Monday, June 13, 2016

processing

My heart is broken. It's literally aching in my chest. So many questions swirling, so much confusion, so. much. heartache. One question keeps floating to the top...Why?

Why do innocent people keep dying?
Why are we doing NOTHING to stop it!?
Why can't we come to a decision on how to stop it?
Why are some people more concerned with a perceived threat to their "liberty" than a very real, very obvious, very dangerous threat to EVERYONE?
Why are people so willing and eager to say "People will always find a way to break the law so there's no use in trying to fix it. Oh well. Better them than me."?

Then once I attempt to process the heartache the anger sets in. The "red haze" Husband calls it. More whys:

WHY ARE PEOPLE SO FUCKING SELFISH??
WHY AFTER ONE OR TWO ACTIONS BY A FEW "BAD PEOPLE" CAN WE BAN BOX CUTTERS AND LIQUID ON AIRPLANES, BUT WE CAN'T REGULATE SEMI-AUTOMATIC WEAPONS AFTER DOZENS OF "BAD PEOPLE" HAVE CAUSED HUNDREDS OF MASS SHOOTINGS SINCE 2000?
WHY ARE WE OK WATCHING INNOCENT PEOPLE DIE AT AN ALARMING RATE?!
WHY CAN'T WE ALL RESPECT AND RECOGNIZE OUR DIFFERENCES ARE WHAT MAKE US GREAT?
WHY IS IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR SOME TO FOCUS ON THEMSELVES AND TO STOP FORCING THEIR BELIEFS ON OTHERS?
WHY ARE YOUR "RIGHTS" MORE IMPORTANT THAN MINE?!
WHY DO YOU THINK YOU ARE SO SPECIAL?
WHY DO YOU INSIST ON REMAINING THE PROBLEM RATHER THAN THE SOLUTION!?

BE THE SOLUTION. BE THE HELPER-NOT THE HINDERER.

This has to stop. I don't want to live in fear. People should be able to go to school, work, church, the movies, a club, or pump gas and not have to worry about being gunned down. Wondering if there will be a shooting at their children's school is not something ANY mother should have to worry about-we shouldn't have to be teaching our CHILDREN what to do in the event a shooter shows up at their school. When shooting drills are happening more than fire drills you know we are FAILING. AMERICA IS FAILING. How are we going to teach the next generation to be better when we are so busy fighting we can't agree there's a HUGE PROBLEM and work together to FIX THIS?

I am only one person; but that will not stop me. I will be the change I want to see, and I WILL NEVER STOP FIGHTING.


Wednesday, January 06, 2016

thoughts on infertility

I've struggled for a while whether or not to write about this-for a number of reasons. Partly because there is a huge risk for TMI, but mostly because it is such a deeply personal thing. I'm usually a pretty open person, but I wasn't 100% sure about sharing this for everyone to see...until I spoke with my good friend Stephen and he reminded me the only way to unstigmatize things is by TALKING about them. He's right, and I'm going to talk* about this, dangit!

*I should note that these are my thoughts and experiences, and mine alone. Like most things in life everyone's path is different, and I can't make generalizations or speak for anyone else--just me.

It scares the CRAP out of me, but I have always wanted to be a mom. Until recently it has always been this thing, far, far off in the distance; something I could see if I squinted hard enough. That horizon got a helluva lot closer really fast when Mr. Wonderful and I got married. Thanks to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) we knew we (read-I) would have an uphill battle in the effort to start a family, but we also wanted to take some time to settle into our new normal before we turned everything upside down again by adding a small human into the mix. 19 months later I realized we were standing on that horizon and we decided there was no time like the present to try to start our family. I consulted my OB about where we should start (aside from the obvious), and she suggested we begin trying immediately after stopping the Pill in the hopes we could "trick" my body into ovulating. (I had originally been put on the Pill when I started Accutane and then when that was done my Dr kept me on it to treat my irregular cycle caused by PCOS-and then I opted to stay on it after I got married-we knew the odds of a surprise pregnancy were low-but just in case.)

Well,"tricking" my body didn't work, and so we have moved to other methods. Here we are, seven months later, and we aren't any closer to starting a family now than we were then. I've had plenty of time to feel sorry for myself, think, and overthink-on lots of things. Infertility sucks, guys.

-You would think seeing a negative result gets easier. It doesn't-not even a little bit. 

-The only thing worse than getting your period when you're trying to have a baby is not having one at all and not being pregnant (it's a pretty good sign you aren't ovulating. No ovulation=no baby). I cried for two days when that first test (and the four others I took after that-just in case) came back negative.

-Knowing the cause of the problem but not the solution is discouraging and infuriating as hell. Treatment for PCOS is literally a "this is next on the list and worked for another PCOS patient I have; let's try this and see if it works for you, too" approach. When you are type-A and anxiety riddled you don't handle this approach well. I need a plan! 

-Regardless of what anyone says not being able to do this has made me feel like a complete failure as a woman. This feeling is compounded when someone says they got pregnant without even trying/wanting to be. 

-Uncertainty of whether I will be a mom or not in this life has caused me to constantly doubt myself. More than once I have caught myself wondering and asking Mr. Wonderful if I am enough and will be enough in the years ahead if kids aren't in the cards for us. 

-Hormone treatments are just plain cruel. As if this situation doesn't suck enough, the meds I'm on have caused my cystic acne to return AND have made it super easy for me to gain weight, but almost impossible to lose it. I have never felt more disgusting or less attractive in my entire life. (Self-esteem? What's that?) 

-I am so so happy for my friends getting pregnant and having babies, but not having a growing belly or baby to snuggle of my own makes my heart ache each time they share their joy and excitement. I want nothing more than to be happy for everyone, but I find myself cutting ties to people I care about because I just can't handle it any more. I know it isn't intentional, but each of their posts rubs more salt in this open, gaping wound.

-I am on a guilt and shame cycle I can't get out of. I feel shame for not being able to do this thing so many women seem to do without even trying, I find myself thinking "I had to wait to get married, and now I have to wait to have a family, too?" a lot more than I should, and then I feel guilty for being discouraged and feeling sorry for myself-especially when there are so many people out there who have things a whole lot worse or have been waiting longer than I ever will.

-No matter how strong your marriage is the stress of infertility takes its toll. (Mr Wonderful and I are great, but I'm not going to lie. It's been really, really hard.)

-Well-meaning people who say "don't worry; it will happen for you!" or suggest adoption, surrogacy, or other medical interventions are the most insensitive people and need to be punched in the face-Hard. From the outside all these methods seem easy, but they are anything but. Financially, physically, emotionally-they all come at a high cost and unless you are willing to write me a check or hold my hand while I'm jabbed and poked and prodded please don't suggest them. Suggesting them like you're deciding where to go for dinner? That's even worse.

-Same goes for those who say "stop worrying about it. It will happen when it's supposed to happen. Just have fun practicing!" Guess what? There is no such thing when you're struggling with infertility.
Nothing sucks the romance and fun out of sex like feeling like Jabba the Hut and then having to schedule and plan it around your treatments.

-Mr Wonderful is incredible and provides me with so much support, but he can't understand what I'm going through, and that is hard on both of us. He wants to support and protect me as much as I want to be supported and protected, but there is literally nothing he can do. Watching the person you love most on the planet be frustrated and upset because they feel like they're failing you (although they are not) compounds the problem.

-I am a textbook firstborn so I don't know how to let people take care of me (I'm still learning this with Husband). As a result I feel alone a lot of the time because I don't want to burden people with my silly problems.

-There's a lot of doubt. A LOT. I catch myself wondering all the time if my inability to get pregnant is the Universe's way of telling me maybe I'm not supposed to be a mom because I will absolutely suck at it and those children would be better off with someone else as their mother.

-My biological clock is very real and very loud and I wonder if I've run out of time almost daily.

-Staying positive, not letting the stress and pressure overcome me, and not allowing myself to become bitter is really, really hard. Lately this has become a losing battle.

-If motherhood isn't in my cards-is being the 'favorite auntie' enough?

Bottom line is this: there's a lot of guilt, a lot of feeling inadequate, and a lot of smiling on the outside while you're sobbing on the inside. This post may suggest otherwise but I don't want anyone's sympathy-really. Empathy? Yes. Support and understanding? Absolutely.




Tuesday, September 22, 2015

grief

You know, grief is an interesting thing. My Grandma Fox passed away yesterday, and all I feel right now is--relief. Well that and guilt.

When she fell in May and broke her hip part of me knew that was the beginning of the end. Although I wish I hadn't let family discord and drama keep me away from her I will forever be grateful for the time I was able to spend with her in her hospital room-just the two of us, holding her hand and telling her that I loved her. I remember her telling me that this wasn't quality of life and she was so upset she couldn't paint or write or do any of the things she loved so much anymore. With tears in my eyes I told her if she felt it was time to go that it was ok. We would all be sad, but we would be ok. Holding her hand and reading her "To Kill A Mockingbird" so she could sleep, and her waking up just long enough for me to hug her and tell her I loved her as I was leaving will forever be one of my most cherished memories.

As much as I will miss my spitfire piss and vinegar Grandmother all I can think of is now she is free of the body that has limited her for so long; for that I am relieved and grateful. 

While I am sad I haven't shed a tear and can only be relieved that my grandmother's illness (a huge source of family drama and contention) is now gone I can't help but wonder if feeling these things make me heartless?

To be honest I am hurting more watching my father grieve the loss of his mother.

I can't help but think back to seven years ago when my family lost my Uncle Gregg and how different that grieving process was. It was completely out of nowhere and struck me so deep to my core I had to leave work that day as all I could do was sit at my desk and cry, and I still have a hard time speaking about him without shedding tears. This time I had time to prepare and I knew why my dad was calling before I even picked up the phone, and I was able to finish my work day undistracted. I am able to speak about her with happiness and fondness. There are no tears to be had here.


That may change on Friday when I see her sleeping one last time, but for right now all I can think is that I am so happy she is free.




Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I’m just beautiful me

As I get older one thing becomes more and more (painfully ) clear: I am my own WORST critic, and it needs to STOP. 

Today Husband and I had pictures taken, and tonight my photographer posted a preview on Facebook. This photo, actually: 



It's beautiful. The colors coordinate well and are bright and vivid. I am radiant. Husband is smiling (well as close as he comes to smiling for pictures anyway), and his eyes are so BLUE. We look like we are comfortable and happy with each other. 

Kate and Sassy Jose told us all through the evening how great we looked and how happy they were with the shots they were getting. I know it is not most important (or at all), but there has been a huge outpouring of love from our friends in the form of 'Likes' and positive, loving comments on Social Media. What IS most important:
This is a photograph of me and my beloved. Because of that there is not one reason I should look at this photograph with anything but a heart bursting with love. 

My initial reaction to seeing this photo? "Ugh. I have a pooch-I wish I could have found my belt so I could hide that, I'm jowly, you can totally tell I need my roots done, and to top it all off I am REALLY starting to look like a tired, middle aged woman."


WHY!? WHY DO WE DO THIS!?? 


 I am surrounded by beautiful people I am lucky enough to call friends. They come in all shapes and sizes, with so many wonderful attributes and talents. I constantly find myself comparing myself to these incredible women and tearing myself down because I don't stack up to my own stupid standards; Social Media makes it even worse. Rather than being happy with what I CAN do and a body that works and is healthy and allows me to do so many things others cannot I can only focus on the fact that I am simply not built to be a size 6 or a B cup-no matter how many treats I refuse or Zumba classes I attend (thanks hearty Dutch genes!). Instead of relishing that every day I look more and more like my beautiful, precious mother and I have a loving, supportive Husband who thinks I am the most beautiful woman alive all I can think is that I no longer look like I'm 20--like that's a bad thing. Yes, I will be 35 this year; I am closer to 40 than 20. I am officially middle aged. There. I said it. I have smile lines, crows feet, and old acne scars. But do you know what? Those smile lines and crows feet show I have lived a life that has sometimes been sad, but has mostly been full of happiness and laughter. They show I have learned and grown. And those scars? They taught me empathy and compassion; they remind me of that every time I look in the mirror. Most importantly? The scars and lines aren't as bad as I perceive them to be. 

I catch myself doing it with other parts of my life, too. I recently embarked upon an opportunity that has presented itself (it is still very much in the air so I don't want to put too much out there yet), and once I put myself out there for this opportunity I immediately began to doubt and nay say myself. 

I am always telling myself I am beautiful, good enough, capable, and qualified, yet I rarely BELIEVE IT. What good is telling ourselves these things if we refuse to actually believe them?




I am working on all of these things, and learning that confidence is not pride and self-doubt is not humility, but it is a slow process. A process I was reminded of again tonight. When I receive the rest of my images from tonight's session I will try my hardest to make sure I only focus on the positive and not the negative. I need to remember my perception isn't always correct; and the people I love clearly see something I do not, so I need to trust that. As for the days that doesn't work I will just play this on repeat, have a good cry, get up, brush myself off, and try again tomorrow. 

 





Wednesday, February 18, 2015

i choose kristen

An entire year without blogging. That really makes my heart sad. So many times I sat down, only to become so overwhelmed with anxiety and negativity that I decided no blog was better than one filled to the brim with everything I hate reading myself. Even now I'm struggling to finish this because I know it's not going to be all sunshine and roses and not necessarily what some people want to hear.

This week I made a decision, one that I have known I've needed to make, but have been avoiding for a while. I decided to stop doing something that used to make me happy, but now only brings heartache, pain, and guilt. Before you jump there Mr. Wonderful and I are great. Better than great. We are awesome. He is my rock and support and a large part of why I had the courage to finally make the decision I have been avoiding for so long. After I close my current project I think I'm done with theatre. Wow. Saying  it out loud and seeing it in print are two completely different things. Writing it makes it real, somehow.

Why, you may ask? The answer is long, and complex, but the simple answer is this:

I'm DONE.

Done giving people control over my schedule, feelings, and self-worth. Done feeling like I'm doing it because I "have to" or that I will be letting people down if I stop rather than doing it for me and the joy it once brought me. Done being criticized by complete strangers. Done spending precious time away from Husband only to feel that time has been wasted. Done being a punching bag to others merely for being willing to donate my time and talents. Done working so hard for something that at the end of the day is pretty thankless. Done letting this part of me define my entire being. Done being afraid to walk away because I will lose the recognition I have worked hard for and fearing I will have to start paying my dues all over again should I come back. Done having negative experience after negative experience, yet still coming back because "this time will be different". Done doing favors only to have it come back and bite me. Done with late nights that turn into early mornings and Saturday morning rehearsals. Done feeling like I always have a black cloud hanging over me, and most importantly I'm done taking out all these frustrations and insecurities on Mr. Wonderful. He has done nothing to deserve it, yet he's the one who gets to take it all because I know he'll still be there and still love me when all is said and done.



Ugh, drama is so aptly named. There has been a lot of it, that's for sure, but I am grateful for what it has brought me. Being on stage got me through one of the hardest times of my life and helped me figure out who I was again. It has blessed me with wonderful friends and opportunities I don't think I would have found otherwise. But, there is a time and a season for all things, and I think this season has come to an end. I'm ready to spend time cultivating other things I enjoy but didn't make time for because theatre was all-encompassing for so long. I am more than the stage, and I've been feeling this way for a while. It's time to act on these feelings. Theatre is a PART of me, not entirely what I am.

Is being done a forever thing? Good heavens I hope not, but for something to get me back on stage in the immediate future it would have to be something big. HUGE. Something I would regret forever if I didn't do or would just be plain dumb to pass up. There aren't many feelings like being on stage, but if I never step foot on one again I can look back over the last 17 years, smile, and be proud of my body of work. Right now I need to focus on me, my other long-neglected talents, and my future with Mr. Wonderful.

To quote my girl Olivia Pope (a little out of context, but still rings true to me), "I choose me. I am choosing Kristen." And you know what? That gets to be okay.



Thursday, February 20, 2014

Happy

Have you seen this video? I'll admit I didn't pay it any mind until I saw a worldwide compilation featured on msn today. I'm not going to lie; I am now completely obsessed with it. I dare you to not turn it up and bust a move:



I have been thinking a lot about happiness lately, and although I've always known if I count on others to make me happy I never will be, but I found that I was doing that more and more. Guess what? I was miserable. Once I discovered this I have been trying harder to make a conscious effort to make MYSELF happy. You know what? It works. Being happy isn't a life circumstance, but rather a choice you make for yourself. It's not always easy, and sometimes I catch myself slipping out of happiness and into something else, but I'm quicker to recognize it and change it now. Choosing to see (and be) the good in the world has helped, as well as surrounding myself with positive people. I know I'm not always going to succeed at this goal, but I'm determined to be happy more than I am not. I have too many wonderful things to be thankful for to dwell on the silly, insignificant things. When I think of happiness I think of my beautiful nieces, who are always so happy and full of life. What a wonderful example to follow.



Yes, happiness is a choice, and I hope you, my dear friends, are choosing to be happy. If not make the choice to start, crank up Pharrell's song and have a dance party wherever you are. I dare you to finish unhappy. I'm pretty sure it's impossible.

Monday, February 10, 2014

just words

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

"I'm rubber, you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you."

I remember chanting these verses on the playground as a child, but it took me well into my adult years to realize that although well-meaning they are terribly terribly wrong. Words do hurt, words can be cruel, and when used incorrectly words can be terribly, terribly damaging and demeaning. Case in point: a Facebook exchange I had with a 'friend' and one of their friends today:




 Apparently to some using the word "retarded" is ok as long as you aren't referencing a person, and you choose what words offend you--even the person who teaches special needs children thinks so. Wait...what? Although I agree there are SOME words you choose to take offense with, this is not one of them. Any word that is used to belittle or demean a group of people are not ok words to throw around in conversation.

The person who posted originally is a bright, reasonable person, and after a little stalking I learned that the other person is a Senior in High School, and seemed to be well-versed, so I'm assuming they are bright as well. I also have a feeling they grew up in the midst of the "stop the R-word" movement, so I'm having a hard time understanding how these two seemingly bright, educated people can think this vile, ugly word and words like it are ok to use merely because it is a synonym for 'dumb' and 'stupid'? That's enough reason NOT to use it IMHO.

I will admit, I used to be one of these people who used these words, never meaning harm, but not realizing it was causing harm simply because it wasn't personal to me. It wasn't until I had a brave friend stand up and point out just how hurtful those words can be-because there are people for whom these words hit a little too close to home and hit chords the utters of these words don't realize are there.

If you are one of the people who feel it's just a word, allow me to offer this from one of the MANY resources I came across when I googled "stop using the word retarded" this afternoon:

"When you use the word "retarded", you are using an antiquated word that, unfortunately has come to symbolize the struggle of people with learning disabilities.  You are using the language of the bully, you are using the language of the abuser.  You are using the language of those who hurt... and you are using it to describe your new bank fees.  When you do this, you are not only being offensive in the most literal definition, you are also being demeaning in the most literal sense of that word.  You are attributing (for example) my son's daily struggle to learn to eat, to learn to sit, to learn to read, to learn to speak, to your own inability to grasp your company's new vacation policy or what you think of some new rule in your kid's soccer league. More often than not, it seems that people use this word to describe things that they themselves don't understand or find too complicated. There is irony here."

This mother of a child with Down Syndrome goes on to say:

"Maybe you think this is my problem or I am being "too sensitive", let me ask you this:  what if we change that word to "gay".  Or the N-word. Pick your slur, one that is used to degrade and demean a group of people. Not only is it not funny anymore, but I'm betting that there is a group of people out there, like a GLAAD or an NAACP who will tell you exactly how unfunny it really is." 
(Read the full post at http://downwitdat.blogspot.com/2012/03/theres-that-word-again.html)

 You guys. If you are someone who uses this word or any other slur, please stop. Please realize that although you are smart and well bred and competent phrases like "that's retarded", "what a fag", or "that's so gay/queer" immediately makes you look like a jerk. And a little dumb. And like a great big bigot. If you think I'm the only one who feels this way just google "stop using retarded". There are over 2 million results. TWO MILLION. If that doesn't show you just how wrong this word is I don't know what will. After this exchange I couldn't stomach remaining friends with someone who felt using that word is ok as long as it's not directed at someone. Although I wish them no ill and have no hard feelings I chose it was best for me to not have that around. Please don't be that person I choose not to have around. 




http://www.r-word.org
http://goinswriter.com/stop-using-retard/
http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12488/5-words-you-should-remove-from-your-vocabulary.html