Look at this face. No really. Look at it. Study it. Make a short list of what you see. (Not a long one because I don’t want to get into it about my middle aged acne. Just no.)
I. Look. Tired.
And I was. Because I had just spent an hour releasing toxic chemicals into my brain. The same ones you use during a workout. So an hour later, I was exhausted because my brain had thought itself through a CrossFit workout. (OH NO gurl! You don’t know what a CrossFit workout is if you compare it to just thinking! You don’t have tractor tires and 12 in thick ropes in your brain! ) You know what. Shove it Kevin. You hard abed freak. You won. You’ve accomplished it. You look like my tile floor. More specifically shove your 12 inch thick ropes up your tractor tire!
Sorry. Sometimes I get mad at over achievers. Kevin clearly had it coming.
I was tired.
I was exhausted.
Cooking dinner for my kids and trying to interact with them took everything I had tonight. My husband was even home to help. TWICE I fell asleep on the couch while the enchiladas cooked in the stove. (I eat my feelings and my feelings love ethnic food. I once shouted “THAT’S MY JAM” across a park when I heard I had won free food from our local Mexican restaurant. My husband now works there as a dishwasher and brings me home food and for this I will upgrade his casket lining from burlap to satin. Of course his death will probably be by my hand, but I’ll honor that gimme.)
You don’t think I look tired in this photo Carol? Well here’s a comparison to a different day, same facial expression, but different lighting. I’m not a professional photographer. Though I tried that once. Don’t ask how it ended. I don’t know. I fled the state after it was over.
See? I was tired. I’m just not sure why people are always asking me to justify myself. (Oh. You didn’t? Well… that’s what I translated you to say because of my imposter syndrome. I didn’t realize you just wanted my enchilada recipe.)
This photo is therapy. This is life with mental illness. This is me trying to achieve my personal best state of mental health (that will immediately end, destroyed by an imaginary TIE fighter when I start overthinking my personal best and if I really deserve to have achieved a mental health best.)
My last two sessions have been fluff. More a “Meet and Greet” with my new therapist. For real. She brought her dog and made me a latte’. I brought my kids and let them destroy her office. She gave them suckers for picking up and sent them home with sugar in their systems used to destroy our home. I pay for this.
I also paid for those cookies right after therapy as therapy after therapy. Chocolate is therapy.
This time however she pulled out the big books. For real. It was a massive binder and the first chapter was labeled something like, “Introduction to your broken brain: an essay on how I, the author with 17 degrees (one in chemical engineering ), will now mess you the fork up and send you home weeping.”
No really. It was just about different anxiety disorders.
Which I have all of. Except Agoraphobia. As a natural extrovert and mother who has been locked inside a house for 8 years, it is clear I do not have that. I verbally suffocate any living creature that will get within 8 feet of my when I leave my house.
Reading about different disorders and checking off bullet point after bullet point of symptoms that you may or may not experience with each disorder (spoiler alert! I checked them all), is nothing short of wearing.
Each line, each symptom, each confirmation, were another punch thrown at the punching bag of myself. Yes. Me. I’m the punching bag in this metaphor. Keep up. Beat down. Left hook. Headbutt. Below the belt. Kidney punch (HA! I don’t have a kidney on that side suckers!). Sucker punch (Touche’). On the ropes. Out for the count.
Then time’s up.
The giant book closes.
And my therapists meets my eyes with a smile and says, “Ok! Good sesh! See you next week!”
Takes my latte’ from my hand and throws it in her dog’s water dish as her dog walks down from the wall to lap it up. ( she either has a pet baby Demogorgon or that dog gets a LOT of coffee).
And then suddenly I find myself standing on the sidewalk below her office, car keys in hand, feeling cheap, used and lost.
*I just want you to know that I took a BIG breath here. And now another. If you want the true experience, you too should take a big breath*
Annnnnddd keep reading:
My 7 year old came up to me tonight. In his favorite jammies. Elastic waist all worn out. No wait. It’s just his non-existent waist. EAT something kid! Like your feelings!
He was seeking a hug as usual. Then he said something that made me drop to my knees. There was NO preface to this. Just this:
“Kids who don’t go to therapy are normal kids. Normal kids don’t go to therapy. ”
I dropped to my knees. I looked him square in the eye and my heart hurt so bad as I responded, “No Buddy. Normal kids don’t go to therapy. But you know what? Normal isn’t really a thing.”
This kid talks a lot. He is still on his first breath since starting to talk at age 2. Just never stopped. But most of the time it’s 7 year old stuff. Butts. Boogers. Blood. The three boy B’s. (There’s a kid’s book idea here if anyone wants to run with it.)
However. Once and awhile he reveals very gut punch things. His follow up was this:
“Mom. I feel different at school. I feel different.”
Oh my sweet boy.
You see my son just started therapy as well. We are in the middle of going through bullet points and big punches for him too.
When he connected today that other kids don’t go to therapy, to feeling different, to realizing there is a standardized normal mold that he doesn’t fit into, all I saw in his face was my face. Not because God clearly got lazy and just hit ctrl C when my egg and his Dad’s swimmer hooked up on their first date, but because I remember that feeling. I remember making that connection. I remember realizing as a first grader that I wasn’t a square peg trying to by put into a round hole… I was a freaking glitter covered unidentifiable object with 17 different crazy angles trying to be put into a round hole. Yea. Good luck generalized education system. All apologies to my former educations consultants (teachers).
For a brief moment fear tickled at my heart. “Hey wuz up homegurl. Wanna get together later at your place and maybe overthink your every life decision and embarrassing moments from when you were 8 over copious amounts of adult beverages? I promise I will keep pestering you so you can’t sleep and then greet you in the morning with a giant pimple on your forehead.”
But then I remembered something.
He’s not alone.
I just knelt there a moment, held his two small hands in mine, and squeezed. I took a deep breath gathering my response in my head and…
Then he ran off before I could end this amazing life changing moment that he would remember on my death bed as he realized that I’m amazing and the best thing that has ever happened to him. He ran off to punch his brother who had taken the book he wanted to read at bedtime. Then there was screaming. And I chipped a tooth from gritting my teeth so hard trying to avoid murdering them both.
I thought the fear would return and ask for a second date, but instead I opened my heart and there was something else.
“Courage is fear that has said it’s prayers.” – Dorothy Bernard
I felt empowered. My son was not alone. Here’s what courage said to me:
MASSIVE research has been done the last 15 years on the brain. The leap that has occurred since I was a first grader to now in mental health is unmeasurable. I have tools, science, research, professionals, educators, resources etc that my parents didn’t have… or ever thought of ever needing.
My son will NEVER be labeled just “dramatic,” or “over emotional,” or “immature,” or “unstable.”
(Ok. Yes. He might be called over dramatic. Legit reasons though. If I taught him Spanish, he could DOMINATE Telenovelas.)
He won’t have to unpack truck loads of damaged baggage unintentionally handed to him at different life check out lanes.
There is just SO MUCH he won’t experience…
And SO MUCH he will.
He will have access to the right professionals who give the right diagnoses who will provide the right tools.
He will have a society that is sidelining the concept of normal and embracing more UFO type people.
He will have an immensely deep well of scientific information on the brain then any other generation ever in history.
He will have well informed educators and mentors who will be trained to see triggers and correct responses.
He will have me.
God willing, I will be there. Any time of day or night. Any circumstance or situation. Any break down or mountain top.
I will be there.
Tirelessly I will fight.
And the fight starts here. With me. Because if I am going to teach him how to do it, I must first be the student. I must first fight my own battles.
“First learn stand. Then learn fly.”
Just call me Mom Miyagi.
No for real. It’s 11:04 PM and I am VERY tired.