“Insanity is hereditary—you get it from your kids.” ~ Sam Levenson

"Bathe in me mother and child" by Warwick Goble

“Bathe in me mother and child,” by Warwick Goble

 

“Well, everybody hurts, sometimes” ~ From “Everybody Hurts” by REM

“Stop trying to perfect your child, but keep trying to perfect your relationship with him.” ~ Dr. Henker

Migraine Brain
Migraine Brain

I’ve been wiped out for over 24 hours now with a killer migraine. I had to stop taking my migraine prevention medicine cold turkey (instead of the usual method of backing down gradually) because I had developed a rash on my upper body that had blisters. I know—too much information, but I just wanted to explain my absence. I actually spent most of today lying on the bed in the fetal position with cold packs on my head. Even walking into the brighter living room and kitchen caused me pain. Just have to say how much this sucks in case you couldn’t tell how not happy I am.

Mother’s Day is in two days, and I’m also feeling sorry for myself about this. Believe it or not, it has nothing to do with eldest son. This time it’s my daughter. She’s been getting progressively aloof in the last four months. Corey and I have been trying to figure out what’s going on. But when I ask her about it, she says that nothing is wrong. This is kind of her normal reaction when confronted: denial.

“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.” ~ Oscar Wilde

Stock Photo of Two Little Girls, Sisters Or Friends, Sitting OnI should say that Alexis has always gone through these phases. I remember when she was in school, she and her best friend would suddenly not be speaking, and when I would ask what was wrong, Alexis would say “nothing.” I mean, she and her best friend would be like sisters one day, and then a complete rift would arise the next day. I always found that odd, but I knew that it was none of my business.

I’m not even sure that she realizes that she does this, but she did the same thing at the beginning of last year. She just began to withdraw from our lives, and when I asked about it, she assured me that nothing was wrong. And just as suddenly as she withdrew, she was back, and everything was fine.

This time, her displeasure seems to be aimed at Corey, but we aren’t sure why. Their relationship has been close ever since Corey and I got married, and when her boyfriend got a new job that causes him to be out of town sometimes, it has always been Corey who she calls when she needs something: clogged toilet . . . mouse in a trap . . .  broken coffee table  . . . whatever. Corey would drop everything to help her, even if he was in the middle of something here.

Now, she doesn’t call him at all. He has tried to find out what is wrong, as have I, but the only response we get is that nothing is wrong. She’s busy. I’ve had the same thing happen to me, so I can empathize with what Corey is feeling: frustrated from the lack of information and the ways in which his attempts at reconciliation have been ignored.

“Young girl…violins…center of her own attention” ~ “Daughter,” by Pearl Jam

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"Summertime," by Mary Cassatt

As far as friendships are concerned, Alexis is actually a lot like her father and eldest brother in believing in the idea that the whole world revolves around them. Don’t get me wrong. Alexis is a wonderful, generous friend. Always there to help her friends when they need it, and most of the time, always there for her family. Her father was like that; if one of his friends called and asked him to help chop down a tree, he was there. In the meantime, things around the house that needed repairing were never attended to.

Friendships for all three of them are very important. I, too, believe that friends are important, that if a friend needs me, I should be there. However, the big difference is that I put family first. This inability to put family first was a big bone of contention between my ex and myself. It was also what caused Alexis to leave home after she graduated. She was absolutely clueless or perhaps indifferent as to how her actions were adversely affecting her family. We finally had to draw a line, and she chose to leave.

“If you have never been hated by your child you have never been a parent.” ~ Bette Davis

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"Portrait of a Young Woman," by Francois Edmond

I remember so many sleepless nights during that period, worrying about whether or not she was alive and safe. I wanted to call the police but didn’t. Instead, I would sometimes drive through the neighborhood to see if her car was parked by one of her friends’ houses. In that way, I knew where she was and could take some small comfort in the knowledge that she had found some place to stay.

Oddly enough, our reconciliation occurred on a Mother’s Day when I came home to find a card from her and a long letter apologizing for her behavior. I called her immediately and asked her to come home, and she did. From that point, things were very good, until she began to go into these phases of isolation again.

“In spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no one really knows anything.  You just need a lot of love and luck—and, of course, courage.” ~ Bill Cosby, Fatherhood, 1986

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"Young Woman Reading," by Mary Cassatt (detail)

When you are a parent, it’s so hard to know if you are making the right choices, if you have made the right choices, if you could have done something differently that might have resulted in a better outcome. I have learned that parenting is one of those on-the-job training situations. You can never be fully prepared, no matter how many books and articles you read. 

There is no other job in the world that can make you feel so completely insufficient and that can cause so much self-doubt. It is a job filled with regret over words spoken in anger and frustration and actions taken in an attempt to reign in unruly offspring. Parenting can make you feel completely unqualified, whether you are raising sons or daughters or both.

“To understand your parents’ love you must raise children yourself.” ~ Chinese Proverb

Mother With Children Klimt
"Mother with Children," by Gustave Klimt

And then there is the “mother curse” that comes back to haunt you: “I hope you grow up and have children exactly like you.” And you do. Your children may not be exactly like you, but they test you in the same ways that you tested your own parents. They push the boundaries and break your heart just as you did the same to your own mother and father. In this way, history does repeat itself.

A friend of mine, in responding to my recent post on Eamonn, had this wonderful analogy: “Raising a teenager is like nailing Jello to the wall.” Oh how true. Except that I would change the word teenager to children, because no mater how young or old they are, your children still retain that ability to make you feel as if you are somehow wanting, unfit, and unreasonable, even when you are certain that you are not.

“Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be.” ~ David Bly

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"Mother and Chld," by Pablo Picasso

In my heart, I have no doubts that Alexis loves me and loves her family. I also know that the very aspects of her personality that grate on me so much are those aspects that are similar to my own disposition: her moodiness, her mercurial swings, her absolute fierceness in her devotion to her friends. So I do keep these things in mind.

Another thing that I know is that I still have the ability to hurt my own mother and she me, even when we don’t intend to do so, which only shows that regardless of age, the relationships between mothers and daughters are fraught with landmines.

The risk diminishes with age and maturity as both parties reach a point at which they understand each other more than they don’t understand each other. But the need to step carefully never completely goes away.

So in the end, I will wait out this current estrangement, try to be patient, knowing that this pulling away is a necessary part of her growing up. And I will try to remind myself not to be hurt, even when I am . . . in spite of the fact that my daughter, who lives in the same city as I, mailed my mother’s day card.

More later. Peace.

Grace in Small Things #32

J-E-L-L-O-!

Today’s list . . .

1. Jello, orange jello to be more specific. Orange jello with mandarin orange slices to be precise. A very refreshing snack, not too many calories, great in the summer, love those little snack packs.

2. Pretty paper. As with all things related to office supplies, I love decorated papers with pretty borders. I have a file folder full of leftover sheets from the realty company for which I worked. Each month we sent out a company newsletter, and I had to pick out a theme paper for the newsletter. I would go to the paper store and look for different papers. I also had to choose the papers that would be used for different home sites. No borders here, but nice stocks and colors. The people at the paper store recogized me on sight.

3. I have a garnet ring that my friend Rebecca gave me. It was given to her by a former boyfriend, but she really did not like yellow gold, nor was she particularly fond of garnets. I love both, especially since garnets are my birthstone. It is very unusual and Victorian looking. It has an inset heart in the middle, and two outward facing hearts on either side with tiny diamonds set in between. There is a little bit of gold scroll work. I wear the ring on my thumb. It never fails to get compliments. I really love that ring.

4. I have a big, black bear named Robert the Bruce. My mother gave him to me one Christmas about 11 years ago. I named him Robert the Bruce because he is a hulking, round bear, and he reminded me of the character from “Braveheart.”

bentwood_walnut

5. Rocking chairs. I love a comfortable rocking chair and nothing is worse than trying to sit in an uncomfortable rocking chair. I have a Bentwood rocker that is almost 30 years old. I have rocked all of my babies in that chair. It is very comfortable for sitting for long periods of time and for rocking. When Eamonn was a baby and he had stomach problems, I had to rock him to sleep by singing “Unchained Melody” while rocking gently in that chair.

That’s all for now. More later. Peace.

 

Infallible, Untouchable, and Immortal?

Why You Might Be Surprised on My Feelings About Drug Use

I know that I have mentioned my use of prescription drugs more than once in some of my entries, and I have admitted to inhaling as I was no angel in my younger days. I liked to get high, and for about a year of my teen years, I did it quite frequently, but then I decided that that was probably enough playing around, and I got my act together, stopped getting high all of the time, stopped skipping school, and still managed to graduate with honors, and that’s something of which I’m proud, especially since I know that if I hadn’t had a lost year, I could have probably ranked higher (absolutely no pun intended) on the list in my graduating class.

As to prescription drugs, yes, I have a dependency on muscle relaxers. I wish that I didn’t. I don’t take pain pills unless I absolutely have to, but I cannot get through the day without muscle relaxers. My back, shoulders and legs simply will not allow it. I have spasms that are so bad sometimes that I feel as if the side of my back has moved into my shoulder. I get knots in my shoulders that are the size of walnuts, and they have to be massaged out, or I have to get trigger shots to release them.

edvard-munch-the-scream
"The Scream" by Edvard Munch

I also take preventive medication for my migraines, which I feel is a miracle drug. Before I started on the preventive regimen, I used to have migraines that lasted for weeks. Now, a bad one might last for days. I once had a migraine that was so bad that I could only eat jello, and I lost 12 pounds. I looked mah-velous, but what good is that when you feel as if you can only live in a bat cave?

And then there are the anti-depressants. These are a way of life for me. On occasion, I have convinced myself that I am all better, and I have thrown them away. For a while, I feel great. Life is great. The air is great. Everything is great. The birds are singing. La la la la la. And then comes the crash, which isn’t great. People who are clinically depressed do not enjoy being that way, believe me.

People who have never had any kind of clinical mental illness simply cannot understand it. They believe that you can snap out of it. Or will yourself to be better. Or pray yourself out of it. Or take vitamins. Or (and I love this one, my mother used to say it to me), think happy thoughts. Okay. Sure. That works for a while, for some people. But for those of us who are truly, clinically diagnosed, you may as well be chewing sweet tarts for all of the good that it will do you.

The advances that they have made in psycho-pharmacology are really incredible. I mean, I remember when everyone was handed Prozac, and it was declared a wonder pill, capable of curing everyone’s ills. Well, I’m here to tell you that it didn’t cure mine; it made me worse. It took trial and error and time to find the right medicine for me. But now, pharmacology has advanced so far so fast, and even though it’s still trial and error in getting to the right medicine for an individual’s body, there are so many more roads to try so that your medicine doesn’t end up turning you into a zombie.

No one should ever feel ashamed to need medicine for being depressed or anxious, and any sect of society that still imposes that kind of stigma is living in the dark ages. Many of these conditions run in families; some are caused by hormones, others by traumatic events that have occurred in life. Some last a lifetime; others just months. With the right medication, some people who are diagnosed with a mental illness can continue to function in society without major issues and without having to announce to the world that an issue exists, because after all, it isn’t really the world’s business. Is it?

But the kinds of drugs that I’m talking about having a problem with don’t come with a prescription. I’m talking about pot and cocaine and meth, or prescription drugs that belong to someone else that are being used for something other than that for which they are prescribed. That kind of drug use bothers me and is weighing heavily on my mind right now.toking

Let me clarify. You’re probably thinking that I’m being a hypocrite about pot because I just admitted that I smoked in high school, and I didn’t turn out horribly, and everything seems to be fine. However, I’m talking about excessive pot use, as in getting high every day, sometimes, a couple of times a day. I smoked pot once or twice a week, maybe. I still went to school, turned in my assignments, took care of my chores, you know, basic things.

What I’m seeing is getting high on pot, and then abusing prescription drugs, too. The result is a crappy personality, full of smart ass retorts, no respect, and manipulative behavior. An incredibly narcissistic person whose dysfunction is being exacerbated by the drug and alcohol abuse. And I cannot even believe that I am writing about this because it violates his privacy. But how about how he has violated my soul, my essence?

Am I to continue to allow this personal pummeling on my morale without responding to it? Each time feels like a new violation on my spirit. Each time I wonder where the boy has gone that I knew, the one that I rocked to sleep every night the first year of his life. Do I love him less for what he is becoming? Do I beg and plead internally in this ongoing argument with myself to wait patiently, that things will turn around, that this is just a phase, that all parents go through this, that the boy I love is there beneath this arrogant, selfish, man-boy? Do I remind myself that all youth are self-centered, ego-centric, narcissistic, wholly wrapped in the concept that they are infallible, untouchable and immortal?

When I was 17, I was already going to college full time, working, paying for my own car insurance, gas, clothes, and expenses. But I was atypical, and this goes back to my belief that I have already lived a hundred other lives, and this one is but one in which I am already an old soul. I wanted to have these responsibilities at a young age. I was already beyond where he is now. Not everyone is like me.

So how do I keep my expectations realistic? I know that he is not me. That much is certain. But to be on the receiving end of so much disdain, such a lack of common courtesy is unacceptable. My children were not brought up to be heathens, barbarians. That is intolerable. Perhaps the wildness is youth, but the rude temperament is not a matter of age. I can cloak the wounds to my soul for now in the hopes that he moves past this phase, but I will not tolerate shunning the teachings of basic human decency that he has heard since he had ears to hear and a mouth to speak.

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Cover from French Lieutenant's Woman

So, it comes to this now. I wait. I will put into action the plan to remove the drugs that I have access to from his access. I will try to find within myself some of my father’s stalwart patience, the kind he used on me during my rebellious years.

I just had a fleeting image of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, who went to the edge of the bluff each day to look out to sea, no matter what the weather, even though she knew that her lover would not return. It was an open-ended story, but I always saw her time on the bluff as a way for her way to gather her strength to face the day and all that it held for her, for she knew that it would not be easy. Funny how the doors in the sand castles of your memory open and release something for you to hold onto when you need it most.

There will be more later. Peace.

Dreams, Angelina Jolie, and Jello

And Now for Something Totally Different

Politically-free Day

For my friends who are tired of me writing about nothing but politics, I thought that I would take a break since I seem to be alienating my Texan readers (you know who you are) . . .

I woke myself up this morning while doing my nails in my sleep. Now while that may seem odd to some of you, there are those of you who will find this completely normal for me. I was having this wonderfully wild dream in which I had stopped by my favorite nail salon to paint my nails myself (I know, this makes no sense), and I was painting them a truly fugly shade of beige, something I would never do. Believe me when I say that I am a RED woman: garnet red, blood red, ruby red, “Woman in Love” red (one of my favorite shades), and then the darker shades of red once the weather cools. I do not do beiges or neutrals. Unfortunately, due to the economic downturn that began at our house months before the NYSE plummeted, I have been unable to keep up my nail fix for months, so I have finally begun to dream about having long nails again. I suppose the fugly color that I was painting them was to bring myself back to reality. However, the funny part was that I woke up with my right hand in the air and my left hand moving a pretend polish brush over my nails. Ah, que sera, sera . . . whatever.

Angelina Jolie Makes it Hard for the Rest of Us

I was reading an article online about La Jolie that was accompanied by pictures taken by none other than her love (who was my love first; he just did not know it). The pictures were black and whites of A. aprés the twins, and of course, she looks absolutely lovely. In the article she talks about how Brad wanted to capture her changing body after giving birth and how he accepts all of the changes in her and how wonderful that is. I only mention this because the pictures were not retouched, and several were close-ups, and of course, it is terribly hard to see these changes of which she speaks.

I have always found Jolie to be one of the most sensuous women on the planet earth. There is just something about her that I find terribly compelling, and it’s not the lips; it’s in her eyes. Her eyes are ageless. They have seen things. I have always been partial to men and women with dark hair and eyes for the most part. Jennifer Aniston is pretty, but she does not seem to have depth. Brad was always pretty, but he did not seem nearly as interesting until he found Jolie. Now that he is older and has crinkles around his eyes, he seems to have much more gravitas.

But I digress . . . The thing about Angelina Jolie, for me at least, is that she is so much more than a face or a body, and so it shows in her face. No makeup, head covered by a scarf, t-shirt, or completely decked out for the red carpet. It doesn’t matter. Her eyes reflect a very old soul.

From the Exquisite to the Mundane

I’m trying to break myself of my ice cream habit, so I’m eating more jello. I had forgotten how much I like jello, and how few calories are in one of those little snack cups. Of course, if you eat two snack cups at a time, it kind of defeats the purpose of the calories, but hey, I’m trying here. The problem is Corey. It’s really his fault. You see, when he fixes me a bowl of ice cream, he won’t make just a small portion. He makes these great big portions and pours on lots of caramel or chocolate topping, so I’m blaming all of the calories on him. Does apportioning the calories also transfer the calories?

My Space Versus Face Book

Dilemma: Friends who are opening Face Book accounts when I already have a My Space account? I’ve had a My Space account for about two years now. I finally have it set up just the way I want it. I have my music players set up; all of the fonts are finally the correct size. I finally got around to putting my pictures in different folders and labeling them, and I even created a slideshow.

Now Jammi and Mari have set up Face Book accounts. Traitors!!The only way I can look at their FB accounts is if I open an account too, and because I’m so anal, I won’t be able to just set up a half-assed account. I’ll have to go in and set up a real page with everything, and if I set up a real page with everything, then I’ll have another page that I have to check everyday, and if I have another page that I have to check everyday, then I’ll never get any writing done. Oh it sucks to be me *&@(!

It Really Is Fall in Naw-Fick

Wouldn’t you know it that if I wrote (several weeks ago) that we never have a real fall around here, we would  actually have more than two weeks of wonderfully temperate weather? I’ll have to remember this and write the same thing before spring. We’ve actually had weeks of weather that’s been in the 70’s with light winds and sunshine. I know that I’m taking a big chance in actually writing about this, probably jinxing myself. I’ll probably regret even acknowledging that this is happening, but it’s been so wonderful that I wanted to thank the weather gods for such manna.

The air conditioner has been off for weeks. The nights are in the 50’s. The dogs are pleasantly sunning themselves in the backyard (except for the horizontally tall one who refuses to leave my side for more than a few moments at a time; as I type, he is quietly snoring by my feet). I see more and more mums in bloom all around the neighborhood (along with lots of McCain/Palin yard signs; alas, it is a predominantly Republican neighborhood). High school football games keep getting postponed because of gang threats. My next-door neighbor is putting a new room on her house, which gives her a new excuse to spy on our backyard (she’s my arch nemesis).

All in all, it’s a beautiful fall in the neighborhood. I wish that I were in the mountains taking pictures of all of the turning leaves. Oh well, maybe next year, after Obama has been in office for his first nine months. Oops, sorry. This was supposed to be a politically-free one, wasn’t it? Just can’t help myself.

More later . . .