State of the Ellie: June 2018

It’s that time again! Here’s my monthly overshare on everything worth knowing in my wee corner of the universe.

Stone angel statue breaking apart

Body: The gym is going great! Way better than anticipated, actually. I figured after the shiny had worn off, I’d go back to my old exercise-hating ways, but that hasn’t happened yet. With the exception of a few sick days (Mack and I both got a vicious poop bug immediately followed by a nasty cold), I’ve been able to make it twice a week, every week, and it’s making a difference. All my dysfunctional body parts are markedly less angry. I can walk up and down the stairs without wincing–that’s a big win! I also streamlined my gym time by dragging Lino in with me and having him show me a set routine. It’s knocked about 30 minutes off my time, which means it’s more likely I’ll get to a) shower and b) spend ten minutes in heaven (ie: the massage chair) post-workout. Having a regular time for intense movement and lifting has also helped with my mental health, although there’s been some rather intense snags recently (see below). Apart from fitness improvements, the summer weather has cleared up a lot of the perpetual low-grade cold symptoms I’d been having, as well as makes nicer to be outside. An overall feeling of good health.

Mind: I am…not holding up well as a stay-at-home mom. It’s been a slow disintegration of sanity as we’ve entered toddlerhood that’s shockingly similar to the dissociative state I went through in the newborn phase. I misidentified it first as adjusting to our family’s new home and schedule, then as Seasonal Affective Disorder, but after six months and two seasons, it’s clear there’s something more at play. But when I try to think it through, it’s such a web of circumstances, expectations, regrets, and desires that I can’t find the center.

I’m not sure what small thing tipped the scale, but this last week went from juggling kid, marriage, home, church, and writing like a pro to explosive rage that drains me so deeply I can’t get off the couch. I’m crying a lot. I’m so tired. So numb–when I’m not ablaze with anger, fear, guilt, or shame.

I know these signs. I spoke to my doctor yesterday and explained the series of physical symptoms I’ve accumulated that the internet tells me are anxiety-related (jaw pain, tingling tongue, sour stomach, and now my throat feeling full all the time). She subtly suggested I try the leftover Ativan I hide in the cupboard, then gently let me know about the free counseling program associated with her practice. I called today. And I feel guilty for that. I know some people reading this will feel slighted or confused about why I don’t trust them to help, why I don’t share my struggle with them. But there’s a certain point one hits where there’s too much to lay on a loved one’s shoulders in good conscience. An objective observer can often do more than the closest confidant, simply because they aren’t personally invested in the outcome. I don’t know what needs to change, but I do know I can’t keep going on like this. And so, off to therapy I go. At least for a little while. Assuming I can find childcare.

Spirit: As you might suspect after reading all that, I’m alllllll over the place right now. Not that my dedication or love for God has wavered–the opposite, in fact–but my soul is volatile. It’s desperate for peace but rages to get it. Ironic, considering my biggest existential problem is currently how to manage a toddler. But I’ve kept to my longhand devotional journalling. It comes hard some days, but it’s always good. God actually stopped me mid-freakout yesterday and (sweetly) chided me for being too overwrought and reminded me of who I am and who He is. That peace only lasted until an hour after Mack got up, but it was a cool drink of water to a parched throat. Oddly, the scholarly study of the book of Matthew that I’ve started has been an excellent balm, too. Being able to dissect the Word, understand its context, its history, its roots makes me feel more connected to God, even if the words themselves don’t directly deal with any deep truth (then again, don’t they all?).

Parenting: I covered a lot of this in the Mind section above, but I do need to add a few good things here. Mackenzie officially turned 2 last month! And she’s turning into this wild bundle of feelings and thoughts and words and opinions (so many opinions). She’s turning into a kid. I tried to hold her like a baby-baby the other day as a goof, but her legs wrapped all the way around my side. She laughed and I laughed, but it seemed like it was a little melancholy for us both. The amount of thinking she’s doing now is unreal, too. The number of words she knows! The stuff that comes out of nowhere! The names and events she remembers! I’ve had a lot of people remark on how mature/intelligent/advanced she is, including her doctor, and it makes me feel weird. I know that part of the reason I’m such a perfectionist is because everyone praised me for my accomplishments and smarts, so I pushed that as hard as I could to get love. And it gave me weird mental health issues that I do not want my daughter to inherit. She is smart as hell, though. I just don’t want that to give her a complex. What I do want is for her heightened level of cuddling, kisses, and hugs to continue. It may come at the cost of her being sick (a persistent ear infection and maybe some molars), but it’s the first time in her life she’s been snuggly, and I want as many hugs as I can get where I can still hold her whole person in my arms. It won’t be long before she’s far too big for that. I try to keep that in mind when we’re going through the hard stuff. It’s not forever (even if it feels like it).

Writing: In trying to follow the call to write more spiritual material, I’ve been diving into the world of devotional writing. It’s tougher than it looks! At least it is for me. It took three tries, but I finally submitted a good one for my church’s Proverbs 31 series (I’m the closer–no pressure!). I also applied to be a summer writer for Daughter of Delight but didn’t make the cut. I’m firmly convinced that it’s all training. I’m notorious for quitting when things are hard or don’t work out the way I expect, and I think God is testing my willingness to push through. I also think He’s giving me time to refine my process and voice. Devotional writing is so much different than novels, short stories, or the kind of blog posts I naturally write. I’m going to continue practicing devotional writing, and I very much want to get back to writing fiction again. I need to continue to hold my writing work lightly, though, without expectations, or the pit will only get deeper each time I fall into it. In the meantime, I’m highly enjoying the daily Noticing practice (which I moved to its own section to avoid clogging the home page), and intend to post something substantive at least once per week. If you have a question or a topic you’d like me to write about, let me know! Comment or email me.

I’ll wrap this section with the previous month’s posts in case you missed them.

  • Writer, train thyself: Despite being a writer for six years, I needed to start fresh and get some training. Lo and behold, a community of teachers appeared!
  • Love is a (nearly) useless word: The word “love” doesn’t carry much weight these days. We love everything from tacos to grandma. But what if we had more accurate words for the different kinds of love we feel?
  • Seriousness is not a fruit of the spirit: I’ve wrestled with what it means to write SFF as a Christian, feeling like it’s not allowed anymore. Turns out all the ideas I had about that were completely made up. God is into stories.

Aaaaaand I think that’s it for now! Sorry it’s a bit of a bummer this month, you guys. I seriously debated not doing a State of the Ellie this time because I’m in such a gross headspace this week, but I did it anyway because being honest and vulnerable with you guys is a) super important to me, b) a great form of therapy, and c) a reminder that you don’t have to be all happy-happy horsecrap all the time, either. Thanks for letting me be me.

Your turn! How are things going in your world? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it.


    • elliedi

      I did know that! Also: gross, but I get what you’re saying. There’s a certain amount of that happening right now, for sure. I just don’t want to fall into old traps/attitudes/sicknesses as I’m trying to transform.

  1. Susabelle

    You know, as much as any of your friends/family may want to help, and may feel slighted that you aren’t asking them, the fact is, none of us are professionals, and any help we could give could either make it worse, or at the very least, not change anything. Please follow through with the therapy. You have it available to you and while it’s easy enough to make excuses, is this how you really want to feel for the rest of your life? Go, for your sake, for Mack’s sake, for Lino’s sake.

    • elliedi

      Thanks. <3 I did make the call and have an appointment in July(!), although I'm going to look into what our private health insurance can do for an earlier date. I'm starting to suspect that it may be tied to my cycle, but that's going to take a professional to get confirmed anyway.

  2. <3 I feel you have a lot to be proud of yourself for this month.
    As someone in therapy and on meds for mental health, you gotta find the path that gets you through it lovely. So proud of you for taking those steps.
    Todderlerdom is SO HARD sometimes. It's okay to find it hard. Everyone does at certain points. Even if they don't talk about it out loud.
    It's okay to find being a SAHM has different feelings arising than others might find.
    You are totally allowed/entitled/supposed to feel however you're feeling. It's okay.

    • elliedi

      Thanks, dear. <3

      Fortunately, more people do talk about how hard the toddler years are than they do the newborn phase. I was completely unprepared for the latter but had some sense of impending doom with the former. The trouble is, I find, that the WAY people talk about it is often this joking half-complaint--more like funeral laughter than real sharing. And so the result is the same.

      I always knew that being a SAHM would be hard for me--childcare is not a natural gear I have--but I didn't anticipate going through the same emotional/mental issues a second time that I had with the newborn phase. It's harder in some ways this time because I don't have the excuse of hormones to help me out. It's just me.

      Right now, I'm looking for ways to make the whole experience less crazymaking, both practically and spiritually. Counselling will help. I need that outside observer. I'm not sure what else to do, but that's a good start.

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