I'm not sure what woke me up this morning, but the first thing I did was ask the girls if they would finish the rest of the dishes that they had left on the counter the night before. Somewhere in this house is a laptop that my kids like to use to watch whatever. I was angry and upset last night because I was over tired and overwhelmed. Instead of realizing that I hadn't gotten a good night's sleep and a less intense day was probably a wise idea I decided to take on more than I usually do since my daughter wanted chicken soup. This led to an unfortunate chain of events in where much food was cooked while few dishes were washed. I ate too much, drank too little water, yelled at the girls when they were fighting and spent a lot of time watching baseball while the proverbial city burned around me.
When I couldn't find Jill in any of the bedrooms or the bathroom I went into the dining room and saw her sitting on the couch. She seemed upset so I asked her what was wrong. She didn't answer me so I went back to my room for some sweats since I was cold. I like the girls to take Epsom salt baths at my place, I feel like they're calmer after this and they tend to be deficient in magnesium, but I kept forgetting to buy more at the store so I've been having them shower instead. I really notice it when we eat well, get enough sleep, and do things like the baths. Without those things we start falling apart in minor ways that continue to build and add up on top of each other. When I got back to the living room I pulled Jill onto my lap and we started talking.
At first I asked her what was wrong. She said that she was stressed because of her homework so I started asking questions about that. Was she feeling like it was too much, too hard, did she not have enough time, or was she feeling pressure to perform? She said she felt pressured to get good grades which I saved for another discussion topic since I wanted to get at a deeper issue. I don't know where that laptop is, but I know that the girls are using it to stream whatever they want to watch on Netflix. Without blaming their father for anything, TV is a way he escapes. Since I started getting back into baseball it's now something that occupies my time, but I'm going to be careful about calling it an addiction since I don't think that it is.
I talked to Jill about the word addiction, asked her what it meant and what she thought about it. Then I started asking her what sort of things people could be addicted to and if these people were bad, or they just had a problem that they needed some help with. Using my own life as an example I asked if there was anything wrong with watching baseball and eating ice cream or candy bars. No, she didn't think there was anything inherently wrong with that, but there is a problem when baseball and food are things that I use inappropriately. Some people can sit down, watch a game until it ends, get up, get a snack, and sit down again without there being a problem with their behavior.
When I watch baseball, my first problem is I don't really plan to watch it. I'm usually doing something else, realize that my brain is kind of fried and think, oh, I could just sit on the couch for a while and zone out in front of a game. This is flawed thinking although it almost worked last night since the Nats/Phillies game was so boring I didn't want to watch it. I flipped to the Rays/Yankees game, but that wasn't super exciting either. I spent a few minutes flipping back and forth between games until I found the Giants taking on the Reds. I love watching the Giants even when they lose. They're a fun team and part of what makes them so much fun is I love watching Buster Posey call games.
A lot of people agree that Buster is a good looking guy. He's not really my type although he's handsome, what I really like about him is his ability to manage himself and others. He doesn't ever seem to get upset, he just accepts the situations as they are and moves on to the next thing. I find Buster very calming and wish I had a Buster in my head telling me that things were going to be okay and reassuring me that whatever wild pitch I threw at him, he would do his best to control the damages. I feel like Buster would be a good person to have around in almost any situation, there's an esurance commercial with him that is really bad, but he keeps it from being as bad as it could be were he not there.
Sometimes really good ideas come to me when I'm not really thinking about anything else. I watch baseball and study footwear until I get too tired to do that effectively and then I turn into Jessica the fan who sits on the couch chatting with her friends until who knows when. I always want to see one more pitch, the next guy batting, whatever it is I can convince myself that I really need to see the end of a five hour White Sox/Athletics game for the antics of a position player pitching so maybe it's more of an addiction than I realize. But to get back to my conversation with Jill, TV is her addiction and it's hard for her to get her homework done because the homework is not fun and the tempting screen is a mouse click away from her.
When we were talking I was rubbing her back, kissing her forehead, and occasionally giving her some squeezes. I don't do that enough with the girls so I'm glad I took the time this morning. My Breaking Addiction book talks about knowing yourself well enough to recognize that you will eventually be in a situation where you have the feelings of helplessness that have triggered an addictive reaction in the past. For Jill algebra homework might remind her of times in the past where she was frustrated and didn't understand her assignments. Addictions are never long term solutions. I don't feel better having stayed up until past midnight and eating a bunch of chocolate and other food. I actually feel worse about myself than I did before which leads to more feelings of helplessness and that need to do something to avoid feeling like that.
Tomorrow the woman who picks up Jill won't be able to I will have to give both girls a ride to school. This is already creating anxiety in the morning because I have forty years of mornings where someone was yelling, upset, or racing around because they needed something they hadn't thought about the night before. I'm a morning person and my ex and mother are not. Even if they're awake in the morning they aren't pleasant people to be around, and they're easily irritated and angry even when they say that they're fine. My ex would stomp around the house, he denies that he does this, but he slammed the bathroom window so hard it cracked, and I have other examples of him being generally nasty and brutish and talking to me and the girls in ways that were not and never will be okay.
Mornings got to be so difficult that I would hide in my room until he left to take the girls to school. I would offer to take them, on rare occasions I would, but the majority of the time it was him. Back then I didn't know how to stick up for myself and the girls and tell him that he either needed to be nice to us or he could sit in the bedroom or the office by himself until he had time to wake up and treat people fairly and civilly. Because I wasn't around during the morning the girls got into the habit of skipping breakfast. My dad doesn't eat breakfast, I've gone in so many directions with the food thing it's less of an issue for me than it was, but if the girls are hungry they should be eating. Not having breakfast should be a stomach regulated choice instead of a time or planning or lack of food problem. Note - not having food you like to eat is not the same as not having food to eat. That was another issue we had. I could make eggs, but they weren't done the way that he liked them so a lot of the time they got thrown out if I didn't end up eating them myself.
So, to wind back to the addiction problem of my daughter consuming media during homework and sleep times, I'm glad we had the chat. We talked about the feelings behind the addiction and why simply removing it doesn't always work since people can trade one addiction for another or pick up a new one so they are now a drug addict and an alcoholic instead of just one or the other. Addiction is a tough battle, especially at fourteen when you have parents who are addicted to various types of screen time. I'm going to talk to her therapist about this, but I was really impressed with how realistic Jill was about her problem and mine too. As a self esteem builder we went through a list of things that Jill likes and is good at since feelings of helplessness can be worse when you don't remember that you do have things that are of value to yourself and society. Just being you is enough, but many of us do not realize that.
We don't want to be a drain on society, we want to be productive people, and that starts with basic self respect and love. I reached out to my sister and planned a game night for Friday. I sent another text to another sister and I'm going to continue reaching out to people. Getting us out of the house will reduce the number of chances my kids have to watch TV, I just reached out to my ex about renewing our old YMCA membership, he may not agree to that, but there are other things we can find to do if he doesn't. Overall I'm glad that we are starting to face this instead of continuing to ignore what is a large and real issue in our lives. I had my youngest help me with the dishes that her sister was asked to do, we talked about that while I was washing and she was drying. Communication and feeling sharing has improved in our house, that's a major step forward and one that we can continue to grow and develop. Still pretty tired so I'm thinking I should get a nap in before it's too late and then I'm up all night as a result of a later nap. Lots to be excited about even in the midst of this turnmoil, just have to take it one day at a time and recognize that it's a process.