When I was in the Intensive Outpatient Program, I took a lot of notes. There are lists of medications, of vitamins, of ways to get healthier; there are names of blogs and titles of books and apps to try; and of course there are oodles and oodles of doodles.
In amongst the stick people and fairy houses are these words: “You relapsed to prove to yourself that your family didn’t really need you and that they’d be just fine if you drank yourself blind.”
So I sat with that for a minute yesterday. And it hurt. And it felt so true.
I am humbled by what my family allows me to be for them. I am definitely grateful for the opportunity to kiss the scrapes and hug the sad ones and laugh with the happy ones. I feel overjoyed when I can stop and look at the minutiae of what I do and see what it really is: loving my family. The daily grind boils down to just showing my love for them.
So how can my brain, my whole body, be so completely off track—so completely broken—as to think that I don’t matter? Why do I, secretly inside, believe that *I* don’t matter?
I feel easily replaceable and not really important in my role as wife and mother.
I know I drank over this. It is such a deep revelation–it comes from a part of me that I think I had intended never to share it with the wider world. Who would see my little slice of life and think, “Now there’s a lady who just doesn’t belong there.” And yet, that is how I’ve felt for so long.
Between the overwhelming postpartum anxiety and the anxiety I already deal with in regular life; in amongst the fears and the worries and the constant crying and being afraid of everything; I have also found that I feel like an extra in a movie.
So this is part of why I drank. Part of my story is that I’ve always wondered where I fit in.
Growing up, we moved every year. I made friends fast and well, but I never kept in touch when we moved. I was a true social butterfly, getting along with the nerds, the jocks, the head bangers, the cowboy types and the goths. I had friends in all those groups, and yet I never really belonged anywhere. I was superfluous.
I’ve let that follow me into adulthood. Every time I’ve built a great friendship, I’ve almost always had a hand in tearing it down. It’s like I’m worried that if I don’t end something that’s good, THEY will.
The thing is, I don’t know what I want that I don’t already have. I just feel…small and unimportant. If I stopped baking bread today, the kids would live on storebought bread and they’d be ok. If I didn’t do the laundry, someone would figure out the washer and they’d be ok. If I stopped homeschooling, the kids would go to public school and they’d hate it, but they’d survive.
This is about so much more than applause or glory or recognition. It’s just a deep, encompassing feeling of not having purpose. Which I do recognize is RIDICULOUS. I have a GREAT DEAL of purpose in my life. So what the hell, Penelope?
But the drinking. How, Penelope, does your drinking relate to your feelings of being unnecessary in your job?
Well, the answer is in the question: This is my job. This is what I DO. I’m a homeschooling mom of many. I am a stay-at-home mom (why, why, do they call it that? We used to call what we did, “car schooling,” because it fits our lives better).
What do I do that’s life-saving, earth-shattering, or just super cool?
The feeling that my children would be fine without me is devastating. It’s not just the job, there. It’s the knowledge that they’re built strong enough to survive having had a lush for a mom…which of course means I’ve been dispensable for a while now.
What do I do with this certain knowledge that I’m an uninvited guest in my own home? That if I disappeared tomorrow, nobody would be the worse for wear?
I think I have to continue to NOT HIDE from it. I have to pick it apart and figure out where it began.
I have to school myself. Stay-at-home parents are a rare breed but they’re spectacularly important. I would never DREAM of telling some other mom that she should “get a job” instead of tending to her home and family. That’s more than absurd, it’s appalling.
So why not me? Why doesn’t my brand of homemaking seem to make me sing with happiness? I know I am grateful to be doing it. But why aren’t I kind to myself? Where is my self-compassion? Where did my sense of self-worth go?
I know this is all just musings, with no point or essay to really sink teeth into, and I apologize. It’s been a wild week and this has been boiling to come up for a long time. I still feel I haven’t done the subject justice. But…sigh.
I started to change my medication routine about two days before the escalation of our family emergency. It was for a good cause (my weight is going to HAVE to go down), but I’m beginning to think that the dwelling on these thoughts might be partially due to messing with my meds. I don’t think the meds (or less of them) are making me think these things…I think the lower doses are making it easier for me to concentrate on this sadness and follow the thoughts down their own spiral.
ACorn syrup painting, it comes out sort of puffy. This one is the 11 year old’s.
I’ve been staying up nights, painting and making window stars and suncatchers and button trees and various other things. I’ll try to post a few pics (I have to do that from my phone; it’s a tedious process).
I’ve been going to the gym every day if I can, and I’ve switched from plain water to cucumber,lemon,mint water. It’s so delicious! And since I’m growing peppermint in my garden, now I have one more use for it. (And I’ve given up soda completely. Yay!)
My early planting of carrots is already ready to be pulled, and we’re eating tons of lettuce from the garden. I’m also going to prune my rhubarb plant for the first time this week! Rhubarb cake, it is! And strawberry/rhubarb jam…
The fairies (sshhh) left Little One a mushroom house, swingset made out of twigs, basket of fairy-sized fruits, and little garden of sunflowers in her carrot garden. And they left Little One a gnome to guard over her carrots, too. What fun!
In other fun, we are *waaaay* early and on top of our new school year. The kids’ curriculum has been trickling in already and it’s like Christmas. Art supplies, physics books, math CDs and did I mention art supplies? 🙂 Little one and my 11 yo have fun staying up with Mom some nights, doing whatever craft I do.
I hit 4 months on Wednesday. 🙂 It was a good day.
Happy Friday, everyone!