Tag Archives: Beanlet

The Shame Spiral

It’s been a long time since I posted. A lot of changes in my life. The biggest of which is I moved to Utah. After so much self-inflicted trauma in Washington I came to the conclusion that there wasn’t much left for me there anymore. So I came to Utah in hopes of starting a new life for myself. And for the most part it’s worked. But I still deal with the shame of all the hurt I caused in Washington.

You see, for a long time now I’ve dealt with bipolar disorder. It’s a strange condition especially when it goes misdiagnosed as depression alone for as long as I was. Depression is a scary beast, don’t get me wrong, but when you compound it with mania, well let’s just say that the shit hit the fan several times and not in a good way.

I’m not sure when exactly it started but I remember one night about four years ago now that I literally could not stop talking. it got so bad that my boyfriend at the time and my brother literally challenged me to go into another room and not say anything at all for 20 minutes and when I couldn’t do it they took me to the hospital where it only got worse until I was injected with some kind of benzo I still don’t know the name of.

It’s terribly scary to be so out of control but literally to be feeling fine as if you were on top of the world. I literally could not understand why everyone was so worried about me. Until the nurses started drawing blood and filling syringes that is. And when I finally did stop talking and took a deep breath it dawned on me that I really wasn’t okay. Even though I had spent the last hour or more convincing everyone that I was fine. Apparently talking nonstop and barely pausing for breath does not constitute “fine” but I wasn’t to know that at the time.

they sent me home that night.

When I say i feel ashamed, it’s only partly of my disorder. It’s more because of the things I did while manic or high on something or both. You see, mania can lead to all kinds of secondary problems. Like overspending (I spent $4000 on my dad’s credit card buying gifts for everyone I’d ever met). Or hypersexuality (I cheated on the love of my life more than once while manic). Or risky behavior (drug experimentation in my case). And there’s only so many times you can apologize for your disorder. Because when it’s not under control, you’re only partly in control of your actions. But you’re fully aware of them. That’s the weird part. I knew what I was doing and I knew that it would create fallout but I assumed that once everyone understood where I was coming from, it would all be alright (it wasn’t).

needless to say, the boyfriend broke up with me. my brother and he kicked me out and I spent 3 weeks living out of a truck with the guy I cheated on my boyfriend with. He had a nominal job during the day while I was left alone to wander the streets and get into trouble with drugs, sex, and all kinds of unhealthy behaviors I shudder to remember. I smoked crack. I smoked meth. I had sex with strangers. I would find someone to hang out with and then spend the day with them doing whatever they deemed appropriate. I took advantage of friends and acquaintances and lost several of them because of my behavior.

I even went to jail after I became convinced that someone else’s house was, in fact, a gift to me from anonymous people who believed I was going to do great things with their largesse. And I had big plans for it in the few hours I spent in that house. But getting arrested changes things. I spent six months in county jail awaiting trial because I was deemed incompetent and sent to the jail’s mental hospital for part of that time. The court even entered an Order that I take medication that I didn’t want in order to become competent.

A word on medication: it’s a great thing most of the time but when you’re forced to take meds by the court, they don’t really give you a say in what you take. So I became numb and though my grip on reality improved, the side effects of the first meds they gave me left me feeling despondent. All I wanted to do was sleep or cry. And I couldn’t cry. Finally, after my blood pressure dipped dangerously, they put me on Abilify which was the best of the options available to me and I was deemed competent enough to enter a plea bargain. I pled guilty to trespass and malicious mischief (both misdemeanors) on a suspended sentence which meant that if I was good for a year I would not have a criminal record after that.

I still take Abilify daily and Cymbalta every-other day (it was daily but the blood pressure dropping issue changed it). And it keeps me stable and somewhat functional. I have a full-time job now for the first time in several years. And I’ve kept it for 10 months. Part of that is the change to Utah where I’m away from legal marijuana and some of the influences that kept me stuck for so long. I am seeing someone though he’s definitely not long-term material for me but it helps to have companionship a few evenings a week.

But I’m still battling shame. Shame researcher Brene Brown describes shame as the emotion we feel when we feel that we are not ___________ enough. she says that the antidote to shame is light and sharing the experiences that make us feel ashamed. She quotes 12 step groups who say “You’re only as sick as your secrets”. So after years of living in the dark, hiding a lot of what I went through, I’m sharing with you, Internet, because there really isn’t anyone to share with in my life anymore. I’ve burned a hell of a lot of bridges. I still have two or three close friends in Washington but I’m afraid to burden them with all of this – especially since they lived through it with me.

And then there’s Beanlet. I’ve seen her once in 4 years. Her dad got custody during my recovery from the first manic episode and imposed all kinds of restrictions on me seeing her. I’m most ashamed of that. That I was incapable of being a good mom. That I’m so far removed from my daughter’s life. She has her own phone now (12 y/o) which makes communication easier but there’s so much I can’t say to her over text. And my signing skills have lapsed so much I’m not sure I could even communicate my feelings effectively to her in person. Plus, there’s the supervisor of all of our visits making sure that I don’t cross any boundaries.

So several breakdowns later, I’m back to relative sanity but left with a mountain of shame and guilt to process more-or-less alone. There’s nothing I wouldn’t give to have those years back with my Beanlet. to go back in time to before the mania took over my life and I couldn’t think straight. But I can’t go back. i can only go forward. And hopefully by sharing this, I’m taking that first step.


I’m a poor Blogger

It’s been weeks since I last posted… I know… I suck…

But it’s been a busy couple of weeks. Very busy in fact. Beanlet & I took a trip to San Diego to visit the fam. Jack’s currently back east visting his grandparents (and assorted other relatives). BroHam got a wakeup call and started rising “during the A.M.” as he calls it, or at least trying to.

But I’m learning a lot. About myself, about communications, relationships, people in my life, all of it. And my worldview and belief system has gotten a couple of broader strokes lately.

But all of that is still in processing.

Today, I’m going to talk about the resurgence of crappy music & music videos from my tween years. Can we all agree that there were a few years in the early-mid nineties that really should just be shipped out to sea? (C&C Music Factory, Color Me Badd) Or better yet, shot into space?

A couple of things have come to my attention recently that convince me that there are people in the world who disagree with me and believe that rather shipping the music out to sea or shooting it into space, rather that it should be “brought back” if you will.

First, there’s a new radio station in Seattle… GenX radio. For the most part, I absolutely love this station. It has no real genre rules. Only that the music be from the mid-late 80s to the early part of the 2000s. They play Guns ‘n Roses followed by Snoop Dogg followed by Wilson Phillips. And some Gin Blossoms. And some other really good music from when I was in high school that I had forgotten existed. Unfortunately, they also play some of the aforementioned crappy music. To their credit, the good stuff absolutely outweighs the bad. And even when the music is bad, it usually makes me laugh because I remember a situation when I heard that song or I can laugh that the song was ever popular. It’s high entertainment.

Then there’s example number 2. I was at the Mall last night. My (now) 16 year old BFF, Beanlet & I went to a Silent Dinner at the food court. Basically, BFF’s sign language teacher offers these dinners fo students to come practice using sign. And Beanlet loves hanging out with teenagers who can talk to her so it’s a win-win. But I was there last night and there are these TV monitors throughout the food court playing music videos. In fact, you can text your vote for the next one played to a special website & it will queue it up, like a jukebox. While there for less than two hours last night, I saw Ricky Martin, C&C Music Factory, assorted other atrocities from the early 90s and only 1 recent song. The only reason I was able to identify the 1 song as recent was because the video featured the cast of Jersey Shore. WRONG

Now I won’t launch into a diatribe about how fucked up and wrong it is that these kids from New Jersey are world famous for their ability to string cuss words together in interesting ways. It is fucked up and wrong, but that’s not my complaint today. (See South Park’s Jersey episode if you’re interested).

Today, I’m going to remark on the fact that these are songs and performers who have long since left the public eye (i.e. Ricky Martin, C&C Music Factory etc). Their music is NO LONGER COOL, or even relevant really. And the fact that it ever was makes me feel a little ashamed of the fact that I did in fact own a C&C Music Factory single —  WHEN I WAS 11 YEARS OLD!

Can the producers not simply let this music die? Why must everything that was once popular be “revived” 10-15 years later? There MUST be some kind of moral obligation to protect our children from the same music hell that we endured. Besides, they have their own sins to haunt them for years to come (Justin Bieber anyone? Jonas Brothers?) Of course, the record companies are probably just out to make money without spending any new money. They’ve got this old music no one wants in their vaults – if they bring it out again maybe some enterprising ad exec will buy the rights & make a crappy iTunes commercial out of it. Or something.

I have no idea how to stop the onslaught of crappy early 90s music. But something must be done. Or else I will soon have to explain to teens why anyone ever thought the Color Me Badd haircut & clothes were cool. And I’m not sure that’s even possible.

Thanks everyone for comments, subscriptions etc. I’ll be more diligent and post more often.

HUGE DAY for me!!! (Pt. 1: I stood up for myself!)

Well, Internet, it’s been a crazy, exhausting, amazing week in so many ways… but today… well today was definitely a culmination of all of it. I think I’ve cried, laughed, been proud of myself, proud of Beanlet, proud of Jack, cried again, laughed some more… yeah, that’s just today.

I honestly think there’s so much to say today that I can’t fit it all comfortably in one post… I hope you will all forgive me if I bombard The Twitter with Post Announcements for a few days. But I have to share…

I stood up to Beanlet’s dad.

I was respectful, calm, adult, and used every Non-Violent Communication technique I could muster. And I think he heard me!

Beanlet’s dad and I met when I was 19. We got married when I was 22. Beanlet was born on my 24th birthday (yes we have the same birthday). We separated a month before my 27th (Beanlet’s 3rd) birthday. I learned a lot of bad habits and behaviors in those years. Three years, two relationships and a Major Depressive Episode later, I still have a hard time expressing myself to him. We never communicated very well…

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: Marrying someone is absolutely NOT the biggest commitment you can make to another person. Having a child with someone is a MUCH BIGGER one.

So Beanlet’s dad and I are trying to get along and find some kind of happy medium. Here’s the thing: he is very jealous of his time with her. VERY inflexible. About a month ago, Beanlet asked me if she could go to church with me on a Daddy Weekend. I told her she had to ask Daddy. So when I dropped her off later that night, I reminded her to ask Daddy something. His response? “No. That’s my time.”

So today, he called me up. We had already spoken in the morning to clarify the Beanlet pickup/dropoff schedule/situation. So I was a little surprised. But then, he started to tell me this whole story about how Beanlet was invited to someone’s house to see their chickens and a new dog. This had been long discussed and finally was arranged – for tomorrow — a Mom weekend. He *just* got the email.

Okay, whatever…

I have absolutely ZERO problem with this. Just like I had absolutely no problem last month when Beanlet’s cousin was having a birthday party on a Mom weekend. Her dad picked her up and took her to that too… I didn’t even make a thing out of it.

But today, I couldn’t quite do that. My response? “Sure that’s no problem. Just let me know what time you’ll pick her up. However, I just want you to notice the difference between my reaction to your request and your reaction to similar requests.”

We talked for like 10 minutes, maybe 20. I didn’t cry or get upset or yell. And I made sure that he did not have or get the impression that I was being in any way vindictive or “trying to teach him a lesson”. I explained over and over that I was happy to accomodate them. I knew Beanlet would totally dig it. I want her to go. I just wanted him to take notice of the fact that his reaction would have been totally totally different.

I was shaking when I got off the phone. It may not sound like much, but for me to express my opinion like that — to him! And without making it about anything else and without sacrificing anything! But I didn’t cry. I didn’t lose it. I was — well, maybe calm isn’t the right word, but something close to it.

And I think he heard me. I think he realized that I had a point and that Beanlet deserved better. *I hope I hope I hope* But at least I feel strong and like I made a breakthrough. Because, ultimately, I can’t control his understanding, reactions, behavior, anything. Those are on him. But I can be honest, authentic and communicate as fairly as possible. And if I’ve done that, I can feel good. And I do.

More later…

{Still to come: why Jenny, the Bloggess is my hero for the holidays; my BloggerBody2011 calendar arrived – Jack’s already got his faves; Lessons in Parenting (or how being honest & authentic with my kid rewarded us all 10 fold); and *maybe, just maybe* why Jon Stewart is no longer *just* my dream man – but what’s BIGGER than “dream man”???}

My daughter has the makings of a super-crafty scientist… I’m stoked

I’ve been away from here, Internet-land, I apologize. But in my defense, I have been spending the time well…

I’ve been crafting. A lot. And reading about crafting. A lot.

But I’m having SO MUCH FUN! Especially with The Beanlet.

I found this book at JoAnn’s called Sewing for Children which I was SO EXCITED about when I saw it. About a month ago, I had an idea to build my own “Make-a-Doll” & “Make Clothes for the Doll” kit that I would then wrap up for Beanlet for Christmas as a project we could do together. I can’t imagine giving her a cooler gift than time with me doing something we both like to do together. So I’ve been thinking about that idea and how really what scares me about the crafting of that particular project is the clothes. I want to be able to make a lot of different clothes for the doll. So when I saw this book, Sewing for Children, with two adorable felt dolls on the cover, I HAD to pick it up.

I’ve read it cover-to-cover twice already. And made copies of six of the patterns to wrap up for Beanlet under the tree. I’m having to totally refrain myself from busting the book out RIGHT NOW to show her. I can’t wait.

But the best part is the amount of confidence it gave me in my own abilities. Just a little bit of felt manipulated just a little bit and stuffed makes the cutest stuff ever! I got the book on Friday. Bought felt (you can find great stuff in remnants and in the kids craft section they have sheets of a bunch of colors for 29 cents each) for about $20 over the weekend. Then on Monday I flipped through the book again and picked out patterns and made copies. I also traced the templates onto cardstock so Beanlet could jump right into cutting out the fabric.

Then I had to hide everything because Beanlet was coming over on Tuesday 😦 But after our obligatory trip to the library, on the way home I asked her what she wanted to do when we got home.

Beanlet (B): don’t know

Me or Mom (M): you want make something?

B: I don’t know how make something.

M: you want learn how make something?

B: Make what?

M: don’t know — maybe doll, maybe toy, maybe clothes, maybe monster? whatever you want make.

B: I want make toy!

(For the uninitiated: Sign language, especially ASL, has a “cave-man talk” quality to it. This conversation is roughly verbatim signs. I’m not fully translating because it’s more fun to me to remember it this way when I can)

So when we got home, I was totally stoked because Beanlet wanting to craft with me makes me feel All Full of Happy like nothing else on the planet.

(aside: it is NOT an easy task to describe sewing terms in sign language. We do A LOT of indicating and pointing and pantomiming and describing. A couple of time we took a break to draw pictures to explain what we were trying to express – but it was totally worth it)

So, here’s my favorite part of the story:

I asked Beanlet what toy she wanted to make. This was a hard sign language conversation to have. But eventually I got that she was describing something full of water with a funny shape, like a vase. Racking my brain, I started asking questions about it trying to figure out what she wanted to make. She kept telling me it was like one a boy in her class had. Then I told her to draw it.

I kind of started to see something. “Like for science?” I signed. “Yeah!!!!!” She was getting excited too. She even vocalized that some, which she’s been starting to do more and more.

 So I drew a beaker with water in it on a piece of paper (I am a pretty crappy draw-er but I can do simple diagram-like stuff decently). Beanlet got excited now and tried to copy what I had done on her piece of paper. But she started getting frustrated with her drawing not being exact like mine (at least I think that was her frustration). Simple enough solution: I ran my picture through the nifty HP All-in-One Machine. May the Almighty Whoever/Whatever bless that little machine.

So then we each cut out our little beakers and I had her get the felt box. (the old one, not the new one, she doesn’t know about and can’t reach the new stash–though I’m itching to get at it with her)

I grabbed some white and blue for mine. She wanted the same. Fine no prob. We each got a square of white felt and put the cut out “pattern” onto it with one pin each. I showed her the Special Sewing Scissors which she’s only allowed to touch with Mommy for now and that is only for fabric. We have plenty of other types of scissors for paper and other stuffs. The Big Purple Scissors (as she knows them) are a treat so she’s extra careful with them and knows the rules.

So after the white outlines were cut out. I cut across the “water line” on the paper beaker and pinned the bigger section down on the blue felt with a single pin. Beanlet was confused, but went along with it. So we took turns with the Big Purple Scissors again.

Then I showed her how you put the blue on top of the white and she asked if we used glue (making monster faces with felt you use craft glue or at least we did/do) and I said “no, sew”. It didn’t take much goading on my part to get her to pick out two colors of embroidery thread and I had her watch me thread the needle (we used tapestry needles that were pretty sharp so the eye was huge and relatively easy to thread). And we sewed.

Me & Beanlet's First "From Scratch" Sewing Project

These ultra-scientific-looking beakers were made by Beanlet and I in about an hour. Super fun was had by all and now our new bulletin board has residents!


I’m so proud of us.

Get my Crafty On!

It’s amazing how when you start to feel better each day gets a little easier and you start to enjoy things again. I’ve been rediscovering the entire process of “enjoying doing things”. I think that I had to start with “doing things” before I could move on to “enjoying doing things”.

Well, it’s been awhile since I did anything crafty. I haven’t worked on any knitting, sewing or anything like that in weeks. *Note: “loss of enjoyment in activities” is a classic symptom of depression. When I haven’t done anything crafty in weeks-months, something is wrong with me. I think everyone has something like this.*

Well, I broke that streak this weekend. Appropriately with the Beanlet.

I think a couple of different things spurred me back into my enjoyment of all things crafty. First, I got my craft area cleaned up. There’s workspace again. And both Beanlet and I have been keeping it clean. It’s way more inspiring to work on a project when you have a table top on which to do so! Secondly, I’ve enjoyed spending more hands-on time with the Beanlet as I’ve come out of my fog. Crafts are great for us because it’s something we can do together and I can teach her. We have a blast doing it and her attention span for these kinds of projects has expanded a ton in the last year or so.

It started when I gave her her allowance for the week. She wanted to buy candy and needed a wallet to put her money in. I asked if she wanted to make one. So we did. (it’s not done yet — oh well) Friday night we drew a template, picked out fabric and cut it out. Saturday evening (she had a birthday party to go to most of the day), we glued the layers together to make it strong.

Unfortunately, we used a lot of glue so it needed some time to dry. After I explained this to Beanlet, she asked if we could make monsters instead.

We haven’t made any monsters in over a year. But it used to be fun and now she’s a little older so she should be able to help more. So we started doing that. Beanlet even cut her monster out herself and sewed it all together with a sewing machine by herself. (Okay, well, I threaded the machine and showed her what to do and I had to watch REALLY closely, but she did the majority of it).

So of course since Beanlet was making a monster, I had to make one too – to show her how to do it, you know. Okay, I admit it, I just love making monsters too. So, here’s the newest addition to my monster family:

This is Fred. He’s a Super Hero.

It feels good being creative and crafty again. And even better to share it with Beanlet. I CAN be a good mom. Go me.

A 6 year old’s Thoughts on God

Well, Day 1 of my pledge didn’t really go too well. In fact, it didn’t really go at all.

I didn’t post anywhere (other than a comment or 2 – which don’t get me wrong is not a bad thing) or job hunt or do any Flylady stuff.

You know what I did do?

I had a conversation with my daughter, who I’ll call “The Beanlet” for now. First off, The Beanlet and I don’t see each other everyday. For a variety of reasons (another post another day I promise), Beanlet lives with her dad, my ex-hubs#1. She comes over for 2-3 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays and stays with us every-other weekend.

So when I picked her up yesterday, she was full of hugs for Momma and it ruled. When we got to the house, she found these little battery-operated candles that Jack brought home the other day. She immediately started talking about church.

See, at our church (we’re Unitarian Universalists), we start our service by lighting a chalice. When we go downstairs to the kids’ classes (called Religious Exploration or RE), they have the EXACT SAME little battery operated candles that they “light” at the start of class.

This is the type of "candle" I'm talking about

So The Beanlet grabs one of these little candles at the house and tells me she wants to sing the “church song”. The last two times we’ve gone to church together they’ve ended her kids class singing this song. I taught all the kids to sign it so Beanlet could join in. So we sang the little song together in sign language:

This little light of mine

I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.

We stopped for a second. I asked her what she thought the song meant. We talked about that for a minute. Then we stopped again. I asked her if she wanted to “talk about church more”. She said yes!

So we started talking about what she believes about God. Here’s what I learned:

  1. God is real. She saw him when she was a baby.
  2. God wants us to be nice to each other.
  3. God doesn’t like stealing.

 I asked her a lot of questions. The language barrier (I’m still not nearly as fluent in sign language as I want to be) made some of it difficult. For example, when I asked her what God thought about caring for the Earth – she didn’t really understand the question…I guess we’ll have to work on talking about environmental principles one of these days.

As a UU, I believe that The Beanlet deserves to figure out what she thinks about the divine for herself. I’m still figuring out a lot of details about what I believe myself, so I don’t really expect the Beanster to have all the answers yet. But I really enjoyed talking to her about it. And I’m really proud of the Beanlet.

And you know what, Internet? I’m proud of myself too. For asking these questions and having this conversation with a 6 year old. For spending some Quality Time with the Beanlet. And for being able to set aside all the shit I was dealing with yesterday in my own head.

I mean I stepped outside of myself long enough to get to know my Beanlet. I can be a good mom sometimes. Go me.