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Sunday, January 29, 2012

"What would you do if you weren't afraid?" ~Spencer Johnson

There have been a few times in my life when I have found myself in a place, emotionally, similar to that in which I now find myself. In the past I have chosen different ways to cope with the difficulties--some have been healthier than others. Regardless, at some point in each of those situations, I have made the decision to dig myself out of my current mucky hole, change my attitude and perspective, and cling to the things which bring me happiness.

It isn't easy; and I don't believe everyone in the world can do this. I'm able to because:
1. I'm not clinically nor chemically depressed.
2. I don't suffer from serious emotional/mental disorders such as schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder.
3. I understand my limitations (which doesn't mean I don't try to reach beyond them, just that I'm not devastated when I fail completely at being a superhero).

I do experience depression sometimes. I believe that's a normal state of being for most people when they encounter difficulties which feel overwhelming. I have PTSD and an anxiety disorder (did you notice? Three words in a row beginning with "an"). I do not take medication for these, mostly because I react badly to medication. Even Ibuprofin, as I found out after my recent surgery, causes my body extreme distress. Sometimes it's best not to play the crap shoot of taking psychotropic drugs when the odds are stacked against  one.

I've been experiencing a downward emotional spiral in my life for nearly three years now. There are valid reasons for this. I've had a lot to deal with, probably more than the average person, but most certainly there are others whose lives have more stress and sadness than mine.

It's time to stop.

I've been lying low for about a week now. This is crucial for me right now. I've limited my exposure to most of the people in my life for a few reasons:
1. I needed a moment to step back and regroup.

2. People, for me, are unpredictable and I often misinterpret their words and intent. I needed a break from that.

3. I had begun to feel that if I needed someone I had to track them down, beg for a moment of time, and convince myself it was okay to take that time if it was offered. I hate feeling that way. When this situation arises in my life it usually means I'm not coping well with the social intricacies of maintaining relationships. It has nothing to do with the people, themselves, and everything to do with how I interpret their words and actions--and my interpretation is almost always incorrect.

4. I'm tired. There are people in my life who feel like a haven most of the time. When I stop feeling relief when I'm with them; when chatting and phone calls become work; when I feel that everything I say is wrong--that's when I know I'm overwhelmed and I need to take care of some inner emotional messes before I can continue interaction with people. Occasionally a friend has talked me through this, or just stayed with me while I've sorted myself out. I'm not sure how that happened, as I usually don't allow anyone near me in those times. Interestingly, this time I've longed for that type of company as I go through this nasty but necessary transition, and I've felt sadness when I could not bring myself to ask a loved one to lend me a hand. I don't understand this new development and I'm not at all comfortable with it.

5. I've been having disturbing dreams involving people who are close to me. It's difficult enough to try to sort through reality without mixing in the emotions stirred up by illogical and upsetting dreams.

6. I don't really know what how I wish to proceed in my relationships with people.

I suppose that last part is really the bottom line. I'm confused. I feel inadequate. I'm too tired to figure out what to do next.

In spite of all this, I made a decision last night: It's time for me to move forward again.

I watch the sun rise nearly every morning. I can't help it. I wake up and wait until it begins, then I move to the window and watch. Every morning I'm fascinated by the changes in the lightening sky. Sometimes the colors are breathtaking. Other mornings the sky simply lightens until the sun bursts above the golden horizon. I have no preference--I just want to see it happen.

Today I found moments to laugh--I consciously sought them out. I went to church and thanked The Big Guy for the opportunity to take that moment for meditation, singing, hearing words other people speak, and listening to the voice of my own soul.  I played with my kids and Darrin. We made new, unusual food for dinner. I read a book I'd been wanting to read, and wrote a rather terrifyingly awful poem. I played Facebook games.

I know there are some people in my life who have been worried about me. There is a part of me which feels a bit rebellious about that. No one is allowed to worry about me because I'm always okay. I land on my feet and carry on no matter what happens. If someone worries about me, that means I might be vulnerable, I have the possibility of failure, and then I have to acknowledge that people, occasionally, actually think about me. Those things negate my illusion that I'm invincible.

There is another part of me--a relatively new part--which feels grateful that someone might be mindful of me. That's the part that wishes to be cherished and important and involved in the lives of other people. I hate that new part. It's uncomfortable and confusing and ultimately joyful. I would very much like it to go away. I also want it to stay forever.

So--if you are one who has thought of me in the past few months, worrying a tiny bit as you've watched me deteriorate--thank you for thinking about me and lending support in whatever way you have chosen. I'm certain I didn't want it. I'm more certain that I desperately needed it.

Nearly every evening I watch the sun set. I can't help it. I notice the waning light, go to my window and watch. Every evening I'm fascinated by the changes in the darkening sky. Sometimes the colors are breathtaking. Other times the sky gradually dims until the sun disappears beneath the horizon and the sky becomes my favorite shade of blue--so deep it is nearly black. I have no preference--I just want to see it happen.

Tomorrow I will watch the sun rise again. I'll find more things that make me laugh. I'll be grateful for the many wonderful things and experiences and people in my life. I'll go to work with a smile and hope for the best when I attend my physical therapy appointment. I'll spend time with people I love and make time for meditation and reflection and gratitude. When the time comes, I'll watch the sun set once again.

I will become strong again. I will smile every time the opportunity presents itself. And even though I know it won't be easy, little by little I will make the changes necessary for me to feel less lonely, less frustration and anger, and less sadness.

And just as an aside: probably this is going to be miserable and really, really hard. If someone happens to feel a desire to extend a helping hand to me--I'll probably take it.

There. First change goal accomplished. I just asked for help.

I'm amazing. :-)

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