My tongue is in my hand…

Archive for January 2009

I am making myself write and not go to sleep yet. I have paperwork to do too.  *sigh* Always. I’m feeling better about the job, but it’s the kind of job that permeates your life. I don’t know why I thought working in mental health would be the kind of job that didn’t.  It’s not just the people, it’s the system, the underfunded, constantly changing system. I think it’s going to be alright though. As long as I feel I’m capable, I feel it’s okay. I want to do well and earn the experience that will grant me opportunity and expertise to utilize myself within the community in all the ways I’ve imagined since that mission trip to Mexico.

It was that trip that made me hungry.  I got my hands dirty and I decided that’s all I wanted to do.  I wanted to do something.  I didn’t want to go to school forever before I could do something. I didn’t want to sit in an office and help someone as long as their insurance would pay me to do so.  That’s why this job fits me. It has a lot of drawbacks, but my hands are dirty.

I’m in people’s houses, I’m privy to their secrets, their struggles, their fears and I’m right there with them trying to sift through the obstacles and cope and reach their potential, get to the place where their dreams are within their grasp, no longer out of reach. I’m there when it all falls apart over and over working with them to defy their illness and circumstances and get to the point where they are living their life as they want, in spite of whatever still lays at their doorstep.  Some circumstances are not easily remedied (if they can be at all) and same with mental illness. It’s not about a cure so much as it is about coping. And sometimes coping is the cure. And sometimes coping eliminates the idea of a cure.  I’m brainstorming and learning and educating and counseling and empathizing and problem solving.  I’m seeking resources and making links.  It’s about mindfulness and belief and creativity and seeking and assertion and empowerment and education and determination and justification and validation and operating under the premise that nothing is insurmountable and it’s never too late to make your life the best it can be. It’s about moving on from the past, moving forward. It’s changing your actions, replacing negative thoughts, allowing your feelings and figuring out how to deal with them.

It’s just life. It’s just living. (and an assload of paper work and semantics)

That’s what I see the most, I don’t see the people I work with as that different than me. People are people.  Our cores are so similar it’s ridiculous that we can so easily be fooled into thinking we are so different.

I didn’t have very effective examples of healthy living growing up in terms of mental health.  I am undoubtedly considered the most well adjusted member of my family, which seems like a joke to me, I just have a great poker face. Granted, I found poetry and through this maintained my sanity, but something happened you know. I jumped into grown up with no guidance.  I just wonder why; was I that headstrong? Was I really perceived as that capable?  I know that it’s just that my parents were consumed with their own things and I did well with everything: school, friends, boys, social activities, hobbies, leadership, strong spirituality, no obvious fuck ups…so I was left to my own devices. Giving advice more than I ever asked for it. Did I ever ask? I never believed in the advice given to me from people who I loved but did not admire. How can you seek advice from those who seem lost to you? Could you say I never trusted the decisions of these people in their own life so I did not trust their advice?  Does this have anything to do with the lack of trust I have in personal relationships? I’m sure it does. I don’t feel like delving into that. I do know though that my perceived proficiency in managing my life even as a child couldn’t really be the explanation for the lack of guidance because my sister received none and she did not display the same traits, but often the opposite (I think maybe on purpose some, hoping to be the squeaky wheel…?)

The point is not about my parents, because I love them and am grateful for them and all they’ve done, and get it. I just feel so sad that I didn’t have any help with life. I don’t know if it would have made a difference, but I can’t help but think that it would have.

Of course the point is now, now I have a ridiculous access to coping tools and mechanisms and a million opportunities to do the best I can with what I have and I have dozens upon dozens of people attempting the same feat with so many more obstacles or so much farther back at the starting line.Do I just want my struggle to be validated? Probably.

Sometimes it’s the little place in between, falling between the cracks that is the most dangerous. Sometimes I feel like my whole life has been falling between the cracks. Not too much either way, never enough to be on either side.

I’m ready to write something creative again, there are some things spinning.  But I’m tired now.  I always have so much I want to do but can never get it done. But I have to sleep. It’s okay to sleep. It’s okay to sleep more than 5 hours. Just because you have run on 5 hours doesn’t mean you should.  It’s only now, late at night that I feel alive sometimes. When I’m by myself writing. No, I feel alive with Natalie. Watching her beautiful little face or feeling her hands on my face, listening to the silly things she’ll say…

Jason said I’m in a bad mood all the time, but I don’t really see that. I think I’m easily irritated when I get home from work and try to do something like cook dinner or clean up or use the bathroom and I can’t get a minute of uninterupted time…and I’m catering to him less and less because I really need him to be a grown up and I didn’t understand that things I did in love when we were first together would be abused and not reciprocated until the pattern of our relationship was formed and I was too intent on not fighting to stop compromising myself. (until now, but we’re 8 years in).

I’ve been talking to my friends (and sister) a lot more though, on the phone, internet, even in person 🙂  This feels really good.  I used to feel a lot of things were holding me back from that (internal and external) but I’m kind of letting all that go and enjoying those people again. I miss my guy friends though.  I have a few who I’m grateful for and I know that I did the distancing a long time ago and it’s hard to pick up sometimes when a lot of the friendships were casual we all hang out with the same people kind of thing and they all hang out, but I’m limited in my hanging out options due to the whole family thing- and Jason not knowing or wanting to get to know those people. Most of my girlfriends though are doing the family things as well or very willing to cater to it. It would help if…irrelevant now, moving on…

I’ve been working really hard on not feeling confused this week. Literally praying for clarity to face my day and handle my life that day and it has helped. Seeking the clarity.

We find what we seek.  We find what we seek. We find what we seek.

Maybe that’s my motto for this year (or this week, or this life, who knows 🙂

Life list:

  1. Visit Ireland
  2. Visit Kenya
  3. Visit Switzerland
  4. Visit Peru
  5. Travel cross country on a train
  6. Go back to Yellowstone
  7. Go to Oregon
  8. Visit New Orleans
  9. Ride on a hot air balloon
  10. Hike part of the Appalachian trail
  11. Visit Italy
  12. Visit Greece
  13. Take pottery lessons
  14. Take dance lessons
  15. Take art lessons
  16. Visit New York City again
  17. Visit Bosnia
  18. Publish a book
  19. Go parasailing
  20. Go snorkeling again
  21. Learn more about astronomy
  22. See the northern lights
  23. Remodel a home
  24. Own 5 acres or more of land
  25. Visit Savannah
  26. Stay in a bed and breakfast
  27. Go snowboarding
  28. Go skiing again
  29. Drive a tractor
  30. Be a camp counselor
  31. Ride a horse again
  32. Get to and maintain a happy weight (5 years +)
  33. Complete family history project
  34. Own a piano (and play it)
  35. Own livestock
  36. Visit Puerto Rico
  37. Go to Australia and see the 12 apostles
  38. Learn to shoot a handgun
  39. Learn to shoot a shotgun
  40. Visit Costa Rica
  41. Study Italian
  42. Study Latin
  43. Visit Nashville

I”m frustrated with myself right now. I don’t really like blogging like this, but I think it’s better than not doing anything with it. My journal is in my bedroom, where my husband is sleeping and my handwriting gets sloppy and the words….whatever.

So, I’m frustrated.  I think there’s this one thing that is everything. I don’t know what to do (or what can be done) about it. It just kind of shrouds me. It goes into a lot of places, but I’ve been tracing it for a while, always the problem solver, and I think it’s really all this one thing that I don’t know what to do about it, or if anything can be done. That’s incredibly disheartening. So, I pull at the optimism and it’s lackluster, it’s been defeated quite a bit on this front. It kind of wants to just stop. But I’m not really able to, so…

It’s no help I think too much. An unfortunate amount of people don’t think enough, but really, I think I think too much regarding this. Stupid redundant thoughts, fantastical childish thoughts, self defeating and degrading thoughts, conflicting and paradoxical thoughts. You can think yourself to oblivion.

I just want and I was foolish to think once upon a time as I did that I could conquer this so early on, it just doesn’t work that way? Does it work at all? There’s so much no one will tell until it’s over.

It seems a waste that we all have the same secret pressed deep in the crevices of our souls and still wander, seeking, and stave off loneliness. It is not this thing we carry that separates us, it is everything else. Everything about life, the way we’ve lived it, the way we understand it, the way we view it, that’s what separates us.

I’m not doing well with self management. I don’t care enough about the things I need to manage. I just want to read and write and eat and wait it out, but someone told me that’s not an option and I just don’t want to try for much sometimes, I just want the bare minimum sometimes I just want to let it all go, forget the bills and housework and work work and any family or social obligations and just not do anything that is about anyone else at all on their terms (I would inevitably do things for people on my terms, I’m sure of it).

Sometimes, I feel bored with my life, or maybe just with life. The things that make me feel most alive are the things least conducive to living this life in a way that people would say is responsible or normal. I mean, it’s a different kind of responsible, like existential responsible, like intangible responsible, like no regrets responsible. I don’t want the life I have. And that’s a hard thing to say knowing how the life I have is not at all bad and is enviable just in it’s circumstances, from what I know of other’s circumstances, what they wouldn’t give to have mine!

It’s just, I feel burdened with things I don’t care about. Most weekday mornings I wake up with anxiety. It’s hard to get out of bed. It’s hard to focus. It’s hard to figure out what I’m supposed to do, just normal every day stuff. If I get in gear, I’m good through the day, unless I end up with random downtime. At night, I get frustrated with Jason and Natalie needing things from me. It annoys me to no end. And then I feel bad (particularly with Natalie) I’m trying to limit my obvious annoyances with her for things that she needs to learn are annoying (not listening, asking me a question 10 times when I’ve said I would do it in a minute, etc) and not get annoyed with her for things she as a right to need me or want me to do for her or with her. I don’t want her to feel as if she inconveniences me and withdraw. I think that’s what happened for me as a child. My mom, consumed with her own personal hurts, disappointments, and frustrations and loneliness never directly took things out on us and gave us an idyllic childhood the best she could, but had terrible mood swings and always seemed to be annoyed by any requests or interjections we made on our own terms. I get it, I just don’t want to do that. Would I be more assertive and less of a peacemaker if I felt my needs and requests were validated and would not make waves? Probably. I don’t want to spoil Natalie and set her up for failure this way, but I don’t want to cause her to withdraw because she feels I won’t meet her needs graciously. Was my independent nature fueled by my thoughts that no one was there to help or guide? Yea, I think so. Independent is not bad, nor is peacemaking, but every trait has its pitfall.

I want a house in the woods. A log cabin. With a wraparound porch and a loft. A gravel driveway. A creek nearby. Tall, old trees. A vegetable garden. A clothesline. Blackberry bushes. Honeysuckle vines. Hills. Grass.  Neighbors within walking distance. Close enough to hear an outdoor party but not close enough to care. A sunflower patch. A pumpkin patch. Maybe some roses on a trellis. Or something on a trellis. A homemade birdfeeder.

I’m a little better now. The soft brown chai tea candle I’m burning smells good. The chocolate mousse yogurt I ate was good. My robe is soft and warm. Nights are for resting. It’s okay to sleep. I wish I could leave the house the way it is. But I have to clean up. That pisses me off. But I’m okay. I’m going to put it off a little more now maybe, maybe just a little…no, I would feel better if it were done, it’s really just a normal thing to do, cleaning up a night’s mess. It’s just something people do. It’s inevitable unless I want to be like that Shel Silverstein poem where somebody with a name that rhymes with (or is) Stout “would not take the garbage out” I remember the illustration of the trash all piled up…I like Shel Silverstein. Between him and Dr. Seuss I really got into poetry in elementary school (and ever since), what you could say and do with the words, the plays, the rhymes, the hidden little meanings. Then Shakespeare and Frost and Dickinson. I love poetry. It is one of my safe havens. Sometimes it’s lonely there too. It’s like no body really knows what to do if I let them in there. That’s annoying.

Well, I’m just kind of exhausted now. Good enough reason to stop as any.

I decided two things I am focusing on this year.

One is inspired by a line from a poem I wrote: “stop biting your tongue at all the wrong times/you’re the only one that has to live your life.”

I am a peacemaker. I am a compromiser. I have played that role as long as I can remember. I will do without. I will bear emotional weight to spare someone else, or to spare myself the dissonance. I hate drama. I hate fighting. I hate people being mad or hateful and I hate the things that are done outright in anger or the passive aggressive or manipulative things that people do in anger. I people being hurt. I just want everything to be okay. I’ll be cool with whatever so we can be cool as we are. I accept people. I naively expect that others will treat me with the amount of care that I treat them.

If I saw someone laid out before me, I would lay down with them, or I would gather them close to me and carry them with me, or help them walk beside me. But too many people don’t do that. Too many people see someone laid out and step on them, or over them, or around them.

So, I want to work on being more assertive

Second thing is: I lack self discipline. I want to manage myself  better.  I feel frustrated with so many things in my life that I feel are overwhelming me and out of control or just generally really messed up and I know if I can manage my self better I can manage so many of things and feel more in control and more satisfied overall.

With this, I just want to develop an internal gauge, kind of in the same way I did when I counted calories. I was serious about it for 2-4 weeks, journaling and recording and calculating until I got it. Until I didn’t need to look up how many calories were in something or how many I’d had that day (I should do this again, no doubt). It increased my conciousness of what I was eating and how much compared to how much I needed and it made me more accountable for what I was eating and eventually more careful about what I was using those calories on.

So I want to increase my consciousness of how I spend my time and how much time I actually have for all the things I feel I can’t do or whatever, what time is wasted, like empty calories. I didn’t used to need this, just as I didn’t need to count calories before I did need to. Things change, life gets handed to you piece by piece, (or maybe you snatch some pieces back from those you unwittingly allowed possession) until all of the sudden no one else holds the pieces and it’s all up to you to do with it what you will. And sometimes that means doing things you didn’t have to do before.

“The responsibility for who you want to be is so blatantly yours it’s impossible to think anyone else would bear this” I tell pepole so often that they have to stop taking responsiblity for other’s lives and happiness because we are all responsible for our own, and it’s good advice I should take. We are better for others when we are better to ourselves.

One of the people I work with declare their years as “the year for _____ “and I’ve seen it work, so this is my year to manage myself I suppose.

I wrote this poem,” Debris” and it came back to me today, in a moment I was sitting in my car, and I was thinking this, today, is what “Debris” is about.

I’ve been off all day, making wrong turns in familiar areas, mind clouded and slow, irritated by music ( literally turned the radio on and off 4 times in 10 seconds), talking to myself in silence, laughing at the banana that slid across my passenger seat and then center console and onto my floor, then trying to get it and almost running off the highway, driving the wrong direction of my destination, wanting to just sit somewhere and as soon as I get there, wanting to leave or not even get out of my car, confused, tired, flat, crying while driving, ordering a biscuit when I wanted coffee (then eating the biscuit and later getting a coffee), spending money I didn’t want to spend (on the  food and coffee, nothing crazy),

wanting to just curl up in a ball, head on someone’s lap, hands in my hair while they saw everything and loved me just the same telling me everything is okay, needing nothing from me but that I sit with them while they hold me,

feeling trapped and defeated, sifting through the ashes of the person I saw in the picture this morning to the person I keep thinking I am  to the picture I saw on the computer to the person I probably look like to someone else.  I probably look so different than what I think, than what I am- when did all that happen? Why am I here, not why do I exist, but why am I this person and how can I get it all to line up so I don’t feels so lost?

How can I take this off, the things that shroud me?  How can I make it work, the things that changed me (or the things about me that changed)? How can I accept this, the debris? How can I separate myself from the debris? I am not the debris, right? If I am the debris, what next? I don’t believe in giving up (I say this, though I just laid my head on the desk and thought, I just want to give up, that’s this place- that’s the confusion, the tired, the pollution clogging my lungs…)

I’m covered in debris, it’s dirty air I breathe, I don’t know how to be.

This is not always, but this is not unusual. But this is different than it was before. I evaluate why,what, etc, I like problem solving and not repeating mistakes (though I’m sure I do) and prevention, but sometimes, you just have to say “oh well”, that’s no good, what’s next? So maybe tomorrow. Maybe today is just a day I’ll sit and sleep in debris and I’ll wake up tomorrow able to sift through, wash off, step outside and clear my lungs.

The thing is, it’s not unhappy, if it sounds that way, it’s not about happy/unhappy, it’s beyond that.

Just writing has helped.

Posted on: January 12, 2009

It was in the wind, soft but straightforward. It was like when the air finally kicks in on a summer day where your hair is stuck to your neck and your legs are stuck to the leather seat. It was right there in my face, in my ear.

“I’m right here, I’m right here”.

You know, sometimes I can’t help it, I’m sitting right beside you in that truck, listening to whatever CD it is you have in that day. And just as quickly as I got there, I am not. Left with the wave of loss all over again.

If I had known that wasn’t how it was always going to be, this wasn’t the beginning, but this was it… Those were our moments. This wasn’t ours to keep, this wasn’t…maybe wasn’t even what I thought, or what you thought. You can never know.

So I guess I can pick.  What do you do with it?  I can’t imagine it’s a conversation we’ll ever have. There are just so many that we won’t have. And were you who I thought you were? Are you asking the same of me?

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for anything I did along the way to leave you questioning. I meant it. I’m not perfect and I probably did things that hurt you or that weren’t in your best interest, but I was never ill intentioned, I was always loving you the best I could while navigating this life, even if it didn’t make sense. And I’ll just believe that of you too, because it hurts way too much to think otherwise.

So I guess that settles what to do with the memory, keep it soft, the hurt of the loss of you hurts less than the loss of the things between us, the things we were. If I can’t keep you, I’ll keep that.