Monday, June 4, 2007

Transparency and Conflicting Emotions

You know, I have a conflicting personality issue. I don't have the emotional discipline to ever have a "poker face." If I'm angry, it shows. If I'm sad, that shows. If I'm happy, I glow. At the same time, whenever something is really bothering me, I don't have an easy time opening up. I go inward. I take everything inward. When I am hurting, I am obviously troubled in the eyes of those around me, but I just don't feel like letting go of things, or sharing what's on my heart.

I hold my thoughts inside for varying reasons....sometimes it's a matter of pride. Other times I think that I can't really share how I feel because so many people have so many more struggles than me. Is it fair to whine about things when there are people with difficulties (even in my circle of friends) I can't begin to fathom? Still other times I think I would rather keep things to myself than to ever hurt someone around me. Often I just feel like if I would improve my outlook on life, I'd count my blessings and quit dwelling on stuff I can't control. Maybe that's true. Yet sometimes I face issues that need a solution, and I just manage to prolong my stress by not addressing them.

Even in this blog, sharing about personal struggles isn't easy for me. It's a little easier because it's written expression, not spoken. I can think about what I'm going to say, then type it. I can edit the post and then revise it again if I don't feel it sounds just right.

With Robert, I have always been pretty good at just saying what I think. I've never feared losing him because of being forthright. Although, over the last few years, I've even become a bit more guarded with him than I used to be. I've realized that in the past I've been rash and immature. I've hurt him by being too frank and too honest, and that was not my intention. I thought that we had an open communication. Yet when I applied my standard to his statements to me, I realized I wouldn't want him to say to me some of the things I say to him. I guess it's the whole "Do Unto Others" philosophy.

So, with age, I've become quieter. I joke around a lot when I am happy. Sometimes I can even be quite chatty. But the more I am struggling or sad or down, the quieter I become. Sometimes it's easier not to speak than to have to explain myself. Or rally for my point. Or to make changes.

The other day, Robert said, "You seem so distant lately."

If he says it, it bears considering. He's a man of few words. Yes, he will occasionally get in moods when he's talkative. However, for the most part, he is introverted. Maybe the longer we're together, the more alike we're becoming? I don't know.

You know, based on the case I have laid out here, I realize something has to give. I have to work some of my thoughts out. I can't keep things bottled up. I don't know for sure, but maybe some of this high blood pressure stuff is related to keeping silent about so many things. Is this the person I'm meant to be?

One thing that is eating away at me is my relationship with my kids. Yes, all three of them. Especially Josh, but even on a smaller scale with the other two. There's an old saying that "we teach people how to treat us." There is some truth to that.

My kids do not respect me, and I am realizing that I am partially to blame for that. I hear myself saying the same thing over and over and over, and yet unless I get angry, they pretty much ignore me. Sometimes I feel like I'm a ghost, in the room, rattling my chains and trying to be heard, to no avail.

All three of my kids have ADD. They do not exhibit signs of hyperactivity, but the inattentiveness is a big issue with them. This is inherited. Robert has the same diagnosis.

In a crowd, you wouldn't pick them out as ADD kids. They aren't especially rowdy. They aren't huge troublemakers. They seldom get write ups and school or on the bus. They are just kind of...spacey. Each of them have pretty much identical parent-teacher conferences each semester.

The teacher usually says something like this, "Josh-Jess-Jo (insert correct child here) lacks motivation. They have a hard time staying on task. They are staring out the window or out into space somewhere. They have trouble getting assignments completed on time."

My kids get along well with other kids. They are all popular and have more friends than I can keep track of. Yet they can't follow through with things unless I am constantly after them.

I've tried it all. Vitamin therapy, prescribed medication, music therapy, reflexology, prayer, posting to-do lists, etc., etc. It's just exhausting.

They get mad at me. Mad because I am constantly reminding them to do this or that. With each reminder, I get louder and more insistent. When I get fed up, I yell. Then they get madder.

Recently, Josh was diagnosed as bipolar. However, the Catch 22 is that ADD is inactivity in the frontal lobe of the brain. Bipolar is characterized by excess activity in another part of the brain. The medications that would help either would make the other one worse. So, we're in a waiting game. The trick is to wait until one or the other becomes unmanageable and then treat accordingly. It is like waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Josh is so angry 80% of the time when he's at home. He's short with the whole family. He is often disrespecful in his tone. He can be very stubborn about doing what he's told. And trust me, we don't ask a lot of any of them.

For every good moment I have with Josh, there are 1,000 bad ones. Robert keeps telling me to harden my heart against his hatefulness. That I take too much to heart...I need to realize that Josh's mood swings are in no way an indication of what kind of mother I am.

It's easier said than done, this hardening my heart against my own child. How do you do that? Is that a father thing? Is that a learned thing? How do you close your heart off so that hurtful things don't sting any more? It's not something I've been able to accomplish.

Now, Josiah is at that age when he's outgrowing Mom...he's starting to become a whole lot more independent. Gone are the days that the minute I come home, he would race to the door to give me a hug. Lately I can't even seem to cajole a hug out of him. I never thought he'd change. I always thought he'd be the lovey-huggy-kissy kid. Boy, was I wrong!

Jess has been in that "don't touch me" teenage stage for a long time. She can be very dramatic and throw tantrums when she doesn't get her way. However, for the most part, she's a typical teenage girl and we get along fairly well. I believe that when she is an adult, we will be friends and she will remain very much a part of my life.

Right now, I am just feeling lost where my kids are concerned. Most of the time I am around them on the weekends, I am longing to be at work. Work is an oasis of calm for me. I know how to do my job. I do it. Simple. There is no wondering what I could have done differently or contemplating if I made irreparable mistakes or constant tension over silly stuff. It's just a peaceful environment. I spend most of my time working independently, which I love. I can listen to what I want to on my computer...I can pause to blog when I'm not swamped, and even when I'm swamped, I am capable of handling it.
Sigh. Double sigh. Triple sigh. I truly wish each kid was born with their own personalized handbook that says, "do this and do that."

Sometimes I wish there were fewer waking hours in the day.

Sometimes I wish I was born without a heart.

But mainly, I wish I could fastforward through certain moments of my life.

That's about it for now.

Thanks for tolerating my ramble.

Hope your Monday is not filled with "I wish-es" and "what ifs."


pat said...

Dear Kris,
I know exactly how you feel. Seriously, I really know how you feel. Just do the best you can each day and more importantly, know that you are doing the best you can. Keeping everything bottled up is just another word for disaster. You need to talk things out with someone you can trust. You cannot heal unless you get the "bad stuff" out. Sharing my most inner thoughts and feelings with another human being has always been very difficult. Reaching out has been nearly impossible. But,I am trying to take baby steps. Why don't you join me?

neicybelle said...

kris, i'm so sorry i'm so late...i hate being sick because i can't be there for others who need me... have to find a healthy way to deal with your emotions and feelings...exercise is an amazing way to burn off all of that negative gunk... did some right things...i did some wrong things...i have a.d.d., jess has a.d.d...she and i were at odds so much while she was growing up...teacher conferences...the fight to get her to pick up after get her homework done...and the both of us struggled...i totally understand what you're going will have to come to the point where you learn which battles are important and which ones you will have to let go of...your main duty will be to teach them how to cope when they are on their own...their independence is a good really is...kris, you're a great mom, but kids are kids...they will grow up and realize just how great some the meantime, get connected with add websites and help groups...and take care of you and robert...ok? *hugs!!*