This is a Polish proverb that says “Not my circus, not my monkeys!” My sister posted it and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It’s brilliant really.
I’ve never drank alcohol. (I was going to write that I’ve never tasted alcohol but then I remembered the Nyquil I used to drink to get some relief from the flu and if you believe Justin Beiber, sizzurp is pretty much on par with top-shelf liquors. So, there’s that.) It’s a religious thing – I choose to follow the LDS dietary code and abstain from alcohol, smoking, coffee and tea – but it’s also a life thing. Thanks to spitting in a tube (which was way harder than you’d think, I have terrible aim), I know that I carry the genes that predispose me to alcoholism. I also have a family history of it and after watching some of them struggle to fight that demon, it’s pretty much convinced me that lifetime sobriety is my best bet.
Face down on my yoga mat is my least favorite position. Mostly because I never remember to wash the thing and it does a really good job as a “sticky mat” as evidenced by all the little flakes of my skin all over it. (Side note: If I ever go missing, use my yoga mat for DNA evidence. It’s a gold mine.) As I lay there, I felt the heaviness on my chest — and not just the weight of my body pressing down on it. Sometimes with a heart break, it feels like my heart is literally breaking. My chest was so tight I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My shoulders ached from tensing up. My stomach churned with worry. I hate feeling like that but the more I try to push it away, the heavier all those feelings get.
So I’ll admit it: I wasn’t really paying attention to my yoga teacher. I was too much in my own head. And also I was really digging the music she was playing. (She loves neo-gospel and hip hop; not your traditional namaste birds chirping but I gotta say there is something so satisfying about flowing to Bottom of the River.) Then something penetrated my mental fog. “Lift up your eyes first and then raise your arms and legs,” she was saying. Eh, I thought, I’ve done Locust Pose a hundred times. I don’t need directions. But then she added, “You have to look up to lift up.”
I’ve lost myself. Oh don’t worry, it’s not serious. Not like the time I ate the special brownies and tried to join Gwar only to get eaten by a giant cockroach. (lie: I don’t eat brownies unless they’re in ice cream and the only “special” ingredient I’d eat would be black beans. I would totally join Gwar though.) But I do seem to have lost my way a bit lately, lost my sense of who I really am. It’s not a surprise – this happens to me from time to time. It’s one of the downsides of being what psychologists call a “high self monitor” (i.e. a social chameleon). I get so eager to please people and fit in that I immerse myself in whatever they like and try to change myself to fit with what they expect me to be – or at least what I think they expect me to be. Unfortunately the more I try to be everything to everyone, the more I fail to be anything to anyone. It’s been a hard lesson to learn.
You are crazy. He said it so many times I believed him. I had to. It was the only explanation that made sense. The alternative – that he was a charismatic psychopath hell-bent on destroying me – was too terrifying to be considered. And so I believed him when he told me that I was “making a big deal out of nothing” when I freaked out after finding him throwing mice at the side of a dumpster and then lighting them on fire. I believed him when he told me that he was only choking me to “help me” overcome my fears. But the worst one was when he showed up at my roommate’s wedding the day after he sexually assaulted me, acting as if nothing had happened. I finally approached him as he sat, nonchalantly eating cake, and choked out, “What happened last night… it can’t happen again.” And then he looked up at me and said, “Nothing happened last night. You’re worried about nothing.” When I contradicted him pointing out my torn clothing (holding the physical evidence in my hand had made me strangely brave), he shrugged and said he’d give me a few bucks to replace them, no big deal, and went back to eating cake.
I need this shirt SO BAD.
“That’s not normal, you know,” the doctor said, tapping the chart lightly with her pen. She was looking at some preliminary test results for one of my sons who I had brought in to talk about his problems at school. (Ironically it’s not the son the school was telling me to test for ADHD – I still think he’s just high energy – but in the course of testing him I began to see the pattern emerging… in his brother.)
“It looks normal to me. That’s how I do it,” I snapped.
She raised an eyebrow at me. “No, it’s really not normal. And I’m using that in the clinical sense of the word. If you and your son both do these behaviors then you’re both outside the range of normal.”
Nothing like watching your kids unravel to put your own issues in a new light.
“I don’t believe you,” I answered in my most calm voice. ( Which actually came out like “I don belief you!” because sometimes my calm voice gets a Spanish accent because apparently I channel Skippyjon Jones when I’m trying to act like a grown-up. Chihuahuas, cheese and crackers, I might want to rethink that.)
Hello Kitty always helps answer the big questions – kind of amazing for a cat that doesn’t even have a mouth.
“Mom, are robbers tiny or big?” The other day I found 4-year-old Jelly Bean rolling around on her floor, looking at her fingers and and pondering that existential question. “Where does jail live?” she continued, when I asked her what she was doing.
“Well there’s a jail in every town, I suppose,” I answered her. “Why are you asking about robbers and jail?”
“My brother told me robbers are bad guys and they go to jail.”
“That’s true, usually,” I said, still not sure where this was going. Kids ask the strangest stuff. “Are you worried about robbers?”
“Yes,” she said with a little shiver. “I scared of robbers.” But before I could reassure her she added, “Are they sad?”
“Some of them, probably,” I answered.
“Is sad a bad word?” She twirled her fingers.
“No honey, sad is not bad. It’s okay to feel sad.” My heart jumped a little at the question.
“Why sadness?” Again. Kids. Questions. Oy.
Sorry, had to do it. But he really was amazing, right??
“Who’s Philip Seymour Hoffman?” I asked loudly, interrupting the noise of that football game yesterday that I was so interested in I spent the whole time either re-enacting Frozen using Barbies with Jelly Bean or surfing the web on my phone.
“Game maker from Hunger Games?” my husband answered. “Why?”
As I’m sure you’ve well heard by now, the 46-year-old Oscar winner and father of three died of a heroin overdose on Sunday while the rest of us were making blue and orange fruit skewers* and green and turquoise cookies in preparation for the Bruno Mars show. In reading up about his history and interviews on the subject of his decades-long struggle with substance abuse I found myself relating to him more than I rightfully should. His story has been rattling around in my brain all day today and I was quite confused as to why I have such a feeling of compassion for someone who I don’t think I can even say that I’ve seen one of his movies. He wasn’t personally meaningful to me – but his story of addiction was. And then I read this really amazing piece on drug addiction called “My Life Without Drugs” by Russell Brand in The Guardian. (I know. Yes, that Russell Brand. It’s beautifully written. I’m serious. Go read it.)
Now all is sunshine and roses, er, dead corn husks and pumpkins (because that says total romance, right?)
Puking with the flu, two weeks overdue pregnant, shaking on the floor with a panic attack, accusing him of stealing my pants and purse as I came out of anesthesia, both pre- and post- op, crying while holding a crying baby, numb with grief, irrational with fear, swearing at people during childbirth, hysterically silly, screaming with nightmares – and my personal favorite – dragging my infant son to the doctor’s for the “fleas” all over him that turned out to be Oreo crumbs from my super-healthy snack I’d eaten while breast-feeding him. I could go on but suffice it to say, my husband has seen me at my worst. (Oh, and there was the time I was so angry I didn’t speak to him for an entire day because I dreamed he had an affair. I’m still really embarrassed about that one, actually.)
This little guy in the middle would be me: Trying hard but getting it all mixed up – but still throwing some stellar JAZZ HANDS! Jazz hands make everything better.
“Aiieeee!” There was a shout and loud clatter as a woman nearby us in the parking lot of the hardware store watched all of her metal thingies (yes that’s the official name THINGIES) crash off of her giant orange shopping cart into the snow. My family and I were on our way into the store but I paused, Jelly Bean on my hip, to help her pick up her stuff. My boys jumped in too and within a minute we had her loaded back up and unstuck from the snow. It really was the smallest thing. Really. And yet as I turned to walk away, she touched my arm, “I’m just amazed. Your family is so nice! You guys just made my whole day!”
I waited until we got inside to round up my kids for a big hug. “Did you hear what she said? You guys just made her day! Just by helping her for 1 minute!” They beamed. “See? Helping people doesn’t have to be hard,” I started in on Mom Lecture #239. “You just have to be aware of the needs of people around you!”
This my Aunt Barbara “mid-roar with a dollar bill in one hand and three musketeers in the other” as noted by my dad. Seriously have you ever seen ANYONE love any present this much??
Gift-giving ninja, I am not. I’m well intended and I try hard but I’m not one of those people who just seems to know how to find the perfect gift. I think it’s partly because I am super picky about what gifts I like to get and I overthink everything so instead I am the queen of the gift card. And socks. I give a lot of socks because I figure pretty much everyone wears them, right? Plus they come in fun colors, are comfy and one size fits most.
But there was one time I gave the perfect gift, one that sent the giver into such a state of ecstasy she jumped up and down screaming in joy. Want to know what this gift of all gifts was? A Three Musketeers Bar. And a dollar bill.