These Times, They Are a’ Changing

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After years of deliberation, my boyfriend has decided to retire early from career number one and pick up a second career. I am scared shitless. I’ve known it was coming for a while, and I really wasn’t surprised by his decision, but it means a lot of changes and much like anyone, I am afraid of change. I’ve run a gauntlet of emotions over the last few years because of it, and I think a good journaling session will help me clear my head and streamline my thoughts about it.

The career he is retiring from is called automotive technician. Mechanic, grease monkey, wrench slinger, he has gone by many names. And he used to love it, but it has become boring a monotonous. His boss is a nice enough guy, but there are things that just don’t add up to make this a lucrative career. His employer does not offer benefits or retirement or any kind of legitimate bonuses. In our state, it is a “right to work” state which in a nutshell means low wages, no unions, and crappy business ethics are normal for non-corporate businesses. Ten years at this same place with the owner/boss and 3 other co workers. My boyfriend still only gets 1 week paid vacation a year and no sick days. He takes a day off to go to the doctor and his boss deducts from his “salary”. Poor boyfriend is fed up and is also bitten with an extreme case of wanderlust.

So he’s signing up for school to get his CDL. He wants to be a truck driver. He can totally achieve his dreams with this career change. Funding to fix the credit score, buy property, and insurance if he gets sick. Plus paid vacations, retirement fund, and the bonus of travel. Every day. Forever. Bah- you can see where my objectivity to the situation melts away into bitterness. The goal of this session is to let go of the reasons I am bitter about it.

Background- boyfriend and I were junior high sweethearts. We’ve been together every day of the last 18 years, except his fishing and hunting trips. I have a mental illness which fools me into thinking I have attachment issues. (Okay, I do have attachment issues but it’s not about me and my comfort level, it’s about Darling and his happiness and life satisfaction.) When he goes out to turkey or bear camp, he’s gone a week at a time. I enjoy the first two evenings. Day one, spa day. Hair, nails, bath, book, chocolate, wine, silence. Day two, I enjoy how the house stayed clean over day one. Day three rolls around and I am a bawling mess. I start ticking, and work myself into a frenzy. I am an extroverted introvert, so I don’t reach out and tell people I need help, and I am a damn good faker of making it look like everything is alright. It’s an acquired skill.

So I am worried about my comfort level, my ability to cope, and my ability to function with Darling gone on the road all the time. I want him to be happy, and the last few years he just hasn’t been happy. He comes home from work grumpy and tired, drinks a few beers, and goes to bed after watching a movie. So, really, we sit in silence while he sulks all the time, and I am talking myself into realizing his happiness is paramount to our relationship. I want to feel wanted, not ignored. I let Darling know I want him. But I think, honestly, some time apart would do us some good. Give him a chance to miss me, and then when he is home, I will feel wanted.

I am losing my stoner buddy. As everyone knows, truck drivers have frequent random drug testing. Darling is quitting smoking, but I am not. I will have to take my puffs to the garage as so the smell will not tempt him. I will still be a daily user, and we have come to the compromise that I will understand and respect his decision, and he will refrain from being shitty to me when I am smoking. I will not pass judgement when he picks up that fifth or sixth beer, and he won’t make passive aggressive comments about my herbal indulgences. I’m a smoker, he’s a drinker, but we are committed to each other. I have had serious issues with his alcoholism in the past. It’s hard for me, but it is also a double standard for me to pass judgment on him for preferring to sin differently than I do. I know he’s going to make me feel bad, or the bipolar in my head is at least going to assume that breath out through his nose was a judgement against me. I just need to be aware of this about myself.

Darling also wants us to move out of state. I am all for that! Idaho is a beautiful place full of assholes and backwards laws that restrict everything. Dumb politicians, lobbyists for the oil companies, government conspiracies, and bible thumpers. We’re looking at our neighboring states, as I am a country girl at heart. I can’t stand people or crowds or driving through population with no open spaces. I’m leaning towards a legal weed state, such as Oregon. Recreational just got passed in legislation and takes effect as a law tomorrow. I could have my own greenhouse and not feel like a criminal anymore! Southern Oregon is beautiful and the cost of living isn’t outrageous like other places I would consider. And it has the beach! Darling prefers California, and after our recent vacation there I can absolutely say no way in hell am I ever living in Southern California. No way in hell. No. I’d consider Colorado or Washington, too. I need the forest, the mountains, and my allergies to the sun makes me prefer somewhere with clouds and cooler temperatures. Fate will land us where we are meant to grow, like a strong tree whose seed had traveled on the wind before sprouting roots in its home.

Also, after a while of being on the road, I will be able to go with Darling and see the country. But he says when be buy property, I can have my acres and be away from town. And I will have the opportunity to cruise with him and see new places, I may find something I like more than South Oregon better. But my best girlfriend lives near Seattle. But the cost of living is so high in Washington. Why on earth am I even bothering to worry about this now? There’s plenty of time to worry about it when the time comes. Silly me.

So it begins, the ending of one life and the beginning of a hundred others. Baby steps at first, and I can allow myself to worry about the variables later, when the time comes. Right now I have to get him financial aid and look into student loans and the different schooling options. We decided long ago I am administration of our lives, he’s the manual labor.

All I know is I support him in his quest to be happy 100%. Even if that means at the sacrifice of my comfort and security. I have blind faith he will succeed, because he always succeeds at everything he tries. It’s a foolproof plan. And he’ll have insurance and retirement benefits. I feel better after journaling about it. Breathe in, breathe out, let it go. Be the loving spouse Darling needs in his life, give him the home life he deserves, and the acceptance and understanding he deserves. Emily, this is not about you. It’s about both of us. And we have the will to choose how we react to it. I choose to embrace the change with gusto and an open heart. A toast, to our future!

Late Night Ramblings…

Well, I did make contact with a friend who has been avoiding me. Apparently she hasn’t been doing it to any fault other than her own personal problems. I asked her if I could shoulder some of the pain and burden, but was met with silence. I then told her I would be patient with her and I respect her feelings and troubles. I reminded her that I love her, and that I am here for her. I feel so bad for her heartbreak and sorrow. There’s nothing I can do or say to help her. And that hurts me.

In therapy this week we talked about some of my insecurities with my boyfriend. Long story short, I worry about his rejection as a personal flaw in myself where this is a delusional thought that I need to work on. Also, it came to the surface that just because I might be lured to infidelity that doesn’t mean he would be lured into infidelity. That makes me self conscious about the way that came out, so I feel the urge to give a little back story and explanation… I watched people in a small town cheat on each other, and as a teenager I was thoroughly appalled by the whole idea of cheating. After being in a relationship for almost two decades, a relationship that at times seems stale and predictable, I know why people are tempted to cheat. There are certain areas of my psyche that need to be stoked like a fire, and some areas my boyfriend falls short in.

That’s not to say I am actively looking to cheat on my partner… Actually, quite the opposite. If I feel an attraction to someone, I follow strict self induced guidelines. I avoid that person at all costs, and if it is unavoidable to be around them, I make sure to never be left alone with them for any amount of time. Yes, my soul craves being seen as sexy and mysterious and interesting. My body longs for make out sessions and the tender touch of an unfamiliar hand. Hell, I have only had 1 sex partner in my whole life! Of course I am curious about evil penis magic. So I know myself enough to know I would so I prevent that situation from arising. But for some reason I feel as if a double standard exists… my boyfriend isn’t allowed to wonder about other bodies, or think about infidelity, but I am allowed. I was asked to be mindful of this and meditate on this paradigm. We will discuss it further on Tuesday.

My autoimmune system is starting up again. I took chemo last night (I inject methotrexate weekly) and it hasn’t helped with the inflammation in my joints or nasal passages. I am worried I am going to get really sick again and miss the two concerts I am looking forward to at the end of summer. Foo Fighters and a week before that show I am seeing Primus. Two bands on my band bucket list. Also, I suppose I am deathly afraid of the pain in every cell of my being. The nausea, the vomiting, the 23 pills a day, the weekly bloodwork, being bed bound, relying on my boyfriend to take me to the bathroom and bathe me. Not being able to walk or open a water bottle. Not knowing what day it is. Falling asleep on the 3rd and waking up somewhere around the 21st not knowing anything that happened meanwhile. It’s a slow and painful death that I do not know if I could make it through another tumble in the briar patch.

I do get to see a cousin of mine tomorrow for coffee. She’s going to read my tarot cards and we’re going to do a guided meditation together. The only downfall, I have to be up at 7. But it is a very minute sacrifice for spending time with such a young and vibrant soul. I mean, who else is cool enough at 30-something to have teenage relatives actually want to hang out with them? Me, that’s who! It makes me feel good that I can pass on the wisdom from my grandparents to a generation who never had the chance to meet them. Que Lion King’s “Circle of Life”…

I hope this weekend will be a productive one. I am being mindful about not worrying about something that hasn’t actually happened yet. There are some things I have to accomplish, like a final cleaning of the dining room, and washing my car that made it through winter with a fine layer of road grime on it. The fat cat needs a bath. Yard work, and I am wanting to do a little sewing and painting. Thank you for reading, as always.

Circles and Second Guesses

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Well, it has been a positive and productive week. I meet with my counselor tomorrow, and I have to bring pictures of my newly finished yoga retreat (the spare bedroom turned zen den) and I am supposed to bring my inspiration board with me. I don’t see the reason behind having an inspiration board, but it’s part of the program, so I am doing it. So far there are a couple of positive quotes and some photos of my cats, my parents, my best friend in the whole wide world, and of course my boyfriend. I really don’t have a clue what it is supposed to look like or entail, but I put things on there that inspire me to be more positive and things that make me happy and a goal or two I would like to see reached in the near future. I hope I am doing it right.

I did a bad thing today. I went to a store, called ULTA, and purchased a foundation makeup for three times what I normally spend. I have never looked so good in my entire life. Oh my god it is an amazing store and I want to try everything in there! Benefit Oxygen Wow in Ivory is my shade. I also got some under eye camoflauge and a mascara called Perversion by Urban Decay…. For once, I don’t have raccoon eyes or mascara flaking into my eyes. I feel so girly! But I really shouldn’t have spent that kind of money on myself. But this stuff has ruined me. I cannot go back to drugstore makeup ever again. I also picked myself up a box of hair color. I don’t have anyone to help me apply it, but as soon as I can find someone, my roots are gone! Splurge a little on myself, feel guilty, look beautiful, feel guilty, it’s a vicious cycle.

I feel like people are avoiding me. My cousin’s wife who usually calls me twice a week isn’t answering my texts or calls. I have seen her once in the last two months. I don’t want to assume it is something I did or said, in fact it would be arrogant for me to assume it is because of me. I just hope whatever has come up is a good thing and she’s been busy for good reasons. My best friend has been avoiding my texts as well. I try not to call her often because she works a lot, and she’s a busy gal in the midst of a health crisis of her own. But I am frustrated by her self pity trip. She acts as if it hasn’t happened to any of us before, and I just want to shake her and tell her I invented the handbook on autoimmune disorder. But I won’t. I will be the supportive friend, there for her at her leisure, with a shoulder to cry on. I love her, and I need to remind myself that I should practice patience when dealing with everyone. I remember what a fresh diagnosis feels like. Hell, I got several fresh diagnosises myself and the only thing that has prevented me from a MS diagnosis too is I can’t afford the MRI on the brain. PATIENCE, EMILY. Breathe in, breathe out, let it go.

In other news, I am currently deliberating on letting an acquaintance go from my life. We have been friends for a long time, but we have never met in person. He has never crossed the line as a platonic friend. But the last couple of years our friendship has been strained. I have grown weary of his complaints and topics of conversation. I long for deep connections with people, and he keeps topics so light and superficial they just flow away. He asks how I am doing, and I say I am fine but…. and he always interjects my attempts at a deeper connection with the same superficial complaints. The only thing we have in common is tattoos, and even those we have differing tastes on. We used to have meaningful conversations, and I have the feeling he has only remained active with me out of his feelings of obligation. I don’t know how to do this properly, or do I continue the fake dance of shallowness we have been doing for a while? At what point to you decide if one is a toxic friend? And then I have to wonder, am I imagining things? Is this part of my mental illness?

I absolutely hate second guessing myself. I do not find it entertaining to have these kinds of thoughts and suspicions. The dialogue in my head has been positive lately, and being in straining friendships and awkward social encounters does make me wonder if there isn’t a common denominator to it all (me). I have done a plethora of research on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, reading medical journals and sifting through publications. And I have to admit I am extremely judgmental of myself. To a crippling fault. I can be so kind and patient to other people, even if it is at a cost to my own comfort. Why can’t I show myself that kind of compassion? Strict standards is what I hold myself to, and anything short of perfection gets my inner dialogue set to being hypercritical of myself. I would prefer to be mindful of this and start a more loving and caring dialogue within myself.

Enough with this rambling on. I am typing myself into one big circle and even with all these words I am barely making sense. My plans this week are seeing my counselor tomorrow, diabetes class on Wednesday, chemotherapy on Thursday, and Friday, I am taking as a “me” day. Nap, at home manicure, hair color, chocolate, rum and cokes, facial, general spa day. Oh, and all the chores every day but Friday. Friday is my baby, Friday is MINE. As always, thank you for reading.

A Stitch In Time… CBT in action!

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Normally I try to stay positive, but I have no outlet to vent and I need to blow some steam off. There’s many things that have recently been bugging the piss out of me. I don’t know what has gotten into me today but seriously, it seems like every thing I touch falls to shit. I’ve been clumsy. I’ve been negative. I’ve been frustrated.

The last 3 weeks I have been playing “taxi” by giving my Pops a ride everywhere. To work, home, to the store, to the clerk’s office, to the bank, everywhere. Its been eating a huge chunk out of my personal time. Now, I know I should have more respect for my father than this, and I am showing a sorry example of gratitude for supporting me for 17 years, but DAMN. I really look forward to 5:30 when my boyfriend gets off work and we can sit down, relax, and talk. Being gone from 6 to 8pm every evening Monday through Saturday, 10 to 12 hours a week, of my personal space and routine, down the drain. I need to be selfish and boo bawl about this situation. I am a creature of habit. I prefer to spend my evenings quietly enjoying the little things in life. I think for fathers day I am going to fix his car for him. Even if he doesn’t have a license, Momma does, and she can take him places. It is a very passive aggressive gift, and a selfish one at that, but it would make their lives easier and be much more convenient for us all! Sometimes I really wish I had brothers and sisters to help shoulder the responsibility of caring for aging parents.

My cousin Cupcake is also on my nerves. He has epilepsy, and a very iffy memory of everything that happens to him. He needs daily reminders to eat, pay his bills, and basic coordination of care. He refuses to take medication, or get on disability so he could have professional help. He relies on me heavily to entertain him and care for him. I am getting burned out. Its frustrating, his brothers have basically shouldered the responsibility of his care onto me. I’m the only one left that truly gives a shit about him. He is very high energy and ADHD and bipolar and he sucks the energy from me like some sort of vampire in a novel. I really can’t afford to care for him, and the toll he is putting on my mental stability is frustrating and almost bothersome. Okay, in all honesty it is bothersome, and sometimes I just want to throw my phone across the room when he calls because I know he is going to ask me to drop everything and run the hour fifteen minutes round trip to pick him up, just to run him home when I pick my dad up from work and taxi his ass home. Grrr! All I want is a nap once in a while and a quiet peaceful evening full of silence and solitude.

I’m frustrated at my medical conditions. My pancreas has pretty much shut off it’s insulin supply so I am on an injectable insulin which I have to take every evening. I’m going to see an endocrinologist soon to see how abnormal the functioning of my adrenal system actually is. So I am officially diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and there’s a strong possibility my diagnosis could be changed to type 1. My blood sugars have cut in half, and I feel I am doing better. But the injections every night combined with my Thursday chemo and my Sunday biologic it makes a lot of holes in my epidermis. But thus is the story of my health and my life.

My sex life sucks lately. Its not because of my partner or his willingness to please me. It’s all these mental changes and hormonal roadblocks I have been having as of late. I don’t feel it; I am just not into it. I just want to be able to feel sexy and eager to please. They doubled my estrogen dose at the beginning of the month, but all I have felt from that is some acne on my chin. I have tried and I have even taken two or three for the team, for the sake of the boyfriend’s sanity. I can’t get my head in the game. It could be my hormones, it could be all the mental changes I am going through right now, I don’t know. I want to have a sexy time with the ol’ man but I haven’t been able to have a gratifying experience since we got home from Vegas. And I’ve tried, ha, believe me I have tried.

I’m bored. I have a deep, empty, restless place lurking in my soul. I have a longing for something which has no name. I’ve tried to feel it with thoughts and things and places and experiences, but my soul aches for something bigger, something stronger, something incredible. I’m stir crazy, going mad with cabin fever, and I don’t know why. I long for authenticity and intrigue, a connection on a spiritual level, a profound human experience. It’s a static that crawls up my spine and oozes from my pores like sweat on a hot summer day.

And there’s a laundry list of other things that bug the hell out of me but they all seem so trivial when I take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It’s a frustration with myself that is bubbling up from within and permeating other areas of my life. Wow, I cognitively realized why my life has been out of skew for a few days. Its positive proof that therapy IS working. I am going to meditate on why I am letting inner frustration affect other areas of my life. I prefer to not let negativity into my thoughts and actions, but it is okay that I did. I am allowed to have a bad day, I am not allowing myself to dwell on it or become preoccupied with it. I wrote it out in a journaling process and caught the real reason. And I am going to take steps to let it all go. Be kind to myself, be patient with myself, and love myself.

It’s Been a While

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Good day to you, may I offer up an apology for not writing in two months? I have some really great reasons and it’s not just excuses, there are real and fantastic reasons. I have been manic since the beginning of March. Since I started feeling better, I have accomplished so much in my life! I have shed many possessions and rearranged the house. I have made great progress in therapy but I have been meditating on it instead of writing it down.

Yes, I can sort of meditate now. Darling boyfriend made me a “zen den” out of the former guest bedroom. Complete with a bookshelf full of books I would find interesting and a huge mirror to practice yoga in front of… It’s quite weird to have a room as my own, with only my energy resonating within. It’s a great place to stretch in the morning sun, and contemplate who I am and why I came to be this way.

Therapy has been spectacular. I really click with my therapist and she has earned my total trust. She isn’t going easy on me, either… I have 20 questions I have to come up with answers to, and it’s led to a lot of self discovery. For example, I do realize that at the core of my self obsession is feelings of guilt and unworthiness. I was asked to meditate on the question, “Why are you not worthy?” I worried about it for 5 days before I came up with a solid reason that made logical sense. No one event or person or situation left me feeling that way. I can’t pinpoint when it happened or why, and I have an astute memory. The only logical thing I could come up with is that feeling unworthy of everything was a lifestyle choice. I had never slowed down enough in my negative thought patterns to say to myself, “Emily, you deserve this as much as anyone.” It had simply never crossed my mind. Instead I hung on to the familiar feelings of shame and guilt and self loathing, wearing them like an old holey shirt from college that I couldn’t bear to throw out. I haven’t quite thrown the comfy shirt away, but I did remove it from my wardrobe and put it in a box in my closet. I am looking forward to a new wardrobe, one tattered and battered piece of ego for shiny new thought patterns one piece at a time.

This week, I am to work on answering the golden question, Why am I inclined to undermine my own efforts to live a more pure and authentic life? Again, it reinforces the notion that I do this because it is a familiar pattern. I know what to expect, self inflicted emotional and mental abuse. These feelings trigger the reward center in my brain, and the comfort of the familiar usually overtakes any new (and uncomfortable) positive feelings and thoughts. The cozy shirt theory. I know I would look better and feel better in a better article of clothing and I deserve a “new shirt” from the mall instead of an old tattered shirt passed down or found in a thrift store. I deserve to allow myself freedom and happiness. I prefer to put my energy and efforts into learning a new way of living. I do not prefer to wallow in misery. Negativity takes so much more energy to produce than positivity. And I am trying to be patient with myself. As children cannot learn to read in one day, my evolution will not be overnight.

Reading back on my old posts, I thought I was excited to be on the precipice of major changes. I cannot believe the momentum positivity gathers as it goes from a simmer to a rolling boil. I am thrilled beyond belief. I can see the tangible changes within my thought process. I have become more accepting of myself and my limitations. I have become more aware of my self deprecating thoughts. I am learning tools and coping mechanisms to deal with my mental and physical limitations. And every day that passes, I am becoming more and more hyperaware of the symbiosis that makes up my personal terrascape called my mind, body and soul.

I will make it a point to write about my thoughts and feelings and progression in my journey. I wanted a scrapbook of my change in paths, and I won’t get that unless I put effort into it. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

A Poem

Stars shine bright this crisp spring night
The cats are in their bed.
The gentle banter of good friends
Runs in and out my head.
It’s a gathering, laughter abounds
The beers flow freely for the men,
The bowls for one and all
And talk turns to summertime
And all the things we will do
And all the places we will go
And all the people we will see.
And all the dreams we will have
That this is the year things happen

A lull in the conversation.
A click of a bottle cap echoes from the kitchen.
Again we roar with laughter.
I’m tired.
It’s only 10:30? Oh my.
Welcome to middle age, sunshine!

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Negative to Positive, Shifting My Perspective

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Well, it’s more doctor appointments this week. I meet with the pain clinic today, in about an hour and a half. I have a mammogram on Wednesday to see what these lumps are in my breast and and armpit. I meet with a surgeon on Friday, to see about closing a fistula that won’t heal (yay butt surgery)… And I get to see my counselor tomorrow for the second time. Also, Thursday night I have a class. It is going to be a busy week for me.

I got to see my best friend this weekend. My soul now feels at ease physically seeing her and hugging her and crying with her. I do feel as though she’s the cuter, younger, smarter sister I never had. My parents see her as another child to them. And although our visit was short, and she brought her boyfriend and his daughter with her, so it’s not like we had any alone time, I think it did my soul better than any prescription could in the way of feeling better. I love that woman. She’s an inspiration, and she makes me want to be a better person.

I am a little nervous about the pain clinic, it is my first visit and I have no idea what to expect. I do know we have some strict laws about opiates in our state, and those are the only things that work on my breakthrough pain. But I am not a candidate for narcotics treatments because, well, if they test my urine or blood for illicit drugs, they will find I test positive for marijuana. If you test positive for any illegal substances you cannot, by law, be prescribed narcotics. Which I understand, pill seekers and other drug users have ruined it for the people who medicinally use weed.

It gives me an appetite, reduces anxiety, and elevates my mood and sense of wellbeing. It calms the intestinal spasms and dulls the aches and pains of swollen ligaments and tendons. It greatly reduces my need for pain medication, and the side effects include dry mouth and absurd giggling. Better than the side effects of anything anyone could prescribe me. It is effective for me, and just because we don’t live in a legal state, I am going to have to choose between pharmaceuticals and Mary Jane.

I did get my homework done for Tuesday, but I have not done all of my homework for my new job. I need to write up a writing sample to apply for the job of social media consultant with the education side and the retail side of the business. I also need to print some stuff out, as well as run some research and development for the education side. I am excited about the opportunities this job is giving me. And to clarify, it is a volunteer position at this point, but I will be compensated for any curriculum I write and any materials I need for research and development.

I have been practicing mindfulness, and catching myself with negative thoughts and redirecting the negativity with positivity. It was hard at first, but research says it takes 21 days to make anything a habit. I have two more weeks and it should be a habit to look at the bright side of things. I am optimistic about this cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness redirection. It is going to come in handy when I quit cigarettes, and in just about every other aspect in my life. I think I really like my counselor. She’s really mellow and thorough. She jumps back and forth while talking but she seems to get a lot of information out of me. I know it takes time to establish your background and what makes you tick when meeting with a new counselor, so I am not going to gage my treatment just yet. But seriously looking forward to the positive changes she is bringing into my life.

Speaking of changes, there are some big changes coming to my life here shortly. Today is not the time to go into details about these changes, but soon my whole world will be turned upside down. It’s like waiting for a tattoo, I know the needle is coming for my skin, I anticipate it, I know it’s going to hurt, and all I can do is sit there and wait for the tattoo artist tune his machine, with my eyes closed and my heart racing. I hope it is much smoother and painless than I expect it to be. Rather, I hope the tattoo is on my upper outside arm, not the elbow this time. (Tattooed folks will get the analogy.)

Well, I should post this and get ready for the pain clinic. Check back often for updates on my life, opinions, trials and tribulations. Thank you once again for reading; I do appreciate your time. Also, feel free to ask any questions or comment, interaction is always encouraged! Have a great day!