Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
Oop..I AM grown up...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Alone In the Crowd--Like Everyone Else

I have been in a major funk since returning from my vacation.  Actually, I often wonder if vacations sometimes do more harm than good.  Think about it:  you're escaping the same old drudgery you have to go through every day, and typically you're going to a place with much better scenery, possibly much better weather, and your goals are simply to relax and "let yourself go."  And then, after that brief period of high-summer revelry, you have to pack up your dirty, wrinkled clothes and go back to your REAL life. 

I had this very naive idea that just because I went away, things would change.  POOF! My son no longer drives my daughter crazy, thanks to his pestering OCD.  POOF!  The house would be tidy when I walked in and finally, finally look like that GROWN UP house I always dream of having.  POOF!  I would be invigorated and refreshed and have more energy and mental stamina to tackle said house, and constantly fighting children.  But no, I was home, and it was messy, and dirty, and there are still piles of where-the-hell-do-I-put-this-stuff everywhere.  My son was still my same little Jack, and he still flips out and flies into absolute panic over things that you and I find insignificant.  And oh yeah, my Mom is still dead.  Yeah, she's gone forever, and some guy named "Bev" is in our house right now instead, watching the place for my Dad; making sure the furnace runs smoothly, and the pipes don't freeze, etc. 

I still have to drag myself out of bed every day even though I feel exhausted, and I still have to make those million trips to and from the school.  I wanted to go for my power walk the past couple of mornings, but it's your typical Canadian brief thaw, and that means there are lake-sized puddles everywhere, and the sidewalks are covered with bumpy, dangerous ice.  No sign of flowers.  No sign of any green grass.  Your kids still fight you about everything. 

So, I was lying in bed last night awake, thinking about all of this.  I was thinking about how life is just plain hard.  How it's a struggle, and how overflowing with daily worry and heartache it is. 

It's easy to fall into the pit of despair.  It's easy to wallow.  It's easy to give up. It's very easy to think "why me?  Why is MY life so hard?" 

Image from HERE
And then, as I lay there thinking, I had a thought that was ironically comforting.  What spurred it on was a post I'd just read by Maria at Mission: Fertile Soul.  Maria's blog makes me ponder very often.  She's a poignant, intelligent writer. She also struggles with infertility.  One of her latest posts (you can read her post HERE)  was a glimpse into the world of IVF treatments through her own comics.  There was one comic that struck me:  as she walks down the street, she sees another "cute pregnant woman," and thinks "oh, great."  That really grabbed me.  It's that quintessential "alone in the crowd" feeling we all suffer from, from time to time. 

Do you ever go out in public and feel like you're the only one who has a certain problem, that nobody else has or can understand?  I certainly do.  You've probably all heard me bitch about my stomach.  My pregnancy with my daughter wrecked me.  My stomach muscles, already weakened from being cut during a gallbladder-ectomy (did I just invent a word???), were stretched WAY beyond the point of no return.  My abdominal muscles separated, and now, unless I really suck it in, the upper portion of my stomach sticks out, and I look pregnant.  I have had a few people think I was expecting. I hate it.  It's on my mind every minute of every day.  I look at other women and I envy their stomachs.  Even if other women are overweight, I envy their stomachs, because they simply look like they're heavy--not perpetually pregnant.  When I walk to the school to pick my son up, I always feel very self conscious, and then I fall into that "alone in the crowd" feeling:  nobody else has a weird, sticking out stomach like mine.  I'm the only one here who looks like this. 

I used to feel this way about my Mom too, like I was the only one in that crowd who didn't have a mother any longer to love, to complain about, to roll my eyes about, to go shopping with, to call when I needed to vent, or for advice. 

So, what I realised is that yes, at times I am alone in the crowd--just like everyone else.  Everyone has some sadness, or heartache, or hardship or massive insecurity in their life. 

I don't know--it's comforting. 


  1. Karen that is the biggest lie around..."to believe we are all alone in our problems and nobody has suffered like us"

    Right now this very minute I am anxious, depressed, having mulitple panic attacks and night time is the worst.

    So yesterday I got me some PILLS..well, wouldnt you know I am totally freaked out to take the tradzone or something like that, because my daughter had one teen pill once and it caused her heart rate to I never took it...
    My life is stressed to the max. My breaking point is nearly reached. I want to call up the paramedics and say "sign me up boys, and send me in the the crazy house"

    For real. This is no joke.

    So I am with you Karen...but you are not alone, not alone at all. We are all out here dealing with life before us, just trying to make it through another day.

    If you would have asked me a year ago if I would be at this point I would have looked at you like you were crazy...

  2. Aw, Karen....first off thanks for the shout out to my post. I'm so so sorry that you're in such a funk right now. I was there, too, after the loss of our dear Bailey boy and after days and weeks of no sun and extra snow. And, yeah...I can imagine a week in the tropics and then being thrown back into dull gray days and gigantic frozen ponds everywhere would NOT be helpful.

    Sending you gigantic HUGS and hoping the funk lifts soon.

    (PS I see a LOT of kids with OCD in my practice....if you ever wanna chat, feel free to send me an email: mtroth5 at gmail dot com. I know how difficult it is)

  3. Oh Karen I'm in that club too! I think I'm the only one living in an area with no supportive family. I read all these blogs with such supportive moms and siblings. I get silence. I hate my inlaws too they suck big time...Yeah everyday I wake up and think were is the fun? There is always drama and stress. Poor Melissa I was at her house yesterday and had a complete melt down.
    I see people with more than one child and think I was kicked out of that club too.
    I just grasp onto what I can like my son who is really great and so happy and I wonder how that can be??? But thank god for it!!!
    So don't feel alone Karen ..I'm on the other side of Canada feeling exactly how you do!

  4. yep, Melissa--the good old "breaking point." Nobody ever told us; "when you grow up, you're going to be overwhelmed by stresses you can't even imagine now in your young life, and it will actually start to make you physically ill. Here, have another cookie."

    Well, I was thinking about you, and while I often look around at other moms and their kids, and think they've got things easier, you tend to suffer a lot of rotton luck!

    Maybe there's a different med that will have LESS frightening potential side effects? Yeah, I know--they all have a LIST of scaries that can happen to a body.

    Why don't you look into Rhodiola? It's a "natural" supplement that is supposed to fight anxiety. Yeah, natural supplements have their dangers as well, but if you're nervous about the drug you got, you have nothing to lose.

    Is there any way you can book yourself into a hotel for a night or weekend by yourself? Just bring a book and read and have silence? Would that help at all?

    here's a link for rhodiola:

  5. I hate panic attacks. Being a VERY un-energetic, mostly calm person by nature, I never really suffered them until my mom got sick. Now everything freaks me out, and makes me need to lie down to deal with it.

  6. Seeing "bev"? in teh house is just strange and rather bothersome to me...When I forst saw him, I called Beam right away.."why is there a man, i have never before walking out of th efront door??" She explained...okay. I am just always comforted by seeing your dad across the street.
    My "alone" thing is my teeth. I have never eally spoken about his until recently. I HATE my teeth to th epoint where it actually holds me back. really. I cant afford to fix them right now, trust me, we have checked into it and my parents couldnt afford when I was younger...I am laways thinking people are just judging them. I am gettign kinda sweaty and nervous just typing about it...moving on...
    I remember just after Mickey died, I had to go buy a dress to wear to the funeral. I went into a store and the sales person came jumping up me "Hi! How many I help you?? ever so bubblily...i wanted to vomit. This was the last thing I wanted to be doing...
    Me:i am just looking for a dress
    SP: what kind of a dres!?! One for a fun night out!?! still popping with joy
    Me: no
    SP (now visiably not liking my lack of joy) Well, is there anything you have in mind?
    Me: one that i can wear
    Sp Our dresses are over there (now sulking at my lack of "shared" joy)
    I went over to them, picked 2 out, tried them on with the sales person hounding me the whole time. I just wanted to scream! Doesnt she know?? Doesnt she care??
    really, she had no idea what i was going through...i cried a few times in the cange room. I picked a shirt/blouse type thing and a black skirt.
    SP: I really liked the blue dress on you
    Me: i like the skirt, it has roses on it
    SP: give em a strange look
    (Mickeys middle name was Rose)
    I went to pay for the stuff and she continued to try to up-sell me stuff, matching earrings adn such
    I declined on everything and was a bummer about it...then she dropped the bomb...
    "Have a great day!" instant tears in my eyes and I had a mini melt down right there in the store. I am sure i got looks...but i couldnt take the way life was going on around me...i felt ALONE...but really I wasnt...I just didnt feel like it. My aunt shared a similar story just after Jake died, she needed shoes to wear to the funeral...and it went pretty much the same way. Alone is an aweful feeling, but when ya ask around, everyoen seems to have it. No one ever talks about it though.

  7. Thanks Maria, that's awesome--I will send you an email, because I'm interested in this whole OCD thing, which I've had lots of chats about with my sister.

    Bah, funks come, funks go. This too shall pass.

  8. Thanks Pam. I don't feel alone--that was my realization again, that everyone feels this way at some time or another. That's the joke, we're all EVERYONE else. I'm sorry you had a melt down. Did you and poor Melissa have one together????

  9. Yes Steph, with that sad story you nailed hit the nail on the head. I relate to the "doesn't EVERYONE know???" part, because I walked around feeling like that after my Mom died.

    As for your teeth, if it makes you feel any better, I never ever notice anything, and think you always looks perfectly cute. But I know what you mean--these things on our own bodies become HUMONGOUS. Maybe you could get a loan from the credit union if it bothers you so much? They're far more helpful than the banks.

    Yep--t'would be about 6000 to 8000 dollars for a tummy tuck. BOO YAH!

  10. Well, that was just plain sad. Well Karen, you always have me. And thank goodness for the vice versa. If you never moved back, I would be so alone it would be scary. (Family wise. I know I always have my Stephy:))

    Steph. That was a sad post too. You and your family have most certainly had more than your fair share of heart ache.

    After Mom died I was perpetually looking for things that made me feel better. The "bright side" of things. Like "well! Could have been worse! She could have been much younger!" or "Good golly, at least she got to do a lot of nice things in her life!" Pffft. Please.

    Then I found that the only real mildly comforting thing is knowing that other people have suffered the same or worst. When a friend of mine told me of his father's tragic death it actually made me feel BETTER. Cynical? It's to all prove that I am not alone.

  11. that's right, Nerdo: we're all bonded in misery! HOORAY! tummy doesn't feel so good. I was just chowing down on shredded coconut. That has NOTHING to do with what you wrote, but I was temporarily distracted.

    Yeah, does misery love company, or does misery NEED company???

  12. We have checked into loans for me...adn Ben will need the same..I choose for we have a 5 year plan..and IF we can swing it for both of us all the better...time will tell. Its not something i speak of too often, too painful. The thought of going to explain this someone just make me ill to to think about...even going to hte dentist makes me shutter, not because of the woork being done, just because the main focus is , gulp, my teeth. oh well...such as life!
    Aimee, your too sweet! i heart you!
    Heres to misery loving company, too bad its us for the time being.

  13. You're absolutely right. We're all the same. Except different.
    Kind of nice to know though

  14. The big challenge is this: sharing our miseries and fears to fight that lie that we are alone, yet not descending into 'trading lemons' - in other words a cycle of complaining to each other that never ends and sours our days.

    I am no where near mastering that. I have a few hard-earned-trusted guy friends that I can be pretty open with (venting, talking fears, etc.) without sitting around in the 'life sucks mud puddle'. We pray for each other too, and I know it helps me BIG time just knowing that there is someone advocating on my behalf, you know?

    I understand what Beam is saying - counting blessings is fine, but not as a bandaid over real pain and grief.

    Thanks for bringing this up, Karen.

  15. bandaids for the human spirit = whisky

    Ha ha ha ha...oh I am SO irreverant.

    Yes, it's true Matt--one can walk that fine line between whining and lamenting, and it's only through constant self-reminding that we keep ourselves from wallowing.

  16. Yeah, Sandra, it is comforting. It's also comforting to be DIFFERENT from others, no? Ie; serial killers.


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