Sleepwalking on the darker side

The past week has been rough on me with sleep. It is an unusual occurrence, because I rarely have issues falling asleep or staying asleep. Disruptions happen, though, and some are even depressingly predictable. Like when the trees in my neighborhood start blooming and I am popping allergy medications every 4 to 6 hours. Sudafed, while effective on my congestion and sneezing, will keep me up all night if taken too late in the day. March remains an emotionally challenging 31 days, with my oldest child’s birthday and death day occurring in the same week. Even after 21 years (this year), it’s still sad and it’s still hard.

But the allergy meds that get me through the day make for a very rough night of sleeping. This year is the first I am truly cognizant of the differences and impact regular exercise makes, and I begrudge every second of crankiness that even minor sleep deprivation brings me. If that were not bad enough, the combination of allergy-medication induced lighter sleep and March, for whatever reason it opens up the can of worms of night terrors. That makes life so much darker and seemingly more dismal.

For the most part, I am relishing the go-go-go busy and overload of work this month has brought. I love my family and my friends old and new who make me smile and laugh throughout my days. Darkness happens, and I remind myself that the reality of darkness is only as long and as permanent as I allow it to be and how to leave it in its place. Having been in such awful, terrifying places in my life, I have an almost fanatical appreciation for the joy and great aspects of my day-to-day life. Still, when the horrors of my childhood visits me in sleep, it’s upsetting all on its own, without the additional disruption of the losing sleep over things I cannot change, thoughts and feelings I wish I could ignore if I cannot forget.

Which tends to make me even crankier that I am losing sleep over shit I want to not contemplate any further.

In such a dark mood, dark place I ventured into the gym and for practice this morning. All went well, but I find myself supremely annoyed by the remodel and how my routines have been upturned. Regular folks I used to see pursuing their own Lists nearby most mornings I barely pass in the hallways now, to the point that one such regular remarked today that she never sees me anymore. How true. We both spend a fair amount of time on the stairs, seeking out spaces and equipment that used to be fully contained on one floor or the other.

At least I am not of the grumpy old person camp who snaps at members who may be in the way.

Tonight I got to spend some time with my tribe sister, doing a light routine and yakking and catching up with life and times. We had so much to talk about that my funk-spike did not even occur to me to bring up for discussion. I am happy about that.

The sun is supposed to shine this weekend and temperatures being a warm 70-something degrees. I can’t wait! While others will be outside enjoying it, I am simply looking forward to having no meetings, lighter workload, and just time to pursue my own projects. G – my youngest child – turns 30 on Sunday. Funny but it does not make me feel old so much as marvel that our lives have advanced to this point, that he is healthy, happy, newly married and moving on with a fulfilling and happy life.

It is just a weird dichotomy month for me. Every year in advance I resolve to be less bothered and burdened by the grief that lingers, and every year I am learning how to be kinder to myself when it creeps in and taints my days.

I will say the habits acquired in the last couple of years – regular exercise, healthier eating, blogging and writing routinely, the discipline of managing my own small business and working at a full-time job – have done wonders to keep me out of the emotional cesspool of my own making. While it feels like I am sleepwalking on the darker sides of my life, I am on firm footing with a clear path and a retainer wall that will not let me slide off the edge and down the slippery slope.

There is an edge to the life I have led and the events that have befallen me. I cannot imagine a day where I state with any form of sincerity that I am grateful to be a sexual abuse survivor and the mother of a deceased child, but the day when I am grateful for the beauty and sense the infuses my life is here and its now. My oldest child – I think of her every single day and it makes me smile. My childhood – no getting around that I would be a very different person as an adult. And while I am very, very far removed from perfect, I am better than many and completely good enough.

Sometimes I let myself believe I have all I need, but on the heels of that thought comes acknowledgement that needs change every day. Wanting something badly enough tends to elevate it to need status, or the item becomes less realistically available or emotionally desirable and need for it fades to the whimsy of a want. Understanding the difference and the subtleties of the feelings has been a lifelong task, one that probably ends when the mind regresses or life ceases.

My life is full with lots and lots of good fortune and amazing souls who include me as part of their personal realm. During this month when the sads strike, it seems there is always someone or something that sprawls directly in my path and makes me recognize how truly rich my whole life.

Allow me to be thankful. And grateful. And neurotically repetitive. I have not been as present in this space, but my deep and abiding affection for it, and all of you, remains. I shall endeavor to ponder here more frequently.

3 years, 3 days, 1132 posts later

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.    – Marcel Proust

I missed my 3 year blog anniversary – I officially published my first post on 12/19/2016. But oh well. My ongoing amazement that I am still here, still writing and posting something most days is far more significant than commemorating and celebrating the actual day. It’s not quite a cake occasion, after all.

But it is so significant to me. Wow! I am actually surprised I made it 3 months of regular blogging much less 3 years. And other than a 2 week span the first year, I have rarely gone more than a day or 2 without posting something, even if it is lighter and fluffier than my typical content. Who knew I had so much to say? (Me, me, me … says everyone who knows me.)

As the time has passed this year I find myself more and more dependent upon the writing to keep process my thoughts and emotions, to find my balance in life, and to simply document events I want to remember and dates I cannot seem to forget. Both my children married in 2016, very different ceremonies yet both fitting and perfect for the couples involved. Our deck was finally replaced, and now the front landscaping has begun in earnest.

The better health quest continued and opened a lot of new doors for me as well as my heart and mind to possibilities I never dared even contemplate much less seriously consider. Truly, I found a stronger, more confident voice as the months passed and my many small wins began to pile up with health and fitness.

While “need” is sounds a little strong for my use of this outlet, I know how much I would miss writing if I were forced to stop. It seems impossible to have these ongoing conversations about what is on my mind with everyone I would want to participate in the discussions or to listen and to hear me, so the blog fills that gap nicely. I never dared dream how many would ultimately follow and read my missives out into the great unknown.

So this is my big giant THANK YOU to my followers, readers, family, tribe, and friends for sticking with me, for hanging and hanging on. The writing process and the discussions and doors opened have all reaffirmed for me how truly fortunate and blessed I am.

And so begins the next chapter in our ongoing adventure. Let the posts continue!

Good things this week thus far

While I recognize it’s only Tuesday, I had a bit of a morning this morning followed by some lumpy-bumpy issues with work. The morning events were nothing serious – actually, it was all me just being ridiculous – yet even knowing that does not lessen the impact on the situation or the emotions. And I have to laugh at me and my first world issues, now that I am completely over my momentary snits and back to normal daily programming. However, it inspired a let-me-be-grateful type post.

While J is away on vacation, my plan has been to go straight through the 5 days of Lists he created based on Dr. Spencer’s exercise program for me. We have been going over it for the last couple of months; I have been practicing various things in between sessions. Yet for some reason having a structured, day 1 through day 5 feels almost confining. It’s not, not at all. Because I know these things. I can do all these things. I can even indulge my inner planning-obsessed person by knowing what is up on the agenda tomorrow. It is the little, tiny free spirit fairy inside my head is kind of chafing at this change in routine. She gets indulged by choosing the List of the day most days. Now it’s 5, probably 6 days of planned Lists? What is up with that inner free spirit squeaks.

Anyway, this morning was back/biceps/abs day. Which meant venturing forth into the bigger boys room (find the detailed list of exercises in this recap last week) to use the cable row and lat pulldown machines. When J and I went through this we stayed in there, using the various benches that live there permanently. I admit to taking deep breaths and quelling my anxiety about going forward into barely known territory all on my own. I could do it. I would be fine. And I did, and for the most part I was. While going through the stretchy band curls paired with the row, I was eyeing each of the benches and deciding on my strategy for staying in that room and finishing the bench work there versus my typical safe haven. The really ridiculous part? I wanted a bench where I would not have to move one of the big bars. First, I was not 100% sure where to put the big bar, except on another bench, in which case I could just use the devoid of big bar bench. Second, I was not sure how heavy the big bars actually are, having not yet had any reason to handle one myself. Trainer J makes everything look so effortless and in my mind I was imagining that puppy weighing a lot and/or my causing bodily harm to myself or others. So yeah, I decided my safest course of action was picking an unmanned, unbarred bench. And there were actually 2 available that I saw from my vantage point by the row machine. I was so relieved.

EXCEPT … when I was done with my row/stretchy band bicep curl set and turned to the benches, both were occupied. In fact, a guy sat down on the bench I wanted just as I turned to take a step toward it. My old friend, gym crazy, flooded my mind with indecision. At the end of a very long 5 second pause, I fled back to my comfort zone and that trusty bench. Thankfully no one else wanted to use it today.

This should not be a big deal in anyone’s life. It is truly not even, not really, worthy blog fodder. Except I could feel myself having to mentally and emotionally shake off that feeling of backsliding badly and all negative girl’s chanting echoing faintly inside my head. In the big giant picture of me and my life, what matters is that I persevered and went through maximum sets, maximum reps on the List of the day without faltering. Maybe the positive spin on this is that I am now capable of shaking off the gym crazy when it strikes unexpectedly. This is just another moment in life when I have to remind myself that I have come so far, that not that many weeks ago I would have still been too intimidated and petrified with anxiety to even try to use those couple of machines in the bigger room on my own.

Friend J is my stand-in security text blanket this week while trainer J is away on vacation. He assures me I could have moved the big giant bar on my own. As long as I was careful and watching where I was going and what I was doing, I should have been capable of moving it on my own without incident, although he did have to ask me if there any weight plates were attached, and if so, remove those first. Since he’s apparently in the middle of his own shitstorm of work, I couldn’t tell if he was serious or giving me a hard time about being such a baby.

This whole morning started this whole go-round of thinking about gym, exercise, and changing objectives. Probably another stand-alone post on another day.

From there I went home and hopped into the shower. Only when I was done, I realized that M must have washed whites yesterday and forgotten to replace my towel. So drip-drip-drip down the hall into his bathroom where the bath towels are kept. I was not happy.

But thinking about it, it’s mostly my fault for not noticing that he’d run off with both towels in my bathroom. Then I think about him actually doing laundry and other domestic chores while I’m working. He washed and detailed the interior of my car on Saturday and then waxed it yesterday, so that was a very nice thing. For every instance he drives me batshit crazy there are probably 10 other things that he does that delight or make my life easier and better. And of course, I know the ratio of irritating and good things I do for him is equal or at least similar. Balance.

Then there is work. Ahhh … work. Today is my self-employment day, and I had to be professional and firm and fire a client. He was a referral, but he’s a total PITA, been late paying his invoices the last 2 months, and the second check bounced. That’s a first for me. I did receive a cashiers check replacement last week, and last Friday I wrote him a formal letter terminating our business relationship. It’s not just the late payments, although he is having cash flow issues. It is his calling my cell and then calling again, and again, and again, voice mail after voice mail after voice mail after I have told him repeatedly that my primary “office hours” are Tuesdays and various windows throughout the rest of the week. If I don’t respond within 60 minutes he calls again, and gets angrier and angrier each successive voice mail. I can typically reply to a text or an email much more quickly, but no, he does not like that “impersonal” method of communication. This is my second attempt at terminating our relationship due to my inability to serve him to the level he feels is appropriate. The first time he assured me he would back off and let me do my job, and he did … for about 3 weeks. I understand his stress – business is pretty good yet collections are slow – but it’s not really my problem. I do his financials for the bank each month. Left to my own devices it does not take much time to prepare. Coupled with the amount of attention he demands for the same questions, month after month, my time – and invoice – quickly triples or quadruples. He was upset that I was pulling the plug, but honestly, my time is better spent doing something else. I don’t need the aggravation.

He was very upset about the situation, says he needs my help. I offered several referrals when I wrote him, all of whom have more patience and availability to hand-hold the way he wants/needs to be guided. At the end of our conversation he sounded so dejected and rejected, and I am reminded that ordinary things seemingly unavailable or out of reach suddenly seem so much more desirable. I am not some super accountant and do not cater to some exclusive group of businesses. What I am is pretty busy with my law firm gig and the rest of my clients, none of whom call me every hour for 5 or 6 hours straight simply because I have not had opportunity to call them back.

I feel lighter and freer already knowing I will not have to cope with him again next month.

All in all, I have a lot to be happy about and grateful for. On my own I ventured out and was successful with machines in the gym’s bigger weights weight room. I was also able to shut down negative girl from planting thought of me as a neurotic loser (yes, the thought flittered through my head in an unguarded moment before I could stop it). I was able to avoid getting snappish with M about my dripping all over the tile to get a clean towel out of the linen closet in his bathroom. I was also able to really appreciate that we took the wood laminate out of the master bathroom and replaced it with tile, so at least the puddles of water were not going anywhere or going to damage the flooring. And I shed a small client that was causing me a lot of drama and stress each month.

I will call all that positive progress.

 

When the world hugs me

Word is out that I had The Call after my routine mammogram, and the texts and emails and kind and encouraging words are pouring in from all sides. I am so touched, always, by the care other people present to and for me. Friends near and far sending me hugs and good thoughts and kind and funny and touching stories about their experiences.

Having been down this road a couple of times, I am truly not especially worried. The phenom of dense breasts and fatty tissue in breasts and all sorts of other things it could be rather than cancer surround me. And even if it were that … well, let us just agree it presently seems unlikely and leave it at that. But you know I have a plan tucked away for the just-in-case possibility. No need to pull the ripcord on that parachute until I am sure i have been shoved out of the plane.

My sister died of breast cancer. She found the lump, then waited 8 months and until it had grown to the size of a walnut before going to see her doctor about it. She was gone 3 years later.

I, on the other hand, found my first pea-sized hard thing at age 34 and had a hysterical, tearful meltdown on the phone with my gynecologist’s office that I had to be seen THAT DAY. I don’t think the crying stopped until they agreed to squeeze me in on the same day to look at it. By the time I got to the office late in the afternoon, the little pea-sized lump had moved on, and I was kindly counseled that this was likely a hormonal cyst in conjunction with my impending menstrual cycle. I cried all the way home, in relief this time.

So yeah, I take the breast cancer screenings pretty seriously. And while the annual mammograms (since age 40, because of my family history) are not something I look forward to each year, they have gotten easier as the years pass. I dislike going to the dentist to get my checkups and have my teeth cleaned, too, but I am always happy walking out with sparkly clean-feeling teeth and freedom for another 6 months.

The silver lining right this minute is the random emails and texts from friends and family members. I love hearing from distant folks, even if they only live across town from me. I just wish it did not take something like this to bring us closer, to reach out and say hi. I am as guilty of it as anyone. I should not wait until someone is ill or potentially ill or passes away to reach out and express myself; I should do so more because it’s Tuesday and someone crossed my mind in a random thought or memory.

But for today, thank you universe, for the kindness and the kind words, and the big giant positive embrace. The week is busy, too busy for worry about the unknown, but never too busy for kindness and news from old friends.

I am a very lucky woman.

Keeping the faith, believing in me

For all of us struggling with diet, exercise, improving our health, or just the pitfalls life presents, just believing we DESERVE any and all success we are struggling so mightily to achieve seems like it is at least half the battle to stay focused and on track. Believing in others comes easy for me, yet believing in myself, my own worth? Such a challenge.

To all of you out there who read, who comment, who encourage and inspire me daily, this is my current soundtrack. Hope and inspiration comes in many forms, from many unexpected and delightful sources. Thank you all for sharing my journey and for helping me stay strong to keep trying.

Faith of the Heart (Rod Stewart)

Faith of the Heart (Russel Watson, theme from “Enterprise”)

Updated to add the Russel Watson version, of which the video includes the actual song lyrics.

Small things mean a lot

Like most bloggers, I appreciate those who read and like and especially leave comments. It means a lot to me, particularly since I have no specific goal or agenda I am pursuing. I cannot ever imaging having lots and lots of followers or comments on a daily basis, because I’m pretty random and personal in whatever I share here with you.

There are so many other blogs out there that I admire. If I have favorites, it’s those personal stories from waypoints on life’s journey, sharing perspectives, feelings, lessons learned, problems resolved. Sometimes I have been there, in my past life as a divorced woman with young children, juggling single parenthood and responsibility. I vaguely remember dating, between divorce and M, and I do not miss it at all. I have enough friends going through that process to be extraordinarily grateful for a stable, happy, contented marriage. My list of blessings starts right there, with my husband, followed by my wonderful kids, bunches of close friends, good jobs, happy life.

As I frequently remark, I am richly blessed. I hope and pray I never come across as smug or entitled to this level of happiness and contentment; it is work that I am happy to have the option of pursuing.

This is post number 292 for me, such a surprise to have actually had enough to say that I managed to publish this many posts in the last 10+ months. I know that the blogs I follow I read every single post, and I feel so fortunate to have found some genuine voices that entertain, inspire, and add color and clarity to my world. I probably do not comment, like, or share my enthusiasm enough, but I will be sad if any ever completely top posting. Reading comments today, I realize how a few words from complete strangers mean so much and simply made my day that much better. Blogging – writing, reading, commenting – keeps me grounded in the reality of my good fortune and hard work; that things could be so much worse and I fear falling down the rabbit hole and losing myself if I am not vigilant about protecting the most precious aspects of the life I have.

It’s tough to feel pissy about my boss and a job that allows M to be at home when others have no spouse, have lesser paying jobs, are supporting an elderly parent and/or child on the small salary, and are not complaining about their life and times. They are tired. They are scared. But they are seeking solutions to improve it – another part-time job, ways to cut their expenses further, enjoying the little victories in difficult times.

It’s hard to feel like a boring married person when others are lonely and strongly desire to connect with someone and find the world is full of weird and flaky people. If ever I start to think the grass is greener I need to talk to only one or two close friends who are single to have renewed appreciation for M and our relationship.

If ever I feel neglected by my adult children I can find endless numbers of examples of other parents with disabled or troubled children who consume extraordinary amounts of their time and energy. My heart breaks for them, and I am grateful both my kids seem to be successfully managing their own lives. I doubt I will ever find words to describe how grateful I am to have kids who talk to me, share their lives with us, are intwined as family community rather than blackmailed or purchased into being contributing parts of our little tribe.

So many are suffering through painful, devastating problems and circumstances. I may not have been through the same situations, I truly may not have any idea how to get over what they endure, just like they can (hopefully) never identify with the sources of past agony in my life. But every day is a new day, and the only thing I know I can control is my attitude and my feelings. I always hope I choose to be happy, but I accept that I falter and I fail. I have angry moments, hours, days. Same with negative. Same with anxious, depressed, and fearful. But I try to be my better self. Every day, every minute of every day, I have opportunities to turn it around, improve my outlook. For me. Because I deserve to be happy. And those I love deserve the benefit of me, happy.

So from the bottom of my heart, thanks for reading. For following. For commenting. For liking my posts. For liking and replying to my comments. While I blog for me to share with you, it amazes, humbles, and touches me to know my random-ness is received.