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Friday, November 14, 2008

Looking at things

This time last year I felt trapped. I had made some discoveries about my relationship with my mother that left me frustrated and unhappy. I spent months trying to move forward, but emotionally I was vacillating between self-pity and wishing for things I could not have. And when the things one wishes for are core human needs, knowing they can't be filled is agonizing. It was not a pleasant time for me.

Eventually, I moved on and found ways to live with deficits--as I always have. Acknowledging the deficits exist simply increases the pain for awhile, then one realizes that this is nothing new, it's always been a part of life and pain is an inconvenience that colors most experiences. It would have been nice to figure out a way to fill those needs, but I haven't figured out how, so I suppose I'm no better or worse off than before. It seems to have been a time-consuming, aggravating exercise, the sole purpose of which was to teach me that no matter how magic I think I am, there are some things I can't change, some people who will not care about me as I might wish, and some aches that continue even after grieving and acceptance have taken place. So, I learned.

There are two types of learning, in my experience. Type one can be instructional, observational, or experiential. This type of learning is usually age-appropriate and leaves us feeling energized and empowered. We're excited to share our knowledge--or at least locate someone who will allow us to talk endlessly about it. We are usually inspired by such learning to investigate further, to experiment and gain more knowledge. It's this type of learning that I seek out constantly. It's why I research anything and everything, and also why I'm a source of odd trivia at any given moment.

Learning type two can also be instructional, observational, or experiential, but this type of learning is not usually sought out. Often it is thrust upon us without prerequisite information, or before we are mature enough to deal with the subject matter or consequences. The result of such learning can leave us frustrated or even scarred, as it often is accompanied by violent behaviors or pain. But this is also the type of learning we experience as we come to accept our own fallibility, and the necessary impact of outside forces on our lives. People respond differently to this type of learning. Some retreat, try to heal, look for sources of comfort and support. Others talk about it incessantly in a semi-anonymous blog...

I suppose I'm reflecting on this because one year later, I'm anything but stagnant. Each day seems to pull me in a different direction--and I don't know how to choose anymore. There seems to be no "good" choice. If I choose what feels safe and comfortable, I lose something joyful and precious. If I choose to continue in my current path, I feel exhausted and frustrated--and somehow, lonely.

Option One: safe and comfortable. This allows me to return to a place of familiarity where Darrin is my rock and my salvation. 
1. I'm very certain my flashbacks and nightmares would dwindle, and probably cease altogether. 
2. PTSD symptoms would undoubtedly become imperceptible, as I would not be placing myself in any situations which might aggravate such symptoms.
3. I would become very productive at work.
4. I would not be lonely.
5. All feelings would once again become predictable and manageable.

1. I would, of necessity, become too busy for outside distractions (i.e. other people in my life).
2. Darrin would once again feel the stress of my dependence on him.
3. Personal growth would be limited to intellectual and spiritual areas. Social growth would happen only in the controlled environment of professional interactions, and possibly at necessary.
4. I would not be lonely (no--not a typo).
5. I would, of necessity, diminish all close relationships outside of my husband and children. This effectively nullifies any progress I made in the learning to connect with people over the past three years. 

Option two: exhausted and frustrated. Choosing this means I continue with my current goals to find peace, healing, and connection with others in the real world.
1. Darrin wants this. And he usually wants the things that are best for both of us.
2. I might someday learn how to manage, even overcome problems associated with PTSD.
3. I might someday learn how to relax and enjoy close, non-contractual relationships.
4. I would be lonely (no this is not a typo).
5. I would experience spontaneity and joy.

1. I'm tired.
2. This makes me cry-- a lot.
3. I am really, really discouraged.
4. I am almost always lonely.
5. I can't do this by myself.

Probably this should be a no-brainer. I know what the healthy choice is. I also know there's a lot going on behind the scenes that keeps getting in the way. Darrin's health is not good. He finally saw a doctor--which is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, he has so many things going wrong, that treating one malady can exacerbate the problems caused by another. He's currently being treated for "just two things at a time." Right now the high cholesterol and thyroid problems seem to be the most pressing. So he's on low dose meds for both of those (can't use regular doses as one treatment seems to negate the other), and we're hoping his body will respond to one or both so that we can move on to the next thing. He's also scheduled for a sleep study, for which I'm grateful. There have been times when he has stopped breathing at night for what seems an eternity. I panic and shake him awake. I know I'm probably worrying over nothing, but I can't help it. 

Also, Darrin will be gone for the month of January. I talked with Leslie last night who said, "I don't think I could do that!" It was good for me to hear someone else express what I was feeling. I'm a little stressed about being a single mom for that period of time, and not having Darrin's steady presence each night. The timing of his absence isn't good for either of us.

Off the subject and completely irrelevant: I seem to be developing a phobia toward chatting online. If the subject about which I chat becomes emotional or is something I feel deeply, I start imagining all sorts of ways the person I'm conversing with will twist my words, or judge me, or misunderstand. This initial feeling balloons into a fear I can't seem to manage and  I leave the conversation hoping I'll never see or hear from my fellow converser again. I can't even imagine, at that point, feeling love or friendship for the hapless person sharing my personal chat. It's obnoxious. And frustrating, because it's been through the chat venue that I've been able to figure out many of the things that have been therapeutic or healing--and this is not a good time to start limiting my chats, given the decision I discussed above (okay--maybe not so irrelevant). This does not make me happy.

Some of you who read my blog chatted with me, left comments, or emailed about a recent previous post which I have now deleted. 
Jay--thank you for the things you said in your email. I appreciate your taking time to let me know your thoughts and to offer support and advice. I hope you'll continue to do so. 
A.J. -- thanks for your comment, and for the hug. :)
Jared--thanks for your words of encouragement. You and Katrina are wonderful.
Ginsberg--You remind me of the things that are important. 
Ambrosia--in twenty years, I think we will be. And I'm excited to see you next week!
AtP--I don't think you read the post, but your email came at about that time. Thank you for loving me, and for taking time to say it.
Jason--I really needed to hear what you said Sunday night. And I feel the same way. 
Tolkien Boy--Thanks for being my email outlet and for letting me try to continue figuring things out there since I can't chat about them anymore. It's not a trend I'll continue, mostly because it embarrasses me that I talk so much about myself in an email, but I appreciate the temporary fix. 

Speaking of Tolkien Boy, he made me laugh last night when he said he sees a visible resemblance between me and the comic book rendition of Wonder Woman. And while my legs might rival hers (years of running), I don't think I could manage the bustier without a couple of spots of surgery. Oh..he probably wasn't looking at the body...silly me...


  1. The last wonder woman picture is Alex Ross. If you ever get into comic books he does some great stuff.Sorry off topic ....I'm a comic book geek. On topic just remember we all care about you Sam. p.s the did Adam say why he was eating money?

  2. We suffer from many health problems at our house too, including post tramuatic stress disorder. I can relate to a lot of what you are saying even if our challenges stem from different circumstances than those you deal with. I doubt that life turns out for anyone the way they imagined or wished or hoped for in every way (hopefully one or two of our expectations are met) and it can be very disorienting, especially when you grow up in the church (for obvious reasons). As hard as it is, I have come to the conclusion that this is exactly why we are here. As hard as it can be for you, I am thrilled that there are people out there like you, who have the courage to act on their beliefs no matter what--and that you are happy about that choice (even though it is hard). As long as we keep trying, as much as we struggle, we haven't failed.

  3. A.J.--Yes. I stole it from his site. Hoping he'll see that as greater publicity, not thievery. And Adam just wanted to see if it would come out of him.

    Heidi--Thanks for stopping by. One of the reasons I blog is to maintain a realistic outlook. My situation is unique, but has many parallels to other situations--and I learn from them. I appreciate your comments.