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Saturday, November 30, 2013


I hesitate to write this post--especially after the things I said less than a month ago in this post.

However, it's important to me that I am honest, and in my blog is where I put the uncomfortable truths that many people (including myself) do not wish to hear me speak. So I am writing this with the caveat that at any time I might rescind the words.

I understand.

I know why relationships wax/wane/disappear.

I don't have a lot to say about this, except it doesn't make me want to scream anymore. I think the most important thing is that I'm okay with the system and it's all right if people maintain shoestring relationships, meet intermittently, and feel happy about their interaction. People weren't meant to be integral parts of the lives of lots of people. Children grow up and leave, friends find other friends, sometimes married people choose to divorce and marry other people. That's just life.

I think I believed there was something about people not staying that said something about me--I wasn't good enough, or entertaining enough, or loving enough, or maybe, just not enough at all. It doesn't, though. The process of moving through people doesn't really say anything about me at all, except that maybe I'm human, too.

There are still people I want to have in my life. I would choose them daily. But I'm no longer terrified that I'll watch them move away from me and wonder why. And if they do, I'm pretty sure I'll be okay with letting them decide how frequently they contact me.

My stress about this came, I believe, because I allowed myself to have close relationships with people other than Darrin. I had never done that before. I told people things about me; I shared my loves and peeves and joys and sorrows. And then I became afraid that I had shared a part of me that would be discarded or mocked, or that I assumed someone would care when really they were just mildly curious. Yes, this is a reflection of my childhood.

But I think what has happened is that I'm recognizing that what I have to give has value, if only to me. It's up to the recipient what happens next. And if what I've given is disregarded or belittled, that's not my problem. I chose unwisely and I can learn from my mistakes.

I think there are lots of people who love other people in varying degrees. Their interest in those people has longevity based on the depth and reciprocation of that love. People are complicated. Lives can be complicated. Sometimes things like stress, or family problems, or physical/mental illness cause rifts that can't be bridged. It's a loss we mourn and then move forward. It seems to be the only healthy way to interact with people because no one wants to stay in a relationship because they feel threatened or compelled to do so. They want to be there because the person makes their lives feel better in many different ways.

That's all, I guess. I understand. Finally.

But just so you know, I still don't like it. I also understand that because of my nature and background, it's probable that I will always be the one who watches the other person walk away. That's not a fun realization. But it's reality. I can live with reality.

Friday, November 29, 2013

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." ~Gilbert Keith Chesterton

I bowed to my Inner Selfish yesterday.

Thanksgiving brings a host of mixed feelings for me. I have good childhood memories of Thanksgiving. Each year was spent with my favorite cousin, Jeff, and his family. I felt, at those times, that I had an ally, a friend, someone a little bit like me who understood my whims and ideas and feelings. For three days I had a haven with a person I loved who loved me back--and no abuse from my mother. She was even kind on those days. Jeff and I avoided our mothers (and all adults), and it was nice to be able to relax with someone.

On the other hand, I hate Thanksgiving dinner. I always have. I'm not fond of meat, in general, so a meal dominated by a huge bird does not appeal to me. Jeff, who loves turkey, used to insist that I liked it, too, sliding extra helpings on my plate and covering the meat with cranberry sauce and giblet gravy. I hate giblets. I would eat a little of the potatoes (not a huge fan of those, either), search in vain for salad not made with Jello or some sort of whipped topping, and leave the table as soon as I was able, spurning the pies of a dozen flavors (I also am not fond of pie), and seek out an orange or apple that was bound to be in the kitchen somewhere. I still hate Thanksgiving dinner.

Jeff and I were of one heart when it came to large crowds. Thanksgiving always brought large crowds. Jeff would find a hiding place for us, and we would stay there playing video games, reading comic books, or playing Uno. Sometimes, if we were feeling sociable, we would join our older siblings in a game of Monopoly. I still have difficulty with large crowds.

So this year, Darrin volunteered to help with a community Thanksgiving event, and DJ had to do a stint on the ambulance for his EMT class, and Adam was working in the morning, and Tabitha had the stomach flu the night before and was finally sleeping--so I went to a place where I could be alone, and I spent time with me. An evening Thanksgiving dinner was scheduled with my parents. I stayed alone for about seven hours. I read, played stupid Facebook games, practiced a piece I've been memorizing, sang songs I love, went for a walk, and stared out my window for an hour. I didn't make the traditional Thanksgiving phone calls to Darrin's family or my sisters--nor did I answer phone calls. I ignored texts (except for the one from Blueyedane, because I love him and he doesn't make me feel like I'm invisible) and I sent none.

And I chose no one to receive my annual Thanksgiving email. Each year since I've had access to email, I've chosen someone I care about deeply and I've sent them a note on Thanksgiving. I've told them why they make my life better and expressed my love and gratitude for them. I love this part of Thanksgiving.

This year I just didn't want to. Maybe I'm ungrateful? Maybe I no longer love as deeply? Maybe I care more about the Thanksgiving email than the recipient does? Because I'm pretty certain that no one really wonders if I love them or am grateful for them, so it might come as a nice surprise, but there is no way anyone feels as profoundly about receiving that email as I have felt about writing it. Except this year I didn't feel anything.

At 3:00 I checked the turkey and started peeling potatoes. Adam insisted we do all fifteen pounds which turned out to be about ten pounds too many. Then I made candied sweet potatoes (and some plain ones for Grandma and me). I chopped onions and celery for stuffing and had Adam deliver them to my mom's house. At 4:30, my mom called to tell me she had rescheduled dinner for 6:00. I looked at the almost cooked turkey and told her it was a mistake, at which point she confessed that she hadn't even begun making rolls or stuffing and she was still making pies. I reminded her that we were only cooking for nine people. She ignored me.

So the turkey was dry and nasty, the stuffing underdone, the rolls were sort of horrid, the marshmallows had sunk to the bottom of the candied yams, and we had way too many mashed potatoes. Darrin said dinner was marvelous. Adam and DJ thought it was fine. The other guests took large quantities of leftovers home with them. Darrin says I am Thanksgiving Scrooge. He's right.

This morning, as I watched the sun rise, I realized that if I had to do my day over again, I would do the same thing. There is something about my alone time that I crave deeply right now. But I sort of regret not writing my Thanksgiving email. So today, I'm writing one--to me.

Dear Sam,

You're pretty hard on yourself a lot of the time. You always believe you can handle the stress and sadness that creep into your life with more grace and dignity. You wish you were better at friendship and parenting and playing music and cooking and keeping house and loving people. You want to live life with more joy and see more that is beautiful, but sometimes the ugly and sad are overwhelming and you're not as good at life as you want to be.

But today, the day after Thanksgiving, I'm choosing you as the recipient of my gratitude email. Because I think sometimes you should be thanked for the things you do--things no one notices and sometimes you only notice after a long time has passed and you finally recognize what you've done.

Thank you for not giving up. There have been so many times when you've wanted to and life has been really painful. But you continued, not always very gracefully, but with as much determination as you could muster, and you're here today--and that's a good thing because if you weren't you would have missed the sunrise this morning and it was breathtaking.

Thank you for trying to learn about people and relationships. It's really hard--probably for everyone in the world. You've had some wonderful moments and made beautiful memories as you've worked on allowing people to know more about you and spend time in your life.

Thank you for giving stupid gifts to people. You learned a great deal about yourself, and some of those giving times were really helpful as you worked on integration. I'm guessing the recipients wondered why you were giving them things, but it's not really important. They can work on dealing with their feelings about it on their own time. You needed to do it, and it wasn't easy because some of those gifts exposed you to vulnerability and allowed others to gain knowledge about who you are and the things you love. For you, that takes a great deal of courage. But what you gained in the process was invaluable and probably indescribable. Thank you for doing it even though it was difficult.

Thank you for forgiving the people who have harmed you. The angry times were important. The sad times were more important. The lonely times were horrible, but probably also important. Now that the rancor and bitterness have passed, you will always understand that what was done to you was wrong and should never have happened, but you have chosen to be someone who will find joy and beauty. I'm happy that you chose that. Your life will be better and you will eventually replace the ugliness of your experiences with the beauty of your choices.

Thank you for getting help when you needed it. Not everyone can do that. It takes strength and a willingness to look at what is hurting when one wishes to heal. The healing is still happening and seems to be taking an eternity. But part of that is because you're still deciding who you are. One day you'll know--and I think you'll like think you'll love her.

Thank you for taking time to care for your physical needs--for getting a mammogram and a physical even though those things are really horrifying to you and trigger memories you'd like to forget. But you did it because you understand you are at risk for breast cancer and you need to take care of yourself. That's a really good thing and I'm glad you did it.

Thank you for getting up every morning and smiling because you're happy. Thank you for recognizing you're happy even when life is really hard.

Thank you for being me.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I thank Thee, dear Lord, for the blue of the skies,

For the green of the woods and fields,

For the river that ripples and sparkles by,

For the harvest the brown earth yields,

For the birds that sing

and the flowers that bloom,

For the breath of the cooling breeze.

Thou hast made them all so beautiful,
I thank Thee, Dear Lord, for these.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The huge bout of PTSD symptoms has gone. As is normal, I feel rather drained and exhausted emotionally. Therapist believes that one of the reasons the occurrences lately are more intense and enduring, is because I'm learning to manage the symptoms--I'm allowing them to happen so I can learn to cope better. I have no idea if he's right, but a similar thing happened before the flashbacks stopped a few years ago.

When the PTSD symptoms leave I feel spent. I have no desire to talk with or spend time with people. Practicing several hours daily, working out at the gym, and working online are endlessly appealing. Then I panic because I have a terrifying memory of my uncle, floating off the coast of Florida in a tiny boat because that's where he could be completely alone. He would tell no one he was leaving or where he was going and we would only learn that he was "boating" when he arrived back home. I don't want to be my uncle. He is now almost completely anti-social, paranoid, and alone.

When the emptiness hits and the desire for complete solitude overwhelms me, I find myself ignoring the phone, emails...sometimes I chat with people but only if they hail me first. Then I wonder how long will they will continue seeking me out if I don't reciprocate, so I hastily return emails and phone calls and try to reach out to people on Facebook or online--but it's a rather huge effort, and so I remain emotionally exhausted and trying to remember why I'm doing those things.

Therapist says to just keep doing them. I often wonder if it feels easy for him to say that to me when he, himself, has never experienced the things I talk about, but I trust him, warranted or not, because I do not want to become my uncle, or my sister's friend who committed suicide, or the people I chat with at night in the PTSD chat rooms--people who live alone because it's too stressful to have a spouse or children, but they miss those people like crazy. I don't want that.

We've been having typically fluctuating weather. It's not unusual for November to have a snowstorm and below zero weather one day, and be in the forties or fifties the next. Our birds are silent in the cold. I've been missing them, as the past few days have been frigid. Yesterday it warmed a bit. Today is gorgeous and the winter birds are talking outside my window. It's lovely.

The warmer weather helps me, as well as the abundance of sunshine. I'm less likely to hibernate in my house and ignore all humanity on days like today. Still, when I talk to people, I don't always know what to say and I don't always want to talk. It has nothing to do with the person, who is wonderful, and everything to do with not being able to understand why they're in my life in the first place. I used to believe this feeling came from lack of self-worth, but that's not the case. It truly is completely baffling to me. I'm a workaholic. I love obscure poetry and literature. I take calculus classes when I think no one is looking. I'm a little obsessed with making food that is colorful and tastes amazing. I think almost everything in the world (including spiders and snakes) is beautiful in its own way. I'm a complete music nerd. If allowed, I would talk about music history and piano pedagogy nonstop--probably for days. I'm not particularly fascinating or beautiful or young, so I often wonder why people are interested in me at all. I seem, to me, humdrum at best and completely odd at worst.

Therapist says that phrase describes most everyone in the world. Perhaps we're all birds of a feather?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

If you can make sense of this post, I have a gold star you can wear on your forehead.

I know two women who were friends for nearly 25 years. They lived near each other and spent a great deal of time together for the first eight of those years, then one moved far away. After the move, they called each other a few times weekly and spent time talking while they cleaned or prepared dinner, sharing minute details of their daily lives and missing each other. Sometimes one would fly to the other's home so they could be together for a week or two. They came away from those visits rejuvenated and happy.

Then one day the relationship stopped. I don't know the details. I just know the phone calls ceased and the visits ended and nearly a decade has passed without the two friends sharing a word or a moment. They simply are not part of each other's lives anymore.

I don't know how this happens. I don't understand how people can move from closeness and intimacy to nonexistence. Probably that sounds weird, coming from me, because I've been known to disappear from people's lives fairly regularly, but the difference is, I never allowed myself to feel closeness. There may have been close moments, or briefly shared intimacy, but I would not allow those things to become more than just tiny moments, nor would I allow those moments to deepen or form lasting relationships.

I've done that now. I have more than one relationship I feel has depth and longevity--relationships in which I invest love and time, and I not only allow the closeness to happen, I often seek it. And now that I've experienced what that feels like, I don't understand how close relationships wane or end. At all.

I actually believed that when I allowed myself to experience relationships, I would then understand the fleeting nature of human sociality. I thought I'd know how it happens that people allow life moments to replace interaction with loved ones. I thought I'd get it. But I don't. The longer my close relationships last, the more I am baffled by the account of the two women which began this blog post. If this was just one account, I'd simply believe they were unusual, or the relationship became unhealthy, but I know of several such stories. People who were close for a very long time, and then they weren't.

I'm thinking about this today because for the past three years I've felt very large changes happening to my emotional self. I'm allowing myself some leeway because I've been asked to endure unusual emotional trauma during that time, but as I heal, as I regain my stamina, I find myself changed.

I don't yearn for closeness as I once did. In fact, I feel a great deal of antagonism when others seek closeness from me, and when I feel a tug toward any other person, that antagonism boomerangs back and I feel it toward myself. Tolkien Boy has more than once told me that my emotional self is maturing, insinuating that it was stunted in my childhood and youth because I was not allowed to express emotions and love words from me were mocked or ignored. I can't discount this opinion, partly because Tolkien Boy knows me fairly well, and partly because it's a logical conclusion based on my weird, rather horrifying past.

However, I would not classify my feelings for Darrin and my children as immature and while certain aspects of my feelings for others might be, I don't know that that stems from a need for growth, but rather, I believe it to be a side effect of learning to live with people while dealing with PTSD--not an easy task and one which many people who experience PTSD avoid. Allowing people to remain in my life while dealing with the symptoms of PTSD is one of the most difficult things I've ever done. It remains difficult. I keep doing it. For whatever reason, my heart and soul believe it to be important, regardless of the effort it requires.

I try to make certain that my struggle in this area doesn't scare people away. I spoke to Tolkien Boy on the phone about 10 days ago. The day had been awful. I think I cried through most of it. I was overwhelmed and angry and sad and nauseated. I felt like a complete failure and sort of hated myself. I finally let Tolkien Boy know I was having a difficult day and asked if I could call (because that's what Therapist says I should do). When we spoke, he said, "You don't sound like you're falling apart. You sound like you're doing well." I believe I made some comment about that being my tragedy--I always sound like everything's okay. It's practiced. It's what I was taught. Never let anyone know you're dying inside. That's not allowed. Forget that you're hurting and make sure you send the other person away with a smile and a laugh. Supposedly that will make you both live happily ever after.

I know it doesn't work. I leave conversations feeling glad that I brightened someone's day, and wishing I knew what to do to lighten my own load. I know all that stuff about doing service for others when you're feeling low and supposedly that will make your day wonderful, but thus far, in my life, that has not been the case. I feel grateful and blessed when I serve others. I feel glad if I can make their day happier, but I still struggle with panic and anxiety and often, depression.

It's my attitude, right?

Anyone who really knows me, knows that I work very hard to remain positive even while being realistic. I don't wallow often. I try to do good things. It's not like I'm seeking to be overwhelmed by symptoms of PTSD or loneliness or sadness. And I try not to spread it around. I really do want the people I love to feel valued and joyful when they're with me.

I'm not sure, really, what I'm trying to say here. Maybe that I'm feeling the changes happening inside me and I'm getting tired of always trying. I'm feeling stressed when it seems the only time people want to be with me is when they need my help or reassurance. Sometimes I want to be sought out because I'm Samantha and I'm missed. Sometimes I want people to enjoy my company just because I'm delightful. Sometimes I want to be the person thought of first when something funny or happy or newsworthy or mundane or odd just needs to be shared.

I don't know that I'm "maturing", as Tolkien Boy has expressed. I think I'm just getting fed up with PTSD and probably with relationships and people, as well. That sort of sounds the opposite of mature--and it definitely feels anything BUT mature.

Darrin says I feel this way because I don't allow people to fill my needs. I interrupt them and try to fill theirs instead. He says I'm afraid if I accept nurturing or love, I'll "owe" something. Maybe he's right?

All I know is this: the antagonism rears its ugly head at the most inopportune times, and has me questioning the worth of every relationship in my life right now. And that's unfair to my counterparts in those relationships. And I don't know what to do about it.

PTSD sucks.

That's all.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stressed, Tired, and Stumped

Last Saturday I attended the funeral of a friend. This required me to return to the place where I grew up and to meet with people of my childhood. While at the funeral, I was told some things about myself that are causing me some stress because until now I have had no memory of them. After we talked, my memories have been triggered and now I can't stop remembering. I sort of hate this part of me--this ability to suppress memory until it no longer exists for me, only to be haunted by its return.

So I'm not myself once again. Small things cause me panic; things I've done daily for years. Being online makes me feel completely unsafe. Chatting with people I know and love causes fear that is overwhelming. Being in rehearsal, teaching classes and private students, working online--all the things that make up my day--are giving me panic attacks that are difficult to manage.

I know what I'm supposed to do. Therapist and I have worked on this for years. I'm just not good at it yet.

Discovering memories, the existence of which I had completely forgotten, adds one more "thing" I have to process. I was the person in those memories. I did those things. I was in that place. I knew those people. So why did I forget? Why was I not strong enough to just cope with the moment and move on, allowing the event to be written in my history and continuing to live my life? Why did I feel that particular part of me needed to be erased?

For me this is is distressing to the point that I've not slept for a few days, and I've only been able to talk about it with one person--and now I feel guilty for talking about it with him. He is facing a number of large changes in the next couple of months that will completely remodel his current life. He doesn't need to hear about my trivia. Sometimes I forget that my life just isn't that amazing and I don't need to talk about it.

Still, when 4 a.m. rolled around this morning and I realized I hadn't slept--again--I started wondering how long I can go without sleep. I've had about three hours total in te past four nights and I'm starting to feel ill and paranoid. And I know, on the scale of Really Bad Problems, this is pretty trivial, but I don't really know what to do next. I could talk to Therapist, but I'm pretty sure he'll tell me to live in the moment, make cookies, talk to a friend, do something soothing...all very good suggestions, each of which is highly likely to send me into a panic attack from which I'm pretty sure I won't recover. Did I mention I was feeling paranoid?

Okay--I'm going to grade assignments. It has to be done, right?

Monday, November 4, 2013

A very short post

I went out of town for a few days. I wrote a post while I was gone--away from online access, for the most part--little telephone access--but I don't feel like publishing it right now.

Today my heart is crying a little bit for many reasons, most of which have to do with things I cannot change but wish were different.

That's all.