Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I am my mother's daughter

I see so much of her in me. Whether it was just the genetic luck of the draw, or whether I learned my behaviors from her, I don't know. I do know that none of my seven siblings has these particular traits, and she raised them as well.

What are the traits? I dismiss my pain; my first level of defense is to ignore it; second is to take an aspirin (or Aleve, usually). And then to ignore it. I take on more than I can handle, and then proceed to get it done (this ability has disintegrated over time, much to my dismay). I set high standards for myself, and don't really grasp the notion that doing less than my best is sometimes acceptable. I also don't grasp the notion that sometimes my best is less than perfection. I attribute my failures to not having worked hard enough, or long enough.

By themselves, I don't know that these traits would necessarily even be that bad. The problem is, there are more, less pleasant traits.

I get frustrated with other people's "laziness," and since I am a workaholic, anything less seems like sloth. I am more inclined to intellectualize than to empathize. I tend to think critique is better than praise (as in, taking the time to analyze how something was done, and figure out how it could be done better, rather than just saying, "Oh, good job."). And, given my high expectations for myself, I suppose it makes sense that it's incredibly difficult for me to ask for, or to accept help (but, because I'm only human, when I get overwhelmed, I need help. So then I feel angry and resentful that people aren't helping me.)

Worse, I notice more and more often how not just I, but quite a few of the other parts as well, am really classist. How I could have picked up that level of classism while growing up as poor as we were, I don't know. Well, okay, logic says that internalized oppressions tend to be more intense anyhow. But for all my knowledge of how class works, and all my beliefs, overall, that classism is bad, I still have a visceral dislike of people who display the behaviors associated with a particular class bracket (it cuts across race and gender).

Some people can look at an abusive parent and say, "I would NEVER do that. I COULD never do that." I look at my mother, and think, "I can see how she did that. I can see the factors that would put me into the position where I might do the same things."

I'm not saying she did the right things. Heck, even when I was a teenager, I didn't say that. One time, she asked me whether I thought she was a good mother. I responded that I thought she was a good person but not necessarily a good mother. Obviously, this was not the right answer.

And, honestly, I can see almost as many good things in her parenting as bad.

I sometimes wonder whether my ability to see where her behavior came from means I wasn't "really" abused. But you know what? Just because I can explain what happened, and because I can see she was not evil or malicious, doesn't mean I didn't get hurt.

Why was she physically abusive? First, there was the fact that she believed physical discipline was an appropriate tool. Ironically, for all her vociferous support of it, when she was parenting with enough resources, she didn't tend to use physical discipline. But she could justify its use, because she did believe it was okay.

She was abusive because she got overwhelmed. She had taken on too much, and didn't have appropriate sources of support. She lashed out because she had no other outlets. And what's even worse was, I know she looked for support. When I was a kid, her apparent choices for a partner were either my abusive, alcoholic stepfather, or no one at all. When she went to her church for advice, or her family, they told her she should find a way to support him so he didn't "have to" drink. When she went to a therapist, after leaving him, the therapist's response to hearing her lay out her situation was, "I have no idea how you can handle all of that." And left it at that.

So she had no support. She was overwhelmed. And so she would reach her boiling point and, inevitably, one of us kids would push her over the edge. She didn't know how to take care of her own emotional needs. She didn't know how to step back, or insist on receiving support. But she knew how to erupt.

I can even see how my mother could be emotionally incestuous with each oldest child in turn. She was lonely, overwhelmed, had no one to turn to. And then, here is this person who can listen, offer support, stand in for a partner.

I'm not saying it was right. I'm saying I can empathize.

But, I am my mother's daughter, and not my mother. I did not have my first child when I was eighteen. I did not have eight children by the time I was thirty-eight (given that I'm almost 33, with no children as yet, I think I can say this with confidence).

Instead of having babies, I went to college. Instead of being married three times, I spent years in therapy working through my childhood. Instead of behaving as though what I experienced wasn't abuse, I have accepted that people I love, and who love me, could do horrible things at the same time. I have worked on healing, and I have taken time to learn new ways to live. I may not be perfect, but I am a work in progress.

So I'll close with this quotation from an old Nike ad:

You do not have to be
your mother unless she is
who you want to be. You do not have
to be your mother's mother, or your
mother's mother's mother, or even
your grandmother's mother on your
father's side. You may inherit their
chins or their hips or their eyes, but
you are not destined to become the
women who came before you, you are
not destined to live their lives. So if
you inherit something, inherit their
strength. If you inherit something,
inherit their resilience. Because the only
person you are destined to become is
the person you decide to be.

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summer vacation

This is Teller and Mandy. We are writing about our trip this summer. We are going on a very long trip this summer like 8 weeks long. We are going to ride in the car all the way from New York to Portland and then we will come back.

These are some good things about the trip. One is we will see lots of animals and stars. We will eat marshmallows maybe every singel day. Michelle is happy and Amanda too cause we will get to see stuff about pioneers and they will like that super much. And Jamie is happy about the binoculars. And Ellis will take pictures with the camera.

But Mandy is sad cause we will not go to Disney land because it is too far and maybe we will get to go on zero roller coasters the whole summer. She is sad about that. Maybe we will get to go on some.

We are worried cause we will not have things like our very own room instead we will be in a tent or somewhere, and then we will not get to go somewhere safe maybe. And we will not get to see susan, she is the nice lady we talk to. I talked to her today and we played a game it was with cards where you match them together and she almost won but then on my last turn i matched all the rest of the cards so I won. This is Mandy.

one good thing is W got her driving thing i cannot spell it and i do NOT want a grown up to help it is her lisens so i will spell it and you will know what i said. it is ok to do that i don't care if someone else does not like that way.

W will drive the car sometimes so i do not have to be big all day long i can be little. and i can ride in the front seat even though i am littel cause my body is big and that is why i can ride in the front seat. plus the back seat will probably be all filled up with things so there will be not one bit of room to ride back there.

we will live in a tent but that does not mean we do not have a home to go to just that we are on a trip cause we will go back home after the trip is over.

one other bad thing about the trip is we will see someone who we do not want to see. he will be there and he will probably say things like he loves J who is the one who is the body. but he does not. we do not have to be his frend but probably we will have to say something to him. but we do not have to hug him or something like that.

but mostly i think we will not see him, just one time or two times.

another thing bad about the trip is i cannot bring every singel toy i have. i have to only take some. i will take the paper dolls caues we can share those. and Horatio he is my tiger he is cuddely. i sleep with him and he will ride in the car with us. but i do not know what other toys i will take and maybe they will get lost if i bring too many.

i am also worried about this. we will see lots of people but they do not know i am there they think i am a grown up all the time and maybe they will not like to see a little kid.

also maybe susan will not like me any more when i come back. they say inside that she will but maybe they are wrong. i am worried about that.

this is one important thing. just caues we are going to see people like the family it does not mean that nothing bad happened. even if we pretend like nothing bad happened when we are there it does not mean that we are lieing it means that we are making a safe choice it is ok to do that. we did not make up bad things, those things happened, but also some good things happened. we can see peopel and that is ok and we do not have to say about the bad things to them caues they will not be nice. those people will not hit us or do soemthing like that but they will say mean things if we say about the bad stuff. that is why we will not say about it. it does not mean we are telling lies. everybody inside knows that. we made a plan that we will not tell about that stuff when we are there. but it is ok and it does not mean we made up the bad stuff. that is all.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Long time, no post

It's been a while since I posted. Lots, this is because some part doesn't really seem to want me to write. Some, because I've been busy with lots of stuff. And some... okay, it goes back to parts not agreeing on what to write, or what to write first.

So I'm just gonna say what I want to. This is Jamie. I got a pair of binoculars, partly cause I've been wanting some, and partly right now because we're about to go on cross country road trip this summer, and I'll get a good chance to look at the stars (which is why I wanted binoculars in the first place).

I tested them out tonight, and they are really, really cool. I looked at Jupiter, off of our front porch. Given that we live in Brooklyn, with a lot of light pollution, the fact that I saw this:

is really neat. I was just kind of looking, and then I realized I could see Jupiter's moons, or at least I thought that was what I saw. So I checked it out online, and found that set of images, which is pretty much what I saw!

So that's cool.

There's more stuff going on, but no one wants to write about it right now. The trip is exciting and good, but it's also got some parts worried, for different reasons. And there's a lot to be done before then. I'm happy about the road trip part, and I figure it won't be too bad with my family, since we won't actually be spending a ton of time with them. Maybe someone else will write more about all of that later.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Coney Island

We gotta go to the coney island yesterday. it is a place at the beach with food and games and rides and stuff. here is what we did. this is us and our friend k. she is nice sometimes but she likes teenagers better than littel kids but she likes me too. i am mandy.

we got food. it was a hamburger and fries. we ate those. then we went to the beach and we flew the pirate kite. it is a pirate ship and it is very big. it flies very good. but then it would not go back in its box. then k went to look for shells caues that is her favorite thing to get shells. then we went back to the car and put our kite away.

we went to the arcade place. we played skee ball where you rol the balls and you get tickets to buy prizes. then my thing ran out of tickets and the guy said to try this other game. at the other game, i got FIVE HUNDRED tickets. that is a lot caues usually you just get five or ten tickets for a gam. five hundred is way more then that.

then we played skee ball more. then we had ice cream. then k. bought a prize she likes very much, caues i gave her my tickets caues it was her birthday and that was a present. she got a dolphin. it is glas. she named it hungerdunger caues that is what i said the captain of the pirate ship was nammed and she liked that name that i made she knew i made that name and she liked it.

we had a lot of fun. it was good. lots of us inside went. it was me and teller and jamie and ellis a little bit and hip chyck. and then rynn was also there a littel bit too. we like to be with people where lots of us can go and spend time. it is more fun that way.

i am not gonna fix the spelling caues it is easy to read it it does not have to be perfect. i am a good writer. this is mandy.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

trying to cope

It's one of the annoying things I've had to deal with in the past year and more. I try to do basic things, and find myself overwhelmed with panic. I'm not talking about trying to do things that are that difficult, like say, sorting out my finances or writing the dissertation. I'm talking about things like basic, ordinary household chores. I put away half a dozen dishes, and find my vision going dim and my heart pounding.

So I'm admitting I have a problem, and I actually forced myself to put up some ads looking for some help getting the apartment organized. It's frustrating for me, because none of these things is actually that difficult. I used to be able to do them with ease. I used to be able to do so many things with ease; or, at least, I could just work through the panic attacks, rather than getting wiped out by them.

But between the fibro, which makes me so easily fatigued, and the issues so many of my parts have with me being a "grown up" or working too hard or whatever reasons they have for wanting me to be doing less.... Between all of that, I am finding myself falling further and further behind.

Some of it doesn't really matter, at least in the short term. I'm keeping up with the absolutely necessary bills; we generally have basic groceries in the house; I'm eating and sleeping and bathing (at least occasionally).

But W. and I are leaving for the summer, and paying the bills will be far easier if we can get someone to sublet our share of the apartment. This requires that the apartment be clean, and that we actually look seriously for someone to take the space. The summer trip requires deciding where we're going, and making reservations at least for the first week of it. It also requires getting the car set up for a long trip (getting everything checked, getting a full-size spare, getting a tire gauge). And it requires getting ourselves organized in terms of setting up how the car is packed so it's not constantly descending into chaos.

Oh, yeah, and I need to get my system to a point of enough stability that I can cope with travelling for eight weeks without seeing my therapist or checking in with online sources of support that often.

One of the problems is that when I start to try to cope with any one part of what I need to cope with, I get flooded with all of the other things that need to be dealt with as well; it's like those tasks have their own voices, and if I walk into the space in my head where "tasks" live, then they all wake up and start shouting. Another part of the problem is that if I start a task, it feels like I have to do it "properly," or I get even more stressed out about it.

I miss how things used to be. Sometimes, I'm not entirely convinced that it wasn't worth those occasional descents into really suicidal behavior, just to have the other times when I was able to cope with far more than most people try to do. I miss being really good at lots of things. I miss being able to ignore my discomfort and get lots of work done. I miss getting things done so much it sometimes makes me want to scream.

I know that it was the right choice to stop putting up the "walls" around my parts, and to give myself the room to heal. I do know that. But I didn't expect it to take so long to get stable, and I didn't realize I was going to lose so much more of my capacity to cope.

I guess it's just kind of whining, but what they hey, this is my blog, I'll whine if I want to.

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