Clarity in Shadows

I create my own dragons to slay out of small shadows I see in far away corners.

A moment of clarity, so late in this day. Keeps my eyes open, to ponder a new way.

I don’t know why clarity as to come this late, but I suppose it comes when it comes. Better late than never; they say. I have these precious moments, fleeting seconds when I realize that all my turmoil, mental anguish, emotional torture, everything; it’s all just me. I have spent countless hours scanning over my life trying to figure out how to situate things just right to make everything okay. I keep searching for that last puzzle piece to pull into place to make the picture complete. I search in vain in relationships, lifestyle changes, diet, nutrition, school, work, and other people. I berate myself for not being more healthy, for not being a better mother, daughter, and friend, for not being more open with my partner, and for not being where I should be in life; which is where again?

I know that I am capable of overcoming obstacles. I know that I can make better choices to eventually line up a future that I currently would find more acceptable. But what about now? I’m only in to month three of living in my new home with my partner, and son and I am scrambling to figure out where to live next. Nothing is wrong with where we live. It’s a nice home in a great location. It’s a bit of a financial burden for a full time-mother, part-time grad student, and part-time therapist/teacher. But there is nothing wrong with right now. Why can’t I just be happy in this moment?

This questions leads me down the rabbit hole. What is wrong with me? What can I do to make things better? Exercise, eat better, find a better job, buy a car, find better ways to spend time with my son and my partner. Maybe a picture or some home decor would make it feel more pleasant… Sure, none of those things would hurt, but I am still here, locked in this hellish nightmare of a mind. I am ultimately alone with my thoughts of self defeating contradictions. I should be more creative, but art supplies are expensive. I should spend more time with my son doing fun things, but I am about to start classes and will have even less time. We should make a date night, but it’s all but a miracle to get things lined up to just get to meetings. I should take a few minutes to meditate, but I’m already in bed and am physically tired. Every idea I come up with I immediately shoot down, and I hate it.

I hate how self-defeating I have become. I hate how closed off and completely torn up inside I feel. I have all these emotions and concerns and don’t voice any of them, because I have either labeled them not important enough to talk about or to much of a big deal that I don’t want to bother or upset anyone else with it. I’m not even giving myself a chance. Nothing changes if nothing changes, and I feel like I’m starting to live the same life over again. I do not want that life. I do not want that hell. I want out of my mind, right now.

I pray. I write. I read. I search for the thing that is going to give me what I need to live the way I want, and all I can reasonably conclude at this hour is that I am keeping myself down. Why?! Why for fucks-sake do I do this? Do I really hate myself that much? Do I really think so little of myself and my needs that I have to extinguish them the moment they crop up? Only I don’t really extinguish the flame, they all just simmer below the surface waiting for me to lose my sanity. Why do I put myself in this small, miserable, torturous little box? I think it’s because it is the only way I have learned how to survive.

I make it sound so dramatic, or perhaps that is just my inner bitch chiming in to diminish it. I have been in survival mode for so long, that even if there wasn’t a fight to be having, I was fighting none the less. I don’t know how to handle just being. I don’t know how to live a life based in today’s void of threat. I create my own dragons to slay out of small shadows I see in far away corners. All I know how to do is fight and hope that once the next monster is slain, the dust will settle to a happily every after. As illogical as I can see this for as I sit here describing it, I don’t know how to shake it. I don’t know how to relearn to live in a life of peace and possibility. I don’t know how to change.

 

What’s the point?

Sometimes I feel as though the only way I am able to get things out of my head are to speak them to no one in particular. I spend so much time analyzing, dissecting, and discounting different feelings, that most get tossed away or shoved in a bottle labeled “To Be Dealt with Later.” In any given week, I can go through days of depression, anxiety, gratitude, irritation, annoyance, exhaustion, and just plain uncertainty. Each emotion, among a variety of others, are valid in their own way while also completely insignificant. It always changes. I always change, my feelings change, and life changes. Everything passes; so why hold on to and obsess over one state or another? At least this is my overarching attitude toward any discontent and life’s many dissatisfactions.

I know that not dealing with emotions can be dangerous, and it is a “skill” I am particularly good at. However, I am not sure how to go about retraining myself. Before I open my mouth I am analyzing every word. Am I being to selfish? Am I being too selfless? Is this a legitimate concern or am I overreacting? Am I projecting? Is it really that important? Most of the time I am thinking default to “this too shall pass,” or “I am going to not focus on this and try to focus on being of service to others.” The selfless serving nature of my default is mostly helpful, except in those cases where the feelings keep cropping up. I can only push my feelings aside so many times until I start getting quiet, bitter, and resentful.

What do I do then? I consider letting them out. I should talk about what’s bothering me. But again my inner voice chimes in; “your problems aren’t that bad,” or “you’ve already brought this up and wasted enough time, effort, and energy on it.” Still, I’m grappling with deep seeded emotions on a daily basis. What, then do I do? Inevitably I am forced here, writing my thoughts out for a faceless audience to whom I feel less threatened and judged by than any real person in my life.

So here goes. Lately, I have been feeling all the discomfort and violation I have accrued from all the relationships with men in my past: prompted from watching documentaries, to crappy rom-com shows, to real life objectification. Most recently, being brought back to the one traumatic moment with my partner, opened the bottle on all my other baggage in that category of my life. And there is a lot of it.

Uncomfortably objectified by my un-medicated bipolar, alcoholic father; I sought approval and validation from a very sick individual, in multiple ways, while building this wonderful emotion barrier I have today. The very first boy I ever kissed in any real sense of hormonal awkwardness, was a summer thing. We saw one movie and met for one lunch and that was it. He went on to proclaim that we had had sex, and that I was slut to the entire high school I had just started attending. I was shocked and angry, but as it wasn’t true and he was very insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I let it go. I was pressured into my first “relationship” as a tech intern in high school. The hyper sexual narcissist played to my naïve insecurities, pushing me to do things I was very clear I had no interest in doing. Finally, I put my foot down and told him to back off. This lead to a hostile work environment and me quitting that job and my interest in IT for good. I was raped of my virginity at 16 by a self-sworn good guy. He was only a monster in a mask. After that, I dove into the arms of a 21 year old, metrosexual man-child. He was also hypersexual in every sense of the word and loved to comment on my weight and brand/style of clothing. I didn’t care too much at the time as I had started drinking and he could buy me all the booze I wanted. By the time that was over, I left him for suspecting he was cheating. I’m sure he was, but had no hard proof. I learned to leave before I got too hurt.

Throughout high school I hung out with a group of guys I called my brothers. I never saw them as anything more than that; though each of them, at different times expressed their interest in me as more than a friend. One of them I would be engaged to. One of them I would marry and divorce. The one I was engaged to brought me into a world of drugs and alcohol on an entirely new level. I loved keeping pace with him. I loved getting lost, doing crazy shit, and not thinking about my problems. His lifestyle made that easy, but I was also trying to go to school and start a life for myself. So, eventually, I gave him an ultimatum to either quit the drugs, or I was gone. He quit the hard drugs, and I all but browbeat him into proposing to me. Still I wasn’t happy. I was drinking more than ever and blamed him for all the problems he had gotten me into. After graduating college by the skin of my teeth, I broke it off with him. I wasted no time trying to building a life with my now ex-husband, starting with earing my title as barfly when we were dating. I would get drunk and call my ex-fiancé. On a handful of occasions he picked me up and I would go out drinking and/or drugging with him. Once he had tried to make a move on me as I was passing out, and I asked him to take me home. Then next time was much worse in scale of the fight with my ex-husband. I drank more, drugged more, and woke up out of a blackout sore and without underwear on. I was too ashamed of my drunken behavior and my bad decisions. I never said anything about it. I had, after all, put myself in this situation. But I’ve come to learn that still doesn’t make it okay.

My ex-husband cheated on me. He pressured me into having sex before I was ready after our son was born, and complained to me for not paying enough attention to him. He blamed my inattention for his cheating and constantly asked who I was out screwing if he couldn’t get ahold of me immediately.

Stepping back a moment, my first job after my tech-intern position was at BestBuy, where my asshole of a boss hit on me relentlessly. Eventually I quit. After college I worked at Omega as a second job, where my 60 something Greek manager asked if he could kiss me. The other managers, all related, shrugged it off as him being an old man. So I quit. After being a stay at home mom for two years, I went to work as a hostess/bartender at Carlucci’s. I knew I was going to get drunk idiots flirting with me. I didn’t know two of four managers would be pursuing me like a dog with a bone. One particular bus “boy” liked to kid around that my son was his. He’d ask “How’s my boy doing?” in between invites to hang out, or lunch, or just go out back. His eyes devoured any decency. He was a salivating hyena.

So, no, I have not had a lot of positive experiences with male friends, with male colleges, or with men I placed my trust in. That’s why my most recent trauma from my current relationship was so bitter for me. It was just a drunken mistake. I am not blowing in out of proportion, and how could I given my track record, but it was the fact I and once again, thought I had found something different, something real that was once again shattered in that moment. I’ve recovered from that, but it’s there in the ever growing gallery of unpleasant life experiences with men.

It’s not surprising anymore. I try not to think about these things, because they just steal my peace and serenity. Yet try as I may, I can never really get rid of the trauma. It sickens me to the core, and yet it’s so fucking common-place. Oh well.

See, I feel like I have wasted my time an energy just saying all that. What’s the point anyways?

Worthless

I don’t even know where to begin. Everything has changed, and no, that is not an exaggeration. I have a new home, a new career, and am starting grad school in about a month. I no longer have a car, a mother, nor sufficient income. I am the old person at work. I am the single mother who barely sees her son. I am the partner left wanting. I am  a ball of stress, anxiety, and loneliness bound up tightly in a straight jacket with a bad buckle. I am scared. I am trying my best to make a life that I hope I won’t regret. I am nothing I used to be and everything I always hide.

New beginnings are enticing and exciting at first, however treading the path unknown is quite frankly terrifying. Less so when you have something to hold on to. Something steady to keep you anchored and sure footed. Without it, I feel like I could be swallowed into oblivion by a single wrong step. All the while I’m wondering, what have I done wrong already. Where have I faltered.  Have I been so neglectful in my tireless effort to forge a better life that I should no longer be a preference? Are my actions something so egregious that I am someone to be placed aside for more satisfying company?

I thought love persevered; strengthened through time and overcoming countless trials. I am yet again reminded I must know nothing of love. Perhaps this is all my fault. I am not so big headed to think I am infallible. I make mistakes as I am human. I am a human who feels old, worthless, and unimportant to the one most important to me. Though I am sure this is probably not entirely accurate in reality, it is how I feel, and it fucking sucks. It really fucking sucks.

The Speed of Life

I’m wondering if this is the pace at which my life with continue to be lived. EVERYTHING in my life has change over and over again in less than a year. My divorce was finalized in July, my condo was on the market for 72 hours and sold in August, I moved out of my condo and into my mother’s place after extensive renovations and a massive cleanup effort in September, I filed for bankruptcy, applied for FAFSA, and most recently moved out of my mother’s place this month; a new record for shortest stay with her at 45 days. Now I face a job change, loss of my primary mode of transportation, graduate school applications, and who knows what else!?

I don’t think I could have gotten this far without my partner; who is also riding this insane rollercoaster ride. I feel bad for my son being displaced so much, but I do not have any control over that right now. When given the choice to have to move again or stay in an unhealthy home environment, I don’t hesitate to jump. I have spent too much time in my life “trapped” in a bad situation. I will not make that mistake again. Head down, chin up, I will trudge the road and trust that I’m getting where I need to be.

Whenever I’m Disturbed…

I am in uncharted territory again. I feel excited at the possibility of returning to school and pursuing a degree in something that will enable me to affect positive change in our world. Yet, I am completely irritated, and I don’t really know why. I can only surmise that changing my routine, focus, and the way I think to be more productive and driven has left me intolerant to old habits and ways of thinking. It seems counter intuitive. The more self understanding and focus I have, I would assume would instill further compassion and understanding of others. Instead, all I see are unhealthy thought patterns, time sinks, and bad habits that need to be quashed.

When I first wrote this blog, and WordPress.com’s lovely block editor ruined everything by deleting two thirds of it, I spent a bit of time venting about my mother’s entitled, childish behavior. I am not, however, going to retype all that as it is a huge waste of time and energy. That is who she is an I can’t expect anything different. She is stuck in her ways, and the chance of that changing or her doing any real personal development is slim. It is still extremely frusterating, but I will try not to linger on it too long.

Why am I so irritated? I guess I just want better lives for everyone I love, but know I can’t force-feed anything to anyone. This will be problematic as a social worker, and I will have to figure out a way to deal with the frustration. It’s almost infuriating once you start applying yourself and learning how easy it is to turn your life in a different direction. Perhaps this is just my experience. It may completely inapplicable in other regions of the world, but for most in people in the USA, a little focus, drive, and no BS attitude with yourself and things get clear real quick.

This is not to say anyone can be an astronaut or fairy princess. If you really want to be rich, there is a way. If you want to be healthier, there is a way. If you want to have a better relationship with yourself or another person, there is a way. It just takes an open mind to change and a willingness to apply yourself and sacrifice what you have to for the things you really want. This does not require sitting, doing nothing, doing the same things over and over, or living in self pity and denial. It takes action, breaking old useless habits, self restraint and self discipline. It only sounds hard. It is not any harder than being miserable with your life. The more you change, the easier changing other things becomes. Life is always changing. Either change with it or face the notion you have, in essence, accepted you life for what it is whether you realize it or not.

Here in lies my frustration. After lifting a blindfold off my eyes, I’m stuck looking around at everyone else with blindfolds on, wishing desperately I could rip them off. It’s something only that person can do for themselves. I have to accept this. So, instead of getting annoyed at other people, I am going to go back to focusing on improving my own life and eventually find a way in which to help others in a different way.

Ego be gone!

 

 

Nine to Six Feet Under

I was never cut out for the corporate world. The thought of 9am-5pm jobs made me shudder. I could hardly handle 8am-3pm in high school. When I was little I would tell anyone to their face I would “NEVER” work for someone else. I was going to be my own boss. Reality really likes to kick me in the teeth.

Before I knew it, I was working for my high school as a tech intern, then Dominos for one “glorious” summer, then I started my brief job at Best Buy around 4:30am on Black Friday that year. Finally, I found myself with a 9-5pm job at the company my mom worked for, Adventist Midwest Management Services. This company was bought out several years ago, but I spent ten years there; on and off during school breaks and finally as a full time employee after graduating from college. My Bachelor of Arts degree is in English Literature. I graduated, however; at the end of 2009, and the job market was not doing well. I fell back into the world of medical billing/collections and haven’t been able to get myself out since.

I jumped to a different big medical billing company after I got married hoping for a challenge and upward mobility, but I just found more of the same monotonous boredom that tortured me all day long. So I made the decision to quit and become a personal trainer. I got certified the same night I passed another test; a pregnancy test. Back I went to the world of medical billing to save up for the bundle of responsibility now on its way.

It was hard to tell  I was pregnant until month 7 or 8. I was running right up until I got put on bed rest. One long night in the hospital with steroid injections and magnesium sulfate fun, and then I was home. But my son was impatient to get out into the world. I was back at the hospital in for a ten day stay with talks with NICU doctors as well as a surgeon in the even I started hemorrhaging after giving birth. Due to a low lying placenta, I was at risk and a hysterectomy would have been the only salvation. Three weeks prior I’m running in the fall breeze, now I was hoping my son and I made it through alive.

Blood pressure medication, of all things, kept contractions under control. As long as I took it and was on bed rest, the little bugger would keep cooking and I got the first chance I had in years not to be working full time. I knew that as soon as I went off the medication it was “go time.” So my pregnancy was kind of unique in that I could time when I was going to go into labor. It was a Saturday morning when I stopped taking the medication.  I went out with my mom to go buy a baby blanket and get some food and fresh air before the big event. My son was born at 5:43 am the next morning. Everything went fine aside from major game plan change of getting an epidural at 6cm. I wanted an all natural birth, but for all intents and purposes, I had been having contractions for a month and a half. Enough was enough and god bless that anesthesiologist!

Anyway, back to the topic of work. I found being a stay-at-home-mom to be far more work than a 9-5pm job, but it was much more rewarding and far less boring. I was fortunate enough to have almost two years at home with my son before I had to reenter the workforce full time. It was necessary as I had filed for an order of protection against my ex and (obviously) planned to file for divorce. In the span of a week and a half, I got a brand new car without a penny down or a job, found a daycare I wasn’t completely terrified to leave my son at, and found a job that started the Monday after I interviewed. Talk a bout a whirlwind; It was a crazy, stressful, and challenging time.

After the initial anxiety of leaving my son in the care of strangers for 9-10 hours a day, I found some appreciation for being back in the world of adults; working to support myself and my son. Alas, it was again in the field of medical billing, and after no more than six months I was, once again, bored to tears. A mixture of infatuation with my new love, hatred for my cubicle jail, stress from the divorce, and lack or relying on AA for support lead to a period of relapses. I missed too much work and lost my job because of that. Despite a solid month of looking for something in a different field, there was nothing that would compensate me at a rate I needed to survive. So, I wound up at my previous company’s biggest competitor; once again, in a cubicle.

Part of me thinks that I stayed with my ex as long as I did for the opportunity to be a stay-at-home-mom. I hated him, but I also hated working a 9-5. Eventually, I saw that if I was going to survive and do what was best for myself and my son, I had to get away from my ex. So now we are divorced, I am working a job I don’t love but need and can’t complain about, and I’m moving back in with my mother. I suppose I am hoping in the interim, I might find a way to carve out a new career path. If I stay on the course I am currently stuck in, I am certain it will eventually kill me spiritually. That may sound over dramatic, but you don’t know how much I loath the ice box rat maze in which I spend 40 hours a week.

Changing Changes Everything

It is still very hard to say that my sobriety comes first; even before the people I love most in my life. It took the lessons only relapse could teach me to realize it is absolutely necessary. A lesson if forgotten, I place those people in a position of potential harm. Being in a healthy relationship with a loving, amazing partner is this alien experience in comparison to my past. It is a wonderful change, and I want to continue to make myself a better person and a better partner.

This is not the only relationship that is changing. I am completely redefining, in my mind, what it means to unconditionally love my son. It’s true that as soon as he was born, I knew I’d do anything for him. I’d give my life for his. It was simply a new fact of life; cemented the second I held him in my arms for the first time. How could anything possibly corrupt that?

Alcoholism is an insidious disease. Cunning, baffling, and overwhelmingly powerful, I found out that this disease could even overcome my maternal instincts. That was my bottom; when I realized that. I hated myself so deeply for not knowing better. I have had to learn to forgive myself for that, because I sincerely didn’t know. I had absolutely no control over my drinking and had no clue how to fix that. Thank goodness for my first sponsor. She brought me into AA and showed me the solution.

For a year and a half I grew as a person and worked the steps, but I coddled my little boy, due to the turmoil at home. After I had kicked his father out, my sponsor wound up going back out there (drinking.) I thought I was fine, but I completely lost my way. I found myself back out there and hurting myself and the people I loved once again. I knew I needed to get back in to AA and get a sponsor. I tried, two different sponsors, in and out, but my heart wasn’t in it. I wasn’t honest from the start. I had a trust issue from my first sponsor.

I don’t know how I wound up back in the program whole-heartedly again. It was not of my own doing. I started talking to an old friend, fell in love, was open about my drinking problem. We went through some rough patches together, and somehow wound up diving in to the program together at the same time. It’s nothing short of amazing.

I am changing my behaviors toward my partner, my mother, myself, and my son. Although I still want to coddle him and make any discomfort go away, as I feel responsible for the hurt and confusion as a result of divorcing his father. But, I know it had to be done and in the end it is for the best. My son has so many people in his life that care able him. Grandparent’s, parents, teachers, friends, cousins, and even AA friends! His world is so much bigger than mine was at his age. My goal for my relationship with him right now is to maintain healthy boundaries and respect, to make sure that he feels safe and loved, and I want to make sure to take the time to be present with him in some kind of activity each week. All the drama and worry that surrounds his father is out of my control, and I will have to trust my higher power to watch over my son as it does for me.

I also want to be an example to my son of how to be happy even when things aren’t 100% how you want them to be. I want to show him how to pursue healthy goals and dreams and to teach him kindness and understanding toward all beings. The best way I know how to do any of this is to do it myself. He’s a smart little one, and pick up on everything. Although I cannot manage or control his life or who he becomes, I can show him how life can be when lived in kindness and love.