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Thursday, March 15, 2012

fostering contentment

I find myself in an uncomfortable state of imbalance lately.  As usual when my back is up against the wall, I stop and look around and assess the best way to remove my posterior from the smudged, crayoned sheet rock.

I've come to terms with the fact that this is likely who I am. I am introspective, insightful and self-aware, but only when I really have to be. 

To say the least, this past month has gotten my attention.

It started with a call from my endocrinologist (I have Type I diabetes) regarding some routine blood work.  Turns out my thyroid is as much an overachiever as I am and was working overtime.  My doctor described some of the symptoms I might be having: trouble sleeping, heart palpitations,  significant irritability or anxiety and weight loss.  I had been losing weight but working at it. I had had a holter monitor test for irregular heart beats in the fall.  I hadn't had much trouble sleeping, I just didn't need to sleep as much. But most significantly, I had felt like I wanted to scratch someone's eyes out for the past couple of months.

All these things I attributed, fairly enough, to the stress I am under being a predominantly single mom since the fall. But the more she described it the more I felt I had been living in a state just south of manic for the past few months.  Considering that I'm a card carrying member of  "high strung", this is saying a lot.

My doctor felt that my thyroid might be overacting as a result of the significant sickness (the gotcha virus) I had in January.  She wants to just keep an eye on what she is calling a case of thyroiditis and is hoping it will resolve on its own.

So with a nice base layer of hyperthyroidism, add to that that I have cut my hands significantly in two places, I lost a $1,000 piece of medical equipment that augments my insulin pump and I've gained nearly 5 pounds. I feel slave to constant cravings to eat and have been stress eating like it's a competitive sport. My body hasn't felt like my own.

The whole thing makes me feel like I want to scratch someone's eyes out.

Back.  Up against a wall.

Grandparents love and relish their grandchildren. I believe this is, in part, because they have the occasional responsibility instead of the constant, everyday demand.  Grandparents are also generally in the stage of life where they are pretty chilled out.

This led me to the inevitable question:  why can't I be more chilled out and enjoy each and every bit of this right NOW instead of waiting until the AARP comes knocking and Reader's Digest is being delivered to my front door?

It is kind of like the chill is withheld from those who need it most- the frazzled, overwhelmed, stretched-too-thin mom.  Kind of like how the ability to eat whatever they want is lost on those who don't really care that much about eating.

I feel like I need some chill, some balance, some restoration STAT.  Being a mom has already worn away so many of my rougher edges, tumbling and smoothing me like sea glass.  Yet, right now I feel like I'm being stabbed with a chard of myself that was somehow skipped over in the smoothing process.

What would it even look like for me to chill out?  What would I give up?

Exercise? I would be a basket case with no friends or family because no one could stand me.
Work? And then have no income?
Going the extra mile to make healthy food for me and my family? Yeah, right.
Cleaning the house? It is already stressfully messy for me.
Volunteering at Ella's school?
 Making my kids lunches?
 Driving them to school?

Turns out there is very little wiggle room in the things I want to give up.

So this is what I've come up with.  I need to foster contentment- to breed it, multiply it, focus on it, practice it and demand it from my life.  Yes, demanding contentment is a bit of an oxymoron I realize but I'm a little desperate.

There is little I can do to adjust the crazy.  My new plan is to create a place of stillness and presence inside myself- a way to feel content with things undone which, for me, the holy grail of motherhood.  The truth is things will never get completely done because there are ten more things teaming for the spot of the ten things I am crossing off my to-do list.

I don't want to be lugging a mini fridge up 4 flights of stair to Maya's college dorm room, having missed it all, enjoyed very little, but had all my shit together. (Except it isn't really together anyway.)

But for someone like me to be content in the nebulous space of unfolded laundry, toys on the floor and mud tracks on my recently mopped floors will take an inordinate amount of practice. 

That is why I am starting right now.  I've been making space for meditation, forcing myself to sit in rare still moments instead of popping up to accomplish something and pausing to take deep slow breaths when my head feels like it might explode.  But in some ways these feel like putting bandaids on a cavernous wound.

It seems it time for a paradigm shift inside my head.  Although I do work hard to make time for myself, I think my soul is screaming for more meaning, more presence, more SPACE in all the endless tasks.  It seems like the more I do to feed myself (write, exercise, plan events) the more I ride the line between internally content and externally overwhelmed.  I honestly, truly do not know how to have both.  I do know that when I am feeding myself mindlessly, almost medicating myself with food, I am hungry for something food cannot satisfy.

So great, I essentially know what the problem is.  How the hell do I fix it?

How do you decide who to give to when you are a mom and your soul is begging for attention?  All I can see before me is the flight attendants instructing parents to put on their own oxygen mask before helping their children. And all I want to do is scream at them is, "But there aren't enough masks here people!"

1 comment:

Amy said...

Oh Suzanne - hang in there! I totally get where you're coming from and struggle with the same kinds of things. It sounds like you're on the right track to getting into a better space. I have little mantras and questions that I end up repeating to myself when I start feeling overwhelmed - like "you can have it all - just not all at once", "will the kids remember a clean house or that you played tag/legos/candyland etc. with them?", "at the end of life, no one wishes that they'd just gotten the laundry put away sooner", and "happiness is a choice - whether you focus on the negative or positive is up to you". Sometimes, I even believe these things too ;) Seriously, it has helped me in a huge way. It's a continual process but I feel like I'm making progress in the right direction. Hang in there and know that you're doing a great job and that you've got a whole lot of folks here who can relate and are here for you when you need :)

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