Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stuck on the hamster wheel - Part three in a series from my journal

Slaaende Lighed -Public Domain-wikicommons
Read Part One and Part Two first to get the whole story.

We left off with a second pregnancy, just after life with my first was calming down a bit. How will I react? (The birth of my second child was in 2003. But, I recorded these thoughts much more recently than that.)

We moved to North Carolina for seminary [when my first child \was 16 months old and I was pregnant with Baby #2]. Nelson was born. My expectations for Baby Two's pregnancy and birth were far more reasonable. But, I still required a perfectly well-ordered, clean house. So, I continued to push my body beyond healthy bounds. This tale of misery (that is, unrealistic expectations) and downward spiral continues through six babies. Many moves. Many churches. I tried to retain control. I kept cooking and cleaning to please me... because it seemed to be the only thing that I could control. 
Wrong. Enter food sensitivities, I can't even feed my own kids. I don't even know how to feed my family any more. I have known for years that grains were our enemy. (They produce such bad behavior, tummy issues, etc). But, now I am having to choose to feed my kids food that makes them sick - OR - kill myself learning a new food regimen. I hate food now. There is no pleasure in food anymore. I generally choose the easy meal that I can prepare without murdering a child during preparation... Once again, I am a failure. 
OK, so I know that GOD doesn't hate me. Just like with the breast-feeding, He knows all that I don't know. So, why do I feel like God sees me as a failure? The Enemy whispers - God wants women to be home-makers... and I am a failure. I can't keep my house clean enough. I can't cook special foods. I hate my failures. (Yes, of course I can see the truth twisting in those sentences. I know that God does not require a clean house.) 
[My husband] is always saying that it is my own self that I want to please. I see his point. Yet, I can't let go. If it is for me, then apparently my opinion matters more than God's. Kingdom of Self must be the Ruler. I don't know. I hate this unrest in my soul. I hate the misery and unhappiness. I have little joy. I have few pleasures... only the foods that I am not supposed to eat. (Note added for blog readers: This is a bit overstated. I was having an especially dreary day when I wrote that. I have joy... and I have struggles!) 
I have no control. Yet... I keep aiming for control. Constant misery. I can never clean well enough. I can never cook well enough. But, I don't know how to stop trying! Constant misery! Sheer torture. Where is the off switch? Where is the "I give up" button? Please, God, show me how to end this kingdom of self and take me off this treadmill of misery and failure. 

(In the following poem/song I actually see myself as a hamster in a wheel, but treadmill fits a little better.)

The Treadmill
By Bethany Woods

Every morning I step on
Each day starts the very same way
Look around, take note, make a plan

Then I try to have my way
I try to make some sense of it all
I need order, I need rhythm, I need sense

But, I'm caught on treadmill 
of my own design
I'm caught on a treadmill
I'm standing here, marking time
Never moving forward
Never in advance
I'm always here, always stuck, there's no sense
On the treadmill

Got my plans, Got my way
I need to keep control of this
But my mind is surging, boiling, miserable

Every plan is thwarted
Every road is blocked
The road map in my mind is undone

And I'm caught on a treadmill
of my own design
I'm caught on a treadmill
Just standing here marking time
Never moving forward
Never in advance
Always here, always stuck, there's no sense
on the treadmill.

I need to relinquish
all my plans my own way
There must be a plan that makes sense

I will try to watch for His way
Do His will, Do His way
Trusting that this will all work for my good.

Just get me off this treadmill
of my own design
I hate just standing here
I'm finished just marking time
Goind forward, need to advance
Praying Your Kingdom will be done
in my life.

Keep me off the treadmill.

I am going to end this series here. You can see that my mind can still be conflicted at times. But, at least now I see that I am subject to my own need to meet what I acknowledge to be my own expectations. This is a step. I have a long way to go. I have shared my struggles so that, if you can relate, maybe you will be catapulted along in your own advancement towards getting off the hamster wheel! I think a lot of mamas feel this way... especially homeschool mamas. Few open up about it publicly, but it is spoken of between true friends.
Comments are off again, because these thoughts are from my tender, private journal. I let you all read it, but I do not seek responses right now. I am not looking for answers. I usually know the right answers in my head. I just need to learn how to live the Truth in my heart!
I am making it my point every day to try to see myself through God's eyes. His love changes everything! 

Monday, October 20, 2014

PostPartum Depression - Part two in a series from my journal

Find Part One here.
Wikicommons - public domain;
Charles W. Bartlett

We left of with my firstborn, Rebecca, overthrowing my plans.Will things improve? Let's read on. I add a bit more commentary to this one. Where there are parentheses and the word "Note," that is additional commentary.

From day one with Rebecca I tried to be in control of my dreams, hopes, plans, and expectations. I kept the house as clean as I could. I kept myself showered. I finished college. But, I lost sleep to do it. I hurt my body to be and do all that I expected of myself. With Rebecca, I was totally unprepared for real life with a baby. And where my expectations collided with reality there was terrible repercussions... in the form of postpartum depression. 
My body was beyond weary. My body could not heal after birth, because I pushed myself far beyond the limits of my postpartum ability. I bled heavily for months. At least three, probably more. Again... I didn't know at that time that bleeding is the body's way of saying "STOP!" I just didn't put it all together, until a doctor told me with Baby #2 that such bleeding is abnormal and unhealthy. (Note: I had anemia before birth! Afterwards my iron positively plummeted. If only I could go back in time armed with what I know now! But, it is what it is, and I cannot change it.) 
My SuperMom complex started before Becca was born. Because I thought I could finish my degree and give birth. In the end, I didn't do school or motherhood very well.
On the day before graduation, they announced the honor students, I cried when my name was not called out with any form of cum laude. I felt like a failure again. Oh - the pain of working for years towards a goal and then one pregnancy... one baby... ruined it all. And, my body was ruined. Walking to get my diploma in May, still bleeding from the Baby born in March. Company came. All had to be perfect. I pushed too hard. More misery. To this day, I still struggle with the feeling that I have failed at everything from the fall of 1999 onward. (Note: I began Bible college in fall 1999. It is quite likely that my unrealistic expectations were raised while I was at this institution. Either that, or getting married began the cycle of not getting my own way - which was heretofore not threatened. Probably both. Also, it might sound like I regret having Rebecca or that I resent her. That is not at all true. I was begging God for a baby! I cried because I wanted a baby so badly!  I just did not know what real life with children looked like! I love my children. God means these experiences and these children to grow me and shape me!)
How did I deal with this stress? (That is, the stress of being a failure.) I cleaned and tried to stay in control. Only, now there was a baby! Babies make messes! Babies have their own time-table. I controlled as well as I could... but my body suffered tremendously. And, I was way too tired to enjoy being a mother. Finally, our precious child began to learn my systems. All was improving... Then, God sent another baby my way. Another pukey pregnancy. Another mess maker. Another person to destroy my plans. 
But... it's God's plan.
Yes, it's all God's plan. So, why was I perpetually miserable? 
I have turned off comments because this subject is so tender to me. (If you have a question or thought you want to share through email, contact me at flutefelicity@aol.com) This post was harder to write/publish than I expected. I am really struggling with letting all this garbage in my past (nearly 13 years ago) be known. BUT, I am doing it because I really think that God wants women to share some of the real hardships. Perhaps, if someone had been real with me, my expectations would not have been so skewed! I do not think I am the only mom who has struggled with selfishness and upset in kingdom of self...maybe just one of the few determined to share my struggles to help others.

Will I ever put aside these unrealistic expectations? Tune in soon for part three! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Expectations VS. Reality - Part One of a series from my journal

Public Domain - wikicommons

These are some snippets from my private journal, I will post a new section each day until I share as mush as I think I should. I think some of my observations about myself may enlighten someone other mama (or papa) out there. My desire with this series is to help families (especially mamas) grow in wisdom and strength. So, I share my private thoughts. This is very candid. Very honest. If you have not yet had children, and you are in that place of begging and pleading for a spouse or children - please do not judge me. I love my husband and my children. I am just exploring the roots of unhappiness that turn up in every marriage - unrealistic expectations.

I have always wanted to be in control. I think, deep down, we all want to be in control. We are - after all - made in God's image. BUT, we are sinful creatures who have distorted His design. So, my chief end in wanting to be in control is probably trying to be God. No... I would never say it like that out loud, but when you peel back all the layers that appears to be the root.
There are two things I have long sought to control as my own "coping" mechanism for stress. I first started seeing this pattern in high school, but especially in early college. 1 - My dietary intake. 2 - order and cleanliness."
(Here I skip some personal info that I do not think would be profitable to this blog.)
"[In high school] I chose to eat at Hardees' most every night. I liked it. I liked my co-workers. I liked the food. I liked our conversation. I chose my diet.
As a young single woman it was very easy to control both my diet and the order and cleanliness of my surroundings. My parents were clean people. There were no children.  There was no threat to my order."
(Now I will skip to when I get married.)
"My expectation was that (as a woman) I would cook. Oops. I never learned how to cook. Major trauma to my immature heart as I watched Paul cook. Words still cannot express this first bursting of my idyllic bubble of expectation. From there on, it would be one crushed expectation after another. BUT, in marriage, an adult may be pliable enough to change. Paul did. I never let go of my plans. Paul began laying down his life daily about fifteen years ago. 
So, for the first two years of marriage life was still somewhat controllable. But, those things beyond my control would make me unhappy. I was very much living for myself, with very little threat to that. Yes, I chose to go to a Christian school. Yes, I chose to marry a preacher. In a way... that made me happy. I had no idea how little personal pleasure and gain there was in being a preacher's wife (or I never would have done it). God allowed me to be blinded. I deceived myself with massive unrealistic expectations for our future ministry together. 
We did enjoy a couple of years of serving side by side before the event which most over-turned my well-laid plans. A baby was born. My first. It is my belief that marriage and child-rearing are the two areas where we have more unrealistic expectations than anywhere else. (Occupation/employment may be a far third.) 
From the first, this new creature, which was meant by God to be a blessing, tortured me in every way. She upset my kingdom of self! First, I was sick. Pregnancy was "supposed" to be nice. Nope. I was sick. Very sick. Then, when she was born.... wow, I was totally unprepared for REAL life as a mom. She cried. Constantly. She didn't nurse well... and putting her on formula was my first-ever "failure" as a mom. I am far enough removed (now) to see that nursing was my expectation, society's expectation, and my friends' and family's expectations; but, though God designed me to breast feed my baby, HE was not calling me a failure. He knew that unbearable, excruciating pain was a yeast infection. I didn't know that. God was not mad at me. I know that now. But, at the time, I believed that I failed God, myself, society, all my friends, and family. Lovely. The misery began compounding from that day forth. Never had I felt such misery. Never before had I been this much of a failure. 
I have turned off comments, because this subject is too tender to me. But, if you need to speak to me you can email me at flutefelicity@aol.com Sharing these thoughts and publishing them was harder than I thought it would be!  Will I conquer my expectations and find peace? Tune in soon for part two!