Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Changing

I won't say I'm better... I'm even hesitant to say I'm getting better. But I didn't write a single thing in February. So things are... changing? For the better, I hope. I did share some private thoughts on Instagram, but they weren't essay-long, so they didn't end up here. I have been writing though, in my journal, in notes on my phone, and poetry in a lot of random places. I've thought a lot about publishing the poetry, but it seems too vulnerable. Which is funny, because I've shared some pretty vulnerable things here. But I'm not trained, even a little bit, in writing poetry. It just seems a good medium for putting down my thoughts that are too disjointed or jumbled for essays or journal entries... or perhaps the things that I don't want to spell out in great detail. Perhaps I will get the courage to publish some of it here someday.

I've been dating though. Let me tell you, dating in your late thirties is no picnic. I've been putting myself out there though and have met some genuinely beautiful people. It's just that at this age, everyone comes with baggage. Some of us have more or less than others, but everyone has some. So then it becomes a game of figuring out who handles and carries their baggage the best. I saw a tweet once that I think was supposed to be a joke, but it rings a bit too true. It said, "A first date question: 'How aware are you of your traumas and suppressed emotions and tell me about how you are actively working to heal them before you try to project that shit on me.'" We all come with baggage. But I genuinely fear that my baggage is too much for some people to handle: I had a major crisis of faith that comes with existential crises and figuring out my sexuality more than two decades after most people. My ex-husband shot and killed himself within hearing range. I had to relate to the 911 operator if he was still breathing and if there was an exit wound. I had to tell my kids that their dad killed himself. I am parenting these two rad little human beings through a major trauma and life-changing events all by myself. I sat with one of my dearest friends while she lost her daughter. I have PTSD and anxiety. But don't worry! I am pretty aware of my traumas and suppressed emotions and have been and continue to work very hard to heal them through various therapeutic avenues. Still here? By the way, I'm a full-time student just barely getting my degree and getting started on my career. And if potential partners can handle all that, come meet my ginormous family! Still here? Come meet my amazing group of friends that intimidate me on a regular basis! Still here? My ex-husband's family still consider me part of their family (of which I am so incredibly lucky). Still here? Oh, my most recent ex and I are still trying to be friends also. Still here? ** crickets **

It's ok though. One of the greatest things that I have learned in my life is to love myself. I tried to convince myself a long time ago that I didn't need anyone to love me or even like me if I liked myself. It's actually a pretty good habit to develop. I keep myself in check because I'm constantly assessing if I like myself or not. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. But it's also created this hard shell that I don't always let people through. A couple years ago, I noticed this weird quirk. Someone was telling me how much they and their partner admire me and I was so incredibly uncomfortable with it. I wanted to say thank you and be generous and humble and all those things a good person is supposed to be; but all I could think was, "You don't have to say that. I like me." The assumption was that they felt bad for me or something and were telling me that merely to make me feel good. Now if anyone else told me they were having these kinds of thoughts, I would tell them to believe people. Assume that people are telling you the truth. And this is what I tell myself over and over and over again. And yet, when my closest friends decide to build each other up by telling each other all the beautiful things we see in each other, I am so excited to tell them what amazing and beautiful human beings they are, but I want to run and hide when it is my turn. (This actually happened this weekend. I really do have amazing friends.) Anyhow, it's too much pressure.

Wait a second. See, this is what writing does... it uncovers things. Perhaps. Perhaps I am full of shit. It could go either way.

But could it be too much pressure? I like me and as long as I like me I'm ok. But what if you like me and think I'm special, but I turn out to be ordinary? What if I fail? What if I don't succeed? What if I mess up? I will mess up. I have done it before and will undoubtedly do it again. I will disappoint you. I have disappointed every person who has ever meant anything to me. Does it outweigh all the other good things where I succeeded and excelled? Probably not. But welcome to depression and anxiety.

Anyhow, there it is. There are today's thoughts. Maybe you've felt some of this too. Maybe you haven't. It's ok either way. Regardless, thanks for reading along. Thank you for offering love, friendship, validation, laughs, opportunities to grow, and everything. And if you think you haven't offered those things directly to me, I promise that you have offered them to someone else and that they appreciate it. So thank you on their behalf.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is that feeling when you're sure you're not smart enough, strong enough... just anything enough. It's no fun to feel this way. I'm 3 months away from graduation. My credentials are competitive enough for my #1 grad school pick, and my back up plan is a go (and it's actually a really good backup plan that I might chose anyway). But I'm so afraid of it all not happening. I'm afraid I will fail my classes. I'm afraid I won't get into grad school. I'm afraid I won't find a good job and be able to pay off my student debt. I'm afraid I won't be able to provide for my kids. I'm feeling the weight of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. My brain lies to me and tells me I'm all alone.

I'm. All. Alone.

I'm alone and I feel it in my bones and it hurts so much. It's physically painful. And Israel is sick and the tears burn in the corners of my eyes. But I have papers due and tests to take and dogs who ate chocolate to worry about. And sometimes I see things in the people around me and it worries me... because I've seen too much and I love too much and I've lost too much - so I worry too much. And I always wonder if I share too much. But there it is anyway.




But you know what else? I remember that I genuinely know some of the strongest and most beautiful people who have been through hell - the worst of hell - but they're still here. And they still love with their whole hearts and go on amazing adventures and teach their kids and others amazing things and inspire me with the beauty and magic they see in the world. I forgot about them for a second. And now the tears burn in the corners of my eyes for different reasons.

I am reminded of one of these amazing people and what she taught me this last weekend. When I was explaining my imposter thoughts to her, she put her hand on my shoulder, looked me in the eye and said, "You are being mean to my friend. Will you please stop being so mean to my friend?" And I cried. I cried because she is a wonderful and gifted communicator. It is also not the first time she has inspired me and helped me improve. I am sure it will not be the last time either.

So I will pass on her wisdom.

If you are doubting yourself tonight, please be nice to yourself. You are probably my friend and I want you to be nice to my friend. And if you are not friend, you are someone's friend, I promise. Be nice to yourself. Love yourself. You are enough.

You. Are. Enough.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

5/15/14

I fell in love.
Twice.
The first time was a surprise.
The second time was a surprise too.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

When The World is Distorted

The other night, I got hit with a random wave of paranoia. It wasn't too bad, and it wasn't accompanied by anxiety, so that's good. But it did kick off a few days of depressed mood. It's a funny paranoia that's really more like part of a long term complex. I'm beginning to understand these thoughts have been with me for a very long time. I've spoken about them before. It's the belief that I'm unlikeable.

Last week, these thoughts were in the form of pity. I had a moment where I examined myself outside of myself through the social media lens. Ahhh social media. It's a thing. It started when I was struggling with faith and religion and some extended family members and some long-time friends began to say very hurtful things about me personally because I expressed questions and concerns I had about our mutual faith. It was ugly and extremely hurtful and led me to believe that my value to them was only in the context of our shared faith. And then, almost two years ago, my ex husband posted his suicide note and tagged me in it. And then 18 months later my very public long term relationship ended publicly and he moved on very quickly and very publicly.

As I began to examine all these things I began to see a woman who others would pity. I didn't like it. I didn't like at all! But I understood it. For many years and especially for the last year and half or so, my life has been hell and it has been on display for any to see. Granted, much of that I invite. I'm an open book and I love people and their stories and through sharing mine I have had some of the most amazing experiences and made deeper connections than I ever expected. But I did not and do not want to be pitied.

Pity would mean that my friends weren't really my friends -- they just felt sorry for me and when they stopped feeling sorry for me, they would move on. Pity meant that the amazing experiences and deep connections with people weren't genuine. Pity would mean that I don't actually understand people or relationships - which would mean that all this schooling and the goal of someday using it in a career would be for naught. And then I began to pity myself.

And these, folks, are what are called cognitive distortions. None of these thoughts were facts... or at least most of them aren't. They are lies that depression and anxiety have tricked me into believing. At least that's what my therapist has reassured me of.

Luckily, in addition to the best therapist, I also have amazing friends that I can share my craziest of thoughts and feelings with who reassure me that they do not pity, but rather, they love and respect me. I really am so incredibly lucky to have found some truly amazing and beautiful human beings to love and validate me when I need it (and even when I don't). So Sunday night, I went and drank wine with my beautiful friends. Monday, I went to therapy. (I cannot express how much therapy and EMDR have helped me on this journey.) And then yesterday, I picked myself up and got to work on the projects around my house that I've been putting off until this break from school. I started on my graduate school applications. I made dinner. And I took a deep breath and told myself that I like myself and that that is the most important thing.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Better

I haven't been writing.... There are several reason for this. But they're hard to articulate exactly. The biggest one is that there was a point where being this vulnerable and exposed left me feeling somewhat violated. First of all, I got such amazing feedback and that helped me in so many ways: I felt connected to others who understood me and had been where I was and so many people who were in the middle of their own struggles. I felt validated and connected and that's an amazing feeling. But then something else happened, there were people who were using the things I had been writing to justify (what I perceived to be) mean and unjust and, hopefully, untrue opinions and thoughts of me. My boundaries were being violated in new and unexpected ways and so I felt violated. These aren't secret writings. Anyone can read this stuff and I put myself out there and should expect and be prepared for this kind of thing. But I wasn't. And then spaces that I had considered private and safe began to be violated by these same things and people. It may have been all perception. Depression changes how you see the world - more things become threatening. Even things that were once safe and trusted are now tinted by fear and distrust. It sucks so much. And it's so hard to talk myself out that fear and distrust. I don't trust that my family or friends really like me. I don't trust that they enjoy my company or value what I have to say. I don't believe that they trust me. I don't believe that my thoughts and opinions are valid. And I don't trust myself either.

I don't have these thoughts and feelings all the time though. That is how I gage my progress. These destructive thoughts used to be a nearly constant companion. I would have moments where I forgot them and just enjoyed my life and beauty and people. The moments were few and far between, but I kept telling myself - with constant reminders from my therapist and amazing family and friends - that those thoughts weren't true and that things would get better. It was hard to believe though because inside those thoughts is such a scary place. It's hard to see any light when you're so deep in those thoughts.

But those thoughts are now few and far between. I am able to go days without their destruction. Things have gotten better. They have gotten so much better.

But the last three nights have been rough - like sobbing in your bathtub rough while someone you trust helps you to see your value, and also where you can improve, because you actually can trust your friends to tell you truth. Or sobbing on your best friends' kitchen floor rough, but at least people you love and trust were there to sit on the kitchen floor with you and hold your hand and reassure you things have been better and you are making progress. Or like sobbing alone in your car rough because despite all the amazing people you have around you, you still miss the people you have lost in your life so damn much.

But it gets better. I am better. There may be moments and days where I don't like me very much. But that doesn't mean that I'm unlikeable. It is getting better. I am getting better.

I am getting better.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Darkness Creeps

The darkness is creeping in again. I had a couple of really great days last week. Like I felt almost happy. It was weird. I mean I've been doing all the work. I go to therapy religiously. I meditate. I journal. I spend time with people who love and support me. I've been limiting my social media intake, that seems to help a lot. In other words, I'm doing all the self-care stuff, but I can feel the darkness creeping in again. Israel is sick again and that is probably contributing to my depression and anxiety. My kids being sick is definitely a trigger. I laid in bed for hours last night trying to do anything I could to fall asleep, but thoughts of all the things that could be wrong with Israel kept going through my head. A google search did help this time though, 7-10 days for virus is common. Tomorrow is day 10. After tomorrow, I'll really worry.

For now, I'm trying not to worry, but school and kids and homework and money and dinner and the darkness outside are all conspiring to call the darkness inside. So I write to get it outside of me again: word vomit the darkness out into the ether and hope that it helps. I'm just so tired of this. I just want to be happy and satisfied. For most of my life I've been able to choose happiness. It's scary that I can't control that anymore. Really, really scary. 

In other news, the #metoo movement has brought some other traumas around again and I've remembered things that I long forgot about the way that people have interacted me through the years. So many of our stories involve men acting in a way that presumes he has some sort of right to a woman's body. But at least half of my experiences have been women who have acted in inappropriate or abusive ways. And I haven't shared any details about my experiences for various reasons, but I want to shout about it. I want to yell and scream and make people see that the way we teach consent and sex and safety is leading to a culture that doesn't respect autonomy of the body. It angers and saddens me and I wish I had the magic answer to fix. I don't. But I wrote this one night while driving and having a anxiety attack and crying all over myself.

I wish I could write poetry
because then I could use silky words
and vague metaphors
to shout from the rooftops
all the things I cannot bear to say.

The message would be universal
so that women would 
stomp their feet
and pump their fists
and yell, "Fuck yes!"

We would stand
arm in arm
and feel each other's power
and know that we are not alone.

Yes.
I wish I could write poetry.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Price of Steel

One day in church, my mom turned to my dad and completely out of the blue asked, "What's the price of steel at right now?" 

She had a random stream of consciousness that had started with something that the speaker had said at church and had ended with the current price of steel. 

This is my "price of steel" tonight. 


I just realized that shivering or being too cold is a trigger. Which usually isn't a problem in Arizona. But the problem is, I can't sleep unless my face is cool. It's a hard balance to have just your face cool enough to be able to sleep, but your body warm enough to be comfortable. Plus, if anything touches my neck, I feel like I'm being choked, but if my shoulders or arms get too cold, they start to hurt. It's a very delicate balance. It's also about a 2 degree window for me and changes as the A/C switches off and on. It makes for sleepless nights of me tossing and turning and pulling blankets on and off for hours. 

Which makes me think it's probably a good thing I'm single. No bedmate would enjoy this level of craziness. 

But what if a partner to hold me and comfort me - someone who is there, that I love and trust, unquestionably - is the exact thing that would render that trigger powerless?

Then I wonder why I need someone? Or why I think I do? Why does that adolescent fantasy of a soulmate still hold so much weight? And look where it got me back then.


I talked to a friend tonight about running away. About the dream of driving and not stopping until you reach a place where no one knows who are and no one from your past can ever find you. Those fantasies are so real. And they feel so possible sometimes. 

I had forgotten about that fantasy. I used to have that fantasy a lot when I was married. I had a plan even. I had a friend that no one knew I was in contact with. No one would have any idea about her or how to get a hold of her or anything. I was fairly certain she would help me. This was before the days of Facebook and other social media. 

I haven't had that fantasy in many, many years. And when I realized that, I was proud. And I was really fucking proud of that woman who survived. She survived everyday that she had that fantasy. Every single time she thought about that possibility, she found something to keep her around. And she was eventually happy. She was so much stronger than she thought she was. 

And her life isn't so bad now. She's got rad kids. She just made it through her first week of stats and got a perfect score on the quiz (something that was so beyond possible, it never even occurred to the younger woman as something to consider). And she's got really amazing family and friends. Like, she knows (and is related to) some of the most phenomenal people. 

It does get better. I forget that this is true even for me. I forget that I've seen things get better for me. But luckily, I surround myself with really smart people who remind me. 
❤️❤️❤️