A Valentine’s Day Surprise!

February 14, 2013

I had the loveliest surprise on Valentine’s Day!  N popped by.  I had made him chocolates, but I didn’t know when I would get them to him due to the nature of our circumstances.  But sure enough, his familiar knock echoed through my living room in the evening and there he was!  He came in for tea and I could tell he was pleasantly pleased with the candy.  We dove into another one of our fantastic conversations and entertained ourselves accordingly for quite some time.  Then, out of the blue he announced that he wanted to treat me to a new haircut and a colour!  I was totally taken aback, as he had never given me a gift before.  What a lovely gesture!  And so unexpected.  My next thought was that my hair must look pretty darn dreadful for him to warrant such an offer!  Hah!  When I asked him what his motivation was for making such a suggestion, he simply said he had noticed how hard I have been working on putting my life back in order, and he wanted to honour my efforts.

At that moment I don’t think I knew what to think or feel!  My eyes welled up with tears of happiness because I was touched by his kindness, but I was embarrassed as well that I should be in a position where I NEEDED to gather the shards of my existence together and put them in some semblance of order to resemble “normal life.”  I could feel my face begin to redden in anger that he would assume I would need such a gift because I was unable to provide for myself in this matter.  But I also felt sadness because a simple gift exchange such as this was an occurrence that rarely happened in my life because I no longer had many friends.  Anorexia had ruthlessly taken care of that years ago.  Then the sad feeling was chased out by the frustration I experienced because I really DID need his help on many occasions.  Whether it be to open a jar I was not strong enough to crack the seal on, or to listen to me talk and to provide feedback when I felt completely alone in the world, N has been here to help me through.  Albeit on his own schedule, but he does have an uncanny talent for appearing just when I need him most.  And I am always so ill-prepared to return a favour to him.  Shame on me for not being a reciprocating friend.

I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh, or cry, or yell, but I could feel something untoward building in my chest.  It started as a ball of fire that began to swirl upwards into my esophagus.  Its heat grew in intensity as it rose until it felt like my throat was being burned by acid.  The fire caught my tongue and I could feel my eyes begin to water.  Sensing my inner turmoil, N moved closer to me in concern.  He placed his big, strong hand on my shoulder and he leaned forward towards me.  I had no idea what I was going to say to him because of all my conflicting emotions, but I knew I was going to say something.  Just as the heat threatened to blow off the top of my head, I opened my mouth to speak and…I burped!  Loudly!  Of all of the responses to his generosity that I could have elicited at that moment, that one had to be the least anticipated!  The air was deadly quiet, as my eyes flew open in horror at my faux pas.  I heard the steady, ‘Tick, tick, tick’ of my living room clock, and then…we both erupted in peals of laughter!  “Dear me,” he finally said in his soft accented speech, and I showered him with a jumbled up combination of apologies and thank you’s until we both settled back down.

It was so great to see him on Valentine’s Day!  It is super to see him on ANY day, but today was special.  He is a dear man.  I care about him deeply, but I can do nothing more that that because of the impossible situation.

N confirmed again tonight that we would do my yard in the spring.  I really look forward to that.  I’m sure it will be hard work, but I love being outside.  I also really like physical labour.  There is something really satisfying about working with the dirt.  The land that I live on.  The land that I cherish.  My little piece of utopia.  My heaven on earth.

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July 18, 2017

What a funny memory for me!  Laughing with a good friend is one of my favourite pastimes.  I have come to appreciate how both laughter and friendships are priceless commodities that must never be taken for granted.  They both provide great joy, and they need to be valued in kind.

Being the best friend I can be brings me tremendous happiness, as well.  To me, friendships are living, breathing entities that require nurturing and attention at all times.  I know, however, that they are well worth the effort and the time I invest in them.  The give and take between friends is a natural phenomenon and not something where a score needs to be kept to ensure each partner is giving the same amount as the other.   When the connection is true, balance ensues.  As the years roll along, I find I have fewer friends than I did when I was younger.  But the ones that I do have, are rare finds that I treasure with all of my heart.

A Mystery to Myself

February 13, 2013

KS’s birthday!  I will try to unearth her phone number and call her in California.  What a long time it has been.  What will we say to each other?  So much time has passed since her wedding in Long Beach, and our hilarious time in Disneyland!  I was still in University at that time…I believe my last semester in Spring Session, 2007.  Wow.  Six years.  Her baby C would be six now.  A little soul in his own right.  I wonder how life is playing out for him?  For them?

Going on another day without sleep.  I have lost count of my sleepless nights.  Three?  Four?  I can only hope tonight I will feel tired enough to surrender to a sleeping state.  Right now my body feels rejuvenated after my dance workout and my bath.  My eyes are tired though, and my cheekbones feel numb.  Or rather the spaces under my eyes feel that way.  I NEED to pay my bills, but I just don’t feel like doing that right now.  I dusted and organized the main floor today.  Amazing how much stuff has accumulated from who knows where, that needed to be placed elsewhere.  Next I scoured the bathrooms and the kitchen sink; wiped down the cupboards; went through my closet to get clothes to donate to either Women in Need, or The Diabetes Society; shovelled the walks; and made my Mom some muffins.  Bit by bit my abode is starting to look better.  Incredible what a little dusting does for a place!  Hah!  Tomorrow I must vacuum and wash the floors.  Maybe if I don’t sleep tonight, I could do the floors then.  That would leave the 14th wide open for…for what?  Like there’s going to be a line up of vastly eligible and handsome men waiting outside my door ready to whisk me away to a terrifically romantic spot?  I think not…but hopefully something will transpire that will engage my attention!

I had an interesting session with Dr. F today.  He pulled out The Dialectical Handbook and we really focused on Radical Acceptance.  This was cool because that aspect of this particular treatment model really spoke to me when I was reading it over earlier.  I am on the opposite spectrum of Radical Acceptance, as far to the right as I can be!  Hah!  But the concept is interesting and one worth looking into.

OK.  my left eye is beginning to twitch.  Good thing that didn’t happen earlier today.  After I saw Dr. F and I tutored Z, I went for coffee with J.  Wow.  He sure is divulging a lot about his life to me.  He actually reminds me of me!  Or how I have been in the past.  The thinking being that it is better to take all of my negative personal baggage and bravely display it out front at the BEGINNING of a romantic relationship so as to give the other party a chance to vacate immediately if they don’t want to become involved with such a hapless creature as myself.  Funnily enough, I think I did this less for my potential partner and more for me!  There is nothing worse than becoming interested in someone only to lose them once a deep, dark, past secret has been revealed at some point later on in the relationship.  But now I don’t want to be that honest or open to start with.  I want to keep some things to myself, until the time for disclosure is right.  I guess I am changing.  All I can say about that is, “Good on me!”  The old me no longer works, so despite my usual reluctance and dread of change, I’m say’in, “Bring it on!  Out with the old and in with the new!  My past methods have become null and void, so let’s ditch ’em and learn to make new ways to be!”  I wonder what that will look like?

This time of curiosity is excellent and kind of exciting in its own way.  I am beginning to create as I go, and there is a certain freedom in that which makes me think of when I lived in Australia.  No one knew me there, or could possibly have met me before because I had never been on the continent until the fateful day that I arrived. Arguably, that was the most free I have ever felt in my life.  But those were also dark days filled with pain, what with the confused separation, partial reunion, and eventual dissolution of my short-lived ‘faux’ marriage; my Dad struggling to fight cancer back in Canada; my acutely severe and debilitating homesickness; and the profound loneliness I finally experienced when I truly found myself alone in a country that was two days away from everything I had ever known.  Troubled times in many ways, but they also provided me with the opportunity to learn about, discover, and reinvent myself.  AND, as a member of a cast of five, I sang, danced, and performed stand up comedy in a show at a professional venue for a year!  An absolutely incredible experience, and one of my life’s greatest highlights!  My years in LA were also fantastic for presenting me with the chance to recreate my identity, but it was not quite the same occasion for anonymity as existed in OZ.

What a lifetime ago.  More like THREE lifetimes ago.  I don’t even remember who I was back then.  Who I have been at ANY of the significant junctures in my life for that matter.  What a thought.  I am a series of strangers parading across the stage of my life.  Slipping in and out of costumes as I march along.  What is the common denominator amongst all of the ‘me’s’, other than that?  That all of those characters are me?  Whoever that is.  Or was.  Perhaps right now I am finally starting to learn who I really am.  I pray this time of curiosity lasts indefinitely, and that I get very comfortable examining me as I evolve into my future.  Ironically, of which the present is all I will ever know.

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July 16, 2017

“Who am I, anyway?  Am I my resume?”  (A Chorus Line)

That is a good question, and one I am reluctant to answer.  Maybe it’s not reluctance, per se.  It’s more like an ignorance in that I still struggle to define who I am.  After all these years I am completely unable to put my finger down and identify who I am as a being on this planet.  Well, that’s not exactly true.  I could come up with a slew of negative traits or descriptors that I think I embody because I have spent my whole life cultivating this skill.  But doing so is a disservice to myself.  I spend ample time each day reworking entrenched pathways in my brain by doing positive affirmations to combat the contradictory ones that are so ready to rear their ugly heads when given the chance.  It seems I am hardwired to describe myself in derogatory terms, but I now try to silence those thoughts and replace them with more helpful ones.

But, in fact, I remain a mystery to myself.  It’s easier to be in the dark about my identity than it is to challenge myself to define the person that I am.  There is a risk in making statements that capture my essence.  Once spoken, I then need to live up to them.  After years of being riddled with self-hating thoughts, I am not at a point where I trust myself to make and follow through believing self-affirming thoughts.  Fear rushes in and bites me on the butt yet again.  I’m not sure why I am afraid to think and assimilate good thoughts about myself, other than my childhood memory of my mom warning me that undue vanity would give me a “big head”.  I was about five years old, and I was standing in front of the long mirror, wearing my favourite white dress with the soft pink sash, admiring the beautiful white rabbit fur pom pom that adorned the sash.  My Mom saw me and I think thought I was preening in front of the mirror, so she delivered her message firmly and let me know that possessing a “big head” was not a favourable condition.  And for whatever reason, at all costs, I did not want a “big head”, or an overinflated opinion of myself!  Funny, the random pieces of information that I put through my filter, internalized, and made important as a young child.  So important that I remember them, and the circumstances surrounding them, vividly.  So important, in fact, that I am still affected by them to this day.

Many people say I am a chameleon, always morphing into a new image by changing my hair style and colour, or the fashion I adopted at different periods within my life.  I don’t know if this is true or not.  What I have just realized, though, as I am writing this response, is that until I make the choice to actually pick a trait, or traits that expresses who I am, I will forever be in the dark as to my true identity.  If I don’t know who I am, then nobody can really know me either.  And that is indeed, a lonely reality to live out.

 

 

Bring It On!

February 8, 2013

Going on my third night without sleep.  My mind is absolutely buzzing.  I’m not even sure what it is I am thinking about exactly, as thoughts are flying around in there at an alarming rate.  It is so odd.  An idea forms and I begin to think it through, and then another thought bombards into that idea, sending it flying into the ether.  Which in turn is replaced by yet another notion…and so it goes.  I feel like I am using an inordinate amount of brain power without having any results to show for it.  I must admit, this is a far cry from where I was in December, paralyzed with inertia.  Now when I sit still, my head is a racetrack.  I am finding too, that I have energy to start tasks that would otherwise have been impossible for me to even fathom when I was in the doldrums.  But again, completion escapes me.  I start with one chore and get it half finished, and then it occurs to me that something else also needs to be addressed, so I leave the first job undone and move on to the next.

I’ve decided to take a break.  It is a gorgeous day and I am out on my swing at 1:10 PM.  T and S have joined me.  The birds are sweetly singing, chirping out the news of the day, and the sky is azure blue.  I LOVE my swing.  It is so peaceful.  The gentle swinging action puts me at ease.  Much like how I imagine a baby must feel when it is being rocked.  I look at my dried raspberry bushes and wonder of their bountiful promise this summer.  My apple and cherry trees stand stalwart respectively, awaiting the time when they will spring to life and be laden with pristinely white blossoms.  My lilac tree behind me displays its branches, that guarantee will hold the heady scent of lilac when they bloom in June.  My wind chimes are tinkling.  Fairy chimes.  There is a cool breeze, but the sun is warm.  The breeze wafts around me, as the sun shines on my face and hands.  The warmth of it spreads through my body to its very core.  My coat is undone.

The East side of my yard is blanketed with snow.  Banked and white.  The West side has some snow as well, but it is melting and there are puddles along the fence and in the raspberry bushes.  The North side against the house is a combination of dry and muddy parts, and the crown of my strawberry rhubarb plant is bravely peeking out.  The South side against the garage is deep with brilliantly sparkling snow.  I must remember to clear those rocks out by the side of the garage so my raspberries can continue to grow.  I can’t wait for spring to come when N will come and finish the backyard!

T is in amongst the raspberry bushes.  One of his favourite haunts during the summer months.  S has just scaled a snow drift mountain, and is perched on top, sniffing the air.  It feels and looks like spring, but I am afraid we have lots more winter left to experience.  It’s hard to believe on a day like today.  A jewel of a day!  I just took a deep breath of air into my lungs and it even smells like spring!  That fresh, slightly dank aroma of mulched leaves and dirt.  Why, I see a few sprigs of green grass!  Hey…I see LOTS of green grass sprouting up!  Oh, wouldn’t it be amazing if after all these years of having Phil the Groundhog see his shadow, that this year he didn’t and we got an early spring instead?  What a time worthy of celebration!  An early spring and an extra long summer would fit the bill perfectly!  Perhaps I should send out some wishes to the universe to bolster the possibility of this happening.

The universe…God…whatever is out there.  I have felt for so long that It/He/She doesn’t like me, or rather cares little for me, but likes to challenge me for its own entertainment.  And not JUST me.  A score of us purple sheep the world over,  A universal entertainment troupe.  The folks on the planet who struggle, or suffer, in varying degrees, for what benefit?  For whose benefit?  It’s hard to make sense of all the pain that exists in the world.  To justify why it is present.  Why IS it present?  What purpose does it serve?  It’s easier to think that someone or something up there is simply watching a television program that we have all been cast in.  And ratings are always higher when adversity is featured.  I have always said I wanted to touch people.  To make them laugh, or think, or cry, through my acting and my stand up routines.  Maybe I got my wish.  Just not in the way I thought I would.  The audiences that I had hoped to enthral have been diminished to one being…or one entity.  And the time that I was meant to be on the stage is actually my life as I live it each day.

Today I am feeling positive.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps it is because I am riding a tide of delirium that has occurred because of my lack of sleep.  It doesn’t really matter why.  How long has it been since I felt this way?  Can I even remember a time?  I just feel like I can handle anything that comes my way.  So if there IS a being out there that wants to be entertained, I am ready and willing and standing by the stage door.  Bring on the events as you see fit!  But this time, I am writing the final script, and I will be the one that enjoys the show!

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July 2, 2017

Well, that passage is far removed from most of  the others that I have penned earlier in 2013.  At the end of it there is a cocky challenge that I sent out to the universe.  Something that I wouldn’t necessarily do today.  But unbeknownst to me, I was sailing along on the high at the start of a manic episode, and such behaviour is common at this time.  Although I think it is wise to have an attitude of confidence, I have learned that too much of a good thing can get me into trouble.  On the other hand, I don’t think with my life-long history of self-loathing and depression, that I could EVER reach a point where I was overly confident!  Hah!

As I read, I am taken back to this time.  Despite the fact I was just recovering from a debilitating bout of depression; that I had no job; that I had no way to pay my bills; that I had lost most of my friends due to my illness; and that I struggled daily to feed myself and maintain a weight that would be substantial enough for me to survive on, I was happy IN THAT MOMENT.  Whether it was derived from a chemical imbalance in my brain or not, there is no denying the contentment in my voice as I described my treasured back yard oasis.  What I want to remember about this important fact is that rain is followed by sunshine.  So many of the memories I have in my life are difficult, or shrouded in pain and sadness.  I seem to have forgotten most of the lovely and happy times I have shared with my family and friends.  Whether it is due in part to the ECT, or because I wasn’t really present in the times as they were occurring, I do not know.  It’s very unnerving to be so blank about my past.  But that day’s writing is a reminder to me that I have had good days.  That I will continue to have good days.  And for those that are less than that, I now have strategies in place that will assist me in finding my way through any darkness that may come.

 

Facing the Day

February 6, 2013

Another sleepless night for me.  I am weary today, but I am afraid to take a nap in case I don’t sleep tonight.  I haven’t followed my schedule today, or for that matter, in several days, as I lay in bed for a long time willing myself to get out of bed.  Getting up each morning is still so hard.  I don’t hate the day the minute I wake up anymore, but I just don’t seem to want to get going.  I guess I am still hiding out from the world.

I have made some good strides forward.  Dr. F is amazed at the big leap I have taken.  But I fear that this supposed progress is only temporary.  I hope I am not falling back.  I couldn’t take that.  Being on my own is difficult, as I no longer have an enforced set of activities I am required to complete.  I am my own boss.  This is a role I am not comfortable taking.  More truthfully, this is a role I have not a clue how to adopt and take on for myself.  How can I not know how to manage me?  How is it that I have never learned this basic survival technique?  It is unfathomable how I could have gotten so far into my life without grasping this simple premise.  And yet here I am.  Blindly making a muck out of experience after experience.  Terrified to step out on my own.

How do other people manage themselves?  Why is it that I have never thought about this crucial piece of reality until now?  What a simple concept, and yet it is one I don’t understand.  I have been ill so much in my life.  Hospitalization after hospitalization, to the point of sometimes becoming institutionalized due to the length of my stays.  I think of all the help I have received and the care that has been given me.  I have required this attention because of my illnesses, but at what cost?  Is it any wonder that I have difficulties standing on my own two feet?  Couple that with the fact that my family sees me as being fragile and unable to cope.  They have tried to protect me from what?  Myself?  The world that surrounds me?  Whatever the answer I am left lost and alone.  Feeling unprepared and unable to face each day as it greets me.

OK.  My heart is pounding, my chest feels constricted, and I have a nauseous feeling in my gut.  These physical signs are telling me that I am panic spiralling.  Never a good thing.  I must do some breathing exercises and focus on the moment of now.

I look at my luscious plants.  They are so beautiful and green.  Such a variety of different shades of colour.  It’s quite remarkable and spectacular at the same time.  Like me, they love the sun!  Basking in it each day brings me warmth and satisfaction.  A comfortable feeling of contentment creeps in as I feel the subtle warmth of the rays on my arms and hands.  This morning it was cloudy.  A greyness permeated the sky that suggested snow was on the way.  But now it is delightfully sunny with a slight haze in the sky.  It is like the clouds from this morning haven’t completely burned off.  I look up into the depths above me and marvel at its perfection.  With all of its different moods, the sky remains constant.  Something I can count on seeing each day and night.  If only I could learn to count on myself, then I, too, would be able to take care of me and face each day with dignity.

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May 27, 2017

I like most mornings, now.  I arise very early and then relax into my day by luxuriating in the downy folds of my cotton bedding while repeating my positive mantras at a lazy pace.  I am then able to eat breakfast, and although I cannot say I enjoy it particularly, I like the idea that I am feeding my brain and my body for whatever comes my way.

There are still days when I struggle to get out of bed, dreading what awaits me.  During those times, I strive to think of what I have to be grateful for, and I do my daily affirmations with a blind fervour, trying to occupy my mind with positivity, as opposed to focusing on what is negative.  This can be a challenging activity because for so many years my brain has been bent in the direction of negativity that I naturally navigate towards it.  But the more work I do establishing new positive neurological connections within myself, the better able I am to reach and remain on the bright side of that spectrum.

Now the grand question is whether I have learned how to take care of myself.  Anorexia has shattered what little self-esteem I possessed before its onset, so many decades ago.  It has not been built up significantly to date, despite my concerted efforts in this area.  And I remain rail thin, which would indicate that my ability to care for my basic need of sustenance is one that is sketchy at best.  But I AM functioning in the real world.  I have maintained a career for several years, and although I would like to have a partner, I live somewhat successfully on my own with my dear doggy and kitty.

True happiness still eludes me, as countless years of self hate have taken their toll, and the ability to be kind to myself is grossly impeded by my inner critic.  But I have learned to accept most days as they come, and to do my best to focus on the moments that occur, in real time, regardless of whether they are moments to remember, or ones to forget.  I hold onto the belief that with continued hard work on myself as a person, I WILL find total peace, and even true happiness.  In the meantime, I welcome contentment as my companion as I face the days that come before me.

Fearing Happiness?

January 31, 2013

My sun is back!  It’s pouring in on me through the kitchen window and it is indeed glorious!  The warmth of it kisses my outsides and melts into my skin, warming me from within.  How lucky I am to have a great, big window that faces south.

I look at today’s date and I marvel at my personal progress.  Just one month ago I prayed for a good year, asking that this previous year, being the worst one in my life, never be repeated.  Here I am, thirty days later, making cookies for C and D’s Ukrainian dance recital and then off to tutor HH.  A little over a month ago…say 6 – 7 weeks…I couldn’t get out of bed.  Wow.  My landscape has changed greatly over a short period of time.  I wish I could celebrate this achievement, but I am too afraid to.  Whenever I recognize a positive aspect of my life, something negative occurs that slaps me down, right back into the pit of my despair.  It happens without fail.  In actuality, I fear any good that may come my way.  I can’t bear to be beaten back down into the swirling depths of my despondency.  It is safer not to acknowledge any possible moments of happiness.

Last night, sleep evaded me completely.  I lay in the darkness with my eyes endlessly open.  I did not experience tiredness, despite the fact that for me, the day had been a busy one.  My mind would not quit producing thoughts, and those thoughts were accompanied by feelings that ran the gamut on the emotional scale.  I felt like my body was going to burst with the contained energy I held inside myself, but I never made a move to get up and expel some of it.  It was most curious to be so full of vigour, and yet so devoid of movement.  It was as if my physical being was completely separated from my mental and emotional state.  The more active my brain became, the more sedentary my body remained.  I felt like my body was shackled to the bed, while my brain was encouraged to run amuck within my imagination.  Finally, at about 5:30 AM, my body was released from its prison and I got up to greet the day.

What will this day bring?  Do I dare to allow the happiness in by accepting the fact that I am moving forward from a past full of dread and sorrow?  Or do I cower away from this truth?  Protecting myself from the impending doom I am convinced will occur once I allow myself to bask in my own happiness?  The latter is a scary thought.  But one whose reality has been proved to me on countless occasions in my past.

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April 30, 2017

Fear is a powerful entity.  It can sneakily and gradually seep into my being as I become afraid of an action or thing that previously had no effect on me.  Or, it can bombard me full on with a terror so palpable I could eat it like I do a sandwich.  Either way, Its insidious grasp closes about me, squeezing the air out of my lungs, and causing my heart to pump at an alarming rate.  The racing thump thud of my heartbeat causes the blood in my veins to throb with intensity.  A prickly feeling at the back of my neck signals the hair on my body to stand on end.  Goosebumps develop across my arms and a freezing chill accompanies them.  Instantly following the cold rush, my body is flushed with a searing heat and beads of sweat gather at my temples and across my forehead.  Fight or flight? Fight or flight?

Fear is as strong as the power I award it.  In the past, I always gave into it, and it fed off me like a parasite sucking the marrow out of my bones.  Now I am better able to combat the force when it attacks by breathing deeply, knowing that this sensation will pass if I allow it to.  However, the phobias I have developed about all insects, and sharks have yet to be dealt with!

Although the fear of experiencing happiness has lessened dramatically, I still sadly cultivate the belief that if I let myself get too happy, or if too many wonderful events occur for me in a short period of time, I will be punished for it.  It is like the feeling of a hangover that I can’t shake off.  Since my earliest memories, my life has been fraught with difficulties of which many I have been unable to manage.  Unhealthy Fear came along and set up camp inside my psyche, thriving there for several decades.  To this day, it still takes up residence, but the space it inhabits has been greatly reduced.

Living WITH fear is one thing.  Living IN fear is another.  As mentioned above, unhealthy fear still inhabits a part of my brain.  But I no longer allow it to rule my existence, dictating the way in which I live my life.

To Nap, or Not to Nap

January 26, 2013

Fighting not lying down in the middle of the day today…Saturday.  The day seems endless.  It is creeping by and I am dragging myself behind it.  Exhaustion saturates my being like a mop sitting in a bucket of hot, sudsy water.  Even the prospect of writing in this journal created a sense of fatigue that made it difficult to put pen to paper.

There is a veritable mountain of chores that I refuse to acknowledge that need to be attended to.  I must vacuum upstairs, downstairs, and in the severely cluttered area I loosely deem my basement.  It is a glorified storeroom of copious amounts of junk that I am seemingly unable to part with.  I have had to carve four pathways through the precariously piled boxes in order to access the four corners of the room.  Disgusting.  Along with all my other personal defects, must I add ‘hoarder’ to the list?  Just entering the basement leaves me weary, let alone climbing about it to locate an item that has been missing since the turn of the century!

After doing that, there is all the dusting to attend to, and washing the dirt encrusted surface that once was my hardwood floor.  And my never-ending battle with the perpetual clutter that plagues my tiny abode is always a reality to contend with.  Not to mention the Christmas Tree.  It STILL graces the corner of my living room over one month since it was initially assembled.  How can I stand living in such a disheveled environment?  Because I don’t deserve to live in one otherwise.  Wait.  That is a negative thought.  I need to counter it by thinking of a positive one.  The kitchen and the bathrooms seem to be the only rooms that I am able to keep clean.  At least I manage to do that.  Yay, me!

Hey…that comment reminds me that Dr. F told me to focus on the positive aspects of my life, and not to ruminate on the negative ones.  So lets see.  I got dressed today.  Check.  That is cause for celebration in and of itself!  I took care of the bunnies.  Check.  I went through some books and picked out some games and activities F and I can do on Monday.  Check.  And that’s about it.  The rest of the day yawns before me, and I long to yawn on my comfy couch!  But maybe it’s OK to take short naps in between activities.  Now is that Depression rearing its deformed and maladjusted head, or does that action make sense as a reward for doing an activity?  Perhaps it is just fine, as long as the nap is short and I do another task once the nap is over.

Other than napping, the only other impulse that registers with me is eating.  Blast!  Of all things.  Why must hunger plague me at this time?  This is one aspect about being at home that is not good.  The fridge is too convenient!  Maybe an apple is all right to munch on.  I think I’ll take a break, sit on the couch, munch on an apple, regroup, and carry on from there.  And if by chance I have a nap, I will be sure to get up and be active afterwards!

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April 14, 2017

I look back now and I can see the insidious presence of Depression, licking like flames at the fragile structure I had built during my time in the program.  It is not difficult to imagine how sneaky Depression is, and how painfully unwitting I was to its ever present stance in my life.  Napping is one of the signs I need to watch for.  It triggers the alarm to sound that all is not well in my world.

My recovery has been an infinitely slow and often tedious process, fraught with multiple dangers along the way that have completely derailed my success.  Succumbing to Depression’s power has on numerous occasions occurred so gradually that I was completely unaware of it until it held me firmly in its grasp.  At this time, all hope seems lost as I struggle to salvage some part of my soul that has not already been devoured.

I wish I could expound a theory on how to beat depression and keep it at bay until the end of time.  I guess though, like everyone else, my journey is unique to my own experience.  I do know, however, that it is possible to move beyond it, and out of its omnipotent shadow.  I need to work each day on finding what is precious and taking the time to marvel at it.  Whether it be drinking in the glorious view of the mountains that stretch before me when I am driving on my way to work each morning, or in the comforting feeling of having my little doggie and kitty’s warm bodies against my own when we snuggle together at night.  When I can appreciate these pleasurable sensations in real time each day, Depression can no longer find me in its iron grip.

Will depression ever be excised from my life altogether?  Of this I do not know.  I can, however, tolerate its presence in the dark recesses of my psyche, as long as I live for the moment I am in.  Depression feeds on past regrets and future fears.  When I solidly position myself in the ‘now’, I have nothing to do but feel grateful for all that I have.  For all that I am.

Damaged…beyond repair?

Journal Entry January 24, 2013

Today I had lunch with another fellow from the program.  We were all forbidden to contact anyone that was in the program while we were in it, but I guess now that we are out, it’s OK to meet up.  Truthfully, these are the only people I have had contact with in a long time, other than my family, and P.  It makes sense to reach out to some of these people as I am starting the upward climb out of depression and into…what?  What?  That is the question.  Where do I go from here?  Am I ready to face a world that I failed miserably in, in my past?  How do I know I won’t fail again?  Who or what can I cling to when the world around me begins to crumble?  But these are negative thoughts.  And I’m not supposed to have negative thoughts.  What can I replace them with?  Surely as a graduate of the program I should be able to root around in my toolbox and find a way to silence the negativity that threatens to undo the good work that has been done, up until this point?  Do I detect a note of sarcasm in that statement?  Well, yes!  Here I have spent all of this time in the program and once I am out, I can’t recall a single strategy to help myself with when the dark clouds fill  my sky.  That is pathetic!  Must I run to my big, blue binder and flip through it to find an appropriate plan of action before I can act independently and come up with a solution?  What is wrong with my brain that I have no recall…of virtually anything?!  OK.  I think I had better do some deep breathing exercises to deescalate.  I do remember how to do that.

Anyway, back to lunch with J.  I learned today that he is a recovering crack addict!  Sheesh!  Is there hurt and sorrow everywhere?  Are we all damaged?  Is there no respite from suffering?  J’s story was harrowing…and very real.  When he was finished, I asked him when the last time he had used was.  He replied five months ago.  Five months ago!  Five months ago I was buried deep inside the bowels of my soul, unable to leave my bed.  How torturous were those five months he must have experienced, but here he was, retelling his life and times as naturally as if he was commenting on the exploits of his children.  I don’t think I said hardly anything all the while he talked.  He just kept going on, and I just kept listening.  When he was done he took a swill of his beer for a long moment.  I think he was expecting me to say something, but at first no words came.  I was still processing the information.  Eventually I opened my mouth to speak, and we discussed aspects of his journey before moving on to more mundane topics.

So this was my second ‘date’ since returning to the real world.  I almost preferred R not showing up to this time of J’s self-disclosure.  I respect the fact that he wanted to be honest with me, but isn’t there a  proper time and place when it is acceptable to divulge the private parts of our lives to one another?  It certainly cannot be considered reasonable to spew forth the vile truths of our existence on a first date?!  What IS this world I live in?  On the surface it is full of people who move about their lives in happiness and harmony, but the dark underbelly of the world is peppered with the outcasts of society of which I am a bonafide, card carrying member.  Does it ever make sense?  Does the damage ever get reversed?  Or do the weak just continue to fall and fall, thus coming undone in the end?

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February 26, 2017

The day was a beautiful one.  I remember that.  I was optimistic that the outcome of this, my second ‘date’, would be far superior to that of my time waiting for R to show up.  I mean, what were the chances of me being stood up two days in a row?  Now that I consider the head space that anyone coming out of a therapeutic program is in, in the first few weeks of their return to reality, it’s rather amazing that J WAS at the chosen restaurant at the designated time.  Although I primped and prepped a little for the outing, I did not obsess about my appearance.  I did do my hair though, as my vanity had taken a severe hit when I saw my disheveled appearance in the glass in the doorway at Starbucks yesterday.

When I arrived at the restaurant, there was only a smattering of people seated sporadically around the room.  J was sitting in a booth off to the side.  When he saw me, he gave a friendly wave and I moved towards him.  He helped me with my coat and made a comment on how pretty my hair looked.  Take that, R!  After we sat, he passed a menu to me and suggested we decide on what it was we wanted to eat, and then we could have a nice chat.

We sat there together in the nondescript booth, exchanging pleasantries, when all of a sudden he hit me with his truth.  I was flabbergasted.  I mean what do you say after someone says, “Yes, it is a lovely day!  It sure seems like spring is on its way.  Speaking of spring, could you spring for our meal?  I have been a crack addict for the past 23 years, and I don’t have any money.”  Talk about harsh honesty.  After I propped my left hand under my chin to keep my jaw from dropping open any further, I stammered, “Wow, J.  That’s tough.  Sure I can pay.” ‘”Wow J.  That’s tough???”‘  Not a very astute statement, coming from a girl who prides herself on being a good listener with a knack for coming up with a few select words that are appropriate to the current situation.  But this was a situation I was completely unprepared for.  What a nightmare story.  All the pain that he has endured, and the pain that his addiction has brought to his family is inconceivable.  And he looks like Joe Normal!  I guess I had a preconceived and judgmental idea of what a crack addict should look like.  Shame on me for depicting an image in my mind that was less than flattering.  I suddenly developed an acute tightness in my chest, and I found it difficult to take in air.  He then smiled at my glassy-eyed gaze.  My eyes were open wide for so long they were beginning to dry out.  I blinked quickly a few times to moisten them, and for an instant J’s face was colourfully distorted, like when I am looking through the eye piece of a kaleidoscope.  The moment was ultra surreal.  J appeared completely fragmented.  He had broken into little, blurry pieces that shifted unevenly and swam before my eyes.  I shook my head slightly in an attempt to clear the picture away.  When I blinked one final time, his face returned to normal, and I let out a long, ragged breath in relief.

I must admit, I have a morbid phobia about getting addicted to drugs, although I have never done any, nor do I EVER want to do any.  But the phobia has me dating a fellow who has a drug problem unbeknownst to me.  As time goes on, I lose myself in him, as always seems to happen to me when I am dating.  I am so influenced by him, that in time, I become an addict, too.  Like most phobias, this is an irrational fear, but it has had me in its grip for a looonnng time.  It is also the reason I haven’t dated anyone in years.  Now to be sitting across from a man who actually lived this life was almost too much for me to bear.  I felt a deep chill go through me.  He continued relating his horrendous tale as I sat, my food growing cold, untouched on my plate.  I sat listening to him, transfixed, until he finally finished talking.

I felt emotionally drained.  Over the years, and in so many hospital programs, I have listened to a multitude of people bare their souls.  Their stories have all been full of pain and pathos, and I have given little pieces of my heart to each person who has had the courage to share.  But this confession was different.  I think this story touched me so dramatically because it was not told in a hospital setting.  And I was not a patient in a group that I was mandated to be a part of.  J told his story simply and honestly, and the rawness of the telling cut through me like the razor blades on my wrists had done so in my past.

There was no awkward silence after he stopped talking, and before I spoke.  Silence, yes.  But is was respectful in nature.  When I did begin to speak, I thanked him for his candour.  It is an honour to listen to a person bare all, and I wanted him to know I appreciated his braveness.  He was concerned that I had not eaten my meal, but I told him I would take it home and eat it for supper that night.  After I paid the bill, he thanked me, walked me out to my car, and gave me a hug.  I hugged him back, got in my car, and drove away.  All the way home I was lost in thought.  I think J is a good man.  He is definitely an honest man, and his candid appraisal of his life was not short on self-deprecating humour.  But his is a damaged soul.  Perhaps beyond repair?  I guess that has yet to be seen.