My daughter returned to school last Thursday. Not so coincidentally, I suddenly started coming back to life. Full time parenting drains me; I really have no idea how parents of littles can handle it. Having almost six and a half hours to myself every weekday is such a blessing and so very needed.
My motivation and energy levels are still minimal. But I feel like I’m coming back up for air. The difference is startling and makes me painfully aware that I have some emotional work to do. I shouldn’t (there’s that word my therapist doesn’t like – shouldn’t) lose all emotional energy and drive when my daughter is on school holidays. I put everything into parenting her and leave nothing for myself. To have that time during school hours to recharge, to spend time doing things outside of parenting, is vital to my well-being. Hopefully someday I can figure out how to survive both during school and during holidays.
Last week I started working through the backlog of my email. I finished on Sunday. I’m happy that I was able to unsubscribe from a few more newsletters, respond to personal email, and delete everything that I really didn’t need. My inbox is now at zero emails and I’m hoping to stay on top of it.
I also finally scanned all of the photos my daughter brought home with her from Taiwan. She has photos of age four or so through the end of her time at the orphanage. My goal is to create and print a photo album for her, merging together her time in Taiwan and her time with our family. I would love to give it to her for Christmas, but I also know how unlikely that is. I would love to be able to complete it that quickly, but it’s hard to predict how much effort I can make from day to day.
I’m also putting a priority on decluttering a couple key areas of the house. Over the summer, the dining room table turned into a complete disaster. That surface has almost been reclaimed. Maybe tomorrow? My clothes closet has also gotten extremely messy and it’s difficult to find things in there. Getting some of these things done will hopefully reduce the anxiety caused by clutter, which will in turn allow me to focus on some of my healing.
I want to find healing. I am slowly gaining determination to find healing. I still struggle with anxiety and sometimes with depression. I still have PTSD. I am discovering some buried and some not-so-buried religious trauma due to negative religious foundations. I really, really want to find some confidence and self-worth. I want to let go of my need for control and my perfectionism fixation.
Life can be more than survival. I need it to be more than survival. One small step at a time, right?
Today I met with a couple of dear friends over coffee and we had a thought provoking discussion. The nice thing about being an introvert is that when you get together with someone who is open to deep discussions, you can skip a lot of the small talk and dive into thought provoking topics.
One of my friends asked me what my dreams are. Over the last two years or so, I’ve completely stopped planning for the future. Our adoption and parenting journey has been so rocky that the future is unpredictable. I could make plans at this point but it is highly unlikely that they would come to fruition. There’s just too much trauma and the effects of trauma in our home.
In addition to a lack of planning for the future, I’ve forgotten how to dream. Because I feel so out of control in regards to the day to day, I don’t know how (and lack the emotional energy) to dream about the future. We have to parent based on our daughter’s current emotional status and that leaves little room for planning.
But maybe I should start dreaming again. Maybe that will provide some hope in the day to day. I worry that dreaming again will frustrate me if I feel like the dreams are completely out of reach. But maybe they will be motivational to make some changes and encourage me to control the things I can control.
I’m not sure if anyone is reading my blog anymore but I want to start posting again. Maybe sending my thoughts out into the world will help me connect with others. As my friend Julie says, we need to be willing to ask. So here goes – I need bosom friends. Maybe my words will touch someone and we’ll share our thoughts about life. If not, at least I started reaching out again. That is encouraging.
This video has been enlightening these past two weeks as I’ve been processing things with both my husband and my therapist.
Basically, the video talks about the idea of Fantasy Self versus Reality Self. Fantasy Self is the person I imagine myself to be. Reality Self is self-explanatory, who I actually am. For a light-hearted example, Fantasy Self bakes elaborate vegan cheesecakes, spending hours getting it just right. Reality Self borrowed a cheesecake pan from a friend about six months ago and still hasn’t found the energy to try her first cheesecake.
A more serious example – Fantasy Self is an amazing homeschooling Mom, someone who sits down and plans what we are going to learn this week, learning things herself in front of her children so that they will be inspired, etc. Reality Self enrolled both children in public school because she needs space and alone time every single day in order to be able to parent effectively.
Fantasy Self versus Reality Self is one of the guidelines I’m using as I declutter and clean my personal retreat space. Is this item part of my Fantasy Self or my Reality Self? Do I actually use it? Does it bring me joy? I think the quilt I posted about yesterday is part of my Fantasy Self, not my Reality Self. I’m still trying to let it go.
I want to start writing on my blog again. But when I pull up the page to start writing, I freeze. This blog was started just so that I could reach out to and make friends with other Christian women. Then I adopted a couple years ago, so I thought I would write about older child adoption and parenting.
Now I’m not sure where I should go with it. I’m not driven by reader statistics, though it’s nice to know people visit once and then return. Most of my day to day updates are on Facebook. But I miss writing.
My challenge is to treat writing as self-care, not to turn it into a chore or a to-do list item. During my last therapy session, we talked a lot about self-care, about what qualifies as self-care and what is actually an obligation. My blog can turn into an obligation but it doesn’t have to be.
So to combat the writers block, I’m putting this out there just to say hi to whoever comes across it. Leave me a comment and say hi, maybe tell me something interesting about your day. Hopefully writing this one post will get the creative juices flowing again. It’s a very dry well but there’s hope.
I think my brain is processing some stuff. I’m not exactly sure why it’s happening now. Either I’m so tired that I can’t defend myself against the nightmares, or the things we’re discussing in therapy are triggering them, or maybe it’s “calm” enough in our house these days that my defenses are lowered. Either way, I’ve woken up three nights in the past week with my heart rate accelerated, my breathing out of control, and sweating profusely. The nightmares are horrid.
I’ve been having nightmares about rages. It’s been awhile since we’ve had one. I think six weeks or so. But we’ve gone through so many rage experiences in the past two years that my body definitely remembers exactly what they feel like. In my dreams, I can’t tell that I’m dreaming. I dream that I’m sleeping, that I wake up, and that my daughter starts screaming at me. For hours. In one of my dreams, I lashed out at her because I couldn’t take it anymore. In all of my other dreams, I’ve just stood there and taken the abuse. Eventually I wake up for real and realize that everything was a nightmare, not my reality. But it feels so real because sometimes it is my reality.
This week I’ll tell my therapist about it. Hopefully she’ll have some suggestions on how I can combat the nightmares. If I can realize it’s just a dream while still asleep, maybe there’s something I can do. I’ve been practicing breathing exercises right before bed but that’s obviously not helping alleviate the nightmares. I’m not sure what to do but I feel more tired than ever. Not even my sleep is restful.
I’m putting this out there as a reminder to myself that there is no shame in admitting that you need more help. We’ve been seeing a family therapist for a year now. We saw one therapist for a few months but didn’t feel she was a good fit. We absolutely love the therapist we are seeing now. She’s helping us with parenting issues, adoption issues, and a few other things.
However, my childhood trauma is triggered by my eldest’s extreme behavior. We don’t have time in family therapy to delve into my childhood so it’s not really getting addressed. My husband and I decided it was time for me to ask about a personal therapist as well. Our family therapist agreed it would be a great idea for me to see someone to help with the childhood issues, the anxiety, the depression, and whatever else I’m going through. I reached out to that therapist today. Hopefully she has room in her schedule to see me.
When I was a child, my parents briefly took my brother and I to family therapy. I resented the therapist prodding into our personal lives. I didn’t have a connection with the therapist and saw no reason to spill my feelings to him. As an adult, I didn’t really expect to be at this point in my life, needing both a family therapist and a personal therapist, in addition to medical support from my doctor. But that’s the season of life I’m in. I’m parenting two children with trauma histories and it’s triggering my own trauma. We need help. There’s no shame in seeking help.