Hey, 2014. Nice to See You.

 

Today’s Randoms:

 

1.) I was chastised by my husband for staring at him while he kissed me goodbye this morning. I have an unnerving (I’m told) habit of not closing my eyes when I kiss. Apparently my strange desire to see the person I’m kissing creeps people out. Whoops.

 

2.) A wretched respiratory virus gifted upon me by my son in mid-November turned into pneumonia in my lungs by Thanksgiving, lasted 4 weeks, and took 2 rounds of heavy duty antibiotics with side effects like “fainting” (which I did… in front of my son, unfortunately, which scared him) and “tendon rupture” (so far, so good) is finally, officially behind me. To celebrate my clear lungs, I went to the gym for strength training for the first time since I got sick weeks ago.

 

3.) The dude who SLAMS the weights down at the end of each rep was at the gym today. He makes all of the people on the cardio machines jump, turn around, and stare, yet he still does the rude gym move of dropping his weights really loudly. I crank my headphones up to help diffuse the banging, but he’s so loud he cuts through my rock music.

I contemplated talking to him one-on-one as a human, explaining that I have an anxiety disorder, and that there are a lot of people with PTSD (military, victims of violence, etc.) in the world who are extra jumpy and seek the gym for catharsis, not anxiety triggers.

I thought about showing him the bottle of Xanax I keep in my purse, and letting him know that I was going to have to take an extra one if I was going to stay in the gym because his unexpected and loud weight slamming was making me feel completely fight or flight and scared inside.

And then I decided he’s probably too stupid to understand any of that, because he’s in a gym to lift weights and build his muscles, yet is being lazy and cheating on the way down by dropping the weight instead of controlling it, which is half of the workout.

If he can’t even grasp the basic concept of “muscle goes up, muscle goes down, exercise happens both times,”  then he probably can’t handle the complexities of human psychology.

So I cranked my headphones even louder and worked through it. Because sometimes exacerbating one’s tinnitus from playing in loud bands for 12 years is better than jumping in terror every 2-3 minutes. The more you know. (Insert: shooting star.)

 

4.) One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to stop being so judgmental of other people, or rather, to stop imposing my psychological or emotional motivations and choices on others.

This year, I got super bummed out by the large amounts of pictures of Xmas gifts posted on Facebook because I worry about being too attached or obsessed with material possessions, and snarkily put up an old Fugazi song/video about materialism, writing above it: “You are not what you own.”

But I took it down. Because that’s my issue, I realized. My personal beliefs don’t mean I get to judge other people or decide what the holidays are about for them: It’s their money and their holiday, and they can celebrate it any damned way they please.

I truly believe that learning to not attach to material things has been one of the main lessons this lifetime has been trying to teach me, usually by ripping from my grasp everything material to which I become attached (via theft, divorce, destruction, and/or idiot ex-boyfriends who borrow my van to move their stupid hipster scooter, then leave said van in a 72 hour parking zone for more than 72 hours, thereby getting it towed and permanently stolen by the city of L.A. when I can’t afford to pay the expired tags, towing, storage and ticket fees… AHEM).

Anyhow… that’s my lesson, and what I believe is one of the things I’m supposed to be learning on my journey during this lifetime, but that doesn’t mean that particular lesson is necessarily on anyone else’s path. Or any of my lessons. So I want to stop trying to impose my lessons on other people. They have their own lessons to learn, and that’s their business, not mine.

Because of this realization, I decided I want to try to be less judgmental in all areas of my life, and not hold people to the standards to which I hold myself.

This is going to be hard for me.

My husband sometimes tells me when I’m griping about something that bothers me, “You’re so angry at people all of the time!”

And I generally reply, “That’s because people SUCK so much of the time! If they’d stop SUCKING all of the time, I’d stop being ANGRY all of the time!”

 

See what I mean?

Sigh.

 

But I didn’t say anything to that obnoxious dude at the gym today, so hey, it’s a start, right?

 

My personal 2014 motto:

bekindbequiet

 

Happy New Year, pals. xoxo.

 

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A Thank You Note

Depression-FB

 

My friend Nanea wrote a piece about dealing with panic attacks and anxiety last year that changed my world for the better in more ways than I can count.

Because of parental stressors beyond my control, I was in the middle of the worst panic and anxiety spiral I’d ever experienced, had to quit my day job, and had stopped leaving the house because that’s where the panic attacks happened. By being brave enough to share her similar issues, her words gave me the courage to go to the psychiatrist, which gave me back my life.

Showing what I perceived as weakness was the scariest thing in the world for someone with a Mean Inner Drill Sergeant like mine, and when you add social anxiety and panic attacks to the mix, getting to a psychiatrist seemed like some kind of an impossible miracle.

But my extreme respect for my friend gave me the power to finally get help. I actually repeated to myself, “Nanea did this, you can do it too. Nanea got help, you can get help too,” to summon the courage to set up the appointment and get my terrified butt into the psychiatrist’s chair. I was diagnosed with a brain chemical imbalance called generalized panic and anxiety disorder with agoraphobia, given medication that immediately stopped the panic attacks and constant anxiety, and everything has been so much better ever since.

All because my friend was brave enough to talk about her own anxiety disorder.

Nanea, if you ever have a moment during which you doubt your positive impact on the world, you can forever glance over into the “wins” column in your mind where I will be smiling and giving you the thumbs-up sign for the rest of your life.* Thank you. ♥

Please read her latest piece (from her website, Sweatpants & Coffee) about depression, panic attacks, and having an anxiety disorder, because the more we all learn about chemical imbalances and other atypical neurology/psychology, the less stigmatized it will be. So many people, like me, spend their lives feeling weak for not being like everybody else without realizing that “everybody else” sometimes feels the same way. Words have so much power for good.

In short: You are not alone, and if you need psychological help, remember that getting help doesn’t mean you are weak, it means you are strong enough to do what you need to do to make your life better. You are brave, even if you feel scared. You can do it. xoxo.

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Anxiety & ADHD

Because I have lived my entire life with until-recently-untreated ADHD, I have developed many coping mechanisms for my complete lack of memory.

A few of these include: constantly striving to organize everything and minimize clutter/distractions to control my surroundings since I can’t control my scattered, racing brain, keeping a daily planner in a central location of my home that I walk past and consult constantly, multiple dry erase boards and to-do lists placed strategically around the house, and a backup mini-planner in my purse.

My memory is so bad that when I’m not on Adderall, I will often forget what I was going to write down to remember while walking the 10 feet to the nearest to-do list. Before I was diagnosed with ADHD and Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder with Associated Agoraphobia, and learned that both of these conditions cause brain fog and memory problems, I was seriously considering seeing a neurologist.

I have also developed an anxiety disorder from living my life in a constant state of “What am I forgetting this time?” Before medication, I constantly worried, was neurotically 15-30 minutes early for every college class, job, and appointment, and had panic attacks.

 

I’m sharing my stories because:

 

1. I’m Somebody’s Mother–

I’m officially in my 40s now. I have a 7-year-old little boy. I’m getting older, and that’s what old people do; we talk about our ailments.

 

2. Relating to Others Helps–

Reading about other people’s ADHD and anxiety disorders was what made me feel like I could finally seek psychological help and/or medication for my issues, which has changed my life in more positive ways than I can count.

 

3. Open Discussion Helps–

Every time I discuss my anxiety or my son’s and my ADHD issues on Facebook, multiple people come forward to tell me they’ve dealt with or are presently dealing with the same things. I also get just as many private messages about ADHD and anxiety disorders from people I would never have guessed were in similar situations.

 

4. The Need Exists–

I have a Pinterest board about anxiety that is the most often re-pinned and followed aspect of my Pinterest collection, which tells me that anxiety issues are more common than anyone realizes. It’s time we all talk about psychological and neurological differences openly, and without shame.

 

5. Atypical Neurology Needs to Be Taken Seriously By Doctors–

My psychiatrist told me that far too many psychiatrists and other medical professionals don’t take anxiety disorders seriously and often prescribe anti-depressants when they’re the exact opposite of what an anxious person needs.

He placed me on a low-dose daily regimen of Xanax, and told me the pharmacy might give me a hard time about my prescription, which has proven true.

 

6. Atypical Neurology Needs to Be Taken Seriously By Pharmacists–

After my pharmacy cancelled the prescription my psychiatrist gave me that allowed for 5 refills after I’d only refilled it once, I asked to speak to a pharmacist on the phone, prepared to chew him/her out for not taking my disorder seriously, or for thinking I was abusing the medication that has completely eliminated the 4-5 panic attacks I was having a week that was turning me agoraphobic.

Instead, I got a kind pharmacist who said his father also had an anxiety disorder, that he completely understood what I was going through, and he immediately refilled my prescription, with apologies. This once again reinforced to me that anxiety disorders are not taken seriously, but that anyone who has dealt with someone diagnosed with one (such as PTSD) understands that they are very real and debilitating.

 

7. My Friend Changed My Life with the Courage of Shared Words–

My intelligent friend and fellow empath, Nanea, who now runs the beautiful website http://sweatpantsandcoffee.com/ opened up on Facebook about her anxiety issues, which gave me the strength to finally seek professional help. I decided that if she could be brave enough to go to a doctor and talk about her fears, then I could do that too (admitting weakness, especially to a stranger, seemed like the most daunting task ever, and I avoided it for years). Because she was brave enough to share, it made me brave enough to share, and it gave me back my life. No hyperbole. So I want to pay that forward here for anyone I can.

 

8. Feeling Alone Makes Everything Worse–

Feeling alone is the worst thing in the world. If my words can make one person feel not alone and give someone hope that there is help available, or at least a shoulder to lean on and another human who truly understands what they’re going through, all of my writing will have been worth it.

xoxo.

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Collective Unconscious Versus the Cell Phone Zombies

Last night, at my son’s yearly school fundraiser carnival, I was sitting on a bench while he played on a playground with 30+ other happy kids. I was completely in the moment, enjoying the pure joy on each child’s face while they ran and climbed and jumped around and chattered happily at each other and screamed for the fun of it as they slid down the slides.

They had different colors of chalk coloring their hair from the carnival hair-coloring booth, and looked like some sort of tiny, blissful rainbow tribe as they swarmed the equipment. “When was the last time I had so much fun with so little?” I mused to myself.

(I always wonder this when I see kids with helium-filled balloons. When was the last time something so simple made me incredibly happy that way? Amazing.)

I looked up at the big Oklahoma sky at dusk; the sun was in the process of setting, and there were streaks of light beaming from behind the clouds into the bright blue, as if heaven was hiding behind them. The air was perfect–not too cool, not too hot–and I breathed it in, trying to be present and truly feel the happiness of the children of all ages playing in front of me. I think children are incredibly pure and beautiful, and I had a goofy smile on my face as I watched them.

I thought about how they had no worries yet about money, no fear about the future, and were living purely in the moment–and about how we adults need to do this more often, despite our adult responsibilities. Because in the end, none of our adult responsibilities, debts, or the possessions that prevent us from noticing life actually matter.

The moments are what matter, not the money we owe, or the things we own. We only get to ride this ride once, so I want to remember to pay attention to the sights along the way and appreciate the journey.

As I was making this vow to myself to take a lesson from the children to pay attention to the simple beauty around me, and to remember to be more present in my own life, an adorable little brunette-haired toddler walked from behind my bench on the right, into my vision, and onto the playground. He had huge brown eyes, and was so tiny and friendly that I visibly swooned and smiled at him. I just wanted to scoop him up for a hug.

He then turned to a woman standing at the edge of the playground, I’m assuming because she had kids playing there, and he waved up at her with a shy smile on his sweet face.

She continued to stare at the screen of her phone, and completely missed this moment of a small, innocent human trying to connect with her to share his completely altruistic inner kindness. She never looked up.

The little boy looked crestfallen for a moment, and then turned to go play, moving quickly past the unintentional rejection the way kids do. I immediately stopped feeling the peace and pure joy of the moment, and looked around me.

On the bench to my left, about 20 feet away, sat a man completely engrossed in his cell phone.

I looked to my right and saw 3 more adults standing around the playground, staring at their phones, never looking up from the screens.

I saw people walking to and from the playground, never looking up from the phones in their hands.

I suddenly became acutely aware of what I hadn’t noticed while I was marveling at the beautiful evening sky and smiling at the happiness of children: almost every adult I could see was either clutching a cell phone between glances, or staring at one and scrolling, ignoring everything else.

I felt stunned by this realization. And it made me more determined than ever that my husband and I stick to our guns and never have data plans, or more than the most basic cell phones available. Somehow we’ve survived our entire lives without constantly holding the Internet in our hands, and I’m certain we can survive the rest of our years free from suckling the eternally-online teat.

Because I don’t want to walk through my life like a technology zombie, staring blankly at glowing screens. I’m already on the computer enough at home and for my writing job; I don’t need to be tied to the Internet at all times. This seems psychologically unhealthy to me, the way we’re never alone with our thoughts anymore. I don’t understand why everyone is so afraid to be alone or have a peaceful moment or meal not shared with everyone else in their online world. I like feeling alone. I feel like I’m my truest self when I’m alone. It endlessly depresses me that “taking a break from Facebook for a week or two” has become the new Walden Pond.

The Universe and I had a moment together where we bonded over this glaringly obvious juxtaposition of what matters and what doesn’t, and I felt it wink at me. The fact that while I was sitting and deciding to try to appreciate life’s little moments more often (and watching life’s little reminders of this in action a.k.a. kids having a blast climbing on large plastic things), most of the adults standing around were completely missing the memo wasn’t lost on me.

And it didn’t make me feel superior or smarter than them, it just made me feel kind of sad inside. For all of us. Because we’re all connected by something so much bigger than the Internet could ever be, and some of us are trying to ignore this amazing reality by staring at a device in our hands, and seeking a connection to others without realizing it’s already there and all around us – no device needed.

My husband, son, and I then left the playground and went over to the bouncy houses where my small daredevil of a child did repeated flips down the giant inflatable slide and got plastic burns all over his face and back, because that’s how he rolls (literally). But I won’t forget the vow to remember to be a participant in my own life that I took on that bench near the playground where the kids played.

Thank you big blue sky, beautiful evening, happy children, cell phone zombies, Carl Jung, and winking Universe for the reminder.

beautiful_sunrise_on_green_meadow

 

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Hitting is Bad… Mmmmm’kay?

 

 

A friend of mine whom I consider extremely intelligent and respect recently shocked me when he posted a pro-spanking/paddling status on Facebook above an article about how parents are becoming increasingly angry and abusive to teachers (which I think is awful, because most teachers are amazing humans, and grossly underpaid for what they do).

(The article: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/09/14/4481648/when-parents-abuse-teachers.html)

 

His comment disappointed me greatly, but as a resident of the southern plains, I am very familiar and uncomfortable with his opinion. 

 

My friend’s disappointing comment:

 

“When I was in grade school, we still had some classrooms with paddles proudly displayed above the chalk board. Time to bring that back, it would seem. And some way to deal with the awful parents. The next generation may well be poised for failure.”

 

Excerpts from my rant-tastic multiple comments below this status:

 

“Multiple studies have been done showing that hitting kids to correct misbehavior teaches them to be more violent and damages their self-esteem. Which seems to be a no-brainer to me. Hitting kids for unwanted behavior means the hitting adult is sending the message that when people do something you don’t like, it’s appropriate to hit them, especially if you’re bigger than them. I believe our job as parents is to model appropriate behavior, not hit children and then tell them that hitting people is wrong.

Also: Respect and fear are *not* the same thing. When I was hit as a kid, all it did was make me hate the person hitting me, and try to be better about not getting caught the next time. Absolutely nothing positive came of it, it only made me feel worthless and mad. And then I acted out more. It was not only not helpful to hit me, it was counterproductive.

Hitting children is lazy parenting, at best, and in my opinion, as morally on par with (and as effective as) kicking puppies. Teach your children well, don’t BEAT your children well. Do 30 seconds of research and read what the many child psychologists, doctors and studies have to say about spanking/hitting/corporal punishment.

Everyone follows the American Academy of Pediatrics’ advice concerning everything else, but even though they are very much against spanking/hitting kids because of all the research showing the negative effects outweigh any behavioral modification it might produce, when it comes to spanking, people stop taking their advice. I hear so many people say, ‘Well I got spanked as a kid, and I turned out okay!’ To which I would reply: ‘No, you’re not okay. Because you think it’s acceptable to hit the small creatures counting on you to keep them safe. You’re the one person in the world they look to for protection from violence, and you’re doing it to them.’

I have a 7-year-old son who has never been hit one day in his life because his mom remembers how worthless and angry and helpless and unsafe it made her feel as a little girl. The people who were supposed to be protecting me from bad stuff like violence were inflicting it on me. My whole life, I vowed that as a parent I would never make a child feel that way. And guess what? My son is one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet. Multiple strangers have commented on how he has empathy and compassion far beyond his years. I believe this is because he has been shown empathy and compassion by his parents. Parenting is frustrating, and hard, hard work, but the kids are worth the extra effort. Go punch a pillow in another room and count to ten, then figure out a smarter way to teach them the behavior you want. There are plenty of ways to discipline or punish children that don’t involve violence.”

 

But it has been eating at me ever since. How could such an intelligent guy think that hitting kids will make the world less violent? I honestly do not understand this mentality at all. I think my friend is incredibly smart and completely right on about many issues… so I was bewildered by this opinion coming from him. Truly shocked.

So a few days later I added, because this is an issue very near and dear to my heart, and because I consider it our job as the big humans to protect and preserve the little innocents who can’t protect themselves, be they human or animal:

 

“How often do we have to hear about how ‘school bullies are bullies because they’re being bullied at home’ and how ‘those who grow up to be adult bullies were the ones being smacked around by their parents’ before we realize, as a ‘civilized’ culture that violence begets violence? (Go take a poll of the violent offenders in a men’s prison, and ask how many of them experienced violence and spankings if you want to see how well spanking and hitting kids for bad behaviors *doesn’t* work.)

And no, of course not everyone spanked or hit turns out to be violent, but it *is* proven that many of those spanked or hit as children become desensitized to violence and hitting children because of it–obviously–because they then grow up to think that spanking children is the answer to behavioral problems, and then hit their own kids. And onward the cycle of ‘violence is the answer’ goes, and where it stops; well-read, open-minded people who want to learn a better way know.

Example: My dad grew up getting beaten and smacked around, so that was the parenting model he learned. He then shared that with me when I had to ‘go get the belt’ for my spankings as a little girl (a little girl who, as I’ve since learned via psychiatry for my anxiety and safety issues had ADHD, which means I had impulse control issues beyond my brain-wiring/control… but yeah, I guess deserved to be beaten for that, just like depressed people with brain chemistry beyond their control should probably be beaten back into happiness… right? And those autistic kids… let’s just smack them around until they straighten up and fly right, too!).

Another negative about using spankings, hitting and other forms of corporal punishment with children, aside from the fact that they are too immature to emotionally process what is happening to them, is that the violence tends to escalate. You’re mad, you want to hit them, because yes, they’re frustrating as hell sometimes and you’re human–I parent an ADHD-brained boy, I get it, believe me–but when you’re angry, you sometimes take violence too far. It’s the worst time to use corporal punishment, BUT young children don’t learn well from punishment that doesn’t happen immediately after the bad behavior (I’m one class away from a psychology degree… this is basic child psychology stuff).

So the whole ‘I never hit my kids when I’m mad… I wait until I cool down’ argument means that those parents might as well not punish at all, because younger kids can’t psychologically connect the spanking to the bad behavior. Too much time has passed between the two. (This is basic child psychology, again. Check it.)

Also, as you desensitize yourself to the violence, it can get harsher each time. And you’re modeling bad emotional coping behavior for your child (‘I don’t like that! I hit you now!’), and desensitizing *them* to violence from an early age, which leads to, hey, guess what? More violence.

My pro-spanking dad hit me with the belt as a kid, and eventually, when I grew up with the low-self-worth that evolved partly from living my first five and most formative years in a violent, unsafe, volatile environment, I became the classic self-destructive and rebellious teenager that kids who get smacked around and feel unloved and unworthy (and have untreated ADHD) often become.

My frustrated dad who thought the answer to poor behavior from children was to hit them (because that was what he was taught) at one point beat me so violently I had two black eyes, one swollen shut, all of my teeth were loose, I had a chipped front tooth, my cheeks and lips were swollen, and my outfit was so covered with blood gushing from the cuts inside my mouth from my teeth hitting/cutting my lips that it had to be thrown away. It looked like someone had been murdered in it.

And that’s how violence escalates from ‘go get the belt to ‘I’m beating you up with my fists in a way that will send social workers to our house after your teachers report your battered, bruised face to the authorities.’

And you can say, ‘Well, I would never take it that far,’ but please realize that’s exactly what my dad would have said before he beat the shit out of me. He was angry. He was human. He lost control. And our child-parent relationship was never the same. Do you want your children to have scary, violent childhood memories of being hit by their should-be protectors, or memories of consequences for poor behavior that involved non-violent methods and thoughtful intelligent lessons taught by the people they still respect, rather than fear? People will get all up-in-arms over someone beating their pet dog in public, but somehow this same treatment is okay for little children?

In short: Don’t even start on that path of violence. Hitting, spanking, smacking, punching: it’s all violence and it’s not how intelligent people handle their emotions or express displeasure with the behavior of others. What gets you arrested on the streets should not be acceptable in your home, and especially not be done to a child. Violence of any kind leads to nowhere good, friends.

I tell this story not to garner sympathy, and I have forgiven my father because he was doing the best parenting he could with what he was taught by his own father. And that was violence. So I decided that I am going to stop this cycle of violence with my own son, and raise a kind, gentle, compassionate human who knows that violence is not the way civilized people get what they want from others.

And so far, it’s working great. We have never experienced violence or hitting from him, he’s never hit another kid (except to defend himself in kindergarten from a fourth grader who was bullying him physically), and he is shocked when other children hit, because that’s what they’ve been taught at home is the solution to getting what you want from someone or how to show displeasure with another human. When a classmate told him he gets spanked, my son was shocked, and asked me about it, ‘Why do his parents hit him? Hitting people is wrong!’

We have actually had to enroll him in karate to teach him self-defense, because he’s a non-violent, kind-hearted boy growing up in a world where the other little boys have been taught that hitting people is acceptable behavior, which makes him the first one the cowardly bullies at school and on the school bus go after (his bright red hair doesn’t help either, nor his ADHD… he stands out, making him an easy target).

So if anyone out there thinks that not spanking my kid is going to lead him to become a violent criminal, I would challenge that the truth is actually the opposite. If you teach your kids violence, and show them that violence and hitting people who do things we don’t want them to do is okay, then you’re actually desensitizing them to violence and creating a more pro-violence society. I think we all agree that violent video games and movies desensitize young children, and that’s why they carry ratings. So how is experiencing violence at the hands of the people in the world you are trusting to protect you from violence not also desensitizing them to violence? (And traumatizing… children don’t have the emotional perspective or maturity to process being hit by their protectors. All they know is that now they have no one in this world left to trust and protect them from harm.)

And how is it acceptable that if a stranger were to hit your kid for poor behavior, you’d legally prosecute them… but it’s okay for you to hit them? I’d argue that is *less* traumatizing to be hit by a stranger, because they’re not supposed to love you and keep you from harm. That’s our job as parents.

If anyone wants to look into this on behalf of their children, there are countless child psychology experts, doctors and scientists who’ve done extensive research and studies on this topic available on the Internet, all of whom agree that children learn violence from their parents, and that spanking and hitting creates more violent children and bullying behavior, rather than more well-behaved children, as so many people mistakenly believe. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends strongly against spanking children for this reason.

Please, before you hit your kids, do 30 minutes of research, and maybe consider that just because it happened to you, and you turned out okay, that doesn’t mean a damned thing. I also grew up in the 70s and our car didn’t have seatbelts: and I turned out okay. I’m here. But the fact that I survived that doesn’t mean that seatbelts haven’t been proven to save lives. We’ve learned new things in the field of child psychology, just like we’ve learned new things in every other field. Stop assuming that just because it happened to you and ‘you turned out okay’ that means there might not have been a better way, or that you somehow magically know more than the thousands of child psychology experts and intelligent doctors who’ve extensively researched the subject of using corporal punishment on children. Your children’s psychological well-being is worth a few minutes of opening your mind and doing a little research. It’s 2013, not 1950. Things have changed, and we’ve learned better ways to modify behavior that don’t involve violence.

And think about what kind of relationship you want to have with your children, because it took me until my late 30s to make peace with my parents and their parenting methods. Having a child helped, because I now understand that exhausted and frustrated people do things they regret, and parents are humans who make mistakes like anyone else. But like I said above, I’ve been the mother of a high-maintenance ADHD-brained little boy for 7 years, and I haven’t resorted to violence once. I have had to put him in his room for a time-out so I could calm down many, many times, but I’ve never hit him. Because hitting is wrong. Period. And every adult in his life talks about what a kind boy his is and his great big heart. He’s going to make the world a better place; he’s not going to become a violent criminal because I don’t spank him. Quite the opposite.

Or… you can continue to think that hitting kids and threatening them with creepy corporal punishment mementos above a teacher’s desk is going to do anything but make them and the rest of the civilized world think you’re a violent a-hole who lacks the intelligence to come up with a more creative and less archaic form of behavioral modification. It’s a free country.

 

And then I added a postscript, because this particular friend with strong parenting opinions has no children, and I’ve noticed that people who don’t have children often have the strongest opinions about how parenting should be done. This may be because many of us don’t realize until we have children that much of what you get is just a roll of the genetic dice (sorry Nurture… Nature wins), and that children are not little robots to be programmed (or beaten into submission); they’re emotionally complex and unique human beings just like us.

Shocking concept, I know. But like many other non-parents, I had to have a child to truly understand that. And that parenting is really, really exhausting sometimes, which is why non-parents make snide remarks about how kids shouldn’t be allowed on planes (as if they didn’t ever go out in public as children, or were always perfect little angels) and parents feel only sympathy for the parents on the plane with the unhappy, poorly-behaving child, and rather than self-righteously complaining–as if they themselves were never an emotionally immature human being having a bad moment–they instead search their purse for a snack they might offer. So I added:  

 

P.S. I would also like to add, as a woman who had all kinds of pre-conceived notions about how parenting should be done and what parents were doing wrong nowadays–and then had her first child at 35–if you don’t have kids, you have NO IDEA what parenting is like OR how you will handle any part of it. Not even if you’re the best aunt or uncle in the world and you babysit constantly. Talk to me after you’ve been through an exhausting pregnancy, birth, and the equally exhausting first few years of a child’s life; especially if you also have a neurologically atypical child. I promise you, in a completely non-invalidating-your-opinions and non-condescending way, and purely from personal experience, that until you actually *have* a child you have no idea what parenting is like OR what kind of a parent you’ll be. At this point, I would look at an essay about how I thought parenting would be from before my son was born, and I would laugh and laugh. And then I would scrawl ‘WHATEVER WORKS’ in exhausted large-print black marker over the top of that pre-parenting essay. Just trust me one this one.”

 

And then I got worried that some parent who spanks would think I think they’re a terrible person or invalidating them, rather than realizing they are most likely yet another decent person modeling the parenting behavior they were taught by their own parents, and not realize that I’m just hoping to maybe open their mind to a different way of discipline because I care about children. So I added:

 

“P.P.S. I’m not trying to challenge or respond to anyone with the above information, I just want to respectfully share my experience in case it might speak to anyone interested in this subject, because it’s something about which I care deeply. I don’t like what corporal punishment did to my self-esteem and I try to share my experience hoping to prevent other kids from growing up feeling worthless and unsafe. So my apologies for the ranting: I only rant because I care, I promise.”

 

I would also like to point out that the parents described in the article my friend shared who were beating up the teachers are obviously people who think that violence is the answer to ‘I don’t like what you’ve done’ and are possibly the parents of the kids who also think assaulting teachers physically is an acceptable way to handle a disagreement.

Remember the 80s pot smoking commercial, anyone? The pot smoking teen shouting at his dad: “I learned it by watching YOU!”  

Yeah. That.

And… DUH.

 

 

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It’s the End of the World as We Know It, and I Don’t Feel Fine

For the last 7 months, I have been ghost writing nearly every day for money (don’t ask… privacy agreement), and often write “for myself” as well. Even though I have been writing in one form or another my entire life, I have decided that now that I actually make money by writing, I’m officially allowed to call myself A Writer.

The art snob inside of me who believes creative people create because they want to and have to and not for money balks at this financially-based definition of creative person labeling legitimacy, however, because I don’t think you have to sell art to be an artist, sell poetry to be a poet, nor do you have to sell music to be a musician.

But I have to admit there is something extremely validating about the fact that I bought the new laptop upon which I’m presently typing with money I made putting words together into sentences and then into paragraphs. Finally, after years of working in retail, customer service, and in the restaurant industry, my not-passing-one-algebra-class-away-from-an-English-degree pays off. Will wonders never cease?

 

That said, I haven’t been able to write anything for over a week. Not for my job, and not for myself.

 

This is because I feel like a dandelion has been plucked from the yard of my sanity and blown away into the wind. Scattered. Uncertain. Scared. Each tufted seed representing something lost. Look at my last expectation flying away! There goes that dream! There goes my belief in myself as a parent! Fly away, small parts of my self-perception! Goodbye, you fluffy little unrequited hopes!

I say this because when we started my son on ADHD medication last week, it felt like something inside of me broke. I felt it give; the surface worn thin by constant pressure finally snapping. It felt like the shell covering my soul cracked. I won’t give you any more flower analogies, or compare my soul to an eggshell, or anything silly like that, I promise. Just let me simply say that I felt broken. Quite suddenly, unexpectedly broken.

And I still feel broken. I’ve been a mess. I can’t write. I can’t focus. I’m one Xanax away from a panic attack all day long. I hop on Facebook, crack a few comment-jokes, and then go back to obsessively clearing out and organizing a closet or cleaning or to the gym or some other form of the-working-out-of-nervous-energy. Or I get overwhelmingly sad-tired and go take a nap. A mental reprieve. My favorite brain break, next to reading.

Ugh. Forgive me if I sound hyperbolic. Or just plain old pathetic. I know I have First World Problems, I swear, but this is my only child I’m talking about, and I’m an emotional lass. But I’ll try to explain in more logical terms. (No promises, though. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, ol’ Right Brain is pretty much in control around these here parts.)

 

***

 

After 2 years of expensive behavioral therapy we couldn’t afford, and trying every holistic or dietary recommendation on the planet, we have watched our 7-year-old son fail at behaving appropriately for his age in every setting, but especially those involving noise and chaos (i.e. kids).

We have watched him be bullied and ostracized by adults (our lovely, “Christian” ex-neighbors) and kids (whose compassionate mothers told them my son was a bad influence, causing them to play a “fun” game of Run From the Bad Influence anytime he tried to approach them, which is totally what Jesus would do, obviously) for his overly-friendly, immature behavior caused by neurological chemistry beyond his control.

But worst of all, we have watched his self-esteem deteriorate accordingly, while his anxiety continued to rise, because of the way all of the people in his life have treated him, i.e. like a nuisance, or a pest, as he described himself to a psychologist we took him to for IQ testing. (In addition to being ADHD, he also happens to be extremely gifted, a.k.a. twice exceptional in the world of neurologically atypical labels, a.k.a. twice as hard to keep intellectually engaged in the world of parents and teachers trying to keep him out of trouble behaviorally. Sigh.)

 

So completely out of options and desperate to help raise his self-esteem back up, we started our son on 5 mg of Adderall the Saturday before last.

 

(I fought medication for so long because medicating for ADHD is the last thing I ever thought I’d do. I’m one of those green smoothie-drinking, juicing, holistic types who takes probiotic pills every day and makes gluten-free flaxseed-carrot muffins for fun. Unlike my type 2 diabetes-ridden aforementioned ex-neighbors who, to my horror, considered a bag of marshmallows with Capri Sun HFCS-waters an appropriate after-school snack for their kids, I am aware that eating simple carbohydrates is the same thing as eating sugar. I believe in the power of vegetables. In fact, I always said I’d homeschool before I’d medicate an ADHD child. And then I gave birth to the most outgoing, social little extrovert ever who would be miserable at home alone with me all of the time. He needs other kids. And I have an anxiety disorder that includes panic attacks and social anxiety. Homeschooling is not an option for us.)

 

The psychiatrist recommended we start the Adderall on a Saturday so we’d have two days to observe him before school. So we fed him the big breakfast that’s supposed to help keep him from having the common side effects of nausea and headaches, gave him the pill, and then I sat with my son in the living room, and talked to him. I was trying to reassure myself that he was okay as much as I was trying to comfort him and be there for him if he wasn’t.

As I watched my son’s pupils dilate until they looked like the big black pupils of friends I’d watched on drugs at parties in my youth, I tried not to panic. But it was utterly horrifying for a mother to see this. Those were dilated pupil drug-eyes. On my baby. The baby I kept alive with only my body for the first 16 months of his existence. The one I feed healthy fruits and vegetables to keep healthy and strong. The one I would die protecting from harm. And I had just given the child I would die to protect… poison.

And yes, I know poison is a dramatic word for medication, but that’s how it feels. I’m not giving my son ibuprofen for a headache, I’m giving him brain chemical-altering medication, and that holds much more weight with me. Because I LOVE my son’s brain. His brain may work a little faster than everyone else’s brain, but that doesn’t make it flawed, that makes it brilliant. And efficient. My son is the little engine that could… on turbo boost. The only problem is that the little engine that could race up the hill can’t control his own brakes on the way down.

And that’s what the medication is supposed to do for him. The part of his brain that controls impulses isn’t as developed as the rest of it, which makes him act with the emotional maturity and self-control of a child 2-3 years younger. Which gets him in trouble at school for not sitting still, for talking, singing, humming, and gets him made fun of by other kids whose parents haven’t taught them that it isn’t kind to tease children who are different. That’s why, even though it seems counterintuitive, a stimulant helps hyperactive kids with ADHD calm down and focus better: because it stimulates the part of the brain that controls executive functioning. Impulse control. Our goal with the medication is to boost up the part of his brain that is underdeveloped so he can behave in a more age-appropriate manner, and feel good about himself again.

He wants to behave so badly, and he’s so angry at himself when he repeats a behavior he knows he’s not supposed to do. Sometimes he’ll realize he just did something wrong, and he’ll hit himself in the head with his hand, or punch himself, because he’s so angry that the body did the wrong thing before the brain could stop it. I grab his hand and kiss his head and tell him to give himself a break and stop hitting the boy I love more than everything, but it doesn’t help. He’s mad at himself. He cries in frustration. He throws temper tantrums at 7 like the ones a 4-year-old might throw because he doesn’t know how to deal with the fact that he has the gifted intellect of a much older child with the emotional maturity of a much younger one, and this causes major inner and outer conflicts for him all day long. He wants help so badly that he eagerly swallows the pills in the mornings, hoping they will help him have the self-control he so desperately wants. This is not a defiant child; this is a people-pleasing, kind-hearted little boy who wants more than anything to be able to control his impulses, and we have exhausted every other option available to us.

 

***

 

On the first Saturday we tried the medication, after I sat with my son for a while, and realized he was okay, my husband took him to go watch football with the boys at a friend’s house, telling me the distraction would be good to keep our son’s mind off any weird feelings he might be having. I agreed that having him sit at home waiting to feel funny all day wasn’t a good idea, and let him go, even though I just wanted to hug him close to my body and not let go. Because I’m The Mommy. But I’m supposed to act strong and nonchalant, even when I’m scared, to protect my son. Also because I’m The Mommy.

I probably should have filmed the complete wailing-ugly-crying, snot-running-down-my-face, hyperventilating-myself-into-a-panic-attack emotional meltdown of perceived parental failure and the exact moment I finally let go of my last hope that my son might not have neurological issues that I had, if only so I could play it for the next ignorant person who thinks organic vegetables can cure everything and tells me I’m only medicating my child “for my convenience.” Because sitting on the floor with my throat closing while I try to breathe through the choking anger-sobs and dying-whale-noises until I have to do breathing exercises so I don’t pass out is TOTALLY convenient. Sheesh. Why didn’t I just stick these ADHD meds right in his baby bottles? This is GREAT. Mothers LOVE giving their children medications with potentially terrible side-effects. We LIVE for this shit.

 

Anyhow.

 

My wise husband knew it would be hard for his green smoothie-drinking hippie wife who tried two years of behavioral therapy and every organic, Omega-3, probiotic, no chemicals, no dyes, no dairy, no gluten idea suggestion to “cure” her son’s ADHD, only to finally give in for the sake of his self-esteem and agree to medicate.

So he took the kiddo to hang out with the guys and watch football like I said above, telling me the distraction would be good for our son. But I think he knew I might increase our son’s anxiety, even with the big, fake smile I plaster on my face to try to hide my anxiety from the boy. (The fake smile my husband sees through because he knows me, and tells me totally creeps him out. You know. That one.)

 

My son did great. The meds helped, he seemed calmer, but still himself, and had no bad side effects.

 

As mentioned above, The Mommy completely lost her shit emotionally, took a shower to calm down after becoming able to breathe again, forgot to rinse the conditioner out of her hair until she was dressed, rinsed her head under the faucet, took 2 Xanax and then collapsed for a 3-hour nap. And then upon waking, stress-ate everything in the house that couldn’t outrun her.

 

(And then later described her experience in third person for no logical reason when writing about it. Because apparently, that’s how The Mommy rolls. Don’t hate.)

 

So I guess you could say I’m not handling the medication of my son for ADHD very well.

 

It was unexpected and shocking for me. I thought I had it under control. It’s cool. He seemed fine. But maybe it was the drug-eyes, the freaky-big pupils. I don’t know. A switch flipped. All I know is that one second I was calmly hugging my boys goodbye, and listening to the garage door close as they drove away. And then next second I was completely losing my emotional shit and clutching onto/leaning over the kitchen sink so the snot and tears had somewhere to go, crying so hard I couldn’t breathe and making those weird animal pain noises that we hear ourselves making, but can’t stop because they come from somewhere primal and uncontrollable. I honestly can’t remember the last time something hit me so hard.

But that motherfucking bottle of Adderall sitting mockingly on the counter suddenly represented every single one of my hundreds of failed attempts at helping my son control his behavior, like some sort of tiny plastic award for Worst Mother in the World. And I hated it. And I hated myself for failing my child. And I hated my flawed genetics for making life harder for my son. I hated my stupid brain for passing this racing-ADHD bullshit on. And I hated myself some more.

Because starting that medication meant I was letting go of my last shred of hope. NOW IT’S OFFICIAL, I thought to myself. As I cried, I pictured my son as a baby, and all the toddler-until-present-time years of stupid naïve little me ignoring the now-obvious ADHD signs so I could live in Magical Pretend My Kid Doesn’t Have a Problem Land where my son wasn’t neurologically atypical, and all the older relatives promising me he’d “grow out of it” were actually right instead of wrong. But he’s not going to “grow out of it” and he may never “grow out of it,” and if we don’t help him feel better about himself as soon as possible, it may have lasting negative effects on his self-image that he will carry with him into adulthood that may require MORE medications. So even though I logically knew we had to try it, emotionally the pill I gave him for the first time that morning represented the door to Magical Pretend My Kid Doesn’t Have a Problem Land hitting me firmly in the ass on the way out. Or, more accurately, in the heart. And it fucking hurt.

 

***

 
I am so incredibly thankful there have been no negative side effects thus far. We noticed more focus and a calmer demeanor at home the weekend we started him on the meds, but his teacher saw minimal impulsivity or hyperactivity improvement that week at school, we think because of his sensory issues (extremely sensitive to noise/motion/life… just like his mom), so we doubled his dose of Adderall last Saturday, as per the psychiatrist’s instructions. We will hear from his teacher at the end of this week about whether or not his behavior was better. I’m assuming that if not, we will try a different family of meds.

His psychiatrist said that if this family of meds doesn’t help him, there is an 80% chance the other family of drugs will, as well as a cheek swab test they can give his father and me to determine which meds might best work with his physiology. (Because ADHD is a genetic brain chemistry issue, all of you ignorant people who want to blame it on diet and/or bad parenting.) Isn’t that cool?

So I’m feeling cautiously hopeful. And less scared now that I see he hasn’t turned into a zombie-kid. He’s like himself, but calmer. Still goofy and silly, all big personality. Whew. The only side effect we’ve noticed, and the doc said it’s pretty much unavoidable, is the “coming off the meds” emotional meltdown phase at the end of the day. We had to skip karate one night, for example, because I corrected his after-school homework, very gently, to tell him he was using the wrong form of there/their/they’re in a sentence. (I’m a monster, I know.) He threw one of his classic ADHD tantrums, screaming, running to his room to flail, etc. His doctor promised us that would lessen as he gets used to whatever med we end up going with, though, so no worries. It’s not like we’re not used to having a tantrum-throwing, overly-emotional child, after all.

 

***

 

As the genetic links become clearer and research continues to show that ADHD runs in families, I only hope that neurologically atypical children will start being less stigmatized, in the way that people are finally starting to accept that other brain chemical issues (such as depression) are very real, and nothing of which to be ashamed. Before anyone doubts the legitimacy of any disorder in my presence, they’ll need to tell me why—if depression, anxiety disorders and ADHD are all made up and not real—then why does medication help people?

And from this point forward, unless someone has conducted studies and done extensive research, or is a doctor, scientist, neurologist, psychologist/psychiatrist, or in any other way very knowledgeable in the workings of the human brain, I’m going to assume they’re just another butthead on the Internet with an opinion and a forum in which to shit it out, and I don’t want to hear it. I’m not listening anymore. (Unsolicited Advice Givers: Take your raw, organic vegetables, your magic herbs, your unhelpful dietary suggestions, and the rest of your uneducated, unproven, and unwanted opinions about how I’m doing parenting wrong, and shove them up your sparkling clean, post-colonic, condescending assholes. KTHXBAI.)

Because I think I have made it abundantly clear at this point that the last thing I have ever wanted to do in this world is give brain-altering medication to my son. I would also like to go ahead and put it on record that the next time someone suggests that parents of ADHD-brained kids medicate them “for their own convenience” or because they are “lazy parents,” I’m not going to cite the weekly appointments to behavioral therapists I’ve driven my son to for years, or the really-hard-to-enforce-at-school gluten-free and dairy-free diets we’ve tried, and all of the punishments, positive reinforcements, and behavioral modification techniques we’ve tried, and all the meetings with teachers and counselors and principals we’ve set up to help him. I also won’t mention the fact that I took Omega-3 supplements throughout my entire pregnancy to bolster my son’s brain development, and have been giving him Omega-3 supplements for the same reason since he started on solid foods, or that I know more about nutrition than most of the population because I’ve studied it my entire life, or that we have never allowed him to eat excess sugar and don’t keep it in our house, or that he drinks things like fresh carrot/spinach/apple shakes with me, and eats avocados with me for breakfast. I will also no longer defensively mention that we rigidly monitor his daily one-hour of screen time, that we are consistent with discipline, as well as the fact that we are present and loving parents who set boundaries and give our son the consistent life routine child experts recommend, or any of the other descriptions of my parenting style that I don’t owe anybody else in the world, because nobody knows my kid better than I do.

I am not going to do any of those things anymore. Nope. What I’m going to do is say, “You have no fucking idea what I’ve been through, or how hard I have tried to fix this, or how much I have cried because I can’t fix this” and then I’m going punch them in the throat.

 

That’s right. Throat punch. You have been warned, general population of America. Don’t even. I’m done.*

 

Because fuck that. I am a great mother. I have spent too many years of my son’s life feeling like I’m failing at parenting, and worse, letting others make me feel like I’m failing at parenting (I’m looking at you, catty, petty, bullying, compassionless ex-neighborhood moms), and I’m finished with that, because that attitude doesn’t help my son. I can’t feel bad about myself and make him feel good about himself at the same time. My job is to model appropriate human behavior so he can learn it. If I want him to feel good about himself, I need to show him how. I need to feel good about myself first. And in order to do this, I’m realizing that I have to stop giving a shit what anyone else thinks of my parenting choices. Finally, I’m realizing this. My life, and my son’s life, and our family’s decisions, are nobody else’s information to review or criticize. Period. End of discussion.

 

So I’m trying medication for my son’s ADHD because I love him more than anything in the universe, and I want him to feel good about himself. Because everyone deserves to feel good about themselves. It’s truly that simple.

 

But if you don’t understand that, or you choose to judge me, have fun with that. Feel superior. Shake your smug head and cluck self-righteously with the faux pity disguised as piety and concern that is actually only a feeble and transparent attempt at masking your own insecurities; the insecurities that make you feel like you have the right to judge anyone else in the world.

While you work on your perfect blend of sanctimonious condescension, I’ll be over here trying to improve my son’s life and strengthen my relationship with him, now and for the rest of our time together. Because he’s an amazing kid, and I think… no, I know he’s going change the world for the better with his huge, compassionate heart and his super-smart, quick brain.

 

And I’m also going to keep writing about it because so many of my friends have come forward since the first time I shared our struggles with ADHD, and many people have shared positive advice and similar stories, and it has all helped me so much. I’m sending out a huge thank you from the bottom of my sensitive heart to everyone who has shared their own experiences with ADHD with me. Because feeling alone is the worst thing in the world.

So if you have ADHD, or a child with ADHD, and you’re reading this, please know that you’re not alone.

And it’s going to be okay. We’re all in this together, right?

You’re not alone.

 

 

 

*I’m actually very anti-violence, and won’t really be throat-punching anyone (except maybe in my mind). I’m just completely fed up with being judged unfairly, feeling angry, and venting up there. In reality, I’m one of those people who cries watching sad stories on the news, sobs during human interest stories on ESPN, and is emotionally ruined by nature shows where babies get separated from their mothers. In short: I’m a total bleeding heart empath of a girl. (Unless you mess with my kid, I mean. And then I have 5 planets in Scorpio I’d like to show you.)

But please, everyone on the planet, think before you write or speak about what parents might be going through before you decide what our motivations may or may not be for the decisions we make involving our kids. That’s the entire point of this article, actually: If you haven’t lived it, you can’t truly understand it.

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I Like Them French-Fried Potaters

Yesterday, I noticed my car’s obnoxiously sensitive “low tire air” sensor light was glowing orange on my dashboard, making my heart pound and my palms sweat as it tricked me into pulling over into a neighborhood to get out and check all the tires.

I walked around the car, squinting at each tire like I can gauge tire pressure at a glance. Like I know what I’m doing with a car, ever. I should have stuck a piece of straw in my mouth, scratched at my invisible testicles, and kicked each tire to complete the image.

I bent over and listened for hissing. I heard nothing. No slow leaks. No nails or knife slashes. Hmmm.

I couldn’t visually tell which one was low. And that’s why I think the sensor is obnoxiously sensitive. In general, I like sensitivity, but in my “lights that signify that I may have had my tire slashed by a crazy redneck, or that I’m possibly about to be stranded roadside,” I appreciate a little less sensitivity. Really. It’s fine. You can go ahead and wait until it’s actually a low-tire emergency, little Dashboard Anxiety Light of Impending Doom. KTHXBAI.

So on the way to the gym later, I pulled into a nearby gas station to air up the tires. I have the little stick tire pressure checker thingy (GAUGE?) and I know it’s supposed to pop out to 35 psi, so I figured I could handle the simple task of airing up my tires to make the little Dashboard Anxiety Light of Impending Doom go away and stop scaring me.

I pulled into the spot next to the machine. The front passenger tire looked the lowest, so I conveniently parked with the air machine on that (right) side of the car. Check!

I remembered to lock my car doors while I was unscrewing the little air cap thingy so nobody could dart into my car on the other side while I was distracted and steal my purse like I saw on the news has been happening while women fill their gas tanks. Check!

I put the cap I took off the tire in my pocket so I wouldn’t lose it. Check!

I placed my car keys in my other pocket for safekeeping. Check!

Then the guy in the big SUV pulled up into the parking spot on the other side of the air machine, watching me. Check?

And then the motorcyclist pulled up between our two cars to air up his tires. Che…no. Shit!

So now I have two men waiting on me (within a 10-foot-radius) to air up my damned tire, and I’m an officially diagnosed with generalized anxiety and panic disorder with associated agoraphobia, Xanax-popping MESS around other people, but you add “people waiting on me to complete a task at which I’m not really practiced” to the picture, and I’m shaking. No pressure in my tires, but plenty on ME.

So I put the air-giving hose up to the tire’s air-receiving part, and I push. I let the hissing sound of air moving happen for a minute, then check my tire pressure. It’s at 25. Whoops! That’s low. Better give her some more air.

So I push the air-giver into the air-receiver again, and check. Now it says 20. I am officially draining the tire, rather than filling it. WTF? Is this thing working right?

I tried adding air one more time, all while two large men stood next to their vehicles watching me and waiting to air up their tires. I pictured them checking their watches and imagined the sound of impatiently tapping feet.

I checked one more time. Under 20.

I am officially doing more damage than good, I thought to myself. Only I could manage to drain the air from my tire while trying to be self-sufficient and fill it myself. That takes a special brand of stupid right there, folks. Holy shit, I’m an idiot.

I sheepishly handed the air-giving hose to the guy standing there waiting, and drove through the parking lot to go work out my frustration and self-loathing on the weight machines (my gym is in the strip mall connected to this gas station), and decided to just let my husband handle it like he told me to let him.

That’s right. He’s sweet and chivalrous in the totally non-condescending, just-trying-to-help way, because he’s awesome, and he told me on the phone he’d deal with it after work, don’t worry about it. But nooooooooooooooo, I’m a stubborn red-haired Viking woman and I don’t need a man fill my car’s tires for me, blah, blah, blah. BECAUSE I’M NOT WEAK, DAMN IT. (I’m apparently too mentally slow to operate basic air-blowing machinery… BUT I’M NOT WEAK, DAMN IT.)

And now I’ve made the tire so low it might be dangerous for the poor man to drive to fill it up properly. Great.

So I went through my workout at the gym, seething and obsessing over the tire and how I’d worsened it, trying to figure out why I couldn’t get it to take any air. I’ve even used that air machine before. Successfully. Maybe the machine is broken?

And then I realized that yes, the machine is broken. The one in my head. Because scroll back up there and read through my airing-up-the-tire process. Go ahead. I’ll wait. See if you can figure out what I did wrong.

 

Here’s a hint:

thinker

 

 

That’s right. The lawnmower had no gas.

 

(Where was my stereotypical magical, misunderstood “differently-abled” movie character when I needed him?)

 

Because hey, guess what? It’s called an ON button.

 

And it turns out that if you want air to go into your tires, rather than just depressing the button that drains them of air, you have to turn the air-giving hose ON to push out the air that will then force itself into your low tire.

 

It’s a fucking Christmas miracle.

 

 

So it occurred to me while I was doing leg presses that I didn’t remember pushing the ON button for air. And then I died two thousand tiny, humiliated deaths imagining that the two guys waiting behind me for air had noticed. They probably laughed about it as I drove away on my extra-flattened tire, and rightly so.

 

After my workout, I drove back to the air machine to try again. Determined to push the ON button this time to prove my I’m Really Stupid theory.

 

Some guy was there filling all of his tires on his gigantic vehicle, and took so long that he felt bad and tried to help me fill mine. But I got all pressured and stressed out because dealing with people does that to me, and again, I’m under pressure to perform in front of a male stranger, so I told him I was good, and thank you so much, and drove over to a gas pump where I got gasoline.

And then I sat in my car.

I waited until the nice guy who tried to help me but actually just stressed me out because I need 8 Xanax a day to function in public left the parking lot so I wouldn’t hurt his feelings, and drove back to the air machine that was quickly becoming my Vehicular White Whale.

With no men looming over to unintentionally and unknowingly stress me out, I was easily able to fill up the stupid front passenger tire that was now -20 psi up to 35 by pressing the ON button before I started, and filled the two back tires that were 5 psi low each, as well.

 

As I drove away, the little Dashboard Anxiety Light of Impending Doom went off.

 

SUCCESS. Smack my ass, and call me Ishmael, you guys! I DID IT.

 

 

sling-blade-billy-bob-thornton1

 

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