Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Another "A-Ha!, Lightbulb, Duh'" whatever-you-want-to call-it, Moment

I was just over at The Great Fitness Experiment reading about Dara-Lynn Weiss and her daughter, Bea, and their very public struggle with 7 year-old Bea's weight.  Which is an article in "Vogue," with a photo of the two of them.  (Including a slimmed-down Bea in her brand-new dress.)  In part of the article, Bea starts to cry at the thought of gaining the weight back.
Which broke my heart into a billion, tiny fragments.
Part of me wants to slap that mom and tell her how lucky she is that her daughter is healthy, that she's hitting all of her developmental milestones, she DOESN'T have any special needs, and she should thank her lucky stars.  But I REALLY want to smack her, hard, for belittling her daughter and then MAKING IT PUBLIC!!!!!!!!
See, both of my parents are (were) writers.  Journalists first, but they both wrote a number of books.  Including one they wrote together about our family.  Using our real names, and including real anecdotes.  My brother and I were kids, so we didn't get a say.  My dad also often wrote about us in his column.  There were TV and radio interviews, book tours, and we even flew out to L.A. so they could take meetings with producers interested in developing the book into a sitcom. (It never panned out, but one interesting tidbit is that during the book tour, we were on Oprah's old TV show in Baltimore.  The one she did before she became "Oprah.")
Sometimes it was very exciting.  When you're 9 years old, being in a TV studio is really fun.  Seeing yourself on TV is exciting.
Until you get to school the next day, and you realize that your teachers and fellow students know EVERYTHING about you, and some of those kids are relentless in their teasing.
Put that together with the attention paid to me by my extended family on my weight (even though I was not overweight at the time), on what/how much I ate, on how active I was, and it's really no wonder I was bulimic by the time I got to college, and anorexic in the ultra-intense environment of graduate school. I'd learned to hide food, to sneak it up to my room and eat like I was committing a crime. To equate hunger with shame, but also know that food would soothe, at least until I swallowed the last bite.  Then the shame would return.
As that young girl, I learned that I was being watched all the time.  Nothing was private.  Everything was fodder for the book/column, and everything I did reflected on my parents.  I took this to heart, to the point where it was no longer a conscious observance, but an unconscious dictator.
At some point in my early childhood, I learned that I was lacking.
And that has ruled my life ever since.
If I feel that others are watching and judging me, it's because, for many years, they WERE!
If I feel anxious and paranoid, it's because, for those many years, I was never truly alone and never had any real privacy.
I sometimes still sneak food into the room I share with my husband.  Then hide the evidence.  As if he would judge.
He doesn't.  He doesn't care that I weigh 40 pounds more now than I did when we met 17 years ago. He, miraculously, still loves me.
As do my kids. They don't care what I look like in my swimsuit, they just want to get in the water.  They want Mom to play with them.  They (still, luckily) want hugs and kisses and tickles.
Again, the only person who gives a crap about my weight is ME. Even my doctor isn't concerned!

But those old lessons, the ones learned when we are so young and open and vulnerable, are the hardest ones to UN-learn.

Ms. Weiss wonders whether she has given her daughter the tools to deal with her weight or, rather, a lifetime of weight and food issues.  I can say she's pretty much guaranteed the latter.  And by making it seem that love is conditional on weight, some pretty big self-esteem issues, on top of it. But by writing the article for "Vogue" and including photos of and quotes by Bea, she is compounding those issues a hundred-fold.
She has passed her own food neuroses onto her child.  Which cannot always be helped.  But then she wrote about it. And expressed her relief that Bea had dropped 16 pounds in time for the photo shoot. Oh, and bought her a fancy new wardrobe as a reward for losing the weight, apparently.

What I would LOVE to see is Ms. Weiss finding a way to deal with her own issues, and passing THAT on to Bea.  Letting her daughter know that just because some boy at school calls her "fat," she doesn't have to go on a diet.  (To be fair, their pediatrician told her to "do something about [Bea's] weight.")

Weight and appearance are loaded issues, especially in the rarified atmosphere of wealthy Manhattanites. But wherever one lives, whatever one's profession, at some point, a child's well-being has to come before what one's friends and colleagues think.

I think that was my biggest question when I was a kid: Why was I less important than the writing?
It's still my biggest question.
I can't answer it.  I just have to realize that I AM more important, to myself and to my own family. That the external judgement is over.  I'm no longer a child OR an actor.  And I don't have to be my own worst enemy anymore.
But it has been a long lesson, and it's far from over.

Please, Ms. Weiss, don't set your daughter up for 35 years of misery!!!!!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why Didn't I Think of That?

Aside from being lovely and wonderful, and helping me work through all my emotional crap, my therapist is very practical.
Yesterday I was talking to her about my anger issues, and she asked me about my workouts.  Specifically, my cardio.  Do I get my heart rate up on a regular basis? Sure, kinda.  I take a Spin class once a week and walk.  Do I ever do kickboxing, or boxing, or martial arts?
Hmmm...no, I can't say that have, lately.
Because getting ones heart rate up releases tons of endorphins, and hitting a heavy bag (or even pretending to, or fantasizing about beating someone up during a Turbo Kick class) can be quite therapeutic.
See, I always think that, when I'm angry, I have to calm down immediately.  But anger is a natural human emotion, and it needs to be expressed.  Better to pretend I'm kicking John Doe in the face than to get in my car and inflict road rage, right? Or to hit a bag being securely held by someone who knows what he/she is doing that to yell and scream and scare my kids.
SOOOOOOOOO much better!
And with all those feel-good hormones racing around, I won't be angry for long.

The other thing I need to do is HAVE SOME FUN, DANG IT!!!!!!!
I keep hearing about others' vacations and fun weekends.  What do I do on weekends?  I work, I return rental cars, and run errands.  Yes, it's all stuff that has to be done (luckily, after tomorrow, we won't have a rental car), but what about FUN?!?!?!

I went to my doctor today.  He showed me some pictures in an anatomy to explain what's happening with my elbow (basically it's repetitive stress.  Similar to Tennis Elbow, although in my case it's more like I-Suck-At-Tennis Elbow). He also asked if I'd be willing to try taking vitamin D for four weeks before starting an anti-depressant, so I said Sure, why no?  It couldn't hurt!  Then he gave me the names of 4 different anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medications to look up, along withe the Zoloft.  Just to keep my options open.And to track when/how the anxiety/sadness happens, to determine which comes first.
All in all, he was, as usual, very thorough. He really wants his patients to be involved and proactive, and I like that.

So I have some lemon-flavored gummy vitamin D.
Makes it a bit more fun.

And we'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oh! Right!

So those blues I was talking about?  Well, I've been doing an emotional inventory and realizing that this has been building up for some time.  And it's more than the blues.  Unfortunately I think it's the return of my depression, as well as anxiety.
I have a doctor's appointment on Friday (for my elbow: it's been sore for a while), so I'm going to ask him to write me a prescription for antidepressants again. And I'll be seeing my therapist the day before to let her know.

Because aside from the depression, sadness, and anxiety there is rage.  Every once in a while I just get so pi**ed off, and it feels uncontrollable.  It's a whole lot better than it used to be, and I try to let it loose only when I'm alone, but still...I just cannot live anymore with that beast inside of me.  It's scary, and shameful.  So I need to figure out where it comes from, and deal with it.  It's REALLY not healthy!

Which brings me back to my weight.  I can't help but wonder if it's some kind of shield between me and the world.  Because sometimes this world is so deplorable.  Sometimes I think that, if not for my kids, I would simply leave it.  And THAT'S when I know I'm in trouble!
So it's time to stop pretending that everything is fine, because it isn't.  I'm not going to off myself, but having those kids of thoughts is frightening.  Feeling so scared and hopeless is a sign that it's time for help.  Dreading waking up in the morning is no way to live. Neither is feeling the kind of fear I feel when I start thinking that the only reason to be here is for the kids' sakes, because they deserve a mom who WANTS to be here, fully in her own life, and not just marking time.

This post is very difficult to write, because I feel like such a huge failure.  I love my husband and kids more than anything and would never do anything to hurt them.  Most of the time I'm with them I am fully present and happy.  But there are more and more moments of detachment, especially when I'm alone.

It's easy to put the focus on weight/politics/the move/a new car (which we now have - YAY!), all of which are important and must be deal with.  But I lose myself.  I use all these issues, too, as a shield to keep myself from dealing with whatever it is that's really going on.

So it may be time to take a break from some things like Facebook.  To unplug from all the social media and  get back into real life.  I'll still post here and read blogs, but I need time to unwind, unplug, and deal with, well, me.

OK.  Gonna take the kids to the hot tub.  Have a good  night, everyone!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays

Feeling a bit down lately.  Can't really pinpoint any one thing, so I figured I'd blog it out and see what pops up.  So feel free to discontinue reading, lol!
Actually, Mondays don't bring me down: the kids are in school, I have the day off AND I have my yoga class on Mondays, so it's usually a pretty good day. But rainy days will do it, and we've had quite a few now, with no end in sight.
I can't really complain, as we'v had an unseasonable warm winter, and we really do need the rain. And I have to remind myself that I live in an area with a complete and utter lack of snow/slush/sleet/ice, so it's a pretty good deal.  And, oh yes, it's SAN FRANCISCO!!!!!!!!

But still, I've got the blues.

We have a car in mind, and the money is on its way.  I'll be glad when we have it in the garage and I don't have to deal with rental car agencies anymore, lol! I'm also looking forward to getting rid of our Stuff.  I'm hoping to have a bit more time to spend with Hubby in the next couple of weeks.  His birthday is Monday, and he's taking the day off.  We may actually be able to do something like go to lunch together, just the two of us!  What a concept!
Because I get, well, lonely.  My client was sick this morning, so I had the morning off.  Hubby was at work and the kids were at school.  Don't get me wrong, it was great!  But I also need to learn to be in my own company without automatically turning on the TV or heading to the fridge.  I went without both this morning, and I felt the loneliness.  And y'know what?  It didn't kill me!
Truth be told, I get lonely even when the kids are home.  Because we can't have conversations, and sometimes they don' want to play with Mom.  :(  
And I believe I've mentioned my lack of friends.
(Cue the violins).

I'm also realizing that I'm tired of being a neurotic mess.  It's exhausting!  After an unpleasant (though by no means harmful) conversation with the rental car company, I was WAAAAAAAY more upset than the situation warranted! I'm still SO terrified of making a mistake, of what other people think of me, and I just cannot exist that way anymore.
So I'm taking steps to remedy it.

Taking a moment to inhale. To look at situations from a different perspective, and not immediately believe myself when I jump to the Worst Possible Conclusion.  As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "don't believe everything you think!"

So.  It's a rainy Friday afternoon.  The kids are home, the dog's been walked, Hubby has a performance tonight, and I don't have to be anywhere until tomorrow morning.  I'm going to take full advantage: get a quick workout in, play with the kids (if they'll let me), have a nice hot shower, watch "In Plain Sight," and go to bed.

Have a great weekend, and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thanks for the comments!  It's so nice to know that most people still have compassion!  It is too easy to get caught up in all the negative crud.
I went to yoga this morning and I'm SO glad I did!  I mean, I'm ALWAYS glad I get to class, but today was particularly helpful.  The weekend didn't really exist: I spent Saturday teaching and then getting re-certified for CPR/AED, and Sunday was spent looking at cars.  Which was kinda fun, but by the end of the day my brain couldn't process basic information.
Hubby has been super busy, too.  He had a rehearsal on Saturday evening and a performance last night, another rehearsal tonight, performance on Wednesday, and a performance on Friday. Plus, LG has had abbreviated days at school for a week, and won't go back to a full day until Thursday.  Poor WG is trying to adjust to the time change (it's REALLY hard on her!) and gets upset easily.  And,of course, my job.  To top it all off, it is, of course, That Time Of The Month.
The good part is that LG and I have been doing all sorts of fun stuff: walks, playing at the park, swimming, and tomorrow we're going ice skating (!!!!!!).  I must say, however, that I'm going on almost 4 weeks without a minute to myself and it's taking its toll.
So, yes, yoga was particularly gratifying this morning,lol!

There's also been a bit of retail therapy:  Having now watched the "Phantom" 25th anniversary on PBS three times, I went out and bought the CD and DVD.  As well as the CD and DVD for the "Les Miz" 25th anniversary, and the CD for "Love Never Dies," which is the "Phantom" sequel.  There was a broadcast in movie theaters last Wednesday, but I was working.  So I'll have to wait for that DVD to be released in May. And watch certain "unofficial" video clips on certain websites.  Ssssshhhhh!!!!!!

And there are the dreams: nothing bizarre, actually.  Kinda nice. Especially since Sam Waterston keeps showing up in them, lol! (No, not THOSE kids of dreams...) He's always very nice and quite helpful in the dreams. So what does THAT mean?  I'm watching too much "Law & Order?"  Or maybe, as I started realizing this morning, I miss performing more than I knew.

Anyway.  Me & LG are gonna go walk the dog, then watch a rerun of "Doctor Who."  Then I'll clean the house again.  Because even though I cleaned yesterday, I have 2 kids.  And as Charlotte says, cleaning a house with kids in it is like shoveling during a blizzard.

Quite the Syssephean undertaking.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Last night a former student at WG's school was shot and killed by his mom, who then killed herself.  They were found by her husband when he came home from work.  This boy, who was 22, had been at the school since he was 6 until late last year (the school can take kids until they're 22).  His autism was severe, and he didn't speak.  But he liked to walk outside and go to the Disney store.
His dad worked long hours to support them, and his53 year-old mom took care of him all day.  She recently told her neighbor she felt overwhelmed.
The school sent out an email today, and many of the parents, while in shock, also say they understand how she felt.
And I do, too.
There are other options, and the head of the school has said they would have done anything to help her.  And they would have, because that's how they are.
There was a story about it on the San Francisco "Chronicle" website.  Most of the comments were supportive, expressing sadness, but one idiot said "They take care of student until they're 22?  Why should taxpayers have to take care of them at all?"
I'm trying REALLY HARD to remind myself that this a**hat is in the minority, but I also there are a lot of people in this country who feel exactly the same way, and THAT is why this woman probably felt she had no choice but to kill her son and herself.  That there was no one to help, and as she got older (and her son got stronger), she and her husband wouldn't be able to take care of him.
Let me be clear: I'm not going to kill my kids OR myself.  I intend to live forever so that I can take care of them. But I have so much fear.
There's so much hate right now for anyone who depends on public funds for anything. I'm scared my kids will end up tossed out on the street when Hubby & I are gone, because humanity (and I use that term loosely) will decide we don't want to pay for anyone else to be clothed, fed, and housed, even if they cannot do it for themselves.  I asked that idiot "What if it were YOUR child? Are you aware that parents pay upwards of $60,000/year for treatment for their autistic children, and that doesn't include basic education, which is not only a right in this country but the law?"
If you ask me, it's not divorce, homosexuality, bad music, etc. that is leading to the downfall of our society: it is the COMPLETE AND UTTER LACK OF COMPASSION for anyone who needs help.
"Why should I pay for your healthcare?"  "Why should I pay for your public education?" "Why should I...?"
When we start hoarding what we THINK is ours and ours alone, we begin the process of isolating ourselves. My tax dollars go to churches, but I'm not Christian.  But many of these churches do A LOT of good! They feed the hungry, educate kids, reach out to the needy.  Why SHOULDN'T my tax dollars go there? Just because I'm Jewish?!?!  That seems short-sighted.
As a society we are only as strong as our weakest members.  It is in ALL of our best interest to keep us all strong.  THAT is what will keep our country great, and keep us the example for others.

So, yes, my heart is broken.  But I refuse to give up hope that we will regain our sanity, our empathy, and our compassion.

In the meantime, I'll be holding my kids a little more closely.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Freaking Out

My first reaction to any challenging situation.  Not sure why I'm surprised at myself right now. It's past my bedtime (nearly 11 PM, lol!), WG has awoken, and Hubby and I are trying to figure out the car situation.  It looks like if we want anything decent, we're gonna spend at least $16,000.  Without a trade-in, that's gonna hurt.  In the meantime, the in-laws, whose car we're currently using, return from Hawaii on Tuesday, and thus begins the shuffle of who-gets-the-car-when.  Because they're being very generous about letting us continue to use it, but do need it themselves once in a while.
On the opposite coast, my mom is getting ready to, basically, give us the money to buy the car outright.  She'll take out a loan, and we'll pay her back. Which, again, is incredibly generous.  And her credit, at the moment, is far better than ours.
It wouldn't be as much of an issue if we didn't have kids.  But they need to be dropped off and picked up, and then there's the matter of my jobs.  Currently I work at 3 different places, and public transportation can't get me from home to work in 30 minutes.  Which is what I need, as Hubby generally gets home 30 minutes before my classes start.
But, as always, we will figure it out.  All will be well. And, hey, possibly a brand-new car!  How cool is THAT?

In other, less anxiety-producing news, I took the kids to the pool today.  Hubby was at a rehearsal, and it was quite warm.  The pool wasn't heated, but the hot tub, um, was.  So I figured the kids could play in that for a while.  Little did I know my little fish would turn out to be polar bears: WG jumped right in, literally-LITERALLY-laughing at the ice-cold water!  It took LG a bit longer, but he ended up playing as if the pool were heated to 80 degrees.  I even took a dunk.  And popped right back out, running straight for the hot tub.
My children are ashamed of me.
Of course, that's probably something I should start getting used to...
We stayed for 2 hours (!!!!), then came home for baths and pizza.  It was nice, as I wasn't expecting to be able to use the pool again before we move.
I'm gonna miss that pool!

Later I watched "Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall:  The 25th Anniversary" on PBS.  And while I don't love "Phantom" as much as "Les Miz," it was very nice.  Ramin Karimloo, who played The Phantom (and Enjolras in the "Les Miz" anniversary, among many others) is supremely talented.  At the end of the show, after all the performances and speeches and bows, he picked up his co-star and carried her off stage.  Pretty cute!  And he's Canadian.  There's something about (aboot?) Canadians.  Seriously, some of my dearest friends are Canadian.  I often wonder if we should pack up and move to Vancouver. Is there a pressing need for Pilates instructors up there?

(The actor who played Raoul looked familiar.  It was kinda driving me nuts.  Turns out he was in an episode of "Doctor Who" back in '05.)

Anyway.  The weekend, as usual, went by way too quickly. Tomorrow we start another week of school/work/life as usual.  So I'd better get to bed.

'Night, all!