223: Feeling Stuck in the Stuck of Stuck

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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We talk a lot about strategies for when our kids get stuck, but what about us? Parents can certainly feel stuck too.
I’m feeling it to the nth degree these days, and I’ve decided to share my current feelings of being stuck in the stuck of stuck and what I’m doing to slowly find my way out of that darkness. In this episode I share my current stuckness, how doing simple things has been hard for me, and what my therapist is helping me do to feel better so I can do better.
I hope that my openness in sharing some of my personal story helps you feel a little less alone and inspires a new perspective for yourself or your parenting.


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Penny Williams 0:03

Now I have this sort of new threat or new parallel journey with my own mental and emotional health. And I know that I'm not the only parent of a nervous divergent kid who is struggling in this way. And so I always feel like we can help others just by sharing our story. And that's why I'm talking about this with all of you here on the podcast. Welcome to the beautifully complex podcast, where I share insights and strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams, I'm a parenting coach, author and mindset mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your a typical kid, let's get started.

Welcome back to the beautifully complex podcast. In this episode, I really want to get real with you guys to be transparent as to what's been going on with me, in my own sort of personal journey, as a human being as an adult, as a parent, and hoping that a lot of you can relate to what I have been feeling and trying to work through lately. And just for all of us to feel a little less alone in the struggle, many of you who have been listeners for a while, or have followed me for a while know that, at one point in time, several years ago, I did a lot of work on myself, I found that I just was sick and tired of feeling really negative all the time, feeling like life was happening to me, and I had no say in it, or control over it. And I decided that there has to be a better way honestly, I had thought for a long time that people who were joyful, just had something that I didn't have or didn't have access to. They had different life circumstances, they had a different sort of brain and emotional system. And whatever it might be, it was just something that wasn't accessible to me. That's what I believed for a very, very long time.

And when I started researching, to find a better way, and to find a way to feel better, I stumbled across the psychological ideas of victim mindset versus survivor mindset. And I definitely was living full on in victim mindset, you know, things were happening to me things were happening to my kid, and I couldn't fix them. And all of the struggles, just felt like struggles, I had no control over and felt like I was the only one or you know, there are people who don't struggle, and I wasn't part of that group. And I couldn't be. And so I honestly I thought you know, there's a lot of studies about happiness out there. And so that's where I'm going to start. That was the only thing I could think of that was the place to start looking for how to get to a better mental state and emotional state. And so in doing so I was listening to a lot of podcasts. And really, that's where I learned about the victim versus survivor mindsets. And I also really came to understand the validity of controlling your thoughts, and the role that your thinking plays in your actual reality. I always thought that that was hippie dippie, granola silliness, and that I couldn't change my life based on my thinking, and nothing could be further from the truth, actually, our thoughts and emotions have a great impact on our human experience. And so I was able to do the work and really got to a much, much better place. And I have found that in the last year or so, I've really taken a slide back toward that full victim mentality, and just some depression, probably in all honesty, which I have not had before in my life.

And so I was kind of taken aback by it. And I thought, well, you know, things will get better. We've been in a pandemic, the world feels like it's a dumpster fire, like of course you're not feeling great, and it's okay and we're going to work on it. And despite having the resolve to make it better to control my thinking to get back to that more survivor mentality. I was unable to do it on my own. And I had other things that I needed to be doing that I was unable to force myself to do as well like exercise. I Have a lot of cardiac issues, scary things and my family and feel sort of doomed to have a heart attack. And so I have been really focused over the last few years in my late 40s, to try to be proactive about that and take control. And one of the big things was that I need to exercise and I need to do it consistently. And I just have not been able to force myself to do it, despite having a real and huge, huge fear of having a heart attack. And so, at that point, I realized that I really needed help to get beyond whatever this wall was, that had come up for me that I wasn't able to get past on my own, this time around. And so I started therapy. And I was so fortunate to connect with a therapist right away who I really, really connect with who I really enjoy talking to you, and who is not going to sort of color things with sunshine and roses, she is holding my foot to the fire a little but also teaching me to give myself a lot of grace that I have not been giving myself. And so I thought it would be really important to one just share my journey.

You know, I started doing this work by sharing what my son and I were going through before he was diagnosed, the struggles that were really overwhelming us and our family and for him when he started kindergarten. And we didn't know what was going on. And so now I have this sort of new thread or new, parallel journey with my own mental and emotional health. And I know that I'm not the only parent of a nerve divergent kid who is struggling in this way. And so I always feel like we can help others just by sharing our story. And that's why I'm talking about this with all of you here on the podcast with, you know, 1000s of people all over the world. Because if I can just help one of you feel less alone, then there's some purpose to this journey for me. And also, sharing the story is cathartic, it's helpful to me as well, just to be really open, I feel like we have this suicide epidemic going on. And I'm always shocked when a public figure who seems so very happy dies by suicide. And so I feel really strongly about sharing my story, and making sure that I am an example of being transparent with other people. Because if we start talking about these things, that is how we are able to get to a better place for all of us. As I've described, I have been feeling really stuck. I even said to my therapist a couple of weeks ago, I feel stuck in the stock of stock. I feel stuck in the stock of stock, and all of the will, but I had to do things I was unable to make myself do. And this particular day, you know, she said, let's just go outside and walk while we meet. She was totally happy to do that with me. She's so super awesome. And I was like, you know, I'm really tired.

My legs are really hurting today I have fibromyalgia. So I battled some pain as well. And the less I exercise, the worse the pain is the worst pain is the less I exercise. And so she's been really trying to help me to be able to overcome that and get out of that circle and on a better path. And I hadn't been able to make myself go for walks. And so on the stage, she was like, let's just do it. It's nice out. Let's do it. And I made excuses over and over. It just felt so almost incapable honestly, physically. And finally she said, Okay, I'm pushing you are doing it. And we're standing up right now we're doing it. And we did and as soon as we got outside and started walking, it felt great. Sun was shining. The walk was easy. It was a level place. You know, I live in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, and in my neighborhood, there's a lot of big hills that makes it even harder for me to get out there and walk when I'm not feeling great physically. And so her office is very lovable, beautiful place to walk on a sidewalk and we actually went around three or four times because once I got out there felt great. And we talked about you know what is Get out here that makes you feel good. And it was the sunshine and just the air and everything like that that really made me want to keep going. And I realized in that moment that I am leaning on excuses. And they're valid excuses. You know, if I'm in pain, it's a valid reason not to go for a walk, right. But if I don't push myself, I'm going to stay stuck in that place forever. Because it is a vicious cycle. And that was one piece of the help that I've been getting through therapy.

The other thing is just recognizing that we had to scale the goals way back. Yes, the goal is still for me to exercise frequently to feel more emotionally stable, not to feel so defeated and sad and like a victim, but I couldn't just, you know, set some goals to do things with her, and then come back the next week and say, Yeah, I did them. It just wasn't happening, you know, walking twice a week wasn't happening. And so we stepped way, way back from that, to a place of starting with just working on little things that bring me joy, and joy that isn't dependent on someone else. And this is apparently a big thing. For me, a lot of my joy is apparently dependent on other people, my kids, my family, even kayaking, which brings me great joy, and I love it. And I live in a place that offers such a great opportunity for it. And beautiful setting and surroundings that I really enjoyed doing it. But that's actually dependent on my father because they're his kayaks, and he has the truck to transport them. And so that joy Eva and I learned was actually dependent on someone else. And so I'm working on figuring out how to navigate that particular thing and have that not dependent on someone else. But also just finding little things, tiny moments that bring me joy that have nothing to do with another person. And I'm not saying that joy from other people and connection is not valuable because it is it has great value. But we also need to be able to create our own joy independently as well.

I have started every morning, drinking coffee, outside in the sunshine and listening to music for a few minutes. Because coffee brings me joy, Sunshine brings me joy. And music brings me joy. Some days, it's only seven minutes, maybe two songs. And that's okay. We started with a goal of just doing it once a week. And when I did it once I was like, Wow, this feels great. And so I was doing it every day. And then last week, I got waylaid because I had a medical procedure done and I spent a few days just completely off schedule, sleeping more, not having to get up and be active and doing things. And so I'm finding it hard, just taking a couple of days off from it to get back into it. And I'm realizing how much I need the routine and the habit to do the things I need to do for myself when I'm not feeling great, mentally and emotionally. And so, you know, today I forced myself even though I felt really rushed. This morning, I didn't have time, I felt like I made sure that I had five minutes outside with my coffee before I started working. The other strategy that I've been using, and we actually implemented this one before the coffee was to not look at the email on my phone. Before I get out of bed. I am the type of person who cannot have any notifications whatsoever. I clear them constantly. My email my social, I've actually turn the notifications off on my social.

So that that doesn't make me feel like I'm constantly needing to check it. I was waking up in the morning. And part of it was procrastination. And part of it was just okay, what does my day look like? I was checking email, I was clearing those notifications so that I felt settled. Because honestly having all those notifications, you're waking up to 50 to 70 emails, it's jarring and it causes some anxiety. And so I felt like if I wanted to add a walk to my mornings, I was going to have to make time that I didn't really have work on the brain. So I'm checking emails that I'm like, Oh, I gotta do this. I gotta answer that I gotta do this. Now I have more of a drive to get to work to get doing and when I say get to work, it's, you know, a room in my home. But still, I felt like I had to get to it right away. And that was keeping me from doing anything for myself in the morning. I was literally, you know, brushing my teeth and making my coffee and getting on the computer. And that was keeping me from doing anything for myself. Because by the end of the day with fibromyalgia, I don't have anything left to give. And so walking in the evenings is harder than it would be for me to do it in the mornings. And so that's what we're working on. How do we structure the mornings, so that I feel not only good about motivated to go for a walk, maybe three work mornings a week.

And am I disappointed that I've been in therapy now for five months, and I haven't yet started walking consistently? Sure, but I have learned about myself through this process that I need to take a step back, and I need to take it one tiny piece at a time. First is not checking my email. And I'll tell you that when was another easy one immediately, it was a daily habit for me. Because I found that I didn't need to do it, I was okay with not doing it. I had thought that I wouldn't be okay with not doing it. So I was doing it. I hadn't challenged myself to see if I could actually just be okay with that feeling of having some notifications for a while. Honestly, as I'm recording this right now, it's 1230 In the afternoon, I still haven't checked my email for the day, I have 76 email notifications staring me in the face right now. And I'm okay with it because of learning to be okay with that. And so I share all these things to help you to one not beat yourself up about not doing that thing that you know you shouldn't be doing for yourself or even want to do for yourself and haven't been able to, but also to share this process that I've learned to help me get unstuck, because I can't just decide, and it's so unwilling. So right, I can't just decide, okay, I'm done being stuck, I'm going to walk three mornings a week, I'm going to have coffee outside every day, I'm going to take time for myself, I'm going to be okay with not checking my email, right, that was not going to happen in the blink of an eye. That was why I was doing therapy am during therapy.

And so I have found to that reflecting on this process has shown me that this is also the process we need to be implementing for our neuro divergent kids. It's okay to step back from a goal and chop it into the tiniest fragments of steps and just make progress that way. It's okay to take a step back from the goal entirely. And look at what might be roadblocks and hurdles and stumbling points, what's getting in the way of even being able to take that first tiny step, our kids are going to get to things in their own time. It's not in our timeline. It's not a neurotypical timeline. And part of the work that we do for ourselves is that acceptance, that our kids are going to do things in their own time. And it's going to be different, a different path, a different timeline, and maybe a different goal altogether for what success and happiness looks like for them and adulthood. I'm always thinking about what I'm seeing what I'm learning the stories that I'm hearing, what can they teach me about this parenting journey with neurodivergent? Kids? What can they teach me about educating neurodivergent? Kids? What can they teach me about being a human being, you know, I'm finding that our culture, we just kind of throw people away, really easily we throw people away. We have this strong Crime and Punishment society. We even have that as our traditional parenting model, which is terrible. And I hope that I can affect change in some way in my life. And I'm certainly trying to do that. But we decide that the way something is for someone defines their entire trajectory forward. And it's just not the case. And we have to stop looking at people as their worst moments and their environment and say, you know, how do we help each other.

And that's through connection and that connection can really help us to get unstuck, even if it's connecting with a professional like a therapist or a counselor who's helping us get unstuck because you know what, they're also going to try to help us to make other connections in our lives. And that is super are super, super important, we cannot do good if we don't feel good. And so when we're stuck, and we're not feeling good, we're really struggling with helping our kids helping our significant others, helping our family members being good friends and neighbors, right. And I value that a lot in my own life. And I know that many of you also value that as well. And so I just really wanted to be very open and honest about the struggle that I've been tackling lately. And the fact that it ebbs and flows, you know, I had two really good solid weeks of no email in the morning coffee every single morning outside in the sunshine. And then, you know, my routine got disrupted, and I slid way back, and I'm having to really fight hard to get back to that routine that was making me feel so good. That's why I was so invested in making it happen on a daily basis. So I hope that you may hear some of yourself, some of a loved one, in what I'm sharing, and in my story, any little nugget that you can take from it that might be helpful to you, is really valuable to me, honestly, you know, my purpose is to be a helper, I get to be a helper. And I love that.

And I take great pride in that. And I derive a lot of joy from that. But there has to be more, right there has to be more to our lives than just our work, even when it is so fulfilling. And so that's what I'm working on. And it's a tough journey. But it's a journey that I am committed to. And I'll tell you that commitment even has been a real struggle for me, I've certainly wanted to quit and just been like, this is not going to work for me, it's too much effort I'm done. And that's that stuck in the stuck of stuck talking that it just doesn't want to do. It doesn't want to try. And I'm really pushing back on that. And through the help of my therapist, through even the help of talking more with my spouse about what's going on with me has been really helpful for the both of us and for our relationship. You know, learning to be more transparent with each other is really valuable as well. So I hope that's helpful for you. There are show notes for this episode at parentingADHDandautism.com/223 for episode 223. And I just want to say that I appreciate all of you. And I hope that you'll take really good care of yourself as good a care of yourself as you're trying to take care of others. I'll see you in the next episode.

Thanks for joining me on the beautifully complex podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses and parent coaching at parentingADHDandautism.com and thebehaviorrevolution.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Thank you!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it. Have something to say, or a question to ask? Leave a comment below. I promise to answer every single one. **Also, please leave an honest review for the Beautifully Complex Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and appreciated! That's what helps me reach and help more families like yours.

I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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About the show...

I'm your host, Penny.

Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

My approach to decoding behavior while honoring neurodiversity and parenting the individual child you have will provide you with the tools to help you understand and transform behavior, reduce your own stress, increase parenting confidence, and create the joyful family life you crave. I am honored to have helped thousands of families worldwide to help their kids feel good so they can do good.

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Share your thoughts.

  • Thank you for sharing these human moments- they are connecting us all as parents, women, and villages of encouragement!

  • Hi dear Penny.. thanks for being totally transparent and sharing your daily struggle.
    I can totally relate to you and spent a life time of looking for answers to my (then undiagnosed ADHD)..
    and in that journey I discovered how diet plays such an important role to our well-being. Like you I used to be a coffee lover but when I became a Health Ministries
    leader in my church I learnt the adverse affects it has on our brain.. giving us that “feel good” euphoria.
    I don't know how much you know about this and I haven't come to preach to you, but rather to share truth. I recommend Barbara O'Neill's Youtube videos.. she's a world renowned Holistic Wellness lecturer and has helped thousands be set free by understanding our ‘health disconnect' with our loving Creator.
    I'm praying for you, dear Penny.. may you come into His light and be transformed by the renewing of your mind.(Romans 12:2) Go well, liNZ

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