External Reflections

I’ve been buying a lot of shit lately, and my house looks like a hurricane hit it.

I’ve been me long enough to know that I’m buying things in the attempt to exert some control over my life, and that the chaos of my house is an external manifestation of the overwhelm I feel inside. I know all of that, but it doesn’t help me to make it better.

I KNOW that if I clean my house it will help me feel more in control inside. I know it will do that because I will be forced to make decisions when I clean up that will reinforce my values and help me better define my priorities. I get it. But inside I’m such a mess that the thought of cleaning and organizing is literally paralyzing. I. just. can’t. do. it.

I wonder if it’s my ADD, rearing it’s ugly head. I’m sure that’s part of it. The medicine I take to help me manage my ADD symptoms finally lost its patent and in June I received my first bottle of the generic substitute. I immediately noticed a difference, but hoped the overall affect would be similar enough. And maybe it is. I’m not sure. The new medicine could be having an effect, but it could also be the stress in other areas of my life.

And their are plenty of stressful areas. School is starting and I don’t have a room. I’m also trying a whole new way of teaching that could be highly rewarding, but initially will make me feel vulnerable. I’m sure some people would argue that without my room I should stick with curriculum and teaching methods I know, but so much of my old system depended on materials and having space to store them so they were accessible. I just won’t have that to the same degree in five different teachers’ spaces. So I do think this new teaching method is ultimately a very good thing for me, it’s just stressful to think about changing everything up after so many years.

And of course there are my responsibilities as PTA president at my daughter’s school. I have such high hopes that the new admins will turn things around, but I can’t know what this year will bring. If it’s anything like last year we will probably have to leave, and the prospect of that makes me sad.

I’m also stressed for my daughter, who has backslid so significantly on a number of behavioral issues that I’m totally panicked about her well-being this year, and for the rest of her life, frankly. She reminds me so much of my sister, who struggles so much, and is never happy. It breaks my heart to watch my sister try to navigate her life, and the thought of my daughter following in her foot steps makes me blind with panic. And of course there is the guilt of knowing she gets all of it from me. Sometimes I think I had no business passing down my genetic makeup to my innocent, unsuspecting children. It isn’t fair to them.

Yes, I remind myself not to get ahead of life on the worry front. Yes, I tell myself that my daughter is a different person and is likely to have different outcomes in her own life. But she is an emotionally volatile child. Resilient cannot possibly be used to describe her and all you can read these days is articles about how resilience is the number one indicator of a person’s future happiness. How will she ever be truly content if even the smallest perceived transgressions send her into a rage and shame spiral? Her reactions to disappointment are so totally inappropriate for a 7-year-old, even her friends notice and avoid her when she can’t pull herself out of an obsession that is upsetting her. It’s heartbreaking to watch.

Parenting her this summer has put a ton of stress on my marriage. Most of the time we don’t have the energy at the end of the day to connect. I don’t want to imagine what the first month of school will be like.

And I know my own lack of resilience isn’t helping me manage any of this either. It also doesn’t help me manage my daughter. So yeah, it’s super fun in my head right now.

Ugh. It’s all I can do right now to keep writing this and not click over to Amazon. Shopping allows me to escape, especially when I’m getting things I think will help difficult situations, like a different pair of shoelaces for my daughter’s new shoes (learning to tie them is not going well).

Writing things out can be helpful, it can put things perspective and help me understand how I’m feeling and why. But that isn’t always the case. I guess sometimes we just have to get it out, and hope the healing happens over time. I’m sure things will be better once all the new stuff starts – the anticipation is always harder than reality, right? When you anticipate like I do, it is.

One week until my daughter starts school. Wish us luck.


  1. I’m sorry that you have so much stress. I really hope that the generic medicine “kicks in”. It must be frustrating to wait and see whether it works or not.

    I totally identified with your description of your daughter overreacting…this morning I woke up to my almost-9-year old’s hysterical crying/screaming, prompted simply by his dad telling him that he has a sport practice tonight (he thought he could play with friends all day. or something. Now he can only play for 8 hours or so, hence the crying fit). I honestly believe that my husband and I have done most things “right” or at least well enough with him, but this tendency is just so deeply rooted in him that it does not seem to go away. I’m very frustrated at the moment. And I also wonder whether I gave it to him with my DNA 🙁

    But, not to be a Pollyanna or anything, but I think there is a good chance that your daughter will control herself much better at school than at home. Different environment, no mom present, other kids’ example, not wanting to act differently than peers, these things often make a huge difference. Good luck!

  2. It’s obvious my difficult kid has more mental health stuff from one of us than the other but it’s also comforting to know that it’s certainly both of our genetics chipping in. So I guess I’d say that you shouldn’t accept all/most of the blame for her struggles. Maybe the perfect environment will present itself and she will be a rockstar. Maybe it’s NASA or working outdoors or being an artist in the wild. Given the diversity of weird and intriguingly unique communities out there, she will find her people eventually.

    School is such a relief and a return to routine helps us out immensely so I hope it helps you all out too.

  3. My child can be emotionally volatile too, and sometimes says scary things when she gets upset, so I hear you.

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