Well y’all know when I get really stressed out I sometimes find myself booking a Disney vacation, right? Ope! It used to be that Jerimiah would stop me, or at least slow me down a bit, make me consider other things like vacation days, school days, shit that is important in other people’s minds, not mine. But a few weeks ago when I was all, “Damn dude, I’m feeling like I need to escape to Disney for a few days,” he was all, “Sounds about right.” Did you catch a, “No, Missy! That’s not a good idea?” in there? No, I didn’t either.
It feels like it all happened so fast, but listen this time I was having a hard time booking an actual hotel room. You know we like to stay on property because duh, but we only have about five days because Jackson has a long weekend coming up so we decided to focus in on there. But that’s a quick turn-a-round time for Disney and it’s a holiday weekend so we were not finding anything. Like nothing. All the hotels were sold out. I even went as far as to Google, “Why is Disneyworld so freaking busy?” and I got a bunch of responses but mainly it was that it is their 50th anniversary and people have been actually saving for years to go this year and also pandemic and also life sucks right now and Disney makes it better (for some people. Some cool people.)
But in the end, I called Disney and they made it work for me because again, it’s Disney, and just when you think it can’t happen, something magical happens.
So we leave Thursday for five days and we are staying at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, which is great because we love New Orleans, but not the actual New Orleans (Jackson spent one weekend there and said he never wants to go back) so we are going to get the whole NOLA experience without the headache of people vomiting on you on Bourbon Street or someone yelling at you from the streetcar or a hotel falling on top of you. It’s a win/win.
For those of you Disney nay-sayers I wish I could say something that made you love Disney, but alas, I just recently stopped trying to do that. I have realized that some families just aren’t cut out for the world of Disney. To the rest of you, see ya at Epcot!
I’ve always been skittish around people who can’t read a room, but I could never explain why until today. Jerimiah sent me a couple of podcasts he’s been listening to and one of the podcasts was about how we are always trying to understand the intentions of other people. It’s from the “Hidden Brain” podcast, have y’all heard this? You should check it out, it’s a pretty interesting podcast. In this particular podcast the host, Shankar Vedantam explores “Theory of Mind,” which is what psychologists call the way we are consistently trying to read the intentions, desires, and motivations of other people during social situations. We do this subconsciously. But also, not all of us are able to do it as well as others.
It all made sense to me, because I had already realized this about myself. I am quite aware that I constantly try to understand others in social situations, it’s what makes me so empathetic. Too empathetic. Like, I’m not being a braggart here. I wish I wasn’t so fucking empathetic. I think my life would be a lot easier if I were less so, but empathy is exactly the key to all of this.
On the podcast the psychologist said that people who “can’t read a room,” also lack empathy. You know those people, we all do. They tell jokes that repeatedly fall flat because they aren’t reading the room. They have no concept of what people around them are doing or saying because they are so focused on their own thoughts that they seemingly randomly blurt something out and everyone is like, “What the hell, Steve? What does that have to do with anything?” And then Steve just assumed we are going to move the conversation or activity or whatever to whatever it was that he brought up. In that case Steve (aside from being a bit of a narcissist) lacks this “theory of mind” ability, and therefore also lacks empathy.
This made a lightbulb go off in my brain! I know people who lack empathy and these people absolutely cannot read a room to save their lives. It’s exhausting to deal with them in social situations because I am constantly trying to find out what their intentions, desires, and motivations are, meanwhile they don’t give a shit about mine and most of the time are so damned aloof that it is distracting. This is why I have always been skittish around them. Because it’s mentally and emotionally taxing on me, when I’m already pretty much always mentally and emotionally taxed. I have had to actually separate myself from these people, like walk away from the situation, put space in friendships. And now I’m learning that it’s not really through any fault of their own, they actually lack an important part of social functioning hardwired into our brains. You see it a lot in children with autism, for example, who generally lack the same ability.
Whew. I feel a little relieved actually. I always thought I was just being super-sensitive toward those people, or that they were just assholes (again, and I can’t stress this enough, some of them are just assholes) but others really have no idea that they lack this ability and go on about life like this and it makes me feel kind of bad for them. Like, they must get weird looks from people all the time and I’m sure that others do not understand this about them and don’t really know how to treat them or handle them.
And listen, I’m not saying we need to treat them any differently, I don’t even think I can because of how hard it all is, but at least we know now that some people, through no fault of their own, can’t read a room to save their life and maybe we just try to be more patient?
Or maybe not.
Click for the link! And trust, there is more to the podcast than my aha-moment, but it was mine, damn it, Steve! Get your own!
Can we talk about cognitive dissonance for a sec? Cognitive dissonance is when we hold two opposing cognitions (beliefs, perceptions, opinions, etc.) at the same time and so we make excuses so we don’t have to live in that uncomfortable space.
Here’s an example that I’m pretty sure we all know:
A Lifelong Smoker: I know that smoking is bad for me, but we are all gonna die one day, amIright?! Plus, if I quit I will gain weight and that is just as bad!
It is not.
That’s classic cognitive dissonance.
The smoker knows they should quit, knows it is unhealthy and will lead to an untimely death, but they like to smoke and they are addicted and stopping is hella hard. We all do this at some point in our lives. (Not the smoking, though I certainly did when I was younger and thought it was cool!) I mean we all struggle with cognitive dissonance.
I am addicted to food. Always have been. It’s my go-to comfort and it’s why I have liver problems and it’s why I have high cholesterol and it’s why I am at risk for heart disease. Genetics play a small role, but much smaller than you’d think.
Over the last year Jerimiah and I have changed our eating habits and we are constantly side-eyeing each other’s cognitive dissonance. Like when my doc asked me to cut out red meat this Midwestern girl was all, “HOW DO YOU EXPECT ME TO LIVE?!” I absolutely said to Jerimiah, “It will make me sad and that’s just as bad as heart disease!”
It is not.
Jesus, I’m dramatic. And also full of cognitive dissonance. As if I need certain foods, drinks, or things to lead a happy, fulfilled life. Bleh.
Jerimiah is guilty of cognitive dissonance in work-related ways. Corporate America has done a number on him and he truly believes that if he is not available for certain people the world will come crashing down. He says shit like, “I have to reply to emails while on vacation or they will back up and it will be more work for me when I’m home.”
One day we discussed him telling people that when he is on vacation he will not be accepting emails and when he is back, if they still need to talk to him, they can just send another email. He thought that was ABSURD, at first. Then, not so absurd.
He knows that he needs to relinquish work to enjoy his time off, he is even quite aware that his company relies on him to never be “off work,” even when he is “off work,” but he also knows that he deserves time off fucking work! He has to have it to function properly. He hates that uncomfrotable knowledge so he says shit like, “Well the work will just pile up.” Not if you don’t let it.
Some of you are like where’s the new, interesting stuff, Missy? Because you are working on your shit. You see a therapist regularly, you read Brene Brown, you have open and honest conversations with your loved one.
But there are some of you who will be learning what cognitive dissonance is for the first time on this bleh Tuesday morning and all I’m asking is that you consider if for a bit. Because what’s worse than just run-of-the-mill cognitive dissonance is ethical or moral dissonance, and I think many of us struggle with that more often than not these days.
I’m including a short video that I found helpful in wading through all this, I hope it sparks something for you today.
As for me, I’m going to go have a whole wheat bagel with avocado instead of cream cheese because it is heart-healthy and the world is not going to implode and I am not going to live a sad sack of a life with no purpose just because I am cutting back on dairy. Yes, there was a time I thought cheese was the be all, end all to my world, but it is not.
Whew. It’s been a hectic season and I don’t just mean the holidays. When it gets too crazy I tend to shut down and shut down I have. I haven’t written anything new, not even on this here blog, for quite some time now and while I have a lot I want to say, a lot I want to fill you all in about, I really just wanted to jump on today to say that I am still here and so are you and isn’t that just dandy! Yes, I think it is.
The truth is that I don’t know what my life is going to look like six months from now. Like, actually, I have no idea what my life will look like in very big ways, like we might be moving from Atlanta, I might be having a major hip surgery, I might be put on a medication that requires infusion every six weeks, big things (not all good, not all bad) are afoot here and it feels a bit like things are spinning out of control, so I want to focus on the things I can control. Doesn’t that make the most sense? Yes, yes it does.
Let’s make a list of things we can control. If you are feeling like me, or have ever felt like me, or (most likely) will ever feel like me, lists sometimes help. Try it! Here is mine.
Things That I Can Do to Feel Like I am in Control or Things I Actually Can Control
Getting enough doggy pets in everyday
Logging what I eat
Making healthier choices with food/drink
Watching trash television that will help me feel better about myself, or at least take away my intrusive thoughts for 30 minutes at a time
Focusing on my family, getting quality time, cooking together, shopping together, playing more games
Ask questions, or at least tell the person, “I do not have questions now, but I will. How may I contact you about them?” (This is really important with my medical stuff right now because when I am inundated with new info it takes me awhile to process it before I have questions)
Doing something creative every day
Ask my doctor for some help sleeping (ie…get some prescription sleeping meds, y’all because this not sleeping just adds to the damn problem)
Get 10 hours of sleep! (Yes, I need 10 hours of sleep to function and you’re kidding yourself if you are one of those, “I just need four and I’m good.” No. Everyone needs at least 6-7 hours, most of us need more we just refuse to admit it. GET SOME SLEEP!)
Work to block intrusive thoughts (I’ve been thinking about scheduling “Intrusive Thought Time” into my day. I know that sounds nuts, but that way if an intrusive thought comes that I have no control over, I can try to take control by being like, “Nope. I will deal with that at my scheduled ITT.” I’ll let you know how that goes..)
Stretching, lots of stretching
Calling/texting friends more to check in
Planning a vacation to literally anywhere
Okay I am feeling better, y’all. Just knowing that I took the time to write a list that may be helpful, just knowing that I took the time to check in here, it all helps tremendously. I hope you take a moment today to do something you like.
Take a walk.
Watch the birds in your backyard.
Buy a new sweater online. (Brr, it’s like 40 degrees here!)
Call your mom (or someone you love like a mom)
Those are just some ideas, but the truth is we all have our own things, just find yours and do it, just for ten minutes. I think it will help.
You know how I’ll say those things to your family and friends that you want to, but feel like you can’t because they will freak out on you? Well, this one is for you! Share if you need to, after all you didn’t say it, I did!
I love you.
Friends, this holiday season remember that if you are openly against the COVID vaccine or masking, that feeling you’re feeling, the one that feels oppressive, it’s criticism. That’s all it is, old-fashioned criticism. You’re not being “victimized,” you’re being criticized.
Criticism sucks, but you’ll get used to it.
If you are being ostracized or you are at risk of losing your job or unable to attend various engagements because of your vaccination status or for refusing to wear a mask, that’s on you. It’s a choice you’re making, and you will be criticized for it. But again, you’re not being “victimized,” you’re being criticized.
This is how public health has always and will always work. Your “personal freedoms” are not “on the line,” you very much have a choice, but your choice is unpopular and frankly, unhealthy for you and those around you, so you’re being criticized and that criticism is making you act nuts. Some of y’all are walking around singing Kid Rock lyrics all of a sudden. SMH.
The good news is, it happens to the best of us! You’ll be fine. Take some deep breaths. Embrace those feelings, grow and change. Call your therapist. Get a therapist! Adapt and overcome.
Or start a group chat with other anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers and cry together there, cause frankly we are all tired of hearing about it.
I’m working on my thesis this week, in case you can’t tell by the title. It’s a collection of short stories and it’s the first time I’ve really tried my hand at fiction and it is tough. Really tough. I have been reading all these great short stories for like a year now by famous writers, no-so-famous writers, friends, colleagues professors, all of it. I’m taking it all in and today I had a breakdown, err, breakthrough, breakthrough. Sorry, I’m so used to writing, “Today I had a breakdown.” I had a BREAKTHROUGH!
I wrote this story a couple of weeks ago that I thought was utter nonsense, actually just me working on some childhood bullshit and it was time to send my third set of thesis pages to my advisor so I sent that bullshit in with a note: “This is pretty much bullshit. But you wanted something.” My advisor wrote me back something like, “This is great. Let’s talk!” So we talked. And she liked it. She liked it so much that she said something about it being the “anchor” story and I almost screamed a little because I didn’t think I’d ever write a story that might carry a collection and then there is this and the more I thought about it the more I realized that it probably is the anchor story, and the title story of the collection, and holy shit it’s all the theme for the whole collection and what do I do now?!
Then as breakthroughs go, I had another one. They come in succession in case you didn’t know because it has yet to happen to you, and in this succession I saw very clearly the ending image for my thesis and it’s marvelous, just marvelous, only now the problem is that I have to write it. And my advisor has to think it’s doesn’t suck all that much. Then I have to defend it all of course, which makes me sick to my stomach, but this is not my first rodeo, so I know it’ll be fine.
So like usual I have no real point with this post other than to say, things are looking up. And last week, they were not looking up, and remind you that this is life, up and down, down and up. I hope this is an up week for you too, but if it isn’t then next week surely will be!
This year has been tough on the old psyche. I’m not 100% sure why, but I think a lot of it has to do with the way that Jerimiah and I spent last year growing and changing. We both opened ourselves up to seeing the world from other’s people’s perspectives. We decided to get very serious about anti-racism, often holding our friends and family accountable in a truly uncomfortable, but necessary way. We were the most political we’ve ever been and it showed. We realized the sort of people we want to be and the sort of people we want to surround ourselves with and unfortunately that means leaving some people and opening ourselves up to new ones. It has been tough, really tough. When basically one whole side of your family either unfriends you or unfollows you from FB, well, you know you’re doing something right! Growing and changing and holding people accountable. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
But all this has really done a number on us mentally and emotionally. Like sometimes we just look at each other and sigh because really, what is there to say? We know who we are, where we stand, what we expect from people, grown adults and our own kid, our parents, our siblings, extended family and our friends, and if they can’t or won’t live up to those standards, well there’s no way we can help, we’ve been lowering our standards for too long. Then there’s the fact that we live hundreds of miles away from the people we care about and for the last decade at least we have spent considerable time trying to stay connected. We were always the ones traveling, even with a baby, then a toddler, then a kid. We were always the ones calling and texting, inviting them to holidays and trying to get everyone together in the summer, well until recently. Honestly keeping tabs on everyone, trying so hard to stay connected when we are so far away from them, it really gets tiring. Y’all know this. We know this. So we are taking a break. Which means it will get worse before it gets better.
To top it off this is my last “real” semester in grad school. Next semester all I have is thesis and if you have never had a “real” last semester of grad school let me liken it to, oh what shall I liken it to? Dog shit? Horse shit? Oh I know, do you remember when you were a senior in high school and the “senior-tis” hit you hard right in the face? Like you could see the finish line. You could see the pot of gold. You could see your dumb, overcrowded state school in the horizon with all the beer that you could handle and you wanted so badly to be there you stopped sort of caring about anything else, eyes on the future instead? Freedom. Yeah, I’m there now, only grades still count and I won’t actually be done with my terminal degree until I finish this damn semester. Bleh.
And for the final cherry on top! Are you ready?! Jerimiah has been offered a new position in a totally different part of the country than we have ever lived before. Sigh. It’s really all you can do sometimes.
But as luck would have it our favorite time of year is rolling around! Christmastime! Jackson came inside a month ago when my mom was visiting and she had just picked up a can of smell-good stuff and sprayed it without paying attention to the scent and it happened to be “Christmas Magic”and Jackson came inside and was all, “OHHHHH, it smells like Christmas! I love it!” Then he went into a deep dive about how freaking excited he is this year for Christmas and he doesn’t know why.
I know why. The same reason Jerimiah and I are excited. A reprieve. A rest. Time together just the three of us, to relax, recharge, and reflect. To do puzzles at the kitchen island and watch Christmas movies. To build Legos and model cars. To zoom Hot Wheels through the Christmas village. To plan how we want to decorate the tree and which new snow globe we will buy. It’s the baking and the giving, oh he loves the giving! He likes the getting too, make no mistake, but he loves to bake all day the Sunday before Christmas and run around the cul-de-sac passing out treats and gifts. Mini apple pies for Mr. Charlie. A giant bone for Cookie, the neighbor’s chocolate lab. A Korean pear in return from Mrs. Kim. He loves it all.
Santa Claus still visits us too, but you already know that. You already know we plan to let that Christmas magic always flow through him and hopefully one day when he’s older, in college, or a single guy living on his own, or with his own children, he will be able to summon that spirit for himself too. Even when he least expects it, but so desperately needs it.
So yeah, things are freaking tough right now, but there is an end in sight. It’s so near I can almost taste it, and it tastes like pumpkin pie!
This morning turned out to be one of this mornings where you are reminded that you are human, that other people are human, and that as a parent, you are doing the best you can, and so are your kids. Jackson was all packed and ready to go on his trip this weekend for the Technology Student Association, when I kissed him goodbye and told him to have a great day. Then Jerimiah was headed to the office for an in-person meeting, I swear he only has to go in when there is something chaotic afoot, and he asked me if I wanted coffee because he was going to stop by Starbucks because duh.
Side Note: Our favorite coffee here is a little, local shop called The Corner Cup but it’s on Main Street and they are filming a movie (The Out-Laws for Netflix) on Main Street so we’ve been avoiding it, but then I found out Pierce Brosnan was in it along with that guy from Pitch Perfect, you know the guy he was in The Righteous Gemstone too, and now I kinda wanna go check it out, but that’s neither here nor there.
Okay back on track, Missy!
Jerimiah takes Jackson to school and on the way Jackson orders our Starbucks so it’s ready for Jerimiah to pick up after he drops him off. So he does and as he is headed to grab said Starbucks Jackson texts and is all, “Where is my Covid form?” Sc, sc, screech! So because we live in the time of Covid, there was a parent form to fill out that basically said I know we live in the time of Covid and still I am allowing my child to be in the care of his school district on this trip and if my child were to get Covid, I would not place blame on the school system. Okay, Jerimiah signed the form last night and handed it to Jackson who also had to sign it and told him to stick it in his bag when he was done. Guess which step he didn’t do?
So Jerimiah calls me just as I’m texting him to bring me a yummy bakery item too because it’s Friday and I can handle it. He’s all,
“Is there a Covid form on the kitchen island?”
“You need this, yeah?”
“Yes. And the coffee is ready and I have a meeting at nine.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“I dunno. The Audi needs gas and I won’t have time to stop at the gas station, Starbucks, and the school.”
“Can you scan this Covid form?”
“No, he said he needs it.”
“Tell me what you want me to do.”
“Go get the coffee.”
So I load up the dogs into the Beetle Bug because we can’t leave them unattended, you know on account of the Oreo Situation. Oh wait, I haven’t told y’all about the Oreo Situation. Shit. Don’t worry about it, Duke is fine. He didn’t even get his stomach pumped he vomited it all up on the way to the emergency vet. Kind of like me and that time I tried to do 18 shots of tequila for my 18th birthday. Moving on…
So as Jerimiah headed back to the house to get the form, Jackson texted again and was all,
“Ohhh, I left my watch at home.”
Normally this would be no big deal but “my watch” is an Apple Watch and the way he communicates with me when he “can’t” communicate with me, ya dig? Like when he’s in class, or in this case of this weekend, when he’s 330 miles away in a conference and I get the urge to check in on him, at least he can give me a thumbs up that he got the message from his watch and I know he’s alive. Listen, I’m not proud of my worry and anxiety, but we all make do okay?
So Jerimiah gets back to the house before I have even coaxed Winnie into the Beetle Bug. She hates the Beetle Bug and that makes sense, it’s a little car and she’s not a little dog, she’s more an Audi Q7 dog and she knows it and we know it, but what can you do? So I have the Covid form and I’m begging Winnie to get into the Beetle Bug when Jerimiah pulls in the carport and is all,
“Well he forget his watch too.”
“OMIGOD! THIS IS A CLEAR SIGN FROM THE UNIVERSE THAT HE IS TOO YOUNG TO BE TAKING OFF WITH SCHOOL TO GOD KNOWS WHERE TO DO GOD KNOWS WHAT!”
I may have overreacted. To be fair, I still did not have my coffee and at this point I did not know if I would ever have it again.
So I go inside to look for his watch while Jerimiah gets the dogs into the Audi, which was no problem because of their aforementioned bias against the Beetle Bug, and then he comes inside and knows right where the watch is and I want to scream, but instead he’s all,
“Why don’t you just come with me?”
At the school we see Jackson walking aimlessly around with his suitcase while his classmates are either: loading the bus or on the phone with their own parents trying to figure out how to get the damn Covid letter that they forgot. To be fair we just got the Covid letter yesterday, so that’s on the teachers. I’m texting him that we are behind the bus. And he’s all,
“Where are you?”
“WE ARE BEHIND THE BUS.”
He runs over all frantic and I give him the form and his watch and the dogs whine because at this point we had to roll all the windows up in the car because there was a Great Dane crossing the street and Duke lost his shit and the Great Dane’s mom gave me a glare like I need to control my dogs and BITCH WHO ARE YOU?!
Then Jackson is about to run off and I say wait, let me get a picture of you and he’s all,
“Oh my gosh, they are LOADING the BUS!”
And at the same time Jerimiah and I go,
“Oh, wow, wow, wow. Oh no. Attitude, bruh.”
Then Jackson is all,
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. This was just all my fault and it’s a hectic day…”
And we are like,
“Dude, it was a mistake. It’s okay, things like this happen. We are not frustrated.”
Which was a lie cause I was legit frustrated but also I did not want him to get yelled at before he gets on a coach bus to head four hours away from me, you know. And Jerimiah and I were in agreement on this. Like there’s no point in ruining out kid’s trip, even just his fun bus ride with his friends, over something silly like this. And we said we loved him and we sent him on his way. Then we picked up our coffee and we calmed each other down and when we got home the dogs were NOT rewarded with a pup cup, and Jerimiah drove the Beetle Bug to work because still no gas in the Audi, and I had a realization:
I’m not sure how other people do it without a kind, loving partner. A real one. One who doesn’t react in anger, like ever. One who’s first reaction is always to listen and understand. A partner who is there through these hectic mornings. Who knows how to keep you calm so you don’t fly off the handle. Who is in 100% synced in your parenting. Who knows that our shit, our shit is nothing compared to keeping our kid physically and emotionally safe at all times, even when those times look like they did this morning.
So all that to just be an appreciation post about my partner? Yeah, kind of. And also as a reminder that if you partner is not 100% your partner, you deserve better. Much better.
Whew. I’m thinking I might go back to bed now. Let’s all get some rest today. Or at least try to with our kids so far away!
Oh also, Jackson texted to say that we could have just scanned the Covid form. So there’s that.
I’ve had no time, I’ve had no time, I’ve had no time! That’s what I keep chanting over and over again whenever I start to think about this here blog. And while it’s the truth, I also have a a tendency to get all caught up in my head, unable to share my thoughts with people, and that brings me here to the blog to share with you all, but lately my support system has been on point. Like my fellow PTO moms have been struggling along with me and listening to me vent. I unexpectedly got some time with my sister and best friend last week, and well, Jerimiah listens to me whenever I need him to and I’ve been leaning on him a lot lately. So I don’t want to say that I don’t need y’all right now, but if the shoe fits ya dig?
That got me thinking about how I also haven’t seen my therapist lately. Y’all know Patsy the Great, right? I haven’t seen her in like a month because I’ve been so busy that I haven’t even called to schedule my appointments. I schedule like three at at time and when they are over I forget to call to get back on a schedule and really I should just commit to a day and a time like they want me to, but I have to be difficult. Y’all know I am difficult right? You know I’m going to go ahead and do that now.
Okay, appointments made. For real. I just logged off and called and made my next three appointments. Thanks for pushing me to do that y’all.
How is therapy going for you? Do you stay on top of it or forget like me? I do Friday mornings because I always feel a little sad afterward, relieved, but also sad, you know how it is, and I like to rest a bit before Jackson gets home. Therapy is the hardest, bravest thing I’ve ever done and I’m sure it is for you too, so you know what, go ahead and pat yourself on your back right now! You are doing it, friend!
Now those of you who are still dragging your feet, my question is: What are you so afraid of? Is it looking into your actual self and not liking what you see? If that’s the case you can probably already name plenty of times you do that to yourself everyday. Having a therapist walk you through those feelings is really helpful. Or is it the stigma that comes with therapy? Then you’re certainly either over the age of 40 (my generation is making therapy real cool and will only judge you if you say you don’t go) and/or you have some childhood trauma you aren’t ready to touch. Or both. Hint: It’s usually both. And I understand. That’s tough stuff. I’m proud of you for naming it though, that’s the first step. When you’re ready for the next let me know.
Whew. Therapy. AmIRight?
I had no idea what this blog was going to be about today, but there it is. Get y’all an appointment post haste so I don’t’ have to judge you anymore.
How y’all been? Good, I hope. I had a great week last week on account of it being the Welty Symposium at my school and my professors being really busy with that. Seriously. And I didn’t need to attend because I did it last year and I’m doing short residency elsewhere in the spring so it was sort of like a week off and now that it’s Monday again and school is back in proper session I’m feeling ehh about the whole thing. Especially my thesis, which I managed to convince myself last week was a flaming bag of dog shit and I should just give up. Just give up, that’s what I was thinking when I woke up this morning from a dream wherein my thesis advisor Zoomed me to tell me that my thesis was “dog shit.” So there you are. A nice, relaxing week where I felt like I worked ahead, got some stuff done (including my very first book review that is due this week! Eekface) and then this week I immediately fell right down a negativity hole. What gives? I dunno. But this isn’t new.
That’s why I hope y’all are doing good. Because I know you can have a fine and dandy time one minute, then the next be all, “This is bullshit, why even do this?!” I know because it happens to me all the time and when it happens to me I get all these feelings tangled up together that I can’t seem to hash out. There’s the guilt for sort of “wasting” my time last week. No, I didn’t. I did a lot of stuff, but “it’s never enough,” so says my inner critic. Then there is shame for my brain thinking this way, like why don’t I have better control over my brain, ya know? Then there is the inevitable slide down the sadness wall where even petting my dog for twenty minutes while she tells me how pretty I am will not help. Bleh.
Has this happened to you? I hope it hasn’t, but if it has just know you’re not alone. Having a great week, a relaxing week, a week where you are free to do things on your own time, even sometimes a vacation, then coming back to the normal routine can make you feel ehh or bleh or ahhhhh! Then that makes you feel like an untitled brat who lacks gratitude. It’s normal-ish, I think, but I’m no doctor. I also know that these ahhhh, or bleh, or ehh feelings don’t last long. That doesn’t help when you’re in the thick of it, but it might help tomorrow or the next day.
So okay, what can you do if you feel this way? Make a blog post so you don’t feel so alone? Sure. Text a friend a funny meme to make you and them smile? Yep. Take a nap? Of course, sleep always helps. But really you just need to ride out those feelings. Trust me, I speak from experience. It’ll be better one day soon, until then keep doing what you need to be doing this week, keep checking those items off the old to-do list, and revisit these feelings when you have accomplished something, anything really, I’m currently doing one, just one, load of laundry to check “laundry” off my list for the day. Then I’m going to email my thesis advisor and tell her that I’m spiraling and hope she has some kind words for me, then I will maybe watch an episode of Teen Mom OG or Ted Lasso, depending, and you know what, things will be brighter when I wake up tomorrow. Or they won’t and we will try again.
I hope you are having a great day and if not I hope you find something fun and helpful to change it.
The other day on my sobriety post I promised to talk about how people like to pass judgement on my “dietary” choices all the time. Generally it’s because they see me, see I’m fat, and assume I am doing nothing about it and eat snacks all the time. Ho hum. This is true for a vast majority of people, others make assumptions about their eating habits because everyone thinks their choices are the best. Some people are like, “Yay for you for eating more veggies!” while others are like, “Oh my goodness, you still eat cheese, that’s disgraceful.” Okay, assholes, who asked you? Even though I no longer eat meat I still do it, I still pass judgement, not about people who eat meat, about other stupid things. Like when I see a kid’s lunchbox full of “snacks” I’m like, “Really?” Like how do you let your kid eat only snacks all day? See? I’m judgey, we all are. Maybe they can only afford that kind of food? Or maybe that kid will refuse other food and at home the parents will have that fight, but they’ll be damned if they will put that fight on the teachers at school? Or maybe they grew up poor like me and learned unhealthy habits that are super fucking hard to break and they are trying desperately to stop the cycle with their children, but they slip-up sometimes? Or maybe they don’t fucking care and their kids metabolism, their metabolism, is great and I should just mind my own fucking business? Sure, sure. It’s all possible. So I should mind my own fucking business.
Anyway, I don’t want to be accused of hating snacks! I love snacks! Always have (see above tangent). But when Jackson was small we *literally* (I put the asterisks there to make sure you know I actually mean *literally* as it is supposed to mean, not as figurative language) we *literally* did exactly what our pediatrician told us to do with him for fear that if we didn’t he would learn our horrendous eating habits. We did not feed him “real” food until he was a year old. We introduced baby food when she told us we should and we started with vegetables only. I bought organic peas and mashed them up and gave them to him. We only supplemented breast milk when we had to. When he turned a year old we *literally* (again) threw the bottle away on his birthday and switched him to sippy cups with only milk (2% because “not every baby needs whole” the pediatrician said) and water. No juice. No soda. No nothing. 2% milk and water.
When he started eating “real” food we NEVER made him “clean” his plate. Eww. That is what we had to do when we were kids, umm, weight problems because you don’t understand how to read the signals from your stomach? Youbetcha! We also never made meal times a big deal. We ate as a family at the table. That was our only grand gesture. And we did eat at the table, not in front of the television ( and our families legit thought we were weird for it, they judged us a lot.)
Whew. It was tough. Really tough. But it paid off. Jackson is totally a teenager who stops eating when he is full. He will walk away from a cheeseburger (his absolute favorite meal) after taking two bites if he picks up on that signal from his stomach. He will ask the server for a box and he will take it home to eat it later or the next day, whenever he’s legit hungry again. I am in awe of him each time he does this, I’m like, wow. I think I did that. I mean I can’t do it to save my life (I’m learning, Jerimiah and I have even been splitting meals when we eat out just to help when we can’t pick up on our signals) but just wow, you know.
What’s always been funny to me though, is that people see Jerimiah and me and then they look at Jackson (who has always, despite all the work we have done, been in the 90th percentile for weight, like since he was born, but he’s never been overweight) and they assume things about us. They assume we don’t make our kid eat healthy. They assume, when they see him with a soda or a bag of Cheetos that this is the way we live our life and it used to bother me something fierce (I guess it still does to some extent cause I’m telling y’all about it) but lately, probably because my own relationship with food is changing, I’m realizing I gotta care much less about that shit. Much less.
I think it’s just that I don’t know how to navigate this world without being a fat person and because of that, because of how the world treats fat people, I have all this shame around what I eat and what my kid eats and how I move around in this body. I look at “normal” sized people and think, wow, they must have this eating thing all figured out, but no, they don’t. They just have better genes, or grew up eating veggies first, they aren’t coming into middle age with this weird deficit that Jerimiah and I are. We have to start considering everything we eat, all we do to keep ourselves healthy because of where we are coming from, meanwhile some people just don’t. They don’t have to constantly talk about it or think about it, and when we do it makes them uncomfortable. That must suck for them, but not as much as it sucks for us.
I know a person who 100% drinks hard liquor most nights of the week, but who has 100% told me that I don’t eat enough fruit. Did I want to slap the shit out of that person, sure? Did I? No, it was a family reunion and that felt like it would cause too much drama, you know? But that was old Missy, I’d like to have that convo again…
The point is I have changed. We do that as we grow. Well some of us do. And when we grow we make changes based on new information. This year I learned who my real father was through a DNA test. I also learned that he died when I was 9 months old from a massive heart attack. That’s some new info that will fuck you up. It sure did me. I learned too that he drank beer every day of his life and that he often threw them back with a cheeseburger. Eek face.
But I can’t just flip a switch overnight. I can’t unlearn 40 years of nonsense, so it takes time, and I have to give myself the time to get there. There are no quick fixes with this. Sure I could get weight-loss surgery or take some kind of pill, but we all know that won’t touch the root of my problems. So here I am. Blogging about this all to you, eating veggies, listening to people tell me how they think I should eat and live to be healthy, and trying to smile through it all, but I think we all know I won’t be able to sustain that either.
So consider this my warning. I don’t want your opinions on the way I eat or what I feed my family and you won’t get mine. In fact, just assume I don’t want your opinion about anything. If I do, I’ll ask. Otherwise, walk on by me while I’m eating my snacks or my veggies. It will be safest for all those involved.
Why are you back on the blog yet again today, Missy? Don’t you have a life anymore? The short answer is no, I never have, the long answer is that I missed y’all so much and I know that you missed me too and I just have a lot to say right now. The honest answer is that I have 20 pages of thesis due, and a book to read so I can write a review on it, and so obviously I’m taking time to write on my blog again. Procrastination at it’s finest, if you will.
Actually today I’m just logging on to say that I am like 30+ days sober. No wine, at all. No White Claws even! Certainly no hard liquor or beer. Not on vacation, not even when I am in the hot tub waxing political (which is how we spent all of 2020). Matter fact, last time Jerimiah and I were in the hot tub bad-mouthing conservative republicans we drank Vitamin Water. Gotta stay hydrated!
We didn’t set out to do this, it just sort of happened. We’ve been tapering off of any alcohol or wine for several months now. In fact, since my liver enzymes first started showing as elevated back in May of this year (and I just recently tested positive for a liver-related autoimmune disease) I have been conscious of how much I am drinking. My liver specialist says an occasional glass of wine is okay, and maybe I’ll end up there eventually, but for now it’s not feeling like the thing to do.
While in Mississippi for residency this year I did not try to keep up with friends and I drank no hard liquor. Everyone was incredibly kind and gracious about it. While vacationing this summer I tried to stick to mainly hard seltzer waters and at no time during my vacations have I been totally drunk (even though Rachel tried to get me there! Damn you and your Fireball, Rachel!) Since my 40th birthday I have had nothing at all that contains alcohol. Though you know I will never turn down a ButterBeer! 🙂
Jerimiah and I are both attempting this sobriety thing, and he’s done just as well. He’s been in several social situations lately where he was expected to drink along with everyone else and he chose not to. It’s important to note here that we are both social drinkers. We don’t struggle with sobriety like some people and we recognize that staying sober is much harder for others. We see y’all trying and we support you. We love you and are here if you ever need an ear.
This is also a no-judgment zone! We would never ask our family and friends to abstain from drinking around us, and if you come over for dinner I promise to have wine available if that’s what you prefer. We totally support your decision to drink responsibly, and this has only been easy for us because we have never been dependent on alcohol. So take all I say about how “easy” it is with a grain of margarita salt. This is the perspective I am coming from.
We decided to try sobriety partly due to my elevated liver enzymes, partly due to not wanting to feel like shit the day after drinking a bottle of wine, and partly due to setting a better example for our kid. It was mainly me, and Jerimiah being the good partner he is said, “I’ll do it too.” I told him to use me as an excuse anytime he needs. Men can be real bitches to each other when one doesn’t want to drink a beer with the group. #ToxicMasculinity
I’m putting this info out here for several reasons: 1. When people talk about things openly it makes it easier, less taboo. 2. For people who have been considering the sober life for awhile to know it’s not so bad, if I can give up red wine, you can definitely do it! 3. Hopefully y’all will see this and the next time we go out you won’t be all, “Why are you not drinking, Missy?!” Then I can just say, “Wow, you really don’t read my blog posts, huh?” (insert winky face)
Speaking of going out, we’ve found club soda and a lime makes us feel like part of the mix, and prevents people from mocking us, people do that, in case you don’t know. And if you are trying the sober thing and people mock you, please don’t take offense, it’s just them projecting. We used to do it too, or at least talk about sober people behind their backs. But really it was because we felt judged, as if someone else’s sobriety had anything to do with us. Don’t be like the old us, y’all. Grow and change.
The truth is I only drank in social situations to feel better, to talk easier with people, to feel like I wasn’t so awkward or forward. And because, well, that’s what you are supposed to do as an adult, right? Mommies drink wine in groups and complain about their kids and husbands, right? (Yeah, I was feeling weird about all of that, probably because I have zero to complain about with my kid and husband.) But now I’m realizing it doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t want to hang with me because I’m awkward or blunt or don’t drink, cool, more time in my pjs on my couch with my family and doggos! Win/Win! And I will still listen to other mommies complain about husbands and kids, I’ll just do it sober. If I’m ever invited again…Hey, no hard feelings if I’m not!
Still, there are bound to be people who won’t support you, there are people who won’t support me. They will poke fun at me, they will ask how “healthy” it is to take anti-depressants to get through the day. (I think I’m pretty open about how I handle my mental health, yes? In case you forgot, I take daily anti-depressants and the occasional anti-anxiety med along with bi-weekly therapy visits with Patsy, my saint of a therapist. I say “occasionally” about the anti-anxiety meds because I am only prescribed 30 Klonopin pills at the lowest dose possible, every three months so I have to make them count. I usually take a half of one to help me fall asleep at night or when I’m in a crowd of people. That’s also why people chose to drink a glass of wine! I’m just choosing to do it differently. To each their own, it’s all substances we are putting in our body to make our brains feel better. Right-io!)
People will also no doubt jump on board to remind me, yet again, that I’m fat so I’m not living the most “healthy” lifestyle. Ho hum. I’ve had so many people talk about my “dietary changes” in the last six months only because I stopped eating most meat (I’m pescatarian now) for no reason other than to make themselves feel better. You know those people, the ones that try to pass shade on what you are eating, without actually saying it. Like, “Well meat is protein and we all need protein.” Yes’m meat is protein, you know what else is, broccoli. But my “unhealthy” eatings habits and he way people react to them is another post, I promise. And again it just boils down to them projecting their own insecurities onto me. Making themselves feel better about their own choices. They will do the same to you. Ignore the haters, that’s all you can do.
Anyway, if you’re a drinker keep on keeping on, responsibly of course, and if you’ve been living the sober life, yay for you! Consider us part of the team now. And if you are considering it, jump on board with us now, we will support each other!
It’s that week. The week where I want to stay in bed and cry. Eat all the carbs in the house. Think about the what might have beens. The could have beens. The should have beens. I should have a daughter who is celebrating her 10th birthday this week. I should be showering her with gifts. The candy she likes, the stuffed animals she loves, her favorite doll or her favorite video game. Laughing in the evenings while we cuddle with the family and listen for the 10th time as we share the story of her birth. Instead, last night Jackson and Jerimiah and I talked about the girl we thought she would she been.
Jackson thinks Lydia would have liked Minecraft. Jerimiah thinks she would have liked whatever her big brother liked. I think she would have been too much like me to handle. Of course that’s the should have, would have, could have beens at work. The very real fact is that our daughter, from the moment she was conceived, had very real problems. Had she survived her birth she would probably not actually be here to celebrate her 10th birthday. The daughter we had had a chromosomal disorder that if she beat the 10% survival odds, would have been wheelchair- bound, unable to care for herself, unable to feed herself, let alone play Minecraft. Our daughter was never the girl we think she should have been, could have been, would have been. But her small, short life has surely impacted a great many people and that is the reality. I need to keep that in mind moving forward this week. I have to, so that I can indeed keep moving forward this week.
Sending love and light to you all. I hope you can move forward this week too.
I have this problem where I can’t move past something until I write about it. It’s a bad problem to have, especially when you are in a writing “funk.” A “funk,” yeah let’s call it that. As in I haven’t written anything substantial since early-May and even then it was just an assignment for class. it ended up having a tiny shred of something that could be more, but still, when you’re in any kind of funk, writing or otherwise, it’s hard to see the silver lining. So here I am, back at the old blog which I have apparently dismissed after my year of writing everyday. I think maybe it became more like a job last year and that made me hate it. I’m rambling now.
I’ve had kind of a shitty summer. There have been silver linings.
I got to go to residency in person. I got to meet my awesome friends whom I only knew digitally before. There’s something pretty magical about sitting in a room with people who think and write and drink like you.
Then there was my two-week trip to Kansas to see my family and best friend. It didn’t start out as a two-week trip, but that’s what it ended up being when I felt the need to stay. That was a first. The first time I ever felt called to Kansas to recharge. I suspect it was the stress from my residency showing itself.
In July we went to Florida for a week with friends to celebrate Jerimiah’s 40th birthday. I planned this all, to be sure, and because of it was under immense pressure for the first several days to make sure everyone had a good time, even though I explicitly told them to make their own good times. In the end I said fuck it, these people are adults and can do it on their own, which means I actually did enjoy myself quite a bit. Doing what I pleased, when I pleased. Jerimiah had a good time too, especially on the actual party day when we drank fun drinks, played outdoor party games, and ate lots of food!
I was offered a chance to write my first book review this month.
I got to watch my son enter his middle school building for the first time, all masked up, and excited.
I got to celebrate the man I love turning 40 years old.
I got to see friends I haven’t seen in over a year (some much longer!)
Jackson and I got to spend some time traveling together. We even did some of Route 66!
I got to help my mom with all the things in her house she has been wanting to accomplish.
Those, I think, were the silver linings. There were other things to be sure. There was the overcommitting I did to start the school year off. “Sure, yes!” I said so many times. It felt good to be back at it, you know? To have some sense of normalcy. You want me to be on the executive board of not one, but two middle school organizations?! ME? Sure! It has all caught up now and I’m feeling overwhelmed.
There was the car accident. Look it wasn’t anyone’s fault, not really, it was a total accident. Everyone was safe, meaning they all walked away. Though there is some trauma for sure. My car was totaled, but I didn’t really like that car so much anyway. The most important thing was everyone was safe and there were lots of lessons learned. I for example, know that when in an emergency situation I am a “flight” kinda person, while my best friend and husband are both “fight.” Which is probably why they are my best friend and husband.
Then there was that thing that is nagging me. That thing I have to spill out of me or I won’t feel right. The disappointment I feel from a summer of seeing people for who they really are after a year and half of imagining who they are. Who they were. It’s startling. It’s hard. Geez it’s been a tough year and a half. And it doesn’t seem like it will get any better. Because of that I have told myself repeatedly that I need to show grace, just as much as I need to ask of it from people. But repeatedly this summer I have been disappointed by the actions of others. I have come to see flaws in people that I never noticed before. Jerimiah and I are at a loss. I’m sure people are thinking the same thing about us. What has happened to us over the last year and a half? As Americans? As people?
Personally we realize that the two of us have done a substantial amount of growing into who we are. Who we are meant to be. We have become more eager to do what makes us happy. To be around people who make us happy. To not waste more time than we need with with people and situations we do not like, that make us feel uncomfortable. If I have to spend one more second with a straight, white, male that turns everything into a competition, y’all, I can’t. I won’t with toxic masculinity anymore.
And just like that people that you like, that you love. Family members. Close friends. They start to slip. And maybe, probably, it was our fault. Probably we put them on a pedestal. We thought wow, they are great people. But the truth has surfaced for me this summer and I no longer feel like some of the things we thought were great about people, are in fact that great. It’s a shitty realization to have, but it’s the truth. So now what? Gotta look for those silver linings I suppose. Always keep looking for those silver linings.
I’ll leave you with a few of my silver linings now.
Y’all how are you? Like really, how are you doing? Me? Ehh. I mean I’m still on vacation, coming up on the end of my second week in the midwest. Still in Kansas, as it sits, headed to Oklahoma tomorrow for the holiday weekend, then finally I will be sleeping in my own bed again sometime next week, nearly three weeks since I left it. I didn’t intend to be gone from my lovely bed that long, but things happen and I’ve gone where I was needed. Meanwhile, Jerimiah has been at home fielding the chaos that is in Georgia, including a slipped disc in his back, an eye infection (they think he picked up some bacteria while we were camping a couple weeks back) and a dog that doesn’t have Kennel Cough (because she is vaccinated against it) but that also might have Kennel Cough. So there’s that.
In short, this has been a hectic summer already and it feels like it’s been a long summer. Almost like it’s the summer that won’t end, and it’s only July 1st! Weird.
So I’m not here to talk about any of that today, what I am actually here to talk about I have already covered with y’all before but it is time to bring it up once again because this week a family member made a comment to me that made me all sideways and I can’t get it out of my head.
As you all probably know Jerimiah and I are proud parents of an amazing 12-year-old son. He’s our P1 in this life and pretty much all we do is for him, always has been, always will be. You may or may not know that we lost a daughter in 2011. Her name was Lydia and she had a chromosomal disorder and she was “not compatible with life.” You also may not know that for many years after the loss of our daughter we struggled with infertility. We tried many things, all the things really, short of IVF which is incredibly costly and in our opinion not worth it considering that money could be spent on the adoption process if we were so inclined to have another child. In the end we decided to be happy with our one and only child and we moved forward with life.
I tell you all this to remind you, nay demand of you, to stop commenting on the number of children people have. And yes I mean don’t say, “Wow! You have six kids that’s a lot,” but also stop saying, “You only have one?” or “Well only children are THAT way,” (whatever THAT way is in your mind). There are many, many reasons not to comment on the number of children people have, but most importantly it is simply none of your business and chances are you are doing nothing to help them in any way, rather just coming off as a judgy asshole.
You only have one? Is my least favorite question in the whole world because it implies so much, and it shows how very little someone knows me. And if the person asking knows me so little, then why are they even considering how and why I have only one child?
So this family member this week was not happy with me (long story) and was making some realizations about my kid, as in my kid is not the way they think a 12yo boy should be (remember you can’t manage other people’s expectations) and they made this comment, something like, “Well, he’s like this because he’s an only child.”
Now this particular family member knows all too well about what we have been through, but couldn’t stop themselves from saying it. (Insert eye roll). I am choosing to think they did not consider the implications in saying that to me. I am choosing to think they were just being reactionary and that eventually they will come around and apologize for their error. I am choosing to think this will happen so that it might assuage my frustration, but who knows if that will ever come to fruition.
Instead I am hopping on here today to remind you all to be mindful of your words. Words have consequences. Maybe not to you, but what you say to other people can greatly change the way they love and respect you. And if someone says some jacked up shit to you, please hold them accountable, y’all. Too many people are not held accountable for their words and they will never learn to stop and think before they say things unless we force them to.
Now go forth today and do good things. Or lay in bed and watch Netflix all day, same, same. But don’t let anyone say something to you that brings you down, but if they do make sure you hold them accountable.