Postcards from places I've never been.

Category: Anxiety (Page 2 of 2)

Sundowners in Whoville

This week’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt is: WHO.

I really want to write something about Doctor Who here, but my brain is too tired to be clever. There isn’t enough coffee in the world, after being up most of the night with my Maggie Mayhem cat, who is 18 1/2, and has the occasional bad night. That’s when I give her muscle relaxant, and hold her. The vet says she’s just developed a cat version of sundowners. It’s bonkers. 98% of the time, she’s great. Happy, mischievous, and with a spring in her step. Maybe every three-ish months we have A Night.

See? Tired enough I can’t stay on target. Where was I? Better still, who was I?

Losing my husband to his own midlife idiocy has been even more bonkers than a cat with sundowners.

So many years have been All Him All the Time. Two of those years he was going through cancer treatments, and needed a lot of help and care, so that was as it should be. It was a lot of pressure and exhaustion for me, but he got to live, so it was worth it.

But the expectation that every day be All Him All the Time didn’t end with the cancer being cleared. If he wasn’t the center of attention, if people weren’t waiting on him, if he wasn’t excused for all bad behaviour, if anyone asked anything of him? Criminy.

If I so much as asked him to take the trash out, while I was cooking dinner, he literally stopped speaking to me . He’d come home, glare at me, and go straight into the bedroom. Where he’d stay except for coming out to eat. He was the only one in his world allowed to be a real person, and everyone else was a nonplayer character.

And I went along with it, because He’d Had Cancer and Almost Died. Which was true, but at some point, can’t we start being a married couple again, and not a caregiver and care-ee?

I wasn’t allowed to be a person, with opinions and needs and feelings. I had no “who” in Whoville. I didn’t exist as a separate person.

And I went along with it. For years.

I went along with it, until I just couldn’t anymore. And I got some help, and I tried to get us to a marriage counselor, because me not caving anymore led to days of him just not speaking to me. The sheets of resentment baking off him locked me up with anxiety. I was on eggshells so constantly it was making me physically sick.1

Who can live like that?

After not having a who for so many years, it’s strange to have one. It’s like standing up and stretching after sleeping on the couch all scrinched up.

And now I’ve gone into eight minutes, so I guess that’s the end. Thanks for coming to my stream-of-consciousness Ted Talk.

ps.

I guess I’m going to sneak this in there after the timer, after all. I had stopped writing, years and years ago. I just didn’t have anything in me to write with. All my spare energy and time was spent taking care of T, in order to avoid his anger and resentment. This writing challenge is a tiny act of rebellion and reclaiming of self.2

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

I don’t wanna. You can’t make me.

I’m not writing today because I don’t feel like it.

I’m just not in the mood. I’m not inspired. The motivation fairy hasn’t rapped me over the head with his wand, today1.

And we all know I don’t go work or feed the dog or clean up after myself or go to the doctor unless I feel like it. I never do what needs to be done if I’m not inspired to.

What happens if I only do what I feel like doing? My life unwinds. Been there, done that, bought the major depressive disorder t-shirt, which was too expensive and the neck was too tight.

Depression makes living feel like absolutely everything is uphill. Anxiety makes it feel like everything is uphill, and it’s an ant hill. These two things take a lot of energy to compensate for and work around, and it doesn’t always leave much to spare for improving my life.

This writing project, though? It’s interesting. It’s an exercise in both discipline and self-care. It costs me about an hour of sleep a day, because I’m getting up an hour earlier.

I love feeling connected with you writers, and visiting what you’ve written is something I look forward to each day. I love the glimpse into other lives and places. Living alone, going to work at a job that discourages personal connection, losing my therapist because my new insurance doesn’t cover him… my days feel so isolating. Doing a group project like Write 31 Days and Five Minute Freewrites has helped with this.

So no, I don’t feel like writing this entry, today. I’m not in the mood to get up an hour earlier than usual to knock out 300-600 words, today. I don’t feel like it. And I’m not listening to that little voice that tells me I don’t have to do anything I don’t feel like doing. That’s the voice that tells me to eat what’s bad for me, and watch “Lost Girl” all day without leaving the house. It’s my inner brat2 teaming up with my good buddy, Depression3, and even though it’s tempting to listen, I’m not going to.

How are you handling your “don’t feel like it” impulses? Also, what kind of milk and cookies do you put out for the motivation fairy?

No, seriously. I think maybe he doesn’t like 2% and gingersnaps. Help?

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

I know I’m not writing today, that’s for sure.

Today’s Write 31 Days Prompt: Five things I know for sure.

There isn’t much that I know for sure. There just isn’t. I don’t have immutable truths in my life. I don’t trust immutable truths.

So what do I know for sure? I know I’m not writing today, that’s for sure. Nope. Not going to write today. Nuh-uh.

Things that are a sure bet:

1. I know for sure I’m not going to write today, because the last time I stuck to a writing schedule was the Write 31 Days challenge… in 2012. SIX YEARS AGO. I’ve proven plenty of times that I don’t have the discipline to have enough stick-to-it-ness to stick to it.

2. I know for sure that it doesn’t matter whether or not I write today, because I’m just screaming into the void. I should save my breath for better things, like sighing with longing when I think about how it would have felt to complete this challenge.

3. I know for sure I shouldn’t be doing this glorious writing challenge, because that’s time I could spend looking for a second job, because the first job is only covering half my bills, and time is ticking. I have serious financial stress, y’all. Who can write under that kind of stress? Not me, that’s for sure.

4. I know for sure I’m not going to write today because all the other posts I’ve done so far this month were flukes. I’ll fail soon enough, just watch.

5. I know for sure I’m not going to write today because I am an utter space-kabob. There are so many other things I could be reading/writing/cleaning/watching/doing. Oooh, look! Shiny!

Those are the truths in my life, this morning. The five things I know for sure.

A mans feet sticking up out of a sunflower field.

Here is an example of how not to bury a body. You never know when this kind of information will be useful. Photo credit goes to Derek Thomson.

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

You’ve got this.

This week’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt is: PRAISE.

I think, as adults, we don’t get nearly enough of this. I don’t mean for accomplishments or goals met, but just about general life.

When I was finishing up my last temp job, which lasted six months, I asked someone if they’d mind being a reference for me. She said, “Yes. You’re a good worker.”

And I found out the meaning of the word “stunned.” I think it’s been since college since a peer said anything that matter-of-fact kind. It was effortless, like she’d said the day was sunny. It made me realize just how long it had been.

Since then, I’ve tried to do more of it with friends and peers. Worried about whether you’d messing up as a parent, because you don’t miraculously always know what to do? “You’re doing great. Everyone learns as they go.” Stressed out over job hunting? “You’re a catch. You’ve got this.”

Just simple, truthful, matter-of-fact, not making a huge deal out of it. Because it is simple and truthful. Praise doesn’t have to be earned by moving mountains. It’s the day to day acts that move mountains, not the grant written to get an earth mover and get digger permits. So why only praise when the relocated mountains are done with a magician’s flourish?

Did you go to class? Did you go to work? Did you make sure your kids have shelter? Did you do something to take care of yourself? Did you drink water? Maybe today was harder than usual. Did you take meds? Did you take steps to not self-harm? These things are important. It’s not the mountains that will trip you up – it’s the inconspicuous rock in the middle of the road.

You’ve got this, fellow writers and readers. You’ve got this.

And if you don’t got it? Please, reach for help.

(ps. This is part of what inspired weekly Weekend Link Love.)

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

Can’t write. I’m too busy healing.

I had a Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) meeting to go to, so I couldn’t possibly write for the 31 Day Challenge, today. Nope. Can’t write. I’m too busy healing and learning. Big job, healing.

I shared for the first time. A few others had shared on the topic of trying to be helpful, easing the path of others, and how it’s problematic. Earlier this week, I had my “but I’m just being helpful!” flipped back at me by an utter stranger.

I like second-hand puzzles. I like getting them from thrift stores and yard sales for $0.50. I like the risk of it. Will all the pieces be there? What will I find when I open the box? Sometimes the puzzle inside will be completely new, with the pieces still in a sealed bag. Once there was a dart game in the box, instead of a puzzle.

So I opened this particular box’o’puzzle, and… someone had left it neatly sorted into baggies. In fact, the border had been left assembled, to spare me the work. The previous puzzler was helpfully trying to do a kindness for the next person, and it robbed me of some of the fun of solving the puzzle. It wasn’t helpful. I wanted to solve my own puzzle. The act of solving it is the whole point.

And all week I’ve been puzzling over this puzzling puzzle predicament.

Picture of Crowley from Supernatural captioned, "No one in the history of torture's been tortured with torture like the torture you'll be tortured with."

Obligatory Crowley.

How many times have I tried to be “helpful” and make life easier for someone else, and actually robbed them of the joy and challenge of solving their own puzzle? My compulsive need to help, to be useful, kept them from finding out how capable they are of guiding their own needs, wants, and life. One of my biggest struggles has been stepping back and not meddling. Not trying to fix things. Even if someone else wants those things fixed, it might be something they really, really need the experience of solving themselves. Maybe they need someone to tell them they can, instead of doing it for them.

My mind keeps coming back to it, rolling it over like a stone in a river. The point of solving a problem is to solve it, not necessarily the solution itself. I need to stop trying to jump in to help, unasked.

And that was my CoDA share this week, and the first time I’ve shared. So I can’t write this post. I’m too busy being gobsmacked by my realizations.

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

Tasty, tasty grief marinade.

Today’s Five Minute Freewrite prompt is: COMFORT.

Beginning last Friday, I’ve been marinating in grief. I’m grieving my husband, marriage, and previous future, and that’s opening me up right down the line to grieving the various dads who have left over the years.

What tipped me over was something so simple, it’s embarrassing. I’m losing my therapist of the last year-and-a-half, because my f*cking insurance changed. So right when I really, really could use the self-harm and mental health safety net, I lose it. What a contradiction. I need support because I’m freaking out over losing support. Humans are weird monkeys.

So I’m concentrating on comfort.

Fuzzy blanket? Check.
Ratty quilt I made a few years ago? Check.
Lavendar and lemongrass candle? Check.
Healthy food in the fridge and freezer? Plentiful coffee beans? Check, check.

More importantly, am I taking 10-15 minutes every day to practice calming myself down? Am I regulating instead of letting emotions steamroll over me? Am I checking in with myself, instead of checking out from feeling entirely? Am I walking? Getting daylight? Talking to friends? Taking appropriate actions so I don’t transmute emotional pain into physical pain?

Those are harder tasks, and they’re also deeply effective. I was given some excellent tools by said therapist, and I can honestly say I’d be in some real trouble right now, without them. He changed my life for the better.

All I can say is, I’m mostly OK. I’m doing better than I would have been, two years ago. I put all my long-sleeved shirts in the car, so I can’t easily put them on in the morning. That helps, too. I’m also taking my own advice. There’s a reason I have this page on my blog, and some of that reason is to keep it handy for myself.

I’m practicing comfort, and I’m practicing softening enough to feel things. Turns out emotions hurt less when I just let them through. Did everyone know this except me? It’s like the difference between choking and drinking. Great mother of walnuts, that’s hard. I’m just so good at slapping emotions away like mosquitoes. It’s only recently that I’ve managed the trick of feeling better after crying, instead of feeling worse. I didn’t even know that was a thing.

Thanks for the tools and for caring enough to have patience with me, Mr. Therapist. You’re the best, and I’ll miss you.

***

In case you’re having a rough go, too, here’s something that made me literally bounce from happiness.

The “Good Omens” trailer is MAGNIFICENT.

I really really really really REALLY hope this is a print I’ll be able to pick up.

This blog has been taken over by the 2018 Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

VACUUM ALL THE THINGS

I’m not writing today because I need to clean. There are dishes to do, meals to prep, carpet to be de-furred (three cats + one dog = pet hair tumbleweeds overnight), and basically everything looks important and more fun than writing, right now. It’s great to avoid writing by being productive at something else. It’s such a convenient reason! Thanks, dog footprints on the carpet. You’re the best.

Yes, there are definitely more important things I need to do today than write.

Look! Look over here! The bathroom sink clearly needs a good scrub. Maybe a baking soda soak, while I’m at it. Look. Go on. It’s all so fascinating.

It’s self-care! That’s what it is. Self-care. It’s not procrastination or fear of failure at all. I’m just taking good care of myself. And, really, who can write with a sink full of dishes staring at them? Not me, that’s who. No siree.

When was the last time I washed the cat beds? Too long ago, that’s when. I have time for a load of laundry while the dishes run. It’s not like I need to watch it. I just need to get it started. There will be plenty of time to write after that. Plenty.

Should I run the carpet shampooer? I mean, maybe I should? I did already vacuum three times, to make sure I got up all the pet hair. If I’m going to do that, maybe I should go ahead and run the shampooer. Might as well, right? I’m halfway there, already.

Oh, oh! I could sweep! The entry way needs a tidy up. Groceries? How am I for groceries? If I’m going to pick up groceries, I’d better clean the fridge, first, and if I’m going to clean the fridge, I need to take the trash out, and if I’m going to take the trash out, I might as well empty all the trash cans.

And… and… and….

VACUUM ALL THE THINGS.

So that’s why I’m not writing today – I need to vacuum.

Absolute credit where absolute credit is due. Besides, “Hyperbole and a Half” is hilarious. She said it first, and the internet was never the same again.

In case you’re having a bad day, here is an emergency Hank.

A photo of a woman wearing glasses, sitting on a couch, with a small dog resting his head on her shoulder.

Responsible for 100% of the dog hair and pawprints in this apartment.

This blog has been taken over by the Write 31 Days challenge. Here’s the sweet, sweet index of all my posts of nope.

Sometimes you fly

This week I’m participating in Five Minute Friday. FMF is pretty much what it sounds like – set a timer, write for five minutes on the prompt provided. It’s been a great warm-up before throwing myself headlong into the writing train that is Write 31 Days.

This week’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt is: POTENTIAL.

When I move something that’s in danger of falling, like a glass too close to the edge of the counter, I generally think of it as removing some of it’s potential. It’s just an old snippet of high-school surfacing, when that was a running joke between my friends and I, picked up from an introductory physics class. We weren’t moving something, we were “removing its energetic potential.” We’re removing some of the risk that it’s going to fall, and reducing it’s energy.

And my mind moves to one of my favorite quotes, and strikes a spark against the first thought, from potential to falling to flying.

“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”

― Neil Gaiman, Fables & Reflections, Sandman

This leads me to thinking about how, when I oh-so-carefully curate my life, I reduce my risk of falling, and I reduce my risk of flying, and I reduce the potential of my day, and rob my life of its energy, both useful and damaging.

And I think about how I’m like an abused cat I fostered years ago, that had to be taught to play. Gentle reader, I do not recreate well. At all. Work is fun, because that’s how I was raised, and how I’ve been shaped to live my adult life. No time for unproductive fun. I’m the first to offer a hand when someone is painting or remodeling or moving, but if they invite me to a housewarming party, I’ll usually find a reason not to go. I don’t gravitate towards fun. Here, in my 40s, I’m trying to learn how. I don’t even know what I like to do. I have to concentrate to notice what enjoyment is.

This is SO not the life I want.

Which brings me to an episode of Doctor Who I watched recently:

Bill: You know what I mean. Every choice I make in this moment, here and now, could change the whole future.

The Doctor: Exactly like every other day of your life. The only thing to do is to stop worrying about it.

― Doctor Who, Thin Ice

It’s only in fiction about time travelers that we worry about how our every action affects the future, but that’s every day, right here, right now. Today. Everything we do today affects our future. Every. Little. Butterfly. Flap. Spending a little time on a class instead of Twitter could entirely lift a life from one set of tracks to another. It raises potential and risk and the chances of falling and/or flying. Because there’s no separating them from each other. Time to start guiding that pesky little chaos butterfly, instead of just letting it get blown around.

I think about a ceramics class half a lifetime ago, where the instructor laughed at my worry as I shaped clay, and said, “You have to allow for the possibility that it might turn out well.”

I suppose that’s my takeaway, today. I have to allow that today/tomorrow might turn out well. There’s the potential of flying just as much as there’s the potential of falling. They can’t be separated. There’s no flying without some element of falling.

***

In case you’re having a bad day, here’s a photo of a man local to Eugene, who flys kites every single day. On the day in the photo, October 12, 2017, he was celebrating his 1,000th day in of a row of kite flying. I love when I run across him on walks.

And that’s all she wrote.

This week I’m participating in Five Minute Friday. Writing with a timer has been beautifully freeing. Who knew?

This week’s Five Minute Friday writing prompt is: COMPLETE.

My divorce papers were finally signed by the judge Wednesday afternoon, all of two days ago, after a 90-day stall. I spent a lot of those days wondering what was wrong with me, on many levels. Things to the tune of, “Parents didn’t want me, husband didn’t want me, employers don’t want me…. Hell, I don’t really want me right now, either.”

Gentle readers, even the dog likes my ex-husband better, and I’m the one who feeds and cares for him. This takes a toll on a person.

I had thought that, in those 90 intervening days, I’d grieved and Felt All The Things, and that the final paperwork would be a relief.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *cough*.

Ahem. No. No, it was not. Reading that paperwork was the real heartbreak, and that shocked me. There was, in fact, no feeling of relief. Where is the sensation of a heavy weight lifting? I was promised the sensation of a heavy weight lifting!

Even though I’m leaving an abusive situation, even though I’m cutting myself away from someone who literally dropped thousands of dollars at a strip club, no less, who picked up a spanky new substance abuse issue, and buried us in secret debt, I have no relief about this. I’m sad about our marriage. I’m sad that our friendship was burned up like that, for no better reason than his wanting attention from twenty-somethings1.

I’m sad that I waited so long, and abandoned my wild and precious self. I spent so many years trying to fix things. So many. I did everything. I’ll say that again. I did everything. I was the only party in a two-party system who thought there was a problem, and the only one trying to save our marriage. I’m sad that I tried so hard to be less than I am. Smaller. Quieter. Not noticed. Helpful. My marriage was turning into my childhood all over again.

With the judge’s signature, my marriage and divorce are simultaneously complete. Life. Death. Life. As with any birth, there’s going to be some pain and helpless crying.

***

In case you’re having a hard day, too, here is a chicken in pants.

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