Why I wrote for a month

If I manage to post again tomorrow, I will have written every day for the entire month of February…

…yes, February is the shortest month, but it’s still a month, so it counts.

…and there were 29 days this year, so there.

For some, this might have seemed like a silly goal.

For me, however, it was therapy.

You see, it’s really hard for me to finish posts. I rehearse, revise, reread, and revise some more.

When it comes time to hit that magical “publish” button, my palms start to sweat, my eyes flick back over the text, and a lump forms in my throat. My fingers twitch, my mouth gets dry, my chest feels heavy.

What if it’s grammatically incorrect? What if someone thinks I’m a bad writer? What if I said something that makes someone think I’m a bad mother? a bad wife? a bad sister/daughter/friend? What if someone has really negative feedback and I can’t handle hearing it?

For me, writing in a public forum is a huge leap of faith. It’s sending my thoughts, fears, obsessions, and hopes out into this giant chasm and hoping that there isn’t snark hiding somewhere in the wings.

Forcing myself to publish every day forced me to edit less and challenge my anxiety. It was kind of like one big, long extended exposure, and it really helped me to get out of my shell. So now, as February turns to March, I’m looking for my next month-long challenge.

What would you challenge yourself to if you had to do it for a month?

Asymptomatic

Today was one of those days that was so good I wondered if maybe my OCD diagnosis wasn’t real. Like maybe I just exaggerated my symptoms and I’m really neurotypical. That’s how good today was.

I mean, I know my diagnosis is real. BELIEVE me. Some very brilliant mental health professionals established that and reading the DSM makes that beyond apparent.

“Recurrent and persistent thoughts…that are experienced at some time during the disturbance, as intrusive and unwanted, and that in most individuals cause marked anxiety or distress.”

CHECK.

“The individual attempts to ignore or suppress such thoughts…or to neutralize them with some other thought or action…”

CHECK.

“Repetitive behaviors (e.g. hand washing, ordering, checking) or mental acts (e.g. praying, counting, repeating words silently) that the individual feels driven to perform in response to an obsession…”

Oh my goodness, CHECK.

“The behaviors or mental acts are aimed at preventing or reducing anxiety or distress, or preventing some dreaded event or situation; however, these behaviors or mental acts are not connected in a realistic way with what they are designed to neutralize or prevent, or are clearly excessive.”

Yes. Yes. Yes. Check.

I could go on, but I think you get the point…

Today, however, I was, for all intents and purposes, asymptomatic.

No compulsions. No intrusive thoughts.

It was wonderful.

I know better than to think I am cured. There’s no cure for OCD.

I know I need to keep up with my exposures and continue taking my medication as prescribed. I know that the hard work we’ve put in and the right combination of meds are what is responsible for this amazing, relaxing, obsession-free day. I’m not silly enough to think I can just stop working now.

Right now, I’m just enjoying it. My next obsession is surely waiting in the wings, but this respite, however brief, has been lovely and has given me the motivation I need to stay the course. If I could feel like this more often, my life would be pretty darn swell.

(Of course, even with the OCD, I’m still pretty blessed…)

Fellow battlers, I wish you a day like mine. It’s amazing, and you deserve it.

Obsessions about safety.

So, we’ve been very fortunate that my husband hasn’t had to travel much at all since our daughter was born. That’s about to change.

He’s going to be hitting the road (or the air, if we’re being accurate) more frequently in the coming months and I have really been struggling with how far is too far when it comes to our home and safety.

We live in one of the safest communities in the entire country. (Literally. I’ve looked up crime statistics.)

We have a dog.

We have a deadbolt and a chain on the door.

I have my trusty softball bat.

I’m still insisting upon a security system.

Actually, what I really want is a German Shepherd that’s trained to take down armed intruders (Yes, they do exist) but I’m settling for the security system.

…with motion detectors.

…and a panic button.

You see, the thought, the obsession that arises whenever I think about my husband traveling is this:

I can run with one kid. I can’t run with two. Someone’s going to break in and I’m going to have to decide who to save. I’m going to have to choose between my babies.

I know this is OCD being mean again.

I want to challenge the thought.

I want to tell the disorder to shove it.

I can’t. Not tonight. OCD wins this round.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

 

How do you find the line between being proactive about safety and excessive worry or hypervigilance?

Expanding the circle…

Tonight, I’m feeling really jittery.

I’m so excited to join the team at MKE Moms Blog, but my facebook page was immediately flooded with friend requests from other contributors.

You see, I’m neurotic when it comes to social media.

Facebook is the only place where I post my children’s real names and photos of their faces.

Before this sudden explosion, I had 124 facebook friends.

36 of those people are related to me.

2 are my children’s godparents.

29 are friends that were close enough to merit an invitation to our wedding.

5 are the spouses of people who were at our wedding.

5 are our neighbors.

12 are moms from my church group.

1 is our parish priest.

Basically, what I’m saying is if you don’t receive a Christmas card from us, you and I are not Facebook friends.

In the past 24 hours, I’ve added ten people to my friends list.

TEN people.

Ten people I’ve never met before.

I’m obsessing. I don’t know these women and the unknown—even in very friendly human form—is scary. Instead of letting me enjoy the possibility of new friends, OCD keeps telling me that I have made myself and my children vulnerable to ten women who I have never met. Horror scenarios fill my brain. Panic ensues.

OCD is mean.

 

**side note: to members of the team, really, it’s not you. My rational brain knows you’re not a threat. My OCD brain can make ANYTHING scary. I look forward to meeting you soon!

A new forum…

So, today, I found out that I was chosen to be a contributor for the MKE Moms Blog. This, for me, is amazing because the current contributors are people I consider to be great writers and amazing women, and I’m humbled to have been chosen.

This also means that I need to write a biography blurb…

I never know exactly what to say about myself when asked. I fear I’m constantly over- or under- selling myself and am either far too brief or entirely too loquacious. (Or both, if that’s possible…)

Thankfully, I’ve been given some parameters. The blurb should be about 100 words in length, so that helps.

But what do I say?

What would YOU say if you only had 100 words to describe yourself?

What question would you want answered about someone if you were trying to get a sense of them?

Help me out here, dear friends… I’m overthinking this.

 

 

…I’m also failing miserably on my perfectionism ban here, as I’m not supposed to revise things over and over again. Sigh.

 

 

 

Transition time…

One of the biggest things I miss from my days of working was my commute home.

Back when I was still teaching, I lived five minutes away from school. This was immensely helpful when I was in a hurry to get to work (still an hour and a half before the first bell) in the mornings, but in the evenings, after a particularly difficult day, I would start driving in the opposite direction along Lake Michigan and let myself unwind.

I miss having a way to downshift.

There’s no downshifting in my life. I hit the ground running when I wake up, and don’t stop until nap time. Usually, I work right through nap time (because otherwise my house would be a complete disaster rather than the charming mess it is most days…) and I don’t stop until either my husband gets home or the kids fall asleep, whichever of those comes first.

I miss having that quiet time.

I miss having a journey to divide my work life from my home life.

Now, home is my job, so there’s no division between work and home.

It’s incredibly rewarding and I’m so thankful we can afford for me to stay home, but sometimes I miss just being able to shift to something different once in awhile. Like when I would get sick of grading papers, I would start lesson planning for a little bit, just to give my mind something new to work on. I was still working, I was just mixing things up a bit.

I don’t know how to mix things up at home. I have to be mommy 24/7, because my littles are too little to be left without supervision while I go do something else, even if it is for them.

I know this time is limited.

I know we’ll have a point in time when I’m begging my children for just a little bit of their time.

But for now, not having a little bit of time to shift gears is starting to wear on me.

I think that’s why I blog a little. It lets me downshift a little before I pour myself into bed. It’s a sorely needed release.

Still, I need to find another, productive way of shifting down in the evenings.

I’ll let you know if I find one.

To my daughter as she turns six months old…

My darling girl,

I can’t believe you’re six months old.

I don’t mean this in the “oh, time travels so fast” way that I certainly will default to for every milestone of the rest of your life. I mean in the “I cannot believe we made it to six months” way.

You see, I spent the first few months of your life in complete terror.

I was convinced something was going to happen to you. I was terrified it would be all my fault. I had thoughts of all of the terrible things that could happen to you and became so paralyzed I couldn’t even hold you.

I was convinced you were going to die.

Everyone says that the newborn time goes by far too quickly, and that you should cherish it. Me, I prayed that it would end quickly because that would mean that you survived it. That we survived it. That I got you to a point where things were a little less scary.

There were times I thought we’d never make it. Times I thought seriously about running away from you and our family, convinced you would be safer without me around.

That’s what OCD did to me. It robbed me of the joy I wish I could have felt in those first couple of months.

But we did it, you and me. We got through.

You’re getting stronger and showing more of your personality each and every day.

You light up for me. That smile is like a sudden jolt of sunshine.

You nestle up in my arms and I know that you feel safe with me. Finally, I’m convinced that you are.

You had so much faith in me. You trusted me so completely, even when I was too terrified to trust myself. I promise to earn that trust each and every day.

Thank you so much for letting me be your mommy.

I love you more than words can say.

Love,

Mom

No use crying over spilled milk…

Today, I looked in the freezer and saw the cache of breastmilk that takes up the entire top shelf.

I know there’s another stash downstairs in the chest freezer.

I can’t bring myself to throw it away.

This doesn’t make sense…My daughter has been thriving on formula for the past four months. She is happy, healthy, and growing.

Throwing my breastmilk away, however, is something I just can’t bring myself to do. I don’t really know why. I know that stopping nursing was the best decision for all of us, I know that she is doing perfectly well with the formula. I know I don’t want to upset her system by switching back and forth, so I would never use it. Still, I’m saddened by the thought of throwing it away.

Maybe I can’t throw it away because I’m still searching for evidence that I am a good mom. That I love her enough. That I’m worthy of the extreme privilege that is being her mother. I don’t know.

I know I need to throw it away. I know I need to finally close out this chapter of my life.

I’m just not there yet.

Better Me

I’m kind of on a self improvement kick. I’m officially dieting, I’m exercising more, I’m attempting to organize, and I’m trying to find ways to contribute more to the world. 

I’m not sure where the motivation has come from…

Maybe it’s just my way of filling the time that used to be taken over by obsessions. Maybe I’m slowly getting to like how it feels when I work out and clean. Maybe I just got sick of feeling like I wasn’t myself. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to being a better version of myself by the end of this year. 

What does that mean?

I don’t really know, to be honest, but I’m excited to find out. 

TGIF

I’m 8 minutes away from breaking my “post every day in February” commitment. 

Tonight was lovely. Went to a talk on Ignatian contemplative prayer that I really want to reflect further on.

I know I haven’t shared much of my faith life here, but it is a big part of my life (and my obsessions) so perhaps one day I will.

For now, however, I’m merely basking in the goodness that is a night spent among like-minded adults. 

I hope everyone else’s Friday was this lovely.