Masks and making sense of the world

I listened to a parenting seminar on CD this morning. My daughter’s therapist gave it to me, and the looong preface that came with this particular loan rivaled even my wordiest attempts to clarify my experience. It was not a criticism, she said. She just really likes this particular guy and his theories and she thinks I might find some of what he has to say helpful. Maybe not. But worth a shot, yes? And she is worried that my current model of being is “not sustainable.”

That part made me laugh, actually. As if I am not aware that my current model of being is not sustainable. People who are drowning don’t think that they’re swimming and suddenly the whole dying thing is a surprise.

Among other things, ample time was given in this presentation to that whole “put on your own oxygen mask” metaphor, and lord knows I have tried to get with this program in the past, but mostly it makes me want to punch people, because when you’re at the point where people make worried eyebrows and start talking about oxygen masks, there are no cheerful yellow masks falling from the ceiling to save you.

* * * * *

Words are always how I have made sense of my experience. Words are always how I have best connected with others, particularly those I love the most. I talk too much. I write too much. I say (and write) the wrong things. I can say “I love you” fifty times and they will all be forgotten in favor of that one time in the middle of an argument when I said “You are just being ridiculous.”

The parenting expert on the CD, he says to stop talking so much. I mean, he’s not specifically saying it to ME, but he’s saying it in general, and his reasoning is sound. And heaven knows if there was ever a parent who needed to just shut the fuck up already, it is me. I know.

* * * * *

So here’s the thing, short and sweet: Things were great. And then they weren’t. And that is the nature of this particular hand our family has been dealt. When I am being rational, I know this is the expected course of events and very little of what I do or don’t do actually influences that.

When I am being irrational, I listen to that stupid CD and feel at turns enraged that Mr. Oxygen Mask is blaming me for talking and also convinced that yes, it’s me, I TALK TOO MUCH, I made everything fall apart, it’s always me. I said things were good. I said it out loud, I said it on the blog, maybe I tempted fate, maybe she read it and it felt like pressure when really it was just gratitude. Maybe things were already falling apart and it felt like I don’t understand, like I never understand.

* * * * *

I can’t regret trying to make sense of things. Ever. That’s the path to hopelessness. And I have always, will always, try to limit my public words to those which are respectful—of my family, of privacy—without letting the shitty stuff win. Because I really believe that when you can’t talk about it because “what will people think” you are granting even more power to the monster that is already robbing your family of normalcy.

* * * * *

And then I write “monster” and I mean sickness and/or pain; but I worry she will come read this and think I am calling HER a monster. I would never. Obviously. But the words, they get twisted, particularly when oversensitive, struggling brains try to make sense of what probably feels like a very hostile world. And I know all of this, so do I stop talking? Just in case? How do I make sure I never say anything that could end up being harmful, other than to stop talking?

* * * * *

There are days when “I love you” is the wrong thing, even. Nothing is the right thing. I can’t fix it. I am wrong if I stay calm and I am wrong if I react and I am everything that is wrong when all I want to do is make it all right. I want to be able to say “I love you” and she feels it, knows it, and it helps. Maybe that’s selfish of me. I just want her to be okay; if she can be okay and know that my bumbling and talking too much are only because I am hurting and scared for her, fine, but that part isn’t necessary. The being okay, though, I need that for her.

* * * * *

It’s not about oxygen masks. It’s about figuring out how to live without oxygen, somehow. I don’t know yet how that works. I’m trying to understand.

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94 Responses to “Masks and making sense of the world”

  1. 1
    carrie on April 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    Hugs!

  2. 2
    Maria April 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm #

    So much love to you and your family, Mir. Keep talking.

  3. 3
    Claire April 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    I hear you about wishing I love you helps. My daughter is 15 (16 in August) and we have been hitting some major bumps.Lots of tears and worrying is it teenage angst or something more. thank you for being so honest and sharing. love and oxygen to you and yours

  4. 4
    Rachael April 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    And sometimes, speaking or not speaking makes no difference. Sometimes, it’s the perception that exists in another person that makes what we say sound different than our intended words. (HUGS)

  5. 5
    Susan Getgood April 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Love you.

  6. 6
    HG April 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Good thoughts, lots of love, and virtual hugs too all of you.

  7. 7
    Mom24_4evermom April 24, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    I am so sorry, for all of you. I pray that you can find your rhythm, that she can find hers, that it can all be good for all of you. I pray that that is possible. In our family it wasn’t, but people weren’t as proactive as you are, too busy floating on the world’s longest river.

    I’ve been worried about you, you’ve been too “on”, it’s seemed almost frantic all the professions about how good things are. It’s hard to describe and Lord knows I’m not criticizing you, it just rang a little ‘too good to be true’ after everything, but I was hoping against hope that it would hold.

    I hope you can stop blaming yourself. it seems to me, though I am not in your shoes or particularly in the know, that this is way bigger than you. Keep swimming, keep one foot in front of the other-ing (is there really a choice?) and I hope that things improve. You all deserve so much happiness, I hope it comes your way soon.

  8. 8
    Raquel April 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Many hugs to you and yours, Mir. So much is out of our control as parents and that is the hardest thing when things are not going well.

  9. 9
    Brenda April 24, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. I wish I had eloquent magic words, but of course I don’t.

  10. 10
    Betsy April 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    I’m sorry. And holding a good thought for you and yours.

  11. 11
    Jill W. April 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    So sorry you are all going through this. Praying for you.

  12. 12
    Nancy April 24, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Mir- I am so sorry. I am at the beginning of what I think will be a very long path with my darling , loveable and sometimes very exhausting preschooler. I am already looking for those “cheerful yellow masks falling from the ceiling to save” me. No luck so far, but it’s nice to know I am not alone.
    Hugs.

  13. 13
    MandyJ April 24, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    Finding the right words, the words that say enough without saying too much, is a balancing act all parents of teens struggle with. I can’t imagine how much harder it is when your child is sick and hurting and lost. My heart hurts for you and your beautiful daughter and the struggles that we all hope will make you both stronger in the long run but probably feel like they will just break you. Keep breathing, keep talking, and keep writing… we are here for you!

  14. 14
    Megan April 24, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    You are doing so much more than talking though – you’re being there, and you’re hugging and holding, you’re coming back for more even when you’ve been knocked down so many times it feels like there’s nothing left to get up with, and that shows love again and again and again in ways the words can’t reach.

    Talking is good – talking IS your oxygen mask. So keep on doing it if you need to, because it gives you the strength to love in so many other ways.

  15. 15
    amy April 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    I am so sorry. Hugs.

  16. 16
    Aubri April 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    Oh Mir. :-( I just want to let you know that you are loved. We know that whole stupid “oxygen mask” business in our family too… and I kinda wanna smack people who say it too. “Oh yeah? WHERE do you expect to FIND that oxygen mask? HMMMM????” But I don’t… because that’s not nice. Sigh.

    You’re an incredible woman, wife, and mother. And writer. With pretty hair. ((((hugs))))

  17. 17
    Issa April 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm #

    Hugs Mir. I hope this bump in the road passes quickly. No matter how big a bump it may be.

  18. 18
    Jan April 24, 2013 at 2:48 pm #

    Oh, Mir. It’s not you. It’s the ultimate bass-ackwards reward of parenting that the more you’re doing it right — creating a safe space, BEING the steadiest rock — the more they feel free to lash out with you when everything is wrong and bad. It’s not that “I love you” is the wrong thing — it’s that everyTHING is wrong and she ‘knows’ you can take it.

    There’s no shame in not being able to take it all, though. Maybe that’s the thing? I read what you write and I hear you saying you take care of yourself [so long as it doesn't interfere with taking care of everyone else]. Maybe you need to take care of yourself EVEN IF it means her needs go unmet?

    There are no easy solutions. Sometimes there aren’t even hard solutions and that sucks the most.

    Even if you can’t figure out the solution by writing it out here, I hope you get a tiny bit of oxygen from the outpouring of love and support from your readers. Because I know I speak for us all when I say we got your back as best we can.

  19. 19
    suburbancorrespondent April 24, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    “I can say ‘I love you’ fifty times and they will all be forgotten in favor of that one time in the middle of an argument when I said “You are just being ridiculous.’”

    Oh, honey, I hear you. I do. We should chat. Also? This:

    “Nothing is the right thing. I can’t fix it. I am wrong if I stay calm and I am wrong if I react and I am everything that is wrong when all I want to do is make it all right.”

    Much love to you. And who is the speaker on the CD? I’m curious.

  20. 20
    Alison C April 24, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    Love to you all

  21. 21
    Arnebya April 24, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    I’m trying to…I just…I can’t…words are our friends and our enemies but it’s how we consciously wield them that makes them one or the other. You consciously want better for her, consciously want her to know, so you use words to do that. How the words are taken once they’re out of your mouth is not something you can always make go the way you want (the way it should go). But as long as you have conviction behind your words, I am convinced she will realize the love and care behind them more regularly. This is my response to “How do I make sure I never say anything that could end up being harmful, other than to stop talking?”

    Please. Please don’t stop talking.

  22. 22
    parodie April 24, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    You are amazing and you wield those words so powerfully and eloquently. I think the oxygen masks analogy is overused, and I think that’s because it is both very true and very hard to remember that it is not selfish to take care of yourself – quite the contrary. People in crisis provoke crisis in others, and that as a result you have to work that much harder to be stable and sane.

    I’m sorry it’s hard. Good luck figuring it out. You are pretty freakin’ amazing.

  23. 23
    Kelly April 24, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Big hugs.

  24. 24
    suburbancorrespondent April 24, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    And, yes, where is that darn oxygen mask when you need it?

  25. 25
    Trish April 24, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

    HUGS!

  26. 26
    TC April 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    I love you is never wrong. It may not fix things, but it’s not wrong. I refuse to accept that, and I bet you do, too.

    The ‘funny’/ironic part? I started reading this and thought in my head, “Oh, my. I think my comment is just going to have be ‘I love you,’ and nothing else.” And then I got near the end, and realized that it would have to be more. But know, regardless, that I have nothing but love and respect for you. And also? I know as I’m sure you do that words and “talking about it” are your oxygen. Don’t let anyone cut off your oxygen.

  27. 27
    RuthWells April 24, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    My heart aches for you and your struggle. I’m so, so sorry. Big hugs from Philadelphia. We have plenty of wine, here, too. And chocolate. Just saying.

  28. 28
    Anna Marie April 24, 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    Parenting at I keep typing and deleting because nothing sounds right. But one thing I am fairly certain of is you need to give that CD back to the therapist. No one has all the answers, no one should try to make you think they do. Many hugs.

  29. 29
    Anna Marie April 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

    Gah. I should have deleted a Leetle bit more in my comment. Please to ignore the first 2 words…

  30. 30
    Jenne April 24, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    Sending ((( love )))).

  31. 31
    Sarah April 24, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Oh, Mir… I just had a feeling this was going on. I was so hoping I was wrong! :-( Deep down, she knows you love her. I just can’t even imagine how hard it is for all of you to battle with this. And, you are all in battle!

    A pastor from my chuch is going through a battle of her own… Much different than yours, but in a lot of ways, a battle is a battle. She’s lover of words, like you. :-) I’m definitely not going to get all preachy here… everyone has their own walk. But, if you’re interested, she has written “the book she wished someone else had written”, and she has her own blog. Here’s the link to her blog… http://www.bostern.com/blog/. You can find the information about the book there if you’re interested.

    Thinking of you, and praying for you, and hoping things get better soon!

  32. 32
    bj April 24, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    “maybe she read it and it felt like pressure when really it was just gratitude”

    My worry, too. My chick is younger than yours, but she shares a lot of the traits that you describe in your earlier words, the ones you worry about now. It’s tough to figure out how to celebrate them without burdening them to living up to high standards, when they are that kind of child. It’s not a worry that I can really talk about with my other parent friends, because what they see is a high-achieving, driven child, who looks like she has it all and is doing it all.

    I agree that if the CD is taking away your oxygen you need to give it back (actually, I’d be tempted to trash it!). The words that work for some people don’t work for others.

    Not being able to say “I love you” to try to make it better is a wicked pain for a mother. I know a kid who wanted her mother to say “you were terrible” after every performance (it was, practically, a way of avoiding comments while still giving her mother something to say, and, to be read as a code for “I love you.”). But, still hard, and wanting to help but not knowing how or if is awful.

  33. 33
    karen April 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    I’ve talked to you before about my daughter and her brain injury issues. I, too, have had to learn to just shut the fuck up sometimes, because I can’t fix it, I can’t make her see what she is not capable of seeing although it seems to blatantly obvious, and I have to accept that it is what it is.

    Easier… said.. than done.

  34. 34
    Tracy B April 24, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    {{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}

  35. 35
    Karen R April 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    Positive vibes on the way. Teens are tricky enough without the issues you are dealing with. Hopefully things will work out for the best.

  36. 36
    Katie in MA April 24, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    I don’t have any answers either, but I’m here for you just the same. I don’t even know if there are answers, not holy grails, anyways. I think we just keep on keeping on the best we can with the info we have, trying to help each other along the way. Chickie will get better again. You will get better again. So many of us are petitioning the universe to make it so, my friend.

  37. 37
    Niki April 24, 2013 at 3:47 pm #

    Love and hugs and prayers for all of you!

  38. 38
    Genevieve April 24, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    Mir, your love for her is never wrong. I don’t think that saying you love her is wrong – it may not get a good reaction sometimes, it may not be the right thing sometimes, but it’s never wrong, if that makes sense. If it’s the only thing you can say sometimes, it’s still a giant positive you’re putting out there for her.

    I’m so sorry you’re battling with illness. She is so wonderful, and you are so wonderful. Love to you.

  39. 39
    kapgaf April 24, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    Of course you want to fix it, you’re a parent! But we can’t always fix everything (but oh how we try) and that too is part of being a parent. My parenting is sort of “well, I’m going to try this and if this doesn’t work then I’ll try that and if that doesn’t work, well I’ll just scream and scream until I’m sick because I’m out of ideas to try right now”. There is no right or wrong way, there’s just the way that you do it and sometimes that hurts like hell.

    But oxygen mask? Hah! It drops down in front of you and then you have to grab hold of it and put the elastic that has lost its spring over your head so the mask is over your nose and mouth and you feel like you’re suffocating until you pull down to release the oxygen and who the hell can do all that calmly and in the right order when the plane is effing crashing? Maybe friends on the internet could be a kind of oxygen mask….

    I am thinking of all of you (yes, you too Licorice).

  40. 40
    Lucinda April 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    I wish I had the perfect words for you to give you everything you need. I don’t think they exist. I’m a talker too. There are so many times when I wish I had said less and waited more. But waiting is scary, especially when you feel like there is a possibility you can talk your way through it and make it all okay. In that space I have learned to pray instead. I can talk it all out but not to my daughter. I give it to someone else and wait for her to come to me when she is ready. It’s what works for us but we aren’t you and as good as it sounds, I don’t do it nearly enough. Good luck. My thought and prayers are with all of you.

  41. 41
    jodifur April 24, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    I so much want to tell you it is all going to be okay….

    But really, we don’t know.

    What I do know is that we are all here, listening, and virtually hugging, and we are here, whenever you want to talk.

  42. 42
    Ruth April 24, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    I’m so sorry. Knowing that you’re on a roller coaster instead of a nice, flat road doesn’t make the dips any less frightening. Thinking of you.

  43. 43
    Kim April 24, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    I’m so sorry.

  44. 44
    el-e-e April 24, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    hugs and support to you. :( one moment at a time is all you can do: your best, whatever you have, in that moment.

  45. 45
    not supergirl April 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    I can hear the ache in your words. I’m sorry it’s so hard, and I’m sorry it’s not fair. I don’t have words of advice, really, just sorry it’s tough now and hopeful that you all get to breathe again soon.

  46. 46
    Aimee April 24, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Oh, sweetie. {{{hugs}}}

  47. 47
    Bob April 24, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    But – it *is* about oxygen masks. You cannot be any help to Chickadee if you let your health (mental/physical) go in an attempt to help her. You may be tired of hearing it, especially since it doesn’t “fix” Chickadee, but you have to take care of yourself. Only a sane Mir has a chance of helping her.

    And those damned masks not falling out of the ceiling when you need them? ask your therapist where they are – she’ll help you make them.

    And – as if you didn’t know – you can’t (and shouldn’t) stop being you, your wordy-wordy wordiness, because: 1) that is who you are, you can’t and shouldn’t change who you are – it won’t help Chickadee. Your only hope to stay sane during the hard times for you to keep being you; and 2) you aren’t the problem. Chickadee’s problem is inside her, and blaming you (for talking/not talking/whatever) is easier than fixing what’s broken inside. She knows this, deep down. as do you.

    I understand your frustration, it is heartbreaking watching your child suffer and feeling like there is nothing you can do. (been there, done that) BUT – there is something you can do. Be her rock. Be the even-keeled momma she needs even when “it is all your fault”. You AREN’T causing this, so don’t react as if you are. Just keep being Mir. That is the best help you can be to her.

  48. 48
    Brooke April 24, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    You are amazing, even when ( especially when) you think you aren’t!

  49. 49
    js April 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    Son.of.a.bitch. This sucks. We virtual strangers don’t know you, but we care. Because you make us care with ALL THE WORDS. I think, if we thought it would truly help and if you thought it would truly help, we would all say YES! Maybe it’s best you stop the blog and that will fix everything that’s wrong. But it won’t. I sincerely do wish for you and your family that it was that simple. Chickie, you don’t know me and I don’t know your Mom. But I have been reading since the beginning and there is BIG, BIG LOVE there, always, in every word that is written.

    • 49.1
      Julie in Colorado April 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      What an Eloquent response! *Ditto*

      Mir you are an amazing mom, and you give me strength to deal with my clan EVERY DAY! Thanks for your honesty and sharing! We support you and your family as much as we can! * hugs *

  50. 50
    Navhelowife April 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    Oh Mir. We’ve been having our own struggles here with a teenager who has his own large set of mental health issues. Setting boundaries, enforcing those boundaries, loving them in their struggles and trying not to take it all so personally is so tiring. I found myself longing for the opportunity to just run away the other week.
    I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. You are always welcome to bend my ear.

  51. 51
    crazyjane April 24, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    You just put into words what I am not able to.

  52. 52
    laura April 24, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    Sending silent waves of strength your way.

  53. 53
    Mame April 24, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Six years ago my daughter told me that she and her boy friend thought I talked too much. I’m still struggling with it. Now when I talk with my daughter I wonder does she want to talk to me or is she being dutiful? So I’m working on not talking so much. It’s confusing. People seem happy to see me. They want to talk to me. Then I find myself talking to them but wondering if they wish I would stop talking.

    A journalist friend wrote to me saying: “You don’t talk too much. You just report what you observe — small details, large details, nuances that most people just don’t bother to observe. How people can be like that, I don’t know. I live for that stuff. It gives me all my best ideas. The details are what matters. The details are usually the truth of any situation, as far as I’m concerned.

    The only people who talk too much are people who have nothing worth saying. And, as long as I’ve known you, you have always had a ton of stuff worth hearing.”

    Mir, many of us look to these pages to read what you have to say on a regular basis. To paraphrase my friend: And, as long as I’ve known you, you have always had a ton of stuff worth reading.”

    • 53.1
      Valerie April 26, 2013 at 10:58 am #

      I totally concur with Mame and Bob and just about every other comment above.

      Mame #53: “The only people who talk too much are people who have nothing worth saying. And, as long as I’ve known you, you have always had a ton of stuff worth hearing.”

      Bob #47: “You AREN’T causing this, so don’t react as if you are. Just keep being Mir. That is the best help you can be to her.”

      This week is certainly sucking in big ways. My struggle with my almost 17 year old daughter seemed to have melted away and she looked well on her way to good things. Then a few too many proofs surface that my kiddo has “issues.” Well, I wanted to believe that because I am such a good mom (and I am) and love her so much (I do), that those issues would fade away. Seeing her struggle can sure deflate me. But really, it is not one way or the other. Kids are not either perfect or fucked up. She is on her way to good things, and she has some issues to work out as well. And most days I feel strong enough to help her. On the other days, loud music or chocolate or wine or maybe even a little temper tantrum of my own helps.

      So since I feel on a different but shared path of parenting, I want to say Big Thanks to you, Mir and Big Thanks to the community you have built. It is so very nice to know we are not alone. It might be better if everything was rosy, but I will be very grateful for what I can get here.

      Hang in there. Tomorrow will be a better day and you will need your strength to enjoy it.

  54. 54
    mandy April 24, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    What they all said ^^^

    Thinking of you and yours.

  55. 55
    Jeanie April 24, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    Good thoughts and prayers for you all.

  56. 56
    LizD April 24, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Hugs. I wish I had something shiny to distract you (or even better, words of wisdom and comfort.) Hugs.

  57. 57
    bryan April 24, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Long walks with Licorice, baths, a long hug from Otto. . .if I were you, those would be my oxygen masks. And carbs. I don’t know what yours are, but you will find them. Look for the joy in the little things, because sometimes those little things are all there are.

  58. 58
    Christine April 24, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    Could there be anything worse as a parent then recognizing that you can’t fix it? If you blame yourself you at least have the illusion that you do have control, that all you need to do is stop screwing up and then it will be ok. Bonus, now you feel both helpless and like a failure. You are neither. You are helpful in your persistent, loving presence despite not having super powers to fix it or be perfect. I doubt any words can really ease the pain when you are right in the middle of all of it, but I do hope that the love we reflect back to you gives you some comfort.

  59. 59
    Heather April 24, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    Sending many, many hugs and best wishes. <3

  60. 60
    Jessica (the celt) April 24, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    I don’t know why people who are quiet tell people who are verbose that they should be quieter. I don’t know why verbose people tell the quiet ones that they need to speak up more. Why can’t the quiet people stay as quiet as they wish (and speak up when they want to, as long as they learn to speak up when they need to) and the verbose people keep talking (as long as they don’t override others who wish to speak)? Why is one better than the other? Why does one person think you’re talking too much, when I wish you could say so much more and get more people to understand that life isn’t sunshine and roses and bluebirds of happiness flying up people’s noses?

    I at turns pray for things I need to make it in this world and then I am silent for far too long, scared that if I lift up my fear and worry that whatever I’m fearing or worrying about will come to pass because I thought about it. I say to my husband, “Wow, our neighbors haven’t had a party in two weeks” the morning before they throw an all-nighter, and I end up wondering if I tempted fate. (I don’t want to say what I really tempt fate about, so let’s use something innocuous like a neighbor, shall we?) I should just have shut up, right?

    Wrong. Who are you, Mir? Be that person. Whoever that person is? Well, she’s the one who loves her family so much that it pains her to the core when something is off with anyone in it. She’s the one carrying such a heavy burden that wasn’t meant for one person, but it’s there on her shoulders all the same. She’s the one that you need to be true to, because she’ll help you get through this again. And again. And, if necessary, again. You will.

  61. 61
    Katherine April 24, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Hugs and prayers for you and Chickadee. I don’t have much in the way of advice, but it seems that saying I LOVE YOU should never be wrong. And that if writing is your way of working through things you shouldn’t stop. Would Chickee rather you write to her instead of talk to her? I hope your bumps even out soon!

  62. 62
    Kristin April 24, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    I agree. It’s about learning to adapt in a new environment. Instead of oxygen masks, you grow gills. As a species, we adapt to survive and that’s what you are doing. Words are your gills. And that’s all I got – if the therapist suggested a different approach, I guess they know what they’re doing. Maybe flat out ask the therapist what she meant?

  63. 63
    abbeyvioleta April 24, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    Big hugs.

  64. 64
    Sheila April 24, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

    I am sending you all the virtual love (and lemonade, which will go with all your MIIINNNTT!) I’ve got. You and Chickadee will be in my prayers.

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    Sharon April 24, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    I read this and wanted so much to say something helpful. I asked someone near and dear to me what helped when she was Chickadee’s age. She said that she remembers that that was the age that the rest of us would leave for the day and “give her the house.” She remembers me saying that she needed the day to herself. As an adult she now says that there was no right, that I never could have done the right thing because “it’s a moving target at best, an invisible goal point at worst,” that “contrary and argumentative were as close to right as she could get.” She remembers being sensitive to sounds and the smallest thing could set her off. I remember sending her to her room and later finding her asleep because she was exhausted. She reminds me that “estrogen is a bitch” and is an important part of the equation.

    I agree with my daughter that it’s a tough place to be, for both of you. We did it one day at a time and somehow we got to the other side. I’m holding onto that thought for the two of you.

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    Lauren April 24, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    Aw, hell. As always: let me know if I can do anything. Thinking of you all.

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    Beth April 24, 2013 at 10:06 pm #

    Ah, Mir…don’t know you IRL but read you and hurt with you. Lived through it with a girl who is now 22 and we survived…bipolar, hospital, etc. It’s very good, now.

    Saying “we made it” doesn’t help you now, I know. There is just this; that my heart is open to yours, I hurt with you and for you all, and I pray, so your name will be mentioned tonight. And again tomorrow, and beyond.

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    Sonia April 24, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    You are not always wrong. Relationships go through cycles… Ups and downs. It is so hard to remember during a “down” that things will swing back up, and everyone will feel that love and laugh easily again. But it will. Take things day by day. She’s growing, changing, morphing more rapidly than she knows how. That can’t be easy but you are NOT always wrong.

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    Nance April 24, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    I am in the same place with my Z as you are with your Chickadee and I feel like the more I try, the more I fail. I want my baby to be okay, and my wanting it isn’t enough. My loving her isn’t enough. Nothing is enough, and I don’t know what will be or when.

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    Lara T April 24, 2013 at 11:13 pm #

    Hugs Mir. I’m so sorry that it is a struggle again and probably this on/off push/pull is a dance to last for many years. The words may or may not be helping with Chickadee but they sure are helping me. That first section you wrote? I thought “YES, THIS!”. In the past, I’ve always enjoyed Bob’s comments but this time, I respectfully disagree. It’s a great theory (and truth) re: the oxygen masks BUT tell me how logistically. I have two high-needs children, one only in school two mornings a week, tell me how I make time for me AND allow my husband to keep his job so we can pay the bills. Those stinkin’ masks are nowhere to be seen. I’m drowning and I know it but I don’t have time for that so the drowning (and rescuing) is gonna have to wait! Hoping things get better soon for you all Mir. And please don’t stop talking :)

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    Lisa April 24, 2013 at 11:18 pm #

    Oxygen is over-rated……

    Love you. Love all of you!! You will get to the other side of this. I have to believe that you will. Your words are your part of your strength and they are hers too.

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    Djurdjica April 25, 2013 at 5:31 am #

    I’m sorry things are going badly.

    I just…it’s not because you wrote that things were good. I have the same impulse when I get hopeful, to blame the hope when things turn sour. But that’s no good. People should hope and talk about good things, because that makes good things happen more. People should give in to hope and good feelings more, not less. It gives you good ideas and new directions.

    Feeling depressed and hopeless doesn’t do anyone any good. A positive mindset is a good thing. Crushed hopes are hard to get over, but the cause of crushing is not the hope itself.

    And yes, I know I’m just stating the obvious, but it bears repeating. Hang in there, cool and awesome lady.

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    Brigitte April 25, 2013 at 7:20 am #

    Don’t change your word-y ways to make Mr. CD happy. You would completely implode, plus your family would wonder when you were replaced by a robot. You are a constant that they need, whether or not it is realized at any certain moment. Hugs!

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    Amy Renold April 25, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    At least despite the issues you may have encountered as you mentioned, you still managed to keep still especially when dealing with love and care for the special people in your life. I appreciate all those honest words from you.

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    Lisa April 25, 2013 at 10:48 am #

    I’m so sorry you and C are struggling right now. I’ll keep you in my thoughts.

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    jp April 25, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Sorry Chickie is having a hard time again. It sucks so badly when everything seems wrong and you can’t seem to help, no matter that every fibre of your being wants to do anything, something to help. Keep your words. They are a powerful tool, a part of you, and when she is able and ready to listen they will be there.

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    Shorty April 25, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Saying I’m sorry just seems so inadequate, but those are the only words I have. My 9 year old daughter seems to have the same struggles as C. After lots of self-doubts and self loathing, I have come to the conclusion that what I say or do may effect her behaviors/emotional state sooner, but in the end, she is who she is. She will always have some ups and a lot of downs (unfortunately). Please try not to be soo hard on yourself. You are doing the best you can with the hand you have been dealt!

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    Mara April 25, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    Oh, Mir, I’m so sorry. And I know I’m just echoing all the other comments, but your talking and writing is not ‘the problem’. Or even ‘a problem’. You are trying SO HARD to help her, and in the end that is what is going to matter– not what you do, or even if it ‘works’, but that you are ALWAYS trying. As an adult she is going to remember that you never gave up on her, that you were always there and willing to try one more thing. That matters. (hugs)…

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    Sally April 25, 2013 at 1:00 pm #

    I keep trying to think of something to say that might be comforting but everything that comes up sounds like a limp platitude. It tells me that not everyone can use words the way you do. Listen, yes, but please never stop talking/writing.

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    Barb April 25, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Some talk to much, some too little. From someone who is on the other side, please keep talking, it makes some of us realize we are not alone.

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    Kristen April 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    We are years behind you on this bumpy and curvy road, but we right there with you. I, for one, am so grateful for your voice.

    And then there is this:
    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/10/the-power-of-talking-to-your-baby/?src=me&ref=general

    So, depending on your expert – talking can also be good. Granted, our teens are no longer babies. But, still. (and some days, it is all that keeps me functioning…there has got to be something good in keeping mama functioning…no?)

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    Mariya April 25, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    I am a talker too. For me, being silenced is the way to destruction.

    You are doing such a good job in an impossible situation. I stand in awe of your dedication, love, and thoughtfulness.

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    Barnmaven April 25, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    The pain of not being able to do, say or even think something in order to help my kids is profound and so incredibly uncomfortable. A therapist once told me that some feelings weren’t actually something I could “do” something about…they were meant to be felt and gotten through and learned from , nothing more. I hated her for saying that, even though I know its true. But I struggle so hard with knowing HOW to not do something when the outcome feels so much like life and death.

    I hope that it helps at least a little to know that others know the same grim agony. I hold your situation in my thoughts and send prayers for things to get better.

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    drwendy April 25, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    Sometimes all we can do is bear witness. “They also serve who only stand and wait.” That’s what Milton says about the angels (and the people) who are not taking the obvious action. It’s good that you can stand and wait. It matters.

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    M. April 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    With hope that virtual hugs bring you some measure of comfort, here’s one more: ((hug))

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    Ben Ther April 26, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    What a complicated world we live in. The fact that you say “I love you” counts for a lot. I feel they hear that, but we seem as a culture to be about “me”. And that is a dangerous place to live in. As soon as anyone turns focus on their own world, at the exclusion of everyone else, trouble invariably ensues. But, alas, that is where the pubescent teen lives, through no fault of their own, because the learning who they are and where they fit in this over complicated society is a maze I would never want to battle through again. I feel for you all, and remember when I too was tip-toeing through that same minefield with my teens. Amazing that we got through it semi-unscathed. It didn’t feel that way then, though.

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    Meg April 26, 2013 at 12:35 am #

    I think you talking IS your oxygen mask. And I so do not mean that as a criticism! I think if that’s your coping mechanism, then it is your coping mechanism and it’s worthwhile, and you should grab onto anything that helps even a little.

    I wish you could have something that helped a LOT. :(

    I think you’re a very smart person, and you’re putting a lot of energy into trying to help Chickie. I think that in itself counts a great deal. Obviously I wish you were getting better results, that things could be good for her and you and Otto and Monkey all the time, but given that that’s not happening I think it is important to acknowledge the effort you’re making. I know it’s trite but I do like that saying about regretting the things you did instead of the things you didn’t.

    You’re trying. You’re not giving up. I know there’s no magic solution that you’ll find if you just try hard enough. But in itself the trying counts, and I hope Chickie realises that underneath somewhere, even in the bad times. I hope she realises how much love you have for her and how much energy you’re putting into her. (I think she probably does. I just don’t want to try to tell you how she feels, or to try to tell you how you feel.)

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    Ellie April 26, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    Well, shoot. It kills me when my psychiatric care students have these crashes, when there are weeks and weeks of success, they’re earning back privileges and getting off super-strict safety plans– and then boom! it all blows up.

    I can’t even imagine how much it hurts when it’s your own baby.

    Thinking of you all.

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    Christina April 26, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    I’m sorry that your family is going through this. I’m a long-time reader and am rooting for your family.

    Maybe you should stop writing about Chickie for a while? I’m well into my 20s but when I was reading your post I could imagine my teenage self poring over a journal entry like this (had it been written by my sister who raised me), dissecting every thought written and remembering only those phrases that hurt me. Unfortunately when we know a person well we analyze things s/he does through our own understanding of that person’s cues or tone and ignore the person’s overall intent. Does that make sense?

    Anyway, good luck to you both. My sister and I had a difficult time through my teen years but now that I’m older we have a good relationship. I know it’s difficult to be going through it but you two will come out of it having a better understanding of each other.

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    Chris G April 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    I’m glad you went out to lunch with your friend. I like you tend to hibernate when I have issues that get me down. I wonder if the oxygen mask simply meant taking care of yourself first (ie. pushing yourself to go to lunch with a friend instead of trying so hard at home) so Chickie woudn’t feel responsible for you not being happy and feel responsible for you not seeing your friend and also your mood. I went through and experience with my son and it was tough setting limits and trying to help him through. I turned to reading so I would be available to him but not come to school to rescue him. He was OCD with anxiety to beat the band. The principal made suggestions and I really liked her but the suggestions were so off. The teacher wasn’t on my side and the therapist just listened to him not helping me. My goal was for him to function on his own too and not cry in front of the class and make his experience worse. I tend to use words also and now am learning to be quiet. Sometimes he asks what I think and I ask him if he needs help figuring it out now that he’s 18 or if he’s ok. He works a lot of it out but told me the other day its easier just knowing I’m in his corner. I will continue to pray for you on your journey…..it is difficult and Chickie I am sure realizes how much she loves you and that you are there for her but she wants to find her way and doesn’t want you to suffer as well because she may need you to pick her up and put on the oxygen mask if you will. I know too well the feeling that nothing you do is right, you talk too much etc. You have your words and I really don’t have the gift you have which is a beautiful and intelligent one. Your words are your life. Don’t give them up be an example. I know you want to fix them but they have to fix themselves as my son said. He told me there wasn’t anything I could do. It is hard since thats what we mothers want to do for our struggling children. Incidently I had a husband who told me I couldn’t fix him either. He was a cheater who said it wasn’t me it was his insecurity within himself. When the kids had issues at school I asked them if they needed me to talk to their teacher or principal, or coach. I did in a couple of instances when they needed me to. I have a problem with helicopter parenting and (your not doing that) but some parents go in to the schools and battle all their battle without giving the kids some responsibility. I know it is tough to take care of yourself but even getting out with Otto or Licorice or seeing a friend when thats the last thing you want to do will help and if it doesn’t help you it will help Chickie see that you are ok. I wonder if she feels responsible somehow when you are down. Of course she will think your not paying attention to her if you are taking care of yourself but she will learn that you are. I wish I could say all the arguments will end but she is a teen with estrogen and earning her wings. She is a lovely girl who wants to be independent and she is trying her hand. She is very talented and a beautiful girl which you have conveyed here on your blog. She will make it and so will you…maybe with some scrapes and bruises. Try not to hibernate too much, I will keep you in my prayers. Keep writing don’t let anyone stop you from that I read your posts at alpha mom and these and love all of it. You are awesome, Chickie is awesome, Monkey is awesome, and so is lovely Otto!!

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    Daisy April 27, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    i’m so there. Deep breath. You are a good mom and wonderful parent and worth the oxygen. Really.

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    Kelly May 1, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    I’m right there with you. You beautifully described what we go through as well.

    The idea that there is something, anything I could do haunts me every day, but I know the illness in our house laughs in my face when I think that. It’s not a kind illness, it doesn’t care about my feelings.

    I keep trying to put on my oxygen mask first, too, but it doesn’t work. Let me know if you figure it out.

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