It’s a new week and time for a new chapter in my new novel, Dates with God. So I am posting Chapter 3 this week in four parts. If you haven’t been reading Chapters 1 and 2, click on the “blog” tab above and then scroll to the earliest blog post with the title of Dates with God so you can catch up. This is my novel that I wrote based on the Eternal Warriors/Mothers who Know class. I am serializing the book. Now that I am back from my vacation and have dependable wifi, I hope to have a regular schedule. I will publish Emma’s letters on Tuesdays, Jill’s letters on Wednesdays, Kate’s letters on Thursdays, and Lauren’s letters on Fridays. These are all fictional characters. The stories are based on my own and my students’ experiences, with names and any identifying features changed of course. I also threw in a bunch of my own imagination as well.
Here’s today’s excerpt, Chapter 3, Part 1: Emma’s Letter #3, in which Emma discovers how the Chemical Scale applies to her, deals with her husband’s revelation and starts to battle resurfacing emotions of not being enough.
Emma’s Week #3
Wow, have I ever noticed myself sliding down the chemical scale this week, over and over. The Chemical Scale is a way to measure where you are in the process of giving up on your values as you slide into self-betrayal, or doing something that goes against your values. I never knew before this class that my brain chemistry actually changes as I betray my values. In class I learned that a “zero” on the Chemical Scale is the place to be. I don’t know why it’s not called a “ten” instead of “zero.” Ten sounds better than zero. But apparently not in this class. Here in the class, zero is the place of peace, of joy and clarity. Kind of like nirvana. Zero = peace. Hopefully I will remember that so I don’t think of ten as the ultimate place to be. Level 0 is the place of mindfulness. This is when I am in my prefrontal lobe. I’m pretty sure that’s where the Holy Ghost lives within us. If I am there, then I can feel the Holy Ghost, because that’s where he goes when he influences me. The chemical scale involves stages of self-betrayal that lead me away from that place.
Level 1 = Feeling an initial chemical spill in the mind or elsewhere in the body
Level 2 = Feeling a build-up of negative feelings that come from the spill with increased believing in the legitimacy of these negative feelings
Level 3 = Feeling a flash of temptation to do something bad
Level 4 = Having a stupid conversation or rationalization
Level 5 = Saying “forget it” to my value or original goal and giving in to the Level 3 temptation by doing the dirty deed that shows I am acting against my values. So for me that is eating more than my predetermined ration of sugar for the week.
Level 6 = Feeling stoned or mindless because I am no longer in the prefrontal part of the brain, but in the animal or hindbrain
The whole thing makes me think of my Grandma. She was always saying things like “What were you thinking?” or “Did you lose your mind?” whenever Joey or I did something dumb. Now I know that we actually had lost our minds, at least temporarily, by getting to Level 6.
I actually felt that mindlessness this week. No surprise there. It happens every week. Maybe every day. Nobody ever told me that being a mom is a combination between running a marathon and riding a roller coaster,all day, every day. There can be no end to the calls for help, even when I am asleep. It is as easy for a mom, who is home all day everyday with little children, to lose her mind as it is for a ball to drop. I am up against constant distraction and constant demands for service. Hence I always have all these swirling emotions inside me. Until I took this class, I never knew how to write about this constant pulling away from mindfulness or how even how to attempt to explain my inner world. But now that I have this knowledge, I am hoping that by writing about it I will get it cemented in my brain what it feels like to fight to be mindful.
Hopefully then I will not repeat the slide from mindfulness as much because I will notice it and and stop it. Two days ago I spent too much time on the Internet for too long. I got grumpy and if my kids talked to me I felt like they were interrupting me as objects that I verbally pushed aside. Sure, I won my Girl Goal of not yelling or swearing at them so I met the “letter of the law” and had a “perfect” day but I didn’t keep the spirit of the law. The spirit of the law is to have connection with my children and keep that mental connection even if we are doing different activities or are physically disconnected by being in different rooms. Then when they interrupt me I will treat them kindly. I didn’t do that when I stayed on the Internet too long. I’m thinking I need to change one of my Girl Goals to limiting the Internet to after 2 PM and then only be on for an hour.
In my scripture reading I noticed the scripture in Helaman 10 about Nephi causing a famine in the land for his people. God gave him the power to do that. What leader would hurt his people like that by starving them? That question made me think about why he would do that. The answer I came up with was that he did it for a greater reason, which was to help them remember Thee, God and turn to Thee, with reliance and obedience. It made me think, “Hmm, I’m the leader over my life and my kids. At least I’m striving to be. Would it be OK for me to cause a famine of electronic media for me and my kids?” I think so. So we are going cold turkey. No screen time for the kids. At least for a week. Then I will reevaluate. It just makes me and them so stoned. I want to cut it out completely for a while and then maybe we will reintroduce it in small amounts after I have made new rules and created a family economy for its use. I don’t want it as the be-all, end-all of rewards. But I don’t want them to feel so deprived and curious about it that when they move out of my home, they gorge on it either.
I felt a chemical shift today when I went to my cousin’s wedding. She looked so supremely divinely gorgeous! Her dress and hair and decorations were everything I wish that I had had at my wedding reception. It was a garden setting, with roses in bloom, trellises, a gazebo in the center of the yard, a huge canopy for shade, and then a live band playing from an actual bandstand, a huge fountain, and a wooded backdrop. The full dinner buffet was incredible. She had her pictures developed of the wedding party outside the temple, after the temple ceremony held that morning, and they were on display, in full color, lavishly framed. I was sooo jealous! I felt the negative chemical spill, not just spilling, but welling and swelling inside me. Definite envy.
I happened upon an old family friend at the wedding so we went for a walk. It was brisk! She is definitely in shape and I had Anna in my babywrap so I got a vigorous work out toting that 18 pound load as I kept up with her. We walked along the brook through the forest and then came back. I noticed when I came back that I was back at zero. I no longer felt the envy.
I’ve learned from watching my mentor in the class do LBAs [Lost Battle Analyses] that people can go back and forth between levels on the scale. She’ll ask people, if they are having a hard time identifying levels during an LBA “When were you last at a Level 0?” Sometimes people stay at a level past 0 for a long time. Or sometimes they stay between Levels 1 and 2 for days, or they will go from 2 to 3 to 4, then back to 2, all in one day.
That makes me think of Clark. He finally came to me, sobbing, one night and said he had gone to the doctor and asked for some Prozac. Then he got the prescription filled on the way home and started taking the drugs.
What?! This was like a hailstorm out of the blue on a summer picnic (which actually happened to me in July last year). This is the man who acts like he has no feelings, suddenly bawling his eyes out. He told me this long story of how he thinks he’s been depressed for years, maybe even decades. It’s all making sense now. No wonder he hasn’t even started looking for a new job. I don’t understand it all and part of me wants to deny it. But I have to say, hey, maybe this is why the fence gate stayed broken all last summer. Maybe this is why he never cleaned the garage. Maybe this is why he never gets to my honey-do list. I’m trying not to take it personally but it’s hard. Is he depressed because I’m not fun enough or beautiful enough or positive enough? Is it because he can’t father children biologically, or because I can’t give him children biologically? The doctor never would tell us whose “fault” it was for not being able to get pregnant when we tested for infertility.
He cried. I cried. I told him it wasn’t supposed to be this way. I didn’t think when I entered into our marriage covenant in the temple that 15 years later, I would be living on my grandfather-in-law’s inheritance because my husband was too depressed to find work and addicted to video games. He told me, “I’ll let you go, if you want honey. You can leave me. I wouldn’t fault you for it.” That made me cry even more. I didn’t say anything. That night I prayed to Thee like I never had before and the next morning I told him I was staying.
God, please stand by me and strengthen me. Or rather, please help me to stand by Thee and my covenants. I need a husband to help me raise these kids. I don’t want to be a single mom like my mom was. My kids need a father, not a zombie. I want to have a husband who leads me and them, not a guy who drags us down. I did make a covenant to my husband when I married him and I’m sticking to it. I hope. I’ve heard about young men and the “failure to launch” phenomenon. I wish he had that problem when we met so I would have noticed and steered clear of the guy. He showed no signs of these problems he has now. Now I am stuck with him. He was launched in the right trajectory. Is there such a thing as “crashing after launching” for middle-aged men? Is this what a Mormon mid-life crisis looks like?
Thank goodness for my goals. They help me keep my mind off of Clark. I am so grateful for that! I am learning things I never knew before about myself.