Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

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More than just a necklace

May 25, 2016

Today i found one of my most prized possessions, a necklace made for me by one of my most favorite people that i thought had fallen between the cracks of some furniture but was just tangled in with some other jewelry. On it hangs a single spoon and the words “Just Breathe”. The two of us both have invisible illnesses and have shared many conversations about the frustrations that come along with them. One day i came across the Spoon Theory and shared it and then for my birthday i got this amazing necklace that she made just for me.

 

i cried a lot when i found my necklace today because it means so much to me but also because lately i haven’t had many spoons in my hands to go through my days with but today i found one more and that gave me more strength than i can explain.

 

The Spoon Theory

by Christine Miserandino http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com

My best friend and I were in the diner, talking. As usual, it was very late and we were eating French fries with gravy. Like normal girls our age, we spent a lot of time in the diner while in college, and most of the time we spent talking about boys, music or trivial things, that seemed very important at the time. We never got serious about anything in particular and spent most of our time laughing.

Cartoon image of Christine Miserandino holding a spoon
As I went to take some of my medicine with a snack as I usually did, she watched me with an awkward kind of stare, instead of continuing the conversation. She then asked me out of the blue what it felt like to have Lupus and be sick. I was shocked not only because she asked the random question, but also because I assumed she knew all there was to know about Lupus. She came to doctors with me, she saw me walk with a cane, and throw up in the bathroom. She had seen me cry in pain, what else was there to know?

I started to ramble on about pills, and aches and pains, but she kept pursuing, and didn’t seem satisfied with my answers. I was a little surprised as being my roommate in college and friend for years; I thought she already knew the medical definition of Lupus. Then she looked at me with a face every sick person knows well, the face of pure curiosity about something no one healthy can truly understand. She asked what it felt like, not physically, but what it felt like to be me, to be sick.

As I tried to gain my composure, I glanced around the table for help or guidance, or at least stall for time to think. I was trying to find the right words. How do I answer a question I never was able to answer for myself? How do I explain every detail of every day being effected, and give the emotions a sick person goes through with clarity. I could have given up, cracked a joke like I usually do, and changed the subject, but I remember thinking if I don’t try to explain this, how could I ever expect her to understand. If I can’t explain this to my best friend, how could I explain my world to anyone else? I had to at least try.

At that moment, the spoon theory was born. I quickly grabbed every spoon on the table; hell I grabbed spoons off of the other tables. I looked at her in the eyes and said “Here you go, you have Lupus”. She looked at me slightly confused, as anyone would when they are being handed a bouquet of spoons. The cold metal spoons clanked in my hands, as I grouped them together and shoved them into her hands.

I explained that the difference in being sick and being healthy is having to make choices or to consciously think about things when the rest of the world doesn’t have to. The healthy have the luxury of a life without choices, a gift most people take for granted.

Most people start the day with unlimited amount of possibilities, and energy to do whatever they desire, especially young people. For the most part, they do not need to worry about the effects of their actions. So for my explanation, I used spoons to convey this point. I wanted something for her to actually hold, for me to then take away, since most people who get sick feel a “loss” of a life they once knew. If I was in control of taking away the spoons, then she would know what it feels like to have someone or something else, in this case Lupus, being in control.

She grabbed the spoons with excitement. She didn’t understand what I was doing, but she is always up for a good time, so I guess she thought I was cracking a joke of some kind like I usually do when talking about touchy topics. Little did she know how serious I would become?

I asked her to count her spoons. She asked why, and I explained that when you are healthy you expect to have a never-ending supply of “spoons”. But when you have to now plan your day, you need to know exactly how many “spoons” you are starting with. It doesn’t guarantee that you might not lose some along the way, but at least it helps to know where you are starting. She counted out 12 spoons. She laughed and said she wanted more. I said no, and I knew right away that this little game would work, when she looked disappointed, and we hadn’t even started yet. I’ve wanted more “spoons” for years and haven’t found a way yet to get more, why should she? I also told her to always be conscious of how many she had, and not to drop them because she can never forget she has Lupus.

I asked her to list off the tasks of her day, including the most simple. As, she rattled off daily chores, or just fun things to do; I explained how each one would cost her a spoon. When she jumped right into getting ready for work as her first task of the morning, I cut her off and took away a spoon. I practically jumped down her throat. I said ” No! You don’t just get up. You have to crack open your eyes, and then realize you are late. You didn’t sleep well the night before. You have to crawl out of bed, and then you have to make your self something to eat before you can do anything else, because if you don’t, you can’t take your medicine, and if you don’t take your medicine you might as well give up all your spoons for today and tomorrow too.” I quickly took away a spoon and she realized she hasn’t even gotten dressed yet. Showering cost her spoon, just for washing her hair and shaving her legs. Reaching high and low that early in the morning could actually cost more than one spoon, but I figured I would give her a break; I didn’t want to scare her right away. Getting dressed was worth another spoon. I stopped her and broke down every task to show her how every little detail needs to be thought about. You cannot simply just throw clothes on when you are sick. I explained that I have to see what clothes I can physically put on, if my hands hurt that day buttons are out of the question. If I have bruises that day, I need to wear long sleeves, and if I have a fever I need a sweater to stay warm and so on. If my hair is falling out I need to spend more time to look presentable, and then you need to factor in another 5 minutes for feeling badly that it took you 2 hours to do all this.

I think she was starting to understand when she theoretically didn’t even get to work, and she was left with 6 spoons. I then explained to her that she needed to choose the rest of her day wisely, since when your “spoons” are gone, they are gone. Sometimes you can borrow against tomorrow’s “spoons”, but just think how hard tomorrow will be with less “spoons”. I also needed to explain that a person who is sick always lives with the looming thought that tomorrow may be the day that a cold comes, or an infection, or any number of things that could be very dangerous. So you do not want to run low on “spoons”, because you never know when you truly will need them. I didn’t want to depress her, but I needed to be realistic, and unfortunately being prepared for the worst is part of a real day for me.

We went through the rest of the day, and she slowly learned that skipping lunch would cost her a spoon, as well as standing on a train, or even typing at her computer too long. She was forced to make choices and think about things differently. Hypothetically, she had to choose not to run errands, so that she could eat dinner that night.

When we got to the end of her pretend day, she said she was hungry. I summarized that she had to eat dinner but she only had one spoon left. If she cooked, she wouldn’t have enough energy to clean the pots. If she went out for dinner, she might be too tired to drive home safely. Then I also explained, that I didn’t even bother to add into this game, that she was so nauseous, that cooking was probably out of the question anyway. So she decided to make soup, it was easy. I then said it is only 7pm, you have the rest of the night but maybe end up with one spoon, so you can do something fun, or clean your apartment, or do chores, but you can’t do it all.

I rarely see her emotional, so when I saw her upset I knew maybe I was getting through to her. I didn’t want my friend to be upset, but at the same time I was happy to think finally maybe someone understood me a little bit. She had tears in her eyes and asked quietly “Christine, How do you do it? Do you really do this everyday?” I explained that some days were worse then others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away and I can’t forget about it, I always have to think about it. I handed her a spoon I had been holding in reserve. I said simply, “I have learned to live life with an extra spoon in my pocket, in reserve. You need to always be prepared.”

Its hard, the hardest thing I ever had to learn is to slow down, and not do everything. I fight this to this day. I hate feeling left out, having to choose to stay home, or to not get things done that I want to. I wanted her to feel that frustration. I wanted her to understand, that everything everyone else does comes so easy, but for me it is one hundred little jobs in one. I need to think about the weather, my temperature that day, and the whole day’s plans before I can attack any one given thing. When other people can simply do things, I have to attack it and make a plan like I am strategizing a war. It is in that lifestyle, the difference between being sick and healthy. It is the beautiful ability to not think and just do. I miss that freedom. I miss never having to count “spoons”.

After we were emotional and talked about this for a little while longer, I sensed she was sad. Maybe she finally understood. Maybe she realized that she never could truly and honestly say she understands. But at least now she might not complain so much when I can’t go out for dinner some nights, or when I never seem to make it to her house and she always has to drive to mine. I gave her a hug when we walked out of the diner. I had the one spoon in my hand and I said “Don’t worry. I see this as a blessing. I have been forced to think about everything I do. Do you know how many spoons people waste everyday? I don’t have room for wasted time, or wasted “spoons” and I chose to spend this time with you.”

Ever since this night, I have used the spoon theory to explain my life to many people. In fact, my family and friends refer to spoons all the time. It has been a code word for what I can and cannot do. Once people understand the spoon theory they seem to understand me better, but I also think they live their life a little differently too. I think it isn’t just good for understanding Lupus, but anyone dealing with any disability or illness. Hopefully, they don’t take so much for granted or their life in general. I give a piece of myself, in every sense of the word when I do anything. It has become an inside joke. I have become famous for saying to people jokingly that they should feel special when I spend time with them, because they have one of my “spoons”.

© Christine Miserandino

– See more at: http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/#sthash.Zs8guYq2.dpuf

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Borderline feels like I’m going to lose my mind

May 24, 2016

So May is Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month, among other things. And that got me thinking maybe i should write something. It’s funny though, i wholly believe that mental health is something that we need to address in a new and different way in our society. i think the stigma attached is shitty and perpetuates the cycle. But here i am wondering whether or not i should keep writing because i don’t know if i want this piece of me out there for the world to see. If it were something like a cold or sinus infection or even my migraines i wouldn’t be embarrassed. And i’ve talked enough about my depression monster. But there is something different about BPD.

 

There’s a lot of literature out there about BPD, i’ve only read a small fraction. But most of it is ridiculously negative. It talks about how manipulative BPD’s are, how even therapists don’t want to work with us.

 

But i don’t want to talk about the negative stuff out there, i want to talk about me and my experience. Because before i was diagnosed BPD was something i knew of but it didn’t live with me. Now that it does it doesn’t feel fair to keep that to myself as scary as sharing it is. This is who i am and i’m trying to be better. i can only do that with help.

 

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For those of you not familiar, to be considered Borderline you “must show ‘a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following’:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  2. A pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation
  3. Identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  4. Impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., substance abuse, binge eating, spending sprees, unsafe sex, and reckless driving)
  5. Recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior
  6. Affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness
  8. Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms”

(from the DSM-V)

i’m in a class/group currently where they prefer the term Emotional Intensity Disorder rather than Borderline Personality Disorder because so much of what we deal with is our emotions not working in the same way as other people’s. There has been research to show that our brains are actually wired differently.

 

But like i said, i’m here to talk about my experience. Usually i would say that putting a name on something doesn’t change anything. This time it did for me. Before being diagnosed i knew i had issues with my emotions, i knew that i fell into five or more of the DSM-V symptoms. But i didn’t know that’s what they were. i thought that’s just who i was and that it wasn’t part of anything. Now that i understand it, that it’s part of something bigger, every single feeling i have feels like work. i don’t say that in a way to complain or whine. i just mean, now that i’m aware of things, and growing more aware, i find myself having to examine every feeling i have to see if it is too intense, if it comes from a distorted thought, what kind of filters i’m seeing the world through at that moment. And i’m trying to learn to do all of that quickly enough to not look like i have to sit down and study for finals every single time a strong emotion hits me.

 

i worry about hurting my friends because i haven’t figured everything out yet. i know, realistically, that they don’t expect me to have everything figured out. But emotions can suck. They can be big fucking balls of suck. And they can hurt people when you least mean to. i find myself feeling guilty for either having feelings in the first place or for not knowing how to deal with them. Throw in a very real fear of abandonment and i seem to fight this recipe for disaster over and over again.

 

Because i’ve been so incredibly lucky, my friends who i’ve opened up to have been so supportive. They tell me constantly how proud they are of me for trying to fight this and for dealing with therapy when i’m frustrated and just want to curl into a ball and disappear. They make me laugh when i think i don’t know how anymore. And they listen to me when i cry over things that logically probably don’t need to be cried about. But there is always that tiny cruel voice that reminds me that it could all go away. And i just know the wrong outburst of emotion could make it happen.

 

So where does that leave me? Grasping at tiny silver friends i don’t actually want in my life? Sometimes. Not talking to anyone? Often. Trying to understand how to manage these shitballs of feelings? You bet.

 

i could say more. And maybe you want to know more. Let me know. But for now that’s all folks.

 

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Saying goodbye to the biggest piece of my heart.

October 15, 2015

i’ve talked before about how i believe the world works the way it is supposed to.

i’m having more than a little trouble understanding it at the moment. i know we aren’t always going to understand- and it may take time to see the big picture. But quite honestly, at this moment in time, i don’t want a big picture, i don’t want the future to come with answers, all i want is to turn back time.

September 12 was one of the worst days of my life. And i am trying to constantly remind myself of the year and a half of magic that led up to that day.

You see, 2013 was a year of ginormous changes in my life. They were good changes but hard ones. They happened in a way that i wasn’t emotionally prepared for and the depression monster became my closest frienemy. But in December of that year while i was struggling to make it through each day i learned that there might be a light in my future in the form of an emotional support animal.

i have always had a connection with animals- dogs especially. Growing up in the household i did my dogs were my protectors, my confidantes, and the greatest source of love. In college i had a pet fish who died, some friends wanted to know what would make me feel better as i sobbed. All i wanted was my dog. They couldn’t give me this so they went and bought me one of those electronic dogs that was so popular for a bit.

i spoke with my doctor, she agreed this was a good plan and something that would help me. And at some point in January of 2014, i started seriously looking at Petfinder to see who was out there. i saw so many faces and stories that touched my heart and then one night i stopped. i saw a face looking at me and i knew. i knew with no doubt i had found the answer i had been looking for.

On January 14 i drove about an hour and a half, it had snowed recently. Usually i am terrified to drive on slippery roads, i’ll avoid it at all costs but it felt like the middle of summer to me that day. When i pulled up to the shelter my heart was pounding in my ears, my mouth felt dry. i was anxious and excited. i started panicking that someone had come for her earlier that morning.

i walked in and let them know which dog i was there to see and the woman said, “Are you sure?” She went on to tell me how this dog was too wild for all the people who had come for her before. How she had been at the shelter for over 6 months- had had a major surgery. She finally let me know she would bring her out and i could see what i thought, she had a look of doubt and amusement on her face. Like she knew once i saw this animal i would turn around and walk out the door.

They brought her out and she jumped up to sniff me, i sat on the ground and she crawled into my lap, rolled on her back and looked up like she were saying, “rub my tummy and let’s go home.” And that’s what we did.

In the car she was nervous at first, she didn’t want to explore anything but the floor of the passenger’s seat. And then i started singing along with my music. She crawled up to the seat and started licking my face, she would stop and stare when a song changed and when i started singing more kisses. She started watching the other cars on the road- she loved them. Even when we stopped to pick her up some new treats and toys she wanted to stay in the parking lot and just watch the cars driving.

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The next day i gave her a bath and she fell asleep in my arms while drying off. i knew that this was the best relationship i had ever opened the door to.

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My Maguire was named after Robin Williams’ character in Good Will Hunting. Those of you who have read my previous posts know how much that movie means to me. Sean Maguire says things that hit my brain in ways other words have never been able to. And since she was my emotional support dog she was like a little therapist herself. i thought it was fitting.

The difference in my well being was astronomical. There are so many people who can tell you this. Not only did i have someone constantly beside me to face whatever demons crawled into my head but i had someone there who i knew i had to be there for. i had to get up each day to get food and water and trips outside. i couldn’t hide away the way i could before.

When i tore my ACL Maguire would greet me like normal but when it came time to snuggle she would rest with her head on my knee like she was protecting it from anything else happening. We practiced jumping through a hula hoop while i was recovering from surgery so she would still get exercise and fun while i wasn’t able to do as much.

She loved her aunties. One day one of them came to visit and i kept trying to do other things so Maguire would spend time with her. It wasn’t until i sat down and she was able to fully greet me and make sure i was okay that she went and crawled into someone else’s lap.

She refused to sleep without touching me. In the winter she was under the blankets curled up right next to me and in the summer when she got warm, she would stretch her paws so they were touching part of me and then fall asleep.

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To say i was in love would be an understatement. My heart has never been filled with the love and magical-ness of anything like this before. At my college reunion people commented about her in the same way i asked and commented about their children. i was so proud. My Girl Scouts would ask to see pictures. And almost everyone i ran into at work mentioned her. She was my world, my light, my heart.

So when i got home on September 12, i didn’t know that my world was going to change. Maguire greeted me like always- we had our mom just got home from work talk and snuggle in her chair and then came to snuggle more in bed. About an hour or so later everything changed. i knew something was wrong, i thought maybe she had a tummy bug. We went to the vet and by the time we arrived she had gotten even worse. After way to much time waiting and running tests they suggested i take her to the emergency vet. We sped out there to find that no one had any answers. She was deteriorating more and more and i was trying to be strong but i couldn’t stop crying. We decided to try a course of treatment and see what happened. A few hours later i got a call telling me that she had only gotten worse. The doctor said she had never seen anything like it in a dog. Whatever was happening was in her brain and it wasn’t stopping. My heart was breaking- i’ve never felt anything like it. And i said yes when she asked if i wanted to stop her suffering. i drove out in a blur of tears and they brought her in on a table, she couldn’t walk anymore, she was blind in one eye. She was trying to dig into the air as they put her on the ground and told me i could have as much time with her as i wanted. i curled up next to her and started talking while the tears poured out. Her paws stopped and rested on my tummy. i apologized to her for the day and for anything else i might have done to cause her suffering like this. i told her how much i loved her over and over and over again. i gave her kisses and i hid my face in her neck and sobbed while begging her not to leave me. i don’t know how long i was there- it never would have been enough time. i got up to get the doctor and she started digging again. The doctor came in and i curled up next to her again and held her while the shot was injected. i held her after. i didn’t know if i was going to be able to let go.

And now there is nothing. No clicking of nails on the wood floor. No protective barking when the neighbors get loud. Everywhere i look is a reminder. And all i can think is, why? Why her? Why me? Why in that way?  Because as whiny and cliche as it sounds, it isn’t fair. And the truth is, i need her. i still need her so much.

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Sometimes i have a good day, or hour, or few minutes, and then something reminds me and i can feel my heart being torn all over again. It never stops hurting.

Some people don’t understand, to them she was a dog. She wasn’t a dog to me. She was everything. You don’t ask someone who has lost a spouse or a child if they are going to go find a new one but they ask me that. i can’t look at a picture of any dog without making comparisons to Maguire or cursing it for not being her right now- i know that in time my heart will be open again but right now it is grieving and i don’t know when my next step in that process is.

It’s taken a few times sitting in front of this screen to be able to get this far. It has been a daily struggle to deal with the world and my own brain. i don’t have a pair of paws jumping onto my tummy in the morning to force me out of bed. i don’t have eyes looking at me or a body getting comfy on my head when i want to reach for a sharp object. And thus far i’ve been able to avoid those objects but i worry about how long that will last.

i’ve been shutting the world out, shutting people out. It isn’t so much that i want to be alone, though that is the only way i know how to put words to it. It is more like none of the world is Maguire and i don’t know how to talk about everything very well yet. All the words and the emotions feel like mush and i don’t know how to take that mush and turn it into a conversation or a moment in time with another being.

i’ve talked in the past about fighting this monster- there is a part of me, right now, that thinks. . . what’s the point? Because the things and people i love all just go away. Everybody leaves, my heart is always going to be crushed over and over and over again. So why try and fight? Why ask for help when i’m just going to end up alone anyway?

i’m lucky to have people in my life who don’t let me listen to that very long. But it’s a struggle. It’s hard work to fight while you feel so defeated. And hard to push through when you don’t see anything at the end to be fighting for. No amount of hard work or fight will bring Maguire back.

So i struggle, every single day. And this along with my fucking uterus has made for one of the most mentally and physically painful months that i can remember. i’ve been trying to take each day one moment at a time- that’s all i can do right now. Grief takes time. Our society doesn’t allow for that. We hear time and time again that you can take as much time as you need, and that in time things will feel better but there is no magic Delorean out there providing this time for us. We are expected to take that time around the schedule of everyone else- grieve as long as you want, as long as you don’t miss work and perform to normal standards. Grieve in your way, as long as you are still a functioning member of society. The pressure is enormous and makes my head want to explode.

i’m not saying this to call out any particular person or group. But it is hard enough to deal with mental health bullshit every single day. There are still so many taboos and fears. When you add a traumatic experience on top and are made to feel like those things don’t matter- that you just aren’t strong enough or trying hard enough it’s a recipe for disaster. i know this, i’ve eaten disaster more times than i’d like to remember.

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i’ve taken some steps to get help through all this and i’m trying to be proud of myself for that. i know Maguire would be.

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i’m looking for baggage that goes with mine

August 23, 2013

There are certain people in the world who can say things and they mean so much more than if someone else were to say them.

 

On the other hand those people tend to be able to hurt you more with the things they say or more often don’t say.

 

My heart hurts for so many reasons. i have decisions to make. i don’t want to make any of these decisions. i don’t want certain things to change. 

 

i know that is a pointless wish. Things change. Life is one big constant change. i am ever-changing so i can’t expect other people not to be. And while there are some people who i wish more than anything to change there are others who i want to stay the way they are so i can maintain the relationship i have with them in that moment when it feels right. 

 

And the thing is, i know that one of the best things about any relationship is how it changes and grows. It’s just that sometimes i feel like it grows faster than i do and i get left behind. 

 

Had a bit of a flash from my past today. It made me wonder what is wrong with me that some people come into my life and i think they are perfect (not literally, but you know) and things go horribly wrong. i do everything i can to fix things and these people just turn out to be not good people. i’m trying not to exagerate- i have multiple sources backing me up in the fact that these were really sort of shitty people. But i worked so hard to hold onto that relationship and make everything better because i thought that if i could just change something about me that things would be all better. And, of course, they weren’t and those people ended up out of my life. But then i see them or hear about them later on down the road and they seem to be different people and i wonder why they couldn’t be that with me. What did i do wrong that made them treat me like that and what didn’t i do that made it get better.

 

i know, and i’m grateful that these people aren’t in my life. i really am. But at the same time when i see them looking happy i feel a slight twinge of why isn’t that me? What is so wrong with me that i am still sitting here alone?

 

Honestly if i were anyone out there i probably wouldn’t want to come near me either. i’m fucked up. i know, i know. . . we’re all fucked up. But apparently i am more so and i wear it like a tattoo on my forehead. 

It’s hard to balance wanting to disappear and be alone with being so damn lonely. They aren’t conflicting desires. They sit alongside each other peacefully both tugging at my heart and brain equally.

 

Oh writing, you leave me tangled.

 

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i want what you have and how my brain is like a magnifying glass

May 19, 2013

i’m feeling completely overwhelmed with emotions. i’m trying to allow myself to feel all of them and be okay with that but what i really want to do right now is unscrew the top of my head and pick all of those feelings out of my brain and then go on my way.

Sometimes i shy away from blogging when i feel like this because i remember being taught that i shouldn’t have these feelings and if i was weak and did have them that i shouldn’t ever show them. i also get scared that if i talk about the things that are in my head that everyone will think i’m a horrible person and i’m terrified of that.

i’m trying to push myself through these fears and do this anyway. And i hope that i can write everything out in a way that doesn’t show me as terrible and that will act as a relief of some of the mounting pressure i’m feeling under the weight of everything.

We have a bajillion people in our lives. Some of them have a larger impact than others. When those people compliment you, it fills your heart in a way that other people can’t. However, on the other hand, if those people do something to upset you or disappoint you in some way, it can hurt more too.

This is hard no matter what. But it’s even harder when it is a newer relationship. With my best friend she can do something to make me angry and it hurts so deeply but i know that she is still my best friend and nothing is going to change that. We have put that time and effort in together over years and i just know, i can feel that bond even through the negative stuff.

There are people that we meet that we just click with. You can’t always explain it but there is some connection there. For me this is awesome and awful all at once. i don’t always connect with people well. i tend to stay in my safe little area until i know things are okay and then when i venture out i don’t know what to say or do. Finding someone that i connect with in a way that allows me to skip all that is fantastic. But. . . i’ve had some pretty shitty people in my life. So when something negative happens in the beginning of a new friendship i get so scared that i have screwed everything up, i was stupid and thought there was a connection where there really wasn’t, i am going to be left all over again, and whatever other multitude of panic filled negativity my brain can churn out.

i get scared that if i say something about these negative things- and maybe negative things is a bad phrase,misunderstandings, comments, actions, whatever it is- that i will come across as weak or needy or ridiculous. So i keep it inside where it festers until it causes a crack in the wall i have built and everything falls apart. It isn’t necessarily that i am holding on to a bad feeling about a certain person, it’s more of just the feeling in general that sits there and then tries to take over every relationship, skewing my view of what is really going on in my life. Sometimes it does hold on to the connection to a particular person in a way that i worry myself sick about it. Rather than just coming out and saying something like, “you said that you would do X and now you seem like you’ve forgotten/don’t care/blown me off/whatever and that is upsetting, can we fix this?” i wonder what i’ve done to make that person change their mind. i wonder what i can do to be better and make them like me again.

i was talking to my best friend the other day about this and she had to basically spell out for me that sometimes people, even good people, do shitty things to other people. It is not always my fault. It wasn’t a magic fix that changed everything right then and there but it was good for me to hear.

Sometimes we won’t get an apology or a confrontation with another person about these things because they honestly don’t realize that it has happened. That can be a bitter pill to swallow when something feels so enormous to me. But i need to remember that even though it feels enormous to me, it didn’t even register to them which means that whatever happened was not done out of malice or pre-meditated horribleness. That’s a huge distinction.

Then there’s this. . .

i read a book last year called Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. It was a good book, not one of my all time favorites but i enjoyed it enough. But there one one line that has stayed with me since reading it and will probably stay with me forever.

“Envy is when you want what someone else has. Jealousy’s when you also don’t want them to have it.”

i set goals for myself constantly. i think about them over and over and over again until i can see them when i close my eyes. And i know that some of those goals take longer than others to achieve and that’s fine. i know how hard i will have to work to get there and that’s okay. It can get frustrating, of course, but i know how much more i will appreciate the end result when i’ve worked so hard for it rather than having it handed to me.

But. . . i definitely find myself so envious of other people sometimes. To the point where i stand in my own way or beat myself up over it. It’s graduation time and i see people i know graduating from school- high school, college, grad school, etc. And i’m so proud of them, my heart bursts with pride and i brag about them to other people (because i have ridiculously smart awesome friends) and then my heart has that tug of envy because i want that. i want to be graduating, i want to be in school, etc. i’m working toward that goal everyday but for whatever reason i see all these people achieving their amazing goals and dreams and i feel like i’ll never reach mine, that i’ll never be good enough to stand where they are. i know this is dumb, when it comes down to it, i don’t want to stand where they are, i want to stand in my own spot that i have created for myself. But my brain doesn’t always look at things logically.

It’s the same when it comes to recognitions or new jobs or promotions or whatever else. i love hearing about them. i get overwhelmingly happy when they happen to the people i care about most. And then that tug happens and i want that. i know we all have our own path and things will happen the way they are supposed to. That doesn’t make it any easier when you work toward something and don’t get it. It still hurts.

Feeling that hurt at the same time you feel so happy for someone is difficult. You have these conflicting emotions going on and you don’t want to come across as jealous. A lot of times you have to hide that hurt because it won’t come out the way you actually mean it. So again, it just sits inside until it bursts.

i don’t know the fix. i don’t know if there is one. i know that i can try to focus on the happy and use the envy to fuel my drive to achieve my own goals. And i can come here and try to shake out all the crazy feelings so they don’t explode. i guess that’s enough of a step forward for now.

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“It’s the human touch in this world that counts” metaphorically, we don’t actually have to do all that touching, okay?

May 10, 2013

Oh life, you are a tricky creature sometimes. i finally watched the final episode of This Emotional Life the other day, this one was about happiness. They talked a lot about the science of happiness and what people think makes them happy as compared to what we can scientifically show actually does make them happy. It’s all fairly new but the one overwhelming truth is that social connections make us happier.

 

Yes, of course. Relationships with people make us happier. And this doesn’t seem shocking at all to me but social connections are not something i always have an easy time with so it is frustrating sometimes.

 

We’ll start with romantic relationships. i wholly believe (though i may not have always followed this rule) that romantic relationships should come after a point where you are comfortable with yourself. As RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love someone else? Can I get an A-men?” For me, and i think for a lot of people, there is never going to be a point where i am completely one hundred percent okay with everything about me. And i hope that is the case because i want to be ever changing and evolving as i grow and learn. So really we just need to get to a point where we are generally comfortable with ourselves and love who that general person is. Then there is the, apparently impossible for me, task of finding someone who fits together with you the way that they should. That they should, not they way that you have imagined them or have tried to squeeze them into a space that they don’t belong in. i don’t think i need a relationship to get through life. i don’t think i can’t survive on my own. But, and even more so as i get older, i would really like a relationship. i want to have that one person to share things with and laugh with or cry with. i see most of my friends getting married or in long term committed relationships and the atmosphere changes. It’s hard to be one of the only people without that connection with someone.

 

Since i have no romantic relationship, we’ll move on to other social connections. There are probably about 47 bajillion levels of connections we can have with people. It could be as simple as smiling at someone as they pass you on the street (as long as it’s not one of those creepy smiles it can brighten both of your days.) We live in a constantly changing technological world so we have “facebook friends,” people that you would probably never call up to have a huge conversation with but you are happy to see their pictures or make brief comments on statuses. And vice versa- but it’s still something because even though those people may not be your closest friends, when they like a picture or status you posted it makes you feel happy or at least connected with another person. i suppose that is both a good and a kind of scary thing. We no longer have to have those face to face connections with people that can forge a deeper relationship- we can exist purely on someone else’s screen as though we were a character in a book.

 

There are some people we connect with on a deeper level and then the proximity to one another changes. It isn’t that the relationship isn’t “important enough” to keep up with it just isn’t the same. But somehow when you are with that person again it seems like everything is the same. i don’t know if that is our mind or life playing games with us and making us overlook any changes or rifts that might have come up if the relationship were continually pushed through the distance or if it is because sometimes relationships just work like that.

 

Then we have those people who we can point out little and bigger commonalities with but the connection is deeper than that- something that doesn’t always make sense, it just is. The people that you can talk to about anything or who you can tell your stupid moments to without being judged. These people can make you so angry sometimes but for the most part it won’t last. You’ll talk through it, you’ll yell at each other, and then you laugh about it. For me these are the people i can call in the middle of the night if i need to or who i can call while they are working and have them call me back as soon as they are able if i ask them to. These are the people my heart tends to ache for if i haven’t seen or heard from them.

 

All of that is stuff you probably already know. Maybe i didn’t need to write any of it out. Where it gets tricky for me is in two places. Making those connections and maintaining them.

 

When i talk about maintaining them, it isn’t a matter of not wanting to put in the work of a friendship or a relationship. It is more the fact that when my brain starts up with the crazy talk my inclination is to step back. To pull away from all people. Logically it would be easier to get through those times when the depression gets so bad if i had that support (and i do, but i mean if i reached out to not just have the knowledge of support if that makes sense) but i don’t do that. i want to be alone, i want to cut off all communication with the world. i don’t know if this is partially a cultural thing where we tend to be taught, and hugely in my situation, that we need to hide those big (and small) emotions from people. That we need to only show a smile to the world. Maybe some of my friends who live or have lived in different cultures can weigh in on this. It becomes like a tug of war with a tiny part of me realizing that those connections with people are vital to being happier and the majority of me saying fuck that, crawl back into your bed and be alone for the rest of your life.When i’m already struggling to get through each day those tug of wars are exhausting.

 

Making those connections is terrifying. As we get older it is harder to make friends. i don’t drink or go to bars so that social scene that works for some people is out. But the bigger problem is i am petrified of being hurt, being abandoned, being led on, etc. i don’t want to foolishly think that i have a friendship or connection with someone only to have it thrown in my face. Sometimes i try to avoid those connections even though i can feel in the pit of my stomach that they are there. Sometimes i try to find a middle ground where i can have a surface relationship but avoid going any deeper. And other times i find myself tumbling down the rabbit hole while hoping i don’t end up landing on my face.These connections can be so random. They aren’t always with the people you would expect and that can be a hard mental hurdle to jump.

 

Maybe i’m getting better at this. i’ve sort of forced myself to talk stuff out with people lately, people who i didn’t know how it would go with. People who while i would like to think i would be fine without, the truth is i would be heartbroken. i know those are good steps. Hard steps but good ones. It’s nice to be able to look back and see that i’ve moved forward.

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Not only do i have my own thoughts crashing around but also everyone else’s

May 3, 2013

We are told by many different people, in many different ways, throughout our lives that we shouldn’t worry about what other people think.

 

This is complete shit.

 

i’m not saying that you shouldn’t be happy and comfortable in your own skin but this idea of not worrying about what other people think of us is preposterous. And worse, those thoughts aren’t all equally weighted. Some people’s thoughts and opinions about us mean more than others.

 

Friends can tell us how smart and talented we are but they aren’t the ones who hire us for a job or give us a promotion. Family members can tell us we have grown up to be remarkable but they aren’t the ones who are going to ask you on a date.

 

i wish i could simply not worry about these things. But the truth is, if i want to go to school, i will have to jump through those hoops to impress the people who will admit me, and then i will work my ass off to make a good impression on my professors so when it comes time to get a job i will have the right people standing behind me. When i applied for this job, i didn’t have my tattoos showing or wear any of my piercings. And while those things are accepted where i work, they aren’t in so many other places. Ink on our skin or dye in our hair doesn’t make us any different on the inside but that doesn’t seem to matter to a lot of people.

 

Who we love isn’t something we should have to worry about but so many of us do. We have to worry about what family or friends or co-workers will say. And it’s not just if you’re queer. People have strong opinions on age differences or race differences or how people meet and whatever else. This doesn’t mean that you stop loving who you love but you find yourself avoiding subjects or talking loosely about them.

 

People say that we shouldn’t stay in situations where we can’t be ourselves and i agree, in a friendship or a relationship you should be able to be yourself without fear. Things like jobs and families are a whole different story though. Jobs aren’t something you fall over every day and families are so ridiculously complicated.

 

And the thing is, even if you can be who you are at a job you will still (at least i will) worry about what people think of you. Do they think you’re working hard enough, do they think you’re smart enough or good enough to be working there, do they think you’re good enough to move on past the point you are at?

 

For me, the idea that i am not any of those things is crushing. i don’t want to be a failure and i don’t want people i respect to think i’m not worthy of something more. i don’t want to feel like i am told one thing to build me up and then i sit back and look around and see something else. My last job spent a lot of time telling me how good i would be at a higher position and then pushing aside any requests to learn more or to take on more responsibility. It hurt so much and i didn’t have much, if any, respect for those people.

 

We are told to ask for help when we need it. In a huge variety of situations. And then somehow, when or if we actually do, there are people who think we are weak for it. So we are left wondering and worrying about who those people are and what we should or shouldn’t say and do.

 

People can make tiny remarks that leave such deep scars. They play a major role in how we go through our lives every single day.

 

It is exhausting. All of it. i’m just so fucking tired of all of it. i’m just so fucking tired.