Posted in anxiety, Goals, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, motherhood, Musings, People, women

Raising my Standards

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I want to tell you something: If you are new to this blog, say, within the past few months- you have not gotten to see a very accurate picture of who I am. For whatever reason, my normally somewhat simmering anxiety got the heat turned up underneath it and started boiling over. During that time, since December I’d say, I had a lot of stuff happen that I couldn’t really control. I have been shaken down to my core, and that’s the truth. My self confidence plummeted, and I often have felt like a passenger in my own life, not really at the wheel, sort of at the mercy of whatever too-strong emotion wanted to drive that day. When your mind has turned on you, it is a very, very scary thing. I have not felt strong, or capable, or well at all.

But I have been working hard to deal with it. I have doubled down on therapy, listened to podcasts about overcoming anxiety, bought lots of books about it, I’ve had acupuncture and meditated twice a day sometimes. I take deep, deep breaths and I talk myself down, and I try really hard to talk sense into a mind that is…well, panicking. Creating fantastic scenarios of terrible events that are unlikely to ever take place. This has been the focus of my life for too many weeks now. And it is EXHAUSTING. I have heard things like “There’s nothing for you to be anxious about” or “You just need to get over it” or “Maybe just don’t focus so much on it” and quite frankly, I’d like to send out a big FUCK YOU to those people. Because anyone who has dealt with it knows that THAT IS NOT HOW ANXIETY WORKS. DUH. Do you think I enjoy this shit, Barbara? No, no I do not. The way my brain is wired, the hormones and chemicals that make up the little ecosystem or whatever of ME, make me a little more prone to slipping off the edge, and believe me when I tell you that I do not have time to be crying, curled up in the fetal position in the corner.

I am a professional. I have a job I work 40 hours a week at and the handsome paycheck I receive every two weeks goes to support my little family of children and pets and myself. I am a mother. I am a single mother at that, taking 90% care of my 8 year old, and by that I mean: I pack the lunches, wash the laundry, run the baths, keep the house, do the shopping, read the books, oversee homework, dry the tears, play drill sergeant every morning, drop-off, pick-up and try to fit quality time in there as well. That doesn’t even include taking care of myself, balancing the books, paying the bills, or feeding and caring for this freaking menagerie of animals I have.

So, even when I am so anxious that I want to sit in the tub with the shower just spraying me in the head, I DO EVERYTHING ANYWAY. Life does not stop just because my thoughts are running wild and my heart is pounding so hard I can hear it in my ears.

Do you know what that means? That I am so incredibly, amazingly strong. That, even with my mental health in the shitter, I am still KILLING IT. I am a motherfucking warrior. I don’t think the people who give me shitty, condescending advice would survive one 24 hour stretch in my mind the way it’s been lately. But it would be fun to watch them try.

Anyway, I am still not 100%. But things are getting better, and I think I might understand a little better where all this ultra-anxiety is coming from. One long, stupid word: Perimenopause. My spell check is telling me that is not a word, so maybe I spelled it wrong, but you ladies of a certain age know what I’m talking about. That’s right- my lady business is starting the long, arduous process of closing up shop. My estrogen levels are plummeting, and my brain is going haywire, and all I can do is hang the fuck on. It’s taken my “normal” anxiety and turned up the volume to like 457.

So no, I am not where I’d like to be. But I can tell you this- I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I am not just surviving hour by hour anymore, which is amazing. I am feeling my fight come back, and oh lord, how I need that fight right now. Without my spunky nature, without my ability to find the silver lining, to overcome every obstacle life throws at me…I am just not me. I lost myself pretty thoroughly for a minute there.

But I am back, and I am DETERMINED to wring every bit of good out of this bullshit I am dealing with, and turn it into something great. And that means it’s time to raise the bar a whole lot. I am going to self-care the shit out of myself, and I don’t mean bubble baths and pedicures. I’m talking about meeting life head on and DEALING with all the little problems I have let slide while I’ve been freaking out, and taking my life back to where it was…and then going way past that spot. I want to be happy. I deserve to be happy.

So, from here on out, I will be posting what I am doing to make that goal a reality, and sharing why these things are necessary for ME to have the life I want to have. I might not have a choice about whether this anxiety stays or leaves, I might not be able to control my hormones and chemistry (completely), but I do get some say in how much I allow myself to be slowed down. And today I am choosing to blast right through the barriers.

Stay tuned!

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Posted in Blogging, Goals, inner peace, Learning, Life, Musings, random, Uncategorized

New Focus

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This past week has flown by, and, even though I sat here a few times, trying to think of something to blog about, nothing came.

I can share this with you, though- after years and years of being the most chatty, talk-about-it kinda girl you have ever met, I’ve discovered something new about myself: I do better when I work on certain things quietly.

I discovered this by accident, during the long and grueling three years when I was trying to quit smoking. I joined this support group app, met some amazing people that I am still friends with today, and watched as they all successfully added up the days. Me? I would get so far, then cave, then drop off the app in shame, then eventually go back and repeat the cycle all over again. It wasn’t until I got fed up with feeling bad about myself and retreated to do it on my own that I finally got somewhere. Sure, I didn’t get to celebrate my milestones…but you know what I did get to do? I got to mess up. I could be imperfect, and I didn’t have to worry about letting anyone down. It removed the shame from the equation. Eventually, I realized that I didn’t really want to smoke anymore, and it was easy. But I had to take a different approach, one that differed greatly from everyone else that I saw doing it. I am a rule follower, so it was hard for me, but the point is, it’s working for me. Some things I have to do on my own.

And that’s kind of where I am at with this other stuff I am working on. I’m trying to sort through this newest layer of me I am discovering, and the best way I can do that is by retreating, seeing what’s there, and figuring out how best to proceed. I know there was a heart-felt post a week or so ago when I was in turmoil, and that is pretty standard stuff for me- the start of a new endeavor is painful and overwhelming, but then…I get to work, and the pain recedes, and the possibilities start to make themselves known. I’m an active work in progress- these are not just words, I am doing the work, every day, and right now it feels good. When I fully understand what it is that is happening, I know I will share it with you all. For now, I am just discovering. But the fear is gone, the pain is gone. So that is good.

I have been fulfilling my promise to myself for April- meeting my step goal daily, exercising, going to the gym, tracking my food. I have been journaling, which is new for me, but I like it. I have been keeping up on the house, wiping counters and folding laundry, hoping that if I keep at it, it will become second nature to me. And I have been working really hard at my job, being more productive, consistently, than I have been in years. AND, I decided to do Camp NaNo, which is just for fun, but thanks to my competitive spirit, it really does keep me writing daily. So, because I am doing all of these things that are important to me I feel pretty good about myself. It also seems to make more space in my head to think about other things, rather than worrying about the same old shit all the time. It’s nice to be mulling over new shit for once. πŸ™‚

All of this that I have written is just my way of explaining why I haven’t been blogging quite as much. There are only so many hours in a day, and I’d much rather come here when I have something of value to share than just ramble on about nothing like I do sometimes. Life is happening, and I feel like…more and more, I am waking up to it. Today, that seems exciting rather than terrifying. I’d call that a win, wouldn’t you?

Posted in Blogging, books, Goals, Learning, Life, Musings, reading, story telling, Uncategorized, writing

The Writer’s Dilemma…

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I have started working on a new story, so what is happening is what always happens- I am finding it harder to come up with the time and energy to devote to this blog. It’s funny, because they are such different things, and both of them give me something I want. Blogging has the immediate reward that I love- I have the ability to see who has read what I have written, who I have reached, who enjoys my writing. I get that immediate gratification that I love so much.

When I am writing a story, though, it is different. The story starts to materialize in my mind before I ever sit down to start sketching it out. It always starts like this- I am washing dishes, or walking my dog, or sitting on the toilet, and my mind goes “what if…say a girl was walking her dog early in the morning, like this, and they were by a cemetery…and the dog dragged her into the cemetery, and she lost the leash, and when she was trying to grab it, she fell…into an open grave…” Or maybe I start to see other parts of the story first, and then that first part comes to me. Eventually, it becomes almost painful not to start writing it out. I don’t get any immediate feedback on it, and most of the stories I have started, I haven’t even finished, for one reason or another. I lose interest, or something happens in my life that takes me away from writing, and when I come back, I just want to start something new.

I want to develop better habits, a solid writing routine, because- I have finally realized- this is everything to me. If I don’t get on the ball now, when will I? When I was very young, I already knew that writing was my calling in life, but I thought I had all the time in the world. I don’t know what I was waiting for. I don’t want to wait anymore. So, here I am, back to getting up at four every morning, so that I can have this time to write. I’m two chapters in on my new story, and I intend to finish this one. I also have decided to finish the editing of my first finished novel, and start sending it off again. I figure one of two things can happen- it will be rejected, or it won’t. I don’t need to get all nutty over it, I just need to do it. If no one wants it, then I will come up with something else. I don’t need to be afraid. I should be more afraid of doing nothing.

I plan on continuing blogging, and actually, I wrote a really good one earlier this week, but decided not Β to publish it in the interest of not pissing off everybody in the world who disagrees with me…especially a few particular people whom the blog was aimed at. If they weren’t people I knew personally, I probably would have gone ahead with it, but I am trying to be responsible with my words these days, and not go around stabbing people with my literary sword. Although it sure is tempting sometimes.

I am very interested to hear about your writing routine- are you dedicated to it? Is there a time of day that works best for you? Do you have a hard time blogging when you are caught up in other literary pursuits?

I know this is a short one today, but I really just wanted to check in, let everyone know what is going on with me. I’ll be back before you know it!

Posted in Addiction, advice, Blogging, family, friendship, Goals, inner peace, Life, People

Simple Pleasures

 

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When I started this blog, I thought that it would be about a woman (me) on a quest to better herself, to stave off the BS that is aging, and how she (I) learned to be, or to stay, beautiful…Man, I could never have guessed how right I was, in some respects, and how misguided I was, in others. I had no idea the battle that lay ahead, that I would be swept back up, on several occasions, pinned back down beneath the tsunami of my own addiction. I could not have guessed that, by the time I got here, to this day, I would be far less interested in the state of my appearance than I was in the state of my spirit. That my crows feet would not even place on the top ten list of my current concerns.

I know I talk about my struggle with drugs a lot, and if that bothers you, I highly encourage you to find another blog to read…because drugs are a huge part of my story, a major contributing factor in the making of me as you know me, a curse and also a blessing. ‘How in the world can you call it aΒ blessingΒ ?’ You might be asking yourself…well, let me explain, would you?

If it weren’t for the drugs, that revealed my illness, that caused all the struggle, the hardship, the bullshit…I would never have known the joy of overcoming all of it. I would never have gotten through it and looked back and thought, ‘Man, you made it out alive, through all of THAT?’ . There are things I will keep to myself, that I will never write about in this blog, or tell my mother, or share with most people, because they just don’t need to know. But rest assured, when I tell you that my life was hard, and sad, brutal and depraved, even- you can trust that I am telling you the truth. I wasted a lot of years on what amounted to very little.

But I learned from it. And because of all of that, my appreciation for what I have in my life today, the simple, little, common pleasures are profound. Last night, I made dinner and watched Matilda with both of my daughters and my older daughters boyfriend, and I realized that even a month ago, I would not have found myself there. No one wanted to be around me, and that was fine, because I didn’t want to be around them either. Now, it is the best part of my day, spending time with people I love. Actually, the whole day is the best part of my day, because at every turn, I am filled with gratitude. And that is why I can tell you that my illness is also a blessing- because the flip side of the coin is a wonderful way to be.

In the past month, i have done more than I have done in the past year, and I am not kidding you. I got my nose pierced with my daughter, I went to the boardwalk, I went to the mall. My sister came to visit me for three days, and I got to show her around town. I went to the lighthouse here for the first time ever. I went to a family barbecue in Palo Colorado Canyon. I painted with my toddler. I went to the library, twice. I read a book, I started writing a book, I wrote a couple of good blogs. I started exercising. I took a Zumba class, and pilates, and body sculpting. I lost five pounds. I hung out with old friends. I booked a vacation. I planned a day trip with some other friends. I went to a street festival. I went to some meetings. I called my mother- a lot. I talked to every person I love, at least one time. And that is just in the last MONTH. My life is so full of good, I can’t really describe it.

So…if you are out there, right in the middle of your own self imposed prison sentence, can you try to put yourself in my place? I am telling you, right now, you can start to turn it all around, you are just like me. Everyone who loves you still loves you. You can have back everything you had in your life…or nearly everything, and what you can’t have will be replaced by something just as good…maybe even better. Just think about it. And that is all I have to say today. :)addic