What Is Right With Me

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So often in life we concentrate on what is wrong with us – the things we cannot do, our shortcomings and our foibles. We examine our “issues” so often that we can recite them in our sleep and as the list grows sometimes it feels like there is so much “wrong” that we don’t know what we can possibly do to change what we have told ourselves is “fact.” So what if today, we changed things up a bit and decided to concentrate on all that is “right” with us. How would that influence our beliefs about ourselves and make a “so-so” day into one that shines and puts little skip in our steps.

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Here is my list for today in no particular order. I would love to see yours in the comments section.

  1. I am a good researcher. I find things others can’t.
  2. I am a good friend. I can keep a secret better than anyone.
  3. I am interested in others lives and enjoy being attentive to their experiences.
  4. I am interesting. I have a breadth of knowledge about many things and I try to keep up with current events.
  5. I am a fierce Momma Bear and advocate for my children and march on in my efforts when others would have given up.
  6. I fight for the things that I love.
  7. Family is important to me and I try to make sure that those I love know that they are valued and loved by me.
  8. I love to travel, meet people, and learn from my experiences.
  9. If a puzzle needs to be solved I am your gal.
  10. I am not afraid to walk up to a person and start a conversation.
  11. I am fun and do the unexpected like take photos of my friends who could not attend our group event, blow their pictures up, staple them to sticks, and carry them through the city with me photographing them at places like the CHEERS BAR in Boston.
  12. I am smart.
  13. I recognize and honor my intuitiveness.
  14. I work hard when something needs to be done.
  15. For the most part I am content with what I have and have no need to “keep up with the Joneses.”
  16. I know how much that I really don’t know.
  17. I am compassionate with loved ones and strangers.
  18. I am a good writer.
  19. I try to stay in touch with others and send cards and letters to others so that they know that they are on my mind.
  20. I work hard at preserving my family history so that my family can learn from our past.
  21. I am able to self-hypnotize so that I can quickly relax and get to a peaceful state of mind.
  22. When I do get down in spirit I work hard to lighten the load so I can return to a place of happiness.
  23. I do small things for myself (like a warm candle-lit bath) on a regular basis.
  24. I read on a regular basis.
  25. I exercise often.
  26. I am a seeker
  27. I sing well.
  28. Integrity is important to me. I try hard to be fair and honest.

Hopefully after making this list you too will see that there is so much good in and around you that when things become challenging you can whip out your list and give yourself a boost to face the coming day. We all have our gifts which need to be acknowledged and celebrated far more often than we do. In remembering what is good about ourselves we can offer it to others or wrap those things around our own selves like a blanket on a cold rainy day. For knowing ourselves gives us the ability to live freely so that what we do aligns with who we are. Amen!

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One Man’s Obsessions Are Another Man’s Quirks

For the past six months Andre has decided that he will only wear the color blue in a particular hue. Heaven forbid, the shade may not be a Navy blue, dark blue-gray or even Robin’s egg blue. No, Andre’s blue has to be bright, brilliant, and leap tall buildings in a single bound. So today while I was waiting to pay for Andre’s all things blue, the clerk chuckled: “You’ve certainly got a lot of blue there!”

“It’s for my son,” I said with a sigh. “I wish I could get him into something else.”

“Is blue the only color that your son will wear?” asked a 50-ish man dressed from head to toe in black waiting for the clerk to locate something for him.

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“Well blue is his favorite and, yes, it is the only color he will wear. Why do you ask?”

“Sounds to me as if he has OCD,” said the man with a gentle smile.

“Do you know someone with OCD?” I inquire.

“I have it,” the man in black says with a grin. “If you notice I am dressed in all black from my head to my toes. Once in a while I will throw in some gray but for the most part black is what you would see me in every day of my life. In fact, people keep trying to get me to wear color ALL THE TIME.  Friends and relatives keep giving me shirts that are bright red or green but in all honesty they go to the nearest thrift store without ever being worn.”

“Why is that? Why does color bother you so?”

“It isn’t the color per se, it is that I know that in order to keep my anxiety down, black is what I need to wear. If I wore blue I would obsess that I was wearing blue all day long. I might feel itchy because I was so uncomfortable. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on much of anything except the fact that I was wearing a blue shirt. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I think I am beginning to.”

“Think about it this way. Let’s pretend that you see a gorgeous pair of shoes that you have always wanted. An outrageously expensive pair of Jimmy Choo’s. The only catch is that in order to have them you have to wear those Jimmy Choo’s 8 hours a day… and they are two sizes too small. How would that work for you? Sure for the first five minutes you might be happy with them but as your toes began to rub together and cramp pretty soon you wouldn’t be thinking about how glamorous the shoes were instead you would begin to spend your time obsessing about how much your feet hurt. The next morning the thought of putting on those shoes would probably be almost unbearable and the closer the time came to put them on the more your anxiety would rise just thinking about having to put them on. So the question is, why would you start your day full of anxiety when there is no need to do so? Instead, you just go find a pair of comfortable shoes and suddenly both your physical and emotional selves are soothed. That is how it works for me. It is silly for me to try to wear something that is going to totally mess up my day and make it impossible to get anything done due to my obsessing about it.  Who cares if I wear black everyday and why should it matter to anyone else if I do so anyway?”

“Thank you,” I tell him. “You have given me some valuable insight into my son and what you have said makes total sense. You have scratched out another line on THE LIST OF THINGS I HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT IN LIFE and for that I will always be grateful.”

At that moment the clerk called the man over. He had been on the phone searching for a particular pair of black shoes for the man and had found them.

“How many pairs do you want?”

“Five”

As I turned and walked away it was then that I noticed…the man wore black sandals out of which popped his painted black toe nails.

“Why black,” I wondered. “Why not brown, or yellow or green? And as I walked back to the car I began obsessing about…why, blue not black or, why, yellow and not green? And that’s when it hit me….none of it mattered…. and neither did Andre’s blue shirts. All that mattered was the I continue to try to seek and relate to Andre in ways that acknowledged the uniqueness of who he is and that I continue to honor those things that made him feel comfortable in his own skin. For in the end the why’s really just don’t matter.

Last night I walked into Andre’s room and headed to his closet.

“What are you doing mom?”

“I getting rid all of your shirts that are not blue. No sense in filling you closet with them is there? We both know you won’t wear them anyway, right?”

“Yep”

“Okay, well if you ever decide you want to wear another color let me know, okay?”

“Sure mom. And thanks for doing this. I feel like you really heard me and even better you showed me that you did. Who cares if I don’t wear red, yellow or green. Who cares?”

Indeed.

 

 

Mom’s List Two

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I don’t know about you but as a mom there seems to be some sort of invisible list that hangs over my head, flapping in the breeze to remind me of its presence. THE LIST consists of all the things my kids must do at least once so that I can check off one more box that assures me that I AM A GOOD MOM. Trying new food. The latest, purple broccoli….check. Yearly pictures at Sears…oops missed that one…but now that I am aware of that fact by next Tuesday it will be done…semi-check. Playing the piano…okay not ready for Carnegie Hall but does know where middle C is located…check.

Now B is the sports minded one in our family but because two of our three children get crazed if something as small as an ant touches them during recreational sports …trying to knock out the numerous athletic activities…well, its a challenge. If I had my druthers I would just scratch that whole section off THE LIST as several family members consider high quality endurance sports akin to laying on the couch and dipping ruffled potato chips into dip. (the endurance part comes when you have to turn the chip around and dip again being careful not to double-dip) But I have a fear that scratch outs might just not get you into heaven so I persist in introducing my kids to new sports knowing in my heart of hearts that is what all GOOD moms do. This is what lead us to the Gateway Ice Skating rink yesterday afternoon where the kids attempted ice skating for the first time. It was, needless to say, an EPIC FAILURE!

 I will admit that sometimes it seems as though it takes a while for my kids to get comfortable with new activities. First we have to check out each and every toilet in the entire facility. If the seat is comfortable then my kids might give it a try. If not, we are OUTTA there.

Next comes that vending machines. If they have anything gluten free and casesin free then no matter what comes next the day will be considered a success until they actually have to do it.

Finally, throw in a 16 yo cashier who is making minimum wage but will answer every one of the 20,000 questions through at them about the history of the sport, the equipment used and the rules of the sport, then participation is a definite maybe. Better yet, if the cashier can quote numerous safety statstics; then its a go. Yes, even contemplating sports can be an exhausting endeavor.

So after spending 1/2 hour tying and re-typing the skates, using the bathroom…again… and learning to walk on blades the time had come for the kids to make their way onto the ice. If, as the old adage goes, you can smell fear; then the fumes around our family was the pungent odor that follows you about three hours after eating grandma’s chili. You just couldn’t shake it. Feet started going every which way but forward and the sound of buttoms slapping the ice…HARD… reverberated throughout the arena. To top it off, I pulled my back out trying to hold up one child while falling down with another. Mom was done and judging from the little faces surrounding me, the vending machine owner was about to become a very rich man.

Paul put a brave face on and after once around decided taking his hands off the railing was more to his liking.Gracie whined until her daddy escorted her like the princess she is around the rink. But I knew all was lost in regards to Andre when he spent 1/2 hour going 1/2 around the rink with his toes turned in towards the wood paneling the entire time. Never have a seen a child so happy as when he took his blades off the ice. After exiting the rink he looked up at me and said, “Well, those were absolutely the worst minutes I have ever spent in my entire life!” And needless to say,  his assessment didn’t get any better until B bought hot chocolate.

Later, on the way home, Andre talked about the experience. His take? “Well, I am glad that is over. I did it once, it’s a NO GO and thank goodness I will never have to do that again. Now, mom, what else can we cross of your list of things I have to do?”

“What list?”

“You know, the one that you have that makes me try everything for my own good even though we both know I am going to hate it. So really, this list is really about you. Why don’t we just leave it at that!”

And with that he was done. But I’m not. I want to know how he knew about THE LIST!

Sex And The To-Do List…320 Days To Fix This

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Last night, as passion was awakening and the day was falling behind, B began to put the move on me. As we were getting down to the serious stuff and our bodies began to move to the grove, well, all of a sudden the thought popped in my head, ” I better remember to use the raspberries up in the refrigerator or they will go bad.”

WHAT THE HECK?

After a blissful and spectacular time with the honey (take that any way that you want) it occurred to me that every time we became amorous this week, an off-the-wall list of things I needed to do would suddenly fill my head bringing that “in the mood” moment to a screaming halt. Things like:

Did I lock the door?

Did I send Jackie that children’s book for the baby?

How much wood would a wood chuck chuck it a wood chuck could chuck wood? Well, really, how much?

I really need to get some new underwear since we have become busy as rabbits. I like lime green but what color does B like? You have been married 29 years and you don’t know what color B likes! How can you not know that?

Did Andre get the toilet unstopped? I think we need to add more fiber to his diet.

What time did Susie say she would be home?

And so it goes. Millions upon millions of questions begin descending on me just like one of my kids whenever there is a good probability of a great romance looming in the distance.

And after much thought on the subject I have come to a conclusion….I find it difficult to relax and just let go. After running this well oiled yet squeaky machine my ability to turn off my brain is diminished because if I let my guard down for just one minute a major calamity is bound to occur. That’s what happens when you have special needs children who never sleep, don’t understand the concept of danger or want to experiment with electricity and water in the middle of the night. That’s what happens when they use a butter knife to take apart the front door lock and slip out into the night, or decide to consume fabric softener (poison control says it’s okay in small quantities) or find a way to remove the key board from your piano.

Of course, this is all PTSD “thinking” on my part. The boys are no longer destructive, unaware or creating their own adventures 24/7. They are growing into fine young men who I can leave alone for awhile and still find the major supports to my house standing.

And so now I realize it is me who has to let go of the past…all of it… and get on with living life as it is now. I have earned the right to sit back and enjoy and danger is no longer an ever present nuance of our lives…that is unless you count the handcuffs under my bed that I borrowed from a friend…they might just be the kind of danger that is needed around here.

My List

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So in writing our lists of what we would like to change about ourselves I realize that I have a lot of work to do. Serious work. Hard work. Uncomfortable work. But I feel ready for the journey that all this work will send me on because my life should be an expression of the gifts I have already received. And it is not. So here goes:

  1. I NEED to find new ways to express my anger or shut it off. New ways that are not hurtful to others but still make me feel like I am being heard as I think a lot of my yelling stems from feeling that I am not being heard or respected. I need to break this destructive habit because it is hurting everyone I love AND it is hurting me because when I lash out, I then feel bad, and then I beat myself up and it is a vicious cycle. I AM HURTING THE PEOPLE I LOVE, I AM INFLUENCING HOW THEY WILL ACT TO OTHERS IN THE FUTURE, AS IT GOES WITH NOT CORRECTION MY ANGER GETS WORSE. It affects my health, my sanity and my sense of self worth. Same with my kids. I don’t want my kids to be afraid of setting their Mom off because that is so wrong on so many levels. I want to teach by good example how to handle things in a calm and loving manner. Yelling breaks my kids and my husband’s sense of trust and comfort in me.
  2. I need to find a way to minimize the daily physical pain I am in.
  3. Some of the time I think when I get yelling it is because I am not hearing things correctly and it causes real problems. Maybe now is the time for hearing aids…but sometimes it is a relief not to hear things like Andre alarming in full stereo sound and I am afraid if I hear EVERYTHING it will increase my stress level. This seems like such a 50-50 thing.
  4. I am lonely. I need to make some friends, belong to a group, do something that is meaningful to me
  5. I am going to try yoga, go to meditation class and I have already signed up for a workout class. The fear for me is that I am afraid that all this movement will increase my pain so I have avoided it.
  6. I need to find a way to really ENJOY my kids again. Maybe more one-on- one time? It just seems like so often it is a battle to do game night, etc and it discourages me to keep trying. Special needs kids can suck the life out of you with their idiosyncracies, demands and high maintainence. It is hard to enjoy them when your normal is anything but.
  7. I need to learn to trust again.
  8. I need to feel like the things I am doing count and that they matter. How do I do this?
  9. I need to decrease feeling defensive when B criticizes me.
  10. I need to regain that sense of hope for myself and my children that I feel I have lost in the past 6 months.
  11. I need to have a sense of adventure and accomplishment in my life. That is why I love ____ because I am challenging myself and discovering new things.
  12. I need to stop living in fear about finishing writing my book and having it rejected so that I don’t even do it.
  13. Maybe I need to be a little less honest  or learn to say things so that they do not seem as harsh. I REALLY need to understand that I don’t have to say or do everything in the minute that it occurs and not let what other people are doing affect me don’t stress about other peoples things.
  14. I need to find out why I am not remembering things. Is it stress, hormones or dementia. It is truly scaring me
  15. I need to be able to put into practice what I believe if B does decide to leave our marriage or if I do. I need to remember that he is a very wonderful man and admirable man who has given me so much and that I am thankful for all he has done and that he does deserve happiness and if he cannot find that with me he needs to find it somewhere. I don’t want to hurt him or our kids by acting in less than an admirable way.
  16. Find my sense of humor in this bizarre life I am living,
  17. To not let my perceived feelings of not measuring up to what B wants/needs make me feel as if I have no worth
  18. Become more positive sounding. I think I am or used to be until very recently upbeat and positive but perhaps B does not see that. L does. N does but not sure B does. I don’t think he sees that for me solving things is very positive even if I voice negative in order to solve it.
  19. I need to find ways to work with Paul better. He and I are very much alike and both feel emotions intensely so we butt heads. How can I change this?
  20. Stop over analyzing things and just let my brain rest. I don’t have to figure out …what this will do to all our kids adult and little, where I am going to live, how will we do holidays, how will this effect Paul’s mental health, how I will support myself, how we will get the kids to school if I have a job, what college I may need to go to, how Gracie can continue to go to gymnastics if there were two households to support, what if I don’t like his new wife, if one of us moves, and what will need to be done… all in the first hour that B tells me he may want a divorce. I need to just try and live in the moment without projecting.
  21. I need to pay attention that I do not sabotage this relationship because I am scared by over analyzing, by not being able to enjoy the good moments because I am worried about the future and if I make a mistake it will all come tumbling down. I have run in the past when things got tough and even though every fiber in my being wants to run I will not do so.
  22. Accept how things are and be happy with how things are. Don’t constantly beat yourself up.

The Lists

So on D-Day (Announcing I might want a divorce day) we agreed to make several lists. The first is our WISH LIST of what we would like the other person to change. The second was what we need to Change About Ourselves and the third was Fun Things We Could Do As A Couple. The Things To Do As a Couple List has its own issues. Like can I really take dance lessons without throwing out my back? Do I have to own a Harley to shoot pool in a pool hall? If I text a sexy message to my husband will it be intercepted by a child and what is the code word for nipples?

I have been working diligently trying to put together my list in a way that either a) just lists what the thing is b) what the thing is and how it affects me c) what the thing is and list an example or d) all of the above. When I started the wish list I wondered if I would get even eight things on it but as a wrote it began to just flow out of me and I ended up with 21 things on his list and 23 things on mine. As I sit back and think about this I realize if I could come up with all of these items so fast then obviously there are things I have chosen to ignore, things that have bothered me over time, etc. Maybe I should have worked on some of these before now.

The lists also made me mad and got me thinking thoughts like “Hey, buddy the decision to keep going in the marriage or to end it is mine too. And you might be surprised how the ending will be different than the ending you have pictured in your mind. Maybe I will move away and attend college and you will have the kids while I do so.”  This is not just your game to call.

Of course, we cannot exchange lists now because B took the boys up to Church Camp the day after he dropped the bomb and they are gone for a week. The sad thing is I do not miss them a bit but then again they have only been gone 24 hours. I am soaking up the quietness of the house like a future skin cancer victim soaks up the rays of the sun.

Frankly, it is so nice not to be met with the constant battles of a teen who has autism. The “I don’t want to’s”, the non-stop “no’s”. Honestly, I think I have been overwhelmed by all the special needs in this house for the past year. I know I have lost a sense of hope for Andre which is a terrible thing because I have always had hope and it has sustained me during the trying times. To be without hope feels like walking in a swamp with no moon and no flashlight; the alligators lining the banks ready to take off your toes. Or worse.

If I am honest there are days where I dream of a place consisting of cabana boys to do my bidding, maids, and professional low-calorie meal making chefs. A place where the word, “MOOOMMMMMMM” is banned and people smile as they pass you and no one gives you the finger when you accidentally slide into their lane of life. Right now I feel like the cosmic middle finger is raised in my honor!