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In with a bang?

21 Feb

12:20 pm

Is that an expression? I think it’s actually, out with a bang, but considering how much of a whirlwind the first seven weeks of 2021 have been, I don’t think it really matters…

I’ll dive right in, how’s that? I have to say, while this year has had a lot of good stuff, which I’ll get to later, it’s been sort of a shit show on one end. I feel less in control of life than I have ever felt–mainly due to my dad having dementia, believing he is being “held hostage” by us, his three kids, in the skilled nursing facility (aka, nursing home) where he is at right now. I think I have a newfound understanding of anxiety! I mean, I have always reacted to certain things or thoughts with anxious behavior, but I have never felt what I guess some people describe as “anxiety,” which is, I wake up every morning with this feeling of uncertainty, like an elevator is dropping in my belly, like there is no solution to how to stop the rock that is going to be careening downhill at me that day.

I have missed writing, and I’m sorry that I have not this year; I just feel like all I’ve been doing, all year long so far, is triaging the dad situation on the weeknights and weekends with my brothers: getting him to a nursing home, getting him to stay there, getting him on much-overdue meds; delving into his crumbling life, which is, managing his assets to get him through his divorce in order to apply for Medicaid in order to find him a “home” for after he is (soon to be) discharged from the nursing home. (He’s there for hip rehab from a hip reconstruction surgery that he had to have because he drove at night without breaks, crashing his car into a tree and crushing his hip; he refused to stay at the first rehab back in September, and ultimately, he was in and out of ERs until early December–it was a mess!)

Um, I have felt mostly guilt and anxiety over this, but, past few weeks, as we talk more with him and the staff–well, I am starting to feel less guilty. It really is what it is, and there is nothing we can do to change or fix it for him. His short-term memory issue does not seem to be getting better, in that, he does not remember from one minute or block of time to the next; practically, that means he doesn’t remember the conversation that we had with him yesterday, let alone yelling at us for telling him that we are moving ahead with the divorce in spite of his objections. Where his mind is at is, I was served papers and OK, I am in agreement with getting divorced. In reality, our step-mom filed in May 2020; he was unable and/or unwilling, mentally, to respond by the deadline last July; so, we have managed the work of organizing his assets, hiring an attorney to represent “him,” negotiating the settlement proposal with all parties excluding him, and finally, beginning to list his assets for sale as part of the fulfillment of his end of the deal. It’s just one example of the loops we’ve found ourselves to be stuck in when trying to reason with him.

In fact, there is no “reasoning” with him anymore, even though he is quite lucid. Which means, when the time comes to “put him somewhere,” he is going to go kicking and screaming, literally. And, just getting to the point where we are all somehow OK with that–that’s caused and causing me anxiety. However, the facts don’t lie: he has dementia-thinking (which, goes FAR BEYOND memory loss and goes way back, before his accident). Like everything, it’s a process, and, well, many others have been down this road. This, too, shall pass.

Anyhoo… Other than that, life is pretty OK! Working a ton–my new job continues to kick my butt; but, at least I am down to only one gig–and spending a lot of time training our two new foster dogs. The second one, a girl, is a handful, but she is getting better and better at being someone’s dog. We had to sort of housetrain her when she got here; we’re working on getting her to not bark at our landlady; soon, I hope she can just chill inside, not in her crate, when I leave the house.

This weekend, I started on new glaucoma drops (yeah, man, wtf? I am 46 years old, and the doc said that I have mild in one eye, mild to moderate in the other!), and they suck. They give me anxiety! It is strange and I thought I was imagining it, but no, turns out, thanks to good old Google, that timolol is notorious for its systemic side effects. I am sensitive, sure, but these drops make me feel really out of sorts. We’ll see; I mean, there are other options, so, of course, I am gonna have to advocate for myself.

And, I have to say, the menopause stuff (yeah, man, am I just a fast ager? Haha) is finally seeming to iron itself out. My hormone therapy still does need some tweaking, but, after, um, almost a full year, at least I am beginning to see what might be ME and not a side effect (or vice versa); and, importantly, what works for ME and not what every article on the Internet says “should” be the right dose or effect! All this said, my night heat is much better (not gone, but better), my insomnia has much improved (knock wood!?), and the “other stuff” is super-slowly getting better. Thank GAWDess. The worst thing about this has been, ya don’t know what to expect so everything feels permanent and catastrophic. I would tell my early 40s self, and anyone out there who would listen, this is NOT true; it will change, and it will get better.

Whew.

In any case, I remain ever-grateful, still, for my sobriety, for the lessons learned. No matter how many ups and downs the days take me on, I still have that overwhelmingly sense of, I am one of the lucky ones, I got out. No matter how “bad” things seem, I am still sober–and that is everything good. That is literally everything. That is glitter and unicorns and an endless Mardi Gras parade.

And…2021? What?

2 Jan

11:59 am

I remember when it was Y2K! Haha. Remember that? Y2K. Remember when that was a thing–I mean, almost as “big” of a thing as Covid? Ahh, to think that we were worried about that, when THIS was what was in store for us, 21 years later.

Jesus, 21 years?

Um, 21 years is sounding like a LONG time to me, at this very moment. Of course, lately, since my dad has been having dementia-related memory problems–and as we (meaning, my brothers and myself) learn how to talk to him in a way that is helpful and constructive–it’s got me thinking a lot about time, aging, and the reliability and (d)evolution of our memories as we get older. Sometimes I wonder if I have some form of early-onset dementia–organizing and cataloguing my thoughts just makes me feel irritated, and I definitely have had moments lately where I’m like, wait, why don’t I remember every gory detail anymore of what happened when?

It’s been saddening, shocking, and angering–yup; this feels like grief, as in, all of the sudden, you’re angry at the thing before you melt into tears (on the inside)–to watch my dad’s mind stop working. And, as a life scientist, I do wonder what is happening up there, with all those neurons. His thought patterns remind me a lot of someone in a blackout; he does not remember minute to minute, sometimes second to second, yet, he is present, conversing, and remembering other things. I noticed that his sense of sequential time is all mixed up, too; sometimes, he’ll recycle the same words or conversations that we have had more than once, months ago, as if he is still there, in that moment. Maybe he is? The other night–he was tired, and I’ve read that people with dementia “sun down” and get looser and more confused at nighttime–he kept saying the same thing, in response to anything I asked him; and, it was totally unrelated to anything. He has been fixated on a couple of things–getting out, and getting to the cordless phone at the nursing station so that he can call strangers to get him out–since Thanksgiving, when he was in the first ER/hospital. He was uber-combative then. Now, he seems to just have accepted what is, or, he has more awareness and/memory around why he is inside to begin with (I guess?).

It’s all really, really hard to understand, what’s going on in his brain. We are doing our best, trying to get him from point a to b to c–some days, I feel really deflated, like someone stunned me (the same feeling I had after the hurricanes ripped through our area and tore many a house down). Some days, like tonight, I rally, do what I am supposed to, and stay on track (tonight, I had to start looking at community-based residential facilities, which is just SO, so sad; with my dad, it’s definitely going to be like putting a rare creature who is used to running on the African savannah into a cage in a zoo). Fortunately, I have my brothers to lean on…

Otherwise, yeah, 2021 feels…a bit quiet so far. It was a busy holiday season, actually, since we did almost everything we usually do as well as I had this whole Dad situation to think about. We had a nice dinner at a friend’s place, went sailing on a catamaran (well, the captain motored us around!), and managed to get to three beaches (it’s been like, hurricane-windy here for the past week, which does not make for great beach days). Many days last week, I vowed to give up writing; most nights, I remembered how grateful I am to have a (writing) job to go back to come Monday (my contract was extended). I watched a movie and started watching “Long Strange Trip”–I can’t believe how young Jerry Garcia was when he died!

I managed to patch up a rough spot with a friend of mine, love more on our neighbor dog–we have a special connection since she was my Best Girl’s “angel”–and just lounge around with our new pup on my lap (he is quite the needy boy!). I’ve been running, too, but the hills are not easy on the knees and uh, I have some residual joint pain from the estrogen patch (sure of this; I have no clue why estrogen replacement therapy would cause your body to react as if its joints were arthritic, and I have honestly stopped wondering–see, is this dementia? I am just too tired to care anymore; I am not dying, so all is well, right?).

We actually masked up and went out for sushi on New Year’s Eve; it was quiet around town, and we were home and in our jammies by 10:30. LOL. I really Could Not Even with this year’s New Year’s Eve; I mean, everything was messed up, tossed around, twisted into a new shape during 2020, so, “celebrating” NYE took on a different meaning for me this year, as in, who really cares? Haha.

I haven’t felt much like dwelling on the literal lately, as I said–and so, it’s been hard to come up with some sort of “yearly word.” At first, I was like, God, I’m too tired to care. However, the more I journaled today, the more I felt something brewing…

This year might just be about finally letting go of my expectations, my past projects and goals and dreams–and setting new ones that I want to do, that fit, that feel right. And, if they stop feeling right, move on. It’s like, I don’t have the energy to hang onto my old self and old dreams anymore, you know? Maybe because my heart feels crushed by watching my dad lose his mind?

One of my fondest memories of my dad keeps coming back to this (and, it makes me want to cry every night, because I look up at the sky every night): because he was a trained merchant marine (a sailor), he knew the night sky very well. He knew a lot of things very well, and he could entertain people endlessly with his facts and figures. Anyway, whenever we’d be outside on a summer night on the farm, looking up at the stars–so many, so bright–he’d point and say, Look, that’s Sirius. There, that’s Benetnash and Mizar; there’s Alioth, Megrez, Phad, Merak, Dubhe–all the stars in the Big Dipper. It was ridiculous because, well, most people never even heard of these stars let alone could point them out in the night sky.

Maybe that’s why I go out now, and look up; I want to remember him.

And, I want him to remember, too. I want him to look up, to see the night sky, to remember pointing up, There, that’s Benetnash and Mizar; there’s Alioth, Megrez, Phad

Happy holidaze

27 Dec

12:58 am

I do sort of feel like I’ve been in a daze this season, mainly because of everything that’s been going on. The other day, I posted something and then deleted it, worried that it was too revealing about my father. And, I’m glad I did; this isn’t a blog about him.

I haven’t felt much like blogging recently; not sure why, it just feels like overexposure. I’ve also been working a ton and going-going-going with my brothers, getting my dad situated in a nursing facility–simply put, we think he has dementia, and it is *probably* not going to get better. I mean, we can hope it’s related to a transient, post-operative effect (he recently had surgery; the reason he had surgery, though, was because of his “dementia” thinking, which I see so clearly now)–but, he’s been in decline for like, at least three years, it just wasn’t presenting itself as memory loss, per se. Anyway, it’s been draining; there is no rule book, which is bizarre since so many people go through this!

In light of everything that’s come to a head this year–started menopause, put my dog to sleep, watched my dad literally go from, ‘Oh, Dad’s just being Dad’ in August, to, ‘Holy shit, there is something really very wrong here’ in November–I do feel grateful. I mean, I’m still here, for one. I’m still sane, still working (uber-grateful for this), still breathing, still loving, still content with most everything that comes my way.

Everything that has happened this year that could have definitely been given a strictly negative spin has actually led to something better. I lost my job–but I needed to leave anyway, and ended up finding something better, for the most part. I had to put my dog down–but she needed to Rest, and we were just holding onto a creature who was in unbearable pain. I went into menopause–but I feel SO much better, overall, than I did in perimenopause, and, I’m no longer on the birth control pill, which, I would say is much worse than hormone therapy (today’s bioidentical versions). What else? Oh, so yeah, my dad sort of “went into” dementia–but, considering that these past three years have been a long, crazy lead-up to what we’ve all just realized is actually cognitive decline, at least my dad is safe now. Even Covid has had many silver linings–one could say that Covid allowed nature to come back, people to take stock and be more mindful, mRNA vaccines to have their day probably faster than they would have had.

Anyway, it’s been a long few months. I had a GREAT Christmas, though; yes, we got together, and no, I don’t feel guilty about it (though, there are some people in places where Covid is still raging who would blame me and my friends for spreading the virus)–we are not a hot spot, and the people I hang out with are like me in that, no one really socializes! I am not worried that anyone in the group last night had Covid or has been exposed recently; there were three younger people (someone’s kids in their 20s) who had flown in, but, only two were recent arrivals and everyone has to take a Covid test before being allowed to enter the airport.

Tomorrow, we’re going on a boat trip–a big, twin-hulled catamaran, which should be awesome! I have never stepped foot on a boat like that, so I am looking forward to the experience. Speaking of which, I’ve had some down time to actually remember and cherish some old trips and friends lately–to mind come volunteer trips to Haiti, to Ecuador; a self-styled yoga retreat to Nosara, Costa Rica; years ago, a solo trip to Turkey; years before that, one to Greece; a year abroad in Paris; many exploratory trips all over the mainland through recent years. Ahh, the memories; I am proud of the trips I’ve taken of late, and really, truly can’t wait to be able to travel again…

I hope my dad can entertain himself with his own memories; it’s painful, wondering what he is thinking about right now, you know? I know he has some great memories, so…that’s a small consolation.

Oh, and we got another doggay! He is the most ridiculous dog ever–his cuddle factor is so high, he’s almost TOO cuddly! I do miss my girl so very much–and our boy–but…life goes on. It’s nice to have a little buddy to care about, to walk, to have sleep all over you (we are not letting him on the bed; he will never, ever leave if we do…).

A painful truth vs a beautiful lie

21 Nov

9:23 pm

One day last week–sorry, it’s been SO LONG since I’ve posted a blog; I’ve been buried under work, the kind that makes me not want to read or write for “fun” after the day is over–I came across someone’s meme on Facebook that read: You hate me (haha; only on the ‘book can you feel assaulted and insulted after three words of a half-read meme) because you are a beautiful lie and I am a painful truth.

Ouch. And, huh.

Well, for one, I don’t hate this person (or anyone, for that matter!) and I really haven’t been thinking about it all that much–her life, I guess, and how it’s turned out these past oh, 30 years since she got pregnant at 16 and dropped out of high school (and went on to build a nice life and family, btw)–but, now that you mention it; yeah, it’s kind of true. Not the hating anyone part, but the difference between beautiful lies and painful truths *on social media*.

The sad (to me) reality is, we don’t ever tell or talk about our painful truths. I mean, not really. Not ever, really. And, I guess that’s the challenge of authentic living–how to talk about your painful truths without scaring people away. I am still figuring that one out, but, I will say, social media turns that battle even more uphill because of what it encourages, which are glossy, doctored misrepresentations of a life. It’s not real!

I think I might just need to take a break from Facebook again…

Speaking of real, things are still pretty real here. It’s been quite the trip these past four months/three effing years (haha), trying to “balance my hormones.” After years of dealing with the most disturbing symptoms of perimenopause (which, after going on some Facebook groups, mine have not been bad at all, compared to what some other women go through), nothing really scares me about it anymore. However, I have kind of resigned myself to the fact that, it’s just going to take trial and error, time, and hopefully, not becoming an exhausted lunatic before either *I* get my “hormones balanced” once and for all, or, they balance themselves out over time.

The insomnia comes hard the majority of nights, and I usually don’t get more than three hours in a row–it truly sucks, but there is beauty in those wee morning hours. I see new constellations now–a reminder that a whole season has passed since I was sitting on the floor next to my dying dog, trying to comfort her as she freaked out all night. I find solace in knowing that the light I see is ancient, some of it from sources that have long since burned out; that that light will be here LONG after I am gone. There is immense beauty in getting a momentary glimpse of what is really here, which is so much bigger than me, and my life, and my dog’s much shorter life. I don’t know.

On a different note, today marks ONE year since we flew back here–a place that we lived for many years, left for about two, and then came back to last year (we moved back into the same house, with our old furniture even!?). It’s been a strange year, actually, and not just because of the Covid. It’s been a year of, well, painful truths, honestly. Good truths, but still painful ones. I feel like the vast majority of people we called friends here have either moved on physically/literally or just aren’t really friends anymore. Maybe they weren’t to begin with? I feel like I have aged two decades in two years and am really done with passive aggressive behavior.

Good also came: I was forced out of a job by the Covid but ended up finding well, a better job. I am slowly but surely getting over putting our dog to rest (sweet girl!) and becoming ready to love a new furry best friend again. I would never in a lifetime have volunteered to make the turkey, but–this year, I feel safe enough in my own skin and um, cooking abilities, to have put that into motion! I am heading up the Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing-making! What? Yup! Add a key lime pie to the mix (I swapped desserts for drinking when I first got sober), and we’re going to be very good to go next week. (we are doing a small thing, just a few close friends who practice safe Covid’ing)

Yeah, so, that’s it, in a nutshell. I mean, lots more on the parents front–aging sucks; mental health disorders left untreated over the course of a lifetime suck even more!–but I will save that for another Saturday night. 🙂

Happy sober weekend, all!

Still here, plugging away

24 Oct

9:39 pm

I just wanted to jump on here and say, hi! I am still here, just plugging away at two jobs (when it rains, it pours; but, I’ll take the deluge after being unemployed for five months after I was furloughed from my job, thanks to Covid). Essentially, I have been working 12-hour days since the start of the month, which has left little time for anything else (especially fun stuff like my blog!).

In any case, I had been having this weird leg muscle and joint pain the last time I blogged, and I had gone to the doctor to seek some answers–and all the tests came back normal and/or negative.

As it turns out, I went off the generic and onto a (much more expensive) brand name estradiol patch and lo and behold, MOST of my leg *muscle* pain went away within a day, or days. I’ve been on it for a week now, and while my joints (hip/groin/lower back, ankles, feet, fingers) still (sort of) hurt, I swear, my legs started feeling better within a day of taking the new medication. Could it be? Well, yeah, it must be, right? I recently read a story about semi-shady pharma manufacturing plants in India and how, the FDA-sanctioned regulatory checks at drug-making plants there leave a lot to be desired in that they let shit slip through the cracks. I have had a similar experience with a generic birth control pill in that I had all the side effects, but the second I went back on my name brand drug, they went away.

Correlation does not equal causation, but, I am like, 99% sure that the DAY AFTER I changed patches, my leg muscles started to feel normal again. That continues to today, where I have gone for a couple jogs this week and have not felt debilitating pain for days after my workout, where I am able to just get up and go for walk and not feel like I ran a marathon. Fingers crossed, it keeps getting better. I will pay the price if it means that I don’t have crazy leg pain! (I will add, with every generic or brand name switch, it has felt like I’ve changed medications and am starting over, so, that kind of sucks)

Today, I got to go for a walk in the morning and a soak/swim in the afternoon–and, it felt like a long-lost luxury. Add to that coffee and the tropical natural world? Cloud freaking nine, people.

On that note, I have missed touching base with this community and my “old” DDG self (am I still her? is she still here?). I hope I find more time soon so that I’ll be able to just ponder and enjoy and be grateful because, well, I miss that and I need that.

Sunday afternoon ramblings

4 Oct

2:53 pm

As I wrote about recently, over the past few weeks (going on a month now, actually), I’ve had terrible leg pain. I thought I had some terrible disease (of course, I did), so I went to the doctor–a first in that, this doc took me seriously and ran every blood test possible for a complaint like, “my legs hurt”–and, well…nothing is wrong. No Covid, no infectious disease, no autoimmune disease, blood panel good, muscles fine. I also got a blood test done for both my estrogen and progesterone levels, and for where I am at in the process of both menopause and taking estradiol via the patch, those came back normal, too.

SO, I have to conclude that it’s something to do with the estradiol patch (which, btw, is only one method of transdermal application; there are also creams, gels, sprays, probably others). And, that kind of really sucks since, I don’t know if another via-the-skin application will work for me. I am going to keep riding it out and see what happens.

So, that’s one reason I’ve been quiet on my blog, I’m just trying to take care of myself–mentally, it’s really hard for me to accept pain and not being able to work out because of pain. I usually just push through pain, but my muscles seem to take days to recover from even the slightest workout, so I have been obeying my body’s commands. It’s not easy not knowing either; and, I’ll never know unless I take the time to go off everything, let my body readjust, and then, go back on things one at a time. The patch is working for my night heat and insomnia, though, which is glorious!? Still, if I can’t live WITH the medication, then…it’d have to be a dealbreaker.

I am well, and my doctors took me very seriously–so, a huge win. Plus, it appears that I never got Covid, which is a relief as well.

I’ve been working full-time and will start working a new remote contract gig this week, putting me at full-time-plus for the next few months, so…that’s been great! It’s a relief to have work, sure, but even more of a relief to not have to job and gig search for a while.

Another thing that’s been going on is that my dad has gotten himself into some physical trouble (think: crashing cars and breaking bones) due to well, untreated bipolar disorder (in my opinion). Long story short, he’s doing fine but he’s still up to his tricks, so to speak. Lesson learned on my part: he will never change until and unless he takes medication; he will never admit anything is wrong; and, importantly, there is nothing I can do for him. I have thought of telling him, I refuse to talk to you until you get meds, but, I don’t quite get how an “intervention” or “ultimatum” would truly work or be beneficial for a mental health disorder like his. He doesn’t believe–refuses to believe–that there is anything wrong. How can you force him to consider an ultimatum that doesn’t really mesh with his version of reality? I don’t know.

On that note, I am going to exhale–my mantra these days–and go for a walk. I can do that at least; it’s funny how much of an “athlete” I am: I have already acclimated to this new level of pain and have found ways around it. I will never stop working out! (maybe that’s what got me here to begin with? lol)

Thank you, one and all, for still being part of my life. This blog-o-sphere is truly one of my favorite places to be on a Sunday afternoon…

Exhale, and believe

7 Sep

3:01 pm

That’s my mantra these days. Exhale, and believe.

Exhale, sure. Calm down. But, believe? In what? Well, that things will change. That, um, I will change. That I will have the courage to just let things be if they’re not working for me anymore. That I will have the courage to just let my thoughts go if they’re causing me more harm than good.

This past week turned out better that I imagined it would, considering that I landed two contract jobs, which means I’ll have at least part-time work through the end of the year. (My “dream job” got back to me, too, requesting an interview, but…I am not sure what’s going to transpire with that, so, I’m just waiting and seeing.) All the work I am doing now came from networking with my existing contacts, not cold calls, as it were. So, that’s a big lesson right there, which is, eff Indeed! (haha)

I am slowly getting over putting our sweet girl down coming up on a month this Wednesday. We’ve thought about fostering a dog (or two) since we’ve now got the time *and* have to be in the same place (now that I am working again, I need to be settled; plus, the only place we would want to travel would be the West, in an RV, and um, it’s kind of literally Hell there right now). It’d be a shame, in my opinion, to not give love when you are able to give love; there are plenty of dogs in need at the local shelter–just like our girl and our boy needed our love, those many years ago. We’ll see…

I’ve sort of been on autopilot the past few weeks, sometimes wanting to give up this blog, sometimes wanting to write more on it; just plugging, getting back into work mode (man, my brain is slow after five months on furlough–haha). It’s been great, though, to redirect my attention to something else, anything else, but trying to work on my book (hashtag fail) and staring at my belly button.

I don’t know if my new hormone therapy is working or not, really; there aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to “what is supposed to happen in menopause” and I am not sure if I can expect 100% “back to normal.” However, I know what I want, and I don’t feel what I want yet. Unfortunately, even though I’ve been going through this crap for three years, I probably won’t see the light at the end of the very hot tunnel until the end of this year, considering how long you have to take your regimen to see if it’s working (three months) before you can request a change or upgrade (if that’s even possible, I don’t know). The wait is not as much of a problem as the fact that this has been going on for three years, and it has been really trying, and I just want to feel like myself again. The uncertainty factor has been the most irritating part of this process–you just don’t know how you’re going to feel or when it’s going to feel better.

Today marks three years plus one day that Hurricane Irma hit. Our lives were forever changed. A part of me really misses that time; amidst the chaos there was excitement, and promise–of something new. We lived that “new” and are now back to where we started. Except, there’s a pandemic now and no one can do anything–which, actually, kind of sucks more than the aftermath of a hurricane, mostly because, the aftermath and rebuilding had/has a finite end! Anyway, I wonder, what’s next? What’s going to be new? I am so jones’ing for something new again, aren’t you?

So, I come back to my mantra: exhale–what will be, will be; let the planning go for now–and believe–things will change, they will not be this way forever. Exhale, and believe.

Staring into the distance

30 Aug

6:06 pm

I’ve been staring into the distance lately, unsure of what will make me feel better. My “grief”–in quotes because, I guess I never really fully understood that grief can entail a bunch of different feelings, not just sadness or an ache for what once was–seems to come and go; today, it really came, and I was kind of surprised by how it’s tired me out. Hence, just staring into the distance. (A really pretty distance, too, with the “witching hour” sunset colors covering the sky in pastels.)

I took a long walk today, and well, honestly, I reached a point along the way when my slight crying turned to weeping. It was a much-needed processing of my feelings for my sweet, precious friend (our dog) having passed almost three weeks ago this coming Wednesday. It did not help–or, did it?–that I walked where I used to take the dogs, when we both were younger. I’ve finally accepted that my brand of grieving entails anger and a feeling of “what’s the point” before it dissolves into sadness. And, I understand now that in losing someone–including a pet, since they are someone to me–the sadness and nostalgia that comes along with the loss is as much about you getting older and confronting your mortality as it is about that person or pet having gotten older and died.

(Speaking of grief, there is a lot of loss going around these days, and uncertainty; that doesn’t help either, for sure.)

I feel undeniably older these days, and even before our dog died, I couldn’t help but fixate on how I used to be, how we used to be, what we used to do, what we used to like to do. Of course, this has been made worse by the fact that we literally moved home again when we come back last November. I mean, we live in the same house as we did eight years ago, and we walk the same roads, so to speak, but we are definitely different. And that is jarring. I’m grateful that we’ve come a long way, and generally, I like how we’ve evolved! Yet, it all feels gone, sometimes.

I feel mentally strong enough to handle it, though. And, by that, I mean, let the episodes of grief and feeling brain-dead simply wash over me and then…NOT drink and actually move on from the pain. I don’t dwell, like I used to; I don’t drink, like I used to–both of which just reinforced the other, and allowed me to stay stuck in the moment. It has taken over eight years to get to this point, though; and, it’s been a daily struggle to become able to bounce back more easily from bouts of grief, nostalgia, and other emotional pain.

Deep thoughts on the road today, is all. Hopefully, I’ll be able to sleep this off and wake up, reset, tomorrow morning. It’s a new week–all will be well, I have to remind myself. All will be well…

(and, because my coping mechanisms aren’t that awesome, I spent most of last night making a homemade white cake AND homemade ice cream custard; I mean, if one takes five egg whites and the other needs four yolks…what are ya supposed to do?)

Quiet during lockdown

24 Aug

11:59 am

We’ve had a serious increase in COVID cases in the past month-ish, so we’ve been put back into lockdown mode–all nonessential businesses closed, beaches closed early on the weekends (we have the weekdays, though, for which I am grateful), social distancing and face masks required, of course. And, it feels kind of lame; like, we’re just getting our first wave, and it’s mainly due to increased travel (locals leaving and coming home), tourism (we re-opened to tourists in June and they seem to think that they’re on vacation from COVID, too), and people just getting “COVID fatigue.” I mean, I am fine with it since the lockdown thing looks very much like my life before the pandemic, but…yeah, even introverts need to know that there ARE things to do and places to go, even IF we refuse to do those things and go to those places!

In any case, I don’t really feel like I have much to say these days, which is why I’ve been quiet. I feel depressed, I guess. I only have a few hours a day in me, to focus and “work,” and after that, I just want to zone out. The thing is, there’s not much going on externally except, we’re getting over the loss of our dog (we had to put her to sleep about two weeks ago already), we’re going to the beach (floating in the water seems to calm me down and bring me a visceral sense of peace), and I’ve been waiting on a job that might come through (I wish it was for something new and different, but right now, the pandemic has sort of thrown our “new and different” small business and career ideas out the window).

I’ve been thinking, too, about the nature of depression. Lately, I don’t have a lot of oomph, or mental energy to take in and parse that much information. One of the reasons I took a long break from Facebook was that, all that information was just too much to handle. When I talk to my mom on the phone, her incessant analyzing of every last detail doesn’t irritate me as much as overwhelm me; I just have to zone out, I can’t take it all in. It takes me forever to read even 20 pages in a book (which, actually, is a bit scary–what’s wrong with me? Early-onset dementia from all the drinking I did in my 30s, or, burnout?). I don’t really feel excited about much; I mean, I am the queen of “cultivating joy,” especially in these times of menopause, but it just makes me wonder, is it that I’ve been here/done this and just need something new, or is it this COVID crap getting to me like it is everyone else?

On a positive note, I saw the constellation Orion rising along the northern horizon at about 3 am last night (before I went to bed). Wow–it’s the first time I’ve seen Orion since, well, whenever it goes away (it is a winter constellation, in my mind). It was cool. I woke up at 4:45 (of course, I did), and got to glimpse the uber-bright Venus halfway to the sky’s dome–Jesus, it is bright. For some reason, staring at the stars in the middle of the night calms me down, just like floating in the sea. These past few months, I’d be out in the living room with our dog almost all night long–she was too distressed to sleep, and I wasn’t sleeping, so we got to just stare at each other and the stars. I hope she’s up there, shining down on me. The night is, indeed, “dark and full of terrors,” but…not for her anymore, and frankly, MUCH less so for me now that I’m (sort of?) on the other side of perimenopause.

Anyway, just some Monday morning thoughts. Take it easy, everyone. You don’t have to do anything or be anyone. It is OK to rest, to be quiet; to stop thinking, stop doing, stop working, stop wondering. It is OK to just be right now (even if your mind keeps telling you that it’s not).

Our girl is gone…

14 Aug

6:21 pm

…and, it feels like the end of an era. It kind of is, the end of an era. She was with us for almost a decade (8.5 years from the time I met her until the day she died, which was on Wednesday)–during that time, she lived her entire life…and we, too, lived a decade of our own lifetime. I think that’s what’s most jarring right now, is that we aged a decade, too; we saw a decade of our life disappear, too. A lifetime, in an instant–that’s how all those years of fun, growth, and love seem to me. Lifetimes are instants; the mind cannot comprehend, truly, the passage of time.

What did it all mean, I can’t help but wonder? Sure, she was my higher power; she was literally my entire (albeit small, I see that now) world, after I moved here and got sober, but before I got the courage to re-enter the “real” world (of work and friends and all that comes with stepping out). She, along with our other dog and my boo and my neighborhood–they were my world, for years; and there was nothing more I wanted, truly.

I feel a bit guilty that I “outgrew” only needing this dog, this world! As she aged, started to hurt, became more subdued in her older years, um, so did I! I mean, I grew up, so to speak, alongside her. When I looked through pictures of myself from back in her younger day, I, too, looked so much younger then, it seems: brighter, happier, more smiling. I was beaming, probably out of love for her, my new life, my newfound sobriety, maybe just the giddy youth that you don’t realize you still very much have in your 30s. My 40s have forced me to grow up and stop shitting (as many) unicorns, as it were; I still loved her with all my heart up until her very last day. I know she knows that, and I know it was her time, yet, I still feel a tad guilty.

But I also feel relieved. Her final night was really hard, and I woke up convinced that neither she nor I ever wanted to see her in so much pain ever again. So, we called the vet out to the house, and, surrounded by our loving arms, looking out at the water in her favorite spot (dating back almost a decade)–our girl passed, very peacefully.

It’s been quiet around here, that’s for sure. I am relieved that after about 1.5 years of tending to her needs 24/7, I don’t have to worry about what she’s doing and if she needs me. The final few weeks were really painful to watch, wondering with every passing second if she was in pain, if she was now deaf, if she was overmedicated or experiencing some kind of dementia or just in distress. Now that I have all my time and energy back, it’s like, what do I do with myself?

I was thinking that, it’d be a shame to not get another dog. You hear people who have gone through this say, Oh, I can’t do that again. Same thing with humans who lose a spouse–there will be no one who can replace him/her. Yet…we are made to love. And, to spend the rest of your life not doing what you were meant to do–I can’t see it.

I mean, what do we have to show for our lifetime together? It’s like, we’re back in the same house, the same place, and I feel like nothing happened; yet, it all did, right here. It all went down here, years and years of love. Is that all there is, really, is the love, the act of loving–and there is nothing tangible (unless you have babies or create art) to show for that, and there shouldn’t be. That’s the nature of love; that’s the nature of life. We come, we love, we go.

So, why do anything then? Are all our pursuits outside of loving each other and our animals simply neuroses, compulsions that propel us to work, strive, achieve, accomplish? Who knows?

Anyway, I’m glad she’s no longer struggling, and, I’m joyful, truly, that she got to live out her fierce, fun-loving life until the very end.

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