Maybe It Doesn’t Help

Asking for help doesn’t seem to be as effective as I advertise it to be. “Ask for help! Don’t go through it alone!” It seems that asking for help just makes people think you are crazy. And makes them think a) they are saviors to your cause, making it about them rather than about the hurting person, or b) they get angry because you’ve lost your marbles and the inconvenience of it pisses them off.

Either way, not what I was expecting. And I won’t ask for help again.

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How the Light Gets In

391202_2278046668545_1489483160_nMotivation. Why do we do what we do? Guilt can be a powerful motivator. But it can lead to a mountain of anger and resentment.

I’ve been resentful for a long time. Sometimes at certain people, nearly often resentful of myself, often at “God” (back in my Christian days), and frequently just resentful toward life, in general.

My reasons for completing the mundane, everyday household tasks carried with them a lot of martyrdom. I cleaned the cat box because “no one else will.” And always with a wad of anger in my throat.

I washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen because “no one else gives a shit.” And the dishes would clatter into the dishwasher a little more loudly than necessary.

I did the laundry and swept the floors because “this place is a pigsty, and I am the only one who cares.” And tears would often flow as I dumped the contents of the dustpan into the garbage.

I helped my kids with their homework because “no one else in this household gives a crap if the kids are successful in life.” And I’d fall into bed with a knotted up stomach after helping my eighth-grader with math.

I’d mow the grass and weed the flower beds because “what will the neighbors think of me if I don’t?” And I’d apply the lavender essential oil onto my scratched fingers and arms and fume over the fact that everyone else had been watching tv.

Did I ever ask for help? Rarely. Because “I refuse to beg.” Did I love and enjoy my evenings, my weekends, my life? Rarely. Because “I’m alone in all of this. Nobody cares but me.”

Martyrdom. Anger. Resentment. Bitterness. Anti-depressants.

My family and I moved out into the country a couple of months ago. It’s been a dream of mine for years. Decades, even. I have my birdsong now, my peace, my view, my serenity, my bright stars, my silence.

And in all of this quiet, under the influence of the clouds and the meadowlarks and the night calls of coyotes, something in me has shifted and softened. Something inside of me is opening, and is learning to observe the hardened parts of my inner world. Not to hate those parts, or to feel guilty about those parts, or even to try to deliberately force those parts to change. I am just learning to look at them. To see them. To hold space for them.

I don’t have a name for what is really happening. I don’t yet know what it is, or how it will affect my future well-being, my depression, my outlook. I don’t know how much more work I have to do with it, or how far it will take me. I hope that it takes me far, that it takes me to happiness, to contentment, to balance and centering and peacefulness. To a natural state of gentle being.

But I do know that now, when I clean the cat box, I clean it because I love my cats and want them to have a clean, healthy place to poop. That was quite the revelation to have over the litter and clumps, with the cats waiting patiently behind me. It felt pretty fucking profound, actually.

Magic is afoot, I think, as I watch the early Spring storm clouds roll from one end of these mountains to the other. I will let this land tend to my heart, and I will accept each new revelation as a gift that takes me farther along a path of self-healing.

Let it begin with me.

Clock and Cabin

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I am a nervous wreck right now, worrying about a dental appointment at 3:20. At 41, I have my first cavity, which will be filled during that appointment, and I’m scared as hell. Ludicrous, I know.

I’ve mentioned the word rhythm in several recent posts. I am trying to adopt and nurture a sense of rhythm in my daily schedule. Because I often have severe anxiety and anxiety attacks, I’ve watched for the triggers that set off my internal alarm system. One of my primary triggers is chaos, which in my life amounts to going (dun-dun-dunnnnn)…off schedule. 

Not only does the dental appointment involve such things as poking and drilling, it also throws my daily schedule completely off kilter. And I think I dread the kink in the schedule more than I dread the drill. Maybe. I may be exaggerating. But, I can’t quite tell. My insides are all ratted up in knots, and I can’t get to the center of myself to know what it is that truly is the problem.

What I do know is that once that dental appointment is over and I’m home, I will be completely fine.

The Waldorf education model emphasizes rhythm for children and families. I find the model (which extends from education out to lifestyle, in general) to be so nurturing and uplifting. Small children need structure in order to feel comfortable and confident, and a reliable schedule (note I say reliable, rather than strict) can help give children that needed structure. I am not a home-schooler, and I don’t consider my home to be a “Waldorf home” (Google has tons of information on the Waldorf home and school models–wonderful reading material, and a fascinating history to the philosophy). But, I do aspire to have a rhythm to my home, work, and family life. Not a strict itinerary that everyone must rigidly stick to, or else, but a sense of routine that gives my family and myself a sense of peace and stability. I want my home to have the feeling I get when I look at the photo above. Peace, calm, the ability to breathe deeply and fully. (My oldest son took that photo, by the way. He also took the photo of the flowers in my blog header. Isn’t he brilliant?)

Admittedly, my husband and my daughter (my three older children are grown) don’t need this sense of structure the way I do. They are very spontaneous, and often restless, and like to go or do things at the spur of the moment. I, on the other hand, get easily rattled if plans are changed, or if new plans are suddenly made. So, I must admit that this idea of rhythm is less for my family and far more for myself. But, of course my anxiety does affect my family, so I consider this issue to affect all of us, although I wish it stayed localized with only me! Wouldn’t it be nice if our depression and anxiety and other worries only affected us, and didn’t radiate outward to those we love and care about? I’d love to save them that heartache, but unfortunately, that’s just not the way it works.

So, in order to keep my own sense of calm, I am working on creating this daily rhythm, using a planner, and even scheduling in breaks for myself. I tend to hunker down and focus on one thing, forgetting that I need to look up every now and again, and take a breath. Times of high anxiety make me do this even more intensely, so I have to really work hard to be proactive about setting and keeping a rhythm, especially when I’m stressed, or lack of rhythm will lead me to be more stressed and anxiety-ridden, which often rolls into anxiety attacks and worsening depression.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So today, I am trying to work with my needling anxiety over the dental appointment (and probably my sense of loss over not having the longest no-cavity record of anyone I know…yes, I’m a Capricorn…) by keeping myself on a schedule, reminding myself that it’s just another day of work, break, work, lunch, work, break, work, pick-up, (dentist), work, off, dinner, cleanup, nightly reading and family time, bedtime prep, and sleep. No biggie, right?

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock…

Me and the Eagle

I always feel a little unsettled the day after a major holiday, even if it was wonderful. A bit drained, lazy, but also sort of lost, as if my tether has come untied, and I’m not sure what to anchor myself to next. I seem to measure my life by holidays. I think this is due primarily to my work schedule, and the fact that a major holiday generally means a paid day off. And, I usually take the day following a pagan holiday off, too, because of this drained feeling I get the day afterwards. That actually adds up to quite a bit of time off, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that I am very unhappy in my job.

I’ve worked for the same organization for nearly fourteen years, and although I’ve been able to change jobs within that organization about every three to four years, it’s never been a satisfying or fulfilling arrangement. It’s a secure job, with decent pay and great time off, benefits, and flexibility, but it’s a very exhausting place to work. Just thinking about it makes me have heart palpitations, and so on my days off, I try my damnedest to avoid the thought or topic of work.

About a year ago, I had a pretty severe “nervous breakdown” sort of episode. I basically fell apart for the first several months of this year, and have spent the majority of 2014 trying to rebuild myself. I learned that it is possible to pretend that life is ok, and to get from day to day, especially if one doesn’t think very far into the future. But, once thoughts extend out to things such as long-term goals, long-term aspirations, or the frighteningly taunting topic of dreams, pretending is no longer possible, and the reality of the situation can really bite one squarely in the ass.

I’ve been reading a book called “E-Squared,” a book about experimentations with the Law of Attraction. Each chapter of the book is basically the author’s challenge to the reader to dare the Universe/Cosmos/Mystery/Great Unknown/whatever to support you in what you need or want. The chapter that really changed things for me was a chapter about demanding (yes, actually demanding) that the Mystery show her/his/its support for you. The challenge was to demand a sign that will show you that you actually are significant in this great mess. And not just any touchy-feely, oh-how-nice sign, but an actual monumental thing that is going to literally be the thing that proves it to you. And the thing that would prove it to me, after all this pretending, would be for my significantly awesome Other to say, “Let’s get the hell out of Dodge, like you’ve wanted to do for 14 years.”

It was a long shot. An absolute improbability, because my Other is very much rooted in this place, even though he does not like it much. I have convinced him several times to move, and each time he has been on board for two or three days, or even two weeks, but he’d be full of anxiety and doubt the entire time, and then, once I was sufficiently excited about leaving, he’d change his mind, say it was all too uncertain, all too strange and new and different, and he’d put on his grown-up hat and say we’d better stay. Sometimes he’d even be the first to half-heartedly suggest a move to some new place, but I’d know he was only trying to force himself to save me somehow, because he’s known how I’ve changed these past years, how stifled and domesticated I’ve felt, and he’s truly wanted to help me feel better. Each time, I knew he didn’t really mean it. But, the stability of our life here has always won out, probably as it should, but it’s killed me a little more each time, until I came to the point where I had trained myself to stuff it down, stick it out, and say this is it. This is as good as it will ever be. 

And really, truly, it is a very good life. I have wonderful friends. A pretty house, an amazing yard, which we’ve done all on our own, every plant and tree and twig and seed planted by my own fingers. But it’s never felt like this was where I was supposed to end up. And being here has felt like an ending, kind of a sputtering out, a withering away. Not a golden years type situation, but rather just a place to…well, those ellipses say it best. It would be a life that ended in ellipses…a low flame fizzling out under a cold bucket of water.

Not the passionate life of wind, wildflowers, and big skies I always dreamed of.

Settling for something is necessary sometimes, but it should only be for a while. It should only be a temporary arrangement. Settling for the rest of time is a slow, sad death. Yes, it is that quiet desperation we hear so much about.

So, back to the book. The experiment was to last 48 hours. It was about 20 minutes before my experiment was set to end, and I was thinking how stupid it all was, and how I couldn’t believe I was actually reading such a book. You know, tarot is legitimate, but the Law of Attraction? Lol. 😉 Well, my husband called right then (he was out of state on a hunting trip) to say that he was really ready to move this time, that he was applying for a transfer with his company, out of state. He basically said that he was tired of just existing.

Yes, tired of just existing. We are in our forties. No time to lose. It’s time to do what we want, where we want, and enjoy life and each other.

We should hear within the next couple of weeks if the transfer has gone through. If so, it means that I will be able to quit my job this summer. If not, he’ll put in his request at the next opportunity. It will happen eventually. We will buy an old fixer-upper of a house in a tiny little town, live totally on the cheap, hike and hunt and fish, eat all our meals home-cooked (because I won’t be exhausted and drained after a shitty day’s work), and have time to live a slow, sweet, and simple life. No more commuting, no more crowds. Clean air, bright skies, white snow, cold wind, mountains of family time, and wildflowers aplenty.

And the cards tell me it is so, and that’s assurance aplenty for me.

“And when it’s all said and done, I’ll usually find, that me and the Eagle are of the same mind.” ~Steve Earle

Must-ing

*I must please others.

*I must be happy.

*Others must like me.

Well, this is the most perfect font on the face of the page. I love it. MV Boli. It’s awesome. Even the periods are set in the middle of the line. Lovely! But I’m typing this in Word, so it may not transfer over to the WordPress screen…we shall see… Well, I previewed, and it didn’t show up. Take my word for it, it’s lovely. Go try it out in Microsoft Word, if you’re a font collector like I am.

Yesterday in counseling, I learned that there is a thing called “musting” that we are prone to, and the three primary “musts” are the ones I’ve listed above. (The psychologist who writes about this actually calls it “musterbating”, which just sounds fabulous, quite honestly. But, anyway…) The shift happens when we replace “must” with “prefer.”

So…

…I prefer to please others.

…I prefer to be happy.

…I prefer for others to like me.

“Prefer” takes a lot of pressure and frenzy out of the scenario. It puts the brakes on the heated emotion, quite frankly. It makes one slow down, and consider, truly, what it is that one really does prefer.

“This person must like me” transforms into “I prefer that this person like me.” Which then moves into the thought process of: “Do I really, honestly CARE if this person likes me? If I prefer for this person to like me, what do I have to do for this person, so that he/she actually does like me? Is it worth it?”

It opens up an entirely new way of thinking, a slower, more conscientious, more personal and deep-rooted way of thinking…and not an obsessive way of thinking, but rather a way of thinking that promotes self-care. It is a paradigm shift from “OH NO WHY IS THIS HAPPENING” to “Ok, so what DO I actually prefer in this situation?”

I was very skeptical when I was referred to a therapist by my doctor, but I’m certainly getting some much-needed and eye-opening tools for getting through each day. I have been making a game of it, and it’s actually given me a few smiles and giggles here and there.

For example…

I go from: I MUST get make this joker who cut me off in traffic PAY!!!

{Insert anger, rage, fist shaking here!!!}

To: I would prefer that the guy in front of me wasn’t such an asshole…but he is…oh well.

{Insert giggling, singing to the radio, sipping on a Dr. Pepper, here.}

This practice has actually been the highlight of yesterday afternoon (since after my counseling appointment) and today. I even have a couple of my friends doing it. I’ve come to several new and profound conclusions from taking this practice seriously, while simultaneously finding a lot of fun in it, too. It’s quite entertaining, and also quite contagious, and makes for a bit of light-hearted fun for the heavy-hearted over-thinker.

Also, I want to tell you this—if you are a person with depression, I want you to know that I am so very sorry, and I want you to know that I feel you. And I send you my love. It’s so hard to find someone to talk to who really, truly understands. Even well-meaning, loving, supportive people can say the wrong things, things that don’t help, things that unintentionally hurt, and things that you wish they’d never said. We all do it, actually. But I want you to know that what YOU are going through is legitimate, and you are loved. I just want you to know that. We don’t hear it often enough, so I just want you to know it. I am sending you my love, my hope, and my comfort. There’s plenty of it to go around for each of us, even though sometimes it’s so very, very impossibly and excruciatingly difficult to remember.

Today, Deliberately

I grasp for knots in the thick rope of time, mostly relieved when I find them, and hold tightly.

Today is my birthday. 40. Is this my midlife crisis?

One of my current lifelines is a journaling project offered by Lisa Sonora Beam. The project is Root: A 30-Day Journal ProjectIt’s sublime, simple, and exactly what I need right now. Maybe you’d love it, too.