Presence

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A post on MFP:

I honestly don’t know how I found myself back here tonight.  I think it has to do with the power of Sundays over me to try and reset, improve, recalibrate and start anew.

I have been away for at least three months, probably, away mentally for five or six.

This has been, I believe, the hardest year of my life thus far.  My last post here on MFP referenced my grandfather’s passing which still leaves a wake of pain and this was directly followed with the loss of a family pet, very recently the loss of another, and my mother’s cancer diagnosis after 21 years of being in remission.  This has been on top of a strangling and depressing job and financial situation which has ended up with me taking on a second job, working six days a week, and having my anxiety flare up just as I had begun to get an arm around it.  I’ve had somebody fly into my life, a hummingbird in terms of weight and speed, only to fly right out of it doubly fast.  Most recently, I’ve been grinding my teeth to the point of severe pain.

I’ve been lonely, distracted, angry, put-upon and for the most part floating about five feet above my body.

I think, actually, I ought to have gained a hundred pounds.  I ought to be unable to sit in this chair.  I ought to have tumbled headlong into food and at the very least, I can say that I haven’t broken new records in terms of catastrophic consumption.  Perhaps this can only be attributed to the fact that I’ve been too broke to assuage my problems with all the french fries that the local fast food establishments can find deep fat to fry.

This is not to say that I haven’t gained weight, that I haven’t been mindless and destructive in my eating habits, that I haven’t scared myself with my outright refusals to take care of myself in a way that counts…in a way that is more important than buying a girly lotion or making sure I put a little rum in my Diet Coke to settle me down.

But I have thought about how good a walk might feel (once I got past the sense that I might have some sort of panic attack), I have thought about how good a plate of green apples and cold water and something nutrient rich and steadying like spinach and hardboiled eggs might be.  I have thought from time to time about if I could have some energy again, I might find myself in a different position.

I don’t want to say that tomorrow I will track anything because I don’t know what I’m having for breakfast.  Starbucks is the first thought I’m having and I don’t want to say what isn’t the right answer, but I honestly don’t know the way from here to the shining city of not needing food for emotional succor.

What I know is that getting there…getting anywhere…it will be a fight.  I have a lot of briars to machete, a lot of walls where the mortar has set brick upon brick between me and the simple idea of giving a damn again.

But my mom is doing okay – great, at least in terms of what is visible and knowable to us here on the outside.  Even going back to work tomorrow for a few hours.  I have a whole two day streak of not drinking soda.  I have people in my corner.  I have all these ideas about maybe, and if we, and shall we, and oh, lets that are piquing my interest.

I just thought…I could do something for this body that scares me so much.  I could do something more than nothing.

 

Put Words To It

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I dreamed last night I lived in Detroit and I dreamed last night, in the same dream, but separately that I escaped from a frightening Arby’s into a haunted house ride.

De-troit.  Dee-troit.  De-nver.

Did we want dessert?  At this dark, shadowy, film noir fast food restaurant, I wanted dessert, but it was so sweet…just frosted everything, like Cinnabon times a thousand and there was thunder and lightning clashing and crashing overhead so I gave up on that thought and found myself in this sort of open-concept haunted house ride.

It had various physical obstacles (ala Nickelodeon’s GUTS when I was a kid).  One of which was some sort of tunnel covered in snow.   This was entirely indoors as the lights flashed on and off in a way that mimicked the earlier lightning.

After crawling through the fake snow with fake, but still functional bits of broken barbed wire in it – caltrops, I guess, I arrived at a floating bar on the wall.  It was hidden, except to me, behind a painting.

Somehow I rode this elevator bar up as though I were Mario and realized, with real dream astonishment, that there was a hidden room upstairs.  I half-registered that this was where they must keep the props and half-believed it was exactly as it seemed, a haunted library. Immediately, I thought I needed to take something with me, that something here was mine.  There was a thin book, with gold-gilded pages, some of which seemed missing.  It had a long title and a latch like a diary.  I had to hide the book in my shirt.

I woke up when I took the floating elevator back down stairs and all of the lights were on, they said it was two years later and I was confused, but knew I still had to hide the book.  It was about 12:30 in the afternoon.  I…don’t know anything more except I needed that time.  That stillness, that struggle within relaxation.

I did get up, and we got over to my parents where…the stillness, oddly enough, somehow continued.   My mother had made BBQ ribs.  I ate myself full and then we worked on another puzzle, which seems to be a major form of comfort to all of us.  For that flowing in and out, to work on the project together.  It makes her happy and I sat there with an ice cream cone thinking to myself, but mostly not thinking because reality is the whole of the world on my shoulders.

Then, my father appeared with a check for $500.00.  I told him I didn’t want it.   Even after all of the Amanda Palmer and taking the doughnuts and accepting help when someone is able and wants to help you, oh, that felt like we were all agreeing that things have gone wrong somewhere somehow.  And I was just hoping to keep on pretending otherwise, in perpetuity.   He gave it to my sister to make me take it – it’s for both of us in that it will let me get things paid so I don’t have to lean on her.  But, wow.   The emotion that I feel attached to that.  I don’t want to be in this position.  I don’t want to be vulnerable like this.

But I am also…grateful.  Grateful that marching towards the abyss means having to pass through so many barriers and so many people reaching out their arms to me.  I mean, there are those in this world that don’t have the resources I have.

Trying to show that gratefulness by taking care of some stuff, getting myself more square, being active in the ways that I can that will improve the situation.  If only allowing me to be more creative and less bogged down with stress in my physical surroundings.

I have an idea for a post now, but it’s late so.  Yeah.

After all of this, I put on Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans.  Nobody seemed to find it as exquisite as I did, but my mother did watch along, riffing, laughing.  I didn’t mind because she was amused in one way or another.  They all said “Oh, it’s just one of her movies.”  In a gentle poke sort of way that, at one time, would have depressed me.  “She just walks to the beat of her own drum.”

I think, in some ways, that’s true.  A silent movie.

I wanted to touch the hard places, to get in there and understand why things are the way they are with me.  Things like the driving and doctor anxiety, the things I’m so unwilling to talk about like sex and love and romance and intimacy but that are so constantly on my mind, body image and weight and perfectionism and what it will take to be in a place where I can just write, be it for a living or for myself, and not get hung up on these other issues and stop in my tracks.

This is a piece.  I want to turn away.  I want to ignore it.  It’s been so many years of ignoring it.  I have to forge forward.  I have to go to the gangrene and the rot and pull things up.  Go down to the foundations and build it anew.

It is okay to have this money.  It’s not okay to pretend that things are going to improve via magical thinking or that I’m satisfied with where things are.  I’m not.  Not yet.  It’s in writing.  I need to know.

Even in the face of my sincere gratitude, I am willing to face this superego and say that I want more.

Unleash the Hounds!

I am, right now, in the space for the thoughts to get out.  The fan is blowing cool air, I am full of dinner and dessert.  I have muted the advertisements on Spotify.

I did my best today to not block love.  It gave me a headache and backfired a bit, but I kept at it.  As the song goes, I radiated love like Three Mile Island.  They told me I looked ill and pained and should go home.  But I kept at it just enough to refuse to let myself blow up over aforementioned person getting a label stuck in the postage machine that required a single touch to resolve and should not remotely be …enough.

I accept them for who they are and eventually, it will not be my problem anymore.

Ca suffit.

The program asks me to write in my journal a list of those I resent.

Probably most everyone I interact with on a regular basis to some degree.  Some of whom might read this.  Not in a big, seething ball of resentment sort of way, just, a casual, Well, aren’t you just King/Queen Shit today?

If I resent my parents, it would only be because they have expectations for me that they don’t have for themselves and they never modeled for me.  But, it’s not like that matters anymore to me.   I value my shyness and introversion, but I don’t have this expectation that I can go through life like that and be happy 100% of the time.  I’ve had to go through a gauntlet and I’m still not brave and I still feel socially anxious and shitty most of the time…but they aren’t responsible for that.  I choose.

If I resent my sister, it’s only because we’re so similar and yet so different.  We want things for one another, imagine that, that we are unwilling to give ourselves or demand from ourselves.  We haven’t really been in tandem for a long time and part of what therapy is about – for me – is releasing that expectation that we need to be in lockstep for me to feel safe.  Like status quo is the best to hope for without knocking the apple cart over.   I had a lot of really ingrown and shitty beliefs that are just based in the seemingly accurate idea that I can’t get outside love so the love and support of my family has to suffice.  And it’s permanent and risk-free, so it’s so easy to abuse.   And I think I resent that I keep waiting for her to make leaps so that I can follow behind, having the way double checked, and for that way to be the way I’ve already decided I want to go. I guess I resent the feeling of having to own my own future – not having a trailblazer giving me emotional hand-me-downs.  But part of therapy is that as much getting through the fear and being a trailblazer in my own life, for my own self, is important to me.  So that resentment – at whatever level it remains active at this moment –  is actually a good thing because it’s putting me into gear for me.

And I’ve spent decades being resentful and envious and jealous and cruel and more to my younger sister, but time has helped that.  And my own need for her to meet my expectations and to maintain this 5-person family unit and for life to feel like the storybooks my life has never matched up with.  She’s softened, by taking her life her way, and I think I’ve pulled away enough to get some perspective that I didn’t have when all the drama went down.  She was always able to have things I didn’t want but didn’t want to be inaccessible and they were.  Boys flocked to her, she didn’t have – in my mind – any struggles with her weight.  Fear was completely out of her dictionary.   I was resentful that we took all of that as natural.  She was the flirt, and I…inert.

I was really resentful that nobody ever interjected themselves into the situation and redefined the roles and said I could be the flirt.

But…I…was there.  I had choices.  And I feel bad that I chose, more often than not to make her feel bad about herself when I felt so helpless about how bad I felt about myself.  Again, the sense of unity, of nobody running off to not need this mechanism of care I felt I was a cog within.  I wasn’t a cog.  I was a girl, burying her head in the sand and the clouds and anything to escape the dissonance of my body and mind and the outside world.

And I did fight back, in my way, becoming a fabulous and intriguing person with a rich inner life.   And a genius sense of humor drenched in a custardy sarcasm. Hah.  I did develop empathies and strengths that benefit me to this day.

I was resentful of boys who wanted me to be their word girl.  Who wanted me to be their Cyrano de Bergerac.  Who seemed kind to me and befriended me and then over and over again wanted me to use my gifts to help them seduce other girls, sometimes my friends.  When they couldn’t think of the words, they came to me, and I, shamefully, awkwardly, helped them. I think nothing in my life ever wounded me like this did because in language I feel at home, I feel free, a bird gliding on the currents.  It is where I think if I have any beauty, that beauty emerges.

And they saw the words, not me.  Like a shadow. I was never more than “a good writer” to anyone, and the powerful sway of my inner worlds drug me under, so that I wouldn’t be taken advantage of.  I felt so unseen, so ungrounded, so shelved.

But I was there.  I never raised an eyebrow or moved a hemline or said let me interject myself into this scenario and change the roles you think we have to play.  I chose the result because I was petrified of what would happen if I let the boy choose.   I gave up on people who might have just been good friends because I was focused on them falling in love with me (without having to engage with them whatsoever) and I regret that.  A lot.  Especially in certain cases.  This is not Mr. Rochester’s story (and we’re not technically writing about him) but he told me to be bold and I see the benefits of that now.  I’ll need that.

Work.  If I harbor resentments now, right now, it’s not really about any of the above people, it’s here.  Here where I feel like they infantilize me, judge me, care zealously about me unless I have a different opinion and that happens more often than I acknowledge.   I feel like they are happy for me to be sitting there with rapt attention for the next twenty years, just service with a smile.  I feel their fear that I would pull the rug out from under them by leaving and it makes me feel trapped even if I don’t know where else I’d go.

And I think about how much emotional investment I have there.  How much work I’ve put in and respect I’ve garnered and how many tears and how much lost sleep.

And this is what needs to be released.  The anger which is going to end up screwing me in the end.  The resentment when I have shown them that this is the way I am to be treated.

I am on the right path.  I care about them as work colleagues and friends but, you know, I want room for more.  So some of the anguish, it has to evaporate and rain on someone else’s parade.  I want to fill that space with love.

Fwoooooooh.

Agarita

Tomorrow is Thursday.

I hope I have my gum in my pocket.  I could stand to eat some more, but I think I would just eat cheese or more non-vegetables and that I don’t need.  Gum, and a voyage into the bath with my book seems much more productive.

But never mind any of that minutiae.

I have something to report.

Today was the last day I could do it, so I threw back  a cup of coffee (the real stuff), stomped around and in my most overclocked possible mental state, got myself in a car and drove myself to the mall.

This is not a big deal to anyone but me.   Even as I type this I kind of feel like I made it up.  And the actual driving isn’t even that important, even if I got ever so minorly lost in the dark, but got myself turned back around quickly.  What is important about this is that I made myself do it.   After so many years and so much waiting for some outside force to make change in my life, I decided that I needed to give it a go.  I needed to stop waiting.  I needed to get in the car and even if I couldn’t actually get there, I needed to try.   Not only so I didn’t have to arrive at the therapist and say I just couldn’t do it for whatever reason – because despite my illogical fear, I do drive to work every day, I am capable of operating a motor vehicle and I do have time before and after work.  But because this was a clanging hammer swing against the metal framework of this pretty cage.

And I kept telling myself even as I felt panic threatening that I was just going to do it, so it didn’t matter if there were flashing lights and it didn’t matter if I made a wrong turn, I was going to have my car in the parking lot of that mall because that was my decision.

It felt oddly freeing, even if all the thoughts that fluttered in after it were things like “Well, just because you did it once, late at night, alone, doesn’t mean you can EVER do it again much less become a normal human being driver.”  Hah.  Well, we’ll see.  I did do it once and you can bet your sweet bippy, inner asshole, that I will do it again.

And that little act lead me to come home and get on the exercise bike for 15 minutes, take a bath, watch some Lizzie Bennet Diaries, buy some makeup and contemplate the fact that I do play some role in creating my own reality.   I may not be doing everything perfectly, but I’m not giving up.  I’m moving ahead and I’m not letting the weight of my failures keep me from trying.  That’s how I feel right now.  What I anguished and worried about came to nothing today, and I take that time back for thinking silly, frippery thoughts about attractive men and crinolines.

 

 

 

 

Metal and Steel

I had a good night’s sleep.  I had a good day.    No boss, no coworker, so. Tomorrow, I have some more crushing impossible, time slipping bullshit situations that are inducing freak-outs that I am pushing away from for the very simple reason.

I did actually do another load of laundry and put it away.  I didn’t get myself overly het up about doing more since I know it’ll happen if I just keep doing one a day and building the habit.

I did actually only spend .95 cents today.  I used my gift card and got an eh sandwich and an eh gluten-free muffin I tossed most of and that was 10.95.  Kind of amazing when you think about it how much you spend willy-nilly when you’re not watching your money.  How excessive that is.  I, however, should have bought something else to drink, because we ended up not having any bottled water at work and I tried to drink out of the water fountain but it tasted nasty as fuck.  Whatever that is.  It just tastes like…no.  So I sipped my coffee and considered drinking some Diet Doctor Pepper and it was really only a matter of being thirsty that it even occurred to me as a possible choice.  I gave up soda over a year ago (soda pop? pop?) after what I felt then was going to be some impossible losing battle with the beast that is Diet Dr. Pepper.  I’d written solemn paeans about the overwhelming power that brown fluid holds.  I was pretty sure I was going to die surrounded by cans and bottles.   But all of a sudden, one day, I read some tweets by Alton Brown about how bad it was and it stopped being something I could justify in my head.  And now I’ve definitely cut down on my lemonade drinking which had become my alternative of choice just because I can’t take the sweetness.   So.  That’s good.

I did print out my materials and will be putting together my organizational notebook.  I’m not going to let it overwhelm me so it’s just a few things at a time.

Right now, I’m just doing my best to put away what I’m taking out and not leaving it set behind me.   I’m doing my best to sort of shift my desire for distraction into cleaning and organizing or writing and daydreaming and away from food and self-destructive activities.  Like…binge-ing on whole bags of caramel microwave popcorn because that activity sort of takes up your whole psyche.  I was over at my mom’s.  Everyone had gone to bed and it was so quiet that all my anxieties and fears and frustrations had space to surface and I had to stop them.  When she woke up the next day, she just seemed so sad I’d done that.  She just said, Oh…you really shouldn’t do that.   Cue a really unfortunate guilty feeling and a cycle continued.

So I’m trying to deal with it.   Will try and remember that for the therapist next week.

Bless you all for reading any of this.  I hope you understand it helps.

The Dream Keeps Dreaming Me

Oh! The glories of being an emotional, vital, living human being.  How easily we are crushed, how easily we are able to build ourselves back up.

I am trying to let myself be sad.  Sort of.  I need to step back a few paces and explain.  Last night was so lovely, falling asleep listening to the rain without any sort of music or technological device to keep my brain running until I don’t notice that sleep has overtaken me.  And I woke up early and puttered about, admiring the world, and trying to affirm my place in it, awkward gosling that I am.  Then, after a very good, mostly low-carb breakfast, we sort of wound up back at my parents’ house to await what we thought would be the soon arrival of my half-sister and niece and nephew.  This didn’t happen until much later, so I had a very good, mostly low-carb lunch and helped them move around some furniture on the new hardwood floor my father installed.  A few intermittent hailstorms barged in and flew out in fits of pique we’ll never be privy to.  Finally, I gathered up the odd dresses my aunt had given me and my sister’s kimono and old cassette tapes we have no cassette player for and scurried home, rather determined to get some things in order here with the few hours I have left in the day.

And mostly, I have been able to do more than I expected or as much as I’d hoped.  I’ve got a load of laundry in and my sheets are being washed.  My sister’s made me more tea and I’m drinking it and liking it.  It’s almost 8:00pm and I really have no interest in making dinner, even though It wouldn’t take much to put it together and I may still do it.   Still need to get the bed remade and the clothes put away.  Got to not start another load when I’m only half-committed to getting it to where it should properly go and not just in another mound next to the dirty pile it came from.  Maybe get on the exercise bike as well.  That would be a good plan.    So yes, as part of this energetic thrust, I started deleting old emails.  They say on Gmail that you never need to delete an email.  But frankly, having 5,000 unread emails feels a bit excessive.  So I’ve deleted junk all the way back to 2008 when I found some correspondence from a friend I stopped writing to after he sent me this amazing letter and cd and I realized in this letter, after confusing its contents entirely, that actually he told me he had fallen in love with someone else.   And I wish so terribly not to be his wife or have his children as this woman has done, but yet to still be his friend because he was so kind to me and saw me in the best light I wish to be seen and I feel so bad about how I end things with people.  But now, four years later, begging forgiveness seems more like manipulation.   My heart was broken then.  That’s why I stopped writing.  I couldn’t figure out a way to keep writing without acknowledging how keenly I had found myself caring and there was no reason to do that because it would have changed nothing.  Still, it’s a bit like Griffin and Sabine, only not so much at all.

So I read these letters and I feel a hard pull after all our conversations.  My little sister explaining that I’m not in a relationship because I don’t date and she feels this is because I have these high expectations for men because “of the tv shows I watch.”  Which is such a loaded statement that I do want to be an English major and unpack it and divorce it from this emotional bow that draws back when I think about it.

A.  She’s not wrong.  I do have these weird expectations, this faceless desire for a person to fill that they never will be able to meet in full.   And the expectations shift all the time.   I don’t have this strong sense of what another person can emotionally provide me with so all of it seems up for grabs.   I want laughter, I want appreciation for my writing, I want

The sense of what they may require of me is equally vague.  I go through phases, like most anyone does, of feeling like I could never handle someone’s constant hovering presence and like now, feeling absurdly invisible and available to just flood someone with adoration and attention.   I know that relationships are projects, they’re work.  But I know that I would want to learn about who this hypothetical person was for himself and not to try and match the characteristics of a vast legion of fictional men in my head that I’ve admired.  I know that I would be so fucking curious to know who the hell he was that I’d lose them.  Which possibly is part of the problem.  Sad as it is.  You can kind of trust the character of a character over a dude who turns up one day and says he wants to write you into his RPF.  His literotica.  There’s a lot more control there, but, that said, if there was someone who met the marks of single, friendly, male, interested in me as a human being…I know I’d throw myself into the deep end of the pool.  Couldn’t help but.

B.  I don’t date because the people who are available to date are gay, married, or completely bizarre.  And I don’t mean that in some “they’re left-handed or can’t spell or didn’t know the Titanic was a real thing” bizarre, I mean, they are deviants or they’re so Type-A, let’s make sales calls and go climb mountains and make sales calls while up mountains that there’s no way that even if they DID think I was cute that it’d work.   I get hopes up and I try not to prejudge, but I meet someone vaguely eligible so rarely in my realm that I think I’ve lost the ability to pick someone to even try to flirt with or befriend.

My friend I mentioned here in posts from 2010 called from Houston where he’s doing well but remaining.

 C.  I don’t date because I pretty much operate on a level of body hatred that assumes I am invisible.

D.  I get so thrown out of whack by the socializing I do every day that I drive home just craving my fortress of solitude.

But then I hear a Vienna Teng song – an artist he introduced me to – and I feel a weird, unexplainable, unfounded hope.   A pain and a hope in equal measure.

Enrich Your Word Power: Day 13

So, dear readers, we find ourselves nearing high noon on a Saturday with a degree of melancholy in our hearts.  One that we, me, I am determined to root out with the forceful application of music, food, activity, and writing.

The melancholy springs from a few things – I finished A Storm of Swords and as I am further determined (I am less water than I am determination at this point) to start reading more and more and more until I’m more words than water or willpower, I got back into The Problem with Murmur Lee which I dropped out of after the first few chapters because that seems to be the way of it with me lately.  I like it a lot, but there is a melancholy to the parts I’ve read thus far.

It’s a curious thing.  I used to be able to drop into a book and just stay there in that world until I was done with it.  Now, I feel like my attention has been so finely-tuned to multi-task that like so many in the world of my age, there’s some really unimportant impulse that arises to check email or look at Facebook or get up or sit down or turn on music.  I hate that.  I think it smacks of a weak mind and to put it plainly, I don’t want or find a weak mind attractive.  My desire for weight loss and physical alteration being what it is, I find the ugliest thing in the world a disinterested mind.

So, I am doing what I can to work on that.  I think my writing will be the better for it and you poor lot that suffer through what I post here will probably appreciate it if I am able to train myself to become more attentive once again to what I write and my descriptive capabilities.  I know I can do more than I am doing and I know that I can do it better than I am doing it at the moment.  More than anything, I want to do my story justice.

I do need to crawl around the kitchen and clean out the refrigerator today.  That’s a big project for the first day of a three-day weekend, but I am going to do it before sussing out what to eat for lunch.  My mother made me a ramekin-sized cheesecake which I just wasn’t hungry to eat last night after the sorely failing concept of bratwurst and broccoli and I will have a part of that along with, I think, some eggs and bacon and whatever vegetables I can fit on the plate.  Then, if my sister makes the chicken for dinner I expect, I’ll be able to sail along into my friends’ chat without much undue consternation about eating.  And somewhere in and amongst all of this determined doing, I’ll exercise and hopefully sort out my broken WiiActive heart monitor.  That would make me, well…really happy.

What motivates me now is understanding how lovely and vibrant and alluring the accomplished person is.  How exciting and pleasurable the give and take between thought and action is.  That the dichotomy is a continuum and we ebb and flow between these realms until we find this sweet spot where we imagine boldly and deeply and effectively and then execute the plans with force.

Today: 159.8 (whew)
Yesterday:  160.8
Goal: 155 by June 15