external validation is some shit. #dothething

by Alicia on April 26, 2017

I’m barely going to preface this long absence for you by saying these things:

  • Bella is doing amazing and my family is surrounded by incredible people who bring our very best qualities into the very best lighting
  • it’s been awhile, I haven’t wanted to write here
  • I’m taking a writing workshop and it’s beautifully kicking my ass and I love it

 

External validation is actually some shit.

Like. I edit out so much of my shit because I’m like “oh, this might piss off someone” or “this is challenged by this theory or parenting method or lifestyle choice” or literally whatever and I actually in the end don’t care because I don’t think about it after I hit publish but at the time I’m pretty worried about it.

Why?

For what purpose?

I write. I like it. I am a writer.

I am a writer.

I write.

If I’m truly just writing, then it’s just for me. You can disagree and that’s ok because I didn’t write it for you. You write for you. I’m going to write here for me. And in my notebook. And in the one I keep beside my desk when I forget my notebook. And in my Google Drive. And in my iPhone notes. And anydamnwhere because I’m busy and that’s how it all works and when there’s inspiration and Muse and space, I have to quick and dirty get the words down. And that’s not probably how you pictured your Writers, and it’s maybe not how Writers work but it’s how this writer works.

Sometimes I have to transcribe what I shouted into my phone recorder app during a drive home. Still writing.

Sometimes I’m up at 11am trying not to look like I’m crying. Still writing.

Sometimes I’m hammering out swears at 9pm on a Wednesday. Still writing.

Sometimes I get two sentences in and lose the thought. Still. Fucking. Writing.

 

It’s all very unsexy, this process.

It’s all very uneven and it feels like you’re the only one who does it this way and that’s ok because you are. And it’s still writing. Your shit isn’t original, and that’s ok. It’s still writing.

Write because you love it, because it calls to you, because it makes you feel a thing you can’t get anywhere else.

Write because you’re good at a thing.

Write because it’s the only way to think through the stuff that rolls around your brain.

Write because it’s brilliant…even for a second.

Write because you’re the only one who will say Those Things exactly the way you’re going to say them.

 

 

Write because it’s beautiful.

To reveal your soul and leave it out on display.

To pull out the parts you keep buried because that’s safe, and reveal them because that’s inspiration.

External validation is some shit.

Write for you.

Write because you can’t think through it unless you write it.

Write because you think in prose.

Write because it matters.

Do the thing.

#dothething

 

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Together, we are better

by Alicia on December 29, 2016

Life is…tough, right now.

I keep saying I’m overwhelmed, stressed, unsure- when anyone dares ask how I’m doing, right now.

And it’s all the truth. I’m all of those things, almost all of the time.

Tecumseh Vista Academy logoWe suddenly and tragically lost the Principal of my daughters’ school, Paul Bisson, on Christmas Eve. I say that from a personal perspective because he well and truly was the kind of Principal that made you feel like he was yours. To 1000 kids, he made each of them feel that way. He was instrumental in making me feel like a whole actively able person with an army of help at my immediate disposal when dealing with how to help Bella feel comfortable in and at school. He was empathetic and shared his own personal parenting experience, and shared his laughter, and made me certain this was a team effort. For a set of parents at the edge of what feels like a steep cliff? That hand to pull you back, with authority and kindness and depth? It means everything.

And then I read this article on how lonely being the Mom to a middle schooler is and I cried. Because dammit it IS lonely. And there ARE no blogs to read, no circles of parents sharing their ups and downs. We’re supposed to know it by now, right? But the truth is the truth gets less and less clear the more our kids age. And there aren’t absolute definitions of success. If I got my toddler to eat a celery stick, I had a community to brag to and a defined way I could share for others to replicate. Got my kid to sleep in her big girl bed? Share away! Look at my tangible accomplishment! And most of the time, persistence at those steps yielded similar results when repeated. It was the best feedback loop.

There’s almost none of that left in parenting my tween. Rarely can I try a thing twice and have her feed back the same response. That’s if I even get a second chance. No one talks about this stage, or the parts they talk about are the parts that worked out. It is incredibly lonely. And I want to say that I stopped talking about Bella because I wanted to protect her privacy, but some of the reason is I wanted to protect my own vulnerability. I wanted to not have to say: I’m trying everything and very little is working. I wanted to avoid having to admit: everything I worked for feels like it’s meant very little. I know the truth is not that simple and that many things I’ve done in our 11 year relationship has produced an incredibly close and bonded mother-daughter partnership.

But sometimes Bella is an utter stranger to me. And sometimes I don’t like the mother I’ve become.

Sometimes I barely like the person I’ve tried so hard to be.

Not all the time. But yes, sometimes I blame myself and the choices I decided to make.

I have told a few friends an absolute truth about myself, discovered painfully and recently: I encourage vulnerability in others, and loathe it in myself.

Paul Bisson had a motto: together we are better. It never meant much to me, I mean it sounded lovely for some baby kiddos he had to herd at his elementary school, but it really didn’t touch me. It’s funny how the universe shows you a mirror, because I have been broken down so far, so fast, so deeply and right to the very core of the person I thought I was. Of the mother I thought I was. And out of that depth I gained little lifelines from people, from all the corners of my life who came down to my darkness to leave me a flashlight. And they waited until I found my way to them. Those people waited in the dark and made a place for me, the place they could help.

And I let them.

It took a crash so hard that I cannot describe it, but dammit I let them help me. They poured into my cup so I can pour into my family’s cup. Without them, we would all be empty and wanting and struggling and in pain. And we are all still in pain. But we are feeding off the courage of others. Off the good will of our village. Off the kindness and small acts of big justice that people who see us are willing to do on our behalf when we just cannot.

Together we really are better.

And I will forget that time and time again. But I’m going to try and be here for this experience. For all the depths it drags me through and all the joys we reach, all the successes and challenges…I’m going to try not to leave someone else lonely, if I can help it. I’m going to try to be honest about the struggle, and plain about the worry. And maybe if I can leave some of it here I won’t carry it all on my fragile shoulders, and you can know that there’s a place here for you to leave your junk too.

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“Take care of yourself”

by Alicia on December 20, 2016

“Take care of yourself.”

That’s what they tell you to do. When you’re the parent and everything is going wrong.

“Take care of yourself. You need to have something left.”

But how?

How is that supposed to happen?

“You’re doing the best you can.”

True.

But not good enough. It’s not enough. There has to be an enough and we haven’t found it yet.

I can’t reach my daughter. I can’t find her.

I ask her what she wants, and she can’t tell me. I ask her what hurts, and she can’t tell me. I ask her how to help her, and she can’t tell me.

And we focus every moment of every day on the how, what, why, where of her refusing to go to school. When all the while we have two other daughters who get sick and have school concerts and want to tell us a story or get us to play with them, and all our energy is spent on Bella.

And all our energy is spent on Bella.

And all our energy is spent on Bella.

And still I can’t reach her.

She’s 11, and as tall as me. There is no forcing her to school. (Trust, we have tried. Physically.)

“Take care of yourself.”

When I struggle between HELP US and KEEP HER SECRET SO SHE’S NOT LABELED, it’s hard to remember me at all.

When the only time I sit is at 9:30pm, after all the doctor’s appointments, and chores, and “remember to fix this” and “get that box unpacked so the girls feel more at home” and alarms going off for medications and phone calls I’ve forgotten to make and sign this agenda and where are the fucking scissors I don’t even know this house and I live here what have we done…

And when I sit it’s all I think about and I cry so I have to get up and finish all the things that, if I leave them, will peek back out when I need silence.

“You’re doing the best you can.”

And our daughter has missed 8 days of school.

And we’ve used up every sick hour, vacation day, human resource we have at our disposal so my husband takes her to work with him while we worry all day about the consequences, long and short term, of all the work and the instruction she’s missing.

And she worries that her friends will not like her, which is two parts of the mystery of why she suffers debilitating anxiety.

“Take care of yourself.”

When the world of things you need to take care of moves at lightning speed all in competition with one another because you have to keep living your life in order to one day in the future have a life left to live. And every support you need seems to move at a glacial pace because every one of those people/ professionals/ pieces of paperwork is competing with other lives trying to get back on track. And you know that only you know how much more important your piece is, and you want to push but you don’t want to seem desperate, lest they label you and want to teach you a lesson through ignorance. So you struggle and you try to get through 45 consecutive minutes today without crying, but maybe you have to try that one again tomorrow.

“Take care of yourself.”

When the only time to get to the gym and work out some frustration is 5am, and you couldn’t fall asleep from worry so 3 hours of sleep is not enough.

“You’re doing the best you can.”

When you forgot to call the mom and invite the kid to your kid’s birthday party which is back-burnered for the other kid’s acute experience and you know you’ve been doing this for 2.5 weeks, putting Kid 1 over Kids 2 and 3 because Kid 1’s issue is taking over everything, but it’s not their fault and so you steel yourself and you tell yourself you’re going to put aside the Kid 1 thing for a minute but it creeps in (it always creeps in) and with it comes all the frustration and angst and questions and possibilities and stress and now you’re not even there with the kid who needs you now but you’re…doing the best you can.

“Take care of yourself.”

When you never put yourself over your child. And your child is clearly suffering.

And you used to be able to fix it. She’s always known that you could fix it.

And you can’t fix this. And all of your trust in the thing you built shatters more with every traumatic interaction.

“Take care of yourself.”

I can’t even find my Self to take care of.

sad-505857_1280

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Listen To Your Mother 2016, do the thing

May 18, 2016

I’ve auditioned for Listen To Your Mother twice. In 2015 I wrote a piece I worked on for daaaayyyys. I edited it, I asked for feedback, I read it on camera to myself to hear what it sounded like. I didn’t get chosen for that show. It sucked. Not the piece, I still think it’s good. […]

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Feminism, and the Defiance of Daughters

April 21, 2016

Sexism. What a dirty word. What a list of cruel and ugly things it draws on your mind as you think it. There is a falsehood that sexism is only in the obvious and the overt- grabbing a woman’s ass, complimenting her new skirt as opposed to her intelligence, jokingly instructing a woman to get […]

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