switched at birth

When  I was a little girl, I often wondered if I belonged to my parents.  Not that I didn’t love them.  I adored them.  I just didn’t ever feel like I looked like them or acted like them.

Where I was the diplomatic, quiet one–my parents were passionate, blunt, and too honest.  (Except when it came to their secrets–which were many).  I was this pale blonde girl with freckles and a half-moon smile.  My mother was olive-complected with brown hair and bright, blue eyes.  My father–well, I can’t remember what his eye color was–but I never thought he looked like me.  He was graceful and witty where I was awkward and mute.

And there were stories about how I looked just like this other baby and how they actually mixed me up.  Stories about how my father might not be my father.

But then, I saw photos of my father when he was 22.  I saw my namesake grandmother and recognized my cheekbones.  I saw my half-sister and found myself wondering if that was me.  And sometimes, I will see my mother’s face in my face–usually when I’m worried or too serious.  That look that is lost and trying to find the way back home.

And some days–days like today–I’ll get more reminders.

Because I did some errands over my lunch break.  And now I want to do nothing.  And it made me laugh because it was so much my mother.  I used to tease her about how exhausted she’d get if she did even one thing outside of her routine.  And now, here I am–being my mother.

It’s odd how comforting that feels.  And how much knowing that will help me get through the weekend…which is always hard for me.  Mostly because there is no doubt I’m hers.

 

oh, man

The last few days have been rough.  Some of it I’m not even getting into.  Because it’s just a lot.  Let’s just say I’ve been closing doors and watching them shut for me.

Fogg had a set-back this week after really encouraging news on Tuesday.  We adjusted her insulin because she was doing so much better, but then she had hyperglycemia symptoms and just was struggling.  We adjusted some more.  I freaked out.  Thursday night was rough.  I tested Fogg with the glucometer for the first time (with no training…good thing I’m a bio geek).  Her numbers were high.  I was worried we were in DKA territory, but I wasn’t sure how that worked with insulin on-board.  Her vet didn’t seem terribly concerned and was out of the office Friday–so I was especially nervous given that she had DKA symptoms in the morning.

I was also dealing with some really unfortunate family news, so my emotions were rev’d up–and I was in fix-it mode.  It was a nerve-wracking day, but then Fogg just got better.  She seemed normal by lunch and her reading confirmed it.  Her appetite picked up and she wasn’t listless anymore.

This year has just been such a cluster.  It’s been all the emotions, all the time, all at once.  Fear, joy, rage, disappointment, hurt feelings, helplessness, and just general gobbledygook.

I’m spent on pretty much every level, and I’ve worked really hard to be good to myself–though I fail because she is always my priority–and I am terrified of her relapsing.  I know this is bad.  I need to exercise more, go outside, see friends(!), and take care of my emotional self.  But I’m the only one who can take care of her now, and she really does need me to keep her stable.  This will change, of course, later this year.  But right now, I really am the most exhausted I’ve ever been.

The love stuff continues to be just–disappointing–but I feel stronger than ever there and know that I’m getting better.  I did make the executive decision to hold off on dating until I have more tools under my belt.  That decision has not been easy for me–and has been unpopular since I was actively exploring things with people.  But I know it’s the best thing for me, and I know this because it’s really showing me the light about people.  A friend once said, “I may be lonely, but I’m not that lonely yet.”  I can relate to this sentiment right now.

When I’m dealing with all these things, I really just want someone to lean on–just a tiny bit–to tell me I’ll be alright…though I already know that.  To just see how hard I’m working to keep everything going.

This whole thing has really affected my friendships.  You figure out real quick who you can count on when times are rough.  Other things factor in, too, but it’s not exactly been a great thing.

I’m hoping, while things are evening out–spending time on the internal stuff will allow me to finally find people who are capable of mutual support and bring out new sides of me that I still don’t really know.  I’m ready for some fun and adventure.  I’m hoping this summer and fall bring me lots of good surprises.  Pretty please?!

pause. pivot. shift.

As someone who is usually all or nothing, this week has proven to be a good reminder that life is rarely black and white–that I need to practice more moderation and remember to see the gray areas.  That’s not exactly easy for me, though I usually see the gray…I just sometimes purposely choose to add some ink to that well.  Ha.

So, while I beat myself up hard core for not being as evolved as I thought and still falling into old patterns, I’ve got to give myself some damn credit.

Turns out?  Both things are true.  Yes.  My old patterns ARE clearly still present.  I’m very much feeling the same things I usually feel in these types of situations.  And that sucks.  It sucks because it’s really hard to not feel those things, and it’s even harder to know if those things are my actual feelings…or the feelings I’ve been conditioned to feel, given the circumstances.

BUT…and this is HUGE…I’m no longer blindly engaging these things.  I’m no longer being blindsided by my own crap.  I’m recognizing my own patterns and how my own behavior reinforces these patterns.  I’m seeing how other people have these patterns and I’m seeing how it relates to my own patterns–and WHY.  And while I can’t help but feel what I feel, I don’t believe it’s all my shit.  I’m not blaming myself for our mutual crap.  And even better?  I am standing up for myself.  I’m showing up for me.  I’m not people pleasing or giving in–when giving in would be highly toxic to me and oh-so-easy.  I’m saying no and explaining why–but not overexplaining or justifying.  It’s enough that I don’t want to.  And I’m not allowing people to talk me out of self-care in service to meeting just their needs.  And better yet?  I’m recognizing this sort of thing as a red flag.  A big red flag.  And I’m angry about it.  Not apologizing for feeling angry about it.  And I’m saying it pisses me off.  I put down a boundary.  I explained why I needed it.  I called people on stepping on it and didn’t redraw it to make them happy.  I committed to it because I needed it.  And I am pretty damn proud of myself.

I’m learning that people who love you–as opposed to saying they love you–those who ACTUALLY do–don’t try to negotiate your boundaries.  They don’t keep pushing when you tell them to stop.  And if they do, they are operating from really unhealthy places.  And that fuels the unhealthy in me.  So, just standing my ground helps me find the healthy in me–even if I still feel all those unhealthy things I’ve been bullied into feeling.

And I’m recognizing that unhealthy love–no matter how intoxicating or romantic–is not loving.  It’s not love, really, at all.  It’s all the things I’m trying to heal.  And anyone who loves me doesn’t want me to be sick or broken–as long as it means I am there for them to use and spit out.

And maybe what I’m feeling isn’t avoidant.  Maybe it’s healthy.  Maybe it’s an appropriate response to disease.  Because the more he chases and manipulates me–or tries to–the more I want nothing to do with it.  The more I recede and back away.  This is the pattern of an avoidant when faced with a love addict, sure.  But seeing that pattern takes all attraction out of the equation.

It helps me know I deserve more.  So much more than the crap I’ve always allowed and settled for.  A kind, loving relationship where my boundaries are respected and maybe actually celebrated.

adventures in adulting

This weekend was, in many ways, rough–with a few bright spots here and there. But, mostly, it reminded me I’m a grown-up.  I know–it comes as a surprise to me, too!

I don’t know if I like this adult shit.  It’s exhausting and heartbreaking–often–and just a lot of damn work always.

I was so run down and felt like utter shit most of this weekend–especially today.  I continued to get things done, but not nearly as much as I wanted.  And I was just feeling strange.  I think part of it was just meeting new people and trying to prepare for the next few months and adjusting to a reality that isn’t quite mine yet.

We went out to this jazz bar on Saturday, and it was fun, but I wasn’t really in a social mood.  The music was loud, so it was hard to talk and get acquainted.  It really just illuminated a lot of things I already had sensed, but sort of brought it home more.  Not bad, not good…just what it was.

And then there was the love business and feeling like maybe I should just hit pause.  It resulted in my having a really tough conversation Saturday night that went off the tracks a bit and resulted in things I’m not completely sure about–but a better situation overall.

This morning, I found myself in a confusing, difficult conversation–that surprised me because I had let go long ago…but this person apparently hadn’t.  I made some mistakes there, but honestly, the situation had been a blatant mismatch for a while, and I felt like I had said that–but maybe it wasn’t clear.  I thought the lack of communication between us meant it was understood–but perhaps not.  In any case, it’s understood now…and it’s unfortunate because I feel like there were hard feelings…when there shouldn’t have been.  But it didn’t surprise me because I’ve known for a while that that whole dynamic was where my hesitation and hence the disconnection–I felt had happened a while ago–occurred.

In any case…

It made me do more research about my struggles with love avoidance and addiction.  I learned a vital thing today–one thing that changes everything.

I am not broken.

Love addiction and avoidance sounds like this made up shit, right?

But it’s all part of growing up in a broken home–particularly one where neglect is rampant and codependency is a way of life.  Essentially, the big difference?  The avoidant personality usually is raised as a little adult.  S/he takes care of everyone, and sees love as this tremendous burden.  They understand the price of love because all they do is pay.  Often, avoidants flip flop between avoidant and addict.  Usually depending on who they love.  If they love an avoidant, they might be an addict.  Bottom line, it’s all about low self-worth, an inability to take care of oneself, and a whole host of scripts we’re taught as kids about who we should be.

I’m an avoidant, for sure, but I definitely flip flop.  I grew up in an alcoholic home where I was severely neglected in every way imaginable–something that took a year of therapy for me to even acknowledge was possible.  I am still taking care of my parents by protecting them from the truth of who they were and what they inflicted on me.

I am a loving person.  I think I give everything.  But I definitely value other people over myself.  I struggle so much with easy things.  But my avoidant stuff is often me trying to protect others from myself.  Or at least that’s how I justify it.  I mostly don’t choose it.  Or even know it’s happening.

But therapy has allowed me to really see myself and others. Still, I wondered why I had felt so healthy earlier when clearly–now–I’m just a mess.

As my good friend told me, weeks ago, my picker is wrong.  The people I connect with–the ones with meaning–the multifaceted people I have so much in common with?  Other love addicts and avoidants…so many of them with the same fractured childhoods…and most unable or unwilling to see these patterns.

The last two guys I’ve been involved with were an avoidant and an addict.  The avoidant was hot and cold; disappeared often; and made me chase him–something that I indulged for a while until I just didn’t.  I realized one day that I knew very little about him.  And as much as I really liked him, we really only had one good night–and even that had been full of misunderstandings and sharp language.  He was someone I felt instantly connected to–but now I see it was for the wrong reasons.  And as sad as it made me, I was alright with letting him go.  The other one?  It started off so great, and then I felt smothered and distant.  Not sure what had changed or why–just that I could feel myself backing away–especially when it was clear he was trying to keep me close.

The thing is–dysfunction, for me, is comfortable.  Oh, so comfortable.  It’s all I have as reference for true love.  That kind that ruins your life and leaves you mourning your whole life–as it did my mother.  Guys who don’t have that background?  I find them lightweight…superficial…unable to relate to the special snowflake that’s me.

Maybe that’s the guy I need.  One that doesn’t get my childhood so easily.  One that isn’t part of that whole story.

But how do I stop liking the people I feel so connected to.  Do I ignore it?

The thing is–this is what love is to me.  It’s that heady, intense freefall whirlwind.  That kind that leaves me skewered and bleeding.  The kind that ignites my past so much that it leaves me reeling and unable to really heal for months.

It’s bullshit.

I read, though, that the problem is not me.  It’s the person I choose.  Because that person is the trigger.  If I’m around people with healthy boundaries–who don’t love this way–if I’m choosing not to love this way–I actually CAN have a different love story.

But I don’t know how to do that.  Not remotely.

So this is where I ask my therapist.  And this is where we face the neglect I avoided acknowledging my entire damn life.

And this is where I tell people I genuinely care about that I need to love myself for a while and just be with them in other ways.  Because I can’t heal it with them.  They’re part of the problem.

fickle

Today is kind of a big deal.  I’m meeting someone for the first time who is going to be pretty important to my life for its next chapter.  We’ve interacted on Facebook, of course, but have never spent any real time together.  (No–it’s NOT a love interest…ha).  It’ll be an interesting night.  (Likely somewhat awkward).  I’m not exactly sure what to expect, but I’m looking forward to welcoming a potential new friend to my inner circle.  And drinking yummy beer at a neighborhood spot I’ve wanted to visit for a while now.  I’m kind of sad I didn’t enjoy more patio time this spring.  It is one of my favorite things.

This weekend should be busy, overall, and I’m already exhausted.  I feel like going back to bed.  I was up at buttcrack, but I have to clean the apartment and get ready for tomorrow so we can be as efficient as possible.  All of this is supporting the big trip we’re taking together this summer, so it’s pretty important we get things done.  And we only have Sunday to do it.  The two of them will be here on Monday morning as well, but that’s a whirlwind, yea?  I’m also getting over some weird stomach bug.  I was so grateful for pho last night.  That stuff healed me up, and I’m almost feeling human again–though my killer allergies have decided to say hi again.  I knew they’d be back.  (In any case, there may be drunk dialing, allergy-fueled confusion in my future…though I never really drink that much).

I’m just kind of happy to have some free time again–even if does mean crazy weekends of activity for future plans.  As much as I love school and am devoted to tackling my dreams, I also really like to play and haven’t done enough of it in this life.  Something I’m determined to change for the remaining months of this year.  Of course, I’ve used up so much vacation time dealing with crap that I’m just going to have to be a weekend warrior.  Which means no international trips this year.  But I’m thinking Thailand and Vietnam next year.  It’s time, yea?  I haven’t done much travel in the last year, and I’m raring to go somewhere.  This summer will be good for me, for just that reason.  But, of course, I’m super nervous.  Since I’ll be traveling cross-country with Fogg in late June, that could be another crisis point.  I’m hoping it’s not.  We’ve pushed this trip off so many times, and it needs to happen…though there really isn’t a deadline.  I just need this chapter to close.  But this year hasn’t been kind, so I wouldn’t be surprised if more nonsense is coming.  The good news?  She’s doing so well right now, and she has time to stabilize even more.  I’m hopeful.

###

Love and romance has been on my mind a lot lately, but not for good reasons.  Ha.  What felt like progress before now feels like old patterns–just reinterpreted for a more enlightened self.  It’s still the same shit.  Just with a mindful bow on it.  I couldn’t figure out why I felt the need to brake when it should have been this easy thing.  But now I think it’s because I was subconsciously recognizing my own malfunctioning heart.  And that’s why I’ve been so hesitant to really go there when I’ve found a meaningful connection.  The crap from earlier this year likely triggered it hard-core.  And as usual, I was sort of blindsided by it–after thinking maybe I had gotten past my normal bullshit.

I feel like maybe that will be my focus for my next leg of therapy, and maybe, I need to just let everything cool off for a while until I have a better sense of it.  But feelings are hard and getting the timing right is nearly impossible–so it’s not easy to close doors when they could stay closed.  I’m certainly not good at it.  Especially given how impulsive I can be.  But I suppose I have to draw on my most compassionate self.  Why hurt yourself and someone else while you’re figuring it out?

In any case, I’m seeing my old therapist until the big trip and then will be switching to a bright and shiny new one.  I think I finally found one I don’t hate, but it means I’ll be spending a lot of time in the city.  I don’t mind, but that probably means I need to figure out public transit or get very okay with sitting in traffic.  Not a strength, I’ll admit.

To elaborate: my heart is very fickle right now.  Non-attached, as I mentioned before–for sure.  But maybe not in as healthy a way as I was deluded enough to think.  It threw me for a loop because I was feeling so balanced about love for such a long time.  I’m not really one to hesitate when I find someone I feel things for.  But I did.  Full stop, even when it meant I might lose them.  And then it made me question all of it.  What was appropriate?  What was I actually feeling?  What did they feel?  The hot and cold crap I complain about with other people?  I’m guilty of it too, in this instance.  And I hate that so much.

I wonder if it’s not my love avoidant/love addict crap showing up because it feels like that.  When we looked at that before, I was moderate on it–but maybe it’s dependent on triggers that weren’t present in the past.  All I know?  I have clear patterns–ones I usually overcome–but they’re always there.  When someone is into me, I tend to be a brick wall for at least a little while…till I feel safe.  And I tend to be most attracted to people who are unattainable or unavailable emotionally.  And then I win them over–or they win me over–only there is no winning in that.  The healthy parts of me intuitively know it’s happening and then I feel this deep hesitation.  Mostly because I recognize that in myself.  And the people I love tend to be people with similar issues.  So it’s almost always a big mess.  I don’t want to drag some innocent person into the confusing mess of my heart until I understand it better and can be a healthy person about it.

Right now, my heart just isn’t in it enough–isn’t ready–to let someone in.  Not really.  It can pretend it is and be convincing.  But at my core, I know it’s not.  Which sucks.  Just because I want all of that.  But there is much work to do.  That’s clear.

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