Monday, January 28, 2013

On Moving On

Wow, the difference getting outside for five minutes and taking a little white pill can make.

I've been off of Lexapro for months now but with the recent events in our family - basically, stress - I've decided it might be best to get back on it. This happens about once a year, and while I function quite well the remainder of the year there's always a section of a month or two where I find myself so despondent that my options become clear: either keep moping, accomplishing nothing, and stressing out about everything, or allow myself this one thing and inch myself back onto a low dosage in an attempt at reclaiming my remaining sanity. Today, I started taking it, and we shall see what the results are. Even if it's completely placebo, I already feel a little better, and I've found myself internally monologuing my way through my troubles.

We were hoping to move with our tax money, into our own place.

Now we are looking at staying here another six months, if not longer.

It's a tough pill to swallow, pardon my dry humor, and I can't argue that it still really stings to think about. We desperately need our own space and I can see the toll that staying here takes daily on myself, my husband, and my kids. This is not an easy place to live. It was difficult enough when growing up; things have only gotten worse, as my mother has become more set in her ways and more determined that even the smallest things will set her off. I can understand to a degree; randomly adding four people back into your previously empty house and then losing a beloved pet and companion are things that would be taxing on even the most steadfast soul. But for her somehow it is a million times worse, and though she claims we are still welcome here I can only hope that we will be out sooner rather than later, both for the sake of our sanity and so that she can have her house, space, and privacy back.

Today the weather is teasing us. The days have been sunny but too cold and snowless to justify heading outside for any length of time, and up until today, our highs were only topping out at 20, max. Today it was about 65, and though it rained occasionally I found myself outside on my second break, and I took a few minutes to just sit on the curb in the setting sun. It was a boon to my soul, and I know that it helped me feel a little more like there is life outside of this dark, dark box. Then, albeit only briefly, there was a tiny thunderstorm this evening. All I got to see was the vaguely damp ground and a little lightning, and I heard a bit of thunder, but that small event was encouraging! Spring is on its way - even though tomorrow they're forecasting severe storms for our area and on Wednesday we are looking at snow and highs that are back into the 20s. Welcome to the Midwest.

G is officially in therapy. We had intake last Monday and Hubby and I both chose to attend instead of just having one of us go. The therapist, Missy, agreed that we are likely looking at issues with impulse control, but she thinks that in reality most of his problems are stemming from his sensory issues and she wants to further investigate this through some sort of testing that is yet to be arranged. In her opinion this will give us the best idea of what, exactly, is the matter, and how we can best help him integrate his sensory input problems into his daily routine. In short, we want to help him cope, and in turn learn how to cope with his outbursts and overstimulation reactions in turn, so that we don't lose our cool with him when he is obviously having trouble dealing with himself.

My job is still stressful as ever. I am working close to 50 hours a week on a regular basis, and I have worked nearly every Saturday but two since the beginning of November. I am beginning to feel the toll of my position and I won't lie and say that I'm handling it well. I hope that eventually I will even out and learn to tolerate this, because we can't live without my income.

Here's to the coming of Spring.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

On the stupidity of the nation

We, as a nation, revolve around the concept of schadenfreude - that is to say, we like watching the misery of others play out before us as a relatively solid reminder that we are, in comparison, more sane and have more stable lives than some of the more interesting members of our society. Often these people have agreed to open up their lives and family to encouraged and even planned drama, and they are typically bound to the will of the network that their contract is with. We see the immediate effects but the results of the drama are often lost on us - and typically we don't decide that a reality show's premise is harmful until after we've been exposed to it for a while and begin to see the wear and tear it creates on its stars.

Except, sometimes, it is blatantly obvious that something is an absolutely horrible idea.

Take, for example, Oxygen's new "brilliant" concept, absurdly titled, "All My Babies' Mamas". The idea is apparently that the network will follow a man who calls himself "Shawty Lo" and the 10 women who have fathered his 11 children. Apparently, tossing his 19-year-old girlfriend - who is a year older than his oldest child - somehow makes the whole thing more like a "Brady bunch" situation and less of a painful clusterfuck of stupid. The network intends to follow Shawty Lo around and document the interactions he has with his children and their mothers, with an implied hilarity level that I can't even begin to fathom.

In short, this series is a combination of every single "lesson" that I'd prefer my children never learn.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out how ultimately demeaning this series is - to the mothers who are a part of it, to the kids who are involved without their consent, and to both women and the African American community. A number of people have already spoken up in protest of this crudely-designed form of entertainment, and I'm adding my voice - not to follow with the crowd, but because this has illicited a serious "dafuq!?" reaction in me.

Am I wrong?

Here's a man whose appearance thus far in the promotional material seems to scream "stereotypical gangster". He is portrayed as a guy who can't keep his dick in his pants, with a harem of women who somehow find him and his womanizing ways irresistable. Mind you, I don't mind the idea of plural relationships - if everyone involves consents and is aware of any potential repercussions, and everyone is aware of everyone else's other relationships, who cares? But this is plain exploitation. And god forbid we consider the kids - whose impolitely nicknamed mothers (including "Sassy Baby Mama") are being degraded from individual women with names, lives, and personalities to irritatingly cutesy and insanely embarassing monikers meant to somehow set them each apart from one another - in this entire disaster. There are 11 in total according to Oxygen's information about the show, and their dear father can't remember all of them.

And he proves as much on camera by trying and failing multiple times to name them all.

So, again, I ask: Dafuq is this.

Oxygen, you have GOT to be kidding me. I just.. I've lost words, I'm so disgusted. All I know is, I can tell you one network I won't be watching anymore - and that any advertisers who put in commercials during that show can count on losing my business.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

On what we make of life

I have become incredibly introspective as of late.

While I consider myself pagan, I am not a druid, nor am I Wiccan or really any other solid "version" of pagan out there. I believe there are multiple forces in place in our universe that helped begin creation and that occasionally can guide us or offer assistance in our lives, usually without our asking, although they can be asked to interfere as well. Despite all that, I do not have a solid belief system when it comes to the afterlife, and as of late, thoughts of death have become commonplace.

I am 26 years old.

And someday, I am going to die.

I don't know what it means to leave this existence. The scientific side of me is still desperately trying to come to terms with my latent spirituality, that which demands there must be something more beyond death itself, another plane or another version of existence in which our souls continue. Call it Heaven, the Summerlands, Purgatory, what have you - I have to believe there is something more. In my head, the human brain - already an admittedly ugly but complex organ whose inner functions are understood to a degree but whose development and inward function still makes little sense to the scientific community beyond a chorus of, "Hurr hurr, neurons firing!" - is somehow special. The brain itself in any creature is special. There is a spirituality inherent in all things that are capable of existence, of growing and thriving. There is a certain meaning behind each bug (even though I'm the type to squish them - sorry) and every blade of grass. Every bit of quantum mechanics and string theory and our knowledge of black holes and neurons and the beginnings of life itself, in my mind, all come back to the idea that, surely, all this cannot be for naught. There must be something more.

I doubt it's healthy that my fear of death is so ingrained that if I allow myself to think about it too hard, I can actually encourage and set off an anxiety attack. It terrifies me to the edge of my understanding and the worst part, I think, is that it isn't something I can try to understand with the inherent acknowledgement that despite my attempts to understand it, I may never physically encounter it face-to-face, so while I can attempt to understand it fully, I don't NEED to. This is not a thunderstorm, or a bee hive, or childbirth. This is not a way of parenting or a need fulfilled in a relationship with another person. This, as much as creation itself, is solid - there is death. I will die. So will you, and my mother and husband and children and in laws and neighbors. There is no escaping this fact, and the only variables are when, how, and where. There is no question as to whether or not it will occur in the first place.

I also worry that it's unhealthy that at nearly 30 years old I have not yet formed some vague understanding of what, if any, life after death I believe in. When my mother's beloved purebred black lab had to be put down in October, she was thrown headfirst into the mourning process - and as part of that, she taught my children that the dog is now in Heaven, with God. The Christian god, I should note. While I'm open to teaching my kids about every religion, and committed to answering as many questions as possible with as much open-ended information as possible, it worries me that there is already an established set of beliefs that is being pushed at them. Maybe I don't want my kids to believe in Heaven, and maybe I don't want them to think that the god assumed to reside there is the only one in charge. Maybe I don't want them to think that if they are inherently good and innocent in their lives they will be rewarded in the future, but a single indiscretion can be enough to send them reeling into eternal torment. There are so, so many things about Christianity itself that I don't want my children to learn.

At the same time, I am - and yes, I hesitate to admit this, but here it is - inwardly a little relieved. No, I don't really want my children to believe that but the concept of death itself is already so abstract to me, a grown woman, that the idea of trying to explain its functions and process to my children is overwhelming. My three year old does not understand it at all and will often mention the dog but remind himself shortly afterwards that she is gone. My five year old will crassly answer his younger brother with terse reminders that she is dead - a painful but at the same time reassuring reminder that he is beginning to understand truly what this process is all about. All the same, I can't imagine trying to ingrain into their beautiful little minds that the soul of a dead person is simply gone, no more upon this plane nor anywhere we can reach it, and that it has simply ceased to exist. It has left me in a moral and mental bind, one that has been inadvertently answered by the purposeful but relatively innocuous teaching passed along by the dog's death - that there is an afterlife somewhere, and it's where souls go.

And maybe, really, that's the route I should be taking. Not trying to explain to them that there are necessarily any singular places where souls or minds or thoughts travel to upon death, but that we are only sure of deaths's finality and little else - and perhaps, then, to try to ask them what they think happens after someone dies to their mind, thoughts, and to their spirit. Encourage them to think outside the walls of any singular religion or spirituality and let them find their own way through, to determine their own paths through life.

My husband once explained it, more or less, this way: Humans have proven that by simply thinking of something in a group, enough people are capable of more or less making something exist - be it a single thought, ideal, or a bigger concept that requires the expenditure of energy, time, and emotional and mental power. The mind itself is capable of so much that surely if one person believes something, then somehow it becomes true for them - meaning, if just one person believes in an afterlife of a certain kind, in a certain location, then it becomes the truth, even if only for them, and it will be the eventual location of their spiritual essence. If enough people believe in something, then it becomes even more real, even if only for them - and by that reasoning, Christians are perfectly capable of being "sent" to Heaven or Hell, based on their inward impression of themselves, and there is a distinct possibility that they will not be the only "believing" soul there, if their concept matches that of others who share the same system of beliefs.

It's a puzzling concept that I've had some difficulty with as of late, so I thought, why not share it - and see what your thoughts are.

What do you think happens after death, if anything? And how have you explained it to your children, or other kids in your life?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

On new beginnings

2012 was a hell of a year for us.

I don't even mean that in the "we lost a lot of celebrities and bad things happened" way. I mean that on a very personal level, 2012 sucked to degrees I can only barely comprehend, much less put into coherent words. While it started with what was supppsed to be a promising new job it ended as a painful and poignant reminder of just how hard we can try to achieve our dreams without ever actually getting anything done. It was a frustrating year of two steps forward, one step back, and it seemed like every boon came with a punishment. Numerous illnesses have plagued us this year, as have dental bills, medical bills, lost opportunities, setbacks, and so much overtime that I'm at work more than I see my family. Plans to leave my mother's house by August became plans to try to escape in 2013 sometime, with no solid timeframe. It was agreed that my husband should go back to therapy, and finally, agreed that G - at five and a half - should also seek help.

In short, 2012 sucked balls, and I celebrated its ending by giving it the finger and not watching the ball drop.

Unfortunately 2013 didn't start any differently than its predecessor ended, which is honestly to be expected. Change -- especially good change -- rarely occurs overnight. Hubby is still quick to anger and slow to cool down, the kids are still showing obvious signs of stress and frustration. My mother is still unpredictable, and hasn't stopped treating Hubby like an animal. If the old adage that you should start the new year doing what you want to spend the whole year doing is true, then I will be getting very little sleep, staying frustrated, and will be working a lot.

There are still hints, here and there, of promise. With the solstice over the days are becoming longer, and soon won't feel like they end at 5:30. Spring will return within the next few months, and with it, life hopefully not just for the world, but for our family.

So brightest blessings to your family in this new year; may you be healthy, and have all you need (and a lot of what you want). And if, like us, you too have struggled and are now hoping for better, my cup is raised to you and your's with positive strength in your direction.