Sun, Friends, and the “Silly Season”

Standard

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.

Advertisements

Growing In Assertiveness

Standard

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

Standard

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.

No One To Take Care Of But Myself

Standard

It’s been such a relaxing day, and I’m feeling pretty good.

On Thursday I felt stressed because it looked like it was going to be a busy weekend. I had plans to meet up with my business partner friend on Friday, go to the dog shelter on Saturday morning, meet up with a lady from group afterward (not the other lady that I’ve vowed never to meet up with again), and spend time with Jasmine on Sunday. But I made a decision on Saturday morning. Jasmine could wait a week, and I would rather go to the shelter on Monday after work when it’s quiet (most people volunteer over the weekend).

I’m so glad I made that decision, because when I do too much over a weekend, especially socializing, I’m left feeling exhausted and am overwhelmed at the thought of work on Monday. My week then starts with me already feeling irritable. So this was a form of self-care.

Yesterday was a good day as well. I met up with M from group, and had a nice time. She’s absolutely lovely. She’s 75 years old (but looks 10 years younger), and had a daughter who shared my name, who sadly passed away a year ago. Yet, M is such a ray of light. She’s calm and positive (not annoyingly so). We spent almost two hours together and I left feeling relaxed and content. She’s definitely someone I want to make time for and keep in my life.

I slept in this morning, which was glorious, and have been feeling peaceful and relaxed the whole day, doing little things I enjoy. I’m content being on my own, and love being in my room the whole day without having to go anywhere. I don’t really get bored. I realized on Friday that I don’t have anyone to take care of anymore. It was never really my responsibility to take care of anyone, but it was a drive I had. It still feels a little strange only having myself as a responsibility, but it’s starting to feel okay.

As I’ve discovered, managing my time, social interactions and activities is so important to my well-being, and I feel like I did a great job with that this weekend. I’m grateful that I get to learn and practice taking better care of myself now and getting my own needs met. I still believe in kindness toward others of course, and helping where I’m able to, but I’m done neglecting myself in order to do this. I matter too. We all do.

delete

My Boundaries Still a Work in Progress

Standard

Yesterday I met up with a friend from group. I hadn’t seen her since our last session in December last year. I wasn’t planning on seeing her again. She invited me for brunch, and I felt obligated to go after having turned down a couple of invitations from her earlier this year, so accepted. That was my first mistake.

It was the longest and most exhausting 4 hours. As soon as she started talking, I realized that I really didn’t want to be there with her. She didn’t have one nice thing to say about anyone, complained about everything and everyone in her life, and didn’t give me a chance to speak. I should have left sooner, but I didn’t feel like I could. I was scared of upsetting her. I didn’t listen to or respect my own boundaries. And I allowed her to cross them too.

I left feeling drained, irritated, and barely able to form a coherent sentence when my dad asked me a question when I got back to the house. I desperately needed a nap, and proceeded to sleep for 3 hours straight! It was dark when I woke up, which made me even more frustrated with myself. But I’d had enough negativity for the day, and decided to watch some Frasier. I needed some good “feels”.

Another reason I had felt obligated to meet up with her is because she’s often told me that she doesn’t have friends. She said it again during brunch, complaining about a new friend she had made who she quickly unfriended due to what seemed to me a silly reason to end a friendship, but to each their own I guess.

I was thinking though that I’m not responsible for her not having friends. It makes me sad to think that she doesn’t, but it’s not something I have to, or can, fix for her. And it also doesn’t mean that I have to be her friend just because she doesn’t have any others. That’s not a true friendship. That’s a sympathy friendship. So I’ve decided that I’m not going to meet up with her again. I just can’t do it. I won’t.

I need to take care of myself first.

A Need For Solitude

Standard

The older I get, the more I seem to want my own space away from others. Socializing exhausts me. I spent time with two of my closest friends this weekend, staying over on Saturday evening. It was lovely, but I didn’t want to stay another night. They know me well, so I don’t have to wear a mask around them and I feel comfortable enough to tell them when I’ve had enough. They know it’s not personal. That I love them to bits, and enjoy spending time with them.

It’s not just being sociable that exhausts me. It also depends on the activities we engage in. For example, if we go on a hike or a walk on the beach, I can spend more time with people. But when it involves sensory rich environments such as carnivals/festivals (this is where we went on Saturday evening), concerts, movies, etc, I become overwhelmed and over-stimulated, and want to get back to my comfort zone (my room, my bed, my stuff) much sooner.

Every so often (very often actually) I long to just disappear for a while. Go somewhere quiet, surrounded by nature, with not a soul or building in sight for miles. Switch my phone off and disconnect from everything and everyone. But my financial situation won’t let me do that. I wouldn’t mind going camping, which is more affordable, but it’s too dangerous to go alone. So I feel stuck in an overwhelming world. My little corner of the world.

So when my friends asked me whether I would house-sit for them for about a week at the beginning of August, the decision was an easy one. Granted, I’m not someone who enjoys sleeping in unfamiliar environments and beds (even when on holiday), and I always have to prepare myself for it mentally. But I’m usually okay as long as I have my “comfort items”. My family and friends always tease me about the fact that even if I’m going or coming for one night I pack as if for a week-long trip. And it’s not clothes and other essentials that are taking up all the space. But I can’t help it, it makes me extremely anxious any other way.

While I’m looking forward to getting away from this place for a few days (and from work), I’m also a little scared as I’ll be staying alone. They have two cats (I’m not really a cat person) and two little dogs, so that’s a comfort at least. The neighborhood they live in is quiet, so I’m looking forward to the peace, and plan to enjoy my time there as much as possible. Maybe I can see it as practice for one day when I eventually have my own place.

I’m supposed to be seeing my friend/business partner on Friday, but I just don’t want to, so I’ve decided to postpone it until next week. I’m going to group tomorrow anyway, so really don’t want to have to socialize more than that this week.

 

Life

Standard

The writing block I’ve been experiencing has lifted. It happened on Thursday after my therapy session. I had this desire to write a poem, and it just flowed so naturally again. And damn did it feel good.

During our session I could actually feel some mental block crumbling. I managed to express myself relatively well, and talk about some of those things I haven’t been able to even write about yet.

There are a few things I want to write about that I hadn’t been able to. I still have processing to do with those topics, so I’ll definitely be writing as I get around to it.

As most of you already know, I’ve been having a hard time since stopping the medication (Lamotrigine) that’s been serving as a mood stabilizer. I don’t believe that the decline in my mental health has just been due to that. There were other factors involved as well. I think that just made these other things harder to deal with.

My step-brother ran away from home again. Once again without so much as a hint to me that he was going to be doing that. I’m disappointed and hurt because he promised me after the last time that he would tell me when he’s planning to pull that stunt again, and let me know that he’s safe. But he didn’t. And once again, his phone was off for a few days. He eventually let us know that he’s moving out. He’s living with a girl friend and her uncle. He asked me whether I would help him take some of his stuff to his new place, so at least I know where he’s living (I’ve promised not to give my dad the address though). This whole situation has caused a lot of family conflict and issues. Things are tense here at home at times, and plain weird at other times. My heart sinks every time I walk past my brother’s room and remember that he’s not here anymore. I’m going to miss seeing him every day. Things just aren’t the same without him.

I’m also worried about my eldest younger sister, who my mom is convinced is back on drugs again. All the signs are apparently there. It’s hard living so far away from my mom and sisters. It’s frustrating, especially at times like these.

Then there’s Jasmine. I haven’t seen her again since the time I wrote about in my post “Elizabeth, and the Dilemma“. I’ve sent her messages from time to time asking how she’s doing, and letting her know that I’m still around and here for her. It takes her a few days to respond. Last week I sent her a message saying that I think it’s about time that we get together and talk this whole thing through. She agreed to meet on Friday, but then sent me a text telling me that we won’t be meeting up anymore. It’s Monday, and I still haven’t responded to that message. This is the first time I’m “ignoring” someone. I’m angry. Hurt. At this stage, I’m not even sure whether it’s a good idea for us to remain friends. That maybe it will be better to just cut ties completely. That idea hurts. But it feels better than this feeling of being in limbo, and not knowing when or what is happening or going to happen, and knowing that there’s a possibility that she’ll end our friendship anyway. I mean, if she’s not even able to meet up with me for coffee, how’s it going to be when she meets Elizabeth for the first time? Is it going to be awkward? Probably. I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to do anything I might regret, so I’ve decided to rather just step back. I’m not going to reach out to her anymore. The next move (if there is one) will be hers. I’m done.

Another little update. I’ve started a new medication, Dopaquel (Quetiapine). So far so good. No side effects as far as I’m aware, other than the obvious drowsiness that this med is known for. I take it in the evening’s, and it helps me sleep… It’s glorious. I’m hoping this one will be it for me.