Sunday, June 24, 2018

Question for big families...

So apparently we really doing this moving thing and we went from "yeah, maybe. Let's make some calls" to "We'd like to show your house next week" really fucking fast. In the middle, we've looked at a few houses including one that I love an awful lot. EXCEPT, it only has three bedrooms. For those of you keeping score at home, that's one less than we have now, and the girls already share a room. I'd really love for them not to have to do that anymore. I'm willing to forgo a guest room and force one of my kids to keep their room semi-presentable (probably Syd if we're honest because I would never make a guest sleep in a teenage boy's bed and Averson has a lot of crap) but I don't know that I could do that PLUS have the girls bunked together. There is a possibility that we could build a fourth bedroom, but it would be smallish and would take away from the master.

Also, getting ready to show your house is a shit show. We want to move because we have too much crap and nowhere to put it. Now I have to put it somewhere so our house looks like we have not enough stuff and too many places to store it. Also, I have to scrub my tub and it's giving me anxiety already because I'm not actually a great housekeeper... 

So for those of you in the interwebs with more than two kids and what I consider to be a normal amount of "stuff": What's your set-up? Ideally we'd get a 5 bedroom, but there is a huge difference in price and style when you go from 4 bedroom (normal people houses in normal people price ranges) to 5 bedroom (I'd basically have to win the lottery and love marble a lot more than I do).

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

my life in a soundbite

“You just swore! In church! To the youth pastor!”

And this, Ladies and Gentleman, is the story of my life.

Friday, June 15, 2018

A thank you before we return to our regularly scheduled ridiculousness

Thank you. Thank you for reading and for sharing and for being a part of this silly blog that I love so much. Thank you for all of your kind and understanding words on my last post. I told my therapist this week that I feel like I've turned a corner, one that I wasn't sure I'd ever see, and I have to believe that a big part of that was finally writing and publishing the words. After my dad died, I pretty strongly resisted using the word "suicide." If I did tell people what happened, it was accompanied by a long explanation about why his death was different from a "regular suicide" (whatever that is) and for people that I didn't tell, I called it an accident. I was angry that I didn't get the more socially acceptable experience of losing my parent to a heart attack or cancer. OMG. I sound like such a jerk when I say that out loud. I'm a shrink and I had so many feelings about losing someone to mental health and then having a hard time managing that. 

As soon as I published it, the feeling of holding back the dam went away. I slept better and I stopped flipping out for no reason (or at least not as often or as dramatically.) I've told friends what happened, without giving all the shocking or explanatory details.  I've been cursing Kubler-Ross and her stupid stages of grief for months, but damn. She might be on to something. The circumstances around his death meant that there wasn't much room for denial, but good lord I made up for it in anger. I'm not entirely not angry, but it is SO much better. I don't fear for people's safety and I haven't gone off on a stranger in weeks. I think C is breathing a bit easier as well. 

I don't love therapy. Every week I try to talk myself out of going. I love being a shrink because I get to be the listener. It doesn't come naturally to me to spend an hour talking about myself and scratching below sarcasm and gallows humor. But man, it's helped a lot. Sometimes it's the space to have feelings, where I don't have to mitigate them because my kids are around or I need to go to the grocery store or whatever it is. Sometimes it's to sit and talk through some benign issue that I can't figure out because decisions can be hard these days. And my going has made it easier for the kids too. Eli asked if he could start therapy and we've found him an amazing therapist that really seems to speak his language. 

As I'm heading into Father's Day weekend, I think I'm going to be okay. For anyone out there that's lost their dad, or who is struggling for other reasons, I think we're going to be okay. I'm trying to intentionally send out love and kindness into the world, so please know that I'm rooting for us all. 

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Thoughts on suicide

Two days ago the news broke that Kate Spade had killed herself. Since then, I’ve been flooded with people online and in person talking about how “I guess money can’t buy happiness” and “you never know how people are really feeling” and “she hid her pain so well.” News reports are suggesting marital problems, identity issues, depression. And all of those things might be true. But here’s the thing. They might not be either. I think that we, even professionals in the field, have this idea that people who commit suicide live in a deep pit of sadness. That they are long-suffering, lonely, and despondent. We plead for them to “reach out” and ask for help. We advertise the hotlines and our kitchen tables, where there’s always a warm cup of tea and a friendly ear. Again, those things are great and I would never argue that there aren’t millions of people who have been helped by the suicide hotlines and caring loved ones. On the other hand though, sometimes suicidal people aren’t sad or lonely. Sometimes love and friendship aren’t the cure.

Four months ago, my father died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He wasn’t sad or lonely. For the month before his death he had been stressed out about his job and his finances. He hadn’t been sleeping. He wasn’t long suffering and he wasn’t alone. He had been seeing a therapist and a physician, who prescribed him a medication to try to help him sleep. He was with his wife nearly 24 hours a day. He’d been in regular contact with all of us. From what I can piece together though, in the days before he died he lost touch with reality and started to believe things that weren’t true or logical. Sleep deprivation can cause psychosis and it seems like he started to get paranoid beyond reasoning.
He had access to help lines. He was seeing a therapist. All of us were in contact with him and he knew how much we loved him. He was invested in his family and his grandkids. In clinical terms, he was “future oriented.” He didn’t write eloquent notes or give away his belongings. We had NO idea that this was something he was capable of, to the point that when the police informed me of what had happened (via Facetime, thank you technology), my first response was “Are you sure?”

My dad was a writer. Not an author, but he wrote things down and he kept them. After he died I went through thousands of pieces of paper. After death there is no privacy. Most of it was mundane, but some of it was difficult to read. My father was human, no doubt. But even in those personal pages that he never intended to be seen by anyone else, there was no sadness, no desperation. No evidence of a slow-burning depression that none of us noticed.

I think what I’m trying to say is this. We need to continue to encourage people to be kind. To love each other and to reach out to each other. Suicide hotlines are an incredible resource for a lot of people. Our country still has work to do on de-stigmatizing mental illness. But we also need to acknowledge that sometimes, those things wouldn’t have helped. Kate Spade’s family and friends may be just as shocked as we were that this happened, and the suggestion that a cup of tea or the help line phone number could have prevented this tragedy minimizes the devastation that they’re going through. It suggests that had they been better, more loving, more attentive, this might have ended differently.

If you are feeling suicidal, please do reach out. Tell someone. And if they don’t listen, tell someone else. Call 1-800-273-8255. My dad, ironically now, always said that suicide was a permanent solution to a temporary problem and that it causes so much more pain then it resolves. If you feel like your loved one is in danger, do something. Reach out. Reach out again. Talk to them. Tell them you love them. Call 911. But know too that sometimes you can’t see it coming. If you know someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, and you probably do, please be conscious that well-intentioned Facebook memes suggesting cups of tea or hotlines may be helpful, but they may also implicitly suggest that the friends and family didn’t do enough or that they could have done more.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Love the one you're with?

In typical Chiconky Family fashion, we bought the first house we looked at (we looked at others, but we bought the first one.) With a 7 year old, a 4 year old, and a 6 month old, plus an elderly dog who took up almost no space or energy, the huge yard and two living rooms seemed perfect. Perfect enough that I could overlook the lack of a garage or realistic closet. It even had a mother-in-law suite for my parents, should they decide to move in with us. Fast forward five years and all of my people have gotten exponentially bigger, as has their stuff. We said goodbye to one low-key dog and brought home the two hellbeasts. Eli's sweet tiny room now is more Lilliputian than cozy. Sydney is losing her everloving mind trying to share a room with her sister. And damnit. I'm tired of having to purge my closets on a monthly basis because I don't have space for more than six pairs of pants. We currently have THREE IKEA dressers lined up in a row in our bedroom to try to compensate for the lack of a grown-up  closet. Our Christmas decorations reside under the couch in the playroom, which means that they are constantly getting pulled out, even in the heat of summer. I'm really, really tired of re-packing stockings.

The house has other issues. The only thing I didn't want in our house hunt was a galley kitchen, so of course it has a galley kitchen. The entry way is weird and results in this awkward waltz whenever you try to let anyone in. The biggest bedroom we have is 12 x 12. I have to share a bathroom with my entire family and they're  all bigger and smellier than they used to be. And there's no fucking garage, which means that anytime we're working on a project (which is always) C's tools are EVERYWHERE. Namely my kitchen table. *
Our weird entryway. Syd for scale. 

And that's not even bringing in to the equation the shitshow that is my neighbors. I'm 99% certain they're running a 24/hour (or really just middle of the night) mechanic's shop in the driveway. Shit you not, they have a tow truck drop off a car in the middle of the night at least once a week. Yesterday I had to help push a woman's car off my front lawn because she doesn't have reverse and "thought she could make it."

BUT. Our mortgage is stupidly affordable and we aren't the greatest with a tight budget. We refinished the original floors ourselves, with a baby strapped to my back. Our sweet next door neighbors love us. They let us have free access to their pool. Our yard is awesome and we've put a lot of work into it. Houses are expensive. Moving sucks monkey ass. And it hasn't gone unnoticed by me that I tend to deal with hard feelings (i.e. my dad died and it still sucks) by making large life choices or getting tattoos. And I don't have a good tattoo idea right now.

In black and white, it does seem like moving is not the most irrational idea I've had this week. Both C and I are certain that this is not our "grow old" house. So then, why is it so hard to actually set the pieces in motion? I've drafted a casual, test the waters e-mail to our realtor three times but never push send. Similarly though, I haven't called the contractor I found to ask about remodeling the kitchen.

I need someone to come adult for me. Do we stay? Or do we move into a bigger, better, more expensive house now that we're wiser and less impulsive (HA!)?

*I know. This is the epitome of first world problems.