The New Year…2020

As a new decade begins, I’m leaving some things behind:

  • depression,
  • my best friend (and her death),
  • my sister (and the hurt and anger that comes with her),
  • my dear friend michael (and the roller coaster that came with him),
  • my ridiculous sense of insecurity and worry.

As a new decade begins, I’m carrying bits and pieces of the above mentioned with me:

  • Gratitude, for good days and better times
  • Gratitude, for the lessons learned
  • Gratitude, for letting go
  • Gratitude, for feeling seen and heard and valued
  • Gratitude, for becoming me, and accepting myself just as I am.

In this new year, I will be myself. Nothing more, nothing less…just me.

I was wrong. It hurt both of us. And now…

So my dear friend, the one who kickstarted my unraveling, whose kindness rekindled that fire in my soul, who can’t be in my life anymore…I thought he crafted a scenario to hurt me. I was wrong. I hurt him with my assumption and he hurt me with his insensitivity.

Here’s the thing…in the midst of one of my down periods, this was happening. At that time, I had been begging my dear friend to come see me, give me an opportunity for closure. There were some unresolved things, and as mentioned in previous posts, I like to peck at things. Anyway, he typically shuts down and just moves onto the next thing.

But just weeks later, he finally agreed to see me. We had a chance to talk out a few things, catch up a little, and honor our friendship for the authentic and inspirational experience that it was. We parted as friends, with a smile and a wave. And now I feel like I can finally let him go. I know that he will always carry me with him as he navigates relationships, parenting, and struggles. I know he will be alright.

(And yes, I say love, because there are many kinds of love…friendship is love)

Parents…

So I’ve been watching my mom bloom…trying new things, working on her mental health, taking time for herself, and changing her frame of mind on matters that require some hard work. She’s doing amazingly well after all sorts of trauma and drama…and not to toot my own horn…well actually 🎺 …I helped get the ball rolling, and I’m so proud of both of us.

My father on the other hand…not my step dad, he’s great, but my father is a whole other story…I spent a couple hours with him last week and it took all of my energy just to be in his presence. He has always been odd, and remains just so…

He says things like, “I will just go along with what you’re doing,” or “I don’t want to disrupt your routines,”. But his awkwardness and his capacity, or lack thereof, inhibit the time we spend together.

I reminded myself a hundred times that he’s only capable of so much, he’s not equipped for more…he’s limited, and I need to accept it. That’s how I’ve dealt with the neglect and abandonment I’ve felt over the years.

It just stinks that he isn’t really evolving, partly for my own selfish reasons, but also for his sake…I wish he could grow and learn and be better…though he seems content enough with his simple life.

*And on a side note, having felt rejected for so many years, when he was late arriving at our house, the feelings of inadequacy just came rolling back as if they’d never left…I’d like that to stop too.

Feeling Free…

So after pecking at a problem like a hungry chicken yesterday, and well…poking the bear, I woke up feeling surprisingly FREE!!

I allowed myself to poke the bear, stir the pot, push buttons…and though I fought it for months, and shouldn’t have done it for the sake of the other party…it was what I needed to do in order to move forward and let go…not sure I really understand it though.

The other party created a situation that pushed my buttons and I reacted as expected…whether or not it was intentional, that person used me to cement me as a villain and themselves as a victim.

I will not be used. I will not be the villain. I will not sacrifice my self respect.

I WILL BE ME.

That is all, no more, no less.

I’m just another hungry chicken…

So I have this need to finish things sometimes, emotional things…and when I can’t, it’s incredibly frustrating and I get stuck. Really stuck. I want to keep trying and I end up pecking at the situation like a hungry chicken…but I just end up making things worse because the other person either isn’t able, isn’t willing or just doesn’t understand or care about my need to peck at the problem.

I know I should just walk away and let it go, but if I feel like we could leave things in a better place after getting through the hard stuff, I think it’s worth going there! You have to work through shit to get to the good stuff…and anything worth doing is hard…I’m willing to put in the work and when the other party wants to just shut down and be angry, I just don’t know what to do with all that!

I know I can lead a horse to water but I can’t make him drink…I just feel like I have to offer the opportunity. Is that so wrong?

Sometimes, I feel like the people on tv are talking to ME!

Don’t worry, I’m not hallucinating…just sometimes, the content in a show strikes right where I’m at and feels so…relevant to me. Awhile back, after my best friend had died, I was up late watching tv and The Outsiders was on, the part when Ponyboy reads the poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay. In that moment, it hit me that Laura was that beautiful gold in my life that I couldn’t keep.

And it’s so true…I’ve been going through a lot, and though I’m doing better, I find myself once again all cozied up with that fleeting feeling. When I began to recover from my unraveling, I felt so alive and energetic and vibrant! It was very much connected to my dear friend who was kind to me for no reason. He’s not in my life anymore, and I feel like I have not been able to recapture that surge of healing and colorful energy. Maybe I never will, though I also feel like I have to grieve that loss, not like my friend who passed, just in its own way.

I got to this point of viewing the friendship loss, and ultimately the grief, after watching tv and feeling like the characters were talking to me…after a memorial service one character was referring to “…ashes to ashes, dust to dust…” and it made him think of something the other character had once written himself:

“Nothing lasts forever, (that) people we love sometimes leave our lives, but what stays is how they (have) forever changed us.”

I needed to hear that. Really needed to hear that. Laura definitely forever changed me, in countless ways, small and huge. Michael definitely forever changed me, in countless ways, small and huge. There have been others too, and hopefully I’ve told them who they are…I will eventually, don’t worry! These two relationships are more present, painful even, for me because of their brevity and the degree to which I’ve been changed by them, and the fact that I didn’t, and wouldn’t, choose to walk away from either of them…the choice was not within our control on both counts.

Anyway, I’m reminded of the poem, because after all, “nothing gold can stay“. All I can do is hold onto the gold flecks left behind on my heart and soul. The gifts both Laura and Michael shared with me will stay, and for that, I am and will be forever grateful.

*I’m also reminding myself that it’s not so much that they changed me; it’s that they provided a nurturing and safe friendship in which I could grow and change myself.

Still crazy after all these years…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my friends, past and present. Last weeks therapy appointment got me thinking about past patterns of behavior. And I had one of those “aha” moments…

Early rejection left me wary of connecting with people. I would hide myself, make myself small until I had a reason to open up. And then once I did, I was all in, attached to the point of …excess.

That feeling of acceptance and interest became, well becomes, like an addiction at times, and can be detrimental to the relationship in the end. It wasn’t always that way, but I can think of a few specific examples off the top of my head. I don’t always take the time and effort to feel things, when I do though, it’s deeply. I hold on tight and dig in. The closer the connection, the tighter I hold on…And sometimes it’s a good thing…sometimes.

Now that I’m aware of it all these years later, I just have to learn to live with it, making adjustments when I can. As I accept me, hopefully others will too…lucky for me, some already have!

Climate change and mental health…updated!

Watching tv last week, I came across The Running Man from 1987, the one with Arnold Schwartzenegger.

In the year 2019, America is a totalitarian state where the favorite television program is “The Running Man” — a game show in which prisoners must run to freedom to avoid a brutal death. Having been made a scapegoat by the government, an imprisoned Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has the opportunity to make it back to the outside again by being a contestant on the deadly show, although the twisted host, Damon Killian (Richard Dawson), has no intention of letting him escape.

Anyway, I got caught up in it out of curiosity. It also scared me a bit because certain components rang true, like competition for resources and the culture of greed and instant gratification. I started to kinda freak so I do what I do these days…I found a TED talk!

Here’s the link-give it a listen!

Britt Way discusses the ways climate change affects your mental health. Common themes between the movie and TED talk: fear, fatalism, hopelessness. Here are the notes I took as I watched, some are quotes as indicated.

  • PTSD and suicidality increase after disasters like extreme weather events like Katrina, Sandy, Irene…
  • Young people are questioning whether they feel it’s right to bring children into the world given what they will face
  • “Bangladeshi child adds 56 metric tons of carbon dioxide to their parents carbon legacy over their lifetime while an American child, in comparison, adds 9441 to theirs.” So we also have to think bigger than just ourselves…
  • Climate change “multiplies the stresses that marginalized communities already face.”
  • Did you know that there are climate psychiatrists? They specialize in PTSD associated with weather events, but also “climate linked pre-traumatic stress.” Whoa!

As always, I find climate change scary and overwhelming, so I believe that those climate psychiatrists are for real! She closes with the following, and it’s important!

We cannot afford to treat the psychological impacts of climate change as an afterthought (just) because the other issues, of science, technology and politics, and economy, feel hard and while this somehow seems soft.”

I know what she means…the objective content is easier to swallow than the subjective, though no less important.

Update!! Since writing this a couple days ago, I’ve been seeing hearing and reading other things that sparked more…I’m sure you’ve all heard of Greta Thunberg by now…I am so impressed by her. Learn more here

She’s amazing because of the stand she is taking, the lengths she will go to, and the support she is giving, but also, she is showing the world that her diagnosis doesn’t limit her, calling being different a STRENGTH. And she is so right!!