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Ugh, so I was going to talk about setting boundaries today.  I’ve been composing it in my head since Sunday, but then I went to my doctor’s appointment.  It seems everything I went there for is a-okay.  However, my answers to some of her questions alarmed her enough that I got to have an emergency pelvic exam (which she did over her lunch break, people) and I get to go Thursday for an intravaginal ultrasound (the nurse who just called me to confirm the appointment made it sound really unpleasant) and then I go next Tuesday for a biopsy on what appears to a basal cell carcinoma.  Which I am assured by all the medical folks I spoke today is no big deal and probably just needs to be removed and I need to be checked to  make sure there are no others that need to be removed.  Also it appears I might have mucosal vitiligo, which would mean nothing (?? yeah, they said that) except it does put me in a super low risk group for malignant carcionomas, so that’s good.

I was really upset when I got back from the appointment.  My mom called after I texted her and she was super anxious and upset about it which seems to have calmed me down.  So no big deal, right?  If it isn’t malignant, then it’s removed and I have insurance.  The ultrasound is for concerns over ovarian cysts which are sucky but also no big deal.  And it’s not like I can do anything but wait anyway. Still, SERIOUSLY?  Ugh.

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I have a doctor appointment tomorrow at lunch.  I’m asking about my somewhat persistent abdominal pain (that seems to be either reproductive related or digestive depending on the day),  and will probably discuss more drug options in the anxiety/depression (though still not interested in taking these, but maybe will give it one more go) and hoping for hormone, blood sugar and thyroid checks.  My periods have always been irregular and I’m not worried about that, but am hoping to talk about the PMS seeming much more painful and horrible in the last year and particularly in the last six months.

While I am there I will investigate the dentistry offices in that building, as I seem to recall there’s a specialist there who does the work I need.  I put a reminder in my phone for this.

I recognize that this is small bit for most people’s Monday mornings, but it’s HUGE for me.  And I did get through making the appointment just fine, but I almost started crying while setting the reminder for the dentist. Tiny, tiny, tiny steps.  Now if I can just make it through today without making myself sick thinking about all of this, that’ll be a huge step.

I had a good, calm weekend.  Went to Dandelion’s wedding, had a lovely time, only cried a little.  Drank too much.  Hawthorn was my date, which worked out lovely until he tried to kiss me good night.  In fairness we’d both had a lot to drink and had a good time together, but it was awkward.  He actually rather charmingly said, as he was going out the door, “Thanks for kissing me,” like I’d done him a favor by not making it even more awkward than it was.

During the ceremony I said something to him that I don’t remember that caused him to say, “You know I think so highly of you, right?”  And in the (not very good) book I read this weekend, I saved out this bit, “To offer someone your love is no small thing.  I offered mine to you and you refused.”  I have been meditating on both these things unintentionally most of the weekend.  I’d say in grander scheme the pain of the break up and the just being friends is getting better all the time, but there’s obvious steps back and wow, I am still really hurt.

I am irritable and whiny and achey today in a way that indicates PMS.  If it is this means either the really bad symptoms are stretching out to 10-12 days before my period starts or it’s going to come very early this time around.  This? Actually makes me glad to be going to the doctor tomorrow.

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.

Here are some more timely bits for my current meditations: Tiny Wisdom on Suffering and On Letting Go of a Relationship.  I think I have been doing mostly the right things with my recent choices, but perhaps working so hard to hold onto my friendship with Hawthorn has made it harder to let the relationship part go.  I suppose I do need to sit down with him and make sure he knows how I feel in a way that satisfies me, and let him have his say, even if I know it will hurt.

Also my Breszny-scope this week:

Taurus Horoscope for week of April 7, 2011
The hydrochloric acid in our digestive system is so corrosive it can dissolve a nail. In other words, you contain within you the power to dematerialize solid metal. Why is it so hard, then, for you to conceive of the possibility that you can vaporize a painful memory or bad habit or fearful fantasy? I say you can do just that, Taurus — especially at this moment, when your capacity for creative destruction is at a peak. Try this meditation: Imagine that the memory or habit or fantasy you want to kill off is a nail. Then picture yourself dropping the nail into a vat of hydrochloric acid. Come back every day and revisit this vision, watching the nail gradually dissolve.


This week I am going to actively work on embracing my Vipassanā meditation and related studies instead of just paying them much lip service.  I’ve got books to read and guided meditations (for newbies) to get myself back into it and start centering myself again.  At the risk of over structuring myself in the near future I am going to make a point to leave open time that will ideally be either reading or sewing, both activities that pull me out of myself and leave me feeling better.  I am not rushing it, but also working setting in motion finding a martial arts teacher as well.

I realized this morning, when sort of half awake, that I haven’t taken Klonopin more than once a week since, well, since I started feeling stuck and like I wasn’t getting better.  Which is to say that I suspect the Klonopin was going a long way towards making me feel better.  As always with any drugs, I’m on the fence with this.  I have no real fear of dependence on it, if I need it, I need it. And, really, I’m not sure why I haven’t been taking it, except perhaps I don’t need it right now? Still I’m sure that’s a big part of how overwhelmed I’ve been feeling by my emotions, since they aren’t currently being blocked or blanketed in the way they were in the many weeks following the break up.  This isn’t going to stop me taking it when I think I need it, but I guess I have unintentionally become more selective about how I use it.  I’m certain this is a good thing.

I was thinking last night about Letting Things Go, and what some of those things are.  I feel like when you look at my last three or four years and the number of friends and lovers that have passed from my life, at the amount of actual trauma I’ve been through, at the lack of support I’ve had (though much more from my lack of expressing need for it, than lack of people to offer it) it feels like a miracle that I’m still here functioning as well as I am.  But I want to take all of those things and push them away into the past.  I can not be convinced that many of them even need “dealing with” to push them back.  I just want to release them all, let it go and keep moving forward into whatever comes next.  I am tired of, exhausted by, carrying all of those things.  I am just going to set them down, right here, by the side of the road.  I will hold on to the still precious pieces that I feel like still need some care before they are set free (Hawthorn, my teeth, a few other small bits) and just keep moving on until I get to the place where I can set those things down as well.  Forward, one foot in front of the other, with already a lighter load and knowledge of increasing lightness in my future.

So of course I went out with Hawthorn last night and had a perfectly nice time and now feel like a bitch for being so frustrated and irritated with him.  SIGH.  I am going to assume that points to the raw, open wound of the break being the cause of much of my anger and pain in the situation.  I am going to take a deep breath before and after every interaction with him and try to let go on the assumption that time will heal much of it.  I am going to keep trying to set limits with him until at least some of it sinks in.  Mostly I’m going to try to  let it go, let it go, let it go.

Yesterday both my mom and Cedar asked how I was, specifically in relation to my mental health.  Let me try and repeat here what I told them, for my own future reference.

The past week or so has been rough.  I’ve been feeling worse, lower, I think, than I was feeling for a month or before that.  Perhaps part of that is having moved and done and not having those extra details to fill up my head.  Perhaps part of it is the many grey days we’ve had in a row here.  I did realize at some point a few days ago that I haven’t kept up with my habit of taking all the supplements that I think help me (multivitamins, extra vitamin D and vitamin B, Omega-3, St. John’s Wort, and 5-HTP), so I’ve restarted that cycle and almost immediately I feel better (I guess I should add vitamin B deficiency to the list of things to talk to my doctor about).

Over all the panic attacks have substantially lessened and I feel less high strung and riddled with anxiety than I did before.  My biggest problem at the moment is that I feel like I have so little control over my emotions and my responses to situations that starts a self-perpetuating cycle.  For instance something small will happen, like really bad customer service, and I will get very angry, in fact probably disproportionately angry.  And right now, when I get angry, I burst into tears of frustration and rage, and then I feel even worse because I don’t want to be crying, which makes me more angry, &c.  The aftermath of this leaves me feeling exhausted and wanting time to myself, which at this point there simply isn’t enough of.  And I really don’t feeling like I’m avoiding people, or negatively isolating myself, just the emotional thing makes me feel so exposed and raw that I feel like I’m absorbing everyone else’s emotions and response as well as my own.  Which is fine and great and uplifting in a positive situation.  It just takes very little to spin everything into negativity.

I feel like I have really heightened sense of awareness of how I’m reacting in any situation, of how I’m feeling, of what the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ reactions are.  Which hopefully is a good thing.  Perhaps the biggest problem with all of it is that I have much clearer sense of who I am, of what my self identity is and a lot of how I’m feeling and how I’m reacting emotionally to things is directly at odds with the sense of self.  The options seem to be to adjust that picture of myself to match the current reality, or to work really hard to struggle back to the person I feel like I was (or at least always wanted to be).  The second choice seems like the only real option.  I’m still remain unconvinced that drugs and therapy are what is going to help me with this.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a do it by myself kind of thing.  I definitely need help, I just think I need to, um, experiment, I guess, with what kind of help I need and how I can do this.  Writing and talking about it seems to help the most, presently.  I think I need to start setting goals (like making necessary dentists and doctors appointments to deal with the looming bodily health issues) and checking those off as accomplishments.  I think I need to start more actively thinking about the goodness in myself and the person that I previously recognized, who seems subsumed by all this anxiety and anger and negativity, and making a conscious effort to be that better person, while still trying to coddle and care for the hurt part of me.  I definitely need to start slowing down, so that I’m throwing what energy I have at my job, and storing the rest for my own internal, quiet recuperation.  I need to make sure that I’m treating myself carefully, and as if I am recovering and not as if I can simply overcome by doing.  I will work harder to be my own friend and treat myself as I would someone else in my situation.  More love, more care, more calm.

 

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?

Ugh ugh ugh.  I am full of stiff, painful tension everywhere.  I went to bed early last night with possibly a migraine, possibly a combo barometric pressure/tension headache (nausea, light sensitivity and but a weirder pain than I’d previously associated with migraines–bilateral and tight). I am going to make my physical therapy appointments next week.  Remind, okay?  I was talking to a coworker this morning whose wife works at a branch of the clinic I”m going to and the conversation reminded me of mow much better this will make me feel.  Also my regular therapist has started pointing out how much my shoulders bunch up when I talk about some things. Yes, I really need to get on the physical part of treatment.

Of course moving day is tomorrow too and I’m hoping to have some relief of tension once that is done too.  And I think at my next doctor’s appointment I’m going to revisit the medication thing.  I was thinking about it driving home last night and yes, I really do feel way better than I did 8 weeks ago, but better does not equal good or even level and normal.  So once I’m moved and settled I’m going to revisit the SSRI question.  I’ve had three people tell me int he last week how much Cymbalta has helped them, so I guess I’ll ask my doctor about moving completely out of the class of drugs we started with.  I admit I am still somewhat resistant to the idea of medication at all, but I’m afraid I might have hit a peak of feeling better and I need to keep improving, I can’t level off where I am right now and be as effective in life and at work as I need to be.   Also I don’t know for sure that I notice if I feel better or worse when I take the St. John’s Wort, but I think I feel better when I forget to take it.  I guess with that and the Lexapro and the Zoloft I’m wondering if whatever the serotonin factors are with that stuff isn’t what is making me feel so fuzzy and removed and unclear in my thinking?  So if it’s going to be drugs, the more I read and talk to people about it, the more I definitely feel it needs to be a different kind of drug.

Exercise and physical therapy are definitely the two key points I’m missing as well.  So post moving means getting back into a routine again, instead of the chaos life currently seems to be.

Work, with the new position, is ramping up to crazy stressful pretty quickly, so I definitely need to get everything else in hand so I can manage life.  I came in today already in trouble for not having done something right.  This is something I couldn’t have known, and the person that has to talk to me about it knows I couldn’t have known, but I hate making mistakes and I have so much else to worry about.  Plus I need to revisit some of my work habits and get into a different kind of planning mode.  I’m overwhelmed.  I know how to do everything being asked of me.  I have confidence in my skills at work (why can’t I be this together in my personal and emotional life?). I’m glad to have the position I do, but it is a lot to think about and organize when my head is already full.

Miles to go before I’m me again.

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.

Now I have to wonder if it’s any coincidence that I’ve been mostly fine (physically and sometimes mentally) in the evenings and gross, ill and sludgey in the mornings when I take the SSRIs right before bed (since taking them in the morning made me sick all day).  3 more days and then another week for subsequent side effects to wear off.  Ugh.  Seriously though, I was fine last evening.  Cheerful even. And then I slept really poorly last night (mostly from stomach upset and weird dreams). And now I feel wobbly and headachey and just YUCK. And I have a very long day ahead of me.  Alas.

I spent some time talking to my friend, Aloe, last night too.  She and I have had a rough go of it for a while and I’m not even sure we’re solid enough to be called friends.  But she is good to talk to about anxiety &c. and she’s strangely easy for me to open up too.  She made some good suggestions and was generally supportive.  Also I saw the friend that I sent yesterday’s ‘mean’ email too and they were utterly relaxed and understanding about it.  So there’s you go, tell someone who cares about you what you need and they will deliver.  Unheard of!

Oak did his nightly text check in to make sure I haven’t jumped off a bridge or run off with a Saudi prince (I don’t know that that’s why he’s checking in, I just assume).  I was so charmed by part of the exchange with him that I immediately after it happened thought of sharing it here.  And then I second guessed and started worrying that this space is for talking about me and I shouldn’t just be recounting text exchanges with my ex-boyfriend.  But then again he’s a huge piece of how I ended up here and has been really supportive of my recovery, despite me having left him for another man.  So after fair bit of mental back and forth I decided that maybe Oak is what I should be talking about in therapy this coming Monday.  That said, I want to record the conversation for myself:

Oak: Are you doing alright?
Me: I’m actually feeling almost good tonight.  Filling on a short shift at [my restaurant].
Oak: If a handsome man comes in and tells you he’s moving to Ireland someday, be nice to him. (this is essentially how we met, although I was aware of him long before that)
Me: I think that was a once in a lifetime lucky chance on my part.
Oak: You may be right, but maybe someone who wants to move to Ohio or New Jersey.
Me: I don’t think so.
Oak: Good call.
Me: I’m thinking small apartment, space and time to myself.  Plus I’ve heard a rumor that there’s a handsome man moving to town who might occasionally meet for a friendly beer if I get too lonely.
Oak: That sounds like a good plan for 2011.

The entire thing set me to thinking, not unhappily about how we met and how I can remember so many details of our pre-relationship interactions.  This is significant because I have fairly spotty memory for such things usually and rely mostly on my friends and family to keep track of the the more exacting parts of the history of our relationships.  But with Oak I can remember it all clearly and play it back.  Secondly, in this exchange, even though it’s text, I can see exactly what he’s doing and how he looks as he makes each comment.  His wry half smile when he thinks he’s clever, how he runs his hand over his head, &c.  I have said here before that my intention isn’t to get back together with him, nor does that even seem like something sane or rational to entertain at this point.  But I think about the history of it a lot and I think maybe I need to write it down. Not necessarily here, but map out everything I remember so I can save it and maybe use it later, fictionally.  Or not.  Maybe it just stays somewhere, marked down, so I don’t ever forget what a subtle, yet beautifully charming romance it was as we got together.

I feel like therapy is going to be a long, hard row to hoe.  I am, in my every day life, trying to take the above advice and dwell less on, “What is wrong with me?” and focus more on where I am going and what I am going to do and who I am going to be.  But I find I am getting a little apprehensive of about therapy as it isn’t necessarily focused on asking what’s wrong but it may end up much more directed toward the past.  And I understand that with Saturn 4th House transit and all that I need to work through that as part of my move forward, and, theoretically, once it’s dealt with, it’s done and I do move forward. But, yow, is it just me, or does that seem like a lot of teary, yucky work?  I’m up for it, I guess, but today I feel kind of exhausted just thinking about it.

I have a long, long workday ahead of me.  And then some much needed, hopefully achieved rest and then a weekend out of doors with Violet and yoga with Moonflower.  I feel better just thinking about getting through today to the good parts.

I know it’s probably not true, but I swear everything would feel easier if it would just stop snowing.  This is the South!  I’m not supposed to be learning how to drive in terrible winter conditions here.  UGH.  One could easily argue that my desire to stay in bed isn’t anxiety, depression or related to my problems at all, but simply that it’s too gross to go outside.  Spring better come seriously early this year.

On the other hand my yard was filled with probably a thousand birds this morning, fluttering, hopping and talking and singing about the snow.  Rushing from branch to branch to make sure everyone knew about the snow.  If it hadn’t snowed I wouldn’t have been able to stand in the grim, slim sunrise light and watch them fill the dead trees like living leaves.  Thousands and thousands more swirled in huge clouds on the edge of downtown right before I got on the freeway this morning too.  I took the time in the freezing cold this morning just to watch the birds and breathe and remember that “it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.”

Lexapro dose gets reduced to a quarter tonight.  Still lethargic and fatigued, still feeling the intestinal effects of it, though those things are all reduced since the last dosage reduction.  After last night’s crying jag I spent a while wondering if I shouldn’t just ask my doctor for another round of yet another drug, but I think I am going to wait a while.  I have terrible PMS right now.  It seems to be getting worse with each passing year (my mother told me this happened in her late 30s too).  My period only comes about every 38-40 days now but it comes with about 7 days of pretty rough emotional stuff.  Like my hormones just destroy my ability to manage my emotional reactions to things. So given that, I think I am going to stick with my plan of no SSRIs for a little bit.  If I’m still feeling like I did last night after I stop bleeding (if it ever starts, argh!) then I’ll reconsider this.  Too many factors right now to make an informed decision.

I just remembered that I dreamt about Oak again last night.  In it he’d given me a list of very specific things that needed to be packed in a certain sized bag.  I spent most of the dream trying to find those things and figure out how they fit together.  Finally Oak showed up with a similar bag and we set off into the snow.  It was clear we were going somewhere really, really far away and maybe walking?  We stopped at a pub and there was some really famous person about to play there, to me, Oak and about six other people.  He was saying that he loved her music but wasn’t sure why she’d do that to her hair. That’s when I woke up.  Perhaps brought on by this text exchange with Oak right before bed:

Oak: How are you doing?
Me: I feel burnt out, broke down and wiped out.
Oak: I know that feeling.
Me: I’m sorry you do. No one should ever feel like this.
Oak: It comes from not knowing your place in the world.

Yes, indeed, man, it surely does. But how does one start finding their place they already feel this worn down?

HAHAHAHAHA! A bit too much indeed.

Thank you, my dear friends, for all your out pourings of love in email over the weekend.  I will reply in time and in kind. You all make me feel more normal, happier and glad to have shared with you.  I had a rough bit of it this weekend.  Work sort of forced me out to be more social than I wanted. Hmm, no, I do want to be social, rather I was forced to face a lot of acquaintances and explain the situation with Hawthorn.  Which by itself is fine, I just find most people’s responses to be fairly intolerable.

Overall I feel well liked and people have been very sympathetic.  And I do appreciate that very much.  However so many people thoughtlessly say things that cause me to have to defend Hawthorn and his choices, which really is a position I don’t want to have to take right now.  And people thoughtlessly say things that unintentionally make me feel bad about myself or the choices I’ve made.  I know everyone means well, but saying things like, “He’s just a girl stealer, I knew from the beginning, I just didn’t want to tell you for fear of hurting your feelings,” doesn’t make me feel better.  It makes me think you think I was duped and that I’m an idiot and that I can’t tell the difference between someone scamming me and someone who genuinely likes me.  A lovely friend commented here about honoring choices that were made in good faith.  This is perfect wording.  I stand by my choice to move in with Hawthorn because I made it in good faith. And, despite everything, I think his initial choices were made in good faith as well.  He just wasn’t as ready for this as he thought he was.  But again, I’m still angry, so I don’t like being pushed into a rhetorical corner where I feel like I have to defend him.

And for the most part friends I saw were, if anything, overly cautious and gentle with my feelings, so I shouldn’t be complaining.  I do feel a little like I should print up a t-shirt or a card to hand to people to something.  I think it would say: Yes, we broke up.  No, I’m fine. Yes, it really is as amicable as these things can be.  Yes, I will need to find a new place to live.  No, I don’t want to stay in your guest room in the interim.  No, I don’t need anything right now.  Yes, I swear I’ll call you if I do.

This is the path I've been taking to get where ever it is that I'm going. I think in the future the Hawthorn situation will either be an oxbow lake or a short cut I couldn't have known I needed to take.

I did spend a good part of the weekend sorting, organizing and planning things. The terrifying and amazing part of all this is getting to completely rebuild my life.  I really don’t think I can stand to have roommate, despite my fears around being home alone.  I am confident right now that I can find a place I can afford on my own that I will feel safe in.  I fell asleep last night imagining a place that had only my pictures on the walls, that has only things in it that I want.  I will never be a minimalist, nor truly aspire to it, but I have working hard for a few years now on paring my life down to essentials (my essentials are probably grander and more numerous than some other people’s) and this gives me a chance to really think about it, since basically at this point I own my (vast) sewing set up, my bed, dresser, wardrobe, desk, some shelves, a few plates, a sauce pan and chef’s knife. Oh, and a coffee table.  So I will need to acquire many kitchen items and places to sit when I move.  But I have time to dream about how simple and lovely that could be when it’s all in my own space and only my things that I want to have.  I am definitely feel positive about this, even with the heavy stresses of finding a place and actually moving.  I the idea of a place free of anyone’s clutter but my own is rapidly becoming very appealing.

I started watching the new BBC Sherlock Holmes this weekend (with Hawthorn–we’ve been keeping up our routine of spending an evening or two a week having dinner and watching something together and I think that’s really helped keep things much more civil) and there’s a part in the beginning where Watson’s therapist tells him to work on his blog every day and record everything that happens to him as she assures him it will help.  Thank you, campy BBC TV show for validating me!  I laughed out loud!

I spent some time over the weekend reading about, meditating on and talking about medications.  I’m going to talk to my therapist today about having her, my mom, Hawthorn, a friend in town (and you all, of course) monitor me rather than taking the SSRIs.  I feel about 120% better since I started halving the dose on the Lexapro.  My current plan is 4 more days on the halved dose and then 4 days on a quarter dose and then no more.  I have worked out a weekly exercise plan with Violet and with Hawthorn and on my own at home (my bedroom is big enough to hula hoop in).  I understand the risk of dependency with the Klonopin, but really I don’t think I’m taking it to excess and man, oh man, it really does make me feel better.  So I’m hoping that exercise (which will include getting out to see people, at least Violet) and therapy and my developing positive outlook and the occasional Klonopin to stave off the panicky moments will be enough to get me through right now.  I will pay close attention to how I feel and hopefully with everyone else paying attention, if I really need psycotropic drugs someone will step in and help guide me back to that.  But right now I think it’s making me feel worse, definitely physically, I don’t know that the benefit of long term chemical changes that I don’t really understand are worth it to me right now.  As always I reserve the right to change my mind at any time and I could be wrong about this, but I’m really hoping that therapy of a variety of kinds and having something to look forward to (my own sanctuary) will get me through the immediate parts of this and hopefully send me out stronger and healthier on the other end.

Work was slow yesterday afternoon so I thought I’d just take a peaking at rental listings in my neighborhood.  GAH! Instead of entertainment I gave myself a full blown panic attack.  Holy shit, ya’ll, I’m going to have to move. Again. And find a place, by myself.  Ack.  I came home, took a Klonopin (whew), turned on the TV and sat down and carefully laid out my income and expenditures for January at www.budgetsimple.com.  I think if I can manage to keep this up for Feb and March, I’ll feel much more in control about this.  Plus, if I can keep it together long enough to stay here through March, touring season will start and many semi-transient musicians will be leaving places I could live (and college students as well, although there aren’t very many of those in my neighborhood).  Then my only concern will be that I don’t own anything to sit on except an office chair.  I can do this.  *deep breaths*  I can do this.  I am glad, however that I didn’t let myself get bullied into moving right away, and that, as annoying as it will be, Hawthorn will let me stay here for a while.  I also have a few things I need to sell.  Not in a desperate kind of way, but things I just really don’t need and might be able to make enough money off of to buy something to sit on when I move.

Why can I not have this house?  I mean sure I’d have to be rich and live in Belgium, but look at it:

click it to see all its gloriousness

 

I did manage to calm myself down a bit but PMS left me feeling lonely, miserable and vulnerable and watching TV wasn’t enough of a distraction.  After a slightly frustrating text exchange, I ended up on the phone with Oak discussing the nature of loneliness, his need to find a job and what he looking for, trying to make him understand the even comparison between my home search and his work search (and his soon impending home search as he’s moving back here in 4 weeks, hence the work search). Oak, like my mother, wants me to move out as soon as possible, though he’s being slightly more understanding about why I won’t.  I suspect they both share the motivation (identified by Wisteria) of wanting to punish Hawthorn, at least financially (Oak at one point in the conversation encouraged me to turn heat up, since Hawthorn pays that bill–ironically I am always turning down the heat the Hawthorn turns up because I am an armchair environmentalist). The call ended with Oak wishing he could make me feel better and me expressing that he had, indeed at least distracted me from sitting around alone feeling sorry for myself.

Last night was the first halved dose of Lexapro.  This morning’s side effects so far seem, well, halved.  I am tempted to taper from half to a quarter and off and go back and ask for something else.  I really am trying to be a positive participant in drug therapy but the fact is I haven’t had a day without some stomach discomfort (from moderate to terrible) or some spaciness or dizziness in over three weeks.  I know most anything will have side effects, but at this point I feel I’d gladly try a third or fourth option that made me sweat too much or made my mouth dry rather than continuing to feel queasy and gross.  The Lexapro was better, since it lacked the outright nausea and shaky hands and all, but still I just don’t feel right.  I will do the halved dose through the weekend, but if I don’t wake up Tuesday morning feeling okay, I’m going right back and starting over, I guess.

I dreamt last night that Hawthorn was a robot and the letter of his name were an acronym for the project he was created under.  When I told him this morning, he laughed and said he could see how I’d think that and then hugged me for a while a kissed the top of my head.  Proving, I guess, Oak’s comment that by staying with Hawthorn and depending on his kindness  have somehow changed my status from girlfriend to favored niece.  Still I imagine the situation could be much worse.

I also had a complicated dream that I can’t quite describe that involved attendance at an over the top wedding a trip over seas to an Asian country to visit Adam from Mythbusters and subsequently marrying him.  And then taking up with Jamie from the show when it didn’t work out and I found myself trapped in a foreign country.  It might be hard to explain why, but this is an obvious Hawthorn/Oak metaphor for me, but in reverse and played out with some message that I probably already know, but don’t want to think about just quite yet.

Med check today.  I haven’t taken anything but the Lexapro in about 36 hours. We’ll see if I make it through the day with only tolerable side effects.  This has been harder to figure out because the Zoloft was SO AWFUL, that simply feeling better than that has seemed okay but if I still  feel dizzy, nauseous or like I’m nodding out today and it can’t be attributed to exhaustion, Skelaxin or anything else, then we’ll change again.  Since this is day 8 on the Lexapro I should be tolerating it by now if I’m going too.

This is the reason I don’t like taking stuff like this.  It really feels like there’s no science to it.  Like it’s just throwing stuff against a wall and seeing what sticks.  Hawthorn asked me yesterday didn’t they do a blood test or something to see what kind of drugs one should be taking? No, sir, sorry, too busy putting all our drug trial money and research into things like Viagra, no need to concern ourselves with discovering how and why certain psychotropic drugs work differently on different people.  Grump grump grump.

I read an article once about a psychiatrist who was treating patients by giving them really small doses of opiates every day instead of antidepressants.  The dosage was apparently barely above being a placebo, but had, as I understood it, excellent effects for his patients who felt calmer, happier and functioned better.  Ever since I read this I have never understood our cultural aversion to giving people drugs that simply make them feel better vs. drugs that rewire our brain in ways no one seems to really understand and potentially have terrible side effects.

I do think I am starting to feel better despite periodic bouts of dry heaving and the hours in which I can’t operate machinery.  But it’s hard to say if that’s an effect of the SSRIs or placebo effect or simply the Klonopin tamping down the panic and the calming freedom of saying to everyone, hey, I’m fucked up, don’t expect too much from me and hold my hand while I get better.  I also think I’ve just completely let go of the Hawthorn situation (though I’m going to dissect it here in a second).  There’s nothing I can do about it, no point in worrying about it and I really do just need to move on and I’m actually genuinely fine with that.  In this instance I think there is no reason at all to revisit past injuries.  Another bullshit life lesson that should have been learned but that I’m not going to beat myself up over.  I am going to give myself a ‘I wasn’t in my right mind’ pass and say that it was taking the path of least resistance when I couldn’t handle doing anything else.

Hmmm, I was going to say that despite having mentally moved on I still have a few things to say about Hawthorn in closing, but, uh, I guess I don’t. In retrospect I think he has been incredibly selfish all the way through.  That was helpful to me in the summer and autumn when I really needed support and he was still pursuing me, it was sucky in the winter when he just changed his mind.  To Oak I imagine that it appears that Hawthorn aggressively pursued and stole his (Oak’s) girlfriend and then just dropped her when he was done with her. I suppose that isn’t too far from the truth of what happened.   In this case I truly feel like I am decidedly not tamping down, burying or not dealing with my emotions on this.  I just can’t do anything but move on.  That’s all there is, no point in beating myself up over it.  (Okay so I did have a few things left to say.)

The problem with it all really is that I can’t simply embrace a ‘no regrets’ policy on everything in the past year.  I think I made a terrible, terrible mistake when I broke up with Oak.  I don’t mean that I think he’s the right person for me or I’ve lost my soul mate.  I have no idea, really.  We could have turned out to be totally incompatible.  It’s just that not a single day has gone by where I haven’t thought about him.  I have literally lain in bed and thought, “Hey, I made it through the whole day without thinking about Oak, oh, damn, I’m doing it right now.”    I can not erase from my mind the look on his face when I told him it was over.  I can not forgive myself for the hurt I caused him.  And worse when I am sick I remember how he took care of me when I had the flu, when I am lonely I remember when he first told me he loved me. The weekend after I finished moving in with Hawthorn I cried for two days straight.  I literally cried myself sick.  I told myself it was because I was only mourning the future I’d given up by choosing to be with Hawthorn and that it would pass, but it never passed.  I am crying even as I type this.  I am full of regrets in relation to Oak and I have no idea how to rectify it.  I simply can’t let go in the way I have let go of so many other things/people.  Perhaps (to take a metaphor way too far) Hawthorn was the placebo and thus easily kicked and Oak was the real deal, with the withdrawls taking as long to pass as the usage lasted (giving me about another year to mourn if I don’t figure out how to fix it).

Interestingly (to me), I had intended to use this blog to write about what was driving my anxiety and insecurities.  I had really expected this to be about having a gun in my face held by a shaky, scared teenager, or about the really upsetting ongoing dental problems.  But it seems right now that maybe my relationship issues are much closer to heart of my insecurities that any outside factors are.  Or at least much more immediate.

I feel wobbly, nauseous and gross this morning.  I’m 90% sure it’s the Skelaxin, so no muscle relaxants for me.  Sad.  Will call my doctor today and update her.  Was an hour late for work because I feel like I only slept for about 3 hours and was too wobbly to drive earlier.  Yuck.

So for a long time I’ve been struggling with this idea that I need someone to take care of me. The very concept is anti-feminist, anti-my generation, anti-my own identity.  Of the endless loops in my head, “I wish someone would take care of me” is among the top three. And maybe it isn’t so hard to accept if I can really pin down what being taken care of means to me.  This morning it would mean driving me to work, picking me up later and possibly holding my hair back while I barf.  Most days it would be about supporting me in my crazy endeavors, about showing an interest in what I’m creating, about cooking for me, making sure I eat and just sort of paying enough attention to know when I need extra care and affection even if I’m not asking for it.  Maybe that’s a tall order, but it doesn’t seem like it should be.

From an email from my mom yesterday:

When you told me about [breaking up with Oak], you cited  how he wasn’t psychically supporting you in what you’d been going through.  And you said that what [Hawthorn] was doing was offering you comfort and support…which I don’t think anyone has done a good job of offering and carrying through for you. That’s likely a consequence of looking more together than anyone else around.

I have so much to say about this, I don’t even know where to start.  I guess it’s what bothers me about Hawthorn’s change of heart. I really had hoped I’d found someone to support and care for me.  And I feel really betrayed that that’s been ripped away from me.

Honestly I doubt it would have worked out between Hawthorn and I no matter what.  And weirdly I don’t really care why.  I mean I could make a list of reasons but I don’t care too.  This is weird because ever since I broke with Oak I’ve been telling myself stories over and over and over and over all the ways it would eventually have gone wrong between us anyway.  How it never would have have worked.  Every possible scenario that would have somehow broken down our relationship.  Every excuse possible to make it okay to have ended it.

And it is true that I didn’t feel like Oak was emotionally supporting me, it’s also true that I never asked him.  I always presented a front to him of being together, in control and in charge.  I never said I was scared and needed comfort, I never asked him for help of any kind. I told him it was okay to go when I wanted to ask him to stay.  I told him I was fine when I wasn’t and then I got hurt when he didn’t notice how much I needed him.

Perhaps all of this goes back to not being able to get my words out when I need to.  Maybe part of it isn’t valuing myself enough to think I deserve help?  I don’t know, I don’t even really think so.  I think maybe it’s more about being afraid of what people will think of me.  And I am no where near being able to start with what my problem is there.

The increasing anxiety and bizarreness of the past year has often left me wishing to be rescued rather than simply taken care of.  And maybe Hawthorn rescued me and is releasing me now.  But I do know for sure that I need to be taken care of. And I know that can mean whatever I want it to.  And I am going to learn how to ask for it because anything else is far too lonely to contemplate.

And, oh, Brezny-scope, I love you so:

FREE WILL ASTROLOGY
Week beginning January 20
Copyright 2011 by Rob Brezsny
http://FreeWillAstrology.com

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): I find many of you Tauruses to be excessively self-effacing. It’s a trait that can be both endearing and maddening. Even as my heart melts in the presence of Bulls who are underestimating their own beauty, I may also feel like grabbing them by the shoulders and shaking some confidence into them, barraging them with frustrated exhortations like “Believe in yourself as much as I believe in you, for God’s sake!” But I’m guessing I won’t be tempted to do that anytime soon. You appear to be due for a big influx of self-esteem.

Ten millions years ago, when I got married, I was standing in a small dressing room alone.  Big puffy white dress on, hair all done up, gloves, fancy make-up, 200 guests waiting to participate passively in a momentary expression of love.  All I could think about in that moment was what Rose has said to me several days before: “You’re only getting married because you said when you were 14 that were going to marry him and you’re so stubborn that you have to follow through.” (Not perhaps verbatim what she said, but pretty close.)

I was thinking about those words because I knew as I stood there that I probably shouldn’t be getting married.   Maybe not to this man. Or maybe just not this young.  Or maybe just not.  But I was all dressed up and everyone was there.  And I am stubborn, but often that means I can make things work.  And how hard can marriage be if one commits to it?  I could do this.

Four years later, my parents were bailing me out financially and helping me re-establish my life after we filed for divorce.  This would not be the last time they had to bail me out of such a situation (including my current impending move from Hawthorn’s to where ever I end up).

In some weird way I feel like I’ve been standing in that small dressing room of 15 years ago for all of 2010.  There’s been some sense of doubt in my mind every step along the way, and yet I’ve plodded forward anyway.  I started thinking yesterday about what I should have done, but cut myself off pretty quickly.  What difference does it make now? What is important is what I do from here on out, right?  Still I have this overwhelming sense that I continuously chose the path of least resistance through out 2010 convinced that I could make it work out alright. And hey, I’m not dead, so presumably it will work out alright, just in a different way.

I think therapy was good yesterday.  I cried a lot about Hawthorn making his clean break, then realized that was the first I’d cried about it to anyone, though in my defense I did tell almost everyone by email or text message which is less emotional (and thus my preferred communication).   I don’t know that there were huge revelations in therapy yesterday but I did realize that after Oak and split I stopped making plans.  I mean I’ve always had some sort of vague plan, possible map for the future and I haven’t had that in nearly a year. Surely that goes a long way toward explaining why I’ve felt so untethered.  And right now I feel scattered and confused and still anxious but I definitely need to start making a plan.  I will do it slowly, and I will do it with counsel and support from friends as I’m not sure I trust my choices when left to my own devices right now (a very hard thing for me to admit).

The first thing I need to do is figure out where I am going to live.  Hawthorn and I had a serious talk last night.  I expressed my need to KNOW that I had secure place to live there until I found something else.  He seemed dismayed that I didn’t trust his previous assurance that I could stay through August, but I pointed out that he’d already made a serious one-eighty in relation to me and that I didn’t think I could take another one and still manage to get better.  He said he hadn’t become a bad guy, that everything was still the same, just we weren’t romantically entwined in the long term.  And yeah, I guess he isn’t a bad guy, just insanely selfish and certainly a disappointment.

We have agreed that I could stay through August but probably will try and move around April 1 or May 1. I had some pressure yesterday from friends and family to move right away and honestly I just can not face that.  I mean even if someone else did the moving for me, I just don’t think I feel safe living alone right now. And despite all his other disappointing characteristics I am certain that Hawthorn will still look out for me and chase away things in the dark.  Ultimately however (in a couple months) I think my choice will be to live alone.  In addition to needing someone in the house right now, I also would really like to have the time to find a place to live that I want to be in, that I like, that I feel comfortable in, that isn’t just the first thing available in my price range.  My therapist set me to slowly making a list of what I would need in a home to feel safe, comfortable, and, well, at home.

The Lexapro continues to be okay.  It’s not without side effects but I think it’s within the realm of tolerable so I guess I’m going to fill the prescription after I talk to my doctor today (she gave me samples before).  Today might be the day I skip the Klonopin and try the Skelaxin again as the muscle tension is pretty unbearable.  My lovely friend Moonflower called yesterday and offered to come help me set up a restorative yoga practice at home (she’s a brilliant teacher of yoga), which will hopefully help a lot as well.  I am going to ask Violet to help me overcome my new place anxiety and go walk the track at the community center so I have that as an option on dark cold evenings.

And that’s it for me for plans for now. Yoga plan.  Walking plan.  Thinking about what I need in a home.  It’s a good start, right?

I dreamt about Oak last night.  I have been having very uneven tense dreams lately. For years most of my stress dreams have revolved around moving.  Like most folks have the naked in public dream, or the I’m at the final and realize I never attended any classes dream.  For me it’s always moving day and I haven’t packed and it’s raining and the truck isn’t there. After so much discussion of it yesterday I fully expected to spend the night trying to fit things in not enough boxes in my dreams.  But no, it was Oak instead. No story, no stress, just the physicality of him. How it feels to touch him, to smell him, to feel the heat of his skin.  I woke up  half expecting to find him in my bed and feeling a deep sense of loss.

I am absolving myself of all decision making this week.  I have had my mom and a couple friends already (unintentionally) pressuring me about moving right away. And wow, I can not face moving right now.  Honestly I have two full, completely private, completely mine, rooms in my house with Hawthorn. Yes the situation sucks, but it’s not like we’re stuck in a one bedroom apartment or anything.  Thus far he is going WAY out of his way to compensate for his shitty shortcomings.  Obviously I could change my mind any minute on this, but currently I feel safer and less stressed about the idea of staying than I do about moving.

I talked to Oak last night about the situation for a while. He voiced his frustration that he feels that Hawthorn actively and aggressively pursued me and pressured and promised me the moon to move in with him.  And now is rather blasé about saying oh, I don’t want to be in a relationship. Oak felt it would be one thing if I had been the pursuer rather than the pursued, but that currently Hawthorn’s actions are incredibly selfish and disingenuous given how much other people’s (mine, Oak’s) lives have been affected by the course Hawthorn chose.  And right now, I think this is what upsets me the most about the situation; he’s being selfish at a time when things should be all about me! (Ha, I know, right?)

I am trying hard to own my choices and the decisions I made. I generally can acknowledge and be responsible for my own mistakes. But I don’t know if I can say it was a mistake to choose Hawthorn and move in with him.  At least not given the information I had at the time.  I was simply trying to find a safe easy place to fit into the world.  I assume the universe is telling me that that wasn’t the place I was supposed to be and now I have to find the place I am supposed to be.

I also dislike the idea of hurriedly packing up and moving into the first vaguely adequate place I can find.  I want to find some place that I want to be, that I’m comfortable in, that doesn’t feel like a place to just park my stuff. But again not making any decisions right now.  I have support, friends and places to go if I need too.  I just don’t think I need to go just quite yet.

Where do I find one of these?

On the drug front, the Lexapro so far is WAY better than the Zoloft.  Side effects so far seem to be occasional lightheadedness and mild somnolence (which isn’t necessarily bad for someone with insomnia).  And maybe it’s starting to make me feel better?  Maybe it’s too early to tell and just the lack of side effects and the hope that it will help is what I’m feeling.  Panic attacks and sense of hysterical fear are WAY down, but that could easily be the judicious application Klonopin at the first sign of such.  Still, given everything, I some sense that I’m starting to feel a little more steady, more functional and a little less on autopilot.

Last night I told Oak that it some ways, not excusing my choices or my responsibility for where I am, still it seemed almost like I’ve been living someone else’s life for the last twelve months. Like somewhere around Feb 2010 things just got way off track and I didn’t even notice until I was so far from ‘home’ that I couldn’t find my way back.   I have in the last few months been having the unsettling sensation that I’m losing pieces of myself, like I’ve just become a shell that needs to be filled back up.  Or perhaps it’s more that parts of me that I identified as my sense of self are somehow getting walled up in the the past and I haven’t moved far enough forward to clarify for myself the sense of my new evolved identity.  I believe this is in line with Saturn transiting my 4th house.  I was thinking this morning about how this particular transit is about self identity and security and if you don’t heed the need for growth here that the universe will kick your ass.  I think the universe just kicked my ass.

Have a therapy appointment this afternoon.  Will probably scrap what I’d intended to talk about about and focus on how sound she thinks my decision making is right now and what I need to do to have the space and emotional tools I need to plan my life.  Since the all the future plans I’ve made in the last two years are now entirely off the table. And yes, I can go anywhere, do anything, but what, exactly is that?

I had my first therapy appointment today.  She encouraged me to continue writing here as much as possible and said that it’s hopefully equally as useful as therapy.

I have spent a lot of time thinking, “what is my problem?”  I have spent hours trying to guess at the mystery that makes me act the way I do.  I left therapy today and went shopping (I needed pillow cases, and, um, a clearance ceramic tray glazed with chrysanthemums as my reward for not chickening out on therapy) and wandered around thinking the usual, what is my problem.

It is no stretch at all to say that everything wrong with me comes from bottled up emotions.  I can’t talk about how I’m feeling.  I can write about it, to some extent, but when I’m in direct conversation it’s like the words form in my brain but never make it out of my mouth.  This extends to asking for help when I need it, for support, for attention and for affection.  In a relationship I am much more likely to write you a long letter than to spill my heart to you.  I have often been accused of withholding when it’s really more like an unintentional blockage.

As I walked around looking at cheap things made in China that I could probably make myself, I thought about what keeps my words locked inside me.  Here are some reasons:

  • I am uncomfortable asking for help.
  • I don’t want to upset anyone with my problems
  • I am afraid of what people will think of me.
  • I fear honesty will cause people not like me
  • I feel too exposed.
  • I hurt all the time and I don’t want anyone to know.
  • I do not want to be rejected.
  • I do not want you to see how lonely I am.
  • I am afraid of making you angry.
  • I don’t think I express myself clearly and do not want to be misunderstood.
  • I don’t want you you to think I am being mean when I am just being honest.
  • I fear you will think I am stupid.
  • I have no familial history of talking about feelings.
  • I do not want to appear weak or vulnerable.
  • I am by nature a private person and I haven’t figured out the bounds of safety for talking when I need too.

And I guess it’s all those reasons together that’s gotten me where I am, but I’m not sure exactly.  Someone once told me that of everyone they knew I had seemingly the least number of reasons to be insecure but was in fact the most insecure person they knew.  And hey, I will gladly speak up righteously and loudly on your behalf, I just haven’t ever felt comfortable asking for anything for myself.  It’s hard to say that I value others more than myself because I think I’m fairly selfish, but perhaps my own sense of self worth keeps my words down? That seems almost too easy.  And yet how does one go about valuing oneself more?

Last night I dreamt that someone tried to cut out my tongue.  The blade only made it about three quarters of the way through and I was choking on my own blood, keeping my hands over my mouth and then I woke up.  I told my therapist this and she was fascinated that I would dream about losing or trying to keep my tongue the night before I started therapy.  I’ve actually had this dream once before a couple weeks ago.  In that instance my tongue got cut out and my mouth filled with blood and I was leaning over and trying not to get any on my white shirt.  I don’t usually make any effort to understand or interpret my dreams, but I gotta say, the tongue/talking thing is kind of trippy.  And creepy.

When we were together I never managed to say any of the things I needed to to Oak.  Now I want to call him and tell him everything, everyday.  I have been mostly resisting this urge as I don’t think, given the circumstances, that it’s fair to him.  I have been communicating with him, some in email or texts but I’ve trying to limit it.  I just need to be really clear with myself about why I want to tel him everything, why it’s okay to be so open now.  Possible reasons include being still in love with him, feeling safe because he’s far away, feeling safe because he’s pretty much already seen me at my worst, because he asks good questions and listens, and, I don’t know, other things.  I love Hawthorn, but the idea of walking into the other room and talking to him about all of this seems impossible. The idea of calling Oak and talking to him about all of it seems like a relief.

I seem to be tolerating the Lexapro okay so far.  The queasy grossness from the Zoloft is gone and I guess I feel a little weird and spacey, but pretty much okay.  I’m going to give it a few more days before I say for sure.

Now I am going to go shower and get dressed for a party.  Let’s see if I can manage this without sedating myself first.

Yesterday as I drove to work the news on the radio was grating as it usually is so I randomly punched a button and got the college station playing Eastern Orthodox liturgical hymns in Russian. It was so surreal and unexpected that it seemed like a sign of something. It was also incredibly calming so I searched out the station website to find out what was playing. Of course there was a playlist for every episode of that particular show, except for today. I guess it will remain a mystery. Though I might go through some of the back playlists and try and find some of the pieces. I could use some sacred calls to God right now even if, no especially if, I can’t really understand them.

Work was work, in it’s long, boring, but excellent source of escapism kind of way. I came home through icy streets and took a long, long shower. When I got out, Hawthorn was home. We talked about our days. We had a long conversation about my new medications and side effects and how I was feeling.  And then he took a deep breath and said, “I’m just not sure I can sustain a long term relationship. I’m not sure how serious I can be about us.” Yeah, you fucker, I know, you keep telling me. So I said, “Can it. Just take a deep breath and let it go.” He tried to reiterate that he loved me and it wasn’t me &c. but I cut him off and said, “Seriously, take a deep breath and let it the fuck go. I don’t even care enough about this right now to talk about it.”

And you know, I don’t. I mean I do care. I want to work it out. I want everyone to have space to breathe and regroup and revisit it all in the future, but oh my fucking good goddamned hell, I can not keep having the same fucking conversation about it. I have been telling him since the beginning that the pressure for long term, consolidated, expressly planned relationship is all in his head. He acknowledges that I have never pressured him, nor even brought the subject up. He asked me to move in with him. You could go so far as to say he pressured me, or perhaps just badgered me until I said yes. And now, 11 months after he started seriously courting me, he’s just not interested in following through? Fucking fucking fuck. I still feel it would unfair of me to scream, “I gave up my whole life plan for you, you fucking selfish asshole.” Since I do want to own my choices and I made the choice to be here. However, I can safely say that I didn’t necessarily make it in my right mind, and I won’t go so far as to say I’m being punished for that because I don’t think the universe is vindictive, but enough already. At least this time I can hopefully dig myself out of one hole before I fall right into the next one.

I actually feel good about being that angry about the whole thing. I mean, I still need to get him on the train about how right now is about me and unless he’s expressly going to talk to someone (else) about his crap then I am not interested. Because I tell you what, I certainly am not getting better listening to his fucking midlife crisis.

All that said, my current plan is to stay here, in this house, in my own room, with my own things, through April. I will at that point assume plenty of student and musician vacancies and try and find something for myself. I have support in the interim. I know if it gets really bad, some friends have a guest house up the street they will certainly let me use. But really I just need some time to get the rest of me together, I do not want to move right now. And if that means shutting Hawthorn down every time he tries to put his unnecessary worrying on me, then I’ll do it for the sake of cheap rent and at least not feeling isolated and alone. I really do not want to live by myself right now, it doesn’t feel at all safe. And while the entire Hawthorn situation has a bunch of emotional baggage that goes with it, I’d really rather be here.  I’ll take his bullshit, since it comes with genuine hugs and many very solicitous gestures (surely born of guilt).

I don’t know what will be different next week, but I just keep repeating to myself that I need to get through this week. Like that is a big enough goal for me. I think I’m going to take some sick time Friday afternoon so I don’t have to go back to work after my therapy appointment. Saturday I’m hopefully going walking with good friend, Violet, so I can fill her in on all of this and feel like I have allies in this city too (my reasons for being less open with her about this are mostly because I kind of can’t stand sympathy, so I really needed enough distance to be able to deal with people reactions).

Last night I got a decent night’s sleep and as always when that happens, everything seems much less dire today.  Also I seem to be tolerating the Lexapro much better than the Zoloft.  Less stomach ick and dizziness and all.  I’ve decided to hold off on the muscle relaxants for 3 or 4 days until I’m sure of how the other drugs are making me feel.  Although I really, really am looking forward to not having the muscles in my shoulders feel like they are made of metal.

This morning I accidentally found listings for hotels for sale in Spain, so I will pepper my workday with fantasies of being a hotelier in the Pyrenees.

How much better would life be if this was the path you walked home from work?

I am not having a good day.  I assume it’s the medication switch up.  Last night instead of my usual Zoloft (and occasional Klonopin), I took Lexapro several hours after taking Skelaxin for the locked muscles in my neck.  I woke up just after midnight feeling fairly wide awake, although dizzy and disoriented.  I know I went back to sleep but I don’t really feel like I slept at all.  This morning I am shaky and a little queasy (although less nauseaous than I was with the Zoloft). I have a weird migrainey headache that is sporadic but leaves me feeling like there is a wide open hole running down the side of my skull.

Last night I commented to Hawthorn that I’m not really pleased with taking SSRIs at all.  I do want to get better, I hope this is a way towards feeling better, but right now they are making me feel YUCKY.  It seems like some regimen of Klonopin, physical therapy and psychological therapy should be enough.  I functional enough most of the time, I guess, but I definitely have moments where I wonder if I should be driving at all (even when I’m feeling clear headed) or doing anything besides laying on the floor hoping it all passes.  Hmm, re-reading this I sound like I’m way over dramatizing it. I guess I just don’t like feeling like my body is full of chemicals.  And I was already feeling like my mental stuff was out of my control and presently the drugs don’t yet seem to be changing this.  So I feel anxious, crazy and now nauseaous too.  Wheee!

My plan for right now is to just get through this week. Hopefully with lessening side effects. And while I will surely keep documenting my stupid love life and drug reactions here, I’d like to use this space to keep track of the good things too. Working toward a more positive focus as a way out of the anxiety. We’ll see.  Just this week, gotta get through this week.

I had a breif exchange with Oak last night.  He said he was feeling lonely despite enjoying time with his friends.  I suggested that the upheaval of the past year (being overseas, his family problems, our break up) might have left him feeling a little disconnected.  He said that yes, spending time with two happily married couples who seemed to have it all probably was contributing to his sense of loneliness. And you know, I’m pretty sure it was a fairly off hand comment on his part but it hit me like a ton of bricks in the chest.  Oak back tracked and said it was no big thing, just an off night for him.  He admonished me to keep busy, keep distracted and promised that if I could get through this it would get better.  “This” I suppose means either move out and away from Hawthorn, or piecing it back together with Hawthorn and settling down.

The two giant, leafless trees outside my window are filled with hundreds of little birds fluttering between branches and telling each other about the snow.  Tiny winter birds of happiness. Today I will make them an omen to help me remember that spring is never that far away.

I think my weekend away with my mom and sister helped me feel less trapped and freaked out.  I spent a whole day with my mom who was really sympathetic about the PTSD (though she later chastized me for not talking about it sooner and I know talking about stuff is something I need to work on, more on that in a minute).  My mom was relatively unresponsive on the Hawthorn situation.  She was sympathetic but pretty much just said that I should try and work it out with him and if it becomes clear that it isn’t going to work out, then just find myself an apartment and move on.  She wasn’t callous about it or anything, just matter-of-fact. But all of it feels less dire after talking to her about it, so that good.

Then I spent an entire day with my little sister, Dahlia, who has her own heap of life drama, so I did my best to be understanding and helpful and not add to her burden.  She felt like my anxiety issues really explained a lot of my behavior in the past year.  She had no commentary on the Hawthorn situation, except to say that if seemed he was going to get my name tattooed on him I should break up with him because that’s just weird. Heh.  No risk of that happening.

Finally I spent some time with my oldest friend in the world, Rose, who suffers from agoraphobia and anxiety and had a really good long talk with her.  She made me feel less crazy and more supported.   She thinks that I should sever it with Hawthorn and beg Oak to take me back. With the caveat that I shouldn’t be making any decisions right now, at least until I start feeling like I’m on an even keel again.

I went to the doctor today and we agree the Klonopin is excellent and helping.  The Zoloft not so much.  Dr. was really unhappy with the side effects (dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, stomach upset) and that it seemed to be making me more jittery.  She didn’t think the side effects would go away if they hadn’t already and really didn’t want to increase my dose, so she switched me to Lexapro, which I’ll start today. She also got me into physical therapy for the tension and pain in my neck and shoulders and gave me muscle relaxants.

The weather here at home is bleak and wintery.  I know some folks love snow but it feels desolate and oppressive to me.  I am, I think, maintaining a fairly positive outlook, given everything, but I’d just assume see that sun while I’m trying to get better.

Friday is my therapy appointment and I’m very much looking forward to it.  I know I have trouble asking for help and I certainly need to get over that.  But I also just have problems talking sometimes.  Like it really is easier for me to write it all out than to say it out loud.  I find often there are things I want to say but the words sort of stick inside me, like there’s some unidentifiable thing forcing me to keep to myself.  Also I really value personal privacy.  I’m unlikely to share a lot of myself with anyone, even a lover or a boyfriend, but it’s never been to the extent where I felt like I couldn’t even if I wanted too.  So I am really going to try and work on being more open (in therapy, not just wishing I would be, but like actively working on it). I want to dissolve whatever blockage is holding in my words and my feelings.

I did talk extensively with Rose about how I feel fine talking to Oak about things. And maybe it’s not just my comfort level of talking to him, but I actually feel like he’s listening when I talk, which is something I don’t experience with very many people. (This is what prompted Rose to suggest I should get back with Oak vs. Hawthorn, not some personal preference, just she thought I should be with someone I could really talk to.)

I’m not homesick like I thought I’d be.  I did have some very nice moments with my family and I’m hard to preserve those as memories I can reflect on on a rainy day.  Something I need to do more of.  I’m considering cataloging some of it here, but some of it feels too personal to even put on paper.  Not because I don’t want to share it, but because speaking it or writing it might somehow diminish the magic of it.

A good trip over all.  I feel more supported and less isolated, but perhaps no less confused than I was before.