Frame of Mind

It’s been a minute since I’ve written.

To be honest, I don’t have much going on.

Not much is going on. My sister got married and I’m glad the wedding is over and the relationship tips back to normal. I realized I didn’t feel very good through most of this prep. In some ways, I feel like an imitation sister. I’ve been adopted my whole life and never really felt quite like I did during the wedding. I felt like a throw-away, someone she had there because she had to, not because she really wanted to. I felt the strength of her connections with her friends and felt like an outsider. It’s not me she relies upon or me she calls for advice. I’m not even sure how to cultivate a better relationship with her exactly. I don’t get the sense it’s something she really wants – or wants more of. I’m unsure what I want from relationship with her. I suppose it’s just one more person I don’t feel important to and this seems to be a theme in my life.

I was asked to do a podcast, two actually. One was about life struggles and how individuals overcome them and the other is about strong, accomplished women. I finished the first one and found the process super interesting. In the first pass, I understood the interviewer wanted to focus on the Mexico story and travel weight-loss surgery. I was able to tell the sorry quite easily with no emotion and plenty of humor. In the actual interview, there was a significant change to my story because all my emotions were stirred up (made for a very good interview). The emotions caught me by surprise. I have pretty much buried Mexico and what happened to me. The horror of that experience is not something I want to revisit. I acknowledge I carry a great deal of shame for choosing weight loss surgery, wanting to die and subsequently what happened to me post surgery. In particular, I purposely try not to dig too deeply because of the one fact that continues to haunt me: no one came for me. Even when I begged, no one cared enough to come for me. I was dying at one point, I was terrified, and those closest to me couldn’t come.

Logically, I understand why. Emotionally, I can’t address it because I don’t see any other choice but to forgive them and accept what’s happened. They made a choice the same way I made a choice. I don’t think they didn’t come to penalize me, I just think they had other priorities. I don’t even know what I would have done had the tables been turned. Which leads me to a feeling I’ve buried most of my life and pushes me to the outskirts of my depression – I am not anyone’s priority.

We spoke about this in the interview and I definitely had a hard time working through this part of the story. In the end, we edited it out because I don’t want to upset the people who were there for me. And they WERE there. Just, perhaps, not physically. I am worried if I were to ever express the truth of how I felt that I would be considered ungrateful. After all, Mexico was my bad choice and I should live with its consequences.

Since the interview I’ve been struggling with these thoughts because, like I mentioned, I’ve buried them pretty deeply and they simply only cause emotional distress for me. I also don’t see a way to resolve these feelings other than learning to accept what’s passed and move on.

But then there are days, and unfortunately there are many of them recently, where the thought of not being anyone’s priority eats me alive.

My long time closest friend, the Spanish speaker who translated Spanish for me while I was in Mexico, changed all my bandages when I was home, my maid of honor and godmother to my son, is always too busy for me. I never see her or speak to her and I’ve grown tired of constantly asking to see her. She finds time for what’s important to her and I’m not it. Now, if I really needed “help” she would be the first one here. That’s because she finds her own value in helping others. It’s great to have a friend like that, but I love her dearly and would like to connect with her more frequently than once a month. Mind you, I’m not working and I’m very flexible so it’s twice as upsetting when I have the time to spend with her and she basically can’t find the time for me.

My closest cousin, the one who was very busy working to get me out of Mexico and who probably invested the most time in figuring shit out while I was there, comes from a massive tight knit family. Her family will include me in many functions and I love to participate. I’m so happy when I’m with them and I always enjoy myself but I go through some sort of let down once I leave them. I find myself wishing that was my primary family. Once again I feel like I’m on the outskirts looking in.

My kids have really been much better than last year and I am VERY thankful for this change. I try not to push them too far forward too fast because, again, I don’t want to appear ungrateful for the strides they have made. Logically I know kids are kids and boys are boys, but I often feel that I hold no importance. I know this isn’t true and this is just my neediness. I want more demonstrative love and this is just not their way. They really have been good kids lately and I am trying not to put them down in any way because of my own neediness.

I still don’t have a job and there has been NOTHING to be found. I am so over my head in debt for the first time in my life that I am beginning to feel panic rising at the back of my throat. I keep telling myself I just need to get through the end of this year and things will change. I will find a job and be able to pay down my debt. It’s the first time EVER that I am truly scared about the debt I’ve created. People keep asking “what will you do?” And this is becoming frustrating. I don’t know. I don’t know what I will do. Am I wasting time not “doing something else?” I don’t even know what that can be. If I have to become a realtor I would rather die. I am good at my job and want to stay in my industry and would even consider relocation. There are just no jobs out there. Not even consulting ones. I am officially out of money by Feb 1st and have to take from long term savings to survive. This is creating an angst in me that I’ve never experienced. All of this makes me feel like I’m not worthy of being hired. I’m too old. I’m too expensive. (Even though I would take half my last salary). I’m over-qualified. I’m so disappointed in myself that it’s becoming very hard to remain positive.

Then there’s the dating, or better yet, the lack of it. Before I shut down the apps I knew I had hit a low point with my last sex date with Chris. I knew I had to stop what I was as doing because it wasn’t how I wanted to feel. There were two men, both from out of town, that I felt would make good on/off dates when they were here because I could keep them (or keep myself is a better way to say that) at arms length and not invest in the emotional chase. Sex with Dan is pretty good and we have a blast when I see him, but his communication is so horribly inconsistent I still end up aggravated. The other guy, Tom (don’t even think I wrote about him) started off well, we had two fabulous dates, and then his communication and attention plummeted. This is so fucking frustrating to me and puts me right back into the thought pattern of “why can’t I be anyone’s fucking priority?” Not even a small priority. I don’t even think priority is the space I’m looking for as much as just being someone they think about and WANT to reach out to sometimes.

I’ve gained some weight – which isn’t a bad thing but it’s fucking with my head. I had dropped so low, most would say too low for me, that I needed to regain some weight. But I haven’t stopped gaining because I haven’t curbed my eating. Even with all my cardio I’m not losing because I’m eating all the time. I don’t eat much at once but I eat all day. As you can imagine, this screws with my head after weight loss surgery. There was the sick part of me that liked being so thin. That liked seeing that low number on the scale. My goal was always 150 but I loved seeing 130. Sitting around 140-145 isn’t unhealthy but I don’t like it. I want to stay sub 140. That space felt good in my head for the first time in my life. I’m so sick of struggling with the numbers on the scale that I just want them to stay put. Weight loss surgery doesn’t cut out the demons. They are all still there and the effort it takes to quiet them is immense. The only time they recede is under that 140 mark. It doesn’t seem to matter that I’m actually in the best physical shape of my life, my arms look beautiful, my legs feel amazing and I love being stronger than ever and rarely out of breath anymore. The numbers on the scale fuck with my head worse than ever. Especially since I saw what I needed to see for the first time in 20+ years. That number on scale “helps” me forgive myself for the damage done to my body and how badly my stomach looks with its wounds and loose, hanging flesh.

Speaking of wounds, here was a little bright spot. When having sex with Dan, he gently kissed my wound. I knew it was intentional. He also made sure to tell me post sex that he loved my body and the wounds don’t bother him at all, he doesn’t even see them. I appreciated that immensely. I believe him also. It doesn’t change how I think about my tummy, but it does help to calm me down a bit, as long as I can get my weight back down.

So that gets to me to my current frame of mind: not good. Not good at all.

Not working, not dating, not having enough good, consistent sex, not having any money are all very bad places for me to be. My ability to not be depressed is quickly eroding.

I am doing what I can. I actively look for jobs and network. I continue to exercise – although I should be stepping up my game considering I’m unemployed. I bought a studio 10 pack so that I get myself into the Peloton studio and interact in person. I continue to support others in my accountability groups though recently I feel like I am being false. It’s an effort to Log into social media to be positive and emote positivity and gratefulness when I don’t feel it. I do logically understand I have much to be grateful for but I am horrible at making this a practice I believe in. It’s also why I push myself into my accountability groups the same way I pushed myself to get dressed In Workout clothes at the beginning – I will fake it til I make it. This is taking way longer than the 100 days I committed to making fitness a priority. Wayyyy longer.

This time of year warms me and depresses me all at once. I want a boyfriend. I want my person. I want the person who is going to make me a priority. I haven’t had that since pre marriage, since a childhood boyfriend. When I think about it I only feel more damaged and broken. There too many things keeping me down, and too many things making me feel like I’m not important to anyone. I know all about self love and it’s not working for me. Sure, I haves plenty of moments where I am doing a decent job taking care of myself and my family, but I don’t feel any reward in it. It’s. A horrible place to be as I think about this being the 5th Christmas and New Years that I will once again be alone.

When I Don’t Care Enough – Part 1

Sometimes, not often, I don’t really care about how I am going to present on a date.

There are some men who I get the sexual tension from quickly, and I want to impress those men with sexy heels and a hot outfit.  Other men don’t seem to give off the same vibe and I don’t get as excited about the first meeting and what I am wearing, and perhaps a little, how I look.  Frankly, I tend to prefer the men with whom I get the tension with – even if the date doesn’t get legs, the initial date and flirting is just more fun.  I love the sexual tension and I love to look sexy.  Especially now….sexy now is an entirely different thing than it was before.  My body requires little to no effort to appear sexy to a man who likes a lean, fit woman.  This is a major head trip, for me.  I love the fact that nothing is uncomfortable when I wear it any longer.  Most articles of clothing are going to look good on me no matter what.  I can wear heels all night long.  I’ve always had the feeling of “being” sexy, but now its much more prevalent since I am proud of my body  (well, the exterior, the wounds and loose skin get compartmentalized when I am getting dressed because they are under wraps).  I don’t think my behavior is any different, but removing the physical self doubt is a massive relief.

I did choose weight loss surgery after all.

And then I chose to take care of the gift of life I was given post all the trauma.  I’m super fit and lean now.  I feel better physically and find that the working out helps me redirect a lot of negative energy.  I never thought I would be the one to say it but I love how the fitness makes me feel now.  It has changed my life.

This is a bit long-winded story about how I didn’t care how I looked on a first date. I had matched with someone who wanted to meet this particular night.

I had planned to do something quite out of character for me – I decided to go into the Peloton studios and do 3 classes in a row, in costume, for Halloween.  Alone.  Why?  No reason at all.  More like, why not?  I could. I love my Peloton classes and getting in studio is always awesome.  Plus, not that I admit this to any of my friends or family, but there is probably some attention factor in here.  Going to the studio gets me noticed by my instructors and creates a more personal bond when you interact with them on social media.  When I’m not working, the Peloton social community is my primary source of accountability.  If I make a post that I will do something, I do it.  I don’t know how the logic of that works for me, but it does.  So when I feel like I need a little push to step out of a comfort zone, I post before I think about it too much.  Then I’m committed.

The classes started at 6:30pm and would end by 10:30pm.  It was a pretty big fitness commitment and when I am in studio, it also means a push effort – I don’t want to “take it easy” on myself in studio.   All classes have a “spotlight” bike, tread or mat.  In the past, I have chosen this spot knowing I would be on camera for the studio taping of the on-demand classes.   Unexpectedly, I ended up in this spot in 2 classes -in full costume – doing classes that were so far out of my comfort zone that I questioned the sanity of these spontaneous choices.  I did a 45 minute run (I have never run that long) and a 30 minute yoga class (I never did a studio yoga class and I can’t do half the poses).  Of course, in the end, it worked out amazingly well and I had a blast and did just fine.   I loved being on camera (sort of, off to the side and in the dark, but still! Lol)

I did trip on the treadmill towards the end! Whoops! No one saw, right?

It reminded me that I like the spotlight and the competition.  My personality feeds off these things, but I forget that it does.  I should really consider how to tap into more of this part of myself – because I am good at putting myself out there.  My confidence takes a huge leap and I become like a different person.  I recall times in my life where the spotlight was on me that it brings out my type A competitive nature and I want to crush whatever it is I am doing.  I can’t create this feeling, or even call it up – but when it happens I love it.  I know athletes are able to tap into this ability to focus themselves and hype themselves up for competition, but when I try to do that, it doesn’t work the same as when it happens organically. I hadn’t actually thought of this before and maybe I should do a little research on why this happens with me.

This night, it was all organic.  Sort of.  I had set myself up for the potential something could happen, by being in costume, being present and interactive, and I was going to be equally as ok if nothing happened.  But, it did – I was noticed, ended up on camera, and made new friends.  I loved every minute.  No one was there who knew me or could judge, and the side of my personality that I normally don’t let loose too often – you can call it my cocky side -comes out.  My confidence and happiness overflow and I can affect those around me.  It’s such a natural high.

It was several hours of high intensity interaction and exercise. I loved every minute. If I could somehow tap into that energy more frequently, it would be amazing – I don’t know where it would take me because it feels boundless. However, times like this – where the energy is flowing so heavily from within – exhaust me for days. Add into it my chronic anemia, which happens to be keeping me down because it’s time for an iron infusion, and one event like this could knock me out for a week.

The bottom line was – after these classes I was going to be a mess. My hair was a birds nest of hairspray and curls, my makeup soaked through, and I would be a soppy sweaty mess. I would be able to take a shower post the last ride, but there was nothing I could do about makeup or the fact I had worn yoga pants going into the studio. Hardly the ideal condition to meet someone for the first time…..

Big Sister

I’m struggling being a big sister to an adult woman. Since I was adopted, and raised apart from my half sister, our relationship is non-traditional. We are closer than ever as she approaches her wedding day in 2 months, but this closeness also brings frustration learning about one another.

We have the built in family connection. She’s my sister and I adore her. I prioritize her in my life. I realized after my breakdown last year how much she adores me back and I was taking her love for me for granted. I have tried to be much closer to her this past year. My timing may suck since she’s about to be married, but you work with what you have.

The wedding, of course, is anxiety fueled and she’s an emotional creature – maybe even more so than I am. We are quite similar in our ability to be so direct it often comes out unkind and we’ve definitely been having our share of crossed wires.

Lately I just feel like ALL the wires are crossing and we can’t have any communication without a misunderstanding.

I have to admit sometimes I find it all too much. I am still struggling to find myself and I know the people around me are frustrated that I am still depressed so I’ve mostly stopped talking about it with them. I call if I feel I hit a bottom and need support, but otherwise I’m back to remaining silent about my own feelings. In particular, I don’t want to cloud my sisters special time. I already have terrible shame that I chose to go to Mexico for the surgery the day she got engaged. Even though the subsequent terrors were not of my doing, they impacted her in a significant way as she tried to support me…during what should have been the happiest time in her life. I will never forgive myself for that and the shame and guilt I feel is overpowering.

But every time I try to do what I believe would please get, I seem to get it wrong. Maybe it’s because I don’t actually know her well enough. Maybe it’s because I see her through a different lens. Maybe I’m trying too hard. Maybe I just don’t know how to have an adult female relationship that’s as close as ours is. I don’t know.

I do know it’s bumpy and I want to fix it, but that can’t come until we can have a serious conversation/ maybe early next year. I just don’t want to add any anxiety. But, I fear it’s all I seem to be doing lately.

Planning her bachelorette has been horrible. What I wanted to be a classy and fun weekend isn’t the experience her friends, or her, were expecting. They would have been happy with a pizza and beer weekend – and getting a bit sloppy drunk. I shouldn’t have taken the responsibility on my shoulders when I don’t know her friends well enough. I should have asked more questions and spent less money. But I planned what I believed she would love, and it turns out it’s all too much. For her, for them, for me. I’m just over it all.

Without getting into the entire story, I just wanted the long weekend to pass with her being happy and no one else complaining. I wanted it over before it even started. I am too old to be doing this for the first time. What started out as excitement and anticipation has turned into a bit of dread.

I also found it highly unusual that every friend of hers was invited with a plus one and I wasn’t, when I asked to bring one before the invites were sent.  I replied with a +1 even though I didn’t actually have someone to bring.  Her mother doesn’t think I should have the distraction because I will be “working.”  Working until the party, then mostly alone as the ones I love are in the spotlight and its not “my” family exactly.   I do want to bring a date, but I don’t have someone who can easily fit in, so I am going to let them know, but I don’t actually liked being told I shouldn’t have a date.  They seem to be worried I would be distracted with a date – who wouldn’t show up until the party in any case.  I am already going to be distracted with 3 teen boys trying to get dressed in Tuxedos when I am not there to help them.

I just want her happy and I seem to be failing at giving her this happiness. Now I just feel like I will also fail her the day of her wedding as the Maid of Honor. It’s overwhelming me and making me want to pull away and get away from being in such a close relationship. It makes me realize I’m not very good at relationships like this, and makes me think it’s why I attract men who aren’t ready for relationships. I don’t know if that’s true or not, I don’t think I put negative energy into the universe but lately I feel so judged.

Judged that I went to Mexico. Judged that I’m now too skinny. Judged that I like fancy things. Judged that I speak my mind and it doesn’t always come out so nicely. Just always judged and found lacking. I don’t know when I’ve felt this defeated (consciously felt at least) for such a long stretch of time.

The only single place I feel at ease, confident and comfortable is within my Peloton community.

Granted, much of that community is social media and not “real” relationship, and maybe that’s why I feel safe. I do have real life Peloton friends as well and I feel like their entire approach to life is just different than what I’ve experienced ever before. It’s a community of support. A community of accountability. There are challenges we all get to meet together. We work together towards a common goal. It makes me want to help others who are just starting out with changes in their lifestyle.

Some days I seriously consider becoming some type of coach. I think I have a lot to offer if I could find the right niche. (I believe even Morava picked up n this in a comment!)

And, if the saying is true that you attract what you put out there, then it’s super interesting the man I’m currently seeing is in all sorts of transcendence. Maybe a bit too much for me, but I’m sure I could have a lot to learn from him.

I’m unsure how to manage my sister. I’m turning inward which is also making her upset because I’m withdrawn but I don’t know what else to do.

I read a few of her text and her Mom’s text to a friend of mine and she felt the same way -that somehow I was being penalized, or perhaps “managed” is a better word.  “we’ve got to make sure Maddy doesn’t jump off the deep end again” or “we don’t want any drama at the wedding.”  I may be wrong, but my instincts with these types of things are not usually off.

The wedding is now 3.5 weeks away and what was very exciting for me to be a part of feels like a drag now.  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, yet I feel like something is wrong at every turn.  I am truly happy for her and I am touched to the core she asked me to be the MOH, but I am starting to feel like I was put in this position so I can be managed, rather than because I was her first choice.  It just sucks, feeling this way before the wedding when it should be such an exciting time for both of us.

Another Chapter Finishes

I learned last week that my contract will end in my current role. I wasn’t surprised, but I was hopeful.

I suspect they did try to bring me in, but I’m overqualified and they are laying off, not hiring. I believe I made a decent impression and showed them what I can bring to the table what they do not have within the team.

In any case, my last day is next week

That also means the money dries up. I don’t want to panic, but I’m pretty anxiety ridden about not having an income. I can manage for a month or two, but beyond that I have to start to withdraw from my long term savings which makes me feel sick to my stomach.

I’m sick of running as fast I can in life and I feel like there’s no rest. It always feels like an uphill battle. I didn’t think I would burn out the way I did last year but it’s had such a profound affect on me that I can no longer think and behave the same. I don’t want to work like that anymore, I want to live and breathe. But. Money.

Same as anyone else.

I’ve been looking for a job for a solid 6 months and there has been absolutely nothing out there. Even lower levels or different industries. I can’t even get an interview. My friends who lost their jobs in ’16 along with me are in the same boat, but they are all married and have 2 incomes. I know they feel pressure but it’s a different kind.

My x has stepped up a bit more than usual. I think I’ve learned a lesson on how to interact with him so that it doesn’t cause me massive anxiety. He will push me to a breaking point and I just can’t waiver with my initial decisions. I notice when I stay the course, and really refuse to budge that he backs down and makes his own decisions, which have actually included contributing to some finances for the kids.

I’m very worried and stressed. Add a relatively newish relationship with my adult sister and my nerves are not doing well. I find myself wanting to retreat from everyone again and hide. I’m beginning to think I’m really just not a social creature. I don’t think this is a new feeling for me, I just don’t think I’ve identified it before and tuned into it. I’ve always said I don’t really like people, but more and more lately, I don’t really like anyone. My frustration with people rises quickly and maybe it’s because of my anxiety, but maybe it’s because I just don’t like social interaction. I don’t really know but I think it’s something I need to pay better attention to.

Speaking of which, I have my sisters bachelorette party Which I worked really hard to plan and now feel like I’ve been penalized for over-planning. I wanted to surprise her and make is super special and it seems she would have been happier being stupid drunk for 2 days with no planning.

Lately, I feel like I can’t catch a break.

Relief

I can’t even begin to tell you the immense relief I felt when I woke up this Sunday morning.

The anxiety, the trepidation, the overwhelming sadness I have been struggling with for 2weeks seems to have lifted. I literally feel lighter.

I didn’t understand what was happening to my mind and body the past couple weeks. I was really afraid I was internalizing the dating rejections worse than I was allowing myself to believe since that’s a typical trigger for me.

But it wasn’t. Everything I wrote about lightbulbs and a better understanding of myself is true. The gears have shifted.

Then, I thought, how could the one incident with my boys send me flying over an edge and free falling to the point I felt crazy, hyper and needed an emergency call to the therapist.

It didn’t occur to me until I woke this morning, happy and peaceful. I lie in bed trying to understand what felt different. I was sleeping in my sisters home after a big birthday bash for her the evening before and I was definitely nursing a little hangover. I had this feeling of emptiness and joy, literal lightness.

I started to think about a few things since my brain seemed to be less foggy and muddled. I felt something within my grasp but couldn’t quite articulate it. It wasn’t until I had a almost 3 hour drive home that my mind cleared the way for me.

It was exactly 1 year ago on September 7th I had my elective surgery. I had come through, what I thought was, the most debilitating period of my life and was in a long, painful spiral downwards. The surgery was meant to give me a reset, to take back one thing in my life that I could control. Of course, we all know that’s not how it worked out for me. My emotional breakdown turned almost fatal.

I know, very well, I buried Mexico. I don’t think about it. I don’t want to think about it. I buried it in a chest somewhere deep never to be opened again by anyone. Ever. I mean it. I don’t want to discuss it or go back to it. It’s such a dark period for me that I just know I will never want to revisit it and experience the pain again. I have always been good at pushing things away and I can keep this one buried deep.

So what’s left when you don’t address the pain? Shame, embarrassment, guilt, sadness and a whole bevy of other assorted negative feelings.

The biggest and most painful of those is shame. Shame for what I did to myself. Shame for what I put the ones I loved through. Awful, terrible, gut-wrenching shame. It’s one of the few feelings I don’t often experience. I never felt shameful about my affairs I don’t think I’ve done much in my life to be ashamed of. I believe the past two weeks my mind is trying to dig up / relive / let-go of something from that time a year ago. Because it’s so suppressed it manifested as physical warning signs.

It didn’t dawn on me until I woke up from from trepidation and anxiety that I had been harboring so much shame within, but I know now that’s the feeling I’ve been struggling with. Shame is such an ugly word and it feeds the inner voice that says “I’m not worthy and I’m not loved”. I had just finished listening to a Brene Brown book where she spoke about shame – she says – in order to cut shame off at the knees you need to talk about it.

When that little nugget of advice came back to me I knew that was exactly what was about to happen. Somehow my body knew before my mind (it always does I just never quite understand it). I felt so loved and cherished and adored being around my sister and her family and friends (and my birth father) that shame had no room to keep corroding my every thought.

To make sure I kept shame at bay I also spoke to my sister and her mother. I explained that I had been feeling shame for the past year and that what I did cast such a shadow over the happiest time of her life (she got engaged the day I had surgery). I was so disgusted by feelings of shame that it was making me weak and ill all over again. They both reinforced how much I was loved, forgiven, and an important part of the family. That I wasn’t bad, I had just done something wrong.

My body was telling me it was time to move from shame to guilt. Guilt is ok. I did a bad thing. But I am not a bad person.

I cannot change what happened, but I can make reparations and take a new path. A path to a stronger, better me. A better parent, sister, friend.

I’ve been taking all those steps and doing so quite consciously. I am proud of what I’ve accomplished and even more proud that I just squashed some shame like a bug.

I’m still relieved, even 2 days later. No more panic and anxiety.

I knew something big was coming.

Unlocking myself hasn’t been easy, but I’m getting there. Reducing shame to guilt is a big step forward. I kept thinking something was going to happen TO me, but instead, something happened because of me.

Down in the Dumps

This episode with my kids knocked me way, way down.

And I’m guessing it’s obvious to my friends, or I’ve gotten them scared to death, because they are checking, checking, checking on me a couple times a day.

I can’t knock it.

First, the physical. I feel like I want to cry, like really cry. Get it out. I can’t. I just can’t for some reason. My insides are still buzzy as if they are in high alert. I don’t like this consistent feeling as it signals to me I’m waiting for something bad to happen.

Next, the mental. I’m playing some sort of waiting game. I don’t even know what I’m waiting for but that’s how it feels. I feel like I’m looking for something that’s coming and I don’t know when or how. A couple weeks back, when this feeling started, it felt positive a like great things around the corner. It’s turned into something else, like dreaded anticipation.

I have forgiven my kids and myself for the argument. I made an appt with the therapist for the 4 of us and all of them are angry and rebellious about it. They have some said things that I attribute to their Dad, but I find myself questioning if I really am “that person.” One son said “get a boyfriend already and take the pressure off of us.” Another one said “you expect too much from us and you’re always disappointed”. My toughest guy told me that no one will ever love the way I love and that’s a direct quote from his Dad. I can’t figure out if they are sort of brainwashed or if this is how they see me through their “adult” eyes now. It’s really upsetting me.

I haven’t heard from Mike which admittedly unbalanced me, but I know there’s nothing I can do about it.

I’m upset my sisters mother doesn’t want me to have a plus one at the wedding AND the fact I don’t even have a plus one to ask. I feel like the next 3-4 months of family events that I am ALONE in capital letters.

This feeling of being alone is bothering me. I’ve said it many times but I just want a relationship of some sort already.

I do see, at least, how to help myself beware of my anxious attachment. I think it takes practice as I’ve still gotten little hurts along the way.

I don’t understand exactly how my mind works in terms of the attachment. Tom and Charles were pretty close to “getting it right from go” but my mind selected Mike above them in a way I’ve been able to disconnect from Tom and Charles easily, but less so from Mike. And before anyone says much, this is me in my head, I’m not acting on anything – there’s nothing to act on. In my opinion anyone who says “we’ve been on two dates” just drew a clear line in the sand that I’m not on his radar the way he might be in mine.

My friends think I have more on my plate than I am acknowledging and it’s slightly reminiscent of last summer. Kids, men and work all culminating into concerns at one time and layering on the anxiety. I truly don’t think I’m built for the same level of intensity I was able to put out before, I don’t feel that drive that makes me so strong. Not consistently.

I will write about work in a separate post but at the moment I can’t seem to pull myself up out of my depression.

Crap Travels Downward

The day passed as most do at my new role, uneventfully.

But not in my head. In my head my world seems to be be suffocating me. My body is anxious and disturbed.

On Mikes advice, I try to speak to the x. I knew this wasn’t the right advice for me but I want to try anything at this point to feel better.

What a waste of an hour. This man doesn’t even know his own child. I can’t deal with his stupidity. Even worse, he says he can’t take care of all 3 kids because he doesn’t have the room, he’s busy renovating his mothers basement and he has a life. This lit me right up. I’ve had those kids for 2+ years full time. I need a break and you better fucking figure it out for a few weeks. His answer: no, let them stay “home”. I was livid.

My answer to him was “not my problem you live in a 2 bedroom apartment for 5 years and don’t have space, that’s been your decision, for now you need to parent all 3 of your children together”.

I know I shouldn’t be. This is a man who only cares about himself, his mother and his own satisfaction. A mother who needs a break from a full time adult child has no choice but to care for her child or they are on the street because their father basically rejects his parental responsibility.

His answer: they are 20. Well, two of them will be twenty in a week, but our youngest is 16. Either way, we are responsible for them until they are out of college. He doesn’t see it that way. Nor does he care. He’s got a girlfriend and he’s got a sleepover on Thursday so my son has no where to sleep.

Their Dad is ok telling them to get lost that he has plans.

I am not ok with that. I am not that parent. He knows this so I am left with full time care of 3 kids while the father lives his life and I have a nervous breakdown.

I am so angry. I’m so angry that I made myself sick today. I had to call the therapist for an emergency appt on the phone – that’s how worried about myself I was. I could feel the gently wrapped threads unraveling at a very fast pace.

I took another hour to speak with her. She was genuinely concerned and worried, but had little to offer at the beginning than “you are in a very difficult, nearly impossible, situation”. Yes! I know that! But I’m calling you for answers and strategies!

Eventually we got there. I got a script together for my next steps. It’s not what I expected but it makes sense to me.

I really couldn’t function properly the rest of the day.

The sexting with Mike had me feeling regretful for some unknown reason and the behavior I had with my kids was just leaving me unsettled.

I did tell my group what’s going on with me. Closest friend took me out for drinks and listened. She’s single and in her 40s not much she can add in the way of parenting. But she was there for me when I needed her. Another friend thinks the boys deserve strong consequences (read punishment). When I asked her what she would do differently she couldn’t come up with anything different but insisted she would be tougher than me. This friend is the antithesis of me – never wants to be in another relationship as long as she lives, including parenting her children or being obligated as an adult child to her mother or sisters. She does it better than anyone I know but literally hates it. Again, she was there for me.

I hate that I feel like I need a male partner to support me. Is it because I didn’t get any male parenting while I was a child and haven’t ever seen my x parenting our children? I think there may be something in there. I need male validation and partnership because this has always been a void in my life.

That evening I made another mistake texting Mike while I was at the bar 2 solid glasses of wine in and starting the third on an empty stomach. It started funny and silly but then I made a comment that maybe he could be less distant and just more like the guy I met.

The response: you are really off base. I’ve been nothing but nice to you. We’ve been out twice. I’m sorry you had a bad day and a shitty x

Nothing like being put in your place.

I reread my text and I don’t know how he went from A to Z but he did. I apologized that he misinterpreted my request for him to just be flirty while I was having a bad night.

No mixed signals in his text, eh? When you remind someone you’ve only “been out twice” it’s pretty clear that’s all it was and all it will be. I knew that. Of course I did. I was the idiot who crossed a line because I should never have text him today AT ALL.

He would have come back when he was ready for more sex and not before. But my anxiety got the better of me. I was needy and went to the wrong person for comfort. I knew he wouldn’t or couldn’t give me what I needed but, yet, I still went.

After all – no one, not one person, could help me today. I wanted to go numb. I wanted to sit in a corner and rock and cry. That might have been better than trying to be strong. Maybe I should have taken the time to let it all out. I know that only I can help myself. If I had taken the time to walk through today’s scenarios calmly in my head I would never have made the call to the x or to Mike. I can only help myself. I know this and continue to fight it.

Now I am on a bus home, sitting next to a man who (if he bumps into me once more) I might punch. Dreading the fact that I need to have a conversation with two of my kids when I get home. It can’t wait.

The other kid is with his Dad but I don’t know what he will do Thursday and Friday if his dad kicks him out.

Is getting upset over the x and some dumb text to Mike the end of the world? No. However – I’m always concerned about losing control now. It was the same for a long while with the exercise, I was so afraid to miss even one day I exercised myself into oblivion. It was very, very hard to adjust to less exercise and not crucify myself when I missed a day for good reason. This little derailment is the same. I lost some control, I knew it what happening, I took mostly the right steps to correct it and I will get myself back on track (I think).

I’m obsessing at the moment and I think that’s pretty standard process for me. My mind has to flip everything over and beat it blue before I let go. I get into my head and spin myself into an endless loop that I have quite a bit of trouble breaking. I analyze over and over to see if different actions would have different results. It’s like replaying a horrible highlight reel.

I read an article that helped with post conflict redirection through mantra, and while this helps, I need to find one while I’m in the conflict (or on the brink of making poor decision or exhibit bad behavior)

I know I cannot Define myself by what happened. It’s a bump in the road and I will inch forward and recover. I’m writing as the outlet to help stop the rumination.

I need to reinforce to myself that I am valuable. I am worthy. I am god enough, strong enough, and smart enough. I need to establish a mantra I can repeat when feeling dating or kid anxiety. Mantras cut through the noise in my head and create peace and space. I’ve learned this from almost daily meditation but I need a short and sweet one I can put in my pocket and put on repeat.

I’m just struggling with this pit in my stomach I can’t seem to move past. Then I worry the pit is there for a reason I haven’t acknowledge and that scares me. My intuition is so sensitive and not often wrong. I’m not trying to ignore it I just don’t know what it’s telling me right now.

At the moment I am trying to repeat:

Whatever is meant to be, will be.

There is a time and place for everything.

This too shall pass.

I am still healing, learning and growing.

Everything happens for a reason, even if don’t understand that reason today.

The only thing under my control is me. Deep breaths. Chin up. One foot in front of the other.

First Sign Things are not Going Well off Meds

To say I’m upset is an understatement. Just over 3 weeks off my meds and the cracks are showing. I knew this would most likely happen, but was hoping for the best.

I had an awful night with my kids.

The youngest at 17 asked to go to a party. He came home blind-drunk and vomiting like crazy. He’s nearly 300 pounds and couldn’t walk. His friends and brothers had a terrible time lifting him up stairs and into bed. I didn’t know this until the next morning and it upsets me to no end.

The same night the eldest at 20 asked me to have 4 friends over. I agreed because I figured what harm could 4 friends do. Well, 4 friends shit faced drunk can do enough. I wake at 4:45am now and I asked him to shut it down by 11:30pm. They were so drunk and having so much fun that even though it was in the basement I could hear them all the way in my bedroom. They trashed the basement and my son slipped on the beer soaked floor and ended up in the urgent care the next day.

None of this came to light until I was on my commute home the following day.

When I arrived home and wanted to change the laundry, I saw the clean clothes I had washed in the morning and left in the washer in a big pile on the floor. Later finding out it was because the eldest had vomited repeatedly in his bed and he had to change the sheets. God knows if he just threw them in there without cleaning off the chunks. I wonder if he realizes he needs to change the mattress pad as well?

Most likely not because after we argued he left his tossed room and went to his fathers.

Then I had to pay some bills so I checked my Amex bill to find over $300 in food and gas charges interspersed between my dry cleaning and pharmacy run the kids will do for me. When I told the older boys that they had to pay me back, both went out of their mind that it wasn’t their charges. One got so angry he slammed the desk and things went flying, he broke a small desk accessory. The other threatened to cancel my birthday cake and presents if I took the money from him.

During this time I checked my youngest sons bank account to see he had spent well over $100 of his own money on crap food in the past week. He will be driving in a month and he needs his money for gas. He earned a good salary all summer and more than half of its gone already before school even starts. He’s also obese and I’ve been cooking on the weekends so he has healthy meals all week – no wonder food is going to waste.

I was so upset and so distraught I went straight to screaming and yelling because they continue to lie to me and say they didn’t take my card, it wasn’t them, pointing fingers at the other brothers. It makes me crazy and I went off like a bottle of pop clink fizz.

I exercised hard for about 15 minutes just to get out some of the frustration and then I poured a large glass of wine. I got into bed and took an Ambien.

Mike text during this time and then I called. He could hear I was upset and I told him a little but I don’t really want to tell him much since I don’t know him AND don’t want to scare him away. He really thinks I need to get my x involved to take over for a while. We hung up and then text sex started. I barely remember because I was drugged by that point. I wasn’t happy with what I saw the next morning. While it was just dirty sex talk, he didn’t deserve it from me. I haven’t seen him in 2 weeks and he hasn’t asked me out. When I reread the text this morning I find this embedded in there:

I’m more angry at the pleading text than I am about the text sex – but, believe me, I didn’t like that exchange all that much either when I re-read it.

What’s the point in chasing? NONE.

NO POINT AT ALL.

I truly don’t recall the entire text string. I know ambien, alcohol and emotion don’t mix and he got hold of me at a weak point.

When I woke this morning, I got right up to exercise which felt great. But I literally have this heavy weight on my heart.

I’m not sure I can exist without stronger meds. I feel like a complete parent failure and it just keeps happening, no matter how much I feel I reinforce and hold steady with good behaviors for my kids, they seem to find a way to walk all over me. Then they claim it’s unintentional. To be threatened that my birthday treats will be taken from me because of their bad behavior is a terrible feeling – the fact that my son doesn’t even see that he stole money AND then punishes me for his crime is making me sick to my stomach. The drinking is relatively common at this age but their lack of sense about blacking out or trashing our belongings/home is startling to me. The fact that they don’t think I SHOULD get upset over any of this and call me insane, crazy and over-reactive is hurtful.

My children have zero idea what it takes to maintain and support s home with 3 man-boys full time with no support.

Add in the Mike thing and I just feel crushed this morning.

I would like to cry but my makeup is already on and I have work to prioritize.

I feel so defeated today.

Oh, and add in two lesser evils –

Tom called and asked when he could see me again. I told him I had my sisters 30th birthday party and he was welcome to come since it’s dinner then a casino. He readily agreed. By evening he wrote to say he may have his daughter and would let me know.

My sisters mother is also concerned that I want to bring a plus one to her wedding. While I understand my priority are the obligations I have as maid of honor, once the ceremony is over I am alone. I will know a lot of people, but since this is my birth-family, it’s quite different. I am still an outsider in a way, which doesn’t bother me as I’m there for my sister, her mother and our father. But there will be 5 hours of drinking and dancing and I will mostly be alone and would like to have company. My friend agreed it’s a tough position to put a guy in and while I don’t disagree with that, the right guy would be fine. They don’t even have to come from hotel to reception until after ceremony. And they will sit with me at head table. I don’t think it’s crazy but a bit upset the expectation was I should be alone.

Tuesday just ended like crap and started off my Wednesday with a heavy heart I can’t shake.

So Much on my Mind

Right now I feel like a could write a book. I’m no good at short versions of anything and so much has been churning inside of my head lately I wish there was a way to get it out as the thoughts happened and into the blog. It all seems so logical when I’m thinking of it, but when I go back to write it, so much seems to slip away and I end up not knowing where to start.

I felt like light bulbs have been turning on all over the place lately. I know it’s all tied up with my current situation in dating. I’m having a moment like I haven’t had in a very long time. My libido is back in full blast and it absolutely wreaks havoc on my good intentions to have better behaviors while dating.

The difference is – now I know it. And I realized I can do something about it. Maybe not the something some might prefer me to do (not drink, not have sex, not date kind of thing). I now realize if I decide to do the things I do, all I need to do is accept responsibility for what they are at face value and stop putting so much more time and wasted effort into wanting them to be more than they are

I’ve simply got to learn to accept that I can have sex, drink, be ridiculous and WALK AWAY once it’s over.

I’m going to stop feeling bad about myself after I make questionable decisions. Berating myself and becoming more anxious is serving no purpose. I need to own it.

The pressure my attachment anxiety puts on me in these dating situations has to stop. I’ve started having conversations with my anxiety similar to the way I would speak to Trixie if she ever materialized (god help us all).

Sound silly? Maybe. But if talking to myself is what it takes to own my behavior and course correct then so be it.

My dating cup is running over and I’m letting it. I feel like I’ve uncovered something big and want to see if I can put thought into practice.

My whole life has been spent looking for male approval. I didn’t get it from my father. I didn’t get it from husband. The first time I felt really and truly solid about myself the “approval” came from the wrong place (married men). In hindsight, I don’t know if that matters to what I have learned. I don’t think the man himself or the situations make any difference to what I took from them. In hindsight, I learned so much about myself and what I needed to feel good in relationship. If I had been more capable of controlling my emotions, these could have been all positive experiences. Maggie and Nichts recently have me thinking about how to reframe what I’ve been through and how I see my past. In all my recent writing about dating, and digging through my past, I finally realize I can stop needing a man to make me feel worthy.

I actually do feel worthy now. I feel alive and powerful more than ever in some ways (and weaker in others). Maybe I didn’t arrive at this place from the traditional “self-love” approach. Maybe I just filter things through my male-approval lens to understand them because that’s how I’ve always seen the world. I think I needed a solid round of decent dates, some quick turnover, some great sex as well as some rejection to realize I’m actually ok. It’s a normal cycle to be rejected one way or the other in dating. I never learned to accept it and still find myself worthy.

I realize I can. I can own the rejection and move past it. I can own the sex on first dates because I wanted it. I am doing my best balls-to-the-wall to push away the anxiety.

I don’t even know if I am making any sense. Like I said, it all sounded so solid and so crystal clear in my head and getting these thoughts into words has proven difficult.

I know I’m going to be fine. It doesn’t mean I won’t struggle with learning how to slow down, not push for more at the wrong time or with the wrong person. It doesn’t mean I won’t obsess a little or overthink situations. Those are just things I do. I just don’t need to overdo them.

Each man / situation gave me a light bulb moment this week so they will each get a post: Mike, Thomas and Charles (yup a new one!).

I can honestly say I’ve never had this kind of clarity around dating before. I feel like I’m seeing myself for the first time. Somehow I think I’m on the edge of something bigger that’s yet unidentified and in front of me. I feel in control in a way I have never experienced before.

It’s good to be on the edge. It’s liberating. It feels like Trixie level excitement without the crazy. Is that a thing?

I guess we are going to find out if it is or not. And hope I’m not feeding myself lip service.

Big Words: Desperation, Communication, Attachment (part 2)

I’m sure this has happened to everyone here at one point or another….you write a post and it’s a long one you’re super proud of…and it disappears into the ether.

Ugh and double ugh.

Luckily the WordPress gods got half of the post and I only have to get through the second half. I’m bummed because I think it was one of more well-written posts and I had jokes. Ha.

Yesterday I intended to write about the 3 huge words that can mean different things to different people under multiple circumstances.

I’m confident in my evaluation (of myself) in regards to being desperate (I’m not, even if it seems that way sometimes) and having anxious attachment syndrome (I do, working on that).

The last part of the post was probably another 1k words addressing that last big word: communication. Maybe WordPress saw fit to give your eyes and head a rest from my babbling for a couple hours!

I’ve really been thinking hard about communication since the John match some 5/6 weeks back. I am always open to feedback on my communication style since it’s probably the single biggest challenge I have had in my entire life.

Clearly, I don’t lack the ability to communicate well. I’ve always been intelligent, articulate and well-spoken since I’ve been able to speak. My issue is always in delivery. Pace, body language, facial expressions and in particular, tone. My character is not well represented by my tone of voice and I often, including in writing, leave a bad taste in people’s mouths or they misunderstand the message I am trying to communicate because I don’t deliver in a way they can understand.

How you communicate is almost more important at times than what you communicate.  You need to know your audience.

After a lot of heartfelt soul searching and, believe it or not, I looked backwards for my answers. They were pretty clear.

I grew up in a time that the word “hyperactive” wasn’t a word applied to a child’s  behaviors. I was a very busy and over active child needing a whole lot of attention. A mother who was too gentle beyond words, a disinterested father and an era where the only label that could be applied to me was “bad” did not provide the healthy outlets I needed for all my energy.

Why was I so overactive? Why couldn’t I sit still and keep my mouth shut like other children? I must have learned very quickly that they preferred to ignore me and I began yelling and screaming for attention I wasn’t getting. I probably didn’t know how to explain as a small child what I needed or wanted. So, I acted out. That netted my mother taking me to doctor and doctor to “fix” me and calm me down. Ultimately, since there was no solution for my “badness” they put me on a drug that my mother told me was reserved for the criminally insane: Ritalin. Since then, based on the research I’ve done, I think my mother made that shit up to tell a better story, or make me feel bad, who knows. The drug was prescribed as an ADHD drug for “maladjusted children” long before the ADHD was mainstreamed.

My mother quickly took me off the drug. I went from a vivacious, active, verbal child to non-verbal and staring at walls. She would rather have hyperactive. Her hippie cousin (this is the 70s remember) suggested a “natural” type of doctor who might help and my mother was desperate at this point. Today we would call that doctor a nutritionist! He told my mother to stop feeding me so much sugar and for rewarding good behavior with candy. He also suggested my mother put me in activities to burn out my energy rather than expecting me to comply to the “children who are seen and not heard are good children” belief.

My mother found relief. I was active, involved and out of the house most of the time doing my activities. She would drive me to Timbuktu if it meant she got an hour of peace. We still couldn’t see eye to eye because I became independent quite quickly – she wasn’t expecting that and definitely didn’t like it.

If it sounds like I understood any of this as a child, I didn’t. This was how she told me the story for as long as I can recall.

I learned to communicate by screaming, yelling and making a fuss because I didn’t get the attention I needed from my parents.

Doesn’t that sound like Trixie has been around for a hella long time?  Yup.  I thought the same.

I didn’t improve my communication techniques for a long, long time.  It took many, many negative outcomes and scoldings before I really understood how to behave, and how my parents expected me to behave.  When I didn’t behave, I was beaten.  Spoon, belt, hand, basically whatever was closest.  This physical abuse didn’t stop until I was 16 and I recall the day quite clearly.  It was the last day my father laid a hand on me.  I don’t recall when my mother stopped cracking spoons over my head.

Years later, when I recounted these stories my parents reply was “If your father ever really hit you, you would be in a hospital.  Those were nothing more than love taps.”  Eventually they denied it ever happened and said I made it all up.  Perhaps the first time I knew I was being gas-lighted (before gas-lighted was a word).

I didn’t begin to understand I could control my tone until I started to work.  Again, it took a lot of mistakes before I began to understand the difference between assertive and aggressive tones, how not to be bossy but authoritative.  But, learn I did, and very well.  I learned how to take what I perceived as my biggest failure as a child, my worst possible trait, and make it an asset and my ultimate strength.  This is how I became successful, I now had the communication style to communicate my ideas in a way that moved me forward instead of hindering me.  I became a valued employee and a really good leader.  I gained some pride.

Of course, there was still the personal component.  My parents style didn’t change and I married a man who was both my mother and my father combined into one.  Looking back, I married for familiarity and because I had anxiously attached.   Even then, my life was sort of pre-planned in my head and the x checked my boxes.  I didn’t understand that I never really saw him for who he was until we were already together for over 18 years.

When I look back, I believe the only romantic relationship I ever had that wasn’t from an anxious attachment was my first long term boyfriend, Randy, when I was 15.  Every relationship after Randy was formed in anxious attachment.

When children came along, the tension between the x and I as well as my inability to always control my tone, led to  my children often calling me mean.  Of course this is quite upsetting to a mother, but I am sure it is true.  Nowadays I try and explain what they hear isn’t always mean.  They have taken their fathers approach of zero confrontation whenever possible (which is probably common among teens).  They are just beginning to understand that when they ask for what they want/need, with confidence, they may be able to change the outcome.  They still don’t like my tone most days, and certainly don’t like when I go up like a bottle of pop and yell at them for one mess or another they have made.  I’m still learning how to be a better parent and communicate in a language I don’t really comprehend (teenage boy).

I view my inability to communicate appropriately as a young child and through to adulthood within my personal life as the outcome of anxious attachment.   That’s where it all started.

So here I am, at 51 years old, basically in the same situation.  I am crying out for attention and I am not communicating appropriately in order to eliminate, or at least avoid, my anxious attachments. I feel like I have never had a solid foundational relationship in my life that wasn’t founded on anxious attachment and that may be the reason I feel such a deep emotional hunger that I have to make my needs known loud and clear in order to get what I need emotionally.  I am most likely perceived as clingy because I am seeking a sense of safety from someone who isn’t able to ready to give it to me.

And then there was this in one of my google searches:

“While it may seem that an anxiously attached person would seek out someone who was nurturing and available, oftentimes they wind up being drawn to a person with an avoidant attachment style who has trouble meeting their emotional needs. While this sounds paradoxical, their intense emotions complement the missing, actually suppressed emotions of the person with avoidant attachment.

They reinforce each other’s adaptations in the painful dance of their interactions. 

Although it is painful to re-experience this insecurity, people often feel compelled to recreate the emotional climate of their childhood.”

So how do I manage my communication and behavior in order to get where I need to be?  How do I learn how to have Secure Attachment when I don’t recall ever feeling that way in my entire life?

This ain’t gonna be easy.