There's So Far to Go

Things have been kind of ok'ish with my mom, well, not really, but I've been trying mightily to be ok with interactions. Protect myself by not ever telling her anything important, and let my kids see her and my dad. I keep telling myself that they are good grandparents, I haven't noticed them doing anything to my kids that is off-side and it is helpful to get them to watch the kids now and again. 

But...my birthday and Mother's Day was the WORST. My youngest brother graduated as a Pharmacist and if I didn't go to his graduation, I would have been the only one who didn't.  Ever dutiful, I told myself, no big deal, I'll just drag myself and my kids out to lovely Nebraska for a one night trip. First, an early morning flight, then getting there only to find out my mom was dictating the schedule and there was no downtime in it. We had lunch at 1pm then had less than an hour to get ready to go to the hooding ceremony, and the most I managed to do was lay down for 10 min. My kids didn't rest mind you, just me, desperately trying to regroup. Z fell asleep for most of the hooding ceremony on the bleachers. X and my niece played in the hallway, typical right? Kids can't sit through these things. After the ceremony I tried to figure out how to handle dinner. I wanted to hit up a supermarket, but my kids were DONE, and so, I discovered how valuable overpriced hotel food is. Especially when you can get it delivered to your room! My mom was surprised to see that I wasn't dragging my kids out to an 8:15pm dinner reservation, despite the fact that I told her multiple times we probably wouldn't be able to make it. What did she do? She volunteered me to watch my 5 year old niece while everyone else went out to dinner. By the time this exchange came around, I had given up. Even though I should have told my brother that I couldn't watch his kid, I didn't. I caved and it made everything worse, because of course he didn't get back until 10pm to pick her up. The next day dawned with me waking up exhausted, wondering what the fuck was I thinking and trying to figure out how to kill time before going to the airport in the afternoon. Naturally, the weather sucked so I couldn't even go to the zoo for the day, which had been my plan, and I started to break down. There was yelling, there was obstinance, there was threatening to drive around all damn day unless X got dressed. We were actually in the car with him in his pajamas and I was at the end of my rope when it finally dawned on me to give him a choice. He could choose to get dressed and we could meet everyone for lunch, or he could choose not to get dressed and we could drive around until it was time to go to the airport. Amazing how a little Love and Logic (which I hadn't been using all morning) worked. In hindsight, he probably needed to know the plan instead of me demanding he get his damn clothes on and brush his teeth. Yep, probably could have de-escalated the situation and made my morning easier. Ultimately, we met for lunch, then I and my kids went to the Children's Museum while my parents went to the Art Museum. 

We got home that night and after a couple glasses of wine, S dealing with the kids and putting them to bed, I completely broke. So much crying. So much ugly crying. So much shame. 

I woke up on Mother's Day still feeling like shit, puffy eyed and pounding headache. X wanted to bring me breakfast in bed and sweetly orchestrated the whole deal. So, I got breakfast in bed, but I was still so upset that I couldn't enjoy it. S gave me a pass to do whatever I wanted (although he practically ordered me to get on my bike). I rode 33 miles with a splitting headache, but I made it!  When they came home from visiting S's parents, I still wasn't in a good frame of mind. S left the house for 20 minutes to get food and in that 20 minutes I managed to have a throwdown with an almost 7 year old. I couldn't keep my head straight, I said things I knew were damaging. I yelled. I cried. I hid in my room. I said things that could have come straight out of my mother's mouth. Things I never thought I would ever say to my child. More crying. More shame. Apologies. Explanations. 

Stretch Guy helped show me I have more work to do. He recognized the stress in my body long before I was ready to admit what it was. He pushed me to consider different ways of dealing with it, and here I am, beginning to deal with it, but in the meantime, I feel like I'm damaging my kid in the process. Network chiropractic work is flat out weird, but something is happening. The way it's done, it's like nothing - I barely feel Dr. M touching different areas on my back. Six weeks into the work and I've gone from skeptic to, well...maybe this is working? I'm also starting EMDR with therapist #3. I was supposed to do it last week, but was riding the high from fighting against my avoidant attachment tendencies and getting to the space where I actually connected with Stretch Guy so we talked about that. I didn't think I had to talk about my mom in all of that because it was supposed to be an annoying, but doable trip, not the emotional breakdown that it was.

There's so far to go. Therapist told me I'll probably be on an emotional roller coaster as we move through all these different avenues of healing, but she's all for it. EMDR and the network should compliment each other in healing trauma. Stretch Guy is there to be a source of support. I do a decent job of telling X what I'm doing and when I lose my shit I do my best to own it as my problem, not his. But I'm still losing my shit. And he's still having the occasional scary tantrum as he tries to keep control of situations. We are in a shitty place.

I have a stupid amount of work travel in the next several weeks, and juggling my projects while traveling is a source of stress. Trying to see Dr. M 3x a week for 3 months is stressful. Seeing Therapist every other week is stressful. Squeezing in a stretch session once a month is stressful. I need all three of those things right now and there aren't enough hours in the day. I wish I had one of those totally mundane and boring jobs so that I can focus on my mental health and healing. Too bad I can't get that for a few months. 

 

I Was Vulnerable and it was Glorious

Recently, Stretch Guy crossed a line and triggered me in a bad way. The boundaries between me and him have been fuzzy ever since I broke down and have been a source of stress as I tried to figure out the line between being vulnerable and protecting myself. He would suggest different avenues for me to check out and I would dutifully say ok then go home, dive down professor Google and decide x, y, z are not for me. Then I wouldn't bring it up again. Well, maybe once I resisted, but mostly I'd just think, naw, that's for him, not me. The latest episode came when I was at a conference and we had been exchanging some e-mails around the network chiropractic care I agreed to try at his (strong) suggestion. In a reply, he invited me to a graduation of sorts from a workshop/retreat thing he did. He used all the words that make me squirm, "transformational, powerful, incredible" and I felt like I was punched in the gut. When he suggested Wo.man.Ki.nd to me, I looked into it, decided hard pass and laughed about how he is totally not picking up on my personality. When I got this latest suggestion, I fell down a black hole of wondering why I ever started trusting him and thinking it may be time to fire him. Poor S had to listen to me cry about how Stretch Guy says he wants to help but what. the. actual. fuck. I actually felt heartbroken and sad that I was facing a decision that I had been trying really hard to avoid. He had helped me. He had been consistent. And now, it was like he was trying to recruit me.

I started a draft e-mail that was scathing and full of hurt. I deleted it. I breathed. I gave myself time to process and then drafted another response that simply said I appreciated he thought of me, but it was not my thing. Then, I asked if he could meet me outside of his office. 

When we met at the coffee shop several days later, I had time to process my reaction to his invitation, I wrote out things that helped me identify where the trigger was (feeling like someone was telling me they know better what I need than I do), and how it tied to shame in some areas. I had contemplated starting out by pulling out my newly acquired Color Energies wheel and pointing out where I fall then asking him why the hell he'd think I'd be even remotely interested in sitting around with a bunch of people talking about feelings of all things. Eventually I decided against that opening, but had the printout in case I had to browbeat him into acknowledging that no I would not be open to beating a goddamn drum in the woods or sitting around waiting to be transformed as someone talks at me about awareness. (I'm judging, I know). With my mind still focused on what. the. actual. fuck. I decided to go with a different tack.

I told him how I feel.

I told him he's pushing my boundaries and I don't like it. 

He APOLOGIZED.

And then we had a really good and open conversation. And I felt lighter the whole rest of the day. And I have an appointment with him today. I don't feel anxious. I don't feel nervous. This will be the first time I've walked into his office without anxiety following me. 

You guys. 

I think I trust him.

Who knew?

Not Rational

Before getting into it, I need to bring up the fact that my iPad brought up a rat emoji when I was typing the word rational. heh.

A recent conversation with my new therapist, Therapist #3, for those keeping track, centered around attachment and vulnerability. In one of her Ted Talks, Brene Brown talks about how she came around to the idea of vulnerability being a good thing rather than something to squash. The thing she said that made me practically shout that’s me! “...vulnerability pushed and I pushed back”. And that, my dear readers is how my life has been going ever since my first appointment with Stretch Guy.  I had already started exploring the idea of learning vulnerability as a good thing, in a logical-rational-engineering kind of way. As in, if I can learn how to be vulnerable, then I will be successful in relationships at work and personal life. Therapist #2 was helping me work on bringing down the wall in a similarly rational and logical way, and it wasn't working that well.  The introduction of Stretch Guy into my life propelled me into a massive emotional breakdown and forced me to choose door 1) run like hell or 2) trust that he can help me. We all know I chose 2) despite the many times I've looked for reasons to run through 1). Oh, and there have been sooo many internal struggles with staying.  Despite my slow journey to trusting him, he never disappoints in support level, always the cheerleader, always willing to share

 In my talk with Therapist #3, I expressed utter confusion about how to translate being vulnerable with Stretch Guy into real life relationships. That's when she said it's NOT RATIONAL, I can't distill vulnerability into a neat little learning package and then apply to other areas of my life. Maybe it makes sense why I keep swirling in uncertainty and fear. 

Into the Wilderness

A few weeks ago, I went on a hut trip. I’ve never been on a trip like this, had heard about them and thought it would be fun. Now, I happen to know people who do this every year and I thought, why not have a girls weekend doing something quintessentially Coloradoan? In the winter, it turns out that this is a serious backpacking endeavor. The snowshoe in is 7 miles long, and you have to carry everything except the kitchen sink (and dishes) Everything else goes on your back. In my case, it was 35 pounds of gear, clothes, food, meds, everything I would need for 2 nights in the remote wilderness. 

In the weeks leading up to the trip, I planned on snowshoeing at high altitude every weekend to get ready and in shape. Lofty goal as it turns out as I managed exactly 2 snowshoes and one hike. As our departure date approached, I grew more anxious knowing that I only had whatever conditioning I had built up in the gym to rely on getting me through the trek. By the time I had to pack and meet my friends, I was wishing for a blizzard that would keep us home, and keep me from certain failure.  Unfortunately, we are not that lucky here in CO this year, and the day dawned sunny and unseasonably warm. I packed up my gear and headed to my friend’s house with trepidation.  We drove to Carbondale  with a few others, and the whole way up I got pep talk after pep talk. 

See, despite growing up at high altitude, it kicks my ass every single time. Any hike starting at 9,000 ft is guaranteed to see a Geochick dragging along at a snails pace while people 20 years older than me practically run by me on the trail. This hike starts at 9,000 ft, finishes at 11,000 ft and over 7 miles, the last 2 miles contains 1,000 ft of the 2,000ft total of elevation gain. 

After spending the night in a hotel, re-packing my backpack on the advice of my friends, shedding another pound or two, the next day, we started the hike on a blue sky sunny day where the sun, sometimes a friend, began to turn into our foe, relentlessly beating down on the first 5 miles of road making me sweat buckets under my heavy pack.

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Once we got to the final 2 mile hill, I welcomed the chance to dive into the forest for some coolness. The steepness of the switchbacks slowed us all down, saving the mountain goats of the group, and we slogged on, one foot in front of the other, stopping every 5 or so steps to catch our breath.  

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Finally, after 5 hours, we made it, exhausted, hot, and sweaty, and treated to these views

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It was totally worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Gray Update 1

I stopped coloring my hair 7 weeks ago and got myself a pixie cut to ease the transition/make this happen faster. At the moment, I feel like I've hit the OH SHIT phase of the grow out and wonder if I can get through it. I've been walking around with a low level of anxiety and constant chatter,

  • does that person on the street see the skunk stripe
  • what does the back look like?,
  • why won't my hairdresser just indulge me and strip my hair so I don't have to go through this?,
  • maybe I should just color it  
  • why didn't I just go gray naturally?????
 The dreaded part shot. At my last appointment my hairdresser added some lowlights to try to blur the line of demarcation.

The dreaded part shot. At my last appointment my hairdresser added some lowlights to try to blur the line of demarcation.

 What it looks like when my hair is styled forward (how the cut is supposed to be styled)

What it looks like when my hair is styled forward (how the cut is supposed to be styled)

My hair grows fast, but it can't grow fast enough to keep me from freaking out. It's time to invest in some root cover up spray, powder, or something to get through this next phase.

Which brings me to this commercial: 

 

yikes.

 

 

#MicroblogMondays: UGH, Meds

I've had it with Cele.xa after being on it for several years. (5?) I know it's helped level me out, but I've also made a lot of progress with therapy and life is generally even at the moment. 

Maybe here is where I should mention I'm starting somatic therapy perhaps with EMDR. Yep, I finally found a new therapist and had my first appointment last week. Maybe this isn't the time to come off the drug? Probably not, but I'm not sure it's working as well as it used to (anxiety is up), I've had to be on Prilosec for several years because it gives me major acid reflux and I'm sick of that. Lastly, if I'm being brutally honest. It's not helping my mental health to have 10 extra pounds on my frame that will NOT COME OFF. Besides, depression for me isn't major, it's more of a low level clinical thing that has to be managed, but there's got to be a better way than pharmaceuticals. 

Here goes an experiment: I started CBD oil over the weekend (reminds me of taking Chinese herb remedies that taste like dirt. ugh), and I'm going to take magnesium and fish oil regularly (so bad about consistency there). I'm taking 15mg of Celexa as of last week after first trying to cut it in half to 10mg, but that made me dizzy. At 15mg, so far, I'm having some brain fog and constant nausea. Awesome.

This should be a fun ride. 

 

 

Valentine’s on a Day of Tragedy.

 I’m not addressing what happened in Florida even though it feels like I should, but I’d be screaming into the wind and largely preaching to the choir. I’m choosing to put my energy toward what I can do to make change. VOTE. CALL.  Until the lawmakers pull their heads out of their asses and stop accepting NRA money, and actually pass legislation to ban certain types of weapons: until lawmakers stop throwing tons of money at the rich and actually start giving a shit about mental health and health care, nothing will change. They won’t care until we address them directly. 5calls.org. I’m going to use it. THIS is what I can do. 

 

With that being said, S and I had a really amusing exchange of cards last night.

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Mine is the top card. Often, when this dissonance in card giving occurs, it’s me buying the snark and gifting it to him. heh. 

Building Trust

In a recent stretch appointment, the crap started surfacing again. I’ve been going regularly for about a year and after the initial emotional breakdowns prompting a couple of conversations with Stretch Guy, I've settled into learning to trust him and building my comfort level. A couple of appointments ago, the conversation turned more personal again and he shared more with me about his story.

Feeling understood is something I don't seem to receive very often. Or, I don’t let anyone in close enough (S notwithstanding) to even give them a chance. I keep trying out this vulnerability thing with Stretch Guy and it's a seriously uncomfortable slog. When I pulled back a little, after the couple of conversations we had around my emotional reactions, nothing came up during sessions. This last time, after a couple sessions where I started saying things, feelings rooted in attachment bubbled up, as always really coming up when I’m most vulnerable in the session, the shoulder work. I never feel particularly vulnerable when my arms are free, even if he is all up in my business stretching hips and back. But when arms are bound, I feel completely helpless. In this particular session, there was another stretch that requires him to put himself in a precarious position. It was like one huge trust fall for the last 30 minutes. 

I almost cried. Almost. a little shaking, a few tears in my car, then nothing. It feels like I need to, but it’s not quite there yet. I have such a hard time processing all of this, and several days later I'm trying to work through emotions that came up, a constant stream of thoughts in my head wondering about why I react, how I react, is this ok? Is this what it's supposed to feel like to be vulnerable? How the hell do people do it????

While I wish I could turn off the constant chatter in my head (hi anxiety!), maybe this is just part and parcel of the process? Maybe this whole trust/vulnerability thing takes a hell of a lot longer than I thought. Or hoped. 

On Letting Go of the Color

First, a distinction, gray hair is actually not gray. it's white hair, but it looks gray because some hair with pigment still exists and mixing the two ends up looking gray. 

I finally made the decision to transition from my (now fake) medium-dark brown hair to the silver that it has become under all that dye, money and time.  I first brought it up to my hairdresser when I started to notice that it was more difficult to keep up with the roots. Earlier this year, I started seeing her every 4 weeks because my usual routine of touching up the roots on my own wasn't working anymore. I needed 2 boxes of the root touch-up and it never matched very well. She talked me out of making the transition citing that I'm only 43 and it'll age me 10 years...and I listened. We started a 4 week rotation of color then color and cut. It was working fine, but you know the thing about having 75%+ white hair? It's coarse and wiry, especially because my hair is already coarse. It doesn't act the same as my hair did when it was 50% white.  It's dry all the time and even though I get high quality salon coloring done, there's a tinge of brassiness that develops as the color grows out. I don't like the roots, and I don't like feeling like I'm obviously covering it up. I doubt anyone else notices, but I'm stressing out about my roots, and I'm sure not going to start touching up the roots every 2 weeks! Of all the things that add stress to my life, hair color should not be one of them.

I also had a revelation that, who cares? Who am I really trying to impress? Sure, when I was in my mid-20's and had to start coloring because I was going prematurely gray, it made sense.  And, embracing a perceived aging hair color in my 30's was not even a thought. At this point, having gray hair in my 40's? *shrug* I'm, getting crow's feet, parentheses, furrowed brow and a droopy chin. I take care of my skin through treatments, but I'm not under any illusion that I can possibly turn back the hands of time. When women turn to injectables and Botox, it's so obvious that they are a woman of a certain age who is trying to fight it. No one ever looks 25 again. At some point, the same thing happens with hair. It becomes obvious that the color is fake. I find I'm more interested in working with what I've got vs. fighting it. So, I'll work with it, and if these damn roots are any indication, I've got some pretty cool silver that's about to be unleashed

It's time. 

Wish me luck.

Check back next year to see if I freaked out and dyed it back. 

Update on the Other Half of My Bio-Family

It's been....interesting trying to process this intrusion of sorts on my psyche. To bring you up to speed and understanding, here's the cast of players:

Bio-Dad - died in 2005 from alcoholism. He was about 58 years old if I did the math right. No other kids. One other ex-wife.

Uncle T - died in 2005 8 months after bio-Dad from alcoholism. No kids?

Uncle B - He's the one who called me back in the spring of 2017 at work and exploded my world. No kids, not married.

Uncle J - His wife Aunt L is the one who searched for me and my brother and she found our info. They have one son who has 2 kids about the same ages as mine.  

I finally screwed up the courage to call Aunt L, because Uncle B gave me her cell phone number. She was over the moon excited to hear me and we had a pretty good conversation. Pretty good for me learning that my Uncle J is now battling a life threatening heart disease for which there's no treatment and it's only a matter of time. He's somewhere between 65-70 years old? I also learned that there's more extended family members on that side who have died from alcoholism. 

Do you know what this does? I literally was found, and now am actively losing family. If I don't get out to visit Aunt L and Uncle J, I'll probably never get a real account of the family. Out of the brothers, Uncle J is the one who managed to have a career and a family and not succumb to the disease that apparently rampages through that bloodline. I'm not ready. I was barely ready to call her, and now I feel like the clock is ticking and if Uncle J dies before I travel, I'll regret not meeting him. While I'll probably keep in some kind of contact with Aunt L, it won't be the same. He's my chance to get a first hand account of what it was like growing up in that family and what he did to avoid going down the same path as his brothers.

I can't process. I keep pushing it away.