I am fragile, walking the line between choices, having difficulty listening to the one voice inside me that is my own advocate. I’ve toyed with this idea before, revealing something so personal and shaming about me, to my readers. Thus far I have not. BUT…..if my goal is to tell my story, then how can I leave out such an important issue? I suppose I could talk about it as “X,” or some other code word, without actually revealing “the thing,” but does that make me less genuine, for not being entirely honest? I hope not. Because what I want to talk about is struggling with the vices and addictions we use to cope, and while it may be entirely too revealing to say what my evil addiction is that tethers my growth, I still want to talk about it. It’s part of who I am. So code word here I come.
How about eating M&M’s? Watching porn? Really awful, cheesy reality t.v, such as Toddlers & Tiara’s? Any of these work for me, although I suspect if I choose porn some of my readers might have a hard time taking me seriously, and I don’t think I could take myself seriously if I said I couldn’t keep myself from watching “Toddlers and Tiara’s.” So M&M’s here I come.
I eat too many M&M’s (Can you imagine if I said I watch too much Toddlers & Tiara’s?). It’s been happening slowly, over the course of the past couple of years. I do not want to give up my M&M addiction, but merely reel it in a bit. In actuality, I don’t even mind eating M&M’s; a little chocolate soothes my active mind, and settles the frustration, anger and anxiety that reside so easily in my soul, when it comes to my 2 special needs kids. But eating M&M’s every moment that I am not working, and sometimes all throughout the day on the week-ends, has made me feel sticky and sugary and fat. And like a failure.
What good am I to anybody If I feel like a failure? I know how this goes; I can continue to ignore the little voice that is trying very hard to advocate for my success, if only I didn’t squash it so far down with M&M’s, or; I can take a break from M&M’s. Not a long break, but maybe long enough to let whatever it is I am avoiding, surface. Life has been difficult, and M&M’s have helped tremendously. But too much of a good thing can turn quickly into burnout, if left unmonitored. I am near burnout with M&M’s. It is time to take a break.
Something I have realized as I have been pondering the M&M situation, is that I am no longer in full blown crisis. Crisis meaning: completely reacting to life, bursting with pain, and unable to find the ground beneath my feet. I still walk that line for sure, feel myself teetering frequently, and even have one foot down on that side on a semi-regular basis. But even if half of me is there, the rest of me is not. Even if the rest of me doesn’t feel so good about things.
Crisis has been weaving its way in and out my life since Aiden was born 6 years ago, got sick, and spent 6 weeks in the hospital. Once he came home, all Louis wanted to do was hurt him and us, and this lasted for years. By November of last year, Louis teacher was calling for a meeting regarding his serious behavior. Around the same time, it became apparent after meeting with Aiden’s preschool teacher, that he would not cut it in regular kindergarten for the next year. By January, both kids were going through assessments to gain more information about their developmental skills. I put out a serious S.O.S to the universe to give me an emotional hand. I was also eating a lot of M&M’s.
But that was then and this is now. It hadn’t even occurred to me to reflect on how much I’ve grown and changed in just the past 12 months, let alone the past 6 years, and once I did, the realization hit me like a ton of bricks: I’ve gotten through these past 6 years, and didn’t just survive, I grew hair on my chest! Even if I did gain 10 lbs in M&M’s everywhere else. And it wasn’t the M&M’s that got me through, it was me. Me, me, me! Reaching out to others to share what’s hard, meditating, gardening, writing or doing art. Anything and everything I could think of to ease my pain, give it a voice, let it be heard. I didn’t even know how much I was supporting myself at the time, the pain was so bad. But now I see how much I accomplished, and I feel proud.
Sometimes it takes awhile for our minds and hearts to catch up with the details of life, and even if they do, letting down our guard long enough to take it in is hard. It’s much easier to look over your shoulder and expect the worst, especially if the worst has become what’s familiar. But it’s worth it; even if things are only incrementally better, be on the look-out. These are the moments that nourish and regenerate and get us through. The moments that grow hair on our chests.
So it is now that I make an intention: to take a 1-week break from M&M’s, like my own mini lent. I will find other ways to soothe myself, to find the calm amiss the chaos. It might be terrible; it might be no big deal. Either way, I welcome the growth of more hair on my chest. Halloween is coming up anyway. I welcome it with pride.