Change, Life, Work

I want to start blogging more regularly again. I’ve been going through some lengthy sort of phase where I think that my blog has become boring (for others) and I feel kind of narcissistic writing about myself all the time. Why I feel that way now, and why it didn’t bother me all that much before, I don’t know. But writing here has been so helpful to me in the past and I want to have that back, so I should at least try again.

I’ve been staying with M for the past week, and it’s been good for me I think. That intense hopelessness that’s been hanging around for so long has somewhat lifted. It only shows up for a few minutes before disappearing, which is a welcome relief from the persistent version. I haven’t quite got my new routine right (my working hours have also changed) which causes anxiety, but I’m getting there. Once again I’ve realized how strongly change affects me. Even good change. That’s where well-established systems and rituals that are time and place independent really help to make things a little easier.

This has been a busy and overwhelming week work wise. So it was a huge relief on Friday evening when I could finally cross that difficult client off my list. He settled the final payment, job done. Another positive, I had a meeting with a potential client on Monday and received the go ahead and deposit on Friday. So even though it’s been stressful and there were lots of crap moments, over all it’s been a good week.

I’m going to be staying with M for a while, just not sure exactly how long. She suggested a few months, but my therapist knows me well and said I should start with two weeks, see how I feel, and take it from there. So that’s what I’m going to be doing.

Since yesterday, there’s been so much confusion in my mind and many different emotions all vying for attention, that I feel physically sick. Focusing on anything for longer than a couple of minutes is hard. I see it’s taken me half an hour to actually write this. I feel like a computer. My mind keeps going into sleep mode, then booting back up and continuing right where it left off. And this is where I’ll end tonight. Sleep sounds so good right now.

Advertisements

Caught In The Grip Of Anxiety

My anxiety levels over the past few weeks have been worse than they have been in a long time. I deal with anxiety nearly every day, but the last time I remember it being this bad for such a long period of time was when I was still in my 4-year toxic relationship. It’s got to the point where just thinking about leaving the house causes overwhelm and panic. Not to mention the chest pain and the feeling of not being able to breathe deeply enough.

Nightmares have been a nightly occurrence, often many times a night, and it can take me anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half to settle down enough to go back to sleep. In my therapy session last week, my therapist reminded me about a plan we had put in place where I would take a week off from all work every 3 months, a sort of mini-holiday (she wants me to do stuff for myself during this time that make me feel relaxed and happy) and suggested this might be the right time to do that. The thought hadn’t even crossed my mind and when she mentioned it, I felt relief at the thought.

So that’s what I’ve done. I didn’t go into the office this week, although I didn’t exactly follow the plan properly as I have a current client for my design work who has been a major pain (a 4 month project that should have been finished long ago, but he’s been dawdling and suddenly rushed me and wanted some stuff done by Tuesday). I finished it in time, and now suddenly he’s vanished again. He’s been doing this since we started. I’ve started rewriting my contract to account for clients like this as I’m not going to go through this kind of situation again. Going to let my dad’s lawyer have a look at it when I’m done. They’ll have 8 business days during which to review and comment or I start charging extra, instead of 3 months with no additional charges, as in the case of this guy! A positive is that I’m learning how to run my business from having difficult clients in the early years.

I’ve had two therapy sessions this week because I just feel I need extra support right now. On Tuesday we walked down to the park/duck pond close by and sat on the swings, which was really nice. I adore swings, and wish I had one of my own! Never had a therapy session outside before. It feels very different, but a good different. The weather was perfect. Cloudy and cool, my type of weather.

I’m not sure what’s happening with our moving situation. Went to go look at a place a few weekends ago, which I loved, since my room would be downstairs and on the opposite side of the house, far from the family. With my own bathroom. But the parents didn’t like it. There are also apparently complications with the owner of the house we’re currently in, and no one can tell me what’s actually going on. One minute my dad is telling me to start packing, and the next it’s a case of “it’s complicated”.

Yesterday was the first day in a while that I felt able to meet up with a friend, M. I was supposed to meet with her last week Friday and then again on Wednesday, but didn’t feel up to leaving the house. I really wanted (needed) to see her yesterday. I absolutely love spending time with her, so me not meeting up with her sooner wasn’t because of her or because I didn’t want to spend time with her, but just due to my anxiety. It’s a bitch. M wanted to take me to the clinic when we met up (I couldn’t stop crying), but instead, we spoke about something that might help me even more than going back in (because I don’t want to go there again). I’ll write about that soon, just first want to speak to my therapist about it before I make a decision.

I don’t feel ready to go back to the office on Monday. But I’m going to make the most of this weekend by switching my phone off, and even if I have to force myself (and take anxiety meds), go down to the beach if only for half an hour. There’s nothing quite as healing as nature.

Self-Respect & Boundaries

When I was in the clinic last year and while attending the Tuesday group sessions, we often spoke about boundaries, and, using DBT, ways to enforce those boundaries while maintaining self-respect.

While I’ve become better at setting and stating my boundaries, the follow through doesn’t come as easily. I may do well for a while, but then give in for some reason or the other. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling lonely (not to be confused with being alone). Maybe I feel bad for the person. And sometimes, maybe because I feel the need to fit in and avoid conflict (as in the case of my dad).

I’m still a work in progress, and don’t know if I’ll ever become an “expert”. But that’s okay. The important thing is to remember that I have the right to set and maintain these boundaries.

With that in mind I’ve decided to make a list of things I’d like to remember when it comes to my self-respect and boundaries. This list may change and grow over time, but for now this is what I’ve got.

It’s not my responsibility to fix or heal others.

I have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty about it.

I have a right to my own opinions.

My feelings are valid.

I have the right to my own space and time.

I don’t have to explain my reasons.

I’m allowed to change my mind.

I have the right to walk away when a situation or person makes me uncomfortable.

My needs are also important.

I have the right to ask for what I want and need, just as the other person has the right to say “no”.

It’s okay to be different to those around me and not force myself to fit in.

Is there anything you would add to this list?

bren-brown-quotes-2-638

A Dizzying Few Weeks

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.

successful-adulting-not-stabbing-someone-when-you-really-want-to-27909557

“Hold On”?

I don’t believe that suicide is selfish. It may not be entirely rational. But selfish, no. I understand why people do it. Those who have left me behind… I’m not mad at them. They were in pain, they felt like they were a burden to the world, that everyone would be better off without them. I get that. They weren’t a burden, at least not in my life, but I never got to tell them that.

We don’t know how much time we have on this earth. We don’t know when someone we love will leave this world, either through their own hands, those of others, or “natural” causes.

Sometimes we have to say goodbye to someone sooner than we thought. Sometimes there’s no warning. It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem right. But that’s the reality of being alive.

Celebrate Small Wins

I just read a short but valuable article on the TED blog, titled “How to make your small wins work for you”. What Mehrnaz Bassiri says in these couple of paragraphs is so true:

“The problem, says Bassiri, doesn’t lie in the puniness of our accomplishments but in the outsized nature of our expectations. Whether in the news media or in our friends’ and family members’ social media posts, we’ve gotten habituated to seeing major successes — the video from an unknown musician that goes viral and scores them a spot on Beyonce’s tour, the unhealthy person who loses half their body weight and completes the Ironman, the company started by college students in a garage that gets sold for an eye-watering amount.

These stories “have programmed our thoughts and desires to want and expect the same kind of results in our own lives,” says Bassiri. “We’ve started to measure our progress on an oversized scale.” So instead of recognizing our small triumphs for what they are, we view them as failures.”

If we set goals for ourselves, instead of only recognizing our progress when crossing a specific point, or after a major “win” (which sometimes feels like it will never come), we should rather celebrate the small milestones we make along the way. Because it’s those small milestones or steps toward our goals or dreams that take us closer to them.

I’m most certainly one of those with super high expectations of myself, and get discouraged quickly and easily if I don’t see any major progress in a goal, project or  change I want to make. I become blind to the small bits of progress I do make, because it’s just “not good enough”, or “it doesn’t count”. But it is good enough. It does count. And I’m going to take note of all my smalls wins, as the article suggests.

I highly recommend giving this a read:
https://ideas.ted.com/how-to-make-your-small-wins-work-for-you/

Death Raises So Many Questions

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.

heartscape