Maybe That’s Just Me…?

by Lori Dwyer on February 12, 2013 · 10 comments

Being in love is all kinds of awesome and I traipse around, laughing and smiling and being silly. I put on five badly–needed kilos. I still sleep alone most of the time, of course, but I wake most mornings feeling refreshed and calm– as if I actually have slept, not just eventually fallen into a warm black unconsciousness due to the physiological necessity of needing to rest.

Life just seems… easier. Momentous tasks revert to simple inconveniences. Things seems accomplish-able, dreams believable. Life suddenly comes into some kind of focus, a fine point in the distance– something to work toward again, rather than just surviving every day. Relishing in myself, as opposed to clawing to maintain my sanity when it feels as though very few people In Real Life actually give a f*ck about me, and, sadder, don’t particularly care about my children either.

I’d forgotten what ’happy’ felt like, the effect it can have. And I mean literally forgotten, without any of my usual melodrama– it takes me by surprise how good this feels, how happiness is impossible to contain to one small area of your life, how it seeps out and colors everything beautiful. I find myself feeling simply… lighter. Smiling more. More playful with my children, less inclined to yell and grumble at them. I find new music everywhere I go and it sticks in my mind, phrases sweet and melodic that contentment causes to come tumbling from my lips.

I walk around singing love songs, and I’m happy if that’s a slightly pathetic cliche… give me blatant, happy normality and I’ll not just take it. I’ll grasp at it desperately with both hands.

And it feels normal. I feel normal. Wonderfully, boringly normal. I walk around feeling as though I’ve reconnected again, this time with an apolycyptic zing. After living in a barren, painful No Man’s Land for two years now; I feel as though I’m suddenly back, with a vengeance, in the land of the living. And it’s intense here– colors and smells and noise and people with their banalities and ideosynchracies. I find myself shying away, not drinking of it too heavily or partaking too fully, lest I gorge myself on the sickly sweetness of it. (I remember, leaving the dull, quiet safety of the maternity ward for the first time after my son’s dark birth and witnessing my surburban world with the same intensity I’m feeling now– colors were suddenly so bright, people so fast and loud. And I recall, years before children when I was a different person, interviewing inmates from the Big Brother house once they were released, and them commenting that they felt they same. It makes me wonder– how loud and fast are we, compared to the pace we are meant to run at…?)

And I thoroughly enjoy it, right down to it’s most basic roots– “See? Do you all see this?!? I have someone who loves me, and I love them. They think I’m awesome. This means I’m not broken anymore. This is a big fat blurred inky stamp that says that I. Am. Normal.”

(And all the hipsters in the back row with their feet up on the seats can intone here all you like about how ‘being normal isn’t that great anyway’. I’ll take that, and I’ll say– bullshit. Normal– ‘of the norm’. Unremarkable. The same as everyone else. If you think ‘normal’ is an undesirable state… you haven’t been where I’ve been.)

And it feels so good…

Until it doesn’t anymore. Until something happens to make me feel stupid, foolish-of course I am not normal. Of course I cannot just flip a switch and make all this go away… and neither can The Most Amazing Man In The Universe, as amazing as he is.

Because despite that happiness- maybe because of it- receding back into the horror of what happened, the awfulness of it that still snags the edges of my mind… delving into the thoughts that make the whole world feel ugly, so that numbness and disconnection becomes my only way to cope… Well. That’s the polar opposite to this ‘happy’ thing I have going on.

It’s existing in that split state again.

The light. The dark.

So I walk around thinking I’m normal… until something reminds me I’m not. Like dissolving into a quaking, shaking mess within an hour of returning from my calm Melbourne bubble because my children will not stop screaming at me. For forty five minutes they take turns yelling at each me, at each other, at nothing at all; until I am on the verge of tears and my whole body is tense, hands shaking, breathe coming in great gasps. “It’s just because they’ve missed you so much”, says my mother, and I think Yes, and now they are going out of their way to punish me, now they are intent on making me pay for the time off I’ve so selfishly taken.

Is that normal? To feel so persecuted, so bereft and agitated? If that’s what’s those burnt out, over–ridden symptoms the PTSD lays cause to– if the legacy of this is that my mind freezes in flight or fight adrenaline every time someone, anyone starts yelling– then shouldn’t it come with a shut off switch, some kind of physiological morphine that dulls the effect of being yelled at when it’s your own children doing it?

Or does it not matter, not really? PTSD is PTSD. And screaming is screaming. Whether it be my children, or any random someone… it still feels like a verbal wall battering against me, an aggressive pulse that squeezes my mind, my nerves. Every single fiber of me goes stiff, closes up, blocks out the resonant phrases until its noise, just noise, and a voice I know well from a few years ago now tells me that it will be over soon. It will be over soon.

Just keep up your own guard of white noise and soon the yelling will stop.

But, again, as if just going around and round in a maze of my own mind, I hit the same point– I should feel differently about it, since its my own kid doing the yelling… shouldn’t I? There should be some kind of Get Out Of Jail Free card, some biological smoke and mirrors to ensure that this doesn’t phase me…. right?

I don’t know… do real normal people have that? I’ve lost my judging point, my yard stick for where acceptable ends and Slightly Crazy begins. Maybe normal people do possess that ability to be mostly un-phased by the constant yelling of their offspring, and I lost when the world became unsafe. When all my parameters of what people are capable of, what they might do in a fit of irrational rage, were suspended and held hostage by the world and the whims of one person.

Maybe it’s a maternal instinct I never had to begin with.

Or maybe all that’s bullshit, and all mothers feel like this a lot of the time. Like they can’t take it, like they want to run away. Like if two small people scream at them again, cracking the silence and making every nerve jump and singe and cry or in shock; then they may just absolutely lose their sh*t.

Or, again… maybe that’s just me.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Sapphyre February 18, 2013 at 11:51 am

Yeah, screaming sucks. That’s why it was so hard to deal with my daughter’s head lice – it actually contributed to hubby’s and my anxiety/depression.

And I can’t cope with noise when my nerves are frazzled. For some reason, they were frazzled on Saturday afternoon and everyone got on my nerves. When we came home from the movies, hubby, daughter and her BFF were all being very noisy outside, wouldn’t calm down, and then I lost it. :(

I know the solutions:
1) Children that won’t stop fighting / screaming can be sent to their rooms for a time out until they calm down. Repeat as necessary. Length of time is 1 minute per year of age.
2) Mum has a timeout too. Just deep breathing while they are in their rooms. We can also explain that the noise is making us very grumpy and if they’d like us to be happy, they need to stop.
3) Mum needs to escape for a while – yes I know you just did that, but make sure you have your next escape planned when you finish the first one. I have a semi-planned escape for Saturday :)


Griff February 13, 2013 at 9:12 pm

I never tire of reading you Lori. It’s not ‘about’ you, it *is* you. I seem to recall a looong (not so long) time ago where i read your blog for the first time and realised that what I was going through had happened to other real people. The utter utter desperate grief, the dying, the empty, and it made me feel at least not quite alone. Now, reading these pages where you are alive again (I like to think of it that way for me), I can see in you how I began to feel not too long ago. Our circumstances were worlds apart, but our feelings have followed a similar path. Yep, it does feel f$%king great! …and yes, I too slip on occasion, sliding back a little into that pit. But honest love pulls me back up. I am still in awe Lori. ‘Love ya guts’ as a friend of mine says. Oh, and NYAAH NYAAH! I put on 10 kilos! But I really need to lose a couple and get a bit fitter, because sitting in that pit has made me a little lazy/sedentary. Isn’t it great to be alive? Big hugs and love Lori. I am truly, truly happy for you and your beautiful soul :)


Miss Pink February 13, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Love is a great and powerful force. Falling into that intoxicating new love stage would be hard when you have children because it is only natural to crave that person and want to pull them into your bubble and hold tight until you absolutely must come up for air.
I do NOT think your children are punishing you. I DO think it is important that you take time out for yourself, and that it isn’t selfish to do that. There is a balance though isn’t there? And it’s different for all of us, and so we have to push and pull and find that balance. Your children love you, admire you, and they want you to be happy, but they want to be part of that happiness too.
I have to play music really loud when I’m struggling. Sometimes I just go and sit on the toilet so I can say I am going to the toilet and I really just close my eyes and be. And this is me, with another person here to help. I don’t know how I would do it day in and day out alone. Give yourself a little credit.

I said to my BFF’s boyfriend a couple of weeks ago “Don’t you just wonder what being normal feels like? How quiet inside your head it must be? How nice it would be to enjoy happiness without the paralysing fear waiting for the other penny to drop, because it always does, and it’s always more painful than you anticipate.” He just looked at me like I had lost my marbles. He said calmly “What is normal? What makes you think you aren’t?” But there was a wiseness in his eyes, like he saw for the first time a flicker of there being more to me than this silly funny girl.


Carol February 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm

You could join in with the screaming? Or maybe try whispering, or maybe stand there and look at them, with your nerves on edge, take a deep breath & say, “I can’t HEAR you…”. Just to see what they do. Then quietly walk away, out to the garden for a smoke. Hey why not. I’ll try almost anything once. To be honest, I don’t know which is worse… having them punish you for being away, or have them punish you for trying to leave.

As for The Most Amazing Man In The Universe (MAMITU), damn – about time something brings more light in your life. Everything just has a new shininess to it, it’s a bit like how green green is after it rains, or how blue a summer sky is. So, yep, keep singing & keep smiling & keep on being normal. Coz, what is normal?? xx :D


Shannon February 13, 2013 at 10:44 am

Maybe your reaction might be a teensy bit exaggerated because of the PTSD but it is entirely normal to feel like you’re going to lose your mind if your kids don’t for-the-love-of-god shut up for 2 minutes.

Especially if,as a PP mentioned,you’re going it alone.

It’s hard to stay above that blackness when you feel your being totally sucked dry by your kids but it is what it is-kids are needy and they aren’t going to shut up for awhile just so you can enjoy your afterglow.

Just try to hold onto the knowledge that your kids and your reaction to them is totally common and you’re not alone xo


Drea B February 13, 2013 at 10:42 am

First day back at work Monday after 12 months maternity leave. Long day, tired as hell. Went into my daughter’s room to say good night, her dad tells her to give me a kiss and a cuddle and her response is “Do I have to?” in a whiny voice. I said “no you don’t” and walked right back out of the room.

She didn’t really mean badly, she was probably being silly, but I’d hit the limit of tolerance and simply walked away. It’s not just you.

I think I react worse when it is my kids doing the unreasonable yelling at me. They’re supposed to be with me, not making my life insufferable.


Woah, Molly! February 13, 2013 at 9:32 am

However you feel, that’s how you feel. I think a lot of us spend a lot of time trying to justify how we feel to ourselves and people around us.

(If it was me in your place, with the screaming, the tears would have come sooner, so much sooner and I may very well have just up and run away…)

I guess all you can do in situations like that is hold on to the feelings all that love and happiness inspires in you, the way that makes you feel and know that when the screaming stops, that will still be there, somewhere inside.



Spagay February 13, 2013 at 7:43 am

Screaming is screaming.


Trisha February 13, 2013 at 2:02 am

I don’t think it’s just you. I think as humans we all have the need to break away some times, especially when the ones who we are “supposed” to feel only rainbows and unicorns make us feel as though the world is against us and falling in. I don’t believe it is just you.


Tamsin February 13, 2013 at 12:33 am

No its not just you that wants to run away from their children sometimes. I want to run away from mine sometimes and I only have the one. I think its harder doing it on your own. No one for back up, no one to give you a five minute break, all your childrens attention is focused on you and solely you because you are their world. Just as they have to put up with our mummy moods we have to put up with their kiddy moods. I’ve has behaviour issues with my son recently. You need to find something that will calm them down when they get in those moods, easier said than done I know but you will get there! xoxo


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