Sharon Time. Just to Say Her Name Breaks My Heart.

I like to be a good patient, but I feel like I made really made my therapist work the last time we were together. I didn’t have an agenda, so the conversation would get a little off topic, but eventually we got to the heart of the matter: I’m sad.

But not just your garden variety blues. I am sitting, on this dark maroon leather (?) sofa and I am bawling my eyes out. Like I want to do every single day, but can’t. She’s trying to get to the bottom of it.

“What are you telling yourself about this loss?”

“I don’t know.”

“What does it mean to you?”

“I don’t know.”

She tries to start sentences for me where I can fill in the blank and my only response is to sob uncontrollably. I have no words. And when I can think of some, they aren’t new or original. I am in shock. I am overwhelmed. I am tired.

For someone that has a vocabulary app on her phone, learns new words for fun, claims to be some sort of writer, it’s a little embarrassing that I can’t better articulate how I am feeling. That I haven’t dug into this more. But really, that would be like digging a hole when you neck deep in quicksand. Sometimes it’s just better not to know.

She goes with overwhelmed. I tell her how I think about it all the time.

“Do you want to not think about it?”

“I don’t know.”

I suppose there are medications that can eliminate excessive thoughts.

“But I know you don’t want to try meds.” We covered this is in our first session. I always figured myself one to avoid pain at all costs but for some reason, I am curious and want to stay present with this. I’m not even self medicating with food or alcohol. I stopped drinking alone (life achievements!) because it was just too easy to have glass of wine or two, go to bed and not think about what’s painful.

I’m still not thinking about what’s painful, incessantly. I’m using CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) to manage my grief and grief related anxiety by only wallowing for one hour a day. 9:30-10-30 pm is my time, to think, wonder, love, regret, write and just whatever else this grief needs to work itself out that involves my face getting puffy and ugly crying.

All other times of the day, on my way to/from work, in the bathroom, walking through the park, sitting in the library reading Walt Whitman poems about death, (WHY?) I am to STOP these emotions from overtaking me. You have to literally say STOP. It helps to think of a stop sign. This creates new neural pathways. I know this from all the self help books that I half read through the years.

Lori is impressed that I use the term compartmentalize. There’s a big word! I used to do this on my way to work. Fresh cup of coffee, crisp early day, all kinds of new possibilities and I am crying my head off en route. It’s healthy to have a good cry, but I’d rather sleep afterwards than have to order truckloads of chicken burritos. The flow feels unnatural to me.

My next mission is going to a grief support group. Once again, I’ll do my best to be “good” and hopefully I can have my stuff together and not make anyone more sad, if that’s possible.

Until next time,

Christina

 

 

 

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Just a Thursday

There is no more boring place in the world than an oral surgeon’s office. With home improvement TV shows humming in the background it’s like the waiting room for eternity. Endless and painfully void of any interesting stimuli. Unless, I suppose, you’re an actual patient. Who signed a waiver that you may have your jaw broken. All the action is on the other side of that door. It’s a nice office for the thousands paid to be here, but the bathroom blind is shabby and I saw a huge black ant in the hall. The building is dated. But I suppose we are paying for medical expertise rather than edifice aesthetic. I’ve also paid thousands to my own personal dentist and now his lobby looks like a singles bar and he has vibrating dental chairs, free chapsticks and a Keurig.

I brought my laptop,  and all the books and journals I could physically carry to keep me entertained for the next five hours. Josh kept telling me how there’s a lot of shopping but a day without work or kids, I’d rather write and read. It’s a working day off. I have a couple assignments with a local publication and I started working on my prison book collection project. I also didn’t get to sleep in but I took the opportunity to have coffee on the porch and think about the day before, it seems, like anyone else is awake. Which is priceless.

I reflected on something I think about often which is how this, right now, is probably the hardest I will ever work in my life. Full time job, two young kids and trying to have some sort of career that I have to build from scratch. While doing all the mundane time consuming things that occupy a life, like making sure there are clean spoons and underwear.

And the pressure. Real or imagined. The constant managing of the tension. Knowing when to let go and when to grow. When to relax, and when to do what you need to do even when you don’t feel like it. It’s all just constant.

And I think about that fact that one day, hopefully, I’ll be sitting on the porch and my house is already clean and quiet and maybe a little lonely.  The tide has ebbed and the pressure, real or imagined, is a distant memory if I even remember it at all.

I’ll think about the time it all felt like too much, like how now imagine my own mother felt at this age. And what will I have to look forward to in my ripe old age with nothing to do? Why writing classes at the community college of course? What else? Watch reruns of Fixer Upper all day and recall horribly boring waiting rooms? Nah.

That awkward moment when you cancel your gym membership.

Yesterday I cancelled my gym membership and the conversation with the manager left me feeling a little bit salty. Mind you, I gave this decision a LOT of thought. I mean really, I have probably given less consideration to more important things. Now I know it’s about sales (and that it’s not personal) but I really don’t like being underminded or made to feel like I don’t value my health because it’s a good decision to not pay for something I’m not using.
And for Pete’s sake please don’t remind me about the PRECIOUS CHILDREN. I feel like that Madea meme when someone reminds me about THE CHILDREN. I know I have kids. And trust me, the weight of being a good freakin example to them is crippling sometimes.
But really, that doesn’t even apply. My kids can’t see me exercising at the gym, so that doesn’t make sense. I guess because they know I’m there to exercise? Although I have contemplated dropping them off and popping a squat with a magazine in one of the chairs for two hours. Hey, it’s my time!
Then there was the “you need time for you pitch.”I literally said it’s a drag bringing them to the gym. I just don’t wanna. And maybe it’s the depression talking but I actually started this entire conversation with “I am overwhelmed with life and need to take something off my plate.” I need one less obligation, one less thing to feel bad about. And an extra $45/month.
So now I feel all revenge oriented to show this guy that I’m going to be successful even without his gym. Which is silly because he totally doesn’t care, lol. The whole business model exists on people paying for it and not using it. And when everyone does use it in January it’s an absolute cluster.
When I asked for the cancellation form at the desk, I pictured the guy thinking, well have fun being fat! Which would be hilarious to me, for some reason. But the funny thing is I actually have been exercising. I walk about an hour a day at work and when I get home, I’m usually in a Nerf war or walking to the park pulling a 60 lb wagon. I have a fitbit and try not to sit too long especially on “lazy” days so I’ll do a walking workout DVD or step workout on Youtube. Most importantly though, I am tracking my food.  I’ve lost weight with and without a gym membership. It’ll definitely be a new challenge with two kids. And I can always re-join if I decide it’s a good fit in the future.
But for now, I’m going to make it work on my own. Still have an active lifestyle and exercise when it’s not so active.
Game on Ernie. Game on.

My Home Buying Experience

Buying a house right now totally sucks, is disheartening and I never want to move again.

That’s it in a nutshell.

But, I’m actually not bitter. A year later.

We bought a house in the first place because we needed three bedrooms and I felt the rent was comparable to a mortgage even with the HOA fee.

In hindsight the pre-approval was the most exciting part. I was stoked! Oh, so many possibilities. Not. Low inventory. This is the kiss of death when you’re not totally loaded and maybe even when you are. Like I would know, ha.

In my original dream we would be in a modest single family home. A fixer upper. Again, the possibilities!

But, I actually don’t like that. Any of it. Painting. Decorating. Planning. Planting things. Buying curtains. Anything the previous owners left is still here. I did throw out the coconut oil tub that was in the shower. I have no inclination towards this stuff. As Socrates said, “Know Thyself.”

Don’t buy a house you don’t love. I don’t know if this is actual advice, but in my case this was a foolish idea. The house I LOVED and still do, was a money pit and a death trap, with a 90 degree angle staircase going into what was probably a haunted basement with killer clowns, a random toilet, Saw style, a mysterious pool of standing water, a cracked support beam and cloth wiring. I still want that house. Doesn’t make it a good decision.

I believe some people also say not to get emotional, which is much more sound but impossible, for me at least.

So, did I love this house? No. I loved that we could get it and that it meant all three of our must have requirements. 1.) Separate dining area. 2.) All bedrooms on the same floor. 3.) Good schools. In that order. It was very much a transaction.

I also had to settle. It wasn’t my dream to be in a condo. I wanted a “house house”. A “real” house. Well, this house is pretty real. Comes with a real mortgage and keeps the water off our heads when it rains. Not taking the care of the lawn is totally awesome and we recently had to have the sewer line rodded and our carpet cleaned and didn’t have to pay for it or do the work. Our neighbors are great! Caleb has a best friend across the lawn, we see people we know when we’re out, which I love, we’re walking distance to the library and preschool.

Now when I think about it I absolutely love this house in a way that I couldn’t have a year ago. It was move in ready, a perfect amount of space and no creepy parts! Originally, it wasn’t my “dream” but the reality turned out to be so much better. Not only do we have a nice house but we got a great community that I’m so thankful to call Home.

 

 

 

 

 

God Doesn’t Give You What You Can’t Handle

I don’t know if it’s just me, but when something starts with “God,” I tend to think it’s from the Bible. Like , “God helps those who help themselves.” It’s not. So where does this gem come from and why do we keep saying it?

I’m sure I’ve said this 100 times before myself, but right now in my grief, it does not give me comfort. Because I don’t think any of it is actually true.

I think some things are just consequences of our own doing or the actions/decisions of others. So while I may be going through a massive loss I don’t think it was something that was given to me. My feelings/life/reaction are merely an externality to someone else’s story. I am a by stander.

Secondly, I can’t handle this. Now I know you’re not suppose to admit that you can’t handle something because it makes people uncomfortable that you might be unpredictable. I assure you I am in my right mind, but I am not okay with any of this and that is just how it’s going to be for awhile.

Last Saturday I spent an hour looking at Sharon’s Facebook and ugly crying my eyes out. #friendship goals. Then I thought about my kids and Josh and my friends and all the things I love and I really didn’t help me feel any better. And I had this thought – the beautiful parts of your life can’t fix what’s broken. Then a couple days later I thought, but that doesn’t make them less valid.

I feel like there’s this idea that you can put a band aid on these emotional wounds.  And that is a LOT to ask of your regular life. If it can, great, but if the pain is just too much or needs to heal on its own, that has to be validated.

I feel like it’s dangerous to think that positive thinking will make this okay. Again, if that works, super. But you can still be positive and miserable. Who knew! You can hold two opposing thoughts in your head. The brain is pretty clever like that.

A couple weeks ago I got this really gnarly rash on my arm. I have no idea where it came from. It was blotchy and itchy and I legit thought my arm was going to maimed from scarring. But the key was not to scratch it. Sure enough it cleared up with no scars. What I learned : 1.) even though I felt like I looked horrible, nobody noticed 2.) by taking care of myself there wasn’t any damage. I really just wanted to run a brillo pad over it but resisting that urge preserved my skin

I know it’s totally a trite analogy but that’s how I feel about being in this depression. Okay, I am telling people about, but writing is healthy for me (per the last blog) and my whole goal is to preserve what I love about myself and my life even though I feel empty and run down sometimes.

“This too shall pass. ”

Now that’s comforting,

 

 

The Soft Addiction Solution – Book Review

Soft addictions are such an interesting concept to me for two reasons:

1.) They are generally socially acceptable

2.) They are insidious

I took a lot a notes when I read this book and it gives you a lot to think about between readings. The two main ideas are to challenge your thinking before giving in to a soft addiction and to make a decision about how you want to live and be called the One Decision. My One Decision was that I am Awake. I Am Engaged. No more zoning out. The reason I picked up this book was to help me curb my seemingly endless habit of snacking at work and just to have a better food relationship in general.

Couple things I realized:

1.) I have a lot of performance anxiety at work.

2.) I am addicted to self help books.

When I decided to be Awake and Engaged I realized that my urge to walk to the break room and grab a snack always happened when I was uncomfortable about something at work. And theses are not major things so they tend to happen a lot. So rather than delaying the task I just dived right in. The outcome would be exactly the same without a bowl of pretzels, cheese puffs or dark chocolate covered cashews in my mouth. I also realized I was telling myself some pretty tall tales about my work performance after I got a really good review and was completely shocked and thought my boss was lying. There is a general train of thought in my head called the Anxiety Express. The stops are You are Dumb, You are Letting Everyone Down, Whatever You are Doing Right Now is Wrong. It’s completely absurd and my general response if is pretty much “If I was screwing it up that baldy someone would say something.”

I felt bad about my self help book addiction when I didn’t actually finish reading ANY of them. Even this one, I still have 77 pages. What a loser! Like you are so broken you can’t even finish a book about it! But I realized a couple years ago, I’m not broken and only just recently figured out that I am unfulfilled.

Huge difference. I think I can survive being broken and still be whole. But being unfulfilled leaves a hole that gets filled with something rarely beneficial. For me it’s been relationships, alcohol and food. Then I buy books to figure out why I feel so crappy. Why do I carry all this excess weight from stuffing down my feelings? So many unread diet books.

See, what I really like to do is write. That makes me happy. Not writing makes me freakin miserable. Hence the self help books. Well, not anymore. Because now, I read for fun and learning not because I am broken and most importantly, I write because I have to. And even if it sucks, that’s okay.

So even though I didn’t ready every page I still got a lot out of this book. I would say it’s given me great tools to make better decisions that will be impactful for the long run.

 

 

200 Crappy Words Per Day

I really need to write more. Like way more. I have all these blog post ideas and well, no blogs!

I decided today that I am going to write a novel about a woman whose friend has died. Like, where did I even get that super original idea, right?

Because, I want to talk about it. And I’m not sure that anyone else does, or really if I even know how to with other people. There is just so much I have to say, or think I do anyway.

So at 200 crappy words per day, I will be done in 375 days at 75,000 words. August 20th, 2018.

Of course I have no idea how to actually write a novel but I figure I can learn as I go.

I currently have a protagonist, Sydney. Sydney’s goal is to not lose her shit and all things are impeding that goal. Again, this is completely made up, haha, I will have to create some kind of actual arch nemesis for conflict and drama. There will be a road trip in there somewhere. I’m thinking North Carolina, maybe to Norfolk Virginia. Because, why not! If I’m going to be depressed and moody about things outside of my control I might as well be creative with it.

And no matter what is happening in my life, I always love a project. This will be project Write More Feel Less Crappy. WMFLC. Has a nice ring to it!

Okay, I’m off to get this story started. Only 374 days left!