‘It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green……or Bein’ Me’ Lesson Eight: Accept Yourself

‘It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green……or Bein’ Me’ Lesson Eight: Accept Yourself

 

Lesson Eight –  ‘It Ain’t Easy Bein’ Green……or Bein’ Me’

Accept Yourself

My life is pulled in two directions – between my chronic pelvic pain and my two beautiful young girls. Often the pain devours all other demands and sends me to the couch, or bed, and sometimes even to hospital. Through my role as a Mother, I am learning to accept myself.

I may distress people with this diatribe.  For those out there suffering with diseases, or being burdened by life in other ways – my heart goes out to you and I apologise if in anyway I am offending you. This post is part of a blog of  lessons for my girls from my experiences and musings, although I do hope to teach others about chronic pain in the process.

I have had eight surgeries over the past fourteen years. I have suffered with endometriosis – a much maligned disease, since I was fifteen when I started passing out at school in pain with my periods. Although it wasn’t formally diagnosed until I was nineteen. I have had one miscarriage, two beautiful babies, one postpartum haemorrhage and four D&Cs.

I have a lot of scar tissue and a lot of nerve pain.

Although I am very lucky, yes lucky is a hard word to use in this sentence, but lucky that I’ve only been affected by pain with my endometriosis, my girls came to me easily (we didn’t have the fertility issues often associated with this disease).

I have to depend on my Mum a lot of the time to takeover with my girls. As some regular readers of my posts will know, I am a fiercely independent woman who has travelled the world by herself and been through a lot of tough experiences.

I do not like depending on people – but my health has forced me to.

Letting yourself depend on an army of friends/helpers opens you up to getting used to them being there, so that when they are not, or when they stop understanding – it hurts more than if they were never around.

This week, I was in and out of hospital twice. For once, it was not connected to my chronic pain. It was due to a painful infection. I am not relieved…or content…or anything. I am just frustrated. And I hate feeling frustrated almost as much as I hate being in pain. This is where I am trying to change, and where my lesson comes in. Firstly, I should be extremely incredibly grateful that my issues are not terminal.

I do have pain. I do have issues. But doesn’t everybody have some kind of shit to deal with?

If I wasn’t the woman the doctors scratched their head at and rolled their eyes over as they scanned over my long history and many medications. I wouldn’t be me.

If I wasn’t the woman who has had to fight for many years for nurses to believe I am truly in excruciating pain when I am not crying or screaming. That is just not me. I sit quietly, in agony. The biggest clue to my pain is my difficulty to stand, or those many days when I don’t leave the house. This is me.

If I wasn’t the woman who has changed specialists every few years as their sympathy and understanding grew thin, I’d be in bed permanently. With patience and re-newed purpose, I would  re-tell my long medical history again. I never gave up or accepted when they said there was nothing more that could be done. That is just not me.

If I wasn’t the woman who has been in three motor vehicle accidents, and had a painfully slow recovery from one in a fancy Croatian Hotel room (thanks to a loan from my parents) with no pain relief and no assistance. I couldn’t get the hospital to admit me – the language barrier was insurmountable. I didn’t complain. That is just not me.

If I wasn’t the woman who has had to continuously cancel on friends, family and events at the last minute…repetitively..losing friendships…for many years. I never sat at home all night crying with disappointment or frustration, (okay…maybe for just a few minutes…but then no longer). That is just not me.

I have been able to fall blessedly pregnant with two beautiful girls. I am writing this blog for you girls to learn from as you get older. I struggled with being me, but because of you two – I came to accept myself.

I have to accept myself because my chronic pain, my endometriosis, my miscarriage, my arthritis – is all part of the woman I am. I have the best life in the world. I am a Mum.

I am turning 32 and I am accepting myself. I am often in pain, but that doesn’t define me. I am a Mum to two amazingly wonderful gems. My girls. My daughters. I am the luckiest woman in the world.

To finish with a literary genuis:

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”
― Robert Frost

I hope my readers have never felt silenced or defined by others.

How do you define yourself today?

Do you truly accept yourself? Or are you struggling with “‘bein’ me

 

Update – I’ve now got a beautiful almost two year old boy, and yes, my body was completely broken by the pregnancy. I’ve gone on to have two more surgeries and now have a Neurostimulator in (but more on that later).

Taking it slow….with a new baby and pain

Taking it slow….with a new baby and pain

Take it Slow

I haven’t posted for awhile as my stamina was suddenly disabled by the time Christmas Day hit.

Nothing serious happened, it was likely due to the busyness the week before Christmas. I was trying to get everything done, and this hectic activity, combined with an excarbation of my chronic pain issue, led to a trying festive week.

I really struggle with slowing down and often form little lists in my head of must do things before a certain date. Before Christmas. Before the baby is born. Before we go on holidays.

I like to be organised. I like to get appointments done before special events. I like to maintain some type of order in my house and in my life, but you can never be truly organised. You can never be all things to all people and have all things sorted at all times. I honestly didn’t think I was taking on too much, I thought I was just doing what needed to be done. But, I’ve had to ask myself – did I really need to do all of those things?

I even filled my week with appointments in an attempt to find some non-medical solutions to my chronic pain. The physical exertion of taking a baby in and out of the house added to my distress, and added to my frustration!

My body woke up so weak on Christmas morning that I nearly had to stay home and miss Christmas lunch. I felt so guilty being so burdensome to my poor husband, home for his holidays. I wasn’t filled with much cheeriness as my tiredness drained it out of me. But my girls filled my days with joy, as they always do.

My favourite Czech writer, and author of the sublime ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’Milan Kundera, is quoted as saying:

‘To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.’

Due to my ill health and my wonderful husband taking over, I spent a few hours each day in bed. So I started resting with my baby. This was pure bliss, and a definite upside to my pain and weakness.

I am very aware that this lesson isn’t filled with the usual lightness and anecdotal style that I’ve been injecting my posts with.  I needed to start back somewhere with something after my unexpected hiatus, but apologise for it’s prosaic nature. I will do better next time.

Lesson Seven – The Kindness of Strangers

Lesson Seven – The Kindness of Strangers

Lesson Six

Sometimes, people surprise you…in a wonderful way. I want my girls to be the surprising type. I fancy that my girls will  grow up spreading happiness to others who are lucky enough to cross their paths, and my next lesson is about compliments.

I am still a rookie Mum on co-ordinating the needs of the three of us when we go out, so a short shopping trip to do one thing, can take hours. I had just masterfully negotiated out of the toy shop to the parents’ room with a successful maneouvre around the playground.

I was hastily giving the girls consecutive nappy changes, getting food out for MJ and trying to get ourselves set up for a bf for AM.

I think my two year old thinks that my nappy change bag is a magic carpet bag – every snack option you present to her isn’t the one she is after, and the little angry dances that she does on the floor (of anywhere) are getting more fluid and cacophonous.

Anyway, I was managing all of this bedlam when a Mum of three children walked over to say ‘you are doing a really good job.’

My emotional reactions as a Mother are very easily ignited (as I’m sure most others are) and I could have either cried or hugged her on the spot.

I am a firm believer in telling somebody if they are a tag dag, but complimenting a stranger does not come naturally. I can comfortably strike up a conversation with another woman if they are changing their bubba whilst I am, and might even throw in a compliment about their efficiency or cute child.

However, this angelic woman managed to positively spin my day on its axis, and I will resolve to try and change somebody else’s day, in a startling way, with a thoughtful compliment.

I once read somewhere that Mark Twain said that “I can live for two months on a good compliment”. I can rework that by saying that long days by yourself with two little ones can be injected with renewed viguor when an unexpected compliment comes your way.

Side note – I can add with pleasure and confidence that I have regularly, consistently and often compliment unknown women for the great job they are doing. Now I have 3, I truly understand the struggle that it is just to leave the house. Parenting is hard work. Being out and about is tough! Keep up the compliments ladies, because, let’s be honest, it’s the sister hood that keeps us going, not the men in our lives who are ever going to tell us we are doing a great job!

 

Lesson Six – Oh, the places you’ll go……

Lesson Six – Oh, the places you’ll go……

Lesson Nine

Once your formative school years are behind you, the world is waiting for you to dance upon.

My next lesson is about dreaming, and in the understanding that once you start to unravel the true tenor of one dream you may find yourself starting all over again, or outside your self-designed dreamscape.

I had very clear goals for when I left school. I had saved and booked into an exclusive private college where I was going to study Journalism. A few weeks into my course I found that the structure was very restricted and the timetable and homework were reflective of school practice, and I wanted out.

In danger of losing a lot of money, a second option was presented by the college which was to study their Book Editing and Publishing Course. Although the course was fairly mundane and I made no friends (and had to sit there each week quietly alone at a desk by myself feeling forlorn), I did make some use of my time there. I had finally started to immerse myself in the world of my true passion – Literature.

Curiously, it was the part time job that I got at a local bookshop – solely because of my recent Diploma course, that led me to study English Literature at University. I worked alongside a hip young group of undergraduates from the local university who were all passionately engaged in University life.

I quickly learnt that my unexpected withdrawal from college had drifted me towards my true dream thanks to the people I encountered (the experience of working with great people was tempered by being managed by a cantankerous boss, but that was all a part of that time). I had been too scared and too limited in my ambitions as I had thought Literary study too indulgent and not serious enough. I hadn’t realised that you could go to University to study areas that interested you, and to worry about connecting them to career pathways later. I had always been a worrier, and I finally started to conceive of the big dream as I went along.

When I was at Auckland University, my two close friends were a 30 something single mother who partnered cynicism with very dry humour in a Julia Morris sort of way, and a cyclopean Samoan ex-bouncer who loved playing ‘War of Warcraft’. I was drawn to them by their passion and enthusiasm for History and their ability to converse and fervently debate historical issues without self doubt or fear of being in the wrong. I would watch incredulously (because I was still a shy 20 year old) and think – but shouldn’t we be doing something else useful today…other then sit here all day discussing the true beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement..or who the greatest thinkers were in History? For the first time in my life I encountered passionate people pursuing their interests in a professional way. I was inspired to further my love of English Literature and no longer saw it as something frivolous or indulgent.

I changed universities three times over my three degrees and each time I met people who challenged my thinking and my understanding of the world and pushed me closer to dreams I wasn’t aware I was chasing. I am forever grateful to those friendships as they left indelible impressions upon me. Every experience changes you and contributes to the way you build your life and dreams.

I started my last degree, a postgraduate Bachelor of Teaching as a single mid twenty year old, and ended up having to delay my courses and meet half a dozen new cohorts as child rearing took over. I finished my last teaching Prac 6 months pregnant with my second, and studying History (Ancient Roman History, a topic I’d never previously looked at) with the most difficulty I’ve ever had. I remember staying up late, pregnant, emotional, tired, and doing my best to get all the Caesars in the right order as i was teaching a Year 12 class. Fortunately, I had the most wonderful supervising teacher, who really helped my confidence and inspired me to learn more about Ancient Rome. I thank him for my current obsession with that time period.

My discussion on some of my own post school learning experiences, and the ways that they’ve contributed to my current state of happiness ends here for now, with a reminder to my girls, and other readers to see the world with shiny eyes and when ‘things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.’

– from Dr Seuss ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’

 

Share this:

  • Share

 

by Elissa in Lessons Tags: ambitions, career, debate, dr seuss quote, dream, dreaming, friendship, goals, happiness, i worry, passion, school, study, thinking, University, worry

Lesson Five – Find a Friend to Lean on

Lesson Five – Find a Friend to Lean on

Lesson Seven

Friendships have been written about using all kinds of cliches and cheesy phrases.

Love has been ravaged and anointed in the same way.

I’m going to make this lesson simple. Work hard on being honest and opening up to the people around you – family, school mates, uni friends and colleagues. These people will all come in and out of your life depending on where you are living, travelling, or how intrusive work life is for them or you.

When you can, spend long insouciant hours in the playground, coffee shops or pubs opening up about your life story and who you really are. Open up your heart by listing your worries and fears, and listen to theirs.

Work hard on this. Your work or study or boyfriend will always (hopefully) be around. It is not a waste of your time to be having girly girl chats.

I say girly girl chats, because in my experience girls have always beautifully featured in my life in this way. I’ve never had a close male friend, except for my husband. But this will always be a different relationship to the one you have with your girlfriends.

BECAUSE when you are having a burdensome run of events, you will need someone who you can just call on and unload to and not be judged or lectured to or misunderstood.

Find that friend and treat them well.

And finally, from another literary great who can astutely embody my lesson with a few words:

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis

Dedication: to all those women out there who I have called on in tears. I heartfully thank you for being in my life.

Follow up: Since I wrote this post, my darling first born has started school. I thought I had seen the best of female friendships, but nothing had prepared me for the ways women go completely above and beyond once you are part of a school community. Having my third baby, suffering surgeries….pain, and other issues made getting Mj to and from school very hard. Having women drop off dinners, some of whom I barely knew, was life saving. Some picked up and dropped off my daughter many days in a row….their kindness suprising me in ways that made me want to almost cry. I thank you ladies, I could not have survived kindergarten and a newborn without you. You women were truly generous, and I am still so grateful.

Lesson Four – Let it Go

Lesson Four – Let it Go

Lesson Four

This is one of my husband’s favourite phrases and I really am trying…but maybe if I wrote about the ways in which I am doing this, it might help others to implement this valuable (although often annoying) advice faster, and be a helpful lesson for my daughters about living in the present.

There have been two recent incidents that have made me laugh about how much I tend to hold on to things, and how much easier it would be just to let it go.

The first incident involved an old classmate. Having left school over ten years ago, I was finding it ridiculous that I was still distressed over the antics of a few ‘mean girls’ during my schooling days. I managed to reconnect through the omniscient powers of facebook with a girl who often said horrible things about me, and seeing as we both had young babies we thought we’d have a play date and catch up.

I was so nervous about it, both in accepting the invite and during the drive over, but she was lovely and has morphed in to an all embracing Earth Mother type after some hard times and the birth of her beautiful baby.

We both laughed about those days, and as she went on to talk about how bitchy she was at school, I was both relieved and surprised.  This self-awareness made it much easier for me to let it go. And to laugh at how silly I had been.

The second let it go incident was with HP  after we had just had a family picnic end in tears. Our two year old daughter Matilda Jayne (MJ) fell off the picnic table in a sickening two stage collapse. I could only watch hopelessly  as my legs failed to get me there in super(wo)man speed.

HP was the first on the scene and as he was picking MJ up, her eyes locked onto mine with the pain like a forgotten labrador puppy and I rushed to unload AM so that I could hold her.

The only sound I remember before the wailing from MJ burst forth was the sharp intake of shocked sighs emerging from a wedding party who were in the process of being video-graphed and photographed in the park.

I carried MJ away from the trauma scene so that she could be distracted by the boats on the water, but as the volcanic swelling slowly erupted from her forehead, I saw it as our cue to fast track it home to ice pack and rest.

We endeavoured to pack up the picnic food, a rug, a ball that was being blown towards the water, as well as trying to keep all our rubbish from flying away while carrying screaming girls.

What bothered me most as we drove away from the accident site? That nobody in the wedding party had offered to help, or offered any kind words or even sympathetic looks as we struggled in between them all out to our car. The only look I did register was the frustrated look of their videographer as he was obviously foreseeing the audio dramas MJ’s wailing was going to play havoc with.

‘Just let it go sweetie…just let it go’, said HP as I fumed away in the car.

I went on and on about the ignorance and rudeness of people. There were no interruptions to my tirade as MJ, traumatised, had immediately fallen asleep in her car seat.

We had been in a park only ten minutes away from home, and as I got out to carry her inside, I suddenly saw her bruised forehead, grazed arms, and the clean streaks that the tears had made through dirty face, and I felt nauseaus.

I didn’t have time to think about those people again until today, three days later, now that the drama and fear over MJ’s potential head injury has passed.

Worrying about the past, or other people’s reactions to events, or worrying about anything outside my little family has no place in my life today.

Sometimes our girls take up so much of our time that I really don’t have the time to even remember how to let it go. It just happens. So being a Mum is healthy for my worries and healthy for my girls who benefit from my constant focus and thoughts…if they aren’t with me then I am thinking about them.

I only hope that my daughters don’t have to wait until they are my age to retain focus on their own life. The phrase, Let it Go should be the soundtrack to your teen years when people around you wrong you, which they will..and disappoint you, which they will..and anger you, which they will.

Don’t wait until being a Mum to start learning how to let it go – practise it as early as you can!

And in honour of my husband who has been doing his best to get me to practise living his favourite phrases, here is a quote from an author he introduced me to when we first started dating (and is the reason I discovered the brilliant ‘fahrenheit 451′)

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it. It’s like boats. You keep your motor on so you can steer with the current. And when you hear the sound of the waterfall coming nearer and nearer, tidy up the boat, put on your best tie and hat, and smoke a cigar right up till the moment you go over. That’s a triumph.”
― Ray BradburyFarewell Summer

 

Final note: I wrote this before ‘Frozen’ came out obviously, so I find it quite funny looking back that adults could get away with saying ‘let it go’ to each other without instantly conjuring up images of an Ice Queen. Bloody Disney! Nah, I still love it, even though Miss 6 has moved on.

 

Lesson Three – Know your Limits

Lesson Three – Know your Limits

Lesson Three

This is something that I continue to struggle with, and I must admit, I do admire the way my sister, RG, has always managed to clearly articulate her limits.

The problem with pushing yourself beyond your limits, is that you can become frustrated and agitated towards the very people you were trying to please by extending yourself.

Having my girls has meant that I can take breaks for myself in a much more authentic and reasonable manner.

Instead of forcing myself to go out, and then needing to sit for a rest break quite frequently, I can turn these rest breaks into ways of connecting with my girls. Sometimes MJ and I go through the alphabet, other times we go through all the colours of the dresses in the shops nearby. Or we notice the colours of cars, people’s tops, or the type of pets.

Having daughters means that my failings never have to be explained. MJ doesn’t notice that I’m siting again, or that we are spending a lot of time laying on the bed reading this morning – because anytime spent together is valued.

So, I will try and translate that in to my adult life, and instead of forcing myself to go out and do something I’m not up to doing, I will have a long phone chat instead, or invite those friends over and sit and chat to them on the couch, without worrying about the state of my house. I’m sure that my friends, like my daughters, only notice my conversation and the time we are spending together.

That is something that I am learning….and, as a literary heroine of mine has put it:

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.”
― Sylvia Plath

from Sylvia Plath’s The Unabridged Journals (2000)

Lesson Two – Be True

Lesson Two – Be True

Lesson Two

My second lesson for my daughters is about trying to accept who you are and to honour your self above the needs of others.

As with all of the lessons that I am considering and reflecting upon, I probably should preface them with the confession that they are all works in progress. By creating the lesson, it is not a completed understanding, but a point to make about something I’ve encountered or considered in my day, in the hope that my girls can learn from my reflections and make changes to their own life faster than I’ve been able to do in mine.

Over the fifteen years or so that I was dating before I got married, I came up against many fights and arguments within my relationships, where I had to sacrifice and compromise my own needs.

In my first relationship, I exhausted myself over four years (when I should have cut it off at 4 weeks), by taking on the emotional issues and worrying about the anger of the boy I was with, instead of looking after me. I hadn’t worked out the importance of my self and spent hours and nights trying to keep him happy, and then later, trying to keep him away from me.

In a later relationship, I even considered giving up my life in Sydney with all my friends and dear family, to move to the Czech Republic where I was attempting to master the language and cultural quirks. That man struggled in saying ‘I love you’….a simple ask really, and something myself, who really wears her heart on her sleeve, needs.

Of course, it is okay to give up things that are important to you if it is for the greater good of your relationship, and will lead to a happy ever after….but if it will lead to the sickening niggling feeling that you are giving up too much – please be true to yourself!

Now, to end this lesson on a lighter note, a little story for you.

One day, when I had given up on relationships and was experiencing a tumultuous time in my family life, I met a man who took me as I was. I told him my whole story in one night – about my health issues, all my surgeries, my struggle with chronic pain, and the chaos that was occurring at home.

And, well, apparently, there is such thing as love at first sight.

We have our one year wedding anniversary coming up next month – and we have two beautiful girls!

 

Be true to yourself! Or, as one of my heroines more eloquently put it:

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”
― Audrey Hepburn

Lesson One – What are little girls made of?

Lesson One – What are little girls made of?

Lesson One 

I have tried really hard not to inflict gender stereotypes on to my daughter, MJ (two years old), allowing her to become the type of girl that she was born to be, not what I want her to be.

We send her to play soccer, she doesn’t have Barbies, she sees Daddy do the washing and cooking too, she often wears boys t-shirts and pjs (the best style for fulfilling the dinosaur need) and I try to create gender neutral play.

I have to admit that I’m pretty surprised at how quickly she has gravitated towards ‘girly’ things -such as handbags, jewellery, shopping and, more recently nail polish!

I have never given her any of these things, but she has sourced them out for herself. She found an old bag of mine that had make up in and started walking around the house telling me that she was ‘going shopping’!

She started noticing my necklace or earrings I put on each day, and asking where hers is, and her awareness of make up must have stemmed from her waiting and watching me getting ready so that we can finally get out of the house!

On a recent shopping trip where she delighted at walking past all the colourful new spring dresses released, and proudly pointed out each bright colour she recognised, her sharp eyes spotted the nail polish! Exciting, vibrant colours had been released and were on special at her eye level so that she could marvel at them herself.

I decided to indulge her and allowed her to choose two colours for us to paint our nails with. Her favourite colour is orange and she also chose blue (which happens to be mine, so that was nice of her).

I felt guilty putting off our doing our nails as I looked for free time, and the last few days I kept seeming to be running out of time!

After asking me for what unfortunately was about the twentieth time, I decided to stop absolutely everything I was doing and give her all of my attention. We had a delightful half hour painting our nails, and I allowed her to paint my toes which was a difficult task with her little fingers and my big feet, but she did a pretty good job! I was amazed at how still she was prepared to sit to let her nails dry, and how she let me do each nail carefully, although creatively stipulating that her feet be two different colours.

Lesson? Just stop and be a girl!

The washing, dinner, clothes and emails will all still be there. I know that sounds like a reworked cliche, and I am pretty sure that I know how to stop working to give my girls time. But this wasn’t about stopping to give them time…this was about putting things aside and sharing in some girls stuff together, and loving every second of it! Being proud to be a woman and let the girl out to play without worrying about anything else!

What are little girls made of?

Handbags, jewellery, shopping and nail polish that’s what my little girls are made of!