On anger and (lack of) acceptance, and of course, grief.

I worked today. It wasn’t unbearable. I have made a couple of friends there who help me to stay in the present, and find things to laugh about.

I have a co-worker whom I worked with briefly pre-the event, and then after, for a short time. I recently returned to that jobsite and she asked me how I’m doing with my son’s death and all…

…my honest answer is “I’m staying busy.”

What that means, is:

I do everything in my power to think about ANYTHING except for the fact that my baby is gone. I struggle every single day to keep my mind in between the lines, knowing that any drifting toward the curb will surely result in careening over the guard rail into the valley of sadness and regret. Although I don’t feel a desire to do anything, I am compelled to…keep swimming.

There was a self-help book that came out, probably in the 80’s, and the title of it was “I’m dancing as fast as I can.” Lately it’s more like I’m sitting in a rocking chair, rocking as fast as I can, but the effect is probably about the same.

Added to the grief of my son’s death is the fact that I find other things in my life, things that may ordinarily be moderately annoying, to be ENTIRELY UNACCEPTABLE. That’s where I have to do some footwork. I know enough about grief to realise that my irritability could be grief, slipping out sideways. And for that, I am, as they say, responsible.

I was in a class recently with someone who just frankly chapped my ass. This person was (just my opinion) overly self-centered, obnoxiously attention-seeking, and, well, maybe narcissistic. As evidenced by the looks on the faces of others in attendance, it wasn’t just me who was finding this person’s behavior a challenge to tolerate. For all outward appearances, this person was in attendance for purely selfish reasons, which was ironic especially when the whole point of the class was learning how to better SERVE OTHERS.

So, I got to thinking (in between perceived offensive behaviors), working on a mini-4th Step: what is it about ME, that this behavior is having such an effect on my serenity?

I learned from the Old timers in AA, many years ago, that if a person is getting on my nerves, it may be that there’s something of ME that I see in them. 🤔 Hmm.

Or maybe it’s a trait that I used to have, evident in all its ugliness, when seen in someone else…🤔

A few days later, I was talking about this situation with a friend. I had no sooner gotten out of my mouth how much I felt like punching this person, and realising that I was giving them ENTIRELY too much free space in my head, when my friend said “It sound’s like (they’re) really hurting.”

It stopped me right in my tracks. Mid-rant, to be honest.

Hurting.

I know something about that.

In fact, just a short period before this ass-chapping situation began, I had, myself, opened my mouth and said something for which I was compelled to apologise, the next day.  (Yes, it took that long for me to hear my conscience, loud and clear. Don’t you judge me!) I apologised to person #1 for a shitty statement I’d made about person #2, because apparently I felt uncomfortable in strange surroundings and wanted to be sure that #1 would want to be MY friend rather than #2. Such an immature and hurtful thing I did. My only reason/excuse is that I’m hurting and sometimes it comes out of my mouth in the form of me being an asshole.

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So, I can see, today, from this vantage point, that perhaps the person chapping my ass was, in fact, myself. After all, aren’t I the one who decides how I frame my life experiences? Don’t I  choose whether I become angry or not?

Yeah. I’m still a doo-doohead at times.

Which leaves me here, tonight.

Let me preface this by saying:

I am not depressed. Also, I am not suicidal. At all.

But I was thinking earlier about the shift in my thinking, a.d.

I had been pursuing becoming an entrepreneur, a lifelong dream. I was learning how to think like a successful business person, just absorbing all those “positive” and “motivational” phrases and quotes. Things like

“My best days are before me!”

But, now, guess what. I don’t believe that. I can not believe that there are better days ahead than what are behind.

For too many reasons to mention, it’s just not something, barring MIRACULOUS moves of God, that I’m willing to accept. Mind you, I do believe in miracles and God has shown up and shown off plenty of times…but my feelings tell me that the best days of my life are gone.

This has NOTHING to do with the incredibly strong supportive folks around me. Please don’t twist this into being about them. It’s just how I feel. It will pass.

And don’t get me started on the Mom-remorse for not knowing how to (adequately?) help my younger son through this nightmare.

………………………………………………………..

This is why I hesitate to write. I don’t have much to say that’s not wrapped up in shades of grief and mourning. If you see me on the street or in a store, you won’t know that these thoughts are my constant companions. I do my best to not thrust my heaviness of heart onto unsuspecting others.

But 3 days from now would have been Benjamin’s 26th birthday. 3 months and 2 weeks since he left us.

I suppose maybe someone will glean something helpful from this. Its really the only purpose for sharing these thoughts.

Thank you, if you’ve read this far. I am so very grateful for the kind and generous, emotionally available people in my life. If I can ask a simple favor, it is that you keep my family, Benjamin’s wife & friends in your prayers. 20160217_220356.jpg

 

 

 

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Depression sucks.

It really does. It sucks the life out of you, in every way, if not treated. Here is a basic description of depression along with symptoms I found online: The persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterizes major depression can lead to a range of emotional and physical conditions. These include inability to sleep or concentrate on tasks.

To expound on this definition, the above is as far as I got in writing this post. I’m not feeling bad now, but I long to be off the meds. I think I have less than a complete range of emotions now. (Eeyore sigh)

It’s beautiful out so I’m gonna focus on the good. 😁

UPDATE:

About a year after writing this, I was introduced to a natural supplement that allowed me to GET. OFF. THE. MEDS.

Drop me a line if you’d like to get back to feeling. REALLY feeling again. Or go here and see what I’m talking about.

And the tears come

Every month, for the last three or so, someone whom I cared about has died. I can’t even remember further back than that, but it seems to be pretty much on the reg, now. It’s a part of life, right? People die. People are born, and then they die. The Bigger Big Book says that each person is given about 60-70 years to live. Maybe more if you’re a truly amazing individual. But that’s really not the norm for the kind of people that I am acquainted with. The folks in my Tribe usually don’t make it past 40 or 50. Out of the last three to die, one was in his mid 40’s and the other two were right around 50.  

So, here’s the thing that prompted me to write about this: I don’t feel much of anything. I mean, one of these folks was a fairly close relative, and the other two had been important in my life at different times. Shouldn’t I feel…sad? I think intellectually I know I am sad, but emotionally I’m pretty well distanced from that pain. 
When I entered Treatment, I was all up in my head. I had a full-on case of Analysis Paralysis.  Someone told me that I did that to avoid feeling anything unpleasant. It took me a little while to become more aware of what I was actually feeling, and I think part of that lesson involved noticing the signals my body gave me. For example, when I’m initially anxious or stressed, my stomach aches. If I ignore it, the stomach ache moves on down my digestive tract. When I’m afraid I get tensed up and instinctively begin looking for an exit. I had come to distrust myself (and wear a mask) so much of the time, that I completely ignored these signs of my mental upset.  


I was in my teens I think, when I decided that I wasn’t going to cry anymore. I didn’t know it then, but I’d been depressed and struggling with PTSD for years, so crying had been part of a normal day for me. So, I concluded at this time that I wasn’t going to let anyone make me cry. God knows how, but I didn’t cry for more than a year. People died, relationships came and went, but I did not cry. I felt like I had grown callouses around my heart. Eventually I did allow the tears to escape, but even now, they are more difficult to access. There have been times when I was terrified and grief-stricken, but the tears only came for about 15 minutes at a time. Then they stopped. 


This concerns me.


It’s no secret that I have been taking medication to alleviate the depression for many years. I have been grateful to escape the darkness that lurks in my mind via Medical Professionals and pharmaceuticals. I remember telling someone who was considering trying meds for depression that they made me feel “appropriately”. As in, when it was a sad occasion, I felt sad, and when it was a happy event, I could smile and laugh. 
Before the medications, if it was a sad time, I was sad, and if it was a happy time, I was slightly less sad. Eeyore was of course my spirit animal.

I try to keep in mind that there are always many factors to consider when trouble-shooting my emotions. The biggest factor I can come up with now is that I’ve become more aware of PTSD symptoms when they crop up. I’ve figured out several scenarios where I am very much going to be uncomfortable and that I need to try and avoid. That awareness is helpful. It also makes it easier for me to see when others may be having the same issues.


So, in the process of self-examination, each time I learn of someone who has been important in my life dying as a result of this disease, I don’t really feel anything.  The last person, I was shocked at first, but that was just because I thought she’d dodged so many bullets already that she’d never die. And then when I thought about times that we’d been together – and there were ALWAYS shenanigans involved – I couldn’t really work up any feelings.  Same basic situation with the person before her, but we had been friends during childhood…nothing. Before that was my Uncle. 


Brett was a couple of years younger than me, and for as long as I could remember, up until I was 16 or so, I would spend at least a week with him on Grandpa’s farm. We were very much like brother and sister. We swam in the lake, fished, caught nightcrawlers for said fishing, climbed trees and even cleaned out an old pig house (like a very small shed) for a fort.  Brett was where I learned the amazing skill of rolling off of the top bunk directly onto the bottom bunk. Those were the days. As I think back, I miss that period of my life. I miss the carefree time out in the country, being as much of a tomboy as I could stand, and knowing that I was a part of
I’m not sure if that all even has anything to do with my uncle, necessarily. I am saddened to think of my innocence then, and how far I ran to the opposite extreme in my active using…years. Maybe it was the fact that I could count on, every summer, getting that break from my reality.  


So, yeah. I wonder about my lack of feeling. Is it a result of having had so many painful and traumatic experiences, that I’m just not (yet) able to open up that part of my consciousness? Is it the old standard “IDGAF” that I programmed into myself for such a long time? And then when I ponder these things, there’s the part of me that says I need to suck it up, remember there are many people who would LOVE to have my problems (I do, and feel terrible for not being more thankful), and make a gratitude list. Gratitude lists are EXCELLENT, by the way, but they’re not the end-all and be-all for overcoming these things. 


I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this sort pf thing, primarily because I’m not sure how to remedy it, and you know the old saying “You can’t think yourself to sober living. You have to live yourself into sober thinking.”


Do you have any experience with this all-encompassing numbness? Do you “know” the right feelings for situations and yet not have them? Do you think this is part of the whole “children of alcoholics watch others to see how they should feel” thing?


I don’t have the answers, and thank God I don’t have to, today. 

P. S. 

Moments after writing this, I was informed that my only friend in this state died this afternoon. It was an overdose. She had a son that was friends with my son, and another who was 4. I am feeling now. 


Written in my cabin in the mountains.

Depression? PTSD? Whatevs.

I went to my Mental Health Dr. yesterday. I like him. Of all the men I have been in a room alone with, I think I’m the least uncomfortable with him. I don’t know how much of that is him, and how much is me, but regardless, I’m truly grateful. 

Several weeks ago, Dr. G added a medication to the one I have been taking for a while, with the intention of eventually dropping the first. My (dream?) is to stop taking the other, as well, but that may or may not be realistic. But, I trust him to make the call.

Here’s the part that stands out to me about yesterday’s appointment:

He said he doesn’t think I am depressed- clarified with the word “remission” – but that we’re just dealing with PTSD, now. I told him I can see that being the case, as the trauma began pretty young. I had a Dr. tell me years ago that I’d likely been depressed since I was 7-8. In the context of yesterday’s conversation, I wonder if I’ve not been wrestling with PTSD for that long? I know that many of the symptoms, for me, have been similar. Or maybe they just overlapped. Either way, I will gladly accept that the (not “my”, I refuse to claim ownership) depression has been arrested. There’s no question that there are occasionally triggers for PTSD that pop up. After so many years, God has allowed me to talk myself through them for the most part. 

I feel a return of hopefulness and a reduction in despair. I see the beauty around me a bit more clearly. 

Ah, Recovery, you give me gifts that I’d never have imagined. 

Have a groovy Friday y’all. Or at least, if ya don’t, find someone to talk with about it. Even if it’s your Cat.

Saturday afternoon contemplations

I feel like I want to write something – God knows there’s plenty of verbage flying around in my mind – but I’m just not sure what.

Comparisons are baaad, mkay?

(Please excuse the South Park humor) I don’t have a functional radio/cd player in my ride, so I’ve been immersing myself in Recovery podcasts. It’s really been a blessing, and it’s good to be sitting in traffic, listening to “my people” talking about the kind of life that I -and not so many other folks -have experienced and lived to tell about. I catch myself laughing (a great recovery tool in its own right) and nodding in agreement on my way to and from work, and for that, I’m really grateful. (See links at the bottom of the post for some of my favorites.)

Just one problem

The drawback being, my (internal) Committee – you know, the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee – is forever comparing me to them. The guys and gals who are so witty, so good at expressing themselves, and (clearly) kicking ass in their own lives. They tell me that all of the writers and/or podcasters are infinitely smarter, younger, more attractive, better at their jobs, less damaged, self-confident, domestically skilled partners, living with financial security, great parents, being paid to do the work that satisfies their hearts and souls, and on and on ad nauseam…

Getting into the Solution

It helps me at times like this, to refer to the list of positive qualities that I’ve written down that sits at my make-up table.

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My positives list

Last week I solicited these from a couple friends who’ve known me for a long time, and from one wonderful person who’s seen me in a professional capacity, which is to say that we worked together. They were able to give me a respectable list of positive qualities, to be sure. Just knowing there women causes me a great feeling of gratitude. I’m humbled to have them count me as a friend.
I need to read this list DAILY.
I think I’ll go do that now.

Hang on.

To be honest

I suppose since “honest” is one of the words my friends described me with, I should tell you that what I referred to as a “make-up table” is, in reality, an ironing board in a closet where I put on the make-up before going into work. Ok, so that’s cleared up.

Anyway, it’s a difficult task, letting the positives come into my mind without immediately deflecting them, shooting them out of the sky like so many skeet shooters. I mean, I’ve known me for a REALLY long time, and I’ve SEEN some of the things I’ve done AND STILL DO. Some, more than just occasionally!!

What would I tell a friend in this situation?

Asking myself that question has been tremendously helpful. I have a gift for exhortations, but I am so often completely incapable of speaking to myself with kindness and grace.

Soooo….

If I were talking to a friend, I’d remind her that we tend to judge our own insides by other people’s outsides. The “beautiful people” may feel insecure and unworthy, just like me, but maybe they’re just better at hiding it.
Maybe I need to work on forgiving myself for being imperfect. Maybe I’ll pursue that counsellor I talked to my GP about the other day, especially now that I’ve got insurance again. Maybe it’s time to adjust the meds again.

Anyway, it’s gonna be ok. I’m working on transparency, here, again. I don’t know if any you struggle with these things, but if anyone else does, I’m hoping this will help.
You’re not alone.
It gets easier. It really does. I promise.

Here’s links to some of my favorite pod-talkers. (Soundcloud ROCKS,YO.)

Since Right Now / The Recovery Revolution

Sober Courage

Bad Story

Buzzkill

High Wire Girl

I so wish podcasts were around when I crawled back into pseudo-reality. They’re quite brilliant, and they go great with a strong cuppa joe and a bagel.

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.