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Regular posting will resume May 19.

I don’t know the correlation but I was definitely doing better when I was posting here every day and I want to return to that.

My weekly goals list from last week was successful in that I feel I met an acceptable percentage of my goals.  And having a achieved what I did relieved pressure to do more or over plan.  So I’d like to continue that going forward.

In the interim I am swamped at work as we have some internal organizational changes.  And I’m about to head out on my road trip with Cedar. So I’m giving myself leave to not worry about updating here until I get back.

I’m still breathing.  Still thinking.  Still trying.  Hoping the road trip leaves me feeling less beaten down by life.

Catch you on the flipside.

(Below is the post I started 3 days ago and have never been able to quite finish, leaving it unfinished here for posterity.)

I’m just having a hard time. I think a lot of it is hormonal. And situational. And still just slowly, directionlessly recovering from the last couple years. I feel kind of stuck right now. I’m really not interested in more medication experimentation. I had a therapist I liked and still didn’t find therapy really helpful. I don’t really want to start that again. It seems more exhausting and devastating to rehash everything for a new therapist than any benefit would be worth. I know I keep saying that exercising more would help a lot but it would, if only I could squeeze it in to my busy schedule of feeling sorry for myself. I should probably spend more time with my friends, but, while it’s unintentionally cruel to say so, all my local friends just exhaust me. The few friends I could drive to see require an overnight trip and my combined work schedules keep defeating the planning of that.

In an article on Jezebel.com, someone replied to a comment with advice on overcoming depression. I’ll post her full text at the end here, in case you’re interested, but the basics were: take your meds, your supplements and your vitamins, exercise, see the sun, sleep well, meditate and hang with your friends.

Which is pretty much the route I’ve been taking. Yes, I’m not taking the drugs, but really they were making me feel way more sick. And yes I need way more exercise than walking a few miles a couple times a week. And yes I’ve been pretty sucky on the socializing front, although it’s not that I’m not socializing, but rather that most of it is with Hawthorn or coworkers and probably needs to be more diversified.

The full comment text:

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This post at io9.com is very interesting.  I’ve actually wondered with some regularity (when I don’t have anything else to stress about) what the long term effects of so much cortisol is doing to my body.  If we extend the findings of this study to realm of possibility then one assumes it’s damaging my endocrine system and making me more prone to future depression.  YAY!

But what’s actually the most interesting here is the comments.  Many folks giving the usual “just get over it” and “you can will yourself out of depression, if you were a better person you would have done this already” type comments (although I think many people don’t realize that that is specifically what they are saying).  One commenter made an excellent point and I hope I’m breaking too many internet rules by posting it here, but here goes:

“Getting over it” isn’t something that happens over night, once your brain stops knowing how to make ‘happy’ anymore. Its a choice to have discipline similar to being a marathon runner. Every day you have to have focus and choose, again, to do this difficult thing that hurts, on the chance of a really cool payoff long in the future. You work to modify your body, physically, through hours of effort. Taking care of your mental health is what you do, it is your hobby, and it is an activity that takes a similar amount of effort as a full time job, running your own company, training for a marathon, or getting a new degree.

“Get over it” is the equivalent of saying “get your MBA” or “run the Boston Marathon”. Yes, it is something that just about anyone can do and will improve their life. But its not something that is taken on lightly and shouldn’t be given lightly.

There, my friends, is the rub. Or at least the thing I’ve been losing sight of.  I do feel better, even though I know I’m not better.  And lately I’m guilty of just trying will myself better when I should be asking for help.  (Yes, YES, I will call my doctor and make an appointment about the physical things that I have been stressing over and that will probably help a lot.)

It was truly a nice boost to read all the comments on this article  and see the folks defending against the “you can just get over it” responses.  Made me feel like there are others out there, made me feel supported and gave some excellent insight into how others have dealt anxiety and depression.  Sometimes you find a boost in the most unlikely of places.

So I’m reading along in my happy blog list this morning, all the lovely folks who make me laugh and think and I come across this post by The Bloggess (who is generally hilarious and clearly crazy) and I’m nodding and agreeing all the way through it. Especially when she gets to the part about needing to be told that it’s going to be okay.  I feel like right now I am really, really lacking in lots of positive it’s going to be okay statements from folks around me (and from my own self).  And I find myself in an awkward space where someone does just need to come over and drag me out to do a photoshoot with wigs and fake cigarettes and make me have fun, but depending on how that’s presented and who is doing the presenting, I might be offended, annoyed or even more reticent to socialize.

Here are some of my problems that might or might not benefit from a surfeit of it’s going to be okay:

1. I still feel completely invalidated by the Hawthorn situation.  Like if we assume I made all the right choices, or the very best choices I could make given my circumstances and feelings  and the information I had at the time, and assuming that he is not cruel, intentionally malicious or out to get me then what? I mean, really, what? That means I’m just here, still feeling completely invalidated, like everyone either thinks I shouldn’t have known better or that he’s a horrible person.  I can wind the thread out and say, well I am in a better place now and I couldn’t have gotten to this place with out all the prior events.  But, BUT! So? I still feel like I need to be reassured that I did make the only choices possible, that they weren’t bad choices, that I didn’t do anything wrong, or anything to make the situation worse.  I don’t know who I am supposed to get this validation from, myself, I guess, but I suppose that doesn’t happen in any way but just letting go and I’m still too hurt to let go.

2. It’s really excellent, so good that I’m no longer in a nearly constant state of hyperoverdrive panic.  I can talk myself down or take a pill and generally deal with what’s immediately in front of me. But my social anxiety is still pretty high (though it has been for at least a decade) and I continuously don’t immediately recognize that need downtime when I’ve overextended myself socially.  But I also feel like I need validation for this.  Like I need to be told that it is okay for me to want to spend evenings at home alone.  Like I need affirmation of my legitimate need for alone time.  Someone (me?) needs to recognize that I’m not being a bitch, or a hermit, or weird and isolationist, rather I can only deal with, only manage so much, before I need to pull back and regroup.  Someone needs to tell me that it’s fine to take as much time as I need, when ever I need it.

3. I often feel weepy and it’s not just teary but like abject misery.  Some of it is okay, I think, given everything in the past few years, given the immediate emotional situations I’m still dealing with.  I’m certainly still trying to identify and define all it’s sources though and I think some of it might be hormonal.  Like not just oops, PMS is making cranky hormonal, but really problematically imbalanced hormonal.  I’ve been tracking it against my cycle and it is about 80% worse around ovulation and about 175% worse in the roughly 8 days before my period, and the first 3 of my period.  This means, surely, a trip to the doctor, who will tell me (or not) that it’s okay.

4. I can’t go to the doctor or dentist.  I’m just so blocked on this that I can’t even pick up the phone to make the appointments.  I can’t really articulate what I find so upsetting about this.  If it’s possibility that something might be really wrong with me, or some conviction I have that something is wrong and won’t be able to deal with whatever procedure is required to fix it.  Or if I’m worried about money.  Or if it’s some huge jumble of all of these things.  Surely hearing it’s going to be okay from both the doctor and dentist will go a long, long way towards making me feel better.  And like actually making me feel better, like with less pain and discomfort.  I’ve been trying to reach out to ask people to help me with this, but I guess I’m not persistent enough or making it seem dire enough because I can’t seem to get a stronger response than, “Have you made that call yet? Are you going too?” And I think maybe someone needs to make the calls for me and take management of the appointments in hand for me until I get past this.

And annoyingly much of this comes back to being single. Just not having someone to lean on.  Having ‘lost’ 2 romantic partners and my best friend in the last couple years I am left feeling distinctly without someone to lean on.  I know this isn’t exactly true, that many friends will pipe up and say are there for me and they want to help, but it really isn’t the same.  And I don’t know how to address it exactly, or resolve it.  A friend was recently complaining about a car repair place asking if she wanted to leave it for a couple days and she was dumbfounded, why would any one do that? How would they get around? But of course the ‘normal’ assumption is that you have a husband or partner to pick you up or take you around or take up the slack.  The world assumes that.  Single and independent does have it’s perks but realistically most everything is easier when you have some sort of partner to help you, someone to take care of and to lean on in return when you need it.  Someone to tell you it’s going to be okay.

Ugh this had been a really rough week. Very bumpy and up and down.  Right now I wish I was asleep, but instead I’m sitting up crying because I didn’t get to do the thing I REALLY wanted to do tonight.  And I’m in a loop of feeling worse because I feel like I shouldn’t feel so bad about it.

The short of it is that I agreed weeks ago to cover a restaurant shift tonight that no one else could cover.  Hawthorn bought me tickets, as a birthday present to something I really, really wanted to see at the symphony, but neglected to give me advance warning.  When he did he only asked about the date, not the event, I declined, as I had an obligation to the person whose shift I agreed to cover. Hawthorn made plans to take someone else, I found out what the tickets were actually for, since there wasn’t a surprise to ruin, since I wasn’t going to get to go. And of course it turned out the restaurant really didn’t need me there at all.

I just feel incredibly disappointed and left out. And things like this just always seem to magnify the whole Hawthorn situation for me.  Like partly I’m mad at him because if he hadn’t tried to make it a surprise and had given me advance notice, I would have found a way to go.  Plus it just feels like the universe cheated me out of my relationship with him because of the external factors he had/has going on, and missing things like this makes me feel like it’s just one more thing taken away from me.  Which is petty and silly.  I try so hard to focus on the good things, and I have so many good things, that sometimes I end up feeling worse because I actually feel bad about being upset over something so relatively minor, in the scope of the world.

And I might have been able to let it go if Hawthorn hadn’t felt compelled to text me after and tell me what an amazing show it was.  Yeah, fuck you very much.

Plus, it was just a really bad, really stressful day at work all day leading up to the sucktastic evening. And what I really want to do is call Cedar and tell him how upset I am so he will make me feel better, but he’s on vacation and I know he’s having a really good time and I don’t want to mar that.  I’d call Violet to console me, but she had an even worse day than I did and I don’t think I could even be a supportive enough friend right now to even interact with her. Which is upsetting because overall I really am feeling so much better, but wow, it doesn’t take much to set me back to not being able to deal at all (although, I’m selling myself short by saying ‘not much’ as it was a VERY stressful day at work).

I think I’m going to call in sick tomorrow and start what is sure to be a good weekend early. Maybe I’ll go to the park and sit and memorize Lorca poems until the storms roll in.

So I think I’ve been doing a fairly good job, overall, of maintaining my calm, breathing through stressing out and generally keeping it together the past few days.  However I made the mistake of watching Eat, Pray, Love and it nearly tipped me over  the edge into psychotic rage.  With the caveat that I’m sure the book is different/better than the movie (although I never plan to read it) this was such a heap of crap.  As far as I can tell the message of this movie is as follows: You are free to do whatever you want in your individual selfish quest for happiness no matter the consequences to anyone who loves you.  If/when you find happiness you must chuck it over immediately for a man, because as a woman you will not be truly satisfied until you have a man to take care of you.

Right, I get it that this story was made into a romantic comedy that perhaps the book wasn’t, and that this somewhat follows the horrible trope of so many mainstream romantic comedies, but wow, it was so fucked up.  The level of wealthy white privilege was more than even I, white and middle class, could relate too.  There was no conflict at all presented in her two initial relationships before she runs off to discover herself.  The whole thing came off like bored rich lady who doesn’t like the toys she’s presented with and ascribes some level of spiritual need to her own baby-like grabbing for things she wants.   Until finally a man strong enough to rule her shows up and tells her whats he wants, and when she resists another man tells her to make the right choice and choose the boyfriend over herself. Ugh ugh ugh.  (Don’t get me wrong, if Javier Bardem shows up and asks me to sail away with him and says he’ll support me forever, I’m going.  I’ll just write a post later about how I made the anti-feminist choice. Heh.)  Suffice to say, I assumed it would be a cheesy, forgettable film that didn’t align with my worldview and instead it enraged me.

This past week Hawthorn has had some pretty substantial real life drama with his ex-wife.  He’s talked to me about it a lot (and then apologized for that, causing me to yell at him because really, despite everything else, we aren’t friends unless we are talking to each other about the real stuff).  Now I have very mixed feelings about his ex-wife.  If she hadn’t divorced him, my life would probably have taken a very, very different course, both for good and bad.  I surely wouldn’t have him now as the friend he is and the friend he will become if she’d done differently.  And I can, rightly I think, attribute some of my suffering to the ripple caused by her actions, though I do own my own responses to that suffering.  Here’s the thing though, I can not see her as anything but insanely selfish and somewhat stupid.  She has put her ex-husband and son through the emotional ringer, she has financially completely destroyed all of them and she blithely seems to think everything is okay and will be okay, except when occasionally forced to face how fucked up everything is and how she is the ONLY one benefiting from her actions, and indeed isn’t even noticing how much her actions affect other people.

Much like that character in Eat, Pray, Love, she took a situation that was better than what 99% of the people in world have and decided to fuck over everyone around her in pursuit of her selfish, individual happiness.  Now I’m not saying we don’t all deserve to be happy, but I really believe that there has to be a point where we say, “this is satisfactory, I can work with this,” because the chances that we will end up eternally happy without anything bad entering our lives is much less than winning the jackpot in the lottery.  It goes back to that balance thing I’ve been talking about, just happy, just happy, just happy all the time isn’t balance, and seeking that, in my opinion, is just greedy.

I’ve been breathing deeply and trying to let go of how angry this all makes me.  To recognize that it is a lesson for me in what not to do.  I want to be calm and peaceful enough to sit and watch the cherry blossom petals fall and be blissful in that moment of how beautiful the world can be.  I want the frantic feelings to stay at bay long enough that I always notice the sunrise and what color the sky is.  But I want to live practically and in the world in such a way that I am careful and cautious of how my actions affect the world and the people around me.  I want people to perceive me as calm and kind, as open-hearted enough to be trusted with whatever they are feeling. I want to make sure that my actions are never so careless that they can be perceived as cruel, inconsiderate or negligent to the needs of both myself and the world around me.  I would like to make less demands on the world in general and hope the world has few demands of me in return.  When I choose solitude I want it to be recognized as part and parcel of who I am as person, and not a rejection of the world or the people I love.

I want to notice the ripples of every rock I drop in the pond.  I hope I will have thought of the effects of those ripples before I let the rock fall.

I’m feeling a little stuck.  I feel like I have less to say here, but looking back I’ve mostly been talking about drugs, therapy and Oak and Hawthorn.  And none of those are currently valid or interesting topics to me right now.  I am still feeling around the borders of my rage to try and find how much of it is residual Hawthorn break-up and how much of it is coming from somewhere else.  I find I feel lonely and abandoned when I have to go home alone after a rough day.  I want someone to talk too, something to distract me from the inside of my head.  And I blame Hawthorn that I don’t have that, since I don’t come home to him anymore.  On the other hand, I’m positive he’s not The One for me, or even one for me, so I can only blame him so far for not being there.

I think some of my feeling of stagnancy are coming from not being patient enough.  Some things really only can be healed with time and more time needs to pass before I can put those things behind me.  There is no instant cure to make me feel whole.  I am vastly, dramatically better than I was 4 months ago, than I was for all of last year.  I guess I’m trying to figure out the balance of settling in to feeling better and still be moving forward.

I think the most important things right now are exercise (nope, still not doing it like I said I would months ago) and making plans.  Yep, just any old plans.  I think if I can make plans with friends for small social events I’ll be better and more distracted from waiting for time to pass.  I think if I make plans for the future, whether they are realistic or will come to fruition will give me something pleasant to think about instead of focusing on past hurts.  I think if I start planning, in my head, crafts and projects I want to do and start mentally giving myself time, space, energy and creativity to do them I will be in a much more satisfied place.

I did execute a few small sewing projects this weekend from start to finish.  I find myself really overwhelmed by the amount of things I think I should be doing, so much so that I don’t start anything.  I need to get back into my past habit of keeping a running list in a notebook of ideas I have and projects I want to finish, with space for notes on how to do each thing  written as I think of it so I can refer back to it when I get to that project.

And maybe some form of this type of record keeping for other things in my life? Spending more time thinking about and recording future fantasies?  Keeping running lists of things I want to do (museum exhibits, walks, &c.) in a place I can glance at and be reminded and think, Oooh!  That IS a good idea!  But how do I manage this without overwhelming myself?  I mean, surely i could put together a complicated schedule for myself and then feel bad when I don’t do it.  I could set up a bunch of elaborate expectations and then feel miserable when I don’t meet them.

When I start thinking in depth about all this I find myself thinking that I still need to give myself a break, I still need to take it easy.  But this too is a terribly hard balance to find.  Perhaps it will be enough to be, for the present, very aware of what my limits are.  How much socializing I can do to balance out my need both to be alone and not to feel lonely.  How much planning I can do before I feel burdened with not actually completing anything.

I feel like every time I sit down to think about or write about this stuff it all comes back to finding balance.  And honestly, I’m strung out enough on my own emotions that ‘finding balance’ seems like some sort of hideous, Sisyphean task that will lead me on an endless quest for something that doesn’t exist.  I recognize how negative that sounds but right now ‘finding balance’ takes so much thought and attention and care that the potential future rewards of it feel misty and vague and incredibly far off.  It’s hard work work and they payoff, while surely wonderful, seems so far out that it’s hard to convince myself to do the work in the first place.  I guess I need ot find some way to motivate myself to all of the above mentioned possibilities that sounds better to me than: “you’ll feel better in the long run.”

An excerpt from an email from Cedar:  You know, whoever told you that you have the eyes of an old soldier gave you a compliment.  A soldier that makes it to “old” has better eyes than the rest.  And once you make it to “old,” you usually make it home, too.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last couple days.  What the metaphor of old soldier means to me.  What it means to be a survivor and how one deals with things to become a survivor.  How, after surviving, one makes it home and lives again once there.

I don’t actually talk about my life very much, even here.  If you look closely at my words or listen to me, I almost always talk around the things that are my own personal emotional vulnerability.  There are a few close friends who I will revisit things with, but generally I prefer all the past to stay in the past and not be revisited or relived.  I suspect this is why therapy hasn’t been quite right for me so far. And maybe won’t be in the future, as I very stubbornly believe that there’s little to be gained from revisiting past suffering.  Combined with the fact that I think depending on which angle it’s viewed from my life has either been a series of a variegated horrors (as seen through the lens of protected, middle American, suburban prescriptions for normality) or endless run of luck, continuously bringing me to better and better places (as seen through a lens of the bulk of the non-white, non-wealthy people of the world).  I’d like to live on the pleasant side of the second lens and I don’t see how choosing to treat the past as series of horrors relived in therapy is going to get me to a better place.


I also know that I have a cultural, familial and inherent natural, personal bias toward Stoicism (real, ancient, philosophically ethical Stoicism, not necessarily modern emotionally repressed Stoicism).  This is surely a positive for me as much as it is a negative for me.  And yes, there are times in my life when I need help (now and recent months) and yes it does hinder me from sometimes reaching for or asking for the help I need (because of my belief that my will should be strong enough to carry me through anything).   But I recognize these limitations and I don’t see anything wrong with accepting that I am a specific kind of person who would rather bear the pain until it can be pushed back into a thing of the past than a person who wants to air it out publicly.  I’m only thinking this as I’m typing it, but it seems like there’s something to said for acknowledging the kind of person one is and dealing with things that way, rather than forcing one’s square-shaped being into a round solution hole, yeah?  Which isn’t to say I won’t keep trying to be better at asking for the help and support I need.  I will try and try harder and harder.  And I will continue to explore the options available to me for the support and healing I need.  But I am definitely making sure that I am considering myself through all of this and that I am not going to magically change into a person who wants to talk endlessly about my real, deep, emotional problems or open up in truly emotionally vulnerable way.  I firmly believe that trying to force that on myself is not going to really help.  To take a gross metaphor way too far: I have a huge wound and I want it cauterized.  I know it isn’t infected and I don’t want anyone trying to dig deeply in it to cleanse it, I’m sure cauterization will work just fine, thank you.  My method will leave a permanent scar, but I expect to get the full range of motion back eventually, and I’m not interested in being stitched and coddled in such a way that I’m returned to pristine perfection.

Of course all these thoughts on my nature and how I view myself are subject to change at any moment.  Even now I realize that all of this may either be in line with or completely at odds with my concurrent thoughts about the need for balance and equilibrium in my life.  But those concurrent thoughts are for another day.  Today I am willing myself to be in the moment, to enjoy the sunshine, to see the good in other people and to recognize when I can push negativity aside and just live.

I feel better, over all.  It’s STILL grey here.  And in case my theory that I run on sunshine charged batteries needed proving: the sun came out briefly while I Was running errands yesterday, rush hour freeway traffic and all, I INSTANTLY perked up as soon as the sun shined on me.  Yes, I know all about light boxes and about half the lights in my house are “true sunlight” lights, but it seems that only the real thing, really does it.  And early spring is joyous, but not to my sinuses.  I’m getting simultaneous allergy/sinus headaches and storm pressure headaches. Makes me nauseous and no fun.  So more sun and less storms, please.  I’m not even going to complain about the pollen, it’s not worth it.


All that aside I am mostly cheerful today.  Things are making me laugh.  I feel like I have a positive outlook on the future, even if the present continues to feel a little stagnant and the future too vague.  I’ve been contemplating this balance of living in the present moment and planning for the future.  Honestly, I feel a little stuck.  Like for the last, let’s say 2.5 years (starting from about when Oak confirmed he was leaving and everything started to go awry) I have been simply waiting.  I waited for Oak to leave; I waited for Oak to get back; I waited through the flood and the aftermath; I dropped all my future plans (and Oak) and waited for Hawthorn to make new ones with me (he never did which should have been a sign from the beginning); I waited for Hawthorn NOT to break up with me; I waited to get out of Hawthorn’s house. And sure all those things have passed, but I’m still waiting: to furnish my own home, to figure out what comes next, to feel better/normal.  It’s like I can’t remember how to live without waiting.

It’s not like I don’t have things to look forward too, I do.  But most of it is small trips to visit friends (many of which can’t even be planned until my work schedule settles and I spend a few more weekends going broke furnishing my house).  And I’m excited about those things but I need a bigger picture plan.  Like moving to Spain in 5 years, or going back to school to become a an EMT, or learning pattern making for real and setting up a small business sewing.  Not that I will necessarily do any of those things, but there’s something about the planning and thinking about such grandiose plans that keeps the frightening, anxiety inducing vagaries of every day life at bay, you know?

I guess a big part of the problem is that I still feel really scattered from the anxiety and the drugs and the moving and the life changes and nothing seeming settled for so long.  I had a moment, waking up the other day, of how my new place is starting to feel like “mine” not just a place I am, which is nice.  I think getting it furnished will go a long way towards helping me. Still right now it’s adding to the anxiety load: not being able to find anything because it’s in boxes sucks, spending lots of money is stressful, &c.  But it is coming along and the end is somewhat in sight. Still I’m left with the feeling of waiting and the sense that I’m not quite together enough to dig myself out.

Perhaps the weirdest part of it all is that I’ve always considered myself to be a very patient person. I don’t shake Xmas presents, I don’t guess what’s inside.  I am calm, placid even, ready for anything, but happy enough to sit quietly until it’s time for whatever it’s time for.  I don’t know which came first, but either the anxiety broke that in me, or that being broken in me is where the anxiety came from.  I need to get back to that place of patience.  I’m still just not exactly sure where to look.  It seems like I can only wait to get to the place I need to be (settled, moved, planned, whatever) and I can barely stand the idea of waiting even a little more.  I just need to figure out what the more active things I can do to participate in making the future come faster are, so I can enjoy being in the moment more.  Ironic, I know.

So I left work early yesterday and went home and straight to bed.  I did get up at some point to eat and read a bit and wash my hair.  Total though, I slept for about 12 of the last 18 hours.  I definitely feel better.  I could use a couple more days of forced rest and non-interaction with people, but living requires work so I guess I’ll find that stuff where I can over the next few days.

I have to go for an annual exam next week, so I guess I’ll talk to my doctor again about medication options.  Honestly, though I’m not that hopeful about it.  I recognize that my attitude about the whole things shades my experience and it probably won’t be helpful if I’m not open to it.  But at the same time I think I have the tolerance left for one, just one, more round of ‘let’s throw this drug at your wall at see if it sticks.” After that, I’m done and will only try other methods.  I have been feeling so crappy the last few days that I’m will to give it one more shot.  But again it’s hard to gauge how much of my mood is affected by the seemingly endless rain and grey skies here, by my period, by my insomnia and exhaustion (which I just don’t think going to be cured by drugs, maybe therapy and exercise, but drugs seem unlikely).

After work I’m going to pick up my newly framed prints, check on a chair possibility at a nearby furniture store and then go home and lock myself in for quiet couch time.  I have to work at both jobs tomorrow and Friday and I recognize that I better get my much needed peace and quiet when I can.  One of the traits I’ve always recognized in myself, no matter how good or bad I’m feeling, is that I need equal amounts of time alone and with people.  Or I need those to be directly proportional.  One of the things I need to work on is being better about making sure I’m setting the time for myself.  This was easy when worked alone at home, but being in an office is more problematic as I need more space of my my own in the evenings, but I also feel more like I want to get out and do things and not miss out on fun I could be having.  Which of course doesn’t end up being fun when I’m exhausted and emotionally over extended.

It really feels weird how tired I am of spending money too.  I bought 4 new pairs of pants (to replace the 4 pairs of work pants I’ve been wearing for a year) and new (work) shoes and a new spring trench (bright, ridiculous and floral).  Usually this is big exciting stuff for me.  I think the furniture and home shopping has taken the shine off everything.  Maybe this is a good thing, maybe I’ll simply be less of a consumer when all of this over.  I’ve been working to shrink my consumption footprint as it is.  Maybe now is the time.

Maybe the high point of the last few months has been the journey of self discovery.  Living alone I don’t need a microwave, I don’t want too many dishes or unnecessary things.  I can learn new ways of cooking and relaxing and being.  I do like this aspect of it.  On the other hand,the journey of self discovery is exhausting and the anxiety has already sapped so much out of me.  I feel like I need to find a way to hit the “pause” button for a while and just be.  Not be shopping.  Not be worrying.  Not be financial planning.  Not be suffering a broken heart.  Not be organizing.  Not be packing or unpacking.  Just be.  Just be me.  Surely I can delve deeper and discover more about myself if I can slow down and just be, right?

No, I didn’t die in last week’s storms. Yes, I have been very lax in posting.  I got a promotion at work which means much less time to screw off.  And well, still no couch at home and when I’m there I feel like I should be actively involved in unpacking or organizing, or something, and thus, not writing.  Of course I’m not really getting much unpacking organizing done either since I don’t have shelves or much of place to keep things besides in boxes.  It’s getting there, though, slowly.

I had therapy yesterday for the last time for a while.  I’m taking a hiatus.  I just can’t seem to settle into  making it as useful as I want it to be. Partly because I’m thinking of my larger problems as something I’ll deal with when I’m settled and I’m not settled yet, so it feels like it’s taking up time that I could be getting settled with, or relaxing or taking care of myself.  And therapy doesn’t feel like taking care of myself right now, it feels expensive and useless.  So, I’ve discussed it with my therapist and I’m planning on starting back around May 1, unless I decide I really need it in the interim.  I don’t think I’m in a place to just stop, so I really do intended to go back.  And honestly, if my insurance was covering it, I might just go to go, but since it’s crazy expensive, out of my pocket and all, I’m gonna hold off for a bit.

Also I really need to get on the physical therapy for my shoulder and neck.  The work promotion is great, but I can’t be going to a bunch of different appointments during the day all the time, so I’ve also opted to use what time I can flex out during the day for physical therapy appointments.

All that said, I actually got some work done in my therapy session last night.  I have plan for dealing with my further dental surgeries, and permission not to beat myself up to make it happen immediately but, I think a good way to get myself through it, so that was comforting to walk out with in my head.

I feel like I spent my whole weekend moving things, in furniture stores or at Home Depot, which was boring, frustrating and expensive.  And still I have no couch.  On Saturday Oak went with me to pick up Hawthorn’s chairs for my temporary use. And then we went and had lunch.  I haven’t completely gathered my thoughts on Oak being back.  After I broke up with him I told myself a lot of stories about his bad qualities to justify my actions.  When things were bad with Hawthorn, I think I really romanticized Oak’s good qualities to punish myself for choosing Hawthorn.  Now, I think Oak is still exactly who he ever was, the same mix of good and bad.  And I enjoy his company, but I can safely say that I only enjoy it limited amounts and for certain activities.  Because while many of his ‘bad’ qualities aren’t really bad, his no-nonsense practical approach to everything can seem really dark sometimes and kind of brings me down.  And if I don’t catch him in a good mood I find I spend all of our time together ineffectively trying to cajole him back to good humor and it never works and just leaves both of us exhausted and annoyed.  But when he’s up and chatty and we’re just taking a walk in the park I do love his company.

Almost all of this is true about Hawthorn as well, though in a different way.  When I’m not his girlfriend and his thoughtless, selfish actions don’t directly affect my life, then I do enjoy his company.  I like to go see music and art with him (both things Oak never seems to want to do) and I like talking him.  Despite everything, I feel like he’s actually listening to me now, when I talk.

So yesterday, I swung by Hawthorn’s house, with some friends who want to buy the shelves I have left there.  And after they left I was talking to Hawthorn, just BS about the day and he gave me a hug and started to tear up.  And you know, I really do feel bad for him, banging around by himself in that big, empty house.  Yes, of course he did it to himself, but it was his own thoughtlessness and lack of foresight that did it and not any maliciousness on his part.  I had to be somewhere to meet someone, so I told him to come over to my house in an hour and I’d make him dinner.

I wasn’t going out of my way, since I made exactly what I would have done with or with him there, but he seemed very grateful.  And so we just sat (stood–no kitchen table or chairs yet) and talked about both mundane and serious things.  He expressed several times that he couldn’t believe I still anything to do with him at all after everything. And also how tired he was about feeling angry and toxic all the time (from his divorce, not from me–his son is applying to college and this is forcing Hawthorn into a lot unwanted interaction with his ex-wife).  And I was sympathetic and as supportive as I could be, since I don’t think being mean gets me anywhere in situations like this, hurt feelings or not.  And then he helped me hang my mirrors (I can leave the house knowing if I look schlumpy or not now, yay!) and hovered a bit trying be helpful in any way he could, but left before he overstayed his welcome.  And you know, it was a nice evening with a friend.  I’m sorry that it’s still tinged with so much suffering for both of us, but I hope the real parts of our friendship endure through all these hard parts.

I hope the same for my friendship with Oak as well.  But as I told a friend this weekend, I am going to want to have sex again and I will probably want to have sex with someone I’m not in a relationship with, haven’t been in a relationship with and am not going to get into a relationship with.  And there’s a good chance this will be someone I know and our social community is small enough that conceivably either or both Oak and Hawthorn would find out whether I told them or not.  And in the wobbly balance of my current friendships with them, I’m pretty sure having sex with someone else would reveal how true the intentions of either of them are for friendship.  I suspect Hawthorn would be jealous but would get over it, and Oak would lecture me on the inappropriateness of it and then, perhaps even unintentionally, distance himself from me, but people are unpredictable so I could be very wrong on both counts.

It’s all about perspective, folks: a story in three parts.

(1) I went out for a post work beer with Oak last night.  He texted mid-day and I was dirty. Like should have showered before bed and decided to wait til morning, and then, you know, hit snooze 7 times.  I rushed home, washed and blew out my hair, realized I didn’t know exactly where my make up was packed, decided I didn’t care and set out to meet him. Which was huge, right, no make up? It actually made me feel way more confident to realize I looked pretty good and came across as some one who just didn’t care.

It wasn’t awkward exactly.  We just talked about work and moving and job hunting and my apartment and my family.  Come to think of it, mostly I talked.  I offered to walk in afternoons with him, as we often did when I dated. I left with a sense of having enjoyed his company but not exactly with the sense of longing that I anticipated.  I actually feel like all my saying I don’t want to get back together isn’t lip service, which was more of a relief than I expected. However, I can’t say exactly why, but I think maybe he isn’t as opposed to the idea as I am.  So I guess that could get weird, but I’m not going to worry about that unless it presents itself.  All in all it was pleasant and I think I’m very glad he’s moved back here.

(2) Hawthorn came into my office this morning and offered to borrow a work truck at lunch and bring his chairs over to my house.  He said he wasn’t trying to dissuade me from borrowing them, just he didn’t want them sold or ground up for mulch.  I pointed out I wouldn’t do that and reluctantly I agreed to let him lend me his chairs. 🙂  I actually feel vaguely paranoid that he is reading this, but I suspect it came more from my very vocal complaints everywhere about not having anything to sit on.  My incredibly adorable, wonderful landlord is putting up shelves for me today, so the end result should be TV and place to sit, which is pretty exciting, I think!

I’m actually only annoyed about the chairs now because last night I was thinking about writing up a post about how angry and bitter I am about Hawthorn and I swear every time I start feeling like that, he shows up and does something nice.  It’s kind of frustrating.

(3) Through an odd and really random set of circumstances, I reconnected with one of my closest friends from high school yesterday.  I have actually literally been trying to track him down for years but even my very powerful google-fu hadn’t been able to unearth him.  Yesterday I stumbled across some key info (the city he lives in and the industry he works in) and was able to pull him up pretty quickly.

We’ve passed back a couple emails in the last 24 hours and what really strikes me is what becomes important when trying to sum up that past 20 years. Like in that perspective my divorce, now 11 years past, is still a looming spectre, but the entirety of my relationships with Oak and Hawthorn barely merit a mention.  Rose gets props (24-ish years of friendship!) and Dahlia gets lots of time and storytelling on being the best/smartest sister/kid one could have.  Travel matters, both past and future.  When I talk about my current job, I realize I like it even more than I thought I did and recognize how much I’ve hated most other jobs I’ve had.  Anxiety gets mentioned under the guise of the oral surgeries and the robbery, because it’s still a focal point but even it puts things in perspective for me now.  All in all it was a good and interesting exercise for me.  I don’t know how long I can hold onto the feeling but I feel lighter and more positive about things, although my entire lack of future plans stands in sort of sharp contrast to the past years of my life.

Life really does sometimes feel like I’m being offered a flower from a chipmunk.

Well I’m rather pleased with myself that I’ve managed to keep up with this blogging thing for a month so far.  Eleven more to go!  I tried to do an emotional inventory or progress report on myself last night.  I’m not sure if I was doing it because I had insomnia, or if I had insomnia because I was doing it.  So we’ll start there.

Insomnia: This has actually been a lifelong problem for me.  I have clear memories of my sleep troubles from when I was eight or nine.  It does seem to come in cycles and it does seem to be vastly amplified by stress.  The muscle relaxants definitely exacerbated it the couple of times I tried to take them (might experiment one more time with taking them during the day). The Lexapro actually seemed to help with the insomnia, but left me dull, fatigued and lethargic during the day (plus the intestinal problems made it a no go anyway).  I think that now that I am off the SSRIs, I will add the 5-HTP I was taking back into my regimen as it really seemed to help before and I believe it shouldn’t have ill effects with the St. John’s Wort (indeed they are often recommended together).

Sometimes I think if I could just get the sleep thing together I’d be much better off over all.  Possibly that’s true, but there’s so many other factors that I don’t think I should give too much sway to the power of sleep (though it is healing a and good).

Panic attacks: These had increased dramatically for me in Oct, Nov and Dec of 2010.  Now I am mainly back to having them only at night.  Which doesn’t help the insomnia much but is better than getting them while driving or being out socially.  The Klonopin does wonders for the panic attacks.  I have mentioned (to folks for sure and probably here) that I understand the dependency possibility with benzos like this but you can pry my Klonopin from my cold, dead hands because this stuff is MAGIC.  I think currently I am most relieved at the lessened panic attacks.  This makes all my other problems seem less insurmountable.

Therapy: I think it’s only just beginning to dawn on my how much long, hard work therapy is going to be.  It’s a bit intimidating but I think I am up for it.  Planning on continuing it until I think I don’t need it.  I do hope that this isn’t a forever thing.  I’d like to start setting limits and guidelines for it.  Like can I overcome my hysterical sobbing at the idea of going to the dentist? Can I learn to ask for help with out feeling like I’m doing something horribly, terribly wrong?  Can I create a relationship with my mother that feels good most of the time instead of half of the time?  Can I verbalize what I need out of relationships and set guidelines for continuing my trend of increasingly healthy ones (yes, I know recent events make them seem sucky, but both Oak and Hawthorn are Prince Charmings compared to previous dating history–I think I have already been making strides here and I’d like to continue that).  So within the bounds of all that, I can’t guess how long I’ll go to therapy, but I’m glad to have it as an outlet and a support and I think it’s been helpful so far, at least in showing me that there is a path and there is help.

Blogging: Writing in this space has been incredibly helpful to me.  I feel like it’s given me a place to order my thoughts and shake some of the chaos out of my head.  The vague anonymity of it (I mean I know you’re reading and I know you know me, but I don’t see you) has freed me from feeling judged about what I’m writing and I think I’ve done an excellent job of not self-censoring.  Ordering and writing down my thoughts here has really helped me with being able to later verbalize feelings and opinions on my health and my situation when I am talking to my friends in real life and I think has actually facilitated me being comfortable being much more open with people in person (therapy has helped with that as well).  So even if I am sort of parroting myself in person, I at least am using my own assessments of myself and feeling less confused and more likely to talk about how I’m feeling.

Medication: Clearly it’s been up and down.  I think my decision to make the leap to go on medication was the right one.  I don’t think it worked for me and I glad to find myself in a place to start trying more natural remedies.  However I think there’s a psychological impact of simply having taken the drugs.  I feel better. Period.  I doubt the SSRIs made me feel better in 8 weeks.  Maybe they did, but perhaps just the choice to have taken them, the asking for help and the actively starting to work on my problems is what’s making me feel better.  So sort of placebo effect as it were (with terrible side effects).  It hasn’t been easy, but I am glad to have the Klonopin and I am glad to know I have other options if I get to feeling where I am not doing as well as I’d hoped.

Relationships: Well, what can I say?  I feel confident that my inability to deal with things and see things for what they are (my anxiety and mental illness, basically) caused the demise of my relationship with Oak. I’m sticking by having made those choices in good faith while I was looking for safety and comfort.  I feel that at the time Hawthorm was genuinely offering what I thought I needed.  I did originally seek help not only for own sanity, but because tiny cracks had started to appear in my relationship with Hawthorn and I thought if I could get better I could save the relationship.  Clearly that didn’t matter since Hawthorn had the bad timing to accidentally coincide his break down with mine (or his precipitated mine, or something).  Despite their tragic ends, I think both relationships were good for me and I hope both were signs of a continuing trend toward someday having a strong healthy relationship or toward feeling free to not have one at all and still be happy.

Driving:  I don’t think I’ve talked about it a lot here, but I used to love driving.  Every instance of getting into the car, even to go to the store for milk was an act of freedom, was the possibility that I could just keep driving and go where ever I wanted in the world.  I loved the control of it, the power and that raw, open sense of possibility.  In the past two years I’ve had one car totaled while I was in it, been pulled out of another at gunpoint and forced to the ground, and stopped 18″ shy of dying in a really horrific accident that happened around me like a tornado but somehow left me unscathed.  Even taking an easy, low traffic surface street route to work was becoming cause for increasing panic attacks and incredible tension in my body.  I often wanted to cry when I got into and out of the car.  Recently I’ve noticed that my confidence is coming back while I drive and I feel much more comfortable and relaxed doing it.  I can even feel the sense of freedom and possibility starting to tickle at the back of my brain, like it’s getting ready to come back too.

Moving:  I think this is going to be huge for me.  It has sort of happened rather more quickly than I had planned, but so far it seems int he realm of doable.  Yes, getting my own space to heal and be in is good.  On the one had living with Hawthorn post break up hasn’t been a party but it hasn’t been as toxic as it could have been.  However, I HATED our house.  Of all the ones we looked at I wanted it the least.  Hawthorn chose it for the porch, the location and the architectural details.  I hated everything about it.  Nothing was functional, it was clearly remodeled for looks when it was flipped and not at all for functionality.  The landlord is a lazy jerk and repeated dealing with water POURING in from the ceiling, from light sockets, from door jambs and window sills has been severely anxiety inducing all on it’s own.  The interior colors actually make me angry in some rooms, the space just doesn’t feel psychically clean, either.  I was talking to a coworker (who as far as I know knows nothing about the Hawthorn situation) about moving to my new place today and how it seemed good even though I just moved six months ago.  And my coworker commented that she was so glad I was moving because she felt like I hadn’t been well since I moved into that house.  And it’s true, my allergies have been awful (as have Hawthorn’s), I can’t sleep for the noise the neighbors make, I fret about the ceiling falling on me, and besides the dust, age and other problems, I’m fairly sure the inside of the walls and airducts are crawling with mold.  So here’s hoping that the new place is just healthier all around.  It has a new roof–so no leaks, it has a brand new HVAC system and new ducts–no mold or dust, no past or future pets in the house at all to aggravate my already delicate allergies.  The only health concern really is that the new landlord has a pest service come once a month and I don’t know what kind of chemicals they use.  However since the trade off is no mice, no poisonous spiders and no roaches, I’m very willing to take it as a risk.

Body health: So far I am failing in this category. I’m giving myself a pass because there has been so much stuff going on (all my recovery efforts plus the unplanned break up and moving additions) that it’s been hard to add even more to it.  I have been walking more and doing a little yoga.  My future plans include much, much more exercise: walking, swimming and yoga and maybe hula-hooping?  I really need to make a physical therapy appointment and get going on that.  Just, you know, time and planning &c.  I am probably going to wait on the PT until moving is done.  I will get going on the exercise thing definitely (the community center and neighborhood gym is three block from my new place, no excuses).  I will try not to beat myself up on this and rather congratulate myself as I get going with it.  I know it will help so much to have less pain in my body.  I know it will help my mental health so much just to get the exercise.  I know it will help my outlook to look and feel better.  I could only just get so many duck in a row at once and I’m still herding these little wild running exercise and body health ducks.

I think once the chaos of moving dies down I am going to start working devoting a (certainly boring) paragraph of each of these entries to details sleep, exercise, panic attacks and the like, just so I’m keep better track of it and little more accountable for it.  Seems sensible, yeah?

Astrology:  While I give only limited value to astrology, and at that only as a descriptor not as a predictor, Free Will Astrology has always done wonders for me.  Even if it is just words that tell me how to frame my current thinking, it’s helpful.  This week for me we have: Taurus Horoscope for week of February 3, 2011 — I’ve found that even when people are successful in dealing with a long-term, intractable problem, they rarely zap it out of existence in one epic swoop. Generally they chip away at it, dismantling it little by little; they gradually break its hold with incremental bursts of unspectacular heroism. Judging from the astrological omens, though, I’d say that you Tauruses are ripe for a large surge of dismantling. An obstacle you’ve been hammering away at for months or even years may be primed to crumble dramatically. Yeah, I’m definitely feeling this!   Thanks, Rob Brezsny!  I will also continue to consult my father, who is an astrologer, about things like this Saturn transit of my Fourth House, as I’ve said, I feel like it gives me a framework to work in and understand things and I’m glad to have that.