My therapist once told me that it would be a good idea to plan ahead for emotional tough times. This discussion was a long time ago, so I won’t pretend to remember all the details, but I’ve put this somewhat odd concept into practice — at least in certain areas.
For example, I think I’ve always had PMS, but I noticed a distinct difference a year or so after my youngest son was born. The week before my period became almost unbearable — unrelenting fatigue, crying one minute followed by lots of anger and shouting. You can probably imagine what a delightful ball of joy I was during this time. I had played the guinea pig before with doctors who insisted that random pharmaceuticals were the answer to all my hormonal problems and learned the hard way that this trial and error method was NOT for me. I did go to my midwife who ran extensive blood-work and informed me that my labs were normal. She suggested some dietary changes along with some vitamin/mineral supplements, and then threw out a crazy concept: make rest a priority during PMS.
I discussed this with my therapist, and she echoed similar advice: have a conversation with Gil, and be up front about what’s going on. Come up with a plan that works for our family, and make it happen.
I would love to tell you that since we began planning for PMS (did I seriously just type that?!!) that I’ve begun taking relaxing mini vacations the week before my period while Gil handles all the child-rearing, cooking, cleaning, etc. NO — we live in this place called the real world, and as we like to joke — someone has to pay for this dream, and we currently have no spare funds for even a family getaway, much less monthly minis for Mom.
However, we have made some helpful changes. I have had to let of go of some of my own expectations, and when I feel some serious PMS coming on, I do exactly what these two wise women recommended. I rest. I ask Gil for help with cooking, grocery shopping, etc., and I refuse to feel guilty. I’m gradually learning to listen to my body, and what I’ve heard is that it is screaming for down time. Gil is open to working with me because I’m no longer throwing random household items at him during my fits of rage — ok, this is a slight exaggeration.
I never thought I’d say this, but planning to rest and giving myself permission to not accomplish much during PMS, so to speak, has been more liberating than I could ever imagine. I consider myself a feminist, and I ADORE that word, by the way. I’ve recently discovered that many do not and are turned off by the word as well as the definition. However, I have spent most of my life believing that in order to be a feminist, I have to suppress everything about me that is feminine. This is CRAZY! I grew up surrounded by lots of testosterone, and I spent a great deal of my childhood playing and fighting with boys. I learned to be tough, and I learned to survive in a male-dominated world, and in many realms, this has served me well. The downside is that I learned to believe that any and everything feminine was weak, and I most certainly did not want to be weak.
I’m gradually re-learning that my feminine gifts are my greatest strengths. I believe that many of the problems in this world stem from society’s fear of the feminine. This hurts EVERYONE, and it has to change, so I’m starting with myself. How amazing would it be if women and men were not fighting about who does things better and started working with their individual gifts. And I do mean individual. I have women friends who are true earth mothers. They feel that they were put on this earth to nurture by cooking delicious meals, running a household, and taking care of their family — AND they perform these tasks amazingly well. Yes — I’m envious.
I am SO NOT one of these women, but what I’m discovering is that this is okay. I do believe that I, too, am a nurturer but in a totally different way. I love teaching, talking, and playing with my children. I enjoy developmental psychology and understanding from that perspective why my kids do the things they do. I like discovering their individual learning styles. I enjoy teaching them about their environment and helping them learn about nutrition and making good food choices. I love teaching them about the world, and I get such a happy thrill watching them discover it. These strengths in and of themselves are not bad, but I often allow myself to feel insecure because I’m still bombarded with images of mothers who are fabulously pulled together, with spotless, beautifully decorated homes and delicious meals. AND, they always seem to have these big, authentic smiles on their pretty faces. They probably DO NOT have to plan for PMS.
Okay, I need to wrap this post up. It’s becoming long and I’m struggling with staying on topic. I had intended to write about planning to grieve — as in September is a crazy, hard month around here, and I need to plan to have an emotional breakdown before I slam into one like a concrete wall. Come back, and hopefully I’ll remember to blog about that in a future post. Have I mentioned I struggle with ADHD?!
I’ll attempt to summarize with this: I do not think it is weak to admit that there are times when we need to rest, and I’m working to put this into practice. I’m trying to be more patient with myself and recognize what I need before I throw a fit or sink into a depression. I’ve always felt slightly different from my peers. My emotions are overwhelming at times, and only recently am I understanding that this might be a good thing. However, it sometimes feels lonely. On top of just feeling innately different, I’ve been dealt some situations that many my age can not comprehend, which feels further isolating.
I’m learning to accept all of this. It’s a process and not always an easy one. I have to conclude because of lots of little boy energy that’s demanding my immediate attention.
Until next time………