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Tena's Therapy
nuerosis, mothering, living
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Somewhere I lost my way.

This is not about anyone but me.

No accusations, no blame.

But a journey is ahead.  A journey back to me.  A place that has faded to a lifeless spot on the horizon.

I am exhausted.  Predicting, anticipating, reacting, staying a step ahead. The game is over. I regret having played my part. It seemed the simpler route. But now I know better. I know I’m doing no wrong, not causing harm, trying desperately to reclaim me. It’s bigger than it seems. Its weight is overbearing and crippling. The tears, the fear of misstep, the backtracking, the fallout; it’s brutal and stifling.

I need to get my power back. My light is too dim. I can’t distinguish between day and night anymore.

I’m too tired to care about the wrong things anymore. That was never me. My strength has been used to quell situations and please others. The redirection came with a price.  It’s a sobering thought, but one I must face before I lose all grasp of my foundation.

I am done feeling silenced, censored, inadequate or inappropriate. I am smart and sensible and I need to be confident in that again. No more second guessing.

I can’t be a pawn anymore. I won’t be. I’m moving beyond that. I’ve let it work for too long. Thinking foolishly that it was the lesser of evils. Avoiding conflict, catering to everyone else’s needs, and being left behind.

I’m scared of what’s ahead. Will I be accepted? Or will I be judged and made to feel guilty about who I am or what I think and do? Condemned for not fitting an expectation.

I can’t worry about that.

This is too big, far too important.

My IUD May Cause Fruit Flies

About three months ago, I had an IUD put in. Mirena to be specific. My doctor had always tried to convince me to get it and I was stupid, lazy, or whatever the reason (and yes, I will admit to being both), I kept refusing.

I have never been on birth control. Five children. Yeah, it’s a brain teaser, I know. However, knowing me and where I’m at in my life, I knew that I could not let it happen again. I barely survived this last round of little person growing inside me.My husband is still gets phantom pains and is insistent that he is not yet fully healed from his gall bladder surgery from 5 years ago and is too delicate a flower to have his parts snipped. Hormones and chemicals in my body never really dawned on me. No more pregnancies and babies? I was in.

So, I finally returned to my OBGYN and agreed. He gave me the rundown of the details, side effects, and costs. I was warned I could spot for as many as 2 months (which I did) and told that 75% of women don’t get their period again, I was giddy with that prospect.

Seemed pretty clear and fairly simple. I’m superficial so the only question I had was would it make me gain weight. He condescendingly explained that if I gained weight, I was eating too much and not moving enough. I called him a smart ass, but I trust him since he’s been all up in there several times, pulling out kids, placentas and whatnot (don’t worry, I don’t think any whatnots have ever come out.)

He mentioned nothing about it hurting like a mofo going in, which it did. So when I got home from the appointment and was writhing with early labor pain like cramps (another detail he conveniently left out), I was convinced something had gone terribly wrong.

Like any rational woman with a computer, I went to the Internet to research what I had just had inserted in me.  Pro-tip: don’t do this after having had some pronged contraption plucked into your cervix. Maybe not even before, because then, there’s no way you’ll end going through with it. So, pro-tip updated: don’t ever google what could go wrong with Mirena.

Here I was with this thing that is supposed to be a resident inside my body for the next FIVE years and I’m reading about weight gain (which was a real game changer), mood swings (I mean, really, show of hands, who thinks I need those?), and not just acne, CYSTIC ACNE. It sounds so dire like meteor sized green lumps growing out of my skin.

Now in fairness, I had heard of horror stories of IUDs redirecting their location, if you will, and exiting out the wrong hole. Yeah. I don’t even know if that’s possible, like if these are one way streets or not, but it seemed out there and after my doctor assured me that out of the 1000 he had done, only 1 ended in a pregnancy, and 3 decided to remove them for minor reasons, everyone else was happy, my chances seemed pretty good and I chalked those stories up to urban myth. It’s better than the alternative of believing them and talk myself into fucked up things happening to ME too! Like when I was 13 and convinced a family of spiders were living in my head from having crawled in my ear during my sleep, since it happened to my friend’s cousin’s neighbor’s best friend, and all.

Instead of freaking out at the stuff I read, I decided to try and be reasonable and wait and see if there is reason for panic.

So here we are, being all reasonable and have this thing in me now for three months. I haven’t gained weight, haven’t threatened to kill people any more than normal and I have no huge pustules blooming on my skin, so it seemed I had worried about nothing.

But wait. While I’m researching getting rid of these pesky sunspots that I’ve been dealing with that Dr. Google has diagnosed as Melasma, I find a possible connection. OY. But the Mirena has no estrogen and that is what usually causes skin concerns in birth control.  Now I’m royally confused. Is my splotchy skin because of the IUD? And not just from being old and loving tanning beds in the 80s?

I have no answers. If you do, I would love to hear them, but beware, please only give me suggestions for my skin. If you tell me the Mirena is the equivalent to sticking the devil’s pitchfork in my hooha and that I am likely poisoning my body with horrid chemicals, which could well be, I will allow you to take care of my kids with my husband home (that’s part of the test, not help, I assure you) for two days and tell me that it’s not worth it.

In the meantime, I have tried a few home remedies. I have done a brown sugar and lemon scrub. Followed by a shredded cucumber mask. I have done a vinegar wash. I have rubbed potato juice on my face and squeezed lime on afterwards. My bathroom looks like a culinary school. My face has had more carbs this week than I have. And I have a fruit fly problem.



Sized Up

Until I had kids, my weight was probably the furthest thing from my mind. Unless, we’re talking about wanting to gain weight. I was embarrassed when people would ask me if I ate. I did. I ate a lot of really crappy food, sometimes in front of them just to prove that that’s just the way my body was.

I was often teased for being too skinny. It was normal for people to whisper assumptive eating disorder rumors as I walked by. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. Thanks to my mom’s genes, the bad eating habits she taught me simply never caught up with me.

Until I was 23 and pregnant for the first time, I never weighed over 104lbs. My diet was horrible: sweets, pasta, bread, and I hated vegetables or basically anything with nutritional value.

I never had to ask if something made me look fat. The question never even entered my mind. I could walk into any store and pretty much anything off of the rack would fit me and fit me correctly, assuming the smallest size was available.

I remember going out with friends and the torment and anguish that came over them while trying to find something to wear.  ”Which one makes me look skinnier?”, they’d ask. I wasn’t sparing their feelings when I told them that they all looked good. I ,truly, couldn’t tell a difference. I always thought they looked the same, and great! I never had to look in the mirror with a discerning, critical eye and could not comprehend why they felt the need to.

Putting on a swimsuit, I learned, was basically considered a form of medieval torture. We had a pool and my friends would wear t-shirts and shorts over their suits, scrambling to disrobe only until the second they were about to get in the water. Some friends would opt out of coming to my house at all when it became known that we would be swimming.

As for me, swimsuits never caused me any anxiety. My biggest concern was if someone else would have the same suit as me or if I remembered to shave my legs.  During the summers, I lived in my suits. I was actually comfortable in them. I even went to a tattoo parlor directly after swimming to get my first tattoo on my hip while wearing one. I’d wear them all day: skimpy, revealing, and not think twice.

I'd even eat birthday cake in a skimpy bikini- no shame, I tell ya! Rockin' 1989 style with a boom box, big hair and a tan.

Oh, how times have changed.

How ever lucky I was to have a fast metabolism from my mom’s side, it seemed the genetic pool on my dad’s side wasn’t quite as forgiving and kicked in once your uterus housed a fetus. I’d seen it happen to my aunts. They went from being relatively thin to carrying weight in totally different ways. Their bodies completely changed forever. Suddenly they had boobs and hips that weren’t they before.

And I would be fortunate enough to join their club.

Five kids and an **ahem**unspecified number **ahem**  of lbs later and I am still adjusting to my “new” body, my ever changing shape and my curves. Trying to find the right fit for me. I finally get it.

I finally understand the apprehension and anxiety of dressing a real woman’s body, one that doesn’t fit the mold of a mannequin. Wanting to go back in time and apologetically hug each one of my friends that had to struggle with this all along and reiterate with more passion how great they look.  Reassure them that they’re being too hard on themselves.

I get the distress that they felt and how disparaging they were on themselves for not fitting an expected image. I get it all now. And with regular clothes, it’s bad enough, but swimsuits- you take away the security of the coverage of fabric and the inability to wear Spanx and you’re looking at a red level alert, fetal position, rocking on the floor of a fitting room breakdown while cursing bulges and cellulite.

And it’s not OK.

Last year, I displayed a picture of me in my swimsuit for all of the Internet to see. It was hard, I’m not gonna lie. Boasting “swimsuit confidence” when I was painfully uncomfortable exposing myself and didn’t particularly like the way I looked, felt rather hypocritical.

I avoided situations where I had to wear a suit. I made excuses. I missed out on things all because of an expectation that I had. A need to look a certain way, to look like I used to.

Then I remembered all of my friends. My friends that looked normal and healthy, but were self conscious since they didn’t look the way a magazine told them they should. I wondered if they would have done anything differently if they felt better about the way they looked, in a suit, and otherwise. If different sizes and shapes were more acceptable, would they have been so hard on themselves?

I have three daughters and I want them to live life to the fullest whether they are a size 2, 12, or 20. I want them to love themselves no matter their size.  I don’t ever want them to shed tears in a fitting room. If they see me holding back on living since I’m a different size than I was 17 years ago, I’ve sent the wrong message.

This week is swimsuit confidence week.  Lands’ End,  SELF Magazine, and Curvy Girl Guide  want to continue sending the right message.




Being A Mom to a Boy

The other night my husband went out with an old friend he hadn’t seen in a while. Upon his return, I asked how his wife and their kids (they have 3 sons 19,20, and 23) were doing since it had been a few years since we had all gotten together.

Last I heard, the oldest had a girlfriend that was pregnant. Part of me reacted the way I would have if it were my own 20 year old, unmarried son getting a girl knocked up. But they seemed, for lack of a better word, excited. I can’t lie, I was a little puzzled.

Then a memory of all of our boys playing together when they were young came rushing back. They were on a swing set. My son was five and theirs were slightly older at 7,8, and 11.  The older kids hoisted my son up on a trapeze of sorts and started swinging him really high. I remember being sort of jumpy and distracted, watching from a distance, but their mom kept telling her story and filling my wine glass, completely unfazed by the stunts that were normal for her kids. I didn’t want to appear uptight and my son seemed to be enjoying himself, so I reacted accordingly to her story with laughs, but, peripherally, my focus was on the kids while my mind was anxiously playing out worst case scenarios.

She pulled me into the kitchen to show me a paint color and as soon as the kids were out of my view, it happened. I heard a thud. Next thing I saw was my husband frantically carrying in my son, crying and covered in bloody mud all over his face. I rushed him to the bathroom and washed him off to find that the source of the blood was his nose and a huge gash on his lip.  Life threatening? No. Not even a visit to the emergency room worthy, however, he was bloody and scared and five.

The mom shrugged me off when I asked for a washcloth to hold on his wounds to stop the bleeding, shooed her hand at me, “Meh, it’s nothing. You’ll see much worse that that! You should have seen when Michael broke his arm in three places and bones were sticking out of his skin.”

But this was my son and if I could AVOID shit like this, that was what I understood to be my job. It was not to just throw my hands up in the air when he did something dangerous or stupid and chalk it up to “boys will be boys”! Sure he’ll make mistakes, but I do not plan to sit by and encourage him making stupid choices, because, that’s just kids for ya! And I hope that I have armed him with sense to take the right paths, choose good friends, and be a decent person. But when those mistakes happen, I hope that he learn from them and not let it happen again.

Everyone has their own ways of parenting. It’s right FOR THEM. There is not enough Xanax and Prozac IN THE WORLD for me to be as laid back of a parent as our friends are. It works for them, that’s fine. FOR THEM.

So back to the other night and the update about our friends. The  19-year-old, now, has a baby. The 20-year -old, now, has a baby and the 23-year- old, now, has two kids. None of them are married and the boys still all live at home.

Shocked doesn’t even begin to explain what I felt. I had so many questions (of course, none that my husband got answers to!) But then, I started panicking. I had a 17-year- old sleeping in his room, we’ve had the “sex talk”, but what does that mean, really? It was a while ago and I’m CERTAIN he wasn’t having sex then, so he did everything to avoid eye contact with me and let me get through it. He doesn’t listen to me when I tell him to put his shoes away, so what makes me think he will refer to a very uncomfortable conversation that we had where I repeatedly referred to his penis staying in his pants because babies are expensive.

I was freaking out. Our friends were grandparents FOUR times over. Sure, they parented a little less hands on than was my style, but still, they were our age. They loved their kids. Their kids are exposed to the same media and societal temptations as mine are.

I immediately ran down to my son’s room at 11:30pm and woke him up. “I just need to talk real quick,”  I said as I tripped over shoes and empty cups. “I know this is weird, but are you having sex?”

Apparently, 17 -year- old boys frown on being woken up in the middle of the night to be asked about their sexual activity by their moms. Who knew?

His answer that it was “none of my business”, made me as close to swallowing my own tongue as I think I have ever been. NOT the answer I was looking for. But I had to bite the bullet. I was having sex by his age. And this is that fucking regret that I had heard about when I was young, stupid and horny. Well played, Universe.

I surrendered and told him about our friends’ kids and basically begged him to not be stupid and not use protection. He rolled his eyes and rolled over, back to sleep. I didn’t care because I got it out, I told him what I needed him to know and a load had been lifted.

The next day I saw him, I had a sneaking suspicion that he may have still been sleeping during the wisdom that was dished out the night before. I asked him if he remembered our talk. I got a blank stare. If he remembered, he would have rolled his eyes, but nothing. Just like that, the OHMYGODIWILLBEAGRANDMA load was put back on.

This was wisdom that he needed to have, but needed to not see my face while doling it out.

I opted for this…