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Next Life, NO Kids: July 2017

July 31, 2017

Raising A Highly Sensitive Child

My son is a highly sensitive kid. He's almost eight, and I can already see him as I was at that age. Even on a great day, there are tears. Sometimes it's a moving song in the radio, other days it's because he made a mess and thinks we might be mad at him.

It's a struggle, but mostly because it's so ridiculously hard to identity so much with your child's pain and not be able to take it away. I remember feeling those feelings as a kid, and I remember being told I was, "too sensitive."

When I was 13 years old, I weighed 140 pounds. I remember because it was made to be shameful.

I grew tired of hearing, "too sensitive," and I turned to food for comfort. I was a "latch-key" kid, and after school meant an empty house. I would overeat in front of the tv, and hide the evidence (wrappers), so no one would know what a pig I had been.

My mother and her husband called me "Chubs" whenever I would go for that second snack, so I learned to hide both my overeating and my sensitivity. I would sneak into the kitchen sometimes after everyone was asleep, and binge in my bed.

The purging started a year later; after a girl at summer camp showed me how, and I quickly lost forty pounds.

The next year I discovered alcohol, and found the less I ate, the faster I got drunk. Anorexia became my new BFF.

I entered rehab for the first time for the eating when I was 20. It took years, and A LOT of work, but thankfully, I have found recovery from both eating disorders and alcoholism (not necessarily in that order). It was a painful process to go back to those early years and see how much they shaped my personal narrative. Feelings are bad. Stuff it or purge, but whatever you do, never be "too sensitive."

So, when my little boy came home today and hid in the kitchen, I knew something was up. When I heard the cookie cabinet open and some rustling of a wrapper, I asked him what he was doing. 

He told me right away, and I asked him immediately if he was having feelings he wanted to talk about. He broke into tears and told me there were kids at camp who had said some really unkind things. One child even pushed him.

What I didn't do is suggest he was being too sensitive or ask him to understand that kids are just kids.

What I did do is let him cry and tell me how it all made him feel. When I felt he was ready, I told him that firstly no one ever has the right to put their hands on him. I told him I didn't expect he ever would want to, but that he had every right to defend himself if someone hurt him intentionally. 

Then I told my son the truth -- that kids pick on other kids when they're not comfortable with themselves. When we feel bad, sometimes we treat other people poorly, because we want them to hurt like we do.

I told him that people who are happy with themselves don't often have the time or desire to say or do mean things to other people. 

Tweet: Raising A Highly Sensitive Child  https://ctt.ec/R1948+ Via @nextlifenokids #hsp Tweet This 

I asked him if he ever thought it was fun to be mean to other kids, and he said he didn't. He told me he doesn't like to hurt people, and I suggested that might be because he's truly happy in his heart and comfortable with who he is.

I told him how much I identify with his feelings and how intense they can feel all the time. I told him he was somehow gifted with a heart just like his mama's. He has my hair, my eyes, my button nose, and my smile. From where I was standing, there seemed only one thing he has that I never did -- a mama like me.
The words we choose to use when children are upset may not seem very important...but they are. Next Life, NO Kids - Raising A Highly Sensitive Child #highlysensitivekids #parenting #inspiration
I may not always say, do, or be the right thing for my kids; that's for sure. But today, I was EXACTLY what that little man needed. I was the strong voice that assured him it's okay to feel his feelings, even when they're hard. That he can be okay, even if he feels like he's not, because there's nothing he can't tell me; that we can't work out together.

I was support, and love, and acceptance. I was a pair of ears to listen, and two arms to hold him tight.

I was his mama.

And that was enough.


July 27, 2017

Friendship is Wicked Awesome

I had lunch with a good friend from high school on Saturday. We weren't close friends then, because we were both too busy worrying about what everyone was thinking about us, but we've reconnected in that same vein.

We challenge and encourage each other to do things we don't want to in order to grow as humans, because that's what friendship does. Like when our 20 year reunion rolled around (because we are old AF), and neither of us wanted to go (because high school is torture), we basically held each other accountable to go. We met early, hung with the few people we actually enjoyed during those horrible years, and didn't much leave each other's side. It turned out to be kind of a blast, but not because it was a terribly good time, but rather because we were being adventurous... and surviving.
I've spent A LOT of my life hiding from real relationships with women, because they're scary AF.
It has been my experience that friendship makes you a better person. It doesn't point out your flaws just for funsies, and it's somewhere you can feel safe to be exactly who you are. Good friendship guides your heart to the truth, and then sits with you there if you're not entirely ready to look at it yet. Friendship is fun and allows for ridiculousness. It's a place I don't have to be "ON" all the time, and can just be myself.

I'm so grateful for good friendship in my life today. To accept it, and know what it means to be a good friend. To understand that in order for it to flourish, I have to do my part and the fact that my part isn't always giving. Sometimes being a good friend means taking from another person, and allowing them the opportunity to give.

That's the key -- the golden ticket.

My friend and I, both admittedly awful at the give and take aspects of friendship, are learning how to lean on each other for support and perfect the sway. We're helping each other see that there actually is no perfect formula for balance in support, as long as it keeps moving from one to the other.

I haven't always been comfortable with receiving, because it has often come along with strings and debts I didn't want to pay. It has been difficult to trust another person - especially other women - because of how wretched I know we can be to one another when shit hits the fan.

It has taken me 39 years to be even remotely comfortable in my skin - with my genuine self - and allow someone else the opportunity to see all of me; good, bad, and ugly. I don't suppose that matters much in the grand scheme of things.

What matters is, that Friendship -- TRUE FRIENDSHIP -- has helped me find her.

 Friendship is wicked awesome.

To experience the full force of my time with my dear friend, watch this:

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July 21, 2017

Stupid Things Are Not Always Stupid Things

I have always loved Linkin Park. They have easily been one of my favorite bands for what feels like forever. I have, on more than one occasion, escaped from the voices in my head by playing an album, and I have always felt better afterwards. It's super possible the Meteora track list replaced some much needed therapy.

The way Chester Bennington could yell about the right to be belong, to be heard, to not be ignored. Those unapologetic tones have wrapped strong arms around so many of my anxious thoughts and feelings and lulled them into a sense of knowing that has validated my pain and struggles.

The words have been perfect; the anger justified.

Yesterday as the radio stations paid tribute to his life and gift via extra play-time, I listened more closely and a little more cautiously to how deeply I identify with his words.

As my husband and I drove home from the beach yesterday (which I wrote about here), I shared my thoughts about how difficult it must be to be that famous and struggle with literally anything. I have experienced just the tiniest bit of "internet celebrity," and it has resulted in constant over-evaluation of what's okay to share with people and hanging out a lot with my good friend, Isolation. I cannot even imagine what it might be like on such a larger scale.

It appears these days, as soon as certain people get a whiff of your vulnerability and humany parts, they take it as invitation to rip you apart. For those of us who struggle with severe mental illness, this can take an incredible toll.

I have always been "too" all the things; too emotional, too needy, too fat or too skinny, too loud, too dramatic, too insecure, too vulnerable and too trusting.

I have always been too human. This has caused me to want to be more like you and less like me. At some point I decided that "numb" was better than "crawling in my skin." 

I've wasted innumerable hours (okay, most probably years) trying to dissect my desire to do "stupid things." I have always needed some form of escape, and I have thought that if I could figure out the "WHY," it could help me solve the question of how to stop it.

Maybe I've been fucked up since birth. Perhaps the separation from my first mother damaged me in ways I will never understand and set the destructive ball in motion. I could point to many aspects of my childhood, being raised by a Narcissistic (my opinion based on all the things) mother and her angry personality disorder ridden husband (also my opinion). It could be the lack of adults I had in my corner, willing to take the action necessary to keep me safe or the repeated emotional/physical abuse and sexual trauma I've experienced since the summer before kindergarten.

By the time one of my abusive boyfriends attempted to take my life, it was almost comical how easily the trauma flowed in, out, and through me. I was familiar with the game. I knew what to do and how to behave. I knew it was okay (and even vital) to lean on people, but I also knew to take the brunt of all the things myself as not to negatively affect or burden the feelings or lives of my supporters. I know how to blame myself for needing too much from people, and so I often take a polite pass -- even when it means I have to let all of the air out of my tires and suffocate. 

Thanks to an incredible therapist and my willingness to attend those pesky weekly sessions, I have learned that my desire to be "gone" from this planet or to "sleep and not wake up" is a symptom of the overwhelm I will carry with me forever. 

I used to immediately check myself into an inpatient facility when these thoughts came through, but I have learned to trust myself a tiny bit more every day and speak up when the water gets too high, so the thoughts might be translated into how I'm doing that thing again (where I take on all the world's problems and refuse to ask for help under the pressure). Because I'm a 39 year old woman who sometimes forgets she can't save everyone; that she is worthy of support, forgiveness, and love. A woman who tries extra hard to give all of those things to others to somehow earn the right to them.

Listening to Chester Bennington sing about not having "room to breathe," being "one step closer to the edge," and "about to break," has helped me sit there long enough to catch my breath. Sometimes screaming along in the car that "...all I want to do is be more like me and be less like you," or "I won't be ignored," has helped me hold my own reigns. 

Sometimes stupid things don't look like stupid things. After the death of Chester Bennington, I'm reevaluating.

All of those songs, and my truths unhidden within them, have allowed me great pause and reflection from one insane situation to another. They have become a part of my strength by giving me permission to own them and feel however I need to without apologizing to other people for it. 

And so, when someone whose words I've so much identified with commits suicide, I am forced to halt once again. Just the way I did when the world lost Robin Williams, who deflected so much pain with smiles and the ability to make the crowd laugh with him, I pause. 

I take a step back, and I evaluate my priorities. I take stock of the "stupid things" I still participate in, and how they might be contributing to my inevitable downfall. Because some of my stupid things don't look all that stupid anymore. 

My "stupid things" have evolved with my pain and recovery, and I have mastered the art of making "helping" look smart and selfless. You may even look at some of my "stupid things," and congratulate or encourage me to keep up the great work. Because I am a crafty survivor of trauma, and I know how to pretend. I know how to blend in and make the crowd laugh along with me, and if I don't remain vigilant with self-awareness those things will likely continue to the bitter end. 

Never do I want my family and friends to have to bury me because I couldn't ask for help. Never do I want my children to be motherless because I ignored a glaring sign to slow the fuck down on the Self-Destruction Express. And so I pause. I take stock of my feelings and how far I can stretch them. I reconnect with myself and my daily prayers during my morning coffee and 8yo interrogation. I force awareness into the places I know too well provide the ick inside me to hide and fester. 

I get real honest with the few people in my circle I can trust with Me, and I cry. I cry for the little girl inside me that still sometimes feels less than worthy of the tears, and I remind her that she's okay. I cry for the loss of a fellow human being who felt too much and didn't feel worthy of other options. I cry for all the people who may ever feel the ways we do, and do not have access to a supportive ear... and then I get back to work -- to do my part to remind us all -- we do.  

Join Julie on juliemaida.me

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July 20, 2017

The Space I Own Today

Warning: I'm just going to write right now, and not take the time to edit out or obsess about what I'm putting out into the world. 

Love it or leave it. 

My husband and I played hooky today. Well, not really, but he took the day off and we decided to send the kids to camp even though we didn't have to.

Horrible, right? It wasn't.

I placed my cell phone on the kitchen table, we packed the cooler, grabbed the towels and headed to the beach. No text messages, Facebook, twitter or Instagram. No stopping every five minutes to take the perfect picture to share about my second, minute, hour or day. No emails or phone calls, no one to ask  me forty questions about why ducks quack or anyone wondering how I can help them stop drinking today. It was just me and my best friend at the beach.

I fought off the fears about who would be mad at me early in the day, and reminded myself that wasn't my problem. I didn't try to think about how many opportunities I was going to miss to be of service or grow the reach of my non-profit. I didn't fret over how many women might not get connected to the help I provide because I was unavailable. I just sat in it.

It was amazing.

I wore an old bathing suit, and I didn't worry about how other people might view me in it. I didn't obsess about how close my thighs or saggy my boobs are. I just wore the shit out of that old bathing suit. 

I didn't take a picture of myself in the bathing suit and post it up on social media with a hashtag about body positivity; even though I thought about it.

When we got to the beach, there weren't many people there. We laid down our towels, applied sunscreen, and basked in the sunshine; pausing occasionally to share a thought. I didn't think more than once about what I could say or how to say it. I just spoke my mind. I didn't have to translate any of my thoughts into less bitchy or judgmental versions out of fear they might be taken out of context. I just spoke from my heart, and enjoyed the opportunity to be heard -- like, really heard.

Thirty minutes after we plopped squat, other couples and families began to surround us, even though there was a whole beach. I decided it was okay for us to move to avoid being crowded, and I did not feel badly as I dragged my towel to an open area to claim more space. I did not concern myself with what those other people might think about our move, and I didn't obsess for one second about how it might have made them feel. I did not pretend that I'm so important they might be thinking about me at all.

I just owned my decision, and left other people to their right to feelings and my right to move. 

So simple. So amazing. So bloody important.

I'm not sure why I struggle with this simplicity in every aspect of my online life, but what I do know is that I'm tired of it. I'm ready to own my space and care way less about how others feel about it. I'm ready to set some incredibly serious boundaries regarding my right to self-care, and I'm committing to work on caring less about my wording. 

I deserve peace, yo. We all do. 

Sometimes we just need a day at the beach to remember. 



July 05, 2017

Mothering Through Clickbait

I'm SO sick of seeing articles pitting moms against moms, or judging certain parenting/life choices. I'm tired of witnessing back and forth bullshit nonsense between women saying basically the exact same things, pretending it's a different standpoint.

I'm sick to death of scrolling past and through emotional clickbait.

Next Life NO Kids - Mothering Through The Click Bait
Clickbait has its own definition in the dictionary.

The titles of these articles pull us in by speaking directly to our fears and insecurities. 

The problem is, as long as we keep placing so much value in other peoples' opinions and taking the bait, it will always be popular to shit on others because we disagree with their life choices.

Does my decision to stay at home, or what I'm doing with my boobs, really matter that much to other moms? Couldn't it be argued that is the real problem? 

Why do we feel the need to poke our heads into each other's business so much? Why do we take such pleasure in judging each other? Why should I care about the choices you're making in your own life?

Because we've been wired to care. 

We've watched so many episodes of "The Real Housewives," we've convinced ourselves that every single opinion we have actually matters and should be shared. We think if we mock other women we decide are weak or "beneath us," it will fix what's broken inside us long enough to feel "good" about ourselves. We forget that women like Veronica Partridge are human beings; not just names on a computer screen. Two years later, she's still under attack.


Who gives a flaming shit why someone doesn't wear leggings? You don't agree? Move on with your life!

We've created this monster, and we're wondering why bullying in schools and on social media has skyrocketed. We're the example, and we're teaching our children they need to check in with society for self-esteem; before feeling confident about their choices. 

We're sending the message that we're not enough unless Instagram says so, and we're breeding a society full of narcissists who value the possibility of their 15 minutes of internet fame over human life

We don't even have time to band together as women to discuss these issues though, because we're all far too busy arguing (with each other!!!) about whether it's appropriate to cover up or which of the latest viral parenting blunders wins "worst parent ever." 

As "mom bloggers" we could all write an article laced with judgment and get our 15 seconds of viral fame. Unfortunately, it's so completely unoriginal at this point, we have to work much harder for shock value. 

What would happen to "click bait" if we all just stopped clicking? Wouldn't it be amazing if sharing and being supported through our motherhood experiences and shortcomings felt safe and became the norm? 

What if we didn't all have to hide behind "Fine," because admitting we're struggling human beings didn't make us "terrible" mothers? 

What if we could all just get real for a second and admit that no matter where we are or what we're doing, being a mom is hard and sucks sometimes? 

Would we judge less and support each other more? Would PPD be less of a shameful label? Would more moms speak up before it was too late? 

Would our daughters be less likely to be mean-girling and bullying each other for attention and to feed a faulty sense of esteem?

Could we change the way women are viewed? Would we take our power back from all the media outlets begging us to NEED acceptance? Maybe we could stop blaming the world for our shortcomings, and take responsibility for the unhappiness that sparks all the judgment. 

Perhaps, we could all enjoy the freedom to decide who and what we are, without fear of other people's right to disagree.

If you enjoyed this and agree, please consider sharing it with your mom friends and join The Mom Movement.

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