Monthly Archives: May 2022

recommited

Content heads up: Discussion of suicidal ideation and other content that might be unsettling to some folks. I am safe.

Well I’m behind my quasi arbitrary schedule in many ways, but early in this:

Putting my frustration about being alive into summer storage, along with some of my heavy sweaters and socks.

I wish I had the skill and time, the patience, confidence, and courage to share my opinions on this the essential question b

Gah I can’t do it.

for the season, along with “why do we live” question

rain

I am dialing this one in because I ended up building on what I started last night. And I was stumped for a topic anyway. Too much and too little on my mind.

I am glad for the thunderstorm that just rolled in. This time last year, we were in severe drought. We seem to be doing OK so far this year.

eliding

Content warning about suicidal ideation/will to live kind of thoughts. I am safe. Also, this is very much an unfinished post.

Just looked up eliding  bc it popped in my head as a maybe description for how I’m feeling about this writing project.

Eliding is  one of those words with meanings that sound contradictory: to  omit and to  merge (but I guess that’s not really contradictory because when merging we omit).

Elide, intimate, allude, insinuate, dance around,  stay close to the shore, feint, give subtext, obfuscate, self censor.

I can’t be direct about what’s going on in my life because I’m not the only character in this story. I wish I could compartmentalize.

I also censor because I am hesitant to write about  topics that can be very painful and upsetting. But maybe tonight I’ll go ahead. Let the filter down. Speak clearly and honestly. So. I am going to write about suicidal ideation and share thoughts about living that many might find uncomfortable or disturbing.

Yesterday I forgot to take my medication. I didn’t realize this until early evening, after I had spent the afternoon curled up in a ball debating whether I should go to the emergency room. I didn’t because  I knew I was not going to kill myself. But it still stinks to have to keep blowing on the embers, trying to keep the will to live burning.

When I realized I had missed my meds, I rolled my eyes.  Sure, I struggle with depression, hopelessness, and poor self esteem on a daily basis, but this had been one of those bottom of the elevator shaft days. Thankfully, I have plenty of skills to help me shelter in place when I am that low.

It is both reassuring and disturbing that my medication does make a difference.  It’s like my cycle. I didn’t realize the correlation between mood and menstruation until my mid 30s. My mood plummets after ovulation (about 12 days in) bottoming out day 21, and rebounding at day 25, which is when I usually got my period before I got tangled up in perimenopause.

Blah blah blah. What’s on my mind tonight is the social cost of keeping people like me alive.

This is a heavy topic that casts shadows in many directions. I ask permission to speak plainly and selfishly, without second guessing whether my words might upset others.

Although ugh I am out of steam because I’m tired and it’s easier to say I want to write about something than to actually write.

It is hard to write about not wanting to be alive. Even though mental health is less of a hush hush topic than it used to be, alarms start to ring at talk of suicide.

I can’t count the times I have ranted at therapists about why we seem more willing to let people with painful, chronic physical  illnesses go than those with painful, chronic mental illness. Why should people live if they do not want to live?

I know. I know. Everyone goes through low points. Has their George Bailey moment. Part of being human is pushing through. Finding meaning. That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Don’t choose a final solution for a temporary problem.

Oof I’m not up to threading this needle. But I’m glad I started. Got the sewing supplies out at least.

OK I have to stop here. phone falling out of hands so sleepy

phone sentences/real perceived barriers

So I started on a post about my turn of the century work to help people overcome real and perceived barriers to cycling and egads I could not squeeze the air out of the sentences. Could not blaze a clear path though prepositions. Finally gave up. That’s what the drafts folder is for I guess.

Sentences are the worst part of teaching writing. And one day I’m going to write about that.

I think about the impact of phone typing on the thinking, composing, editing process. I have been composing these posts on my phone. Not what I planned but there’s something to be said for the portability and ease of publishing, esp when using photos.* But the small screen amplifies my anxiety about bloat. A daunting chunk of text on my phone looks anemic on my computer.

So I’m also interested in the impact of medium on reader engagement and patience. I’m sure it’s already well researched. Maybe a topic for a future KWL.

Mostky I’m just feeling demoralized. Really struggling. Which is why I wanted to write about real and perceived barriers. Back in the day, I encouraged and equipped countless people to ride bikes in winter, in dresses, carrying groceries, with kids, in traffic (or, seeing as I am all about alliteration: to be uncowed by climate, clothes, cargo, kids, and cars).

Take winter biking. A real barrier might be the vulnerability of our extremities to cold. Pro tip: wear shoes a size too big (creates an air pocket) and stomp your feet at traffic stops (circulation). A perceived barrier is thinking that it is too cold to ride. But not only are there ways to stay warm, if you look at the data, there are many “not so bad” days in winter anyway.

I need to sit down (or rather stand up I guess) and think about my real and perceived barriers to healing and thriving. It’s been a heart heavy day. I am so tired of feeling stuck.

Well, at least I backed into what I wanted to write about.

*We were late adopters to cell phones and I’m still a terrible texter. Is this even called texting? Or is it just writing?

reactivity and windows

Last two nights I meant to write something short, fulfill my quota (I need to be OK with dialing it in this week) and then I ended up chasing the mouse and staying up too late.

So. It is 4:17pm. What do I want to say so I can be done by 5, no later than 5:15? As usual, the thoughts braying behind my eyes are too wily? unwieldy? overwhelming? to manage in so little time-space.

And now I have a topic.

Our dog broke a living room window the other day. When I heard the shatter, I ran to the living room. Had Rumor knocked over a lamp? The vase? I could not find any evidence of something toppling over. And then the slow dawning…. as I saw big splinters of glass on the rug, like an Alice in wonderland super sized version of a broken water cup.

Rumor had flung herself at the window in excitement, likely excited by a dog strolling by. She was OK. No facial or paw lacerations. The window was still holding on to most of the glass. Fractures radiated from the point of contact. Thankfully, we have storm windows and it wasn’t bitter cold. I cleaned up, wedged a dog gate in the window to keep Rumor (and me) from picking at the glass, and made sure to keep the gate to the living room closed.

Rumor is what I guess is called a very reactive. This was a new concept until we dropped a few hundred bucks trying to leash train her last year. She’s calmed down somewhat, but still. Wow. When she sees another dog, her fast twitch muscles take over with the singular objective of…

What exactly? I don’t think it’s a protective impulse. I think she just really wants to play and maybe at least be seem and heard. She does have great romps with a dog next store and Michael takes her to the little dog park nearby so she does get social time.

Regardless of the cause, I read something the other day that got me thinking about impulse control. Our goal shouldn’t be for her to resist the urge to bark and fling herself at the window. Instead we should be helping her not get so riled up in the first place.

Written out, it sounds pretty obvious esp given how much I’ve been learning about emotional regulation.

How do humans get to the point where our hackles don’t so easily and often stand at attention, so we don’t need to keep rifling through the coping strategies toolbox? Exposure therapy, thought trials, challenging core beliefs… I know it’s possible. Just need to keep plugging away.

As for Rumor, we need to get back into training mode.

OK it’s 510 so I am going to stop and look forward to an earlier bedtime tonight.

literary references

I ended up adding to what I started last night so am not going to put pressure on myself to start something new. However, the sidebar is that I am wishing I was both more well read *and* well . . .

OK, wait a second. I have never thought about the construction of well read. 1) does it need a colon (probably) 2) more germane, is that the “correct” use of well? I know what the phrase means but want to get under the language hood. I am sure the answer is at my fingertips (thanks internet) but I am getting close to midnight and what distracted me is that I wanted to say something like “well read *and* well remembered” as in someone who remembers what they read but of course that construction doesn’t work. Though I guess I want to be remembered too assuming there are good things to be remembered for which is a ridiculous thought distortion digression that I am just going to ignore.

Anyhoo, yay fiction for bringing the mirrors. But since I don’t remember what I read, the mirrors are cracked, dusty, weird with wavy imperfections under the surface, speckled like an old hand with sun spots.

Grendel, albatross , white whale, yawp, hope is a thing with feathers, out out damned spot, we were never meant to survive, little happinesses, halfway happy, I love you through and through, is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream, like sands through an hourglass….

Hmmm, need to come back to this. Lots of incompletes this week

rich in friendship

Don’t have a lot of time to write because I accidentally binged on The Good Place, which we started tonight. The episodes are so short, it’s easy to think “just one more” esp bc they end in mini cliffhangers. I don’t usually binge on teevee because I don’t usually watch teevee because I tend to binge when I do. Same thing with reading. I used to read book after book, stay up all night, plow through 300 pages without getting up to pee. I haven’t picked up a book in almost a year, after I read the brick about trees people were raving about. Not a page turner but I still bore down on it like a chain saw.

So I passively willfully  watched teevee knowing I needed to write and it’s that familiar feeling, cut it close to the wire blah blah blah.

I think it’s partly bc I didn’t feel up to the task of what I wanted to write about, which is friendship. This weekend I got a spirit boost by seeing some people very near and dear to me. Took me out of the moment and helped me remember that I am more than who I am in this moment.

When I am feeling low and useless and hopeless, I sometimes conjur up the final scene of It’s a Wonderful Life. No man is a failure who has friends.

It’s a problematic movie, though maybe holds up better than many of its contemporaries. But I’ve always been floored by Jimmy Stewart’s portrayal of anguish. Knowing that ptsd from WWII was simmering in his life squeezes my heart even more.

I am typing deleting typing which is why I was dragging my feet (fingers?) tonight. Is is weird?  grandiose?  that George Bailey is the fictional character I relate the most to?  My dreams haven’t been snatched away by external factors. I’m not toiling away for the greater good. And I am definitely not tall.

5/16 addition

When I was a kid, I crushed on George Bailey because of his sense of duty, fiery speeches, and dexterity with a hat, esp in the rain. I must have had some “does not compute” moments during the yelling at the teacher and family scenes because when I re-watched as a young adult pre-parenthood, I was all: WTF I don’t remember this, I see how it fits but I don’t like it, how long until Clarence takes over? Years later, as a parent *and* as someone who fights herself everyday, those are the scenes that most devastate me in a cathartic, this is why we watch movies, way. I don’t think I have ever been as *objectively* cruel as George during his lowest point, but I wonder if there are any parents not haunted by something they have said or done. Well there must be in the same way that in an infinite universe anything can happen (shout out to my Dad’s elevator speech about the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

Parents are human and humans have been raising children for a long time so I have to hope that there’s some buffer, like a safe range for making mistakes. Maybe there is, but that range is very different depending on what experts you heed and more importantly your kid. Yeah kids are resilient (otherwise we would be extinct) but we all have Achilles heels. An ill-advised comment might barely make a dent for some kids but nick the jugulars (er ankles) of others.

Hrrm, this is night two of working on this, but I am still OK with not being done. Next part deals with suicidal ideation so maybe best tackled with fresher eyes and heart,

But I always understood the jump.

dusting

eek almost midnight so I am going to post even though this is far from finished.

We use to rent out a spare bedroom through Airbnb. I really enjoyed welcoming people into our home and took some pride in being a “super host.” People loved Michael’s coffee, my apple muffins (from the tree!), and our insider tips about using CTA.

One of the biggest keys to our success was truth in advertising. Family with a kid, a big rambunctious dog, and three outside cats. Squeaky bed. Low water pressure. Takes a while for the water to get hot. Transit accessible but a mile away from a train stop. Limited late night dining options. Mid-range cleanliness.

I was very clear that we do not provide hotel level of sparkle. Clean sheets and toilet? Yes. Just don’t expect the baseboards in the common areas to pass the white glove test.

So, I was rather peeved when one of our early guests gave a meh review on cleanliness.

A few things come to mind.

Why did/do I care so much about a bad or mediocre grade, esp since her overall rating was postive.

In this kind of a situation, should I be dinged for what was clearly stated in the description? Or do I need to be OK with people simply sharing their opinions based on their own norms?

I’m glad I messaged her for feedback because apparently the inside of our microwave was kind of dirty. Part of me wanted to be like look honey, this is a family home and it’s nice that you had access to a microwave in the first place. Another part laughed because I’m too short to get a good look inside without a step stool. Out of site out of mind.

One of the benefits of hosting was the extra nudge to keep the house clean

Truth in advertising was one of the keys to our success. Setting realistic expectations was a big piece of The key to our high ratings was setting realistic

scope change

Well I’m just about four weeks away from the big 50 and a scope change is in order. What I hoped to accomplish in the 100 day run up to June 11:

  • Make sense of and heal from the past
  • Forgive myself for not living up to my “potential”
  • Figure out how to manage myself and my time more “productively” so maybe one day I won’t feel like such a failure
  • Figure out what my next career steps should be
  • Review and practice lessons/skills related to mental health and self-esteem so they become 2nd nature (such as recognizing that the two items above are examples of cognitive distortions: all or nothing thinking and catastrophizing)
  • Which means doing work around radical acceptance and self compassion, grrrr. Still a tough sell but it’s not just important for me. I want to model it for my kid.
  • Declutter, organize, and spruce up our building, including a 1450 square foot basement that was full of stuff when we moved in and now has 20 years of extra sediment.*
  • Lose 20 pounds.
  • Be able to do 20 push-ups
  • Run a half marathon in under two hours.
  • Write every day.

I could go on and on. The yearning list never ends.

So… 70 days in. Status report. Daily writing? Check. I’ve actually made some progress on processing and self forgiveness. I’ve had ample opportunities to practice coping skills, but it’s hit and miss. Everything else? Nope. House is a mess. Body is a mess. I feel more lost than ever in terms of a sense of purpose.

I know all this stuff takes time. And I am also a mom, which is my most important job right now. Just wish my batting average didn’t feel so low.

I sort of want to throw my hands up and give up on myself but that’s not good for me or anyone else, at least not my family.

So, what am I aiming for in the next 4 weeks? Maybe nothing but to keep writing and at least try for a sub 30 5k on my bday. And to keep my chin up even when it’s quivering. These are hard days and I am doing the best I can with who I am and if that’s not good enough then I have to forgive myself for that.

*somewhere between Marie Kondo and Swedish Death Cleaning. I want to feel like we could pack up and move within a few weeks. Not that I want to move. As much as I belly ache about Chicago’s weather and the sun blocking new construction next door, I love our home.