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Category Archives: Out of the ashes…

Complacency Kills

Today I got a little reality check cashed that I wasn’t expecting.

I thought I was doing so well with my depression and my coping issues for months and months and months now. I’m no longer on antidepressants, my therapist released me from ongoing therapy, and my life has been on quite the upswing. But today was proof that even when everything seems to be going right, shit can still creep up on you and flip you ass over tin cups.

I work with a girl who frustrates me to the point that I have become obsessed with everything she does wrong, just to shake my head, tsk-tsk in her direction and say things like “I don’t know how she still has a job”  behind her back. Her lack of work, while I bust my ass, and the way I feel that management has allowed her behavior with no consequence, straight up makes me resentful. You see, I have a job where I do what I’m supposed to do, my manager and I sit down every couple of weeks to go over my case load, and unless someone starts jumping up and down in the meantime, I’m pretty much left to my own devices otherwise, and expected to just do my job. This girl I work with takes advantage of our freedom and often spends more time during the day texting or surfing the internet than she does actually WORKING and I’ve become too concerned with what she does, or doesn’t do, each day that I’ve been making snide comments to fellow coworkers. Apparently others have heard my comments and went to my manager about them, thus resulting in a call today. I can be an awful bitch at times, for sure, and heaven help those who get on my bad side as I can say some nasty stuff with proper motivation – and you best believe that this girl gives me proper motivation. Through all of this, I have not lost control of my caseload and I do not have issues with unhappy or neglected clients, but I have certainly delved into the zone of negativity which is a place I strove for a very long time to climb out of. It’s a place I haven’t been in a while, and slipping back into it was so easy, it kind of scares me.

I feel a lot of shame, too. Shame for being so petty about this girl, shame for being naive enough to think that management had no clue of her shenanigans, and shame that I made my manager waste some of her precious time just to tell me that I needed to get a grip. I can’t believe that I’ve forgotten where I was when I started this blog years ago – miserable, negative, hating everything, feeling nothing and being just plain depressed and anxious – and how long and hard I struggled and cried and learned and fought and what I implemented in an attempt to change all of that. And here, I have allowed one co-worker, in a matter of a few months, to ruin that for me and start to take away what I worked SO HARD to obtain.

My manager was ultimately right, and I thanked her for bringing this to my attention. Sometimes, it’s hard to see how extreme a situation has become until an outsider points it out. I promised her that I would let it all go, and starting tomorrow, i intend to do just that. I’m going to let go of the resentment, let go of the shame and let go of the negativity – I don’t want to be that person again because at this point in my life, I have too much to lose.

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I reap what I sow

I’ve heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same things, over and over, while expecting different results. And as logical as that may sound, it’s proven to be a lot more difficult to follow in life than you might expect and by definition alone, I’m most assuredly insane. I’ve become accustomed to living my life in a certain way, looking for certain things, surrounding myself with certain people and trying to force things into my life that I should just allow to fit naturally. I tend to take the ‘get a bigger hammer route’ and beat things into submission and shape.

An ongoing topic for me relates to my boyfriends, and lacks there of. I’ve spent the better part of the last 10 years in a relationship with one man or another; they’ve all ended prematurely and none of them ever left me with more than I gave. At my therapists suggestion, I’m trying to take stock of my decisions from the past, analyze them and see where I’ve allowed inappropriate behavior to rule me, and where I’ve inappropriately chosen a situation to be in. A common theme that I’m noticing is that doing things the same way is getting me the same results, so I’m thinking it’s time to try to break free since they’ve managed to provide me with little more than momentary comfort and lasting feelings of rejection. I’ve spent too much time and energy in my past trying to MAKE a relationship work because I was always looking to someone else to fulfill something that which I have been missing – Love. Love is complicated though, and you can’t expect it from someone if you don’t have it for yourself and that has been, and continues to be, a painfully hard lesson for me. I’m not totally convinced I’ve learned it en total just yet, but I am recognizing that I can’t find what I want from life if I don’t appreciate myself and respect myself enough to demand it.

This is not meant to badmouth my ex’s. In fact, each and every one of them has taught me a lot about myself and I would not be on this journey to self discovery had it not been for them all. That is also not to say that they were good relationships or were entered into for the right reasons. I fall for all of them immediately upon learning that they had even a small attraction towards me and I throw everything I have into then nurturing a relationship that had little chance to begin with. I’ve chosen men who are emotionally unavailable, unable to deal with life on life’s terms and/or were just a plain bad choice. One was more intelligent than me and one threw me into walls; one was never able to let me in and one was not able to live his own life, latching onto me like a parasite. My point is that my same actions created, ultimately, the same results.

To fill some of the open time in my life, I’ve been spending a lot of time in my gardens this year. I have a veg garden that’s already yielded me zucchini for zucchini bread, a couple of cherry tomatoes as snacks and has more peas than I could eat almost ready to pop. I have day lilies blooming in full force and beautiful blue hydrangeas filling up a bed on one side of my house. A large patch of Black Eyed Susans are opening their petals to the sky, one yellow bloom at a time, and there is a cattail reed forming in my fish pond, after 3 years of having the plant itself. When I’m planting or pruning or harvesting, my efforts are with the intent of assisting my plants to manifest into stronger, and healthier plants. The long term is my goal now, not just the immediacy of what I have TODAY. Gardening is teaching me patience and appreciation – I cannot make pea pods ripen any faster than nature intends and I can’t make the day lilies show their beauty after the sun has gone down. Nature runs on Nature’s time and nothing can alter that – be it to speed or slow it. One must simply go with it and allow things to happen in their own time and nature is proving to me that the time and patience involved in doing something RIGHT, is almost always worth the results.

This time, I’m not jumping into anything, not even a pool. In fact, I have no interest in dating at this current time because I am too focused on me. I have one guy I’m talking to and it’s on a really nice, mellow level. He’s funny, intelligent, gets my humor, artistic, can deal with and throw out a little endearing trash talk and I gotta say that I’m really enjoying his attention. It’s obvious there is interest from both parties, but neither one of us is stressing about making anything HAPPEN. Things either will, or they won’t and it’s been a refreshing change of pace to get out of my head when it comes to guys, lately. If he doesn’t call me for a day or two, I know it’s just because he’s busy and sure enough, I hear from him as soon as he has the time. In the past, I would worry myself over not being in constant touch; assuming something had changed in the day since I last spoke to whomever the him of the moment was; but today, I’m cool with it and actually kind of appreciate hearing from him more so than if it were a constant thing. I’m not basing my schedule on him, much less basing my happiness on him or what he does or doesn’t bring to my life. I’m simply enjoying the conversation, the attention and the flirting. Oh, how did I ever forget how much fun flirting could be?!

My long story shortened here is that sometimes, a person has to take a good solid look at themselves and what they do with and in life. It’s hard to accept blame for your shortcomings, and it’s even harder to be aware enough of them and, to actually do something about them. I’m all about growing emotionally and learning how best to allow the universe to bring me what I need out of life and I’m now working on allowing good things into my life, in whatever their form, and just taking the time to see what develops. Instead of buying a root bound plants for that instant gratification, I’m germinating the special things directly from seed – lovingly placing them in soil, watching them sprout, watering and giving them the sunlight they need to grow into beautiful things, all by themselves, in their own time.

 

Newsflash

I’ve tippy toed around a particular topic for the entire life of this blog and for a big chunk of my adult life. I’ve flat out denied it’s existence, telling myself, and anyone who questioned me that it was just a phase that a good lawn mow will fix. I guess my biggest struggle was that I  never really wanted to face the cold, hard fact of the word. The connotation alone was enough to make me feel dirty, and not OK or acceptable in society. I felt worthless, more worthless than I already felt each time the word was discussed or directed towards me. I wasn’t depressed! I was just feeling low, or yeah, maybe I WAS depressed, but not clinically, and it was sure as shit something that I should have been able to dig myself out of.  And I tried. For years. And when I couldn’t, I felt more unworthy and inadequate and more depressed.

Looking back onto things, I will pin the tail of this story onto my one ex, as it was truly our break up that sent me seeking help from someone outside of my own brain. She ended up freaking me out with her eye twitching and incessant throat clearing and at each session, she offered up the same stale advise that it was OK to grieve the death of a relationship. She barely remembered my name, couldn’t remember a detail from a previous session and genuinely seemed that she didn’t have my best interests at heart. I decided that I was cured after 6 sessions. I started seeing my current, wonderful, amazing, soul saving therapist about a year after that, when I realized that grief alone shouldn’t take this long to heal. My first step towards a healthier self were taken in March of 2008, so I guess we celebrated our Leather anniversary this year, and I can honestly say that I would not be in the place mentally that I am today if it were not for her. She patiently listened to me spill about my ex boyfriend, my previous therapist and slowly made me realize that no matter how much I wanted to merely WILL away the depression, it just wasn’t going to work that way.

I grew up with a nurse for a mother which made it incredibly difficult to fake the “I don’t feel good” routine to get out of school. She always checked my temperature with a real thermometer and most often, threw some tylenol down my throat and told me to take more when I got home from school. During the relationship that I think sent me over the edge into the black hole of depressive misery land, my mom was really amazing and was able to listen and be there for me in ways that I didn’t feel safe allowing anyone else to be. Despite our closeness, it still proved to be painfully difficult to explain to her how I was feeling and that I couldn’t MAKE myself get off the couch, much less walk the dog. I wasn’t just LAZY, I was physically unable. It was all I could do to take a shower daily and get to work – I’d come home, fall back onto the couch and remain there until I had to go to work the next day. My mother suggested physical exercise, which sounds well and good and is proven to be an antidepressant, however, when you can barely climb one flight of steps because your emotionally taxed body feels like it weighs ten times it’s actual weight, taking a jog around the neighborhood just isn’t going to happen.

Finally, I decided to give myself a break. I stopped pinning stereotypes on me, I stopped imagining what people would think of me if they knew, and then I gave up my pride and asked for help. After meeting with my doctor over what ended up being the most tear infested 90 minutes of my life, she wrote me a prescription and here I am, a year and a half later, laughing more often than not and feeling closer to ‘normal’ than I have in about 8 years. I still have bad days – some, I still struggle to get off of the couch – but I do it, and the next day is better and I don’t have another bad day for a while. Hell, I feel better in general just knowing that I don’t want to turn into the incredible ass-couch monster anymore. I spent my entire life self medicating, or being medicated by my mother, I never went to the doctor’s office when I was a kid. If I had conjunctivitis, my mom would call her doctor friends and get a prescription. If I had an infection, she’d get me antibiotics. I don’t have a fear of doctors, but I grew up taking my mothers suggestions and advise in the way that I would take a doctors.

I can tell if I forget my pill for a day or two as I usually feel emotionally down, I’m easier to irritate and more anxious. The medication doesn’t make everything better magically, but it gives me a perspective that I didn’t have before, and in fact, if I hadn’t lived it myself, I don’t know if I would believe anyone who tried to explain the change in thought process to me. I am able to focus on things that *I* do instead of externalizing my problems out to others. I am aware enough that I can tell when my negative thinking is getting the best of me and I can stop the downward spiral before it hits the ground. I don’t get into those circular thoughts of why I’m not good enough for anyone and instead, I can identify and stop the negative progression before it throws me into the emotional abyss. I’m not advocating that medication is the best choice for everyone, or that the average experience is to only try one medication and feel it make a huge difference, but that’s how it happened for me.  In hindsight, my only regret is not having done something about my depression sooner, but part of healing is letting go and trying not to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. It’s about accepting things for what they are and knowing that no matter what, I will ALWAYS be OK.

 

Predictable

I had the first conversation in probably 6 months with my ex last night. All told, it was about 5 minutes or less because I forced it to end, but it was still probably the hardest thing I did all day. If it isn’t inherently obvious, I still have a lot of unresolved issues with the end of my last relationship. From my standpoint, the relationship did not end because there was a lack of love for him; in fact, even today, I still love him in a very real capacity, somewhere along the way though, I believe he lost his love for me. And the where and the when is what I feel I need to know – that is what I feel prevents me from being able to let go of what was, and try to move into regaining some sort of friendship with him. At least that’s what I tell myself. Although beings that I’m STILL in therapy, still discussing the loss and anger that I feel over ex boyfriends and the lack of emotion my family as a whole shares, which is why I’ve always felt I should stifle my emotions down, thus causing my issues with NEEDING someone to vocally and physically need and want me in order to feel useful and worthwhile, deducing the emotional relevance of situations such as this are not my forte. That sentence took me 6 months to learn and I’m still not able to say it out loud.

We had a nice, albeit brief, conversation and short exchange of texts last night, and I will admit that it felt good. It was nice to hear his voice, and to be able to genuinely wish him well and to let him know that I DO miss him. I miss his unique sense of humor that never failed to make me laugh or at least look at him sideways, I miss ‘us’ and the fun we used to have a long time ago when we were together, and I mostly miss the friendship that we had, all those years ago. It seems like its been an eternity, things have changed so much, and I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to where we were…but it was nice to have the opportunity to say hello.

If *YOU* read this, please know that I understand I had plenty to do with the way things ended. I apologize for the bullshit that I put you through – looking back at this point, I can see how difficult things must have been at times. Thank you for sticking through as long as you did. I don’t know where exactly it was that you decided it was over in your mind, but I will say that it hurt me more to have you at arm’s length than it did to have you maintain your “radio silence” in another state. Funny how emotions work, isn’t it? I am doing OK – emotionally and mentally – as I am in a much better place than when we last talked. I’m obviously still working through things, as I told you last night, but it’s only because you meant so damn much to me, on so many levels, for years…a friendship with you is better than never speaking to you again, but last night illustrated to me that it can also still hurt MORE than never speaking to you again. As Ani said “Baby, you’re right as rain about the benefits / But you might be wrong about the costs.” Heh, I remember when you introduced me to that song…

Soon, I hope the benefit will outweigh the cost…….soon.

 

Congratulations! It’s November!

Yesterday, I was thinking about the leaves falling and how beautiful it was here in Pennsylvania about a week ago, with the gorgeously bright yellows and reds that look like they were painted on leaves with super pigmented acrylic paints. In the midst of my wonderment, I was taken aback by the sheer SPEED in which this year has gone by. We were just having conversations on how the year 2010 would be pronounced: 20-10, 2000 and 10, 2-0-10; then I chronologically aged one year closer to thirty and now HOLY SHIT its November. It seems that the older I get, the faster I, and the world, ages.

With age, besides wrinkles, I do seem to be gaining some odd sort of clarity and understanding about me – who I am, what I want to do and with whom – and I’m finally figuring out how to actually embrace these things. November has started out pretty good for me so far: I’ve finally gotten my NEW new couch, work has been busy ergo I have been productive, I’ve been having a lot of good times with great friends and I’ve even started doing some stuff for ME. I’ve gone out more in the last 4 weeks than I have in 4 months and while I do find it tiring in its own way, I’m ENJOYING myself. I’ve started dating again, in the lightest sense of the word possible mind you, and I’m analyzing these men more for what they will give ME, as opposed to what I can give them and I gotta say that I’m actually finding an eerie sense of fulfillment in being single, flirting and enjoying my femininity. And while I won’t go as far as to say I don’t have my moments of loneliness, I definitely have more happiness than not.

I think that one of the deepest reasons behind my past relationships not working out is because I never saw men as being able to contribute to my well-being – I tended to only see them as companions, as an assurance that I didn’t have to die alone and as a vessel that should have given me the love and fulfillment that I needed. Most often, as soon as I started realizing I was emotionally supporting myself and them, things started deteriorating. I became exhausted giving myself to them and getting nothing in return that I started to become resentful of them, and of myself and why I could never find the “right” person. I became disheartened and desperate for that love that I thought had to come from an outside source. I jumped from relationship to relationship to avoid being alone; to avoid myself.

Now, I’m learning that I should be looking for a man who compliments my personality, and has the same wants and future aspirations that I do, a man who doesn’t NEED anything from me other than the love that we share. In my recent past, I think I was simply was looking for that title of “girlfriend” as I saw that as a commitment to me and my future, despite the fact that it was nothing ever of the sort. This is not to say that I never loved any of my ex’s – I did, some more ferociously than others – but I know now that love isn’t enough to make a successful, lasting relationship. The time I’ve spent on my own, thinking about me, since my break up has allowed me to see this and has ignited a non-desperate fire in me, wanting to find someone who falls madly in love with me just because of who I am, not because of anything I can give them. I’ve chased men in the past – acted suave and witty and alluring. I’ve even pretended to have interest in activities that I really did not care for, just to try to win their attraction, and I fell out of love with activities I used to not be able to live without. I understand now, why that never found me a man who I could connect with – if he was looking to me to be something I’m not, then it’s no wonder he never turned out to be what I wanted, either.

So now that all of that depressing shit is out-of-the-way for today, please remember this, if nothing else, about what I’m learning from my life lessons:  Cheers to November, cheers to Fall and all the fantastic colors that it brings with it, cheers to setting the clocks back an hour this weekend, and getting an extra hour out of the day. Cheers to life and actually LIVING it, to happiness and not giving up until you find it and to love – real, true, heart numbing, stomach flipping, speech impairing love; cheers to having enough self-awareness to see that YOU are the problem, not everyone else,  and then doing something about it. And most of all, cheers to my therapist, my friends, my family and even my ex’s – without all of you, I would not be who I am today. And I’m becoming rather fond of this person.

 

Consistency, consistency, consistency…

That word ::shudder::  has become the bane of my existence. At work, one of the major reasons I’m not being offered a promotion is due to a lack of consistency. We have productivity requirements to meet and of course we’re supposed to strive to exceed the base, and my numbers the last few months have been less than exceptional. Hell, some months have been less than ideal. So when I speak to my manager about my knowledge, and how I meet all other requirements for the next level up, she continues to point out my lack of consistency as the main reason why I am still not yet considered for “Senior” status.

Take my blog here as a second brilliant example of my issues with consistency. Time and time again, I log in here, write down some bs about what’s going on in my lessthaneventfilled life, and vow once more to begin posting something with some sort of CONSISTENCY. Then a month goes by, I’ve not posted two words, and the vicious cycle starts all over again.

Interestingly enough, the one place in my life where I’ve had some SORT of consistency would be my relationships. I always find myself with men who are not a good match for me, for one reason or another. They never want or are able to make me a priority; they tend to be emotionally unable to connect with me, which literally kills me as I am very emotionally needy; or they ended up using me as companionship so that they didn’t have to be alone. Do I like, value myself so little that I throw myself immediately towards any man who shows me care and affection, regardless as to whether or not he’d ever be able to meet MY needs, and simply because I tend to misplace my sense of self in the need to care and/or FIX people, or something?

HOLY SHIT. I think I just channeled my therapist for a second, but DAMN that makes some sense!

It’s hard sometimes to see the things that you do and how they affect the way that people treat you and what you accept as appropriate behavior. I’ve been working the last couple of months at really paying attention to what I want instead of what everyone else wants. I’m trying to do the things that make ME happy and doing those sorts of things often. I’ve been honest and straight forward – no games, no innuendos and absolutely no longer allowing interest from a guy alone be enough to make me consider him as a potential partner. I told a guy today that I just didn’t think anything was going to happen for me, and I felt kind of bad about it before and after I told him, but shortly afterwards,  I started to feel better. I started feeling better because I was being true to myself, and not allowing anyone else to influence my decisions or what I do. Sure, it might have meant a free meal and a couple of laughs, but if I already know that I just don’t feel anything romantic towards him at all, is it really FAIR of me to lead him on just long enough to meet? My decision is that it’s  not. I’d rather not waste the gas.

Yes, I’ve decided that my efforts these days will be directed towards myself, and no one else. I’m going to do what I want to do and I’m not going to care about other people’s opinions. It looks like I’ve had my priorities misplaced and I need to have myself together before I can expect any man to want to be with me for anything long term. I’m still going to continue dating, I think, whenever someone comes along that I feel the want to talk to in person, but otherwise, I’m going to live my life. I’m going to start going to a yoga class this week and I’m going to get exercising and taking care of ME. That means quitting smoking, again, but I need to for my overall health’s sake. I’m going to finish the pack I have, and do my best to avoid buying another one. I have gas in my car, food and red bull in my fridge, so I should be able to avoid the Hill for at least a few days as way of supporting my attempt of quitting, especially now that every one who works there knows my brand. Oy. It’s time to start being consistent about my health and my life and my job – the things that define ME, instead of spending all of my energy on others so that they can feel better about themselves, leaving me drained and fending for myself. My expectation and hope is that once I’m more balanced in that way, the rest of these things that I want and continue not being able to find, should fall into place. Hopefully, redirecting my energy towards bettering myself will extend outwards to others I meet, attracting the appropriate kind of men, and allowing me to make logical, intelligent, selfish decisions on who deserves my time. Go. Me.

 

Intrinsic: (adj) belonging to a thing by its very nature

Tonight, I spent a few hours with my mother and step father as I was in need of some human interaction. They really are great parents and they’ve given me more opportunities than most people are ever afforded. Because of my awesome upbringing, I have grown up to be very independent and opinionated and my love of tattoos is one of the ways I express myself.

As I was waiting for dinner to finish grilling tonight, my mom suddenly recalled my venture from last night and looked at me and said “Well, I guess I might as well see it.” So I pulled my sweater off of my left arm and turned to show her my new ink. After she looked at it for a moment, she started smiling and says “That’s actually pretty cute!” Seconds later, my step father walks in from the grill and mom asks him if he wants to see it. He, unlike my mother, was less than interested in my recent addition, and his reaction was to roll his eyes and indicate how he feels tattoos “deface” a body. All this time, I expected my mother to be the one who freaked out, or be the one who had nothing good to say, instead, it was my step father! Imagine my surprise.

The reason I can say that they are still awesome parents, despite their lack of support when it comes to permanent displays on my skin, is because the rest of our evening went back to the conversation and laughing that we had been experiencing prior. They accept me and the decisions I make, although they may not whole-heartedly agree with me. They are honest and forthright when I do things they disagree with, but they also realize I’m not causing anyone harm, and in the grand scheme of things, I could be a criminal or a sociopath, or something much worse and they know that. They allow me to be who I am without trying to change me. They accept my decisions and opinions, just as I accept theirs and although we sometimes disagree, we still love each other and everyone is accepted as they are. That true love, that love without strings attached or any need to change who I am, or what I do, is what makes them such wonderful people. In fact, if I were to find any fault with the way that I was raised whatsoever, it would be that they love me so openly, so innately, so fully, that I expect the same in return from a partner. I’m learning that I cannot make someone love me the way I expect to be loved, if they were never provided that, themselves, as we can only love as deeply as we are loved. As my new tat is meant to remind me, you can’t fix problems with tools you don’t have.