Category Archives: issues, i haz dem

what I’ve been thinking about

I’ve been thinking about taking care of myself, about seeing the small child that is still inside me.  I end up in a tizzy when thinking about how I want to take care of myself better, and trying not to beat myself up because I don’t.  Things like eating regular meals so that I don’t get headaches seem so hard to do so much of the time.  It would be much easier to take on the role of tyrant to myself, but I can’t return to that, not anymore.  So I try to remember to take things slowly, slowly, slowly and I try to remember how far I have already come.

“One reason you may not want the job of caretaker [for yourself] is that you are still angry about never having been appropriately cared for by others.  You still wish that someone else would notice your suffering and make up for the deficit.  Even though you know that your wish will never come true–that what’s past is past–you continue to hold onto the fantasy.  Taking good care of yourself implies an acceptance of the painful reality of your past deprivation.”

don’t mind the mediocrity

I think the biggest part of my blogging block has to do with my thinking that each and every post has to be a really great, profound post.  And that feels pretty daunting when I have some ideas rolling around my head, but don’t feel like I have enough energy to really make them great.  So then I just don’t post because writing the perfect post feels way to hard.

Which, of course, it is.

It’s the perfectionist trap:  if I can’t do it perfectly, I won’t do it at all.

So I’m going to try to post more, regardless of the mediocrity of my posting.  And maybe, among all these mediocre posts that may come, I’ll get more good posts out there than I would by not writing a darn thing, which is what I’ve been doing.

on not growing up at Disneyland

Lily Tomlin said that forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.  This idea has been barraging me the last couple of weeks as I confront my history.

No, not Mr. X.  Not that history.  My involvement with him is the symptom, not the root cause.

I was talking to a friend (who, well, let’s just say that she would win the gold in just about any “Worst Childhood Olympics”) this past week about this, and ended up saying at one point in the conversation that I felt strange talking to her about my childhood, because compared to hers, I grew up at Disneyland.  Well, it wasn’t Disneyland, but admitting that the facade of the happy childhood isn’t real is very hard to do and more painful than one might think.

This is not the post in which I blame my parents for every uncomfortable thing in my life, but this is the post in which I admit that I bring this baggage that I’ve carried since I was very young into my present day.  This is the post in which I attempt to acknowledge that nobody is going to rescue me from my own life, from my own past.  Nobody is going to rescue me from me.

I had dinner with another friend last week.  She has recently decided to quit her job and step into the great unknown.  She admitted that she was hoping a certain thing would happen so that she could leave her job with an excuse; she was hoping to be rescued.  “Nobody’s going to rescue me,” she said.

Her statement has been bouncing around my brain ever since.  This is familiar territory for me, this waiting for the-thing-that-is-just-around-the-corner-and-will-make-everything-okay-as-soon-as-it’s-here.

So I’ve fallen into that old well-traveled way of not thinking about the pain of right now by thinking about everything else or nothing at all.  And it slipped up on me, but I can see now it’s been gaining steam ever since I started confronting the truth that as a child I didn’t get enough of what I needed, and much too much of what I didn’t.

I don’t know that it’s as much about forgiveness as acceptance that this is the way it is and relinquishing the notion that things will look different if I just squint hard enough.  There aren’t any do-overs for childhoods.

I was going to try to end this on a perky note about new years and new opportunities, but some things don’t have a perky ending.  Some things just are, and we have to figure out how we will deal with them: to fight them, to ignore them, or to accept them.  The serenity to accept the things I cannot change, or something like that.

on wanting

I grew up with a lot of strict ideas.  Some of them were actually good ideas that somehow got twisted into a set of ironclad rules which (in light of the black-or-white, heaven-or-hell, do-this-or-else culture of my house that drilled them into my mind) haunt me to this day.

One of these ideas is that of “being satisfied with what you have.”  Most of us could probably agree that at least part of the time this is a good idea (can I qualify that statement any more?).  They way that this would work for me growing up, however, was that this “good idea” suddenly became law written in stone.  Any feelings of dissatisfaction?  WRONG, you should be content!  Want what someone else has?  SUPER WRONG, control your feelings you green-eyed-monster!  Hoping for more out of your life?  IF YOU REALLY BELIEVED IN GOD YOU WOULD BE HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, you wretch.

Sounds fun, no?

Granted, it wasn’t generally presented in such a vociferous manner (lower case instead of all-caps, if you will), but I was trying really hard to do everything just right and if there was a rule, I was going to do my darnedest to follow it.  (That’s how to stay safe, you know.)

I’ve been working on exorcising these old rules, and just recently became aware that this one was still hanging around.

“Be satisfied with what you have,” was somehow twisted into “want nothing.”  Which is impossible, of course, but tell that to the voices in my head.  They’ll just say I’m not trying hard enough.

I became aware of this old millstone rule lately because I’ve become much more aware of wanting.

Okay, I’ll say it, I want more in my life than I’ve got right now.  I want love in my life, I want a partner, I want children.

And wanting is just about the scariest fucking thing ever.

I remember the last time I focused on wanting a child.  That didn’t really turn out so well (but I guess going through fertility treatments with a crazy person means you’re pretty much set up for failure from the start).

I remember wanting to be in a relationship, wanting desperately to be married to this person who seemed so amazing.  (We know how that turned out, don’t we?)

And so now I set up all these barriers between me and the things that I want.  I tell myself I’m too fat to date, and then I do everything possible to make sure I don’t lose any weight.  I tell myself I just need friends in my life, not a partner, and then I keep just about everyone at arm’s length, saying “no”  to invitations much more than I say “yes.”  (And so, instead of being out with friends, I’m at home, alone, on the computer on a Friday night.)

And I tell myself I should be satisfied with what I have.  I tell myself I should be content.  I tell myself all of those things that I heard so many times, and the end result is I push the wanting aside and then I can’t figure out why there’s a pain in my chest when I hear about someone’s new baby, and I don’t know why I suddenly want to cry when I consider some happy couple that I know.

Lately the wanting has been pushing back and I can no longer say that I am unaware that I want.  I want, I want, I desperately want.

I’ve been avoiding writing this post for weeks because I don’t think we are any more vulnerable than when we are wanting, and I don’t want to be vulnerable.  “If I don’t want, they can’t hurt me.”  That’s rolling around in my head somewhere, or maybe it’s in my heart.  Who really knows these days?  If I want nothing, I have nothing to lose.

But I have already lost, and I am already losing.  Every day that goes by that I hide in my cave, or hold others at a distance, or simply don’t try is a day of loss.  Pretending it’s not really there doesn’t make the wanting go away.

taming the tyrant

Spider Solitaire (Windows)

Image via Wikipedia

I like to blog.  Really, I do.

It does seem that lately, though, I spend much more energy thinking about blogging than actually blogging.

Instead of going on an on about how awful a blogger I am, I am going to use this as an opportunity to practice not beating myself up.  I get these opportunities a lot, it seems.  Another way to phrase that would be that the habit of self-berating crops up almost everywhere I look, but I am more and more on guard and more and more learning not to fall into that easy pattern that kills me not so softly.

I read a great blog post today about this “inner tyrant,” and about harnessing it’s energy for something positive.  I also tried to make a dietary change today (no, not going on a diet, just changing one thing—hint: it has to do with a certain sugary caffeinated beverage).  I have realized that I need to make this change more slowly, to ease into it a bit.  I had planned to go “cold turkey,” so to speak, but it seems that’s not such a good idea.  That tyrant, who always seems to be with me, wants to tell me that this is a failure.  I am choosing to see this as another example of slow change, another way I can care for myself.

I said, “another example of slow change.”  The first example of slow change is somewhat silly, but it has stuck with me and comes back to me over and over as a reminder to not expect immediate and dramatic results the minute I decide something should be different.  “So what is this example?” you ask.

Spider solitaire.

I have been playing quite a bit of spider solitaire these last couple of months.  When I started, I could win on the first level every time, but it was pretty boring.  I tried playing on the second level, but I would rarely win.  So rarely it seemed like I never won.  In a very un-me-like move, I decided that winning didn’t matter, and I would play the second level because it was more fun, even if I lost nearly every time.  Then something weird started happening.

I started getting better.

The spider solitaire game on my computer will tell you your win/loss statistics after every game.  When I started playing, I was winning about 2% of the time.  I didn’t pay too much attention to those statistics until I noticed that they were going up.  Before I knew it I was at 7%.  Then 10%.  Dear readers, I now win 26% of the time (um, I played a LOT of this game while I was recovering from my surgery).  The thing is, normally a 75% loss rate would normally really bother me.  In light of the 98% loss rate when I started, 75% doesn’t look half bad. 🙂

The spider solitaire is serving as a good reminder to me that change comes slowly, that I don’t have to go from 0 to 60 overnight, and that beating myself up doesn’t make me go any faster, anyway.

I’m hoping there’s a way to get this inner tyrant to remind me to be gentle, to remind me that if change comes at all, it comes at a creeping pace, so slowly that we scarcely notice it.

Meanwhile, I’ll be playing some spider solitaire.  27%, here I come!

anything and everything

The few hours before my appendectomy were very surreal.  I went to my doctor’s office that evening with half of me thinking of all the terrible things that could be going wrong, and the other half thinking that I would just be wasting everyone’s time and causing a fuss over nothing.  “There’s nothing wrong with you,” one half whispered.  “You could die on the operating table,” whispered the other half, which is well-known for it’s speed in jumping to the worst possible conclusion in any scenario, and this well before anything was even diagnosed.

There was actually another voice somewhere in there (and pay no attention to my math skills—sometimes one-half plus one-half still leaves room for some other thoughts to creep in).  This was the quietest voice, the voice that remembered Lavender Luz’s amazing post about abiding in the unknown space, the place where we are painfully aware of our powerlessness.

I will not pretend that I was peaceful in all of the time leading up to my surgery, or even most of the time.  I can say, though, that part of the time I was able to take a step back and notice how I was responding.  There were some brief moments of awareness that the back and forth game that was going on in my mind was simply the way my mind usually works.  There was nothing unusual about my responses to this situation; my responses were as familiar to me as the back of my hand.  The only “different” in this situation were the circumstances, my insides kept up their usual dialogue.

A phrase came to me during those hours, and I remembered it over and over during the next couple of weeks.*

How you do anything is how you do everything.

How I “did” the few hours before my appendectomy followed the same pattern of how I do most things:  part of me jumps to the worst-case-scenario and starts brainstorming about how I will handle it, and part of me berates myself for not doing the right thing, or causing a fuss, or not doing things perfectly, whatever “perfect” means.  How I function at work follows the same basic pattern of how I function at the grocery store (if you don’t believe me, check out my desk drawers and my pantry; both are full of way too many “just in case” items, be they canned goods or post-its).  How I relate to my family follows the same pattern of how I relate to people I just met.  How I drive my car looks a lot like how I walk my dog.  And on and on.

My pattern, of course, would be to take all of this information and start berating myself for not doing it “right,” whatever “right” is.  At this moment I’m just working on noticing when I’m in those patterns, when I jump to that place in my mind that causes my heart to pound and my hands to shake.  Right now I’m working on noticing when I’ve slipped into scolding myself.  For now, noticing is enough.  For now, opening my eyes is enough.  For now, it’s enough.

*I’m not sure where it comes from, so if you know, please let me know.

the voices in my head

So, I tried to go to work on Tuesday.  That didn’t really work out.  I think I left after an hour an a half, exhausted.  Like, exhausted to the point I could barely think straight.  That evening my amazing friends, who just got back from a couple of years abroad, came over.  It was very chill, just sitting on the couch for an hour or two, chatting.  Apparently, however, that put me over the edge on the tiredness scale.  I woke up Wednesday morning and felt just awful.

The thing is, I generally don’t really feel bad, just tired.  And, usually when I’m tired, I can convince myself to power on through.  Not this time, though.

I’ve been fighting a lot with my mind, or with the voices in my mind, rather.  They tell me I should be up, doing something.  They tell me I’m going to get in trouble if I don’t get back to work.  They tell me I’m weak, that I’m a wuss, that I need to just suck it up and stop sitting around the house like a lazy bum.

They’re lying, but it’s not always easy to see that.

For someone who struggles with self-care even in the good times, this has been a challenge for me.  What I need to do is just chill out, let my body continue to heal, and not stress.  This does not come naturally to me.

And really, there’s not much to worry about, work-wise.  Nothing is burning, as my crazy supervisor says (who, btw, has her faults, but is 100% supportive of time off when we’re ill).  July is typically the slowest month anyway, and many people in the agency have the whole month off (not me, unfortunately, though I can’t really complain about the amount of time off I get).  I had about 7 sick days going into this thing, plus 2 weeks of vacation time I have to take by the middle of August, so…I’m just taking part of it earlier than I expected.

It all sounds very rational, doesn’t it?  Sounds a lot better than telling myself I’m a lazy, weak wuss, huh?  The thing is, when I feel bad, or tired, it can be hard to tell the difference between the crazy voices, and the truth.  The truth is, I’m not in trouble, if anything crazy happens with my clients, my co-workers or supervisor can help with it, as they already have.  The best thing I can do for myself is to take care of myself and rest right now, which is what I would tell anybody else.  The problem is believing that, remembering that.

And today I felt like blogging and had the energy to actually do it, which is an improvement, huh?  Now on to the task of not guilting myself out over blogging but not working.  Sigh.  It’s an endless merry-go-round, this crazy brain of mine.