In Two Minds

I’ve never really cared about politics. At least not international politics.

That changed as soon as Trump became president of the US. It just never sat right with me. His attitude and disturbing personality grated at me. The way he treated people. Not caring about the environment (something I’m deeply passionate about). And yes, even though he wasn’t my president, the US affects other countries too. I absolutely hated the man. I still do.

Election week saw my anxiety increase to unbearable levels. Think insomnia, waking up at random times to check the status of the results and presidency. It was in one word, agony. And I don’t even live there!

Finally, it’s over. But is it really? There’s still too much crap going on, and a part of me feels like I can only relax come January 20th. I’ve learned valuable lessons as well. People can become unpredictable and down right nasty when it comes to politics. Stay away from social media, and don’t talk to anyone else about it. It doesn’t always end well, especially if you’re on opposite sides of the fence.

But anyway. This post isn’t really about politics.

Things are slowly moving ahead with regards to my emigration. I still don’t have a set date, and the process can still take a couple of months. During that election week, I was so obsessed with what was going on in the US that I didn’t even think of my move. Not once. But once it was over, and I received a simple email the next day regarding the emigration, I was overcome with the most intense rage. Not at the email, at least I don’t think so. I’m still not sure where the rage came from or what it was about. A few minutes later, I just collapsed into a sobbing heap.

It was then that I realized I had partly been using the election as a way to distract myself from the move. And now that it was over, I was once again forced to face it head on.

I don’t know what I want. My entire life I wanted to leave this “Third World” country. That was until I moved to my current city. While I still don’t like the country I was born and raised in, I do like this specific part of it. It’s beautiful here. Yes, our politics is a mess, and of course it’s still part of this place, but it feels a tiny bit better here. Besides, all my friends are here. My therapist is here.

I have people telling me that this move will be a positive and good thing for me. A better future. And for someone with a trauma history, living in such a violent and scary country doesn’t help matters. But it’s what I know. I don’t know what it’s like to not be scared every time I leave the house. To not sleep with a weapon in the bed next to me. In my defense, growing up, we had a few break-in’s and one while we were in the house, sleeping. Also, a close call when I was still living with M. So yeah, I feel better knowing I have my trusty Tazer next to me.

Then there are a couple of people, like my mom and best friend, who agree that while I’ll have a better and safer life on the other side of the world, they don’t want me to move. I feel that pressure to stay. But of course, I can’t.

So I’m in two minds. Part of me longs to just get out of this country. The other part is terrified, and doesn’t want to leave this beautiful place. It’s a war zone in my head. And I guess that’s why it’s easier to latch onto things that distract me from having to think about it. It doesn’t help though when the distraction also causes so much anxiety.

Life is a confusing mess at the moment. They say that we need to look toward the future. But what if you’re not able to? What if it’s all just one big, dark mass? I can only hope that there will come a time when I will look back and see this as having been a stepping stone to a better life and but another chapter in my story.

Healing Isn’t A One Time Thing

As my recent posts have shown, I haven’t been in a good place emotionally. My issues and demons have re-surfaced in a huge way, causing me to doubt all the healing that I thought had taken place within me over the past few years.

The other evening I stumbled upon a performance (which you can find at the end of this post) from Demi Lovato. It was a case of the right place, the right time. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through the night. I just felt utterly and completely broken. This video is the most powerful live performance I’ve ever seen. I felt it down to my core and have never connected as deeply to any other song as I did this one, and with the emotion channeled into it.

My therapy session on Wednesday was a raw, emotional one. From the beginning my therapist pointed out that I seem very emotional. I just didn’t want to hold anything back. I didn’t have the strength to either. Turns out the emotions I’m feeling around her pregnancy are partly jealousy that this little baby is going to have her as a mommy, and the situation has also opened up all those old wounds around my own childhood. Memories and emotions I just couldn’t hide or run from.

This performance wasn’t just relatable to me now, but fit as the anthem to my childhood and adolescent years too. The words are almost identical to my own countless pleas, especially when I was a teen. If I hadn’t burned all the pages of my diary back then, it would be littered with it. “Please send me anyone.” “Is there anyone?”, “No-one’s listening”, “can anyone hear me?” So that evening, the lyrics went down deep into my soul. It perfectly captured what I was feeling. I completely broke down. The story behind the song is just as powerful. She wrote it a few days before her overdose. Her story is actually very inspiring.

We all have demons that we are battling. We have relapses. That doesn’t make us weak. It doesn’t mean healing hasn’t taken place. It means we’re human. And even when it seems like we won’t be okay, that we won’t make it through, we can and we do. She’s still here. I’m still here. You’re still here.

“Reach out to somebody”. We see and hear that message so often. But it isn’t that easy. Sometimes we don’t want to burden others. Other times when we do reach out, we get hurt, or end up feeling worse or made to feel guilty for our feelings and thoughts. But we all need and deserve to have someone truly listen to us. To hear us. And it’s okay to reach out. It’s also okay that sometimes we reach out to the wrong people. It doesn’t mean we made a mistake. It just means that the other person maybe doesn’t have the ability/capacity to be a support. That’s something that I still struggle with. Blaming myself, feeling ashamed, feeling like I’m the entire problem when a cry for help goes unanswered or ends badly.

The suicidal ideation is still there. The darkness still huge. I’m not out of the woods. But I wanted to write this post anyway. For me, and for others also struggling right now who may be reading this.

“You Don’t Really Want to Die, You Want Connection”

Maybe my therapist is right.

After all, why am I still here? Why am I still holding on? What exactly am I holding on for? Part of it is because I don’t have the courage to try to end things. The fear of failing and coming out alive but in a worse state terrifies me. Then there’s the handful of people who I know it will affect. Even if in the moment I feel no-one will even notice, or if they do, they’ll get over it quickly. But what my therapist said also made a lot of sense when she said it. It resonated.

The way a hug from someone special (and I don’t mean just with romantic partners) has the ability to snap me out of the suicidal space in my mind and put me on a high. The way a simple touch of the hand can make me feel warm and safe. Now, thanks to humans messing with nature, we’re in a time when even a quick hug is cautioned against.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m really struggling with this whole living alone thing. The days are okay. It’s the evenings that are the worst. That’s when the loneliness and bad thoughts peak. I’d give anything to have someone here, doing their own thing, or us doing something together. I just want to feel another presence here.

I miss living with M. It was so good for me. She was good for me. I miss having her and doggy in my every day life. And when M was away for a week or two, I still had doggy, so wasn’t truly alone. What I want more than anything is my own dog. Sometimes it feels like that’s never going to happen.

Earlier this evening, the tears that had been building and threatening to escape for weeks finally made their way out. It was excruciating. At one point I felt like I was going to die. I had to keep mentally saying to myself that no one has died from crying before (as far as I know). That went on for quite a while, and at some point I knew I needed to speak to someone right then. Obviously my therapist was out (we had a video call check in this afternoon – which I’m grateful for since she’s actually on leave). I also considered A, my previous therapist, but that was also not an option. The only other person that came to mind was M. It was after 8pm, so didn’t know whether it was appropriate to call her then, but I took the chance anyway. She didn’t answer at first, but she called back almost immediately and we spoke for over an hour. Those who know me, know I hate talking on the phone. But I really needed that. She made me laugh, talked about doggy, and just random stuff. Her daughter in law is staying with her for two weeks, but M said that I must come spend the weekend once she leaves. And my favourite part was when she said I should come say a quick hi to her tomorrow and meet her daughter in law, and then I can take doggy for the day. I haven’t been to the beach in months, so am planning on going for a long walk with her there.

I’m still very emotional, but at least I have something to look forward to tomorrow.

It’s been a tough few months. I feel like I’m in limbo. Stuck. There’s no certainty about when I’ll be moving to Sweden, other than the plan is before the end of the year (if the borders open up by then). So I might be spending Christmas alone. It’s all so unsettling.

Everyone around me seems to be moving forward. Getting engaged, falling pregnant. And then there’s me. Longing for that someone special, and feeling like that’s another thing that will never happen for me.

But hey, I’m still breathing.

A Long Day

Today was one of those days where everything that can go wrong, did. I had a few errands to run, and one of them had a deadline and was critical to get done. I’m aware that I sometimes make things hard on myself. So I can’t blame external forces for everything. I was the one who put this off because I didn’t feel like I could deal with it at the time. And it got to the point where I had no choice but to deal with it now. The last day. But it’s done now, so that stress and dread is off my shoulders.

The rain made things so difficult and I was soaked more times than not. But safe and warm in my pj’s in bed right now with my weighted blanket, the sound of the rain is so beautiful and soothing. Funny how something can so quickly go from being a curse to a blessing. Perspective really is everything.

I need a new script for my medication, and because Psychiatrists are so expensive, I can’t afford to go see mine. So I did what I normally do, I called to make an appointment with my GP. The receptionist told me that she’s no longer working there, and moved to another province. My attachment issues have been worse lately than they’ve been in a long time. So this felt like yet another bullet. I had no idea she was leaving! I felt she could have let me know (she knows my issues). Whenever I’d walk into her office, she’d greet me with a huge smile (and sometimes a hug) and an enthusiastic “one of my favourite patients!”. I liked her so much, and she was so good to and for me. I wrote a post about her a couple of years ago (you can read it here). Now I need to find someone else, and that caused my anxiety to spike. I think I’m going to ask my therapist if she knows someone I might be comfortable with. That’s the only thing that seems doable right now.

After that phone call I just wanted to call my therapist and make sure she wasn’t leaving me. I was so scared that I was going to lose her too. It felt like I was losing everyone I love and care about. I resisted the temptation to call her though. That’s quite an achievement.

I don’t feel so overwhelmed, irritated, or anxious tonight at least. All that’s left is exhaustion and a deep sadness. But it feels good to be writing here again.

It’s Not Okay

I shouldn’t be drinking wine (or any form of alcohol) when I’m on my own.

Yet that’s exactly what I’m doing. There’s a sense of rebellion in it, and for some reason, tonight, that feels good.

You see, I told my therapist I wouldn’t, yet here I am. I lied to the one person who has been my rock during a very confusing, overwhelming, and difficult period.

I’m struggling with this whole living alone thing. I’m so done with it. I always thought that’s what I wanted. But it turns out I need that knowing that someone else is around. I want to be alone, together… If that makes sense to anyone else. I have been getting out and spending time with my best friend every now and then, but I’ve found it’s getting harder and harder to leave and face the world. When I’m out there I just want to come home. But once I’m home, I’m relieved, but alone once again.

I have reminders set up for everything, because without them I tend to get lost in some or other world. I have a few special interests, and once I’m “in the zone” with them I struggle to get out of it. I’ll be working on a website design project and before I know it, 6+ hours have passed and I’ve forgotten to eat, go to the bathroom, sleep, etc. I don’t realize I’m hungry or haven’t eaten in 10 hours until I feel dizzy and nauseous. So, as you can see, reminders are a necessity for me. When living with someone I basically follow their lead, and am reminded and more motivated to take care of myself and do the basic things.

The whole pandemic thing doesn’t make things any easier. Everything feels messed up and out of sync in the world. And personally as well.

So, therapy. Had my session today and told my therapist about a dream I had where she was pregnant. I then asked her whether she was, but wasn’t expecting the answer to be “yes”. I had meant it more as a joke than an actual question. It felt as though I had just walked in front of a truck, and I have no idea why I had such an intense reaction to that news. I think I tried to make a joke about how my mom always had this thing where when she would dream someone was pregnant, it would turn out to be true, and that maybe I got that from her. I didn’t want my therapist to know that I had just become extremely uncomfortable. But obviously she noticed. She told me that she hadn’t told any of her clients yet, that I was the first, and she was open to any questions I have. I asked her whether she would adopt me. Seriously. So weird I know.

I didn’t really ask any questions, other than things to make myself seem as though it didn’t affect me. Of course, I did have a couple of very quick tearful moments. She mentioned something about how she’ll still do online video sessions with select clients during her maternity leave. I told her she’ll be too busy with the baby and she’ll wear herself down. “Babies sleep.”, she said. And then I went on about how new parents quickly realize that babies are exhausting and she’ll probably be too tired. As if I have experience with that (which I don’t, other than being obsessed with babies, baby books and magazines when I was a teen). I think it was near the end when I asked her whether she was happy about the baby, and her answer and expressions warmed my heart. I’m happy for her, I really am. So then why do I feel so messed up about this? I’m guessing there’ll be more conversations and emotions coming from this. It shouldn’t matter anyway. I’ll be moving to Sweden probably still this year, and we will be switching to online sessions while I adjust anyway. But it feels like it does matter.

Since our session, everything makes me want to cry, and for a few seconds every now and then, I do. But mostly, it’s just sitting there, wanting yet resisting expression.

I didn’t realize until last week just how much my family moving to Sweden is actually affecting me. They’re over there having a great time, constantly out and about, living the good life. I feel like I’ve been left behind. Abandoned. Another big struggle has been my relationship with M (the lady I used to live with for those that don’t know). For the past few months I’ve been the only one initiating contact, and every time I’ve tried to arrange to visit her, she’s had some excuse. She also confused me so much. Her words and actions never lined up. The few times I got to visit and spend time with her and doggy, I would leave confused or hurt. She would go on about how great the guy who moved in after me is for her. I felt replaced. I felt that she was comparing us. So I tried so hard over the past few weeks to pull away from her. Not letting her know when I was going to be in the area. But I would slip up, only to have my call go unanswered and no contact. It was making me feel like shit every time, so both my therapist and myself thought it was better for me if I just saw our relationship as one that was only supposed to last a “season”.

But the “pull” I feel towards her isn’t that easy to ignore. And I gave in again today. I thought I couldn’t feel any worse than I already did, so what the hell. I called M, and she actually answered and we arranged to meet at our favourite coffee shop. She genuinely seemed happy to see me. But I’ve gotten that wrong with so many people before. So I could be wrong. And even though she also told me that it’s nice to see me, I found myself doubting her words. She brought doggy with her so I could see her too, which I was really glad about.

Today seemed to be a day of shock news. M told me that she’s engaged to the guy who moved in when I moved out. It happened on Monday, and again, I’m the first person to know. They’re 30 years apart in age. Not that I care about age, love is love. But it was the last thing I ever expected to hear. Her husband passed away two years ago, and her son in March. I once told my therapist, months back when the guy first moved in, that I think M has some unconscious process going on. Her daughter, who’s name I share, passed away a year before M asked me to move in with her. Then, she told me she needed to live alone, so I had to move out. Then shortly after that, this guy moves in with her, into what was my room. His name is the name of her son. So I thought that maybe she was “using” us on a subconscious level to try to fill those holes. It was the only thing that made sense to me at the time. When I saw her a couple of months back, she told me that this guy reminds her so much of her late husband. And now she’s engaged to him. She said she’s happy, and I want her to be happy, but I’m just worried. I didn’t tell her about the worried part, and am not sure whether it’s my place to share my concerns with her.

I think I’m having a bit of a mental health breakdown. I even sent my previous therapist a message last week asking whether she was angry or disappointed with me. That’s something I haven’t done in such a long time, so that’s a definite sign that I’m not okay. I’m not okay. Not even a little bit. My therapist will be taking a week’s leave in two weeks time, and we’re arranged a check in. She offered to do a video session during her off week to keep that stability there for me, but I don’t feel that’s right. She deserves a break, so I said we could just do a 5-10 minute phone call instead. I know she’ll only be gone for a week, but with how I’ve been, I don’t think I would survive a whole week without hearing her voice. Hell, it feels like I’m barely surviving as it is.

There’s just been too many changes. And for someone who takes months (and on a few occasions in my life, years) to adjust, it’s just too much.

Nothing feels okay.

In A Different World

Life feels strange these days. The world, a different place. It seems we’re all just trying to survive and not really living.

I’ve been trying to keep a semblance of normality in my own life, but it’s not that easy when most things have changed.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m now staying on my own in a bachelor style self-catering flat. My family has officially moved overseas. I’ll be joining them as soon as our borders open up and I can get there. We don’t know how long that is going to take though. They got an expatriation flight which is why they were able to leave. And because I’m not seen as a “dependent” in the eyes of that country, they couldn’t get me to go with them initially. Even though I technically am dependent at this stage of my life, I’m not viewed that way due to my age. In the meantime my dad is supporting me financially from afar. I’m getting some money in here and there from my business, but not enough to be able to support myself. Things are tough all over. We’re living in uncertain and weird times.

Living by myself has been… different. While I enjoy having my own space and not having to answer to anyone, it’s also been challenging. Turns out I’m not that great at adulting the “normal” way. It’s a long story.

South Africa is now in lockdown level 3, and I’m frustrated with the way things are going in this country. The so-called government is a joke. Not only do we have to deal with the virus that’s sweeping around the world, but with incompetent and corrupt fools. Farm murders getting out of hand, and our “president” and everyone else in charge keeps pretending it’s not happening. Government members stealing money that’s supposed to go to those who need it. Making and enforcing nonsensical regulations. Stupid bans that don’t do anything other than causing more problems and anger.

The one I’m having the most difficulty with is the tobacco ban, which has been in place since the lockdown was first announced (March). I don’t smoke cigarettes anymore. My e-cigarette helped me give those up more than two years ago. But I still need my nicotine. And stupidly (and incomprehensibly), even the sale of vaping products and nicotine is banned. That hasn’t stopped many people though, and the sale of tobacco products and the like has now become a big underground business. Which means the prices have skyrocketed, and those of us who have been unable to give up on our nicotine fix are struggling, and are criminals in the eyes of the government. They will enforce that ban in any way they can, but completely ignore the real crimes going on in the country. There are no words.

One of my aunts recently passed away (not from the virus), and I had to watch her memorial service over live-stream. A strange experience. Since then I’ve been in my own world for the most part. It’s as if I’m not connecting with the real world. Like I’m walking around in a dream. Moments of “what’s the point of life?” and tons of existential questions. My aunt looked a lot like my grandmother did in her final weeks, and so it’s opened up that old wound as well.

Seeing the people who were at the memorial service, family members I hadn’t seen in years… It was hard. People that I was once close with in some ways. Seeing how much the children have grown (and some are even adults now), how old the rest have gotten. It was just very sad. The sadness is lingering. Time just feels so cruel right now.

I had a dream about my previous therapist and the entire next day was one big “I miss her”. We have a different type of connection now of course. One that that day just didn’t (and if I have to be completely honest, some other times too) feel like enough. I miss seeing her. But that’s life. I guess I’m just having a hard time connecting and with wanting to connect. I want to be alone, but at the same time I’m struggling alone and missing so many people.

This is one of the songs they played at my aunts funeral. I had this version of the song for a while, but now it’s taken on a new meaning for me. I’ll always think of her when I hear it.

Getting Through Challenging Times

This past week has been a difficult one for me. There was another episode with the dad, one that left me feeling terrified and paranoid for days. My body and senses on high alert.

The current state and chaos going on in the country and the world didn’t help with the paranoia. As the lockdown continues and so much uncertainty remains, each week that goes by seems to get more and more challenging. It seems harder to find and hold onto hope and positivity. To keep going strong.

I can’t control what’s happening in the world. In my country. But I can control my actions. And once again I’ve allowed myself to become absorbed in, and consumed by the negativity taking place on social media. I know the effect it has on me, and I also know that there’s a lot of misinformation out there. When I’m already feeling angry and anxious, reading certain posts, the comments, and commenting myself, increases that ten-fold. I should know better, yet I allowed myself to ignore the warnings. That’s on me. And so, yet again, I’m making the decision to step back.

The breakthrough came in, and after, my therapy session. Leaving the house and driving to my appointment filled me with anxiety. The thoughts that I was being watched, followed, and would be pulled over and hurt, felt overwhelming. The thoughts and feelings followed me into my therapists office.

After a while I started feeling more contained. I’m so fortunate and extremely grateful that I get to see my therapist in person and have that safe space to go to each week. It’s been my saving grace so many times. So has she. Therapist has a calming effect on me, and I really needed that this week. She basically reiterated that I need to do what makes me feel contained, safe, and regulated, no matter how “weird” it may seem to myself and others.

So I’ve doubled down on my self-care and using my coping and emotion regulation tools. I’ve let go of all the expectations and pressure I’ve been putting on myself. There’s a time and place for that, and now is not that time. Thankfully the paranoia I’ve been experiencing has slowly faded.

What really helps through all of this is the connection I have (and feel) with my therapist. Physical distancing is hard on all of us, but knowing that there are people who care, even if it’s just one person, goes a long way. I had a lovely dream about my previous therapist, and sent her a message to tell her about it. And as usual, she replied. It’s so nice, and healing, to know that our connection is still there. That she’s still around, still cares, and hasn’t forgotten me.

This is such a challenging time. But we are resilient and can weather the storm. We’ve got this. ❤

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.