Thursday, July 24, 2014

working on genuine

I try to be a genuine person. My definition of genuine means what you think and what you say and do line up. They harmonize. They sway together in the breeze. 

I actually try to be genuine and kind- because I've certainly met some very genuine people who I didn't care for very much at all. They were blunt or self focused or boring or blah. But they completely owned themselves and their opinion, they didn't try to be anyone else- and no matter what I find a certain beauty in that alone.

Today I felt bat shit crazy all day long. It's not shiny and I'm still going to talk about it. It all lapped up overwhelmed me at once. I felt hopeless. Lonely. Michael and I struggle to communicate and connect. Plus he's gone a few days for work each week. And Greyson and Parker can't talk to me. Sometimes out of no where the quiet swells up and fills the whole house and doesn't leave any room for me. There are many days the only adult interaction I have are the kid's therapists and YOU. I think that's why I take writing so personally. For the past three years our life is therapy. And it's not going to change any time soon. Monday through Friday. Today's sessions were 9-12 (both), 1-4 (Grey), 4:30-6:30 (Parker). And something about not doing much of anything and not going much of anywhere is exhausting to me. MUCH more exhausting than going and doing. And when I am sad I also get EXHAUSTED. Like could sleep at any second. I took two naps today.

What makes someone genuine? That's harder. I think we all want to be genuine- we just don't know how or we aren't comfortable living in a relentlessly honest fashion. We are afraid of what people might think if we showed who really really are. I looked back at some old blog posts of mine right after Greyson was first diagnosed with autism. I remember feeling so much less shiny than my writing came across. It didn't feel like my writing. I didn't lie about anything, I just omitted some of the darkest parts of how I really felt. I packaged everything up with a bow by the end. Not even knowingly- almost as of I was trying to convince myself even. I think sometimes us glass half fullers are sometimes so busy sewing in a silver lining that we don't allow ourselves to completely come undone nearly enough.

I had an literary agent review the first chapter of the book I'm writing- Little Light Bulbs. She was fast and New Yorky and smart and she HATED it. "The fact that you have two children with autism isn't a big deal", she told me. "I mean- I'm sure it was a big deal to you in your life, but it's not a big deal for a memoir. I hope you don't take that the wrong way. You need to be much more raw and honest. You never even mention how horrible it was when you lost control or came undone. I want to hear how you really felt. I need to hear more drama. Not everyone can be a Christina Braverman* and do the right thing." 

"Listen", I told her politely STEWING and DESPERATELY wishing I was the type of person who could go off on strangers. "Coming undone- going completely crazy is a luxury you don't have when your child is diagnosed with autism. Because you have to function, like it feels as if your child is going to die if you don't give them all the help you can IMMEDIATELY because you already failed them once by letting them get autism. So you learn to cope without getting to hit rock bottom.  I didn't stop my life or stay in bed for days or do drugs or run away. I barely even drink. I just got up every single day and breathed in and out and that ghost of me took care of my boys. And for so long it was more painful than any physical wound you could ever imagine. Like surgery without anesthesia. And I thought that level of pain was going to be a constant lifelong companion so I learned to function while it rode shot gun."

But I do realize that at times I'm trying so hard to look at the bright side that I don't notice the dark side that has the ability to overtake me if I don't acknowledge it. And being genuine means good and bad and REAL, it doesn't mean always happy. 

And I'm glad I told you all of that. The fact that an agent said I suck because it has felt like something I needed to hide. It was the first and last contact I made with an agent and it sucked out my steam. However I also realize if I can write about it- and be honest and real it means I am ready to move on. It's more important to me to be genuine than to try and be perfect.

My parents, my sisters and their families are coming in town next week so as a special treat I hired a cleaning lady to give our house a good scrub down. Our bathrooms and baseboards are certifiably disgusting. Today I noticed a poo skid mark in the toilet. I don't want the cleaning lady to think we are filthy animals (which we kind of are) so I cleaned the toilet. For the cleaning lady. And then I proceeded to clean all the toilets in our house. And then I swept, and dusted and then cleaned the windows. And the counter tops. And the kitchen. 

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Look how clean my house is. For the cleaning lady.

And I had to stop myself from changing the sheets in the guest bedroom. And I'm not the first gal ever to do this- clean for the cleaning lady. Sometimes I even clean for the baby sitter. And it's absolutely harmless but not exactly genuine. Genuine people are also allowed to be dirty.

I think at the root of it all, we all urgently, desperately want to be loved exactly the way we are. But we are afraid we won't be because we think we are much more bat shit crazy** than everyone else. We think we are the only ones with poo skid marks in the toilet or skeletons or depression or shadows or incapable or ugly or unlovable or unworthy. So at times we present ourselves a little more how we WANT to be because we are afraid of looking as insane as we feel. And it feels harmless, but it also sends a subtle message to ourselves. The real you, they way you naturally are isn't good enough.

Let's practice saying this. I am good enough AMAZING exactly the way I am. 

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Doodle smuging up the window so the cleaning lady will feel productive tomorrow.

And now I am deep breathing because the hardest part of the day is over and I see the finish line. All these feelings will pass. And come back and pass and come back and pass. They always do. Life isn't like a blog post that gets to be tied up with lessons learned in a pretty little bow. Sometimes it just ends- just like this. Somewhere imperfect in the middle. 


*awesome mom of a child with super powers on the show Parenthood.

** if you in fact aren't even a little crazy and are so confused as to what I am even talking about, please do not tell me. Do me a favor, let me just think everyone feels this way. 


  1. Yes, you are AMAZING just the way you are.
    I love everything about this post. And you.

  2. We both had the same day today. I have felt this way for so long. Scared to really show my "crazy" self which in hindsight isn't really scary but rather just different. I don't do fake friendships. I like to think I'm genuine, but as you pointed out I too am the "cleaning lady" before the actual hired cleaning lady arrives. You know what's kept me a bit women giving empty invitations? As in, "We should get together soon." Yet, days and weeks pass by and nothing. When I do feel like showing a glimpse of my genuine self I feel I am constantly apologizing for it. So, instead I build these walls around me and when the quietness becomes a bit much my genuine self fills it with things I enjoy doing oppose to what I outta do. You'd think by 30 I would have this figured out :) I'm currently reading Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein. I absolutely love it!! I think you would too. Enjoyed reading this post. Just know there is a mama of two little ones who can relate to what you're feeling. P.S. You're amazing for being genuine on this post. Big hugs!

  3. I'm all struggly and overwhelmy the last several days, and so tired. Except for when I should be sleeping, my brain won't shut up. Your words are what I needed to hear. Love ya Chrissy!! Especially because of, and maybe a wee bit in spite of, being bat shit crazy. :-) You're good people, as my dad would have said. Thank you!!

  4. Oh yes, I think we live a lot of our lives believing that EVERYONE has an easier/better live than us and that we are alone. Maybe that is the greatest lie Satan tells us, that we are alone, that noone else struggles, that noone else yells at their kids, that everyone else has a clean house ALWAYS. That way we can just live miserably never being content.

    Oh, and I totally had a lady come clean our house yesterday and I was so glad I wasn't there for her to see our toilets. But now it's BEAUTIFUL and I want to kick my family out before they destroyed it all!

    Sorry for the harsh words of the agent. I do hope that in the crappy parts of writing the book, that the best rises to the top and that it all is for the best. It still sucks though.

    Oh, and thank you for sharing the not good along with the good. Makes us feel more real and connected.

  5. Lisa from Tennessee (the house closed, so I can stop with the Ohio!)July 25, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    You already know your writing isn't crappy, and the agent is bat shit crazy for thinking it is, so I don't even need to tell you that. And you know what? It doesn't matter. Write the book for you. And I can promise you, it will help somone, probably many someones.

    I think your genuineness (is that a word? If not, it is now!) is why I like you so much. You are California beautiful, you have a lovely home, a handsome husband, achingly beautiful children, and yet you are human. You have trials and tribulations; more than most, even. And I love seeing how you shine through them.

    You help me be genuine. To not try and sugar coat who I am, even when I know it means not everyone in the whole world will like me. That's hard for me work with someone, or have a friend of a friend, or the bank teller, or the lady at Starbucks, or whoever, obviously not like me. It makes me want to figure out what I need to do in order to make them like me. And I waste too much time thinking about that, instead of shrugging it off and spending time with the people who like me just fine.

    Thank you for being you, poopy toilets and all!

  6. First of all your agent clearly has not had a child with any sort of health issue (regardless if it's Autism, a broken bone, or something as terrible as Cancer) because Mom's do not get to stop life to have a complete breakdown. We get to have our breakdown in the few hours at night that we should be sleeping because our days are filled with research and doctors/therapist appointments and being a Mom to all of our children. I think you are very genuine and I appreciate it. Reading your words over coffee each morning helps me live the rest of my day (usually filled with balancing working from home with being a Mom and of course hours of therapy) knowing I am not alone. I did have to laugh at your cleaning. One if my favorite things to tell my friends is I do not clean when they come over so that they can go home and feel great about how much better their house looks than mine. I consider it my good deed of the day.

  7. wow- amazing post. I can literally relate to every single part of it. I actually think I used to be a genuine person? maybe? but ever since my son was diagnosed with Autism I don't even know who I am any more, nevermind other people knowing who I am. Its a sad place and something I need to work on, I know that, but its so so hard. I hate feeling vulnerable and I feel like I will need to let myself be vulnerable to begin being hard. In regards to the cleaning lady, please... I have a cleaning lady come every 2 weeks and I absolutely clean for her! Beyond ridiculous I know... I always say to my husband, geez this lady must love us, my house pretty much looks the same when I leave for her as it does when I come after she has cleaned. I also clean EVERY SINGLE DAY because I have therapists in and out of my house daily and I cant let them think we are dirty people. Having a clean house has also become something I can control, and since I clearly couldn't control my son not getting autism, I think I've become obsessed with cleaning because its something I can control. Ok I'm rambling now and will soon shut up.. but just one last thing. Maybe your agent is just a straight up B*tch LOL... not everyone needs MORE drama in their life. I sure as hell don't... write whats true to you like you always do and people will love your book, just as we love your blog! xx -K

  8. Hi Chrissy, please don't change. Not many have the courage to be real like you, not even me. I come here to get some courage to be real! I really do! I have felt that loneliness. Loneliness is one of the worst things ever. I, like you, had two kids at the time, husband gone every week, my challenge was sudden hearing loss. I think for those that don't understand you, it is because they have not experienced devastating loss. Everyone tries to prompt you to move on and get over it. You can't and you won't because this type of loss changes your life forever. Your life is never the same. That doesn't mean life is bad. It means in the blink of an eye, it is different. And then begins the journey of making "the different" your life. I didn't want different. It took me years. And I didn't talk about it. And I acted like everything was ok. I suppressed it all inside. Don't do that. The quiet engulfed me. And I was horribly afraid. I quaked in my boots for years. We had just moved to a new area and no one befriended and I thought how do I make friends if I can't hear. And I took care of my kids and cleaned and ached inside for a long time. And very, very slowly, I took a few chances to be real and revealed my loss. Little by little, I have reclaimed my life, a different life, not the one I thought I'd have. And it is good, somedays it is VERY GOOD. Because of you and a few others, I realized that I am still powerful. In a different way. I can still have joy and be super excited about life and its possiblities. In a different way. So, don't go away. I need you and your realness!!! When you reveal how fragile you feel, I can finally say, I am not alone, someone else has felt it too. Thank you! You have put words to the feellings I have stuffed. I can finally ask for help and it doesn't mean that I am less; It can actually mean that I am strong. And that feels good. Thank you from the depths of my being!

  9. I love you because you are genuine. I struggle, because my natural mode is "genuine" but I always feel a little peculiar and like I should hide my "genuine." Even when it feels good and natural to do so. I feel people staring at me with curiosity and suddenly I feel like I'm the main attraction at the zoo. Then I hide it. And it feels icky and insincere and depressing. I feel that when I am genuine, I have the opportunity to connect with people in the only way it makes sense to me. But then, I've always felt that I operate in a deeper sphere of my brain than most others (or than they care to admit). I think - I feel - from your writing that you often/always operate in a deeper sphere of yourself too... that's why I love you and what you write so much. You so often lay your guts out and it makes me feel like maybe there's someone out there who could understand me. Who cares about sharing an opinion or preference of a certain brand of coffee? I want to hear from people who are real and honest and take every damn day - even the hard ones - and make it something to learn from, grow from, teach with... people who use what they have for good. Even if sometimes it feels like peanuts.

    I have no idea where I was going with that...

    I think you're incredible and brave and honest and kind. Even when you are sad. Even when you aren't so shiny. It's a package deal and I feel lucky to have found you here.

  10. Can I just say thank you? Thank you for putting out there what all of us feel. I know I've seen my share of bat shit crazy a multitude of times. I am the mom of a 7 year old son on the autism spectrum and a 6 year old typical daughter. This autism thing is HARD. People say being a parent is hard, and I'd have to agree having one kid that's typical, but it really isn't autism hard. The melt downs, running to therapies and appointments, working your butt off to make sure your kid has every available resource so he can be the best he can be is exhausting. And I don't mean the kind of exhaused where I need a nap. I mean the kind where I could sleep for a week.

    But then there are the good days. The ones where life isn't governed by appointments or behaviors, but by us. Our kids have a sense of the world that others don't see. They seem to hear, see and FEEL life more than us. I love watching my son take in the world, and when he's happy, he wears it. Not just a smile, but flapping and jumping in circles to let the world know he's found some genuine happiness.

    I tend to speak my mind, and I'm sure I've pissed off my fair share of people because of it. But that's me, take it or leave it. Oh, and I put the crap around the house in piles and clean the toilets before the cleaning lady comes over, too. I love your perspectives, and feel blessed to have found you.

  11. You are SO NOT ALONE!!! Chrissy I am so thankful for this post I might cry (again, for the millionth time). Early this week I wanted to give up. Leave my kids and husband and not come back. The boys seem to be regressing even with all we are doing. it was ENOUGH! To be honest I didn't want to love them because it was way too hard. I hated my life. HATED. I am better now but it will come be back. Thanks for feeling honest because it makes the rest of us not feel so alone.

  12. Chrissy, I was feeling really crappy tonight about something that really isn't important at all. Something job related. Your post seemed to speak to me and made me feel better about myself. Thank you for your words.
    If your book is anything like your blog it will be great! Keep up the wonderful writing.

  13. Screw the mean agent! Please keep being you, and keep your writing and photography up. I have two typical kids, and work outside the home, so my specific daily struggles are different from yours. But a lot of what you feel, I (and soooo many others!) feel too. I battle issues with control pretty much all day, every day. My kids drive me batty for at least a portion of every day. And after 10 years with my husband, we're still trying to figure out how to communicate. I'm incredibly lucky -- two typical kids and a husband I've been with for 10 years, after all -- but still get jealous and angsty and stressed-out. You help me see that being that way is! And your gorgeous pictures always make me happy.
    Thank you!

  14. I would absolutely LOVE to read any book you wrote. Your blog is so REAL and so beautiful. I truly love reading it and find inspiration. In fact, i've adopted one of your statements as my new mantra. 'The best thing you can give your child is a happy you.' I believe that and am working on it... Glad to know I'm not alone.

  15. Hiya! I've been follow you for a little while but never commented. But I HAD to comment today. I struggle with this so much (I would totally clean for a cleaning lady). I'm working on it everyday. Accepting myself for who I am and letting others see that. Its real hard but worth the battle xxx

  16. Somedays your blog posts and my little guys laugh are the brightest parts of my day. Thank-you :)

  17. I agree- I would buy your book in a heartbeat. Hope I can one day : )
    And totally hooked on Parenthood (now that I finally finished Breaking Bad). I can't remember what my "me" time looked like before I got Netflix!? Anyways-lovely, honest and genuine post.


  18. I try genuine and have lost many a friend because of it. I'm so thankful for the one friend who loves my bat shit crazy. It's not an easy task and I think you're right, we are all just plain afraid. I'm tired of living in fear. It's not from my Heavenly Father and I'm determined to shine as the person He made me to be. Thank you for this post. Thank you for having the gs to be real in a world where fake is everywhere.