Friday, July 17, 2009

Supportless IRL

I was sitting here pondering how tired I am, how much stuff there is to do, how I wish I had more energy to put towards the weight loss. And I figured something out that might have been apparent to others, but wasn't *really* in my head yet. I am weary and I need support in real life. I love the support I get online... great for keeping my spirits up. But some days I sit down and look at the piles of dishes, the laundry, the housework, all the errands I have to run, raising five kids, and I think, "dude, I just need someone to help me with all this."

It feels unfair, that I have no Grandparents to pawn my kids off on... ever. Not even once a year. My parents are dead, father-in-law too, and the mother-in-law is 2000 miles away in a nursing home with Alzheimers. I get insanely jealous when I hear other couples talking about going off on weekends together while the kids stay with Grandma, or how their Mom watches the kids for them so they can go to the gym. I don't have any brothers or sisters, and my in-laws are very distant, so my kids don't even have aunts or uncles who could take them once in awhile. When it's Christmas, or Thanksgiving, we do it alone at our house. There's no travelling to family parties. No one celebrating with us. And when I just need a shoulder to lean on, I can't turn to a sister or a brother or anything like that. It's just me and the kids. Yeah, I am married, but I'm alone almost all the time. And it's really draining on a person.

This is not what I bargained for when I had my children. Things were different then, and I had a very supportive group of "family-like" friends and a moderately supportive husband at the time. Stuff happened, we moved, life changed a lot. And now I am pretty much on my own, day after day. It's pretty tough, physically AND emotionally, having no one to rely on but myself. Especially with the kids.

Some days (like today), I really *need* to take some time for myself, sit down and take a load off and let *someone else* take care of things. Let someone else run the kids to their appointments, cook up the meals, go shopping, do the housework. I'd just like to be able to let my guard down for a day and know things aren't going to fall apart without my attention.

I think that's why a strong marriage and family is so important (IMO). I can't meet every need my children have. And I can't meet all of my *own* needs, either. I wish someone would just give me a hug once in awhile, tell me I am doing okay, and say "hey go take a walk. I'll take care of dinner." Boy, that would be heaven. But it isn't like that. I've been trying to find other things to "refill my well" as they say. A counselor is fine, paid help is nice, but there really is nothing like having someone who loves you to help you out or listen to you. A husband, a Mom, a sister, an Aunt. Nothing like real, tangible love from someone you know cares.

That's what's missing in my life. That, most likely, is what has driven my binge eating disorder. It's no coincidence that I started overeating and gaining weight when my first marriage was deteriorating. And the binges came into full swing when I got divorced. I never felt so alone, so overwhelmed.

My kids are (mostly) older now, not as needy and more helpful, so I generally don't feel overwhelmed. But I do feel lonely. I do wish someone would give me a hug once in awhile. My kids keep me afloat, but your young child cannot really support you emotionally. They shouldn't have to.

I think this is really the whole base of the bingeing. I want. I eat. It isn't food that I want... but food is easier to get than love and support. Filling the sense of Want with food doesn't work long term. It just screws things up.

I don't know what the solution is, and I'm not asking for suggestions. But knowing that THAT is what is *really* going on makes me more likely to say, "No, you don't need ice cream. Ice cream can't hug you or do the dishes for you or tell you that you're a good person. Quit treating food like a lover." Oreos are not my mother. A Reuben sandwich is not my father. Fried chicken is not my sister. Pretending doesn't make it so.

I won't find what I want at McDonald's or Pizza Hut or in the bakery section of the grocery store. Perhaps I will, someday, find the kind of support I long for... but in case that never happens, I just have to learn to be content with what I have, and rejoice in the good things in life I've been given. I adore my children, and that alone gives me a great deal of peace and strength. Hopefully, as I continue to grow stronger in my resolve to be well, I will be able to find a resolution to this great sense of desire for connection that has threatened to consume me for so long.

I feel so much better already, just writing this! And now I am off to bike.

41 comments:

Theresa said...

today I'm in tears going through my own set of deep dark sad emotions Lyn..... online friends might not be able to be there as much as a real life person.... but I'm sending hugs just the same. xoxxo
and.......
I'm so proud of you for scribing your feelings instead of eating them. :)
Theresa

Joy said...

Lyn, I wish I could turn up at your door, give you a hug and then make you a cuppa and listen to you chatter while I got on and did some bits for you. Being looked after, just occasionally is necessary for every human to be happy.

I am insanely proud of you for writing this down, and biking, instead of eating. I hope that soon you can build relationships IRL that will give you that support and sense of family you deserve.

♥ Dee ♥ said...

((hug))

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

You need a wife.

Rachel said...

So many people feel this way everyday...if only we could beam over to each other for visits, hugs, babysitting, etc.
It's incredible that you've gotten so in touch with the source of your binging history...that's hard work. I can't say I've done it yet.
We all love you here - I hope that makes a difference. :)

Rachel said...

You know, I've gotten the impression from other posts you've written about the facts you've laid out here. And that's really rough. I hope now that you've named the issue in a public space, maybe there are actions you can take to help alleviate it - because you seem like a lovely and certainly very worthy person who deserves to have more real-life support. I wish you the very best of luck!

Anonymous said...

I so feel for you - I really truly do. I used to have a large group of IRL friends, and they've withered away (moving, going back to work, incompatible children)

It's really, really hard to be alone. The interwebs are great support... but sometimes, you just need someone IRL to hang with.

Have you tried meetup.com or sparkpeople? There are a lot of us mommies out there.... a lot.

((((HUGS))))

screwdestiny said...

LOL at Jack's comment. Man, it really does sound like you need somebody. When your husband *is* there have you ever tried talking to him about this? Even if it just happened once in a while I'm sure that would be better than nothing.

Pam said...

Oh Lyn, I so feel for you. My husband works two jobs and we almost never see each other, I am stuck in the house 5 days a week because we only have one car, and I have no friends that come visit, or that I can go see. My BFF lives 400+ miles away. My parents are close by, but they have so much on their plate that leaving my son with them is next to impossible. I wish we were neighbors...we could do each other a lot of good. Hugs to you.....

NewMe said...

As an only child myself, I can really relate to what you're saying.

I too wish that I could drop by and give you a hand. Since I can't, please take these ((((hugs)))).

Hanlie said...

I wish I could be there for you in person too!

As I was reading this, the thought that came to mind was, "No wonder her knees gave out! She has not support!"

Thinking of you!

Anonymous said...

hi lynn - i'm so sorry for your sadness and loneliness - i think there has gotta be a way for you to get some social network - maybe a class at night or just going out for coffee at your local starbucks alone. i wish you could hire someone to take care of your little ones and even if you had a part-time job that would give you more of the social network you crave. i think doing something for yourself at least once a week is a must... good luck xoxo Patty

Anonymous said...

Here is a suggestion although you said you didn't want it. Why not hire One of your older kids. I do believe you said one was a teen. So hire him or her once every two weeks and go by yourself somewhere.
A movie. Find yourself.
I don't get the whole husband thing because he is never there and when he is, well... who am I to wonder why.. just saying, something has to give cause you can't survive on 'going to the park" or riding a bike for the rest of your life, can you?
Theres help out there.. YMCA? somewhere................

MB said...

I wish you lived closer to me so I could give you big hugs, a shoulder to lean on and a baby sitter once in a while.

I don't have any family support but I don't have 5 kids either.

Try to take care of yourself.

Lyn said...

Theresa~
Hugs back to you, I hope you feel better and find your peace.

Anonymous~

I do hire my kids or a neighbor sometimes, but usually I need that time for things like, say, a doctor's appointment for myself, or other things that I need to do that are incompatible with having a small child with me. We don't have a YMCA with a facility. But the problem isn't that I can't hire someone. The problem is, I can't hire someone to love me the way I want to be loved, hugged, and appreciated.

Lyn said...

p.s....

It won't be forever, my kids will grow up, be in school, be independent. But even then, it isn't really "freedom" from responsibility that I want, or even the alone time. It's the sense of being cared for. The feeling of love and security that parents or a true partner gives.

*That* is what's eating me.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to disagree and say that I don't think children should have to be paid to do chores. Both of my parents worked (and hard) so I had to drive my brother to sports practices, pick him up from school, etc. It was just expected and I didn't complain.

Hopefully your older child(ren) can help out by doing the dishes and laundry once in a while. Can he/she/they watch your three-year-old for just a moment while you go for a walk? I think sometimes it's nice to get out and exercise so you don't have any in-house distractions.

South Beach Steve said...

Lyn, I know what you mean about needing that real person, and I wish you I knew an answer for you, but I don't. Spilling it all out on here probably helps though. I hope the day got better.

Theresa said...

Thank you for your kind response Lyn, a complete melt-down and good cry really helped me so much. Then I took your advice and hugged my kid..... :)

Vickie said...

the upside is that you are not sandwiched having to take care of the kids and your parents. And at the age we are all turning - that is often what happens.

And do not magically think that having involved parents or inlaws would make things EASIER.

And I think you are very realistic when it comes to your husband - which is good - better to be realistic than think he will magically be all kinds of help.

You can help yourself by finding a friend. And that is something that you can do. You might look through some type of mentoring plan - perhaps through a (middle of the road, non-shunning, non-judgemental type) church group. Or women's group.

And do not feel alone in this need. You are not alone. Most of us are very lonely.

Even if we are around lots of people - there are few that really understand the way that people do here. So I think you have to have realistic expectations about friendships out in the real world. We all tend to really understand and are open. It takes quite a while to find that in real life people - I think here - it sorts itself out because we all have fairly like minds.

Vickie said...

the upside is that you are not sandwiched having to take care of the kids and your parents. And at the age we are all turning - that is often what happens.

And do not magically think that having involved parents or inlaws would make things EASIER.

And I think you are very realistic when it comes to your husband - which is good - better to be realistic than think he will magically be all kinds of help.

You can help yourself by finding a friend. And that is something that you can do. You might look through some type of mentoring plan - perhaps through a (middle of the road, non-shunning, non-judgemental type) church group. Or women's group.

And do not feel alone in this need. You are not alone. Most of us are very lonely.

Even if we are around lots of people - there are few that really understand the way that people do here. So I think you have to have realistic expectations about friendships out in the real world. We all tend to really understand and are open. It takes quite a while to find that in real life people - I think here - it sorts itself out because we all have fairly like minds.

Pam said...

Try telling your children that mom needs some hugs. You may be surprised to find that they already know you are hurting and wish they could help. My daughters are 23 and 25 and they have become my best friends. We are closer in different ways now that they are young adults. Hang in there. Sometimes the way to have wonderful people who love you is to raise them and teach them yourself.

Rebekah said...

Girl where do you live?! I would come over in a heartbeat to give you a few hours of peace. Or even just someone to go on walks with and help with all the kids.

Rebekah said...

Sorry if that comes up weird, my cat walked across the keyboard lol

Thealogian said...

Hugs to you, Lyn.

Stay-at-home motherhood, without the relief of an extended family is a kind of social arrangement that is only relatively recent (1940's-present). I'm NOT indicting you for your choices, I'm just saying that expecting one woman to be responsible for the health and wellbeing of numerous children in a suburban setting without extended family or a "village" so to speak, is not psychologically healthy. Even if you did have a husband who worked 9-5 and came home everynight.

It takes a village, not just for the children, but also for the flourishing of mothers.

Peace

p.s. You've mentioned being negatively impacted by a strict religious up-bringing, but have you considered checking out a UU or UCC church? Quaker Meeting or Reformed Jewish Temple? Childcare is usually available.

Tammy said...

That's a good question...what state do you live in Lyn?

I totally,totally get what you're saying about needing the hugs, love, support and appreciation. And I know it's hard to swallow that you're just not going to find it in family.

But I'm telling you Lyn, although I have a great family, I've got 2 or 3 friends that I am WAY closer to than even my family. For instance, my birthday is next wknd...and I already know from years of experience that 3 or 4 friends will remember me, throw me a party, and make me feel special...whereas my 2 sisters won't even remember to call.

The point is...make new friends. It is very easy to do. If you say hiring someone isn't a problem, then you're halfway there! Now all you need to do is find a local online group that has the same interests you do...the same hobbies...a Mom's group...anything like that. Then hire a babysitter and get out there and make some new friends....you can develop the deep connection with a couple of them that you crave so much, and life for you will get brighter. I promise. :)

Lyn said...

You guys totally give me hope!! I used to have dear close friends like that and we do still stay in touch, but never see each other anymore since we are states away. If I put myself out there a bit more, maybe I can make those kinds of "sister" type friends here, too.

I live in the Pacific Northwest. I love it here! Any of you in the Oregon/Washington area, drop me a note if you want. Maybe someday we can do some kind of bloggy get-together!

I am feeling way better this evening after a battle with the *vanilla* frosting which is now in the trash can with its friend.

Anonymous said...

Lyn, what a meaningful and honest post. I only wish you lived near me so I could help out but I live in Australia. There you go, start saving and visit, You can stay with us as long as you want (and your children). Take care Carol

remza said...

Lyn ..

I am 23 old and till this moment I was a kind of person that believes that I do not anyone in my life to support or help ..

BUT
reading this post really makes me think .. wonder ..and cry :'(

just yesterday a friend of mine needed someone to support and help her in a very serious issue .. I believe if she didn't find us, she would have killed herself !!

And that also made me think ..

Lyn ,, your posts are changing my life
I owe every good change I'm doing in my life to you ..
love .. alaa

anne h said...

Dude - I don't have kids and my dishes are stacked way up. So little time, yet it sometimes goes by so slowly....and blogging is time-consuming . BUT I wouldn't have it any other way right now.

Lesley said...

You're right - it is tough fo ryou and I'm just so impressed with your matter of fact honesty. In an ideal world we'd all have a close support network within a few minutes. But, it aint an ideal world.

I'm a bit like you in that what family I have lives far away and is aging rapidly and my husband works away too. Maybe that's why I haven't had kids...I couldn't see me doing it without the support.

But - your kids will know the strength of a close loving family and will have each other. So well done you for doing your bit so well and I hope you find some support somewhere soon.

((((((hugs))))))

Lesley x

rachel421 said...

i like the incomparable george burns, he stated, "happiness is large, loving, extended family,,,,in a another state!" im with vickie, if you had a big family around you, you'd probably be posting about troubles and travals regarding them.

lol. you need a break from constant grueling housework and childrearing, how about a walking buddy after you get a sitter? freedome and fresh air, sweet.

Anonymous said...

Yep, who would ever binge on potato chips if the hole in their soul, their insatiable appetite for love, was blessedly filled.

I have found that sense of fullness through my faith and church family. (I had wounding church experiences as a child and returned after a 20 year absence.)I found a healthy place where I could be know and be known, and love and be loved. It's not always great... what family is perfect... but it is my place and my people.

My prayer is that you would find that type of connection with other like-minded, deeply spiritual people of compassion, such as yourself.

TeresaLynn said...

I relate so much to what you've said. My husband is here all the time, and I can leave my kid with him to go to the Y, thank goodness. (I only have one, though...how you do it with five I can not imagine...you are my hero.) But that's about the only level of support there is.

There's never a hug with "it'll be alright" - instead there's just realism - "well, you got yourself into this situation" - that kind of thing. Never the "I'll take care of dinner and carpool...you do it all the time." The closest is that if I don't want to cook, we can grab take-out. But who arranges for the take-out and goes to get it? Yep, me. At times it's like being a single mom.

And I think I've done the same thing you talk about - looked to food for the support I don't feel like I'm getting. But also (maybe you too?) I have in the past seen food as something I deserve. I'm the one doing all this, taking care of everything, handling it all, no support...therefore, I deserve to drive through Taco Bell and treat myself. It took lots of time to figure that one out, and reprogram my thinking to realize that something unhealthy that made me feel lousy and gain weight was not a treat that I deserve. I (and you!) deserve a whole lotta stuff, but not that!

Thanks for sharing and making me think! Hugs!

moonduster said...

I know exactly what you are saying. My family is 7,000 miles away, and my dh's parents are not fit for babysitting.

And it is so not easy to make friends at this age either. *sigh*

Lady Downsize! said...

Lyn, I was just hinting toward the same loneliness in the post I wrote today. I don't have the family dynamics you have, but I too have been longing the hug, the compainion, the one who migh pick up the reigns for just a little while and let me rest. One day our reward will come I guess, but we just have to keep plugging away! Of course, that encouragement doesn't make things any better.

Guess feeeling the same way makes it hard to find a way around it.

~TMcGee~ said...

Giving you a hug across the miles.

Marcia said...

Boy, I can relate. I am lucky to have friends. Our families are 3000 miles away. It's exhausting.

I have a full time job, as does my spouse. That doesn't make it any easier, as our friends also work full time, and nobody really has *TIME* to help out, we are all trying to stay above water.

Can you try to cultivate newer friends in your area? I'm sorry that you are feeling overwhelmed.

Hotch Potchery said...

We had to raise our two kids by ourselves...but I only had two, and I do have a husband who is happy to let me off on my own every now and again...my sister is moving close by, and I need to remember to call her and grab my nephew from time to time so she can rest....thanks for that reminder.

Rebekah said...

Hey sorry forgot to come back and check this, we live at the other Washington :(

Hopefully you meet with someone who lives near you or maybe we could do a meet up sometime! My sister lives in Vancouver so its kind of near there :P

Anonymous said...

Hi Lyn,

I came back to your blog searching for a blog post where you mentioned being lonely, I'm not sure if it's this one, but I'll just comment here. I hope you are doing great on your vacation. Gosh, I hope you are able to see all of the progress you've made b/c your readers can definetely see it. I don't know if you are still feeling alone but I hope you are not! :( Reading this type of thing makes me feel better.