Sunday, August 28, 2016

When You Hope Your Stories Were Heard

One of the most peaceful and happy mornings I can remember in a long time, as First Daughter is sleeping sounding on my extra mattress.  What mother doesn't enjoy the sounds of her children sleeping soundly.  First Daughter is visiting, and we have had a very chockfull few days of adventures in Chicago.  Nothing too fancy or elaborate.  Doing some errands together, eating at new places, and walking around downtown trying to get lost and see new different things.  We didn't make the Skydeck as planned but the tickets are good for a year, so I will make it on less rainy day.  But we did make it to Second Daughter and Second Son's fifth wedding anniversary party.  And it was touch and go for a while if we would.  I was a bitter reminder of her break up that they were suppose to be at a wedding this weekend and to be going to an anniversary party surrounded by couples, was not an easy thing for her to do.  But she shouldered it much like I or my mom would have.  With grace and no one but Second Daughter and Second Son knowing how difficult it was.  I know her appearance made them as proud as it made me. 

See First Daughter is putting up a good front after a little over a month of tears and fears about the future now that she's single.  This is a serious time for her, and her emotions are on edge.  I don't know if she sees it but I know she's made up her mind about what will be.  As she does with every crisis that she lives through.  Because her emotions so close to the surface she gets like my mom when's shes passionate about a topic.  Loud and always right.  This makes me shrink back, mostly because I shrank back from my mom when she would 'win at any cost' any difference of opinion we might have. 

See I want what's best for her.  And she wants what she wants.  And maybe what she wants is best for her.  Maybe moving back to Chicago to find someone new is what will save her.  Maybe my opinion of staying put and healing and saving money is not what would be best.  Maybe my experiences of loss and love, and finding myself first before trying again, is not for everyone.  She thinks I'm career oriented instead of love oriented because she's never seen me fight for love.  But she couldn't be more wrong.  See she's only heard me talk about my past, could witness how I've fought for love or tried to keep relationships together when they were hopelessly falling apart.  Nor the nights I cried in defeat or fear at being alone forever.  She's only witnessed the aftermath.  The strength that came from finding myself and loving me enough to be alone rather than settle for love. 

I find myself in a place no parent wants to ever be.  Where I must support her decisions because she's not a child anymore.  She's grown up and knows what she wants.  Why wouldn't she, she's my daughter and I always went after love first.  And look where it got me.  Alone.  So while I can say I understand and I feel more sympathy than she'll ever believe.  I'm not perceived as the good guy right now, because I don't want her to make the same mistakes I made.  Break the same hearts I broke because I wasn't ready to love again.  No matter how much I desperately believed at the time that I needed love or I'd die.  She doesn't see that my advise is not because I wouldn't welcome her home but because I remember where the path she is on leads.  Sometimes I wish she could have seen me through all of that.  Then I realize she needs to make her own life and mistakes to grow. 

So I'm hoping our last day together will still be the honest loving relationship we have known instead of me shrinking back.  I want her to know I'm on her side no matter what she does, even if its been against my best advise.  Because she means so much to me, I can't stand to see her so sad.  But I'm lucky that she has chosen me as one of the friends she trust enough to help her through this difficult time.  Some parents never hear anything except, "We're fine," or "Nothing's new."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

It's All In Your Head

As I sit here writing this I am confronted with an old opinion that I've just rediscovered.  I started writing my novel again yesterday.  Edited five and a half chapters in about three hours.  Then went on with my normal Saturday of working out and groceries and hanging out long distance with First Daughter.  Today has the normal blogging, a long distance movie later with Mr. Practicle, cleaning and cooking for next week on the docket  A typical weekend to a typical week.  And normally by now I'd start feeling like I was in a rut and should go out and DO something.  And then get anxiety about it because I really can't afford to or don't want to be around people.  And that's where the people are...outside.  But not this weekend.  This weekend I'm happy in my rut and looking forward to the down time.  And I asked myself why?  What made this weekend different?  Sure I'm looking forward to seeing First Daughter in four days, but I don't think that's entirely it.

I think it's because I wrote.  I used to use writing as a sure fire way to get over the blues or any situation that felt too normal, thus needing an escape.  I'm sure that if I wrote more often I'd feel better emotionally.  So why don't I just do it?  Because it's not just writing any old word that gives me this high.  It's writing something and then coming back to it and reading it and instead of saying, "that's shit"  I say, "I wrote that?  I like that."  It gives my confidence a boost that is always needed.  And even the 'that's shit' moments are opportunities.

They say, and they say a lot, that knowing your problem is the first step to controlling it.  And perhaps that's right.  But for me, my problems are all in my head.  And I don't mean that in a physician's way of handling a hypochondriac.  I mean, it's all in my attitude.  Which I can control and which is in MY head.  I can be happy or sad or in love or out of love.  All in my head.  All in my choice of what I want to express or feel or not feel.  The mind is much more powerful than we know, and the 'fake it til you make it' philosophy has some merit.   It's how I quit smoking seventeen years ago.  I just told myself I wasn't a smoker, believed it, stopped buying them, and quit.  Mind over matter.  They say that in extreme situations, it can even work with some pain.  I wonder about that but not enough to test it. 

I know this sounds silly but if you find yourself in a bad mood,  or feeling depressed or upset about something you can't change, try thinking your way out.  Try feeling the opposite, just do it.  Try talking yourself out of it.  Use your skill in imagination and will power to feel something until something happens that actually changes your outlook.  Sometimes it is just the will to get out of bed that does the trick.  Sometimes it is taking that nap.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Becoming Transparent

Coffee is doing its thing while I try to figure out what I need to write about this week.  The heat kept me inside after my workout and errands yesterday, not my anxiety.  Which is both good and bad, I wanted to go to the park and see a friend in As You Like It but I'm hoping next weekend or the weekend First Daughter is here will be better.  And also I don't want to go alone.   So my anxiety did play a part after all, perhaps 50/50. 

I wish I was better at this.  At adulting and living life.  I wish I could accomplish all the things in my head that I want to do.  That's one of the hardest parts about living with anxiety is knowing you didn't always have it.  I remember being able to wake up, and plan a day of things to do, some even outdoors with people, and not only stick to it but look forward to it.  Now my mind comes up with all sorts of reasons why I shouldn't get out of bed.  Yesterday it was the weather, and yet I did get out of bed to get the things done I knew had to be done.  Banking, groceries, I'm surprised working out made the list.  I hope it does again this morning after my blog or laundry.  However I feel excuses coming on as I type and wonder if I'll make it.  I also have another chance to see the play this afternoon, in the hot.  Again, I can hear myself making excuses to keep me isolated. 

And while writing feels like a good thing to do and one that if I did I'd feel good about staying in, it doesn't seem to come for me anymore.  Perhaps I'm in a slump.  Or maybe I'm enjoying all the time I'm getting with First Daughter since her break up and deep down I know it wont last.  She'll meet someone new and he will become her life, like with First Son.  Which is absolutely normal in my opinion.  Something is not right in my heart and mind hemispheres, for when its not right I can't write. 

I've been blaming it on worry and life and time but the real reason is I'm lazy about it.  I don't force myself to open up the documents and finish them.  Really finish them.  I read books that I know are far above my abilities,  and I read ones that I know are far below.  You'd think the later would get me motivated but it doesn't.  I sometimes wonder if I think anything is worth the motivation now. 

With the exception of gaming and watching TV it seems all my hobbies have gone away, and while I'm trying to keep them, I feel like everything and everyone is just slipping away.  This is anxiety at its best, it's also the precursor to being depressed.  Which I don't feel but sometimes I worry is right around the corner, lurking like an old addict friend that won't go away after the party ends.  You know the one who crashes on your couch just for the night, but wont leave in the morning? 

Mr. Hopeful was hoping to come this weekend, and then his business kept him from travel.  Maybe I miss him more than I thought.  Maybe that's the reason for the slump.   But I know I'm very good at talking myself out of commitments when I'm alone.  Its like all my life I've waited for someone to do all these fun things with, and not doing them by myself is foolish.  I'll suggest plans and get shot down by some of my own excuses.  He hates crowds too.   But maybe I need someone that loves crowds to get me out more.  Maybe I need to be more confident with my friends and say I'm doing this want to join?  I actually tried that with Shakespeare in the park and both girlfriends either work or had other things going on.  I try to make plans that will get me out at least one day of my day off and when they fall through or can't happen it makes me feel like I should just stay in.  I know I wont make it out of the house today except to the basement to do laundry.  Again its hot and I know I want to write and be alone away from people.  Game and watch an escape I enjoy.  Try to be with my thoughts and get them straightened out before work tomorrow.  You see, it's become my Sunday habit.  I don't wonder why I'm alone anymore.  I know why.  I hide so well, no one can see me.  I think I'm enjoying my invisibility in society.   This is probably not a good thing.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Anxiety. The Personality Killer.

For some time now I've been happy with my life.  It's really an odd sensation for me because with the exception of the last couple of years here in Chicago, I've not been happy.  Now children that I love and love me, don't get me wrong.  You being in my life has been my only real lasting happiness.  When I look back on my life I realize a great portion of it is worry about all the bad things that can happen.  Financial, employment (they go hand in hand) safety, children, (they also go hand in hand) my health, divorce, and breakups (both my parents and mine), fears both imagined and very real.  And I understand that at a very young age I was taught to fear things.  That my parents in teaching me to be brave and be prepared for the worst, put all the worst possible outcomes in my small impressionable head.  And while that lesson has been a godsend in helping me survive in the hard cruel world, and raise my kids mostly alone, I also realize that worry and fear seem to be my natural state.

Anxiety has been my friend for so long it's almost impossible for me to stop it now.  However, I try to relax and stop my brain from imagining the worst possible outcome to every situation.   And as accurate as my gut is I have to admit that most of the time those worst case scenarios rarely happens as I imagined.   I guess the fact that I'm often right that something is off, but rarely right about what or who is what keeps me listening to it.  It's better to be warned than blindsided.  So I sit in an almost constant state of nervous corked action ready to spring, but not knowing what direction I need to pop.

I hate that I'm used to this.  That I've been disappointed in life so much with my choice of careers and employment; or lovers and husbands, that I automatically am in "wait for the other shoe to drop" mode.  Which is so unfair to myself and the people that want to be in my life.  I don't even trust my friends to stay around long because they never do.  No one does, with the exception of my kids.  Which I'm very lucky in that area. 

But for the last two years, I've been trying as hard as I can to stop myself from worrying too much.  And let me tell you it's more difficult than you can know if you don't already suffer from anxiety.  Anxiety is a killer of hope and dreams because the voices in your head that tell you 'you won't be liked,' or 'you are not good enough' or 'you can't be successful at that' are very convincing.  And they keep me home, away from the people that I imagine will fulfill my fears.

Things are better for me here than they were in Wisconsin, as far as trying to keep the fear at bay.  My family and friends are a great comfort in talking me off the ledge.  And as much of an independent woman as I've become over the last twenty years, I do miss a strong man at my side telling me it's going to be ok.   Sometimes I feel like I'm unloading on my kids too much or my friends, but I'm sure they would say 'it's what friends are for', or 'you are not unloading, mom'. 

I envy people that can truly relax without any self or prescribed medication.  I don't take meds anymore because my depression is gone, and my anxiety I have learned to control by meditation and positive self-talk instead of focusing on all the negative.  Also sharing my fears with loved ones helps.  It helps me to hear them say that I'm over thinking or I'll be alright.  Which is true.  I'm not a quitter.  Almost everything I can imagine I can imagine a positive outcome.  So if I focus on that instead of the negative one, I calm down.  I know that sounds very simple and basic, but when your heart is racing and you are panicking because you feel like you are trapped with no way out of a situation, it's harder than you think to quiet that voice.

And yet, to look at me, you'd think I had myself together.  To listen to my advice when a friend asks, you'd think I know the answers.  Invisible illness, we all have one.  And yet we assume everyone else has this life thing figured out.  But you know what. they don't.  We are all just trying to survive and wake up and get out of bed and have a life.  But some days.....that just doesn't happen, or it happens and then that gut goes off, and you are a cat waiting to pounce, watching everything too critically.

And suddenly the great conversationalist or writer or actress or dancer or person I know I am disappears behind a film of, 'they won't like you anyway so why try.'  Self-doubt, low self-esteem, and fear are my constant companions now.  And on a good day, I can see them, and I get up, get dressed and go out anyway.  But I still feel alone in a crowd.