Nightmares & The Dark

I’m having a hard time with my sleeping routine.

I’m naturally a night owl, so go to bed quite late. I try to go to bed before 2am though. Sometimes I manage that, other times not so much. I usually wake up sometime between 10 and 11am.

At least that’s how it used to be.

I’m craving the blissful state of non-existence for a while, but instead I’m bombarded with nightmare after nightmare. The really bad ones wake me up in a panic and it takes me a couple of hours to be able to turn the light off again and go back to sleep. The dark is deafening. Terrifying. I’m acutely aware how alone I am in those moments. At night the monsters are lurking in the closet, under my bed. Sitting on the edge of my bed, watching me. Waiting.

My longest continuous sleep time over the past two weeks has been 3 hours. This broken sleep is obviously making things worse. Sleeping until 3pm, because I was up for hours, too scared to go to sleep. Or having fallen asleep and woken up after yet another terrifying dream. So many people from my past in some of those dreams. Lies, betrayals, violence, death. So much blood and death.

Saturday and Sunday were two of the worst days I’ve had in years. I honestly don’t know how I got through it. Maybe I didn’t after all, and I’m not actually alive right now. I wanted to go into the clinic, but couldn’t get there. I didn’t know where to turn. Everyone seemed to have abandoned me. Unanswered messages. Cancelled visits and meetups.

New complications with regards to my uncle. I just want him to come out of this already. He has to. I can’t lose him, I just can’t. I had spoken to him a few days before he went into hospital, because he had sent me money for my birthday, which was so appreciated (more than he could ever know). I need to hear his voice again. We need him.

I need my mommy. There’s that. Even though everytime I’ve been with her, there’s never that mother-daughter bond and feeling, more like just a friendship. But she’s my mom, and I love and miss her. I’ve never been able to cry in front of her. But still, I long for that comfort of not being alone when I cry. When I’m not feeling good. The reality is never quite like the imagination, is it?

Remembered on Wednesday that my therapist had told me that I could email her while she’s gone if I need to. So I did just that. I wasn’t writing from a very present state of mind and it wasn’t a long email. I told her I was angry with her for reasons I can’t quiet think of. Told her I was thinking that maybe she wasn’t coming back. That she didn’t feel real anymore.

She replied that same evening. That didn’t feel real either. I wasn’t expecting a reply, since I wasn’t all there when I sent it anyway. There had been genuine moments during the day where I was so confused, believing that I had made her up the entire time. That nothing was real. That I wasn’t alive. Or human. The next morning I had to make sure that it hadn’t been a dream. She is real. She actually sent me an email. An email that let me know that she’s proud of how I’m managing, and encouragement to keep going even though it feels tough. Letting me know that she is coming back and we’ll have our video consultations soon. I don’t deserve her.

I don’t want to be alone anymore. Being bombarded with messages and photo’s of people finding new jobs, starting families, new relationships, it seems that nearly everyone I know is moving up in life. And I’m just here. Stuck. Trying to keep my head above water. Trying to build a business that’s just not going anywhere, no matter how hard I work, how many things I try. Seeing all these new businesses in my field that have sprung up with sub-par work, yet they’re the ones getting all the clients, using techniques that aren’t working for me. I’ve been trying for years now. Am so tired, and feel like a failure. A fraud. Maybe I’m just not good enough.

So far away from everyone I know. Longing for a hug. A warm hand to hold. If only for a day.

On Friendship and Solitude

Growing up, making friends was never easy for me. I enjoyed my solitude and doing my own thing in my own way. I found out recently that I’ve always been that way. Even as a baby and toddler I didn’t interact with other children or people and always seemed to be in my own little world.

I made my first friend when I was 7 or 8 years old. The memory I have of that is sitting alone on a low wall during break time, eating my lunch and watching the other kids play. Then Christina came. I didn’t know her, and think it was the first time I saw her. She gave me a sweet, or something like that, and the rest is history. I can’t remember much about our friendship, only that it was short. My family moved and I started at a new school the following year.

It’s still not easy for me to make new friends. I meet someone and we get along. Or so it seems. I automatically think then that we’re friends, only to find out a little while later that that wasn’t the case. I’ve always had the habit of rushing into a friendship (or romantic relationship for that matter) and go all in, only to discover that they had only needed me for something. It’s my own fault though. I would try to be the perfect friend. Always paying for things (even though I couldn’t afford it), giving them compliments and plenty of “feel good” words, and going out of my way for them. But I would get drained, never quite seeming to get anything I needed. Once I slowed down and they discovered they weren’t going to get quite as much as they used to with me, they would disappear.

These days I’m better at setting and maintaining boundaries. Earlier this year, I walked away from a few friends that were only causing me anxiety, anger, and heartache. Since then I’m more careful about who I let into my life, and how much I give to others.

I’ve always tended to make friends with those much older than me. As a child and adolescent I would spend most of my time with my grandmother during the school holidays. Watching something on TV, listening to the radio, baking, watching her knit, etc, while the children were playing outside. Their games didn’t interest me much.

Here’s the thing. I’m more than happy in my own company, doing those things I enjoy. It’s very rare that I actually get bored. I’m a life-long student and enjoy learning about psychology, animals (especially dogs), science and technology. With the internet, TV and library, there’s a never ending amount of study material available. Then there’s of course things like writing, reading, movies, and series. If I don’t get enough time to do all these things I burn out very quickly. So for me balance means 80% of time spent on my own, and only 20% with others.

Solitude is a beautiful thing, so I don’t understand how some people can constantly want to be around others and get bored when they’re alone. But, they probably feel the same way about me. How can I actually enjoy being alone? And that’s the beauty of being human. No two people are perfectly alike. Nor should we be.

Sun, Friends, and the “Silly Season”

I took the week off from work last week and it was glorious. I’ve realized that this time of year isn’t that bad when you’re an introvert, have sensory issues, but get to spend your time at home.

On Friday I was nursing a painful sunburn. I had arranged to meet up with my friend, M, the “old” lady I had met at group last year, on Thursday. We were going to go for a walk on the beach. I thought we’d grab a coffee (decaf for me) and just go for a short walk. I was wrong. We ended up walking a total of just over 3 hours that day, with an hour break for a drink and lunch. M might be in her late seventies, but she outdoes even me (in my mid-thirties) where exercise is concerned. She told me she had gone to the gym earlier that week. Damn, I need to get my ass in gear. I wasn’t expecting such a long walk, so hadn’t even thought of sunscreen. That stuff is expensive anyway, and I didn’t have any, neither does anyone else in the house.

I had such a lovely time with her. There were so many dogs along the way, and I got to play with a Golden Retriever on the beach for a little while, while M was talking to the owner. The highlight of my day! Something I really like about spending time with M is that we have stimulating, deep conversations, but can also just sit in silence watching the goings on around us. I never feel any pressure to be “social enough” or entertaining. I really value our relationship, and the acceptance, care, and peace I get from her.

It’s been so hot lately. Combine that with the sensory overload of the holiday season, and I’m not in the best, most peaceful mood. But I made sure to avoid entering that activity as much as possible this year by staying home. I had coffee with Jasmine on Saturday, and we both witnessed first hand how stupid people can act at this time of year. As M mentioned, “they don’t call it the silly season for nothing”. Jasmine and I really connected again on Saturday, and it felt like it used to before things went all haywire between us, which I’m so happy about. I truly value her friendship.

My biggest cringe factor when it comes to Christmas, is the gift giving and opening. I always find it so awkward. I actually hate it and can’t wait until it’s over. When someone hands me my gift, or they open theirs from me, I feel like disappearing into the ground. My idea of gift giving is when I’m out and I see something that reminds me of a person, or that I know they’ll like, and I get it for them. Spontaneous gifts. I don’t believe in getting people gifts just because it’s expected for that day or occasion. But that’s the way it goes, and most people like it, so I deal with it. I really liked and appreciated the gifts I got, and now it’s over.

I got to spend quite a bit of time with my uncle this week, which I enjoyed. It also felt like old times again with him too, and there were plenty of moments where I even forgot that he’s sick. Even though it’s scary, and at times I want to pull away from them, I’ve decided that I’m going to continue nurturing my relationships with my uncle and M. I told my therapist that I’m afraid of losing M, seen as though she’s not young anymore, but as I’ve seen, she’s in good health and anything can happen to me, so it’s not guaranteed that I’ll outlive her. But even if I do, that’s part of life. We get attached, we love, we lose people. That’s not a reason to avoid relationships.

I’m so glad that Christmas is now over. People are broke so the shops are quieter and I can do my shopping in relative peace.

And the best part? No more Christmas music!

I hope you all had a good festive season.

Growing In Assertiveness

I went out with Jasmine and my business partner/friend (Kim) last night. I had sent Jasmine a message last week, telling her that I have been feeling rejected and unimportant to her over the past few months, and that I miss her. She then invited me for sun-downers with her and Kim, as well as another mutual friend of theirs.

I really wasn’t in the mood to be with people, especially having to meet someone new, but since I haven’t seen Jasmine in months, I decided to go anyway. I’ve also been having some issues with Kim over the past few weeks and wasn’t looking forward to seeing her and talking more “business” (she has a habit of bringing business stuff up anywhere and everywhere). Our recent business meetings have been all about her and her own business and I was fed up. She’s back to her old pattern of constantly relying on me to help her with things she can easily figure out herself or Google. I’m trying to work on building up my own businesses and this is taking me away from that. I don’t get time to work on my own stuff because I’m constantly helping her out.

Last night when she started talking about our next meeting (on Friday) and how there are some more things she wants to change/add/remove on her website, I felt my anger rise up. I took a sip of my drink to buy myself some time, because I didn’t want to react immediately. Thanks DBT and Mindfulness. I told her that we’d talk more on Friday. Once the anger died down, I decided that I needed to talk to her about this now because I’m not sure whether I want to meet up on Friday anymore. Jasmine and her other friend were in the middle of a conversation, so I felt it was okay to talk to Kim about this quietly. I told her that I feel as though our meetings have changed. That I used to enjoy them, because I almost always left feeling inspired and motivated, and they had been a benefit for both of us. These days I just feel overwhelmed and frustrated. I wasn’t nasty about it, but made sure to use a firm tone of voice. She insisted on just one more meeting focused on her business and website, so we can get that out of the way and she can relax. I agreed, but told her it will be a short meeting. I’ve also decided that after this, I’m going to start charging her for any new work on her website. I’ve shown her how to do certain things herself, but she keeps losing the papers she writes the instructions down on. That’s not my problem. I’m going to make this clear to her on Friday. I just can’t continue on like this with her. It’s draining me. I know I’ve been enabling this behaviour lately by giving in to her demands. But at least I realize this. Being assertive doesn’t come naturally to me, so it’s okay that I slip up from time to time and don’t have it down perfectly. It will take time.

I left early last night as I was exhausted, and while I enjoyed talking with Jasmine, there were two other people there as well so we couldn’t just ignore the others. In the past I’ve always been afraid of leaving early, not wanting to offend anyone, but these days I find it much easier to excuse myself and not feel bad about it.

Assertiveness had always been a foreign concept to me. I took on the passive, people pleasing role in all of my interactions with others. Now that I learned there’s another way, I’ve realized just how much damage I was doing to my own self-esteem and mental and physical health. Assertiveness is vitally important, but it’s also damn hard if you’re not used to that way of communication and interaction.

A lovely online friend of mine created a new course on assertiveness and kindly sent me a copy. If you struggle with assertiveness, this course will help dispel common myths and help you toward achieving a healthier style of communication. Reading through the PDF helped me cement my decision to stop being passive, and it has lots of helpful advice and action steps, complete with examples. If you’re interested, you can find it on her website here:

How To Communicate Effectively & Stop Being A People-Pleaser

This is one of those things that will only improve with a willingness to change and lots of practice. Oh, and lots of uncomfortable feelings at first. But it does seem to get easier each time.

People Confuse Me

It’s been more than two weeks and I still haven’t received the deposit for the website I’ll be doing. I sent the guy a follow-up email at the beginning of the week, which has been read. I started using a mail-tracking Chrome extension a while ago, because the uncertainty of whether or not an email I sent had been received caused a lot of anxiety. The uncertainty of what I should do, “should I send it again, or just wait?” At least with this I can see that the email has been delivered and read, and now all that’s left to do is wait for a reply. Well, this wait has been tough. I need this job, as my car is just getting worse and desperately needs to be fixed. I’ve been wondering whether he’s changed his mind, or just been busy. I really don’t understand how a person can’t just take a minute or two out of their day and reply to a damn email. How hard can it be? I’m glad I didn’t do what I usually do and start on the website already. I’ve decided that I’m done stressing about this now. I’m letting go. I’ve done my part and the rest is out of my hands.

And then there are friends. I’ve been feeling a bit abandoned by Jasmine. As I mentioned here before, she has a girlfriend. I get that. I understand that it’s normal for communication to dip a little during these times and meet ups happen less frequently. But I don’t understand how a person can totally neglect their friends. It takes her more than a week to reply to a message, even though she read it the same day I sent it, and see she’s active online often. I haven’t met up with her in almost two months. She’s not the only one.

I’m going to be house sitting for my two best friends from Thursday next week until the Saturday of the following week, which I’m really looking forward to. They live about 40 minutes away. These two friends are the only one’s I feel I matter to these days, and who actually make an effort to stay in touch and get together. We don’t get to see each other often due to the distance, but the time we spend together is always amazing. Quality over quantity. The best type. I’ve only seen my other long time friend once this year, as she’s always busy. I wanted to see her when I house sit because she lives about 10 minutes away from there, and yesterday I was told we wouldn’t be able to get together because she’ll be away. I was so looking forward to seeing her, and was under the impression that I would be, since I told her quite a while ago about this. She said last night that she didn’t realize it overlaps with her trip. So I’m really disappointed. At least I have time away from work and the family, and my friends have two little dogs I’m going to be taking care of, so I won’t be completely alone.