Thursday, May 23, 2013

I heard it through the grapevine...

An opportunity has come up for me to spend a month in Denver with my friend Kim. She's recently moved back to Colorado after having spent a year in New York City and is getting settled back in. She's asked me to come spend some time with her while she reacclimates to Rocky Mountain life. It started out as a weekend, but said I was welcome to stay as long as I want to. I've decided to take her up on that offer. I'm struggling creatively and I've been stuck on this second book for over a month. I'm hoping the change of scenery will help break through the writer's block. In such a beautiful place, I'm sure that won't be an issue.

I have discussed it at length with my husband and kids, and I have their full support. Midget has her summer planned out with her bestie, Big Man, too, will be busy with friends as it is his last "free" summer before he graduates next year. Hubby, too, is happy to let me go since he's got his racing hobby that keeps him busy all summer. Obviously, I will miss them and they me, but they also understand that I go where I'm needed and most productive. 

I want to make it clear that my marriage is FINE. We are not separating. We aren't having trouble. We aren't dealing with problems. My relationship with my kids is also fine. Which is why this is the perfect time for me to get away...there aren't any lingering issues that I should be working out instead of traveling. 

I know in the past when I've traveled or spent any time away from home, questions have been posed to my husband about the "obvious downfall" of our marriage, why he "lets" me travel so much, why I enjoy being gone so much, blah blah blah - the list goes on. Let me say this much and then I hope the subject will be closed - frankly, it's nobody's business but my family's as to what we do, where we go or why we do it. But I knew if I didn't say something, the rumors would fly and it would be a bigger nightmare than if I just address it ahead of time. If you are concerned about the health of our familial relationships, we welcome your contact, but if it's to criticize or judge us for the choices we make, we'd just as soon you keep your opinions to yourself.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My thing with Mother's Day

I'm not a fan of Mother's Day. It's no secret, though it may seem like a mystery considering I'm the mother to two amazing kids. I thank God every day for them and that I was given the job of raising them. They're loving, funny, affectionate, smart and I adore them. They remind me almost daily how much they love and appreciate me. I am so blessed to be their mother.

That being said, I don't like today.

It comes down to a few things for me. Obviously, I hate that I don't have my own mom here. I miss her every single day. It makes me think about Mother's Day 1981 when we found my grandmother dead in her home from heart failure. It makes me think about the child I miscarried in 1992. Mother's Day isn't a joyful thing for me. It's like an anniversary of loss. I hate that.

It also bothers me that Mother's Day has morphed into some sort of "Let's Celebrate Women" holiday. Having had a miscarriage, I understand the pain this day can bring to those women who are barren or who have suffered the death of a child. I respect you, your pain and your desires.

What bugs me, however, is all the "Happy Mother's Day to all the fur-baby owners!" and the cousins, and the aunts, and the women who chose NOT to have children and..and..and... c'mon. Are we really going to cheapen and trivialize the pains and joys of motherhood by lumping mothers in with anyone who has ever purchased a bra? or a dog leash? or babysat for a neighbor kid once when they were in 8th grade?

I own pets, too. Love them as much as I love my own children. Grieved their deaths like they were human, but that doesn't make me a mother. It makes me an animal lover. 

Not everyone is a mother and that's fine. Celebrate them the other 364 days of the year. Today? should be sacred. Today is for moms, mother-figures, surrogate moms, mothers-to-be, mothers-who-were, mothers-who-weren't-meant-to-be and moms-who-will-never-be-again. Can we please just have ONE day that's ours?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Such a funny term...

Mental illness.

It's a funny term, that one.

Nobody really likes the phrase. Most people aren't even sure if it's a politically correct term to use. I mean, think about it. What's the first visual that pops into your head when you hear it? A sterile, checker-tiled floor in a room full of people in a dude is slapping his hand over his face repeatedly...some woman is babbling in tongues to herself...then you've got the guy in the corner playing ping-pong using his slipper. Right? C'mon, be honest. It's what I visualize.

The thing is, mental illness isn't just about people who are clinically insane. It's about people like you. And me. And that person over there. And that chic on TV. And that baseball player with the 105 RBI. And that singer who did the duet with what's-his-name. 

None of us are drooling on ourselves, so let's stop with the uneasiness of the term "mental illness," okay?

I'm sure I can be defined by a half-dozen terms in the DSM-IV, but to sum it up, I have anxiety, depression and borderline agoraphobia. No, I'm not afraid of spiders (okay, well, I am, but more so because they're creepy, not because I'm nuts). It means that I have days when I cry all day. For no reason. Fun, right? And there are days when it feels like my heart is a shorted-out cord zapping me constantly. Equally enjoyable, yes? And the agoraphobia? Remember having that dream where you're being chased but your feet can't move and you're stuck there just waiting for whatever monster your twisted subconscious has created to catch up with you? Yeah, it's like that. Except for me, the monster is the unknown of whatever is outside my door, at the store, in the airport, at a concert, on a ship, at a friend's house. It's a shit-ton of fun, lemme tell you.

But what those things aren't? Is a reason to avoid me. Or avoid talking about what's wrong. I don't expect you to fix it. If I did, I wouldn't be paying my therapist to do it, trust me! But if you care enough about me to ask me how I am, then I expect you to care enough to listen when I say "I'm not doing okay." Don't change the subject. Don't act like you didn't hear me. Don't suddenly disappear from my life until it's "back to normal" (because, let me give you a hint -- it will never be "back to normal"). 

My mental illness is as much a part of me as my great sense of humor, my beautiful eyes or my contagious laugh. Love all of me or don't love any of me. 'cause here's the thing: I already have good friends. Incredible friends. AMAZING friends. Friends who are here for the good, the bad and the ugly. I don't need someone who's only going to be here when the getting's good. If you're in, you're all in. If you're not, then you might as well leave now. I don't need you.

That may sound flippant and even a bit harsh, but the truth of the matter is, if there's anything I've learned in the thirty years I've dealt with this, I don't have the energy for bullshit. Love me or leave me. It's that simple.

Now...has anybody seen my slipper?