2016 has not been my year. It has been full of responsibilities, difficult news, and lots of soul-searching moments.
Last night, it got even more sucky when I woke up from a long nap with–quite possibly–the most pain I’ve had since my surgery.
It was inexplicable, too. I hadn’t done anything, but getting up, walking, lifting my leg at all, even moving to get out of bed? So painful. I could do everything if I really concentrated, but I wanted to scream. It hurt that bad. The only thing I could think was that I hadn’t moved in five hours–at all–that’s how tired I was–and maybe that did something. It was my right leg–home of all my past injuries, so I wasn’t surprised. But I was pissed because I had rescheduled my rolfing appointment last weekend to save a few bucks because I’ve been taking care of everyone else. Had I gone, she would have identified whatever this was–because clearly it had to have been brewing–and would have fixed it before it was ever a problem.
The only thing I’d done was accidentally stab myself with Fogg’s full needle of insulin earlier in the evening–a scary, painful thing for sure–but I didn’t get much insulin–so I was okay. My mind raced–could this have done it?
Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep. I decided to reschedule Fogg’s blood test since I wouldn’t be able to carry her and walk. I was in a ton of pain. It was sharp and seemed to center around my right upper thigh. But my right calf, on the right side, was also achy to the point of inducing tears. I finally did fall asleep–but woke before my alarm. It was torture feeding the cats and just doing my normal stuff. But it seemed to be okay until the ibuprofen wore off–and I’d taken my max for the day by 11 am.
I am proud that I decided–money be damned–to go to urgent care. I was there four hours, and let’s say it was a ridiculously long, painful four hours that ended with a needle in my ass. The painkillers they finally gave me reduced the pain a little, but I was definitely still not a happy girl. Unfortunately, the process of being diagnosed meant I had to walk; climb onto an x-ray table, stretch the painful muscle, and sit for a very long time. The doctor finally sent me home with hydrocodone and a referral to a physical therapist. The verdict: severe right inguinal muscle and hip strain. But hey–nothing was broken.
I’m only supposed to take the painkillers at night, and they only last 6 hours, so I’ll be up early for a second dose that should carry me through my morning chores. The painkillers take the edge off, but I am still in a lot of pain. It’s bearable. I was actually able to finally make dinner–at 10:30 pm–mostly because it hurt too much to walk before then. I start physical therapy next Friday (the earliest they could get me in–everyone’s injured, apparently) and have to go 2x/week for three weeks. I hope we can get to the bottom of this…mostly because I’ve had many problems with this leg, and I have a hunch they’re all related to this injury in some way.
It’s kind of hard to feel grateful right now, but I am, actually. My boss was so supportive. A few friends have been so kind. I found my father’s cane, and it’s supporting me in moving around. My Fogg has been my BFF, taking time to love on me. And my cousin has checked in on me and actually been pretty awesome. (I’m kind of shocked). And this is such a good reality check that I need to stop overworking and start taking better care of myself. I knew it was coming. I was just bartering and trying to make self-care convenient. I am learning that I really have to be kind of uncompromising about it or else my body will remind me to stop my BS.
For now, the household chores will wait. Clients will wait and have been understanding. Life will go on if I slow down. So, that’s what’s happening. It sucks that it only happened because my body attacked me, but I promise I’ll be better at listening from here on out.
When I think of my family (well, the ones who share my actual blood), I think of blizzards and deserts. Yesterday, I was struck by how extreme that was. And how it reflected some pretty important parts of who I am.
My mother’s side of the family is split between North Dakota and Arizona. When my auntie left home, she got as far away as possible…to a place completely opposite to where she was raised. She married a Mexican man, divorced him, and then married another Mexican man who didn’t speak much English. That side of my family reflects a very different culture–one steeped in the pressures of urban living. And it’s the one I feel most connected to–given my own childhood spent in such settings and cultures–but it’s a strange disconnected connection.
The rest of Mama’s side of the family lives in North Dakota–or nearby, in Minnesota. They are super religious and intolerant–basically all the things I’m not. I have a lot of difficulty with them.
My family situation is hard. And yet, if there’s one thing in my life that I wish I could change overnight? It would be that. There’s a part of me that, as an only child, always longed for a tight-knit family. When things got difficult, I wished I had a group of people who would be there for me, no matter what. And I’ll admit–part of the reason I want to have kids and get married is because I need that connection to other people. It’s really hard navigating life alone.
I have friends–good friends–and they’re great. But the friends I’ve made as an adult are often close for a while and then life sends us drifting. Old childhood friends feel more like family to me because of our shared history. That gives us a connection that keeps us tethered to one another. It’s the closest thing to family I’ve ever had. With newer friends, that tether doesn’t exist. It’s all a choice with these newer friends, which makes the bonds more significant, often–but also shallow…in an odd way.
I’m thinking about this now, I suppose, because of difficult friendships that have changed significantly. While we are still friends and still connected, I don’t feel remotely close to them and don’t feel like it’s something I can fix. Friendship is a partnership, and I’ve done all the heavy lifting.
As someone who was born into extremes, and learned to live in black and white–I learned how hard that life is. How hard it is to always be hot or cold. And I find, lately, as I get healthier, I see all the cracks in that existence. And I just don’t want to live there anymore. I want things that are easier–automatic–things I can just lean into.
Despite how hard I try, most days, self-care is this elusive phantom I’m always chasing. Whether it’s concerning my health, my work, or love, I always feel like I’m throwing myself under the bus.
This week was not pleasant. I’ve been dealing with seasonal allergies that caused a sinus infection that aggravated my asthma, so breathing–which is so essential for feeling like you’re in your body–was kinda difficult. Breathing is difficult for me, anyway. I’ve always been one to take shallow breaths, hold my breath, or just plain forget to breathe. My breath has also been something I’ve been perpetually self-conscious about, and I think that’s one reason I’ve been like this. I don’t want people to hear me breathe. Because I have this condition that makes me vulnerable and visible and different. Oh, bother. A nightmare for someone who just always wanted to disappear.
For a long time, that self-consciousness caused me to avoid working out around people. Which meant working out at night–when people weren’t around. Or not at all. It also facilitated disconnecting from my body. And it made it harder to regulate my moods.
When I started therapy, the first thing we did was breathe. When I started rolfing, the first thing she did was open my chest and instruct me to breathe into my belly. I’d never done it before, and I sort of freaked out. It was so different.
A funny thing happens when you breathe deep.
It’s no coincidence that I had respiratory issues this week. My lung problems are always around, but they’re much worse when I’m stressed out. When I’m not on the list. I had a really, really challenging goal this month. I didn’t think I’d make it; I never do. But I did–on Thursday–though I may have one thing fall through–which will make the rest of the month crazy. Knowing that it wasn’t guaranteed, and knowing that I missed that one day, I went on autopilot–overbooking myself to the nth degree. Which I know I shouldn’t do. But there I was–on Wednesday, Thursday, and today–all booked up.
It’s like trying to outrun the boogeyman. Only the boogeyman lives inside you.
What was it about this goal that was so important that I would work myself to death? No one would judge me if I didn’t get it. I’ve been #1 in the company since December. I’m up for a raise and a promotion. I have proven myself. I prove myself every day. No one would be disappointed. And really–I worked just as hard as all those other months–maybe harder.
But it isn’t about anyone else. It isn’t about the bonus–which is great, but hey–I’ll live. It’s about me and proving that I have the right to be here. Showing myself that all the setbacks that were beyond my control didn’t reflect on who I was.
It comes out, of course, as perfectionism and control freak tendencies–because that’s how I cope with such feelings. That’s my go-to. And even though I knew I really shouldn’t do this, and even though it didn’t actually matter–I felt compelled and so I did.
It’s an odd thing because–in some ways–I have made so many strides in healing this part of myself that drives this behavior. But in so many other ways, I feel like I need to intervene and disrupt my own status quo.
So, tonight, I did that. I sat in the bathtub. I drank breathe easy tea with raw honey. I wrote and read. I stayed in and was intensely good to myself in a way that said–this week is done. It’s your turn.
It may take a million of these nights, but every time I choose me, I get better.
I tend to be an all or nothing person. It’s just how I’m built. But, lately, I wonder if maybe I should try changing that.
This year has been a bit of a disaster of ups and downs when it comes to my love life. I’ve found all kinds of connections, but I’m realizing that a lot of what I connect to is unhealthy and just not right. It’s part of patterns I grew up with and things I would have accepted just a few years ago with open arms. But those things I used to accept really hurt me and even though ignoring these cracks allowed me to delude myself and embrace what I didn’t really deserve…it never lasted.
For a while, I was too careful. Too afraid to make any mistakes at all. Too sad and broken to try. So I didn’t. And life wasn’t bad, but it was certainly lonely.
This year, I’ve been lonely–off and on–and it’s made me jump in pools I wasn’t exactly ready to dive into–only to face drowning and sometimes getting the rude end of the chlorine.
I’ve made so many mistakes this year. I’ve hurt people, even though it’s the very last thing I wanted. I’ve been hurt. I’ve hesitated when I shouldn’t have. I pussied out when I knew better. But I was unflinchingly myself–even when I wasn’t brave or good enough. And I listened to my instincts when all I saw were red flags. I questioned them a lot. And I learned that I am not always the fucked up one. Sometimes, it’s actually them. And it’s okay to say no. It’s okay to say not yet. And the ones worth it will wait for me. And the ones trying so hard to convince me? They’re easy to release.
I’ve spent the last little while avoiding love again. Alone and lonely again. Because I thought I needed fixing. Because I wanted to be braver than I actually am. But then I realized who I am right now is perfectly fine. And it doesn’t mean I have to go off and figure it out. Maybe I can just say, “Hey…here I am. I’m imperfect and silly and sometimes cold and aloof. Sometimes, I am not ready. But I am worth all the bullshit. Don’t give up on me.” And maybe, one day, someone will be worthy of this mess that’s me and won’t be easy to let go of.
I hope so, anyway.
This week has been a bit odd. Work was demanding and busy. Lots of new things. Lots of irritations and things to make me feel impatient. The love life was quiet this week, though I am still going through one of the oddest situations I’ve encountered in my love life (no joke). I feel like it might finally be wrapping up, and I’m happy to see it off. And there were a bunch of unexpected housekeeping kinds of things that required maneuvering, but ended up being okay. Basically, this week was a big mixing bowl of all the things that kind of drive me crazy. Only it was all rather mild and not too difficult–but difficult enough to make things choppy. Needless to say, I was really looking forward to this weekend when yesterday showed up. While my weekends never allow me to sleep in or be particularly lazy, they are–at least–things I choose to do.
As of last night, I have an actual, rough draft plan for how to navigate the next few years of my life. In some ways, it’s frustrating. In other ways, it’s exciting. But I feel like it’s doable–even if it means it’ll be a while before I’m actually doing what I want to do with my life.
This week, I found out that I can’t retake (and finally put a fork in) my final course this fall. It’s not possible, as it turns out, so–at minimum–I have to wait till next spring. I basically wrote most of the thesis already, so it would have been easy to finish, but you can’t force the Universe to bend to your will. It’s a delay I’m not happy about, and it was one more push that made me wonder if I should even bother finishing. Every time I try, it feels like Goliath stomps on me and makes it impossible. But I have a very hard time giving up on things, especially when I’ve spent so much time and money trying to finish this damn thing. So, I guess I will just wait till Spring.
But that doesn’t mean I’m resting up. I’ve had a hard time figuring out where to go for therapy school and what to actually study. I would do research, find a decent place, and then amend my plans. That’s just silly. So, I got pretty clear about stuff recently. I don’t just want to be a run of the mill counselor. I want to focus on trauma and grief. I want to offer my clients lots of options–whether it’s private sessions, group sessions, workshops, or retreats. I want to include nature, art, words, spirituality, and music in my work. I want to make therapy affordable, fun, and accessible. I don’t want to be typical. I started all of this with an interest in alternative therapies–so why have I been looking at schools that are decent, but only offer ho-hum basic whatever?
I was hoping the Bay Area would offer me more options for schools, but I’m not in love with anything in California, education-wise. I have a few options: I could just get licensed through a basic program and then add on things by taking training in various things over the years–eventually building up to what I want. Or I could go for a more specialized program to begin with. I guess I won’t know which path makes sense until I find the right school. I know where I’d like to go to school for my doctorate, but finding that middle step–the one that gets me practicing and licensed is difficult. There is a good choice in California, but it’s not one that is widely respected, and that–unfortunately–matters when I’m applying to things down the road. So, I’m still unsure about that.
For this reason–and oh, so many more–I’ve decided that…as much as I really, really, really just want to start working to become a counselor…I’m not ready. Not only am I too torn about schools and which path makes sense, but I’m also finding it difficult to make the reality of becoming a counselor financially feasible. I’m paying for all of this out of pocket. When I’m in internships, I’ll have to find a very flexible job I can do at night that pays well…or just not work. Most internships are held during day hours only. It’s not geared toward people who have responsibilities besides school. So, to do it, I have to save a couple years worth of income or figure out how to make my current job work with this–or figure out a different job that would work with this. My current job is flexible, but it would be very difficult to make that work, given our client meetings.
The good news, though, is that I have had a plan for this part for a little while. I really like UX/UI and design. I actually could see it as a career I’d be really happy in. It would allow me to make decent money and be flexible. And Silicon Valley is the best place to learn and start this type of career. I’ve tried to teach myself, but I really need the structure of a program. There are tons of programs–expensive–but doable and good for working people. And the best part? This is something I can use to give me freedom when I am a counselor and something I can use to add to my ability to be innovative–lots of great ideas.
So, my next step is to find a program to teach me to be a developer–learn about UX and UI–and then work in the industry for a bit while I’m in California. At the same time, I know my counseling dreams require some pre-reqs I don’t currently have…namely, volunteer work and some courses I never took. So, I’m going to find some places to volunteer and start taking some classes. I’ll get to take art and psych courses. All of this will let me experience schools in California and will satiate that need to explore and help people. It’s gonna be expensive and take me a while, but I’m just excited to have a concrete plan that will also get me involved with my passions.
Over the last few years, I’ve become more and more interested in alternative therapies and ideas. I’m a bit superstitious, these days, and into a bunch of hippie dippy stuff. Which comes as a big surprise to many of the friends I have who knew me from my time as a bio major. I’m still that science-oriented girl, though, but there are things science can’t explain–that I’ve experienced. So, the whole thing is pretty fascinating to me.
Dream interpretation, to me, is one of the most fascinating things ever. I wish I knew more about it and kind of would like to take courses on it at some point. But I don’t really remember my dreams too often. I’m not sure why, but it’s a rare thing. If I do remember them, they tend to be very scary or unsettling dreams. I also dream cinematically–meaning it’s like watching a movie–but being in it at the same time. Vivid and confusing. Worse yet–sometimes–I’ve been able to predict the future. Namely, right before my mother got desperately ill, I dreamt I found her dead. It was the worst dream of my life, but it helped me prepare when she did get sick. I had another dream that my ex was cheating on me. A week later, he came home and broke up with me for very confusing reasons. I don’t think I’m psychic–ha–but I am highly sensitive–so I think I have an intuition about things. So, I take my dreams very seriously when I do remember them.
Last night, I had really happy dreams for the most part–and I actually remembered them. I don’t think this was a recurring dream, and I think it was actually one big dream–though I remember it in vignettes (and yes, I am thinking of writing a screenplay or shorts based on these dreams so don’t even think of stealing these ideas). ;)
The first vignette was probably the bulk of my dream and really stuck with me. I dreamt I was swinging, only the swing was attached to the sky–so I was swinging across the entire world. It wasn’t a specific place, but I remember swinging above the trees and into clouds. And there was just this elation–just pure joy and contentment–about being alive. It was hands-down my most favorite dream ever.
The second vignette was more bizarre, but still pleasant. I was in a supermarket, in the produce section, shopping for fruit. All kinds of fruit. I was opening all the containers and inspecting each blackberry and strawberry. Squeezing melons and smelling limes. It was filled with curiosity, and I was being so meticulous about the fruit I should buy. (I’ve been obsessed with berries this past week, so maybe that factors in somehow!).
The third vignette was outside again. I was at some kind of party in this garden with a gazebo and tons of greenery. Lots of trees. We were all wearing white, like in Gatsby. I want to say this was an academic thing. But there was this man–a writer–in the center of it all who was holding court–telling stories. He was actually an actor from one of my favorite tv shows–but that had nothing to do with it. The thing I remember most, though, was that this man kept checking in with everyone to make sure they were okay. Asking if they needed anything. Now, I definitely was fascinated with whatever he was saying, and he was definitely a love interest.
The final part of the dream was the darkest, but kind of hazy in my memory. I dreamt I was on this main street of a town, but it reminded me of a smaller version of South Broadway–like the antique row section where there are all those small antique shops. The street was full of shops, some with wrought iron gates that the owners would open and close at the end of the day. I was connected to one of these shops and was sitting outside with two men who were–as far as I could tell–gangbangers…only nice (to me). And I was sort of witnessing things with them. Anyway, Death would drive by in his hearse–and Death was exactly what you think of when you think of Death. He would come to these shops and take people. At one point, the gangbangers decided they were going to kill death so he wouldn’t take anyone else. And that’s all I remember.
So, what do you guys think about my dream? Tell me about yours.