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Monday, November 10, 2014

Taking a deep breath

I'm supposed to be writing a lesson plan about Bartok and fashioning it so that it can be delivered by one of my graduate assistants in class on Wednesday. I should have had it to her last week. However, life got in the way and I didn't. I've promised it to her tonight. It will be delivered on time.

For almost a decade I've talked in this blog. There was a time when I wrote nearly every day. I had been silent for a very long time. It was as though someone opened the floodgates and from that point, the words would not stop.

In the past three months, however, I'm feeling a need to stop talking. This is not a churlish desire to garner attention-- I really don't want that. I am uncomfortable in the limelight of my own story, my own thoughts. I have always believed that what I say has importance to me, alone.

My conversation now, has become a recitation of my experiences teaching classes this semester. I hide behind those words. What I want to say will not come out. Something stops it. The days of being open, of sharing who I am, seem to be coming to an end.

I could blame my busy life, except that in the past decade I have made time to practice closeness with other people, and my life is no busier now than any other time. I could blame stress, but I have definitely had more stressful times. I suppose the truth is that I'm just ready to stop talking.

There have definitely been some events that have led me to this place, but those are really irrelevant, and very likely foolish imaginings on my part. Regardless, in looking at the whole picture, silence seems the best course of action.

And so tonight, to any readers who have come and gone, and to those who valiantly remain, "In case I don't see you-- good afternoon, good evening and good night."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I am funny, and fierce, and very tall.

I am feeling fierce once again.

That sounds weird unless you know me. It used to be a part of who I am. I was fiercely determined to do what was necessary to have joy and beauty-- always. I was fierce about loving people and defending them. I was fiercely loyal, and energetic, and successful. And I was tall, too.

Okay, that last part is a lie.

But then I got tired. Life threw me curve balls faster than I could catch them and throw them back. I am lamentably horrible at softball (much to the chagrin of my people). All the routines and coping mechanisms and peaceful moments were stripped away, to be replaced with pain of all kinds. I felt helpless and defeated. Life felt too difficult to live.

I'm still tired. I still feel defeated. But creeping back to me when I least expect it is that fierceness that was a normal part of my life a few years ago. And what that means is this:

1. I will not allow myself to quit. It doesn't matter how tired I am, I will finish what I started.
2. I will not be used by other people. I will interact. I will support and care, But I will have healthy boundaries.
3. I will not be a convenience, nor will I be an incidental occurrence. You will adore me and I will adore you back, or I will treat you courteously, as I do my business associates. The choice is not yours, nor mine alone, but belongs to us both. Whatever the outcome, I am finished feeling that I am at the mercy of another person.
4. I will be healthy. Now that I have complete mobility back, I will stop feeling sorry for myself and take care of my body with its bionic hip. I will be better, faster, and stronger.
5. I will enjoy the moments of my life, or die trying. They only come once. Even the nasty ones go away at some point.
6. I will allow happiness. For me, happy is a natural state of being, but sometimes I squash it out of spite. It's time for that to stop. I'm being churlish. I like being happy. It's time.
7. No matter what comes in the future, I can manage my attitude about it. And I will.
8. If you are someone I love, I am going to love you like crazy. Get used to it and try to enjoy it because that's not going to change. Don't even think about making me stop loving you.
9. I need flowers.
10. And chocolate.

There is a very good chance that I'm finding myself once again. And that's a good thing, because I'm a pretty terrific person. I laugh frequently (and sometimes inappropriately), make terrible jokes, smile perpetually, and give hugs spontaneously. Sometimes I make up superb recipes. I can misquote nearly anything that was ever written. I don't ever get earworms, but sometimes I get hiccups. I have enormous energy. I love to dance, do cartwheels, read, and make music. If we play a game, there's a good chance that I'll win. If we go on a walk, I'll drive you crazy every time I stop to look at the flowers, or the birds, or the bugs. Perhaps, now that I'm rediscovering myself, you should take a second and discover me, as well.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


It's getting too cold to run outside in the mornings. I'm toying with the idea of a morning gym visit (weights and treadmill) and a short evening run, just to get some outdoor time every day. The air is amazing this time of year, filled with the smell of late autumn flowers and fallen leaves. I need to be in it.

About two months after my hip replacement in February, I found myself feeling hopeful, looking forward to the future, planning things I wished to do. Probably it was because the pain of deteriorating bone was gone and I felt better, even if I was really tired. Being hopeful is a good place to be.

Last week I realized I had lost much of that feeling. I had mentally and emotionally canceled plans for friend visits and online time. My bucket list became nonexistent. The birthday party I had been thinking of throwing for myself next year was no longer a possibility.

Still, I'm giving myself props for going there in the first place. Especially when it comes to the birthday thing. The fact that I even considered it is sort of amazing.

Tabitha is unhappy with me. She asked me what I'll do if I stop dreaming. It's a good question. But I have a lot of books to read and endless music to memorize. And I'm going to admit that I'm going through something very emotionally painful right now. I believe in a month or so it will feel a little better. I think I'll feel hopeful again when that happens. Maybe I'll make a new bucket list.

In the meantime, I think it's okay to pull back. I've been reaching out a little bit, but some of my attempts have been ignored to the point that probably I need to admit that I've gotten the message and just stop. I don't want to. I want to believe that it's always okay for me to contact someone I love, but the realist in me understands that that's not the truth. Sometimes it's not okay.

So I'm finding different venues to channel the things that make me sad. Some of them are less healthy than others. I'm human. Sometimes I do stupid things. Life is not always perfect and I am doing the best I can.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Good Things

1. I haven't talked about this here because I didn't want to talk about it at all. But about a ten days ago, while visiting Utah, my mother fell down a large flight of stairs and ended up breaking several ribs (three are free-floaters), shattering a vertebra in her neck, and getting a concussion which included a small subdural hematoma. She was in critical condition for three days, but was released from the hospital last Friday. If all goes well, she'll get to travel home on Thursday this week. I've not been able to talk with her yet (my free time is nonexistent so I can only call in the early mornings and late at night when she's sleeping), but I'm given frequent updates from my dad.

2. My niece is having a baby girl today.

3. My aunt, who has been waiting nearly five years, received a kidney transplant this morning. She's doing well.

It's beautiful today. Even if it's cold, I think I need to go for a run and enjoy it.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A long time ago there was a David in my life. He was young. He spent time with me and with my family. We loved him. I believe we love him still. But one day things changed, he became unhappy with me, and he stopped being in my life. For awhile I contacted him intermittently. I wasn't sure what had happened, but wanted him to know he was still welcome. Then one day David emailed me. He told me all the reasons he was upset with me-- all the things I had done wrong. The things I was accused of were inaccurate assumptions made unfairly by him. I was understandably distraught.

Tolkien Boy was with me when I was reading the email. I shared parts of it with him. Then I read the email again. And again. Tolkien Boy said, in exasperation, "Why do you keep reading that? It's poisonous and ignorant and wrong!" I remember trying to tell him why. I remember Tolkien Boy turning away from me in impatience. I remember feeling unhappy that two people thought badly of me.

Today though, I know why I kept reading. I knew then, too. I just couldn't articulate it. The ideas were still fairly new to me. They're not anymore. They began long ago with this conversation:

me: Tolkien Boy, what do you do when someone is in your life, but you don't want them anymore? Or maybe you never wanted them, but they're just there. If they cause you distress, or they bother you, what do you do?

TB: Well, that doesn't happen often. I mostly like people

me: But what would you do? How would you ask them to leave?

TB: I wouldn't, probably. I think I would just avoid them whenever possible until they stopped coming around me.

me: Maybe that's what most people do?

TB: Maybe.

me: Tolkien Boy, I need you to promise me something.

TB: What's that?

me: Never do that to me. If the time comes that you don't need me or want me anymore, I need you to tell me. I think I deserve that. I've been in your life for a long time. I won't understand if you start avoiding me. It will hurt a lot and for a very long time-- so much more than if you just say it to me in words. Being ignored and avoided by people I love is something I used to deal with all the time. I don't want to do that again. I need you to tell me.

TB: Well, it's never going to happen.

me: Maybe not, but I still need you to promise me.

TB. It's a needless promise, but if it makes you feel better, should that time ever come, I will tell you.

me: Thank you.

I suppose when the email from David came, there was a part of me that felt used and angry, but there was another part that felt incredibly grateful. He told me. David took time to let me know that he didn't want me anymore. I needed that to happen. It was essential for me and allowed me to grieve, heal, and move forward.

Darrin says most people would probably rather be avoided. I've been encountering a number of situations lately where people have avoided or ignored me. I'm clearly not most people. The sting of those situations cements more soundly inside me that I don't want to be with those people anymore. At all. I would rather spend a day with David, knowing how he feels, than seek out those who don't tell me with words, but imply with their actions. Those actions leave me feeling powerless and confused. I don't feel that way with David. I know exactly where I stand. That's important to me.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers...

This morning a hot air balloon, complete with enthusiastically waving riders, floated over the house across the street. Not something you see every day.

There have been a number of large changes in my life over the past few months. Some of them (being able to run again, for example), have been very good. Some have been less so. I'm beginning to understand more about my role in the lives of others. I'm also understanding that I can be a bit demanding and exhausting. I've been scheduling more of my time offline and avoiding my phone. I think this will become my norm, at least until I can adjust to some of the social changes in my life.

Autumn has seemed to last forever this year-- a good thing in my book. We saw the first leaves changing around Labor Day. Fall color usually lasts about three weeks here. Today I'm still looking out my window at the orange leaves on my crabapple tree and when the sun rises while I'm working, my neighbor's tree, seen from my front window, glows golden. I'm not sure why the leaves have stayed, but what this means is that everywhere I look is beautiful.

Flowers are still blooming. Temperatures dip into the high 30s at night, but soar into the 70s by mid-afternoon. I usually wait until 8:30 a.m. to go running because at that point it's usually close to 40 degrees. Coupled with our intense sunshine, outside feels cool and warm at the same time, and that's a pretty perfect running condition.

I have library books that are overdue. I keep getting hate-emails reminding me that after three weeks they can send me to collections for the value of the books and I'll have to pay $10 to reinstate my account. What they don't realize is that I'm challenged by their threats. I keep reading my overdue books because a) I want to see if I can finish them before the three weeks are up, and b) part of me wants to know if they really will send my account to collections. I have one book left. Wednesday marks the three-week deadline.

I'm wondering, as I write this, when mid-semester hits and if I have to turn in grades soon. I'm not curious enough to check the calendar or my university email.

I've heard nothing about the ongoing investigation of my cousin for about a month. I'm hoping they're finished with it and they don't need me anymore. I'm pretending that's what has happened. It makes me feel better.

The birds have commenced flying into my front room windows. It's an annual fall event. We notice the thumps occurring regularly, usually in late September, and by mid-November I have to clean the down and other bird leavings off my windows. Darrin blames the apples we leave on our tree. He says they ferment, the birds eat them, then fly drunkenly into our window. He could be correct. I don't think about it that much.

I've been treated to gorgeous sunrises nearly every morning for two weeks. Sometimes I stop working and just go outside to watch. On warmer mornings, I watch them as I run. I've heard that intensely colored sunrises are harbingers of oncoming inclement weather. Thus far, that has not been the case. I would be fine with another couple of weeks filled with the golden days I've enjoyed throughout October.

When things happen that upset my world a bit, my impulse is to close my doors, talk less-- or talk more about things I don't care about. I'm wary about sharing anything close to my heart. This happened last summer and has continued into the fall. Part of me wonders if this is just who I am-- another part of me feels that it doesn't really matter. People aren't really clamoring to find out what I'm thinking or feeling. Perhaps, when all is said and done, relationships and human interaction are based solely on time and vicinity. When time becomes precious and distance looms between two people, love really doesn't make that much difference.

I think that next year I will plant flowers, herbs, and tomatoes again. It will be the first time in three years.

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Like" this post...

Facebook makes me tired.

Well, let's be real about this... pretty much everything makes me tired lately.

I've come to understand that when it comes to pop culture, or socialization, or politics, or religion, or trendy food/styles/music, or lifestyles, or wisdom, or friendship, or pretty much anything really-- I am not enough.

I don't feel passionate about most things. It's not that I don't have opinions or ideas, I've just lived long enough to understand that shouting my ideas to anyone within earshot (or who can see my Facebook post or Tweet or Pin) keeps me from hearing what anyone else might be saying.

But maybe that's the point. Maybe those people who say inflammatory things about sexuality and marriage and religion and Twinkies and disposable diapers don't want to hear what anyone else says.

I do, though.

Watching people I know and care about write gloating or caustic things about my beliefs is difficult for me to process. I don't write things about their beliefs. I don't press "like" when someone else does. I suppose if I feel passionate about something, it's that people have the right to believe as they wish without being mocked or bullied in a social forum.

It's an unpopular belief. VERY unpopular. I still feel it passionately.

Seeing posts about extreme political views or reading comments that are hateful or blatantly bigoted-- posts and comments that originate from people I care about deeply-- well, that simply makes me even more confused. I want to support them. They're my friends and sometimes my family. But mostly I don't agree with anyone.

Feeling isolated on Facebook is a very odd concept.

I write posts about funny things that happen to me or something beautiful I've encountered. Sometimes I laugh at myself or wonder what to make for dinner. Occasionally I whine because my life feels a little bit overwhelming or painful.

Why did I join Facebook in the first place?

I thought it might keep me connected with people I care about. I wanted to see pictures of spouses and children and friends and loved ones. Sometimes I play Scrabble there, and other stupid Facebook games. There are times that I read posts that make me laugh. I hoped I would feel closer ties to people I care about.

I don't though. The photos are still fun. I like reconnecting with people from my past (actually-- that was a therapy assignment). But I find myself hiding posts that feel hateful, or that diminish parts of my life that make me who I am, or that just make me wish I'd never read or seen or encountered whatever topic might be screaming at me from my computer. Mostly, at this point, it's very clear that Facebook is a way for people to say, "Look at me! I'm here! and I can scream my opinions so very loudly that I'll never, even for a moment, hear the words you're whispering! They (and you) don't matter! The only thing that matters is that I get to talk about the things that make me angry/passionate/frustrated!"

I'm not a screamer. I would love to have a conversation about the things that are loved by the people I love. But a conversation is not a placard on Facebook. It's intimate and involves sharing, and it is only through that type of interchange that people understand what makes another person beautiful.

I'm too tired to participate in the scathing words. I don't have the stamina to fight over whether or not I believe things that are right or wrong. I despise feeling that I no longer have a right to decide what I feel--that I must jump on one bandwagon or another and original thought is no longer valued.

Perhaps it's time to unplug.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Letting Go

Sometimes it helps to talk about things here. And I've sort of been doing it in conjunction with this topic for about 8 months now-- since I noticed a shift if a few of my closest relationships. People were moving on and I was not.

However, right now I want to just say this: I've been working on letting go for awhile now. It's been difficult, but Therapist helped me figure out what I need to do. He said I could wait until I was ready, and that I could rant all I wanted. He said it was okay to wait to see if the changes I sensed were real or not. He said I would be okay.

The emotional things I've been working on are almost finished. Most of what I've gone through emotionally is deeply personal and not really something I want to talk about in depth. But Therapist is right. I will be okay. I always am.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Things I miss now that all I do is lesson planning and grading (in no particular order):

1. Cooking with AtP and Brozy. And trying crazy foods with them. And laughing just because it's fun to be together.

2. Playing with Boo and her daughter-- and husband when he's around (I believe it's way past time for another REALLY AWFUL movie night).

3. Meeting people I've spoken with online. This happened a lot at Fob and Blue-beta get-togethers. Those particular social events don't happen anymore with regularity, but when I crashed them, I met some pretty amazing people. In fact, it's when I met Edgy and fell in love with his shoes.

4. Shopping at ghetto Walmart. And if you've ever gone with me, you know why.

5. Looooonnnnggg conversations with Josh, when we both have things we're supposed to be doing but we want to talk instead.

6. Tolkien Boy's writing. Sometimes I miss this so much I pretend write things that he might write. They're never any good, so then I have to go back and reread some of the things he's written that he's shared with me.

7. Chatting with friends online. I can't do it anymore. Part of this is due to a PTSD phobia which I hope is temporary, and part of it is because if I chat with anyone, I stop doing the things I'm supposed to do.

8. Friend gatherings at restaurants. Just because they're fun. And sometimes Brozy sneaks in delicious homemade desserts and shares them with the wait staff.

9. Lunch with Edgy. I miss this. A lot.

10. Alone time with all the people mentioned above.

There are also people I've not been able to spend a great deal of time with-- but I want to. I want to be able to miss them, as well.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Waiting for Therapist

I have a very good therapist. I know there have been times when I've poked fun at him, or been angry at him, but I'm aware that he is probably the best fit I could have found when it comes to therapy.

I've also come to understand in the past couple of years that he cares about me and he admires me for taking on the task of healing, sorting through all the yucky stuff, and enduring and growing beyond much of the aftermath. It's weird for me to think of him as a person with feelings. I have a very clinical view toward him. He serves a function. He gets paid. It is in his best interest for me to make progress. That he can feel emotions about me, or view me as more than a statistic or just another client, has been beyond my understanding.

This is partly because of my own social interactions. I have students. I have clients. I care about them. I'm interested in them. And then they go away and I don't really think about them anymore. At all. I suppose that's how I've believed that Therapist thought of me.

When Therapist took a different counseling position two years ago, he was required to refer all his former clients to another counselor-- which he did-- except for me. Therapist asked for, and was granted, an exception and allowed to continue working with me. Therapist told me he asked for that exception because:
1. I was no longer meeting with him frequently so my needs would not exceed his ability to provide therapy as needed.
2. He felt that, for me, having to find another therapist when I was fairly stable and self-reliant would be either completely overwhelming, or I would simply decide I no longer needed therapy. And he said I could be right about that last thing, but he was concerned that I have a therapist should my PTSD become unmanageable for some unforeseen reason.
3. He said it's actually kind of rare for clients to do the things their assigned. Many of them simply want someone to talk to, and they leave each session feeling stable, so they see no reason to do work that might make them feel worse. He said that working with me was good for him. It reminded him that some clients will work hard. Some will experience healing. Some will learn to thrive in spite of curve balls and stressful situations.
4. He said he'd miss me. Which, he added, is not a reason to continue therapy, just a personal reason he wished to continue as my therapist as long as he was needed.

I have worked with Therapist for almost 10 years.

When my life became unmanageable this summer, a number of things added to my stress. Key people who have been supportive during the past decade of my life, also encountered things that needed their undivided attention. They had to take care of what was going on in their own lives, and they trusted me to take care of what was happening in mine. Which should have been fine. I'm fairly resilient and even when I'm knocked down, I usually find a way to get up again, with or without support from them.

Except this was more knocks than I could handle. Major surgery (weakened physically), combined with encountering by crisis after crisis as I tried to prepare for teaching classes in the upcoming semester (weakened mentally), while being confronted with having to talk about being raped by my cousin in an official capacity (thus, weakened emotionally)-- I just didn't have what it would take to continue once the semester began this fall. I became very unstable. I have been unable to manage PTSD at all. I'm experiencing severe panic attacks that leave me vomiting and exhausted. And I have been severely depressed and suicidal.

Therapist, aware that I was in extreme distress, turned the tables on me the first week of September. Knowing that travel added to my stress, he drove the seven hour distance to see me, rather than vice versa. He met with me on his own time (Sunday evening), for more than two hours. He helped me put a plan in place-- asking people to check on me fairly frequently for a couple of weeks. And we talked about strategies I could use to cope with my stress load.Then Therapist continued to check in with me, himself, during that time period.

That was about four weeks ago. Things haven't gotten better, but they haven't really become worse, either. I'm still experiencing debilitating panic attacks, but I'm learning the best places to stop and puke if they happen while I'm driving. I don't really sleep because continuous nightmares are not pleasant, but I take 20-minute naps during the day when I can. I've not been able to sort through dealing with the changes in my personal relationships yet, but that's not really an optional thing because changes are happening regardless of my ability to deal with them. At some point I will figure out how to manage the feelings that arise because of those situations.

I don't know what will happen with the case against my cousin. I realized I'm still afraid of him in some ways. I don't want to be a witness at a trial, should that become a reality. I don't want to answer questions or be put in a position where I feel I have to defend my story. I don't want to think about this at all.

Things at work are stabilizing, but I still have a great deal to do to catch up. I normally have all my lessons planned out before the semester begins. Because of what happened with a bogus textbook and sound equipment woes and unexpected, time consuming distractions, I didn't have those prepared this semester. I'm slowly getting ahead, though. At some point I'll be able to take a weekend off.

I had a phone session with Therapist this week. He told me some things, some of which were helpful, and some of which were just sort of interesting:
1. He was surprised, given what I've been through in my life, that the severe panic attacks had not been an issue before now. He says that speaks of my ability to manage stress, my emotions, and use positive coping measures when difficult things happen.
2. He said I am capable of rising above whatever is happening right now. We talked about worse-case scenarios. Therapist said there is really nothing that can happen that I do not have the ability to sort through and deal with on my own terms. I may not like it, but my capacity to find joy regardless of my situation, surprises him constantly.
3. He said I see myself as dependent on others, and that might happen sometimes, but for the most part I am able to take care of myself independently. I don't always choose this, because I enjoy the people in my life and I like inviting them to be involved with me, but I don't need them. I just want them.
4. Therapist promised me that the depression and suicidal thoughts are temporary. I'm already seeing a lift in that they are no longer constant and I have fluctuations of happy and sad throughout my day. He said those fluctuations will feel less extreme as time passes and soon I will feel level and lucid, once again.
5. He said he would continue to check in with me until I am no longer "at-risk". I asked what that meant. Therapist said it means "until you know what the outcome of the investigation/case is." He said at that point everything else is just life, and I'm very good at dealing with life.
6. Therapist told me that no matter what the people I care about choose, in regards to depth of feeling toward me, frequency of contact with me, and amount of involvement in my life, I will be okay. He reminded me that for a long time I didn't have people who were close to me, and while that's not optimal, I know how to manage that situation, and further reminded me that this is something over which I have no control. Again, I would be okay.

Therapist is right. Most of the stress I feel is because things in my life are not as I wish them to be, but not because I can't manage what's happening. I don't want the difficulties that have cropped up in my classes-- but I do want to teach the classes. I will cope with the difficulties and I will teach.

I don't want to answer questions or be interviewed about past events that still cause me discomfort. But I want to tell the truth, and if it's determined that telling my story is necessary, I will cope with the discomfort and I will tell my story.

I have worked through a great deal of anguish as I've allowed people to become close to me. It has been exhausting at times, and painful, as well. I don't want to let those people leave to take care of the stresses and demands of their own lives. I wish them to remain connected and involved with me. But I also want them to be happy, and if happy means that they need to step away from our relationship in order to cope with what's happening in their own lives, then I want that, too. Because really, the reason I wanted them in the first place is because I love them deeply and purely and honestly. They need to do what is best for them. And I will be okay. Therapist has promised me that I will always be okay. It's who I am. It's what I do.

So right now I'm dealing with a whole bunch of I-don't-wants. Today, as with many days before, is daunting and a little bit overwhelming. I'm feeling some things I don't want to. I'm currently immobile when it comes to doing what I'm supposed to do for work. But Therapist will check in with me in about three minutes. He'll remind me that I'm very good at what I do at work, and when I'm finished with my to-do tasks, I'll feel better. He'll assure me that I can contact him if things escalate and I feel out of control. He'll remind me that he cares about me, has faith in me, and admires my ability to deal with difficulty. And he'll say something to make me laugh.

I'm very lucky to have him in my life. I think he'll stay awhile because, after all, this is his job and I am a golden client. Even if his life gets busy, his involvement with me helps pay the bills. I'm not being cynical, just realistic. People stay with the people who benefit them the most. Right now, for Therapist, I'm beneficial. I think he'll stay.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bowing Out

I need to take a break for awhile. People who know me personally, know where to find me. But before I go I need to say just a few things:

1. I have deepest sympathy/empathy for victims of violent crimes who have to testify against, or even just issue a statement against the perpetrators. Unless one has been in such a situation, it's sort of impossible to gauge its emotional and mental impact. Please, if you know of someone who has declined to confront a person who has harmed them, don't judge. I can't describe the physical, emotional, and mental anguish my current situation is causing me.

2. When someone you care about-- even remotely-- is going through something like this, reach out if you feel you can. Let them know you care and that you'll lend strength when theirs is gone. When their world feels like it's falling apart, tell them it will be okay. Let them know they're safe. Love them.

3. If it feels they lean too heavily, or ask for more frequent contact, or cry a great deal-- forgive them. The pain-filled moments they are being asked to recount are most likely times when they were very vulnerable and alone. No one wants to recall such moments in detail, let alone have someone ask question after question after question. Any safety net they may have woven over time is systematically being unraveled. They need you. It's okay to establish boundaries, and if you're unavailable, be very clear about that because waiting for you when you won't be there is almost as painful as everything else they're going through. A simple statement that you are not the one to rely on in this moment is much better than uncertainty.

4. If that person feels depressed or panicky or anxious or even suicidal, these are normal reactions to the very intense, scary situation they're currently facing. Please be patient. Please be gentle. They've probably already experienced enough harm and pain. Don't add to it. Encourage them to seek help from qualified professionals. Check on them occasionally. Be clear about time limits when you do so. If you can't spend a great deal of time with them, it's okay to say that. Just let them know you're thinking of them and you love them.

5. Expect that when this is all over, your loved person will do what's necessary to heal and move forward. Know that they will want to support you when something stressful pops up in your own life. Believe that the current need will evolve into strength and that the person you have enjoyed will be back again. Don't give up on them.

Don't give up on me.

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Step with care and great tact, and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act." -- Dr. Seuss

I haven't been able to talk for awhile. There's too much going on inside. Overwhelmingly too much.

Last week one of the officers who took Jeff's and my statements called. He told me that he and the sheriff (who happens to be a friend from high school) visited with my cousin, David. They had interviewed him, told him of the charges against him, and taken his statement. The case is now with the district attorney who will decide what happens next.

And I've been a mess since then.

I had another can't-breathe-throwing-up-hurting-everywhere panic attack Sunday morning.

You see, I don't want this to go to trial. I don't want to talk about what happened anymore. I don't want to accuse or testify or see justice done. I just want it to all go away. And I know that makes me a coward. I know this. I don't care. I don't ever want another of those panic attacks. I want to feel in control of my life again. I want to stop being afraid.

I thought I wasn't afraid anymore, but I am. I hate afraid.

I REALLY need hugs right now. Except I don't want to be touched by anyone.

For the first time in my life (change of topic) I find myself missing people. This is not the former, "Wow, I'm thinking of someone. I wonder how they are. I would love to talk with them again. And now I'm going to go clean my bathroom," type of missing people. That was how I used to experience it. And it never went any further because if they weren't here, then probably they weren't missing me, so I needed to expend my energy on something else. Missing people was pointless.

This is new. It feels like a physical yearning to be next to another person-- to feel them sitting beside me, breathing-- to hear their voice-- to inhale their essence and know who they are. I don't remember ever feeling this before. It makes me feel like laughing and crying at the same time. I'm very confused by it. I think it means something, but I don't know what. Except maybe I'm losing my mind? I'm caught up in a great deal of stress so maybe my mind and body are trying to distract me? I just don't know.

I went to physical therapy today. I'm cleared to run as I choose; outdoors, on different terrains, as long as I wish within reasonable limits. My flexibility in my bionic hip is as it was four years ago. I can sit cross-legged, do cartwheels, stretch my foot over my head, do infinity squats... I'm better. I need new running shoes. Right now.

Tabitha purged her room this week. I have three bags of clothing sitting in my living room and she has more to go. It's amazing to watch her grow up, to let go of things that have been unhealthy and damaging. We're looking at a new therapist for her; one who will help her finish and maintain the things she learned in treatment. We've been very blessed. Two years ago I did not believe Tabitha would choose to live.

Adam has started working full time and going to school part-time. He's still in therapy to recover the memories he lost when he was taking medication to rewire his brain and stop the migraines he was experiencing 3-4 times weekly. He feels better. His personality is back to normal. I have my son back.

DJ is still at home while he pays off knee surgery. He goes to school for awhile, loses interest, works for awhile, then returns to school. He has no burning desire to do or be anything. But he's delightful. Adam and Tabitha are very happy to have him close by. The three of them disappear upstairs to play games or listen to music or just talk together. Sometimes they invite me to join them. I have amazing kids.

Now, if I could stop having crises at school, if I could get the right materials for my classes, if I could stop needing to think about what will happen as the case against my cousin progresses, if I could stop having panic attacks, nightmares resulting in being drenched in cold sweat and throwing up, I think my life might feel manageable again. But at least I'm talking. That's a step in the right direction.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Thought Processing Life Choices About People and Relationships

Today was difficult. Without going into details, I'll just say that I've had days when I was happier.

That being said, I decided that it's high time I stopped waiting for some interrelationship things to happen. Waiting makes me more stressed. That's not something I can afford anymore. So I tied up some loose ends, said good-by to some things I'd been hoping for, allowed myself to wish things were different, acknowledged that they were not and I could no longer wait for whomever was involved to decide whether or not those things were important to them, as well. They're not. I've made the decision.

Ten years ago this would not have brought me a glimmer of pain. This is because I never would have allowed the waiting time in the first place. I would simply have moved on. Tolkien Boy says this is because I was afraid I would be hurt, but it's not. It's because I could see no plausible reason to believe that people might wish to have the same things in a relationship that I did. I was very aware that I was different, so I assumed if I had a want or a need, probably it was bizarre and impossible I chose not to dwell on it. No one wishes to feel like the crazy person in a relationship.

I think it also had something to do with not really allowing people to know me well. I had no close ties to anyone, so allowing them time to decide if something in our relationship was important seemed rather pointless. That's not the case anymore. I have people I've allowed to know me and I've put a great deal of effort into trying to allow closeness. It doesn't translate well, though. I don't always understand why things are said or done. And I still feel guilty when I wish for more time or a hug or maybe just a brief text message. The guilt, I believe, stems from the belief that at some point we'll both discover that at the core of my being, I really am that person who wants nothing more than to get out of all my relationships and just be alone.

That's a weird thought, probably. But it's something I'm afraid of. When DJ moved out a few years ago, I allowed him a great deal of space. I didn't call or ask questions about his life. He didn't call or ask questions about my life. I thought we were being practical-- allowing him to grow up. What I didn't realize was that I was disposing of him. There's really no gentle way of saying it. In my head he was no longer my son. He was a person who had lived with me, and then he didn't.

Adam became aware of this about 2 years ago. I'm not sure how. It made him cry. I remember watching him weep and feeling completely baffled. I couldn't understand what was sad about the situation. DJ seemed content. I wasn't unhappy with the evolution of my emotions. Adam said, "I don't want you to feel that way about me-- ever. I love you. I want you to love me!"

So Adam equated my feeling of detachment from DJ as not-love. And it upset him. And I was even more baffled than before.

Therapist says that people who have been abused as I have must connect frequently with the people in their lives in order to maintain close relationships. We're capable of love-- intensely capable. We've been saving up for a long time, waiting for someone who will accept love from us. We also understand that being loved by us is not necessarily a highly sought after commodity, and with that understanding comes an acceptance that sometimes people will want us and sometimes they won't. There is a numbness surrounding the concept. We don't fight it. It just is. To wish for something different is pointless. It won't happen. When the time comes that we are no longer wanted, or when people no longer seek us out, or when our phone calls, texts, emails, or chat messages lie quietly awaiting a response that will not come, we understand that we've reached the finish line. We get it. And we make certain that the transition away from whatever person we've used up is seamless and clean. Emotions are confusing and overwhelming. We've been trained not to use them when they might cloud our logic.

But Therapist says this isn't a correct way to think. It's easy because then we don't have to ask questions that might bring answers we don't understand. And we won't have to question our motives or wish for different outcomes that might not happen. In ignoring the things we want and need, we allow the other person to move on and we do the same. It works out well for everyone.Except it doesn't. It negates every purpose for having a relationship with another person. It says that I like being with someone, but I'm also perfectly fine without them. A real relationships means that I'm not okay without the other person. I need that person and they need me.

I'm not sure I agree with Therapist. My brain doesn't work that way. My mom taught me that I was ugly, embarrassing, shameful, and unwanted. Today she says otherwise-- mostly in public. I grew up to be someone not ugly, not embarrassing, not shameful, and sometimes people like to be with me. It seems that she believes her former opinion is no longer popular, and therefore, she has realigned it. I know it's wrong of me to say things like this about someone with dementia, but it's how I feel.

It's really, really difficult to train one's brain to think about things differently.

So, in compliance with Therapist's assignments, I attempt to have conversations with people in my life-- to tell them what I need in order to continue supporting and building our relationships. I haven't talked with DJ. I probably won't. He doesn't need to know his mom is any more a of a freak than he's already aware of, and he definitely doesn't need to know that I can't seem to bond with him again. No child needs to know that. I'm speaking from experience. So I spend time with him, talk with him, try with all my might to feel what I used to for my oldest son. Maybe someday it will work. He's a good person - a loveable person. The fault does not lie with him.

But at some point one must draw a line.

For DJ I will never stop trying. He's my son. But I can't keep trying with people who don't need me as he does, or whose lives are too busy, or who cannot find a way to make a place for me. It's stressful and uncertain. I need more certainty, more people who will rely on me and allow me to rely on them. When that is no longer a relationship component, I find myself drifting away, tired of working so hard for something that only I wish for. That's not a relationship. That's me trying to normalify (I know-- not a word-- don't care) myself in my interpersonal interactions. It's sort of pointless.

So today I spoke with a number of people, and I thought about the concessions I have made, and I spoke of the needs I have, and I listened to the voice as it responded. If it was clear that there was condescension or pity, if it seemed that the person really would like to respond to me but just didn't have the emotional reserves or the time, if it was evident that this was a conversation where a rote response was being made but my words were inconvenient, uncomfortable, or meaningless, I knew that it was time to move on. In one case it was clear that the person with whom I was speaking really cared and wished to respond, but it just wasn't possible for that person to accept what I have to give nor to respond in kind. That's sweet-- but I don't have the stamina to wait anymore.

In conclusion, I know this post makes no sense at all. It's not meant to. As I mentioned in the title, this is how I move through thoughts and make life choices. And now you know.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


It's been almost a week since I finished talking to authorities and legal people about what happened to me many years ago. Jeff went with me. I'm still not in a place where I can talk about it. My dad called a few days ago to check on me. I let the call go to voicemail. I haven't talked to him yet. My mom came over today to pick up a package my nephew had left for her at my house. She asked how things went. I said, "Fine."

I don't want my parents to know that for the past three weeks I've been in emotional stress to the point that Therapist asked me to alert some people close to me. My therapist traveled six hours to meet with me because he was worried. On a Sunday. Darrin says that should tell me that I'm important and I should feel grateful. And I do feel grateful. I also feel like this should not be such a big deal. I've been working on things for a decade. Will there ever be a time when I have to look at what happened and I won't fall apart? I like to pretend I'm stronger than this. Clearly, I'm not.

I was supposed to report back to Therapist. I haven't. I don't want to tell him that I was okay after the interview. But after making the long drive back home, I got off the freeway and had the scariest panic attack of my life. My whole body was in pain. I couldn't breathe. I was going to vomit and pass out. I was drenched in cold sweat. And I was driving. Probably I should have pulled over and waited for it to pass, but I had students waiting for me. There was no time.

So I got home and ran to the bathroom where I was very sick. Then I brushed my teeth, wiped my face, and taught piano lessons. Because that's what I do. Life doesn't end just because your body reacts badly to stress.

The next morning was the first day of school. I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. I wanted to call in sick. I didn't. I went to class and taught. Because that's what I do. Life doesn't end just because you feel like you've been hit by a truck.

For two more days I woke up, felt horrible, and went to work.

Today I don't feel horrible anymore. I just want to cry for a really long time. I won't, though. I'll work on lesson plans, and play games with my family (because we're celebrating my birthday still), and work on more planning stuff. And tomorrow I'll go to work again. It's what I do. Because if I don't, sometimes I want life to end.

I know. That sounds really stupid. I'm safe. Just because I had to talk about unpleasant things is no reason to wish for death. But tonight I'm thinking that probably no sane person would ever want to talk about, or answer questions about, or live through the experiences I had many years ago. And maybe there's someone else who might feel a little sick afterward. Maybe they might want to cry, too?

People talk to me and ask me how I am. My brain makes me say, "I'm fine." It's all I can manage right now. If I say anything else, I'm not sure what will happen. That's scary to me.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Today is my birthday.

I believe I've written about this before, but usually the day after, because my birthday is usually a very emotionally stressful day.

I think it's okay to wish my parents and family wanted to celebrate my day each year, especially when I was a child and birthdays were a REALLY BIG DEAL.

I think it's okay that sometimes I felt hurt when they forgot, or when they remembered later and thought it was funny that my day was forgotten.

I think it's okay that I finally got to the point where I wouldn't talk about my birthday or tell anyone when it was.

I think it's okay that when I grew up I never celebrated my birthday, and that I tried to make believe that it was no big deal.

I think it's okay that one day, years later, I started believing that I deserved better, that it was okay for me be be upset with my parents for forgetting-- especially when I never forgot the birthday of a family member or friend. There was no mutual agreement that my birthday was meaningless and I wanted them to acknowledge me, to celebrate that I was born, to be glad that I was their daughter.

I think it's okay that little by little, I let people I trusted know about the day I was born. I think it's okay that I did so with no expectation that they would care. I think it's okay that I did it because I needed to talk about it and I knew they would let me.

I think it's okay that I blogged about all the reasons my birthday caused me distress. I needed to say those things. I needed to tell my parents that their behavior toward me was not okay or funny-- it was hurtful and disgraceful.

I think it's okay that today I can say, "It's my birthday," and I don't feel angry or sad. I think it's okay that Darrin and my children celebrate, and have celebrated with me for many years. I think it's okay that I have come to feel that my parents have truly missed out because they're very blessed that I'm in their lives. I'm a pretty great person; one who deserves a birthday celebration every year, just like everyone else.

I think it's okay that my children planned a birthday outing for me tonight, and that for the first time in my life, I felt I could (and should) go and participate.

I think it's okay that next year I will plan one myself and I will invite people. And it's okay if no one can come because the real triumph lies in the fact that I can finally do this. I've never been able to do it before.

And what this means is: I'm healing.

That's a pretty wonderful birthday gift.

Happy birthday to me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Being Authentic: A little goes a long way

I put away all my posts about Jeff and official reports and feeling stressed.

PTSD is an interesting monster. When it's invisible, unknown, it pushes and prods until I talk about it. Once it's a well-known entity, I feel able to discuss how it affects me. All this is good and healthy, right?

Once upon a time I was a person people talked to-- a confidante. I was fun to spend time with. People wanted to be with me. I think there is still a waning element of that in my life, and I can still find it if I choose to-- with strangers.

The phenomenon is that people want to know who you are. The ones who are closest peel off layers, trying to spy the reality hidden by smiles and laughter. What they don't understand is that the facade they remove is an actual reality for the person they're trying to discover. Those layers provide protection, but also a platform upon which to socialize. It's important.

Everyone has the friend who is always troubled. This begins a cycle of an outpouring of love and empathy, which moves to feelings of stress, followed by annoyance and avoidance. No one wants to be that troubled friend. No one. Ever.

I am becoming/have become her. I have shown the things that bring me sorrow and stress. I have asked for support when instructed by Therapist, and sometimes when I really felt I needed it, myself. I have lived through crisis after crisis. I am the troubled, annoying friend.

PTSD, for me, sometimes presents itself by making me stressed and panicky when I interact online with people. Sometimes it also happens when I'm texting a person. The simple truth is that, in those moments I have no way of understanding unspoken cues or subtlety and that inability is deeply distressing. So I have discouraged online chatting and removed myself from texted conversations. And this morning I awoke, went to work, and wished with all my heart that there was someone online to chat with.

Yes, that just happened.

You see, I've become the annoying, avoidable friend because the only thing that's consistent with me is that I will be depressed and dealing with some crisis-- perhaps of my own making. There's no way to solve my problems, which seems to lend credence to the belief that I'm happier when I'm unhappy.

I'm not, though. I'm still the person who wore the layers that attracted people in the first place. It's like this: If you love the way a certain friend manipulates fashion and style to his or her advantage, will you stop loving them if you see them naked? Do you like them less because you see what's underneath, and sometimes what you see is unpleasant?

I'm pretty certain most people would say, no, that wouldn't affect the relationship at all. But the truth is, they would also say they'd prefer to see that friend clothed again.

I'm just thinking, I guess. Maybe it's high time I got dressed.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The important thing is to not be bitter over life's disappointments...

I glanced over this blog and her sister blog, "Magical World" this weekend. So many posts about how I'm doing better and healing and happier and learning how to have real relationships with people and other nonsense. I don't know what I was thinking. Maybe I believed if I said it often enough, it would be true.

The real truth is that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, things don't change and real, lasting recovery doesn't really happen. I know I'm not supposed to say that. It sounds hopeless and self-defeating.

One decade. I have tried for one decade to make a life for myself where I could accept all the crap and still be a person who is supportive, loving, and real. I wanted to prove that I'm not tainted forever by the things that happened a long time ago. I wished to be someone who was a joyful part in the lives of people I love.

I think, though, that maybe none of that was real.

Last night I sat with Jeff in his home. We won't ever play or laugh as we did before we were molested. It sits between us, reminding us that with one misstep Jeff will be on a drinking binge and I will be caught in a world of PTSD which slowly sucks away the ability to think logically and love healthily. One day I'm fine-- the next day I can't remember why I wanted to live in the first place.

Jeff has medication to help him with the alcoholism and depression. As I'm unable to take medication, I can run. But Friday morning my run was difficult and depressing. I looked at what I was doing: wearing out my new hip so that I can survive bouts of PTSD for the rest of my life. I'm not sure what kind of life this is.

I expect that I'll be told all the reasons I have to live. I'm grateful for that. I need to hear it, and I believe it. But I'm so tired.

A week from Tuesday I will join Jeff in the location where we lost our innocence. We will give testimony in person, which will be reviewed by the district attorney and attorney general. At that point it will be out of my hands. Jeff has said he wishes to prosecute if a case can be made, and I have said I will support his wishes, whatever they may be.

But I don't want to do this. I don't want to talk about this anymore. I don't want to think about it. I want to be someone else.

Therapist has made a trip to My Town. He will see me this afternoon-- on Sunday-- around 5:30 p.m. Darrin says Therapist is really worried about me and that they both care about me. These are good things, but right now they don't mean anything to me. Maybe I'm just scared?

I have so much to do. I can't concentrate. It's been a couple of days since I've been able to eat. Sleep is a very, very bad place for me right now. Darrin tells me that I don't have to do this. Therapist tells me the same thing-- but then he says I've done the right thing by making a report. I'm a little distraught right now.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

I just need to say this for the record: I've been wrong about a lot of things I've written in this blog.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I think I believed I was all better.

I didn't understand what making a report would mean-- what it would reveal about how much further I have to go in my healing. I had reached a stopping point. But I was not finished.

Things I learned:
1. I talk freely about what happened, but mostly here, where I pretend I'm anonymous. I spok about it on Facebook, but gave more details about how I've healed and not about what actually happened. In fact, I've never really talked about what happened beyond a few blog posts years ago, and once I told Josh a little bit. I'm pretty sure I told Tolkien Boy more than he wanted to know-- but that happens all the time. My conversations with him are basically made up of information he would be better off not knowing. Someday he'll scream, "STOP! I CAN'T KNOW ANYMORE ABOUT YOU! I HAVE NO MORE SPACE IN MY HEAD FOR SAMANTHA-TRIVIA!" and then I'll have to figure out how to talk about the weather without personalizing it.

2. I still pretend. All the time. I pretend it didn't happen. I know I'm doing it. I just get tired of being the person who was neglected, abused, unwanted, and raped. It's hard to be that person all the time. And I know I've grown beyond that and I'm not neglected, abused, unwanted, or raped now, but that part is still me. I took her back. I chose that. It was necessary. And sometimes it makes me exhausted. So there are days when I pretend I was never all those things-- days when I borrow parents who loved me and protected me, and people who would have helped me if they had known me as a child. I pretend I grew up happy and normal, and that I don't have PTSD now. It's a little embarrassing to admit all this, but the point is, I can't pretend anymore. What happened to me is a matter of record. My account, with Jeff's, is now sitting on the desk of the Attorney General who is trying to decide if this is a prosecutable case. I'm guessing it won't be, and I'm okay with that, but my pretense doesn't work anymore. I know this is real and my imagination is no longer adequate to combat reality.

3. I don't want to remember. When the interviewing deputy asked questions about details of what happened to me, there were times when I simply said, "I don't remember." And it was a lie. I do remember. I remember vividly. But sometimes I don't know if what I remember really happened. I'm not sure if I question the memories because they seem too awful to think about, or if I question them because I think I might have fabricated them. It's a stupid dilemma, really. My memory is horrifyingly accurate when I choose to access it, and I'm not really the type of person who gets pleasure from fabricated memories of horrible experiences. Those do not appeal to me. But I still told the officer I didn't know. I think what I meant was, "I can't talk about this or I might throw up."

4. When stuff like this happens, I can kiss PTSD management goodbye. Nothing helps. I find myself wanting people to be here NOW (I even called Darrin and said, "You need to be home. Right now," after the interview. Fortunately, he was off work and coming home when I called, so it was just a few minutes before he arrived.). And if they aren't here when I think I need them, I get angry. I find myself circling through the thoughts that they lied to me, they don't love me, they don't want me-- and then I move on to how much I don't want them anymore. From there I descend to the ways that I need to not be alive, how I'm clearly unloved and worthless, and then I move to the ways that death might peacefully occur. Do I know this is ridiculous? Yes. Absolutely. But it doesn't feel self-indulgent or self-pitying. It feels like a runaway train and I'm standing in front of it, helpless to stop it. I try all the therapy strategies I've learned, but nothing seems to help.

5. I think I probably need to talk to Therapist. But I don't know what to say. Part of me feels that this shouldn't be happening. I should be done with all this. I've been working for a DECADE to heal. How much longer will it take? Please, please do not tell me this is the rest of my life. I can't do that. I'm not kidding. I need this to get better.

So now I'm going to meet with a theory student. Then I'm going to make chokecherry jelly. It's Tolkien Boy's birthday. If you know him, you should wish him a happy birthday. He's an amazing person. If he was here, I would hug him. Tomorrow I'm going to a wedding. Next week I'll be getting ready to teach my classes and picking crabapples. These are all very good things. I need to think about them. I need to remember I'm supposed to keep living. I need to stop getting caught up in things that happened a long time ago. I need to stop crying about things that don't matter anymore.

I think I can do this.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Today I filed an official report. Jeff was to be contacted, as well, so that he could file his report. There is no statute of limitations. The most serious charge that can be filed (and this would be a longshot) is fourth degree sexual assault.

I don't want to do this. It sucks.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


I'm having lots of ups and downs lately. Stress does that to me.

Father-in-law went home yesterday. Adam was the last one to leave for work and it occurred to me that I was alone in my home for the first time in a couple of weeks. I'm not saying for sure, but I might have done a little dancing while singing loudly. It's also possible that I had my first talking-to-myself session in awhile. I'm a pretty fun person to talk to. I like me. And there is a slight chance that I ate a weird snack in my living room while reciting a poem with my mouth full.

Running is wonderful. Today I hit 21 minutes of intervals. I'm not supposed to do more. Possibly I run 3-5 minutes successively while I'm supposed to be cooling down, but that's against the rules. But if I did that, it would make make me very happy. I'm usually happy when I'm finished running. I have to maintain this until Wednesday, at which point I'm allowed to go to a 1:1 minute ratio of running/walking which will last for another week and a half.

My physical therapist had this conversation with me last Monday:

PT: You've not been able to run regularly for more than two years now. Running-- building up to running can feel really awful.
me (staring at her blankly): Really? I've never done that before.
PT: You've never had to build up your running stamina?
me: No. Except for the time recently when my hip stopped working, I've always run. I don't remember a time when I didn't.
PT: Well, there's a good chance this is going to suck then.

And then we went over the red/yellow/green signs of pain.

Perhaps because I ran about six elliptical miles at an 8-10 mph pace prior to surgery (and I've worked back up to that now), I've felt no cardiovascular discomfort. The one-minute intervals feel effortless (seriously, one minute? Everyone in the world can run that!). I've been doing them at 5-7 mph because PT told me not to go too fast, but I'm anxious to run more, and a slower pace feels ridiculous. I've had no stiffness nor soreness after the first day. I'm guessing my hip had to process the fact that things were a little different, and now that we've made it through that, all is fine. I feel like I never stopped running at all.

This has been very helpful as PTSD presents itself. I don't have energy stored up inside. Energy seems to feed the PTSD symptoms. There have been plenty of negative and difficult feelings, but I'm coping with them fairly well.

These are all good things.

Things I'm not sure are good:
1. I don't feel lonely anymore. Ever. Don't get me wrong. I don't think loneliness is something to strive for, but missing people--wanting people-- seems like a healthy thing when it happens at a low level. It reminds me that I'm not alone and that I need people in my life. But right now I don't feel that. It's not the "I don't care about people anymore" feeling that I sometimes experience. It's more a feeling that people are really nice, and I like them--even love them, but I'm fine if they don't contact me or visit. I know this makes me seem... actually, I don't know how it makes me seem. But it does seem a bit out of character for me. I might ponder this a little bit and decide if it matters.

2. I'm not finished with my syllabi, nor my lesson plans, nor have I downloaded music or visited the wreck of our fine arts center as it goes through a remodel. Actually, I haven't started writing even one syllabus. I have 2 weeks to get those things done. My Intro to Music class is full (150 students). This is nuts. I'm pretty sure no one should ever teach this many students at once. I haven't done it since I was in grad school.

3. I agreed to play the organ every other week in church. I hate playing the organ.

4. I need flowers. Daily. And chocolate. I don't remember wanting those things as often nor as forcefully as I do now, and have done for the past few weeks. It's a little weird.

5. I did cartwheels on Monday this week. I asked my PT first. She gave me a weird look and said I could if I wanted a tone that suggested no one would want to. So I did. But since then I've been wondering why I want to. Most of the people I know don't really want to do cartwheels, but then again, most of them haven't had a hip replaced. Maybe you only want to do cartwheels if you have a fake hip.

6. After nine months of being clean, my cousin Jeff relapsed. This week. I saw him Wednesday. He was drunk within three hours of our visit. I'm not sure he's been sober since. This was our text conversation late last night:

Jeff: It was dark and musty smelling and I never slept.
me: I'm sorry. I'm sorry the memories hurt so much. Do you need to talk?
Jeff: I am losing it and I am drinking...
me: I know. I love you, Jeff.
Jeff: How?
me: How do I love you?
Jeff: How do you love me, and how do I go on?
me: I love you because I know you. I know the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. I will always love you. Going on is the hard part. You're feeling some scary, awful stuff right now. You won't always feel it. You do need to get some help.

He didn't answer after that. I don't know what happened. I don't need to know. This hurts me more than I like to admit. Every word Jeff shares triggers a similar memory for me. Then I get to sort through all the aftermath.

So part of me is doing very well, and part of me feels awful. I don't know how to deal with the awful part. I wonder if I don't feel lonely because there is a persistent feeling that it's pointless to feel that. It is very difficult to battle the belief that Jeff and I were, and are, and will always be alone. Not physically, but emotionally. There is also a very strong feeling that people have tried to reach us, to help us, to love us-- and we used them all up. They have different people to reach and help and love now, and it's time for Jeff and I to become independent-- to figure things out on our own.

But I can't. I can't figure it out. I need a hug tonight, and I need someone to tell me it's going to be okay.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Running Again

Yup. I am.

Right now I'm still learning to use my new hip and I'm limited to using the treadmill-- one minute running/two minutes walking, no more than 10 minutes daily, but I don't care. I'm running. Three weeks from today, the goal is to double my time with a 1/1 ratio, at which point I'll be evaluated to see how this is effecting bionicness.

I can't even express how happy this makes me. Picture me smiling because I am.

Maybe when I'm 80 I'll understand.

My father-in-law does nothing. I'm pretty sure he wants to do something, but unless someone suggests it, he does nothing. On Saturday he asked us when we attend church on Sunday. We told him 9:00 a.m. Then we got up and went to church. FIL is not a member of our church and has, in the past, been more than a little antagonistic about our membership and attendance. When I got home, FIL said in a voice that meant he was miffed that I had not invited him, "Sometimes I go to church with Darrin's sister."

Now I ask you, how am I supposed to know he wants to go? Definitely, I'm at fault for not using my hostess skills and inviting him even when I assumed he didn't want to go. The invitation should still have been extended, but sometimes it's okay to TELL ME WHAT YOU'RE THINKING!


So today was packed. I had 30 minutes of down time between 5 a.m. and midnight. That's a long workday even for me. And FIL just sat on the couch for eight hours until Darrin came home at 5:00-- at which time FIL asked if Darrin would take him to Safeway. This is a good thing because if I had been asked to do the Safeway trip, there would have been no downtime for me today. But still, how does he sit on the couch for that long. I'm assuming naps were involved.

Tomorrow I have scheduled an hour to go with him to do some legal stuff involving his estate. But that's all. My day tomorrow looks very much like today--although it's sort of already tomorrow since it's after midnight. I think I might go sleep.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Today I went shopping with my father-in-law

Darrin is the youngest in his family. I am one of the oldest. My dad is in his late 60s. Darrin's dad is ancient.

Because of his ancientness, and four heart attacks, and a stroke, FIL opted for one of those riding scooters at the store. He walks S-L-O-W-L-Y. But the riding scooters always seem to be agonizingly slow, as well. However, not when my FIL is driving.

After nearly hitting about six shoppers because they weren't walking quickly enough, I suggested that my FIL give pedestrians the right of way. This was met with a chilly reception. FIL tried to leave me behind, giving that electric scooter all the juice he could. Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you're viewing this from my FIL's point of view), I'm a pretty fast walker and didn't get left behind. FIL continued to make walking shoppers leap out of the way, and then played chicken with another scooter driver. He won.

FIL will be here for seven more days. Pray for me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Putting myself in time-out

Because sometimes when I'm unable to manage PTSD (not even close to "managing" right now), I think about weird things, and imagine weirder ones. And, of course, all of those things involve how I feel about people in my life and are completely irrational. That does not mean I don't feel those things deeply and seriously. It does mean that I feel completely crazy pretty much all the time.

I felt this coming on a month ago. I had hoped that getting away with friends and family would help, and it sort of did. For about a week. I've not had time to follow my routine that helps me keep my insane feelings in check. My schedule has been unpredictable and too busy for someone like me. I have been known to fill my schedule with things, so as to avoid any time that would allow me to brood or sulk or think too much. But those are things I choose myself. The things that make me busy right now are not of my choosing, which adds to the sense of losing control and leads to thoughts about people which make no sense, but feel completely logical.

So I need a time-out. Having an online presence exacerbates the intensity and frequency of the feelings. That will be gone for awhile. I need my communication to happen in person so that I can better understand nuance and not misinterpret intent or assume incorrect things about the person speaking. Email is also a good venue. It allows me time to think while I read and offers me an opportunity to sort through the crappy thoughts that insist on being in my head. Before I reply, I can at least acknowledge that I'm insane. Phone is also an option. Hearing a voice behind the words helps me. No one likes to talk on the phone anymore. I get that. But since I usually don't expect communication from anyone, that's not relevant. And quite honestly, at this point I would rather not communicate at all than become a victim of myself.

I've stocked up on books. Today I started running again. I have work enough to do. I'll probably blog a bit because shouting at the cosmos seems to appeal to me. I'm guessing this will be a short time-out of just a few months. I'm thinking I'll let myself leave it next spring.

Friday, August 1, 2014


Years ago I was in the pediatrician's office, waiting for my child to be called to an exam room. I was pretending to read a magazine. I sort of hate magazines. When boredom and waiting force me to read something I hate, I begin reading at the end and go towards the front. For some reason this makes me feel less grumpy about reading it. So I was reading the end of the magazine - the part with all the ads and classifieds and partial recipes and shopping information for things I would never in a million years want or need - and something caught my eye. It was a vacation ad for the islands off the coast of Maine. For two weeks one could kayak from island to island. Nights would be spent at an island bed and breakfast, meals and lodging were part of the package. In short-- an outdoor adventure during the day with a hot meal and comfortable room at night. This is my kind of camping.

When I got home from the appointment I couldn't stop thinking about that advertisement. At the time, Darrin and I had quite a bit of disposable income. The price was reasonable, we had never taken a vacation of that duration together since the kids had been born, and I wanted to do it. I talked about it with Darrin that night. To my disappointment, rather than sharing my excitement, Darrin listed 100 reasons why we shouldn't go. Among those were concern about competent child care and ability to get time off. Those were valid. I agreed with him. All Darrin's other reasons were, in my opinion, silly: Maine was too far away; if we were going to spend that much money, he'd rather just take the kids and visit family in NYC; he didn't want to eat seafood...

I looked at him for a moment, wondering what was happening. Then I realized he simply did not want to go on my vacation. What I had chosen didn't appeal to him. He didn't want to go to Maine, he didn't want to go kayaking, didn't want to risk staying at a B&B or eat meals that came with a prepackaged vacation. But most of all, he wanted to plan the vacation himself.

This has been a chronic problem for Darrin and I. When it comes to decisions involving a lot of money, like buying a car or planning a pricey vacation, Darrin objects to anything I choose without him. In the end, we usually end up with my choice anyway because I don't just choose on a whim. I research and haggle and find great prices, and Darrin is all about getting a great deal-- but he objects on principle because I didn't include him in all that.

So I asked Darrin to help me plan a vacation and we ended up spending about $150 to take the family to a reunion and stay with my parents and siblings (and their families) in our old home on the other side of the state. Not really a vacation for me, since that house has a lot of very ugly memories and I spent my time taking care of kids and juggling family politics. I really wanted my kayak time.

I didn't forget. In the past, when I've come up with an idea for Darrin and I to spend time together, if he's not shown reciprocal interest, I've given up the idea. It's not fun to spend time with someone who doesn't want to be there. But this time, I really wanted my vacation.

When I began seeing Therapist, one of his observations was that I was very independent at work, in my parenting skills, and in my personal life, but when it came to my interaction with Darrin I was no longer sure of myself. I often compromised things that I wanted in order to assure his comfort and ease. That is not to say that we never argued-- but that usually happened when I had compromised to the point that I felt my needs were completely ignored (interestingly, Darrin has often felt that he compromises to that same extent with me). When I could no longer tolerate the feeling that I was completely at the mercy of what Darrin wanted, a huge fight ensued, sending my children running for cover and leaving Darrin wondering who he had married. These things happen. Fortunately, for us, they haven't happened very often.

So Therapist and Darrin and I had some conversations where we talked about alternative ways to make decisions. Therapist said a compromise usually involves giving on both side, so what I was doing was not compromise but capitulation. That was not something I wished to hear. Nor did Darrin. Then Therapist told us that Darrin and I are both great capitulators, but not great compromisors. We needed to switch gears, say more words about why things were important to us when a conflict arose, and allow each other alone time to pursue the things that one of us enjoyed (cars for Darrin), but the other did not (running/working out/kayaking for me).

That made complete sense to Darrin and me. And we spent five years honing our skills and strengthening our marriage. But in the process, some things happened to me.
1. I stopped being emotionally dependent on my husband.
2. I took the first solo trip of my life and spent a week on the road, visiting friends and being alone.
3. We needed a car. Darrin said I could choose - so I did. As was his habit, he found a different car he thought would be better. I stood my ground, reminded him he said I could choose (and that my car had nearly 80,000 fewer miles and was $4000 cheaper and I WANTED that dent in the bumper), and Darrin remembered that sometimes I can make decisions without him. We bought the car I had chosen. I felt rather empowered going through the process of researching what I wanted, finding the vehicle and setting the price.
4. I began spending some of my free time with people other than Darrin. I invited friends to lunch with me. I planned alone time. I didn't allow myself to feel guilt when my social life blossomed and Darrin was left to fill some of his with things he wished to do. The fact that he didn't choose to fill that new time was not my fault.

In short, I became a whole person without Darrin. I still wanted him. I was still in love with him. I just didn't NEED him all the time. And I was much happier.

On the other hand, Darrin had to deal with a loss. I wasn't always there when he wanted me. Sometimes I just said no when he asked me to do something and I had too much to do. Often I asserted my needs or wants, reminding him that mine were equally as important as his. Darrin supported me in this. He understood why it needed to happen. But it was still uncomfortable for him.

 So one day, when I was with a someone-not-Darrin, I talked about my Maine kayaking vacation and asked that person if she would like to come with me. She said, "YES! That sounds amazing!" And I decided that I was going to go one day, with or without Darrin. He said he was fine with that.

That was three years ago.

Last week, as we were traveling, Darrin was sharing his bucket list with me. A day or two later he said, "You didn't tell me the things on your bucket list." I actually had shared some with him, and I reminded him. He wanted to know what I hadn't shared. I said, "Well, most of what's left are things I like to do, but you don't." He wanted me to name one. So I mentioned the kayak vacation. Darrin was quiet for a minute. Then he said, "I'd like to do that with you."

Therapist told me a long time ago that this would happen. He said that Darrin and I both harbor fears that we're not enough for each other-- which is why we sometimes argue even when we don't know why. We feel insecure. We need to reestablish the status quo. We don't know how to say, "This makes me feel vulnerable." And the truth is, we're not "enough" for each other. One person can never fill another's needs completely. But we ARE enough in the sense that we don't have to do more, or be more, or have more, to be the person each of us chooses. Every time.

Darrin does not want to go kayaking in Maine. But he does want to be with me. And that's enough.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Learning to love like a normal person

I am a hoarder.

Not in the normal sense of the word-- I hate clutter and I don't collect things. I routinely sort and purge my belongings. But I hoard messages.

I believe this began when I was trying to connect with people outside of my family. When that connection happened, it was magical to me. I wanted to keep it, remember it. Because of this need to keep messages, I routinely receive the warning on my cell phone that I've run out of room in my text messages, I have thousands of conversations in my chat history, and countless emails from people I love that have been collecting in my inbox for nearly a decade.

I've been thinking for the past few months, though, that I cling to those things and those people more than is prudent. Earlier this month I spoke with someone about growing past the part of my life when we were bonding. It's a weird concept, but I really do wish to remain in that place when we were excited about learning about one another and an email or chat or text message was not mundane. Growing past that place is a little bit scary and for me, causes a bit of heartache. I can't really explain it.

After my conversation with that person, however, I made a goal to move forward. I've been purging my emailbox and my chat history. Yesterday I made the final step and erased all my text messages. I think I kept some of those things because in them words of love and support were expressed. I needed those words. Sometimes I still do. Often I do. But it's time for me to understand that those were spoken in a time when the person sending the message was involved with me. Most of those people no longer are or are involved in a more casual way. And reading words written in the past by someone who no longer cares for me in the same way is pointless. The words need to be relevant now.

I admit that when PTSD symptoms have been emphatically reminding me that I am alone and irrelevant, reading those past chat conversations/emails/texts have helped me remain grounded, reminded me that there was a time when someone said I was important and loved. But now all I see  is the date stamp on those messages. They happened a long time ago.

Darrin tells me every day that he loves me. I don't believe he's missed a day since we were married, and that's a lot of love messages. I don't get tired of hearing it. I believe I never will. Because of the transient nature of people and relationships, a deeply felt, "I love you," is incredibly meaningful to me. My sister said it to me two days ago. Boo and Blueyedane said it to me yesterday. My children say it daily. I need to hear it. A lot.

Maybe I'm the only one in the world like this. Maybe everyone else hears it once and believes it  forever. I'm not really that kind of a person-- probably I will never be that kind of a person. I need to be reminded. I need to demonstrate love to others and receive it in return. If  you say you care about me and then I don't see or hear from you for a few months, probably I don't believe you.

I think I kept those messages because my natural inclination is to just move on when people no longer respond to me. And I do that very thoroughly. I emotionally eliminate people. It isn't malicious, but rather, methodical and logical. It just makes sense. I don't really have a lot of time, so I want to spend it with people who want to be with me. In my past, though, I was eliminating people so efficiently that I wasn't bonding with them at all. Trust issues, of course, facilitated this. I wanted to change that part of my life and learn to trust people. But that involves the painful recognition that some of the people I bond with will not bond with me, or will allow the bond to weaken when I wish to keep it strong. It's not easy.

I'm trying to connect all that I've written here about my hoarding of words from people I love, and I'm having difficulty explaining myself. I guess I wanted to keep them-- the people, not the messages. The messages were a link to remembering what we had, love and laughter we shared as we learned about and got used to each other. When the messages came less often, I found myself  strenuously clinging to the old ones. It's a little embarrassing how much I wanted things to remain. I wanted PEOPLE to remain. But the truth is, once all the layers are removed and people see who you really are, some of them leave. There are many reasons for this: boredom, life events, transference of love to another person, but regardless of the reason, the end result is the same. Some people leave or lessen the bond previously shared. I didn't want to face or accept that.

However, not wanting something has never deterred me from learning to accept it. Sometimes it takes a great deal of time, but I do it. Accepting the inevitable is actually something I do rather well. I've been working on moving forward, accepting the losses, and embracing the changes. I've acknowledged that I didn't want those, but I have to allow my relationship counterparts to want them. I've spoken to those who are closest to me, apologized for not wanting to move forward and for any grouchiness or resentment I may have felt as they moved on and I tried to remain stagnant.

So the final step was to say goodby to the past and remove the tangible reminders, and I've done that. They're gone. Perhaps now I'll be free to move forward, too. But from some of the people I kept just one message. I chose one that helped me in a time when I was very stressed, or sad, or frustrated; a time when I felt valueless and unloved and they reminded me that I was not. I think it doesn't matter if they don't feel that way anymore. They did when they reminded me. I think it's okay to remember that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Therapist sent me an email today. Part of the email was this sentence, "What I want you to know is that you have inspired me with the work you've put into your life / happiness."

It's funny, when I first met Therapist I knew he would help me-- not in the cookie cutter, do-these-therapy-assigments, take these steps then you'll be better, kind of way-- but he would help me by allowing me to figure things out for myself. He would, within reason, allow me to have control over the course my therapy would take. He would let me be the person I am while allowing me to become the person I needed to be. I knew this. I wasn't wrong.

Therapist would challenge me when I was wrong, empathize when I was sad, and encourage me as I sought unconventional ways to find answers and peace. He welcomed the people I brought with me and helped them understand the best ways to support me. I have been working with Therapist for many, many years-- probably too many. I think most people would have gotten tired long before I did, or been satisfied with results before I was. I think Therapist was frustrated with me much of the time as I asked the same questions, wept repeatedly about the same problems, and laughed at him when he suggested things he thought would be helpful. But even when I laughed, I still considered his suggestions and often I tried them, as well. Because he was Therapist and I knew he would help me.

I find myself, years later, finally able to do some of the assignments he asked me to do. Better late than never? It's just that I was too afraid when he asked. I needed to be more brave and more strong and more ME. But I didn't forget. I remember most of what we've discussed. I don't know how to forget.

I've known Therapist a little bit longer than I've known Tolkien Boy and not quite as long as I've known Josh and AtP. Tolkien Boy and AtP have accompanied me to therapy sessions. Tolkien Boy has joined me in a few. AtP has patiently waited for me in the lobby. One time Therapist asked me how I could doubt that the people in my life care about me. I said I didn't doubt it. I just didn't trust them. Therapist said you can trust people who go to therapy with you and wait until you're done-- the ones who know you'll be an emotional mess after the session, and who will stay with you anyway. I still didn't trust them, but I believed Therapist and I worked on learning how to trust. Sometimes, in recent years, I've almost felt that I could do that trust thing for a few seconds at a time.

Therapist says he learns from me when I come. I'm pretty sure what he learns is that I'm stubborn and aggravating and arguing with me is destined to end up with both of us giggling. I think he also learns that not everyone fits into a mold, and some of us refuse to fit simply because we're willful and spiteful. And he learns that even if I don't know who I am, or how to feel, or what to say, I'll still smile at him and say something that will make him smile back, because if I'm going to spend that much time and money just to talk with someone, we need to like each other.

One time Therapist told me that I've made him rethink a number of beliefs he's held about several different things. I told him he's done the same thing for me. He said, "Well, that's my job." I said, "Yes. Good thing you do it so well." He told me I was a good person. I told him he was, too. He said, "I'm really glad things didn't work out with your other therapists and that you decided having a male therapist would be okay." I said, "I am of the opinion that no one should stop therapist-shopping until they have found just the right fit." He agreed.

Therapist is my friend. This means that we have seen each other very often for a period of time, shared thoughts and ideas, and spent time together. And now it's time for us to not be together as often, not talk as frequently, and learn to live independently of each other. Well, that last part pertains only to me, but I like to think Therapist will miss me. I'm glad he thought of me today and that he told me so when he sent me an email. I don't really care about inspiring him, but it's nice to know I'm not forgotten.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Strategic Withdrawal

I have been blogging more than eight years. This blog, Beautiful World, is and extension of another blog, Magical World, which I began in March of 2006. I have other blogs, some of which are private, some which are dead, and a couple under my real name which sporadically live and die depending on my time demands. My reasons for blogging as "Samantha" are varied.

1. There was a fellow blogger I wanted to meet, so I fashioned Magical World after his template. I had questions for him. We met and talked via our blogs. He ended his blog a few months later. We continued to correspond through email for about a year. Then he disappeared from my life.

2. I wanted to meet other bloggers who were in similar marital arrangements to my own (i.e. mixed-orientation spouses). We corresponded through our blogs, then moved to chatting online. Most of the blogs that then existed are now gone. Some of the marriages are, as well. I still communicate with a number of the people I met. A few have become close friends.

3. I wanted a place to express what was happening to me as I went through therapy. Blogging served that purpose and seeing my thoughts and feelings written allowed me to work through a number of issues as they appeared. Today I see Therapist on an as-needed basis. Most of the time we communicate through chat or email (something I could never do a couple of years ago). I don't know that I will see him again in person, but I might continue to write about things I need to work on or work through. I don't know that the writing will take place in this blog, however.

4. I needed to talk about my experience with rape and abuse in a place where other people could see it. I didn't necessarily want people to read my blog, I just wanted my story out there, visible, no longer hidden. Initially, I had no desire for anyone who knew who I was to connect the truths on this blog with me in real life. Blogging under a pseudonym allowed me to speak with impunity. Today I don't care if people know what happened to me. I say it sometimes to friends or family members or even people I don't really know. I wrote a Facebook post about it, inviting all who have known me (some for all, or most, of my life) to understand a bit more about who I am and what I have been working on for the past decade. I no longer need a pseudonym.

I have had difficulty with shifting identity. A few months after I started this blog, I found myself BEING Samantha. I lived on a blog. My social circle consisted of people I had never met. My real life felt imaginary unless I blogged about it--and I blogged daily. I registered on social media and other online sites with the pseudonym. I purchased items online, created email accounts, and commented on other blogs under my pseudonym, feeling comfortable and at home in that persona. When Samantha borrowed a friend's birthday so I could play an online game I recognized the unhealthiness of the situation. There was no need for anonymity in that case. I was registering as Samantha simply because I was online and since she needed a birthday... Yeah, the insanity was beginining.

Knowing I needed to get back to MY life, I decided I needed to schedule more offline time. I made certain I was outside more, or practicing, or spending time with my family. I took steps to meet the people I communicated with most often. Most of the time we chatted online for a week or so, then we spoke on the phone or met in person. The feeling of being Samantha persisted for more than three years.

When I finally finished my integration work, I had included a segment I did not talk about here--that of learning how to recognize and really FEEL that Samantha was an extension of me, a persona created for blogging, but not really the entirety of my existence. I am Samantha in the sense that I write this blog and I experience the things I write about, but that is not my real name nor my reality. In a sense, I had to work backward. The integration purpose was to incorporate parts of my persona that I had separated and withdrawn from in the past. But with this, I had to recognize that my life existed outside my blog and was real regardless of how many people noticed or commented on it. In essence, I had to withdraw from my blog persona, recognize that this was a pseudonym, and allow Samantha to be a part of me, but not all of me. I know--I'm whole lot of crazy, but there it is.

Today I am older. My children have grown up; much of their growing up time has been recorded on my blogs. As they have gotten older, I have drafted many of the posts that they might feel self-conscious about. I want to respect their privacy. It's interesting that when blog readers meet my children now, they often feel that they watched them go from adolescents to adults--that they have known them for years even though they may have only just met. Blogging is an oddity in that it allows a sense of intimacy and community between complete strangers.

Most of the blogs I began reading years ago are now gone. Mine has continued to exist purely to serve me as I needed a place to write and work through issues linked to PTSD. I continue to write, but I no longer do so every day. Samantha becomes less real as time progresses, and when people refer to me by my pseudonym, it sometimes takes me a moment to register what we are talking about.

Today I feel a great deal of distance in the relationships that were created online. I'm guessing that's just a symptom of what I'm going through right now. I'm hopeful that those who are involved in my life will help me a little bit. Therapist would say I'm emotionally depleted. Darrin would agree, as would DJ, Adam, and Tabitha. And Samantha. But I don't know what "help me a little bit" means. That sentence stems from a conversation with Therapist a few years ago:

Therapist: That's called emotional depletion.
me: No emotions? I've experienced that much of my life.
Therapist: This is a little bit different. Emotional depletion occurs when you expend a lot of energy with people who seem to need a great deal and/or when a lot of things that affect you deeply occur simultaneously. 
me: Okay, that's what's been happening. How do I fix it?
Therapist: Sam, you don't have to fix everything.
me: This seems to be something that needs to be fixed. Being emotionally depleted does not sound healthy.
Therapist: I think it's just a state of being. Give yourself time. Rest. Be with people who help you feel relaxed, accepted, and loved. Your emotions will balance out eventually.
me: I'd rather just fix it.
Therapist: I'm not surprised. It doesn't work that way. 
me: The "be with people" thing-- I'm pretty sure that's not a good idea for me right now.
Therapist: Why?
me: Because when I'm with people I feel like I have to be engaging or listening or building them somehow. And I like doing those things, but right now it sounds exhausting.
Therapist: Because you're emotionally depleted.
me: I guess.
Therapist: Actually, Sam, being with people - the right people - will help your emotions stabilize more quickly than time will. 
me: I don't agree.
Therapist: Why not?
me: It still sounds exhausting.
Therapist: You know, you don't always have to be the one "helping". Sometimes you can ask other people for help. You can tell them you're tired, or emotionally spent. Maybe you just need a hug or some quiet time sitting with someone who loves you. Maybe you need to let someone else make dinner or do the dishes or read the story. Maybe in these times you need to say, "Can you help me a little bit? I'm having trouble feeling. I think I need someone to say it's okay, and that they love me. Maybe I need someone to take care of me for just a minute."
me: I don't think I can do that.
Therapist: Work on it. 
me: I'd rather not.
Therapist: I know.

So I actually have worked on it. I'm not good at it. I don't believe anyone is good at it, which is why we have passive aggression and emotional manipulation. Needs aren't being met, emotions are spent, so unhealthy tactics are employed to get the things we need from other people. I'm not really good at passive aggression or emotional manipulation. But I'm also not good at saying I need some TLC because I'm a little bit fragile right now. Mostly I just stay away from people and let time work its magic because time doesn't care if we use it and people do.