Cookies & Puppy Dogs

My life is becoming busy. In the eyes of others, it might appear to be something close to normal. That’s what i’m after. Many of us are returning to routines and activities that had been curtailed or eliminated due to the pandemic. The cause of my jam-packed schedule is different, though. See, to get close to normal, i put myself in a kind of quarantine for nearly a decade. Not much peopling, and a great deal of introspection, therapy, and personal work.

My investment is finally beginning to pay some real dividends. I’m reentering the world with a better attitude and ability to cope. I’m taking on new challenges to determine if i can achieve bigger goals. Who knows, maybe make some dreams come true. It’s going to take hard work and commitment, as most big dreams do. Even 6mos ago, i lacked the brain space and discipline required to climb this particular mountain. I mean, i had some, but not yet enough. I figured i’d just keep truckin’, and at some point it would become clear that it was time.

My tendency is to, somewhat unconsciously, work myself into a corner. When it’s something i want to do/have/be, but i’m procrastinating, or afraid of failing, or overwhelmed by the work load required to accomplish the goal, i trick myself into it, a little. I can use the way my brain works to my advantage. I hide the goal away and my subconscious works behind the scenes, maneuvering me into position.
That’s weird. Let me provide an example:

A while back i knew my husband and i were going out for a dinner date, the first one since our anniversary in the spring of 2020. The pandemic has made my anxiety difficult to manage. I couldn’t quite make myself go to the ER when i broke my finger. I anticipated eating at a restaurant, even on the patio, would be a challenge. I wasn’t keen on doing it, but it felt important, so i was gonna try. I tucked it away in a little hidden pocket of my brain and continued with the business of living.

When my thoughts returned to it, i quickly shoved it back into its pocket. I did start using drive-thrus to buy coffee and snacks. Let me be clear: I don’t drive. I walked up to the window to make my purchases. I guess because of the pandemic, they seemed fine with serving walk-ups. I also ate with people that didn’t live with me. It was outside, but still. I began darting into grocery and drug stores to grab 1 or 2 items.

I didn’t think about the date. I’d allow a quick thought about how much i’ve missed restaurants and wait staff, and not having to clean up after a meal. I did smile when my husband casually mentioned how much he was looking forward to it. But i didn’t dwell. I treated it like i would when i’m triggered to recall an unpleasant memory, by mentally shoving it away from me. I didn’t want to think about it, and so i didn’t… But i sort of did, you know?

Turns out we were the only people eating out on the patio, and i was barely anxious at all. It went well and i’m looking forward to doing it again.

All this to lead up to what i’m doing now that i had to back myself into a corner to do.

I’m writing now as if it’s my job.

I’m not getting paid for it, but maybe someday.
The important thing is, it’s something i’ve wanted to do for decades, but haven’t.

Any number of things has kept me from it, but i’ve cleared out enough clutter that there’s enough room in my life and in my brain, to take it on and see what i can do.

Once i made the decision and started in on the work, my life had to explode a little bit. It seems to be the way of things when i take on some thing new. There’s been a lot going on in our lives, my husband and i. He was laid off and had to find work. We’re having kid issues. I’m having friend issues. Some people i love are in crisis. We have a metric eff tonne of legal matters to settle. And we’ve been trying to work on some relationship stuff that desperately needs our attention. It all just went POP! like a New Year’s confetti favour.

It became too much last week.
The morning started with me laying down a firm boundary with my kid that he didn’t care for, which he expressed vociferously. Fortunately i had a walking date with a friend, so i could leave to calm down. My friend would be gone for a few hours, so she offered her basement as a quiet place i could get some writing done, without interruption.

I was able to get quite a bit accomplished. I went outside to enjoy the sun with my friend, but she was busy getting ready to go out. It wasn’t a good time for the kind of conversation that i wanted to have. Then something triggered me so hard i had to leave. Like, immediately. She was on the phone and i couldn’t even wait to say goodbye. I gathered my things and started walking as quickly as i could.

My husband was supposed to be home early, but he was delayed. New job means don’t turn down any work thrown your way. Can’t stay with friend, can’t go home, hubby isn’t coming any time soon.
And then it aaaall hits me.
I’m new and my life is new. And yes, i worked hard to clean my slate, but now that it’s clean there’s nothing on it – i mean, there’s no ONE on it.
I suddenly felt so alone, and lonely. All my friends are online – i only have a couple of “real life” friends now. They have their own lives and we’re living through a pandemic, to boot.
There are issues in all my relationships that may not be resolvable.

If that isn’t enough, my number one priority is dissociating as little as possible. My system’s mandate is to leave the face to me, to let me be in control. I try to think and feel in real time. I try to be as fully present and in the moment as i can. For someone who has dissociated her way through most of her life, it’s a lot. I’m exhausted. Some days i’m a gnat’s wing away from collapse.
My life has room for more function and accomplishment. I’m attempting to fill it, slowly and carefully, but i still regularly feel like i’m drowning.

That’s how i felt walking away from my friend’s house. By the time i got to a park where i could sit, i was sweaty and out of breath and close to panicking. I knew i needed help, but i had no one, and thinking about that was making it worse. I’m sitting on a park bench with big sunglasses on, hoping no one walks by and sees the tears or my chest heaving with the effort it was taking not to cry audibly.

Which is when i remembered that i do have good friends, online.
So i reached out and asked for help.

They responded immediately. I told them i was struggling and they grounded me, then took my mind off my problems with funny stories. It wasn’t long before i stopped crying and was breathing normally. The park was mostly deserted and no one bothered me. My husband called and said he’d come get me.

I was in the face the whole time. I didn’t slide, i didn’t switch. In fact, i’d say i didn’t dissociate at all.
I heard the voices and i felt the pressure, but i resisted the urge to hide away in my brain and let other parts of me handle things. It wasn’t even difficult. Feeling the way i was feeling was dreadful, literally, but i knew what to do and i did it.

I’m starting to be able to choose not to dissociate.
It might be the biggest accomplishment of my life.
Now, if i can just find where i fit as a writer, life will be cookies and puppy dogs.



Love and Peace to Everyone.
Try to have a good weekend, if you can.
~H~



IMAGE: Tamara Bellis