posts tagged with 'crazy'
I have a sermon that's live on our church website today. It's about the futility of all effortful endeavor. It also contains some things that one should probably not share in church, like references to birth and giving birth and not always relishing the sacred task of motherhood.
On the bright side, I didn't say "crap," "sucks," or "frickin." Not to mention the REAL things I say to my children between 3 and 5pm. So no matter how bad you think this talk is, I assure you it could have been worse.
I have often said that I have a mission in life, if one can be said to have such a thing — if our behavior is more than a sum total of our genetic proclivities and our learned habits. And I have said that my personal mission is to Say the Things. Say the secret things. The dirty truths about what things are really like in this senseless life that we all have to survive. And this is a mission, I say, because things are important, and hidden things can be torturous to those who hide them.
So I share and I overshare and some people see me as laughably inappropriate. And some people think I'm just crazy or gross. Or a bad mother. They can think all those things — they are fair assessments seeing as I've put all the evidence out there for analysis.
But I have a trump card. There is always The Mission. If I am making my faults public for the greater good, to empower honesty or grace or whatever in others, then I win if you like me and I win if you don't like me. And maybe if I take a truthful look at my own behaviors, I am not in fact so motivate by Mission as I am by a desire to control the mechanisms of my own acceptance or rejection.
I realized this today, when I was wondering what compelled me to drink almond butter straight from the jar like it was a mug of coffee (I mean, what compelled me EMOTIONALLY to do so. In practical terms, I was drinking the almond butter from the jar because I didn't have a spoon available in the car ride home from the store.)
If there wasn't something there emotionally, I told myself, something that I was covering up with the belief that nut fat could be either the solution to or the cause of all my problems, if there wasn't some truth I was trying to hide from myself then it is likely I'd eat almond butter in normal quantities.
Or at least in a normal manner. Not in a way such that I imagined the cop I passed, if he looked up at all, would think that I was holding a Dunkins.
And as I asked myself this question, I saw the sentence instantly, the great secret I am trying to hide from. "I can't make people like me."
They will like me or they will not like me and the circumstances will often be beyond my control.
I might like to believe I can make my body so impressive, either through my looks (yes I know my magical thinking is magical) or through feats of amazing endurance, then everyone will have to be awed into liking me. Or, I think in my darker more realistic moments, that because people will never accept who I am in all my frailty, that I will beat them to the punch with self rejection. I will make myself disgusting even to myself. I will buy something like almond butter with the liquid fat right at the top, testing whether a woman who hasn't worked out in a week because she doesn't have any stretch pants that haven't been vomited on by a child will not use the three minute drive from Whole Foods to home as an exercise in proving she is not really human but some kind of wild animal who drinks pure fat like a dog sips dirty water from a puddle. And this will mean that it's okay if everybody hates me, or thinks of me as a disgusting cur who can't keep her mouth shut, because, even though they may not be aware of the specifics, I am completely deserving of this judgement.
And maybe, just maybe, the fear of "I can't make people like me" is the emotional mission behind The Mission. And if I could just accept the world that may or may not include acceptance of me, I'd maybe be a lot less mouthy and maybe we'd all get a little more peace and quiet.
No, I still think it's important to say the things. One of them may one day rob the California almond of its power. In the mean time, please enjoy the jokes at my expense. And please do comment positive things about the sermon. I am, after all, so desperate to be listened to.
Me: I'm kind of worried about the baby's sleep patterns. Can you serve up some wisdom from my past experience in parenting?
Brain: Here are five things that happened to you in high school that were shameful! I will now commence playback in vivid detail.
Me: That hardly seems pertinent. I just wanted to remember what my first two children slept like at ten months.
Brain: How about something from the vault? Here's a shameful situation that you never even knew you remembered!
Me: This also has nothing to do with sleep.
Brain: Oh boy! You sure didn't stand up to that hairdresser in 1999! She totally permed your hair instead of straightened it.
Me: Not only is that memory completely unrelated to the situation at hand, but now I feel vaguely angry and embarrassed as well as sleep deprived.
Brain: You should cut yourself to let the feelings out.
Me: You're batshit crazy, you know that.
In related news Elijah is waking up every hour to nurse, which is something like eight times a night. I don't want to say that it feels like I'm being sexually assaulted, because that would mean I'm engaging instead of dismissing the crazy monster who lives inside of my brain just waiting to make such unsavory allusions. But it sure feels like something. I've started sleeping in a bra so that no one can accidentally touch my other nipple. This is not enough protection, so I ordered some spanx online in the hopes that this will shield the rest of my skin from tiny hands. If I start sleeping in spanx we may have reached peak sensory integration failure. On the other hand... WICKED HOT!
I just finished up a bar of Bakers chocolate that I've been working on for the past few days. Bakers chocolate, as you may remember from an unfortunate attempt to sneak sweets that occurred sometime during your childhood, carries no sugar. On its own its a little bitter. But smothered in honey it's eminently palatable.
I'm doing a kind of a sugar fast right now. It's a little like a bar of Bakers chocolate smothered in honey. A little sneaky. A little bitter.
Here's some background.
At times in my life I've been extremely restrictive in my eating. I received medical treatment for this a long time ago, back in the beautiful dark 90s when everyone was so emotional and raw, us punk generation of teenagers with NEEDS. Though I haven't had any medical problems in my adulthood, I get that not eating is sometimes less stressful than eating. I still have moments when for some unknown reason I'm paralyzed with fear over everything I put in my mouth. It's rather unhinging to experience, but a great way to lose 40 pounds of baby weight fast!
Most restrictive behaviors are socially acceptable, since everyone's trying to lose weight all the time. It's when my behaviors get a little odd that I start to look around me, embarrassed. You don't have to be crazy to be on a diet. You do have to be crazy to take one bite of a bagel and spit it back into your hand because you paniked mid-chew.
But if I speak of my restrictive tendencies I speak of my higher self. Anorexia is a disease of angels, and I am not one. More often I am fighting an uglier force, a sinister monster that lurks underneath my tastebuds and silently tells me to EAT EVERYTHING.
I made a vow to my younger self that I would never again vomit recreationally. It's hard to vow not to eat, though, so when things go poorly in my life, when I feel like minor stresses carry the weight of major ones or I when don't get enough sleep, I become a straight up binge eater. There is nothing pure or pretty or Catherine of Siena about eating past the point you feel ill. I know on some level this is a disease we all share, a mass condition infecting America. But in another way, a more truthful way, I think this is a desease I have alone. All by myself, in the isolation of my kitchen, this is me struggling against eternity and my complete loss of control over it.
I could do due dilligence and write down a list of trigger foods. I wish it were only chocolate chip cookies and then the solution could be simple. Unfortunately I seem able to freak out over almost anything in my kitchen. Here, for example, are some things I have eaten to excess in the past few months:
- Bread and butter
- bran cereal
- rice cakes
- rice (and anything I make for dinner that goes on rice)
- whole wheat tortillas
- Any manner of baked good. seriously.
I say to myself "this has got to stop." I can't be running 16 miles every Saturday just to maintain my bread and butter habit. So I cringe and ask myself what these foods have in common, it's obvious that they are all high on the glycemic index. Even if I'm not eating sugar. I'm drawn to foods that quickly metabolize into sugar.
So I said, okay, let's do a sugar fast. Let's stay away from grains too, if I can. Let's see if I can push the reset button on my internal appetite.
Over the past ten days I did just that. I stopped all sugar. (okay, except the honey.) I limited myself to one real piece of bread a day, and nixed anything that came from a package. Did it work? Well, I didn't eat anything that immediately made me regret that vomiting vow. But I didn't feel a wave of heath and sanity wash over my life either. And I went through three tubs of almond butter in a week. Even just financially speaking that's not sustainable.
Plus I don't digest nuts super well. Thus bread made out of almond butter is not so much bread, as it is a recipe for a stomach ache. Then again, a piece of almond bread isn't binging, whereas three pieces of toast might be. Which is worse: moral or physical discomfort?
In the end, it's the cycle of wanting food and then fulfilling that desire that really turns my stomach. The thing that makes me human - that's what I can't stand. I don't mind having a body when I can push it to superhuman accomplishments - long runs and ten minute births and pumping breastmilk while blogging like some kind of cyborg cow. It's the bald face of my need that scares me. The thought that beneath my mature veneer I am terrifyingly animalistic. Desirous. So incredibly HUNGRY.
It would be nice if a diet could solve all this. I assume cavemen didn't experience existential crises. But I could be underestimating them.
This morning I was prepping a big meal in the kitchen, listening to the sermon I missed in church on Sunday. Elijah is working through a baby virus, so I stayed home with him to rest while Dan took the older boys on a play date. While Elijah slept fitfully I figured I'd use the time to prep tomorrow's 9-person dinner. At least cut up the vegetables, I said to myself, so I can pop them in the oven tomorrow when I'm dealing with three kids at once.
I often miss the sermon on Sunday because I'm working in kids' church, and then dealing with my children's nutritional and social/emotional needs afterward. Once they all get lunch and juice and playing on the playground we sometimes get a chance to do a little worship together. It makes for a lovely morning but not exactly a growing-in-God type of regimin.
So when I get a quiet moment during food prep I try to catch up on whatever the church is teaching. Not for my own sake, of course, but because I lead a small group and I have to be up on the message for the benefit of others.
I live on a very high ivory tower and that is the subject of my blog post today.
So I turn on the sermon while dicing potatoes and I hear our pastor ask this odd question: If you had a t-shirt emblazoned with a phrase that represented your identity, what would it say?
I have a friend who exercises in a tank that reads, "I want it all!" She exercises pretty hard.
My neighbor's daughter has a shirt that says, "Princess." She comes into our house and demands cookies.
So what would an accurate t-shirt say for me? I reflected for a moment, scrolling through all the phrases that reflect my hippy parent self-presentation. "Local milk supplier" for example, or "Powered by stevia and not cane sugar!"
And then it hit me, the phrase that I'd never put on a t-shirt. The phrase that describes my personality 100%.
LEVEL UP, BITCH.
What are you doing, pouring glycerine soap into cute little sheep molds? Make your own soap! LEVEL UP, BITCH! What are you doing, attachment parenting one single child? Homeschool three! LEVEL UP, BITCH!
What are you doing, trying to rest with your sick kid because you haven't slept in three days? Cook a day ahead and write a blog post! LEVEL UP, BITCH!
In my own mind, I can never stop working. In my own mind I am never trying hard enough.
I am not alone in this, I find. This is an American mothering thing.
I came across this article the other day while I was nursing sick Elijah for like ten million hours. It made me laugh because it put into words the way I think about domestic tasks. "Bento Boxes That Will Establish Your Dominance Over Other Moms."
'But this is taking me too long!' Waaah waaah waaah. What are you, a little bitch? Set an alarm for 3:30 am and get it done!
Dan says I'm attached to the praise of others. "You're so AMAZING" and "How do you DO it?" I say, haha that's generous. Caring what others say would mean having a genuine relationship with them. Instead I have a genetic inability to process compliments. What matters to me is my own definition of winning, a warped view of Christianity in which Jesus loved Martha better and demonstrated it by ordering more sandwhiches.
I have thought: "I am the fucking Michael Jorden of giving myself to others."
Dan says this is a spiritual issue and I need to repent. I guess I'll have to, because I am the fucking Michael Jorden of obeying my husband.
Anyway, let's wrap this up so I can go back to cooking.
What should you do if, like me, your self-concept is a little unhelpful?
Go back to God for a different t-shirt. Ask him what he thinks it should say. If I honesty ask God how he sees me I hear, "Oh honey, you are sooooo tired. You're afraid that you're a loser and you'll always be a loser. This not eating sugar thing isn't going to help."
Maybe instead he'll give me a pink t-shirt that says "Princess!" I wonder if my neighbor has any cookies...