Category: Growing Up


(Apologies in advance: while this is the “short” version, it’s still quite long. >_> But, anyway, this is the post I mentioned on FB a couple of weeks ago, so a little bit is out of date [like the fact that I’ve been sick as hell for three weeks & counting].)

In August, I had a mental breakdown. This sounds incredibly dramatic, and I have been struggling with how to talk about it. I’ve written pages and pages of explanation of how I Dropped My Basket (which is what I’ve been calling what happened in August), and it is always so very long. Sometime this week, I realized that I could tell the story in pieces, that it does not all have to appear in one post. With that concept in mind (something that would likely be obvious to most people but was a true light bulb moment for me because it hadn’t even occurred to me), I am going to endeavour to try again.

I am beginning with dropping my basket, because it was a catalystic event for several things and certainly shapes where I am now. While I have not written a lot about it, people who know my family know that we have had a rough couple of years. The last eighteen months in particular have been pretty hard. A lot of it has been me. I’ve battled anxiety and depression most of my life; the last three years has seen a resurgence in prevalence of anxiety and a case of depression that I’ve not had for years. There are a lot of events that led into causing this and counting them all would take way more effort and time than I want to put into it. Like anything that happens with mental illness, it’s rarely one thing; it’s a puzzle.

To try to help you understand how hard this year has been, here are some examples of things that I was either not able to do or that would cause panic attacks or that would take days (or longer) for me to do:
– deciding what to eat (this question could literally be one of two or three decisions I could make in a day)
– leaving the house (for ANYTHING, be it for fun, for medical appointments, for simple errands)
– making phone calls of any kind
– talking to people (online, in person, etc.) There were literally days where talking to the three people in my house were too much for me, so anyone outside of it was outside the realm of consideration.

These are just some examples. The emotional roller coaster that I was (and am), is hard to describe. Rin has been a champion through all of this, and I’m still not sure how she handled all of it. If it were simply a case of handling my anxiety issues, it likely would not have been so thoroughly overwhelming, but life kept throwing us curveballs. There are several things that I will (hopefully) be exploring in more detail in the future, but I’m going to sum up some of what the end of 2014 & most of 2015 has had to offer:
– Last fall, I had an EMG that confirmed nerve problems in both of my legs. The diagnosis that resulted from that is idiopathic peripheral polyneuropathy (though it wasn’t completely confirmed until March 2015.) 

– Last November, I fell and injured myself enough it required an ER trip; that ER trip proved to be frustrating and required a follow up to my PCP. She was concerned at potential complications that can occur with neuropathy and falls, so she prescribed a medication (Neurontin) for me to try to help avoid both that complication and possibly help with pain issues. I started taking it, and it seemed to be helping. Seemed to be is the operative phrase.

There were complications with our family travel in Georgia in December including some family drama and me becoming incredibly sick. It delayed our return until early January (which caused a small bit of trouble at home, too, since people had been expecting us at Christmas).
January and February are largely a blur to me. Since the medicine seemed to be helping, I talked to Doc about increasing the dose. I started having more anxiety problems and a few other issues including thoughts of self-harm that made no sense (as in I felt like a passenger in my brain watching myself think these things). Since partially controlled pain can cause symptoms to be exacerbated (and in some cases can make them worse than before), after lengthy discussion between Doc, Rin, and I, we increased the dose again. This was a huge mistake. The worsening symptoms increased DRAMATICALLY, so much that I started to step back down to the previous dose immediately.

March saw me at the first appointment with the neurologist She agreed that if it was causing that much trouble I should definitely stop taking it. The catch was that I had to continue to dial it down which meant almost a full month of taking something that I KNEW was harming me and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. This was not good on so many levels.

April is typically a rough month for me for a variety of reasons. It was complicated by some miscommunications with my therapist which just added to the stress. My baby girl turned thirteen which was less hard than twelve, but was a milestone for her.

May brought us news that Rin’s PawPaw was doing more poorly than he had been doing last we had heard. This brought some serious discussion between Rin and I about trying to travel down south to see him. We had aimed to leave in early June, but life intervened.

June had a check-in with Kero’s pediatric neurosurgeon at Riley. There was a small amount of growth in her cyst, but Dr. Smith was not overly concerned. She did however find some concern in the overall level of symptoms that Kero was showing, and she took our concerns about them seriously. We all agreed that it was time to start the testing process so that we could learn more. Sadly, the scheduling process became one of the stressors of the summer as there were miscommuncations between two offices, and a bunch of other issues. The first test wasn’t scheduled until October which was frustrating, but there wasn’t much to be done about it. June also had me seeing a new specialist, a urologist. This was incredibly stressful and led to my own tests being scheduled.

For the next two months, various crises kept popping into our lives. We kept trying to schedule a trip down south and kept having to reschedule it. Thankfully, we had agreed early on that we were only going to tell a couple of people to avoid any Issues. Of course, the downside of this was that no one realized that we were struggling with travel plans that much, but it would have been worse for all of us if everyone had been trying to make plans and kept having them rearranged. It was bad enough with Rin’s mom knowing (and she knew because we were staying there first.) Not Traveling has been an overall theme this year.

August was bad. The urologist testing was far worse than I had anticipated, and involved a lot of unpleasantness for both Rin and I. The first week after was largely me helping convince Rin that I wasn’t upset with her and helping her handle what had happened. (This was also me avoiding thinking about it and recovering because holy fuck that took all week.) Just over two weeks to the day, I Dropped My Basket. (I’ll come back to this in a bit.)

More travel plans failed. We missed DragonCon, we missed David and Catie’s wedding. (We’ve also now missed Samantha & Dustin’s wedding.) We missed several other things. In fact, off and on, we’ve been Trying to Leave for several months. A lot of it has just been small things piling up. A good chunk of it was anxiety on my part and Rin’s, and my breakdown certainly didn’t help THAT situation at all. So, now, we’re going to try again in a couple of weeks and hopefully make my cousin’s wedding. *fingers crossed*

*glances up the screen* That’s the short version. Really. I don’t think I could simplify it much more than that, but it’s necessary to give a picture of how I came to where I was in August.

We had been having a disagreement. I couldn’t tell you what it was about, and frankly, it doesn’t matter. In the middle of it, I quietly said, “I want to die.” This isn’t something that I would say lightly, and it almost started a fight on its own because she thought I wasn’t being serious. Then, when she did realize I was serious, there was a lot of hasty explaining to get to what I actually meant.

The truth was I didn’t want to die, I just wanted everything to stop. I wanted to not be overwhelmed all the time. I wanted to not be in so much pain all the time. I wanted to not be terrified of the entire world and everyone in it all the time. I wanted it all to stop, and in that moment, the only way I could think to make it stop was death. Exploring further led to a lot of sobbing (hours of sobbing) as I choked out everything that was blocked up in my head. By the time I was done, I felt emotionally wrung out and empty. I certainly had no idea what to do with myself, but there was a silver lining in all of this.

A lot of the things that I was sobbing about were things that I’ve been holding onto for years. They included coping mechanisms that were really not helpful or healthy. They included beliefs about who and what I am supposed to be according to pretty much everybody -but- me. By the time I finished dropping my mental basket and watching it shatter into pieces, I could see that a lot of what I had been holding onto with duct tape, fairy dust, and anything else that would hold it together was not the stuff I’d spent the previous eighteen months learning how to get better at. It was all the other stuff. So, by letting it all go, I was able to give myself a place to start again.

Unfortunately, that place was (and is) fragile as fuck. I am having to rebuild how I think about myself and how I look at the world. But, within a week of having my breakdown, I was able to look at my sometimes-therapist Tom and tell him that I felt BETTER than I had in ages. I was finding that I was able to process things a bit more clearly, I wasn’t cutting myself down all. the.fucking.time. which I pretty much had been prior to that point. Nothing was good enough. Nothing. Tom made me examine a few hard truths, and he told me something that I plan to explore in depth in its own post, but overall, I was able to see that hitting bottom was probably the best thing that could have happened to me, timing notwithstanding.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing since August: rebuilding. I have been taking the things that Kim taught me about mindfulness, and I have been taking the words of Jenny Lawson, Glennon Melton, Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, and other writers like them to feed my spirit and my soul. I was finding more solid ground than I’d had in months, but at the same time, I was still struggling quite a bit. Aside from anxiety being a thing I’ve had for years, it is also a symptom of some of my chronic health issues, so it’s a double whammy. I’ve also learned that ADD can play merry hell with anxiety, too, so…triple whammy. It left me in a completely vulnerable, messy place.

In that place, though, I was able to genuinely consider a subject that my psychiatrist had been mentioning as a possibility for about a year. While he was not thrilled to hear that I’d been in crisis, he was pleased that it was getting better. He was also able to extrapolate that it was the irritability and other mood swings that were a problem, so he mentioned a mood stabilizer again. I was at first hesitant as I have been every time it has come up. In the last three years, I’ve had some pretty shitty experiences with trying new medicines, and the one early this year was pretty damn awful. I was not eager to jump back into medicine roulette, no matter how good an idea it might be. I also knew that I couldn’t take the most common mood stabilizer for reasons that I explained to him. He thought about and did some looking and realized that one of the newer medications in that class might actually be a good fit, both because it has the potential for starting at a very low dose, and it is listed as weight neutral. (I’m not going to talk about which medication it is because I try to avoid talking about active medications for…well, a lot of reasons. If I know you and you’re curious, feel free to ask. I might not answer, but feel free to ask.) Rin and I discussed it for a minute and decided to let him write the script with the caveat that I would not start it until after Kero’s EEG at Riley was done. (That was coming up about 5 days from my appointment.) The prescription was written, my refills were sent to the pharmacy, and off I went.

The Riley experience is DEFINITELY it’s own post, because it’s going to be long as hell because three days in a pediatric hospital breeds adventure. Or something. 😀 I ended up starting the medicine about a week later than planned, but I could tell a difference within the first three days. I refused to let myself get overly hopeful though. I was still too nervous. However, within the first week, I was actually able to go on errands with Rin. I didn’t have a panic attack before leaving or while we were out. We were at Menard’s picking up a couple of things for the car and the house, and I realized that not only was I NOT freaking out about being in public, I was actually ENJOYING myself and I was singing. It was…incredibly nice. We actually went several places, and then I was able to go out again the next day AND the day after that. (Going out of the house three days in a row was something that really hadn’t happened in awhile the Riley trip being the exception.)

Things continued to improve. I also had  A LOT  of guilt, because the clarity I was gaining and the emotional control I was gaining had me looking at Rin and frequently saying, “How the hell were you dealing with me?!” Thankfully, she helped me work my way through that. Since I started the new medicine, I’ve been able to reach out to people more – in text, anyway. The phone is still panic inducing I’m sorry to say. >_> I’ve been able to actually look at things on Facebook AND set limits for myself when I am becoming overwhelmed. I’ve been actually commenting on other peoples’ posts which I hadn’t been doing for awhile.

The biggest stressors have been Trying to Travel and handling the Teenager Dramaz. I also found out that my Grandmother has a small aneurysm and her sister died. It was incredibly upsetting, and still is. I am worried for her. And yet, I’m also terrified. Every day, I try to summon the courage to call and see how she is doing and every day, I fail at it. The phone is just too daunting and I have no bloody idea what to say, because, “Hi, it’s your crazy granddaughter who had a nervous breakdown this year and who is terrified of the telephone but wants you to know that she loves you anyway” seems a little crazy even for my level of acceptable crazy. So…I struggle.

For all that the medicine helps, it isn’t a magic wand. It hasn’t made everything all better and it’s not going to no matter how much I wish it were different. I keep being worried when I have a bad emotional day that I’m breaking the new medicine and Rin has had to talk me down from that one a few times. The biggest difference with those bad days though is that a) I notice it more quickly and can tend to stop the crazy spirals from becoming completely off the rails, b) I am more able to say, “Rin, I need help” in some variation on the sentiment, c) I am able to have a few minutes or an hour of being an emotional hot mess and then I’m able to balance again (sometimes anyway), and d) they aren’t EVERYSINGLEMOTHERFUCKINGDAY like they were before. So, there’s improvement there. A lot of it.

I’ve also been making the effort to feed my spirit with things that are encouraging. I save pictures I see on FB that have inspirational quotes. One day, I was having a bad day and I asked my friends to either tell me something amazing or show me something beautiful. Many people posted pictures. Since my phone has an S-pen which lets me write on the screen, I saved every single picture that people posted, and I wrote a note about who shared it and anything else that was relevant. I made myself those notes for the Bad Days. I think I might try this more often. I even made an album in my phone’s gallery called, “I Am Loved” and that’s where I saved those images. I am working at creating better habits. I am working at not letting the self-defeating anxiety monsters win, and I am working on trying to create new mantras in my brain to replace the negative mantras that I’ve lived with for years.

The most important thing is this: I am trying.

I am trying desperately to regain ground I’ve lost. I am trying to relearn healthier habits and I am trying to find new ways to manage both the changing things my body is doing (thank you so much neuropathy for adding to the “what will my body be doing today” game *headdesk*) and my mental health issues. One of those methods is talking about it. It’s actually helping, but more importantly, I want to show people that they aren’t alone. That’s why I finally decided to break up the monster update post (not that this is -short- by any stretch); by breaking it up, I will “let” myself write current things as well as cover other things more in depth. (Yes, I know. That sounds silly, but for some reason, I felt that having an update of where I’ve come from on my blog was important before sharing any new things. I just try to roll with the quirks in my brain…) Also, we will (hopefullypleaseuniverse) be traveling in a couple of weeks, and we’re going to be seeing people, and I’m going to be testing a lot of this new stuff during the holiday season which is…my worst time of year for anxiety probems anyway. I want people who see me to know that I’m a hell of a lot more fragile than normal right now. I’m also being a lot more honest than I have been in the past. Instead of playing down the type of pain I’m in or the type of day I’m having, I’ve been telling people the truth. (Or most of it. No one needs EVERY detail.) Hiding things like that is something that I do to “protect other people”, but it doesn’t protect anyone, least of all me. So, you know, if I’m having an awful pain day, I’m not going to try to hide it in the name of not upsetting other people. My theory is that the people who love me would rather know the truth anyway. No. That’s not my theory. That’s my sincere hope, a prayer, and something I am hesitantly counting on.

I also want people to understand that Rin is still doing  A LOT of taking care of me. I’m getting better at being able to do more for myself, but I’m still needing a lot of help. Don’t be shocked if I defer to her for most things; there are reasons for it and I’m not explaining all of them. Also, there are days where I just really cannot handle people well. People are scary, even people I love. Try not to take it personally if I’m really quiet or if I spend a day hiding in bed. It’s not you; it’s me. But…I’m trying and things are definitely better than they were in August.

I’m doing the best that I can. Please be gentle with me.

I woke up in an…interesting…headspace this morning, and I’m finding myself easily angered or easily brought to tears. After spending almost forty-five minutes typing up my response to the last link I shared, I am realizing that I really need to not be on Facebook today. The comments I wrote were basically a culmination of three different articles, shared by different people, that hurt my heart. Rin put the Piano Guys on her laptop awhile ago in an effort to help me feel better and it is helping some, but I also have to take the next logical thought step and realize that it won’t continue to help if I keep tying myself up in knots.

One of the reasons of late that I have stopped reading all of the articles that people share and I have stopped responding to things that I find upsetting is because I feel too damn much and I see what I think should be obvious solutions and yet I watch people tear those solutions to pieces, either because they believe I am too liberal or too young or too female or too whatever, and I find that inordinately frustrating.

I have unspoken agreements with multiple people that we are to never discuss politics, because that way lies madness; in some cases, it has been that way for years. And yet, I have watched some of those people’s beliefs evolve far beyond what they used to be and I hear them agreeing with things that do not even make sense, or I see them believing something simply because a republican told it to them and it makes me crazy. I posted a link about Cobb County last night and how they had basically bamboozled bringing in the new Braves stadium and if I were of a mind to build my values and politics only on considering that all democrats are out to get people as so many of the people I mentioned above do, then I would have automatically assumed that the politicians involved in the shady deal were certainly democrats; however, the reality was that they were republicans and they knew exactly what they were doing even as they tried to stand by and say that they did everything “according to the rules”. I’d like to think that people in Cobb County would remember this come Election Day, but I sadly believe that the reality is that a) they won’t remember it and b) they are so anti-the other party that they will vote for the same politicians because it “still is better than the other side” once again voting against their own best interests. It. Is. Maddening.

I am not going to lie; I tend to largely vote democrat because of the two parties, they believe in more things that I believe in, and the current brand of republican wants to do too much to inhibit my life and my choices while trying to claim “religious freedom” and other bull shit arguments that have no place in politics, and that tends to make me angry. (Also, even when I was a devout, regular church going Christian, I STILL believed that church and state should be separated because I no more wanted politicians telling me what to pray and when to pray and what type of Christianity to believe then than I want them involved in politics now.) That said, I actually research both candidates and do occasionally pick a republican option because I feel that in that office they are the better choice, but the key there is that I do my research. I all too often hear the “liberals are all evil/stupid/what’s wrong with this country/socialists/comminists/nazis/ignorant/etc.” argument as though liberal has come to be a dirty word. (In fairness, I have seen liberal friends act the same way about the word conservative and have made comments similar to the ones I am making now.) This polarization is hurting us all and the current main steam media are doing everything that they can to fuel it while still trying to make people believe that they are unbiased, but frankly, if you believe that ANY news source is unbiased then you are showing an astounding amount of ignorance. As Dr. Yow, my American Studies professor (amongst other classes because she was amazing) said, “Everyone has an agenda. Everyone.” Some people’s agenda is to live their life in simplicity and kindness; other people’s agenda is to take over the world in whatever way that they can. It is so important to remember that and to keep it in mind with everything that you read or hear.

There is a huge part of me that wants to just start smacking people’s heads together to see if it would help. I see people that I know to be smart, to be kind, to care about others forget all of that to pursue their own agendas whether it be their own interpretation of Christianity, their political beliefs, or their hate for some “Other”, and it hurts my heart. I often wonder if they ever stop and realize the message they are sending to people. I wonder if some of the people that I am friends with – some family, others I went to school with or met through other ways – have made me incredibly strident in my opinion to not call myself a Christian ever again because I do not want to be counted amidst their number. I wonder if any if them would care or if they already count me as not worth their time because I am not like them anymore. To me, even as a young child, even when I was unsure about things I heard people at church say, I understood one thing: Jesus is love and he demands love in return, not just to him, but to everyone. I remember feeling conflicted in spirit when I would join in making fun of other youth groups or other denominations, or when I would join a group of people making fun of another kid because I wanted so badly to be “cool”. I remember as I got older feeling conflicted in spirit at some of the messages that people around me were saying, and I remember looking at two men who became my adopted big brothers, who had a stronger, healthier relationship than many Christian couples I knew, and wondered how I could believe that their love was wrong. I stayed conflicted on that point and a couple of others for so long that I actually found solace and peace in the pagan community because there was too much hate in the Christian one.

It also did not help that at the point that I left church for the last time, only one person really cared why and no one else asked. At the time, I was dealing with remembering things that had happened to me as a child and as a teen and let me tell you, rape and molestation flashbacks are not fun and they certainly do not leave you feeling social. To this day, I suspect that many of the people I called “friends” at that point thought I left because of a relationship, but the truth is that I left because the secrets I had kept hidden were eating me from the inside out and there was no solace for me at church because I felt no safety. I had overheard too many conversations, usually by adults, blaming victims and after my experiences in middle school with trying to talk to authority figures about things that were happening there, there was no way I was sharing what was making me feel so utterly fragile, not even with my “friends”. One person cared enough to ask after me and even that relationship faltered at the time for reasons on both of our parts but is actually better now which is a thousand kinds of awesome. So, forgive me if my impressions of church these days sound something like, “They will love you so long as you tow the party line and so long as you look happy” as opposed to how I used to find church which was as a place for peace and love, a place to go when you were broken inside and needed strength, a place to find a kinship with your Christian family and comfort at their tables.

That craving for peace and love is one of the reasons that I love Glennon at Momamstery so flipping much. I often read her writing and I feel like I am in church, wrapped in the peace of Creator and the Universe and there is peace -for me- there, no matter how broken, scared, or confused I am. I let G be a guide for Christians for me so that I do not let my heart become full of hate for the others I see who profess to be so very holy, because I do not want to become a person who is that cold and I do not want to be a person who lumps everyone in a group into one negative category. There are a few other people that I have let into that space with G, like Julie Hatcher and Rin’s Aunt Marijo, people who have pieces of the divine inside them, who share it with everyone and demand nothing in return. I know I will never be as selfless as those types of people, but I also strive to carry a piece of the divine inside myself, to shine a light of kindness back to people. I strive to remember that everyone is fighting a battle and to that person their battle can be all-consuming and there isn’t always room for kindness and love to others.

I try to speak to others with love in mind, even when I am angry or when I feel they are terrible people because I also know that they are still people, still humans fighting a battle. In doing so, I am learning that it is possible to love someone and also know that they are just not good people, to wish them peace but also to wish justice for their wrongs. I am also learning that I have to speak to myself with the same love and the same compassion and not just because my therapist tells me to, but because it is right and good and important. If all people are worthy of love and compassion and I am a person, then I, too, am worthy of those things. In opening myself up to loving no matter what (though do not equate love with being a doormat because it is definitely not that), I have also made myself more vulnerable and oh, that is so hard. My heart seems live somewhere between my sleeve and my throat, and I sometimes wonder if it is worth being so open to love and compassion because some days, ya’ll, that shit hurts. It means not reading articles about sad things or awful things and turning a jaded eye, because my heart tends to be right there and it sees the humanity and it hurts. (Coincidentally, this is also why I am learning to be more discerning of what I am reading and to give myself permission to not read every link shared and to set boundaries for myself when it comes to things I know will make me feel/angry/sad/etc.) It also means that I make myself see the humanity in everyone even when I disagree with them, because to refuse to do so makes them “other” and when we start to make people “others”, we stop seeing ourselves in them and it becomes easier to hate them, to dismiss them, to denigrate then, to disparage them, or even, for some, to kill them.

A couple of different interruptions have broken my train of thought, which is likely for the best given that I had aimed for this to be a short but pithy post on Facebook that I have had to shift to my blog for sheer space constraints. (Later, I will likely also shift my comments on the link mentioned above, but I cannot copy and paste from the FB iPad app and I am Definitely not doing it again right now.) I honestly am not certain how to wrap this up at this point, so I think I am just going to let it lie and move on to something else. Yesterday, Dr. Maya Angelou died and it saddened me for a lot of reasons, but one of the deepest was that her words have helped me shape who I am at different times in my life, but especially lately. One of her quotes that I saw shared multiple times yesterday was the directive to “be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud,” and it seems a good way to help some up the concept that “love wins”. If we each strive to be a rainbow in the darkness, then we will make the world a better place. It might be simplistic, but sometimes, simple is truly the best answer. I have several other quotes of hers jotted down in my current journal, but one that I think fits this post nicely, and which I will close with today is about life’s mission. I want to come back and talk about my feelings on Maya Angelou at a later point, but this quote seems a fitting end to this lengthy musing.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive…with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
~Dr. Maya Angelou

Love wins and we can do hard things.
Until next time,
~B

As might be obvious in a moment, I started this post on FB, intending to just make a quick, slightly whiny post and go back to what I was doing. It ended up turning (at least somewhat) into a post I’ve been trying to write for a week.

What’s on my mind, FB? Too much to actually process apparently. I keep getting distracted so easily that I can’t even remember what I was doing two minutes ago, which is basically the LAST thing I need tonight. I’m trying to finish getting my things together for this trip of insanity because I keep stopping in the middle of that to help someone else or just to stare at the wall.

While I can objectively step back and realize that the week delay in leaving has been an overall net good (we’ve had more time to get better, we’ve managed to get some of the work done in the house that we’ve not been able to for awhile from a combo of necessity/prednisone/packing chaos, and Rin’s glasses FINALLY came in this morning), it is also a point of frustration because we had a sort-of schedule and it obviously needs changing now. And, objectively, I know that’s okay. The people who that schedule change is going to affect already know and have been in contact and they keep telling us to calm down and not worry so much (which is helpful and more appreciated than they likely know), so basically, fretting over it is a by-product of my brain being unkind to me as opposed to something to truly be concerned about. I also logically know that I’ve known from the minute we started talking about this trip that it was going to have to be approached differently from normal. There were going to have to be allowances made for a body (mine) that is doing new and interesting things in the name of fuckery and I knew that I was going to have to make allowances for the brain changing work I’ve been doing and to remember to be compassionate with myself despite my frustration.

But all of that falls into the “logical” portion of my brain that I can look at from a distance. The “emotional” part of my brain seems to be running around like a three year old in a tantrum, throwing out phrases like, “I can’t do this,” “this is stupid,” and “let’s go hide under the covers; they’ll never find us there.” I’m tired despite having slept for a good chunk of last night and today (not that tired is a new state, because it seems to be the norm). I’m in pain because my joints are are being cranky and *glances at clock* it’s likely time for more medicine and I just want to scream about it but all that would do is make my head hurt and not actually solve any problems. I’m having a night where I want to have a stompy fit and rage about how “unfair” it all is as though somewhere along the way I was promised fairness which is absurd and most of the time that phrase isn’t even one that I tend to think let alone give voice to, because life isn’t fair and everyone should know that. But tonight, apparently, with the worst timing possible, my brain seems to be clinging to the need for fair as though it were an option.

I’ve obviously been pretty quiet the last few months. There’ve been reasons, some better than others. A lot of it has been the simple fact that I’ve not had much energy for dealing outside of my small part of the world. Health issues have been the name of the game since before October when my gallbladder started going rogue and they haven’t slowed down since. Since October, I’ve spent chunks of at least 3 months dealing with medicines that were causing horrible side effects and the withdrawal from those same medicines in the name of finding something that worked better. Two of those were for ADD which was incredibly frustrating because I really just wanted my old medicine back. I’m on a new med for that that is mostly helping so long as I remember to take it super early in the day and understand that it just isn’t as good as Old Medicine was. One of those was me humoring my doctor. Since I was having trouble at the first dose of  New ADD Medicine, and since I have pain issues, she wanted me to try Wellbutrin because it theoretically works well with the other medicine. I hate most medicines in the family that Wellbutrin falls into. I’ve had shitty luck with a lot of them and have managed to not take any of them since I stopped taking them about ten years ago because they just don’t do good things for me. But, time does change things and she put the choice in my hands, from the start of the medicine to the parameters for stopping if necessary, so I agreed to try it. I figure if she’ll work with me, I should work with her.

I tried it.

It was a very failed experiment, one that we didn’t realize all of the repercussions of until after I stopped taking it. It was actually making me sick (like with laryngitis sick), so we figured that some of the side effects the medicine was causing were just me having a cold. A few things culminated in the realization that, no, the medicine was responsible, and also, the utter numb/lack of caring about anything was a HUGE problem. So. I stopped taking it. And had almost a week of withdrawal issues followed by issues that I am STILL sorting back out. You see, one of the things I’ve been doing in therapy is learning how to deal with emotions as they come as opposed to shoving them into boxes either because I don’t want to deal with them/don’t have time to deal with them/can’t deal with them. This involves a new level of vulnerable living that is taking some adjusting to. It means that for the last six months, my emotions have been a bit…raw…at times while trying to sort where some of those bad habits came from and while working with myself to fix them. And in the last three months, I’ve been able to stop and pinpoint exact places where the therapy is working, that the mental ass kicking I’m doing is working, and that this is a Very Good Thing. And that is GREAT. Seriously. But.

But…

The Wellbutrin that I took for ten days turned me into an emotional zombie. I didn’t feel anything, didn’t care about anything, and didn’t really understand how much of a change it was making. I saw that I was having trouble making decisions, that I was having trouble writing, that I was having trouble knitting, and basically, was just Having Trouble. The big moment of “oh shit” came the night before a brain MRI. While I won’t say that I should have been freaking out over it, let’s say there should have been some level of concern and care involved. I didn’t. Rin was able to then realize that I had gotten myself stuck on something that Dr. L had said and had turned it into a Rule That Had to Be Followed. (In this case, she’d wanted me to try the medicine for two weeks, but it was never, “you HAVE to try it for two weeks”.) She took the medicine away and recovery started. Within 16 hours, my voice was almost back to normal. Thirty-six hours later and it was perfect again and ya’ll, I just don’t recover from laryngitis that fast. Within two days, I was so overwhelmed by my own brain that I wasn’t sure what to do and so it went.

Why am I writing all of this? I sure as hell don’t necessarily want to admit all of this. I don’t really want to stand up and say, “Hey, yeah, so I’m incredibly vulnerable right now and I’m learning how to be a better me and that means needing some extra space and care from other people,” because anytime you put a sentence like that out there, there are so many opinions you can get from the absurd (“you just need more self-control”) to the painful where someone sees that admission and decides to run over your boundaries anyway. It means standing up and saying, “I’m delicate” and waiting to see what happens next.

And yet, part of being able to stand up and say that is some of what I’ve been working on. Not hiding everything, not pretending to be something I’m not (which includes pretending to be “okay” when I’m not), not locking everything inside to maybe deal with later is all a part of this process. And some of it I was working on before I walked into therapy. By reading people like Glennon and actually taking the words she writes to heart, I’ve been working on this for months. Therapy is just adding to the groundwork I’ve already started and it has given me tools to build a better foundation. I like words, and that is one of the biggest things that my therapist has given me actual words to combat the things my brain likes to do. Mindfulness is helping me a helluva lot and that is also a good thing. Being able to stop and look at the things in my head and say, ‘Okay, you’re trying this old bad habit but I’m not going to let you” or even, “Okay, I’m going to give you two minutes to be Prophetess of Doom and Gloom, but then you’re going to stop and move on” is a huge help for me.

I just also feel fragile. A lot. Rin has been doing so much to help with all of this. She goes to therapy with me every week so that I can actually walk in the door. She helps me remember things (good and bad) that I forget through the week so that I can tell Kim about it. She helps put me back together when the world is too overwhelming, she drags me out of the house when she realizes I’m just hiding behind fear instead of a legitimate reason, and she basically, all around takes care of me. At varying points in the last six months, both because of my brain chemistry and because of all of the other health problems, she’s basically been supporting me so much that I don’t know what I’d have done without her. She helps me make decisions when I get stuck on little things. Hell, there are days she finds me something to wear when even that seems too overwhelming. (Did I mention just how bad some of the medicine side effects were at varying times?) She helped take care of me post-surgery recovery which I’m sure was a ton of fun, because after four weeks, I got more than a little whiny.

One of the frustrating points in all of this is that it feels as though I’ll find a point of balance and then something else comes and yanks that from under my feet. I’ll find a medicine combo that works and then stops working, so I need something new. Or, my body will do something new and creative (read: generally terrifying) and it’s time to reevaluate again. Her and Kero both are a constant source of help in all of this (though, Kero, obviously is less involved in the exact details of everything going on; she’ll get details like, “Mom’s having a bad reaction to a medicine” but not the specifics of what and why and she also doesn’t know about the quest for MS because she doesn’t need to worry about it; she knows there are tests but not necessarily what they are for and I need it to stay that way). Balance is something I crave which is pretty hilarious to me because a lot of times, I’m just…not great at it. It has been particularly frustrating with some of the new symptoms (or in most cases worsening of other symptoms) because I’ve not been able to pull my magic tricks of “okay, if this happens, then I can do ‘x’ to make it easier” because there’s not a lot you can do about suddenly falling over for no reason and there’s not a lot you can do when your limbs decide to just ignore the fuckin’ signals your brain tries to send to them. You just grit your teeth and get through it, and that sucks because I want a solution.

Kim often tells me that I’m a very logical person and I’ve finally stopped laughing at her. After spending a lot of my life hearing people tell me how illogical I am, it’s nice to see that the things I try to do to cope are actually pretty darn logical after all (even some of the unhelpful ones though obviously, there’s room for improvement). Searching for a new and somewhat terrifying diagnosis isn’t logical. MS is not logical. Part of me wants it to be that, not because I desire to be ill, but because I AM ill and I want an answer. Ten years of “it could be blah” is wearing on a girl and this could be an answer that makes a lot of things make sense. However, it is also terrifying. It means an entirely new playbook and some of the plays in that book are downright frightening. The thought that I’ve built my castle on though is that it either is or it is not; therefore, I keep going. Curling up in the corner in fear won’t change it and if these new symptoms are going to become part of the “normal fuckery”, then there’s nothing to do but learn how to handle them. It just takes time and patience and a lot of grace, and a whole lot of being willing to ask for help. To top all of it off, the neuro I was sent to has basically done everything wrong in terms of helping me sort this out, up to and including CANCELLING the spinal MRI that was on the calendar because they decided they wanted it done somewhere else and failing to call me and telling me that they cancelled it. Needless to say, I need a neuro. At the same time, it also means that some of the things I was expecting to have going into this trip I just don’t have. I don’t have the reassurance of the image of my spine to see what is or is not there. It just couldn’t happen. So, it became one more place that this trip had stressful parts.

Planning was another area that things had to change. So often, I tend to put everyone’s needs ahead of mine during trip scheduling. I try to make sure that everyone gets at least some time and I try to make sure that Rin gets to do the things that she wants to do and that Kero gets to do most of what she wants to do and if there’s time at the end, I do some things I want to do. (Which, for clarity, does not mean that I do not want to do the same things that they do. What it does mean is that while I DO enjoy those things, I also don’t tend to schedule trips/visits that are more for me than for anyone else. It means I make sure that I try to please everyone else without taking time to sort in what I -need- in the middle of it all.) I knew from the start of conversations about “impending GA trip” that I couldn’t do that this time. I couldn’t be the one to make the decisions about who we saw when, when we went where, and how to put it all together. I told Rin and I half begged her to be in charge of the calendar. She’s very magnanimous and simply told people that it was a joint decision, but since I’m already spilling my guts in a vulnerability storm here, I’ll admit that I begged her to do it and to not make me do it unless she absolutely had to.

That change has been amazing. It means that I’ve been able to help plan without worrying about this person’s feelings or that person’s feelings or this person’s schedule or that person’s schedule and could instead focus on the actual goals of the trip. Stepping back from it also gave me the space to say, “There are a couple of things that we’ve put off the last couple of trips and I’d really like to not do that this time, even if it means upsetting someone else.” At least one of those things is on the calendar and the family whose house we are visiting because of that request honestly has NO idea just how over the moon excited I am about that part of the trip; in fact, that visit has been one that I’ve been able to hold onto at the worst moments of “omgicannotdothiswhyamieventryingtodothisicannoticannoticannot”. It has basically taken a ton of responsibility off of my shoulders and has let me be part of the process without being in charge of it and that is amazing. It was also a somewhat risky decision.

Despite eight and a half years together, there are times that people like to discount the relationship that Rin and I have and her role in both my life and in Kerowyn’s life. I weighed the risks and found the benefits far greater. After all, a key part of that sentence is “eight and a half years”. If someone hasn’t come to the conclusion that Rin is my partner and Kero’s second mother, then they likely aren’t going to magically do so now; therefore, the best course of action was not what was good for everyone else, but what was good for us as a family. In fact, many decisions about this trip were made with that exact discussion. Something Kim frequently reminds me of is that I’m not responsible for how anyone else feels or thinks; I can’t make them think a certain way. I CAN present information and give them room to make a choice, but I cannot make them make a choice. The only person whose choices I have complete control over is me and I have to make decisions that I can live with later. Thus, a second layer of decision making for this trip came with conversations about, “what choice will you be able to live with an hour later, a week later, a month later?” It is a question that has come up several times and is one that stays with me because it is important. I can only make decisions for me and I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.

Does it suck to upset other people? Oh sweet gods, yes.

Do I hate upsetting other people? More than you could possibly realize.

Am I growing up enough to understand that I can’t please everyone, no matter how hard I try? Yeah, I finally am.

I’m basically writing this all as a giant torrent of words as opposed to the organized thing I’d been considering writing before. I even wrote an outline for that complete with a timeline about when meds were wonky and what other things were going on, but every time I tried to write that, I failed. I think, perhaps, I just need to keep going with the giant torrent of words and hope that people will care enough to follow my rambling brain all the way to the end. (With a secondary hope that after I finish this monster post I started an hour ago, I’ll be able to focus more on other things.)

Everybody changes. It is a simple fact of life. Some people change for the better, some for the worse, and frankly, everyone’s opinion about which is which can vary. I’ve been doing a lot of changing in the last few years, but especially in the last few months. In some ways, it is making me a much better me. I’m becoming more forgiving of myself and my flaws, of the “weakness” that I constantly feel because I can’t just “pull myself up by my bootstraps” or “use more self-discipline” to solve my problems. I’ve become better at acknowledging that everyone has feelings, lots and lots of feelings, and that the real difference is simply in how a person lets those feelings work in their life. I’ve always been an emotional person and empathic sometimes beyond desirability; I’ve also spent a large chunk of my life trying to fix everyone else because I thought it made -me- a better person. The reality is that while helping other people is admirable, you can’t fix someone else – they have to do that themselves. Also? At some point, you have to stop trying to fix everyone else and make sure you’re taking care of yourself. Self-care is not my strong suit, but it is something that I am HAVING to become better at because if MS is what I have (and realistically, even just for the diagnoses I already have), I need to practice self-care all the time, not just when it is convenient, even if my need for self-care makes someone else unhappy.

I’m learning how to make boundaries, both for myself and outside of myself. I’m learning how to come to the point that I can see that doing thing in small bits, while annoying, is better long term than simply throwing myself into things. I’m learning to see that if reading an upsetting article or ten is a problem for me on a certain day, I can and need to walk away from them. The world will still have problems whether I read the article or not. I’m learning to say “no.” This one is hard because as people, we don’t want to make others unhappy, and yet, sometimes, ya have to say, “No, I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” Oh man do I have a battle with this one. It’s why a lot of times I depend on Rin to be my second back-up, to be able to say, “No, you’ve done enough” and to also help me realize what I have accomplished when my brain says, “That’s not enough, you need to do more.”

I’m learning to love myself. The real me. The one I live with every day, as opposed to the idea of me that other people want me to be. This is also hard. Gods, is it hard. “Who am I?” is a question I ask often, but the difference is that of late, the question has an answer more often than it doesn’t. Mindfulness therapy is helping me find the things that are important to me and showing me how to make those the things I build my mental and emotional image on instead of building it on some concept of expectation. I can look at my non-traditional family and I have no shame, because there is nothing shameful to be found. There are three consenting adults in this house who keep their private lives private just as most adults do in houses with kids. There is a healthy almost twelve year old who has two moms who love her to pieces and who are doing everything in their power to grow her into a well-rounded person while embracing all of the things that she loves and nurturing those things, offering guidance when she needs it, and who will, hopefully one day, finally convince her to wash dishes correctly. *headdesk* Does my family resemble what some people call traditional? Nah. Am I okay with that? Oh yeah. Why? Because it works for us.

I have more support from my partner in this relationship than I have ever had in any of my “traditional” relationships. Ever. And while I will be the first to tell you that I never thought I’d fall in love with a girl (cause, face it, boys are nice), it doesn’t change the validity nor the strength of love I have for the woman who is both best friend and partner. I also can’t think of anyone else who would be helping me do as good a job raising my kid than Rin does, and Kero tends to be priority number one for me. I also know that a lot of times, I let people brush over our relationship as “less important” for its non-traditional status and I’ve realized how much that has hurt me and my family. Kero, if you ask her what she thinks about having two moms, will tell you that she loves it and has no desire to change it. She oft wonders why anyone would have a problem with it because it doesn’t make sense to her. Don’t believe me? Ask her about it sometime and she’ll tell you she’s happy. Know how I now? Because we talk to her about it and we ask her how she thinks and feels because that’s important.

I understand that there are people who don’t agree with non-traditional relationships and I firmly believe they have the right to that belief. What I do not believe is that their belief has the right to impinge on the validity of my relationship, my expectations for how my partner should be treated, or how I personally feel about my relationship. Everyone has a right to their beliefs, but those rights should stop when they begin to impinge on someone else’s. For the most part, this isn’t a huge issue, but given that it is something that I’ve become more solid on in the last few months, finally not listening to the voices that say, “you’re wrong” and instead listening to the evidence in front of me that says that my family is pretty damn awesome and I’m quite happy even with all of the health chaos, I feel it is worth nothing. Rin is my partner and as such is involved in decisions I make. Period. Rin is Kero’s second parent and is involved in decisions that Kero is a part of. Period. There are no exceptions for this, nor should there be.

Something else that I’ve come to understand about myself is that I’m broken…and I’m okay with that. Glennon at Momastery talks about how brokenness is actually something to cherish because it means living without trying to be perfect and it means accepting all of the pieces of yourself and inside those pieces finding what you can use to make the world a better place. I still struggle with this one sometimes, but most of the time a simple re-direct from Rin helps to ease me back toward my belief that broken is not equal to bad. Sometimes, it takes more than a gentle reminder and she points out how pots are repaired in Japan with gold to show the cracks and how they add to the worth and value of the piece, even when they change it from its original state. Broken is not equal to bad and broken can even be sacred. I’m not going to find a magic cure for ADD or for anxiety or for fibro/CFS or for MS if that is what the eventual diagnosis is. Those are all parts of who I am. I could spend time fighting against them, hoping that they will magically get better, or I can be a realist and understand that this is the way things are and work within those parameters. But to choose to work within those parameters means acknowledging each of those things and making allowances for them, even when they are annoying. It means stepping back and realizing that barreling through something won’t make things better in the long run even if they help in the short term and thus deciding which choices are best at x time. It also means living with the understanding that, now more than even early on in all of this chronic illness bull shit, it changes from day to day and sometimes hour to hour. Right now, I go from “okay” to “oh fuck me now” very quickly. (One example, I’m not tolerating heat at the moment hardly at all. I start to get hot and I have to try to fix it quickly or else it becomes overwhelming and nauseating.) When your body constantly makes you live by the seat of your pants, you have the choice to dance with it or fight upstream against it. Since bouts of fighting upstream haven’t worked so well, and since between some of the writers who have spoken to my soul of late and Kim and especially Rin in her quiet vigilance have helped me to see that I DO have the strength to do more than just swim along, I figure it’s time to change my dancing shoes.

Do I still get frustrated? Oh sweet baby Jesus, yes. Constantly. But instead of letting that frustration eat away at me, I acknowledge it as a thing and then try to move forward. Sometimes, just saying, “okay, I see you” is enough. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes I want to throw a full body fucking stompy fit that puts the biggest diva three year old to shame. That’s just part of the dance, I think. So, even on the path toward more enlightened thinking, I still stumble and still need reminders.

Do I fail? Hahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhhahahahahahahahahahahahhahah

*coughs*

Um, yes. I fail. Sometimes every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. But instead of letting that failure define the rest of the day, I try to only let it define the moments surrounding it. This is another lesson I’ve learned from Glennon (and in case you haven’t figured it out yet, you should totally read Glennon at Momastery because she basically speaks my language so, so much and so many times she writes things that leave me saying, “Omg, yes, I could write that same thing” and while our past backgrounds are much different, the way she thinks about things now is so, so helpful to me some days and yes, she is awesome and you should read her). Anyway, she wrote a post called Don’t Carpe Diem and it sings my language. Instead of trying to seize every moment of every day and make it “good” (whatever the fuck good actually means), she instead encourages people to seize the moments inside the day that help you find peace. For her, it is seizing kairos, or “God’s time” which is basically the time outside of chronus where God shows you He exists. Since my definition of God is a bit broad, I tend to insert “Creator” and move on because it works for me. The goal is basically to stop expecting yourself to make every moment magical because no one can successfully keep up with that and striving to do so just sets you up for failure.

This is an area that Rin and I both have been working on because both of us have had the bad habit of letting one bad thing ruin an entire day, even when that thing was disproportionate to the rest of the day. We were cutting each other to pieces doing this and finally have started to manage not to do so. We’ve managed to work on being able to take things as they come and accepting that shit happens and then moving on. It doesn’t always work, but I can tell you it has dramatically cut down on the number of hurt feelings about one or the other of us inadvertently crushing a day for the other. It also helps keep me sane. Not expecting myself to be perfect and happy and good every single moment has been a huge life saver. It’s been part of accepting feelings as they come and learning how to properly react to them (and “properly” here means “for me” as opposed to necessarily what works for someone else). Carpe Kairos is one of my snippet mottos (I have a list; I’ll share them with you!) that helps me get through days and stressful moments.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I’m not the same person I was six months ago, a year ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago. I’ve changed. I am still so very flawed because who is not, but I am working on those flaws and working to have less of them. I’m also working on becoming better at admitting when I’m wrong and being able to apologize and move forward instead of sticking to the unhelpful “but I want to be right” mentality that got me in trouble a lot as a teenager. I’m trying. I’m imperfect and broken and I am sick and there is no denying any of that nor is there really any changing it. I do the best that I can and right now, I am so gods darned fragile that it scares the hell out of me. No, seriously, it does. I want to be “strong” and yet, I really don’t, because the definition that I have of “strong” for myself is flawed. So I’m learning that in being weak, vulnerable, and broken, there is strength. In acknowledging that I can’t do everything, there is strength. In being able to sit and write this out, to admit that I am walking into this trip more vulnerable than I have ever been, there is strength. Inside that admission is a request for gentleness and compassion (but note it is not asking to excuse poor behavior, because if I’m being a whiny punk, I don’t want someone to accept that because #vulnerable) and the understanding that I am trying, some days so hard that I can’t even put the trial into words. Some days, Rin cheers me on when I make it from bed, to the bathroom, to the living room, because some days I need even those absurd baby steps praised. There is also peace in all of this, peace that I’ve not had about this trip since we started talking about it. For the first time in the last two weeks, I’m not dreading leaving the state. (And I don’t want people to read this and think that I didn’t want to see them, because it is pretty much the opposite of that. It’s just that people are hard and feelings are hard and it is totally possible to want to see someone and wish that you could do it from four states away to protect your fragile heart, is what I’m saying.) I am broken and vulnerable and oh, so scared right now. There are so many unanswered questions in the balance and there are still many miles to go before most of those questions are answered. I’ll answer questions that I can, but I ask that you not become upset if I say, “Not right now” or if I direct you to Rin and let her do the explaining (especially since I know for some of you, the potential for me having MS has been a brief note in the middle of two giant notes, one from Rin and this one from me, so I suspect that there are questions). One, she has a short version down that is easier to deal with than me trying to fumble in my brain and two, some days, I just can’t. It’s that simple. I just can’t.

As I begin to run out of steam, I’m starting to wonder if all of this sounds negative and I truly, truly hope that’s not how it’s come across. I can’t begin to tell you how positive some of these changes are, for me and everyone around me. They are helping me to understand more about people and myself. They are helping me to learn to live with who I am not who the world thinks I should be (and in this case, the world includes young me who had dreams that didn’t involve a chronic illness), because that’s the me I get to be. Being more mindful is making me less quick to snark, to judge, and to automatically assume the worst of someone because there aren’t as many negative thoughts running around my own brain to cloud my vision. (Which is not to say that I’m never snarky for anyone who was worried about -that- possibility; it means I am snarky without necessarily being mean and there is a difference.) I am becoming more able to exist in my spoonie skin without constantly being angry at its failings and even when I do become angry with my body, I am able to acknowledge that anger and then find a way to turn it into something productive. You’d be AMAZED at the difference that simply acknowledging emotions that can have “negative” connotations can be for me. It also is involving me learning how to judge myself less (because, face it, I’ve been my worst critic since I was a kid and that’s not necessarily the best thing) and to forgive myself more. This is the one area that I still have a lot of trouble, but thankfully, people help me to remember to forgive myself, too. So, all of this is good, but it is also so utterly terrifying that sometimes it leaves me breathless. To be open and vulnerable requires an entirely new level of courage on my part and even now, I’m becoming pensive about hitting the “publish post” button…and yet, I know I will (at least after Rin reads this for major typos/issues) and I’ll likely even go so far as to tag people in it on facebook just as a “please read this and see the me that is here and not the me I used to be”.

Also, if you made it this far, bless you. I can’t imagine it was easy and gods know it is long as heck. And since it is long, there’s one more thing I’m going to leave (and honestly, it’s just a testament to how stream of thought this has been that it isn’t peppered with more links because there are several things that highlight some of these points so much that I want to share, but I’ll keep it to one more and not be overwhelming) a video here that I watched from another writer who is quickly becoming one of my go-to “go to church” writers, joining Glennon and Jenny. This particular video is by Brene Brown talking about Listening to Shame. I started watching it one day, curious because I’d seen several folks speak highly of her. I had to stop the video about two minutes in to start taking notes for myself because it moved me that much. It is likely because of Brene that I’m actually able to put all of this out there without a panic attack and for that, it is worth sharing.

Love Wins.

We can do hard things.

#omgthisisscary

[This entry is transcribed from my handwritten journal. As a general warning, I am even more scattered and occasionally more circular when I write by hand than I am when I type. This entry is quite long and honestly, it could possible be two entries. I might come back and edit it that way later, but right now I am just trying to get it all typed up so that I don’t keep procrastinating doing so. It was written at about 4:30 am on 22 October 2013.]

 

Given all the recent changes and goings-on, it seems only fitting to (finally) starting using this new journal. [My Thor journal that Rin bought me. ^_^] Granted, I should be asleep. It’s 4:30 in the morning and I have to be up at 8 to get ready for my first appointment with the therapist at Healthlinc. I had (somewhat amazingly) managed to forget about it until yesterday afternoon. I managed to stay fairly distracted (largely by ghost hunting in the Sims Free Play) most of the evening, but these types of things always have a way of creeping up on me when I lay down no matter how tired I am. I read for awhile, a silly romance novel (The Inconvenient Duchess), that at least managed to be distracting until I finished it. Then, of course, it was almost 4:30 and I was clearly still awake. I slipped out of bed to see if Rin was possibly still awake, but it seems I’m the only one awake at this point. On one hand, that’s good, because she was exhausted and needed sleep. On the other, it meant I was left alone with my own brain which isn’t always my favorite state of affairs. Instead of starting a second book, I decided that perhaps I should take my own advice and face off with myself. So now I’m scribbling furiously in an effort to keep up with my own mental babbling by the booklight in my Kindle cover in an attempt to not disturb anyone else. It seems both slightly poetic and maybe silly since I could just go sit on the couch. But whatever. Here I am.

Yesterday was frustrating. There were some communication issues that threatened to turn into a huge fight. I suppose, since I’m peering into my own brain, some of those issues stemmed from my own insecurities. The largest culprit yesterday was “not wanting to be a burden” coupled with a bit of expectation of a certain thing without having made those needs known. On the face of it, it was all fairly minor, and I just was frustrated and irritated. Beneath it, I felt both angry with myself for feeling so needy and frustrated that she didn’t read my mind. There were things both of us could have done better and hopefully in the future we will; however, I try not to talk too much about specific disagreements online (yes, I was handwriting this with the knowledge that it would eventually make it online) because it isn’t everyone’s business. With that in mind, I do think I need to examine some of my own reactions.

When I realized I was both upset and becoming frustrated, I should have reached out and let her know. I stopped myself both because I wanted her to somehow realize I needed her and also because I didn’t want to bother her for anxiety reasons again. Right now, this seems plain as can be, but it wasn’t so clear then. I’m getting better at recognizing anxiety and stress for what they are, but it is still a work in progress. I missed some of the mental hints and instead let myself get a little broody. By the time I did reach out, I was more than a little cranky. When she got home, while I tried to talk to her about why I was frustrated calmly, I suspect more of the other crept in than I wanted to admit at the time. I didn’t have the worst possible reaction, but in hindsight, I realize I could have chosen if not a better way to handle it, then a better time to handle it. Trying to discuss something only a few minutes after someone gets home rarely goes well. It just sort of came out when she asked if I was okay. So, hopefully next time, I’ll at least manage better timing. Things did settle back down and she worked on making dinner. She was trying something new with veggie soup and it ended up taking longer than she was expecting. That meant she spent most of the evening in the kitchen…which to be honest was unexpected on my part and also a bit frustrating. I finally realized I was just playing games for something to do and maybe reading for a bit and trying to sleep was a better course of action. I went to tell her and she got upset with me. I’m still a little confused as to why. I know part of it was because we didn’t have any of our usual evening downtime, but she had been working in the kitchen and I had no clue she could have stopped for a bit. While we were discussing it, she expressed some frustration that food didn’t seem to be a “making me feel better” thing since I went GF. I thought about it for a minute and realized that on some level, I had been working to make that separation in my head since I was already making large changes. Most of the weight I’ve put on in the last 2 years has been from stress eating, it that is really not healthy physically or mentally. We talked a little more, but I wasn’t managing to put my thoughts into words. I suspect this was a part of what was keeping me awake because cooking is something she does to make people feel good. She likes when her food makes people happy and when she finds things they love. With that in mind, and me realizing the mental changes I was unconsciously making, there was a bit of a disconnect and I could tell she was upset but couldn’t assuage that upset.

First, the obvious. You have no idea how much I love when you cook for me, even if it seems basic and easy. Cooking comes easily for you whereas for me, it’s a struggle. I don’t enjoy it, so when I do cook, it’s a necessity thing not a because I want to thing. You’ve introduced me to more foods than I can count, and on your watch, I’ve come to love asparagus, zucchini, parsnips, and even new cheeses, all because you take the time to make them. When you bring home asparagus it is sometimes more exciting to me than chocolate, and if anyone had ever hinted I’d write a sentence like that, I’d tell them they were crazy. Over the last few weeks, things have been stressful and I was having to watch what I ate even before I went GF because of my gallbladder, so you’ve had a challenge on your hands. The veggie soups you’ve been making have been getting me through a lot of the days where I felt like there was a way between my body, my brain, and food. I keep waiting for you to groan and beg me not to ask for it again because you and K are tired of it, but that hasn’t happened yet. So, even though it was taking awhile and wasn’t done when you wanted, I was still excited for soup. I’ve also been tired, out of sorts, and stressed, so it likely didn’t show as much. It hadn’t crossed my mind that there would be tasty soup when we got home from the doctor tomorrow because my brain keeps getting stuck somewhere around the doctor’s office. When you explained that after I admonished you for doing too much when you were tired and in pain, I both felt bad and felt all floaty hearted at the same time. So, see, your food is a comfort thing and a happy making thing even as I try to divorce some of the food = comfort pathways. It really is two separate things. I’m trying to stop the pathway that says, “Food will make you less stressed and will make things better” because it is not true. It might -temporarily- make things better but it won’t fix things and in the long run it makes things worse. In some ways, this is already and will continue to make me love the things you make even more because it is tasty and healthier than most of the junk I was craving before. I know some of the GF things have you a bit scared or maybe nervous is a better word because it is new territory for you and there’s more trial and error involved; however, I gleefully look forward to being your guinea pig because I know you’ll make awesome things and then all of our friends will be jealous they can’t steal you.

So, while I’m working on my mental relationship with food, it won’t diminish the love and comfort I receive from what you make for me because the two aren’t wholly connected. And if more of what I ask for you to make is mega-veggie soup instead of cookies or a cake, that won’t entirely be a bad thing. Your food makes me happy, love, and not in the dysfunctional “food will solve everything” way but in the “Holy shit this woman cares so much about me she spends six hours in the kitchen cooking for me and that is both mind-boggling and amazing” way. I hope that eases your worry better than I was managing last night.

There’s one nagging issue down, so what are the others? Well that is a bit more complicated to sort, but I know it revolves around the appointment that is in *looks at clock* four hours. *sigh* Some of it is general fear of an unknown. I’m glad I met Tom at my other appointment, but it was brief and I don’t really know what to expect. I’ve not done the counselor thing since college and while I know it can be a good thing, I’ve not had it on my to-do list. See, I have a lot of trust issues both with counselors and in general. I don’t just open up to anyone these days (doubly true after the last couple of years), so the idea of having to is daunting, almost too daunting.

The reason I’m going is because my need for my ADD meds is stronger than my fear of the counselor. Of course, I have to figure out how to communicate that without coming across as drug-seeking (in the negative way of “person who is addicted,” etc.). The honest truth is that I’ve been out of them for almost a year and I’d really like to use my brain more productively again. I miss the way [med name] makes me better able to handle my thoughts and makes me more productive. I like how it makes me better able to handle the fatigue and mental fog that my chronic illness causes. I miss the organization I used to be able to apply to my thoughts and my personal chaos field. The reality is that not only was I more productive and easier to talk to on my meds, but I dealt with less anxiety, too. To some, that might seem odd since ADD meds can cause anxiety for some folks, but for me, it helps break up some of the anxiety loops I get stuck in, and for the times it doesn’t break up those loops, it helps me be better able to focus on my what I’m doing to distract myself from the anxiety.

I’ve learned how to knit while not on my meds (which has not always been easy), and I’ve gotten pretty good for a beginner. I’m proud of that fact. I also wonder how much better I would be if I could keep a pattern in my head for more than five minutes at a time. I combat that right now by writing out every stitch in every row instead of using repeats like patterns do, and it works, but it is a bit clunky. I’d like to see how I manage with my meds, in part because I think I could eventually make some extra money by making items to sell. I’m not thinking a huge enterprise, but I do think there are things I could make that people might want to buy.

I also need to start writing more. I’m managing a bit more than I was, but I also know that it was basically my ADD meds that got me through college. I’m slowly being talked into NaNoWriMo, and I can only imagine how much easier it would be with better focus. I also know if I can get back in the habit of writing, and I can build my confidence up, I should be able to start submitting things for publishing by the end of the year. Some of that will come from continuing the path of making me a better me, but I know for a fact from past history that this goal would be better reached with ADD meds.

I need to be able to articulate all of this in a couple of hours. I also need to be able to articulate how much I do not want to be on SSRIs or their kin. Those don’t make a better me – they make a zombie me. They also affect my writing. That was part of the reason I stopped taking them in college after the “circumstances that caused me to need meds weren’t changing and the band-aid they provided was making things worse not better every time I plateaued and had to increase my dose again” reason. It was becoming almost impossible to write anything let alone 2-3 academic papers a week. Trying another one of those because it might help with pain isn’t worth the risks to me, especially not since I am finally starting to work myself past some of the self-imposed writer’s blocks I put on myself. I need to be able to write and I can’t afford to lose that.

Besides that, as frustrating as anxiety can be and as frustrating as fluctuating emotions can be, I FAR prefer that to feeling nothing when I took those meds. In the past, I needed that numbing effect to help me deal with my life at the time. For the place I am at now, especially given how hard I have been working on creating better habits for dealing with anxiety and depression without letting them rule my thoughts, going back on those meds would be so counter-productive. I haven’t worked this hard on myself to lose that effort to things that numb me and leave me feeling less like myself.

When I first was diagnosed with fibro and CFS, it seemed like every doctor wanted to put me on an SSRI. I flat refused because it had only been a few months since I finally stopped feeling the lost/numbing effects of the last one I’d been on. I talked to one of my old family doctors about it at the time and explained my logic behind my refusal. He noted that (at least at the time) they had a 33% success rate for fibro, and given the reasons I had, he didn’t think it was the path for me. After that, every time I’ve seen a new doctor and they see I have depression in my health history, it is one of the first things they suggest. I had one rheumatologist examine me who had made her mind up before I ever walked in the door that I just needed an SSRI and I’d be fine. She ignored things I presented with like my purple fingers – a marker of Reynaud’s – and she kept ignoring how much pain her “simple” exam was causing my muscles and joints and noted that “everything was fine”. There’s not a single note of ANY of my distress upon her exam but a lot of notes of how I refused both an SSRI and Lyrica. The first I’ve already explained. The second was because that wasn’t terribly long after I’d had an allergic reaction to Gabitril which is in a similar family. Basically, because I had a history of depression in high school and early college, that was clearly my problem and I wasn’t worth her time.

Given how I feel about SSRIs and their ilk (and how poorly I did on tricyclics when I tried those at the beginning of this crazy ride of chronic illness), I don’t see them as the best option for me. In light of new research into fibro that suggests the illness comes from nerve problems in the hands and feet, I feel even more strongly against them. What I am willing to look at is something like Neurontin. I was prescribed it before but I didn’t take it because of being leery after Gabitril; however, now I’m willing to try again with medicine testing because it has been several years and my body seems to enjoy changing how it reacts to things from time to time. I might even be willing to try Lyrica, though I would rather it not be the first line of testing.

I feel a bit better now that I managed to sort some of this out. I tried a couple of times yesterday to no avail. Apparently a lack of sleep and a hastily ticking countdown to the appointment were good motivators. Every now and then, I wish my brain would cooperate a bit more normally, but then I remember that normal is only a setting on the washing machine; instead of wishing for something different, right now I’m just going to be grateful I got so much written down.

Of course, my alarm is going to go off in less than two hours and I might be a bit cranky, but I will strive to keep the sense of tired calm I have right now. The question is, do I try to take an hour and a half nap or do I just go curl up with RIn and read until it’s time to get ready? Also, do I let the therapist read the second half of this entry or do I just stick to trying to talk it out? Blerg. Not sure.

We can do hard things. Love wins. 

I have been pretty crappy in the writing department of late and I wonder if there isn’t one more lesson tied up in the large one I am currently learning from the universe. I suppose I should start from the beginning.

A couple of weeks ago, before I finally gave in and went to the doctor, I had a couple of days where it felt like angry, angry minions were crawling around my abdomen and back. I almost ended up in the emergency room with pain that was worse than labor. (A lot of women say this, let me clarify that I was in labor for 43 hours before I had a c-section so my “worse than labor” benchmark is pretty damn high.) It finally eased up and I got some sleep and then the next day Rin threatened to call everyone we know to tell them I was being a stubborn ass and refusing to go to the doctor and did I REALLY want that. No. No, I did not. So, I went to urgent care.

I had a sinus infection (which I knew) that OTCs weren’t kicking. I also had a kidney/bladder/UTI thing going on which I didn’t know about. (Yay for asymptomatic illnesses?) As a precaution, the CNP did decide to draw some blood (which they had to do twice because one of the vials clotted. Bwhee.) After two doses of antibiotics, I felt about 3000% times better and had no more abdominal pain and a lot of that ended up being chalked up to my kidneys. There were several reasons for that, including the fact that when Rin would rub my back during the worst of the previous episode, it would feel better and so…I floated along in a antibiotic daze and worked on recovering. After starting the Prednisone script that I was given to go with the antibiotics, I felt a WHOLE lot better and realized just how much inflammation my joints have been carrying lately. (The answer is a scary amount but more on that later.)

So, in a Prednisone fueled couple of days, I managed a neighborhood walk with Miss Ma’am and running errands without wanting to cry and it was good. And then I got a letter in the mail from the urgent care place that said they had been trying to contact me and they had information for me. I figured it was about my blood work results. Rin and I stopped by there after I had a massage with Natalie on Thursday and things were a bit odd from that point. The nurse kept acting like I had been ignoring her calls on purpose though I’d only received one voice mail and it wasn’t all that informative. However, my voice mail has been wonky since this summer, so, you know, I don’t know. (P.S. My VM has been wonky for a couple of months. As in, I just received a couple of VMs from JULY last week.) Then she was like, “Yeah, I’m going to get the doctor to talk to you about these results” and she left Rin and I in a room with me starting to freak out a bit. By the time the other nurse practitioner came in (a different one than I saw first), I was a bit wound and she made it so much worse. She basically was like, “You need a doctor” and she made me sound like a horrible person because I am a) sick, b) uninsured, and c) do not have a job and/or money. She treated me like crap, scared the hell out of me because my liver enzymes were REALLY high, and she refused to tell me ANYTHING that could cause that kind of abnormal blood work. (Upon later reflection, I realized that I am glad that I have medical knowledge and know that if something is wrong with your liver, one thing you absolutely should not take is acetaminophen. I shudder to think about someone in the same situation with this woman without that type of knowledge.)

So, we left. I was angry and upset and scared to death and the more stressed I got, the more I started to realize I was getting some twinges in my side again. Not pain, per se, but twinges. So, I tried to distract myself and figure out what to do while I waited for a call back from the clinic about where I might be able to go get quick doctor care that I could afford. The CNP called back and said that they had called Healthlinc but they were about to close, so someone would call me the next day. So, it was a long, restless kind of night and I kept it all bottled in. Rin did chat with one of my adopted big brothers who is also a CNP to ask for information and advice and that did help bring some reassurance. He basically made her swear in blood over FB chat that we would watch for certain things like jaundice (which we already had been) and that if there was a HINT of them that we’d go to the ER.

Friday, I got a call that the clinic had called Healthlinc and they had made me an appointment for Saturday morning which was…a surprise. The last I’d heard, that particular clinic was booked three weeks out. (Another local clinic for low income patients that Rin called couldn’t see me until the end of November.) Needless to say, the increased urgency added some stress. To combat that, Rin and I tried to keep me occupied and not freaking out. We also spent five hours going over the medical records I have on hand and realized that Harbin Clinic is not the best at organized record keeping, that I am missing three years of information (coincidentally the three years RIGHT after I was first diagnosed with CFS/Fibro stuff), and that there are A LOT of errors in my file as well as things missing like ER reports. Bwhee. One more thing to figure out how to fix later. Our efforts let us compile a list of the times of past diagnoses and things like that and so we at least went into the office prepared with that. I figured if I was abruptly being thrown into a new office that I was going to do so properly or at least as properly as possible.

Saturday morning I was a bit of a wreck. I’ve had horrible experiences with doctors of late which is why it’s been over a year since I’ve seen one regularly and why I’ve been without my normal meds for about that long and I just…was not prepared to face a crisis and a new office at the same time. To Healthlinc’s credit, the nurse and nurse practitioner I saw Saturday were amazing. There were no recriminations about the amount of information I brought to them (in fact they were thankful that I had it and was sharing it). There were no recriminations about not having insurance/money/jobs/not taking care of myself/it’s all in your head nonsense. There was listening. There was talking. There was a lot of concern about my liver enzyme numbers.

Alisha was very helpful. She was also pretty insistent that I try going gluten free. She said that looking at all of my symptoms and diagnoses across the board she felt it was a good path to try. She said she could order the expensive test for it or I could just eliminate gluten and see what happens. It is a concept I have pondered off and on as I’ve done more research but it is a huge level of commitment and well, I love me some gluten. So I haven’t tried it. But she was earnest in her conversation about it and suggested that it was a good place to start and so, there was one dropped bomb for the day that basically meant an entire lifestyle change.

She also was insistent that I have my labs redrawn and have an abdominal ultrasound as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that does mean that a lot more of that is going to have to be paid out of pocket than might normally because the way Healthlinc normally works is that you have an intake appointment with the financial counselor to find out how much you can pay and where on the sliding scale you fall and THEN you see doctors. I’m doing it ass backwards and they don’t have an intake appointment until later this month. But, that will be okay both by careful budgeting and some help from Mom and Dad because Mom was insistent and I stopped being a proud “I Can Do All The Things” asshole and agreed to let her help. (Sorry, Mom.) On Monday, the nurse is going to call the ultrasound folks that Healthlinc works with and set that up and I will likely have the labs drawn Monday or Tuesday depending on when the US is and we’ll go from there. I also have another appointment scheduled with the doctor at Healthlinc on Wednesday to talk about All the Things. Progress is being made and it is a bit terrifying and world changing all at the same time.

I looked at Rin at one point in the office yesterday and I said, “I think the universe is trying to teach me a giant lesson in humility.” She didn’t immediately say anything (my suspicion is that she was waiting to see where, exactly, I was going with that thought), so I went on to explain why I felt that way. I’m going to break down in a bit more detail here, though.

First, there are things that I have been putting off because of pride and anxiety. The biggest one of those has been filing for Medicaid in Indiana. A lot of it has been leftover stress/anxiety from dealing with the bureaucratic red tape I dealt with in GA. Some of it has been that the stigma regarding people who need public assistance has gotten into my head so much more than I ever realized. I fall into the category of folks who is in a situation where things like food and housing are covered, but medical expenses start to fall way the hell outside of sane budgeting. We travel. Hell, we have a lot of access to electronics largely through T’s job. We do all the things that people talk about those damn poor people not being able to afford and I stressed myself out and let the voice of public opinion make me act in a ridiculous manner. I have since rectified that point of pride. In fact, I did that Thursday night after dealing with the nurse practitioner because part of the reason she made me feel so awful was because it is something that I have mentally been kicking my own ass over for awhile. So. The thing is filed and the die is cast and we’ll see where everything falls out.

Letting myself become so proud that I acted stupidly is something that I have some regrets about but this situation with my liver going rogue has made me come to the point that all of the built up arguments like, “We’re doing okay” and “we can manage” and “I can live on ibuprofen alone! (the biggest lie of them all)” and threw them all out the door and said, “Honey, you’re up shit creek, what are you going to do about it?” So, I grabbed the paddle, beat the hell out of the last shreds of pride I was holding on to and filed the application.

Second, there are a lot of other ways that I have let pride become the boss of me in the last couple of years. I retreated inside my own shell after some things went horribly wrong with some people that I genuinely cared about. And that reaction was okay for a time because I needed the space. But instead of eventually crawling my way back out, I built up the wall that said, “I don’t need no stinkin’ people” and kept building. I reach out sometimes and I’d poke my head around the wall. For many people, it probably didn’t look that different than normal. But I kept trying to protect myself from the world because it seemed like the thing to do at the time. In the last few months, in part with the help of some awesome writers like Glennon at Momastery and Jennie at The Bloggess, I’ve been trying to unwrap myself from the “people are bad” cocoon I’ve built. It hasn’t been easy. And reaching out to other people and crawling out of that hole means remembering what it is like to feel things for other people again and as G says, the world is a brutiful place full of beauty and pain. And my heart hurts, but I’ve been trying.

Right now, I’m sitting at a junction where I can continue to keep all this shit to myself and Rin and a few other folks or I can open the door and say, “Hi, I’m sometimes a crazy asshole who needs to be reminded that she isn’t a super hero and right now I’m terrified out of my brain and if you have a kind word or a hug to spare I’d totally appreciate it even though I don’t think I deserve it all that much.” And oh how there is an internal battle in my head about which option to choose, but in finally making myself sit down and write about this crap I think I know which option will win. At least I hope so. Though I suspect that since Rin knows I’ve been writing something she’ll likely just hack into my WordPress account and post it for me if I don’t so maybe I should save her some work.

If there is anything about the current government situation that I think acts as a lesson unto my own life it is that we all need each other when shit gets weird. We all have to learn how to stand together and find some common ground even when we vehemently disagree or there will be people who will capitalize on that fact. And…I need people and I need to stop being a hermit. And for those of you who have kept poking at me and making me interact with the rest of the world whether it is via insane FB messages, random texts, or even something as simple as a word game on the Internetz, you have a lot more gratitude than I have words for. Please don’t stop.

Third, having to embrace a gluten free diet offers an opportunity for some of the health changes that I have needed to make. I have needed to become more active, but I have let the fugue of “it hurts too much” and “it’s too hard” become my rallying cry. Now, I’m taking words from Glennon again and I am trying to change my rallying cry to “we can do hard things.” In fact, I told Rin that maybe what I need her to do for the next couple of weeks is to sharpie “We can do hard things” on one wrist and “love wins” on the other because I am probably going to need the reminders. I was half kidding last night when I said it, but the more that I think about it, the more I think it is actually a really good idea. Sometimes I need the visual reminder to beat the negative words in my head.

Because the first doctor I saw mentioned that if I was having problems with my gallbladder (which is what I thought the abdominal pain could be), he suggested a low fat diet to help. Because I’d already had several days where I couldn’t eat because I was too sick, Rin started introducing things slowly back into my diet. The result has been that the two weeks that I’ve been on antibiotics have seen a somewhat revolutionary diet change for me already. She cut out pretty much all of the processed crap with the exception of saltines and toast (since for the first couple of days that was what I was keeping down). She has been giving me a lot more fruits and veggies than I normally eat. And basically she’s been a freaking rock star taking care of me and making me awesome veggie soup with a little bit of chicken in it and things like that. Seriously, her veggie soup is amazeballs and you should ask her to make it for you. What I’ve noticed is that I haven’t been craving as much of the junk that I usually do, and in fact when she and I were driving through town last week a lot of the fast food places that I look at as comfort food just sounded gross to me. Sure, there are things that I want (fried shrimp omg), but on the whole, a lot of the stuff that I haven’t been eating the last couple of weeks is stuff I didn’t really need anyway.

Those changes have also been enough to give me a small ledge to stand on as I face this new change. Because I know that I CAN do it, but being able and being willing are two entirely different things. However, as I said, the universe is teaching me a lesson in humility and has offered an opportunity for change. I can accept it and see what happens or I can keep living with my head under a rock and doing things the old way because that’s the way I’ve always done it. And thereby I get caught in my own trap because I HATEHATEHATE the rationale “but this is the way we’ve ALWAYS done it so we have to keep doing it that way” with a fiery passion. I have to accept the fact that things need to change. In the last two years, I’ve kind of let food become the source of comfort that I needed and I put on a lot of weight that my effed up joints don’t need to carry. Now, I have to relearn how to eat again and that’s going to take making some changes. Thankfully, I don’t have to do it alone. Rin has, pretty much from the get-go, been thinking about ways to make some of my favorite things without gluten and she’s come up with some pretty awesome ideas. She is most worried about being able to bake me things because that is her passion, but I reminded her that we know a lot of people who know how to deal with gluten free baking and that is helping bolster her courage, too. Things have to change and I have to be the one to make the decision to let the change happen. So, baby steps. Tomorrow, I say goodbye to gluten and it will be hard. Oh, it will be hard. But it is doable and I can do this.

If you’ve read this far, you might be wondering what I need at this point. Well, the answer to that is simple. Encouragement, for one. I am scared that my liver has decided to go rogue and well, with my health history, you never know what could be causing that. It could be something as simple my gallbladder giving up the ghost or it could be something else and I don’t do well with uncertainty. Mystery is not my favorite genre after all. 😀 So, encouragement is good. Beyond that, I am likely going to be a raging bear for the next couple of weeks because from everything I’ve heard, quitting gluten can be mood swing inducing and at the same time that I am giving up gluten I will also be detoxing from Prednisone, so encouragement not just for me but for Rin and K as well is good. I told Mom last night on the phone that nobody is going to love me this week and she said, “No, they’ll still love you, they just might not want to be around you.” You know what, fair enough. On that point, she is definitely right because gods know many of ya’ll have seen me at my awfulest and you still hang around so there is that. Also, I apologize in advance if I whine a lot on Facebook. I may whine there to avoid doing so out loud to the people who have to live with me.

Oh and finally, encourage me to write. Feel free to send me texts and emails. But I think that one way to help combat some of this stuff in my head is going to be writing it down. Logically I know this, but I have kind of screwed myself in the writing department the last few years with mixed messages of “it is helpful” vs “it is utter rubbish and who the fuck do I think I am writing anything” and I need some help dragging myself out of this hole, too. This one is a bit harder because sometimes the reminder makes me belligerent. I still need the reminders and the encouragement. Hell, at bare minimum I have a built in well of new topics to talk about because I’m sure that adapting to a gluten free lifestyle is going to make for some fascinating times for me. But knowing that and remembering to put hands to keyboard doesn’t always work. So, please, if you’re of a mind to so, drop me a note once in a while to suggest you’d like to hear what’s going on. It will help more than you realize.

We can do hard things. (The we is important to me because I know I can’t do this alone.) Love wins.

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.

http://9gag.com/gag/4779450

I feel like I’m somewhere between the fourth and fifth panels, not totally consumed, but damn if I can’t feel it coming. I’m better than this, or I tell myself I should be, but isn’t that just part of the problem?

It’s been a rough few months where so many things have been yanked out from under me. I usually recover more easily, but some of these things were things I’d been rebuilding my sense of self on, things I could look at and say, “See, I am doing these productive things and I AM useful and I do STUFF.” And they were important to me and they were ripped away from me in fashions designed to break me down.

There was no courtesy or respect, no, “We think you actually suck at this, so go away,” or anything. Just lies, backstabbing, and shadiness. And I’m moving past it. I’m not always rage filled when I see one of their names. I’ve not replaced all of those other times with being upset. Some, but not all. Some times, I can see their names and just breathe and move on.

I hate that they still have any power over my emotions and it makes me so awfully angry because I should be better than that, but logically, I know it’s not true. I know that betrayal and hurt feelings take time to work out, and I know that the cuts that all of the earlier drama this year caused are going to take time to heal, and I’m obviously going to have to do it properly because trying to shove it and ignore it until it hurts less isn’t working. Damn does that make me angry.

As a result of a lot of a lot of this, I’ve been having more problems with anxiety. It’s not a new thing, not really. It’s a battle I’ve fought since I was younger. And like times when I was younger, the anxiety is turning into gut churning fear and damn if that is not frustrating as hell.

Even more frustrating is that I had been getting a handle on some of these things and I had been mentally pep-talking myself and had been trying to do things again because I know, know, know that the way to defeat this anxiety monster is to do things and to not let it win. But it has been a constant battle that has oft felt as though it were built on a house of cards that are so easily knocked over. But, I’ve been trying…but one thing I’ve not been doing is talking about these things, all for ridiculous reasons that I know are ridiculous but they seem so damn logical some times.

Last week changed some of that…a lot of that. Folks know we were going to face paint at Celebration VI. It’s a gig Rin has done since C2 in 2002. At the end of CV, everything seemed to be great. About a week before CVI, trouble started brewing. The lady in charge of the kids’ room had only scheduled us to paint for 2.5 hours a day…when the room is open 8. The first day we got to Orlando, when we went to work straight off from the drive, things were a bit tense but okay. Although after we hit our time cap and had to keep telling kids no, I was steadily less okay. I was definitely not okay when said lady in charge lost her shit at the tip jar on the table behind us (with a sign that said Tips are welcome but NOT Required) in front of two kids and a couple of parents. By the time we finished up, I was pretty upset. She didn’t tell us when to come back or what to do, so we took our time, particularly after we listened to a VM from Mary Franklin (our top boss, the other chick’s boss, and Rin’s primary contact) that said, basically that she was sorry it had waited so long, but she needed to talk to us about attitude and how to be Elite Squad and that there had been complaints at CV (two years ago). We were both upset and confused as hell and trying to catch Mary to talk to her during the show is almost impossible, so we were left hanging. We made it back to the family room after a couple more delays (like Rin waiting half an hour for the wheelchair stall in the bathroom) and got attitude from two of the junior staff members. No instructions. No direct comments. Just the two if them being catty. We kind of stood around for a bit feeling like morons with nothing to do, Rin coaxed an artist into not ditching his panel in the room because no one was there yet by explaining that a lot of times folks come scrambling to the room from other places, and then we worked on tidying the classroom area because we had nothing else to do. We left for the day with room boss explaining what would be going on tomorrow, no more talk of problems or what have you.

We walked in Friday morning and were fired on the spot for “taking money” and a vague claim of dishonesty. It was embarrassing, but more over it was upsetting as hell. Rin got into the room first and she was visibly upset when I walked over. The head chick in the room was downright rude and I kind if told her off. We were escorted from the building. We had no option for even a day pass or a side trip to the store, nothing. We ran into Mary on the way out and she was pretty generic about it all but did thank Rin for all her years of service.

On the way out, the guy who was escorting us actually was pretty decent and he listened to our side of things and seemed not so okay with how we were treated. But, he still couldn’t do anything.

Basically, there were personality conflicts in the family room and we were the scapegoats. They said we violated policy, but it certainly wasn’t in the paperwork we signed to work this year and no one could say where it was. It was just the reason she needed.

The only positive was that we ran into one of the families from the day before that we’d promised the little boy of that he could tell us about the rest of his day, so I explained while choking up that something had happened and we wouldn’t be there. I honestly don’t remember what I said beyond a lot of I’m sorry.

We left, went to lunch, and then went back to the hotel and crashed. I slept the rest of Friday and most of Saturday. And then Tropical Storm Isaac was coming and blahblahblah.

This whole thing pretty much kicked me in the face. It was way high on the scale of Feeding the Monster. I did actually start managing to articulate some of this to Rin this week, so that’s a plus. But last night, at the start of the geek prom that is Dragon Con, I was trying not to have a panic attack in the car. I keep wanting to hide in the hotel room all weekend (but I won’t…I hope). I’m trying. As I was laying down for the micronap I was going to get before today, I realized that some of the problem is an extension of the one I’ve been having: how to answer the question “what do you do/what have you been up to/etc.” I blank on the answer or I say “Nothing” and Rin fusses at me because I do things and why do I knock myself down like that (I don’t know, I just do, I’m sorry) and I just all around fail at this. And I had the thought, “I almost wish I could write down an answer and just hand it to people so I don’t have to be that awkward right now,” and I’m tempted to maybe do it or ask Rin what she thinks. It was that idea that got me started writing this in the first place…that and not wanting to spend the weekend of our 7th anniversary snapping Rin’s head off every time the anxiety monster rears it’s ugly head. Because it’s already happened and that’s really not fair. So…yes…trying to put this into something that makes some sense.

And still trying to decide if I’m going to be brave enough to share it…

 

[Edit: So, I ended up not sharing it until December; however, I decided to take it off my phone’s local posts and shared it my blog because I think it’s important.]

It is late at night that I find myself either battling demons or hiding from them. The voices of “you’re not good enough” and “you’re not doing enough” seem to dwell somewhere between sunset and sunrise which is, to me, a bit ironic, since the night tends to be when I am at my prime. I suppose that tonight part of the battle is that I spent hours struggling with resume writing, trying to get it just so, trying to put abstract things into concrete words and having an intimate awareness that it is likely not quite good enough for what I want. I have spent a bit more time seeking out other opportunities and wondering just how I am going to make it in this crazy world. Sure, there are the obvious answers, but there has to be something more. Struggling to get by is unpleasant at best and downright depressing at its core, and yet finding my way to that mythical “making something better of myself” place that grown-ups are supposed to find seems to be filled with setbacks and quiet, personal failures that are determined to quash every step of progress I may or may not have made.

I am good at crushing myself. I have a lot of practice. I have had a lot of help with it over the years and I have perfected the art until it is almost second nature to shoot myself down long before I reach the point of selling myself. Resume writing requires a person to reach the opposite of self-crushing and instead, strive for self-selling and I suck at it. Sure, logically, there are things that I know I do well, but I do not always know how to quantify them into black and white. (And the tawdry part of my sense of humor suggests that some things are better left off a resume to which I will simply sigh and move right along.) I can, in theory, put my abilities into words, but when I start to look at it on paper, it looks like so little. Any real experience I have is piece-meal at best. I am very good at a lot of things but have no real defining situations where those skills are clear. I have been using computers regularly since I was fifteen. I am proficient in multiple versions of Microsoft Office. I need to learn more Excel and likely several other spreadsheet programs. I can type quickly and accurately and I am damn good at taking notes. I am a professional at taking notes. Hell, it’d be kind of fun to get paid to go take notes for people in their college classes but I’m pretty sure that would verge on unethical. But…I’d be fucking good at it. I am fantastic at interpersonal skills and more often than not can manage to diffuse stressful situations easily. I have not worked professionally at the university level but gods know that I have a lot of work at learning how to manage the university system. I like to talk to people. I like to help people. I like to see people achieve the things they want to achieve. I am good at helping kids though I don’t want to teach at the K-12 level because I despise the way the politics play out in that arena. I also despise the current fetish for standardized testing because I believe that at the end of the day we are teaching our children next to nothing for the sake of numbers that will get them nowhere when they are adults. We are, in short, sending them to professional baby-sitters, throwing darts of information at them, and praying that some of them stick. I see it in my daughter and I work to ensure that she takes more than just the basic lessons from her school work and instead actually is able to use those things long after that lesson has passed. I like research. No, I love research and I need to get back into the habit of doing it. I need to start writing academically again, not just for professional work but because I need the mental challenge. I have had my brain on hold for too long and I need to kick-start myself back to using it for something more than a place to store information about Facebook games. (Don’t get me wrong, they have their place, but it is time to actually -do- something with that degree I am going to be paying for for years to come instead of simply writing witty Facebook status updates.)

I am veering a bit from the topic I started with but I suppose that, in itself, is normal, but the sentence above this one got me to thinking about the example that I have that pretty much backs that theory up. I have a Kindle. Granted, I only have a Kindle because Tadhg figured out that he liked the Kindle DX better than the Kindle 2 and also because he sold the Kindle 2 for way more than he was expecting which pretty much let him make a profit and still buy the Kindle 3. Ironically, I am only laying out the how because I don’t want my protestations of “I’m more broke than I have ever been” to be read alongside the sentence “I have a Kindle” so that people think that I spend money frivolously. I have been known to do so, but right now, I couldn’t have bought myself a Kindle if I had wanted. There’s just no money for it. So, yes, Tadhg bought the Kindle and is letting me use it but it’s much easier to say it’s mine. Hell, it’s linked to my account, so right now even the Kindle says it’s mine which is kind of neat, too. At any rate (aka sweet Jesus shut me up), I know that I need to be using my brain again because I have been almost voraciously reading since I got the Kindle in my hands. Sure, Dragon*Con got in the way of that a little bit, but for the past few days, I have been doing bits on Facebook and reading at the same time…and most of the time, it’s trailed off into just reading. What am I reading? The Scarlet Pimpernel which I have found to be surprisingly and delightfully engaging. I don’t think I’ve had this much fun with a book in awhile and I suspect a large part of that has been because no matter how much I love Anita Blake books (some of the last things I’ve read), hardcovers are heavy and they get really damned uncomfortable to hold after awhile. The Kindle moves around in my hand and I can prop it in various places and I don’t end up wanting to whimper from having to hold a book in my hand. It freaking rocks so much because I -miss- reading. I used to read all the time, then school kind of kept me from it and then I simply got out of the habit. But if I want to a) write well, b) teach my daughter the importance of reading, and c) not end up sounding less educated than a 3 year old, I have to read. It’s that simple.

Of course, sitting here writing this down is easy. Putting these things into practice is hard. Turning in the resume I turned in tonight was hard as all hell because I kept thinking “I’m not qualified enough for this job,” but another part of me was going, “Well, maybe I am not perfectly qualified for it, but I am mostly qualified for it and I could be very good at it, so I need to at least try.” It’s just frustrating because the “I can’t do it” monster is so damned strong. There have been so many obstacles in the way and I have let some of them eat away at other parts of me and at this point, I can’t always manage to say, “I can do it,” and actually mean it. I can try to fake it, but that only gets you so far. Job hunting, then, is its own learning curve. Learning to read again and learning to apply information again is its own learning curve. Reminding myself that my opinion does matter and that people actually give a flying frak what I have to say has a learning curve.

*sighs* I am supposed to be in bed. I need to be in bed. I am trying not to get anymore sick than I already am. I am trying not to have to go to urgent care because we can’t really afford it. Hell, I am trying to figure out how to handle the fact that I sat down with my doctor back in Georgia and got him to write some prescriptions based upon things like Target’s $4 and found out on Friday that they changed that list the same month. So, yeah, going in and finding out that after talking to him about a couple of things and getting him to write a new script for a new anti-inflammatory since Relafen is so dadgummed expensive only to find that said anti-inflammatory is no longer on the list and that it costs as much as Relafen is a bit disheartening and frustrating and angry-making and a lot of other things. I have to call the pharmacy tomorrow and see what information they found for me, but it looks like I may have to go to the third-string option which is slightly worrisome on its own. We shall see what happens…right now, I have no clue beyond I can hear Dory in my head going “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

*faint shrug* What will be, will be as frustrating as that cliched phrase is and there is not a lot I can do about it right now. What I can do is look back at the fact that I a) sat down and wrote something and b) turned in a resume tonight and say, “Hey, I did accomplish something after all.” And then tomorrow, I can do a little bit more. Granted some of that little bit more will likely include housework, but hey, it has to be done and I’m not doing much anything else right now. I think it also needs to include another resume being sent in and at least some basic hunting up of academic papers that need writing. After that? Who knows? But at this point, I am starting to repeat myself and not in a fun way, so I am going to wrap this up and attempt to go to bed. I think.

…Are Quickly Foiled By Life

It has been a chaotic weekend. The plans that I thought would happen were blown out of the water completely by unexpected opportunities and at this moment, we are still sitting in Georgia when we should be in South Bend.

Thursday Mom called and wanted to know if Dad could pick K up that afternoon so that they could take her to Pigeon Forge. I told her I had to think about it but would call her back. After a lot of talking it out and tweaking their plans some, we decided to let her go to Pigeon Forge with them. The tweaks involved us taking her up to Cartersville on Friday morning and initially, that they would bring her back to Lilburn when they came home on Sunday.

Thursday was a bit hectic what with the kids trying to get in some last minute play time and everything else going on. Friday morning was no different. We got about 2 hours of sleep before heading to Cartersville. The plan was that after we dropped K off and they headed out that we were either going to go to Summerville to see Rin’s great grandmother or we were going to do some sorting at Mom and Dad’s to get some more of mine and K’s things since there were still a ton there.

First, we ended up going out to lunch with Mom and Dad and then saw them off on their way. She and I are trying a “starting over” thing and I am cautiously optimistic. She said she was tired of fighting and gods know I am, so we’ll see what happens. Anyway, they set off and Rin and I headed to Home Depot. From there, we went to the house.

Here’s where things start to get interesting. You see, my room was a total chaotic mess and there was so much stuff that we had to do some sorting and cleaning to even start getting to what I wanted to get out. Then we realized that we had the house to ourselves (well except for the cats), so we kind of dove into the project. At 6am, she put me to bed in K’s bed because I was so exhausted. She napped for a bit and then the next morning we were back to working again. We had a lot to get done on Saturday before Troy could come up and pick up a load for us for which I still can’t thank him enough. Once he left, we were theoretically just going to do a little bit more and then head back to Lilburn…so then 5am rolls around and we were still there and still working and it was insane. Sunday was much the same way. I actually called Mom and just told them to a) take their time and b) come to their house since we were there. We were still working on getting our first load into the car when they got home. We visited with them for a bit and got the first load in and headed back to Lilburn, trying not to get killed by the idiots on the highways. We started unloading, had a bit of help from Troy, and then sent him to finish his work so he could sleep since he had an early flight Monday morning.

When I realized it was going to take us longer here than I had realized, I called Mom and told her to put K to bed and that I had no real idea when we’d get there. We finally headed that way around 3 something. We stopped at got breakfast at McDonald’s in Cartersville and got to the house around 5am Monday…pretty much in time to wake my Dad up and see him off to work. We didn’t get a lot done while Mom and K were still asleep, so once they woke up, the real work began. We were trying to get back to Lilburn before Mr. Monkey got home, but we missed that deadline and a couple more. There was so much more to sort and play Tetris with than we had realized, and some of it was taking a lot longer than we ever could have calculated for. We finally got on the road around 7 something after a few tearful goodbyes and promises that things really would be okay.

It took a little bit, but K settled in the car and we were talking about how it was a little scary but that she was excited about her new school and moving and that was a very good thing. We got Schlotzky’s for dinner which was yummy as usual and got back to the house around 9. The kids got to play for a little bit and K got to share her super-special caramels that her Gamma had given her, and then it was their bedtime. Rin and I had aimed to get a bit more done, but we both ended up crashing rather soundly. Something about a complete lack of sleep, a whole lot of physical labor, and pain levels catching up to us.

Tuesday dawned with neither of us able to move very well and it pretty much slowed us down from the get-go. By that point, we knew there was no way we would make open house, but we were still shooting for getting her to school on time. (Although once the secretary at the school found out that we were still in the process of moving up she was basically like “please inhale, it is all right”.)

Things took longer than we wanted, in part because I was kinda useless. Also, we had a little bit of time taken up by dinner since we had promised to take them for a Best Friend’s Waffle Dinner for National Waffle Day. We went to WaHo and they were very slow which was annoying. The food was good though, which made up for the horrible server. (Pro tip: if a customer politely asks you if you are new, say yes because it likely means they think you’ve done a terrible job. Pro tip the second: I don’t care if the text message is from God himself, take yourself more than 2 steps away from the table to rudely answer it. Seriously.) The kids had a ton of fun eating their waffles and everything else they consumed, and then we had to make a brief Wal-mart run before returning to Walgreens to attempt to pick up our scripts. The one on Rockbridge is awful and they screw things up all the time but we’d hoped that tonight, since it was closer, that they’d managed 2 freakin’ scripts. Nope. They shorted her ten of her narcotic which meant that she had to go back inside and they were like, “Well, we have to recount the inventory.” Um, what? She asked how long it would take and they weren’t giving her an answer until she got a bit snotty and was like, “No, I have two children in the car who need to get home for bed, how long will it take?” They told her to go and call back later. That stole a bit more time because of having to go in and deal with it and later for having to drive back over after they called her.

The kids had some play time and then they had some snuggle time and then there were some tissues and Mr. Monkey had to go to bed since he had school today. K helped us with stuff for a good long while, and we were still trying to get out of here on time, but I think it was pretty much a doomed effort.

Once we realized that there was no way we would make the school day, we slowed down a bit to try to accommodate stupid, unhappy bodies. Sadly, at this point, we are both kinda gimpy and still have to finish getting everything sorted and into the car. Then there’s that whole driving thing…but it has to be done and it will be good when we get there.

I can’t begin to tell you all of the kinds of things that I found while poking through my bedroom and then trying to decide what needs to come now and what can stay for later trips has also been a bit of a headache. We got out a lot of stuff though and it was kind of startling once we’d gotten the car loaded a second time. I’ve found pictures that I had forgotten existed, writings that I had thought lost, and so much more besides. I’ve found academic papers that remind me that I’m supposed to be working on academic publishing and that I need to kick my own ass and get back into it. I’ve found books and all kinds of other things and have amazed myself by some of the things that the younger me kept over the years. I suspect some of those will find their way here, but I have no idea when.

It has been an emotionally charged, physically draining weekend and we’ve still miles to go before we sleep. I’m trying to finish icing my knees and my lumbar spine since they seem to hate me the most. Silly things.

I talked to Mom a little bit ago and she was only barely “tsk-tsk” at me and mostly was teasing at that. I told her to reassure Dad that I had the 3-Cell Mag-lite in the car (he’d been quite worried that I was going to leave mine there), and she said, “You know that’s partially just his way of saying ‘I love you.'” I said, “I know, that’s why I’m making the note for you.” She got quiet for a moment and said, “After you left the other night, I lost him. The house isn’t that big and I couldn’t find him. I finally stood in the middle of the hall and called his name and he said, ‘I’m in here,’ and I said, ‘Where’s here?'” He had been sitting on my bed, looking around the room. When she went in, he looked up and said, “I’m going to miss her.” She agreed that she would miss me, too, and they took turns petting each other’s hair and telling each other that it would be all right and basically helping each other through the moment. I was moved to tears and almost am again just recounting the story. One, I would have expected it to be the other way around, that he would have lost her, and two, well, it’s good that he did not just shut down on her but instead actually shared his feelings and the moment and it’s a huge step and tells me that even in the midst of the chaos and the Lotsness of it all, they probably will be okay.

Until next time, whenever I manage to steal a few minutes again, here’s to hoping you know where your flashlight is…

So, I was doing pretty well with the whole writing thing. Heck, even when I was in Georgia I actually managed a couple of entries (mind you they were handwritten, but they fucking got written). I have a rather lengthy one for the 16th in which I examine how the trip down with the munchkins went and several other things including some of the workings that go on at the Department of Family and Children Services. ‘Course, then I drove back up by myself and was like, “Okay, I’ll find time to write about driving on my own and other things like that,” and forgot the number one rule of writing, particularly for writers who are distracty and procrastination-prone at their best: you do not “find” time to write. There are four million other things that will come up that you will want to do or will more feel like doing, up to and including staring at lint, and the writing won’t happen. That’s the point I’ve been at for a week…so here I am staring at Dashboard and a relatively open screen “finding” time.

On Time
Time is a tricky thing: sometimes it works with you, unfolding and playing out in a spiral that makes things fall properly into place; other times, it treats you like you’re a gnat on a tornado-driven breeze, tossed about by its merciless desire to keep going, until it spits you out three thousand miles from home, leaving you with a headache and head spins and not a damn clue how to fix it. Right now? I’m a gnat.

The last few months have been chaotic. Of course, I write that sentence and want to automatically correct it with “the last few years” which I then want to correct with “my life is chaotic” but that would simply be one more distraction of minutia that will get me nowhere in the end, so let’s try again.

Life is chaotic, and sometimes, I’m a bloody chaos field. While everyone goes through periods of chaos and upheaval, I from time to time seem to have an extra dose made just for me and anyone within a hundred feet. What I really should say then is this: the last few months have been full of more upheaval than I have really figured out how to properly deal with. I have gone from one event to the next like a shock victim trying to keep her head above the water and sometimes, that description is much more apt than I want it to be. So many things have happened; so many things have changed. There are so many unanswered questions that I could probably fill a novella length printing with them and still not be done. On one hand, the more logical part of my brain understands that some of that is what the whole “growing up” thing is all about: chaos, upheaval, and learning to land on your feet. On the other, the much less logical part of me is going *runaroundlikeachickenwithheadcutoffwashrinserepeatohnoeztheskyitisfallinohnoezdoom*. (Aren’t you glad you don’t have to run around in my brain?)

One of the biggest overarching themes though has been “time.” One event happened approximately five months before it was supposed to, meaning that five months of theoretical preparation disappeared with one phone call. It was the correct choice; it was the sane choice; it was the healthy choice; however, it was still a complete flip-flop of what was going to happen and it made for a whole lot of wandering about going “ohshitohshitohshit.” Some of that time was spent trying to relearn how to handle some pretty basic things. A great deal of that time was spent playing pseudo-nanny to Miss Ma’am and Mr. Monkey and enjoying the heck out of it. I spent most afternoons working with them on their homework or talking to them about school or simply listening to them play while I poked about on the computer. I learned some things from all of that, both in the intellectual sense and in the personal sense. One of those things is, very simply, that I enjoyed the hell out of that. Sure, there were days they made me want to rip my hair out and Tuesdays were the day from hell due to K and her sentences, but I still enjoyed doing it. I also learned a bit about what it was like to function without worrying about every single thing I said, every bad day I had, and the ripple effect that those things might cause. All right, in truth, I started learning about those things but I still do it and I’m still a skittish little rabbit some days afraid to say a damn word. (That’s part of why I’ve not really shared this blog yet, see?)

However, here, too, time played a role. May came much more quickly than anticipated and things weren’t ready. May and June saw time playing having with a great number of things as about two months of arguing out schedules and talking out details and trying not to lose my mind in the middle of that basically was thrown out the window with two phone calls. It was frustrating and it was frequently a pain in the ass and yet, everyone managed to come out at the end of it alive. It just got to seem that every time I turned around, there was one more change coming from one more direction.

July has seen Rin and I attempting to play catch-up from all of the changes in May and June. Since she and I were supposed to have about two weeks to come up here and work before we brought the kids up but ended up not having them, a lot of the things we expected to already have done aren’t. We didn’t get much of anything done while the kids were up here, in part because well, they are kids and there were lots of things to do with them and in part because I was sick a solid chunk of that time. (Granted, at this point, I’m sick so much that I am beginning to not be able to tell the difference anymore. There is “sick with an infection to the point of almost non-functioning” and there is “functioning on such a low level that it is annoying, frustrating, and down-right frightening some days”.) After I got back from taking the kids to Georgia, we actually did get a start on things, but here we are with less than a week before she and I are supposed to drive to Georgia again, and there is so much not done that it is overwhelming.

I would love to say that we need help; however, I am not certain that I could successfully manage to figure out where and what with. Some of the sheer amount of things that need doing are turning the house here into one that is functional for four people. There are a lot of T’s parents’ old things still here (which is a long story), and there is a lot of chaos and disorganization in T and R’s things. Start adding in mine and K’s and you’re getting all kinds of fun…in not fun kind of ways. What we have managed to do is to get closer to a better organized kitchen. Some of the problem with that is that the cabinet layout in there is pretty terrible which takes a fair bit of working with to make it usable. We’re still working on that. What we have left to do is to get the bigger living room cleaned out and re-organized so that it can become the main living room so that everyone isn’t stepping on each other in the main living space. We also have about three other rooms that need some serious overhauling and re-purposing. It is a lot of work and it is overwhelming and I am so damned annoyed with myself for how little I am managing to get done that I cannot stand it.

Now, time is running against us and that overwhelmed feeling is just getting worse. I suppose at this point what we need to do is sit down and figure out what we can realistically get done, but I’m not sure that talking about it is going to help all that much just now. Some of it is simply going to be a matter of mind over body and an understanding that there will be no spoons left at the end of the week…not that there are all that many now.

I suppose that some of the rush of time lately is not helped by the fact that Saturday is my twenty-ninth birthday and let me tell you, that is kind of freaking me out. No, twenty-nine is not that old (though if you measure the age I feel every day versus the chronological, the difference is kind of disturbing); however, for where I am at in my life, twenty-nine is kind of old…and I suppose that makes a nice segue from the Time subheading to the next one…

On Growing-Up and All That Jazz…
When I was younger (read: in high school when I believed the world was well and truly conquerable), I had plans. The problem was a lot of those plans were based around inaccurate ideas and assumptions about the way the world worked. They were a naive kid’s dreams that revolved around what she thought she wanted: not what she needed. Sure, some of them were pretty clear. I’d do the college thing and find a cool job and take over the world. The only problem is that I’ve always been more like Pinky than Brain and quite frankly, taking over the world is just too damn much work.

A lot of those dreams and ideas changed when I had Miss Ma’am, many of them for the better, I would argue. That kid has scared the hell out of me and taught me so much about what is really important in life and about all the things I’ve missed in life simply because I was afraid that I don’t always know where to start talking about it. I have regrets, sure, one of the biggest being that all of the times that I’ve started a “Dear K” letter in my head, I haven’t written them down. That’s one of my new goals, but it’s a bit lower on the list right now than a few others. But one of the things that the last seven months have taught me is this: with my kid standing with me, I can damn near do anything. When I turned both of our lives upside down, she was the one who came up kicking butt first. She fell into a new pattern of life with relish. Sure, she was scared, too, and she had her days of missing the way things were, but for the most part, she tackled the change like a kid and she made me realize that no matter all of the other crazy things going on, life still goes on and it really will sort itself out.

As we are headed toward the next huge change in our life, she has been trepidatious; however, she has also started to find lots of things to be excited about. For a start, she has discovered through seeing some of Mr. Monkey’s activities that Girl Scouts sounds like a neat idea. She is also excited about the SCA group up here and is quite curious about learning how to be a fighter in the kids’ group. She has taken to dressing her stuffed cats up in SCA costumes which is just bloody adorable. Is she still scared? Is she going to miss Georgia and everyone and everything there? Yes. Is she going to throw herself into it headfirst? Probably. She does that. She’s a smart kid; she makes friends easily; she is growing-up to be amazing and I LOVE that so much. I love watching her put together how things work or do not work. I love watching her try new things, even when she doesn’t want to. I love talking to her and hearing what she has to say.

Most of all, I love that she manages, without trying, to help me keep going. There are a whole lot of things that I do because of her or for her. There are a lot of choices I make that revolve around her. I’ve frequently been accused of not thinking of anyone but myself and of not making the best decisions for my daughter, and yet, I measure the success or failure of something based on how she is doing. Kids let you know real fast if something isn’t working. Can you always change that thing? No. But they still let you know. So far? A lot of the decisions that have been deemed “crazy” have actually gone pretty well for her. Maybe I do have a clue of what I am doing after all. *wry grin*

Ironically, I didn’t start the bit on growing-up to be about K, but it makes sense to me -now- that the section kind of had to start with her. Some of that is very simply that I want her to be more prepared for how to function in adult society than I have been. Some of that has been through faults and choices of my own and some of it has been that there were things that I feel I genuinely wasn’t prepared for. For example, one of the greatest myths of my education was that going to college and getting your degree means something. The reality is that all that a degree means these days is that you stuck with something and finished it. It doesn’t really help you find a job like they all said it would and it certainly doesn’t prepare you for how to go out and get the job you want. I’ve learned more about that from Rin’s step-dad in the past couple of months than I ever learned in high school or at the university.

I spent a great deal of time being dependent upon someone and in a lot of ways I still am and right now, it doesn’t seem to matter which state or which house I am in, I am incredibly dependent upon the people inside of it. Right now, that is scaring the ever-loving shit out of me. I suspect that a lot of the dependency is adding to the trouble with sorting some of the unanswered questions. It also means that one of the biggest things that I have to learn about this whole “being an adult” thing is that while I am going to be dependent on other people in some areas, how dependent am I capable of being while still remaining independent? Someone is going to look at this and say, “Well, duh, that’s part of what you have to figure out in life,” and if that person says it to -me- I might hit them. One of the things I never thought of as part of my future when I was that wide-eyed kid was that I would be dependent upon someone else. I never thought I would frequently feel like a prisoner trapped in my own body trying to find a balance between pain that is tolerable and pain that really can’t be ignored. I never thought there would be days where I couldn’t open my own soda bottle let alone work a decent job and make a household. Yet, each of those things are things I deal with on a daily basis. It is a part of life and it is one that takes a hell of a lot of balancing to manage and right now? I totally do NOT have a handle on it.

The past few months have seen several symptoms getting worse. They have seen new symptoms cropping up. They have seen me battling for insurance and failing to get it again. Now they are seeing me trying to find a balance of meds that is actually affordable…and sometimes choosing which are necessary and which are not. It has not been fun, yet I am managing. Unfortunately, I’m not always managing that well. Pain levels are vicious. As I pointed out to Rin at dinner last night, it’s kind of a nasty cycle: you’re nauseous if you don’t eat, you’re nauseous if you do eat, so what do you do? *headshake* Try to find a balance, that’s what.

Some of my internal battle with age and growing up is this: society teaches us that people are supposed to do certain things at certain points. I’ve been behind a lot of those points, so I’m not sure why I’m shocked that I’m behind -all- of them. Honestly, I’m not sure why I care. I suppose because I am frequently a non-conformist trapped in the head of someone who battles with not wanting to be in trouble. That’s a fun battle, let me tell you. I play a balancing act of attempting to appear like a grown-up and trying to figure out what the hell that actually means. The number of times that I am shocked when someone actually treats me as an equal is somewhat disturbing and though I’m getting better at it, it’s still a rather large hurdle to overcome.

I imagine that some of the hang-up here revolves around the fact that now that I’m not at Mom and Dad’s house, there are a lot of old expectations of my own that I am having to tackle and beat the shit out of. For example, the theory that being out of Mommy and Daddy’s house means you are either in college or have a good job and are doing super awesome. (Did I mention I was quite naive to how the world worked?) *headshake* It is a bit tiring and frustrating and exhausting to have to battle some of these old things and yet, I suppose the more that I actually remember to sit down and write this shit down and try to sort it out the better off I’ll be in the long-run, right? *le sigh* Yes, I know, I speak the common sense now let me apply the clue-by-four to my head yet again. One day, this really will stick…or something.

So…do I meet all of societies expectations of a grown-up. Nah. But do I really want to? Do I really need to? Probably not. So maybe what I have to redefine is what I actually want. What and whose expectations do I need to meet? Wow, those are some epic questions, aren’t they?

On the Future…
So what comes now? Well, in the immediate, it is organizing and making a place and making some of the things I know I want to happen happen. On the 29th it is continuing to hope and pray that we can get K into Hamilton Traditional School. It is still part of the South Bend School Corp district but it is a different set-up from their regular elementary schools and it seems structured in a way that would work for K in SO many different ways. I want this. I want it a lot. It would mean a lot of changes for her, the biggest being uniforms; however, from everything I have seen and heard, Hamilton would be perfect for her. That’s not to say that Hay (the school she will go to if we can’t get her into Hamilton this year) is a bad school. It’s pretty good and has good teachers and will still work for her. It’s just that Rin and I think that Hamilton would be best and gods do I want her to get in there. So, we wait for the 29th when the secretaries are back in their office and we call and find out if we can get her in, or even if we can get her on the waiting list. I WANT this. I want it a lot.

After we figure that out, we can figure out other things, like what she is going to need to start school and all of that fun stuff. Granted, some of that is going to be the same no matter where she goes. On the positive side, they don’t start school up here until 25 August, so that’s handy.

There’s also Celebration to get ready for and a resume to write and a hope that I can MAYBE get the position at Ivy Tech that I would ❤ to have even though it would be a huge challenge and so many other things besides. There are things to sort in three houses and trying to figure out what needs to come up north now and what needs to stay in storage down south and oh, yeah, trying to figure out where in the hell to scrape all the pennies for every thing that needs doing. But we’ll manage and we’ll figure it out cause that’s what we’re good at.

In Conclusion
Rin and Tadhg are home now and I’m losing my train of thought to afternoon conversation. I feel a bit better than I did earlier though I still have a whore of a headache which I’m not amused about. However, hearing about some of the funny things that happen at work is amusing. And hearing Rin explain how she made her life harder this morning by hauling her laptop to work with her like she was going to IUSB is also amusing. “Technology heavy. WHY???” *sniggers* I’m gonna get kicked for that one later. 😀

Also? I got milkshake. HAHAHA for me. Yay for cookies and cream milkshakes from Steak and Shake, dude.

So, yes, in conclusion, my train of thought ends at milkshake and will begin gods only know where at some point in the future. The end.