Persephone: Parent

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CBT Session Five – “Sorry, Not Sorry” #PND

on February 17, 2016

Session 4 left me trying really hard to think about how I was thinking. To notice a hot thought and recognise that the thought was starting off a cycle (going into the 5 areas), and to then interrogate that thought to see if it was true, if my reactions were valid. It is an amazing process. In theory.

It’s not so easy in the moment, but I guess that’s the point. It’s about noticing whenever you notice, hours after the fact if needs be and then interrogating the events. With time, you’ll get quicker at it. I have used it and it has helped. Unfortunately, I’m a talker so when I get a Hot Thought which causes me to fly off the handle with my husband, it doesn’t feel right to me to figure out what happened and simply say sorry. To me, I need to explain to him why it happened, what I was thinking and feeling. Well, that’s like doing the 5 areas just out loud. I guess it might be helpful for him to see where I’m coming from, but might not be super helpful to me moving forward as I need to be able to write down what happens.

This is why the daily mood/activity sheet is so helpful.

Session 5, however, held some answers to a problem that, I guess runs deep within me. And this blog.

Assertiveness.

I discovered in session 4 that I believe I’m a mind reader. I know what other people are thinking when they utter a simple sentence. I know that they’re judging me. Possibly far worse, I expect them all to be able to read my mind. So when someone asks me about meeting up for a playdate in the park – where I know that a child will get grumpy as it’s their nap time, they hate the park, it’s too cold for them, I find it too stressful – I just say “well, maybe… okay then.” And then, feel resentment that I’m being forced to do something that I either know my child/ren will hate or that will stress me out far too much. It used to happen when I was pregnant “Want to come to mine?” “Yeah,” I’d mumble thinking that there was no way I could walk that far. In both instances, I honestly felt like the other person should know that. They should know that my child hates the park. That all my children want to do is eat wood chip, crawl on the freezing cold floor. They should know that my hips and back were so fucked when pregnant that I could barely walk home from work. They should know why I don’t want to or can’t do something, yet they suggest it anyway. Fuckers.

Ummm, yeah, they can’t read my mind. They don’t know that. At all.

Only part of it is actually me mind reading or expecting mind reading. A huge part of it is assertiveness, which I truly never considered until session 5.

I guess I did think that, not only should they be able to read my mind, but they wouldn’t like my answer, they’d get upset by me saying No. They’d think I was being too picky, too precious, too OCD and annoying and just give up on me. Maybe they would. But maybe if part of my hesitation was because I was anxious about a situation, that was part of all of this PND and I didn’t have the tools to deal with it. Even with the tools, if I truly don’t think I can handle a situation, that’s my deal and I should just say that. Except I have always been scared to say that. I have always been a little afraid to speak my mind. Not all the time and not with everyone, so maybe a lot of people that really know me don’t think it could ever be my problem. I remember a friend once telling me that she didn’t have the kind of confidence that I had to walk in to a club. I had never considered it confidence that I could do it and I felt like I was surrounded by people with far more confidence.

When you want to quite simply stand up for yourself, how do you go about it though? You’re asked to do something that you feel isn’t practical. Like walking twenty minutes when heavily pregnant or taking a grumpy child to the park. What do you say to that person asking? Well, I think everyone’s a mind reader, remember, so they already know (or should know) how difficult the tasks are so I passively agree and bitch about it afterwards. I’d tweet about it, blog about it. I’d passive aggressively spew my thoughts everywhere except to the person. They can read my mind so it’s their own fault. I remember in one instance I once passive aggressively Facebook statused a friend who let me down at short notice. It was something like “If you’re going to cancel on me last minute when I’ve readjusted my whole entire routine to suit you, then fuck off.” And then she replied. Goodness knows what I responded. I should have been assertive and told her that I was really put out.

I can remember a lot of the blog posts that I’ve made, passive aggressively attacking friends and family. I’m not sure if I did it purely to vent it out, or in the hope that they’d read it and apologise profusely for upsetting me, but being passive aggressive doesn’t help, so all of those posts only helped me vent and feel a bit better, none of them did anything about the underlying problem. They cost me more than they should have, if I’d just been assertive. Being assertive helps. Saying “I really can’t walk all of the way to yours right now due to my hip pain. Perhaps you could come here or we could meet somewhere in the middle?” or “I don’t think that the park is a good idea. All Robin wants to do is crawl and coast. It’s too cold to be doing that down on the floor and I can’t be carrying her around the park for however long whilst also trying to watch Elvis. How about we meet at a play centre instead?”

Apparently, a bit like the good old lethary spiral, the more that we reluctantly agree to things, knowing that we don’t want to do something, the more used and resented we feel. This plays in to feeling down and like utter shit. For me it adds in to me feeling like a failure as a mum. I can’t even stand up for myself, how can I raise children that aren’t pushovers or respond passive aggressively? Then there’s the guilt if I kick up too much of a fuss. The park’s the easiet option for my friend and I’m putting her out because Robin wants to crawl. Then, I guess you either go down one of three paths – continuing to do things you don’t want to do, or finding a compromise, or avoiding the situation and hiding yourself away at home. The first and last can both be passive aggressive and can both make me feel worse and worse and worse – huge factors in PND.

I don’t think I realised quite how anxious I always feel when it comes to the children. Not in any kind of debilitating way. Not in an overly irrational way and I guess it doesn’t really affect my day to day life. It used to. Hugely. It doesn’t so much any more. It used to all be about Elvis and his sleep. If we were out, in the wrong place or he just wouldn’t nap, I felt my world caving in. And it always felt like it was my responsibility. I had to stay at home, or be at home in time for naptime otherwise I … I don’t know. I never let it happen. With Robin it was never that bad. She had to fit into Elvis’ routine for one thing. But it became more the anxiety of being out with both of them. I can get ready to go out really simply. There’s no anxiety about that – that’s organisation. The bag’s always packed, sitting on the pushchair so I can leave the house with both kids at the drop of a hat. But being out with them? When one starts to cry and then the other? Maybe it’s the 20 month age gap, but it would freak me out. It still does, but very much less so. Elvis is pretty good, he listens, he does what he’s told. Robin is getting to the temper phase, and wants to crawl EVERYWHERE, but they are more manageable. It’s taken me ages to feel okay about it though.

Just today I kept feeling anxious. We were going to a toddler birthday party. Would there be room for the pushchair? If there wasn’t, would they turn us away? How would I deal with Elvis? Robin hadn’t napped, would she be okay all afternoon? There wouldn’t be highchairs, how would I watch two children eat to make sure they’re not choking, trying to crawl/run around with food in their mouths? What if there are small things lying around?

I could have cancelled going. A year or so ago and I would have. Purely out of being anxious. But I couldn’t cancel because how would I explain that to Elvis? Plus, I can’t hide away at home. That isn’t fair to me or to them. But do you know what? I could have just messaged my friend, the birthday boy’s mum, and ASKED her. I didn’t, but I still forced myself and it was so bloody refreshing. Other mums had little uns and we all kept an eye out for all little uns. There were small things, but other mums were noticing and grabbing them. It wasn’t just me being overly protective. Both children ate fine. Okay, Robin did try and crawl away, but me and another mum kept an eye one her.

I need to continue with the tools, but also recognise when I’m starting to worry, starting to feel anxious and see if there’s a way to remove it, either with the tools or talking to the person involved.

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