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Monday, May 23, 2011

"Life is full of beauty. Notice it." ~Ashley Smith

Today at the gym there was a young man in his gym shorts and t-shirt...and cowboy boots. There was also a very old lady (I'm guessing 80s) who smiled the entire time she was lifting weights. It was a little bit creepy and sort of nice, too. A nice young man asked if I'd like him to spot me. That was a little weird. When I said, "No, but thank you," the very cute young lady next to me said (after Young Man's departure), "You know that's gym code for 'I'd like to get to know you a little better,' right?" I replied, "No, I didn't know that, but if that's the case, then 'No, but thank you,' is code for 'I'm married and far too busy to get to know anyone right now.'" She laughed.

These things are not common gym occurrences. In fact, I'm usually at the gym during the Exclusive Geriatric Hour, which is kind of fun, actually. Today there were quite a few younger participants in their 20s and 30s. I think I like the EGH better. No one really looks at anyone else during that time and even if they're looking, odds are their vision is poor enough that they don't really know what they're seeing.

PTSD is back. It no longer frustrates me or causes anger. I suppose I've decided to work through it, finally. However, sometimes I'm not as good at it as others. Today was awful. There are days when the panic becomes so intense that I throw up, even if I've not eaten. This was one of those days. I haven't figured out how to derail that process yet. Still, I suppose stress vomiting and shaking (I'm sure I look like I'm having a seizure) most of the day is better than flashbacks, which continue to be absent.

I think the most difficult part of days like these is the intense feeling that everything stable, every person I count on, everything I believe, is disappearing. I don't know how to combat that.

A friend asked me to lunch today. She's on the verge of a nervous breakdown, crying constantly, and feeling depressed. She said it calms her to be with me. That's sort of crazy--call the PTSD-laden friend to help you calm down? I didn't tell her what was happening inside of me, so maybe that's not even applicable. She did notice I didn't really eat, though, so I chose something innocuous looking and pretended to enjoy it, knowing full well it was not going to stay with me. Still, it's nice to know that even when I'm feeling impossibly impaired, I can help a friend through a crisis. I'm guessing it was just having a break and someone to talk to that helped calm her, but today I really need to feel like I had something to do with it, so I'm claiming credit.

I talked with Lydia today about the classes she wants me to teach at the University. We talked about what it would take for me to get my PhD. She's not sure it's necessary. I can be a lecturer without it. While I understand this (and also how fortunate I am that she hires me to teach), I know that my job there is not as secure as it would be if I had the credentials to back it up. I have three degrees, but only one is postgraduate. She said, "Sam, you're one of the most intelligent, engaging people I know. That's why I selected you to teach these classes. They're the ones I usually reserve for myself to teach--because I care about them. But you care just as much as I do, you teach more thoroughly and with a wider perspective. I trust you to teach them because you stay current, you research, and you connect with the students in ways that I can't--ways I don't want to because it takes time and right now I'm feeling too busy. I know you only have a Masters degree. It doesn't matter. Oh, and by the way, I've always felt that way about you, even when you were my student. It's one of the reasons we're friends now."

But to me, it does matter. Lydia also said she thinks if I get my PhD, I'll go elsewhere. I haven't really thought about that. I'm pretty happy right here and I'm not young enough to try to build any sort of reputation that would land me another position. It was nice, though, to hear her say those things, and very unexpected.

Also, my broken arm has completely healed. And I haven't mentioned it before because:
1. I'm embarrasses that it even happened, and I was completely responsible for the break because I forgot to remember to feel pain, the front door was stuck, I was panicking so I sort of injured myself trying to get out and that's all I want to say about the process of breaking my arm.

2. I had a brace (yay! no cast) but I couldn't wear it because I had too many performances lined up and it's impossible to play in an arm brace and I didn't want any more people telling me I was stupid and my arm would never heal--which it did. The doctor says it probably took twice as long as necessary, and was more painful that it would have been if I'd worn the brace. Then he said that probably means nothing to me since I don't really feel pain. Then he said I need to get some help because I could really injure myself and I wouldn't understand the magnitude of the injury and I got a big long lecture on the purpose of pain which I already knew.

3. I'm still not sure how the heck I was able to break my arm--and neither is my doctor--because my bone density is ridiculous. He just rolled his eyes at me and said, "You must have hit that door pretty hard." What I didn't tell him is that I broke the door, too.

So--nicely mended arm now (it was only a hairline fracture, not serious at all), and I'm trying once again to feel pain. It's not very successful yet, but I have high hopes that it will be soon. And I didn't tell the doctor at all about the knee injury I sustained last year when I had my spectacular, head-over-heels fall, followed by four more ugly spills in the subsequent weeks. I was going to if the knee wasn't better by March. But it seemed to be getting better at that point and as of the first of May, it feels completely normal. I'm all better, finally. Yay!

So--goals to talk to Therapist about when I see him in about a month:
1. Strategies to learn to feel pain--better ones that those I've been using.
2. Ideas of how to deal with being a workaholic because it's getting worse. Last week, Darrin arranged for me to have all of Saturday to myself. I ended up at my office and worked there for six hours. Then I came home and worked two more. And it's not because I didn't want to take time off, it's because when I realized I wouldn't be working that day, I had a huge panic attack and the only way I could think of to alleviate it was to go to work. So--I need help.
3. Discuss ways to better manage my eating disorder. I know all that stuff all ready, but I'm hoping Therapist can figure out why I'm failing in this particular area of my life right now--because I can't understand why I keep reverting to that lovely coping device.
4. Help me learn how to take the adult self-esteem I've developed and apply it to the integrated parts of me that are still feeling worthless. Also, help me learn to stop being afraid of people because I hate that part of me.

And that's enough. I'm not adding anything else to the list. I only have about four or five weeks to prepare for my visit, so I need to keep my list short.

Also, yesterday there were bright yellow canaries migrating through our town. They settled for a brief time in my tree, which is just barely showing leaf buds. It was filled with flashes of yellow and noisy with birdsong. I watched it for a long time.

And now I must go to sleep. It's been a very long day.


  1. I think those little gym moments are exciting - sometimes I catch a glimpse of the older folk and love their happiness and the way they treat others - its so nice - wish I was more like them sometimes

  2. Ouch! I'm glad your arm has healed.

  3. R&T: I'm actually pretty antisocial at the gym--completely focused on what I'm doing and making sure I stay in my time frame because I'm working so many jobs right now--so gym moments are sort of inconvenient and intrusive right now, but I agree with your sentiments about the senior citizens. It's actually one of the reasons I go when I do. Can't wait to see them tomorrow! :)

    Brozy: Me, too. Also glad my fingers are back in shape. There were days when playing was a great effort.