Friday, September 12, 2008

If I went to a therapist...

What would I say?

Sometimes I have conversations in my head -- monologues, actually, as though I'm talking about my life to a therapist. And I wonder, would it do me any good to actually see one? Not that I'm asking because I've never been. I have. Last year around this time I called our insurance for a referral at the insistence of my beloved because I NEEDED HELP. I was freaking out. I was sad. I was overwhelmed. I was feeling like a failure.

That's what it basically comes down to. That's why I let my temper go when I do. If I could be rational about it in the moment, my anger almost always comes down to feeling like I've failed somehow.

I'm not being the wife or mother I want to be. I'm failing at my immediate goals, and therefore at my larger goal. I've set the bar where I think it needs to be, and now the person I'm aiming to please has somehow let me know that it's not working. Last night was a typical example. I was making dinner, but apparently not fast enough. The kids were whining from hunger, and Scott was looking at the clock and hovering, wondering if we'd be done with dinner in time to take our oldest to kung fu. And I snapped. I snap, and then I pass the blame. Because it hurts too much to be the one failing. It must be someone else's fault.

Or this morning. I wanted to get outside and work in the garden before it got too hot. But I'd woken up late, again, still wasn't feeling well, and the boys wanted me to PLAY with them outside, not just do my own thing. The whining. I HATE the whining. I hear whining and I think, "For heaven's sake! You have more toys than a city's worth of kids in Africa! You have TWO brothers to play with! You don't have to spend six hours every day at school or with me hovering over you making you do schoolwork! You just got to spend three days playing with friends, swimming, and going to an aquarium! You have a trampoline, a swingset, and chickens to play with! Could you just let me WEED for TWENTY MINUTES!?"

Those things are all true. But where does the frustration and anger really come from? It comes from a quiet, but insistant internal voice that questions the decisions I've made. That doubts that I really know what I'm doing as a parent. That wonders, "Maybe you've given them TOO much. Maybe you're expecting too much FROM THEM. Maybe you haven't given them what they REALLY need. Maybe you're just too selfish and independent to homeschool. Maybe you don't really get unschooling, and you're just using it as an excuse to do your own thing."

And a louder voice insists, "You deserve time to yourself. You have things you need to get done! They're just spoiled and need to get a grip." This is the Attitude that too often takes over my mouth.

Either way, I've failed. I haven't managed my time well enough. I haven't kept my immune system strong enough to have the strength and energy I need. I'm not being the mother I want to be. And it pisses me off.

Then the voice of reason, a still small Voice whom I like to call God, says, "You're tired. You have a cold. You're trying to do too much. The boys don't feel well either and don't want to be out in the heat. It's okay to go inside and leave the weeds for another day. The important thing is that you show them you love them."

I've still failed. I've still fallen short of the glory of God. But somehow, it's going to be okay. If I listen to His voice.

Duh. He's not expecting me to be perfect right now. I'm here to keep learning. He just wants me to follow Him and stop trying to do and be everything on my own. Only His standard counts.

I think I don't go to therapy because I'm not sure what voice I would hear there. If it's not His, then I don't want to hear it.

My Faith has been challenged a lot in the last couple years. It's been hard to hear His voice sometimes. I'm ready to quiet the monologue and listen carefully for a while.


Anonymous said...

Amanda, You are loved and loving. I was crying just today at the hospital chapel because I totally know that I'm selfish. Somehow the crying made me feel better. This comment is to let you know that I relate to what you're saying. Also I am impressed with your ability to facilitate opportunities for your family and friends, and your enthusiasm.
Love and peace,

Brandie said...

I COMPLETELY understand every word you typed - every. single. one.
Okay, so I don't have 3 boys, trampolines, or chickens, but I get it.
I will tell you, I see a therapist. He encourages me to talk about my faith. I once told him I thought God was talking to me through the radio (long story that I won't go through here) and I thought for sure when I told him, he would say "yep, you're crazy. Take these pills and check yourself in right away!" I even told him that before we talked about it.
But nope, he asked me how I could discount what I felt as real like that, how could I downplay it and think he would think I was crazy, etc, etc.
I have no idea if my therapist is religious or not or if he believes or not, but I feel safe when I talk to him and he does not discount my faith at all. And it's awesome.
The key to therapy working is having a therapist you feel safe with and can feel comfortable saying anything too.
It has helped me a lot. I used to cry a lot and tell my husband to just divorce me, take the kids and marry someone who could be a better wife and mother before I really screwed up our family too much. I felt like a huge failure. I had anger that was just bubbling non-stop and it was awful to live through. For me, therapy made a HUGE difference. I still screw up every day far too often, but it's in a different way and there is less yelling and less anger and I don't cry as much at all.
((((hugs)))) Sorry to ramble on, just wanted to say, I get it. I feel where you are coming from. And it can better - I know it can. And for you, therapy might not be the answer, but I am sending hugs and prayers your way right now that things do get better for you.

Fr. Peter Doodes said...

You have not failed, only those who don't bother to try are failures!


Heather said...

Absolutely beautiful and absolutely true. Not to mention the very reason I don't go to therapy even when I am in that place. God is good and in control and knows more than I do about all the stuff in my mind.

Lu. I blog at said...

Thank-you for sharing this. I too feel like this.

I found your blog while googling one day and since then I've been blessed by your thoughts.


Lu (a christian crunchymum from the UK)

Mandy said...

I'm really glad to know that I'm not alone. I often feel unsure and find it difficult to know whether or not it is HIS voice that I'm hearing. Hugs to you, Mama.

Lynette said...

You put my thoughts into words Amanda. You are so not a failure! You would not care so much if you did not love your children and husband so much. You will know when God is talking to you, He does not condemn His children, he love us, he lets us know when we are messing up, sure, but he does it with love, when we feel that horrible guilt that leaves us feeling so condemned, we can know that is not from Him. Emily is always sure to tell me that because I struggle with guilt so. I will be praying for you as you go through this mommmy and wife journey and know that I am right there with you.

Grumpy Momma said...


Tammy said...

I can really relate Amanda, as I'm sure most moms/wives can.

A lot of it has to do with moods and hormones. Like you said, you haven't been eating well enough. We are so busy making sure everyone else is taken care of, we often neglect ourselves. Just like the kids get grouchy and moody when they are hungry, we do too, we just don't realize it, or recognize it as that.

I think we expect more out of ourselves then our families do. We set that bar so high, that at times, even we can't see it anymore.

I feel guilty all the time, for doing things for myself. But, there is that old saying, and it's so true, ~ "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" Just like on the airplane. What do they tell you to do, in the event that the oxygen masks come down? Put yours on first, then help children around you. I heard that in someone's speech recently and it got me thinking.

The kids and hubby get used to us doing things for them, whenever they want it. It's what we do, and we're usually happy to do it. But, there are things that we want to get done too, and there's nothing wrong with that.

What I have been doing, is letting everyone know ahead of time what I'll be doing. Mostly it's just going outside to water the grass fr a bit, but it's time to myself, to think my own thoughts. I tell the kids and hubby where I'm going. Make sure everyone has what they need, a snack, juice or whatever. That way, they know not to ask me for anything for a bit. Less frustration for everyone.

I don't know if this will work for you, but it's a thought. I hope that you can find the peace of mind that you are looking for Amanda. You are not a failure, I can tell you that. You have a great husband, 3 amazing boys, and a beautiful home.

~Tammy ♥
PS I have turned my blog into mostly a homeschooling blog, if you're interested, come on by sometime. : ) My other blog is on myspace, if you have one too let me know.

Butterfly Mama said...

Amen!!! My anger and snapping comes from the same motivation. I also am quick to blame because I HATE being the one who always falls short. But really we all fall short it is ONLY through HIM that we are able. Thanks for the reminder of where my focus needs to be!!!


Elizabeth said...

I'm not alone!!! Amen!! I'm not alone! I feel like this quite often and when I surf through the blogosphere and see all the perfect wives and mamas talking about their perfect lives and perfect families, my sense of personal failure magnifies. I also get angry and then pass the blame. I also get annoyed at the whining. There are times when I tell the family that "I quit, I'm not Mommy, I'm changing my name and I'm NOT telling you what it is!" I don't mean it and I always change my name back to Mommy but I'm not living in a dream world. My days can get crazy, my life can seem hard, and I fail at things. But eventually, I remember that God is in control, not me.

Earthmommy said...

I SO needed to read this today. I can totally identify with everything you say in this post. I felt like I was readig about myself!

Mainly a midwife said...

I just found your blog and I'm catching up on some posts. You are a good writer.
Thanks for sharing your heart. I quite often feel like the worst mom in the world. I'm encouraged to know that He still loves me no matter how much I mess up.

Marietta said...

Wow. Wow. Wow. I'll say it again. Wow. I just found your blog. I was looking for info on unschooling. Then I found this post. Wow. Did I type this? Because it sounds EXACTLY like the thoughts and feelings I have been having on and off for a long while now. It almost brought me to tears, it rang so true. Thank you!

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