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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Couch of Life

Sometimes, practicing gratitude is very similar to digging for change in your couch. No matter how hard you dig, you just can’t find it. You have a million blessings staring you in the face. Common sense, obvious things. Things like your cozy warm house on this cold, snowy night. Things like your four kiddos, all tucked under their blankets, sleeping like angels. Things like a fridge with food in it. Things like friends and family to support you. This is your Couch of Life. You can see it, feel it, it’s right in front of you and you know you should feel gratitude just because it’s there. But sometimes you just can’t find that elusive change that’s elbow-deep in the couch cushions. Sometimes you just can’t find the gratitude you know you should feel.

Gratitude—its presence staring you in the face. And you wonder why you just don’t feel it.

Sometimes, friends, the couch is not enough. It’s not enough to sit on it and feel its comfy divets from the years of love and wear. Sometimes, although your brain knows you’re grateful for the couch, your heart feels something is missing. Sometimes, you have to scrounge under the couch cushions to find change, or a nugget of gratitude. Once in a while, gratitude is so scarce that you have to dig your fist into the side of the Couch of Life, sliding it under the cushion, twisting your fist to maneuver around the crumbs that your four darlings have smashed and past the Lego pieces that haven’t been eaten by the dogs, and dare to stick the tips of your fingers into that crack in the back of the couch that no one ever touches (because really, who knows what moist, slimy, long-forgotten-kid-thing lurks in there??). All in the name of trying to feel the gratitude. Your brain knows it’s there. Your heart seems to have forgotten. 

Which makes you feel incredibly guilty, because you see your blessings right in front of you and your brain knows your heart should feel grateful. But sometimes ‘knowing’ is not the same as ‘feeling.’
I’m having trouble finding gratitude. No matter how hard I dig, how hopeful I feel about finding a nugget of thankfulness, I can’t find any gratitude in those good ol’ couch cushions of my life. Looking at the bigger picture, I understand where my heart is coming from. But it doesn’t make me feel less guilty that I am not more grateful and happy.

In the past six months, we’ve had our life blown apart in a zillion directions. We’ve had a few major appliances break down. The van has broken down multiple times, and we have to take it in again because something is making a God-awful squeaky wail that can't be good. Kids have been sick. Alex has been sick. Doctors have been idiots. (When I say “idiots,” I just mean total dummies. It’s astounding to me how some people in this world choose to be safe and status quo rather than awesome, ground-breaking, and courageous. I’ve decided to find doctors who live up to my standards.) I’ve found out more interesting craziness about my health. Some of our extended family members have had major health issues. Alex found out he will be laid off in March because his company is outsourcing. A couple of our kids’ support team members have moved on to beautiful opportunities where they will continue to make the world a better place. (I’m so happy for our friends. I’m just sad for us, because these special people have made quite an enormous, positive impact on our lives. We’ll miss them, even as we wish them all the best in their new opportunities.) Some of our kiddos continue to struggle at school. Alex had foot surgery and was off his feet for 6 weeks. Unable to drive. Unable to do much of anything except warm up the recliner, poor guy. So “Uber Mom,” as one friend termed me, chauffeured four little darlings to all of their activities, and one big hunky darling to all of his doctor appointments, and the occasional outing to the office. Oof. That’s a lot of miles for Uber Mom. That’s a lot of everything for Uber Mom. Because this isn’t enough stress for one Mama, THEN our shower started leaking. Into the ceiling of the floor below, into the walls, down to the basement. Great. Mold, anyone? Obviously, mold is unhealthy for anyone. But when you have mold toxicity, aka Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, mold is a death sentence. Or at least a “you’re going to feel really horrible and really really ill” sentence. So we’ve been scrambling to get this fixed. But because of ‘life’ and insurance agents who are slow, the repair took weeks to begin. It got underway today. But on Thanksgiving, we found that our OTHER upstairs bathroom is leaking too. *sigh* And then Aidan got sick in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner and had to come home from Grandpa and Grandma’s house because he felt like he was going to throw up or have diarrhea all over their house. *more sighs* I almost got to finish my turkey dinner. Not to mention the HUGE allergic reaction I had to something I ate at a restaurant a couple weeks ago- probably the fish. Scary.

So I’m having a little trouble finding the nuggets of gratitude, or the coins of change in the couch, as it were. I still feel pretty rotten, which is annoying since I’ve been in treatment for mold toxicity for two years now. I started searching for other missing pieces of my health. I’m trying to find out why I still feel like garbage even after all this treatment.

During my search, I’ve stumbled upon a new doctor. He is an osteopath. He is holistic, and looks at the whole picture of the patient- not just the symptoms that make you feel miserable, AND he takes our insurance. I literally cried when I found out about the insurance. Do you KNOW how many times I’ve felt like my only choice, in order to survive, was to take my crazy body and my kiddos’ crazy bodies to doctors who don’t take insurance??? This new doctor has given me hope that we can find out what else is going on in The Mystery Of The Body That Feels Like Crap. He has many ideas of what’s going on in my body as well as what to do about it to make me feel better. AND he’s not just throwing drugs at me and telling me it’s stress from my kids.

My new doctor has other doctors in his practice who complement his methods of care. I’m seeing one who is an expert in pain relief. He uses special manual therapy, and lasers, and all kinds of cool things, to really dig into the tissues of your body and realign everything and make it work more efficiently and less painfully. The first time I went to the doctor for a pain relief session, I laid on this mat. It’s called a Pulsed Electromagnetic Field mat (PEMF). You just lie there. The mat does whatever magnetic mats do. I could feel my energy shifting, but there weren’t any other physical signs that anything was happening. When I got up off that beautiful, amazing, glorious, non-descript mat, I felt as though the pain had MELTED right off my shoulders. I could. not. believe. it. I have not ever in years and years felt anything like the relief after I got off that mat. I cried all the way home. With gratitude. And relief. And I was just dumbfounded that that is what it feels like to have pain at about a 2 on the pain scale instead of an 11. Just think- that’s what people are supposed to feel like. Incredible.

I’ve been seeing my most favorite person on Earth- the pain doc- for three weeks now. It’s slow going. There’s a lot to deal with and unravel. I told him that I feel like he un-crunches me. I feel so crunched up from my pain in all my muscles that sometimes I forget to breathe. He said it’s like a cage, when you have chronic pain. Yes! That’s what it is! It’s my Pain Cage. My pain doc said that the goal is to let my brain out of the cage more and more often, so that soon it will learn that we don’t have to stay in the Pain Cage. We can live outside of it. What a miracle that would be.

Last week when I saw my pain doc, he pushed on this spot on my right shoulder and I burst into tears. We talked about what was going on, and he said that we hold emotions in our cells. I’ve read that we even hold memories in our cells. When he pushed on my shoulder, it was a trigger point and there is a lot of emotion held there that oozed out when he worked on it. In the form of me being a blubbering idiot. I’m lying face-down on a massage table, nose running, tears dripping, can’t breathe…so dignified. The best part was the doctor’s reaction. He kept saying, “That’s good. Let it out because otherwise this emotion is trapped in your body. We need you to cry more. Let the emotions out more.” Did I mention he is my most favorite person on Earth? He also said this trigger spot on the body corresponds with “burden.” In other words, I feel a heavy burden is on my shoulders. Uh, ya think? The last time I had a Reiki session with my teacher, we were talking about my neck, shoulder, and back pain, and I told her it feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. My new doc validated that.

So I’m supposed to do more crying. Like big cries. Not just the frequent tearing up that I always do lately. I’m working on it. It’s actually harder than you might think. The other very weird thing that happened twice last week is that I felt flashes of this strange emotion called “happiness.” Twice. Which felt so foreign to me that I realized how I am functionally depressed and anxious. I’m diagnosing myself as functionally depressed and anxious because I would bet that if you asked any of the people in my life, no one would say I’m depressed or suffer from anxiety. I’m functioning just fine. Or at least that’s how it looks on the outside. That’s how I HOPE it looks on the outside. When I was lying face down in my own tear pool on the massage table last week, I told my pain doc that it’s actually difficult for me to be honest with him about how completely horrible I feel. Because I’m used to just making the choice to get up and live the day the best I can and not give in to how crappy I feel all. The. Time. I’m used to trying to ignore my pain and just pretend the best I can that I’m happy and fine. The sad thing is that when people do find out how I really feel, they usually can’t believe it, because I’m really good at pretending to be fine. Fine is so over rated, isn’t it?
How are you today? Fine.
How was your day? Fine.
How are you feeling? Fine.
How was school? Fine.
How was your meeting? Fine.
How was dinner? Fine.
Everything is fine. Because if you told people how everything really was, most of them would run and hide and never speak to you again. Because you’re such a downer. And the others would put their arms around you and make you cry with their kindness. So it’s a no-win situation. Better to just claim that everything is fine.

Here’s the big secret. No one is fine. At least not all the time. Everyone is fighting some battle that you may not know about. Everyone has moments (or weeks, or even years) where they’re desperately throwing the proverbial couch cushions across the room, elbow-deep in the crumby aftermath of children’s snacks, searching for any small nugget of gratitude they can find deep in that Couch of Life. Me- I’m stuck in the Mediocrity of “Meh.” I just feel very beige about everything. Everything is “meh.” I hate beige. I hate “meh.” I adore being exuberant. Exuberance should be my middle name. Not “meh.” I figured I was just momentarily in The Land of Meh, and that I would be taking an exit soon and get the heck out of there. But sadly, my stay has been prolonged and no matter how hopeful I am that I will soon find change in the couch cushions, it hasn’t happened yet.

BUT, being the ever-optimist that I am, I WAS able to find some teensy tinsey moments of gratitude these last couple days. First of all, I’m grateful I felt flashes of happy twice last week. Because it made me see how not-normal-me I am.
Second. On Thanksgiving, Ella was sitting next to me at dinner. I turned to talk to her, and she interrupted me with an audible gasp. Oh, this girl. She exclaimed in hushed awe, “I LOVE your eye makeup.” (You know that emoji with the big huge eyes and tiny little circle mouth? I’m sure my boys know the name of it, but whatever, you know what I mean. Picture that here.) That girl brings a smile to my heart. Later that night when I put her to bed, I was reading to her while she slipped into sleep. All of a sudden, she interrupted me and said sleepily, “Mama, you have the voice of an angel.” Ok, come on!! Who wouldn’t kill to have a kid like this??? I’m so lucky to be the Mama to these four kids.

Here's more of what I’m grateful for. On the way home from Grandpa’s house on Thanksgiving, with my sick Aidan in the back seat, about to turn 11 in a couple days, he said softly, “I love you Mom. Thanks for always taking care of me.” Alright, seriously. I have the sweetest kids, right? When he missed his best friend and crawled into my lap during his birthday dinner at a restaurant, teary, he said, “I know you know how I feel because you miss YOUR best friend a lot too because she doesn’t live here either.” My little boy put his arms around my neck and we sat with our sadness together. Sometimes that’s all you can do- sit with someone in their sadness. And hold them tight. I love being there to hold my babies tight.

I’m grateful that Ben is kicking life’s butt these days. He seems to be getting the hang of turning off the Rage and turning in to his beautiful soul. Who is this kid? He has social events, he’s involved in things at church and school and with friends, he’s always on the go, he volunteers for all kinds of things, he’s got the hang of keeping up with homework, he SHOWERS…well, when we have showers that work and don’t leak. We took two cars to Grandpa’s house on Thanksgiving. When I pulled up with Aidan and Ella, Ben was already at Grandpa’s house. Ben opened the door for us. He looked incredible. He was dressed up all fancy in fancy grown up Thanksgiving clothes. He was happy, calm, beautiful, just happy. All a Mama wants in life is for her babies to be happy. After all the years of so many torturous challenges of all kinds, Ben seems to be finding his way in life so well.

Jonah. I’m grateful for so many things about Jonah. Every Thanksgiving, Ben and Jonah write a speech for Grandpa to give at dinner. The rule is the boys write the speech before dinner and Grandpa cannot read it until we’re all seated around the table about to eat turkey. The boys get a kick out of seeing Grandpa tear up when he reads all the sentimental things the boys have written. Things about the past year- how we’re grateful for everyone’s good health. How we love each other. How we’ve made so many fun memories this past year. Things that make sweet Grandpas cry. Jonah had to read Grandpa’s speech this year so that Grandpa could just listen and take it all in and not worry about getting a little weepy.

I’m thankful that Jonah is showing up at school every single day, pulling out his light saber of courage every morning and slaying Anxiety the best he can at every turn. I’m SO thankful Ben and Jonah go to the school they do. Get this—every single time I let the school know about a little bump in the road, or concern we have about the boys, I am consistently met with respectful action and compassion. Every single time. No matter what is going on. This school amazes and astounds me. It’s such a foreign concept and feeling, to be validated and supported. I love it. I love every single person who touches my boys’ lives there.

I have a lot to be grateful for. I am grateful for all of it. It’s just that life is pretty overwhelming and stressful right now, and honestly it’s depressing and anxiety-producing in many ways. Given everything that’s going on, it’s no wonder I feel functionally depressed, anxious, and meh. BUT, being the ever-optimist that I am, I have total faith. I have total faith that we will get through all of this crud and life will be fine someday and we’ll have more beautiful moments, and more stressful moments. In the meantime, I keep getting up every morning and doing what I have to do. I’ll keep looking for the tiny nuggets of gratitude that are buried deep in the cushions of my Couch of Life. I know they’re there, and I’m hopeful that it will become easier to poke around the crumbs and find the beautiful moments of gratitude.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Looking For Magic

I’m sitting with Ella curled on my lap, her limbs shaking hot with fever. Her choked moans break through her soft snores, showing me how terrible she feels. I was just holding the cold metal Vomit Bowl for her as she threw up. Meanwhile, Alex is slogging through math homework in the other room with Aidan. Alex is infinitely patient, redirecting his boy, refocusing him repeatedly, re-teaching him the skills he missed during class today because his brain was focused somewhere else. And the two older boys are having a big hissy-fit-twin-brother-war upstairs. I hear things being thrown in my bedroom, crashing, accusing screams, swearing. In the midst of this familiar chaos, my phone dings with a text from my love, asking me what I want for dinner. This is how we communicate in the evenings- by text. Sad, right? But when there are four needy little beings and only two grown-ups to love on them, we’re spread thin and have to do what we have to do. So texting about dinner while I hold a vomitacious girl and two boys are probably bleeding from anger upstairs and one boy has no clue what the Distributive Property is…it’ll do.

Welcome to my Wednesday.

It’s been a very long day of advocating, chauffeuring kids from dawn until dusk, trying to get some work done…all the while not feeling well myself. It’s been an uber-stressful week, one where I feel my body ready to give out at any moment from the sheer mountain of stress I’ve been climbing the last few days. Any moment, my body will erupt into fever, or bust out a cold sore, or crash into migraine. My body breaks sometimes under the constant, unforgiving stress of living this particular life of mine.

As I carried Ella gently to her bed tonight, swaddled in a soft blanket because she is endlessly chilled from her fever, my weary heart smiled as I enter her room. There are glittery star sparkles all over her carpet. The stars are starting to sneak their way into the rest of the house now, I found one on the stairs on the way down, and one on my foot while sitting here writing. The remnants of the Tooth Fairy who visited Ella for the first time two nights ago. Ella, at LONG last, had her first visit from the Fairy. And she was overcome with joy. She woke in the morning to find the tiny fairy’s glittery footprints on her nightstand. Star glitter in a trail from the window sill all the way around her room to her bed. Under her pillow there was more glitter, a sparkly dollar bill, and a sweet little glitter lipstick wrapped with a pink ribbon. The Fairy had written Ella a special note on a teensy, fairy-sized pad of paper. Ella read the note in the morning with a hushed, awed voice. The Tooth Fairy said her tooth was beautiful, that she brushes her teeth so well, and that she loves Ella. Ella squealed with delight. She informed me we are never to vacuum her room again. She must have the glitter in her room at all times. Forever and ever. And the Tooth Fairy is the BEST. And she can’t BELIEVE she FINALLY lost her tooth! And she loves the Tooth Fairy. And the Tooth Fairy is the BEST. Pure magic, that girl. Pure joy and magic.

So I’m ok with the star glitter finding its way into other parts of the house, other parts of my life. When I watch one of my boys having a meltdown, the tiny pink star glinting on the floor reminds me this tough moment will be over soon and then we’ll be back to looking for magic.

The day started with an epic, albeit typical, meltdown on the way to bring Ben and Jonah to school. Someone had forgotten something at home that he felt was necessary to his mere survival, and Mean Mama wouldn’t turn the car around and bring him home to get it. Because then we would be late to school. And in reality, the forgotten item was not a necessity. So we soldiered on through the meltdown. Our meltdowns are farther apart and fewer these days. Ben is enthralled with high school. He loves almost every single thing about it. He has good grades, he is involved in everything and anything that comes his way, he thinks his teachers are kind and hilarious. He’s thriving. This happiness is carrying over to our home also. He is less angry. Less frustrated. Less irritated. Which means things tend to run a little more smoothly around here. Thank the sweet Lord in Heaven. I said to Ben the other day, “Can you believe that YOU are my child who is THRIVING in SCHOOL??? What?!? YOU, buddy!! I’m so proud of you!” He is proud of himself, which is heaps and heaps better than even Mama being proud of him. He went to the Homecoming dance with a group of friends. He went to a sleep over at a friend’s house afterwards and didn’t have anxiety!! Who is this kid? I feel like he’s finally finding his groove, finding his way in life. I said to Alex the other night that although Ben is almost solely responsible for his incredible transformation these past few months, we should pat ourselves on the back too. Because the biggest influence in a kid’s life is their parents. And wow, have we put our heads down and fought for Ben these past 14 years. We’ve fought hard. We’ve broken under the stress of the fight at times, but we kept digging and advocating and helping and supporting and loving, and we kept fighting for him. And just look at him right now. Unbelievable. There certainly is magic in this world, and its name is Ben. (With a teeny bit of help from Mama and Daddy.) Do I worry and wait for the other shoe to drop and things to take a dip back to the tough side? Yep. But I try to relegate that to the back of my heart. Stay back there, Worry. Just cherish these beautiful moments of success. Worry can wait. We may not even need Worry anymore. Or at least not right now.

Jonah is going to school for six out of eight periods a day this week! Amazing. He had his last tutor come to the house yesterday. Next week he’ll be back full time if everything goes according to plan. When I pick him up from school, he’s spent. He’s tired. But I can tell he’s proud of himself and feels a sense of accomplishment. He’s doing it. He’s kicking his Anxiety in the butt every morning at 5:45 and getting out of bed and doing what needs to be done. His medical issues are improving and he’s able to handle life better these days. His choir sang the National Anthem at the Homecoming football game last weekend. It was one of those moments where my Mama Heart was completely busting out of my chest. I was so. proud. of. my. boy. My little boy, standing out on the football field with his choir, making beautiful music. My boy, handling new experiences and handling them well. That’s my boy. That’s my beautiful, brave boy.

My beautiful, brave boy pops in the car when I pick him up, and I gingerly ask how his day was. I’m afraid to ask because I’m afraid of the answers. But I pretend to face this life boldly, so that my children don’t feel fear. So they are bold. Hopefully I fake it ok. I put up my Mama Shield and ask my boy how his day was, how his new classes that he added this week went. I hope I don’t crumple with my own tears at his answers. But he carries on, each day. He boldly puts one foot in front of the other and carries on.

Jonah didn’t go to the Homecoming dance, but did go to the sleepover at a friend’s house with Ben after the Homecoming dance. Jonah knows himself well, and knew he would be overwhelmed at the dance. I’m proud of him for knowing how to make himself happy. You find out quickly when you have twins that what makes one guy happy may not be right for the other guy. Even though they’re twins, they are two distinct people. The trick to parenting these two distinct people who were born on the same day, a mere four minutes apart, is to remember that it’s ok for them not to be exactly the same. It’s ok to be happy for Ben that he wants to go to a dance and happy for Jonah that he waited at home until the dance was over and then went to his friend’s house. It’s a hard lesson that I’m still working on, but I’m getting there. It takes practice to divide your heart into four little compartments for your four little people, and love unconditionally and enormously from each of those parts.

Aidan is a hot mess. But the good news is that he’s still Captain Oblivious, so he really doesn’t grasp the full extent to which he is floundering in school. That is truly a gift. It does register to him on some level that he is not succeeding with the ease that his peers do. He says things like he is stupid, dumb, he doesn’t know anything. Talk about tearing his Mama’s soul to shreds. The biggest problem is that Aidan’s brain just works differently than what a school typically expects. Aidan marches to his own drummer, and is a beautiful soul because of it. His weakness is that he is good. He is so good, down to his very bones. He wants to be good, he wants people to love and accept him, he wants to never do anything wrong or disappoint anyone. And when you’re a round peg and the world is trying to jam you into a square hole, things don’t exactly go smoothly. You start to realize that you don’t have the sharp edges the rest of the world has, that fit exactly into that square hole for so many other people. You begin to realize that your smooth sides and colorful exuberance for life are not what is valued. That’s a sad realization, and it’s one that can change your very existence if you sit and stew in that knowledge. I don’t want Aidan to be changed by the world’s expectations that he cannot meet because of his genetics and neurology. He is so beautifully him.

So advocating I am doing. On and on with the advocating. It’s so maddeningly difficult to get the world to understand the nuances of these invisible disabilities. There’s a diagram explaining Tourette Syndrome that likens it to an ice berg. Above the water, what is visible, are things like tics, lack of focus…things people can recognize. Hidden under the disguise of the water, the ice berg is a monster. It looms with all kinds of things that are hidden deep in the brain that are not available for people to easily see and understand. Things like sleep disorders, sensory issues, mood issues, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, learning disabilities…all of these things are smoldering around in one body, one brain. It’s incredible that people with special needs like these can function at all, let alone do so relatively well. It’s just extremely difficult to help people understand that the reason my son acts a certain way- like for instance always struggles with homework: bringing it home, doing it, turning it back in- that’s not because he’s not motivated to succeed. He desperately wants to succeed. Instead it’s that he doesn’t have the skills to succeed. He needs to be taught, in a different way from his peers, how to do those things. Many kids can pretty easily pick up on how to organize themselves in school. Other kids, like all of mine, need to be taught in a more purposeful manner.

We’re meeting with the school soon to “brainstorm” about ways to help Aidan succeed. I’m all for brainstorming. I’m willing and eager to do anything and everything on my end to help my kiddo. But, there’s a time for brainstorming and there’s a time for just storming. Storming the castle, taking no prisoners, making it happen and not just talking about it anymore. I feel like I’ve spent the past three years brainstorming on Aidan’s behalf, and we’ve made no real progress. And now I’ve witnessed what can happen when a gentle soul doesn’t get the help he needs in school, or gets it way too late. I’ve seen firsthand these past few months how that can cause a build-up of stress, anxiety, fear, and an inability to function. It can even bring on physical, medical issues. So as long as I’m alive and kicking, we will not be doing this again with another kid, where he falls into such an abyss that it takes months of extreme support in order to get him back into living Life. I’m willing to give brainstorming one last shot, but then I’m out. Brainstorming Time is done. We need some major action now before my little boy follows in his big brother’s difficult footsteps.

And then there’s little Miss Ella. We went to the play at the high school a couple weeks ago. It was “Peter and Wendy,” a take on Peter Pan. There were there actors that played the role of Peter, only one of which was a boy. During the play, Ella had to go potty. When we got into the bathroom, she held my hand and whispered, “I saw Peter! He was in the hallway! He smiled at YOU, not FAIR!” I laughed. After the play, the actors lined the hall and gave the audience high fives as they exited the auditorium. We got to the main doors to leave for the night, when Ella insisted that I take her all the way back to the auditorium so that she could give Peter a high five. It was so adorable, it melted my heart. But wait, it gets better. I found Peter. I picked Ella up because Peter was very tall and I knew Ella wanted to look him square in the eyes. I asked Peter if he would give Ella a high five. Of course, he smiled and gave her a high five, and took a moment to talk to her. As she looked at him, speechless with wonder, I swear, she blushed. It was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. But wait, it gets better. On the way out to the car, Ella was positively giddy. She was gushing about the play, about her favorite Peter. She climbed in her carseat and I buckled her up. As we pulled out of the parking lot, Ella was holding her hand that touched Peter’s in front of her. She sighed and announced, “I am never, ever, ever washing this hand again. I’m not even going to ever SWIM with this hand again.” This girl. She is pure magic.

I took Ella to a friend’s birthday party last weekend. It was pretty far away, and on the way home she had to stop and go potty. I pulled into a gas station and we found the bathroom. Why do my children take SOOOOO LOOONG to go to the bathroom? They can’t even focus on doing that! So Ella is sitting on the pot, dawdling as usual. It was raining outside, we’d been at a pumpkin patch for a lovely- although soggy- party, we still had a ways to go to get home, we were down to one car because Alex’s was in the shop being fixed, I had to get groceries for the week, I had to make sure everyone got showered and finished their homework before bedtime…I was stressed. Impatiently, I urged Ella to hurry up. I told her desperately, “Please try to concentrate on going potty.” Ella put her head in her little hands and mumbled to herself, “Ok…don’t think about unicorns…” oh my gosh, I can’t even. This little piece of magical perfection. She spreads little pieces of starry glitter wherever she goes.

So here I sit. Stars of glitter on my feet, laundry spread across the room waiting to find its home upstairs, listening for the sound of my baby in case she throws up again, thankful that the Tantrum Clan is asleep. This crazy, chaotic, magical life. Tonight I’m grateful for the glitter that is randomly strewn across my house, as a reminder that even when the days are long and I am weary, it’s all worth it. There’s still a tiny bit of magic in between the moments of stress.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Parenting is like Olympic Diving...

We had to make an early-morning drive to drop Daddy off at work because the van was being fixed. My newly-minted, just-turned-7, pj-clad daughter sat in the backseat of Daddy’s car in her pink booster seat, munching on Munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts while she pondered life.  She piped up, “No one likes me. Everyone hates me.”

*sigh* I hadn’t had any caffeine yet, and I had to break out my best Social Worker self to deal with this mini crisis. Without caffeine. Why can’t kids have crises when I’m fully caffeinated and running on full brain function?

Whenever my kids say things like this, I feel like someone has punched me in the gut. My number one skill, after all these years of parenting, is triage. I do triage in so many forms, in so many situations, for so many kids, all day long, every day. Assess, plan, and go. I assess every situation and -as fast as I can- try to figure out what needs to be done to help. When a kiddo falls outside, I scan knees, hands, elbows to check for bleeding, bumps and bruises, or a broken bone. When a kiddo screams, I run to see if there are swear words being thrown, or punches, or body parts being strewn across the room. When a kid says he wants to stay after school for an activity, (that day, and he needs to know RIGHT NOW, and he can’t remember to plan ahead and tell me about these things in advance) I quickly think about our schedule to see if there’s any way we can swing another pickup into the afternoon. It’s all about multi-tasking and triage. Quickly assess any situation and figure out the next step to get to the goal.

So when my sweet little baby says out loud that she feels like no one likes her, I race to remember the past 24 hours. Has anything happened with friends or brothers to make her feel unloved, unappreciated, unwanted? Is this statement a hint of a bigger, overall self-esteem problem, or is just a whimsical statement by a bored little girl in the backseat? Does she want my conversation and attention, and help, or does she just feel like venting?

I ask my angel why she feels no one likes her. She goes on to explain things that have happened that have hurt her feelings. She says she doesn’t have friends who like her. She says people don’t want to play with her sometimes. She feels sad. I reassure her that she is a good, kind person, with a true, honest heart. Yes, sometimes everyone makes mistakes or hurts a friend’s feelings, but overall, I am so proud of who my daughter is. She is compassionate and kind. Perfect? Who is? But her spirit is so good.

I asked my girl last week who she sat by at lunch at school that day. She said she sat by the mean boy. I said if he’s mean to you, what can you do? Maybe sit by someone else, or tell him in a respectful way not to talk to you with mean words…

My little girl said, “Well, I could have moved. But I was already sitting when the boy sat by me, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. He wasn’t mean to me at lunch, so it was ok.”

When I open my front door every day and let my kids out into the world to spread their little wings, it’s with a silent prayer on my lips that my children will do their part to make the world a little softer, a little kinder, a little more loving and lovely. I don’t know each happening in their days, each word exchanged with other kids, whether they roll their eyes at teachers or say mean things to others. But I hope that we have filled them so full of love at home that it just comes tumbling out when they’re in the world, and that there is very little room for hurtful mean things to find their way through that overpowering love.

In the car, talking with my little girl who was having “a moment,” I told her how so many mama’s and daddies tell me that they love it when my girl plays with their kids, because she is kind. She plays nicely and is patient and sweet. Of course we all have our moments--angry moments, crabby, irritated. But overall, the mama’s and daddies and teachers and coaches and therapists say that my girl is someone they want their kids to be around. Which makes me so proud of my girl.

I pause during my Reinforcement of Self Esteem Speech to make sure my girl has time to talk more if she needs to. So that she has the space to let her feelings out and feel heard. So that she knows she is important to me.

There is silence in the back seat. Then I hear, “I wonder what color my spit is, because I’m eating lots of colors of sprinkles so my spit is probably lots of colors too.”

Really? This is the response I get to a well-crafted argument about why my daughter rocks the Universe? This is the thanks I get for having given her my best Psych major, Master’s of Social Work advice and reassurance, all while un-caffeinated? Really? “Spit” is what we’re thinking about now??

Kids. Hilarious. I’ve realized lately how different Big Kid Parenthood is from what you might envision when you have tiny babies snuggling on your shoulder. There are so many times when I have to figure out how I’m going to handle a situation, and depending on my response I can either make it a truly awesome, teachable moment, or let the instance pass unnoticed and unremarkable, possibly losing forever that one tiny chance to teach my kiddo something invaluable. In these situations, I do triage. I figure out if I am brave enough to get out of my own comfort zone and teach my kid, help my kid, confront life with my kid.

Sometimes I REALLY have to get out of my own comfort zone. Like when we’re driving—ok wait a second, side bar. All our family’s Important Life Talks happen in the car! No joke! It’s the perfect place to talk with your kids because they don’t have to look at you when you’re saying things that are embarrassing and uncomfortable. You don’t have to look at them when THEY’RE saying things you can’t believe they’re old enough to be thinking about. They can pretend to listen if they’re not, and they can pretend not to listen even when they are-- which is what happens most of the time. I think cars were invented just so parents and kids would have a safe place to talk about awkward stuff in a neutral setting. Love it. Thank you to whoever invented cars for giving my family a place to hash out the tough stuff.

Here’s the important thing about all things parent-y. If you don’t teach your kids your beliefs, your views, your opinions, someone else will. And then you only have yourself to blame when the world has led your kiddo down a path you would not have chosen for them but were too uninvolved or disengaged or fearful to teach them about. So when the opportunity arises to share with my kids my views and opinions and outlook, I always take it. Always. Even if I don’t feel like it or I’m too tired or under-caffeinated or I feel silly talking about it. I always lunge at that opportunity and grab it with both hands.

Our family is open about everything. If a kid has a question or wants to talk about something, we talk about it. Nothing is off limits and nothing is ridiculed. Like when my teenaged boy and I were driving (see? thank you again, oh inventor or vehicles) recently and we got on the topic of sex. I have explained to my boys what our beliefs are. I’ve talked with them about responsibility and respect and doing the right thing. I’ve told them as they are running out the door to a dance—“No sex, no drugs, no alcohol, no no no…” because if I don’t tell them, they won’t know what I think and when they’re presented with a tough situation, my Mama Voice won’t be in their head somewhere and they won’t know how to navigate. Granted, my nagging Mama Voice can’t keep all the bad things and bad choices from hurting my kids, but at least I’ve done all I can to help them steer toward the good in life. That day in the car, my boy talked about abortion. I told him how I feel about that issue. I told him why.

Now he has my Mama Voice in his heart, with the information I’ve passed to him. He can make that a piece of who he is or he can choose a different opinion, but now he knows what Mama thinks. Just like he knows that I think people should be able to get married, no matter who they are marrying. And that the issue about who should use which bathroom is ridiculous- we’ve all used port-a-potties for how long and those are unisex bathrooms! And my feelings about spirituality. And how I feel about pumpkin spice lattes. And my best friend. And Reiki. And baked goods. And helping people in any way you can any time you can.

This is just part of the conversation of our family. We share these things with our kids so they can be well-rounded, kind, beautiful humans as they move through the world. So that they can hopefully leave the world better than they found it. Is it always the perfect time to have these tough talks with my kids? Am I always in the perfect mood for it? Do I always have the perfect words? Nope, nope, and nope. But just like all the other Mama’s (and Daddies) out there, I do the best I can. I take a deep breath and I take a leap of faith and I do the best I can to teach my kids the best I know. With the goal always being to be kind, be good, be loving, even in hard situations. Sometimes the talks are long and intense, sometimes the talks are interrupted by thoughts of multi-colored spit. (One of the many unusual joys of loving kids who have attention issues.) Regardless, I’m jumping in to those opportunities like a diver jumping off an Olympic diving board: with my lungs filled with a deep breath, my eyes wide with anticipation of the free-fall feeling, and a mixture of terror and excitement in my heart. Will I flop at this important parenting moment? Quite possibly. Will it be perfect? Maybe. Will it be the best I can do at that moment, in that situation, with what I have? Absolutely. All I can do is show up, grab the opportunity, and take a leap into life with my kids.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Different Paths

Sometimes having twins can rip your heart right out of your chest and break it in two. Torn in two separate directions, hoping each boy will find his own way, no matter how he gets there.

Jonah will not be riding the bus to his first day of high school this week with his brother and his friends. Since the middle of June, Jonah has been dealing with some medical issues that are making it difficult for him to function with normal daily life. It is nothing contagious, and not life-threatening, but something that is really putting the brakes on his life. We don't want to make him feel uncomfortable by telling the whole world what specifically is going on, but this is a big deal. He has suffered all summer, not being able to fully participate in fun things, family things, highschool freshman things. It's been excruciating to watch. We don't know exactly what is happening in Jonah's body, and so far we've been to three doctors to help us figure it out. This past week, the day Jonah and Ben turned 14, actually, we saw a specialist. He had some concrete ideas of what could be happening in Jonah's body, and some medicine to try, and some tests to run. We are hopeful this doctor will be able to turn things around for Jonah.

Jonah's problems started half way through summer school in June. I ended up driving him and Ben to and from school each day, to ease Jonah's anxiety and make it easier for him to function. It became clear that this was a big problem, so we went to the doctor. Originally, the doctor said Jonah's issues would pass on their own. Wait it out. We did. It didn't pass. We tried some medication, some over the counter meds, some other things...nothing helped. 

Last week, the boys had Freshman Orientation for one morning. I drove the boys to and from school, again, to help Jonah as much as I could. When I picked the boys up after orientation, Jonah got in the car and exploded. He was so frustrated with the situation, with his medical problems. He didn't know how in the world he was going to be able to go to school the following week. He was a mess. Friends had noticed some of Jonah's unusual behavior and had asked Ben about it. Ben wasn't equipped to field questions about his twin, so he told them the truth about Jonah's medical situation. Jonah was embarrassed and angry with Ben. I realized I needed to educate Ben on how to talk about what is going on with Jonah, and to help him preserve Jonah's privacy and integrity. He has now been educated, Mama Style.

Over the past few weeks, I have been constantly trying to figure out what is going on with Jonah and how to help him. Anxiety can be a powerful thing, is it just anxiety about starting high school? But the problems started in the middle of summer school, when he was comfortable and acclimated to the newness of his new school. So I wasn't sold on the theory that this is all anxiety-based. It could be partly due to his diagnosis of Tourette's Syndrome. But the meds the doctor prescribed, having assumed this is what the problem is, did nothing to help Jonah. I worried all summer about what we would do when school started. Would Jonah snap out of this problem? Would it disappear as quickly as it appeared out of nowhere in June? Would I have to home school? The kids and I agree that although home schooling would help alleviate their anxiety, no one would make it out alive. We are not made to teach and learn a curriculum together, as mother and children. I can teach them a host of other Life Things, but not School Things. I just am not made for that. I can't even get them to do homework. How would I teach them a whole grade?? Not gonna happen. 

My worries grew.

After orientation, I realized we needed help. I called our educational advocate, explained the situation, and asked her what our options were. She said the best option was homebound tutoring. She explained that we would need a letter from the doctor, stating Jonah can not attend school due to his current medical condition. A teacher would come to our home every school day for an hour and teach Jonah some of what his peers are learning. After talking with Alex and Jonah AND the doctor, we decided this was the best plan of action. 

I was shaking during the whole process of figuring this out. I was devastated, thinking of one of my boys taking the bus on the first day of his freshman year of high school, and the other one waiting at home for a tutor. When you have twins, especially of the same gender, you sort of expect their life paths to be pretty congruent. You expect them to be in the same grade, go to the same school, graduate at the same time. I expected that in about four years, their life paths may wind away from each other a little bit more, but that's fine. That's when they should have their own lives, independence. Independence from their parents, and more separation from each other if that's what they want. But right now, they're both supposed to go out on our front porch in three days and have me take a million pictures of them because it's their first day and let me hug them and try not to be embarrassed as I run after the bus in my pj's, waving and screaming "I LOVE YOU!!!" at the top of my lungs. That's what I expected to happen. Not trying to get a doctor, who is of course on vacation, to fill out a form for the school so that one of my boys can have school at home because he is in such bad shape that he can't even go to school right now. That's major. 

He can't even go to school right now.

That shook me to my core. You can't ever take anything for granted. You can't expect that just because you have two beautiful babies at once, that they are always going to be on the same healthy, happy path until they leave for college. Sometimes crazy stuff happens. 

I went to the parent orientation at the high school last week, and it was tough. It was so difficult to sit in an auditorium full of parents whose kids were not going through what one of mine is. It was difficult to sit there and be happy for Ben and devastated for Jonah, not knowing what the next weeks will hold for him. It was hard to see friends and know that so many other families are feeling only the butterflies of a new beginning, not an ache in their hearts for what isn't beginning the way they thought it would.

I will say, our new high school has been amazing through all of this. I am so excited for the boys to get to go to this high school. The school has been supportive and informative and helpful through this whole process. We're hoping that after some more evaluation and testing, we can figure out what is wrong with Jonah and get him back into the life he is supposed to be living as a 14-year-old. 

The other issue we now have is explaining to the other three kiddos why Jonah gets to stay home from school while they all have to go. Ben completely understands. He is supportive of Jonah, and while he's sad that his summer is almost over, he is ready for the challenge and excitement of high school. Aidan and Ella don't understand what will be happening yet, but they will be furious because they will think Jonah is staying home to play video games while they have to go to school. I have informed Jonah that he will have access to electronics for exactly one hour during his school day, just like Ben does at school. The other hours, he will work on his homework, exercise with me since he won't be doing gym class, do art projects, whatever else we can think of to keep his mind and body active. And he'll have his hour of tutoring. 

I just didn't see this coming. I have to give it to my kids-- they keep coming up with new and crazy things that I have to research and learn about and advocate for and love them through. Alex affectionately calls me his "Research Whore." Fourteen years ago, I never could have dreamed up all the things the kids have encountered in their short lives that I have had to get a crash course in, as fast as possible, in order to help them thrive. I don't know if there are any kiddos out there that are just living life normally, without a big to-do, just being kids, but mine certainly aren't. They have come up with the craziest, scariest accidents, the most complex diagnoses, the most mysterious of ailments...I always say they keep my busy. No doubt.

As my heart breaks for Jonah who can't officially join in the milestone that is three days away for Ben, I'm trying to let myself be excited and nervous for the other three who do start going to school over the next week. It's hard to feel separate things for each kiddo when the things I'm feeling are so big. I'm so happy and excited and nervous for this new beginning for three of my kids, but I'm so sad for Jonah. And worried about him. And anxious about what is causing his medical problems.

I never thought this would happen-- where one of my kids can't function at school. Friends and family have supported me, reminding me that if this is what is best for Jonah right now, then we're absolutely doing the right thing. And that he will thrive back in his "normal" life, once we figure out how to help him medically. This is absolutely true, and I know completely and absolutely that the decision to have Jonah tutored at home right now is the right one. The only one. I've lived the last two months along side him, and I know he can't function in normal life at the moment. But you never want your babies to suffer in any way- emotional, mental, or physical. So I'm trying to grasp at anything that I think will help our boy heal and get back to what we thought his life would look like as this new school year ramps up. 

Keep us in your hearts. Maybe then mine will be less heavy.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Bubbling Back

Over the weekend, I took a couple classes with Young Living essential oils. I learned how to do Vitaflex, which uses specific points on your feet to help your whole body feel better. Think reflexology. I also learned how to do the Raindrop Massage. You apply certain oils in a specific order to the back, dropping them like raindrops along the spine. Then you do a series of light massage techniques to spread the goodness of the oils to every body part, every organ, every cell of the body, in order to help the body detoxify. It's powerful and amazing. I was really excited to learn these techniques, so I have more tools to help my family, but also friends and clients who are interested in more ways to promote health.

For some reason, throughout the weekend I was just in a bit of a funk. Things were hard for me to handle, on many levels. I felt like the whole world was energetically wonky. It was very strange. I kept telling myself it was because I was learning something that is outside my comfort zone, with a group of people I don't know well. Maybe that was it. I decided to just chalk my weird vibes up to a learning experience that was making me stretch and grow.

Since finding out several weeks ago that I have yet another health problem to tackle--high prolactin from my pituituary gland, hormone problems, DEATH of ovaries, menopause, etc., I've been through the wringer. I won't lie- it's been really hard. I've gone off a medication that I was on to treat anxiety because the endocrinologist thinks perhaps the medication was messing with my pituitary gland. That alone was enough to send me over the edge because of the withdrawal symptoms. I wanted to die. Literally. I wanted to be put into a medically-induced coma. I know it sounds dramatic, but wow, I'm not even exaggerating. It's been excruciating. If you Google "withdrawal symptoms from Pristiq," I had every single one of those symptoms. Really severely. The nausea and chills and brain fog were something I've had with my mold toxicity and Lyme, so that was no big deal. But the brain zaps. Good lord. I felt like I was having electrical shocks in my brain every 2 seconds, and then it got to where every time my brain got a shock, it felt like someone kicked my stomach on the inside. I do not know of any reason under the sun that a human should be taking a medicine that causes this reaction when they stop taking it. I can't believe that other humans, calling themselves "doctors," put people on medicines that cause such drastic negative changes to their brain's anatomy. I can't understand it at all. 

I'm not anti-medication at ALL. You know that. Some meds are necessary for survival. But there are some meds that are safer than others. When I've told the kids' psychiatrist and other doctors that I've had trouble getting off of Pristiq, they nod and say that's one of the three worst medications to get off of. Seriously! Then why are people on these three medications? I wasn't dying of anxiety when my doctor put me on this med. I wasn't in need of psychiatric care. I wasn't unable to function. I just needed a little medicinal help to handle the stress of life, my kids with special needs, etc. Looking back, I know I was actually suffering from Lyme and mold toxicity, which can cause anxiety. But why was I put on this horrible medication? I don't get it. I can see if it's a last resort and there's nothing left to try and someone is in crisis. Then, maybe, it's ok to put them on this med and try to help them. But not in a mild case like mine.

I think I've come through the worst of the withdrawal. I have frequent, mild brain zaps that kick me from the inside out while my brain is momentarily electrocuted, and I have trouble dealing with my anger, but other than that I feel a little better. My family could argue that I'm irritable. And crabby. But this is a major physical change, people! I'm not perfect. My brain has to heal and reform pathways and learn how to deal with the raw-ness of life.

That reminds me. The only good thing about dealing with all this withdrawal crap is that now I feel like I truly understand what it's like to have Sensory Processing Disorder. I have felt like my nervous system is living outside of my skin ever since I went off my medicine. It's pretty excruciating at times. Every single little thing is an irritant. Noise, smell, touch, taste, light, It can be very overwhelming. So no wonder I'm a little more touchy than I used to be. I feel completely raw and exposed to stimuli. I feel so badly for anyone who has to deal with SPD. I understand it on a whole new level. Maybe that's the lesson I'm supposed to learn from this detox thing: what it's like to be inside my children's bodies. I don't like it.

Since finding out about my next set of health problems, I haven't felt very loving towards my body. This body that keeps betraying me. Mold that lives in me and makes me sick that my body can't get rid of on it's own. Lyme, anyone? Let's get ill every time we eat gluten, just to make life more interesting. Let's have some candida overgrowth. Oh, and how about those shriveled-up-little-raisins I get to call ovaries? Stellar job keeping those puppies alive, Body. Awesome job. Maybe we'll just send our pituitary gland into overdrive too, and wonk everything up in our entire body. We don't have enough going on. What's next?

I know I've been trying to punish my body during the past few weeks. I also know that's really stupid. But that's on a cognitive level. On an emotional/reactionary/subconscious level, I'm really sick and tired of this stupid body and how no matter what I do to take care of it, it keeps betraying me. Stupid stupid stupid. So part of me doesn't want to take care of it, and just wants to do whatever I want to do, and see what my body does then. Because when I take all my supplements, and don't eat sugar or dairy or gluten, and try to exercise as much as my frail sick inflamed body will allow, and get therapy, and do yoga and PT and see the chiropractor and get Reiki, and take Epsom salt baths, and stretch and drink water, and use essential oils, and whatever else I'm forgetting that I do to take care of myself, my body says,

"Meh. Not enough. We've got more crap to give you. Take THIS new problem!!"

It's hard to stay positive when this keeps happening. So during the past weeks, I've purposely eaten gluten. AND dairy and sugar. Lots of sugar. And I've felt physically terrible because of it. But I feel terrible all the time, so who cares? I know I'm not helping my body by giving it crap instead of nutrients, but I'm so mad at it sometimes. I try to be a good person, inside and out, and this is what I get. A body that's all crazy inside. So annoying.

Yesterday, I learned the Raindrop Massage technique. During the class, I facilitated two massages and received one. I asked to be the last person in our team to receive one, because I knew I was going to feel terrible afterwards. Raindrop detoxes you on such a deep level, I knew it was going to kick me in the butt. An Epsom salt bath makes me feel completely ill, and I knew this massage is even more powerful. So my team graciously let me go last as a receiver. While I was on the table, my team kept asking me how I was doing and if I was ok. I felt a little warmth on my back, but nothing terrible or uncomfortable. But I knew something was up.

After the massage, one of my teammates showed me a picture she had taken of my back during the massage. Normally during a Raindrop, healthy people's backs turn a lovely shade of pink. People who have more toxins turn a little bit more red, because the toxins are coming out as the massage continues. My back turned beet red, people. BEET. And the instructor said there were little raised bumps too. That means MAJOR TOXINS. Major. It's all good. You want the toxins to come out, not stay in.  That's the whole point of a Raindrop. I knew that would happen, I knew I would feel terrible, and I knew that was good. I wanted all of that to happen.

But seeing my back all beet red in the picture, and feeling the heat coming off my skin, and being able to actually see how toxic my body really is...that was hard on me. I try to just fake life sometimes. Fake that I'm actually fine and healthy. Fake that I can eat gluten. Fake that I'm not a hot mess inside and out. Fake that I'm not chock full of toxins that have accumulated over years and years. So to have physical evidence right in front of me in the form of a picture of my red back...that was a hard pill to swallow. That showed me how sick my body really is. I'm so mad at it for betraying me and being weak and sick, and frankly I don't want to love it and take care of it anymore. I want it to suck it up and move on and just be healthy again.

That picture after the Raindrop gave me physical evidence as to how much my body is suffering. It has made me think. I have known I need to care for myself. I just haven't wanted to. But as I came home from the class yesterday and proceeded to feel completely horribly sick and miserable- all things I expected and wanted because that's my body's way of detoxing- I started to try to reshape how I feel about my body. I tried to think about why I should love it unconditionally. I thought about why I need to protect it and adore it like it was my child. Or my friend or client I'm doing Reiki on. Or my husband, the love of my life. I know I need to
nurture and cherish my body, and I always do try to. But I say in my head "I hate my fat, inflamed hands. I hate my dusty old ovaries. I hate I hate I hate."

I know each word I think or say has an energetic frequency that changes my body and my world. So when I think negative things, it's just not good. For me or the world. When I think positive things, those thoughts have a higher vibration, which raises my energetic level and the vibrational level of the world around me too. So I know I'm supposed to think good thoughts. But knowing and doing are two different things. I guess I need more than just knowing. I needed to feel compassion for my body and all it's dealing with. I have no problem at all feeling compassion and empathy for anyone else in the world. But when it comes to myself, I'm bitter and resentful about my shortcomings and illness and weaknesses.

Seeing my back in the picture made my body seem sort of third-person. Like it was someone else lying on that massage table with toxins leaking and bubbling out of their body. It was proof to me that my body is suffering. It's needy and not in great health and just needs some love and all the good things I can give it. I needed to see my body as I would see a friend's. I would give my right toe to help a friend in need. Or maybe even an arm. I would wrack my brain, trying to find ways to help them. I would do anything for them. But I didn't see my own self that way until yesterday, when I saw the picture of my body lying on the table, suffering. Then things started to shift for me.

Healthy people typically feel relaxed and clean from inside to outside after a Raindrop. They feel refreshed and new after this massage. The Raindrop releases any little toxic things they may have going on, and readies their body for whatever it may face next. My reaction is not typical, because I'm pretty clogged up and sick inside. Today, I feel a little better physically. After a good bath or Raindrop, I need a lot of sleep and a lot of water and then I start to feel better. So I do feel better. But I still struggle with my body. Today I thought, what if instead of pretending my body is fine and filling it with crap (like cookies) because I think it should be able to deal with it, what if I treated it with utmost kindness. What if I pretended it was healthy in the opposite way, and instead of treating it like crap because it should be able to deal with it, I made it exercise a little more and not worry about what could happen if I overdo it. What if I just go completely crazy with healthy foods and fill my body up with totally insanely healthy things all the time. What if I just get back on board this crazy Body Train that keeps derailing, and just keep going. Just keep fighting and trying to heal. Sometimes I just want a break from it all. It's exhausting and depressing and annoying and maddening. Just when I think I've got my body under control I find out about a new problem. But maybe it's time to stop being mad at my body and start shifting my focus back to loving it. I was doing that, but then I got a whole new set of challenges to deal with and I gave up and was mean to my body for a few weeks. Maybe it's time to change back to love again.

Because you can't see inside your body, it's easy to pretend hard enough- so hard that you actually begin to believe- that you are ok. You can't SEE the mold. You can't SEE what the gluten is doing to your intestines (although you can definitely feel it!). So if you can't see it, it must not be real. Gluten intolerance must be fake. Mold toxicity, fake. Pituitary gland all crazy, fake.

Seeing a picture of my body, lying on that massage table, with toxins leaking and bubbling out of my skin...that was powerful. That was powerful. If I can see myself from more of an outside view, maybe I can love and take care of myself more. The way I would a friend or loved one.

I don't know why I still have that wonky feeling that all the energy of the world is 'off,' but maybe it's just because things inside me are shifting and changing. I never want to stop growing and learning. This weekend I learned some powerful techniques to help other people. I also saw how much my own body needs my full attention and love. If I could give myself a Raindrop every day, I would. I saw and felt, firsthand, how incredible those oils and this massage technique can be. Crazy stuff.