Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Recent shenanigans

Lego fire truck. Hours of studious fun

This is Frosty in our backyard; the snowman of many hats! This is Frosty the Andrey:

Frosty the firefighter:

Frosty the Bob (the builder):

Frosty the fisherman:

Frosty the trucker:

And Frosty today:

No final hat was chosen. Poor Frosty is hatless.

Sitting alone

In other news.
Brent returned to work this morning :-(
It was so nice to have him home for longer than his usual days off, and to spend some time with each other and extended family this week.
I've put Riley on the kid potty 5 times, and nothing has happened. How long are you supposed to communicate before they pee in it? Seriously. Asheya told me to try after he wakes up, but he always wakes up and wants to breastfeed right away. That is how he wakes up, and by the end of his feed he must have already peed because his diaper is wet and putting him on the toilet doesn't produce anything. I keep him there until he gets restless, which isn't long but at least a minute or two.

Also, I googled Brent's name, and our blog didn't come up! And not too many people read my blog, so I can't decide if I should go private after all or not. Brent gave me the impression that going private is a bit of overkill with regards to his job. So I can't decide if I am being paranoid or wise. I'm going to have to think about that one for a bit longer, so y'all are safe for awhile.

Remember that awesome counsellor I found through my work? I went to see her again before Christmas and she told me that my employer will only pay for one more session. She's so amazing and helps me SO much and provides such a great balance of empathy and actual HELP, so this was not the greatest news. I mean, the Hollywood stereotype joke is that you keep going for years on end and never really get anywhere right? But in my opinion my employer should pay until I feel resolved or settled, given my job. If I put the cotton on the end of Q-tips for a living, maybe not. But I'm the one who goes to peoples' houses when their loved ones die, or who goes to pull people out of the river when they drown, or out of their houses when their drug labs go up in smoke, or redresses raped girls and sits helpless beside them on the way to the hospital. Not to mention the sick babies.
I love my job (though I'm nearing my expiry date...burnout is extremely high in my profession and I want to get out before I reach that point). I'm not complaining about being the one who does these important jobs, I'm simply pointing out that it takes its emotional toll and my employer would be prudent to help me out when the toll becomes apparant.
Of course, we are complex beings and our personal and professional lives melt into one another so it's difficult to compartmentalize the help I get, and say, "This is only for the emoional difficulties I have with regards to WORK," ...anyways. The reality is that my employer will pay for four sessions.
But, in three sessions with a really good counsellor I have come very far. After she told me I could only have one more session that was covered by my employer, I went home and freaked out. I felt major pressure to get my shit together in only one more session. What if I couldn't wrap it up nice and neat? What if I wasn't done? What if I was still anxious? So I started freaking out to God about it. "I don't know what I'm going to do! I can't get all my shit calmed down and resolved in only one more session! It was REALLY HARD to reach out and get help when I needed it and now I'm going to be left to manage alone again..." But then I was reminded that it's not Me and Irene on a journey towards health and stability and a life free from anxiety, but rather Me and God. Irene is someone God is using to help me on this path I'm walking, but when her involvement in my life is over, I won't be alone, and it won't be the end of my journey. That helped me a lot.
Several other things helped me a lot. Curiously, my fall with Riley in the parking lot a few weeks ago really helped me. It tested me in a really big way, because I had been working hard to abate the anxiety that had built up in me over the past months, and then I had this really close call. But when I fell, I protected him. He didn't bonk his head, he didn't scratch his skin, he didn't have a single mark on his body because I threw myself around to protect him. So I realized that if an emergency happens I can trust myself to do everything in my power to protect my kids, even if I don't anticipate the emergency beforehand. I think I was worried about not anticipating a particular emergency and thus confronting it unprepared (this has happened to me at work, and I have totally dropped the ball before; which is part of why we work in pairs! To remind each other what needs to be done when we forget!). But my role with my children is less complex than at work. I don't have to intervene, diagnose, treat, apply medications, start difficult IVs, do paperwork, communicate under pressure, etc, etc, etc--with my children my role in an emergency is simply to protect them, and for that I am equipped. I can do that, and I proved it to myself when I fell.
Irene also helped me realize that it isn't fundamentally up to me whether my family members live or die, it is up to God.
This may seem simple, and true, but I had forgotten it. I was trying to be hypervigilant about all aspects of my family's safety, to the point where I was functioning on high alert ALL THE TIME. I was so used to it that I couldn't see that it wasn't normal, and couldn't really see why I was anxious. But seriously, EVERY time Riley slept I would think he was dead, and the thoughts that went through my mind were variations of:
I have to check if Riley is breathing because he might have JUST stopped and so there is time to resuscitate him if I start RIGHT NOW but if I wait to check it might be too late.
If I let Ayden use adult scissors he might fall forward and stab them into his eye and either he will be blind or the scissors will go PAST the back of his eye and into his brain and he will die or be brain damaged, but if I take the scissors RIGHT NOW it won't happen.
I screwed up when we first adopted Matthew so he's going to hate women and become a serial rapist.
If we get in a crash and one of our carseats is too loose, one of my kids will die.
If I leave the kitchen with a burner on our house might burn down.
If I forget to pray for Brent while he's at work, he could get shot.

And etc.

Jeepers. No wonder I was anxious. I seriously had these thoughts ALL THE TIME. It's amazing I could cope at all. But Irene helped me see that I really was trying to take on God's job here. "Is it really up to you, Melissa?" she asked me. And I could see that no, it wasn't. (p.s. my counsellor is a christian. Which isn't a selling feature for me generally, but in this case it helps!)
You would think this would make me feel more anxious, being less in control over the destiny and well being of my family than I realized, but it actually makes me feel 6,000 times better because I realize it's not up to me so I can relax. Relax the vigilance.
Irene suggested coming up with a visual image that I can think about when I start to think about something that usually makes me anxious. Something that reminds me that God is good, and that I can trust Him, and that stops the anxious spinning. So I did and it helps amazingly, amazingly, amazingly.

When I started tackling my anxiety effectively, Stu came back.
I pushed anxiety out of the way and who was waiting for me?
So I told Irene about this. My visual image to combat anxiety wasn't that effective with my guilt. She felt that this was because my image for anxiety was too peaceful. I needed a different, more active, strong image to combat guilt. And we talked at length about my guilt and Irene kept pointing me towards God's grace. If He can forgive me, and I know of course that he can and already has, why can't I accept it? I guess I kind of feel that I don't quite deserve Grace, not yet. I need to flagellate myself a bit longer first. More punishment is in order. Irene said, "Isn't it up to God?" and that rang true. Here I am, trying to do God's job by keeping death and catastrophe at bay with my family, and here I am, trying to do God's job by punishing myself for past failures.
She also said, "You didn't handle Matthew's transition poorly because you were lazy, or didn't care, or couldn't be bothered to do better..." Which is true. I simply couldn't cope.
Maybe it is time to leave it behind for good. Accept that I didn't handle the transition to two children well, but that I can't change the past. It's time to let God do the damning, which He finished 2000 years ago when Jesus died. If I step into Grace, I acknowlege that judgement is not my job.
Ack, what a relief.

I've begun sleeping again. I no longer lie awake at night until 2 or 3, listening to everyone else breath and dream and snore.
I have more time to enjoy things, because I'm not so wrapped up in keeping everyone alive.
I'm happier.
I'm more well rested.
I'm not anxious.

As far as the judgement and guilt go; this is more entrenched. I have been living with Stu for more than three years so he's harder to fully rip out by the roots, though I've been hacking off major arteries for a long time. I KNOW it is time to stop performing God's job in judging myself, but actually letting go is proving more difficult. But I'm trying.

xo, all.


Anonymous said...

idea. could you see your therapist less often, but still see her if you paid out-of-pocket? like, could you afford that? -tamie

Louise and Gary Chapman said...

I could respond to so much that you wrote (LOVE that your counsellor is so awesome and has helped you come so that you recognize that God is in control-I need to do that more)...but the very first thing that hit me in your post is `How did Riley grow up so fast????'.

Asheya said...

Wow, there is so much here!

First of all, love the Frosty photos!

About EC - could you put him on the potty while you breastfeed him? I have done this with my baby potty in the past, and it works well if you are sitting up. Alternatively, you could put a diaper under him and sort of on top of him so he doesn't spray, but don't do it up. This could allow you to feel or see when he is peeing and so cue him with the "pssssss" sound.

So glad to hear that the counselling has been really useful! And I was going to suggest something similar to Tamie. I think if you feel you need more sessions, in the long run it will be worth it to go to more sessions, even if you have to pay yourself.

Love to you.
Happy New Year!