Tag Archives: PMS

A Different Source

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As my inner turmoil has intensified
I have found myself remembering
a glass of wine
or a mojito
or a margarita…
It has been years since I’ve had a drink.
I chose to stop
because I wanted to go deeper
and to be clearer…
but I remember
the soothing wave of inebriation,
the giddiness,
and I ask myself if I’m being too extreme,
too ascetic, too prudish, too goody-goody.
I know many people who would say
I should have a drink
when I’m feeling this way.
It’s just a glass of wine,
it’s good for you
they would say.
Just have a drink,
it won’t kill you,
it will help you relax.
But I’ve chosen clarity,
and this means to stand and face
whatever arises with my whole self,
my real self.
How can I see what needs to be seen
if I have filled my head with clouds?
It was a personal choice,
a commitment I made,
and I feel honor bound to uphold it.
A quieter voice says,
Don’t look back.
This is your chance.
Summon your courage,
breathe.
You are where you need to be,
and these feelings are real.
They have something to tell you;
listen.
Trust.
Being able to hear this voice
is a taste sweeter than the finest wine,
more refreshing than
than the most perfectly mixed mojito.
Sure, these drinks might taste good for a moment,
but the inner longing would remain;
and after their sweetness receded from my tongue,
I would be still more parched,
the way drinking from the ocean makes you even more
desperate to find pure, clear, sweet salvation.
And so I dip not my hand into these waters.
Now I quench my thirst from a different source.

Breathing Underwater

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It began with multiple interruptions
to my morning meditation…
my son ran in the room
wanting breakfast,
and my husband wouldn’t wake up
to get the lad some food.
And so it fell on mama
to rise early from her cushion,
as she was attempting to awaken,
as her husband was allowed to simply sleep…
The stories about
putting everyone else’s needs before my own,
so many stories in my head
contributing to a dark mood,
repetitive thoughts,
and the noise from the outside world,
enough to make the sanest crazy.
There is no vacation from one’s darkest thoughts.
I haven’t had mind altering substances for years,
and sometimes in moments like these
I remember why I drank wine and beer.
But no more,
I made this commitment to being clear,
and that means diving deeper
when the water is dark and frigid
when the foreboding depths
seem to conceal
a terrifying truth…
There is no end to this pain.
Of course, I could also reason
that the deeper I dig,
the more space I will have to welcome joy.
When the light of awareness
pierces the murky depths
I might discover
there is nothing to fear,
I won’t suffocate in my pain,
I might learn to breathe underwater.

Reluctant Housecleaning

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I scrubbed toilets
with no gladness in my heart today,
felt overburdened and overwhelmed,
walked around scowling,
and when I wasn’t enraged,
I was feeling guilty and ashamed
for losing my temper with my kids.
I thought about people
who clean houses for a living,
what that must be like…
Keeping just one house clean
feels like way too much
for one person to handle alone.
And I thought of societal expectations,
what one woman is supposed to do
for her home, her family,
putting others needs before her own.
I thought of those who live
with more creative freedom than I…
do they manage to keep a clean house
and find time for the things they really want to do?
I wouldn’t have cared so much
about the dingy state of things,
but my in-laws are coming Friday,
and I have appearances to keep up.
If only I could vacuum the crud out of my brain,
the way I vacuum the crud out of the carpet.

The Best I Can

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First I ask for their forgiveness
and then I attempt to forgive myself.
I didn’t want to lose my temper
I didn’t want to jump up and down
and yell
and get red in the face.
But I’m tired, and sick, and human,
and sometimes I just lose it.
The critic said to me,
See? Five years of daily meditation
have done nothing for you.
You still lose your temper.
You are an imposter.
I said to the critic
If you think this is bad,
imagine how I’d be without meditation.
And then I forgave myself.
For what?
For listening to the voice
that told me I should have done better
than I was able to do.
I am, like everyone else on this blessed planet,
doing the best I can.

The Mean Time

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Without warning it returns
the depression, the rage
and my hormones betray me again
A friend reminded me
the last time that this happened
that it wouldn’t be the last time
that this happens
But knowing what it is
doesn’t make it feel
any less overwhelming.
I’m going to bed early
and trying to forgive myself
for all the times
I snapped at my children today.
I know this will get better;
it always does–
but it’s what I do in the meantime
(the MEAN time)
that really worries me.

Always a Mother

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Sometimes I’m a monster.
The hormones rage,
awakened by a child too many times
in the night
sleep deprivation depriving
me of insight,
cannot see the light.
Patience is gone,
replaced by rage,
I’m an animal in a cage.

I’m loud, I stomp, I slam,
I feel put upon, resentful,
exhausted, alone.
Then comes the guilt
for not being better.
When it’s like this,
I often forget that…

Sometimes I’m a saint.
Most of the time
I meet my children
with tenderness and kindness
when they are grumpy,
resistant, messy, loud,
and mostly oblivious to my efforts
toward their happiness.
I cuddle and hold them close,
I tell them how important they are,
how special, how dear,
how glad I am that they are here.

I love from the deepest part of me
and forgive every single thing,
because I see their purity,
their goodness,
their absolute trust in me,
and I want to be worthy of that trust.

Sometimes I’m a monster.
Sometimes I’m a saint.

Always I’m a mother.

NaPoWriMo 2015 Day 3: Help Me Out

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Ladies, help me out.
Do you get mood swings too?
Do you feel enraged
for no particular reason,
and even if the sun is shining,
do you feel darkness too?
I want to know what will help.
I meditate, I breathe,
I keep myself busy with housework.
I try to give my kids my full attention,
but the monster can sweep it all away,
and all that is left is my anger.
Help me out.
Who knows how to stop the rage?
Who can pull themselves back from the edge?
Help me out.
How do you deal with your anger?

PMS Hell and Other Fun Things

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I hesitate sharing with you in a way that could be construed as my airing my dirty laundry over the internets.  But this blog was at the start, and has continued to be, a place for me to explore my real life situations in the context of my yoga practice, and I ain’t hiding nothin’. This is real life, people.

Pretty sure that I can attribute a lot of what I’m feeling to PMS.  It has its way with me every month. Just a week before my cycle starts, everything goes to hell, and finding one tiny spark of hope takes monumental effort.  Patience is in short supply, and it seems as though everyone is out to get me, especially those closest to me. I manage for the most part to keep the undercurrents of rage at bay for the benefit of my children; I do not want to traumatize them with my moodiness, explosiveness, my reactivity.

I’ve been told that the moodiness associated with PMS occurs as the veil between the conscious and the subconscious wears thin, and everything we’ve been trying to conceal from the world behind our sunshiny/I’m a caregiver/a nurturer/a healer/everyone else comes first exterior rises up to demand our attention for the purposes of learning and healing, and at the very least, for moving through us, for changing, even if it’s on a minute level.

I’ve also been told that PMS is worse for women who feel that they are going about much of their existence without getting their own needs met.  This doesn’t surprise me at all. How long can one continue to maintain a facade of strength, patience, and cheerfulness when she is tired, underfed, under-appreciated, and at the end of her mental and emotional rope?

The chances of a woman suffering from PMS might be linked to our genetic heritage.  This could be part of what is going on here for me–as a child I finally figured out what it was that caused my mom to become a volcano of rage once a month, and I learned how to avoid her during those times.  Before I made the connection, it felt like my world was ending every time my mom withdrew her regular supply of compassionate understanding and gave in turn loud words, slammed doors, angry faces, disapproval.

At any rate, understanding its source in no way helps to mitigate the heaviness, the unease, the sadness, the anger that plague me during this time…and this is precisely where I was when my husband came home last night and scolded me for not shoveling the snow.

Here is what happened in my mind the second he told me I should’ve shoveled the walk in front of our house:

Are you fucking kidding me?  I let him know how hard it was with our son today, how he was inconsolable, tantruming, yelling, crying, wouldn’t eat, wasn’t feeling well, and was using his time to tear up everything he could, making a mess of every room he was in.  I am tired as hell. I worked hard to make a good dinner for everyone, one kids is bathed and in pajamas, the other kid is in the bath right now,  I have spent the last few days cooking my ass off, there are dozens of cookies and yummy leftovers to show for it, I haven’t had a shower in two days, I haven’t been able to write in my journal, or sew, or practice yoga, or anything for my self in days–and I already TOLD HIM I HAVE PMS–so he can go fuck himself.

I told him I forgot.  My husband said that wasn’t an excuse.  That’s when I started getting defensive.  When he let me know that we were the only house on the street that hadn’t shoveled, I thought about the number of times that I had shoveled our sidewalk and didn’t stop at ours, how I had shoveled my neighbors’ sidewalks and put down salt for them without them knowing (random acts of kindness–I’m a believer).  I was 1)Annoyed the one of the neighbors didn’t go, “Ah, whatever, it’s only an inch of snow, I can take care of this for them,” and 2)Flabbergasted that my husband would dare suggest that I could have in some way found time in the midst of toddler hell to get out there and take care of the completely inoffensive, completely innocuous one goddamn inch of snow that was no threat to anyone.

Yep, recipe for angry outburst.  I’m actually proud of myself for the amount of self-control I was able to muster at that moment.  I did raise my voice a little, I’m not going to lie, but I said to him, “I’m giving our daughter a bath right now, trying to put conditioner in her hair.  If it needs to be done–you go do it.”

“You are deflecting responsibility!” he argued.

“I’m not deflecting anything!” I told him, “I’m not willing to have an argument with you about this right now! If the sidewalk needs to be shoveled, YOU TAKE CARE OF IT!”

He slinked off, clearly annoyed, and I tried to regain my composure so that I could be gentle with my little girl as we finished with her bath.  I managed, but inside I was steaming.  Then my mom showed up.  She has been staying with us since the move on February 1 in order to  help us to get settled, and she has been for the most part very helpful, but then this happened:

I told my mom how Cliff just ripped me a new one for not shoveling, how I told him how hard it was with our son, and how I’m so angry I could just slap him, and my mom gave me a sort of sympathetic look, said nothing, walked into her bedroom and closed the door. That was odd.  Normally she says something like, “Men!” and I immediately feel heard and vindicated.

So now I had to figure out why I wasn’t been met with the motherly sympathy I was wanting.  A few minutes later when she reappeared, I cornered her and said, “Did you not respond to my complaining because Cliff already told you what happened, you think I should’ve shoveled also, you think I have no reason to be upset?”

“Yes, Cliff already told me about what happened, and I don’t want to take sides,” she told me.  She doesn’t want to take sides?

“I’m not asking you to take sides,” I told her, “At the end of a long day, all I want is some empathy.” She patted my shoulder, walked into the bathroom, and took a bath.  Well, fuck. Now I’m mad at my husband and my mother.  She of all people should understand what it is to be bogged down by household responsibilities and then be told that she hasn’t done enough!

I barely mustered the strength to write my daily post last night.  My husband was on the laptop downstairs and I wasn’t about to have an interaction with him to retrieve it from him, so I had to muddle through posting from my iPhone. I didn’t show up for my journal writing practice.  I didn’t show up for my evening meditation practice.  I just went the hell to bed.

This morning I was hoping that I would be in a softer, more forgiving place, but none such thing happened.  As I awoke I felt the same seductive pull of my anger and my resentment, the same self-righteous indignation that was burning through me the night before. Great.  I went ahead and sat for my thirty minute morning meditation, I got breakfast started, made myself coffee.  The kids woke up just as I was getting breakfast on the table. I helped them through a smooth morning routine, and when my husband awoke they were nearly ready to leave for school.  I got his breakfast started for him too, in spite of the fact that I would not, could not look him in the face.  He said something about discussing last night, and I said, “If it’s going to be you justifying your disappointment and reiterating how I didn’t fulfill my responsibility, then I’m not interested.”  He said, “So you’re okay with holding on to all of this?”  I said, “I’d rather us not talk right now than me get angry all over again because you can’t understand what I’m feeling and where I’m coming from.”  This was a clear invitation for some empathy from him, but it went right over his head, because he was caught in his own beliefs about the event, so he shrugged and sauntered off to get ready for work while I was left to clean up smears of cream cheese from the breakfast table.

I played with the kids while the husband was in the shower.  Then I brushed their teeth and their hair, got their coats and back packs ready, helped them with their socks and shoes, and got them out the door with my husband–and felt a sense of relief when he was gone.  Now I’m hiding from my mother in my bedroom.  I still don’t want to talk to her either.

And I’m writing about all of this because it is therapeutic.  I’m not quite ready for the yogic phase of this experience, in which I take ownership for all of my crappy feelings and muster empathy for my husband and my traitor of a mother, and then tell them how much I appreciate them and care about them, and apologize for my reactivity. Maybe later.  For now, I’m going to wallow in my PMS hell, and allow myself to be seduced by my anger and resentment for a while longer.  Perhaps my feelings will have something to tell me, if I take the time to listen.

Rain School

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Almost one month of daily posts under my belt, and I’m noticing several big recurring themes:  1)The Loud Voice of the Inner Critic, 2)The Importance of Creating Anyway, 3)My Moodswings (sometimes they just get the best of me and there’s nothing much I can do about them).

Today’s post is about number 3. I’m guessing I’ll be revisiting this theme very often in the coming months–at least one time per month.  It will be a cyclically recurring theme, because monthly fluctuations of hormones are cyclical. Today, my hormones have flooded my system with the biggest baddest rage I’ve ever known. Blind rage. So blind, in fact, that I ran a red light when I was driving myself and my kids back from lunch with my mom.

January is one of those long months, so I’ve had the dubious opportunity to revisit pre-menstrual hell two times–it’s just the way the cookie crumbled this time around. Even though I know what it is, I feel powerless to change or shift what is happening. It is a dark, scary, overwhelming place to be. I’m less patient with my kids and more reactive; I end up feeling really guilty and regretful for snapping at them, and the voice that tells me “You are the worst mother in the world” just might be telling me the truth.

I saw my doctor this past month for a general check up and told her about the monthly moodswings. She’s from Eastern Europe (can’t remember which country right now) and speaks with an exotic accent. She basically told me, “Well, you know what it is, so you have to be strong and gain control of yourself. In the moment you want to snap or yell at your kids, just don’t do it.”

Obviously this woman has never had my version of PMS before. Because if she had, she would’ve been waaaaaaaaay more sympathetic. Just don’t snap? Just don’t yell? Like I have some control over what I’m doing? In the moment that the rage emerges, I experience being taken over by an entity that is far more powerful than I, full of fire, hatred, teeth grinding, spitting fury. Who is this creature?

Like a wave, the powerful surge of anger crests and then recedes. And I’m left feeling guilty, hopeless, helpless, full of despair, depressed.

And then there’s the weepiness. I read a sweet story to my daughter this morning; a book called Rain Schoolset in the African country of Chad, told from the point of view of a little boy named Thomas. When the children arrive on the first day of school, there is no school building. The teacher tells them, “We will build our school. This is your first lesson.” As I’m reading this to my daughter, I get all choked up and began to cry. I’m barely getting the words out. My daughter is so absorbed in the bright, colorful drawings that she doesn’t notice her mother is losing it. I get myself together enough to keep reading, although my voice is unsteady as I choke out words describing these children fashioning walls and desks from sun baked mud bricks, and roofs from saplings and thatch.

And here is what is going on in my mind as I’m reading about these African children building their school: We are so privileged here in the west. We have school buildings, already made. We have desks and chairs and chalkboards, and text books, and state certified teachers. We have air-conditioning and heating and refrigeration and running water. We have TV’s and microwave ovens, radio, mobile phones, iPads, grocery stores, fashionable clothes, all wheel drive vehicles…and yet…we are miserable. These children put their hands in the earth and celebrate a school taking shape before their eyes. They are hungry to learn, and they take nothing for granted.

The school year ends for the children just as the big rains arrive, and in the deluge, the mud of the school’s walls begins to soften and slump. The school disappears back into the earth, waiting to be built when the children arrive on the first day of the next school year. Yes, nearly choking, trying to finish reading the story to my daughter. I wish I could’ve let myself cry, maybe I wouldn’t have felt so frustrated and ready to bark later when I was trying to get the kids out the door for lunch with my mom.

So there you go. I’m a mess. I’m thinking a friend would help, but I don’t have any friends readily available. I’m thinking a hot bath might save me, now that I have the kids in bed and have some time to myself. I guess writing about it is empowering in some way, at least I’m able to halfway express what is eating me alive.

I was going to title this post “Enraged and Powerless,” but maybe enraged and powerless is not quite accurate…maybe I’m more enraged and trying to claw my way out of a huge hole from which I have little hope of escape…There’s at least a shred of hope there, and as I’ve mentioned before, just a little hope is all I really need.  Hope, and some rain to melt away the hard baked mud, so that I may slump into the earth and wait for the right time to be rebuilt.

Mood Swing Monster

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Today I am a victim of fluctuating hormones. I feel trapped in a prison of rage. I am uncontrollably reactive, and explode angrily when my kids are messy, whiny, and needy–which appears to be all of the time, from my perspective, on this particular day. Immediately after I snap at my kids for doing normal kid things, I feel remorseful and ashamed, and inwardly beat myself up for not being more patient, kind, and loving, for not setting a better example. I am exhausted, overwhelmed, overworked, and I feel awfully alone. I have terrible PMS.

Why does it have to be this bad?

This is a perfect moment to look to yoga for some answers. These struggles inside my own mind can be met with some consciousness.  Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind, bringing it to stillness so that one can experience one’s own aliveness. With the kids down for nap, I have a moment–just one tiny moment–to be still, breathe, and think.

This isn’t so bad. This day will get better.

I’m not the demonic mother I thought I was fifteen minutes ago when I got angry at my daughter for not cleaning up her Fiddlesticks and stuffed animals. Maybe I haven’t ruined her self-esteem and her trust for the rest of her life. Maybe she will turn out okay in spite of my explosive anger.

Should I take medicine? Is this normal? Is my behavior harmful to my children?

Breathe. Just breathe. Just breathe. This will get better. Be patient with yourself, and with life.

I’m going to lie down now and give myself some much needed rest–if my daughter stays in her room and lets me have some time for myself. My kitty has slumped all of her weight against me and is purring like mad. Cats are the ultimate yogis; present, observant, enjoying the comfort that is there, they appear so regal and centered and content.

I want to be more like my cat.