I Don’t Know How

I’ve been really down this past week, stuck in a low, low funk. I thought it was my period, which took it’s sweet time showing up, and made me an awful bitch for five days, and while I do think it was partly that, I’m realizing there is more too it.

There has been a lot weighing on me recently, and I’ve been a little perplexed as to why it all feels so… heavy, so burdensome. After a mini-breakdown and some tears cried on my husband’s shoulder, I think I’ve finally figured it out.

I’m dealing with some personal challenges right now, and each of them, in its own distinctive way, leaves me with an overwhelming feeling of “I don’t know how to handle this.” When I don’t know how to do something, or I feel change lies in the hands of someone else, I start to panic. I start to worry that maybe it can’t be done. That the thing that needs “fixing” can’t be fixed, and I’ll just have to keep living this way, forever.

Physically, I am still plagued with lady business issues, and I’m starting to think they’ll never go away. The idea of painful, or at least uncomfortable, sex for the rest of my life makes me incredibly depressed. And I don’t feel like I can talk to my husband about it because it makes him just as upset. I’ve done a ton of research online, I’ve seen or talked to three specialists, and I’m no closer to getting this resolved than I was a year ago. I’m supposed to go see a final specialist in March but the appointment has already been cancelled and rescheduled twice so who knows when I’ll actually get in. I have to admit, I’m not in much of a hurry to see her, because if she can’t help me there is no one who can, and I don’t have a lot of faith that she’s going to have some answer that no one else was able to come up with.

I went to the family orientation meeting at the Child and Adolescent Psychology department at Kaiser. It was fine… and depressing and upsetting and absolutely horrible. Filling out the form, answer the questions, circling the words and numbers, seeing it all there in black and white… It was a lot. I cried. My tears left warped circles on the intake paperwork.

The person I saw was very nice. Talking to him was therapeutic–I was simultaneously sure that nothing serious is wrong with my daughter and also certain that I needed help to manage her intense emotions and chronic, low-grade anxiety. I love my daughter so much, and I want to do what’s best for her, but I just don’t know how to be the endless well of patiences she needs.

I’m reading (for maybe a second time? I don’t think I finished it before) Raising Your Spirited Child and listening to Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents. I’m getting great ideas from both, but I’ll be honest, I’m sick of reading parenting books. I’m tired of not knowing how to handle things myself. I’m overwhelmed by how hard all of this is. What happened to mother’s intuition? What happened to knowing your child best? I guess I do know her best, but that doesn’t mean I know how best to handle her unique challenges. It just feels shitty to not know how to make it better for her, for me, for both of us.

And then there is the money stuff, always the money stuff, constantly in the background. I still have $2,000 left on my credit card and it starts accruing interest next month. I ran my phone through the washing machine a couple weeks ago and getting a new one killed any chance I had of putting anything toward my debt this month. I’m still not using credit cards and ended up overdrafting a few times with my debit card before I realized I was out of money (I was mentally keep track of where I was with my spending but obviously failing miserably at that). I went to the bank yesterday to change $80 worth of quarters into bills and to cash two $20 American Express Traveler’s Checks from 2006 that I found when we cleaned out all the paperwork last month. I have $120 to get me to the end of the month, including gas and groceries. I’ve already spent $45 of it (on groceries) and I have two dinners with friends planned for next week too, so….

That has been my biggest challenge on the money front so far this year. My compulsive shopping probably is almost entirely under control, but I promised myself I’d focus on friendship in 2015 and I’ve actually done a REALLY good job of keeping that promise to myself (more on this soon, I can’t believe I haven’t written about it yet). The only problem is that being with friends is EXPENSIVE. It’s not that I don’t think one can go out without spending a lot of money–friendship and savings don’t have to be mutually exclusive–but I have been meeting with women I don’t yet know very well, and we’ve been meeting after work, so dinner and/or drinks makes a lot of sense. It’s a lot harder to do frugal things with women I’m not close with. It’s also harder to spend less at night, when my kids are asleep (so we can’t meet at my house) and it’s dark out (so we have to be inside).

I know I can make cheaper choices when I am out; I can eat a little before I go to dinner and then just eat a salad or order an appetizer. I can stick to Diet Coke or just get one drink. I have definitely been indulging a bit, because it feels so good to just let go and enjoy myself, but clearly I can’t manage that AND stay within my budget.

Of course, I could always stop doing so much with friends. That is another way to save money. I guess I’m just not sure what the right answer is. Do I stop, or scale back my efforts to make new friends and deepen friendships until I’ve paid off my debt, even though I’ve identified a lack of friends as a very big and very real problem in my life? Or do I resign myself to paying interest on my debt for a few more months and nurture these burgeoning friendships that I feel so lucky to have in my life? I’m not sure what to do.

And in the end, that is what characterizes each of these situations–I don’t know how to do these things. I don’t know what the answers are. These are big issues in my life and I don’t know how to make them better–there may not even be ways to make them better–and I HATE feeling out of my depth in so many areas. I loathe feeling like I don’t know how to make things better, when they are making me miserable.

I know none of these are actually big issues. My physical stuff is not that bad and it only really affects one area of my life. The challenges I face parenting my daughter are real, but they are also absolutely manageable. She hasn’t been diagnosed with anything that requires me to rework my expectations about who she will be and what she can achieve. And the money troubles are of my own making, and very first-world at that. I recognize that these aren’t big problems, and really I just need to suck it up.

I suppose that is why I wrote this post. To remind myself that things aren’t that bad, and that it’s okay if I don’t know how to do these things yet. I can learn, even if it takes a long time and I mess up along the way. I will get better. Things will get better. And someday, maybe even soon, it won’t all feel so overwhelming.

How are you doing these days? Is there anything that feels overwhelming in your life?


  1. I don’t have time to write all I want to write here, but this REALLY hit home. I can relate to a lot of what you are going through, especially on the kid and money front. For what its worth I think you are doing AMAZING with your daughter. From what you’ve written, your patience and empathy seem infinite. The very fact that you are working so hard to understand and help her speaks volumes about your commitment.
    I’m also incredibly impressed at how you’ve turned around your spending habit so quickly. Not easy, and really commendable. I agree completely with how hard it is to have a social life without spending money! I have a half-written post about how trying to have friends or any kind of non-kid non-work life ends up costing me money. Heck, even trying to do fun things with kids ends up costing me money. Its easy to be frugal when you never go anywhere, but I much MUCH prefer to wander the city all weekend with the kids—which means stops for food or paying for activities.
    I really hope you find relief for your medical issue, it seems to be an area that not much is known about and very few dollars go into research in that area (vs. men’s sexual dysfunction, but that’s another discussion!).

    1. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I appreciate knowing I’m not the only one dealing with these frustrating (albeit “first world” problems). I am REALLY struggling with having fun and not spending money. It’s been really hard for me. I’m trying to identify the ways I spend money that are unnecessary. Buying food out is a big one, and I’ve gotten better at bringing food for all of us (I usually bring food for my kids because they are so picky it’s hard to eat out with them, but I always forget to buy myself something, and then I need to get a lunch out and then I need to get them a little snack too, and it adds up fast). And going out with friends has been awesome, but SOOOO expensive. I really need to make better choices about that.

  2. I’m sorry to hear about all of the struggles. The good thing is that you are working on it and there is no reason to believe that they won’t all be resolved with time. I just wanted to send some support. As my post says, I’m right there with you right now. The air?

    1. Thanks for your support. I do believe the money and parenting stuff will get resolved, I’ve kind of lost hope that the physical stuff will get better, but we’ll see. Nothing to do but wait.

  3. You have made wonderful progress and you keep working at improving. You are inspirational.
    Friends now are a critical thing for the rest of your life. You do need to continue this. Maybe only one drink and more water, maybe different meeting places with lower costs (hard to find where you are!), and maybe ~ over time when you know them better ~ actually saying you are budgeting closely ~ because they may find it a relief too to their budgets ~ though I do know many in your area seem to have infinite money I also worked in payroll and HR with lots of Very Rich Young techies…and heard their stories about not managing their money well and needing payroll advances despite earning more than I did and not having any dependents. You may even discover you are an expert and leader in money management because you HAVE learned.
    Tracking every penny you each spend for month is A) awful, B) tedious C) I hate doing it and D) informative and worth the agony of A,B,&C. See Your Money or Your Life which you can get at library.
    The rest is outside my knowledge except I have read your postings for years and you have grown and learned so very very much. So in the midst of your low point~ I send congratulations on your growth and wisdom and grace!

    1. “Tracking every penny you each spend for month is A) awful, B) tedious C) I hate doing it and D) informative and worth the agony of A,B,&C.” Haha, This! it’s so true. It is awful and tedious and I hate doing it and it’s such a valuable exercise. I have yet to do it for an entire month and I know I would learn SO MUCH if I did. I just can’t manage to actually do it! I don’t know why. I’ll start trying again. Maybe I’ll actually manage it this time. I don’t know why I find this so impossibly hard. Maybe if I create a project here so I have this space and my commitment to help hold myself accountable it would help. I’ll give that a try.

  4. You have quite a lot going on so I’m not surprised you are overwhelmed. I think that you are doing great with your spending, your daughter, etc!

    Personally, I know that getting out of the house and taking the time to make new friends is HUGE so I would be willing to spend a little bit extra money (or not be able to pay credit cards down as quickly) to do so. As you said, there are ways that you could try to spend a little less as well.

    1. Thank you for your perspective. It’s so helpful to have some outside opinions on this stuff. I’m so close I can hardly see anything for what it is anymore. 😉

  5. You know what I started doing with friends? Granted, this was in the summer where the weather’s better, but I started asking them to meet me for a walk or run. Mostly because I found that I’m willing to share more (be more vulnerable maybe?) when I’m not facing someone, when I’m walking or running side by side with them. And it’s cheaper than dinner and drinks – free even! – and I get calorie burn to boot.

    Obviously not the best for winter, but maybe once spring comes you can start doing that more.

    And I like the other folks’s suggestions about limiting yourself to one drink and then water or something.

    And I TOTALLY am with you about how miserable keeping track of every penny is. Totally worth it in the long run, but really, really hard. Hugs.


  6. You know there’s no need to dismiss any of these issues as “first world problems” – fwp are those non-issues like going through a wi-fi dead zone and whatnot. These are wholly HUMAN problems. Human beings NEED friendship, need positive life-giving relationships – in this case with your children and your spouse as well – and money stuff is such a universal human thing too…

    I too hate not knowing how to solve things. I really think you are doing an amazing job tackling all of these things head-on.

  7. I’m so proud of all the positive changes you’ve been making! Instead of looking at things negatively, like that you didn’t have the money to put on debt this month, look at the positives you’ve done instead. It’s awesome you have reached out to find help for your daughter! Also, amazing is the fact that you are down to $2,000 and aren’t using credit cards! You are making new friends, and even though that can be costly, it’s important for you to have that time as well. Every Friday, a couple of my friends and I meet for dinner and a couple drinks. I just build that into our monthly budget, so it’s not a surprise, and I don’t feel guilty for spending money on myself. My husband does the same, then we are both happy and our budget is too.
    You are making incredible strides, and it’s ok if you aren’t perfect at balancing everything yet. None of us are. I struggle with my food addiction. I love to eat and I know that needed to not control my life, so I’m a week into the Whole30. To get this under control has felt good. Baby steps, and both you and I will reach our goals!

  8. 2 things – have you tried pelvic floor physical therapy? You should listen to episode 2 of the sex and parenthood series on longest shortest time mamas (episode 49) podcast. It is all about this stuff.

    Secondly – have you heard of YNAB? You need a budget. It is seriously amazing. I’ve tried everything and this is the only software that has made a difference for me. 60$ for it, can be used on any number of devices. You can take a free web class to learn about it before you buy. Can’t recommend it highly enough.

    Hugs. You’re doing a great job.

  9. I was wondering if anyone had talked to you about pelvic floor therapy too. I have a twitter/IRL friend who sings its praises.

    I am totally with you on being tired of reading parenting books. I spent an hour and fifteen minutes creating bedtime strategies with our occupational therapist the other day and just concluded with shaking my head and thinking “it shouldn’t be this hard. I shouldn’t need to talk to a professional for over an hour about bedtime.” Yet here we are. I am glad you are getting your daughter some help and I hope it really does help.

    1. I have gone to pelvic floor therapy. I’ve been going since after my daughter was born. Unfortunately it hasn’t been very helpful.

      And yes! This! It shouldn’t be this hard. It shouldn’t require this much effort, not just while I’m parenting but in all the moments in between, when I’m trying to figure out how I should parent.

  10. Catching up. 🙂 first, friends are really important right now. I know it’s so hard to figure out how to go out and not spend money, but daylight savings is around the corner and maybe you can find more free stuff to do as the days get longer? The money thing. Ugh. It’s really hard to penny pinch. When I’m putting too much on the card it helps to allot an amount of cash each week for discretionary spending. That way it’s concrete. I have this much and then it’s gone. Have you tried something like that and then only essentials get taken out by debit or credit. You’ve done an amazing job lowering your debt. You’re almost there!

    1. And having to admit to yourself that your daughter needs help is a huge emotional drain. ((Hugs)). I hope it gets easier as you work through it.

    2. Thanks! Things are looking up in some of these areas. I guess I’m figuring it out, slowly but surely.

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