Confessional

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It has been two months and two days since my last post…

It’s easy to forget sometimes, that this blog is just for me and no apologies are required or expected for my periodic absences. Those of us who write here float in and out as the moods (or muse) takes us, and that is okay. It’s the writing version of being a snowbird – one of those retired kinds of people who heads south to Arizona in the winter, and returns to the frigid north in the Summer.

Apologizing, however, is something on an ongoing struggle for me, particularly when I’m feeling on edge. I’m not sure if this is a product of my gender, as I am a woman, or something I picked up from childhood. Walking on eggshells for ten years certainly didn’t help. Regardless, lately I’ve been considering that phrase “I’m Sorry” , usually right after the words drop from my lips. My reasons for sharing it vary, but if I shake them together and sift them out, it seems like I am often apologizing for… well… being me.

Last year I worked harder to be authentic, and while I think I achieved some of that – I think the next little step in this journey is to be unapologetically authentic. Not that I need to go out of my way to cause others annoyance, or lose my empathy, but instead to own who I am without that momentary hesitation.

This goes so much deeper than the words. Perhaps it touches on something I heard in Brene Brown’s ‘The Power of Vulnerability’. “Guilt,” to paraphrase her, “is when we make a mistake. But Shame? Shame is when we feel we are a mistake.”

Ever since hearing her lecture series on audible a few months ago, I’ve noticed more when touches of shame rise in me. And when they do, inevitably, I find myself apologizing for situations beyond my rational control, or apologizing for me. Apologizing for being such a mistake.

The truth though? I’m not a mistake. I am a person who has made plenty of them, will continue to make them, certainly. But those errors don’t define me.

I’ve never graduated with my Bachelor’s. I’m not a failed college student. I’m a successful professional who’s moved up in my work despite my lack of degree.

I am a divorcee in her mid-30s. My relationship status doesn’t define me. I am learning better how to communicate in all my relationships – friendships, familial, romantic – and have healthier boundaries. Healthy relationships are a part of a good support system.

I “live” with my parents. I am not mooching off their generosity, I am working hard to be financially stable. My parents and I are room-mates, sharing responsibilities and each pulling our fair weight.

Working through and confronting my fears of self is a little arduous at times. But now that I can pinpoint when that needs to happen (often when I am apologizing for existing and being myself) I am able to remind myself that I don’t exist just to accommodate others and bolster them at the expense of myself..

Life in the Fast Lane

Sometimes everything in my life blurs just beyond my immediate view, like staring out the passenger window during a road trip. Moving so quickly, distinct features fade into hazy generalities. Flash of orange. Rising and falling gray. Fuzzy depths of ambiguous green.

I can guess what those things are… a road sign. A concrete barrier. Trees. But all the details fade with the rush of travelling at 60 mph. Right now my world feels a little like that, emotionally, and I have to consciously ‘pull over’ to stop and examine what is going on.

Continue reading

Procrastination and priorities

To the tune of Anticipation, by Carly Simon… “Procrastination, procrastination…. Is makin’ me late… Is keepin’ me waitin’.”

Something I wrote a while ago keeps coming back to me, and it has to do  with this feeling of fragility. Intangibility. Perhaps it is kin to that feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Kin to the feeling of balancing many spinning plates on the ends of long sticks. Everything is going well, really, but sometimes I still feel the anxiety of being one unlucky tip away from shattered glass at my feet.

(Upon writing that sentence, the snarky part of my mind suggested that maybe it was time I started using heavy plastic instead of glass. Then that led me to rabbit trail down the practical considerations of whether or not plastic (however dense) might spin comparative to ceramic. All up to the point where I reminded myself, this was only intended as a visual example. I share this, because it shows how abstractedly distracted my thoughts have become, lately. Maybe you’ll get a chuckle; I know I did – sometimes all I can do is just laugh at myself and move along.)

Continue reading

[Reblog] What’s in Your Coping Toolkit: Putting It All Together

Reblog Tuesdays!

Anxiety has had a major impact on me this week, and I have found this series very helpful and worthwhile. I’ve not had a chance to put everything into practice, but I’m working on learning ways to Be Kind to myself. I’m also working on making self-care choices that are just ‘a little’ better each time.

Small steps still get me where I’m going. 🙂 I hope you find something in here that helps you with whatever you are going through.

eat. spin. talk. repeat.

pieces-of-the-puzzle-592813_640.jpg

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

For the last seven weeks, we have talked about all the tools we need/want  in our toolkit. This is obviously not an exhaustive list of ALL the coping skills out there, but it’s a start. Now that you’ve got the tools, what on earth to do with them!?!

I’ve mentioned the importance of having access to these skills in times of stress. That is going to look differently for each skill. So let’s breakdown each skill we’ve talked about and how to do that:

Mindful Breathing:  practice, practice, practice. Take time each day to spend time mindfully breathing. The only way to get good at this skill is to take time to do it.

Relaxation: Come up with a list of relaxing things to do at different places you might…

View original post 454 more words

Recovery

The fear is about everything.

And yet, a part of me knows it should be about nothing. That I overthink. That I am reacting emotionally and outside of logic. Yet too often, I think I try and discount my emotions. Pain of any kind is always unpleasant, but usually, especially with physical pain, it points to something that needs attention to heal properly.

Understanding the smoke and mirrors of anxiety means looking beyond the easy answer, beyond the initial spark of fear, or numbness, or pain. Of course, a certain situation or memory or word or action will likely be that initial trigger. Yet it is like it stirs a domino effect of fears, too many, too broad, too overlapping to easily pick apart when in the midst of a panic attack.

Continue reading

Trigger-feelings

He lifted his hand from the wheel, shaking it, sunshine and shadows filtering through the driver’s side window as his knuckles popped. A rueful smile popped across his lips, and he grinned at me during the course of a conversation I no longer remember.

Then his right hand, the one nearest me… he lifted and shook it too. Nothing happened.

Then, he punched it on his thigh, abruptly, suddenly.

He punched his thigh.

Even as he relaxed and sighed in relief as his knuckles cracked, I found myself taut as a guitar string. Staring straight out the window, I breathed carefully as he continued driving, oblivious.

I am safe.

He’s not angry.

He won’t hurt me.

But these are things I said of my ex, too. So there is some discord in my body, trying to decide to believe the things I am telling it. Or not.

Logically – Guy has never done anything to intentionally make me feel unsafe. Quite the opposite, he tries so hard to make things work and make me comfortable.

I don’t want him to walk on eggshells, like I once had to. I say nothing, but I felt the quiet paralyzing my mind and limiting my words as a part of me shut down.

Continue reading

Codependents Always Hope Things Will go Their Way

When I first got out of my abusive relationship, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out and understand my Ex. I found things like the ‘Cycle of Abuse’, and Narcissism, and those things helped me understand myself and my own reactions.

Now I’ve been researching more about myself, and learning that I have my own tendencies that make me vulnerable to Narcissistic partners. This is an excellent article worth considering, and I think it is important that we grow from researching everything about our abuser, and begin focusing on ourselves and how we can become stronger, more whole people.

Free From Codependency With Dr. Nicholas Jenner

Of the two extremes, codependents (unlike narcissists) are generally seen as the warm and fussy ones. Self sacrificing and eager to please, they are an absolute delight to be around if you are the kind of person who likes to freely take and accept all they have to give and there are many who do.  Codependents get involved with a certain type because like a jigsaw puzzle they fit together nicely. One constantly gives, one constantly takes. A perfect dysfunctional meeting and matching of ideals. Of course this situation is normally doomed to failure and when the house comes crashing down, the codependent suffers more than most. The reason being they have invested heavily in the relationship and stand to lose much more in their view. This is usually because they have lost themselves in the relationship and identified themselves through their partner. The idea of splitting such intensity (not…

View original post 405 more words

Nightmares

Despair greeted me when I awoke this morning, opening my eyes to the light pouring in the window. My heart pounded, and it took a little time to place the objects in my room.

No ex.

None of his things.

None of the rooms present in my dreams.

Although I immediately relaxed from that state of near panic, I’ve been on edge all day. For a few moments, I thought everything of these past 18 months had been but a dream. In it’s place, the actual dream placed me back with my ex. The location, however, was the house I grew up in. We had his niece staying with us, roughly 9 years in my dream, and another teenage girl. I returned home from work, and found them both uneasy. The older girl was supposed to stay with us, but had called to be picked up, even though it would take a few hours.

We all moved on eggshells. Me, as I didn’t want to subject the younger girls to my ex’s verbal diatribes. I don’t recall what happened next, but my ex followed me about the circular house, screaming his anger at me.

I eventually turned around, and stood up for myself. At the least, yelling back that it was not alright for him to treat me in that manner. His response was to become sulky-angry, and he stormed off to hide in the office.

The older girl went out the front door to wait outside for her ride. The niece looked at me with wide eyes, and I heard from her that my ex had been vocalizing this kind of anger while I was gone. I started gathering things, and quietly told the girl that if my ex came out of my room to just go out to the car. She wanted her things first, but unfortunately they were in the office where my ex was.

I went to try and retrieve them, and my ex opened the door when I got there, staring at me with his cold death stare and a freezing anger. The kind of anger that led to things breaking, while I held my breath and wondered if, this time, I would be next.

That is when I awoke.

I have been trying to shake that dream off all day, with little luck. I can’t focus. Can’t study. So I decided to write it down. Try and put it into words in an effort to dump it from my mind.

I am safe.

I am out.

He can’t reach me now.

I just wish my nervous system would get the memo.

I am.

I am worthy. My values and beliefs matter, as well as the manner in which I convey them. Every person is due respect, even if we disagree. It is okay to pick my battles. Having the last word isn’t necessary, so long as I feel confident in my last words on a topic. I don’t have to be friends with everyone, and I do not need everyone to be happy or approve of my opinions. Continue reading

Why aren’t you angry?

You haven’t grieved enough. You aren’t angry enough. How can you not be furious? You can’t heal unless you grieve. You can’t heal unless you’re angry.

Even when people are trying to help, isn’t it amazing how often they tell you what to feel? Early on, when challenged over my lack of fury, I was patted on the shoulder as the person concerned over me reassured themselves by telling me, ‘Don’t worry, that will come in time.’

Sidenote: The thing is, our journey to healing is a personal one, and although everyone else joined me on that path the week before I left, it was a rite of passage I had embarked on several years prior. The stages of grief, although people like to categorize them strictly as Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance, have many over-lapping qualities, and in all actuality, were introduced by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and her book exploring our approaches to death. Her book “On Death and Dying” was published way back in 1969. It was never intended to serve as the be-all, end-all authority on loss and grieving for all loss. Not that there isn’t something to be learned from understanding these concepts.

Continue reading

Walking the Tightrope

There is a fine line before me, and I set one foot carefully before the other. Sometimes my movements are confident, other times I am hesitant. But I must keep my eyes on the goal ahead, for where I look, the rest of me will follow. Focusing on what is behind me, or below me, may set my feet in places that send me tumbling to the ground.

One of the things I’ve noticed, cruising around the blogosphere, are the different ways that people use to cope with hardship and grief. Some focus on the present. Others on their thoughts. There are blogs that focus on understanding the things or people that have caused the author harm. Still others, seek to inform and educate.

Sometimes I am not sure why I am here, my words are often somewhat unfocused, and I veer from self-help, to streams of consciousness, to random thoughts. I’ve spent a lot of time following the stories of fellow bloggers, reading and considering their insights, and pains, and the validation that comes from knowing you are not alone in this experience. Continue reading

Scar tissue

One of the things we don’t realize, with a surgery, is how difficult and painful scar tissue can be. It binds up the places beneath your skin, thick and difficult and invisible until you make a movement that places tension on it. Which brings pain. And if you do not listen, more pain.

Having excised my ex and his abusive behaviors from my life is a really great start. My protection order is good for another year, the divorce is finalized, and life is regaining some sense of normalcy. From all outward appearances, someone might think me hale and healthy.

Yet for the first time, as I share more time with Guy, I am realizing how much emotional scar tissue remains, however normal I appear on the surface.
Continue reading

“What we have here… is a failure to communicate…”

When I opened up wordpress today, I was ready to rip two friends a new one on this anonymous blog. Friends who I love dearly, but who have both, in their own ways, separately, unrelatedly, managed to hurt me this week in very deep ways. One, making judgmental statements about another friend of hers who is divorced, among other things that made me feel small. The other, bringing marijuana as the ‘3rd wheel’ whenever we want to do something together. (Aside: What people choose to do recreationally is obviously not my business, but when it starts impacting a relationship negatively, something’s gotta give.)

But as I sat here, staring at the blank page, typing and deleting, venting, ranting, bemoaning how rough my week has been and how this weekend didn’t turn out like I had hoped, I discovered some things that took me by surprise, and rather changed the direction of my thoughts. Ranting and venting only do so much.

  1. I used to be too numb to feel these hurts.
  2. It’s not my fault when others make choices (words or actions) that hurt me.
  3. Reflecting those choices back to those who made them, doesn’t make me a bad person.
  4. Sometimes I’m afraid those who knew me as I was, don’t really want the stronger person I am becoming. 

Continue reading

Foundation Stones

You look at any older buildings at the campus near where I work, and you’ll likely find one of those large, cubic blocks that form a cornerstone. A foundation stone.

Right now, it feels almost as if I’ve pulled apart my life right back down to it’s foundational basics. Now I have all these heavy stones and a new plan to put them to use. Some of my materials are cracked, others the corners have been sheared off. Still others, all the sharp edges have been worn smooth by tempermental ‘weather’.

There is something both exhilarating and yet daunting when I look at all the pieces of my life, knowing the future is mine to build. A new year, my maiden name, and freedom from a decade’s marital quagmire have allowed me to begin a fresh start. Something all of my own making, whether I choose to invite others in to help me or not.

To be honest, I have a few people along whether I invite them to or not, and I’m kind of thankful for their loving nosiness. But I am even more blessed that, even if they demand to be a part of this rebuilding phase, they are still taking a step back and allowing me to design the schematics myself.

It’s a wonder what happens, when you try to have healthy boundaries… and people respect them. Continue reading

Darkest before the Dawn

My morning alarm is not the incessant, constantly ‘sleep’-ed one that emerges from my phone in the dim hours of a gray morning. No, it is the heavy, erratic beat of my heart, chastening me to vigilance.

Fight.

Flight.

Fight.

Flight.

Yet there is nothing in the room besides a laundry strewn futon. Except, perhaps, the docile and innocent purring of the feline who had attempted to crown me with a hairball in the middle of the night. The only comfort was the pressure of her slight weight behind my knees, the warmth of the memory foam hugging me from below and the blankets I nested in. To emerge into the cold air seemed to risk that incessant beating of heart to rise to a decibel all others in the house might hear; maybe even rising to a decibel that might attract the very fears that have been haunting me for nearly two weeks. Continue reading