more space for herself, more unsupervised playtime. It’s time for summer camp.

But I fear. I fear that if I am not watching, if the teenage camp counselors are not paying attention, she may cease to exist. I have to clarify this. The fear is not only that she will die, it’s that she will cease to exist. I will drop her off one morning and when I come to pick her up the counselors will say “Soni? Soni who?” and that will be that. I will have to go home without her and try to understand that she was never real.

This is my own annihilation anxiety. I am projecting it onto her and I need to stop. It comes from a very real place where I used to live and feel that I would randomly become invisible. This is not my daughter’s world and it is no longer my world either.

I am not her. She is not me.

photo from my diary

Brain, turn off… please

I fear I will never have time to think all the thoughts that I need to think. I keep getting distracted. Where is the off button for my brain?

But I can’t turn it off, I need to get to work on my brilliant bipolar book that will perfectly capture the essence of what living and mothering with mild madness feels like. It is my life’s purpose. As if writing it and having it validated will make it stop existing. As if being recognized positively for suffering will make it all worth it.

We write about things that have passed. So maybe if I am able to write about this once and for all, it will mean that it is over. Then I can begin living the next chapter- whatever that will look like.

Besides, isn’t all this crazy supposed to make me extra brilliant? I feel like it just makes me extra confused.
I am a star. no. I don’t need to be a star.

Does everyone feel an unstoppable longing for attention? A longing to be seen and heard – by everyone – by anyone. It’s like all of humanity is just driven to have our existance validated in some way. For someone to say, “yes, i see you, i’m here, it’s okay.”

Am I supposed to learn how to say that to myself? Is that what “practising self-kindness” means?

I really want to be truly seen and heard. I can’t even see myself. I have no idea what I look like. I don’t understand how others may see me. I’m not even sure if it matters what they think. But I can’t stop feeling like my whole existence is supposed to focus on appearing the ‘right’ way.

I just really want to do right by my kids. I don’t want them to ever feel the way that I feel. I don’t want anyone to ever feel the way that I feel. I can’t even describe how horrible it is.

But I worry that maybe by over-focusing on trying not to screw up my kids, I’ll do the opposite.

It’s like I’m trying to teach myself a delicate dance on a (seemingly) fine line between smothering them and making them feel rejected. I’m not sure what the dance is supposed to look like.

But if I can’t do it perfectly, I have failed. I will have failed them. I will have failed myself. I will have failed my mother-in-law. I will have failed my husband. I will have failed anyone who ever tried to help me with anything.  I will have failed the waiter who brought me a sandwich yesterday. I will have failed the tree who gave me breath.

If Oedipus hadn’t feared that his son would kill him, he never would have sent him out to the mountains and the fear would not have come true. Sometimes, a decision that you make to avoid a particular outcome, is exactly what brings about that very outcome.

How will I know if I’m doing this life thing right? Where is my report card? and even if I received one, could I ever believe it?

…This post sounds a bit rambling and extreme but I’m actually feeling fine. I think. I’m sitting at my day job doing great work. I just have a lot of thoughts. I feel like I need some time to think about them all.

Where is my power to stop time so that I can get this all figured out?


Let it go

“Let it go. Let it go. Turn away and slam the door… I’m never going back. The past is in the past…” 

I have a beautiful life today. It is so different than anything I’ve ever had before. It is full of feeling and love and warmth.

Last night, after bathtime, my son took my hands and started spinning me around and singing a song, Ima Y’kara Li – my mommy is precious to me. I know this sounds cheesy but as he spun me around, everything around us started to get blurry and all I could see was his beautiful sweet face smiling at me and singing a song about how much he loves me and feels loved by me.

I realized that it is ridiculous to let myself get hurt chasing love from my parents, when I have a beautiful family right in front of me who need me at my best. I am not my parents.

And I am not the person that I used to be. I am a completely different person, living in a completely different world. I used to live in an emotional war zone and now I live in an emotional garden of eden – everywhere I look there is someone safe to love. I need to keep reminding myself that I have to leave the past in the past.

I thought that maybe now that I am getting stronger, I could have a relationship with my parents without getting hurt but I can’t. They won’t let me. It sucks. But I have to go back to no contact. It’s what my new family needs and protecting them is my Prime Directive (#startrek).

“Mommy, precious to me,
Precious mommy.
My precious mommy,
Loves me very much,
Loves me very much.

I will smile at you,
I will smile,
I will sing a little song about you,
Because I love you,
I love you.”


Living for my kids

i have to write because i forget.
i forget that what feels normal sometimes can be so not normal.

these meds change my mind because my mind needs to be changed.
i had to take seroquel to knock me out again last week.
i was having a wonderful brilliant, singing, energetic time.
it was fun. for me.
i shut it down.

i did what i had to.
i am truly living for my kids.

would i take these meds if not for them?
or would i just enjoy the high, let my brilliant out and ride out the depression in my bed?
if not for them, would it matter if i made a fool of myself, quit my job, took off?

it matters to them. profoundly.
i matter to them.
i have to keep it in for them.

i think about the trail I’ve left of broken friendships,
people i betrayed and confused
jobs i quit
friends i cut out.
i can’t let that happen anymore.

i have to keep learning a new way to live.
i am learning it for my kids.
it’s hard.
i’m tired.
but they make me smile a lot

i think they make me really happy.
but i’m not really sure I understand what ‘happy’ means.
i trudge onward.
i think it will be worth it.

does everyone feel like this?