Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hey Ho

Can't get enough of this little tune. . .

Enjoy your Thursday!  It's sunny here, and for the first time in weeks, I woke up and felt like doing something other than lying about, coughing up a lung or two.

I'm going to light a candle, open up some windowns, enjoy making my house a home again today, all while humming this tune.

I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart. . .

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Powerful Words: This is Not about Me

Many years ago, my mother had stuck a photocopied article up on her fridge.  Which I promptly took down, photocopied and stuck up on my fridge.

Where it still hangs.

The article has had a profound impact on me.  It's a short, two-column essay written by a woman who was sharing how she got through her darkest days.

Long story short, while married, her husband had left her and their young son for his dentist's attractive, young assistant.

After spending countless months lamenting that she did the wrong things, agonizingly evaluating it over and over again to determine what she did wrong, she received the advice: There is nothing personal going on here.  

Her husband was writing his story. He had his set of experiences in his life, created his path, made his choices.  All of his bad choices were a culmination of those experiences and framework.

Not hers.  It was his story.   His bad choices were about him.  She had her own framework, her own story, her own choices to make.

Her own story.  His needing to feel virile, sexy, powerful was not about her.

This resounded with me hugely.  Not because the Mister has left me for our dental assistant (he hasn't), but because I realized that, up to that point, I had spent an inordinate amount of my life beating myself up about choices that, simply put, were not made by me and were never mind to make.

Shortly after reading that, This is Not about Me became my personal mantra.

Living with traumatized, attachment-challenged children, I see a lot of big feelings being acted out, most often directed at me.

I get it, but it doesn't make it any easier, both at the moment of the behavior, and when, day after day, it all adds up until a huge blanket of negativity.

For the most part, I find I am hyper-sensitive, prone to over-reaction and feeling much more hurt that I should.

So many times, the phrase This is Not about Me has helped me move forward in these tough times.

I have written it on pages and pages in a journal.  I have tapped it.  Spoken it, hummed it, screamed it.
When one of my boys shows me his "big feeling" in actions designed to anger, humiliate, alienate me, I say, "This is NOT about me."

My boys have tough early chapters in their lives.  Really tough chapters.

Chapters I had no hand in penning.

I am not responsible for that trauma.  And when that trauma rises up and acts out in actions designed to anger, humiliate, or alienate me, I have to continually remind myself , "This is NOT about me."

I am a good mama.  I have 3 children I have grown and raised.  They are growing up into good people.

This is NOT about me helps me put my own reactions into perspectives.  It helps me gain empathy for my boys while detaching myself from the emotional powder keg I often find myself in.

I have been a safe, loving Mama to my Haitian Sensations.  I take responsibility for my behaviors from the moment we brought them home. That's my part of the story.

But so much of their acting out: It's not about me. 

Even if it feels like it is.

We are all writing our own stories here.  Mine is that of adding these boys in, and helping them work through their feelings and grow.

 Theirs is of making their way through a life that began in the worst of all possible ways.

This is NOT about me helps me deal with adults in my life.

So often, because of my hyper-sensitivity, I find myself over-reading situations until I realize that it is likely not about me and I am able to reign myself back in.

And in cases where I am not being hyper-sensitive and someone is indeed being an asshat, it helps me work through my feelings and move forward without being held back.

It's been a good mantra to have in these tough times.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Momentum, Interrupted

It's funny out the best-laid plans can be completely waysided.

Having hours, in a row, alone in my house (not truly alone, as Hatfield is here with me.  But she's a young adult, completely enjoyable, great self-starter and never a saboteur) for the first time in 14 years, I couldn't help but make giddy plans to Get. Things. Done.

Gardening.  Canning.  Painting.  Organizing.  Donating goods and purging garbage.

Ooooooo, the plans I had.

Well, plans for after taking that first week to sit on the couch and stare at the walls.  And nap.  Because the summer wore this Mama plum out.

But wouldn't you know it, about a week and a half ago, just when I am raring to go, I get the flu.  Badly.

I force manage recovery in order to attend Paloma's First Packer Game.

Every year Atticus receives four tickets from Uncle Fred.

The first year he took Cliff, Miles and Keenan.

The second year he took Cliff, Hatfield and her friend Hayley.

The third year-- this year-- he took Cliff, myself and Paloma.

Paloma waited 3 years for this moment!  And wouldn't you know it but the munchkin scored herself BOTH the Bears game and a nighttime game.

But the game did me in. I came home and within a day I had a fever, head and chest cold.

A week and a half later, and I am still not recovered anywhere near the extent that I would like to be.

But, the house hasn't gone anywhere for the past how many years, and it's not going to go anywhere now.  So the projects can wait.

In the meantime, I have become completely hooked on the tv series Bones.  Have you seen this?

One day this summer, at Kelly Lake, my mother was lamenting that she left her Kindle at home and she had nothing to read.  I went through some magazines I had stashed in our trailer, but it turned out that they were all magazines she had passed on to me.

We went for a walk-- lo and behold!-- we found a large box of paperback books with a "Free for the Taking!" sign on it.   Unbought leftovers from a garage sale, I'm guessing.

And one of Kathy Reich's Temperance Brennan novels was in that box.  I read the book in 2 days flat, and then found out that the books were the inspiration for the show Bones.

Seriously, could Seely Booth be any more attractive?  I don't think so!

Bones is on Netflix.  Watching really good series all at once it is the way to go, especially for obsessive/compulsive series watchers/readers like myself :)  Nothing makes me happier than finding a great series of books or tv to dig into, especially at the start of Autumn.

But I'm only on Season 2, Epidsode 5, so NO spoilers :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


It's been awhile.

A loooonggg while.

Summer was busy, and wonderful, and terrible, and fun, and miserable, and exhausting.

Last week I was so overly emotional that I wanted to post, but couldn't.

This summer, we hit the three year mark of having our Haitian Sensations home, and while I know that we have come sooooo far, I also find myself struggling with the realization that some of these really difficult behaviors aren't going anywhere, anytime soon.

I feel like such a weenie half the time, but the drip-drip-drip of behaviors, with an occasional tsunami to mix it up, of day-in, day-out behaviors has finally rubbed my nerves completely raw.

I know the behaviors aren't about me.  My little guys have had an incredibly tough start in life, a beginning which colors the way they see and interact with the world.

But the difficult behaviors are directed at me.  Me and pretty much only me.

Summer has also brought with it the usual unpleasantries like trying to figure out how to have family fun when you have children who are being heinous.  How to make sure the kids who are maintaining are not suffering by the antics of those who are not maintaining.   And how to deal with other adults who have "hurting hearts" because they are uncomfortable seeing some of the kids have fun while others sit, sullen and unwilling to interact with the world. 

It's an exhausting, lonely, tough and often maddening place to be.

One in which I feel like, to quote the brilliant Essie, I had the nothing sucked out of me. 

Well before summer was even over, I found myself teetering on complete emotional bankruptcy.  Basically, I knew I had nothing left to give. 

Not only do I have nothing left to give, I'm sadly at the point where anytime I have any negativity thrown my way, including by my husband and the other kids (who have every right to be human and make mistakes), I nearly always over-react, am over-sensitive, and can't work through it logically anymore.

This is what trauma does.  When you live with it, day in, day out, you eventually can become one pulsating, never-healing wound whose scab is constantly picked off by any errant mood thrown your way.

All summer long, I've been silently dreading the start of the school year, knowing I had to somehow muster up the energy and momentum for homeschool.

Energy and momentum that I just don't have.  

This year, I have sent all the younger four children to our local public school.  Miss Hatfield is in 8th grade and home with me, enrolled in a public online school.

The decision was both devastating, and yet a complete no-brainer.

This year in homeschool was big-- Paloma is in 1st/2nd grade. Writing abounds, reading skills are solidified and grow.  Atticus is now in 4th/5th grade, a time where the quality and quantity of work matures, where critical thinking skills are expanded.

We've always said that we talk schooling year by year, kid by kid.  And that our goal is the best education possible.

When I am fully charged, when I am "on,"  (I'm gonna toot my own horn here), I am a Kick Ass Homeschool Mom.

But this fall, on every possible level,  I know that there was no way I could flip the switch to "on."  Some mornings with the boys can be so difficult that I can be sucked dry before I even get them out the door to school.  Those mornings I find it nearly impossible to pull it together to homeschool the others, even when I am at the top of my game.

So this year, I am dedicating it to self care.  Healing.  Strengthening.  Letting go of past guilt, anger and wounds.

To trying to figure out a way for my family to Grow, Move Forward, Laugh and Enjoy itself with trauma children in the house.

To figure out what is important to me.  To throw away my old set of expectations and honestly evaluate what I should, and shouldn't be expecting and hoping from this world.

To create a set of healthy parameters in which to live.