Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Self Reflection 2014

I haven't done one of these self-reflection surveys in years, but I love to eavesdrop on others' inner lives, and since I blog, I clearly like it when people eavesdrop on mine. Here is 2014.

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

I stood up to Tom for once, and told him, in no uncertain terms, that I was not going to uproot myself from the life I loved, to follow him to a new job in Ohio. Again. We lived in Ohio once, at the beginning of our marriage, and although there was a lot that we loved about living in Cincinnati, it never felt like home to me. I am at home in New York. I feel acceptance and belonging here like I have never felt before in my life. Promotions, and raises, and cost of living differentials be damned, you can't put a price on how 'at home' feels. Even my inner gypsy approved. For the first time in our 13 year marriage, I told Tom there were limits to what I was willing to sacrifice for him and I was staying put somewhere for once in my life.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?

Right around Christmas time, it became apparent that the stories we were telling ourselves about the boys were not consistent with reality. In my head, I just had high-spirited boys. Sam I understood. But at 6, John was too old to be so hyperactive and impulsive. He was miserable. I was miserable. Taking him out in public was still difficult (the latest was his love of guns and pretending to pick people off at random in stores). He was becoming angry and oppositional, and when I finally got around to my first conference with his teacher, and she said that he was out of control and 'internally distracted' things started to click into place for me. I have Tourette's and Tom is standing on the precipice of OCD with one foot on a banana peel. We both live with uncontrollable impulses every day. I didn't want that for John and made an appointment with the pediatrician as soon as I got home. That led to a pediatric neurology appointment. Let me tell you, there isn't much more depressing than saying 'My child has a neurologist'. Thankfully, I had videotaped John doing John, and we got his ADHD and Tourette's diagnosis much more easily than I would have expected. Sam was also barely hanging to a thread at school, so I took him back to the pediatrician and got his ADHD diagnosis. Which led to medication, which led to...

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?

Medication was a life-changing thing for our family. For starters, the noise and activity level in my house plummeted from a barely-tolerable 9 to a completely lovely 3. I could sit in close proximity to my boys without having my nerves and eardrums shattered. They were also, for the first time, able to sit down and quietly focus on their homework, or in a restaurant, their dinner. Homework was no longer a battle I had to wage with them John stopped trying to shoot people on the street at random (with his fingers). The constant blowing up noises subsided. And Sam started reading. You can't know how much my heart broke every time he read to me, when he couldn't find his place on the page, or retain a thing he read, or misread the words and didn't notice they made no sense. Words are the most important thing in my life. Reading and writing, my deepest pleasures. To have a child struggle with them so much--that hurt my heart. A few days after he began his Concerta, he picked up a 118 page book, read it cover to cover in one sitting, sat down, told me the whole plot, then went back to his room to start another. Best moment of the year.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?

I think up until the diagnosis/medication resolution, my biggest obstacle was the boys and their behavior. I really couldn't take them out in public reliably. They were embarrassing a lot of the time and no amount of correction ever stopped their behavior. It's demoralizing 1. to have no control over your children and 2. not being able to take them places because of the waythey behave. Play dates were out because they'd get over-stimulated and hyper. It made me shut down and pull away from people. I don't like to be the center of attention, even for good reason. I CERTAINLY did not want to be the center of attention because I was 'that mom'.

5. Pick three words to describe 2014.

Stressful. Lonely. Resolved.

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2014 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).

Quiet. Isolated. Stressful. 

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2014 (again, without asking).

Stressful. Sad. Resigned.

8. What were the best books you read this year?

I didn't really read many books this year. I enjoyed The Darling Strumpet by Gillian Bagwell. Nell Gwynn's life was fascinating. I discovered Twilight fan fiction sometime in the fall and became completely engrossed and addicted. I read at least a story a day, but usually more. Don't ask me what it is that rocks my world so much, because I don't know... I guess I like the choose your own adventure aspect of it. One day Bella is in love with Edward, the US Marshall. The next, it's Jasper in pre-Civil War Texas. Then Jacob is claiming her as his mate in Washington on the same day that Embry is reading her love poetry and geeking out with her in the library. And then later Sam is saving her from an abusive relationship with his pack mate. I never gave myself the luxury of so many options in real life, as I hated dating and based on the events of my formative years, neither understood nor related to the y chromosome, so it's nice to live that vicariously through Bella--especially when the stories are written in the male point of view.

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?

I truly feel like I dropped the ball here. When I thought we were moving, I pulled away from everyone and everything and became the human embodiment of a Roly Poly. I've mentioned before that I have no problems withdrawing, and I do it like a champ. I was sunk into a very dark place, and the only reason I didn't sink completely into the abyss was because I had to put on my pink, grab my bags, and go to work. My friends in Thirty-One are always positive and supportive, and because I have a team to care for, Iwent through the motions. Sometimes going through the motions creates just enough momentum to pull you through. I spent a lot of time in my own head, and I worked through my own thoughts for once. So maybe the time spent alone was good for me.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?

I guess if I'm being honest, I learned some ugly truths about myself and the way I interact with people. I try too hard to be accommodating. I try too hard to be agreeable at the expense of what I really need and really want. I am too reticent with people--not speaking up regardless of how I feel about them--good or bad.  I came to realize that I process my emotions at a snail's pace. It's unusual that I ever know how I feel about something until I've felt it awhile. My first line of defense when I feel something is to shut it down and wait. And wait. I absorb what I can about the situation first, and then when I understand the big picture, I allow myself to feel something about it. It's ass backwards, but I guess knowing this about myself and being able to admit that I am emotionally numb about something is a start.

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?

I wouldn't say much has changed in this regard. 

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?

You can't check out emotionally and lay in bed for six months without getting fat. I grew, and not in the positive sense. I hate my body. I always have. I've hated my stocky build, my large bones, my knees, and my general sturdiness all my life. Now I hate the sagging, the stretch marks, the shapelessness of it all. It all makes me want to barf. Looking in the mirror makes me want to barf. I don't like being noticed. Why can't my body be smaller, my frame more petite, my coloring more camouflaged (I mean, I'm so pale you can use me as a night light. I'm someone who wants to disappear, and I practically glow. Where's the fairness in that?)? I always wanted to be a slip of a girl that could just slip away. But whether I like it or not, I have substance. I wish I could just punish my body into submission, but I learned this year that I can't run because my femurs hyper extend and that is what causes all my knee and leg pain. I've never been flexible, and I've never had a particular love for physical activity, so going to the gym for anything less than Zumba is right there on my list with root canals and disembowelment. I hate my body and I think I like to torture it by ignoring it.  I should probably try to work on my negative body image, but honestly, I'm in my head so much of the time, I can usually distract myself with more pleasant diversions.

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?

I grew apart. It wasn't a good year for relationships. I'm trying to make an effort again.

15. What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home?

We did a lot of improvements to the house. It was re-sided, got new windows, and trim. We completely painted the inside. Put in a paver walk from the house to the driveway. Spruced up the kitchens and bathrooms. It looks amazing and I love it.

16. What was your most challenging area of home management?

I'm not a domestic goddess. It's all challenging. Being me and living with Tom is like a sadistic social experiment. I'm a 'get around to it' kind of girl. The dishes can sit in the sink a while. Stuff can clutter the counters until I can deal with it. Laundry can go unfolded. I don't care. If I get to it, I get to it. If I'm reading a good book, or have something more pressing to do, it's left for later. On my list of life to-dos, having a clean house every day is right there, dead last on the list beside 'commit a felony' and 'kick puppies'. i will consider it a personal affront if, when I die, the first thing that comes to mind about me is my beautiful house and phenomenal housekeeping skills. And I live with a man who comes unglued at the sight of shoes under the coffee table. That, in his mind, is 'trashing the living room and living like a pig'. If I leave an empty mug out while I'm reading, I'm a ''slob'. If it makes it into the sink, but not the dishwasher, I'm 'lazy'. Tom considers anything out of its place (ie. not in sight) a personal affront to his sanity. I want everything out where I can see it, enjoy it, and get to it at my convenience. I spend so much time looking for stuff he has put away 'for me' that it could be a part time job. Thirteen years of this people. Thirteen years.

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?

Facebook and fan  fiction. Am I giving either up? Nope. I'm completely ok with being a (mostly) unproductive lump..

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?

I suppose it was taking the time I needed to really get in touch with my feelings.

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?

My life can be stable. I don't have to experience loss at every turn by moving every 3-5 years.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2014 for you.

Hunker down.

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