I Wanna Talk About Hormones – RIGHT NOW!!

Oh, those wonderful signaling molecules that make us females have the luscious full hips, allow us to feed our newborn baby at the breast, process problem solving in ways our male partners physically just can’t and provides us the internal strength and wisdom that only females possess. How could something that creates such worshiped traits, makes me so bat sh*t crazy on a regular cycle?

I despise hormones for many negative reasons. Let’s just put it all out there, shall we? Acne. Hair growth where women should not have hair. Making me unable to make a simple decision. But this is what I do have going for me now: I can now recognize it. I recognize when I am in the days of the hormone clouds. And I think this has just come with age and being more in tune with myself. I think it also helps that I have not been on any form of hormonal birth control for years now. And this is a decision that I have made for myself, specifically because of the hormone control. As much as it the idea of being “hormonally regulated” is tempting, I feel much more myself when my body just effs my emotions up on their own, with no little pill assisting.

This topic may seem to be a misplaced circle on my traditional blog post web of ideas. I tend to write about my grief openly, and do this for my own therapy, which in turn can help those who read it. And with my closest friends and family, I am also open with my struggles and challenges that are not specifically grief related. So it seemed like this was something I should share too. How when I am hormonal, I am a mess. I am so hard on myself. And extremely sensitive. And react to things that I normally wouldn’t react to. And I eat like I will never have the chance to eat again.

“So, like what’s the big deal?” you may be thinking. We all know and joke about how women are when they are PMSing. But I want to share the really dark side of it. The scary part. The things that you may not want to admit.

My last hormonal cloud was one of the worst. There wasn’t a single thing I could eat that would satisfy me. One day I wanted to go get perogies AND a hamburger for lunch, because I didn’t think that either alone would stop the salivating. And then that night, I ate an entire medium pizza. I ate so much and so quickly, that I threw up. My stomach was so upset that I puked. I knew I shouldn’t have ate it. But I physically and emotionally was unable to control myself. I can laugh about it now. Like I just ate an ENTIRE PIZZA AND THEN THREW UP. But when you think about it, those hormones really have such power over us, and it can be frightening when you feel you don’t even have control over yourself and your choices.

In these days of the hormonal cloud, I just try to have more patience with myself. And I find comfort in knowing that these feelings and cravings will soon pass. But it’s almost like I can only function on the surface these days, as nothing else will be accomplished.

If you feel so low during these times for you, I encourage you to speak with your friends or doctor or therapist. Hormonal depression is something that we tend to joke about, but if it’s making you eat an entire pizza, or have even darker thoughts, then it’s something we need to not be too ashamed to ask for help with. Or just talk to someone we trust about.

For example, I once told a co-worker that if he didn’t stop asking me why I was in sh*ty mood, I would throw my chair out our 9th floor office window, and throw him out afterwards. Hormonal cloud.

Check Yo’ Self Before You Wreck Yo’ Self

The other night I had a thought. I had just done something that reminded me of the Oath to My Daughter. That is always a sign for me to revisit those words that I wrote about 2 1/2 years ago. As I read this oath today, some things were hard for me to remember why I included them. Others were very memorable. And I wondered how my oath today, would be different compared to that one I originally made, had this been the first time writing it.

Oath To My Daughter

I think once we have made a change, we always needs to take a step back when things are new to us, to ensure we are on the path we want and should be. And then realign and continue.

And I am one who analyzes and evaluates and plans and thinks until it hurts. So what am I going to do this time with this challenge? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And that scares me, and I wonder if I can do it. But it seems that doing nothing makes it less of a deal than it is or should be, so that makes sense.

I just took the service road for a bit. Kinda like Gasoline Alley in Red Deer. Stopped in at the Donut Mill. Checked the map. Back on Highway 2.

“It’s like the Bible.”

That’s how my dear friend described Women Who Run With the Wolves. I mean no offence to those whom the Bible means more to them than it has ever meant to me. But what my friend meant, was that you pick up the Wild Woman book always at the right time. For whatever powers compel you to read a few more pages, those pages hold the answers and enlightenment, just as you need for whatever you are facing at the time. Just like the Bible does for so many.

This came from me sharing how the other week I found myself thinking a lot about the past. And the anger I have felt and in some cases, still hold on to. And questioning my process because I still catch myself remembering. And then I started reading the chapter on Rage. And I read so many crystal clear analogies and explanations and moments that connected with me and allowed me to to feel content with how I now view past hurt. And Rage. And the passages in this chapter were some of the best I have read. And want to write them all out, but don’t know how to choose!

“Allowing oneself to be taught by one’s rage, thereby transforming it, disperses it.”

“None of us can entirely escape our history. We can certainly put it in the background, but it there nevertheless. However, if you will do these things for yourself, you will bridge the rage and eventually everything will calm down and be fine. Not perfect, but fine. You’ll be able to move ahead.”

And from Rage, comes Forgiveness. And the stages of Forgiveness are examined and it reminded me when I learned about the stages of Grief. I just kept reading and being awoken and comforted, in how I have felt and processed my own Rage and Forgiveness. And Forgiveness does’t have to be directed to a person who wronged you. It’s Forgiveness of situations and powers you don’t understand and circumstance. “How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, and you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him.”

And now the pages are transitioning to examining Grief. How fitting, as I feel the emptiness of my mother more recently. During this same conversation, my friend reminded me, “Remember what time of year this is for you. It’s starting to be connected to the hardest times for you.” And I said, “I know.” But I don’t know until she told me.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes talks of a gunshot wound. You are shot, but not fatally wounded. The bullet is removed, you live, and then pain of the gunshot lessens within a week or so. But what about the shrapnel? The shrapnel remains inside. This is why you may feel no pain of that bullet for months, or even years, but then you feel the shrapnel.The little bits, that remain a part of you, that still hurt. Still are reminders. And over the years, the time between feeling the shrapnel lengthens and maybe the pain tolerance increases. But it’s still there.

I feel the shrapnel.

I Saw Her Again…She’s On To Something

I had another dream of my mother. Last night, after two challenging days, similar to the ones I had when she entered my dream just three weeks ago.

This time she was in the hospital. She had died already, but then someone notified us that she was alive again. The dream started with me at the nursing station, urgently wanting to be told what room she was in. But I kept being told she was having tests and would be back to her room shortly. Once she was back, she just started chatting with me like she had never died. She knew she was in the hospital and was showing me around, as things had changed since we were there last. She was in palliative care again, and all the rooms had been divided into long spaces, where the width of the room was really that only of the hospital bed itself. I don’t remember what we spoke of. But it was clear she was dying of CJD again, but the symptoms had not progressed as fast as they had before.

*And that is something that I still struggle with today. In real life, did she know she was dying? I asked her that in a round about way at the time, but her answer was as round about as my question. I just didn’t have the strength to ask her, “Do you know you are dying?” It was one of the questions that I asked a doctor who specializes in the disease even, but there is no way to answer that.*

And that was sort of it for the dream. I remember seeing other people in the hospital and visiting with her, but still feeling a sense of confusion about how she was alive again and her current health status.

So this morning, when I woke, I tried to make sense of her visiting me in my dreams again. I took it as a sign to stand up for myself and be a bit more forceful, in the quiet way she was. And to know that I did all I could do for myself in this situation and then start moving on from it. Because some things are not always worth our time…that is something she taught me many years ago. And one of her best quotes I hold close to my heart: “You can’t control other people’s emotions.”

I hope she starts to visit me when I have wonderful days too. Because having to go through hurt, just to see her in my dreams seems like another cruelty I am faced with her, all over again.

I Think I Saw Her

Yesterday was a challenging day on my spirit. There were a lot of tears and some wonderful support from friends. But I am still recovering from it. And probably will for some time.

But I think I saw her. In my dreams. I have shared before those excruciatingly, frustrating dreams of my mother, where no matter what I do, I cannot see her face. Her back is always turned to me, or she is in a position where I can’t get myself to the angle to see her face.

Last night, I dreamt we were back at Bready School. We hadn’t been there for years, but all the people who had been there when it was our home, as well as staff from Alexander Junior High, were still there. And it was as though my mom was with me, and everyone knew she was dead, but we could all see her and it was normal for her to be there with me. We drove to the school and parked on the street at the front door. While we walked up the path I looked at the two memorial trees that had been planted for classmates that had died decades ago. The one tree was massive – it was so tall that I felt it went into the clouds and couldn’t even see the top. I said to my mom, “Look at Tara’s tree.”

As we walked the halls together and met someone in our path, they would look at her and greet her with respect. And she would nod, and smile in recognition. In the quiet way she held power. Knowing everyone. We ended up having a meeting with Mrs. Davidson in the main office, and although I don’t remember the details of what we discussed, I remember looking at her bookshelf and seeing my mother’s books there. And thinking, “Oh, those are the books that I gave the school after mom died.”

The next scene we were back at our house in NB, and I was in my bedroom, extremely frustrated with not being able to find anything in my closet to wear. I think I was going back to Bready to be a teacher and couldn’t find an outfit to wear, so the kids would like it but it would still be acceptable as a teacher. I know my mom came into my room, but I can’t remember if we resolved the outfit or not.

And that was it. I woke up and as I groggily got out of bed and walked into the hallway, going through the pieces of the dream, I stopped when I realized, “I think I saw her.” But it wasn’t obvious. It wasn’t like before when the dream was so clear that the premise was that I deliberately could not see her. But there wasn’t a moment of recognition like, “I have been longing to see your face, and now I can.”

My girlfriends and I like to analyze our dreams. Although I am struggling with this one. Does it have anything to do with my draining day yesterday? If so, then what is the connection? Now that she was more a part of my dream, with me by my side, instead of being that beacon I am trying to grasp?

I’ll keep thinking about it, and shed a few more tears. Maybe it’s her way of letting me know that even though I feel so ridiculously alone, it will be ok, because she is sort of with me, but sort of not, and I need to be ok with that.

Reckless Love

I stumbled across Bleachers and was blown away by their album Strange Desire. It was an unexpected take on what the 80s would sound like in our world today.

Even though I grew up with 80s music, I never was drawn to it as I am to this album. And one song I can not get out of my system yet is Reckless Love. Tonight when I YouTube the video and found the live version, I loved the introduction to the song.

“This song is about learning to be more kind to yourself.”

I could use a bad disguise
To guard me in the darkest nights
I keep finding my way to the harshest words

I’ve got a strange, strange vision

Of a reckless love
Standing in a world of my own
They call it reckless love

So give me a chance to remember
What I’ve given up to defend you
I would burn my dreams away

Just to stand in the thankless shadows

Of your reckless love
Standing in a world of my own
They call it reckless love

(Standing on the other side of your reckless love)

Thinking on the other side of your reckless love
Get out
Stand Back
If you don’t let go your gonna break me

So give me a chance to remember
What I’ve given up to defend you
I have burned my dreams away

To stand in the broken shadows
Of your reckless love
Your thankless love
Your restless love
A thankless love
Your reckless love
It’s a thankless love
Your reckless love
Your reckless love

Final Call the Midwife = Final Days With My Mom

Oh, what a fabulous show on Netflix. It brought me joy and heartache and sadness. It made me long to be pregnant again and dream of the days of breastfeeding and how much I loved it. And how much I love and miss my mom.

This last third season had a number of moments that made me think of my mom. A few episodes in, there was a new mother who was nervous to deliver her child because her mother had always promised to be there with her, but her mother had passed away. And I had the memory of setting out my mom’s picture in the hospital room when we were welcoming Arrine into this world. And how that was the time I felt I needed my mom the most.

But the last episode was unsettling for me. (Spoiler alert – don’t continue reading if you want to watch the final episode with fresh eyes.) One of the younger midwives learns that her mother is very ill and dying. In her last days, her mother mentioned how much she wished to have a manicure. The midwife eventually chose to do this for her mother after encouragement from one of the nuns, because she was hesitant due to their strained relationship. But once she began, she knew it was what she should be doing for her mother. And it made me think of the beauty routine I performed almost every day for my mom. Doing her lotion and brushing her hair and then on special days, giving her a manicure and pedicure.

And in the last few minutes of her mother’s life, one of the other midwives encouraged her to get into bed with her mother. And she did. She curled up next to her mother and cried. And it took me back to so many times when I scrunched myself up to get into bed with mom and just cuddle her. And breath her in. So deeply as I never wanted to forget what she smelled like. And while I watched the show, I let out good tears for missing my mom.

So when you watch this last episode, take it for more than fabulous writing on a television show. Take it for the reality of those last weeks, days, moments, I had with my mom.

These Streets

The lyrics of These Streets by Bastille eerily capture how I feel about North Battleford in exact perfectness.

About a year after my mom’s death I cancelled plans I had with girlfriends because leading up to the date I thought I was ok with returning to NB. But when the trip was upon me, I felt out of breath and pressure around my heart and couldn’t go through with it.

I have since returned, many times. Now mostly passing through. It’s not that I specifically avoid it anymore, But even if we won’t admit it to ,We’ll walk upon these streets and think of little else.

~These Streets~

These streets are yours, you can keep them
I don’t want them
They pull me back, and I surrender
To the memories I run from

Oh, we have paved these streets
With moments of defeat

But even if we won’t admit it to ourselves
We’ll walk upon these streets and think of little else
But I won’t show my face here anymore
I won’t show my face here anymore

These streets are yours, you can keep them
In my mind it’s like you haunt them
And passing through, I think I see you
In the shapes of other women

Oh we have stained these walls
With our mistakes and flaws

But even if we won’t admit it to ourselves
We’ll walk upon these streets and think of little else
But I won’t show my face here anymore
I won’t show my face here anymore

All that’s left behind
Is a shadow on my mind
All that’s left behind
Is a shadow on my mind

But even if we won’t admit it to ourselves
We’ll walk upon these streets and think of little else
But I won’t show my face here anymore
I won’t show my face here anymore

I won’t show my face here anymore
I won’t show my face here anymore

Mother Roles…Switched

Arrine loves her bath time. And many times she asks me to join in with her. And sometimes I do! We fill the tub full with bubbles and I make her squish over for the two of us and we do more playing than cleaning.

The other night I told her to get naked for bath time and instead, she began to undress me. With her soft little hands and sweet, little girl voice, she echoed the exact words I have said to her hundreds of times.

“Step. Step.” – taking off panties and pants
“Arms up.” – taking off shirt

And in those moments I had a flash back and a flash forward.

First I thought of the time I was taking care of my mom in the hospital, and I felt that she was like my first child. In the ways I was caring for her and devoting myself to her. And then a flash forward, wondering about the days that Arrine really may be caring for me in such a way.

I adore my little girl. She gives me the most wonderful gifts everyday. Whether it is something she says that makes me laugh, or an insightful thought she shares with me, or somehow a connection to my mom.

We are so blessed to have her as our daughter.

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