So much going on!

So much going on I have neglected my writing therapy here!

There’s some new obstacles to deal with. After almost a year of my attorney working on my divorce, suddenly my ex finally decides to hire his own attorney, therefore starting the process over again…

Up side the ex has taken a greater interest of being a part of his is daughters life. He takes her for a day every week and she stayed overnight for the first time this weekend. Yay for developing a relationship finally!

Bonus, on the days he takes her, I can finally go back to the gym and start running again. Running has always been a great stress reliever for me, but I can’t run outside with my daughter in these sub-zero temperatures.

I got two small tailoring jobs recently. A simple hemming of a wedding dress and an 18th century workman’s jacket. The jacket is still a work in progress, but I just finished draping the pattern and fitting it to my client. So it’s not much, but there’s some money coming in.

Money….the other obstacle. Until recently I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it into the field this summer because of money problems. Tickets to Ireland are still pretty high. My advisors grant is up this summer and she had told me that there might not be money to pay for our airfare. Normally I only have to pay for my daughters airfare, which is had enough. However, I met with my advisor the other day and she can pay for my airfare. Yay! I do not and will not have the money for for my daughters airfare, so, now I have 2 months to arrange childcare for 6 weeks…daunting task. This is our last year in Ireland and academically I can’t not go this summer as much as I don’t want to be separated for that long. Oh the troubles of grad school mommies.

Now on to grad school. Here’s where there’s been serious progress. FINALLY! As previously mentioned, I met with my advisor. With minimal changes to my dissertation proposal (seriously minimal, we’re talking a handful of single words) as of today it’s being forwarded to my committee and I can finally take my advanced exams this month! After that it’s just writing my dissertation. Second, I’m presenting at another conference in Toronto this month and next month I’m co-authoring a paper for the SAAs in Austin with my advisor on managing grad school and motherhood. I’ll post my write up on my experiences with motherhood and grad school at a later time. Progess!

I even found time recently for one of my hobbies, painting! I haven’t been able to paint in years! I took a quick photo of my watercolor. This is a view from Navan Fort aka Emain Macha in County Armagh, Northern Ireland.

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Depression – Single Momhood

Normally I would post another meditative excerpt from Meditations For Women Who Do Too Much, but today I was inspired to look into some help for the depression that is experienced by divorced single moms who have to regularly deal with their ex. This was in response to a rather poor visit from mine this morning when he picked up his daughter. Suddenly he has decided to be a part of her life and has been taking her on a weekly basis. Hurray for her, her Daddy is finally waking up and taking responsibility, but on the other hand its very difficult on me and the hardest part of that is not letting it effect her. Luckily she’s young enough that we can have a conversation in front of her as long as we both keep our cool…easier said than done, but I think I managed this morning. When there’s an issue to deal with and he sees that someone else is home with me, he tries to insist that I call him about it later so that 1) he can just ignore the call and not talk about it or 2) won’t have any witnesses to the conversation so he can say and do whatever he wants to me. I thought I was working through all this, moving on, but these weekly visits are just showing me that I still have no control over my own feelings and he still has a lot of power over me. He’s very adept at making me feel guilty for things that I have no reason to feel guilty over. I go from wanting to scream to just wanting to curl up into a ball and cry. It’s a hard spot to get our of, but I find writing about it here therapeutic even if no one reads it. I get it out of my system.

In an article on depression and single parents single parent families are 90% single moms and of those 40% are suffering from depression. “They very often neglect their own needs as they toil to provide for their children alone, and this can affect both physical and mental health.” (Dr. Wendy O’Conner). They recommend the following to help with the self-esteem and depression issues:

  • swallow your pride and ask for any help you can get – even if its just for a peaceful hour in the tub
  • stop criticizing yourself; you are human not a super hero
  • use quick stress relievers: 10 minutes in a hot shower, deep breathing, 10 minutes of yoga asana’s with the door closed, a five minute phone call with your best friend, a take-out dinner now and then
  • organize your daily routines and keep them as ritual
  • get rid of clutter and keep it that way
  • let your children be independent and help out
  • get financial advice
  • join a single parents support group

So which of these have I used so far? Living with my family I do get help that a lot of single moms don’t. It’s still hard to ask them to watch her though so I can do something, but I’m getting better at it. I regards to criticizing myself, well I was far too good at that myself previously and then 4 years now of having someone else criticize me that’s a hard one to deal with. Everyone is their own worst critic, but I am trying. The quick stress relievers: I started doing yoga everyday after Christmas and it makes a world of difference. I decided, not as a New Year’s resolution per se, but just as a promise to myself, that while my daughter is my world, I cannot take care of her if I don’t take care of myself. So I decided I was going to strive to do at least 15 minutes of yoga, everyday and I was going to get healthy. It’s not about losing weight, while that is part of my becoming healthy, its about eating right, decreasing my stress and being the best I can be. So I have nutritionally balanced smoothies for breakfast and lunch and then a nice dinner with the family. The stress was really hurting me because I have been accomplishing this for about a week and a half now and have lost 9 pounds without even trying. I have found balance. My daily routines have been a ritual for a long time and I’m de-cluttering as much as a can, being that it is my parents house. My daughter gets to help whenever she can (she is only 3 after all) and she loves doing it. I am currently looking in to single parent groups in my area and that’s a big step for me. I’m not very good at meeting new people and sharing (one of the things I’m addressing by writing this blog).

So now I’ve selected a couple of highly recommended books for women in my situation and continue on the road to recovery. I know there will be some backtracking, but I am ready to move on. This is something I’m going to have to deal with for the rest of my life, I have a child with him. It’s time to learn how to deal so that my life is balanced and healthy and after writing this, maybe things aren’t as bad as they seemed this morning after all.

Self-Deception/Illusions

“We live in a system built on illusions and when we put forth our own perceptions, we’re told we don’t understand reality. When reality illusion and illusion is reality,  it’s no wonder we feel crazy.” – Anne Wilson Schaef

“The choice to deceive ourselves is ours” is the last sentence of the meditation entry for today in Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much. Speaks volumes. The concept of the world being built of our own illusions is actually something we are taught rather early on when you’re studying Anthropology and Archaeology. One of the difficulties in both these disciplines is objectivity and removing oneself from our own cultural viewpoints in order to understand others. It’s a difficult task to accomplish. Now the author is saying that we try to live in illusions within our own culture: illusions of control, illusions of perfectionism, illusions of objectivity. Objectivity in it’s true sense is unattainable. We can never truly remove ourselves from our own culture and our own lives. It’s a complex subject that I honestly do  not want to get into. We harm ourselves and deceive ourselves by trying to live in the illusion that we have complete control, that we can achieve perfectionism and objectivity. Each person has their own criteria as to what is perfect and what is the definition of control. The world is how we perceive it.

And we’re back at perception. Perception comes at many scales. Perception of a culture; perception of a group; perception of a family; perception of the individual. As an optimist in a house of pessimists and a realist (my brother insists he’s a realist), I have a completely different perception on life. I know I have control over very little except what I put in my body and how I take care of myself. I can try as hard as I like to control other things, but I can’t and that’s OK. I refuse to fool myself into thinking I can control more because reality can then be a very depressing place.

The illusion of perfection I think needs a little elaboration. I think it’s perfectly fine to imagine what would be perfect. But make your idea of perfection attainable. Keep it simple and don’t let anyone else’s ideals change your mind. We’re still struggling and causing great harm to all generations with our cultures current perception of physical perfection and beauty. I don’t fall into that pit and I sincerely hope I can raise my daughter the same way. I love that there are those like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Winslet that are standing their ground and speaking out against the issues at hand. The problem with the illusion of perfection is not believing and imagining something as perfect, but being realistic in your criteria. Everything is perfect in it’s own way. See the perfection in everything.

The key is realizing when your “illusion” is out of control and doing more harm than good. The illusions that you strive for and live for need to lead to happiness and contentment, not be so difficult to attain that they cause depression, sadness and loss. You shouldn’t have to work so hard to achieve and live within them. We need illusions in our lives; illusions are our dreams and without dreams there’s no hope.