Threading the needle

I found this journal prompt and decided (as I often do) to make a list. When I liked the list I made, I decided to share it with you! 🙂

  1. Relax.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Slow down.
  4. Practice patience–the things you seek are already on their way to you.
  5. Your life is okay as it is.
  6. Don’t postpone happiness–it’s yours today, if you want it.
  7. You are so loved! More than you probably know.
  8. You can still do more of the things you love.
  9. It’s okay to say no sometimes. Give yourself a break.
  10. Do at least one thing today that will help your “future self.”

Then I found this image on Pinterest when I searched “patience art.”

patience.jpg

I was struck by its simplicity but also its message. Patience is threading the needle. You have to slow down! I drank too much coffee today–the caffeine is making me jittery and anxious. I can’t “thread my needle” when I’m like this! I’m going to practice 1-4 the rest of the day until I feel calm enough to try again.

Making friends with stress

Stress is bad. We hear this everywhere; our culture is filled with pressure to be productive and efficient and all kinds of obstacles that prohibit our success, but doctors are always telling us to “reduce stress.” I guess…get a massage, take a bath, take a long walk, say no more often, “unplug,” do aromatherapy, adult coloring…etc–the list of “stress” treatments goes on and on.

I envy people who can go with the flow, or who would describe themselves as “laid-back” (every guy on Match.com, if memory serves). But I’m a naturally high-strung person. I’m worried, reactive, and paranoid. My brain is a constant flurry of “what ifs.” Sleeping is hard because my brain wants to remember every incident in my life, however irrelevant to my current circumstances. I am always worried about what needs to be done. I’m a type A personality, but also an expert procrastinator. Being in college for four years has helped me somewhat with “time management,” and I’m used to functioning under high stress situations–my job, for one.

As graduation approaches, I’m tentatively taking steps into what my future holds. For the longest time, I assumed I would apply for grad school, not even pursuing teaching certification without a Master’s degree. Now, I’m not so sure. Having a Master’s can earn you more pay, but it can also price you out of a job when districts don’t want to pay that extra. Maybe I should go through the steps to get certified pre-grad school, and keep that on the back burner as an option? Part of me wants to keep the momentum going of being in school because I love it, and not that much in my life has to change–I can still work full-time and take my online classes, and I’m used to the routine of having homework all the time. I have no idea what I’m going to do, but I suppose I’m going to start by contacting the New Hampshire DOE to see what their process is for alternative certification. I wish SO hard that I had done the “normal” thing and gone to college right after high school…maybe things would be easier now and I would already be doing something rewarding/fulfilling. Alas, that was not my path.

uncertainty

The uncertainty of what comes next, combined with daily stressors (work, mid-March blizzards delivering 20+ inches of snow) has made me feel like I’m about to explode. Rather than eliminate all stress (unrealistic), I’m trying to make friends with my stress and help it help me achieve my goals. According to Psychology Today, moderate stress can be a good thing: it helps motivate you and prepares you to better handle other stressful live events better than those who experience little to no adversity. A study at UC Berkelely found that exposure to moderate stress actually increased brain activity.

Questions for you, reader: How are the stress levels in your life? What stresses you out the most? What tools do you use to deal with stress? Please share in the comments!

raw around the edges

skyclouds
But it seemed to me that this was the way we all lived: full to the brim with gratitude and joy one day, wrecked on the rocks the next. Finding the balance between the two was the art and the salvation.

—

Elizabeth Berg, The Year of Pleasures

Well. He is home. For now. But that doesn’t mean things are perfect. In spite of how comforting his presence is (albeit tenuous), I am struggling so hard just to get back to baseline of feeling “normal.” Which is funny because I have never been nor will I ever be, normal, by anyone’s standards. I take my pill religiously. I am not angry, I am mainly just depressed. I think about everything over and over again. How I feel about things. I check it like you do when you lose a tooth and your tongue runs over the empty spot, you know it’s gone but you’re still checking anyway. Still there.

I was ready to quit my job and do anything else. Take a huge pay cut. (That did not pan out.) Then I remember, insurance. Pills. Doctors. Oh. I am a slave to my job for these things. It is funny how you know inside you have so much to offer and yet you spend all day saying “how can I assist you?” and it really feels like your soul is actually dying.

I used to be obsessed with makeup videos and fashion blogs. I was always wondering what I could buy next. I have stopped that cold. I have no real desire to experience any superficiality. I have not painted my nails in a week (although I will probably never stop wearing full face makeup just because that is me). I have been coming back to my favorite books by my favorite author, Elizabeth Berg. (Durable Goods, Joy School and True to Form.) They are fast reads I suppose but being in that world, and being back in that world I remember being in so many times and for so long is just about the only thing I find real solace in. Absolutely, within the last few weeks, those are the moments when I find peace. In those books. She writes so well it hurts. It is just so true to the heart, it just pulls at me, all the way back to my own thirteen year old self.

But what else.

Then I thought well, I’ll save up a bunch of money, and take the road trip I’ve always wanted. All the way to California, via Route 66 as much as I could. From coast to coast. Dip my toes in the Pacific like I have always wanted to. I have thought about it many times but listening to Lana Del Rey always makes me want to just drive forever and ever. I guess I always pictured myself sharing that experience with someone else (special) but maybe it should just be me, some cheap motels, bags of Cheetos, truck stop food, lots of mix CDs and the open road for miles and endless miles. I would be like Kerouac. Maybe it would inspire me. I got bright little flips of excitement thinking about it. Then I talked myself out of it, at least for the immediate future. Money, time. Oh, those traps.

So the battle begins. I keep choosing safety, and “safety” seems to be keeping me pushed inwards, against myself. I really want to break free.

unmoored

sunlight

I keep almost forgetting that I live alone again now. In the midst of a “manic Monday,” I quickly thought to myself how I couldn’t wait to wrap myself in the security of boyfriend’s perfect arms as the rain pours outside. Comfort. Security. How I miss it already.

I’m hardly eating. I’m hardly sleeping. It’s more than him just being gone. I’m being swallowed by something else, something bigger than he or I could ever be. It’s monstrous. But him not being there doesn’t help.

I am a child on the bicycle, training wheels suddenly removed. No warning.

Steady, steady.

I’ve been released.

I hope that before I know it, I can pedal smoothly all on my own.

I can’t remember ever feeling this depressed, this hopeless, this frustrated. It’s coupled with a maniacal attempt to DO EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE/BE AWESOME/BE CREATIVE/BE THE BEST AT EVERYTHING because in order to be satisfied I have to be creating beautiful art or poetry or something else profound.

Instead I stare at the blank walls of “our” apartment, thinking about what we wanted to hang there. The bed, empty on his side. Once so comfortable, only provides restless nights of kicking and turning, waking with a start to realize that he’s gone.

He’s really gone.

There are small signs that I need to awaken my spiritual self but I’ve been ignoring them. I don’t trust spirituality will save me. I don’t believe in the universe’s unconditional loving light and all of that patchouli nonsense anymore. If it were that easy, we’d all do it. Wouldn’t we? I should really listen more. And think before I speak. And fix the million other things that I do wrong, that make up the glorious blackened mass of mental/emotional defects that infiltrate my being like knife cuts. Oh, beautiful knife cuts.

Then I remembered the one spiritual book that shook me (shook a lot of people, I’m sure) – Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love. And this:

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life.

A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave.

A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life…”

Hmmm.

call me a gypsy

USA Roadtrip 2 -1

I’m living out of a duffle bag and a laundry basket right now. All of my stuff is scattered.  I’m really no good at being nomadic. I never have been. I’ve always done better in my own space, knowing where everything is. Staying with my dear friend is awesome in a lot of ways. I know I’m not mentally healthy enough to be by myself, really. But I miss my –our–home. I’ve been going to the apartment once a day to feed the cats, grab stuff I need, etc…but it feels so strange. Without my boyfriend, without his stuff, it feels so hollow and empty. It’s truly the saddest feeling.

I have “my” room set up, and it’s nice enough. It feels like some kind of weird and unwelcome vacation. I do love having the company of my friend, but all I really want is my soulmate back. We spent the fourth together, in his hometown. Went to the lake and played in the water. We held each other. I cried. I cry a lot lately. He loves me and I can tell. We tell each other constantly. This is hard for him, too, I know. And I know that he doesn’t want to backslide into old habits. In the meantime my “coping method” is just moment to moment. I hold myself together, even though I feel completely unraveled.

I stopped by at our place on my way home for the cat chores. Then I went to my friend’s place and laid in the yellow bed for an hour after I talked to bf on the phone, just thinking, being, dealing.

I’m back on my meds. It’s going to take time to feel/notice the effects again. I never felt them in the first place. I guess that’s common with antidepressants? Other people noticed, apparently. Who knows. That’s why I stopped. Also, no word from any of the psychiatrists I was referred to. Sad and frustrating that when you really want help and are asking for it, it seems to be out of reach.

Everything that’s going on makes it nearly impossible to focus on things that I need to do–like coursework–and the things that I want to do, like painting. All I do is think, and wait patiently for something to change inside of me.

Have you ever lived out of a suitcase before? Or felt like you didn’t know where you belong? Comment and let me know. xx

a separate peace

The last two nights I’ve slept in a yellow bed that isn’t my own. It feels like a vacation that I didn’t choose.

I’ve written about my relationships before, and my BPD (borderline personality disorder). The two do not play well together. Two days ago, my boyfriend moved out of the apartment we moved into only a month ago. This was triggered by my constant vitriolic behavior with regards to his new teaching job — something I *should* be proud of him for, and want to celebrate with him. Only his getting that job only made me feel small, stupid and unaccomplished, and most of all, angry with myself for not making the “right” choices earlier in life. Despite our solid connection and deep love for each other, he left.

modifythinking

I came home from work to a near-empty apartment. He took everything of his. I begged and pleaded on the phone. (Classic BPD behavior: “I hate you/Don’t leave me.”) Through many tearful experiences and an act of self-harm I won’t get into, I wound up staying at my best friend’s house. When I pulled up in the driveway (a total mess) I saw my other best friend’s car in the driveway. Having my friends there helped tremendously. I really do have the best friends in the world–they seem to think that with a little time, and me getting the help I need, that me and bf can work things out.

We’ve been in pretty consistent contact. He’s said “I love you” so many times, and so have I. He was the one who took me to the hospital yesterday. The love hasn’t changed. I want him to come home so much. My cats are alone there, which breaks my heart. They’ve been cared for every day so far, but I miss them and worry about them. But being there is impossible, being alone is impossible. There’s nothing left there. No internet, no TV, no xbox, no air conditioner. No boyfriend, no love. I feel like he took it with him when he left.

At the urgency of my friends, my PCP and a psychiatrist’s office I was referred to, I went to the emergency room yesterday to be evaluated. They decided to release me because I wasn’t an immediate danger. The plan is to see a psychiatrist, start back up on my Wellbutrin and find out if I really do have BPD. (The therapist who “diagnosed me a few years back was a LICSW, which means she can’t technically diagnose mental illnesses.)

This is the hardest and most painful thing I’ve ever done. A part of me is afraid boyfriend won’t come home, even though he says he wants to. I’m afraid it will take longer than I want. I’ve been reading online about the benefits of separation (I can only find stuff on marital separations, really) and I’m hoping that starting the path of getting help, and getting some space away from the relationship will give us both perspective. I know it won’t change how I feel about him, and I hope it doesn’t change how he feels about me. My heart hurts. All I want is to be in his arms.

It’s been too many nights of being with
To now suddenly be without.

– Jewel