Saturday, January 21, 2017

Feeling safe - depression - suicide - utopia

I can feel the sadness in the air with our incoming president. It is hard to feel good about someone that promises to turn back time. He is the president for that small group of people that enjoyed the world when it was a little more censored.  When you didn't know every bad thing going in the world and you weren't aware of the predators living in your neighborhood and you could just pretend they weren't there and the world is safe.

Now days there is so much information coming in and only the worst is ever reported.  We want to feel safe and if someone says they will make us safe we really want to believe them.  We want someone to just fix what isn't pretty about life and take us back to the days of Andy Griffith and Beaver Cleaver.  News flash they were make believe just like the idea we were or will ever really be safe.

Holding on to the idea that things will ever be the way they use to be stunts our ability to grow and adapt to how it is now. I know personally that change is not usually something you sign up for it is forced on you but you can learn to adapt quicker.

When my life was turned upside down. The breakup - menopause and the recession my mind could not accept it.  I could not accept that what I thought would be my life wasn't going to happen.  With so much uncertainty I had a meltdown mentally spiritually and physically.  I was in shock and thought about taking my own life daily it seemed like a perfectly logical solution with such an uncertain future.

Someone recently told me that during the recession they felt so out of control that they slipped into a depression that was so severe that that regularly kept a gun near them incase they wanted end it.  They said they laid next to their spouse at night an cried non-stop and hadn't told anyone except me about this time in their life. I can't imagine not telling anyone. I told you guys and regularly joked with the people that could stand to be around me that they might find me in the garage with a hose in the window. 

Just like the conversation with my friend it wasn't that I was sad it was that I felt nothing and without out feelings I didn't really see the point of going on. People say it is a selfish act but when your mind has had a break and there is no feelings it seems like a logical choice.  You are just there taking up space and since I am alone I felt no one would really be affected by my disappearance. I know these thoughts sound crazy and they were crazy but when you have no feelings there seem to be no point in living. 

I believe my higher self or holy spirit whatever you want to call it helped me make it through the each day.  I remember telling myself I can check out tomorrow if I want.  There is always tomorrow.

For me the life ahead of me was so uncertain that my mind could not process the changes quickly enough and I snapped. We have to teach people that feeling uncertain and scared is normal there is no utopia outside ourselves.  There is no magic pill or president that will save us the pills will only keep us from thinking too much about our fears dulling our minds.

When you are at the bottom it can be too late to pull yourself out without help of some kind. I was alone most of the time and my sickness liked it that way. It wanted me isolated so it could feed me a steady stream of crap that kept right where I was for longer than I should have been. I never questioned my thoughts until one day a voice said "you are doing this to yourself" and started asking myself "is that true?" and from that point on I got better.   

I guess my point to all this is that I understand fear of the future with all its unknowns.  I understand wanted to feel safe and crawl back into a life you once imagined you had. I would have done anything to not have had to suffer and change when I was facing it but you can't go back. Going forward is the point of life moving on besides the past was never quite as rosy I my mind would have me believe it was I can see that now. 

My friend said they fear everyday it will come back.  I never even considered that. I believe it was a spiritual correction for me.  It was a perfect storm to shake me to my foundation and make me question every thought I have ever had.  It erased who I was, one thought at a time, and left nothing but a foundation.  I have started rebuilding but it is a slow process but I have nothing but time. There is always tomorrow.  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

I don't belong - Losing my place - no where in particular

I have had a lot on my mind through the holidays.  It is never the best time for me emotionally sometimes I can just be satisfied with being neutral,  This year a few things came up that I really didn't understand.  The feeling manifesting in an under current of irritability festering on top of resentments and ultimately ending by blaming myself for screwing things up.

When I first entered the program I became part of a group where one person kinda served as the social planner and matriarch of the group.  About ten of us did all kinds of things together and at the holidays those of us that do not have family here would spend our holidays together.  This has been going on and off for about twenty years. Really.

This year it was announced oddly at a meeting that they wanted to spend Christmas alone.  When I stopped by the day after I was given a detail account of all the people that were there and what a fun time they had.

I had spent Christmas with a friend alone the third day in a row of cooking and eating together.  I felt out of sorts and really couldn't put my finger on why.  The marathon cooking did remind me of the past and the life I use to have that life involved a lot people. Back then I did enjoy the cooking but I am no longer that person and cooking three days in a row for just two felt like drudgery.

After hearing how great Christmas was where I am normally invited made me really sad. I realized I am no longer part of that inner circle the one place where I once felt like was my chosen family.  I no longer fit in there but whose to blame but me.  During my dark time I dropped out of the circle and lost my place and now my pool of close friends is smaller than ever. Blaming myself was the reason for my own sadness and irritability.

I know where is my gratitude? I was able to sort this out by admitting that I don't really fit with those friends anymore.  I have moved on just like they have but the issue is an old one "I don't belong anywhere" it an old story that I tell myself when my life doesn't look the way I thought it would look at any given time. Also telling myself that my life is small with mostly work.

I would like my life to be bigger and to have more moments of joy and laughter with friends but the truth is I love my work and I meet new fun people every day. It challenges me every day and I need that. This is more than most people can say.  I chose my work and mostly I love it.

Time has passed and I am also grateful that I came out of the dark even if this means I lost some friends along the way.  I worked through some pretty painful ideas I had about myself not being worthy of love because everyone I have loved has rejected me. So being rejected this Christmas brought up those feelings.

I  have realized that I can't define myself by how other people treat me.  Everyone is busy being the star of their own drama and they aren't paying attention to my wants and needs.  It isn't personal and when I went to the dark side I wasn' thinking of them I was just trying to save myself.  I did just that with the help of my own higher power.  It could have turned out differently and this post would not exist.  So I wouldn't change a thing.

You can't go back and do things over and you can't go back and crawl into the spaces where you once felt safe and secure. I know that security is an illusion and as you grow spiritually you learn to feel safe just where you are no matter what the day may brings. Today I am happy even if I don't belong anywhere in particular I am still here.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Trees - Denial - Rapture

I am working a lot which is great this time of year for a single person living alone.  There is some forced Christmas cheer going on at work.  We always have a Christmas tree and one OCD person always puts it up.  They decided this year that they did not have the time so and innocent new person with nothing to do called their manager and got permission to put the tree up.

Well apparently there was a scene in front of customers when the keeper of all things arrived to find the tree up. This person has done this before and I am sure the outburst was more about the fact they had fallen short of their normal duties.  When you believe you are the only person that can do anything correctly and then someone has the nerve to do it and not meet your standard of perfection then this is reason for a meltdown.

Nothing will happen it will just be one more story about this person to spread throughout the company.  I was happy I was working at home like I am today.  I only know what happened because I innocently commented on how beautiful the tree looked..

This time of year feels like a farce to me and reminds me of when I use to force Christmas when I lived with alcoholism. We were pretending that there wasn't a volcanic eruption just below the surface and that any moment the relationship would be covered with molten lava.

I was so afraid of losing everything that I just kept moving.  I was doing all the things that other people do at Christmas.  Hoping that the outside decorations would somehow transform the horrible loneliness and fear I felt on the inside.  I pushed out reality by staying busy I was afraid of losing the one person I felt really knew and loved.

The year he left at Thanksgiving by Christmas I was still deep in denial and guilted him to go with me to cut down a Christmas tree like we had done every year we were together.  I didn't know that his girlfriend was impatiently waiting back at her apartment. I used my Al-Anon persuasion to get him to go with me.  I was going to pretend nothing had changed. I didn't know about the girlfriend and thought maybe we could talk things through and re-kindled something.

I did find out months later and the truth of my situation sent me to Al-Anon. The severity of the situation broke open the fortress of denial I had been living in alone. No Christmas tree or lights on the house or candles in the windows could mask the truth anymore.  I was awake for the first time and the pain like nothing I had ever felt.

Since then I have stopped hiding behind the Christmas fanfare. Since getting in the program my internal life is not dependent on these rituals to complete me.  Some years years I do a tree and some years I don't.  During my last relationship my ex wasn't that interested either way so it felt like I was alone with the idea of Christmas trees and decoration. At that point I wasn't interested in forcing another Christmas tree purchase on anyone.

I am a little sad this year that my life is only full of mostly work. I can't change the path that my life has taken or mentally erase the past.  I was sitting and eating my lunch yesterday and remembered one Christmas when we were going north to the in-laws for the holiday and had decided to open our gifts before heading to the airport.  We made a huge mess and just left. My friend stopped to check on the house and he said it looked like the rapture had taken place and we had been taken right in the middle of Christmas.  The memory brought tears to my eyes and then laughter. Life goes on.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Passion - trapped

I have been watching a lot of documentaries on Netflix. I am not that interested in fiction anymore. Maybe because I have been living in the fantasy inside my head  for so long I not sure I want to spend time in another persons fantasy.

The ones I have been watching are about passion to do complete something and the drive or creative process behind that.  I watched the story of Elmo and his creator and then last night the Indie Games the story behind some of the geeks that are creating top independent video games.

Both stories were similar in that they were passionate and it never occurred to them to do something else instead. The Elmo creator and puppeteer made his first puppet out of his dad's coat lining after watching Sesame Street.  Luckily his dad was supportive and told him to ask next time. His story was what you imagine it would be like if you were born to do something specific.

The geeks were a little different for sure obsessed but because they were pressured to release their games at a certain time their lives were full of stress.  One person coding day and night for years. Some worked in pairs but others were totally isolated for years without money and even without a car. The movie was about the successful ones that have now made millions who are now working on new games.

I could relate to their suffering it reminded me of the time I spent during the recession without customers feeling stressed and trapped wondering whether I should just quit and go back to my previous profession. I had invested so much time and money at that point but with the lack of success I wasn't sure what to do.  I was there alone in the office waiting for customers to come in and at that point the were coming in maybe once a week.

Sometimes you are at a crossroad but sometimes you are way past that crossroad and in a space of complete emotional exhaustion.  In my case when I looked at the jobs out there in my old profession it made me feel physically sick. Mentally I don't think I would have been able to pretend to be excited about a new position during an interview.

I had left that part of me behind and I couldn't go back. Those were some of the worst years of my life and I do feel grateful at this moment that I am busy and happy where I am. It was the right move for me to leave my old profession and it was the right move for me leave that small shop and work for a larger company.

Both decisions were forced on me for different reasons.  They made me have to re-invent myself and accept that the plan I had for my life was going to be different. It didn't make it easier that I was having to do that with my personal life too.

The good news is that I made it and feel like a success.  Even though didn't have millions waiting for me like the game developers did. It all worked out even though I couldn't imagine how it was going to at the time.

In the big picture passion can seem clamorous but in the day to day it can be a grind to stick with something when you can't imagine it will ever end.  The thing you once loved stops being fun but you just have to get up and do it anyway. You have gone too far to turn back.

I love design and I love anything creative.  I am happy that I made through both transitions and work in a field makes good living and allows me to be creative.  Happy to be no longer stuck.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Uncle James - My first experience with an alcoholic

The first memory of  alcoholism was when I was around four.  My Uncle James who lived with my grandmother had passed out on the kitchen floor and because of his size she couldn't get him up. She was preparing for some kind of family dinner and there he was in the middle of the kitchen floor.

My grandmother was a true un-treated Al-Anon nothing phased her.  She ask me to fetch a stack of news papers from the back porch. Then she promptly covered him up and we continued to cook stepping over him as if this is what everyone does.

I loved my Uncle James he was a three war veteran and the kindest person when he wasn't drinking. He had a lot of physical ailments from the wars not to mention emotional problems so he got a big check at the first of the month from the government this helped my grandmother get by. He was my favorite uncle because he told me stories and actually talked to me like I was an adult.

He was what I would call now a binge drinker.  He would sometimes go six months sober start working with a family friend who owned house painting business and then we would have a family event and the drinking would begin again. The days before the event my grandmother would be especially relieved that he wasn't drinking and she could count on him to help her get things ready. Without fail he would leave the house the morning of and come back just as things were underway completely trashed and would stay that way for months.

I remember one party in particular where he showed up with a present for me. A little cross necklace he picked me up and put me in his lap. I could smell the booze and it felt weird my grandmother was furious and won't let me accept the gift.  She then made him go to his apartment next door.

I remember sometimes my grandmother would pretend that someone important was coming over if he had passed out on the couch or something.  She would grab him by his hair and shake his whole head. She would yell "so and so will be here any minute" He was unconscious and never moved.

My grandmother was his biggest enabler. She let him live in a small apartment on the first floor of her house.  They had a door between them and when he was sober the door was open and when he wasn't it was bolted from her side.  She had to keep her food hidden around the house in case he got drunk and started cooking. When he got started he would stop until there was nothing left.

My grandmother would drag everyone into the drama.  She would get the help of my other uncle during the binges. He was a long time deputy sheriff in our town and his fellow officers would call him when they found my uncle passed out in bars or sometimes in alleyways where he had been robbed after he got that check. My uncle would by-pass the system and deliver him home to sleep it off.

Overall it was better for us when my grandmother knew where he was my mother would get less calls and there was overall less drama. I know there was AA back then but I don't think my family knew about that. We were more the type to rely on Jesus and keep our family problems to ourselves.

After my mother died my aunt moved my grandmother and uncle to the town I live in now.  I came here because I was alone and thought having them here would be a safety net.  I knew I couldn't live with them because I couldn't deal with their drama.  They didn't live together anymore so I stayed with my uncle for a month until he hocked some of my stuff to get money for booze. Nothing changes.

I was there about a month and moved out after he stole my stuff. Shortly after that he destroyed the house after a cooking spree where he passed out and left a pot on the stove. He was fine but the house was un livable. My aunt moved him back in with my grandmother and my grandmother put a deadbolt on the bedroom where she hid her food.

We never really spoke after that.  The weather here wasn't great for his health and he ended up in a VA hospital in Arizona where they were treating veterans with emphysema. My aunt said he seemed at peace out there not having to live up to any one's expectations. Everyone wanted him to succeed he was so lovable when sober and had such potential.

I started this post thinking I would write about why I didn't see my own husbands alcoholism. I do think that I thought all alcoholics were like my uncle. I didn't know that there was functioning alcoholics. I thought my husband and his Irish Catholic family just like to have fun.

I realize now that the drama of alcoholism was there from the very beginning for me and I know the heartbreak my grandmother felt seeing someone you love someone with such potential throw it all away.

My ex husband has gone on to create a new life for himself and I don't know if he is still drinking or not but I can now wish him well.  I am happy that he has already had a better life than my uncle did. I am grateful that AA and Al-Anon are more mainstream today and that families don't have to just live with their secrets.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

When people leave

It is the eve of Thanksgiving and I wondered whether I should write about the past.  Does writing about it give it more power over me or show me that there is more work for me to do? I am not sure we shall see what comes out here on this page.

I have had two major adult relationships the first lasting almost a decade and the other over a decade. Both of these relationships ended abruptly on Thanksgiving.  Technically not on Thanksgiving one the day before and the other the day after.  I think it is safe to lump them under the overall heading of "Thanksgiving" either way.

Your never prepared for the moment when the person you expect to spend the rest of your life says "I don't love you anymore" together with "I love someone else".  The world stops at that moment and something else begins.  The we ends and the me begins and the question of who I might be without this person. Somehow getting ready for 20 people coming for dinner the next day seems like a cruel joke. Just for the record I canceled the dinner and never cleaned that kitchen again.

What timing both my ex's had for their departure or in the second incidence my own departure. The second time I didn't go quietly into the night and I didn't beg like I did the first time. I knew more I knew the look that you can see is some one's eyes that they have moved on and that you are standing between them and a lifetime of happiness. The first time I was only told "I don't love you anymore" so I believed there was hope. (seriously)  If I had heard the second part "I love someone else" I would have moved on more quickly.  The truth might have set me free.

The good news is that I have gotten over it and even though this holiday will never be one I am really thankful for it isn't one that triggers the side of me that blames me for what happened in both cases.

People leave.  They start leaving way before they pack there bags or make you pack your bags.  At least that is my experience. I always thought that couples had problems and when you did you would sit down and talk about them and then get professional help. That seems like the mature thing to do. Right?

They were both brilliant people but not too emotionally mature and honestly neither was I.  I picked them because they fit me for that time in my life and frankly I can't imagine still being with them. I have worked hard to address my own immature thinking and I have stopped looking for another person to determine my worth.

This wasn't an easy post to write but it is the truth about Thanksgiving for me.  I am more me than I have ever been.  I have found the strength to be myself even if right now that means I am alone.  I am thankful tonight that I am not where I use to be and I am grateful to the people that have left.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Introverts - The devil - Safety pins

Every where I go it seems people are still in shock about the direction it seems our country is going. I attended an art event last night and it was no surprise that there was a lot of talk about "T" among the artist and patrons attending.  I saw a few safety pins being worn something that started in Britain after their vote to leave the European union.

Just as I mentioned before that when you travel in the same circles with people like yourself you have a sense that your on the right side and that most people agree with you. As a democrat who was raised in a devoutly conservative fundamentalist home it has taken me a long time to find my place in the spiritual as well as the political world.

There was never hate in my home my mother instilled the "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"  this was really our creed. I never heard my parents criticize each other or anyone else.  It was clear that we were republican because the democrats were godless and we just needed to pray for them.

It was the south and the 60's and 70's and in our religion we believed that we had the only ticket to heaven.  When I married a catholic I might as well have married the devil himself. He did turn out to be the devil. But it turned out that living with  devil  forced me to stand up for myself and grow spiritually in ways I couldn't imagine.  I can thank him for being the person I am today.  A last note about my mother she single handily rallied the church wives to get out and vote. This was was pretty radical for the housewives of her time.

After speaking with my sister this week it is clear our parents gave us the ability to step away from our emotions and try to understand where other people might be coming from.  It isn't easy when it seems they are so wrong and we are so right.  She felt that the democrats should have come up with a less polarizing candidate.  I said that train left the station a long time ago when she lost to Obama.

I have a eastern sense of belief about life in general but I understand the fear that motivates a lot of people.  The fear that if we are inclusive and that if we accept people that are different from us we don't have the same clear sense that we are absolutely right in our own personal beliefs.

I also think that democrats just like republicans and want to dismiss the other half of the country as nuts. I think the election was driven by fear and the country was ripe for someone who was willing to bi-pass the usual status quo of both sides and just be his own outrageous self. Reality TV.

I do think this is a wake up call for us democrats it is my experience that as individuals we aren't that visible.  In general we are introverts and don't put bumper stickers on our cars or even signs in our yards.  Maybe it is time to get more involved maybe this will motivate us to do something different.

I know from my own personal experience that the worst things in my life (the devil) can actually get me moving in a more self-empowered way.  Instead of sitting around in shock wondering how we got here.  Moments of reflection are good but then the next step is action.