Tag Archives: overthinking

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)

Exercise is my medicine

19 May

4:41 pm

Or, maybe I should say, putting my body into motion, out of doors!  (of course, I am talking about outdoors in a warm climate; yeah, I used to suit up and go jogging in the snow…in my early 20s, when I was too broke to afford a gym/didn’t know any better–haha)

Long story short, I have been thinking about thinking lately–well, a lot; obsessed with it, actually.  Is it called, metacognition?  I think that might be an actual area of study, and I am FAR from being in a place of that much understanding when it comes to what I think and why I hold onto my thoughts.  I have been tempted for many, many months to stop writing altogether, including in my journal–I wonder, is focusing on bringing the chatter, the negativity, the maybe-meaningless observations to life in the form of words and sentences only serving to perpetuate a state of stagnation, of wallowing, of confusion?

Most of my life, and especially as someone who likes to write (or, let’s face it, a writer; I can’t not write, and sometimes I think that is 100% compulsion, not desire); I have put value on both my thoughts and analyzing my thoughts–as if they were important, or held some key to the meaning of life, or at least the meaning of MY life.  After getting sober and writing about the process, which, admittedly involved a LOT of thinking and thoughts (haha); then moving into more longer-term sobriety, where the thinking and thoughts have become more like incessant chatter and less like answers to the problems of the universe–I don’t really know where thinking and thoughts fit into my overall picture of mental health anymore.

Anyway, today, I drafted a long post, discovered that much of it sounded, well, insane, and was like, GAH, I need to walk away from this.  I suited up in my running gear and went out into nature.  And I swear, all the chatter stopped.  And, it was glorious.  This is why I run, walk, or swim, or do yoga–always in constant motion, it seems.  It just soothes my mind; quiets it.  I mean, as I was gliding along, I just looked around at the trees, the hillside with different patterns of shadows and sunlight coating the asphalt, the multicolored homes of different angles, shapes, and sizes–I looked around and asked myself, so, are you thinking anything when you look around at nature, when you feel the sun on your shoulders?  Yes, but no.  I am thinking, but it’s more of a one-tone feeling of peace, of rightness, or nothing-good-or-bad-it-just-is.  I don’t judge the world around me, and most importantly, it doesn’t judge me (or, I don’t believe it does).  It is not thinking toward me, and I am not thinking toward it.  I just feel this uplifted feeling, and it is simply positive.  Not necessary to think anything; just necessary to be, which is easy out there, in the natural world.

There is something about being around other people that is incessant chatter-provoking.  I would say, being in the natural world, generally, is thought-provoking (the good kind of thinking; the big thoughts that help you solve a problem or see something more clearly).

I just love exercise; I always feel better, less thought-full, literally.  And, rejuvenated, especially if I’ve exercised outdoors.  I guess I can say that exercise is my medicine; my anti-chatter “pill.”  And, these days, I am beginning to wonder if MOST, if not all, of my thinking is chatter…  Which begs the question, what does a writer write about if most of what she thinks she considers useless chatter?

On the dog front, our girl is plugging away, better than she was a few weeks ago when her left hind leg gave out.  It seems to have gotten less lame–she can walk on it now, but not that far.  Good news is, she can go on walks, usually only one per day, if that.  Bad is that, even though her left hind seems better than non-functional, both her hind legs are very weak; I have to use the harness for most of the walk these days to help her stand, walk, and um, pee and poop (let’s face it, she poops sitting down almost all the time now).  Her mental faculties are there, and she is still fierce and funny; it’s just…I can’t forget that her time is short.

And, I am still off the ‘book (Facebook), five weeks as of yesterday.  While I don’t necessarily miss anyone’s updates, or the noise; I am starting to feel a bit…isolated, or out of it.  So…that’s that; I’ll probably go on soon, but it’s nice to be in my bubble a little bit longer to continue to collect myself (so that I can go back out there, into the external world, and give of myself while also stay centered and sane).

Quiet on the outside…

19 Jan

6:36 pm

…but raging on the inside!  Haha.  Not really.  Though, I thought this year was going to be it:  the year of easy days, no mood swings, no overthinking, no dreading my work or sweating the process of it all.  I can’t believe we’re 19 days into the new year!  I usually feel pretty good, and motivated; past few days, not so much.  Such is life.

Our dog is still going strong, though, her back legs and hind area are definitely weaker than they were a few months ago.  For now, she’s managing, maybe even thriving a bit more (we are tapering her off the high dose of gabapentin she was on, and I think it’s helping her to feel stronger and more alert, more like her old self).  She peed in her sleep last night, though, and that sucks; we’re used to her not being able to control where or when she poops (she just can’t move that well or that fast anymore), but not this.  We’ll see; I hope it was a one-time thing…

Past few days, I’ve been angry, and feeling sensory deprived.  I am pretty sure my anger is simply related to the progesterone supplement I take–I feel angry after I take it a few days in a row (and, well, um, the fact that I have this night heat, and I am in this state of flux/confusion/not knowing who I am or who I am going to be, and I just don’t appreciate it).  I think that is the number one reason why perimenopause is not talked about:  society won’t let women age, but also, for me, I don’t WANT to let people (even other women) know that I am aging, that I can’t take the heat (literally), that I am anything BUT who I used to be, which is young, sexual, productive, I guess.  I don’t want to let it stop me from being me, to change me that much.  And, the further along I go, the more I see just how little attention it gets (even my supposed menopause-specialty gynecologist was kind of like, gurl, it happens, as she ushered me out–two years later, and three meds later, I am still burning up every night).  I don’t know what I want or expect from others, but I do know that this night heat is no joke.

I have to admit, the burning-up-at-night thing is getting better.  And, I’m rarely brought to my knees anymore over it–haha.  I just accept, and exhale, and move on, shivering and feeling oh, so pained!  It’s getting better, though; I mean, it’s not as intense as it was two years ago, or a year ago, so that is something to be extremely grateful for.  It still lasts from 8 pm to 3 am, or longer–I burn all night, I don’t sweat, and it is not a “flash”–but it’s not that bad.  Maybe I’ve just gotten used to it; I have definitely learned to curtail my reaction to it, to embrace it as somehow normal–that goes a long way toward making it seem better.  It’s all relative, I guess.

Anyway, I could go on and on about that, but it really is just a passing phase.  I get the sense that my symptoms are WAY better than some women’s; then again, I don’t know if I had or have brain fog, or had or have abnormal mood swings–I lived through at least a decade of mind-bending wine hangovers, so, my “normal” was brain dead; my “normal” was like, psychotic-break-level mood swings.  When I stopped drinking, I was like, omg, maybe I’m not bipolar.  And, when I started taking the pill for my perimenopausal symptoms at the end of 2016, I was like, omg, maybe I didn’t have to suffer through 30 years of crazy PMS mood swings (I got my first period when I was 12; I never took the pill until I was 42).  How I feel now is always going to be 1000 times better than how I felt the past decade of alcoholic drinking!

Anyway, that’s that.  Anger from the meds or just general impatience (I am still working on that, believe it or not–haha).  I feel agitated toward my “calling,” which is writing.  I like having written, let’s put it that way!  The blank page does not bother me as much as it does others, and for me, editing small quantities of writing is not bad.  It’s planning, structuring, implementing long documents that gets horrendous–there are writers of books, I guess, and then there is everyone else. Writing is also extremely analytical, and, you’re doing it in a state of sensory deprivation most of the time (I love nature, the sights, sounds, smells of the world around me; writing is not that!).

And, so, it’s for these mundane reasons that I have been thinking of drinking:  I want to feel something; I am bored; my mind hunts for new terrain.  And, that’s when drinking-thinking comes in, to fill that desperate void:  Well, why are you doing this to yourself?  No one cares if you drink; everyone ELSE gets to have fun, to relax, to refresh their minds with wine (or drugs)!  But, for me, I know it would not be just one glass–still, after all these years, I know this–and, I think having a hangover and being unproductive the next day would just boggle my mind and make me feel worse than I can even imagine.

So, onward we go, plugging toward the goal, the light, the future perfect (that’s a tense!).  But, nothing is ever going to be perfect, or in place, or without struggle; so…finding the joy along the way, and the ability to let go of what does not serve you, which is anger and perfectionism and the desire or need to control the bad feelings; I guess that’s what the real lesson is, for me anyway, this year (this life).  I guess.

The power of expectations

29 Apr

12:02 am

I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations lately–who gets to have them, if anyone, and when they should be had, basically.  In fact, I expected this post to go smoothly–I mean, I wasn’t thinking it would go any other way–and after typing a few paragraphs, I hit the wrong key and deleted everything!  Haha.  So much for my expectations!

The other day, my mom told me all about her hashtag-fail of an evening at her brother’s (my uncle’s):  in my words, he and his partner got stupid drunk (this has been happening for as long as I can remember; they love to drink, but at this point, I wonder if they might consider themselves on the alcoholic spectrum?) and said mean things, and he ended up passing out before she went home.  She expected the night to go one way, and it didn’t; I talked to her today, and she also expected him to react differently to her reaching out to follow up on his short email of an apology, and he didn’t.

I do this all the time, putting expectations on people’s behavior toward me, and then when they don’t behave how I expect or want, I become upset and almost obsessive.  Why didn’t they do this (what I thought they should have done)?  Why didn’t they say this (what I thought they should have said)?

I had a roommate about 10 years ago (man, time flies!)–in all honesty, I feel like I lost her when I decided to get sober; or, at the very least, we both had a hand in our growing apart–who was studying to be a clinical psychologist, and she was the first person to ask me why I was putting expectations on people’s behavior.  It was the first time I wondered, in fact, why I expected people to do and say things that seemed “right” to me, but that really had no basis in any universal truth or code of conduct or morality.  It was the first time I looked back at my own role in bad relationships; it helped me to start to let go of a LOT of stuff that I was holding way too close to my heart.  It helped me to stop taking everything so personally–a trait I am pretty sure I learned from my mom.

It’s really hard to not have expectations, I have to say.  I have high expectations for every weekend, but I usually don’t get as much done as I want, and I feel let down.  I had expectations of my new job (as my boo pointed out to me the other day) that I wasn’t really aware I had:  I thought my new job, because it was in the “nonprofit” realm, would be less “corporate,” but I’ve discovered over the past five months on said job that this simply is not true (and, in fact, it’s more “corporate” than any other job in the professional world I’ve held!).  I don’t know–plug in any task, chore, event, situation, and I have some level of expectation around it.

It’s also hard to determine what, actually, are expectations, and what are hopes and dreams and goals.  I don’t want to have no expectations of let’s say, my relationship or job and then not know what I’m striving to gain, or hold.  My question to self has always been, should I expect anything, and is having NO expectations a form of cynicism?  It’s almost impossible to not expect things:  when I inhale, I expect to breathe, right?  When I walk into a church or synagogue, I expect to feel and be safe (ugh).  When I interact with coworkers, I expect to be treated fairly and with an appropriate amount of professionalism…and now I’m getting into the territory of “personal ethics” versus “truth” or “morality,” and that’s where it starts to get blurry.  Not everyone has your code of personal and professional ethics!

It’s nebulous, and it’s challenging–my ideas and moods and perceptions change on a daily basis, as I hope (expect?) other people’s do, too.  How much should and how much can I expect?  Or, what expectations protect me from being cheated, or hurt, and what expectations, if not met, should force me to change something in my life in order to honor myself, others, my goals, or my worldview and set of personal ethics?

Hmm…

“Deep” thoughts for a Sunday night.

It’s a work in progress, figuring all this out; but I will say, not drinking and being hungover makes it a lot easier to see it all clearer–and, to stop introducing unnecessary complications into my relationships to people, places, and things.

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