Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Things Klonnie Did Right

You guys.  Another round in the email wars.  Now it is a letter instead of an email because Ms. Pussy Couples Counselor doesn't have an email for her clients to use.  (I'd like "Things That Make You Go 'Hmm'" for 400, please, Alex.)  Anyway, here's some stuff I wrote to the counselor.  It's called "Things Klonnie Did Right".  I'm mailing it tomorrow.  I'm copying Mr. K.   Take what you need if you can use it.  Nod in recognition if you recognize.  Pound your fist on the desk if you are so inclined.  There's another document in the works.  It's called "Things Mr. K. Did Wrong."  (It's at least twice as long).  But anyway, here we go.

Dear Ms. Pussy Couples Counselor:

Your gross mis-management of our session yesterday was a real betrayal.  You allowed Mr. K. to throw the equivalent of a three-pointer at the buzzer.  And all I was allowed to do in response was sob and swear and cut a check for the privilege.  Mr. K. stated that there was a direct line drawn from my issues with my illness to the family crisis in which we find ourselves today.  He let that sit out there with no opportunity for me to rebut in my own defense.  He should never have been allowed to make that kind of statement in the first place.  But having done so, it should never have been the last thing said before the session ended.   It was a clear violation of my emotional safety that you, as a trained professional,  are supposed to maintain during sessions like these. I’m surprised that you have not called me to apologize yet.  I was expecting your call by the end of the day.

I’m going to take the time and space to rebut what was said.  I'm going to detail all the things I did for my kids in the twenty years that I have been their mom. I’m going to talk about all the good things I did.  I’m going to talk about the good stuff I taught them, the positive messages they heard.  Things we somehow don’t address when the accusations come up.   I also have several pages worth of things to say about Mr. K. and the events of the last few months.  I have created a separate document for that, so that Mr. K. has an opportunity for rebuttal, a courtesy that so far has been rather unevenly extended.

Before the babies were even born, I was thinking about them and planning for their arrival and what it was going to be like to have children!  When the kids were infants, I took them with me to La Leche League meetings, where I could get support with breastfeeding and meet other moms.  We developed play groups and I played a pivotal role in that.  Throughout the time that the kids were little, I worked to keep the house clean and neat, to have clean clothes and healthy food, to nurture them and make sure they had what they needed.   

As they grew, their needs expanded and they went to nursery school, where I volunteered and also watched other babies so their moms could volunteer.  When it was time for kindergarten, we decided to take them to a parent participation school.  I attended and eventually led the parent education workshops that were required for parents to work in the classroom.   I studied child development and worked to implement the things I learned.  I was concerned about concrete things like limiting tv time, performing chores, completing homework.  I tried to teach them how important it was to have a little bit of work and a little bit of play, a little bit of healthy food, a little treat, all in balance, a little bit of everything each day.  I encouraged their emotional growth by talking about feelings and how to handle them, how to interact with other children, how their behavior affected others, and how important it was to pay attention to that, to have respect for other people and their feelings.

I volunteered for everything that came up.  I worked in the classroom and at home to make sure art was available, crafts, cooking projects.  I babysat for other moms and arranged for play dates both at home and at the park.  I coordinated music lessons, sports practices, and social lives (birthday parties, play dates, outings).   We laughed about my calendar and how detailed it was – color coded for each kid and their activities, highlighting where events conflicted, etc.  There were days when there were three different soccer matches on three different fields all at the same time.   There were many days when I got up at 6:45 a.m. for school and didn’t wind down until after 11:00 p.m.   And through all this, I still managed to stay out of the nuthouse, despite all the triggers I was facing, pretty much single-handedly.

Each year, in each child’s classroom, I was assigned a different project.  I had two kids in two grades.  That meant four hours in the classroom and multiple hours of prep each week.  I also had a toddler at home to account for while the school activities required me to be away from him.  There were field trips -- about twelve per year for six years -- I drove a carful of children and chaperoned every one.

I got up every weekend to make sure they were where they needed to be with the stuff they needed to have.  I signed them up for every sport they wanted to do.  We did swimming, soccer, whatever they wanted to try, every season.  I was on the executive board of every group my kids ever belonged to, from soccer to swimming to PTA.   I want to emphasize the fact that at times this kind of socializing was extremely difficult for me given the vagaries of my illness.  There were many days when I felt overwhelmed by the tasks of the day that lay ahead of me, yet I got out of bed, got dressed and did what needed to be done.

I focused on Troubled especially.  Soccer was extremely important to her and I made sure that she got to all the practices, all the matches.  When there were weekend tournaments, I made sure she got to those.  I rented motel rooms and socialized with other parents, way outside my comfort zone.  I did all this precisely because it was so important for Troubled to foster her self-esteem and well-being by encouraging her to excel at something she loved. 

I supported Troubled through all her academic struggles, arranging for tutors, trying to find ways to reach her when she was at her worst in high school.  When she got caught shoplifting, I went down to the mall to get her.  I single-handedly dragged her through the last quarter of high school, or she would not have accumulated the required classes to graduate.  Troubled would not have walked with her class if it hadn’t been for me.  

I offer all this not for any kind of applause, but to point out that, even in the throes of bipolar disorder,  I managed a complex system for three children, keeping them engaged and active and stimulated and healthy.    I created and maintained an incredibly nurturing environment in which the children were encouraged to do their best, to learn and to grow and to thrive.  When I lost my temper, I did my best to calm down each time almost immediately and apologize and explain what had triggered it.  I did have lots to work on, and I freely acknowledged that.  I did a lot of work in therapy and tried to implement what I was learning at home.  I explained what I needed and asked for support.    We are done beating this dead horse.  It is old news and does not need to be revisited.  Ever again.  Not even a little bit.  Not even close.


  1. I had to stop more than once while reading this to wipe away the tears. You have so much strength that I am awestruck. I grieve for the death of a relationship that you once had with the person you loved. The entire time I read this, all I could think about was my now failed marriage. About how my psychological and emotional issues were used against me in court to relieve me of custody of my daughter. And my ex and I were VERY similar to the relationship discribed above. We had 3 children in the marriage, only 1 was biologically mine, but I couldn't have loved the other 2 if I had given birth to them myself. And for quite a long time, our marriage was threating to derail, and when it did, it was hell. Pure and simple. All anyone could focus on in court was my multiple psych diagnosis, and how it was detrimental for my daughter to be with me. The one thing that you have as a positive (which may not sound like it, bear with me) is that the fact that your children are older, and are able to process and deal with the situation at hand. Girlfriend, I wish I had 1/18th of the strength that you. So, while I am still crying from reading that(you can literally feel the pain in your words), I want to thank you for posting this.It does help to read/hear about others going through these struggles. There is one last thing I would like to say: 1. You should NOT have to justify ANYTHING TO ANYONE. You did NOTHING WRONG. In reality, you did so much more RIGHT than most parents can lay claim to.
    On another note, I would find another counselor, this one sounds like a complete douchetard....stay strong Ms. K. This too shall pass.

  2. Never trust anyone who doesn't have an e-mail address.

  3. Im a psychiatric nurse who follows your blog. You are so "together" its amazing. I love your humor, but it's your strength I admire most. To do what you do and how you conduct yourself in the face of mental illness is inspiring. People do not umderstand the enormity of your illness and how hard it has to be with all your distractions to simply live your life. What you posted was brilliant, insightful and courageous. Youre an amzing human being and i only wish you the best!!

    1. Somehow, as a psychiatric professional, your comment is particularly meaningful to me. I have never asked for special treatment, because my illness was already being used against me. But looking at everything I wrote, I am starting to realize that it was pretty goddamned impressive what i managed to pull off, eh? What a relief to realize that what felt like a super-human effort was, in fact, a super-human effort! Thank you so much for the post.

  4. Ms. K, I just want to express how grateful I am to you for this blog. I suffer from bipolar disorder and am in my late 20s. It's been 10 years since my diagnosis and though it's easier to manage than it used to be, I have always been fearful that I will never be able to cope with having a career and family. I am so encouraged by your work, not only because you are a brave, honest, and brilliant person, but because your writing inspires me to develop my own unique voice and to tell my story. You are a great example to all young women, especially those struggling with mental illness, and I hope you will continue to use your talents to inspire hope and strength in your readers. I wish you the best through this tremendously difficult time, and I hope you find the support you need.

  5. I am a-aww, who gives a shit. You have done well and sounds like your best and it was good enough. There is always some fucking moron Know-it-all without a clue who seems to get the right to shit on your nest. If you respectfully, or in my case, ruthlessly fling the shit back at them then we are disruptive and mean. Get the fuck over it asshole overlords. You are now targets and I love to hunt. You know what your doing, Clonnie, keep up the fight. I am with you whether you need it or not, cause it is a fucked up world but NOT because of us.
    Not really Suzanne, she is my wife who I adore. I just don't know how to reply. Anyway, you get it...

  6. No email - wow. Okay, what-the-hell-ever.

    Since you said he threw this 3-pointer the other night, I've been wondering. I want to say "How could he?!?!" but you know the answer to that.

    That counselor owes you more than a phone call of apology. She should have shot his ass down. Right. Fucking. Now. No session should end like that.

    Reading everything you did amazed me. I struggled with one, then three, and then five while battling depression. Hold your head high, and breathe deep. Alcoholism is an ugly monster - the ugliest Mother Fucker I've ever had to deal with. Rock on, Klonnie. <3 much Misfit love

  7. all i have to add to that is that i'm NOT bipolar and have done MUCH MUCH worse.. and strive to do as much as you accomplished. girl.. you have got to move on.. i know it's hard, but how long are you going to ride this horse? it's dead.. and I'm sorry... Let's have a ceremony and bury it in the backyard.. For YOU, you cannot keep this up... and if the therapist won't tell you that, I will.. Some things are unsalvageable.. and it's not your fault.

  8. Ms. K, thank you for your post. Like Shaeded - I too went through a divorce and all that the judge would focus on was my mental/behavioral disorder since I've had since I was eight years old. Originally diagnosed with asthma - would you believe it. Panic attacks at eight and bruises all over - someone should have added it up in the medical field. Never happened tho. I have joint custody with my ex. He has them most of the time. I spent years of my life when they were little totally devoted to them. Now they are older and tell me they've always loved me for who I've been. I just get sick of the "tooth and nails" days. I read something today that hit me, "Damaged people are dangerous because they know how to survive." At first I thought the dangerous part didn't really apply to me - then I thought about all the times I didn't quit - and that by all accounts I have a very active mind. I questioned is that dangerous? My answer is yes, my fight for correct psychiatric treatment has earned me a 4" medical file from the last ten years because I speak up and out. Thanks.

  9. Amazing post. I know you prob think I am nuts (well, really, I am) but I just feel a connection to you through your blog. I love that you wrote down things that you did right. I know for myself, even when I do things the right way, I always revert back to thinking I am still not good enough or I will fail next time around.
    I missed so many things in my kids younger days. I did not drive for years, it would send me into a full fledged panic attack to even sit in the drivers seat parked in the fucking driveway, keys not even in the ignition.
    One day, my 6 year old asked me "Mommy, do you know that other mommy's can drive?" My daughter had no idea that women could drive because of my poor example.
    Something I did right was force myself to take baby steps to drive again. I had to otherwise, I was setting up my precious daughters for failure in their own quest for independence.
    This blog post of yours made me stop beating myself over that huge mistake and makes me proud that I got the help I needed. I still won't go on the highway, but because I tried to live "In spite of" mental illness, I was able to take my daughter to specialists when she was diagnosed with a chronic disease. I know I can take her to the hospital or doctor appointments. I can take my girls for fucking ice cream! One day I will expand my driving area but as long as I can keep finding things that I did right, I know I will be there someday. <3 Thanks again for sharing with us all. I may need to blog now ;)