Posts Tagged ‘working mom’

Welcome aboard! Please stow your baggage (emotional and otherwise) in the overhead compartment or completely under the seat in front of you. Buckle your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride as we fly through the randomness that pours out of a writer’s mind when she has spent too many hours sitting on planes…

 

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I always thought I would be a good mother because I had such an exceptional example of a mother to follow. My mother made many mistakes along her way, but her love and sacrifice for her children were flawless. I did not seem to inherit those attributes.

Now, I am aware that I am far superior to the crackhead who births her baby addicted or the resentful woman who leaves her children loveless or even the hypercritical mother who can never be pleased. However, at the most simple, I am just too selfish. There is too much ME in my mother-child relationships.

Maybe it was because my mother loved me too well, implanting the seed that I mattered so much. Maybe it was because my mother’s love cost her so dearly, her sacrifices so grand and painful that I refused to duplicate them.

I do love my children, completely and whole-heartedly, but I also do sometimes resent the demands of being their mother–mental and physical. I think I would have made a much better father with the elimination of the physical requirements and reduction of the social demands of motherhood.

I wonder if the guilt I feel at this maternal deficiency indicates I care or only signifies what I’ve been told I should feel. I wonder how my mothering style will shape my children. Will it teach them to maintain and prioritize themselves even in the troughs of love, like I hope it will? Or will they internalize my lack of obligatory doting and masochistic self-sacrifice and blame themselves?

At the bottom of it, I think about aircraft safety procedures. Perhaps because I just had to listen to them recited yet again. Put your mask on before you put on theirs. Take care of yourself so you can take care of them. I also think about how children learn by watching more than being told. I want to live a life I would be happy to proud to see them live, a life where they always mattered and advocated for themselves, a life where they did what they needed but also made sure to do what they wanted.

Or all of this is what I tell myself to help swallow the lump of mom guilt that has swelled up in my throat with each day of this business trip.

 

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This has to stop. It has been too long. I am too fucking old and smart for this to continue. I did not work my ass off to tame bipolar unmedicated to be dismantled by a bullshit eating disorder. I did to adapt so far as to expertly manipulate myself and others to be seduced and swayed by a sad, shallow cultural flaw.

I refuse to continue to define myself by standards I do not ascribe to other people. Cognitively, I get it. Logically, I know the truth. Yet something about my deformed emotions and that scar tissue in my brain keeps me imprisoned in this utterly fruitless cycle of self-loathing.

My body does not help as it relentlessly undermines me. I am continually undone by its incessant betrayal. I had figured it out. I had successfully decoded dieting and slipped the noose of bulimia. My body decided to reward me by heaving a large wrench into the machine–into me.

Fasting was the answer. My body granted me an entire year of success and freedom before invalidating the accord. The weight flooded back on and the madness, the fixation, the obsession that it inspires. Causality no longer aligned. Unearned consequences twisted my perceptions into deformed figments. Right back down to the bottom, sinking like a heavy stone.

I tried all the things–past failures and successes. I went to the doctor and a nutritionist. I went back to binge-enticing restrictive diets. I returned to injury-demanding levels of exercise. All roads slammed into the same fat wall. Yet I can’t relent or abandon any of them for fear that I will continue to inflate.

So, I am back to my Hell–starving myself, punishing my body, scrutinizing my reflection, fixating on the numbers. I am back to obsessing about things that do not matter.

It has to stop.

I realize I cannot control my body, so I, once again, need to tame my mind. I need to remove my damage from the equation.

As age continues to wear on my body at an accelerating rate, I realize that youth has nearly entirely slipped from my grasp. I will only steadily continue to wrinkle and sag and reform. Do I want to waste the preceding time wishing I was something else, the way I regret hating my many youthful states before now? Do I want to reduce my assessment of my body to the numbers on a scale or measurement of any circumference, dismissing the dance vocabulary it has learned, the strength it has built to climb mountains, its bizarre flexibility? Do I need to forsake everything to be “skinny”…

And WHY?

What does it matter against a clever and successful mind? What does it get me as I am already loved?

When I ask the questions, I know the answers–without hesitation. Yet these old and perverse trains of thought still snake and steam through my mind on distorted tracks. My emotions trickle and pour through the canyons worn by my eating disorder like bad habits. The core of me always reels for the familiar comfort of hating myself.

But I cannot claim that I will not waste a moment of chronological life to then squander my emotional life like this. The words and compulsions and habits of my former mind are not true; they do not need to be heeded.

I can let it go. I can exercise because I love it and it balances me. I can eat clean because it is beneficial to my body and makes me feel physically better. I can make these choices for my own wellness rather than an aesthetic.

Because this has to stop.

It is killing me and poisoning my days. It gains me NOTHING. It has to stop.

 

Christina Bergling

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Some days (most days), I do not have time to be crazy. Yet crazy I remain.

I just surfaced from the longest depression cycle I can remember since I used to drink all my feelings. Unlike my usual three day lows, this was over a month of symptoms reading like a flyer for depression, which is nothing like my usual experiences. Sleeping did not reset it. Talking did nothing. I could not run or dance it out. It was just depression, without cause or end.

Such mundane, typical, relentless depression is decidedly inconvenient for someone as I busy as I keep myself. I learned, in this odd cycle, that I cannot multitask while depressed. It is like my brain is half paralyzed. Thoughts are heavy and slow, and suddenly one monopolizes all my synapses.

For the usual day or two, this is not a big deal. For multiple weeks, this was an epic wrench in the system. I am sure my frustration at the reduction in my productivity and focus only served to enrage the repressive fire.

Yet, on the flip side, depression stimulates my writing. Apparently, I have to devote full attention to it, but it awakens a different part of my brain. Different ideas, which only appear in this mood, flourish. I can write in any mood, but it is a specific experience in any variety of depression. It feels like a door opens in the back of my mind, like the veil between conscious and subconscious becomes thinner.

So the writer’s mind unfurled below and around me, yet the rest of my life suffered. As I climb out of the hole, I am standing in the crater of everything I need to catch up on. Sometimes, when I try to do everything (work and write and be a mom and be a partner and be active and take care of myself), I feel like I fail a little bit at all of them. Since nothing gets my full attention, everything suffers.

Sometimes, it fells like it’s never enough.

Yet I don’t know any other way to be. I can’t give up any part of me. I have to work, but I also have to write. I have to take care of my family, but I have to take care of myself to do that. So reduction is not really an option, but I don’t have time for these hindrances. I don’t even want to dare sickness or another damn injury.

I am just glad to be on the other side. For a while, my mind did not feel like my own. My thoughts and feelings moved in such alien patterns that I felt lost on foreign terrain, like an intruder in my own bones. I just wanted to be able to function like myself, feel like myself, just be without thinking about it.

But I can feel “normal” cresting. I can catch of glimpse of the other side. Hell, I was manic earlier this week. If anything breaks a depression, it is mania. If nothing else, cycling and movement in my moods is part of my normal. I need to ride the wave. I don’t know how to exist on a placid sea.

In any case, I have to pull my shit together. October starts on Sunday, and October is my season. Horror season. Halloween season. The busiest month of my year. In addition to all the customary Halloween traditions and celebrations, we are attending the Telluride Horror Show. Plus there is #31DaysOfHorror, to which I am adding a bingo game this year. And, after a laundry inventory, I am going to rock all my Halloween/horror/goth attire for the month for #Hallowear.

I’m on the other side now; let’s do this.

 

Christina Bergling

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I keep myself pathologically busy in my life. My life would be full enough with my day job and my fledgling as a published author and my husband and our two young children. I am infamous for multitasking, always doing at least three things at once. Yet, to all this, I continually add. I plan and do more. Some might consider it an addiction or even a sickness, to cram some sort of activity or task into nearly every waking second of my time. My friends, who so justifiably enjoy their leisure time on their couches, will ask me when I appear drained with bagged under my eyes, “Why? Why do you stay so busy?”

The answer is deeper than mere compulsion. There is a philosophy, a way of life behind why I keep myself (and subsequently my entire family) so exhausting engaged, entertained, and active. Ultimately, the life choice comes down to two formative times in my past.

First, in and after college, I squandered my youth. The saying goes: “Youth is wasted on the young.” That sentiment was especially true for me. I spent these youthful and formative years lost in the defect in my brain. I let depression infect this time and prevent me from doing and experiencing so much more.

I spent my youth consumed by my own pain, indulging in every self-destructive behavior I could devise. I tortured myself. I was drunk and fat and unhappy. This decade later, I can only think of all the ways I could have better exploited that time, all the things I could have done and experienced before life’s obligations wrapped around me, restrained me.

Yes, I learned from this chapter in my life. No, given the choice I would not change it because I would not want to alter the result. However, that foolishness lingers at the edge of my memories like a nagging regret.

Then, shortly after the wasted self-destructive period in my life waned, I went to Iraq as a civilian contractor. I was still quite youthful and naive, but, at the very least, I was somewhat disentangled from the darkness in my own head. Just in time for my time in a war zone to crack my entire head open (figuratively) and give me an entirely new and life-altering perspective on life.

Iraq worked on me from several different angles. Prior, from the cushion and comfort of my American life, I told myself that I knew that other people lived differently; I told myself that watching and reading about it made me aware. I had no idea, and, more importantly, I know now that I still do not.

In Iraq, in a war zone, I was exposed to how people in that country were living, what they were doing to each other, what they were surviving.  More directly, I got see and even share a bit of how a deployed soldier had to live. I was fortunate enough to be a young civilian girl who they kept behind the wire and usually on the larger bases. However, I got just the slightest taste of the distance, the withdrawals from home, the isolation.

In both cases, I learned to appreciate how I lived at home and also see it through a new lens.

But it was the nature of a war zone itself that influenced my philosophy. It is true anywhere that we could die at any moment. However, that seems much more apparent and likely in a place where sirens are going off for rocket attacks and there is a daily wounded/abducted/killed tally. All of these new and morbid realities were terrifying on my sheltered psyche. I may have loved horror my entire life, but I loved horror in media, not in my real life.

Both of these experiences seemed to be translated and processed by my brain the same way, resulting in my near biological need to keep myself obsessively busy. The two compounded one another, evolved upon the preceding lesson. Both of them boil down to: do not waste time. Whether it be that you will be young once before it is gone or that you could die at any moment for a myriad of reasons, do not waste the time.

So I pack the time. I cram it and stretch it and exploit it. I do not think that I will want to do something some day because it has been so deeply branded into my brain that I am not guaranteed some day. I do not want to spend my last breath thinking I should have gotten out more or traveled more or seen more or done more. I do not want to be rested and bored. I can rest if I make it to a retirement home; I can sleep on my death bed.

Instead, I strive to channel Thoreau and Dead Poets’ Society; I endeavor to suck all the marrow out of life.

So yes, I work a demanding full time day job to support my family and finance all our adventures and hobbies. Yes, I write and publish at every single chance I get; I try to pour my soul out on the page. And I try to get those books out for people to read. Yes, I travel at every opportunity, personally and professionally. Yes, I run and workout and take zumba classes and barre classes and do races and hike. Yes, I set up endless playdates for my children and get them into dance and any other activity they want. Yes, I fill up our evenings and weekends with dinners and projects and trips.

Before the dementia sinks in, I want the corners of my wrinkled, aged mind to be free, uncluttered with any regrets and only teeming with more memories than I can hold onto.

I live. I live as hard as I possibly can.

(And this long winded babble may or may not be an attempt at rationalizing why this blog has been so neglected.)

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In my book, Savages, I explore what time in Iraq would mean to a person as they try to survive the apocalypse. In my second book, coming later this year, I paint a picture of woman caged by regret for a life wasted on career.

http://christinabergling.com