Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Buzz Lightyear Effect

Is it me? I never used to have this problem, so I think it must be me... which is disconcerning in and of itself. And what is even more disconcerning is the fact that disconcerning is not even a word. The proper word is "disconcerting" and I somehow managed to get to 30 years old and I am only just now discovering I have been saying the word wrong for 30 years? Ok, to be fair I probably didn't talk much at just below one year old, didn't use words beyond one syllable anyhow. And it is even more disconcerting that saying a word incorrectly for 28 1/2 years, rather then 30 somehow makes me feel a little better....and yes I know what you were thinking. I was a very precocious 18 month old.

One answer I have discovered to my question:

"Just put this fish in your ear"

Now some of you are laughing because you already know exactly what I mean, and the other bit of you are probably fairly certain that I have truly gone over to the dark side. So I shall back up a bit - it is from a book...


'But I can't speak Vogon!'

'You don't need to. Just put this fish in your ear.'

Ford, with a lightning movement, clapped his hand to Arthur's ear, and he had the sudden sickening sensation of the fish slithering deep into his aural tract.  Gasping with horror he scrabbled at his ear for a second or so, but then slowly turned goggle-eyes with wonder.  He was experiencing the aural equivalent of looking a picture of two black silhouetted faces and suddenly seeing it as a picture of a white candlestick.  Or of looking at a lot of coloured dots on a piece of paper which suddenly resolve themselves into the figure six and mean that your optician is going to charge you a lot of money for a new pair of glasses.
He was still listening to the howling gargles, he knew that, only now it had somehow taken on the semblance of perfectly straighforward English."  - Douglas Adams (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) 

To me it looks like the dots have come back, even though everyone around me is still seeing the 6.  Perhaps I need new glasses?

Babel fish aside, I used to be good at communicating. I used to be really good at it. Good enough in fact that I majored in it in college, and did very well. I liked being able to make things clear that had otherwise been foggy. I used to enjoy taking a problem and breaking it down into steps and completing those steps. I used to be able to follow directions; when I called insurance companies with questions I was able to ask them clearly and I understood the answers without having to have them repeated to me over and over and over again. I was a high-school teacher for a while, and the kids got what I was saying, according to them, even more so at times then from other teachers - were they lying to me?  Well, they may have been...but that is beside the point.

A few years ago I could have conversations with friends and they understood my point, I could have a discussion with my husband and he understood my side, I could even answer my kids questions on God and philosophy and feel like they grasped something of what I was trying to say.

A few years ago I appeared intelligent while discussing politics or religion. I made people think about sides of subjects they had not thought of before. I had ideas, I had merit, I had qualifications. People came to me with questions and problems, knowing I would be willing to offer advice or ideas.

So why does it feel now, that I don't have any of that anymore? I will have an idea in my head and it comes out wrong, it comes out like I think others' ideas are wrong when I really don't. People are getting defensive, which makes me get defensive, which makes me frustrated because I think that they think I started this when I really really didn't. I am just confused as to why people are suddenly angry with me. I feel like Anne, trying to put the cow back, only to realize it is the wrong cow and now the mess is so much bigger, when all she was trying to do was desperately make it right again. I feel like a little kid, confused as to why I am getting yelled at and not knowing what I did or how to fix it. And the more I try to explain, the more I try to make myself clear, the worse it gets.

People don't ask for my help anymore, I know that I am overwhelmed by children and so sometimes it seems they are just trying to lighten my load, which I appreciate. But it means that nothing I do feels like it matters anymore outside of my four walls. My brain lives in the constant domestic fog of the housewife's equivalent of "lather, rinse, repeat." over and over and over again. So perhaps I am just out of practice talking to adults? I am used to the more one-sided conversations of me informing children of obligation or half listening to stories of butterflies and goblins while also taking care to not step on the screaming baby at my feet and trying to get lunch made in time. I have always been bad at waiting my turn in conversation, I think that comes from growing up in a family of 7. There is always noise so waiting until it is quiet to talk is ludicrous. But it means I interrupt too much, partially out of excitement that I have something intelligent to say...or I think so until I say it and then I realize I should have thought that one through a bit more. No wonder people lose patience with me.

I was cleaning a poopy cloth diaper out in the toilet the other day, spraying it clean again and realized suddenly that this was the most satisfaction I had gotten from a task in a long time. I was doing something that was difficult, and I was doing it well. And it had been so long since that part of my mind had been used that it felt like an old itch was being scratched, one I had forgotten was even there. And all I was doing was spraying poop off of a diaper...a new low, to be sure.

But you see, all those helpful people are right.  I can't take on anything else right now to scratch that itch because I really am overwhelmed by kids and house and laundry...oh so much laundry. And I truly want to be everything I can be in that role. So I am stuck, between intellectual stagnation and being a good mom...which makes the mommy guilt come out because does that mean I am not doing enough intellectually stimulating activities with my kids? But no...that is not it. We do things, but it stimulates them, not me. And I realize that this time will go fast and it will not always be this way...but then I feel as if I am not living in the moment again.

I want to go home.     

I know I am being cryptic, and I don't mean to be...but you see, there is no subject line. And even if there was, I am afraid I would have gotten it wrong again. Things are coming out gibberish without the fish. Or maybe it just sounds that way...I am not sure if I am the only one who has a fish or if mine is the only one that has been taken away. Or maybe I make the fish not work properly in other people, or mine is just sick and needs a vacation.

I am Mrs. Nesbit...and all the tea is gone. And I am not even drinking tea right now...

God, please help me through this time! I find myself saying that about 1000 times a day. "This too will pass" I chant desperately, but this is the wrong time in my life to be living to make time go faster. My baby girl is walking now, and I don't even hardly remember how it happened. My house is a mess and I have to cook dinner and my head hurts.

I used to joke that I had the attention span of my youngest child. That is why movies feel like too much of a commitment to me. Simple things, like a spider in a web completely fascinate me and I can't keep up with when the library books are due. Now apparently, I have lost my communication skills along with my attention capabilities. Perhaps all of my correspondence from now on should be in writing. I am better while writing. I can stop mid-sentence if I need to and think about how best to describe something. Or I can take whole entire paragraphs away if I decide that their tone was wrong or there were too many words. 

I feel like I never really recovered from my last pregnancy. Emotionally I was all over the map this last time,and I know all my thyroid issues have played a part in this as well. But how long can I hide behind a possible medical reason especially since my last test was "withing the realm of normal." I still don't feel normal. Is this the new normal that I just need to stop fighting and learn to live with? 

Perhaps this will not pass. If so, then have I wasted the last few months? I know I need to fix my attitude but I am not sure what direction it needs to go. Do I need to become more determined to win this? Who am I fighting? Why? Do I need to learn to let go and just be the person who I appear to have become to the best of my abilities, even though I don't like this person and I know my husband doesn't either. Is there a third option? Can there be please?

Damn it, the baby is awake. My window is closed. I got almost a whole cup of coffee down. My house is still a mess - but perhaps it is a good illustration for life right now.

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