Saturday, August 12, 2017

Journaling: It's enough just to make you go crazy

Look at you kids, you know you're the coolest
The world is yours and you can't refuse it
Seen so much, you could get the blues
But that don't mean that you should abuse it
Though it's enough just to make you go crazy, crazy, crazy
I know, it's enough just to make you go crazy, crazy, crazy
But you get ready, you get all dressed up
To go nowhere in particular
Back to work or the coffee shop
It don't matter because it's enough
To be young and in love
To be young and in love
Don't worry, baby
Don't worry, baby
And it's enough just to make me go crazy, crazy, crazy
It's enough just to make me go crazy, crazy, crazy
I get ready, I get all dressed up
To go nowhere in particular
It doesn't matter if I'm not enough
For the future or the things to come
'Cause I'm young and in love
I'm young and in love
Don't worry, baby
Don't worry, baby

I told my husband yesterday, quietly and calmly, that I feel he may outgrow me someday. This came after a week of busy disconnection and quiet frustration at the disconnection. We had a morning meeting between the two of us that began with "Blue Sky Thinking" (our term for larger than life dreaming) and ended with the communication of a new boundary.
I can't do Blue Sky Thinking right now. Just for now. Next step thinking? I’m there. The giant off in the future, in your dreams kind of stuff? It triggers an anxiety I unfortunately have running the show right now. For the first half of this year I held on tight as he lived in that Blue Sky. He was the glue that kept us surviving financially while struggling through his own growing pains. And I was the glue for everything else. I kept the family together. I kept the kids fed, I made sure schedules were kept to the best of my ability, got children to school and homework done and laundry and dishes clean. I ached for more from this life than just survival but all I could do was survive. I mentally prepared to stick by my husband through his valleys and emotionally prepared for losing him.
"'Cause I'm young and in love"

This creates a roll out the red carpet kind of entrance for anxiety, in case you don’t know.  It’s weaseled its way into my life and I have learned to keep it quiet by focusing on what's in front of me and on the fact that we are okay. Blue Sky Thinking widens my view too far, throwing me out of control.
And I'm tired. I'm tired of holding it together and fighting to survive and worrying about every day. So, I can’t be what I want to be for him and I can’t be what I know he needs right now and I accept it but it invites old static to come up. So I listened to the ideas that things would always be changing and maybe someday it would change this too.
"It doesn't matter if I'm not enough for the future or the things to come".

I realized later it was quite an emotional bomb to drop and I apologized to him for it. He was as understanding as he could be, you know, for something like that. We're still in the wilderness where there's beauty and magic but also darkness and that fear of the unknown. It's in the wilderness where you get real. We're in it together, though, so he understands.
"And it's enough just to make you go crazy, crazy, crazy,"
I happened to have an appointment with my therapist later that day, and instead of checking in on the whole "I can't hold friendships and I worry too much about whether people like me" part of my life I decided it was more than coincidence that this fear so blatantly presented itself today. I told her I needed to unpack the morning and I sat waiting for a moment; bracing myself for whatever was inside that baggage.
Surprise: it's the usual. Insecurities, albeit fewer in number but present, a history of near losses and the inability to keep relationships. It was good to face it, even if it's just to acknowledge it's presence. I intend to eradicate it - but not today.
Before I left she said she wanted me to use the words, "I Am Enough." as a mantra. I thought it was a good idea but I didn't necessarily feel like I needed that specific reminder - but ok sure no harm in it!  
"Don't worry, baby."

Thank.Goodness. we had a date night scheduled that night. Our last date night had been more than 2 months before which now I realize contributed greatly to the distance between us. After the emotionally strange day I wasn't especially excited for the night out but I dressed up in my nicest dress (which now fits me again for the first time in 2 years, extra), jewelry, makeup INCLUDING liquid eyeliner which is reserved for the special occasions for some strange reason. All the stops. (I did however wear dirty sandals and no bra because my class can only go so far.)
We drop two of our children off with his parents and then drop the youngest off with my parents. My parents graciously offered to buy us dinner which ended up being a wonderful time. It was one of the first times we were able to truly be together more as peers and it was refreshing. I can also say it was the first time I felt my parents really saw me. It was a special evening of connection, for sure.
We say goodbye and head downtown. There was a swing dancing event I had wanted to go to but we were arriving later than we had anticipated so we were just heading that way to see where we'd end up and what we'd do.
"To go nowhere in particular"

He was scanning the radio and I heard a snippet from a song he had paused on.
"I actually liked that song, but if you want something else that's fine."
Panic! at the Disco was playing and Palmer was feeling it so I settled on the nostalgia of it rather than the prettiness of the other song. He then changed back to the previous song which I began to protest. House rules: the driver gets to pick the song and I felt bad he was picking my choice. However when he landed back on the song the haunting voice ended up being Lana Del Rey so unfortunately for that protest it was immediately halted.
"I get ready, I get all dressed up
To go nowhere in particular
It doesn't matter if I'm not enough
For the future or the things to come
'Cause I'm young and in love
I'm young and in love"

I grab Palmer's arm and stare at him.
"Did you hear that? Did you hear it tell my story?"
My voice hitched and I knew I couldn't stop it. All that makeup down my face and I didn't care one god damn bit.
It's enough just to make you go crazy.
I choked back sobs and tried to regain composure. 'It doesn't matter if I'm not enough' sang out. 'I am enough' echoed back. And I wept.
Don't worry, baby.
________________

The night before I sat on my deck watching a space in the clouds. The wilderness was lonely then and I prayed genuinely in that moment. Begging the universe to show itself to me. Say something I can hear. Guidance, comfort, assurance, song, anything. Just something.  
I know how this sounds and I can't phrase this to say it any less odd but it's my truth so I am going to simply share it unapologetically.
Right after that a dragonfly buzzed by, darting around me and hovering near the deck at eye level. I have learned over the past few months that specific, unique animal sightings hold meaning in my life. So after it dashed off I Googled what the dragonfly represents spiritually.
"Change in the perspective of self realization." "Change that has its source in mental and emotional maturity and the understanding of the deeper meaning of life." Well, alright. That was as much of a response as I needed.
The next day fulfilled it's promise. What began with a dragonfly led to a day of raw self reflection, finding boundaries and reconnecting across others. It led me here; squirming yet again through the pains of growth. It's solace.


Monday, July 24, 2017

He Wanted to Change the World : Abridged

In November 2016, I felt the frustrating draw to write out the overflow of my mind and heart. I saved the draft and closed the browser because it read as jumbled and overwhelming as I felt. In February, I did the same thing. And again in April. On July 1st, I finally relinquished the expectation of myself to write something that was perfect, irrefutable, compelling and beautiful and I just spoke. I decided first to write a Facebook status and after beginning it, I realized it was not an acceptable Facebook status (it was hella long) so I moved it over to a Google doc.

8 pages and 5 hours passed and I felt I could breathe.
I feel I owe a lot of my friends an honest and heartfelt update on what the hell we're doing. I realize it appears we have probably lost our minds, or are always asking for money for a new project, or are speaking of grandeur and seeking support for a new thing. I'm sure we come across as confusing and maybe even annoying to people.

I understand that. I see that. My anxious, overthinking mind thought through all those scenarios.

We have had a dozen people stick by us through this entire, unexpected and strange journey and I can't thank them enough. I truly can't.

So, this is intended to be an abridged version of another abridged version of our last 6-8 months. 



I have no idea where to start other than at the very beginning, on February 19th when Palmer came to me telling me about the incredible experience he had the night before. He felt enlightened, invigorated, excited and ready to change the world. February 19th, in case you don't have a photographic memory, was an unnaturally gorgeous Sunday. I took one child out to ride her bike while the other two stayed home with Palmer while he energetically graphed and logged everything he had in his head. He did this for a majority of the day.

What he wrote about was fascinating, revolutionary ideas to steer humanity towards betterment. I know it's vague, I told you it was abridged. I was astonished and intrigued. Where did this come from? 

The following weeks and months were full of supernatural wonderment that I can't fully describe here and yet it was also full of equally paralyzing fear. The days were precarious and uncertain. There was a stretch of time where he was so full of energy he appeared to be on drugs. He didn't sleep or eat and I panicked about when to step in and help. There were a couple of weeks where I didn't recognize him.

During this time, he was so connected to something that everyone around him caught it. The spark of life and true free will and the gift of stepping out of our mundane survival to evaluate our existence.
I KNOW HOW THAT SOUNDS. I just ask you please bare with me. 
Christians would call it the Holy Spirit, I call it the Universe, others might call it something else and atheists might not believe me at all and that is totally okay. I'm not writing this to evangelize or proselytize or convince anyone of anything. I am writing this completely honestly and free of any worry that anyone will think less of us.  

In the midst of that, his partnership in a business start up he poured weeks into dissolved and he was left with the pieces of something awesome and exciting; something we had hung our future on. I grieved for him then too, helpless and paralyzed yet again. I was not the wife I wanted to be, the supporter, the helper, the one to pick up the reigns when he couldn't hold them any longer. I wanted to be more than I was for him then but that's my own process to work through, I think.

He quietly picked up those pieces and moved them into a new endeavor which a lot of you may have heard of: the Lawrence Collective.

On March 25th, he invited the whole city to join his efforts to something bigger. He couldn't paint the whole picture but he knew with every fiber of his being he believed in it and it's potential so he threw everything he had into it. He was able to share a part of his vision with a number of other people who knew how to make it work. Again, I can't thank those people enough. I can't adequately thank those who listened to him intently, stuck by his side and not only that but worked along side him as I tried to keep our lives together and he pursued great dreams. I need to clarify that I do not mean to say he was negligent of our lives or family or anything like that.

His peripheral broadened to the point where I had to let him take off and see what happens. 

The 25th came and went, things were quiet. The adrenaline of planning and anticipation for that day came and went. He spiraled. There was one particularly heart wrenching day when my neighbor texted me alerting me that she thought Palmer to be suicidal and it was time to step in. A dear friend came to his side and he sobbed and processed for hours while I sat helpless and paralyzed again. There were days I emotionally prepared to separate the family so he could get well. Days spent grieving. I spent an entire 3 months in a constant state of nervous panic that my life, my husband, my future and the people around me were falling apart but instead of telling anyone, I kept it to myself so I could just. keep. going. Make it to the next day, hold it together, keep life normal for the kids, worry about whether our business and sole income would make it out of this.
Image result for kimmy schmidt you can do anything for 10 seconds

We decided to get the hell out of town for a spontaneous trip to the mountains - nature's most cleansing medicine. The trip was perfect in that it was exactly what we needed. It was the grounding Palmer needed. It was the escape I needed. It was the adventure the kids loved. But it was cut short when Palmer was able to ground enough to look at himself and say he needed help. He posted a video to Facebook describing his mental breakdown and he began the process of getting outside help.

Everything from that point on has been an incredible, steady incline of improvement but not only that - our lives have been filling with great, beautiful hope. That connection to something more remains untouched. And what's more, others feel it too. People around us are talking about the same things. It starts as unexplainable restlessness, or intense anxiety, or glimpses at weird consistent coincidences. And this is not new, it's not something I'm making up or trying to get a new church going around or something. It's the betterment.

The Lawrence Collective, the idea Palmer put together and ran with, is still there - we're just starting smaller. It's focused on connecting people, hearing each other's stories and going from there (it won't stop there, and really would you expect anything less from these crazies?) It's planned to be a lovely little mix of Humans of New York, NPR's Tiny Desk and a dash of local news thrown in. This is Lawrence, KS - we have an endless supply of beautiful, interesting people to hear from. It's Palmer's passion project and I'm happy to be able to help any way I can.

Being present and open to this magic around me has not let me down so I dare not stop now.

This journey began with a mental breakdown 5 months ago and ended with an intangible connection to something so much greater than what my life has known. We're open to the magic of possibility, to the deep potential of humanity and the incredible change that can happen. We are not the same people we were at the beginning of the year and I'm grateful for it. Palmer woke up and I'm grateful for it. We are both healing and growing in ways we couldn't have done before; living caught up in hopeless expectations.

There are a list of ideas I can logically work through concluding why what happened came to pass. Why he changed, what is driving him and where it's coming from. I won't do that today. (And probably never will.)

Today I'm letting you know we're okay. And more than that - we're alive.

ADHD &

I feel like I have been going through a complete and total transformation and the best way to process all of it is through writing. I say that like it's news. I've been processing through writing since I was a young teen; I think there are times I think it's either not necessary, not important or that it's a habit better left with my young journals of angst. No. I'm learning to pick it up again and to stop overthinking how well it's written, what words I choose, whether they're the perfect words and whether anyone will care. It doesn't matter.

Lately, over the past month, my anxiety feels like it has peaked. I don't know why. I can't pinpoint a trigger or a reason other than a very broad and probably obvious indicator which I can only call, "growth".
Coincidentally, it's been one year since I went to India where I found myself stripped of all comforts, bandaids and familiar escapes. I was faced with just myself and this foreign world and it was awful and, as I'm discovering, necessary.
The anxiety I feel now is similar to that time. It's hard to eat, my chest is always tight, I become completely consumed with my thoughts, some of which are poison. I have to actively, consciously choose to step away from them. In doing so, I am moving forward in beautiful ways. Yet still, I type this with the nervous, upset stomach and bated breath. Why?

Here's one thing I'm processing through:

Through most of my school career, beginning mostly in 5th grade, I was very much below average. Truly a solid C student. I never felt smart, never retained information like I wished I could and never could live up to expectations of the school, teachers and overall academics. I was incredibly quiet, well behaved and not easily noticed so I could get away with the underachievement for a long time.

English class, though, is where I soared. It was the one time I would score high because of something I was actually good at (as opposed to Home Ec where I just had to show up and try). I remember two different occasions where I stood up to read something I wrote to the class and it was that movie moment where the class is looking at me in awe, like "Where the hell did she come from?" Once a teacher begrudgingly gave me a good grade on a story I wrote because she was sure I plagiarized it.
I wish I could go back and thank the English teachers (except that one) I had who helped me find that piece of magic that writing is to me.

However, I learned to hate school. It showed me everything I wasn't good at. 

I remember using different ways of trying to absorb information. I would write every word my teacher said down or repeat every word said in my head to keep me focused. I'm sure my internal dialogue was ridiculous and hilarious. I didn't mean to space out, I didn't mean to be distracted or disinterested. I didn't want to ignore homework or miss a deadline or fail. But I did consistently. I barely graduated high school.

Adult life has not been any easier. I struggle with relationships, I struggle with keeping a clean house. I struggle to plan and organize. I struggle to remember anything. I will be having a conversation with someone I love and, like a freaking computer, I'll be interrupted with a pop up window or spinning wheel indicating something is loading, only to be thrown back into the real world where I'm frantically catching up and fumbling through a recovery. It's the same problems I struggled with in school but grown up life was copy and pasted where class and homework was.

My husband began treating his ADHD a few months ago and as he was describing the symptoms and life with and without treatment, I began to recognize many things. Things books and websites were describing that I thought these last 18 years were just normal things everyone deals with except me were actually, in fact, not a healthy normal.

I scheduled a visit with my doctor and she confirmed my suspicions with a diagnosis of ADHD. I broke down into tears. My childhood finally made sense. My severe childhood anxiety and my adult depression even made more sense. I have been doing more research and almost every time I finish an article I have streams of tears down my face.

"I finally know I'm not stupid," I said to my doctor with breaking composure. 


I'm not lazy. I'm not immaturely disorganized. I'm not stupid and it's definitely NOT because I'm a female. I'm just misunderstood. I've misunderstood myself.

The irony here is I was one of those people for a while who rolled my eyes at ADHD. I criticized medicating kids for being kids and using a diagnosis as a cop out for doing anything. I mean, look at me, I had all those things too and I was a miserably depressed failing student - it's fine!

Here's what I'm learning that I wanted to share. ADHD is commonly associated with little boys and hyperactivity. First of all, the symptoms of ADHD are not isolated to just hyper activity, like I had thought for so long. There are "shades" to it, like most things, and a more subtle version of it is inattentiveness, anxiety, daydreaming, disorganization and under performing. Reading those "symptoms" was one of the things that brought me to tears. I had a teacher embarrass me once for my disorganization. She stopped class, took my folder to the trash can and began throwing away everything in it making a big deal out of how much stuff was in it. I learned to see that flaw in me and really hate it.

I can't really articulate the weird, conflicting emotions you have when as an adult you are processing through something seemingly small and unimportant, like a memory of a teacher being mean in first grade, and learning to forgive and have grace for your child self. Years ago I would have deleted all of that thinking, "WHO THE HELL CARES ABOUT WHEN YOU WERE EMBARRASSED IN FIRST GRADE. WHO CARES THAT YOU WERE MESSY EVER." But I do. And I really wonder how many women are still, as 30 year old adults, hating these little things about themselves that they just can't get a handle on.

Here's the other thing: Women are much less likely to be diagnosed because first of all, ADHD has not been widely researched in women. I just want to sit on that for a minute. Not to wag my finger at gender bias but to acknowledge it exists in many forms.

...

Ok. So there's been research revealing the differences in ADHD in girls and boys at a young age, determining it can manifest very differently between the two. Even with that knowledge, I'm reading more and more articles pointing out the imbalance between diagnosing and helping girls with their ADHD.

Further, women are more likely than men to grow into ADHD, developing it later in life and the traits are expected to be handled in a timely and efficient manner to keep up with the rest of the world. On top of that, the demands women are expected to meet are insurmountable when coupled with ADHD. The expectations our society has of women is a whole other conversation in general but more often than not, women are the primary parent at home, the caretaker of the home, the planner and the organizer.
Quick refresher on those ADHD traits which include the inability to be organized, difficulty recalling details and trouble staying on task conclude that that is, uh, yeah, not going to pan out well. And let me tell you, as a stay at home mother for 7 years and trying to work and parent from home for 2 months - IT DOESN'T WORK WELL.



My depression meds haven't changed my life, only evened out chemicals that are also flawed in me. But this discovery of myself has changed, and will change, a lot. I'm not taking medicine for it. Not yet. I would like to have it for times when I need to really work and stay focused (working at home with 3 kids is a nightmare for someone who is chronically disorganized and distracted) but because it's a medicine so abused they make it difficult to get. Right now what I'm doing is more self discovery, giving myself more grace, giving my child self forgiveness and talking about it. The idea that so many people, and women specifically, are struggling and learning to dislike these traits in themselves as flaws a lot of times at a very young age, breaks my heart.  I also think this will help me be a better, more patient parent. I will know what to look for. I will know when my easily distracted daughter is again NOT doing what I asked her to, it's not that she is disrespectful but that she likely spaced out like I do. Or when she leaves a total mess beyond just the "being a kid" mess that it's not because I need to teach her to clean better (not always at least) but that, like me, her mind just can't keep the clutter in check.

I am sharing this as part of the processing stage, like I mentioned. I'm also sharing this so that others  can hopefully understand me like I'm learning to understand myself. More than that, what I really hope for in sharing this is that someone else might come upon this same discovery. That they might see a reflection of themselves in either what I wrote or from the conversations coming from this topic. That someone else will glean insight into themselves and embrace that reflection as evidence that nothing is worth despising in them self. That those traits that create more obstacles than ease can be honed into tools resembling superpowers. That we'll be better equipping people to fully reach their potential despite those obstacles that disorders create. It is there that happiness resides and happiness is what equals success.

If you're interested, here are a few sources I've been learning from:


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ode to Valentines



I guess this is a Valentine's day post. It's not really too sappy or focused on smoochy love and all that crap everyone's tired of reading about. (Well, I am. So I suppose I'm not alone.) Sappy, smoochy Hallmark love is good and all but there's more than that.

Palmer and I watched La La Land yesterday and when it ended we had very opposite feelings about it.
If you're dying to see this movie and don't want any spoilers, consider this your spoiler warning. 



First of all, I was pouting that there wasn't more musical singing and dancing numbers. As much as I swooned over the jazz in it, I wanted more memorable sing alongs. And when the last number hit and we are left pining over what could have been between these two dreamers, I was so angry. How could they do that to me?! His face when he saw her! And they both saw their life and the magic and adventure and love that could have been! AND THEN SHE LEFT AND THE CREDITS POP UP LIKE EVERYTHING IS FINE.

Palmer clapped and said he loved it. I stomped my foot and said, "WHAT?? That was terrible! There wasn't enough singing and they weren't together! What the heck?!"

In the car he said it again and I said again how I just didn't agree. He went on to describe how their hopes and dreams and love and everything that made up their reality and they were chasing were the risky options in their life. Pursuing an acting career had the lowest percentage rate for success. His landing a solid paying gig playing the jazz that fueled his passions had the lowest percentage rate for success. And in life you chance it or you don't. You luck out and you beat the odds or you don't.

Spoiler warning ends here.

He went on to say it was very much like us and I sat there mouth open taking the movie in all over again. He was totally right.

Palmer and I's relationship was the risky one. To be honest, it had one of the lower chances for success. We were 18 and 19 when we met. It was literally love at first sight. We were kids with heads full of dreams and souls filled with passion and hearts filled with angsty hope. Then we hit a point quickly where we split and I wasn't sure I even liked him anymore. He was a Christian Republican and I was a Democratic agnostic/universalist/searchingforwhateverthehellisgoingonhere-ist. Some people told him I was too wordly and we wouldn't be equally yoked as a couple. I had people tell me he was a jerk.

As it turns out, we ended up hanging out again. In groups first, then in pairs, then as a double date, then we found ourselves spending hours together, daily, laying everything out. Being brave and vulnerable and honest. He wasn't a jerk. I wasn't a Delilah. 

We were cloaked in layers of what our worlds wanted us to be.


We got married at 19 and 20, after knowing each other for a year and a half. Again, our chance for success was very low, I think it's safe to say. If my kids played this same scenario out, I would be terrified but do my very best to equip them. But damn I'd be scared - just like my friends, family and strangers were. I legitimately lost track of how many times people told us it wasn't a good idea. Every 19 year old in love has said this, but I knew it would be okay. I knew it was right, I wasn't scared at all. We planned to chase our dreams together, married to help propel one another towards what we want from this life. Fuel for the other's passions.


Things were wonderful until they weren't. I needed to seek help with my depression. (As it turns out, falling in love and getting married doesn't fix depression.) Palmer needed to seek help for his own demons. (As it turns out, ignoring problems doesn't make them go away.) We forgot how to be present for the other and then our marriage imploded. I was struggling with postpartum depression and Palmer was struggling with addictions. Our chance for success, again, was very low.

However, we succeeded. It was fucking hard. I imagined what divorce would look like. I imagined single motherhood. I imagined Palmer finding someone new. I imagined suicide. And we survived it all. We showed up for each other. Became brave and vulnerable and honest again. We found the wounds and healed them. They're very faded scars now. It's only hard to talk about now because my memory isn't great.

From eternity to where the space meets the sea.

We chose to help launch a new church. A riskier option than staying in sales and climbing the corporate ladder, but happiness trumped promotions. The chance for success: low. But we did it.

We chose to start a business. A riskier option than landing a 9-5 with benefits. The chance for success: lower. But we're doing it.

We/Palmer chose to funnel a lot of energy into a new local startup with massive potential but not a lot of short term reward. Success rate: lower than other options. But it's going remarkably well.

There have been several other dreams that had a super low chance for success that didn't pan out but it didn't hurt a damn thing to try. Whatever has failed us in the past opened a possibility for something else. It's incredible.

It makes me wonder how many people are chasing the risky dream. What is this life if you're not?

We've had odds against us for a long time and we may always have odds against us. But choosing risk, choosing joy, choosing passion despite a low chance for success - isn't that living beyond existing?

Love is risky. It often times has a low chance for success. But really, love is only successful when it's felt. 

Every one who loves deserves love. Whatever you believe, all of us only have this one existence. It will never play out this way again. Choose joy. Choose passion. Choose love. Choose risk. Choose hope. It will not always go like you hope. The odds may beat you. You might fail. But every failure leads to another possibility. That's the beauty La La Land captured in my opinion. The odds were harsh for each of them and they didn't triumph the way they thought. But it led them to other possibilities. Flaws made beautiful because of choice.  I'm still pining over the montage at the end. It reminds me of my own what ifs. What if Palmer and I chose separate paths? We didn't marry, we didn't have 3 remarkable children. We didn't choose adventure over familiar. If we had done everything different, I would live my own montage of an alternate life. And what a glorious feeling it is to look behind you, at every fork in your path and every choice you've ever made and smile because not a single one leaves you in regret.

I write this wishing, hoping and praying this for everyone, Valentine. 
Choose bravely, lovely, risky and truly. 

Happy Valentine's Day.