Chewing through the leather straps …

My mother has this sign on her desk:

“Sometimes it’s not worth chewing through the leather straps in the morning…”

It perfectly sums up how I am feeling right now. To put it all into a poor parody of a great song:

It’s been One Week since the labs got done, 

I hoped the testing would bring me some answers, 

Three days since the doctor called, 

and I found out I’ve got fibromyalgia, 

Two days since I started drugs, 

They make me feel dizzy and covered in tiny bugs, 

This afternoon I went to therapy 

and got to learn how much my daughter’s been resenting me…

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. After years of testing and medications and treatments I have a diagnosis that wasn’t even on my horizon. I am not exactly pleased to have this “answer” because there aren’t any fixes for the condition but I am happy that I do not have something degenerative.

In other words; I may feel like this forever, but at least I shouldn’t feel worse than this, and forever will actually last forever, so that’s a bright shiny silver lining.

In other news my eldest monkey asked her dad and I go to therapy with her, wherein she asked to get permission to get back together with her old boyfriend. (Long story, let’s just sum up and say it’s not happening with our blessing and for many reasons we will do whatever we can to stop it.) After giving her the many well thought out reasons he and I have been compiling we got the usual teen answer, unhappiness. Then I got all the blame for every problem she has ever had and a withering look accompanied by “I. Love. You. MOTHER.”

Oh I am so excited to celebrate Mother’s Day, or as they call it in my household, “I’m not going shopping to get a present for that bitch” day!  A whole day spent with a child who wants nothing more than to save up every penny she gets “so she can move out as soon as possible MOTHER!” It’s going to be the best holiday since the one when rabid wolverines broke into our house and systematically ate each member of the family in alphabetical order, skin first.

Parenting a teen is so much fun!

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The Art of Pain…

Evening came and went and whilst my love was sleeping the creativity I sought all day long surfaced in a rush. Sleep became impossible and I gave up trying when evening turned to night. In the quiet darkness of my house I crept to my desk and turned sleepless discomfort into shiny things. I found comfort in the act of shaping metal and pairing stone.

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The work is quiet and takes little physical energy, though it can often leave me exhausted if I do too much. I find sleep again after a few pieces are finished, my former restlessness replaced with satisfaction.

So not self-helpful…

I think I may have PTSD when it comes to self-help books, books on migraines, or generally any written device intended to explain to me how to make my current state in life better.

I have been trying to unwrap why I loathe self-help lately and I have hit upon a theory. It’s a relatively new theory so bear with me but here we go.

Ours is a society of the quick fix. If we have a cold and can’t sleep we take NyQuil. If we have a cold and need to go to work we take DayQuil. What we don’t do is rest long enough for our bodies to battle the cold on their own.

Due to our quick fix mentality we have a tendency to offer solutions to the people in our lives who express problems. We rarely actually commiserate. It’s not because we don’t feel sympathy or even empathy for them, but our language of caring has morphed over time from listening and empathizing to offering solutions.

As a migraine sufferer I have had a lot of experience on the receiving end of solutions. It doesn’t bother me from friends or family but it’s the complete strangers that make me crazy. Usually when I meet someone and they find out I have migraines I get asked my entire medical history by someone without a medical degree because their fourth cousin once removed has migraines and maybe they can mention something my nationally recognized neurologist hasn’t thought of yet. It is exhausting and not a way I want to spend one of the rare times I actually leave my house to go out into the world.

I think this is why I hate self-help mechanisms. Rather than listening to each other, talking about our feelings, and creating deep, strong bonds of friendship we are offering other people’s takes on our interpretations of someone else’s problem.

Meet someone at a party going through a divorce? Offer them this book. Got a brother with MS? Here’s a book on how one person worked through their experience with it. Children being… children? Here’s a book on how to parent in a way the person who wrote the book likes most.

Now I am not saying seeking self-help is a bad thing. Personally, if you want to read books on parenting, relationships, investing, whatever medical diseases you may have, and that helps you handle life, go for it with my blessing! There is nothing wrong in my mind about seeking out information.

What upsets me is offering these unsolicited solutions to others in lieu of care.

I get it, caring is hard. It’s time consuming, it takes real listening and empathizing to truly succeed at it and none of us have the time or the energy.

Is that last part true though? Would we find consoling someone less tiring if we did it more often? Could it be we are out of practice and therefore it seems more tiring and time consuming then it truly is?

Here’s my truth: My best memories are from times when I opened up my mind and heart and joined someone in their hardships. Really joined them. Crawled down into the hole they were stuck in and sat with them for a while. I have been blessed enough to build truly amazing relationships with people because I was simply sitting with them and listening when they were having a hard day.

Sometimes the way to be the most helpful is to offer no help whatsoever.