Today I made a call I've been putting off for oh... A long time. I called the intake department of my local Behavioral Health group that takes my insurance. The same group that sees my Wildflower Child. The same group that inspired me to have to get sole legal custody of said child. The same group that has made me crazy with red tape and screwed up schedules and also shown me that there is hope for my daughter to be the capable and awesome person I know she can be. I made an appointment for an intake appointment with the same wonderful and warm woman that did my daughter's evaluation almost a year ago. I finally admitted to someone that can actually do something, that I need help.
I've been in therapy in the past. Many times. But the last time was well before the Wildflower Child came into my life. Well over a decade ago. Some therapists have helped. Others have just pissed me off. Some have made me wonder how they got their credentials. The problem is, I'm rather intelligent, and self aware, and have studied a fair amount of psychology myself. And I have enough hubris so that if someone isn't "getting it" I immediately discount everything they say and scoff at the entire process.
Well, I'm done with that bullshit.
I need help.
I am not ashamed to admit that I am at the end of my rope. I am not in danger. I am not in crisis. I am in flux and I am fighting situational depression and I have some major decisions that have to be addressed and eventually made, sooner rather than later. I need an outside support system to help me find the right directions for myself and my daughter.
More people need to understand that asking for help, getting mental health care, is not a sign of weakness. Even I need to own this. This is a strong, proactive, decision to hopefully guide me the best possible outcome for all involved. There are a lot of variables in my life right now; a new relationship, a Domestic Relations conference coming up, my parents moving from the Mid-Atlantic to most likely Florida (FUCKING FLORIDA) as soon as they can, my professional future, where will I be in a year or two, how will I continue to provide for my daughter, and my dog...
The stress I am under results in a few rather negative responses. Either I devolve into a blinding rage that is scatter shot at the people around me. Luckily that doesn't last long. Or perhaps I will become self-loathing. I have a history of self-injurious behavior, and while I haven't cut or burned myself in years, I'd like to make sure that I don't feel that impulse again. Then there's the paralyzing fear. Because that's awesome. And a great way to make appropriate decisions. </sarcasm>
I want anyone who reads this to know you can ask for help. There are resources available. You are not alone. Needing mental health care and support isn't a failure. Getting it, makes you stronger.
Wish me luck with my providers. I'm hoping I click with the first one.
I took Wildflower Child to the movies to see Miss Peregrine's. I actually had to bribe her with the promise of metric tons of popcorn and dinner out to go to a movie. My child is a monster. Regardless I had been very excited about this film as earlier this year I devoured the novels by Ransom Riggs. They are some of most creative and unique writing I've read in years. The entire concept of creating a believable world inspired by strange black and white photographs found at yard sales and flea markets is just wonderful. I have recommended these books to everyone I know who reads fiction. They are an easy read, though not simple, and some of the concepts and "rules" he created for his world are completely original. There is a method of traveling through time that blew my mind. So, yeah, I was excited to see this movie. Especially with Eva Green as the fantastic Miss Peregrine and Tim Burton directing.
I wish I could be more excited after having seen it, then I was when buying our tickets. The movie is gorgeous and I've tried to view it through the eyes of someone who didn't read and love the books, but I'm struggling. I should point out that I am okay with book to movie adaptations. I understand that there will always be changes and sometimes they aren't changes I want, but they made sense to the director or for the time restraints or capabilities of special effects, or whatever. Understanding that, I do not understand why the characters of Emma and Olive were essentially reversed. Emma is still the love interest and a "teenager" (why didn't they get into the relative ages of the children so Jake understands how young he is comparatively?) but instead of being a fire starter, she's now the floater. Olive is aged to teen years and linked to Enoch romantically and is the fire starter. What the hell? There was NO REASON for this change at all. Emma's heat in the books is important, and having Olive be very young and constantly putting herself up there to help the children illustrates how brave and capable all these characters are. The other character change that killed me was Bronwyn. In the book she's another teenager and almost foster mother to the youngest children. In the movie, she is a little. Bronwyn's strength in the books is not just her ability to literally carry them through danger, she is brave and compassionate and very gentle with the younger ones (Claire and Olive particularly). She is very underutilized in the film and more a sight gag than anything else. Fiona was also made much younger in the book than the movie and she talks. In the book she is silent until traumatized and there is a rudely funny moment when no one can understand her through her thick accent while speaking rapidly.
Let's not forget that the main setting of the book revolves around a date during WWII. The evil "peculiars" use the cloak of the war and the mantle of the Nazis to move around Europe hunting Jake and the other children. The stress and fear of living and moving during that time is palpable in Ransom Riggs' writing. There is virtually no reference to the war other than the Nazi stamped bomb that falls when Miss Peregrine's time loop closes.
I have taken two days to try to process how I feel about this movie and what I can say about it to those who have, and have not, read the books. Honestly, I am just sad. This was a unique and beautiful story that was frankly begging to be adapted. It was directed by one of my favorite directors, and cast very well. And it was one of the most disappointing films I've seen in a long time. Including Suicide Squad. I felt like it was simply expected that the other films would not be adapted and therefore the ground was scorched and salted. And I'm not sure anyone involved in the production actually read the books. Even if you haven't read the books, I'm fairly certain the final reel will have you saying "what?" to yourself. I know I was. Though with all that said, Wildflower Child loved it and hopes they make more. But what does she know? She's seven.
For the first time in the Wildflower Child's three years of public schooling, she brought home an assignment that I simply couldn't get behind. I'm not talking about core curriculum math or something about religious tolerance or Columbus Day (I've come close with Columbus day). This was something that probably most people don't realize can be a traumatic subject.
My daughter had a three page handout from the teachers that she was to fill out "with your parents help" about her birth story and her family tree. The birth story part asked who was there and the family tree was a blank template that was ordered like this:
And that's when I started to have an anxiety attack.
Any readers of this blog know there aren't many good feelings about my daughter's father. That extends to his family as well. Having to write down the names of people I want NOTHING to do with and have that included in her school project was not fun. I debated for two days before sending the following email to her main teacher.
Dear Ms. Pawlowski,
I was very nervous about how this note would be received. And I know it isn't as polished as I would have liked if I had written it in a less emotional state. I got much less worried when I received the response this afternoon.
Hi Ms. Williams,
I didn't want to make a huge issue, but this was so very important to me to point out to a second grade teacher in 2016. Family doesn't mean one thing. Family comes in all shapes and sizes and colours and combinations. It is vital to recognize the delightful variety that family can be.
I did respond immediately.
Dear Ms. P-,
Yes, I have aired a lot of personal issues in these notes, but I felt it was important to make a point of why a project like this can be damaging. I am very pleased to see that my note has made an impact and perhaps other families can avoid the discomfort that I've experienced due to a simple blank template that made assumptions about my child's life.
So that's how I became "That Mom" and made a little difference. I hope that other parents aren't hesitant to stand up to what they think is right. As long as they aren't being dicks. Because, don't be a dick.
Best part of this whole experience was talking to Wildflower Child in bed tonight and her saying that she has "A mom, and grandparents, and... kind of... but not really... a dad. He's not around much..."
She's getting it. But she's okay. As I tell her often, it's her and I, forever, and always.
I might have avoided discussing the election on this blog had not Donald Trump existed. (I am voting for Hillary without reservation or regret.) After this past Friday I cannot keep silent.
Donald Trump, in case you've been living under a rock, was taped 11 years ago talking with Billy Bush on a live mic about how he could get away with anything with women because he was rich. He actually said he could "grab them by the pussy."
Much of the media and GOP have labelled the language "lewd," and he "apologized" by saying it was "locker room talk."
This was not "boys will be boys" bragging. This was discussing his ability to perform sexual assault with impunity. This is a man running for the highest office in our country talking about assaulting women.
Then he went to the Sunday night town hall style debate and loomed threateningly behind Hillary during her talk time, and regularly interrupted and again, threatened her. And I have been sick to my stomach since.
I remember hiding in corners to keep my step-father away as he would use his height and size to intimidate me. How he would ask me a question and then not let me answer. How my father-in-law would trap me in hallways or against counters with his body and also talk over me. What Donald has done, and continues to do, is abusive. Straight up, undeniably, abusive.
My daughter is seven-years-old and she is being told by kids on the bus that Trump will be our next president. She doesn't know the difference between Democrat and Republican, but I have told her that he is not a good man and explained as best I can how he threatens people who are different than him and how he hates and mistreats women. I don't want her excited to see his name because she recognizes it. I want her to understand that just because he is on TV, does not mean he is a good person. I want her to understand that just because someone is famous, does not mean they can do what they want. And I want her to understand that I will use my vote to try to protect her future.
Earlier this year I was in a casual relationship with someone who had no interest in having children, didn't have children, and was diagnosed bi polar. We had a lot in common, but there were obviously issues (otherwise I'd still be in the relationship one can assume). One problem was that he saw my anger and frustration at the various battles I was fighting at the time as innate negativity.
I was fighting for sole legal custody of my daughter. Trying to get her school to put a 504 plan in place for her due to ADHD accommodations. And was filling out applications for financial relief for her summer camp. It was an expensive, stressful, terrifying time. There were moments when I was overwhelmed and terrified. So he dumped me. He felt that I was too negative and I was bringing him down. That's fine, we weren't a good fit anyway and ultimately I met someone wonderful and we're doing well. But this whole issue brings to mind the difference between appropriate anger and frustration, and being negative and how tone policing is bullshit.
Stress happens. Life is complicated and messy. No one has a perfectly cheery disposition at all times without either pharmaceutical help or a deep habit of self-delusion. Being angry is a normal response to being treated badly or going through a hard time. Expression of anger is one way to help reduce the stress that makes positive action difficult, if not impossible to implement. Telling someone that their situational anger is a part of who they are is abusive and reductionist. It tells the angry person that they have become nothing but the reaction to the situation that has caused an emotion. And there is nothing positive to be gained by that.
I've seen this expressed on a larger scale when communities protest an injustice. Commentators say that the protesters "would get more done if they weren't so angry!" This is tone policing. An external observer is telling the angry person/community that their response isn't valid. Even though the observer (or partner) isn't experiencing the emotion themselves, they feel entitled to tell the person(s) having the experience HOW they should have the experience. I repeat, this is bullshit.
I'm currently in another rage inducing situation with my ex-husband. This time I'm in a relationship with someone who not only listens to me vent, but encourages me to do so, and has agreed with the core awfullness of the situation. He has even parsed out the details in a way that both validates, and clarifies some of my more strictly emotional responses. This is how to react to someone angry at an unjust situation. Listen, respond when appropriate, listen... Then the anger can be turned toward action, and a positive response.
I'm Kirsten. Some things you could label me with; tattooed, geek, mama, animal lover, weirdo, nerd, writer, movie and TV addict, lazy, ambitious, insomniac, feminist, LGBTQ+.