Magic Night Cream, Magic Night Cream, Do Your Job, Do Your Job

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Last night, I put my five-year old Stella to bed.   Well, I snuck in and stole the best part from Rick, who had her in her jammies, teeth brushed and she was in her bed with book in hand, waiting for someone to read to her.  I crawled into her bed by her and read her a story.

I love, love, love doing this with Stella.  I regret not loving it with my older two, Carly and Lydia.  We should have separated them more during the bedtime routine so I could have had more of this one on one time with them.  But mostly we did it all together, which made it so much more exhausting and chaotic and filled with fighting and bickering.  By the end of the day I just didn’t have the energy to deal, much less enjoy bedtime.

But Stella gets the story alone.  And she is so squishy and fresh and funny, and I adore it.  She loves the ritual of the hour, and I do too.  I read to her, and then I say, “Stella….”  as if I am about to begin a great story or tell her a fantastic secret… and she will say, “I know what you are going to say!”  I act surprised.  “How can you possibly know?  You can’t know!”  And she giggles that giggle that makes the cells in my body reorganize themselves so they can be permanently attached to her warm belly and her staccato laugh.

“You are going to say, I ADORE you.”

“Whaaaaaat!?  How did you know?”

I usually smash my face into the side of her soft neck at this point.  I feel so full of the force of my love,I want to breathe her into my body again.

Then, we do magic night cream.

My girls hands, (especially in kindergarten),  become so dry in the winter they turn bright red and crack.  (I now realize  it is a hand-washing and drying issue.)  It’s awful.

I have a bottle of Aquaphor by her bed that I rub into her little hands, and we chant, “Magic night cream, magic night cream, do your job, do your job…” a few times.  Just massaging her squishy hands, still chubby with the vestiges of toddlerhood just greases up the magic of the nighttime ritual.  Last night, I bent to kiss her cheek and she grabs my hair with her lubed up fists and says, “I have one more thing to tell you, mom.”

“What’s that?”  I lean in, her lips right in my ear, bracing for another sweet declaration of her love for me, and she says,

“Boca gum staaaaaaaah… bock, bock, bock bote bote…”

This is what she believes is the first line of the song  “Gangnum Style.”

Which brings on the giggles, and my heart bursts like an over-filled water balloon and I leave feeling like tomorrow, I can do this whole parenting gig all over again, just for the magic night cream, and that laugh.

I am holding tight to this right now, as I am desperately trying to remind myself to be present.  To ignore the phone, burning a hole in the butt pocket of my yoga pants.  To stop checking off the time I am with my kids the same way I check off my chore list.  To quit longing for that glass of wine and a good book, or a moment of peace devoid of Meghan Trainor on repeat and constant bickering.  To just Be in my body.  Be alive.  In the moment.  RIGHT NOW.   There are sensations.  And feelings.  And breathing in and out.  And those things must be noticed, if I am to live a full and meaningful life.  I am trying to wake up and BE.

It’s fucking hard.

So I did some searching, and realized that Stella’s magic night cream is my life line.  My anchor.  My one moment I can count on, where I am fully in my body.

PRESENT.

Right then, I am out of my mind.  I am in my fingertips, smoothing her chapped hands, feeling the dimples still in her knuckles and the meaty part of her thumbs as they connect to her palm, and I don’t need to tell her that I adore her, she knows because my love is a vibrating energy that is coating her, thick and protective.  It’s better than the magic night cream.

It is the invitation to be here, and nowhere else.

Magic night cream, magic night cream, do your job, do your job.

Why I Do Not Teach My Kids To Respect Adults

 

Last week, I got into a huge argument with one of my daughters.  Big news, I know. It’s the end of the school year, and we are all limping to the finish line, barely in tact.  Actually, it looks more like this:

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This particular dear child had been demanding and sassy all week, and with every interaction,  I was barely restraining myself from losing my grip.  My patience for her pre-teen attitude had withered away, and so it happened… the inevitable freak out.

 

I yelled at her, climbing high on to the untouchable podium of parenthood, and told her that she was being rude, sassy and disrespectful.  I threw in the appropriate amount of veiled threats, couched with “YOUNG LADY” and “LITTLE GIRL”  and finger wagging.  I told her in no uncertain terms that her tone with me had better stop, or she would find herself without a lot of fun in the coming weeks.

I really let her have it.

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She burst into tears, of course.  And I was mad and prickly, so I was not in the mood to hold her while she cried.  I took some deep breaths, tightening myself for the onslaught of her righteous indignation.

 

But she simply said, “I don’t understand.”  I could see the sincerity in her brimming eyes.

 

This took me by surprise.  I had been explicitly clear.

 

“Why are you allowed to talk to me that way, but I am not allowed to use that tone with you?” she cried.

 

I flailed.  Something in her words went deep, and found a raw nerve.   I was shocked to recognize that I understood and agreed with her.

 

The fact that I agreed, that it made sense… it was too much for me.  I gathered my wits about me, raking in the reasons I should stand my ground.

 

RESPECT.  And ADULTS.  And AUTHORITY.  And RULES.  And RESPECT.

 

And she will be a TEENAGER someday.  Lord, save us.

 

The demand for respect as the adult won out, and I rose up to my feet, hands on hips, to tell her how she must show respect because I am her mother, and she is a child and she must learn to show respect to adults and people who have authority!

I am her mother, and I demand respect!

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She cried some more, and I felt like a barbarian, and we got on with our night.

I tried to move on, get over it.  I gathered evidence that made me feel justified.  I mentally reviewed all the gross memes on Facebook, about the “olden days,” and how kids were so much more respectful of adults… and what is the world coming to?  Like these:

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But there was this nagging knowing inside me, poking at the truth. I had been using a “tone” with my children over the past few days, or weeks even.  A tone that says, “I’m so tired of dealing with this,” or a tone that speaks, “You are annoying me!”  or  “Hurry UP!”  A tone of general exhaustion and irritation, where manners and kindness are lost in my coarse, tired demands.

 

I hear it in my voice, as I tell them to get in the car.  AGAIN.  Or pick up their back packs.  Or close the door.  Or go to bed. Or to stop FIGHTING FOR THE LOVE OF HUMANITY.

 

AGAIN.

I hear that edge creep into my voice, and it has stayed.  So even when I simply ask for a hug, or tell them goodnight, it is there.

I realized I have been commanding  my children to have more respect and more control than I posses.  I want my daughter to lose the attitude and that disrespectful tone in her voice, but I have been unsuccessful in showing her the same respect during these stressful and strenuous times.  Not only is our relationship out of balance, her disrespect was important for me to notice rather than rage at.  She stepped up and challenged me to investigate what I believe about respect.

 

So I have given it much thought, lately.  Respect is a word thrown around rather carelessly and is often spoken about with a very contemptuous and entitled attitude. There are many generations that believe that today’s youth have lost respect for authority.   And others who believe that respect is not freely given, but earned.

Social media sites are teeming with declarations like this, which serve to perpetuate ineffectual beliefs about respect.

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I was shocked to uncover some of my own privileged ideas about respect.  It isn’t something I would have been able to own, or recognize in myself just a few weeks ago.
I felt ashamed to recognize that I would not speak to my husband or a friend the way I had been speaking to my children.  In that admission lies the notion that my authority and superiority over them justifies my behavior… I felt sickened by the ugliness my inquiry revealed.

In my careful examination, I began to see deeply ingrained ideas about respect that do not serve us well.   So, I set out to redefine my beliefs about respect.

A reset button, of sorts.

#1  Respect is not a hierarchy.  There is no human being that deserves more respect and deference than another.  We are all deserving of basic politeness and compassion by virtue of our inherent worth as human beings.  Therefore, I do not believe children must show respect to their elders.  They must be taught that respect is at the core of basic human decency. Age is irrelevant.  One day old, or one hundred years old.  A homeless man or a wealthy billionaire.  A janitor or the President of the United States.   Their worst enemy or their best friend.  Their annoying little sister, and yes… their mom.

 

#2  Respect for one another does not mean you hold their behavior in high regard.  We can feel disrespectful about abhorrent and hateful actions.  For bigotry and scorn.  But even the perpetrators of actions we disdain should be treated with respect.  Because at the root of pain, anger, and negativity…there is a hurting person.  A person aching to be seen, to be heard, to feel loved.  And showing them disrespect as a human being only advances their hate.

#3  There is a difference between disagreeing/arguing and disrespect.  As a parent, this detail is crucial.  Because I must not view my child’s disagreement as a form of disrespect.  I want my girls to find their voice… to stand up for themselves… to bravely challenge things…to seek understanding.  I must not contradict this value with a demand for their agreement or silence. Honing these skills must start at home, with their father and I, people who will give them a safe place to practice respectfully disagreeing, taking a stand, advocating for themselves, sometimes forcefully.

#4  Respect is not earned.  It should be given freely, as it stems from the understanding that we are all parts of a greater whole.   It is our way of honoring the human experience, of employing empathy and compassion for every person we interact with.  It is an acknowledgement of the nugget of precious truth at our core… we respect others as we respect ourselves.   The level of respect you show others is a reflection of the love and honor you have for your self.

 

#5  Disrespect is a symptom.  Often, it is a reflection of poor communication or unexpressed, repressed emotion. It is an aching call to be recognized as valuable.  My daughter was being disrespectful to me… it was a reflection of the disrespectful treatment I was showing her… I was overlooking her.

We can never insist on more respect from our children than we are capable of manifesting for ourselves.

 

A week after our fight,  I went on a field trip with my daughter.   On the way home, we cuddled up in our bus seats, I pulled out a surprise stash of her favorite candy, and I fessed up.  I told her I was wrong.  I had not been treating her with respect.

 

This was hard.

 

I felt as though I was conceding some age-old battle between parent and child.  The fear tried to rear up, the fear that told me that if I do not command respect from my child without fail, she will grow into a teenage monster and make our lives a living hell.

 

So naturally, I stuffed myself with peanut M&M’s and shouldered on.

 

I thanked her for being my mirror, always showing me the way to a better self.  I told her how powerful she was, how I felt honored to be with her.   I promised her that I would be more mindful of the level of respect I show her.  I told her that I firmly believe that if you want to be respected, you must embody that respect for yourself, and then let it reflect in your treatment of others.

 

And we finished with a hug, some sour patch kids,  and the most important message of respect I believe can ever be delivered from one human being to another…

 

I see you, my love.

I really, truly, see you.  

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Disney’s Maleficent: How to Protect your Sleeping Beauty and Prince Charming

 

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adjective:

doing evil or harm; harmfully malicious

This past weekend Rick and I led our three little girls, popcorn in hand, to see Maleficent in all her red-lipped, menacing glory.

Maleficent was the quintessential villain that haunted my childhood dreams…those huge black horns,  green evil spells, spindly fingers and deep, wicked laugh…  She was just so unrelentingly vicious, and her unchecked malicious intent left its mark on my young psyche.

Hence, I couldn’t  resist bringing the girls to see my animated fears come to life.

 

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Disney did an amazing job, and all five of us loved her story.  I did not realize going in, that so much of the original story of Sleeping Beauty would be retold.  But most of the characters in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty also appear in Maleficent, making it a retelling of one of my childhood favorites.

When we got confidently settled into our seats, my four-year old with her blond pigtails and dimpled elbows sat on a booster seat next to me. And when she looked at me with her innocent, wide eyes I wondered what the hell I was doing, letting her watch this:

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I was that parent.  Ah, another opportunity to humbly swallow old judgements.

I pulled her into the bathroom, and while she washed her hands, I quickly explained that Maleficent was actually a mommy named Angelina Jolie. After her job pretending to be scary, she puts down her horns and pulls on her jeans and has dinner with her kids.  Just a mom.

I am happy to report that this strategy worked beautifully, as during the first scary/intense moment in the movie, Stella leaned in and whispered, “This mommy is really good at pretending!”

No one was scarred for life, and we all felt like clapping at the end.

There was just one part that made my toes curl and stomach clench.  One part in which I held my breath and felt totally conflicted.

 

Sleeping Beauty is kissed by the prince.

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Newsflash, I know.

Now, I do greatly appreciate the rewritten version.  In Maleficent, the prince at least hesitates.  He shows some misgivings and even protests, claiming that he and Aurora have just met, and they can’t be in love.

 

All good things, Disney, all good things.

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But he caves under the pressure and insistence of the three fairies, and Prince Phillip kisses the slumbering Aurora.

 

Knowing my little girls were watching this part bothered me much more than the fiery rages of Maleficent or the scary snarling animals.

 

Here’s why.

Disney’s Sleeping Beauty was released in 1959.

Disney’s Snow White was released in 1937.

Two movies, made a long time ago, portraying a man kissing a sleeping woman. Now, I realize that this kiss was an essential part of Sleeping Beauty’s story, and the retelling requires some revisiting… But in a movie theater with my three young children over 50 years later, a man kissing a sleeping woman simply re-romanticizes this action, making it modern and legitimate today.

The kiss still appeared to be an acceptable and chaste course of action, rather than a serious crime.

I know, I know, it’s just a story.  A movie.  A retold fairy tale.  I still have that voice in my head, telling me to “calm down” or “chill out.”   I have tried to talk myself out of this feeling of unease, or the need to write this post and make myself look like  a crazy, overprotective, manic mom with nothing better to do that pick apart a classic romantic gesture, a harmless little kiss.

But.

Parents, this is where it begins.  In the movie theaters when our kids are innocent little boys and girls.  In the seemingly innocuous kiss between prince and princess.

We are all from the generation where we watched movies like Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, and it was all so romantic and sweet.

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But we know that women in this century want more respect than that.  Women want to show up in movies where we are not portrayed as helpless victims and fanciful, silly girls who only care about a prince on a white horse whisking her away.  And slowly, we seem to be gaining ground in our demand for better story lines, at least on the big screen.

(Not so true of Disney’s T.V. programs, as I have already wrote about here).

But there is more to ask for.

It should not be acceptable to walk out of a PG movie in 2014 and allow our children to believe that kissing an unconscious girl is just part of a fairy tale, and not a sex crime. This  action needs to be viewed as inappropriate content for children.  Prince Phillip would not be shown cupping her breast while she slept.  We wouldn’t have trouble seeing that as improper content… but an innocent kiss falls into that same category when the princesses is unconscious.  

We can all see how this dangerous storyline is playing itself out on high school and college campuses across the country, with life altering, devastating consequences.  It is important for us to recognize as parents of young boys and girls, that these subtle messages become part of a greater unconscious.  It matters.  It informs their development and understanding of what is normal and acceptable.  My own feelings of resistance in calling this kiss a sex crime speaks to the power of those subtle messages in our culture.

Those messages that blur the lines between romance and assault do not belong in a movie for kids.   It is our obligation to protect our sons and daughters from the devastating damage that can happen when we do not clearly delineate what is and what is not appropriate behavior.  And we need to start now.

It is never too early to begin having conversations about consent with children, and Disney just gave us all a beautiful opportunity to do that.

We left the theater with a lot to talk about… one of my favorite parts of seeing a movie as a family is the subsequent dissection and discussion.  My girls walked away from the film with a greater capacity for empathy and understanding.  They saw how a villan was created out of  the  agony of pain, heartbreak, betrayal.  They saw how a heart can be hardened by anger and vengeance.  They saw the devastation of revenge, and the triumph of  love and redemption.   I appreciate these ideas being visited more and more in family movies… the world is not black and white. There is a deeper compassion and mercy to be unearthed within a story of good and evil.

And then, we talked about the kiss.  It was a simple and easy discussion, relatively general, but it planted the seed.  One that will grow into further discussions and questions  in a natural way, preparing them for the complicated moments they will encounter in their future.

Understanding consent is more than one conversation.  It is a childhood full of moments where we take the time to point it out.  We have to be vigilant and willing to dissect a song, a movie, a kiss, a story, an idea… not allowing those small moments to slip unnoticed into their minds and become something that leaves them unprepared and unprotected for the experiences that lay ahead.

 

So go.  See Maleficent… be entertained and opened by her story.

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But please, protect our children… don’t forget the conversation after.

 

 

For more information on talking to kids about consent:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/summeranne/30-healthy-ways-to-teach-kids-about-consent

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/03/examples-of-rape-culture/

http://time.com/40110/rape-culture-is-real/

 

 

Sound Support: 8 ways to Improve Life with Misophonia

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We have now been living with misophonia for almost two years.  Misophonia was a sleeping monster inside my little girl… awakened  during the summer of 2012.

 

Misophonia is condition of extreme sound sensitivity.  It is characterized by an immediate, acute, negative emotional reaction to certain sounds.  People with misophonia experience a fight or flight response to simple everyday sounds like tapping fingers, typing on a keyboard, crinkling wrappers, sounds in speech, eating noises such as chewing, swallowing, or crunching.  The fight or flight response creates panic and rage, and sufferers can become violent and emotionally explosive when they hear these triggers.

 

The easiest way to relate, would be to imagine being trapped in a room with someone who is scratching their nails down a chalkboard and will not stop.  Most people will have a powerful, negative reaction to this scenario… first a cringe, cover their ears… but if the noise persisted,  soon they would flee or get angry and demand that the sound stop.

My daughter feels this intense reaction to small, insignificant sounds.

 

Unfortunately, misophonia triggers can also be specifically focused on one person.  In my daughter, her emerging misophonia presented as an intense aversion to my voice.   In fact, emerging is not quite the right word… misophonia looks more like the sudden transformation from Bruce Banner to the Hulk.  Quick, violent, immediate, and terrifying.

I wrote about that crushing few months in Sound Desperation and Sound Hysteria.

If you have never heard of this condition, you are not alone.  No one seems to have heard of this condition.  Doctors and mental health professionals are unaware.  Which means that as parents and sufferers of misophonia, we are largely on our own, trying to cope with a disorder that looks like a giant temper tantrum.  Without being understood or respected as a true health crisis, misophonia can quickly tear a family apart, destroy relationships, and create a life of isolation and desperation.

Since we began dealing with misophonia, Lydia’s triggers have increased.  She now has powerful reactions to her sister as well, a heartbreaking reality I wrote about it in Sounds of Our Crisis, Living with Misophonia.

Her list of triggers are growing every month.
It has been bad.  Really, really bad.  I will admit here, that there have been weeks of time where my husband and I wondered if we would be able to raise our child.  I have googled  boarding schools in our area, feeling my heart may just disintegrate in my chest like a wet tissue.

 

Two years in, I am relieved to report that things have gotten so much better.
I finally feel like I have something constructive to say!  So, here is what we have learned, and how we are coping.  I want to share it, to help others who are in those really dark places right now.

It seems like every health article out there begins the same way… perhaps because even though we don’t want to hear it, the truth and healing lies in diet, sleep and exercise.

Bleck.  I know.

But essential.

Misophonia is easiest to relate to when you think about irritability.  Moodiness.   It is really hard to understand Lydia raging about the way I say my S’s, but I do understand what it feels like when I am too tired, too hungry, or too inactive.  Human beings are more likely to overreact, say cruel things, tantrum, or embarrass themselves if they are  sleep deprived, hungry, or have a lot of pent up, unreleased frustration.

 

So.

#1.  SLEEP

 

Lydia must have regular, good sleep.  We rarely allow her to have sleep-overs with friends or stay up late on weekends because being tired makes Lydia impossible to live with. We are very, very strict about her sleep schedule.  I am afraid as she gets older this will be harder for us to manage well, but for now, she doesn’t have much flexibility.

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#2. EXERCISE

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We find that she does so much better when she is really active.  We will always have her in a competitive sport that requires exhaustive exercise (like swim and soccer and track) because this makes her feel so much less irritated… and she sleeps better.

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#3. DIET

When she is hungry, watch out.  When we plan poorly and she gets too hungry, or if we get lazy about healthy snacks, Lydia has a much harder time with her misophonia.  It’s an almost guaranteed disaster if she gets into that low blood sugar zone.

 

#4.  HEAVY BLANKETS AND TIGHT HUGS

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Misophonia is worse with overstimulation.  When Lydia is feeling triggered, she will often come get a really tight hug from me.  The squeezing is helpful in reducing sensation and sensitivity, and calms the nerves.

We also bought Lydia a heavy blanket… these are straight from heaven.   We bought ours here…http://www.saltoftheearthweightedgear.com

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It is a blanket filled with beads or rock.  They come in various weights and sizes.  Lydia sleeps with hers every night, and the heaviness does the same thing as a tight hug.  It calms her overstimulated nerves and helps reduce sensation.  When she is in a meltdown mode, we will send her to her room to calm down, often under her blanket.

#5.   OVERSTIMULATION

 

We got really focused on the sounds Lydia hates, but the trick is to reduce stimulation while masking the sounds she is triggered by.  Bright lights and lots of noise chaos can make the sensitivity worse. We found these apps that have all kinds of noises… rain, static, chimes, wind…

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We turn down the lights, turn off the t.v. and then Lydia can chose one of these sounds to help distract her from her triggers.  We prefer to have this playing because we want Lydia to be able to manage herself with the most mild forms of intervention possible.  But, many times she still has to eat in a separate room, or use headphones to more thoroughly block sound.  It’s a slow process.  Even our four year old will acknowledge in gratitude the days that Lydia joins us for dinner.

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#6.  NEUROFEEDBACK THERAPY

 

For about a year and a half, Lydia saw a neurofeedback specialist, Rae Tattenbaum.  Here is the link to her practice:  http://www.inner-act.com

We were also featured on a local show, Better Connecticut.

Kara’s Cure: Inner Act and Neurofeedback

 

When the misophonia was nightmarish, Lydia would go at least 2 times a week.  We were able to cut down to once a week, and we did that for a long time.  This treatment did help her enormously, and we saw a huge improvement in her coping ability.  In the beginning,  seeing Rae was the only thing that made me feel like I could raise my daughter, the only thing that made our situation liveable. Once we had things more under control, we began to realize that the neurofeedback was not a long term solution for us.  When we stopped the treatments, she would slowly slip back into misophonia meltdown mode.  Eventually, we felt stable enough to look for alternative answers.

 

#7.   HEARING AIDS

In February, we found a professional who had actually heard of misophonia!  We took Lydia to see  Melanie Herzfeld, an audiologist  at the Hearing and Tinnitus Center in Long Island, NY.

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She recommended a set of hearing aids for Lydia, which emit a white or pink noise.  They help mask all of the small sounds that make Lydia go nuts.  She does not have to wear them all of the time, just when she is feeling triggered.

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The hearing aids have saved us.   I was very nervous about getting them, because they are so expensive and also not covered by our  insurance… but worth every single penny.  We bought her hearing aids one day before we drove from our home in Connecticut to Washington DC for spring break.  It took us eight hours. Normally, this would have been an epic nightmare.   We have been on way shorter trips that have been emotionally scarring for all of us, car rides where I contemplated hitchhiking home.

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She wore her hearing aids and watched movies with her sisters and I talked to my husband in the front seat… It was a miracle, truly.  I had been unable to speak while in a car with Lydia for the last two years.  I was so afraid to believe that it was not some kind of random fluke… but we drove all the way home without trouble, and have been doing well in the car ever since!

 

#8.  PAIN MANAGEMENT

The audiologist also strongly recommended cognitive behavioral therapy with an emphasis in pain management.  She stressed the importance of finding someone who will not try immersion therapy techniques (making Lydia listen to the sounds she hates).  Pain management would help Lydia learn coping techniques to redirect and refocus her attention.

 

We have looked around, but have not been actively pursuing this therapy for Lydia right now.  The techniques in #1-7 have helped get us to such a safe place, we don’t feel it’s necessary right now.  But I also know that things change.  Lydia is going to change.  We will grow and adjust with her, and it’s good to know where we will look next if we need more help.

There are websites and support groups popping up on the internet now that can also be sought out.  Personally, I avoid them, although I am sure they are very helpful for others.I can not bear the stories told in those groups.  Most of them just fill me with heaviness and desolation, wondering if I will raise my daughter and never see her again when she is old enough to leave.  Will she be able to call me?  Visit?  Will she know her sisters and be a part of our lives?  Will she be able to have deep, meaningful relationships?  Love, without feeling tortured?

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I have to believe so.  And while I ache for those that are in that pain now, I am not prepared to be a part of the support group.  I can’t.  Because today, things are ok.   I can only look forward and believe that my daughter will be ok, and I will have the privilege of always being in her life.    But I offer all my love and support in sharing our story here.

And I will contact anyone who needs to hear a person say, “I understand.”

We understand.

Update:  Since writing this post, I have gone back to school to earn a masters degree in Consciousness Studies, and a Transformational Coaching certificate.  It has dramatically changed my life and my family, and I have benefitted tremendously from coaching.  The coaching relationship offers a kind, creative, nonjudgmental listening that was so healing for me.  I am now offering coaching to others.  The continual comments of hope and pain on this post have been motivating me to find better ways to manage the effects misophonia can have on our sense of self, and our family life.

Please feel free to reach out if you would like more information about coaching and how it can help people who are dealing with misophonia, or living with loved ones who have misophonia.  I offer a free 60 min inquiry session so you can get a sense of what coaching is like, and if we would be a good fit for each other.

Here is a link to my calendar, if you would like to book an inquiry session.

https://megpoulinindeed.youcanbook.me

 

You don’t ‘fix’ your child, you create the conditions for them to RISE.  

-Shefali Tsabary

Poulin, Meganphoto credit: phyllis meredith photography

Disney is Ruining My Kid.

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Disney has been ruining my kid…. a job I can do quite well on my own, thank you.

 I know, it sounds drastic.  Don’t worry, I am not going to launch into a ridiculous diatribe about how Frozen has a hidden gay agenda (huge eye roll) or is turning my girls in to glittery, sparkly princesses who need a prince to save them, (we are over that stage, thank god) or that Miley Cyrus grew up and dared to climb out of her Hannah Montana box.

In the interest of being a pretty laid back mom,  who fights against my extremely conservative upbringing, I have tried to adopt a more moderate view of the world and it’s evils.  With my girls, I am trying a more balanced approach, believing that they should not be sheltered constantly from American culture, taught to fear and judge and overreact to everything they see.  My general philosophy has been to allow them to take part in age-appropriate music, movies and t.v.

That said, I may have gone too far…

Its been a brutal winter and  I confess, my kids watched too much T.V.  School was cancelled. ALL THE TIME.  There was only so much hot chocolate and board games I could muster before I would hand them the remote and rock quietly in a dark corner of my kitchen with a bottle of wine.

Now, I did check in with them, shouting “whatcha watching?”  and they would yell, “A.N.T. Farm!” or “Kickin’ It!” or “Good Luck Charlie!”  I investigated, and these shows are all listed as appropriate for 8+.  Fine.  Every once in a while, they would call me in to watch some joke they thought was  “Soooo hilarious, mom!” and I would try not to think about how they should be watching something on the History channel instead.  Kids deserve some mindless, silly comedy with no educational purpose, just like I deserve to watch Sister Wives and Grey’s Anatomy.  No big.

Until.

A few months ago, my husband and I started noticing some differences in one of our daughter’s behavior.  She wasn’t acting like herself, she seemed to be putting on a show.   She would fling her hair about and act like a sassy teenager and use lingo  that sounded inauthentic and contrived coming from her.  In these moods she was extra silly, always looking for a laugh.

When this would happen, I tried to talk to her about it.  I pointed out that it did not feel like her “real” personality, and that people can sense when someone is not being authentic.  We talked about crossing the line between silly and obnoxious.   I stepped up my emphasis on important qualities like kindness, generosity, creativity.   I asked her if she was acting like people on tv, and after much pressure, she would admit that she was getting a her sayings and jokes from the Disney channel.

At this point, no real alarm bells were going off.  She was experimenting, and we were talking about it.  It opened lines of communication for me.  A little hair tossing and Disney “lingo” was not going to ruin her.

But then, this dear daughter got into some trouble with friends at school.  I met with her teachers and spoke to the parents of the other girls involved, and was shocked to hear of some of the social things going on with my child at school.   She is a sensitive, loving, girl who is usually fiercely  loyal and empathetic… the reports of her behavior did not match what I knew of my girl. She was saying hurtful and judgemental things about other girls’, throwing around conceited declarations,  among other shocking things.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am all for personal responsibility and I am in no way interested in making lame excuses for my child.  We dealt with the situation and helped her learn painful but necessary lessons about jealousy, friendship, self-control, and hurtful words.

While she was at school during this week, I spent a good amount of time in quiet reflection.  The week’s events had been extremely trying as a parent, I found myself in new territory.  Acting on instinct, I spent a day watching some of her favorite  Disney shows, from start to finish…looking for answers.

I COULD NOT BE MORE HORRIFIED.

Parents.  Are you watching this garbage?

I certainly had not been.  Beyond the quick minute or two, I had never sat and watched an episode of A.N.T Farm with the girls.  Because it is Disney.  How the hell do you go from Doc McStuffins, a show that SAVED ME countless tears at the pediatrician’s office, to this absolute trash?    I so very wrongly figured that a company like Disney would not be promoting cruelty, bullying and sexism in their shows for young, impressionable children.  I was completely mortified as I watched.

These shows are laced with terrible social behavior.   Like the scene in one, where a “nerdy” boy walks up to a pretty “popular” girl and asks her out… she threw her bowling ball and ran away screaming.  *Cue audience laughter*

There were so many examples of rude, mean responses to difficult social situations for kids, followed by the character shrugging it off, recorded laughter, and the characters moving on without showing any realistic emotions.  No anger, no hurt feelings.  Comedy.

I was disgusted.  How in the world will we teach our children to be kind and put a stop to cruel behavior in schools when THE DISNEY CHANNEL is showing these bullying behaviors followed by laughter and no emotional response???    It was clear where my daughter had gotten the impression that these kinds of conceited one liners and arrogant vanity was playful and a harmless way to get a laugh.

Just when I thought I had seen the worst, there was a scene that made blood shoot from my eyeballs.  A pretentious girl, conspiring to create a room-sized walk in closet for all her makeup! and clothes! and shoes!  was asked by two boys to help them with a math problem.   She does.

 To which they exclaim, “Thank you, you are a genius!”

The girl is offended.

 The boys hurriedly fix their ghastly mistake with,   “Oh! I mean you are SO beautiful!”

 ….and she prances away, satisfied.

Excuse me while I heave.

Shame on me for exposing my daughter to this kind of garbage.

SHAME ON DISNEY.

What  talented person working over there in the Disney CO.  believes this is an appropriate message for 8 + girls in 2014?

REALLY???

 They are out to make conceit and rejection funny. They are sending intentional messages to girls about how they should value their looks and their walk-in closets over their brains! Now, I realize that not all children are going to be as susceptible as my daughter was to copying the abhorrent behavior on these shows.  But I have more than one daughter.  And who knows how they have been internalizing this bullshit.  It’s outrageous.

After picking up the kids from school, my girls and I sat and re-watched these shows.  I wanted to gouge my eyes out.  As we watched, I paused it every single time someone said something cruel, every time the fake audience laughed inappropriately at what in real life would be someone’s serious emotional pain.  We talked about what would actually happen if you acted like that with your friends, and how you can’t repair things by declaring “Just KIDDING!”  I showed them the “genius” scene and we had a long talk about the awful and unacceptable message it sends to girls about dumbing down, caring only about appearance, objectification… my daughters got more than they bargained for that afternoon.

As a parent, when the kids are watching t.v., it’s mostly because I need a moment.  To make dinner.  To help someone else with homework.  To gather my sanity.  These few examples permanently damaged my trust in the Disney Channel and the trash they are producing for our kids.

It’s hard enough to raise kids who will have the moral fortitude to stand up for themselves and for each other.  It’s hard enough to teach my little girls to be proud and brave and own their bodies and their brains without apology.  To recognize and condemn cruelty and sexism. It’s hard enough to get a moment to catch my breath and feel like my kids are safe and entertained for 30 minutes under the DISNEY umbrella without unwittingly downloading vain, cruel, and damaging sexist garbage into their impressionable brains.

Shame on my naiveté and trust in the Disney name.

Believe me… lesson learned.

9 Things I Want My Daughters To Know About Motherhood

The Prophet

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, and yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward, not tarries with yesterday.        

                                                                                              -Kahlil Gibran

 I was raised to believe that my sole purpose, my divine reason for being,  was to be a mother.  I was to marry, and have babies.  Stay home, and raise them right.  Advance the kingdom of heaven.  Motherhood was my reason for existing.  It was how I must serve the Lord.  And I wanted children, so much. It was my mission, to grow up, and have babies of my own.

I have been actively trying to untangle these ideas about womanhood and motherhood and expand the definition of what my life can be.   I am discovering the shadow side of making motherhood my whole sense of identity, and tying all of my self worth to this role.   I have three beautiful girls.  Girls that I hope will grow up knowing they are loved and respected and safe in being exactly who they are.  They do not need to earn their worthiness.  To earn their femaleness.  They are worthy inherently.  Worthy of love, of happiness, of joy, of belonging.  I want them to grow up and not seek a man or motherhood to make them whole.

They are whole.

So just as I am talking to them as they grow about healthy romantic relationships, I also want to talk to them about motherhood. In our society there is a lack of honest, open discussion about what parenting is really like.  How it changes you.  People love to talk about it being hard… but not about the real reasons why.  I want to open that door with my girls.  Talk to them about motherhood and parenting with more detail and depth.   I am in the thick of it right now, and I am sure this list will grow and change as I evolve as a mother.  But here is what I know, one decade in.

Nine things I want to teach my daughters about motherhood:

1.     Every single person in the world used to be a screaming baby.  A mother  carried them in their womb.  A mother labored and gave birth to that person.  Every person. But  do not let the ordinariness of motherhood  fool you.  There will be many, many moments as a mother when you will marvel at  the idea that so many women have accomplished this seemingly impossible task, of bearing and raising children.  While motherhood historically is commonplace and unremarkable, it will feel anything but ordinary inside of your life.  It will be the greatest challenge,  the most consequential undertaking of your life.  Do not underestimate it’s enormity.

2.  Once that baby comes into the world, and into your arms, you will lose complete control of the most precious pieces of your soul.   Parenting is coming to terms with that loss of control.  Living in it.  Swimming in uncertainty.  And  wading in the knowledge that all the pieces you truly love, truly need, truly value, are packaged in independent people who don’t belong to you.  We declare ourselves as parents.  We claim our children.  We take responsibility.  But they are not OURS.  They come through us, and become.

3. You will love so deeply, it will scare you.  You will feel so vulnerable in that love, it can make you crazy.  You will feel wild with the need to make things safe.  Control what happens.   There is no place to hide from this love.  So be in it.  Embrace the vulnerability, and in that embrace will come the recognition of just how much I love you.  Let the recognition that you are loved as completely as you love your own child carry you on the days you feel too vulnerable to move through the day.

4.   With the first breath that baby takes, you are not suddenly filled with knowledge and light and glorious understanding on how to be a mother.  Or an adult.  When you walk out of the hospital with that baby, it will shock you.  The hospital staff will just let you leave!  And people you used to rely on for the answers will suddenly be asking the questions and expect you to know what the next step should be.

There is no gentle transition into this enormous responsibility.

 One moment, you will be working to bring the baby into your arms.  And the next, you will be a mommy.  Forever.  There will be millions and millions of questions to be answered, decisions to be made about the best thing to do.  It can be paralyzing, the amount of choices that will bombard you.  There will be moments and days and weeks and maybe years of time in which you feel like you have no idea what you are doing.  How to proceed.  Which way is best.  Just when you get the hang of things, and you feel like you have hit your stride, your child will enter a different stage of development, and you will  have to begin again.

Remember this:  no one knows what they are doing.  You are not alone in these feelings. Even the most confident looking mothers out there:  the ones that have a designer bag over their shoulder, a smile on their face, a perfectly styled baby on their hip… they are harboring the same fears, crying the same tears.  Holding the  same insecurities.  When people say parenting is the hardest thing you will ever do… this is what they are talking about.  The secret insecurities and the fears of falling short.  No one wants to name it for you, so they list the dirty diapers, the sleepless nights, the public tantrums.  Because it’s too scary to talk about vulnerability and self-doubt.  There is no magic to make this less uncomfortable.   So learn to carry your insecurities lightly, and every time you have an opportunity, set them down.
5.  If you want to know how real karma works, make a list of all the things you will vow to never do or say as a parent.   Tape it to your fridge next to your ultrasound pics.  You know, things like “my kid will never watch hours of t.v. at a time,” or “I will not let my kids become picky eaters” or “I would never send my kid to school with banana in their hair” or “I will never lock my kids in their room just to get another 20 minutes of sleep,”  or “I would never let my kid wear the same dress to school for three months in a row!”

And then see what happens.

6.   Motherhood is staring into a mirror, inspecting the truest reflection of yourself.  One true difficulty in parenting is the requirement to face your darkest demons.  The inadequacies and flaws and dangerous parts of you can be hidden from friends and family.  You can hide them from your spouse.  And even from yourself.  But becoming a mother will crack you open.   Your children will see you. They will look into your eyes, before they can form words, and their spirit will know you.   They force you to look at the parts of yourself you don’t want to deal with, you never wanted to admit to. The intensity of your emotions and the enormity of control you will need is going to shock you.  No one in the world but your own child will have you swing from the deepest rage to the brightest joy in one afternoon.

You will have to sit in profound disquiet, sometimes for long periods of time, as you struggle to control your shadows.

During this intense personal unveiling, there is no place to hide.  Motherhood does not pause, it will not give you a rest while you find a way to heal.  You must do this personal healing and searching and while remaining constantly available for your children.    Because of the extreme intensity this situation creates, it is very, very important that you prepare.  Before you bring another life into this world, know yourself.  Know where your strengths lie, and your weaknesses too.  Own the light and the dark parts of yourself, and understand them…do not be afraid to look at these flaws.  They will boil to the surface in surprising moments.  Be prepared to look into your child’s eyes, and see yourself.

They are the mirror.

 7.  Guilt.  The guilt will destroy you if you let it.  Because motherhood will highlight your dark demons and deep insecurities, there will be guilt.  When you feel guilty, it is easy to leave it unexamined, to fester.   Sometimes, the guilt is thick and syrupy and leaves a sticky film over every experience.  Sometimes the guilt is heavy, and holding it requires every muscle, tendon, and bone.  And sometimes, the guilt takes on a life of it’s own, and will  chase you right out the door.    You must address these guilty feelings.   Guilt is simply a course-correction tool.  The GPS system.  When you feel guilt, sometimes it is for valid reasons.  You lost your temper.  You gave an inappropriate consequence.  You reacted without listening.  Recognize the problem, resolve to try again, and then…

Let it go.

This purposeful act of self-forgiveness will be crucial in moving forward, unburdened.  Many times, you may find that the guilt is not helping you stay the course… you are marinating in it.  Assigning guilt and feelings of failure to every move you make as a mother. It is important to recognize this too.  Because unaddressed guilt turns to shame… a dark and debilitating poison that can eat away your joy.  It is an easy trap to fall into, the ritual of self-criticism that turns to guilt and then to shame.  Work to release this pattern at every opportunity.  Recognize the difference between a learning moment and a toxic burden.  You will be actively teaching your child to learn from their mistakes, forgive others and forgive themselves.  You must be actively practicing this in your mothering.

 If you want to hold the joy, you must put down the shame.

8.  Refuse to believe and affirm

“My children are my life.”

“I am nothing without my kids.”

“I live for my kids.”

 Unfortunately, these declarations are often revered as the most powerful kind of love, owned by the real mothers that love more. My sweet girls, your life as a woman is meaningful.  It matters.   Your choices and passions and pursuits are important and worthwhile.   You can be a complete, whole human being.  Filled with love and joy and warmth and ambition and creativity and spirit and service.

Sacrifice is inherent in motherhood.  We sacrifice our bodies, our freedoms, our finances, our time… we give over our hearts to our children. But it is so easy to pour out too much, and lose our Selves.   Empty our vessels, and leave nothing but a shell behind.  My dear daughters, you should not sacrifice your self.  Children do not want that sacrifice.  You get to still exist, outside your role as mommy.  You get to pursue other things that matter to you.  You must be a top priority in your own life.   And this is the healthy way to parent.  Because your child is not YOU.

They want to carry your love in their hearts.

They want to know that they will always belong in your inner circle.

They want to know you truly see them for who they are.

They want to breathe in your strength, and see you stand tall in your own body.

They are individual people, and do not wish to carry your life upon their shoulders.  That kind of love  is a burden, not a gift.

9.   Cling to one single truth:  Love.

The one thing you can do absolutely right, is love.  Love that child with a wholeness that requires you to stay open to that vulnerable place.  Love them so they know that nothing is required of them to earn that love.  They will feel that love from you the most  when you practice loving yourself.

The Sounds of Our Crisis: Living with Misophonia

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Everyone has a trigger… that one thing that will make you go apeshit.  The emotion you just can’t cope with.  The monster you were sent to slay.

Mine is feeling silenced, my voice stolen.  Muted. Dismissed.

So naturally, I have  a child that hates the sound of my voice.  She suffers from misophonia, which makes her go crazy if I talk in the car while she is in the back seat.  She can’t stand to hear me talk on the phone, or converse with Rick downstairs on the couch while she tries to fall asleep.

Is that irony?  Divine cruelty?  God’s stab at satire?

Maybe.  But it also gives me clear direction…it demands that I find a way.   I have a little corner here, my own piece of the internet, and all I can do is write about what is happening with honesty.

I’m scared.  Driving home with my girls squabbling in the car, the fear creeps in.  It makes me angry and I am yelling at them before we have hit the driveway.  We have been together for 4 minutes.

We are emptying the dishwasher, setting the table for dinner.  Lydia stomps down the stairs, on the defensive.  She is singing loudly, slamming things to the ground, shoving chairs into the table, she crashes through the kitchen… the fear grabs me by the throat, and I struggle to maintain calm.

Lydia hisses at Carly as we sit in our chairs, and jumps to her feet quickly, almost knocking over the chair, slopping water out of the glasses.  About five months ago, Carly was added to the growing list of things that provoke Lydia’s misophonia meltdowns.  I take in a few gulps, the panic I feel tightens every muscle in my neck, strangling me.  She grabs her plate and kicks the swinging door in, stomping.  She grits her teeth but it doesn’t muffle the  furious screech.  We all freeze in place.   I put my hand on Carly’s back, and the small gesture of compassion breaks her composure.  She whimpers, and then grunts angrily.  Rick hands me Lydia’s  fork and napkin.  I snatch them from him and storm into the kitchen.   I try not to throw them at her.   She is cowering in the corner,  plugging her headphones into her iPod, turning it up so loud I can hear Bruno Mars damaging her eardrums.  She looks at me with disgust.

It hurts.  I can’t help it.  I feel wounded by her posturing.  Her revulsion.  Her aversion.  It’s an old wound now, scarred over and reopened by her sharp looks and high-pitched screeches over the last 18 months.  It’’s raw right now.  Because she is triggered by Carly too.  And every time she hurts my adult feelings, every time I must reach deep into the best, most mature part of myself to process this hurt and turn it into much-needed compassion for my glowering daughter, I think of Carly.  Her inability to process.  Her young spirit, and what this rejection must be teaching her about herself.  The complexity of the emotions swirling around our dinner table is nauseating.

I retreat to the dining room, and we eat, minus one.  While we eat, I struggle to pull my mind out of the next 10 years.  How will we survive this?  What will this do to us?  What will happen to my little girls?  To me?  I look at Rick, my eyes communicating my desperation.  He tries to ground me into the moment.  “Take a bite.  It’s just dinner,”  his eyes say, pleading.

It doesn’t feel like just dinner, it feels like our whole lives are being swallowed by this crazy, mysterious misophonia.

Sometimes, I can not keep the monstrous fear at bay and  I lose it.  Most of the time, it looks like anger.  I rant. I watch Stella’s eyes widen as she hears, “I’m so damn sick of this shitty behavior!”   The words taste terrible as I spit them out, aware of their sharp edges.     This extra loss of control  must do wonders for all three of my girls’  already tender, aching spirits.  Their appetites.   Being angry with Lydia is like being angry when a wounded animal snarls at you.  She is hurting, I know this.

Sometimes, the tears just roll, drip into chicken orzo pasta, and everyone acts like they don’t notice.

Sometimes, we pretend it isn’t happening.  We spend the meal sharing things we are grateful for in a clockwise, orderly fashion.  Stella gets up, runs to the kitchen, and makes Lydia lift her headphones and give her grateful words so she can report to the group.  The grateful list is building up, the room tightening with tension.

After dinner, when the clicking of the silverware against the plates stops, when the sight of Carly chewing her dinner is gone, when the sound of me taking a sip of water is over, Lydia goes into sweetheart mode.  She is throbbing with guilt and shame, she is not oblivious to the pain she is causing.  She snuggles up to me, she brings me school papers with great marks, she sweetly engages with Stella, offering to help her get her pj’s on. She tries to make Carly laugh.   She leaves us love notes, to smooth out the hurts.

I often find Carly sulking in bed.  The rejection is getting to Carly.  Normally so passive, so unexpressed, so quiet and easily content, Carly is beginning to show her pain.  She is frustrated and pissed off, she cries in an angry fit, kicking at my attempts to hold her.

“She HATES me!  She thinks I am disgusting!  And I am not doing ANYTHING!”

She folds her arms defensively, growling at me.  I try to explain.  But the explaining doesn’t soothe.  I know that, as I ache too.  I feel rejected.  I feel terror about how Lydia’s life will unfold, how she will manage.  I feel the weight of the damage she is doing to her sister, unintentional, but real, slam me in the chest.

Oh my GOD, what are we going to do?

It is not breaking my heart…it is eating me alive.

I think about all the families out there, trying to hold on.  Carrying their own burdens.  Their own hurts.  I am grateful for the health we do have.  That my girls are doing well in school.  They enjoy sports and friends and music and movies.  I think of people I know.  People I know who have children with closed  head injuries.  Autism.  Feeding tubes.  Wheelchairs.  Brain damage.  Schizophrenia.  People I know who have to liquefy their child’s meals and feed him through a straw.  Or are acting like their son’s pancreas, spending sleepless nights on his bedroom floor, praying the numbers go up, one hand ready to summon an ambulance.

These thoughts do calm me.  I do feel genuinely grateful.  I feel relief that it is not me.  And then I cross my fingers, knock on wood, send up a half-hearted prayer.

And please bless that will never be me.

But it does not drain me of my fear.  It does not help me feel capable of handling my own life.  My own daughters.  My own burdens.

I used to have a recurring dream, showing up when I was a small child.  It has haunted me for most of my life.  In the dream,  I am going about a normal day, when I notice that a tooth is loose.  And when I wiggle it, the tooth pops out in my hand.  Horror fills me as I realize that the tooth has come out.  My permanent tooth!  I tell someone… whoever is with me in the dream.  They seem unconcerned.   I dial the dentist’s office.  And while I scramble to tell people what is happening, or make an emergency appointment, my teeth become loose and fall out, one by one.   I feel completely out of control.  Helpless and panicked.  Permanent damage is being done, and there is no reaction, I can’t stop it, I can’t find someone who can stop it.

I haven’t had that dream for many years.  Maybe because I have climbed inside of that nightmare.   I am living in it now.  That feeling of helplessness and desperation.   We are living with something no one has heard of.  There is little known about it.  Our doctors haven’t heard of it.  Psychologists.  Therapists.  The few that know it, can not agree on what it is.  A psychiatric disorder?  A neurological disorder? A hearing problem?  A sensory integration disorder?  An autism spectrum-symptom?  A behavior problem?  The sensation of absolute helplessness is paralyzing.  I have no control.  I have no where to turn.

Why I am writing this?  This private, personal account of what really happens at our house, around the dinner table?

During the summer of 2012, misophonia had already slithered its way into our lives.  It’s presence a snake, coiled and waiting.  Watching us.  I had a sense it was there, but only that unease that comes as a premonition before the strike.   When it struck, here, and here,  I did what most sane, reasonable parents do.  I turned to the internet.  And there, I found almost nothing.  The info that I did find was less than encouraging.  It still haunts me, the things that I read that summer.  About families that can not live together.  About kids who leave home and never come back.  About mothers or fathers or siblings that are lost to each other, unable to overcome these tiny, imperceptible, everyday noises that scratch at Lydia’s brain like nails on a chalkboard.

There was a blog, I wish I could remember the name of it.  One blog.  And the mom who wrote it, posted about her son, and his misophonia.  All of the things they had tried.  All of the medication, and therapies and specialists that were not helping.  About dinner time.  But what left the lasting  impression was one sentence.

“We are in crisis over here.”

It was the most comforting thing I have read about misophonia.   I think of her often, and her willingness to admit it.  The crisis.  “Me too,”  I thought.

Knowing I was not alone was everything.

We are trying things.  We are draining our energy, our time, our savings account, trying to find help.  On the outside, we look like a normal, everyday family of five.  Mini van, soccer cleats, playdates, preschool art projects, birthday parties, piano recitals.  On the inside, if you came to visit, you would see a functioning family.  Home cooked meals, sibling squabbles, love notes, piles of laundry, homework unpacked on the coffee table.

Maybe we are a normal everyday family of five.

And everyone has something that makes them feel out of control.  Helpless.  Terrified.  Alone.

Are we all there?  Walking around with our teeth falling into our palms?  Clinging to the stories of the other people?   Gathering gratitude like seashells in a bucket, talismans of the burdens that we don’t have to carry?

The one thing I can do is step forward.  Use my voice, and say it when I can.

Me, too.   Me too.

To learn more about misophonia:

This NY Times article

misophonia.com

The today show segment, here   Warning:  trigger sounds are played.