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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.

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Blerg.  Dreaming you’re pregnant is dreaming about change, right? (I’m too lazy to actually look it up.)  Last night I dreamt I was with Hawthorn and I was sick and getting sicker.  I finally told him and he took me to the hospital.  When I got in with the doctor and looked down, my hand was incredibly swollen and misshapen.  She gave me some pills and told me it would fix and it wouldn’t harm the baby.  I stood up and I was six months pregnant.  The doctor sent me off with a nurse to make sure everything was fine with that.  Then I had two of the cutest little babies ever.  They had huge eyes and were very flirty and charming and kept laughing and pulling on my ears while I was trying to nurse them.  I was really sad that I had to give them up for adoption, but there was no other way to deal with it, because I was already pregnant again.  Then I was in Chicago with an old friend and Hawthorn.  We ran into a bunch of people that She and I knew from the west coast who were now in a famous band.  For some reason Hawthorn left  and my friend and I decided to go see the show but the jerky lead singer was trying to make us pay for the tickets which were really expensive.  So we went somewhere else instead but they wouldn’t serve us drinks because I was 6 mos. pregnant. Then we found this 4 year old black kid dressed in gang colors and made some epic trek to return him to a neighborhood we really shouldn’t have been in, all the while discussing the merits of long term jail sentences for weight loss, exercise and quiet space to recover from our lives, vs. actually continuing to live our lives the way they currently are/were.

I woke up really missing my friend and feeling incredibly bloated (as I’d been huge in both dream pregnancies).  I’m not sure I want to even take a stab at interpreting this.  Some of it seems really obvious but much of the dream was dark and creepy in the details and I actually don’t want to think about it too much.

I’ve been thinking a lot about therapy earlier this week. I really do think I am much better.  I was trying to express to my therapist that I’m managing to seal up my pain and move past my anxiety to function well enough, but that I really felt I needed to continue therapy because surely sealing it up was only temporary measure and that in a few months or years or whatever I’d be in the breakdown place again and that’s intolerable.  However I just don’t have the emotional resources yet to be able to deal with directly confronting and trying to pull out what ever the blackness inside me is.  Perhaps once I am settled in the new place, and have a place to safely be.  I’m not sure how clearly I expressed this and it’s been tugging at me.  Because I really do think I need to be in therapy, but I’m definitely having trouble digging down to the rough parts.  And I think it will be hard to push myself to that point.  I’ve been really seriously thinking about my past Buddhist practice and how I can return to that in a less intellectual and more emotional way.  Thinking about mindful living and letting go.  I think that focus of my energy on that will go a long way to keeping the anxiety at bay.  But somehow it seems at odds with digging in pulling out what ever is rooted in my chest that periodically grows and makes me so miserable.  Indeed the entire thing, my entire future life is about balance.  I’ve been meditating on balance and finding in aspects of my life (work vs. personal, planning the future vs. living in the moment, &c.) but I think I need to put a lot more thought toward finding the balance in making myself seem safe and secure and relaxed and working at extinguishing the root cause(s) of what undermines that sense of stability for me periodically.

Also, I think it wasn’t until I started talking about it in therapy that I realized just how traumatized I still am by last year’s flood.  I watched this trailer for a film someone made about it and ended up in tears.  I wonder how many people there are in this city who feel a devastated about the whole thing as I do, who didn’t lose homes or have major property damage and thus think that their post flood trauma isn’t as real or as valid.  I think we all really suffered mentally, even without losing a home it was weeks of living on what the edge of war or apocalypse must feel like: will we still have water, what happens if all the utilities fail, if the infrastructure is gone, how will we manage?  Plus, I can’t be the only one who had a back to back series of other dramas, emotional and physical, happen rapidly after the flood.  Even now as we move toward tornado season, I find I have a smattering of fear about the weather, wondering if those rains will come back.  It seems impossible the encroaching spring could feel so threatening.

Sleep is still uneven.  I think the 5-HTP is helping although I find I’ve been waking up a little before my alarm and feeling restless and not quite awake but unable to go back to sleep.

I had a rough day.  It’s hard to even say why.  I went to therapy just feeling exhausted, worn down emotionally and pretty much unable to deal.  I spent most of the time talking about things I am worried about, but are mostly a deflection from my own problems.  Then we talked about faith and that was good.  Mostly I left with her telling me basically to live int  he moment a little more, and, you know, stop and smell the flowers.  Notice the color purple.  I actually left therapy feeling really uplifted.  I don’t know that we did any “work” on my actual problems, but I left with a sense that I had some tools and some goals of who I want to be.

Of course it was snowing when I left.  I’m so over this miserable winter.  I drove in the snow to the paint store where they were really nice and really helpful to me.  I got a great discount on the paint for my apartment (the painter had a contractor’s account there and my neighborhood is kind of like a small town in the way that people will take your word for it on stuff like “he said it’s okay to use his account”).  Then I dragged Violet out to help me make one small choice about wall color.  We were going to go out after but we both kind of lamed out, which was fine as I think we both really had other things we wanted to be doing.  I came home and put the last coat of primer on the sewing table and the first coat on the side table.  I am seriously obsessed with refinishing all my furniture to exactly the way I want it.  I guess maybe it’s because it’s something I can exert my will over, some small amount of control and I know it’s going to toward making a home for myself that feels like it’s really filled with MY things.

Hawthorn invited me to see my favorite hockey team play our team here in town.  I declined on the basis that the timing is bad based on my moving schedule and that this game is essentially an anniversary of our first date (same teams playing) and that it didn’t feel appropriate to go relive our first date the day before I’m moving out of our house.  He replied, “I understand.  I am sorry for having upset you on so many levels, but I know it is best in the long run; I will talk about this (us) at whatever level you want to, if you want to, but I don’t really know what to say about it unless prompted…”  I spent some time thinking about that this evening while I painted and I think I really do need to talk to him about all of this.  Just not yet.  After I’ve moved and settled and we can literally do it on my turf.  He’s right, it surely all is for the best in the long run.  Just I need to get over my sense of being abandoned, of being rejected, past how raw the hurt is.  Until then I’m gonna go along with our somewhat superficial companionability and focus on my furniture and my moving plans and wait for the right time.  There’s been enough bad timing in this whole thing already.

Right now I will breathe, and be thankful for the world.  I will think about mindfulness and I will be glad to be alive.  Even when it sucks.  I will go to sleep thinking about handsome princes, fictional and real.  I will dream about butterflies and fairies.

Ugh, I went looking for this picture to post (the Japanese Garden in Seattle, taken Sept. 2009) and what I stumbled into was a folder full of pictures of Oak and I together.  I am still determined to dream about butterflies and fairies, even after that surprisingly jarring experience.

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.

I have cramps so bad that I feel like I might die.  My period was 12 days late and it feels like 12 extra periods worth of cramps.  The lady at Target cheerfully told me to have a nice day.  I just looked at her balefully as I walked out clutching 3 boxes of tampons, a box of pads and bottle of ibuprofen. Gah.

So I signed a lease yesterday on my own small apartment.  Now I can redirect all the energy devoted to being anxious, depressed or otherwise upset toward freaking out over getting packed and getting moved.  To my own space, which I am very excited about.

Therapy yesterday started with cheerful glee over getting the apartment (I found out about ten minutes before therapy) and then we talked a lot about Hawthorn.  I mentioned a few days ago that I have gotten over any guilt I might have and am pleased that he seems to be owning the consequences of his actions.  He has been very supportive of my move and of finding this apartment even though it’s detrimental to his financial situation.  I was really prepared to stay in our house through April if that’s what it took to find a good place, but now, having found a place, I think I will heal much faster from this situation than I otherwise would.

Calantha came over for a celebratory glass of wine last night and a catch up evening of girl talk.  She said I seemed really balanced and reasonable about the whole Hawthorn situation.  And I guess I am.  Don’t mistake me, I am still mad as hell that it came to this point.  I am hurt and while I am functional there is certainly a lingering sense of rejection, of being abandoned, of even being discarded.  I think once I’m settled in my own space and don’t have to be confronted daily with his (very much) unintentional slights, then I can start to work on my other stuff and maybe even eventually repair my friendship with Hawthorn.

After I felt resolved with the Hawthorn situation in relation to therapy we talked for a while about what I want out of therapy and I totally broke down over my utter inability to ask for help when I need it most.  I guess next week we are going to delve deep into recreating the feeling black hideous dread that consumes me when I find myself in that situation. Sounds fun.  No really, I can’t wait at all.  But I need to get past the things that are blocking me from talking openly, from asking for help, from feeling comfortable in situations I should be fine in, so this is good.  This good. This is good.  Therapy is good.

Overall though, I do feel mucho better-o, despite cramps of doom.  No more SSRIs.  I feel more upbeat and like myself over all.  I’m trying to keep it slow and in relaxation/recovery mode as much as I can still.  I’m waiting a few days for the SSRIs to clear my system and then I’m switching to an herbal anti-stress remedy (no, not pot) and St. John’s Wort to help keep my mood stabilized over the next couple months.  I’m curious about how this will feel and work, but I am definitely feeling good about the prospects for it.  Panic attacks have certainly lessened, although aren’t gone and there is this weird looming sense of anxiety just out of sight when I turn my head.  But I feel like I’m a good way toward shaking off the black depression parts, and the bloody nightmare stories in my head.  I don’t know that necessarily feel more stable, but I feel more capable and the possibility of feeling normal does appear to be just over that hill, if still out of sight.

I am in a snit of self-righteous indignation this morning.  Also I’m tired and my head hurts.  These things are related.

I worked a long, long day yesterday.  My day job was full insane troll logic and epic jackassery on the part of a client.  Still I went home, took a power nap, dressed up all pretty and went to my evening job, where I maintained a genuinely cheerful mood and felt somewhat energized and almost relaxed.  I got off my shift early enough to go home, read VC Andrews (what, oh you read crap sometimes too) and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Get to bed at a reasonable hour, be sleepy and and fall asleep without Klonopin or other sleep aids (I usually take Benadryl).  For the second night in a row.  This is exciting!  Good news!  Wheee!

And then one of my jackass friends texted me in the middle of the night to make some bullshit inappropriate comment about Hawthorn.  Not only was I woken up, but I was fucking livid, to angry to go back to sleep easily.  Now I’m running on less than six hours sleep and my good mood of last night has been killed by feeling like my safe zone for talking about things has been violated. (Also don’t tell me to turn off my phone when I sleep.  I use it for my alarm and I never trust that to work when it’s off, plus it’s my only communication and emergencies where I’m needed can happen.  And I really don’t think it’s too much to ask people to be civil and polite and not be loud in the middle of the night.  I should not have to turn off my phone because people have no self editing.)

This morning I sent an email to the offending friend telling them to please respect my schedule and not call of text me at unreasonable hours in relation to my schedule. And then I told them that this and previous comments about my relationship with Hawthorn, though surely well intended, had hurt my feelings and insulted me.  And that as far as I was concerned if we were going to maintain our friendship that the topic of my relationship with Hawthorn and it’s course and ending were 100% off the table conversationally until I said otherwise.  I expressed that my emotional resources were low and I’d appreciate boundaries I set being recognized.

Here’s how I feel about this right now:  Was my anger over the text out of order and utterly disproportionate? Yes, but presumably because it was the proverbial straw of people saying dumb things.  I feel fine about the email and really somewhat proud of myself for having set boundaries with this person.  A large part of my problem is that I often won’t speak up for fearing upsetting other people (this is mostly with my mother but bleeds into all my relationships–like I never told Oak how much I needed him and if I had things might have much different, but I didn’t want him to feel bad). I guarantee you the email I sent this person made them feel bad, despite the fact that I was polite and, I feel, overly generous and as kind as I could be about it.

As I mentioned before my emotional reserves are at 0% and though I could regret it later, I am not above burning bridges over this shit.  I understand that I’m in a messed up mental and emotional place and probably shouldn’t be making too many big decisions, but if folks can’t recognize how much I mean business when I say, “don’t cross this line” then I don’t need them.  Not negotiable. If looked at from a certain angle about 90% of my problems come from letting people cross lines with me that should have been drawn long before.  I meditated on it for a while this morning and I think therapy is supposed to make me happier.  Make me understand my motivations better.  I don’t think it’s supposed to make me an open book and a cuddly puppy if I am not that person.  So even if it’s only because I was pushed to the edge, I think drawing this line is a very good thing for me.  Though somehow ironic, since my other problems do involve needing to be more open.  Then again, it is about being more able to speak my mind and speak about what I need. Yes, all in all a good thing.

However, the entire incident has left feeling much more tense and physically locked up than I’ve felt in a week or two.  Which means I have been feeling better.  Too bad I needed that confirmed by feeling worse again.  I have exceptionally long workdays today and tomorrow too.  Where is my handsome houseboy to come rub my shoulders? I swear, missing things like this is the worst part of breaking up.  Who will rub my feet now!?!?

Quarter dose of Lexapro starts tonight (I know I said that yesterday, but I was wrong, I had one half left, so this time quarter for reals, yo).  Hopefully the upswing in how I’m feeling continues.

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.

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 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.

Today I called a therapist.  I researched the list my regular doctor gave me and wasn’t happy with any of them or they weren’t on my insurance plan.  I went through the list covered by my insurance and researched female therapists near my home or office.  I came up with a list of 4.  I prioritized them by which I liked best.  I called.  And left a voicemail.

So that was kind of anticlimactic. But I did it.  And I guess I’ll call again tomorrow, or hope for a call back or something.

Talking to people I know makes me very nervous.  Talking to people I do know about my problems, emotions, &c. also makes me nervous.  Perhaps talking to a stranger about this stuff will cause the two to cancel each other out?  I mean a therapist is supposed to help me talk, right?  Not just sit there and watch me nervously pick my cuticles and not talk?  Ugh.  Hopefully she’ll call me back and I won’t have to worry about this part of it for too long.

I think the Zoloft is making me feel way weirder and more disconnected than the Klonopin.  I’m not sure I can even describe it exactly, it’s like being, well, not high exactly, but it definitely is in my body as well as my mind.  I know it takes a little time and I’m going to push through it, but at the moment I definitely feel a little muddled and uncomfortable.  I wonder if the Klonopin will help?  Soon my body will be made of chemicals and my pee will flush out to the ocean and make the little fishes less anxious too.   Bleh.  I’m still not sure how I feel about this whole process.  Dear therapist lady, please call me back, the drugs alone are kind of freaking me out if I think about it too much.

HA!  She called while I was typing this.  I have an appointment in 11 days (it would be sooner, but I am going to be out of town on all of the earlier appointments she had open).