Please note: I’m writing this post for posterity. In the event that I don’t survive the remainder of 2020, because there are so many hurdles left before Christmas, you guys — so many hurdles — I want to be remembered … Continue reading
I promised you a special post dedicated to my upcoming hemorrhoidectomy, and today is your lucky day. Gather round kids, it’s story time!
After debating over how much detail to share about what, exactly, is the matter with my asshole, I’ve decided to start with this: a customer service representative from the hospital system where I’ll have my surgeries called me to make sure I am aware of the deductible amount that we’ll be responsible for.
But before she got into the exact dollar amount, she tripped over what I was having done. I think her words were “partial hysterectomy and … ** trails off unintelligibly ** “
Me: Yes, I’m having my uterus removed AND AN ASSHOLE REPAIR. Let’s call it a “butt job” just for fun.
Her: Oh my! That sounds …
Me: Like your worst fucking nightmare? Yes. Mine too.
Her: I was going to say that it sounds painful.
Me: It will be.
Her: Okay, Mrs. Hobbs, have a wonderful day.
Just so we are clear, I’m having two unfortunate procedures done on the same day because I don’t have time to recover from two separate unfortunate procedures. The uterus needs to go and my two hemorrhoids need to go and yes, I’m terrified. I cope with terror by oversharing.
People don’t like to talk about their assholes, I’m finding. Robbie had to ask for a couple days off work so he can keep an eye on me, and he told his co-workers “Harmony is having some woman stuff done.” Uh, actually, I’m having one woman thing done and the other thing is a human being thing, but he didn’t want anyone to ask questions.
“Why not? Are you embarrassed of my asshole?” I asked.
He totally is.
Now I want to talk about fears, because I have a lot of them. First of all, according to my Gastroenterologist, “no one gets hemorrhoid surgery without serious painkillers.” Even with the pain meds, he warned me that it will, and I quote, “feel like someone is stabbing you in the anus with an ice pick for two weeks.”
I corrected him. “You mean, it’s going to feel like someone is stabbing me in the asshole for two weeks.”
“Yes, it will feel exactly like you’re being stabbed in the anus.”
“You mean the asshole.”
“Whatever you want to call it.”
“I’d like to call it the asshole.”
I was probably born with a weak asshole, but childbirth absolutely wrecked it. If it never bothered me, I would be content to ignore it; however, when we went on vacation in January 2019 and I missed out on zip lining because I was in the belly of a Carnival cruise ship where the hospital is located, that did it. I CANNOT LIVE LIKE THAT. It is, like my doctor says, “a quality of life issue.”
I’m afraid of the pain, obviously, but I am also afraid of the painkillers. I’ve never enjoyed taking painkillers, recreationally speaking, but I know myself well enough to realize that the combination of pandemic + painkillers + actual pain is not great for someone who is a recovering alcoholic. My anxiety over relapsing is worse than my anxiety over the actual recovery process itself, which is saying a lot.
My way of coping with the fear of relapse is to talk about it incessantly. I’m locked in a self-propelled cycle right now where I stress myself out and then wish that someone would shoot me with a tranquilizer dart to put me out of this self-imposed misery.
Asher had his tonsils and adenoids removed last week and took pain meds for a total of three days. The remainder of the Hydrocodone is sitting in our fridge. I envision guzzling it. Then I tell on myself. The vision goes away only to boomerang right back when my anxiety ramps back up.
Someone emailed me recently to ask if I am on medication for anxiety and depression. GIRL, YES. 100%. Five stars. Highly recommend. Super grateful that I was already doing this pre-pandemic, because WOW, guys, the world is really imploding out there.
In conclusion, no one talks about butt problems and if I tried not to talk about my butt problems I would feel ashamed of my butt problems and most likely relapse in one way or another. I don’t want to relapse, so I’ve named my hemorrhoids “Trump” and “Pence” and they have got to go.
I’m one of those annoyingly literal people who struggle to comprehend abstract ideas, so the concept of a pandemic is like, really hard for me to understand. Everything has a beginning and an end, yes? But we have no idea when this thing’s gonna end?
I do not accept.
For real, give me an end date. I need to put it on my calendar.
I’m wearing a mask. I’ve been wearing a mask, and the people who claim that they can’t mask up because of their “rights” make me want to scream. Sometimes, I do.
I don’t bring the kids anywhere that I don’t absolutely have to, and when I do bring them out in public, they are also masked. They’re also kids, so it doesn’t really matter that they’re masked because they shove their fingers underneath the mask to dig around in their noses, so there’s that.
We go to the pool. I go to yoga, keeping my mat sort of away from other people. In a desperate, dark moment, I signed all three kids up for a variety of summer camps which they’re attending on a rotating basis, giving each child a week at home with just me while the other two go to camp.
I am walking the squiggly line of following the rules and keeping myself sane because parents, the only way we are going to make it through this nightmare is by taking care of ourselves.
I have always said I could not homeschool.
I never should have said that.
The truth is, I can homeschool, I just don’t want to. I don’t want to with every fucking fiber of my being. My entire system rebels against the mere thought of it. Absolutely nothing could possibly displease me more, except for the idea of living without electricity. And yet, here we are! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE.
I’m resentful. I’m bitter. I hate everyone and everything, A LOT. But this post isn’t supposed to be about my irritation. This post is about self-care.
We will not make it to the end of this journey if we don’t put ourselves first. I don’t mean “after the kids start school.” I don’t mean “once Maverick gets braces” or “once I lose 15 pounds” or “after Asher’s tonsillectomy,” which are all actual excuses I’ve given.
I mean today. Now. Right after you finish reading this blog post, you need to take care of yourself. Take a bath. Lock yourself in a room and watch all 5 seasons of The Affair. Pluck your eyebrows. Organize your underwear and throw out the raggedy ones. Set boundaries and stick to them. Feed yourself things that will boost your immune system. Go outside and breathe.
If you think my ideas are stupid then just think of something not harmful that makes you happy and go do that thing. Ignore your family. They will be fine.
Last week I managed to attach magnetic eyelashes to my face and went to dinner for the first time with my husband since Valentine’s Day. It was nerve wracking and I feel like it should have been more romantic than it was, but he’s been working like 72 hours a week and neither of us are great company right now, just FYI.
I’ve seen articles about mom rage in a pandemic and I’m like damn, that’s me. That is all of us. We’re going to all explode into bloody pieces if we don’t figure out how to mother ourselves so we can turn right back around and be a not shitty mom to our progeny.
My therapist has been on my ass about self care for 3.5 years. I blow it off — I don’t know why. It’s HARD to learn how to genuinely care for a body that I abused for so long. When I think of self care, I think of vodka and cranberry and a crushed up Adderall, but that’s because I’m a recovering alcoholic and addict and my thinking is warped.
Actual self care is softer. Gentler. Easy on the liver. Most of it sounds boring, I know. But if we don’t do it, we’re going to lose our shit and I don’t mean in the comical way. This situation is a pressure cooker, both on a very nuclear level (in our homes) and on a majorly large scale (the entirety of America) and I don’t want to see it get any worse. And yet, somehow, it is.
Welcome to 2020.
Last night, I leaned against the counter in our hall bathroom with my arms crossed, watching my 11-year-old brush his teeth.
I choose to watch him mostly because if left to his own devices, he only cleans the right side of his mouth, completely forgetting about the left. Kids on the spectrum — who also have ADHD — are like that. It took me a long time to understand and accept this behavior as something other than carelessness.
As he brushed, I noticed that his height likely surpasses 5 feet and made a mental note to measure him. He’s all arms and legs; even though he’s one of the youngest in his class, he will never be the smallest.
Out of nowhere, he blurted, “Sadness is going up, isn’t it?”
I wanted to make sure I’d heard him right, since he was talking with a mouthful of toothpaste, so I asked him to repeat the question.
“Sadness. It’s going up, huh? Because of the virus.”
That is when my child looked at me with genuine concern and asked if the rate of suicide will increase because of what is happening. Because of the number of businesses closing their doors. Because people are losing their homes and their livelihoods and their loved ones.
I had to answer him honestly. I told him yes, he’s right, a lot of people are sad and a lot of them are ending their lives. I think I tacked on some stuff about the importance of mental health and how there is ALWAYS a better way out, that there is ALWAYS hope, even if it feels like there isn’t, but I’m sure I bungled that part up because of what I’m going to go over with you in a moment.
So, he’s not the kind of kid who blissfully be-bops through life, and he’s also not the kind of person who is willing to accept what you tell him at face value. He’s going to sniff out a lie — or even a glossed over, watered down version of the truth — like nobody’s business, and if he thinks you’re not telling him the whole truth? HE WILL NEVER LET IT GO.
I don’t even try to skirt issues anymore; I address them directly and to the best of my ability. Maverick just knows things, no matter how much I try to wish away his level of awareness. He notices every slight change in my mood, even when it’s imperceptible to others. All that hyper awareness is exhausting — I should know, because I’m the same way.
Before the pandemic suicide rate discussion took place, we’d survived a typical evening at home.
The first time I typed out that sentence, I’d used the word “enjoyed” instead of “survived.” That was a lie, so I changed it.
My husband arrived from work around 7 p.m. I was hanging by the very last shred of my sanity after helping our 8-year-old assemble his Nintendo Labo. I peaced out for a walk to clear my head, slash, talk myself out of running away from home for good, during which I discovered one of our neighbors (an elderly man wearing sweatpants) playing bagpipes on the sidewalk.
The music was so hauntingly beautiful that I captured it with my phone, although I stayed far enough away so that he wouldn’t be in the video clearly enough for people to know who it was because I’m polite like that.
When I got home, our 6-year-old was insisting in her screechy-screech voice that we all participate in something I can only describe as Hobbs Masterpiece Theater — she wrote a script, we all had lines, and there was singing and dancing involved.
Then there were baths and pajamas for the two younger kids, the usual reading/playing/screaming for no reason combo that our children love so much, an episode of our favorite show, cuddling with Robbie, and at the end of all of that, exhausted, was when I stood in the bathroom with my oldest.
The discussion with my son happened at the end of a very long day of pandemic parenting. And this is why all of us are so beyond over this shit.
Not our kids. We love our kids. But the confinement, the isolation, the “distance learning,” “crisis schooling,” mask-making, scary news bullshit? DONE. WITH. IT.
None of us are doing great. I mean, maybe some people are, but I don’t know those people. Every parent I know well enough to have an honest conversation with is slowly dying inside from the agony that is modern day parenting and working whilst isolating because there is a pandemic out there.
So, if you are wondering if you’re the only person out there who is struggling … you aren’t. (Insert something uplifting here, like “WE CAN DO HARD THINGS!”)
Last week, I shared how the pandemic is affecting my recovery journey on Good Morning America. (Read the full story and watch the interview here!)
Of course, a lot of the things I told Deborah Roberts during our interview didn’t make the cut, and it dawned on me that maybe I could write it all down here, for anyone who might need to hear it.
Let me start by saying that the situation we find ourselves in, A PANDEMIC, is literally the worst. The worst. I am not okay and I don’t want to make it seem like I am — however, I’m not drinking and everyone in my immediate family is healthy, and right now I think that is all we can ask for. The bar for being at “an acceptable level of not horrible” is dreadfully low. In fact, when the producer from GMA called to let me know the segment was airing the following morning, she said, “Hi Harmony, how are you?” And without thinking, I responded, “I’m fine!” followed immediately by “NO ONE I LOVE IS DEAD YET.”
Now that we’ve established that we are all simply doing the best we can to make it through the day, I’m going to share how I’m handling this thing I like to call the Dry Pandemic. It is survival of the soberest. And can I just say, having all my wits about me right now feels almost painful.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times during this thing that I’ve considered drinking. In times of extreme stress, I automatically revert back to my old ways of coping. My knee jerk reaction to a pandemic is not to meditate, pray, or look for ways to help other people. My knee jerk reaction is to drink, and not like a lady. I mean draaaaaaaaaank. Some people in recovery say that the desire to drink has been removed, but I have not experienced that phenomenon. The miracle for me is that even though I might want to hole up in my bedroom with a gigantic cup of alcohol, ignoring everyone and everything, I have the tools today to make different choices.
Being sober does not mean the absence of thinking about drinking (or eating CBD gummy bears). I THINK ABOUT IT, I JUST DON’T BE ABOUT IT. I’ve thought about doing all kinds of things that could take the edge off of what feels like an impossible situation, including running away from home, but the difference is what I choose to do with those thoughts.
First, I acknowledge that they are there. I don’t ignore them or try to stuff them down, I say Hello, crazy idea. How’s it going? And then I immediately tell someone my thought before it has time to take hold. Almost always, when I verbalize something out loud like “I think Robbie might actually have a second family instead of a job,” I am able to hear just how ridiculous it sounds. But, if I keep it to myself, giving it room to grow into a giant clusterfuck, chances are that I will end up hurting someone else or myself.
The benefits of being stone cold sober during the worst health crisis in the history of ever are ever-evolving, but here’s what I’ve got thus far: as long as I continue to take care of my own emotional health, I can continue to help my kids make their way through this without further damaging them. But if I drink, ALL I will do is damage the people that I care about the most.
For today, everyone in recovery is doing the impossible. No matter what happens: loss of loved ones, livelihood, home, and security – we refuse to go back to our old ways of thinking and living. A saying I hear often in the rooms of recovery is “My worst day sober is still better than my best day of drinking.” And it’s true. Because when I was drinking, I hated myself.
If you have the willingness to change, there is always hope. You are never alone.
Because when there are no words, there is almost always the perfect GIF. Hello from Groundhog Day #31.
I got some backlash for my latest post, which you can read here if you missed it. If you’re offended by a lot of profanity, I’d advise you to maybe skip that one. Listen close, cats: I love my children. Really. I also realize that I’m fortunate to be married to a man I still enjoy being around. We have a roof over our heads, and I know this won’t last forever. That doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to be mad about it.
My challenges are mostly due to the fact that I’m
A.) Trying to remain sober, while
B.) Raising two children with very different, very challenging, issues. Plus a third kid.
These facts do not mean it can’t be done. In fact, the reason why I share my experiences is to hold myself accountable as well as help other women in a similar situation see that there really is hope for anyone who is struggling with any kind of addiction disorder. If you don’t struggle with addiction, it might be hard for you to understand why LOSING THE THINGS THAT KEEP ME TOGETHER while at the same time PARENTING CHILDREN WHO ALSO LOST THE THINGS THAT KEEP THEM TOGETHER feels so damn impossible.
If you have not been in this position, please don’t chastise me for freaking out about it, because all that does is make you an asshole.
The thing is, that the feeling of impossibility is actually probably a lie. The truth is that deep down inside of me there is a strength that I can tap into — but only if I choose to.
Every day, I get to make that choice.
So, in the spirit of choosing to be okay when very few things are actually okay, here are a few things that are bringing me joy — or at the very least, a chuckle? — during this very challenging time.
- This post from McSweeny’s, OMG. Funniest thing ever.
- Leslie Jordan’s Instagram feed. You’re welcome.
- I’m growing plants! This orchid has been with me since November, and I just bought the rosemary plant. So far, so good. I’d like to branch out to growing things in the yard, but I’m paralyzed by the fear that I’ll invest a ton of time and energy and then everything will die. Suggestions are welcomed — I live in South Louisiana, so the climate is tropical(ish).
- I found a bra so comfortable that I went back and ordered two more. Dillard’s is having a great sale on loungewear, and since that’s what I’m living in now I decided to stock up. My curvy sisters, may I present the Natori Bliss Contour Wireless Bra. I am a 34 DDD and am forever in search of support and comfort. This bra is so comfy that I SLEEP IN IT.
- Videos of hedgehogs as pets. Just trust me on this. I spent several hours watching hedgehogs taking baths, hedgehogs taking foot baths, hedgehogs playing in their spinny wheels, and on and on. My friend Rach (of the blog RachRiot) has a pet hedgehog named … wait for it … Quillie Nelson. Read all about it here, if you are so inclined.
- Bob Dylan. The calmness of his music makes me happy.
- And finally, we made names for our alter egos. Example: when Pepper loses her shit, we call her Janice — as in, “Uh oh, Janice is here. Everybody scatter!” Something about referring to our Quarantine Selves as alter egos makes us laugh, and laughing is exactly what we need right now to get through this thing.
It was during the second re-start of Asher’s time out timer, during what is now becoming a daily ritual of tantrum throwing, when I looked on social media and learned that the Governor of Louisiana expects the “stay at home” order to last THROUGH THE END OF MAY.
It was during the fifth re-start of Asher’s time out timer (yes, you read that right. It’s a thing and it sucks) that I was like, wait.
It was then that I started to panic.
The realization sank in: I get at least six. more. weeks. of ritualistic tantrums and emotional volatility from my middle child, and heaven only knows what my oldest has up his sleeve because he always finds new ways to shock years off my lifespan. There is just really no telling what kinds of awe-inspiring things I have to look forward to, but I feel fairly certain that all of them will involve damage to my home or my psyche, and not necessarily in that order.
Please note that if you’re thinking to yourself, Harmony, all that negative thinking will only produce a negative outcome, you can go right on ahead and fuck yourself. Take that annoyingly positive thinking of yours and get the hell away with all of that bullshit because I am not fucking negative. I’m fucking human and I’ve sucked it up long enough, do you hear me? I have been holed up in my house since March 13 with these children and I am doooooooone. ALL OF US ARE DONE!
We have crafted and put together puzzles and watched all the movies. We went on bike rides until one day everyone including me threw a fit a street away from our house and all the people came out onto their driveways to look at the spectacle that was the Hobbs family.
Today we tie-dyed t-shirts — fun, right? WRONG.
Tie-dyeing was what prompted Asher’s hour-long temper tantrum. Why? Who the fuck knows! Certainly not me! All of my children are regressing. I am regressing. I want to curl into a ball on the floor and eat freshly baked cookies and blast gutter rap and growl every time anyone comes near me like a feral grizzly bear basking in her own filth.
I am a woman in the prime of her life who cannot leave her house. I have rachet hair and raggedy nails and feet that badly need professional help, but it’s not my personal appearance that is the problem, oh no.
It is the fact that I have no escape from my family.
HELP ME ESCAPE MY FAMILY.
Look, I like to believe that I’m a persistent, stubborn, hardy person who can handle a whole lot of shit, but this **gesturing vaguely around** situation is about to send me over the edge.
I remember when I was a kid, seeing older folks doing peculiar things. I’d ask my mom, “Why does Grandma crumble up Saltine crackers and mix them with ketchup?” Or, “Why does so-and-so’s grandmother hoard dinner rolls in her purse and steal Sweet N’ Low packets from the Piccadilly?”
“Oh … she lived through the Great Depression,” was usually the answer, although I didn’t fully understand what that meant until I was much older. The Great Depression made able-bodied men leap from the tops of buildings, or shoot themselves in the face. Just the title of that dark period of American history lets us know that it freaking sucked.
Kind of like 2020.
This event, and whatever else is to come, is what will shape us. In another 40 years, when all of this is behind us, I’ll be the type of geriatric who refuses to remain confined in her room or her home, no matter the size or level of comfort. I won’t give a rat’s ass about any so-called lack of transportation, just get me OUT OF HERE, SHIRLEY, and into A PUBLIC PLACE WHERE I CAN BE AROUND STRANGERS. And be fast about it. I’m not getting any younger.
I love my children dearly, but we all like each other so much more when we get a small break every once in awhile. Just a teeny tiny bit of time away. Just one little trip to one place. Which is why, in the year 2060, old people will FUCKING REFUSE to go home.
They — I mean, us — will be unfreakingstoppable. Don’t believe me? That’s sweet. We will be out all hours of the night dancing on top of tables, probably topless. The police will have to pick us up and drive us home to our families, who will breathe sighs of relief to see us home safe and sound. And they will say “Thank you, officer, for bringing her home safely from shopping again,” before exchanging a conspiriorital look of you know how all of these folks who lived through 2020 are. They’re about half a bubble off plumb, if you know what I mean.
Remember back when 2019 was a little intense and all of us looked forward to 2020? We had no idea what was coming, bless our little privileged hearts.
But it’s fine. Really. Everything is absolutely fine.
Remember when I almost relapsed last summer on diet pills because I was so stressed, and I swore I would never again stay home full time with the kids? I had no clue that was just a teeny, tiny preview into what was awaiting me: full time isolation with my three children, without access to the things that I grew to depend on for my sanity and well being, WITH NO END IN SIGHT.
Last summer seems like a breeze compared to this. What the hell even is this? I honestly can’t decide, because my thoughts and feelings shift minute by minute. Sometimes it feels like a gift, a blessing, something divinely orchestrated to open my eyes to the simple joys that I spent so many years drowning out before I got sober. Other times it feels like a dystopian nightmare, like we’re on the verge of societal collapse and there is no way any of us can do this if this virus doesn’t kill us first.
Can we really do this? Or are we, the American people, too soft, too spoiled rotten? Someone said that an Amazon employee tested positive for the virus, and now people are freaking out that Amazon might stop delivering things like bike helmets and creamy peanut butter to our doorsteps.
You fools took all the creamy peanut butter in my town and all that is left is extra crunchy. Peanut butter manufacturers should know by now that nobody likes that extra crunchy shit, you could just as well buy a can of peanuts and smear them on bread, because that’s exactly what it tastes like. The same people who are buying up all the good peanut butter are more than likely the ones hoarding toilet paper, because greedy people are like that. It’s cool, though, because I bought up all the fiber supplements, so the joke’s on you, motherfuckers.
No one knows when — or if — school will resume for the 2019-2020 academic year. None of us were aware, when the kids climbed into school buses or cars at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, March 13, that they wouldn’t be returning the following Monday. We can’t tell our kids for certain when (if?) they will be able to see their friends or teachers again, let alone when libraries and parks will reopen.
I’ve started focusing on reminding them that their friends are safe in their homes — just like we are! — because my kids are only friends with people who come from intelligent homes. And what I mean by intelligent is that the adults in the household can comprehend basic instructions and aren’t out shopping together as a family and then crowding around a food truck afterwards, touching everything.
That’s just stupid.
We are all doing impossible things all day long, trudging a minimum of 6 feet away from each other up a slippery hill. And YES, it is all too much. Way, way too much. I don’t have the answers, people. I am only here to validate our immense and bottomless angst.
When the kids and I quarantined ourselves 11 days ago, my husband continued to go to work. He’s a Sales Manager at the biggest Chevy dealership in town, and for whatever reason, car dealerships are considered necessary during a pandemic.
First of all, who the hell is out buying cars right now? You do not need a new car. You need to stay at home like the rest of us who want this horrible self-isolation thing to end ASAP so we can get back to regular life. No, I’m not wallowing in self pity at all, shut up and mind your own business.
Robbie says he is thankful that he still has a job, because people are being laid off right and left. The rational side of me is thankful, too. The irrational side, which sometimes finds me eating chocolate icing directly from the container while I cry on the floor of my closet, is royally pissed.
When it sunk in that nail salons, hair salons, and other such things were closing up shop for an unknown period of time, my first thought was oh shit, my roots, immediately followed by oh shit, my nails.
If you’ve never had dip nails before, allow me to explain. I’ve been a nail and cuticle biter for as long as I can remember. Gel manicures tend to last two days at the most, and any attempt to do my own nails produces a result that looks a lot like that of my children.
My therapist was the one who told me to try dip nails. After the first time I did it last summer, I was hooked. It didn’t matter what I put my hands through, the manicure looked amazing. It’s like concrete, so there’s no way to pull it or peel it off — awesome, right? Except when there’s a pandemic. Then it isn’t awesome at all.
Reader, please join me as I embark on a journey into the unfamiliar territory of do-it-yourself tutorials. I hope you’re excited, because I can hardly contain myself.
You might be wondering why my face looks a little … off. Well friends, I realized several hours too late that I’d only filled in one of my eyebrows. If that doesn’t sum up my entire existence at the moment, I don’t know what does.
The materials I used in the removal process are as follows:
- 100% pure acetone
- Aluminum foil
- Heavy-duty nail file
- Cotton balls
- Glass bowl
This situation reminds me a lot of the time I decided I could give myself a bikini wax at home: arrogant and misguided.
I told myself that surely I could do the removal just like they do in the nail salon, which was a lie, of course. I’ve already explained to you that I’m not even capable of painting my nails decently, so I think we all know how this is going to end.
Here are the steps:
- File off the top layer of each nail
- Soak a cotton ball in acetone
- Put cotton on top of fingernail and,
- Wrap with aluminum foil.
My right hand was easy because I’m left handed. I really struggled to do my left hand, so my kids stepped in to help. I’ll let you guess how that went. After realizing this wasn’t quite going according to plan, I ended up taking all the foil wads off my fingers and sticking my fingers into a bowl full of acetone.
I soaked until I could no longer feel the tips of my fingers, then pulled my hands out of the bowl and used a rough paper towel to wipe off the melted dip goo.
Repeat eleventy hundred times, and you get this:
After cutting my nails and filing the remainder of the dip off (that’s a lie, I totally gave up on filing and decided to just live with it until it grows out), I found a cheerful shade of polish that adequately covered the black spots that I still have on my fingers.
So, yeah. I’m pretty anxious to be released from isolation/social distancing so I can once again let the professionals work their magic, but until then, I’ll be sharing the wonders of DOING IT YOURSELF DURING A PANDEMIC!
Ok, look. I’m going to level with you: the past few weeks have been harder than anything I’ve gone through in my life, and that’s saying a lot.
After writing my previous blog post, I basically had a 48-hour meltdown wherein I cried, stamped my feet, and felt sorry for myself. My body felt like it was filled with lead. I had the overwhelm, big time, and my kids were even more anxious (read: hyperactive, emotional, excitable, awful) because their mother couldn’t seem to get it together.
Eventually, I got ahold of myself. I mean, this pandemic isn’t going away. I have no control over an invisible virus. So I’m going to focus on what I can control: living through a pandemic while in recovery for alcoholism, in isolation with my three children, for an unknown period of time. Because WOW.
I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, slash, writer, for almost 8 years now. To go from what used to be our normal life, to 24/7 parenting without access to libraries, parks, other children, zoos, the swimming pool, or anything other than our own home and yard, is CRAZY DISORIENTING. I mean … you know. We all know. I don’t have to explain to any of you how hard all of this is, because you are already there.
Part of me feels ashamed to complain, because I’m aware that millions of people don’t have it as good as we do right now. My husband is in the car business, and right now vehicles are considered a “necessity” along with hospitals and groceries, so his work load isn’t slowing down anytime soon. And as much as I worry about him going out there into the wild where the viruses live, and as bitter as I sometimes feel because he gets to leave for work and I do not, I’m thankful that we don’t have to worry about our livelihood (at least, not yet).
For 12 hours a day, and it’s just me and the kids.
At first, I tried to homeschool them. It sounded like a good idea. Routine is always good for kids — how hard could it be to carry on what their teachers were doing with them before schools unexpectedly closed down?
It turns out that stressed mothers are terrible teachers. I was stressing myself out as well as my children, so we just … well, we stopped. There was no big announcement, no dramatic throwing in of the towel, I just fucking quit doing it.
And guess what? Nothing horrible happened. My kids didn’t become dumb overnight. They’re still learning, just in a different way. Today we went to a pond and threw out food for the turtles. We’re cooking, cleaning, and learning how to work together under duress. I’m trying really, really hard not to yell.
It’s a work in progress.
My greatest challenge is that I am trapped with my kids during a time that I would absolutely LOVE to numb out, maintaining my sobriety without access to the 12-step meetings that have been such an integral part of my recovery, and surrounded (virtually, not literally) by people who are conditioned to cope with Bad Things by drinking. This is Louisiana. We are famous for our ability to roll with the punches and do it with good cheer, because we’re loaded all the time.
This is what I found myself writing to a woman who is 142 days sober and struggling with the isolation/motherhood problem:
Hi! Mom of an 11 year old boy with Asperger’s and ADHD, a 8 year old boy with ADD, and a 6 year old girl here. First of all, YOU ARE DOING GREAT. None of us are doing this perfectly or even that well, but if you are sober and your kids are loved and safe, then give yourself a huge pat on the back! You are demonstrating every single day what it looks like to love yourself so that you can truly love them.
Now, isolation and motherhood are both huge triggers for me, so this is what I’ve found helpful:
1. Telehealth sessions with my therapist (if you don’t have one, this is a GREAT TIME TO GET ONE). I’m scheduling them weekly. I know cost can be a problem — look for a counselor without all the fancy letters after their name. There are plenty and trust me, they’ve got mad availability right now.
2. Reaching out to all of my friends so I don’t feel alone. I use Zoom, WhatsApp, and Marco Polo, in addition to all the regular ways of communicating.
3. HARD exercise. Wear those kids out! Wear yourself out! Get the anxiety out of your body by doing something outside in the sun or even a Zumba video inside the house. Just move your body, sweat, and get the kids to move too. I cannot stress enough how crucial physical exercise is to my sanity/sobriety/mental health. Hard exercise is the only thing I’ve found to keep my anxiety at a manageable level right now.
4. Give your entire household grace because what we are doing is BATSHIT CRAZY and HARD AS FUCK, DO YOU HEAR ME? We are doing the impossible, and doing it sober. If someone would have told me this is what I’d be doing in 2020, I never would have believed them. But I am. We are.