Sunday, September 26, 2010

Handicap

I see pictures of how I want things to be, imagine they could be, just were only a brief time ago, how they should be, I believe, and this is how anxiety breaks my heart, because it tells me in a very upset, loud and terrible voice that I am not good enough, my marriage is not good enough, my family is not good enough. It takes the hard things that happen and wrings them by the neck until they scream or go limp in submittal. It mimics my mother's insinuations that while she realizes there is something going on with him right now, perhaps, If I had just taught Dakota how to argue better, things would not be quite this bad. But it's too late now, she said in a sad voice, too late to worry about that now. Well. Well. Suddenly I look at our uphill battles and our earnest attempts at betterment and they are all very very small, in fact not even close to being enough to enough.

Mr. Curry I believe tends to go the other way, when things become high pitched and unbearable he minimizes and withdraws in order to stay in control, while I catastrophize and catch each dirtball square in the gut, where it really blows the breath out of me. But I've caught it, I've seen and felt it, it's not getting past me to my family without my scrutiny and without my shaping. I will evolve that ball of dirt so hard it's little microscopic feces self will turn from a ball of shit into a goddamn garden of delights. I have a fear of not diving head first into everything but not quite the skill set for doing so in a composed manner. So I do all the footwork necessary during times like these, I get it all done- the paperwork, the phone call, the faxes, the emails, the research, the meetings, the confrontations- but I do it with a nightly bout of crying, with my teeth clenched, with a severe and uncomfortable expression I'm sure, with a strained tone of voice. If only, my Mother helpfully had mentioned, you could look more confident.

If only.

I am dealing with one, two three balls in the air, all of which are enormously important and serious and have an urgency to them. Sometimes you can't say ' this can wait ' because sometimes- not most of the time, but it does occur- you really have to just suck it up and do what needs to be done even when it's pretty much impossible to do it. I can't drop one of these three balls because they are my family, in one way or the other, flying through the air up there, and it's my heart's work to secure them. I spent three hours doing research at the bookstore today and every time Ever kicked me I thought, ' I'm sorry little girl. ' My pregnancy has taken such a back seat to everything, and that makes me very sad. Then I tell myself, no use in being very sad about what just is, but then I go ahead and feel that way anyhow. In waves. Large waves of sadness. That's when the anxiety raises it's rattled tail and starts shaking and hissing and leaves me in chills and Braxton Hicks late at night, because I'm afraid of anything in my life being not good enough, not healthy enough, because nothing about my childhood was good or healthy even close to enough, and I'm afraid of ever accepting the same. If the ideal is to have a pregnancy still worshipped by my husband and adored and doted on by myself and Mr. Curry and I falling asleep with What To Expect between us each night, we are failing. And that just kills me. Is what remains...enough? How the hell do I know. I really don't. My feelings are so tied up with anxious rattles that I can't hear the whispering voice of reason behind all the noise, whatever it's saying.

Our family could be viewed as champions with handicaps. Sometimes I can see us that way. Not thouroughbreds- our lineage would never allow that with it's mental illness and alcoholism woven so tightly into the DNA. Mr Curry and I both started out with the race fixed and blinders on, with our diagnosis and our childhoods and our 'learned behaviors' and spend our twenties climbing through those things, with medications and therapies and good ole fashioned love helping us along. And because we never give up I can feel a fierce and protective pride. But that same scrabble and grit can feel immensely depressing when the efforts feel inadequate. I have a quote up on our mirror right now from Helen Keller- it says ' We must not ask for tasks adequate for our abilities, but abilities adequate to our tasks. ' I love that. Because it's true, it's the only thing, just to attempt to be worthy of the shit life throws at you, to be a champion. To overcome the fixed race, the handicap.

No matter what your mother says.



Rashel Saak said...

sending all of the positive energy in the universe your way. you are not failing. you are living. we are spiritual beings having a human experience. without struggle we wouldn't know success. (as i say this to you i am saying it to myself....) hold your head up. we are all rooting for you!! xo

Carol said...

When you think you've come to the end of your rope...tie a knot and hang on! that is a good piece of advice. Just try to remember things WILL get better.

you are so talented and have such a gift for writing. Each morning tell yourself something positive and do it again at lunch, and then again at night. you/we are what we think.

Godspeed my friend...

Carol-the gardener

Anna Walker said...

Woah! I have no idea what's going on at all, but here's a great quote
"This Too Shall Pass"
I hope it helps and to enjoy your pregnancy a little more, just idk rub your belly and talk to it a little more, or take belly shots every week. :)

http://annawalker1992.blogspot.com/

Elizabeth said...

I carried one boy in my belly for nine months with my daughter seizing constantly. And then I did it again, with her seizing, still. I worried constantly whether I would be somehow transmuting my grief and anxiety and just plain hard life to that baby, and that other baby. If I did, it's not apparent now. They are both filled with joy, for the most part, themselves. I understand you. I think little baby Ever is happy as can be, floating around. Really.

Hang in there and do what you have to do. You can do it. Courage and strength to you.

Hannah Stephenson said...

You are equal to all of this. But it is scary to have these moments, huh? I'm cheering you on.

Elisabeth said...

Mothers may not mean to but they do. They have a way of sabotaging our best efforts.

Mine does it to me, and I do it to mine. Sometimes.

This is beautiful and poignant writing, as ever Maggie.

Hopefully this pain too shall pass.

I like the idea of champions with handicaps. Doesn't that include most of us?

Thanks, Maggie.

Only A Girl said...

I wish I could take your pain and anxiety, twist it up into a neat little package, and throw it far far out into the ocean where it would be eaten by all the creatures and cease to exist. That's what I would like to do. Maybe it would land inside a clam and turn into a pearl. Then I'd like to take you out for coffee and a good long bitch-fest. Sigh. Instead, since this is all I actually can do, here's an internet hug.

starrlife said...

Maggie May: first a hug and then a big shout out (hopefully you will accept it as offered, with love) to LET GO, turn it over. We as parents do the best we can- you are doing a great job and no one is perfect no matter how bad they want it. You are giving Ever enough and all of your family everything you have. Perhaps your idea of what a family is like is off base- there are NO functional families, its a myth and trying to achieve it may cost you more than just being your perfectly imperfect self.
Your son is getting to the big separation phase and it is so typical to act out- the closer a son is sometimes the harder the fight ironically. It's a hard line to walk to be a responsible Mom and step back at the same time but if anyone can do it you can. Your life and love is always good enough and then it is all out of your hands from there. Love....

Ms. Moon said...

I saw my mother last night and she touched my hair and said, "You're getting white hair."
So? I love my white hair. Why does it bother me that she points this out?
Oh, Maggie. No. Life can get to that point where everything is just too much to bear and so far from our ideals that we feel like complete failures.
Perhaps it is time to readjust your ideals. To realize that imperfection is where we all dwell.
To let your mother think and say whatever she wants and to remember that what others think of us (even our mothers!) is not our business.
That your life holds so much love and that is the ground from which all good things eventually sprout. I promise.

T. Clear said...

I recall being in my twenties and thinking: when I'm in my fifties (aka, 'grown up') I'll have it all figured out. Well. We all have our illusions. I suppose the one thing that age teaches us is that it's okay not to know how to do everything, fix everything, that there will always be crises, things will go wrong, we'll fail, stumble, fall down and cry. The most difficult part of this, for me, is accepting it, now that I am at the age where I thought I'd have it all figured out.

When my first husband died in a car accident (age 47), I remember his father saying, as we were walking up the stairs to the funeral home for a viewing, "I just got through another minute."

Sometimes, that's the best we can do, and that's enough.

Maggie May said...

rushing before work but must stop to say THANK YOU. i can't afford therapy right now and you guys are making excellent 'reflectors'. thank you so much. i love the caring advice and small kicks in the butt.
it helps.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Love you, Maggie. I wish you strength. I don't know what else to say, but I am out here reading and hoping for you.

amber said...

another great helen keller quote that hangs on my mothers refrigerator: When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another... (keep pushing forward)

Annie said...

Dear Maggie, Family has a way of "twisting the knife" without meaning to do it; it's just, because of our histories, we give what they say such weight. Forget what your mother says, and trust in yourself. You are doing what you need to do- all you can do. There is no such thing as perfection. Love will be enough. Sending hugs.

Lovely World said...

You are not alone. Seek clarity and truth, even if it is painful. I have found that is most often the only way through. Sometimes people don't want to hear your truth, but it must be said. Especially with your children's well-being at stake. X Maribeth

anymommy said...

There's no such thing as a perfect mother, Maggie, we all fail in ways large and small. And let's just say for a moment that we could be "perfect" whatever that means, would you then expect your child to reach "perfection?" To have no griefs or struggles or lessons in their lives. You wouldn't, I know you wouldn't, you are way too tuned into the core of this life thing than that. You love him and you are so very present with him, dirt balls and all. And you are without a doubt present with Ever. THAT is what matters.

Love to you. I know you'll find the way.

Julia said...

My favorite quote this year:

When you're going through hell... keep going. (Winston Churchill)

Two tender thoughts for you:

1) There are times when life is a lot like getting a preschooler to pick up a messy room. You have to break it down into small enough segments to manage. Even if all you can do is pick up the green blocks, that's what you can do: pick up the green blocks. Move on to the red blocks when you can. Keep doing whatever the next thing is that you *can* do, and stay focused on that. It helps keep anxiety at bay.

2) Put on your own oxygen mask first. Breathe. Breathe again. Keep breathing.

Sorry about the mom-said-a-painful-thing thing. I sometimes wonder what crushingly boneheaded thing my kids will remember that I said, about which I'm totally oblivious.

And no, it's not too late until it's too late. People change. People rebound. You're proof.

Angella Lister said...

this feels so shockingly true to life, but this is what life is like, really, always imperfect, yet perfect enough if we can manage to see it with our own eyes, and not with those other imagined judging ones. be gentle with yourself, maggie may. do what what you can, make those calls, write those letters, and let yourself cry when you need to cry. let the tears wash everything clean away so you can get up and do it again the next day. your baby is fine. she is loved. so loved. you are loved, too.

you and mr curry, yin and yang. just don't lob dynamite at the cave he withdraws into when he's trying to minimize! let him process and emerge on his own. i am still learning to do this in my own marriage. i am like you and my husband is like mr. curry. i throw flares at the cave looking for signs of life. of love. it is the only language i know. but i have to let him speak the language he knows in those hard passages. we stumble through. love helps us stumble through.

it will be fine, maggie may. you are so loving and loved.

Courtney said...

Big hugs, right now, to you and your entire family. Each day, each moment, is a step forward. Your children are so lucky to have you as their mother, Ever included.

Corinne said...

I just skimmed through the comments after hanging on every word...
and someone just said "put your oxygen mask on first"
Amen to that.
Sending you some love tonight. You're doing an incredible job. Trust that.

Lola Sharp said...

*HUGS*

Love,
Lola

Gina said...

i WISH i could get my thoughts and feelings out & write them as well as you do.
You seem like a beautiful person who is doing everything in her power to help herself and her family.
i admire you,never feel that what you do is not enough.

~Amber Elise~ said...

I do the same thing, imagine what should be, and feel desperate realizing that it is not reality. Ever will come into this world with all the love imaginable, and besides, you already know what to expect! and Dakota will grow up, things will get easier, you know this, you have to.
If there is one thing I learned from a troubled/hard/f@#%ed up childhood is that things don't stay the same and if you are in control and shaping them in a positive way then that is exactly what they become!

anna said...

This post really touched a nerve for me. Both my pregancies were surrounded by outside difficulties, but with my second, for many reasons it was so much harder. The pregnancy made me feel like crap and the other stuff demanding my attention meant i had so little of myself left to devote to the little life inside. To my shame I don't remember much of her first few months except that I felt such a failure for not being plugged in to her and not being able to breastfeed her beyond a few weeks. I still mourn for what I didn't have during that time. Of course she thrived and has grown into a beautiful happy healthy girl and i have such a beautiful passionate deep relationship with her. Peace to you and your family, as others have said, this too shall pass

Petit fleur said...

Yes, life can be hard enough without having negative comments from the peanut gallery.

Hang in there Maggie!
xo

Suburban Correspondent said...

"But that same scrabble and grit can feel immensely depressing when the efforts feel inadequate."

Exactly.

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