I have The Malaise

I’d call it “white people problems,” but technically, I’m not white, so there goes that.  I’m very lackadaisical with a side order of malaise today, can’t tell you why.

Potential reasons:

I’m weirded out that I’m so weirded out about being a parent. Two nights ago I realized how painful I find it to think about the happy times I had when I was a divorced dad* to my nephew.  Very painful.  So painful I end up crying, no matter where, no matter when I think about my sweet pseudo-son and the great fun we had.  I used to feel good about those times because I knew what I was doing!  I had instincts!  I loved him and led him and didn’t have to think twice or second-guess or freak out! So I thought I’d be a good parent.  Then I lost him in the divorce and despite missing him all the time, I can’t really think about him too much (see the previous part about pain).  Over time, then, I’ve forgotten that once upon a time I had instincts and fun and general awesomeness with a kid even though I was responsible for him and (let’s be honest) he was a hard kid to guide given his shitty home situation.

I would like to get past that and feel confident about my parenting future, but I don’t think I can without getting through the painfulness and figuring out a way to live with it.

Sucks.

My job is kind of ridiculous, but I’m good at it. I help people get past the stuckness and silliness and bad direction they’re veering toward.  I make them play nice and show them the right way to go about getting real decisions made at the appropriate levels of the organization in a big complex matrixed corporation.  But I spend all my time being frustrated that my skills are even needed.  I need to find a way to reframe my perspective so I can be proud of what I do, not annoyed that I have to do it.  I’m good at it, after all.  Therapists don’t bemoan the fact that people need them, right?  Or Orthopedists that people break legs?

So, yea, that.

Something else is going on that I can’t put my finger on. It could be that I’ll be out of town for fifteen days in a row.  Might be that our lives are being shaken up a bit at home, but we’re actually handling it really well, so maybe not.  I don’t think it’s hormonal, but who knows?  I don’t know.

~~

*My nephew (by marriage to my first husband) had a shitty, unstable home life.  I was nineteen and full of confidence, enough that I stepped into the void because I could.  He spent weekends with me from the time he was four until we moved away five years later, and I loved him more than I’ve ever loved anyone.  We just fit together.  He’d join me in whatever I was doing — shopping, building, reading, studying, visiting my family, whatever — and I’d enjoy it all that much more because he was with me.  He didn’t like to be touched so I didn’t; I allowed no leeway for punkiness so he wasn’t.  I was “his people,” the ones you can count on to love you and defend you no matter way, especially important if you’re a kid and therefore often lack say in the matter.  He trusted me enough to ask the hard questions; I loved him enough to answer them all honestly.

I gave him up when we divorced, choosing to lose him rather than force him to choose between my ex- and I.  I think that was a mistake, not fighting — even through messiness — to get to stay in his life, but at the time I thought it best.  Now I struggle to be okay with that decision and force myself to trust in his innate awesomeness to help him raise himself the rest of the way.  Out of rough childhoods come really great people, and he’ll be one of those.

***pain***

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6 thoughts on “I have The Malaise

  1. do you ever get to see him? or stay in touch? was that the last time you saw him?
    i think the fact that you even contemplate these concepts of being a good parent just automatically enrolls you into the group of future good parents. most people become parents without thinking twice and its frightening. the fact that you even are concerned about being a good parent pretty much guarantees you will be – because you’ll be so focused on trying to be a good one!

    you need to find a way to love your job. today i treated some patients (which i haven’t done in weeks because of a lull in between jobs and various paperwork issues). – and i had this absolute high and realized, this really is what works for me, and i need to remember that.
    i made myself what i call “my wall of inspiration” of all the cards, pictures, notes, memorabilia from patients i’ve had. so when i feel like killing myself or others because of situations at work, i can look at my wall of inspiration and be reminded why i am doing this.

    maybe you need a way to remind yourself about why your work is worth doing and why you enjoy it!

  2. I just feel compelled to comment to tell you I have total sympathy for your feelings about your “ex” nephew. The way that family relations change after divorce can be really screwy and I don’t know that most people are settled or at peace with their choices. My Dad’s family completely cut my mom off after they got divorced. She had 10 nieces and nephews, four siblings-in-law, and had shaped her life around my Dad’s family and goals for the first fifteen years of life while everyone was little and finding their way (the adults and the kidlets). She has tried to leave the door open a bit with some of them, but frankly, it’s just not working very well, despite the fact that she’s a very graceful, respectful person generally. One thing I find hard is not to let the pain taint all the good memories.

    I don’t doubt for one second that you had a major impact on the life of your nephew. Whatever situation he’s in now, whatever choices he’s making or support he’s getting (or not), I am sure that he remembers your time in his life as special. If his family life is really unstable, he’ll probably have a lot of stuff to work through as an adult. You’re only one person–you can’t fix it all!

  3. As a new parent, the one thing I’ve learned is that parenthood is FULL of doubt and anxiety yet all that is overshadowed by the unparalleled joy that comes along with it. No, you won’t be perfect. Nobody is. But you will be you and that will be all that your child needs. I remember having all kinds of fears before my daughter was born: Would I bond with my baby? Would I truly be able to love someone else in that wholly unconditional way that I’ve never felt before (even in my marriage)? Would I be enough? None of these things were even a factor once she was born. The love a parent feels for a child truly is powerful enough to make you willing to jump in front of a bus if that would ensure their happiness.

    The fact that you even think about these things beforehand only serve to prove that you will be a kind and loving mother once you decide you’re ready. (Though truthfully, is anybody ever really ready?)

  4. I’m on a campaign to replace the phrase “white people problems” with “first world problems.”

    And the story of your nephew breaks my heart, but as you mentioned, your experiences with him also prepare you even more for being an awesome parent. I don’t know about your particular malaise, but I think being at this stage of our lives with so many big decisions that suddenly involve so many more people can be overwhelming.

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