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More like my dog

8 Jul

1:14 pm

During these dogs days of summer–I can’t believe we’re well into July; it’s been a steamy one here, too–I’ve been watching my dog a lot. And, man, I wish I could be more like my dog. She is fierce, endlessly patient with herself and her limitations; she is never mean, always loving, and keeps trying and trying, adjusting to every new normal as if it’s no big thang. If it’s sunny, she’s resting peacefully in her spot outside in front of the door; if it’s raining, she wants to be out there, too, getting wet and inhaling the breezes, more alive than ever as she stands guard against enemy dogs who might try to take advantage of the dark wet night’s cover. She never, ever complains; when she is unhappy or depressed about her condition, she gives a nod that she wants to be left alone, and then sleeps it off. Oh, boy, I wish I could be more like my best girl!

Me, on the other hand, I am not patient; I try to take my transitions in stride, but, usually, I let them get the better of me. This past week has been hard, with my hormones not quite right–major heat, constant heart palpitations, anger. The other night, my night heat got the better of me: after about 1.5 hours of sleep, I was jolted awake by some freaking intense heat, burning up head to toe. I turned the a/c down, cranked the fan up, and decreased the temperature setting on my chiliPAD (it’s been a lifesaver these past few years; Google it!). I rushed out to the kitchen, literally gave myself a bath at the kitchen sink, and overheard myself whisper-screaming, This is a living hell; this is truly a living hell. (One more week, then an off-week, and then I start the estrogen patch–we’ll see if it helps.)

My dog just rolls with it at night, which is her worst time, too (panting like crazy, hurting from the day). When I get up at night, she just looks at me like, what? I pet her, smell her ears and feel her fur, and it all just makes me feel better. She helps me get through the nights, which are “dark, and full of terrors”–she’s my best friend, mainly in that she knows more about my nights than anyone can or would want to know. And, still, she loves me!

I am trying to just embrace the days and live free. I’m still off Facebook–and it feels great. I got off in April, didn’t go back on until June, and then went on two more times last night and this morning…which was an excellent reminder that I’m so much better off without it, at least right now in my life. I can’t speak to Twitter or the ‘gram or any other social sties, as I have never been a big user of these platforms.

I do miss certain things about Facebook–I miss my “on this day” feed, which is kind of like a journal that reminds me of the cool things I’ve done on this day in years past; I miss my groups; and I miss certain people, mainly those people with whom I don’t have typical friendships (like, folks I met while volunteering abroad, locals who live in those communities). Most of the other posts fill me with a sense of, this virtual reality is not only not real, but it is designed to keep people stuck in it, wasting time, wasting their actual, in-real-life energy! Increasingly, I see it as a tool to remind me of MY life, but not as a way to actually interact with others. Only took me a decade to figure this out!

I had a job interview yesterday, and I think it went well. The huge plus of job searching as a remote employee looking for remote work is that…everyone is now open to it, if not at least initially. I have been working remote for a long time, years and years; every time I interview for a job, though, it feels like a piece that requires explanation and justification. Not now! And that’s a wonderful relief–it’ll allow everyone to finally focus on the job, not the logistics or politics, you know? We’ll see; it’s one of those jobs that will require a long interview process (at least two more people and then a panel video interview with, I’m guessing, three to six more people), but, it will be worth it if I do land the gig!

It’s a beautiful day here, so I am trying to embrace the wonder; the past few days, I was just angry all day (thanks, hormones), and I took it with me–on my walk, around my boo, maybe even toward my best girl. Today, I’m just trying to be more like my dog: patient, taking it as it comes, and accepting all of things, good, bad, and in between.

Helping or enabling

1 Jul

11:22 am

I used to think that I knew the difference between helping a person and enabling them–until I was no longer on the receiving end. As someone who drank alcoholically for years, I never had to wonder if I was helping someone or enabling that person. It was their problem, and they had to figure out how to help me without enabling my ill behavior.

These days, I am the one having to decide between helping and enabling during every phone call I make to both parents. I can say, almost without doubt, that both my parents, by choice, are living with untreated mental health disorders that negatively affect their family members.

It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

And there is not a damn thing I can do about it.

What is this called? Transgenerational something–issues, addiction, trauma? I can clearly see my own workaholism in my dad’s behavior; I can clearly see my neurotic thinking and tendency to catastrophize in my mom’s behavior. Yet, both my parents either don’t see it in themselves or choose to not see it. I chose to see it, and I chose to try to fix it, within myself. It’s a work in progress, but I decided that I could no longer live in denial–that was eight years ago.

Let me give a few “for instances”: I recently found out that my dad and his second wife are divorcing; she served him papers, and he seems to be in this state of “I don’t know why on Earth she would want to divorce me” haze that is just, well, utter bullshit. He knows; the problem is, on our calls, he denies knowing and spins a tale of what he believes has happened (versus the reality, which I know, because my step-mom and brother have seen or heard different versions from him, and they’ve told me about those). The question is, do I listen and not say anything, or do I confront him on his denial? I have tried a version of the latter, but he is deep in his denial so it doesn’t work. Yet, allowing him to go on without being questioned just reinforces this behavior–enabling him to keep it up without facing any kind of consequences.

The last time I talked to my mom, she was complaining about her health issues, about she was feeling overwhelmed and alone. I feel bad for her, but, after decades of telling her what she knows she should do, she’s chosen to not expand her social circle to include even one friend! She chooses to obsess about her health issues instead of letting them go/be; I get that it’s hard, and she has a lot of problems. However, no matter how “bad” you’ve got it, at some point, you have to choose to stop the mental looping and try something else–maybe, meditation, or yoga, or staying on medications consistently, or believing that these medications will help (there is power in placebo; she knows this, as a former nurse). Now, I could tell her, again, that she should do this, that, and the other; she can say, yes, I know I should do that, and then, she can not do it–or, I can just listen and then hang up, not really telling her how I feel because it doesn’t seem to change her behavior, which is in essence, a form of enabling as well!

Why do I feel guilty–and somehow responsible–that my parents, both of them well into their 70s, are very seemingly stuck and unhappy? And, even more guilty that I have decided to give up on helping both of them, wishing their choices were different but not trying to engage anymore in a discussion about any of it? What if it does not end well for my dad, who is soon going to discover just how much of the physical, daily burden my step-mom carried? Should I feel like it was my fault, that I didn’t help him enough by literally screaming the truth, as I know it, into his ear? Same with my mom: should I just let her be, grasping but unwilling, or should I continue to force the issue of personal responsibility for one’s own happiness?

I have chosen, after all these years of getting sober–it was a lot of work to extricate myself from these learned behavioral patterns, some of which really affected me and “caused” my drinking problem–to just let it go. Let. It. Go. I can’t care that much about their problems; I can’t keep trying to “reason” with them when they don’t want to change, essentially.

Is this what it feels like to try to help an addict or alcoholic who is not ready to get sober yet? Maybe…

On dust clouds and mid-life

24 Jun

12:29 pm

So, we live in the vicinity of the Godzilla dust cloud from the Sahara, and um, it is making things almost hilariously apocalyptic. As if we didn’t have enough to deal with, considering the pandemic, the BLM protests/riots, and now, one of the worst dust seasons (it is a seasonal thing) in history! I tried jogging the other day and felt like I just had to stop after two miles, I was so…heavy all over. Yesterday, we went to the beach and I almost fell asleep in my chair; this dust makes me tired, which seems like a really strange reaction to me. Sure, I can feel it in my lungs, a tight burning when I breathe; in my eyes, which burn; it gives me a headache; but, falling-asleep-tired? Stranger things have happened, and at this point, I have become sort of used to taking things as they come, in stride, and moving along.

I thought about whether I wanted to write this post, about my mid-life transition, and I am posting a truncated version of what I wrote yesterday. Yes, I want to share, but eh, not in THAT much detail.

Suffice it to say, I was finally able to follow up with my gynecologist and get all that woman stuff taken care of, including blood work to test my hormone levels. As I suspected–things changed this year, and I sort of knew, somehow, in my body/mind that things had changed–I am now menopausal (versus perimenopausal). At the ripe old age of just-turned-46. Haha. It’s all good, and I knew it was coming early for me. Actually, I feel better than I have in almost two years. My night heat (I guess my version of hot flashes will have been this intense burning up at night along with dry chills) has improved and I don’t have insomnia nearly as often as I used to.

The past two or three months, as the night heat has gotten better, I’ve found myself letting go of caring about making it better or controlling it or just worrying about it. It sucks, but I have found ways to cope (cooling showers, deep breathing–yeah, that really does work). Maybe it’s partly a sense of relief and hope–this shit actually DOES get better. When you’re going through it, and can’t find a damn thing online that matches what you’re experiencing, there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.

In general, I feel like I care less about everything, am more willing to just let things go, to stop trying to control everything. Maybe it’s the series of events this year that has made me go, you know, you just cannot control everything/anything, and your reaction–and chain reaction to your reaction–is key to staying sane, at least for me (I don’t have clinical depression or anxiety, so I am not talking about people for whom it’s not as easy as “think positive”). I mean, maybe it’s what our move back to the island taught me recently–there is only so much you have control of here, and so much you can care about or try to change. Maybe it’s the changing nature of our friendships; when you “go home again,” they have changed, and you have to change your expectations (otherwise, you’re just going to be irritated all the time by expectations being not met!).

Mabye it’s the coronavirus, these protests, the fact that I was furloughed from my job. I don’t know, but I am holding on less and less to the idea that I have control or even should care–and that has done wonders for my mood! I am focusing more on the life in front of me, on the “now,” mostly because I don’t have a clear view of the past or the future anymore–I am forgetting/letting go of the past, and the future is way too uncertain to make any predictions.

On the “menopause” (in quotes, because there is no rule book) front, I think I’m relieved to have finally gotten some “answers” (my hormone tests came back showing much different readouts than last year). I am no longer in this limbo, in a way, searching for information, for some kind of absolute truth–it does not exist, and frankly, most of the information out there is conflicting. I chose a gynecologist who seems current in her knowledge and is very pro-treatment/hormone therapy. Others might choose to not take hormones. Both are OK.

The maddening search has ended, mainly because I am through the worst of it (I guess?) but also because I just gave up trying to find what I was looking for, which was my experience! I literally found zero information on my version of “hot flashes,” which are that I burn up at night, have dry chills, but as far as I know, have never had the kind of hot flash that you think of when you think of menopause (drenched in sweat, red, panicky) during the day; I have never had that kind of hot flash, actually…unless it was so slight that I didn’t distinguish it from just being hot.

Anyway, the point is that, it’s gotten better, and as it’s gotten better, I’ve started to care less and hold onto EVERYTHING less, to let things roll off me more–in all aspects of my life, it seems.

I went through a period of mourning, years ago, actually, for my fertility, for my youth; I came to the, gasp, “shocking” realization that I am going to age and die, like everyone else! (Actually, I am glad I had to confront this early on, and not wait until my 50s.) The thing that still makes me a bit sad is that I never shared this experience with anyone. For the most part, I kept it to myself. Sure, my boo knows every detail–thank Goddess, he is cool about it all and offered as much advice and support as he could. However, I’ve never told my mom (a different post, but she would just make it worse), rarely talked about it with close girlfriends, never revealed the emotional aspects to my gynecologist (she was too busy and not interested in that angle). No one seemed to care–moreso, I didn’t want to talk about it myself, actually. I just wanted it to pass so that I could move on with my life.

Yet, it was a HUGE part of the past few years and in some ways, all-consuming: What is happening to my body, why am I burning up every night, will I ever feel normal again?

I’m just glad I’m through it, knock wood. Glad my only symptoms are/were mild, relatively speaking. If there is more to come, I can keep on keepin’ on; no one is going to die, as a hilarious coworker of mine used to say in the face of the extreme–and ridiculous–concern over the building of the company’s website pages. Haha.

I have to say, being an active alcoholic for at least a decade has definitely made my tolerance for pain much higher than the average woman’s! I mean, pfft, a little burning up at night, chills, and waking up after four hours is NOTHING compared to being blackout drunk for 12 hours and then hungover for another 48 (and all the mental anguish, the suicidal thinking, that ensues). NOTHING can be worse than that except maybe paranoid delusions or drug-induced psychosis, in my opinion. So, another silver lining to having been a drunk!

On a different note: I am still off social media–since mid-April–and it feels great. It’s really working for me; literally, it’s doing wonders for my sense of calm, peace of mind, ability to focus on what I need to do, which is stay focused on a job search. And, as for our pup, she is still fighting; she doesn’t have much control anymore over her hind legs, but she is a fighter and has a strong will to live. She has always been a happy dog, a dog who loves life; so, when she lets me know that her pain (so to speak; I think she is more numb back there than in pain) is greater than her will to live, then we’ll think about next steps.

Happy week, all! Thanks for reading this post…

Eight years as Drunky Drunk Girl

15 Jun

11:33 am

I can’t believe it: yesterday was the anniversary of starting my blog, on June 14, 2012, EIGHT YEARS AGO!? It feels a lot longer than it sounds; like, eight years, sure, but eight years ago, I was a totally different person. Mostly for the better, a little bit for the worse.

Frankly, this blog has not only kept me sober, but it’s become a defining experience in my life; for that, I will be forever grateful.

Back then, I was lost and alone, drinking alcoholically, unsure of what I wanted or, even if I did know what it was (I did), too afraid to make the change to get it. One day, though, I DID make that change–I don’t know why the night of June 12, 2012, (and into the wee hours of June 13) was different from other drunken escapades or hangovers; as I wrote in my first post, and as you hear in the rooms, I had just had it. I was done. I was so tired of avoiding what I needed and not getting what I wanted; I was so exhausted of never being able to drink just one…and the ensuing drama that always came with this “failing.” I was tired of failing–others, sure, but mostly myself. I wanted to never black out again, to never say or do the horrendous things I said and did, ever, ever again. And, so it was born; I was re-born in a small studio apartment in the big city where I did my graduate degree and figured I’d live forever (but that I eventually left, after realizing that big city was part of my old drinking self).

I wrote my first blog post during a hellish, two-day hangover. I had no idea that starting my blog would not only allow me to get and stay sober, create an online sober community, and continue into long-term sobriety; but that I would still be blogging, eight years later!? I turned quite a few of my blog posts into story ideas, actually, for my day job (when I was a freelance science journalist). These days, I am not writing journalistic stories, but I still consider the years of 2013-2015 to be precious in terms of how “on fire” I was re: science journalism. Why did I stop? Well, it paid shit and I was burnt; yep, I have come to simply accept that after two years as a freelance journalist–and by then, close to a decade as a journalist–I was tired of it. And, I’m still kind of there; I mean, I think it would take a change in subject matter (back to something that truly intrigues me, like addiction, maybe other areas) to get me to want to interview, transcribe, write, and edit journalistic “stories” again. We’ll see–I mean, there is still a flicker, so that’s encouraging.

This blog–and my sobriety–have allowed, and continue to allow, SO many things. I have grown as a person, a human; I have grown up. I have come to appreciate and be grateful for every moment, everything that I have and that has come my way–mostly due to quitting drinking. I chose to move to an island, to get into freelance writing, to make it work here; I chose a man, a dog (well, dogs) to share my life with; I chose to live consciously and intentionally, regardless of how crazy or sad or neurotic it made/makes me feel sometimes to be sober, to feel alone in how aware I must be all the time. I am proud and grateful for this blog–and, I am indebted, really, to the community that has supported me and encouraged me, HERE, all these years (when others didn’t, when the in-real-life relationships faded away).

The only thing I regret, somehow, is remaining anonymous; however, I promise that one day (soon?), I will come out.

On the “for worse” side, um, I think I’ve just sort of settled into a not-pink-cloud reality; like, I got sober, it was thrilling, and then, all of the sudden, life got real again. And, maybe that coincided with me taking a corporate job and leaving journalism (I did it because I needed to start earning some real money, putting away some real savings). Anyway, I do feel a bit more jaded, or cynical, or maybe just in touch with the day-to-day rhythm of “real life”–it’s not pink clouds forever. On the other hand, that reality is not something I wish wasn’t so; it just is, so this has become an exercise in how to cultivate joy and excitement and “fire”…even when you’ve seemingly plateau’d in your sobriety.

Anyway, I recently learned that my furlough has been extended, likely forever. SO, I will be job searching (and soul searching) the next few days, likely offline.

Stay safe and well, y’all, and I hope everyone has a great start to a grateful week…

This is community, not social media

13 Jun

12:44 pm

Hey, all. SO, I have been offline for a few days–it was my birthday yesterday, and it was one of those semi-perfect days that just unfold because you don’t make a bunch of plans and/or don’t put that much pressure on having the “perfect” day. ANYWAY, I ended up going on Facebook for the first time in literally 60 days, and what did I find?

The short answer is, not much! I only got three birthday messages, which might be because at some point, I hid my birthday from my profile (I don’t remember doing that, but apparently I did). I would normally have been bummed about that, because half the fun of Facebook was counting how many happy birthdays or messages you got from your “friends” on your day. I wasn’t bummed, though; I was just sort of like, eh. Aside from that, I really did not miss anything–maybe one event that I would have liked to have gone to, and maybe one or two things that I would have seen if I had been going on regularly these past two months.

What I didn’t miss was the overwhelming amount of not only useless and irrelevant information, but the inability to normally interact with “people” on the platform (normally, as in, what humans have been used to doing and what we are wired to do, which is thoughtfully and intentionally engage in a a social exchange, not a lobbing of comment here, sentiment there).

What I got in return was this realization that I was taking Facebook WAY too seriously–seeing how I never posted regularly, I can’t really imagine (and don’t want to) what it’s like for people who post everything, all the time. For me, it doesn’t mean that much after having been off for 60 days; when I’m on the ‘book, though, it’s like, that, inside there, becomes my world, the platform takes root in me and just sort of owns my mind, forcing me to seek validation from it.

Anyway, last night, I almost immediately found myself scrolling mindlessly again, not really all that interested in the posts, feeling actually more disconnected from people. I liked finding things out, but I didn’t like it enough–or more than I like/love–how clear and calm and FREE I feel when I’m not participating on this platform. It really just reinforced my desire to keep actually living, with intent; reaching out in person; finding out the news from actual people, local news sources, second-hand from my circles of in-real-life friends who are spending hours a day scrolling, mindlessly. I mean, the point here is that, I was mindless in my scrolling, and it was like, I wasn’t even able to engage with my so-called friends (which is maybe the point of social media, is that, you get to do and say whatever you want, in a relative vacuum). It was an exercise in frustration and disappointment.

I do miss “On this day/Memories,” but I have my photos and journal to remind me of my past life/lives, right? I actually miss my groups, but I can always go on every few months to catch up on those. I did miss a few events–someone’s going-away party; a business down here closing–but, eh, in the grand scheme of things, it’s SO worth the sense of clarity in not knowing everything about people in exchange for missing a few parties or events.

I have started blogging more in the past two months, have reconnected with this community, and truly get something out of blogging and reading/commenting on others’ blogs. It is a real exchange, a true sense of community–nourishing and stimulating rather than draining and boring! I am glad to be blogging more as it’s given me a comparison as to how one can connect and build community virtually, in ways that can actually work (for me, anyway). Social media dos not work, and I believe that it’s partly due to the lack of true exchange, a lack of anything but short sound bites (from you) and insincere replies (from others), insincere because no one is all that invested in you, in-real-life, unless you are actually friends (at which point, ya don’t really use Facebook to sustain your friendship, you call and/or hang out!).

Anyhoo, I had a good birthday: we actually went to a restaurant, where the tables were six feet apart, parties were limited to six people, and the servers has to wear masks. I mean, I felt fine, not in any way scared or paranoid. We have only had about 75 positive test cases in our area, which could be because there just haven’t been that many people tested rather than we just didn’t have the community spread that other places had. I will say that my family (living in multiple different US states) are really, truly scared. And, I don’t envy the sense of fear and paranoia that’s sort of infected the mainland alongside the coronavirus. I cannot comment on if that fear has been stoked, but I can say that people here are, in general, used to natural disasters like hurricanes (and the ensuing make-the-best-of-the-chaos-and-keep-living mentality that comes with these events) and therefore, I think, more community-oriented (what’s mine is yours, and vice versa; there were no land-grabbing wars around toilet paper here when the shortage arrived). That being said, it’s just going to take a while for things to go back to normal, but, they will; they very much will, whether we are ready for it or not.

Happy Saturday, all–may it be peace-full…

Insomnia is a mental illness

8 Jun

11:40 am

And, actually, it IS! According to Medscape:

The DSM-5 defines insomnia as dissatisfaction with sleep quantity or quality, associated with one (or more) of the following symptoms: Difficulty initiating sleep. Difficulty maintaining sleep, characterized by frequent awakenings or problems returning to sleep after awakenings. Early-morning awakening with inability to return to sleep.

What I mean, however, is that insomnia causes mental illness (and that is part of its definition, too, in the DSM). For me, personally, that means anxiety, depression, and relatively speaking, “suicidal” thinking (i.e., what’s the point, everything sucks). I had one of my nights the night before last, and it took almost the entire day for me to rebound, to feel like myself again–to come out of the depths and to be able to think positively.

Honestly, it feels WAY too much like a night of blackout drinking and the next-day hangover from blackout drinking: you’re in and out of sleep, you’re having nightmares, you’re angry–oh, boy, does insomnia make me irrationally angry–and you’re delusional. It truly is horrifying, doubly so because it is like a replay of one of the MILLIONS of blackout-drunk/next-day hangovers I’ve had over the course of my drinking career (which gratefully ended when I started this blog eight years ago). It really does feel like I’m hungover the next day, too: intense anxiety, forcing myself to get out of bed, depression, this sense of darkness around my world and goals, the inability to think clearly, the list goes on and on.

Usually, I experience nights of insomnia caused by perimenopause–sometimes, I can’t fall asleep because I am burning up or otherwise wired wide awake; usually, I wake up after three or four hours sleep and can’t fall back to sleep. This time, however, it was because my stomach was cramping all night long (I have been toying with going on the keto diet; however, I am definitely crossing eggroll-in-a-bowl off my list of things that I can eat–LOL). I had some crazy nightmares, too: one was, the brother who wrote me off (after a bad blackout verbal assault!) was attacked by Trump supporters; the other was, our house, with floor-to ceiling windows looking out onto the ocean, was being flooded by HUGE waves that we could see come crashing down on our roof…and inside was a friend who ghosted me in 2017 (she just stopped emailing and texting, after 11 years of friendship, and I have never learned why). God, it was a dark night!

The next day, yesterday, I gave myself what turned out to be a gift: I went to our local Humane Society and spent the morning walking dogs! It felt really good to get out of my head, outside myself, and just help others, even if those others were fur-balls! Later in the evening, I went alone to our closest beach and took a sunset soak. It gave me the chance to remember how many times volunteering my time, helping others, actually saved me from myself. Getting outside myself has been what has saved me more than once from depression, anxiety, and everything that comes with too much self-focus.

It’s Monday, and while the protests are still going on and the COVID is still going on, I have to get on with my life. Which means, rebooting my (professional) writing portfolio and starting to send out ye olde resume. I don’t necessarily believe I won’t get my job back, but…it’s good to consider the possibility that I won’t.

I am eight weeks Facebook-free today, and I feel pretty much great about that. I do miss my actual friends’ posts, and I know that I am missing out on some events and “in the know” activities; however, for the most part, I believe I am not missing anything and I feel better about myself, calmer about the pace and progress of my days. I keep thinking of a few friends especially, wondering how they’re doing; otherwise, most people are simply not on my radar in that way (and, I would venture that most of anyone’s friends on Facebook are not really their friends, per se, people whose lives they’re actually interested in keeping up with). Anyway, I will keep going with it; I might not deactivate as I said I would, but I’ll probably stay off for a while longer, at least. The benefits are just too good!

Our dog is hanging in there; it was a bit sad to walk such fiesty pups at the Humane yesterday and come home to our “old” girl, barely able to hobble around for a few minutes outside. On the bright side, she IS still able to get herself up and down, and she IS still able to walk outside to pee–all good, right? I have come to accept her aging, the process of her aging, a wee bit more with every passing day. It’s part of life; I just wish it wasn’t part of HER life–haha.

Blessings, all, for a good week. Stay strong (or not); either way, you got this.

About expectations

4 Jun

8:05 pm

The other day at the beach, I was thinking about depression, and how (my) expectations always seem to have some play in it. I want to preface this by saying, I am only talking about myself, and I know there is a difference between clinical depression and feeling down or low. That being said, I think there is a significant connection between unmet expectations and depression.

Admittedly, I would say that I tend toward depression. WHICH IS WHY, I believe, I tend to two-dimensionalize people. I mean, if I don’t embrace their fullness, they won’t be able to touch me, to let me down, to disappoint me. However, being let down–having my expectations not met–is a construct of my mind: if I did not create these expectations, there would be no letting down. I think we all naturally tend to expect things, from people, sure, but from general situations as well (which boils down to people). It’s just, a lot of the time, these expectations only create problems, usually for us and usually around our reactive thoughts and feelings! It’s ironic that even though expectations totally involve other people, most of the time, these other people have nothing to do with it!

Yes, there is ruminative thinking, which I do and which does get me down; black-and-white, this-or-that, catastrophic thinking does get me down. However, over the course of getting sober and recognizing these thinking patterns, I’ve learned how to better manage these looping thoughts.

On the other hand, creating expectations in my mind–thoughts that have been collected and put into present and future scenarios that will affect me, is how I’ll describe them–these are more difficult to recognize and ultimately, let go. For instance, I get pissed because a friend doesn’t behave the way I would have behaved, or wanted her to behave. That does not mean, however, that she should have behaved the way I expected or wanted her to behave! I would say that my expectations contribute more to feeling frustrated and walled in (depressed?) than ruminative thinking. And, I am trying to work on getting rid of my expectations–and getting rid of this belief that somehow, my expectations are naturally good, or moral, or healthy!

Anyway, it’s been a long week, with all the protests, the COVID, the Man in Orange. It’s hard, but I just try to absorb as much as I can tolerate, and then, compartmentalize it and/or let it go. I have to remind myself, I can have good days while also fully recognizing that the shit is hitting the fan on both sides!

On a different note, I am getting more and more used to not working, and feeling less and less confident in my desire (and ability) to work! I mean, I know that taking a forced break can lead to lethargy, but these days…let’s just say, the job boards are not lighting up.

Stay on track, let it go, and remember to look up at the moon.

(btw, how awesome was the SpaceX launch? something to be truly proud of, in the midst of all this destruction)

Guilty or grateful–or both?

31 May

1:20 pm

I feel guilty today. I am only just watching the news on TV, only just reading about all the protests (in the US; I think everyone knows what’s going on, so I won’t get into explaining it here) on social media (Twitter). I am not there, and I feel guilty for not being engaged, for seemingly not caring. Even if I was there–I am not on the mainland–I am not sure I would be at a protest, and I feel guilty about that. I am even feeling a twinge of guilt about not being active on social media (I have been off Facebook for about 1.5 months and I haven’t been on Twitter, as a user, for like, a decade)–I got off for my mental health’s sake, and I don’t see it helping me to go back on right now.

(Actually, I went on Twitter yesterday and this morning, for the first time in years, after having realized that that’s where a lot of people are getting their news these days; and I have to say, it’s been really helpful to see all the user-generated video content of the protests. However, I don’t want to log into my account and start scrolling endlessly through a feed that is so tailored toward my specific, and illusory, reality.)

Anyway, I also feel this restless anxiety toward…I don’t know, the uncertainty of all this, how it’s going to end, how it’s going to affect the COVID situation (so much for the easy re-openings!). In my opinion, this will never be fixed unless we stop telling ourselves, collectively, that “it’s a few bad apples” and “99.9% of cops are good guys.” If that were the case, why the EFF is our entire country, across cities, coast to coast, totally enraged? Why are these so-called “good apples” teargassing everyone, from peaceful protestors to journalists (who are doing their jobs!?). It’s akin to the “hearts and prayers” crap that has been on repeat in this county for decades, which does nothing to fix the problem of gun violence in America.

Like most Americans, I see these “bad apple” incidents happening over and over and over again; I see these “good cops” suit up in their wartime garb, for situations that are NOT riot scenes; I watch them commit murder again and again and again, and they never get charged. I was wondering the other day, what kind of treatment would I have gotten when I was picked up, stumbling drunk and ridiculously belligerent (a few times, years ago), if I were a person of color? I definitely don’t think I would have sobered up in peace in the slammer as the “good apple” (sincerely, there must be some!) cop just turned his or her head to my angry insults.

I don’t know what this country should do, but it’s obvious that police culture and training needs to change. Accountability somehow needs to happen–for me that means, cop-killers should not get life in prison while killer-cops don’t even get arrested or charged. It’s not as simple as that, but that’s one thing it boils down to, for me anyway.

I feel grateful today, on the other hand. Grateful that I am here, safe, and that I don’t have anything huge to do today. I mean, I feel scattered, sort of angry, so, not sure what I’ll get done; but I am willing to pull it together, to stop the black-and-white thinking, to have a day. And, I have the time and space–and safety, and privilege–to do that.

Guilty, and grateful, that’s for sure. And, there is no way around feeling both, at the same time, today; so, all I can do is feel and move on with my day, feeling what I feel.

The deep end

28 May

1:03 pm

I don’t have much time today, so I’m going to dive right in (no pun intended!).

So, as everyone with depression, anxiety, and/or obsessive thought “disorders” knows–at least, intuitively if not consciously–our dark thoughts can intrude on us, control us, and pull us down. They float us toward the deep end, and if we are not careful, they pull us under to a dark, motionless place, a place that is hard to get out of, a place that controls us, a place that traps us. We feel trapped by–and within–our dark thoughts, which may be true (at least for the while that we’re under them, in the deep end).

I don’t know how to explain this any better than with the recent example of the dark place(s) that my picking up trash alone took me; or, talking to both my parents with (relatively) untreated mental health disorders (I have yet to blog about this, but will one day soon). Regarding the former, I just felt pissed off, but almost irrationally so. I mean, yes, there is trash on the side of the road and it sucks that people throw it down, but that does not mean that I necessarily need to get angry about it, think bad things about EVERYONE who lives here, believe that I am defeated and there is no reason to ever go outside again. I don’t need these thoughts, and I don’t need to allow myself to be trapped in this deep end. I can permit myself to let go of, or forget, these thoughts–they are not “real” in the sense that, they are not truth; they are not necessary to think, or to hold onto, in order to find truth in my daily life or to live truthfully.

Same goes for the thoughts I find myself having, uncontrollably, when I talk to either of my parents on the phone. I listen to them, I hear their thought patterns, and I wonder why they have constructed such dark–paranoid, angry, anxious–world views. I think to myself, what you believe, dear parents, how you live your lives, are these really your idea of truth? Yet, I struggle to justify their thoughts and behavior, to try and overlay them on what I would consider a more general construct of reality–most people are not obsessively thinking about doing ONE thing and not doing it for months, years, decades at a time (mom); most people are not setting up businesses on a whim, trying to borrow money against a negative bank balance (dad). I fail to see their realities fitting within the lines of this general construct (which, I admit, is simply based on interacting with many other, different people over the years).

In truth (I believe), I am trying to reason with what is unreasonable–and, that takes my mind to a dark place, a place where thoughts have no doors, no windows, no outlets.

This is a place, I have come to believe, where I do not need to be.

I used to think that I had to think all these thoughts; that these thoughts were supposed to hold court, keep me thinking them until I figured “it” out. I have come to realize that I am either creating an “it” that does not exist (everyone here is a litterbug) or trying to make common sense out of others’ affected or deluded thinking. I do not have to do either! Moreover, I shouldn’t! Not unless I myself can tolerate drowning in the deep end, coming up for air once in a while to glimpse my lighter reality (consciously constructed to be so, over the course of years of getting sober and practicing avoiding the behavioral pitfalls of my own obsessive and/or deluded thinking).

Maybe this post is just crazy-sounding, but honestly, I am beginning to think that all thought might just be a by-product of evolution gone wrong (haha).

I will, one day, write a post about my parents’ mental health; but, I have come to understand that I don’t really know shit (I do know that having a “normal” conversation with either of them is really hard; then again, what is “normal”?). Plus, I never want to talk about other people’s mental health without their express permission and input. Too often, people talk about these things as if they know; mental health “problems” are intricate expressions of the human experience, which comes in infinite forms. Who am I to judge, to talk about someone’s “reality”, especially considering my background and difficulty finding footing in a version of a livable reality of my own?

Anyway, it’s time to go out for a jog since the rain stopped. SO glad we got some rain here, it was getting pretty darn dry!

Our dog is hanging in there; she seems to have had a slight recovery. She can go on walks now, with the help of a sling for her hind end/legs–and most importantly, she WANTS to! I’ve been seeing the puppy in her come out once in a while, which is sweet; she tries to get up and drink water on her own more often than a few weeks ago; and, she regularly wants to go and lay in her spots outside (she loves being outside, always has). I dote on her a LOT, but, I figure, she needs it and um, I need it!

Facebook-free for six weeks and counting. Admittedly, I have kept messenger on my iPad (I do want to receive messages, if people choose to chat via that app versus phone text); and the other day (well, a few times), I clicked on a few Facebook stories and…got sucked in and got annoyed within a matter of a minute or less. SO, for me, it’s better to just stay off it; for reasons that are probably my issue, I just dislike the FOMO and I dislike the feelings that come from FOMO–I am off Facebook because MY mind and heart are much more at peace if I just don’t connect with my “friends” on that platform. I am still considering deactivating after two months, so we’ll see…

Another day picking up trash

26 May

7:47 pm

Another afternoon of picking up trash–I filled three more 13-gallon bags. UGH. I just do not get it; I mean, this place is kind of known for being “dirty,” but I had NO IDEA just how true that is until I spent time picking up trash!?

I was so angry after my 2.5 hours today, and I still am. Kind of feeling defeated. It makes me want to leave; to move. (Then, I think of the bush, the animals who live there, and my obligation is to them; they care for me, help me maintain my sanity; I really owe it to them.) It makes me NOT want to go to the beaches just because, ugh, who KNOWS what people have let leach into the water! I wonder, why is it OK for some people to “shit where they eat?” Why? How?

I have to let it go, but it is hard to do; every single person who drove by me today–save for two cars; one of them offered to take the two bags I had collected to the compactor for me–well, they just drove by. Just drive on by, maybe this plastic will decompose 6,000 years from now, I mumbled; I swore up at someone’s house; I glared at the dude on the side of the hill who always eats there and then, throws his trash down (I had JUST finished picking up after him–granted, I think he has some sort of mental illness). Not good, not good; not very gracious. Probably shouldn’t do this if I am not in a happier mood, right?

(I also walked down to a local beach, where we used to take our dogs, and saw a fresh pile of trash, right next to the water, from over the holiday weekend–SURE, people, it’s definitely OK to just leave your garbage on the beach after a day of partying; especially since people and dogs like to go to this beach because it is hidden and usually pretty clean!)

As cars sped past me, one after another, I was starting to feel like a character in a dystopian future, deserted, fending for myself after some sort of natural disaster that has ruined Earth, dust covering my face and mouth, collecting whatever odd bits of detritus there remains, maybe to eat, maybe to make things I need. Well, if I ever end up here after a nuclear fallout, I will definitely have a lot of garbage to sustain me for a while. Ugh!?

It’s just so…in opposition to the beauty of this place; then again, it has always been this way here–I think I’m just seeing it with open eyes, an open mind. I am seeing it for what it is, a beautiful dump that is abused and used by people who live here, people who visit, people. I don’t know why I feel so disgusted; I have been living here for five years and managed to walk on by the trash for all that time myself. Maybe it’s just gotten worse since we went away for those two years and came back? Maybe, actually.

Anyhoo, I am going to let it go and move on. I guess I’m glad that it still matters to me, that I still care; I could just be like, eh, whatever. That, along with the 12 bags of trash off the side of the road, is a definite positive outcome to all this! (hoping I don’t have nasty dreams of playing with trash tonight, though…)

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