Uncertainty

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Things have been very unsettling for me lately. I feel like I’m in limbo. And lost in a place I don’t quite understand. My therapist is going on leave tomorrow (I think), so I’ll only see her again in two and half weeks time. We had a session today, but I miss her already. These therapy breaks are always hard for me, but even more so when I’m not doing too well.

That job that I was so happy about took a turn. The guy who hired me went and hired a new brand manager, and since she came on board, things have been different. It took weeks for me to understand what was happening. Their communications with me were confusing and I wasn’t sure what exactly they were wanting me to do, or expecting from me. This brand manager lady uses terms and speaks in a very professional and “higher class” language (in my personal opinion) and confuses me like hell. At least on Monday I finally got an answer from her that made sense. My services are on hold until they’ve sorted the branding out. What makes me angry is that I could have done the branding if my “boss” had just asked me or told me what he wants to do, instead of hiring someone else to do it. The email he sent me a while back that first started my confusion once she was in (I think it was then if I’m remembering correctly) was that my fees were too high. That pissed me off because it hadn’t been a problem for him before (and I was even angrier that he copied her into the email, when I feel financial matters should be between him and me). And, what he was paying me was a fraction of what he would have paid had he gone to an agency. I don’t feel like I want to work for him anymore, like my trust has been broken, but I don’t have other options at the moment so if he still wants me to help him once they’re ready I have to do it. I think I’m more upset over how things have changed with my “relationship” with him. I felt like we sort of understood one another, but now I see I was delusional or reaching or something. But all of this has just reminded me that being a freelancer and having your own business is hard. It’s the way it goes.

My dad recently told me that they’re trying to sell the business, and once that’s done they’ll be relocating to Sweden. A country I love and have been wanting to move to since I first went there years ago. But for the past few years that desire faded. I like the place I live in. I know they’re moving, and obviously if they do I won’t be able to go with, but they mentioned that once they’re settled that side I can come over if I want. If they had told me this years ago I would have been ecstatic. Now? I’m confused. I don’t know what I want anymore. Also, I’m still living with M, and I always knew there was a place to go back to if something has to happen to her, or I want to move back to my dad’s place. But then my uncle moved back in with them and he’s taken over my room there, and with the parents wanting to move away as soon as they can, that’s not an option anymore. And a panicked part of me has been wanting to move back in. My therapist asked me whether it’s because I really want to live with my family again, or because I feel that option isn’t there anymore. That was a really good question and made me realize that it’s the latter. I still have half my stuff still there, and my dad wants me to come the weekend and start packing my stuff into boxes. They have already been giving away and selling things that they don’t need and will never use. They won’t be moving to Sweden immediately, but have to move to a smaller place for a few months before they leave.

All of this and a few other “little” things is wreaking havoc on my brain and emotions. Uncertainty, that right there, is a bitch.

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Circumstances Can Change

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Sometimes it feels as though things will never change. But life is a constant state of change. Nothing stays the same. It may for a while, and this while may feel like forever, but there’s no escaping the fact that at some point in time change will come.

This is where I currently find myself. A couple of months ago I was still living with my dad, working for him and getting paid peanuts, and working on my business with no real prospects. Life seemed pointless. Hopeless. I felt stuck. I’ve actually been in this “stuck” place for years, and didn’t see it ending anytime soon.

But then I moved in with my older friend M, and things started changing for me. In December I had met a potential client (in a restaurant where I was talking to a friend and he overheard me talking about my business), and he told me that he was looking for a freelance graphic designer and social media manager. He gave me his details and asked me to contact him in February, which I did. I started working with him beginning April, and it’s been great. It’s a lot of work, but it’s work I enjoy, and he’s a wonderful client. Easy to talk to, open and transparent, and most importantly, quick to respond and get information from. We have a 3 month contract for now, but he told me that he wants to make it more permanent. We had our first end of month progress/update meeting and he’s very happy with my work, so it’s all looking very promising.

As regular readers of my blog know, I found it very stressful and frustrating working for my dad. Just being around him and my step-mom in the office affects me negatively. Add in all the other things going on in the shop and it’s just too much for me. With this new client, I get 3x my salary, so I’m much better off. Their business is still struggling, so that, along with this new job, made me decide to give my week’s notice. They can save the money they pay me every month (at least for the next two months), and I’m free to focus on my own business. I’m far more productive and relaxed working from home. I also have two more potential website design clients, so that will be additional income if all goes well.

I thought I’d never “escape” my dad, but now I only see him if and when I want to. I actually feel like an adult. Free. Staying with M is really great and we get along perfectly. She’s become a real mother figure to me and I’m learning a lot from her. Therapy is also going well, especially now that we’ve switched from weekly 30-minute sessions to 1-hour sessions. My therapist pointed out that I wasn’t doing so well with 30-minute sessions. When I had my sessions at her office in the clinic we’d often run well over, but when we switched to her other location a couple of months ago, time was more limited. And that’s when it became obvious that I was struggling with only 30 minutes. So now we’re on weekly 1-hour sessions and things feel more settled. We’ve also gone back to having it at the clinic as the way there is less stressful and overwhelming for me. My stress and anxiety levels have decreased and my mood has been better overall.

So, a lot has changed in such a short amount of time. I feel like I’m still adjusting to all the changes, and certain things are still overwhelming and anxiety-provoking, but it’s slowly getting better. At the beginning of this year I never imagined I would be here. That life would look different. But it does, and I’m so grateful. To M, for taking me in and showing me that I am worthy of life and love. To my therapist, for always having my best interests at heart and for all that she does to help me.

Circumstances can change. It’s so easy for those of us who are so used to constant disappointment to wonder when things will blow up again, waiting for the other shoe to drop (this saying doesn’t make much sense, but I’m using it anyway), but I’m determined to just embrace how things are in the here and now. Because right now, I’m happy.

A Dizzying Few Weeks

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For the past three weeks my stepmom’s parents have been here, which means they’ve been staying in my room. The first week they were here, I stayed at M’s place. She was supposed to be there with me, but went into the clinic a few days before, so I ended up staying there alone. It was nice being alone and away from the family, but I still had to go into work and see them every day. I’ve realized I really can’t live alone because I’m terrified at night, and sleep badly because of that. Maybe having a dog sleep with me will help with that. Maybe I just need a being present in the house.

I saw quite a lot of M during the weekend I was there as she got day passes. We went out for dinner and coffee. I really love this woman. There was a really beautiful moment on Saturday. I had had a bit of a sensory overload situation while we were out, and she just hugged me tightly while I was “shaking like a leaf” (her words). She held onto me for quite a while, which really helped me slowly start to calm down. We went to go sit down, because I was feeling very disoriented. After a while of silence, and when I was starting to feel better (it took a while after I had gotten back, alone, to her place to feel completely better) she started talking to me. I apologized for what had happened, and she told me there was no need to apologize. She told me that she loves me, and sees me as a daughter. That I’m special to her and bring so much joy to her life. When she said this, I didn’t know how to respond. What do I say? Thank you? I love you too? You too? Do you really mean that? What? I was still in a “weird” space, hence the confusion I think. It took a while for me to say “I also love you”, to which she replied, “I know. You show it.” That made me feel better. Okay, so I’m not a complete freak then, I thought. It was only a few hours later when her words really hit me, and I felt the warmth of them. For some reason when I’m in the state of mind I was in earlier, I don’t really feel, and if I do the emotions are dulled.

When I got back to my dad’s house, I spent the rest of the time in my stepbrother’s room, while he slept on the couch downstairs. It was a full house again, and uncomfortable. Had family from Sweden visit as well (my stepmom’s brother who lives in Sweden got married here last weekend), so meeting lots of new people too. Wanted to bang my head against a wall. Okay, maybe I did. It helps, okay, even if I lose a few brain cells in the process! I got my room back this week at least (which is weird, since stepmom’s parents spent one night somewhere else, then came back and slept in my stepbrothers room, leaving this morning) and am only now starting to feel “normal” being in my room again. I still feel a bit all over the place and confused, as if I don’t belong in my own bed, but I’m getting there. I don’t know why my mind struggles with orientation in space (and change) to this degree. Here’s another example of what I mean. There was always a ladder in a specific place in the garage where I park my car. It helps me judge how far in to park. One day my stepbrother had moved the ladder, and when I drove into the garage and it was in a different place that day, a little more to the right, I suddenly panicked. I felt disoriented and stuck. Then I got furious. It took quite a while for me to calm down and realize that I could just move it back. Logically, I know I don’t need that ladder in that specific place in order to park properly, but that logic doesn’t matter to my mind/brain. Everybody now knows not to move that thing, and if they need to use it, put it back where it belongs immediately afterward. Please tell me I’m not the only one who experiences things like this?

I’ve been having a lot more issues with my dad lately too. I don’t back down as much as I used to. I feel stressed and he makes thing worse every day. He’s constantly complaining, criticizing everyone and the country, and being far more negative than is even normal for him. I can’t remember when last something positive came out of his mouth. I just can’t take it anymore. He’s driving everyone (except his darling step-daughter) crazy. I know I need to get out of working there with him, but I still can’t find any other work. Some days I feel I could strangle him. The temptation is huge, but I know I’ll be even worse off in prison. So there’s that.

There’s more I can write about, but I just can’t right now.

On a good and positive note, my uncle and I have started a new tradition. On the first/last Sunday of every month we’re going to take a drive to our favourite place (about an hour away) and have our favourite ice cream and sit on the beach. Tomorrow is that day, so I’m really looking forward to that.

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Death Raises So Many Questions

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My grandmother (mom’s mother) passed away on Saturday at the age of 94. She’s been sick for many years and confined to a wheelchair, but no one ever heard her complain. Her husband, my grandfather, passed away about two years ago. He was a bastard. The things he used to do to his children and wife are horrific. Yet, she stayed with him until he died. They were catholic, so she didn’t believe in divorce. This is something that has frustrated and angered me for a long time. She lived in Portugal, so I didn’t get to see her very often. But she had a special place in my heart.

She was always smiling and laughing, even when she was in pain. She’d ask me tons of questions, and was always interested in my life and what I was saying. Her English wasn’t great, so communicating with her wasn’t easy. I didn’t always understand what she was asking or saying, but she was so patient and never got annoyed. My mom told me that when I was a kid, I was convinced my grandmother was an angel. I was shy around her and didn’t speak to her, but would stare at her in fascination.

Two of my uncles lived with her. She took care of them because they were unable to take care of themselves. One of my uncles was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, and has a brain injury apparently caused by my mom’s father. The other is Autistic. They aren’t young anymore either. So I don’t know what’s going to happen to them now that she’s gone. I have another uncle in Portugal who can help them (he’s independent), but I’m not sure whether he’ll be able to take care of them the way they need. He’s also autistic, on the “high functioning” end apparently, but has a lot of his own struggles to deal with.

Since I got the news about my grandmother on Saturday, I’ve had a lot of questions running through my mind. About life. About death. One that I’m really curious about is how does someone who has been through so much and has hardly ever had a “break” from shit, make it to that age? What makes these people so strong and resilient? Was it that she became stronger through the years and bounced back over and over again, is it genetic, or is it (and this is what I suspect) that she had all those people to take care of, and that’s what kept her hanging on? I don’t think there’s a simple answer, or that I’ll ever really know.

I can’t see myself living for that long. Most days I feel like my days are already numbered and coming to an end soon. My mom feels the same way I do. Throughout the years she has mentioned how she feels she won’t be around much longer. Whenever she makes it to another birthday she’s genuinely surprised. This has caused a lot of distress in me when she’d talk this way, but on the other hand I also understand.

We’re still alive though, we made it through so far. We don’t get to know when our time will end. But we can continue putting one foot in front of the other and do what we can to make the most of the life we’ve got.

Of course, I’m sad that we lost my grandmother, one of the strongest woman I’ve ever known. But I’m mostly grateful that she’s no longer in pain. That she’s at peace. The angel can finally rest.

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Finally Feeling It

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I spent some time with my uncle yesterday. Since he was diagnosed with cancer, I’ve been feeling pretty numb about it. I have had fleeting moments of anger and disbelief though. Driving home after seeing him yesterday, a deep sadness came over me. The kind of sadness you feel everywhere inside your body and that just sits there. I couldn’t cry. Just feel it as it took my breath away. Such a deep pain with nowhere to go.

It scared me when I saw him yesterday. He’s lost so much weight, I don’t know how he has the strength to even stand. We went for a short walk on the beach and then sat there for a little while until he got too tired. When we got back to his place I only stayed for a few minutes so that he could get some rest. He told me that I’m the only person he looks forward to seeing and that he can really talk to. I’m glad that he feels like he can talk to me, and that he phoned me the day he was feeling at his worst. He doesn’t need people telling him at every turn what to do and what not to do. How to feel. Which is what the rest of the family does. He’s got doctors that do that. He needs family who will listen with no judgement. Who will be there for him. I don’t always know what to say. Most of the time I don’t say anything. I just listen. And apparently that’s exactly why he feels he can be open and honest with me.

We have a special bond. We always have had, even during those times where I felt far from him. The time it felt like I had lost him. I feel like I have him back again, and the thought of losing him forever, terrifies me. A part of me wants to push him away. To not feel the fear, the pain. But I also want to hold tightly onto him. I love him so damn much, and hate seeing how much he’s suffering. I wish I could just take it away from him. But I can’t. All I can do is be there for him. It’s so hard and painful though.

The one person I really want to talk to about this is my previous therapist, A. But I can’t. She knew the relationship I have with him, and was there when he moved out and I was having a hard time with that. I’m missing her even more than I usually do. I’m aching to hear her voice and see her face again. For a hug from her.

Tonight, the sadness is still there. But I can cry now. It’s got somewhere to go.

The Good News And The Bad News

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“Which do you want to hear first, the good news or the bad news?” I’ve always hated it when someone has asked me that question. The way I see it is that essentially the same thing is going to happen. You’re still going to hear both the good and the bad, so I don’t think there’s a “best” order in which to receive news. The question just seems pointless.

Life itself doesn’t ask us to choose. And that’s what happened just recently. Since completing the website of a restaurant, I’ve been waiting to hear back from the owner about possibly doing his other website. Also a restaurant, but a more popular and well-known one. A couple of weeks ago I sent him an email following up on his experience of the new website with a subtle “reminder” that when he’s ready to proceed with the next website, to let me know. When we first started working together, he had told me that if it goes well, he might ask me to design his other restaurants website. So it wasn’t a definite thing. He’s happy with the website I did for him, and told me that he’ll speak to the other owner about the other website. The other owner contacted me about a week later and we arranged a meeting. On Thursday evening, he let me know that he accepted my business proposal and will be making the deposit, so I can go ahead with the website. Good news!

Then last night I heard that my uncle, the one who lived with us for a while, has lung cancer. For the past week he’s been extremely sick, and would pop in at the office every now and then before going to the hospital for tests. He’s been struggling with his health for a while now, and every time I’d see him, he’d look worse and worse. Bad news!

I’m going to go visit him at home this afternoon, and I’m nervous. What do I say to him? How am I supposed to “act” around him now? I kind of don’t feel anything at the moment other than nervous, and I don’t actually want to go see him. I’m very awkward about things like this. My grandmother passed away from this very disease and I hated what it did to her. I never wanted to have to go through that again. But I know it’s not about me, it’s about him. But I’m still involved, and don’t quite know how to deal with it. I helped my grandmother when she was going through this, and it was torture. This makes me feel extremely guilty and ashamed, because I feel what right do I have to feel anything negative or to think about how it affects me, when they are the actual ones suffering?

It’s a long weekend, so no work on Monday, but I’ll be keeping busy with my own work on the website. I’m glad I got this job, and especially more so now. So I think this time, receiving the good news first actually made a bit of a difference. But again, life didn’t give me a choice.

Why I Wish He Would Understand

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I arrived in a state at my therapy session last week. It had been a crap day, with way too much sensory stimulation. There’s building going on next to my dad’s shop, and the store was in chaos… One of the really busy days. Phones ringing, everyone running up and down, loud voices, etc. I just couldn’t work, couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t do much of anything but listen to my music with my headphones on and try to calm my nervous system down.

It ended up with me and my dad fighting again, because he couldn’t understand why I can’t just ignore everything and focus on work. I tried to explain to him again that I struggle to drown out sounds and the constant movement (which makes me nauseous as well) and I seem to lose the ability to use my brain for tasks. I would have thought that he would get this by now as it’s always been a problem for me, since childhood, and a source of lots of fights, tears, threats, etc. I was struggling to explain it to him in a coherent manner while in the state I was in, because for some reason even my language and speech are affected during these times of a sensory overload meltdown. Add in the frustration I was feeling with him not understanding or seeming to listen, and me being unable to communicate properly. I hated him so much right then and was glad when he left the office. I was done talking. I just couldn’t anymore. I was exhausted, yet still extremely riled up.

On a Wednesday I usually leave for therapy straight after work. As I was driving there that day, I couldn’t focus. I felt disoriented and confused on the road. For example, which lane I’m supposed to be in, road signs, other cars. See what I mean about my brain not functioning the way it should sometimes? I’m just glad I got to the clinic without any incident. And that the waiting area was empty and quiet.

I was still highly worked up in the session, and I can’t actually remember much of what went on. I do remember though my therapist asking at some point why I need my dad to understand. That question was on my mind for days afterward. Logically, I know he doesn’t understand and he probably never will, and sometimes I can accept that, but days that like one, I just can’t.

Why do wish he would understand, or at least try to? It would save both of us (and anyone else involved) a lot of drama. Because maybe then he’ll stop fighting with me over the same stuff, which just triggers me and makes me feel even more overwhelmed and less able to cope with the normal day-to-day of living and stress that comes with it. And he won’t have to be on the receiving end of a meltdown (or in his view, a tantrum). Case in point: On Tuesday my dad wanted me to go buy lunch. He wanted me to go to a place I absolutely hate. A fish shop. My first instinct when he asked me was to blurt out “but that place smells horrible!” before I could even realize what I was saying and stop myself. Usually this is the point where he will either crap me out for my “attitude” or “laziness”, or the more extreme version, fly into an instant rage. But this time he didn’t do either of those things. He simply replied “I know”, in a tone of voice that wasn’t threatening or triggering. When that happened, I felt myself relax, and willing to handle the few minutes of nausea I’d experience while ordering. That moment, where I felt validated in a sense, just confirmed why I believe it will be beneficial for the both of us if he would at least try to understand.

So yes, I went to that place to buy them food, and even though I was only inside for a minute or two while ordering (there wasn’t a queue, thank goodness), my clothes and hair smelled of the place. Fish and old oil. I had to double wash my hair and I don’t want to see that jersey and those pants for a while, even though they’ve now been washed. But, I survived. My dad’s words didn’t stop me from experiencing those nasty “side effects”, but it helped regulate my feelings toward actually having to go through it.

I know people can’t truly “get” things if they don’t experience it themselves, but relationships would be so much better off if we all just at least try to listen to one another and understand where someone is coming from. Why they react in certain ways. And yes, I know that applies to me with regards to my dad as well.