Setting intention for 2018

Today, in therapy, at one point I was talking about how I have not been able to figure out what intention to set for the coming year. See, I don’t do new year’s resolutions. Every year at my birthday I set an intention for the coming year. This year’s intention was about putting myself first.

I have learned so much this year. I have also had an extremely difficult year in many ways. From were I stand right now I would say that it was a failed experiment. There has been some amazing experiences and joys but the pain and challenges have been bigger.

Normally I know what the next intention will be before Halloween. This year I have had nothing. All I do have is incandecent anger and slow potential. I seem to have uncovered a secret vault of anger this year.

Not putting myself last made me see all the places my boundaries were ignored my entire life. It made me see all the places that my consent has never been sought, let alone given. It made me feel the injustice of the wounds inflicted upon me, big and small. It has not allowed me to choke down the fear. It has let it all rise to the top to be examined under furious scrutiny.

I wonder if anyone (outside of my therapist) really understands the depths of my pain and rage this year. Grief has been tearing closely at the angers heels. I know I am not done exhuming these volatile emotions. But I want to be.

Anger is an emotion that I am intensely unhealthy with. I either steep in it letting the venom drive me forward or I have stuffed it into the vault deep in my subconscious. There is no middle ground for me. Both sides are excruciatingly uncomfortable. Both sides come with self loathing and self sabatoge.

It became very clear to me this evening why I have not been able to choose a new intention for next year. I am not done with this one. I have not learned how to put myself first. I have only learned how to not make myself last. I wish that extended to other areas and people.

So, there will be no new intention for next year. I have not learned all I need to. I have not uncovered all the wounds that need to be healed. Part of me is angry that I have to use another year on this. I wanted to be farther along by now. I wanted to be past the excavation phase. What I want isn’t the most important thing though. What I need is

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Screaming into the void

I never really understood people who said they felt like they were screaming into the void. I didn’t get what the metaphor was about. I do now. I feel that is all I do anymore. There is no one to listen. There is no one that really wants to care. (I know that some people are already internally disagreeing with that statement but I also know it is true). When you come down to it, they really want me to just accept it and get over it.

What is it they want me to accept? That I will never matter as much to them as they do to me. Every damn time I start to trust someone this is what happens. Months ago I said that this would happen. I was reassured at the time that I was wrong. I wasn’t, not really. The difference this time from before was that I decided to accept it. I decided to settle.

Now, it is happening again and I am being dismissed again. I was ok with how things are when I thought I was being heard. Now that I know I wasn’t being heard I am filled with pain and rage. With this being deprioritized in yet another relationship starting again I am afraid to even try to address it. Why bother if my feelings will just be unheard? Why bother if the only choices I have are to accept it or leave?

I hate knowing that I have been screaming into the void for months. I hate that I didn’t know I was. I hate that I am being deprioritized by another person and I don’t even want to bother to try talking about it. I hate that I don’t know how to balance what I feel for them vs what they feel for me. I hate that I know it isn’t that they don’t love me (I know they do). I hate that I am always going to be second (or third) best.

Days like today I wish I wasn’t committed to trying to stay present. I wish I could just allow myself to depersonalize and stop feeling. It would be such a relief to let go of the pain and the fear for a little while. It would be nice to not feel worthless and unheard. People always like me better when I am not me anyway. I wish I could stop crying.

I, obviously, need to find ways to detach from these people. I need to find ways to get my needs met that don’t rely on the people who said they wanted to be my partner. I just don’t know how not to give people I love all of me but I desperately need to figure it out. Right now, every part of my soul that I gave them feels like a betrayal of myself. I know I am building walls and those walls will eventually just drive them away. How do I protect my poor battered heart without the walls pushing them away?

I am accepting the reality of where I stand in their lives. I still feel the good outweighs the bad. Just not today. Not today when I feel so utterly misunderstood and worthless. I know that tomorrow it will be easier again. I kind of hate that too. It isn’t fair that they know they just have to wait out my feelings and I will, eventually, stuff them back into that dark corner of my mind. They can just avoid me for a few days. Leave me to cope alone and in the dark. Leave me to my own devices rather than hearing me and dealing with the emotional consequences of their choices.

So, today, I understand screaming into the void because today I understand that is all I have ever really been doing.

As good as it gets

Except for my thyroid issue I keep running into medical professionals that are basically telling me this is as good as life is going to get for me. I can expect some (but probably not significant) pain reduction from PT. My fibro is only going to get worse and there is no other good treatment option for me. My hip is going to have to get worse before they can do much more.

So, this is it, my new normal. I hope that my energy improves with my thyroid but this is the best I can hope for with pain. This is what I have to adapt my life to. This isn’t going to leave room for much else. I am going to end up limited to work and family. At least we figured out work I can do. I take my first step tonight.

While this is my new normal for pain, I do have hope for my mental health. This is a good thing because I am experiencing some pretty intense body hatred and dysmorphia. The xrays today triggered it badly. Right now I feel like I owe an apology to every person who has ever seen me undressed. I also want to make sure it never happens again.

My new normal does mean that I am goimg to continue to be battling my mental health but at least I can expect to make improvments there. It also inclides a small bit of hope that we can help my thyroid and energy levels more. This is particularly important because starting a new chapter in life takes a lot of energy. I just wish I was starting from an easier place.

Fight for me?

I am not sure why I do this to myself but I seem to watch romantic comedies when I am feeling alone and sad. The worst kind of self torture. Maybe it helps me vent emotions that I have had bottled up for too long. The movie I am watching tonight had a line that hit me hard. “All any woman ever wants is someone to fight for her.”

No one has ever fought for me. Two failed marrages and more relationships than I care to count. No one has ever really moved heaven and earth to keep me. I am not even sure that really exists. At least not for me.

My choice to not remarry is mostly political. I don’t want to belong to someone like that again. I don’t want to have the world look at me like part of someone else. I want to be seen as whole unto myself.

This movie made me realize something else, something a lot harder. To me, part of being married is about choosing to fight for someone every day. Through the highs and the lows. Through every set back and the fullfillment of every dream. You choose this person over and over again every day. You fight for them in big and small ways. You fight boredom and you fight apathy more often than the romances would ever admit.

I know people who love like that. I also know that I am loved. This isn’t about that. This is about never being good enough to fight for.

Unmedicated and mentally ill

Hi, I have multple mental illnesses and can’t be medicated for them. For most people that is a terrifying thing to learn about someone. Having known my mother both unmedicated and with working meds I can see why. She was a drastically different person once we found the right meds for her. I am not going to be that lucky.

On top of several mental health issues I have some physical health issues that get in the way. Namely a genetic mutation that affects every medication I take. This mutation is why SSRIs, SNRIs, and other anti depressants caused me to have psychotic breaks. That and hormonal birth control nearly destroyed me multiple times. Medication should be smoothing out the jagged edges of an issue, it should not be weaponizing it and handing you a time bomb. Unfortunately, that is my reality. Most medication makes me far more ill than my illnesses.

So what is it like to be me? Most of the time I feel like one of those kids punching bags with the weight in the bottom. I get hit a lot. I get knocked over constantly. I also am fixed to come back up again and take more. I can’t ever completely go *splat*. Why? Because to allow that to happen is allowing a huge amount of risk to the people I love (including myself tyvm).

Like the kids bags I am pretty easy to knock over. I hope to one day install a metaphorical magnet that makes getting me out of center a lot harder. Right now, that is only a dream. Right now every little shift manages to topple me. Frequently I can come back quickly enough that many people don’t realize what just happened. There are times I can’t recover that quickly and I teeter around in random directions on my way back to center.

My ability and desire to go back to center are resiliency. This is what I have been working towards since going back to therapy a little over a year ago. With medication most people can ward off most blows (I think of this like a very strong magnet under the bag. A light tap and the magnet will hold it in place. It begins to take a lot more effort to displace at all. ) I am often envious of this ability in friends and loved ones. They get to adjust the difficulty settings of life. I am stuck playing on hard mode.

Every day I do an electronic journal entry. I mark the things I did and how I am feeling. I make noted about my sleep and pain and how I am doing with eating that day. Pretty quickly I figured out that just one a day was not enough. Why? Because I am inherently unstable both physically and mentally. I get hit too many times in a day for one overall to really express how I am doing. 3 times a day I get a reminder to check in and see where I am at now. It is extremely common for there to be wild swings.

I know that this is also frustrating for the people in my life. It has to be hard watching someone you care about constantly being knocked around and there is nothing you can do about it. I wish I could make it easier for them, but there just isn’t any way. It makes it easier to understand why some people need more space from me. It just doesn’t make it easier for anyone.

I not only have to worry about righting myself constantly but also about managing my impact on others. Most of the time this isn’t too bad as I have had decades of practice at it. That much practice makes it easier to hide the stuff going on inside. The drawback is that it means I am not able to be fully in touch with my emotions. The risky part of that is it can trigger dissociative episodes. There is a constant tightrope I have to walk between showing too much and not showing enough. I frequently get this balance slightly off. I even completely fail at times.

This constant need to rebalance, refocus, and watch every thing that I feel is exhausting. Each and every moment of every single day I have to be constantly monitoring and adjusting. It feels like trying to run a marathon with your ankles cuffed together. Don’t get me wrong, all this exercise has meant I have built some amazing coping skills. I have made positives out of a tough thing. I would give them up if I could just relax and be. If I could turn down the settings. If I could take meds.

The hidden cost of bacon and eggs

I should know by now that when I want to feel small or invisible these days someone has displayed fatphobia in my direction. When these feelings arise it can be really hard to sort out where they came from due to their intensity and that they usually come packaged with other micoaggressions. This weekend managed to have some of the most intense feelings like this that I have had in a long time.

It took one of my partners calling out the behavior for me to be able to see it at all. I am so used to people being critical of everything around food that I stopped analyzing why. That doesn’t mean my subconcious isn’t aware. It just means that I have accepted being shamed around food on a concious level. How fucked up is that?

I am supposed to eat about 30g of protein per meal and 10 to 15 for snacks. The goal is between 120 and 140g per day. I was pretty thoroughly shamed about breakfast 1 day this weekend. Here is what I ate. 2 eggs, scrambled with only salt and 4 pieces of regular cut bacon. Eggs have 6g of protein and the bacon is about 3g each. This put me at 24g of protein which is too low for breakfast. Especially too low if it is going to be a high physical activity day. Normally, I have a protein shake and some yogurt to hit my 30 g for the morning. However, going to the store thr night we arrived didn’t happen. This left me without what I needed to take care of myself so I made do. I also had to force myself to eat three out of the 4 pieces of bacon. I was actually nauseated when I finished.

This is a constant struggle. Do I force myself to eat more than is comfortable for me or do I get the amount of protein I need to lose weight and be healthy? Most of the time I just can’t force myself to eat the volume of food needed. This means I am often short of needed macro nutrients in order to function. Still, I was accused of taking too much food.

I spent the rest of the weekend living on my protein shakes and yogurt. When we went out to dinner I ordered salad, yellowfin tuna, and greenbeans. I drank chamomile tea with a little (less than a tsp) of honey and still got comments about how much food I ate. No one else that cleared their plate got comments. Just me, just the only fat person.

My chronic illnesses are mostly genetic. You can’t fix genetic disorders by losing weight. When I lost just over 70# last year and didn’t see an improvement with my fibro the Drs told me it was unlikely to improve with more weight loss. The only reason for me to lose weight is prevention of medical bias and because I am so tired of being judged for fueling my body. I have an entire medical team that helps me be educated and safe with my weight loss. I am not just pulling this stuff out of no where.

So, here I am, again, realizing that the cost of fueling my body is judgment and condemnation. Here I am, again, seeing that if I don’t perform being a good fatty as others think I should be, then I am an object of ire. Here I am, again, wishing I could avoid all food and contact with the world. And people wonder why I have such a difficult time forcing myself to eat?

Getting ready

I hate how much longer it takes me to get ready these days. Going to a nice function used to take me 20 to 30 min to get ready. Now, it can take 2 or 3 hours to acheive the same look. Part of it is that I am getting older. Mostly it is because of my illnesses. Everything is just so much harder to do and I have to take frequent breaks.

It isn’t fair that I have to give up so much time and so many spoons to just meet ‘acceptable’ attractiveness. Worse that I don’t feel like acceptable is good enough either. These days I feel like unless I take the time to look special that I am some how going to be a dissapointment. I spend too much time anxious about how my dates are being judged for being seen with me. I feel like if I don’t properly perform my gender that they will not be proud of being seen with me.

What makes that feeling all the more irrational is that I doubt my partners would feel that way. I can’t say that for certain because I know I have embarrassed them. I can’t say that for certain because I know they have preferences I can never be. I can’t say that for certain because I am ashamed of how I look.

I know I have a lot more work to do on self acceptance and compassion. Until then I guess I will just have to muddle through and balance my need to be someone people can be proud of with the voices in my head. Today, this means hours to get ready. Who knows what it will mean tomorrow.

Hypno #6 Perspective

I found myself upon a hill. A deep and verdant valley stretching before me. The silver ribbon of a river meandering through out. Off in the distance were mountains. Behind me were wilds and deserts and canyons and mountains. These were lands I knew well. I had traversed them all. I had survived their hardships and their beauties.

Upon the hill, named perspective I stood and invited my guide to join me. The priestess came as did little me. My priestess was less substantial than I had ever seen her. Little me was about 5 or 6 years old.

I know that I normally write out everything that happens as it unfolds but I find myself unable to do that this time. What matters is that I am on the right path. I just have a detour to make in the east (most likely symbolizing air) before I will swing into earth and water. I need to learn something I already know before I am ready to light the spirit candle. There was a ton of elemental symbology this time. I learned I already have all the pieces and tools to get to where I need to go next but I have to learn this thing first.

I also know that the secret is in the golden egg. (I am still lost on this point) I also found out that my priestess is my future self, the person I am meant to become. This thing I am needing to learn is supposed to help me not feel weighted down and resentful of always having to be wise and strong. It should be a feeling of being freed and complete.

Little me needed things, she needs comfort. She has no protection from fear or from all the stuff life has thrown at her. I promised her I would continue to protect her and that one day I would show her how to use my tools. She has something she needs to show me, but not yet. I have to do this thing in air first.

So, I need to trust my feet, remember my oak tree and stay secure in the knowledge that I am on the right path.

Gratitude

I try to post something I am grateful for every day in a small gratitude group I started. This practice hasn’t been suddenly life changing. It has been beneficial. It makes me stop and think about some thing that I can be grateful for, even on my worst days. I may not always be able to come up with something. Major depressive disorder, PTSD and anxiety can all rob me of the ability to see my life clearly.

My wonky brain chemicials are a thing I always have to fight. It is a daily battle. Keeping myself balanced starts the moment I wake up. Meds before anything else. I can’t take antidepressants or anti anxiety meds so my method is to make sure I keep my vitamin D levels up and I take my methylated B complex. I also take my thyroid meds.

Then it is making sure I get coffee in me (we need to find me a new ADHD med but until then coffee is the best I have) and I get some protein in me. Without these two steps I will crash and burn before lunch. Life will become too chaotic and big and I collapse under the weight of it.

The rest of the day consists balancing my energy against my to do list and trying to remember to eat, drink water, and move. It means gauging my pain levels against my appointments and my housework. Trying to do enough to not feel useless but not do so much I cause a flare. I fail this dance often. Not as often as I used to, but more than is good for me.

On a week to week basis I see Drs, chiropractor, therapist, partners, and friends. I try to balance the job of keeping me healthy vs keeping my emotional tank from hitting empty. I walk the tightrope of social needs vs the need for alone time. I steal moments for myself and let my mind get quiet.

I try to find the balance between my need to protect the world and my need to protect myself. Let one of those tip too far and I will be spirialing again in guilt and shame. These days that balance has been being emotional support online and spreading awareness to the people in my life.

The funny thing is I am grateful for this constant monitoring and balancing. It is not an easy thing to put into a sentence. How do you explain being grateful for constant never ceasing work? How do you explain being grateful for managing illnesses I would not wish on anyone?

I am grateful for them. I am so glad that I have the ability to do these things rather than them just destroying my life unchecked. I am glad that my illness has made me slow down and take care of myself. I deserve all the love and care I can get. I especially deserve it from myself. I am glad that I have enough wonderful people in my life that I feel like I am constantly juggling the desire to see people with the things I have to do.

There are times when my life is a nightmare both waking and sleeping. I am grateful that those days are getting fewer and farther in between. I am so happy that I have worked hard enough for long enough to be healing. My body and my spirit may be laced with more scars than unblemished places but they are my scars. They tell me I have survived the impossible.

I am grateful for the constant toil and effort because it tells me I am living, and loving, enough to make all the effort worthwhile. If it wasn’t worthwhile I would have given up. Instead of dreading my future I am looking forward to it. I kept laboring long enough to birth the voice of my pain and new dreams. There is hope out there. Sometimes I just need to remember that the struggle is exactly what I should be grateful for.

Letter to Mom

(Please be aware that this is very unpoloshed and raw. I wrote this letter as part of a therapy assignment today.)

August 8, 2017

Dear Mom,

Tomorrow would be your birthday. I know you hated celebrating this day. While you were alive I could have easily forgotten it if it wasn’t for the effects it had on you. For some reason I seem to have absorbed all that pain and depression. I have absorbed a lot of pain.

I wish everything about you wasn’t so damn complicated. I wish I could just love you, or just hate you. I wish my life hadn’t been shattered by your death, and yet, I know that your death has let me start healing. I hate that it was only in the last few months of your life that I started to feel like you actually were starting to accept me. I hate that I will never know if that could have happened. It isn’t fair that I am always going to be stuck with the memory of you telling me I was disgusting and perverse for being bi. Like it was something I could change. You have no idea how hard I tried to change it. You have no idea how much these words haunt me. There is still this part of myself that I hate and resent because of you.

I have to give you credit for keeping your promise not to tell Dad. I am both glad and broken because when I told him about that and about being poly he started pulling away. Now, I live haunted and stuck. Why can’t either of you ever make anything simple? At least I never believed the lie of unconditional love. I know, have always known, that love only comes with strings and terms. As long as I fit your narritive of who I was, should be, I was loved.

At the same time, I want to believe that you both did always love me even when you didn’t like what I did. I want to believe the lies we told ourselves throughout my childhood. That things were as perfect as they looked to the outside world. If our clothes were clean and properly pressed would we behave perfectly too?

I still long for you. You taught me about mental health days. You gave me my love of movies. You tried so hard all the time. I understand what that is like, now. I wonder what would have changed if you had gotten help sooner. What could our relationship have looked like if you had been able to deal with your pain and trauma sooner? If Dad and his addiction hadn’t thrown fuel on the fire?

I said, when I gave your eulogy, that you were love. I meant it. I still do. You wanted, desperately, to give the world all the love that you wished you had. Just some of that love was the messy complicated kind. You taught me that those you love the most also hurt you the most. I regret every time I have proven that true. I resent every time it has been proven to me. Even now, with the best healthiest relationships of my life, and I am still reminded of this. I seem doomed to only receive love and pain in equal measure from everyone I love. What really sucks about that is it is often your voice in my head that creates the pain. I know, from you, that I can’t possibly deserve them. So, I keep fucking up and pushing until they push back. I wish you had taught me that love doesn’t have to mean conflict and pain.

I wish I didn’t still want you when I am sick or afraid. No one could comfort me like you did. No one even tries anymore. I have succeeded in fooling everyone into believing I am capable of surviving anything. You taught me how to do that. People can’t hurt you if you dont need them, right? I think this is part of why I have always picked partners who can’t meet my emotional needs in one way or another. It forced me (and them) into situations where I can prove to myself that I don’t need them. And, hey, love can’t exist without being hurt, right?

It sucks that you taught me how to be so independent. I punish myself for needing anything. At the same time, I never would have survived this long if it wasn’t for all you taught me about being independent. I know, now, how much the loss of independence cost you as you got sick. I will never know what kept you going. I am glad something did. I am glad you started to see my boldness not as something to be afraid of but as something to celebrate. I wish my independence could have been treated like that. I learned your lesson, only depend on yourself.

Did you learn something else in those last few years that you never told me? Were you afraid that I would reject you? I know that your attempts to squash my boldness when I was younger were an effort to protect me. Your life had taught you it was dangerous to be seen. Is that why you were afraid to see me? Is this why I know I will never find someone who truly sees, and loves, all of me?

Oh Mom, my heart is breaking I miss you so badly. I would give anything for one more hug. You hurt me more than anyone has but you also loved me more than anyone has. It was a messy broken love, but it was the first I ever knew. I don’t think anyone gets why I miss you so much. They can’t get past my pain. They never met the avenging mom angel who would flatten anyone else hurting us. I really do get that you were doing the absolute best you could. I get it because I am you in how my kids view things. I loved them with fierce protectiveness but I have also hurt and abused them more than anyone else in their lives. At least I am getting the chance to tell them that I know that. At least I am getting the chance to heal some of the wounds I inflicted. I am envious of my kids for that. I wish we had gotten more time for healing.

I have become so much like you. Maybe too much in some ways and not enough in others. I wish I had your passion for penmanship now! I learned something interesting today. I learned that I never fully trust anyone who has a less complicated set of feelings about you than I do. I find that to be darkly amusing. It took my first real true cancer scare to make me see this. I just don’t trust simple. How are the two related? Timing. I think if I had gotten this potential problem any other time than today I would not have made the connection. I wouldn’t have been pushed past breaking and into the land of no feeling if it wasnt for events all coming together at once. I can’t always see my patterns until I get pushed into cold logic. I learn more about myself when dissociative than when I am myself.

I wonder if you could have understood that. I wonder if there had been more time would you have been able to see all of me? I may never get to know that. I want to pretend that we could have that. I want to pretend that it could have been possible to develop a less complicated relationship. I can only tell you that I can accept that sometimes complicated is all we get. Would you be proud of all the healing I have done even if it meant accepting that I am never going to be who you wanted me to be? I do know you would be proud of your grandons.

I don’t know what else I need to say. I feel hallow right now. I love you. I am angry. I miss you and I wish I had gotten more time with you. It would have been nice to ask you some of this. It would have been nicer if you could always answer like I pretend you would. I know you loved me but it wasn’t the kind of love I needed. I am still grateful for it because it was the best you could give. I am angry at what you did to me but I am also angry that you were taken away too soon. I will always be your complicated and messy daughter.