Feeding the Dog

Things are happening in my life that have been a long time coming. One i’d hoped for, and the other i dreaded. I don’t know where i’ll go from here, but it’s time to find out.

I’m back in contact with my oldest child and his family, which has been nothing short of wonderful. For the last 2wks, i’ve spent most of my time with them, and it’s been good for my heart. Watching my marriage breathe its last breaths is excruciating, but it’s been in its death throes for years now, and it’s time to let it go. I’ve done everything i can, i have to accept that the relationship will never be what i want it to be. I’m ready to go back out into the world and see what kind of life i can fashion for myself.

I’m thinking of moving out immediately. I know i said i’d stay, but i think it might be better if i go and then come back when my husband is placed on dialysis. For now, his health is good, and he’ll be able to care for himself. I know i’ll be a wreck for a while -lonely and terribly sad- but i’m lonely and sad here, and i have been for years. At least on my own i have a chance to not be so.

I’m not sure how our split will be received. My youngest is expecting it, i think, which makes sense because he lives with us. The middle one might be devastated. He has a lot going on in his personal life already, and i worry about the extra stress this will create for him. And my oldest will not understand and be angry about it. I think many people will be surprised, not understand, and assume it’s all me and my craziness.

They’re all free to think as they will, of course. But the truth is so much more complicated. Our marriage ending is indeed all on me. However, i have good reasons for ending it. I am not satisfied, i am not fulfilled, and i am not receiving the most important things that i’m in the marriage for. In over two and a half decades, i have not received these things, and i think i’ve waited long enough.

The most important relationship i’ve ever had is dying, and everything about this is terrible.

**********

Once again, life has hiccoughed and my plans have to change.

I got an infection in one of my fingers, requiring a trip to the ER. And then i had an allergic reaction to the precautionary tetanus shot they gave me. I’m so itchy it’s hard to get anything done. I have a large, hot lump on my arm. I’m not sleeping, and when i am, the dreams are so vivid i don’t feel rested. I’m logy all morning, barely productive during the best part of the day, and completely non-functional once i get supper served.

I haven’t been able to return to my son’s house to get more done. I have planting that needs doing. My writing is suffering because i can’t freaking concentrate. I had a new doctor all up in my lady-business because my doctor for over 25yrs retired — and i’m still not over it. My week’s been chock full of triggers. And my personal space doesn’t seem very personal right now.

On one side, i’m being condescended to, and on the other side… Ugh.
My husband thinks my silence is a sign he’s been given the green light to keep trying to save our marriage. But it’s not that. I’m just bloody exhausted and don’t have the spoons for a conversation about it. All this crap has sent me into fibro flareup, so once supper’s laid out, so am i. I leave the clean-up till morning. I can’t even do my nighttime toilet. I take meds, THC, and i fall into bed.

Where i spend the night waking up every 40freakingminutes.

And i’m coping by eating. Which i don’t do anymore. But i am, and it’s making everything worse.

This blog post has just been a bitch sesh so far, i know.
I’m sorry for anyone trying to slog through this.
I had to. It’s been building up, and i haven’t had the time or mental/emotional capacity to purge it before now.

This post is quick and dirty and utterly lacking in finesse.
Maybe this is what was stuck in my throat, and it was the reason i haven’t been able to write anything decent for the last couple of weeks. I plug away at something for an hour or two, hate what i come up with, and walk away from it disgusted and borderline angry.

I’ve got to get writing, have a hard talk with my son and the hardest one with my husband, figure out where i’m going to live and what i’m going to do for money, and get back to helping my other 2 children, all while dragging my uncooperative body back to exercising and –oh yeah– I’ve gotta stop eating my feelings, STAT.

I am now furious, and i don’t know why. I hate everything about this post, and i want to burn it.

**********

Took a break. Had a nap.

What i know is that i have to gather my thoughts as best i can and get back to basics. Do what i can, let go of what i can’t. This spring has left me with low stores. I’m tired, scattered, and emotional. A bare minimum with lots of check-ins is in order, but i have to distribute the talk around because i’m a lot right now. I’m hoping i don’t trip over a mania — i feel as if that’s a distinct possibility.

I recognise that this post is all over the place, but it’s more important that i get stuff out than it is that i like how it’s presented. That’s just not gonna happen.

So, i’ve bitched and rambled on some.
Now, for a list of small things i can do to manage my current state:

1 day of tea and popcorn
I do this to take away some of food’s power over me when i’m eating for the wrong reasons. I’m not thinking about what i’m going to eat, or what i can and cannot eat. This lessens anxiety and obsession for me. I feel relief that i’m not battling thoughts and urges all day.

3 or so days of eating the same thing
It’s usually a high-protein, low-carb soup. I’m adding calories and proper nutrition back in, but having the same, simple thing for a few days helps ease me back into thinking about food and eating. I know what I’ll be eating, so that removes planning. Planning can quickly lead me to obsession, anxiety, powerlessness and self-hatred.

Regimented eating times
Eating at the same 3X a day, with a 12hr break works well for me when i’m feeling out of control in my life and how i’m eating and thinking about food.

Using alarms
Alarms help me get back on a schedule when my brain is too busy to manage without some help. This is when i eat, this is when i wash my face and brush my teeth. Now i need to walk the dog, now i’m cleaning up from supper, now i’m taking meds and doing nighttime toilette.

Diary
I’ve got to journal a bit every day. I will attempt some non-journal writing if i feel able, but if not, it’s okay. As long as i’m airing out my thoughts and emotions a bit every day — that’s good.

Shower and put on clothes
I don’t usually shower daily, but this will give me a wake-up and a virtue-boost in the morning. I desperately need that right now. I will practise mindfulness while washing and go over my goals for the day.

These are very simple, bare-bones, doable activities that will provide a sense of accomplishment and return a bit of control to me.

This post is what the generation before mine would have called “a dog’s breakfast.”
Hey, at least i fed the dog, okay?

I hope everyone’s hanging in there.
Love and Peace,
~H~

IMAGE: Chris Benson

Based On Results

After my mother died, my stepfather was left with a lot to process, i’m sure. She’d gotten her hooks into him early, starting when she’d babysit him and his siblings when they were very small children, and then later, when he was an adolescent. I know the sexual abuse began quickly, and by the time he was 15 he’d quit high school and was living with us. When he turned off her life support (a car accident involving a drunk driver), she was 45 and he was 27.

Some time after she was gone, he came for a visit, and said he’d paid for my registration to attend this week long, group therapy/encounter session course. Told me it was transformative. I went, mostly because i did whatever he’d ask of me. That was back in the day when i put all the blame for the abuse on her alone, and didn’t hold him accountable. (It was always niggling around in the back of my mind, though. It was some years before i was able to see that childhood abuse doesn’t excuse one from committing child abuse.) I was still seeking acceptance and approval – especially from a person who’d functioned in a parental capacity for more than 12yrs.

The group was your typical encounter group (i say typical because i have a lot of experience with various forms of therapy, starting early in my childhood). They asked questions like, “What are you pretending not to know?” and yelled at us like they were drill sergeants. One phrase they repeated over and over was, “Based on results…”

For example:
– Based on results, you don’t think you’re worth anything better than getting hit every night;
– Based on results, you’re satisfied with the amount of money your boss pays you to do your job;
– Based on results, you’re exactly where you want to be in life.

In short – they were a bunch of jerks. I ate it up at the time, of course. I thought they were amazing, and even paid for the next level. Most of the instructors were arrogant and sarcastic, and talked to us like we were idiots. That’s just how my parents acted, so i ate that shit up.
But like my experiences with other courses, therapy/therapists, and programs (self help and not), i did learn some stuff i’ve been able to apply. One of those places actually taught me that when they told me, “Take what you like and leave the rest.”
Thank you, i will.

Although the course came at their base concepts with a crappy tone, like, How could you not know this? Duh! i could see the wake up call it could provide me. It reminded me that most people wanted things in life, and they were setting goals and working towards them. I was starting to see that i wasn’t living, so much as being tossed about on the waters of life, no course, no rudder. I knew my situation wouldn’t change unless i took active steps to do so. I’m still being generous to them though, because all the courses ultimately were was what many might refer to as “common sense.” They couched it in the current pop psychology slang, revealed it to us in a strangely militaristic style within school play scenarios. Then they tempted and taunted us with promises of hidden, esoteric knowledge, and the thing i wanted most – to belong. This was an exclusive club, and all i had to do was come up with enough money to ascend to the upper echelons (where i could wear expensive suits and treat people like they were stupid, too!)

Right here is where i could become caustic in my commentary, suffice to say that i have a significant amount of experience with the pop psychology/self help world of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It’s probably obvious what my opinion is regarding such, so i’ll leave it there. It wasn’t all awful, and i was able to glean some things from all of the steps and levels and playacting. I’ve seen such programs do a great deal of good for a number of people. For me personally, i couldn’t share to the depth some required. I’d been raised to keep some things hidden, and as a multiple i’d done that so well that even i didn’t know a lot of things. Also, the complexity of my problems proved unmasterable by the quick fix, and my past full of religious issues never lent itself well to any membership requirements or steps to success or common referrals to anyone’s god/supernatural beliefs.*

Back to the oft-repeated phrase of my title. While the group’s liberal use of it seems like victim-blaming a bunch a variously broken and desperately seeking people –as i’ve done with so much of that psychological pablum– i’ve turned it into something i can use. Which, to put aside my obviously hurt and angry feelings for 1 darn second, may have been their intention. (Some of them. Others were just opportunistic dicks.)

I’ve recently suffered a fairly serious setback to my physical health. These days i’m limited in what i can accomplish along the lines of housework and exercise. Because these are 2 of the best things i do to feed and maintain my self-esteem, i’ve been feeling a bit down, emotionally speaking. I don’t feel useful, and worse, i feel like a burden on those i love most. I’ve felt like a pathetic slob. I knew if i didn’t address these thoughts and feelings soon, i’d find myself in a spiral.
So am i a useless layabout? Best way to handle the messages my brain is sending me is to meet them head on, so to speak. Heh.

If i were to judge how successful i am based on results… I am fairly successful. I have more than enough of everything i need to physically survive, emotionally thrive, and more than enough mental stimulation at my literal fingertips to keep learning and growing as a human. And i’m the one who built this life around me. A lot of the life i enjoy today is a direct result of choices i made and yes, the toil of my own hands. I have only the people in my life that i want to, and do only that which i want or am at least willing, to do. I am a living combination of fortunate and scrappy.

All to say i now find it occasionally useful to ask myself, Based on results:

– am i healthy;
– am i successful;
– am i happy/satisfied?

The questions, to my mind, encourage me to evaluate what i’m producing.
Am i putting out into the world what i intend?
Am i coming along well, progressing, moving along this path at a decent pace, achieving goals and racking up some accomplishments as i go?
Am i more the person i want to be?
Do i have more of what i want?

Perhaps i’m in the weeds emotionally/mentally. Maybe i’ve got some issues in one of my relationships. I might look inward and feel unhappy and/or dissatisfied. I might look in the mirror and have trouble focusing because i don’t like what i see. Then there are more questions:

Is this a result of either action or inaction on my part?
Is this just life doing what life does?
Is this just an uncomfortable and/or difficult part of an ongoing process?

Depending on the answers there are, of course, more questions.
Do i need to change something?
Do i need to work/work harder at something?
Have i missed something i could be doing, or dropped something i used to do, that has, or might help?

Today, was a slow, decent day. I had to kick my own ass a bit to get moving, but i had reasonable expectations that i based on my current situation. I had an idea, based on the time i’ve spent in this current situation, of how much energy i had to spend. I asked myself, based on that, what was most important to me to accomplish. Then i started at the top and worked my way down, stopping when, based on prior experience, i recognised my body telling me that to continue accomplishing more would likely cost me more spoons than i wanted to use. In other words, continuing to cross things off my to-do list might potentially intensify my pain and/or my manic state.

And so, based on what i know and what i wanted, i finished the day satisfied with how i’d conducted myself, and pleased with my results. Today was a good day. I’m still manic, and i’m dealing with a fair amount of physical pain, which limits what i can do, but i got enough done. Beyond basic hygiene and light housekeeping though, my interpersonal relationships were rewarding and nurturing and supportive for all parties involved. I’m pleased with my conduct, and the people i interacted with are satisfied with mine (i asked).

If i wasn’t satisfied with some aspect of how i’d lived the day, i’d take a look and try and figure out what went wrong or otherwise didn’t happen the way i wanted. From there i’d maybe try something different or try a bit harder or cut myself a bit more slack. Tweaking things here and there to see if i can improve on things.
Then based on results, i’ll change or alter something.
It’s all designed to get more of what i want and less of what i don’t.

Today was decent. As i proofread and edit, however, i can see strong evidence of my mania in this post. It’s a bit nonsensical and rambly, and i’m not sure there’s a cogent point here. I mean, i can see lots of good stuff, but it’s not put together particularly well.
I sat on it for a few hours while i decided whether or not to put it up.
I’ve decided to throw it up because, if nothing else, it can serve as a demonstration of my process through times when my brain function is particularly problematic. Maybe this doesn’t seem as frantic and lost to anyone else. There have been times before when i’ve posted something that i thought was a bit too far out, only to read it later and think it wasn’t that big a deal at all. This entry reads jumbled and meandering and very animated, to me.

So there you have it. I’m manic in a pandemic and this is how my brain’s handling it. I’m doing pretty well, all things considered. I have excellent support and i know that i’ll just keep on truckin’ until i’ve moved through whatever this is and on to the next adventure.
Is this what my grandmother would have called a dog’s breakfast?
Heh.

I’ll check in tomorrow if i can, and i guess we’ll see how it’s all going.
Until then, y’all hang in there.
Love and Peace,
~H~

*I will say, steps and programs and other people’s gods taught me something extremely important, and that is that my path is my own. I found the way to health and freedom and happiness by seeing that i was going my own way, and so is everyone else. They all helped me to know myself and find my voice, insofar as i understood that i want to tell the story of how i have learned to live and even thrive, with the circumstances of my birth and upbringing, and my overarching message is that it CAN be done, rather than HOW.

IMAGE: Amador Loureiro

Schmozzle

I usually write after the bad stuff has happened, but recently, i’ve been trying to write through it, to open myself up a bit more. I write for me, and for anyone reading this that might find benefit… The days following my last post were decent, i could feel myself settling in to what’s coming in therapy – going deeper and tuning in to the story my body wants to tell me about my childhood. I got back into some regular activities and regimens: housework, hygiene, communicating with family and even a couple of friends. Normalcy, and with it, some peace.

Unfortunately, my physical health has taken a nosedive. I’m in full fibro flareup, which is bad enough, but i’ve got some new issues as well and they’re sapping what little energy i have to cope. I’ve been handling it the way my therapist has encouraged me to, by tuning in to my body and listening to what it’s telling me: i’m hungry feed me, i’m aching rest me, i’m upset soothe me… It’s that last one that i struggle so hard with, though. I got through this last crisis and returned to my schedule, not pushing too hard, but doing my best. If i was too tired, i might skip my nighttime skincare, and i only brushed my teeth perfunctorily, rather than my full 2 minutes, because it was making me retch and triggering me. When sexual activity came up, my body went completely numb, and i heard and honoured the NO.

These are good things and i’m proud to be accomplishing them, but my physical issues are getting so big i’m having trouble hanging on to even this amount of progress. I arranged to see the doctors i need to, but i’ve a week left to wait, and i don’t know where i’m going to find what i need to hang on until then.

Last night i was short-tempered and weepy, and today i hit a wall. I’m panicking about the wait. I’m worried that i can’t hold my system together and function properly until i see my therapist and my doctors. My pain level is too high, and my compulsion to take off and walk is almost too strong to resist. I don’t want to do this anymore.

I’m trying to listen to my body, but i don’t know how. My body terrifies me, and today i’m not sure if i can bear what it wants to share with me. I’m feeling sorry for myself, i know, but goddamnit why do i have to have the mental AND the physical? Haven’t i been through enough?
I feel young and small and i’m stomping around in my head with balled up, chubby little fists, doing that pre-Kindergarten angry cry.
I feel angsty and awkward and my delicate, teenage heart cries crimson tears.
I feel emptiness gnawing inside, a yawning pit where i lay at the bottom and am slowly consumed by the ache of fear.
Any desire or inspiration i have to deal with all the brain stuff, is being steamrolled by all this motherchristing pain. It’s taken 3 1/2hrs to get this much bashed out, and my head is thumping so hard it feels like my skull might pop off.

There is something, though. Writing this has made me calmer. I had to settle down enough to gather together a few words that made sense. This isn’t dissociation either, which is what i’ve been trying to avoid. When things are this tumultuous in my thinking, and then the physical piles on, the temptation to hide in the insensate is strong. It beckons me with the safety of nothingness.

I want to stay present, so i practise mindfulness, which, lemme tell ya, ain’t a helluva lotta fun right now. There’s a whispering behind a door inside me, and it’s practically swelling in its frame with its desire to open for me. I can open that door, go through and disappear for a while. It’s not restful, because the rest of me is still conscious, and my Bits N’ Pieces use up more energy than i do. It’s not safe, because a number of them can, and ohmygod have, gotten me into some dangerous situations.

Behind that door lies nothing.

I step into a void where i stop existing, only to step back, more tired, and often with some kind of mess to clean up. Damaged relationships, sometimes property (although not for a loooong time), almost always my body. Then comes the shame and anxiety, which must be handled carefully. If i’m not careful i can push myself into another hard switch. If i don’t consciously deal with the feelings at all, a switch is likely. Switching is not what i want. I love my people and i’m grateful for their care and protection, but i’m ready, willing, and mostly able to take the reins and drive this wagon full time.

I suspect this is what the next few months are going to look like:

I can do this. It’s gonna be fine.

OMGWTFICANTDOTHETHINGBBQ!!!!

It’s okay. I can do the thing.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

**********

I held onto this over the weekend, because i wanted to make sure that posting it was what i wanted to do. I know it’s not much of anything, because i’m scattered, enough so that, i think, it’s obvious i’m not quite all here. I’ve lost my voice. Whatever it is that identifies my writing as mine has slipped a little. I’m unsettled; rudderless. I’m anxious AF.

I want to edit/rewrite/punchup the entire thing, but i think that’s the wrong way to go. Reading my other stuff and reading this, may give you some insight. This is rambly, it’s trying to say something, but it doesn’t get there. It lacks cohesion.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but i am also currently lacking cohesion.
I’m scattered, and not quite all here.

I know i’m going to get through this and be better when it’s done. I also know there will be times when i’ll doubt that and be afraid i’m going to fail. I know that sometimes the pain and fear will be so intense that i’ll want to stop.
I have learned from being in the weeds many times before, that it will be okay. I will be okay. I lived through the actual experiences, anything after that is at least bearable.

It’s like when i used to smoke marijuana and hashish. Over the years i became more and more paranoid, but i could always handle it, because i knew, based on experience, that the high would end, and the feelings of paranoia were drug-induced.

So, with that in mind i’m going to post this meandering piece of weirdness, because i think it helps illustrate how my brain works. I think it could be a bridge between moments of clarity. How do i get from panic to peace? My brain isn’t always full of pithy observations and poetic imagery. Heh. Sometimes it’s on the mouthbreather setting. I’m fumbling around in here, trying to find meaning, trying to find something solid to stand on…

I’m not having much luck folks, but i’m not overly concerned at this precise moment. I think that writing has been instrumental in getting me from where i was when i first began writing this around 60hrs ago, to here, just about to smack that “publish” button.

This is part of my process. I recognise this place; i’ve been here many times before.
I can do this.

Pithiness will follow.

Image: Convergence, Jackson Pollack