Past Me is Kind Of a Bitch, Actually

My therapist asked me to work on being kinder to myself and I have no idea how the hell to do that, so I went to the interwebs in search of help.

When you search “how to be kind to yourself” on the internet, you get a lot of posts about self-care, which…yes? Maybe? But that’s not really the right answer. Or maybe it’s the answer to a different question, like “how can you relax more?” because those posts always involve things like “take a hot bath” or “have a cup of tea” or something.

But that’s not my problem. My problem isn’t a failure to relax. My problem is I treat myself in a way that I would sue someone for if they did it to my kids.

I’ve tried to solve my problem by saying to myself, self, what would you do for the kids in this situation? But the thing is, I make them eat balanced meals because that’s a responsible parent thing to do. I’m not trying to be nice to them. I make them do homework because I want them to not be idiots. This isn’t a kindness. It’s terror of ruining their lives in some way.

Indeed, when I’m being nice to them I order a pizza or bake a cake. Maybe I’m actually a terrible parent. Yikes.

And then I foundĀ this post from Wil Wheaton on the recommended feed of my Pocket account. It’s about how to trick yourself into being kinder to yourself. I’ve read it maybe a dozen times this weekend.

Basically, the idea is that you should think of your future self as a distinct entity and do things that will make future you happier. You might not want to make your bed but future you wants a bed that was made, so you make the bed. And so on.

It’s a solid concept. I’m going to play with it for a bit and see how it goes. But the trendline is not good. I had biscuits and gravy for dinner last night and was up a pound this morning, because…biscuits and gravy for dinner. And then had biscuits and gravy for breakfast. What are you doing, past me? WHY?

And past me has done a lot of bitchy stuff that has caused present me problems. Past me decided to make the jump to freelancing before the income had really gotten up to replacing my day job’s check because my day job was terrible. I’ve been struggling for years as a result of that decision. The less said about what past me did to present me in regards to the ex-husband, the better. Past me should maybe have made every decision differently.

It really makes me question present me’s ability to make good choices for future me, actually.

 

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Dogs, Cats, and Anxiety

We have two dogs. One is a big big dog, in excess of a hundred pounds. He’s full of anxiety and is an excellent pet as long as you can accept his innate refusal to socialize or even leave our bedroom except for food and walks. The other is a younger dog, about half his size. We got her with the hopes that she would play with the big dog and make his existence less miserable. This has not come to pass.

The issue is her exuberance. We took her to dog obedience classes during the pregnancy, but although she did ok, it was less than a total success. She needs a lot of practice and reinforcement. That was as I was wandering into the really bad preeclampsia and I was already having to cut activities that put me on my feet, and I could not do it. The older children did it when they were home, but they spend a lot of time at their dad’s house. Really, it should have been on the husband to train her and he would not. No matter what I did or how hard I begged, he always found a reason not to do it. Result: the training is basically gone now.

She pulls on the leash. Nothing we’ve ever been able to do has been able to stop her. The best result came from using the easy walker harness, but last week she chewed through it and now all we have is her regular snap collar. I’ve been walking her like that, on a coupler with the big dog, and it’s been a struggle. It’s hard, because I do it with the baby strapped to my chest and so I have to really control her, which isn’t easy. And today, we had barely crossed the street when she pulled hard enough to pull herself off the coupler. I did not know that was even an option until today. She refused to come when she was called and took off towards the nearby freeway. I put the big dog away, put the baby in the crib where he would be safe, and took off running after her. I got her back fairly quickly but he was crying in rage because he’s never just put unceremoniously into his crib.

I finally got him soothed when the cat jumped up on the table next to me, knocking off my full glass of water, setting off the glass break. The alarm was going off, the baby started crying again, and I had to hustle to get the water off the various electronic components in the vicinity.

And I lost it. I’m so frustrated with the amount of time I spent on pet care, cleaning tasks that are due to or exacerbated by the pets, and the issues with the dog and her training. I’m already doing so much more than I’ve done in years, and it seems cruel to add dog training to that list. Why the hell isn’t my husband doing it? And he insists that he is working at his maximum effort level and cannot. I doubt this. I’m doing a lot of things now, things he had to do when I was on bedrest. He’s not doing those things, and therefore should have the hours he had been spending on those tasks available now. We’ve been going back and forth about it all day.

And that is how walking the dogs can destroy a Monday.

Setbacks All Around

Last week was bad. Very bad.

We spent Friday night and Saturday with my in-laws, which was fine. I like them. I am LESS fond of my brother-in-law, who lives in their neighborhood and we can dodge seeing except when we see them. He wanted to hang out with us and go to the zoo with us. He’s in love with the new baby, which is great. All of this is great.

He has a long history of drug use and it’s caused his family no end of trouble. We’ve had to cancel trips up there because he was using again and unpredictable and we couldn’t expose the kids to it. He’s been trying really hard and getting better, with very few setbacks, in the past few years. And I appreciate how hard he is trying.

But he’s still a jerk. No amount of sobriety can change that, apparently.

He lived with us for a few months when he was trying to be in this part of town and kept getting kicked out of sober living homes. It was pretty awful. The kids had to share a room, and he was on the little one’s mattress so she was using the baby mattress or just pillows on the floor, and he’s allergic to all our pets so he was miserable all the time. And he was a jerk.The first time he came over, he dropped in unexpectedly and we’d been going through our papers to sort and file them all weekend, so it was papers all over the coffee table and ottoman. His first words–after we’d spent all afternoon driving him around to various sober living homes in an attempt to find him a place to live–were, “have you ever heard of hoarding? Do you think you might have that problem?”

Later, memorable moments included the time if he asked if I’d ever owned a broom, and the time that he scolded me in a grocery store for trying to keep his brother on-list, on the strength that it was his brother’s money and he could do what he wanted. I was paying for the groceries at that time, but that’s not really the point, is it?

Regardless, the entire day was filled with him being a jerk, from the time his mom was helping him clean the (completely filled with trash) backseat of his car so the older child could ride with him to the zoo and he said, “Like your house, right? Only this is cleaner!” to the time he outright refused to let us go hear the zookeeper talk because it meant going out of order on the zoo map. To the time he taught the little one that you have to dump all the remaining water out of your water bottle on the ground before you refill it. You can’t have water that is an hour old, apparently.

Not my idea of baby’s first trip to the zoo.

We had a quiet Monday, and then the chaos began. The kids had to be at school half an hour earlier than normal on Tuesday because of track practice so we started the week tired and off schedule. And then Wednesday it all went to hell.

I’d been at a small synagogue maybe five years ago. They were not nice to us. We tried to stick it out there because we loved the rabbi but after a year we had to move on. Specifically, they were mean to the children. It was a really small congregation–including my two there was less than ten children at any given Shabbat service, and usually closer to five. And the children were terrible. The two that belonged to the president’s wife refused to let mine play because they didn’t really belong. And if they did let them play, they made them be the worst things in the game, always. But when the parents started arranging playdates with each other in front of my kids without inviting mine, that was too far. The kids cried and we left. We don’t speak of it in the community (all Jewish communities are inherently small ones and its best to keep the peace) but it was bad. In point of fact, one of the mean girls was in our girl scout troop last year and went the ENTIRE year without speaking to my daughter.

They’ve been really pushing themselves as a place for new people to try in advance of the high holidays, all over social media. Which is fine, more power to them. But when they posted on Wednesday that they are specifically focused on being a welcoming place for children, that was not ok with me. And so I responded, “That was not our experience.”

Immediately the president’s wife was messaging me and calling me and insisting that we have coffee to clear things up. I said, there’s nothing to clear up. You were not nice to us and it’s not wrong of me to say that. And she went on and on about how terribly mistaken I was and how I should realize that the comment I made could cause the synagogue to fold and I don’t want to put the rabbi out of a job, do I? Not to mention, they have a disabled veteran who spends a lot of time promoting the synagogue and my comment caused him great distress and made his PTSD worse. All of this is ridiculous. That was a mild comment. If he can’t handle it, he shouldn’t be online at all. The synagogue isn’t going to collapse from that one comment unless they’re already in a very precarious place. And I’m not crazy. Those things did happen.

Also Wednesday, I had to break in the new therapist, which meant going over the worst things in my life (especially the abusive first marriage) which triggered a lot of stress. And then ALSO on Wednesday, I had to see the abusive ex at the track meet, and while he normally ignores me, this time around he saw a chance to insult me and he took it. And then LAUGHED, he laughed in my face because he had the chance to insult me in front of the coach and the other parents. Rough.

Thursday I spent almost 3 hours in the car, and was frazzled and overwhelmed and trying to keep it together for the kids.

Friday, I complained to the husband about how the synagogue woman was gaslighting me and how much I hate that, and then two minutes later he told me that I was misremembering something that had happened two minutes earlier and it was too much. I lost it. I spent the entire day crying. I couldn’t eat. I was trying to keep the suicidal ideation at bay. I’m out of the emergency short-term meds, and the doctor who prescribed them was the pre-pregnancy doctor and he’s not on this year’s insurance. I called the specialist, whom I’ve seen most recently, and begged for a short set of them to get me through the weekend and was denied.

Starting Thursday I was minimally productive, finishing maybe half of my to do list each day (and honestly, I’m impressed that I got that much done, even) and trying to keep from snapping, trying to keep from starving myself or binging on ice cream and biscuits and it has been hard. Just really hard.

It’s getting better today. I’ve done some real work this morning, I’ve done a few of the household chores. I’m only minimally shaky emotionally. My in-laws are coming over this afternoon to give us the car my husband’s grandfather gave him a month or two ago, which will prevent me from having to drive for hours at a time most days. But of course, this is not the best week for me to be socializing.

 

Forward and Back

I’ve been working hard and making money. Not a LOT of money, since my per word rates are still lower than I like, but I have been making some money. Which is great, because I owe money on gymnastics lessons every month now.

But then yesterday I realized it had been some time since I had bought bras for the older child, and her stepmom’s technique is to buy those little bralettes that offer no support when she goes to Walmart. And now that she’s in cross country that’s not going to work. But of course, fit is essential. There’s one place here that I know of that does actual fittings by people who know what they’re doing, it’s the only place that has fit me properly. Obviously, that’s where I took her, with the deep understanding that I would probably be looking at 30 dollars or more on a bra.

As it turns out, my small child is a freaking D cup and needs real bras. Serious bras. Both for day to day living and for running. In the end, I would have loved to pay 30 dollars per bra because I actually ended up spending twice that. But she has good, supportive underwear now.

And in the future, now that we know her size, she can get less expensive daily wear bras, although we will continue to pay for high-quality sports bras because that’s clearly a necessity.

Anyway, the point is, I ended up dropping nearly two months worth of gymnastics money at the bra store. It was incredibly painful.

In other terrible news, my weight has inexplicably gone up two pounds in the last week. I’m eating properly, and I’m doing the daily dog walks, so there’s no real reason that this would happen, but there it is. And since I *am* eating properly and doing the dog walks and my ab exercises, I’m not sure what else I can do to see that drop. I’m working on the theory that it’s hormonal from the re-introduction of birth control to my body and that if I hold the line the weight will drop back in a week or two.