You know what really is irritating? Trying the new post feature and it eating your post… yep. That’s irritating.

I know I need to write more and I’ve been pretty slack-ass about it of late. I’ve done a mix of lengthy, thought out posts on FB followed by periods of utter quiet and lack of word sharing much of anywhere or with anyone. I need to create a new habit of remembering to write more and to actually try to get the word chaos down to a minimum in my head. (And, really, the first version of this post was worded much more clearly and neatly and argh, stupid draft not saving properly!)

I’m not making any promises, not even to myself, because that always fails abysmally. I miss a step and then I work myself into a fit of anxiety over writing that is mostly for me and then I miss another step and then I don’t write anything for months. It’s a bad pattern and it’s one I am hoping to ease myself into breaking. I’m working on mental and physical health improvement across this board and this is one of the areas that needs work.

I likely will need some help along the way with encouragement and maybe a light nudge in the writing direction (or perhaps a less than gentle nudge from time to time). I tend to be able to write more frequently if I know people are reading. I also need to remember that even if I am just writing a silly post about Farmville, it’s still writing and it’s worth doing. Perhaps that last part is key.

There’s a blog I read called Momastery written by Glennon Melton. She challenges me to think in ways that I’m not accustomed to thinking and I’m trying to take more of her messages to heart as opposed to just reading them, agreeing, and then forgetting five minutes later. One of the things that she writes about is how the Momastery is a place for the Monkees (her followers) to be enough and to have a place for them to share who they are without fear of judgement or reprisal. It is a place where love is strong and that’s the most important thing. It’s a pretty amazing community and yet I find myself frequently hiding from it because I’m not always ready to deal with the Truths that she says. (It’s easier to remain hidden than to open myself up to fragility, right?)

The simplest answer is, no, not really.

This year has been hard. It’s been filled with a lot of ups and downs and a lot of things that have made me question a lot of things about myself. I started finding a place for myself with a group of people and it fell to hell in a handbasket and I am still so very angry because being angry is just a fraction easier than dealing with the hurt that lies beneath. I’m mending, though. I don’t end up in a blind rage when I see certain people mentioned and I don’t want to scream if I start thinking about a certain organization. But, there’s still a long way to go because I am still angry. However, that’s it’s own post entirely. Part of that anger stems from the loss of the things that I felt I had accomplished within myself. The self-doubt has returned in droves and it is oh, so hard to deal with.

I am struggling to work through some of that. I am struggling to learn how to properly deal with Big, Emotional Feelings and Overwhelming Mental Anxieties and it is slow going because the ways that I’ve dealt with those things in the past haven’t always been healthy or conducive to mending from them. It’s easy to shove things away and pretend that everything is fine; however, that doesn’t mean that everything is fine. This process has not been easy and gods know it’s certainly been hard as hell on Rin because she tends to end up taking the brunt of the emotional roller coaster that is me. Yet, I know that this battle is important, and so, I’m trying even though every instinct I have says to take it all and hide it because people might use it against you.

Here’s the thing, whether it’s hidden or not, if people want to find something to use against you, they’ll manage to do so, even if they have to make it up. Hiding behind a facade of “everything is fine” might make you a more pleasant person, but it isn’t particularly honest. (Yeah, imagine how THAT revelation felt in the midst of a giant pity party earlier this year. It was like a giant boot to the head and then some.) So, I try to not hide the fact that there are days where everything isn’t perfectly okay and that I’m not quite all right. I’m trying not to hide from All The People simply because I was hurt by a few. (Though I’ve been pretty lousy about this one and Mana’s been one of the few people who I think has realized that sometimes the path to finding me is to send me umpty dozen random FB messages and waiting until I find a moment that I can answer them. In that, she’s been pretty amazing and even when I’ve not been utterly up front about how I’m feeling/doing, she’s still there…pretty much the same way she has been for the last fifteen years. She rocks like that.)

I want to write everyone off. I want to curl up in my own cynical little world and sit on my moral high horse that says, “Well, obviously, people are just going to hurt me so why should I share anything with them,” but it’s not the correct path to follow. Also, Rin tends to drag me out from time to time whether I want to go or not. >_> It’s usually a good thing though because then I run into people like Boni and Doyle and the other Brothers of the Wind folks who, as Rin frequently reminds me, like me and want to spend time with me and who miss me when I send her and K to do things without me. It’s hard to remember sometimes, though. It’s hard to process. Why? Obviously I’m flawed in some horrible, awful way, right? Isn’t that what the last 8 months I held office in the SCA taught me, that being honest and trying really damned hard and trying to do what people wanted wasn’t enough? That perfection was more important than intent and that I was useful only until they found someone else they wanted to use more? Isn’t that what the interrogations and the accusations said, that I was a horrible person who was dishonest and who took credit for other peoples’ work and who was sneaky and underhanded and just plain wrong? Aaaah. Yes. Still angry. Still hurting. It didn’t seem to matter that I had solid evidence that went contrary to lies that were told about me or that I was doing my damndest with what I had to work with. I know in a lot of ways that I was turned into a scapegoat and in others I achieved a purpose that a couple of people wanted and everything after that was inconsequential. I just…don’t know why. I’ve still not gotten an answer to that and I suspect that’s part of the problem.

The people who were the most outspoken against me never actually came to me and said, “This is the problem and this is what I would like you to do.” Even worse, they tried to say that I never went to -them- with problems, despite the fact that I spent a couple of months and multiple mediums of communication to try to do just that. And in all of that I kept losing bits and pieces of myself and I kept losing the bits and pieces of purpose I had found and I kept losing the sense that I could, in fact do more than I thought I could and I just…kept losing. And I tried to put a cork in the leak but it didn’t work very well and the feelings of inadequacy and horrible personness continued the longer that things dragged out and while I’m still glad that I managed to walk in one last time and say my piece, I still feel like I got a raw deal and I still feel as though there should have been at least some sign of remorse on the parts of other parties involved. But mostly, I really just want to know why two of the people who had become very close friends here in my new state of residence decided that I was no longer worth talking to and I’d really just like to know what was so utterly wrong with me that they felt they couldn’t even -tell- me what it was that had upset them so much. I even tried writing one of them a letter and…she refused to read it.

No answers makes it really hard to properly heal. Yet I’m trying. I’m trying to put the bitterness and the anger away and I’m trying to not let it color the entire organization for me, but the simple fact is that I’ve not been to an event since Val Day and while there have been a couple that I thought about going to, the anxiety about walking into drama or walking into an event and being ostracized and the anxiety about randomly bursting into tears because the bubble I made inside the Dream was so irrevocably burst that I just…I can’t do it. I’ve set myself a goal though: I want to go to Val Day next February. I really enjoy that event and it is very easy to find people who are kind and who will talk to you no matter who you are or where you’re from and who will perhaps listen to you as you try not to cry for things lost (and to those two esteemed Ladies who I spoke with at the end of Val Day last year I have nothing but thanks) and basically, it’s a large enough event that it’s easy to just go experience the Society and not be mired in politics or whatever else. But even now, when it’s a couple of months away, I can already hear the little voices asking me why I want to bother and is it really worth it?

The reason I want to bother is simple: the medieval and the Renaissance are my periods in history. They pretty much always have been. I’ve had fun at many SCA events and I’ve met some amazing people and Kingdom events like ValDay are good places to run into those people. I want to bother because I miss the magic that events held for me in the past and I want to at least try to piece some of that back together and I think that to completely work on healing that I’m going to have to go to at least one more and just see what it’s like in the aftermath of the Awful Things. I need to see in person if it is going to be something that is irrevocably broken or if there is a place for me somewhere in the Society though there is not one in the local area.

The idea scares the hell out of me though. What if some of the people that I respect (like Her Most Awesomeness Runa Kirri or Master JP) won’t talk to me as they have in the past? What if they believed the bull shit that was spread? What if, what if, what if? It’s frustrating as hell and terrifying at the same time. But…maybe Val Day is a realistic goal. Maybe. We’ll see.

…Hrm, perhaps losing the original post was a good thing given that it was about two paragraphs long and this is a lot longer and…okay, well, it’s certainly taken a slightly awkward, painful turn, but these words have been running around my head for months so maybe it’s time for them to come out.

So, yes, it’s been a hard year and I’ve kind of only been so-so at the recovery process. When you pour yourself heart and soul into people and into goals and activities, it is really hard to find equilibrium again in the aftermath, but I’m trying. I’m trying to not let the little voices in my head that tell me how I obviously screwed things up or how I’m obviously just a crap person or whatever other ridiculous lie or half-truth or warped truth that they say win.

Sadly, they have been though. Sure, I’ve managed to attend some social things and I’ve tried to makes steps to be more a part of Brothers of the Wind even though the periods they tend to reenact aren’t my favorites (though Rin and K love them to pieces), but I keep holding pieces of myself back because I don’t want to end up in the same place again and I don’t want to be hurt again and I just…I just…oh, I have so many excuses. In the midst of all of that, I’m trying to find Things to Occupy My Time, though I’m better at thinking of the idea of me picking up a hobby more than me actually doing it it seems. I’m trying to work on this one, too.

I am a work in progress. I know we all can say that for we write pieces of our story every day, but this year has been hard…hell, the last few years have been hard…and I’m trying to find my way out of cocoons and prisons of my own making to try to find my place in the world. I’m trying to figure out who I am because, though I’m thirty-one years old, I really don’t have a clue what the answer to that question is and I don’t really have an answer to the question “what do you want to do with your life” because I don’t know that I ever had really stable answers to those questions anyway.

I’ve been this thing for this group of people and that thing for that group of people and I’ve always hidden bits and pieces of myself away (though there are a few people who’ve managed to find their way through the chaos field to figure out a bit more than I let on…whether I always wanted them to or not). I’m K’s Mommy and Rin’s girlfriend and I’m a daughter and a sister and an Auntie B and a friend and a spoonie and a sometimes writer and a procrastinator and a lover of Farmville (I know…it’s awful, but I love it) and music lover and a cat lover and a history nerd and…a lot of other small pieces but…I don’t always have the blueprint to the bigger picture.

The lack of blueprint and the utter brokenness that I’ve found myself feeling this year have led to me trying to make new habits and patterns. Sometimes it works…sometimes it doesn’t. There are days where I burst into tears for no discernible reason beyond “ALL THE THINGS” and I don’t entirely know what to do with myself sometimes. I’ve not been in -that- state in…well, awhile. Close, but not quite to that level of anxiety/broken feeling. Yet every time I tell Rin that I’m broken, she finds a way to disagree with me that I actually try to listen to because deep down in my soul I know that if I were truly broken, I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things that I do. At my heart, I am a survivor – it’s what I do – it’s just that the last few months have been more about surviving at a very basic level and letting the world pass by around me.

Now, though, I’m finding myself at the point that “just surviving” isn’t enough and I know that I need to make more changes and I need to start taking better care of myself again and I need to start becoming more actively engaged with the world around me and not just my tiny piece of it in my house. There’ve been a lot of things I’ve read in the last week or so that seem to be guiding me on this path and instead of just filing away useful tidbits, I’m trying to listen. I’m trying to listen to the voices that ride in the night with the moon that gently speak to me when all else seems lost. I’m trying to listen to the words that others have so boldly written, sharing their fragility and their vulnerability and their craziness and their courage and their pain and their love and their laughter and the fact that even in the middle of chaos and utter hell they are still going because life keeps going. (Writers like Jenny Lawson and Glennon remind me that we’re all in this together and that pain is part of life and that sharing those things with the world can sometimes help other people struggling on the road. Glennon coined a word – brutiful – that I love. It’s the combination of “brutal” and “beautiful” because you cannot have one without the other and it seems very fitting to my state of mind of late. In the midst of the joy there’s a whole lot of pain and I’m working on learning how to navigate those waters.)

As the holiday season started coming closer and closer, my anxiety ramped anew. Places that had been newly healed proved to still be raw and achy if pressured. The Holidays and I have a long history of not getting along. There’ve been times in my life that I’ve hated them far more than I’ve loved them and I’ve hated the drama and the ugliness that seems to abound at this time of year and as Holiday Season 2012 loomed, I cringed inside and wanted to just call the whole thing off; however, that’s not really a viable option. Instead, after discussing things, Rin and I decided that we would spend Thanksgiving in South Bend this year because we were both still tired from the summer drives to Georgia (probably me more than her because I was still finding the idea of the drive so very daunting and Thanksgiving in GA last year was nice but it was so very hectic and rushed and I just…I couldn’t deal, so we decided to stay home for Thanksgiving) and that eased a fraction of the tension. Of course, that also meant that we had to figure out Christmas plans and where we’d be when but I’ll come back to that in a minute or ten.

The decision to stay at home helped ease some of the impending doom feeling. Black Friday also helped, though it was certainly a chaotic BF even for us. First, some background. I understand that BF is a commercial day of insanity and only crazy people go out and all the other things that people like to bring up when they talk about it. That said, you have to understand that it’s part of my holiday ritual. I love BF. I love the challenge and the chase and the energy that can run around stores and just the general goofiness of it all. It’s exciting and so long as you’re not going after the major high tech items, it doesn’t have to turn into a potential mob scene. Amusingly, a lot of times the things that we buy on BF are things like blankets, jeans, and other things that we use on a regular basis as opposed to luxury type items. We buy some of those, too, but in general, some of the best sales of the year on staple items happen that day.

This year, I was a bit dismayed that the sales were starting on Thanksgiving evening for several reasons: one, it is really kind of insane; two, it meant less prep time (which did become a factor later); and three, it meant that the crowds were likely to be bigger since it wasn’t some insane time in the middle of the night. We had Thanksgiving dinner at T’s parents’ house and as the time for stores to open neared, we realized we’d made a mistake and had forgotten to ask T if he had room in his car to take K home with him. Oops. He did not. Rin and I consulted a bit given that we were contemplating going to Toys’R’Us (which I NEVER do early on BF…never!) for a few things. We decided to take K with us since she’d been asking to go for a little bit of shopping and since TRU is on the same side of town as the in-laws’ house and the opposite side of town as our house.

We arrived shortly after the store had opened and the line was starting into the parking lot. Five minutes later and we’d have been there a whole lot longer. As it stood, we were cursing the fact that we’d not made it home before the shopping started. (See, we’d planned on making a stop at home to drop the kiddo off and get our warmer clothing and make our battle plan BEFORE the shopping started but it just didn’t work out that way. It kind of sucked because while it had been a lovely 60 in the afternoon, the nighttime temp had dropped about 30 degrees.) We waited in line trying not to freeze and being grateful that we’d actually managed to snag a cart. It started to rain about two minutes before we went inside for which I was very grateful for not having to stay out in the cold rain!

A divide and conquer mission ensued as we split up to look for a few pivotal items. K ended up finding a video game to play in the electronics section and stayed there while we did most of the shopping (which did make it easier to hide things in the cart so she couldn’t see them). She had fun taking turns with other kids and we got the things we’d been looking for. Alas, we ended up being there a lot longer than we had anticipated and so by the time we were done, we really needed to head straight to Target to check on a couple of things. K was happy because it meant that she got to do more shopping.

We were at Target for quite awhile looking at different types of things, price checking other things, and in general trying to figure out what all we needed. This was one of the stores that not being able to make my typical BF battle plan posed a problem. It meant that things took longer than normal which combined with having to artfully hide things from the small child and then trying to do math at the end of the trip before check-out, well, we were there a whole lot longer than we’d planned. We did have some really good successes, though, so that was certainly a bonus.

By that point, I was expecting the munchkin to be dead on her feet…nope, she was still rearing to go. It was around 4am. o_O Yep. I was impressed, too. We stopped at Krispy Kreme after Target because everyone needs a hot doughnut when the Hot Light is on, right? From there we went to Old Navy to try jeans on the small person. Usually, dressing rooms are anathema to me on BF but I made an exception this year given how difficult it had been to find the kid even three pairs of jeans that fit her well. (Seriously, earlier in the week, she and Rin went on a five and a half hour jeans hunt ranging from Target to Kohl’s to Meijer and their luck wasn’t all that great and the ones they did find were MUCH more expensive than we usually pay for kid’s jeans. The trick is that the kiddo is tall and slim but she has hips and a bum and since they are making little girls’ jeans to be low cut and skinny fit, well, the combo doesn’t go all that well.) Thankfully, we had luck in both the girls’ and boys’ section at ON and bought four pairs of jeans there with the plan to take two of the pairs they’d found earlier in the week back since they were more expensive. Rin and I also found jeans and I was pretty excited because they had an 18 short in the style that fits me best so that was pretty awesome.

Unfortunately, we also went through the clearance section in the girls’ department and K kept adding things to the cart and I’d found several things that were cute and Rin had found things…we were in the dressing room for a very long time. (Just for the record we were keeping an ear out for the dressing rooms to become more busy than they were when we went in so we weren’t just hogging a stall to try on a million things.) As we would finish with sets of things we’d give them back to the attendants outside and they kind of loved us because we actually folded everything back the way it was meant to be folded and put things back on hangers. It amazes me how many people DON’T do that. Seriously. It’s common courtesy. Sheesh. Anyway, so, there was much trying on of things and a bit of lamenting from the child for a few of the things that didn’t fit but pleasure at the ones that did. We finally finished and then headed for checkout.

It was nearing 10 at that point, but we were all hungry. We stopped at McDonald’s for a quick attempt at food (it was only so-so) and then headed to Joann’s. That was the other store that not having a battle plan for was problematic. Eight hours later, I left a beaten woman. 😀 Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but there were certainly times in the fabric store that I wondered what the hell we were doing. (The answer was buying flannel at 75% off/yard and various other things we needed/wanted for projects.) Our first stop was actually the patterns since many of the Butterick patterns were $0.99. We also thought the McCall’s patterns were $0.99, alas though they were in the ad, that price was for the 29th. Argh. Irritating given how much time Rin spent pulling out patterns, mostly for American Girl size clothes and the like.

I made notes of all the patterns and K ended up putting them back a few at a time. It gave her something useful and helpful to do. We ran into Mrs. Peyton her drama teacher from Hamilton and she reassured us that we are first on her list of helpers for Drama Club this year. (We’d arranged last year for K to be able to come in and help – and Rin and I, too, since we had such good luck wrangling the munchkins.) They are performing The Little Mermaid this year so K is excited to be helping with that. Mrs. Peyton also recommended that we get a number for the fabric cutting counter early rather than waiting until we were done. We ended up trading numbers a few times throughout the day, but it was definitely a good tip.

At the end of the craziness, we weeded through a lot of the impulse fabric picks and came up with specific uses/projects for each bit that we got as opposed to just randomly buying whatever we wanted. After some discussion, Rin helped me realize that she could, indeed makes skirts and petticoats out of flannel, and thus several of the choices were made with that in mind. Some of the bits are for doll clothes and other projects like that. I honestly can’t remember how many yards and bolts we bought, but we definitely amused the woman who was cutting our fabric.

After we left Joann’s, it was dark again and we were all pooped. (Also, we were bummed that we had missed Boni’s Green Friday sale but the eight hours at the fabric store kind of killed that.) We started trying to figure out what to eat because we were all hungry and if we needed to do anymore shopping. We ended up heading to Logan’s because we know how to eat fairly frugally there. Rin and K shared the dinner plate and I had K’s kids’ meal since they like their steak cooked the same way and I like mine more cooked. It was so-so and we were pretty upset with the manager. He dumped the rolls before they closed so we couldn’t have any fresh ones and he was just being a bit of a jerk. I get that they were tired and ready to go home; however, there were still a few tables in the dining room so he was jumping the gun a bit.

We had one last stop to make after dinner since I’d told Dad and Adam that I’d hit the Hanes sale at Meijer. I started to become irritated fairly quickly. Their Friday sale ended at midnight but their Saturday sale didn’t start until 6am. It was a bit ridiculous and frustrating, particularly since one employee was VERY rude and snotty at me. She had us thinking that if we didn’t check out by midnight we’d lose the sale prices…it was quarter til when we got to the store, so I was half running to keep up with Rin and K to get to checkout. Turns out we had an HOUR to check out. The saving grace of that store was the two employees working the front registers. The guy was running his butt off and the girl was just nice and helped reassure me that we could still pick up a few of the things we’d been looking for and she was quite apologetic for the other employee’s rudeness.

We made a quick check through the store and I was cheering up (I was tired, in a lot of pain, and REALLY upset at the way the other employee had treated me) as I relaxed. Finding the 3 pack of Aladdin cups that I LOVE for $10 instead of $20 which is a SUPER FREAKING DEAL since those things are normally $8 a cup. Woot! We did some poking around the toy section and the movie section but a lot of the things I’d been aiming to look at were already gone. It was about 1:30am (on Saturday) when we were leaving Meijer and Rin and I were so. very. done. The thought of going to another store was pretty much making me want to be violent, so of course the ten year old was all, “Where are we going now?!” She did not want to go home. *headshake*

After all was said and done, we all had fun, but there were definitely some lessons learned. While K CAN keep up that long, there were a few times that having her with us made the shopping harder and not just because we were trying to keep her from seeing things. It meant one more person that we had to keep an eye out for which added a bit of stress at some of the busier times. Having to hide things did add to a challenge. On the whole though, I was super impressed with her behavior. She had fun and there were only one or two times where she was acting like a punk and that was when she was getting hungry…and when we wouldn’t buy the $8/yd. meh My Little Pony fleece fabric. Other lessons learned include making sure that we have our warmer clothes/extra snacks/extra shoes/etc. ready BEFORE going to the family shindig even if we are sure we’ll make it home in between and making sure that we both have a chance to go through the paper ads and make a list. Several stores took a lot longer because we had to walk around them a lot more than we typically would have simply because we couldn’t remember what all we were looking for. All in all though, we did pretty well, though Rin and I realized we had overbought a few things and thus have been working on taking some of those things back.

Saturday, we ALL slept all day. I woke up around midnight Sunday morning and was up for a couple of hours before heading back to bed. I spent a lot of Sunday in bed, too, though Rin and K were both a little more active. Twenty-eightish hours of shopping is perhaps a bit much for gimpy folks but the end results were largely worth it.

Now, though, it’s a week after Black Friday and that means that decisions have to be made about traveling over Christmas and that means stress. (I wrote more about that in the other post and I’m not repeating myself overly much about that here because that’s just silly.) I do know that things will work out and we will get where we need to go (likely late) and we’ll see folks and it will be good…but the anxiety monster is trying to do a number on me. I just keep trying to remember to breathe.

…somewhere in all of this I lost a train of thought or five and I’m not entirely sure how to pick them back up again. I know some of it was talking about Glennon’s writing and the messages that she seems to be zooming at my head today. I read this post earlier and while a lot of it is more about Glennon’s personal journey, there were bits and pieces that caught at my attention. Because I was curious, I Googled the title and found it incredibly appropriate. In researching, I realized that a) she’d transposed two of the letters in “kuom” (it should be “koum”), b) that it is Aramaic, and c) that it is generally translated to “Rise up little girl.” It struck me as incredibly pertinent for a couple of reasons: the fragile state that I seem to be occupying in the latter months of this year could certainly be indicative of state of a child and the call to “rise up” strikes me as particularly apt given the growing realizations inside myself that it’s time to slip out of the “just surviving state” and move into the “actively living” state. Another interpretation says that it means “Damsel arise” which is equally fitting and perhaps a bit more so.

She closes the post with the sentence, “Don’t think. Just listen and do, ” which is certainly advice I need to take to heart. I am very good at thinking of things that I need to be/could be doing; however, I’m not always great at following through on those. I’m very good at doubting myself and my abilities to do things…though I could likely just end that sentence at “doubting myself.” There is certainly something to be said for embracing the quiet things the universe whispers to us and following through on those whispers and it’s something that I definitely need to work on attuning myself to again. On the page that explains what the Momastery is, Glennon uses a quote from Mother Teresa that caught me again as I was rereading the page earlier and ties back to my realization that I’ve done so much self-isolating that I’ve gone too far. The quote is, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that We Belong to Each Other.” How striking is that idea? It is certainly something that I will let brew in the back of my head for a bit.

I started veering off into another point but I think that will have to be its own post for later. After 6ooo+ words and several hours I’m finding myself both drained and tired.

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