Random Musings Just So You Know I’m Alive

Two more weeks of class and then I can breathe again. Not that I’m working that hard, tbh. This semester I’ve done the bare minimum I need to do just to get by, and I don’t feel too bad about it. I have slept a lot, which is why I haven’t been posting as much lately. I’d like to say it’s because I unpacked everything from moving and got all of my schoolwork finished, but nope. Sleep. That’s what I’ve been doing. So much that I wondered if something was wrong. Maybe not enough vitamin B or D, maybe my thyroid wasn’t functioning properly, maybe the beginning signs of perimenopause. After studying various diseases and conditions in pathophysiology, I’d decided I must also have type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and probably cancer. So I went to the doctor and had bloodwork taken and everything’s not just normal, but better than good. Somehow I am the healthiest person on the planet—through minimum effort on my own. I’m going to live forever. I get it from my grandmother.

The important thing to think of as I prepare for a busy day is gratitude. How good my life is today. How glad I am to be living with my friend. How nice it is to have free time. How much opportunity I have available to me. How much more there is to do in this lifetime. How much I have to look forward to.

My stepfather’s brother died on Thanksgiving due to complications from a minor knee surgery, just three months after my mom died. Recently his other brother was put into hospice, so he’ll be going soon as well. How much heartache can one person endure?

I’m reading a book called Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression by James Gordon. One woman’s story sticks out in particular: the wife of a senator who publicly seemed like a good guy, but who was cold and emotionally unavailable to her, and who’d had an affair. The wife got cancer and then separated from him, and her kids were angry with her instead of their asshole father. They separated and later she had a love affair with a married man who left her after a year but through it all she was still glad she had that time with him because she loved him. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was Elizabeth Edwards. Doesn’t really matter. The point is, she found peace and gratitude, in spite of the hardships she endured.

Good things are on the horizon. They’re already here.

I love this song by Awolnation. I love all of their songs but I find this one especially inspiring. How true the line is “I got lost to find my way / So be good with goodbyes.” Everything is temporary; be grateful for this moment.

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Life Stuff

I don’t want to spend too much time writing because I’ve been living out of boxes since I moved into my new place, haven’t been to the gym in a week, and my room and bathroom (my very own bathroom!) are a mess, and I have tons of homework to do before Thursday. Of course I have not yet done my taxes. All of that would’ve overwhelmed me at one point in my life but now it’s just annoying. Mostly I do what I can today and don’t worry too much about it. No one cares that my room is a mess so it really doesn’t matter. Later today I’ll go for a walk with my roommate and that will be good enough exercise. As far as homework goes, this semester I’ve been doing the bare minimum of what I need to get by, and that works just fine. Of course it worries me that I’m not retaining much information, and it seems like every semester this happens, and before I know it, I’ll have to take a certification exam on all this material I feel like I never learned in the first place. When clients come to see me with 25 different seemingly unrelated health problems, in my mind I’ll be thinking, I have no idea what you have, and I guess I’ll just tell them all to eat more vegetables and go see a doctor. You can’t go wrong with that, right? Luckily it won’t be my job to diagnose anyone. Haha! I love my strategy for becoming a successful nutritionist.

My ex and I have been “talking,” which means we email each other every day. It’s a strange, distant way to communicate, but that’s what we’ve been doing because neither of us knows if we’re getting back together eventually—just that we’re not right now. We both know we’d need to make changes, that it would have to be different for this relationship to work out, and we don’t know if that can happen. I want what we had to come back again but the relationship has changed, and I don’t know if it’s possible for it to grow in a positive direction, or if what other people say is true, which is that no one in a relationship with a bipolar person is happy. More specifically no woman in a relationship with a bipolar man is happy. But the men they describe sound nothing like my ex. You can’t lump everyone into the same category. I’m sure if you asked the general public if they wanted to be in a relationship with an alcoholic, everyone would say no, even if the alcoholic was sober. For anyone reading this and thinking, No, don’t do it! Remember that you’re only getting my side of the story, as much as I like to think I’m being so objective. Being objective is impossible. Because I get the feeling that now, after all that has happened, after all the guts I’ve spilled, all the tears, heartache, and despair—no one in my life—except my sisters and dad, who met him once and think he’s the king of the universe—no one thinks I should get back together with my ex. And as strong as I’ve become, I still care what everyone else thinks, and I worry that it’s true. I forget that this is my life, and I’m the only one who has to live it, and that my friends just want me to be happy.

They remind me that I was ambivalent before we broke up. I was ambivalent because I was depressed, and because he insisted I go visit his father for Thanksgiving, when I wanted to see my sister and stepfather, when I wanted to grieve over the loss of my mom, because I felt like he was putting a time limit on my grief. That was the catalyst that started this, the domino that toppled the whole thing. The resentment I felt over that has lessened its grip on me. Of course I still feel that it was bad timing for him to want that from me, but I also know that he’s human.

The good news is that I don’t have to decide what needs to happen because whatever is going to happen will happen regardless of what I do. I’ve tried every way to control this relationship, to make him stay, to make him change, and nothing I do matters. The best thing I can do is focus on taking care of myself. I’ve been spending this time trying to get over him because the phrase “three-month separation” was synonymous with “permanent break-up.” “I don’t know,” means “no” to me.

But then earlier last week he sent me this song, saying it reminded him of me.

I was just about to fall asleep, and then I got that email from him and now Bing! Wide awake. Could not sleep. Cried. Why. Why did this song remind him of me. If he meant that it reminded me of words I’d say to him, except for the part about it being easier to let him go, then I get that. But if he’s saying these words to me, then why did he make the decision to leave me? Why send me this song. Why do this to me.

Instead of asking that right away, I just replied that it was a pretty song. Of course it sounds like all of the songs we listened to together, my favorite combination of sad and sexy, which I haven’t listened to again since we broke up because now it just reminds me of him, although that’s all I listened to before I met him. Sad and sexy. Two things I don’t want to be right now, together or separately. I certainly don’t ever want to relive that combination again. No thank you, Lana Del Ray. Puppy dogs are what I crave now. Puppy dogs, romantic comedies, and catchy pop songs—all the things that my inner angsty teenager rolls her eyes at—those are the things I look forward to now. Connection with other people.

The next morning I asked him why it reminded him of me, and he said that he didn’t know all the lyrics, and had thought the one lyric “only love can hit this hard” was “only love can heal this heart.” He said it reminded him of us. He said, “It’s a pretty and sad song about the limbo between being in or out of a relationship. I just like it and wanted to share.”

Listen here, buddy. You cannot send me a song like that and be casual about it. I take song lyrics very seriously. He knows I’d pored over every song, spent lots of time and put lots of meaning into every playlist I made for him, which by the way all of which I have since deleted. He knows because I told him, but he probably doesn’t remember. I remember he was surprised when I told him that.

Anyway. Doesn’t matter now. Even if we get back together, it doesn’t matter. We know we love each other and have said so. That doesn’t mean we’ll get back together. I don’t feel as heartbroken about it today as I did even a couple of weeks ago, and a couple of weeks ago I didn’t feel as heartbroken over it as I did a few weeks before that. Maybe we will remain friends and maybe that will be for the best.

In other news, my dad and his wife went to visit my sister out in New Mexico last week. He showed up riproaringly drunk, told her he won’t be alive for much longer, passed out on her couch, and cancelled plans with her three times later in the week saying the “altitude” makes him sick (translation: hangover). All this in front of her eleven-year-old twins, who I pray live a life full of innocence and childhood longer than most, for as long as possible. I want to say so much more but I’ve spent all this time obsessing over my ex (I still have a lot of work to do on my codependency), and now I need to focus on school work before unpacking more boxes. In short, I feel sad for my dad, who’s now 70 years old, who has lived most likely his entire life absent from any kind of deeper connection to other people, to any higher power as far as I can tell.

That could have been my life.

I am so grateful that it’s not.

I hope for my dad’s sake that he finds peace before he dies. My mom’s mother did, about a year before she died, after she got a cancer diagnosis. According to my mom that’s the only thing that got her to stop drinking. Anyway, I sent an email to my dad saying I’d visit him soon, maybe even when the solar eclipse happens, which will be the anniversary of Mom’s death. He’d wanted my sisters and me to meet him in South Carolina in some town where the visibility of the eclipse will be best, and I’d initially said no way, partly because it’s the anniversary of Mom’s death, but mostly because I didn’t want to see him. I was always my mother’s daughter, and surely he knows that. I was never close to my dad; he was always impossible to get close to. I tried. I called him almost every week after I got sober, and he didn’t even notice or have anything to say when I called except to tease me to ask if I still had my job, car, and boyfriend. Meanwhile my mom, who I was always been close to, but didn’t visit as much since I moved to Maryland, just died out of nowhere. I could’ve moved to North Carolina to be closer to her, and I had planned to, but I put it off because I knew I’d never move away from her once I lived there, and she’d probably live to be in her 90s, and because she was still in such good physical health she was a long way from not being able to take care of herself. And then poof! Gone in one day.

It’s a shame that happened to my mom, someone I could have had so many heart-to-heart discussions with because she was not only capable of it, but she longed for that. Meanwhile, I tried so hard to be close to my dad, and it didn’t seem to matter.

I didn’t mean for this post to end on a sad note, nor did I mean to delve so deep. But writing is my therapy and that’s where I am with that today. In spite of how heartbreaking my previous paragraph may sound, my mom knew/knows how much I loved/love her, and how grateful I am that she was my mom.

Other things I’m grateful for: my sobriety, my new home, my new career path. Mostly I’m grateful to have a new outlook on life, to recognize that I have a good life today. That I can choose to spend my energy on positivity or on being sad and angry. Here are a couple of good quotes for today:

healing

pep-talk

Random Musings on Life

I’m getting settled into my new place, and realizing how much more comfortable I am now that I am in a townhouse with one other woman, a good friend who I look forward to talking to when I get home. It’s like living with one of my sisters, and the thought of it makes me miss them. Growing up I never really thought one day we’d all be living in different states. The memories we share I cherish, and a random one popped up for me the other day about these two stray cats who used to come around the apartment where I’d lived with Mom in high school. My sister, the middle one, would come home from college and we’d talk about these strays, creating stories about their lives, and how the small gray one, who we’d aptly named “Little Gray” was the girlfriend of the orange one, aka “Big Daddy Orange.” So I sent her a text asking if she remembered Little Gray and Big Daddy Orange and she sent a cute emoji back to me. It’s those little random things. I could get all sappy here and talk about how she cared for me when I was a kid, when it seemed like no one else really noticed me or wanted me around. How we used to lay in bed at night talking. But I’ll just leave it at that for now.

For lack of a better word, I must confess I had a bit of a codependency relapse and reached out to my ex again. I’m not proud to admit I told him he’s made a mistake in this decision to leave me, that he’s missing out on what could’ve been amazing, especially for him, because I’m a good partner who would’ve cared for him, accepted him for who he is, and worked with him through anything. That all really pissed him off at first, but he came around. Maybe it was a good thing because he addressed the elephant in the room: his mental illness. As a result, I began to accept that he has bipolar disorder and I cannot change him nor does my love turn it into the relationship I want. He truly cannot help that he cannot commit to me because he’s so afraid of rejection and abandonment and it not working out. It makes no sense to me, how he can’t just commit, that it’s his very lack of commitment that makes it not work out. But it’s more than that. Do I really want to date someone who treats me how he does during his episodes? It’s not the episodes themselves that are the problem, but his reaction. I can no longer be ignored, and I must be able to express my feelings. So it turns out that no, I can no longer accept his actions, that pattern, so no, I won’t continue to try to work with him on it if I’m the only one doing the work.

Who knows what will happen from all of that. Probably nothing. A part of me hopes he’ll change and come back to me, and another part of me wonders if that’s what I’d really want in the long run. Because if he can’t change, I don’t want the relationship. It’s just so hard to let go sometimes.

let-go

So for a couple of days last week I lapsed into obsessively researching my ex’s digestive health problems that I’m convinced are related to his bipolar episodes because I’m studying nutrition and his GI doctor isn’t addressing the underlying root cause of the digestive issue. He needs to heal his gut so that he’s absorbing his medication and nutrients from his food. I’m undecided about the benefits versus the risks of taking prescribed medication for mental illness, but for now I believe he should stay on his meds. I’m not an expert or a healthcare practitioner and would never recommend someone stop taking their meds, especially not abruptly without the help of a practitioner. That’s how people die. One of my friends died that way a couple of years ago. She had seizures because she went off her antidepressants too quickly because the antidepressants are also anti-seizure meds though she was not epileptic to begin with. I later learned that she either overdosed or committed suicide; to this day I still don’t know. My guess is that she became so depressed that either using again or committing suicide seemed like a good option for her, and I am convinced she wouldn’t have done it had she not come off her meds so quickly. She was doing really well in recovery prior to that. It’s not that I think she shouldn’t have come off her meds at all—I really don’t have the answer to that. Maybe there are herbs or supplements people can take instead of antidepressants. It’s a hot debate in the recovery community as well as alternative medicine, and I have no opinion yet. Or rather, my opinion is to do whatever you can to help yourself as quickly as possible and then educate yourself—but always with the help of a trusted practitioner. My friend’s doctor should have advised her not to come off her meds so quickly—and maybe he did, I don’t know. Anyway. That was a big aside but I just wanted to get that out there. I want to write more on it later because it’s an important topic but that’s my view on that for now.

The other night my roommate and I watched “Sherlock,” each in our chairs like an old couple, and at the beginning of the show I asked too many questions and then asked if I was being annoying to which she said yes. It stung slightly but I was glad for her honesty because I’d rather have that than be the object of pent-up resentment that explodes one day. For her it was a big step because she’s like me, one who apologizes too much, afraid to speak her mind, and we both know these are behaviors about ourselves that have to change. That’s growth.

growth

Recently I celebrated seven years of sobriety. I’ve been through a lot of life changes—marriage, divorce, death, two career changes (if you could call my brief foray into teaching college English as a part-time adjunct a career)—in the past seven years, and have not yet found a need or desire to drink over any of it. And that, my friends, is a miracle, the day of which seven and a half years ago I thought I’d never see.

Next month I’ll be 41 years old. Not much that has happened in my life was planned, and the few parts that were didn’t work out how I thought they would, but today everything has all fallen into place in such a beautiful way that I never dreamed possible. Finally I realize there’s no rush or hurry for anything. Finally I see that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes I don’t know the reason, but eventually life works out and I can be happy in spite of the down times and the unforeseen tragedies. Sure, I’d love to have a husband, a great career, and my own home, but having all of that won’t necessarily make me happy, any more than not having it makes me unhappy. Today I’m grateful for the life I live, my home, job, and my friends. It has taken a long time to get to this place.

happiness

Peace, love, and namaste,

TCH

The Butterfly Emerges

love

So much has happened in the last two weeks I don’t even know where to start, and I don’t really want to go into the details right now because they’re not important. What’s important is that I can feel a stronger woman emerging as each day passes.

I had a conflict with a new roommate who moved into my house, and it resulted in me finding a better place to live. Next weekend I’ll be moving into a place with a friend of mine, a woman about my age, who owns her own townhouse close to where I work. I feel like such a grown-up (lol)! I’ve been living in a shared house with five other people, all about 10 years younger than I, and recently it turned into what felt like a college dorm.

More importantly, something beautiful happened in this uncomfortable exchange I had with this new roommate. It flipped a switch in me. The little girl afraid to speak her mind or cause any disturbances or conflicts with anyone, that little girl disappeared, and in her place emerged a courageous woman unyielding in her stance. There was no backing down, no giving in. I said what I meant, and I meant what I said. I did not attack her character, I did not allude to other issues, and I did not use physical force. I was on the verge of tears I was so angry, but I did not cry—not that that would’ve been a bad thing. I simply explained my position, meant nothing malicious, didn’t understand her suspicion of my actions, and that I did not know what else to say to her.

I could just feel the butterfly emerging.

I’m not a confrontational person. For me to have confronted this young woman about the weird vibes was a big step for me. For me to express anger is really out of character. However, in one week I’ve done both of these things, twice. I was not mean, but I was honest, and I was clearly angry and upset. And no one died or got injured.

I like to think that I’m a nice person who makes every effort to make others feel comfortable. I like to think that I say what I mean and mean what I say. The only times I don’t is to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or because I’m afraid to piss the person off, and that’s got to stop because that’s dishonest. Because it turns out that happens a lot, and withholding information is the same as lying.

Because here’s the thing. It’s not my job to make others feel comfortable. How they feel is their choice. I’m just being me, and if they take that personally, that is not my problem. It’s one thing to be polite and show good manners, but it’s another to go out of my way to try to make someone else happy at my own expense. I can’t make anyone else happy any more than I can make them sad. How they interpret my actions is their choice.

At one point I questioned myself. Was I crazy? Had I done something wrong? Maybe my actions were hurtful and I simply had not realized it. Maybe there was something wrong with me.

But then I slept on it and talked to my friends about it, and I realized: no.

No, no, no.

I know who I am. I am a woman of integrity and compassion and sincerity. I had showed courtesy to this young woman. The allegations she’d made against me are not something anyone has ever told me before, so why would I, after nearly 41 years on this earth, question who I am due to one person’s observation? One person who, by the way, is not my therapist or a licensed psychologist of any kind, or anyone who has known me for any length of time.

One of the things a mentor once told me was that in order to gain self-esteem, you must take esteemable actions. At the time I didn’t know how that would help me gain self-esteem, because I felt like I was already doing that. For the most part I was—as best as I could be at the time—so I would add to that, take esteemable actions and own it. You know in your heart you’re a good person, that your intentions, words, and actions were honest, and that you had no ill intent towards another person. If you’re doing something that you must hide from someone else, that’s probably not an esteemable action.

Throughout this event, I received an email from my ex-boyfriend letting me know he loves me and misses me. Earlier that day I’d decided to forgive myself for my hurtful words to him. They weren’t intentionally hurtful, and I’m human. I’d also decided to pretend he’d forgiven me, because at the time I felt like it was the only way I was going to get through this break-up. And then I got his email, which sounded a lot like forgiveness to me, though he didn’t explicitly use those words. Regardless, I felt grateful.

I immediately emailed him back to say that I too love and miss him. I didn’t express it, but his email confused me. Did he want to get back together? Did he just want to end on a positive note? The latter seemed more true, and I have started to feel that this relationship is not ideal for me anyway. Everything I’ve gone through to try to get over him has been so painful that I don’t want to have to go through it again, and I feel if we were to get back together, it would only be temporary, because he cannot commit to me.

Here’s what I don’t understand about the lack of commitment. He is actively choosing a life of loneliness over being with someone who would be his partner and love and care for him into old age. If he truly loves me as much as he says, then why is it so hard to commit? He doesn’t want to be with anyone else; he’d rather be single than be with me. In his eyes, having to balance a relationship in addition to work and his kids is too stressful for him, even though his kids don’t live with him. In my mind his life would be easier because if we lived together I’d not only be his companion, but I’d share finances and domestic duties—and, let’s be real, I’d probably be doing most of the domestic duties. Wouldn’t that be less stressful than living in a basement apartment without his own space, without his own kitchen, without a companion and lover? If he lives long enough, there’s a very real possibility he’ll be too old and feeble to care for himself, and his kids would most likely put him in a nursing home, and he’ll end up exactly the way his father is, which is his biggest fear. The only difference is that his father has a girlfriend who visits him every day and makes sure he’s comfortable, while my ex-boyfriend will probably have his kids visit him on occasion.

Maybe all of this projection sounds unreasonable, but this is what I think about as I grow older and watch relatives progress into old age. It’s not for me to worry about, what his future holds, because I have my own life to live. The point is that I am baffled as to why this is his choice, unless he’s lying about his love for me, has met someone else, or believes he’ll meet someone else who’s a better fit for him.

The important thing is that I know I’m a good catch, and that there’s a man out there who wants to commit, who will love me for me, who will want me to speak my mind, and heart, and soul. It’s a shame to me that this particular man cannot see it, but I guess the reality is that he’s not good for me. All along I felt that I was perfect for him, but there was always a nagging suspicion he was not perfect for me. I ignored that little voice because I thought I was being too much of a perfectionist. And I believe this is a situation where God, the Universe, or whatever you want to call a higher power, has done for me what I could not do for myself. I do not have to spend my life in a stressful relationship with a man who has various mental and physical health issues and who doesn’t manage his money or life well. Everyone has problems and every relationship takes work, but this one is not mine to take on.

On to the next phase of my life I go, with gratitude and hope, and a new focus on me. My career path, my future. This is my life, my time here on planet Earth. How do I want to spend it?

timing

Peace and love,

TCH