Posts Tagged With: anxiety

pipe the f**k down, Marcus Aurelius

When you arise in the morning think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love. ~ Marcus Aurelius
Well, this morning I woke rather grouchy, so why don’t you just pipe the f**k down, Marcus Aurelius.

I had bad dreams again last night. My body exhausted when I woke. These dreams fill me with pain and anxiety. My body produces adrenaline and cortisol but has no outlet for it because I’m sleeping. So I’m flooded with these stress hormones that my body has to somehow reabsorb. No wonder I’m grouchy AF.

Normally, I can remember and recount the particulars of my dreams. These icky ones aren’t like that. All I can call up is imagery and the way it felt.
There was water in my dreams. It was dark and rippling. This water made me fearful. I was frightened that it would drown me.
My one true pathological fear is to smother. Drowning is essentially the same thing. So what is happening to me that I’m experiencing this level of fear and anxiety?

The logical part of my brain considers this:
Every thought we have causes a ripple. Every choice we make causes a ripple. Every action causes a ripple. Ripples move away from the starting point out in all directions and pretty much looks like this.
ripple

So when you’re having many thoughts, or making many choices at once it rather looks like this.
ripples

The feeling part of my brain sees only that the water is dark and moving rapidly. I become frightened. I become overwhelmed. I begin to panic. Stress hormones get released. I go to my brain stem and enter fight or flight mode. I don’t understand what’s happening to me but I feel that water is going to overtake and drown me. I’m not frightened enough to wake. I’m trapped in this cycle of fear and anxiety.
Here’s the part that I cannot wrap my brain around. I never enter the water. I’m never swimming or fighting to stay afloat. I’m just paralyzed by fear at seeing the water. I absolutely know that it will drown me even though I’m not actually in the water.

What is happening to me that this is my sleep?
What am I struggling with so hard?
What needs to be done to quiet my brain?

Apart from today and of course, Monday, I’ve been feeling overall well emotionally.
Obviously something is stuck and whatever it is needs help getting sorted. This cannot be my sleeping life. My fear of smothering is something that rides with me every single day, I can’t have it decide to try and drive once I’m sleeping.
Sleep is supposed to give your body a chance to rest. To restore. To recharge. Right now sleep is making me its bitch and wearing me out.

Something’s got to give.
My instinct to run is present. And getting harder and harder to ignore.

So, when being alive and able to think and enjoy and love is precious privilege, you’re waking from deliciously restful and restorative sleep, not from stressed and scary dreams.
While I appreciate the sentiment,Marcus Aurelius, I’m not feeling especially privileged today. Maybe I’ll get lucky tomorrow.

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riding the struggle bus

I had a bad day Monday.
It was the day of: Are you even alive?
I struggled the entire day. In all honestly, I should have gone back to bed and waited for Tuesday.
My friend Nora was quick to offer to come to my rescue, even though there was nothing she could really do to help. She’s good like that. I’m blessed to have her in my life. She’s a wonderful human being and she’s a good, strong, and loving friend.

I got a text message from her a little while ago. It said: Now it’s my turn to ride the struggle bus today.
She shared her struggle and we “breathed together” and she asked one question that I answered with truth and love. I think she’s feeling less anxious, and I know I don’t feel as concerned for her as I did when it started.

All that said, (and this is why she’s so great…she has the same wack-a-doodle sense of humor as me) I freaking LOVE that phrase “ride the struggle bus”. I’m fairly clever with words but have no qualms admitting I’d probably never come up with that phrase.
She was amused that I dig it.
She could see past her anxiety and appreciate the humor in the phrase.

Sometimes you can’t help but ride the struggle bus.
But if you’re really fortunate, you’ll have people in your world that will ride with you…or at least wait for you at the next stop.
That’s when you can stop and breathe together. And hopefully be amused.

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it’s as simple as that

I worry that my brain will never get better.
I’m damn tired of being in pain. I’m sick of feeling tired all the time.
I keep thinking my brain must get it together and heal itself. But it doesn’t seem to give a damn. Sundance and I were talking about it yesterday. I told her I don’t even tell YBW how my head is feeling anymore because it’s chronically painful and I don’t want him to worry about it.

Is this just the new way of being?
Of course the constant low pressure weather systems that have been hanging over the mid-Atlantic only make it worse.
I’m being a whiny crybaby. But I’m so damn tired of feeling like this.

Perhaps writing it down and getting it “out” is helpful?
I don’t know.
Am I simply grouchy? (it’s possible)
Do I long to see the sun? (Good Lord, YES!)

Being alone during the day isn’t good for me emotionally. I’m acutely aware of that. But I feel like hell all the time…that doesn’t bode well for doing anything productive.
It’s been since September that I’ve had a job. It’s time. I can’t stay home any longer. It’s taking a negative toll on YBW financially. It’s taking a negative toll on me emotionally.
It seems ridiculous that I never feel well enough. Can I go to work and have my head hurt all day long? (pourquoi pas?)
What I’m most passionate about, I can’t really do successfully if it compromises my health. (au revior, early childhood education)

Perhaps I just need to suck it up and stop whining. This brain swelling isn’t going to kill me…it would have done it by now if it was going to. It really might be the new way of being. So, I get used to the new and different chronic pain and live my life around it. I just quit whining and as Mommie used to say: ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ and get it together.

velvet jones
Eddie Murphy’s Velvet Jones says: “It’s as simple as that.”

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dog and pony show

I’ve been known to say: Weddings are nothing more than a dog and pony show. But I’m all about the most perfect ones for my daughters.
Well as it turns out I’m planning one for myself and YBW…
It doesn’t feel like a dog and pony show. Perhaps that’s because we’re going low key. Less than sixty people, just our children as attendants. Teeny church we’ll pack to near full even with so few. Intimate reception space. Good wine, dearest friends and family, s’mores bar…

I’m torn between that feeling of excited anticipation and the desire for it all to just be over.
I feel exhausted and overwhelmed from planning.
I am so joyful that our most beloved people will come together to celebrate with us.

Later this morning, Thing 2 and I will have our final dress fittings, drop off extension cords, the napkins and wine charms and response book to the decorator. I think these are the last errands to run. At least I hope they are. I need to do a quick tidy before Thing 1 and the guys arrive tomorrow. But other than that I want to lie low. Do my best to relax so I can shake the exhaustion and feeling of being overwhelmed.

I went to a meeting about a job yesterday. I was leery of scheduling it for this week, my fear of not having enough time gripped me like a noose. But I took a big breath and went. I’m glad I did, because I believe it was successful and I’ll be getting an offer while I’m honeymooning.
It was weird to do something non-wedding related.
My head was bad yesterday, but I was able to dazzle at the meeting.
Thing 2 and I camped out on the sofa yesterday afternoon when we got home from errands after the interview and watched our favorite Halloween movie, Hocus Pocus.

I’m tired of waiting. I’m ready for Saturday. I couldn’t have said that last week, there was still too much to do. I don’t want to rush this week along, but I’m at that place where I’ve spent so much time working on the wedding that now that I’ve nothing to do I’m almost more anxious.

I have a great deal of head pain which removes sleep from the equation but I’m going to try and go back to bed for a few hours and see if I can start again.

I have planned and planned and coordinated until I can’t anymore but I haven’t really focused on how lovely it will be to stand in front of God and the people I love most and join my life to YBW’s.
Just writing that sentence helped.
The idea of the love of the people in that room to support and bless us brings me great hope. Saying the words I wrote just for him, being prayed over, and sealing it all with a kiss really makes it feel worth the anxiety.

If it is a dog and pony show, well it’s our dog and pony show and that’s all that matters.

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music makes the wedding go round

We met with the DJ this evening. He’s going to be perfect for what we have in mind to celebrate with our friends and family.
We talked about special music, those songs that absolutely must be played…

Wedding party introductions he’ll play Willkommen from Cabaret with Alan Cumming as the Emcee.
Willkommen. Bienvenue. Welcome.

First dance:
L-O-V-E ~ Nat King Cole
I introduced this song to YBW and he loved it (no pun intended…well maybe a bit intended)…it was a no brainer to make it our first dance.

YBW’s “dance” with Thing C:
The Pretender ~ Foo Fighters
Thing C played this with his first band at his high school talent show. He’s since moved on to his second band. (they don’t play this song)

YBW’s “dance” with Thing G:
Happy ~ Pharrell Williams
Thing G is the only one of our four who isn’t a music kid…but he LOVES this song! It brings YBW SO MUCH JOY!

My dance with Thing 1:
Raise Your Glass ~ P!nk
What’s the dealio? Thing 1 adores P!nk and we are totally “wrong in all the right ways”.

My dance with Thing 2:
Dancing Queen ~ Meryl Streep, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski (from the movie soundtrack)
We have a whole routine to this song…well part of a routine, anyway…
She just turned eighteen and remarked that she’ll never be the Dancing Queen again because she’s no longer seventeen. I think we’re all a little bit “dancing queen young and sweet only seventeen” no matter how old we are.

Last dance: (save it for me)
Let’s Get it On ~ Jack Black (YEAH! I got it in there after all!!)
Y’all saw this in let’s love…sugar

Whatever gets played in between is fine with me! I’m going to be so busy visiting and hugging my friends and family!

I’m stressed like crazy trying to get the last things finished.
Sundance had the idea we should make the napkins for the reception…Thing 2 and I’ve done literally nothing else for the last two days…Sundance, not so much.
Thing 2 says she’s going to punch her Aunt Sundance in the mouth when she sees her. (I gave her my blessing.)
We decided to take a break tomorrow and just be. (Yay!) Then we’ll get back on it over the weekend.
Thing 1, fiance N and Thing 2’s D will arrive Wednesday. My friend and mentor and her beloved will arrive Friday afternoon. The Arizona contingent won’t arrive till super late Friday (the trouble with flying backwards across the country) so we won’t see them till the wedding Saturday.

My ability to control my anxiety and “freak out mode” is SUPER low…I’ve warned everybody, but at the moment only Thing 2 really understands the magnitude of that.
I was having a total temper fit yesterday and she finally told me: Get your shit together Momma!(The kid doesn’t lie.) I was whining about people volunteering to help but not bothering to show up. My darling (ex) co-teacher is doing all our decorations and has flaked the last two times we were supposed to meet so she could get all the stuff. (I already mentioned the napkin idea girl hasn’t shown up to make any.)

I can’t sleep so I’m writing and drinking wine straight from the bottle. (Classy, I know. But it was only a glassful in the bottom of the bottle so I figured, why dirty a glass.) I might need a Xanax…or two.

I have one more thing to do before I try to close my eyes. Create the special mad libs that YBW and I will write for our guests in the beginning of the response book.
The bride/groom are honored you’re here to celebrate with us and kiss you all!

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What are we doing?

My heart is heavy today.
Partly it’s because Thing 2 left yesterday.
Her being here brought me much anticipated joy! We did all the goofy things we wanted to do. We almost snuggled enough. We had good heart to heart talks that included tears and laughter. I’m glad she was here. I’m glad she went home to her friends, I know she was missing them. She’ll be back in a month and we’ll do it all over again!

Partly my heart is heavy because things feel weird with YBW.
We were being goofy in the kitchen a few nights ago and he thought I was hitting him with the dish towel so he leaned over and licked me from chin to hairline. A big, spitty-cow-tongue kind of lick. So after I wiped off my face and got the saliva out of my ear, I punched his upper arm.
When we went up to bed I was being silly and he didn’t want any part of it. That’s when he told me I had really hurt him.
He did everything he was supposed to do. He told me he didn’t like that I hurt him, and please not to ever hit him that hard again.
Then he fell asleep.

I haven’t slept in the same bed with him since that night.

The next morning I brought up the situation. I wanted to clear the air, make sure we could talk about it and understand each other’s points of view.
I apologized for hurting him.
It was clear that I punched him with intent. But I had no intent to hurt him. I think it was just one of those punches that lands much differently than anticipated.

We talked about what it means to be physical in non-sexual ways.
YBW tends to be very “handsy”. He is quick to touch or tweak various parts of me as we pass by one another. He’s quick to pet my hair or cradle my face in the palm of his hand. I quite love this about him. That small, silly physical demonstration of his affection for me.
Yes, sometimes it becomes difficult. There are times I’d rather he not randomly tickle me or grab my bottom as he follows me up the stairs.
In this conversation, I expressed my displeasure that it’s a one-way street. If I try to be playful and tweak at him he doesn’t like it. Now this is mostly because he’s extremely ticklish and most times it feels less tweakish and more ticklish to him.
But sometimes it doesn’t seem quite fair to me.

This conversation was…tricky. I knew bringing it up would create a scenario in which neither of us would want to touch the other for fear of crossing this imaginary line. I actually said as much.
We’re still working on hearing what the other says and not falling into old patterns of hearing what’s been said to us in our previous lives. I didn’t want to bring it up because I knew what would happen. But while we were near the subject, I needed to say what I was thinking.
That’s what grown ups do. They talk about ‘all the things’.

So, where that left us is days of no physical contact. Precious little eye contact. And me not being able to sleep next to him.
I’m just so uncomfortable around him. I don’t know if he’s uncomfortable around me or not.

Last night I was brushing my teeth and he was in and out of the bathroom. Normally he would run his hand across my bottom every time he passes me, but not last night.
He was already in bed when I got there.
I said: I’m going to try and stay in here all night.
He asked why I was leaving. I told him I just couldn’t sleep. Which is true. I lie there and simply cannot sleep so I get up and got into the other room. I don’t sleep much better in there, but I don’t feel quite as anxious as I do lying next to him.
He asked: Am I doing something to keep you from sleeping?
No.
Then I told him I kept waiting for him to touch my butt while I was brushing my teeth. I told him I didn’t like where we were. I pointed out that I asked if I could lean on him while we were sitting on the couch early in the day.
He replied that he still didn’t know when or how he could touch me but assured me I could touch him.

Two nights in a row I curled up behind his sleeping body, my face pressed against his back. Just breathing his scent trying to feel connected to him. Then got up and left the room.

I don’t know if Thing 2 being here inhibited us being connected, I was focusing most of my time and attention on her. The boys are here too, I don’t know if that inhibits us from being connected, YBW is focused on Thing G.
I’m not sure it’s as much them as it is us.

I honestly believe something shifted the night I punched him.
That however playful my intentions were, it landed in a very real way.
I don’t think he wants to really talk to me. I don’t think he really wants to have any sort of physical contact with me.

It’s hard to have an intimate conversation when there are kids in the house, but I’m going to try again to bring it up when he comes home today. We may have to wait till Friday when the boys go back to their mom.
I believe he’s struggling with this too. I don’t think it’s all in my head. But I’m going to have to take the initiative, because I can’t sit with it much longer.

One good thing about Thing 2 leaving is that I can go downstairs and sleep in my cocoon instead of the upstairs guest bed. At least that will be more comfy until we can figure out what the hell we’re doing.

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Manassas Battlefield

I absolutely adore Manassas Battlefield. I used to love to go there as a child and spend hours wandering aimlessly. I go there now as a grown up to experience that nostalgia.
I love the history of my home state. I love the fact that these places have been preserved, the physical places as well as the history.
When I go now, I almost always experience the battlefield from behind the camera.

The Henry House is my favorite place to visit. I love the view from the hill there. The story of Mrs Henry, stuck in her home due to illness as the first battle of bull run raged around her always resonated in me. She wasn’t able to leave her home before the fighting and ended up mortally wounded by Union fire.

The Henry House

The Henry House

I love how the changing light affects everything.

The Henry House

The Henry House

YBW likes to wander and play Ingress (To me it seems like a kind of electronic version of capture the flag for grown ups.) on his phone, “capturing” and “hacking” “portals” all around the battlefield.
The cool part of him playing this game on his phone is that I’ll tag along with my camera. We get out of the car, go our separate ways, and come back together after an hour or so.
I get time behind the lens, joy of being in a place I love, and he gains important “points” and “badges”. It’s pretty much win-win.

20131017_532

20131017_552

The Stone House as seen from the top of Henry Hill. It was used as a hospital during both the first and second battles of Bull Run. I remember being at a post sledding bonfire there once when I was really little. I remember feeling a combination of excitement and fear. I was so tired after a day of up and down the hill but the bonfire was so thrilling. All the people, the chaos, me feeling very small and vulnerable and afraid to get separated from my mom caused great anxiety within me.

The Stone House

The Stone House

Sometimes folks get their nickname here.
Thomas Jonathan Jackson became “Stonewall Jackson” when General Bee of South Carolina observed his resolve in battle and cried out, “There stands Jackson like a stone wall! Rally behind the Virginians!”

There stands Jackson like a stone wall.

Stonewall Jackson

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black (like my heart) Friday

It’s not even eight o’clock and I worry where the day will lead when a fight gets picked within six minutes of waking up. My instinct is to run. In my jammies and sock footed to get in my car and get away from here.
It seems as though I have a tone that sounds accusatory and inappropriate when speaking to YBW. I feel sure it wasn’t my tone, more the subject matter.
Or perhaps the fact that I had an opinion about the subject matter at all.
Or perhaps the fact that he’s felt belittled his entire life and I’ve spent mine struggling to be heard has the most to do with it. I tend to say things over and in different ways because I have a real and desperate need to feel heard. He tends to hear everything as some sort of condemnation, that he’s simply not right or good enough.
This can, on occasion, be a difficult way to communicate.
This morning was one of those times.

As I write this, I am actively fighting my instinct to run. That anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach, the fiery feeling in my brain stem screaming at me to get out and go someplace safe.
Before it’s all over, I suspect I’ll end up with a headache but I can handle that.

It’s not the first time this week there’s been a breakdown in communication that caused a fight. Lately I don’t feel like I can express myself unless I’m very careful to censor the subject matter. This of course triggers my deeply rooted and insecure hot buttons.
I believe it’s mostly about subject matter with YBW and I’ve considered just removing certain subjects from our conversations. Only that’s not a realistic way to live…or communicate. So I watch my tone and try to be honest. I try not to make him feel criticized or attacked in any way.
It’s still censorship.
Kindness is uniquely important…therefore not really censorship? I don’t actually know.

I don’t think YBW is an ass, or stupid, or any of the other things I occasionally get accused of. I think we hear what we’ve been conditioned to hear. We ALL hear what we’ve been conditioned to hear.
I have worked hard to show him I do not think those negative things about him with the sincere hope he will one day know that.

I’m struggling with this life.
I left my life to come be in his life with him with the plan it would become our life.
I have to “parent” two kids that are not mine. Who were raised completely differently than I know how to raise children. So I adapt to the way they do things in this family.
It’s hard. It makes me sad sometimes.
I feel like I’ve had to make all the sacrifices to be in this relationship. (He has made huge financial sacrifices, but the rest of his life pretty much got to stay the same.)
I always knew I would be the one who would assimilate into his life. There was never any question of that for simple logistics, his younger son, his home and employer.
I guess I didn’t realize it would be quite so hard.

It’s painful to feel I gave up everything to make a new life. I always felt it was going to be a better life, so that made the initial pain easier to stomach. I guess I just didn’t realize it would continue to feel that way.
Is it because I’m all settled and we’re comfortable? Is it because neither of us is on “our best behavior” anymore?
I feel like the life I chose, my life, the one I chose when I was twenty years old…however awful it became…was mine. By my own design.
This life is me trying to fit into the life someone else designed.
I deserve the chance to make it mine too.

Yesterday I watched the people in my life sit on the sofa while I made sure we had proper Thanksgiving dinner for their family.
I was asked if I need help, I was asked for specific directions.
I’m not a general. I don’t want to bark orders.
I want people to take initiative…or at the very least get up off their ass and stand in the kitchen with me so I don’t feel like everybody’s bitch.

I don’t think I’m unreasonable. And I can assure you I’ve examined that possibility.

I’m sitting on the sofa with tears on my face and Thing G is worried and comes to hug me.
That innocent kindness is unconditional love.
Unconditional love eludes some of us it’s something we never truly feel. That breaks my heart. I know I have it to give it’s not often that I receive it.
Love is a curious thing.
My heart still feels black but I see light nearer to me.

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hearth-fires and holocausts

Thing 2 is here!
It’s been really positive and she’s enthusiastic about starting over. She decided she was ready to go back to proper brick and mortar high school. (This was a difficult choice for her as she has to be a junior again instead of being a senior. But she made it and she’s feeling strongly about it.)
We went back to school clothes shopping and got everything she needed from skivvies to sweaters. Shopping is interesting with Thing 2, I always learn something new about her and we have hilarious dressing room conversations!
She got a job today and a brand new do. Things are certainly going her way.
We go tomorrow to register her for classes. She’s picked out what she’s going to wear and has a notebook and pens in her new school bags.
It has been VERY positive. I overheard her tell someone she was so glad she was here and it was a good choice.

And then…
She just came downstairs with tears in her eyes and told me she was going to bed. I asked if she was OK and she just shook her head. I asked if I could help and she shook her head. She headed back up the steps and I asked if she needed to talk about it. She called back, “It won’t help.”

My initial inclination is to rush to her and work my ass off to make it better for her. But something strange is happening. It occurred to me that she needed to feel whatever it is she’s feeling. She needs to mourn the loss of her friends. She needs to shed that old layer in order to feel at home in her new environment.
She can cope with sadness. She can cope with feeling stressed about all the change. She can even cope, albeit not really well, with the anxiety of starting a new school.
It is extremely difficult for me to “sit this one out”, but I can’t fix this for her, I can only be available when she needs me.

She’s anxious about meeting people. “Cool people, not because they’re popular, but because they look like cool people I’d like to hang out with.”
She’s a bit of a hipster, that Thing 2 of mine. She wants to hang out with quirky people like her, but not end up in social Siberia. She doesn’t want to be popular, she wants to be real. She likes to play D & D. She likes eclectic music. She’s got a sassy personal fashion style. She wants to be engaged while functioning through her own special brand of awkward.

I want to go up and get all snuggly in her bed with her and feel as though I’m helping her feel better. I think that’s about me.
I trust her to sort it.
On the other hand, she’s been left to sort it for the last year all by herself.
So, I can offer love. I can listen. I can encourage.

When I think of my baby, I am reminded of Jimmy Stewart’s beautiful words in The Philadelphia Story: “You’re lit from within. You’ve got fires banked down in you, hearth-fires and holocausts. You’re made out of flesh and blood. That’s the blank, unholy surprise of it. You’re the golden girl. Full of life and warmth and delight.
I believe there is a part of her that realizes this about herself.
I aim to make sure of that.

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

walking on eggshells

Thing 2 has been here since Thursday…I’ve experienced feelings alternating between “pants-peeing” happiness and bone crushing anxiety.
There are moments when she’s engaged and her sassiness is a joy to behold, we’ve had serious fun together…

Over all I’m honestly glad I got to see her after all this time…but it feels icky.
As though something has broken between us and is irreparable. We will never be the way we were…I can only hope we’ll be able to find a new way to be together.
I’ve broached the subject with her about the awkwardness between us and she begins her response with something to the effect of: I can see some of your points, but I just think we should let it run its course. So I asked if was that she just didn’t care enough to try to fix it or was it just not that important to her.
And then there was no more discussion. So after a while I asked if the conversation was over and she asked what I wanted her to say.

I’m so tired of feeling anxious, I wonder if she also feels anxious…and if so, is she tired too?
When something is broken it must either be fixed or…well…thrown away, I guess. I’m unwilling to throw away my Thing 2…but I can’t fix it all by myself.
So I wait…and trust that one day I won’t be the only one who wants to fix what’s broken.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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