Month: November 2016

November 22, 2016

A three-peat of posts? Who do I think I am, the Chicago Bulls? Incredible!

(The Bulls won championships in 1991, 1992, and 1993, and again in 1996, 1997, and 1998 for those who didn’t quite get the poor joke I made. Thank you to those who found it humorous. And yes, I had to google my own joke.)

I just got done with my weekly therapy session and I felt the need to write, so I am doing so at the coffee shop close to home, and I’m sipping on chamomile tea and eating the best goddamn frosted sugar cookie I’ve had in a while. It’s crumbly and I’m sure some have fallen onto the keyboard, let alone the fact I’m typing with one slightly sticky hand now (from the cookie; gross, you guys. Grow up). This is why I can’t have nice things.

Tonight, I’m going to address something that I struggle with, and that is The V Word.

No, not “vagina,” although I like to joke that I could never be a lesbian because I am squeamish around other cunts. Bless anyone’s heart for dealing with these things. I thank you for your service.

No, sillies, I mean VULNERABILITY. 

(Insert a great clap of thunder, terrifying lightning, and flickering electronic devices as the word is read.)

First of all, what is it? The dictionary defines it as such: vul·ner·a·ble–adjective; susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. Synonyms include helpless, defenseless, powerless, impotent, weak, susceptible. Used in a sentence, “We were in vulnerable position.”

In general, I do not like to make myself feel any of the above. I am smart enough to realize I cannot prevent this from happening, but goddamn it if I don’t try. I do take issue with the word “weak,” though. I don’t find being vulnerable as being weak. It takes a great deal of courage to express yourself in a way as to be perceived as being vulnerable. Opening up and exposing the raw bits of you to other people is terrifying, which is why I don’t do it, or do it very rarely.

I never considered myself to be a controlling person, but with the amount of self-awareness I’ve been made to do over the last few months via therapy, I certainly can be! I recall a moment this last July when with two people I trust, one asked if they could drive since I had been doing all of it. I quickly said, “no!” And then followed up with “don’t take away the minimal amount of power I have!”

I can also be a bit of a control freak at work to an extent. I don’t like accepting help from coworkers unless I am forced to. I like to think I have shit under control most of the time, but will begrudgingly ask for assistance when it comes down to it.

I do most things by myself, as well. If I have a problem, yo, I’ll solve it, check out this hook while the DJ revolves it. I detest asking for help, although again, I will when I must. I won’t like it, but I’ll do it.

My dad was like this, too. When he was going through chemo and it really started to kick his ass, whenever we would go to his oncologist and she’d ask him how he was doing, knowing two weeks prior, he was puking his guts out, in pain, and leading a miserable existence, he’d smile and say he was doing okay.

“You’re not going to get a medal for pretending everything is OK when I know it hasn’t been, Dan,” she said to him one time. I started clapping and yelled “THANK YOU!” to her, because from my point of view, he was enduring so much but trying to act like it wasn’t a big deal. It’s cool, I got this…while breaking down crying at having me to see him in such a low state.

Sound familiar to anyone? Huh. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

I could probably think myself stupid as to why I am also this way, and believe me, I’ve tried. I think most of it comes from not wanting to bother anyone. I know that’s annoyingly cliche and the stereotypical reply, but truly y’all. We all have our own shit to deal with, why should I encumber  you with my problems, as well? I shouldn’t, so I don’t.

And yet, by doing so, I inadvertently push people away and I sit and wonder, “gosh, where is everyone?” I never claimed to be smart.

Also, historically speaking, and it seems like I’m really ragging on the old husband a lot lately, and I totally am because fuck that guy, I became controlling and fearful of asking for help because I couldn’t rely on him for anything, from talking to me to knowing what the fuck to do if an appliance broke. His solution was to ignore it, which trickled down to me quite literally. If you ignore it, it goes away, right? Well, yes, which is why he’s my ex-husband. Ooh! Burn.

Tonight, Therapist and I were discussing what I do with my emotions when I have them. I know it seems like I don’t do anything with them, but that’s far from the truth. I just internalize the shit out of them, but not the way of suppressing them, but rather raging a battle in my head about what I feel. Pissed off? I will fucking rip you to shreds in my thoughts. I know I am angry, I understand why I am angry, and I do let myself be angry, but you’ll hardly know it, save the ultra-mature method of sulking and pouting. I don’t want to fly off the cuff at you in an outburst of fury and say shit I will regret and never can take back, so I stew in it. Then, I ruminate over it. I try to see the other person’s point of view and what happened that made me angry and try to understand them, if that makes sense in my jumbled wording.

You make me mad, I get mad, but then I try to empathize with you, saying stuff like, “well, it wasn’t meant to be taken that way, I’m just overreacting to the situation,” and in doing so, I calm myself down. In theory, it’s actually a great practice. It’s mindful as fuck, too. But it’s also counterproductive because my emotions and feelings are valid and real, so express those fuckers! But I get worried I’ll offend or say something awful, so I have the argument meant for two people in my mind like some sort of crazy person.

Therapist then said, “you have no trouble expressing yourself when you write.” There has nary been a truer statement uttered in all of mankind.

You know why I love to write, especially about shit like this?

Because I have control over every aspect of it. I can write what I feel and not have to deal with someone trying to get their two cents in, or getting me flustered, or talking over me to make their point. I can say what I want to say in the safety of my own space, I can stop and think for a few seconds before I type without having the conversation commandeered from me. I don’t have to make myself vulnerable to another person. I mean, writing is fucking amazing and I love it.

Some of you probably don’t love it as much as I do. Actually, there’s no “probably” about that. I know some of you hate that I can write so well about a variety of things, yet can’t open my gob in person.

I know I’ve been saying this for a while now, but I’m trying to work on it. In fact, my weekly homework assignment is to intentionally be open with someone in person. Oh my gooooodddddd. I recoiled in terror at that. But I’m willing to give it a shot. Lucky for me, most of you do not exhibit the same traits as the guy I used to be married to, so I take comfort in the fact that whomever I speak to won’t wander off to get stoned or stare blankly at the television while playing video games, so that’s nice for me.

Also, please let me say this: I know I’ve been running my ex through the fucking ringer, and I want to say that he really is a good guy. Truly, he is. He just happens to be a major component on my road to understanding myself better, so unfortunately, he’s getting his ass unknowingly kicked. Sorry, dude.

I hope this makes some modicum of sense, and I hope I used the word “modicum” properly.

I want the important people in my life to read this and gain some small amount of understanding. I want them to also know I am committed to resolving my problems. That’s one thing both Therapist and the psychologist I saw said in common: “Erin, you want so badly to get better.”

They’re right. I do want to, and I will some day. Not today, though.

As usual and always, thank you for reading.

E

 

 

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November 21, 2016

Two posts in as many days? By golly, it’s a pre-Christmas miracle! God bless us, every one! Give a bitch her laptop back and suddenly she thinks she’s David Foster Wallace!

I’m currently at work, waiting out the last 30 minutes of my shift before I can go home and probably over-analyze things that have happened today because that is, as the kids say, what I do.

Back in October, after having been on five different medications since March of this year, and always questioning my original diagnosis of Bipolar 2, I sought out a psychologist to do a mental health assessment to help determine what exactly is wrong with me…brain-wise, that is, and even that is a crapshoot.

I ended up taking the MMPI-2 test, which is the most widely used among head doctors. It is 600 questions of fun and took about 2 hours to answer; not because the questions were difficult or anything, but after a while, you start second-guessing yourself due to repeated questions, but in slightly different wording. It’s actually quite like the often poo-poo’ed Myers Briggs personality tests (INFP, thankyouverymuch), which I mean, yeah, that test is goofy, and admittedly, so was the MMPI-2, but if it can be used to help me manage my medications, aka find the right fucking kind of medication for fucking goddamn fucking once, I’m all for spending 2 hours on a couch in my shrink’s office.

A few days after I took it, I got told I needed further testing because this test can apparently tell when you’re flubbing the system and will render it invalid. I didn’t do that, but some of my answers were so wild in comparison to other questions, I had to come back in and chat with the psychologist a little more so she could make a more educated evaluation of me.

She started asking me questions like “do you think you’re overly particular about your personal space?” and “does it make you upset when someone borrows something of yours and doesn’t return it in the exact same spot?” The more of these types of questions she asked me, I was hip to her OCD jive and even said so to her. Hey there, lady; what are you getting at here? Can I wash my hands a few times real quick? (kidding.)

After talking with me for an hour, she said she’d have her preliminary report done in a week and come in for feedback. Okay! I was morbidly curious about it. I mean, I knew depression and anxiety would be the biggest winners of the day, but what additional piece would present itself?

As expected, I am the proud owner of a major depressive disorder of the recurrent type, generalized anxiety disorder, and drum roll please…I display several traits of obsessive compulsive personality disorder. I also have a highly addictive personality. At first she tossed out “schizo-effective disorder” and I think she saw the panic in my eyes because she quickly countered with “I don’t think you’re schizophrenic. I think your GAD (ultra-hip psych talk) is the main root of your problems with your mood.”

Ya think? Or like how I cannot wind my brain down even the slightest bit which leads to over-processing pretty much anything and everything in my life : “oh my god, he didn’t “like” my Facebook picture he hates me what did I do to make him hate me oh my god I bet it was that one time two years ago where I said something and he’s still mad at me about it and is just too polite to say it hurt his feelings but obviously he’s still upset about it otherwise he would have liked this picture and now I guess I’ll just go kill myself because what good am I to anyone at this point?” I’m sure you’re laughing, but this is pretty much exactly what I think. This is not an over-exaggeration in the least. This is 100% Erin Thought (registered trademark).

Generally speaking, I think too goddamn much, I convince myself I am right about what I’m thinking about, which leads to anxiety. There’s a fine line between being worried about something for valid reasons and being worried about things because you thought about it and have convinced yourself it’s true. I tend to face plant over that line on the reg.

She asked me how I felt therapy was going, and I like to think it’s helpful. I mean, I don’t go visit Therapist once a week just because I want to hang out. She’s cool and all, and I’m sure she’s a hoot on a personal level, but I am going to get help because I was tired of feeling shitty. I know my brain isn’t right and I want help to try to correct behaviors and coping mechanisms and deal with grief and all that other happy crappy.

I did, however, mention that I do find it somewhat difficult at times because of this pesky talking problem I have, repeating the “I can tell you want to say something, but physically stop yourself from doing so” thing, and she nodded knowingly. I hate it when people do that. I like to think I’m some complex creature with an impenetrable stone and steel wall with razor wire on top built up around me that people are left befuddled by me, but I also don’t have a very good poker face, and I give myself away. Goddamn it!

I felt the need to elaborate on why it’s so fucking tricky to get me to open up and talk.

“Feeling vulnerable?” she asked.

GODDAMN IT. STOP KNOWING WHAT MY ISSUES ARE WITHOUT ME TELLING THEM TO YOU FIRST, YOU PHD IN PSYCHOLOGY. FUCK!

I nodded, feeling tears start to form. I had to quickly take a drink of my lukewarm coffee to keep me from crying. After I regained my composure, I added this:

“I constantly think about what I want to say, but don’t say it because I’m afraid I’ll sound stupid or my thoughts don’t matter. When I was married, it was extremely difficult trying to talk to my ex-husband because he always made me feel like my thoughts were invalid. If a topic didn’t interest him, or wasn’t about something he was interested in, he’d ignore me or give curt one word replies. I just learned to not talk to him anymore.”

Sadly, this habit never went away, and also why whenever I do talk or text, I end up apologizing for “rambling” because again, I trained myself to assume everyone is like my ex-husband and is bored out of their skulls by me and wishes I would shut the fuck up already because no one cares, Erin. I want that to go away because whenever I am able to talk, I actually kind of enjoy it. It’s nice to not be ignored when I’m speaking, or being made to feel like what I have to say is inconsequential or small.

This shed some further light to Sally Psychologist (not her real name) and she asked if therapy was focused more on insight, as in trying to determine why I am the way I am, and I said yes. She asked if that was helpful for me. I said no because due to constant thinking, I’m fairly self-aware of why I do things, or at least I like to think so. She suggested ACT therapy, or “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, as a unique empirically based psychological intervention that uses acceptance and mindfulness strategies, together with commitment and behavior change strategies, to increase psychological flexibility.”

In other words, take responsibility for why I am the way I am and instead of making myself feel like shit about it (you dumb bitch, why can’t you just open your goddamn mouth and speak?), acknowledge it (hey, you’re not talking again. How’s come?), and make a plan of attack to fix it (‘Member how you said it feels productive and positive to talk? Hey, do that shit). So simple, yet so fucking terrifying because of that motherfucking “vulnerability” word.

Oh, I’m also incredibly self-deprecating. Surprise!

Another major point she brought up is the addictive personality, which manifests itself in two ugly ways: smoking (duh) and drinking. She expressed concern for the drinking. She probably has valid reason to do so. I typically don’t drink during the week, with some exceptions. I save my booze for the weekend, and I make up for lost time. Full disclosure: I drink to get drunk. Past alcohol abuse and the fact I’m 70 pounds overweight means my tolerance has been built up, so it takes a lot of liquor to get me drunk, which far exceeds the normal, safe amount. I can’t drink one or two drinks and feel satisfied. I have to be that happy, chatty, word-slurry drunk.

But Erin, did you know alcohol is a depressant?

I do know! And I also know that drinking while on antidepressants is basically like taking a pill in my mouth and immediately spitting it out. It’s counterproductive. And yes, I make myself feel like shit the next day when I berate myself for drinking that much. She suggested either drastically cutting back on drinking, or abstinence from it. I have to say that I agree. With what method is yet to be decided, but I am willing to try anything.

Needless to say, I have some massively hard work ahead of me and it’s freaking me out. You mean to tell me I have to make myself communicate more and reduce my alcohol intake? *insert me flipping a table over here*

But…I want to do this stuff. I want to be able to talk without fear of being made fun of. I want to be able to wake up on a Saturday morning and not hate myself for the drinks I had the night before. I want this old dog to learn some new tricks instead of shrugging my shoulders in a “welp, that’s just the way it’s always gonna be!” way.

I am glad I did this assessment, as silly as it might seem to some. “You paid someone to tell you what you already knew?” Well…yeah, but sometimes it’s nice to have a much better understanding of what’s going on with my brain and hopefully be given the help and care I need to correct the more infuriating traits I have.

And there you have it.

As always, thank you for reading.

E

The Marijuanalogues

Clever title! And all I can see when I read it is “anal.”

Good Sunday evening to you all. I hope your weekend was lovely and the icy grips of reality that tomorrow is Monday doesn’t vex you too much. But hey! Short week! Thanksgiving! Celebrate mass genocide with gluttony! It’s the American Way! I’m a snarky so-and-so!

I don’t know why I decided to write on this topic, but I’m going to write on this topic and probably go off on some long-winded rant and get way off topic, like I do. I just want to write on my laptop since it’s been gone for two weeks due to repairs and I wanted to give the ol’ girl a spin to make sure she’s functioning properly.

And away I go!

Marijuana. Pot. Ganja. The Sticky Icky. Wacky Tobacky. Smokin’ a J. Whatever you call it, I want you to know that I hate it. I fucking detest pot to my very core. The skunky, acrid smell of it by the hooligans who sneak it in to concerts to heighten their music experience make shivers go down my spine.

I would be remiss and a massive hypocrite to omit the fact that I have smoke pot five times in my life, and honestly, I hated every single time. Why did I try it the other four times, then? Good question, and my feeble answer is peer pressure. No kidding. It isn’t just a thing made up by after-school specials.

Also, let me get this out of the way, as well: I also understand the hypocrisy I have towards it because I drink alcohol, a substance that also alters one’s mood/behavior/used as an emotional crutch/terrible method of coping.

I also think the stuff should be legalized. I’ve read many articles on its medicinal purposes, and my family and I actually tried to convince my father to try it when he was in his last stages of terminal cancer (he declined).

So what’s my big fucking deal with it? I thought you’d never ask!

My big fucking deal with pot is personal, and I know how well anecdotal evidence for something isn’t effective in topics such as this, but this is my post, so I’ll dote on the anec all I want.

I hate pot because my ex-husband was a chronic (no pun intended) pot smoker. When we were dating, I honestly had no idea he smoked until we were several months into our relationship, which looking back now, I’m like, “really, Erin? No idea?” He was the quintessential and stereotypical bluntman. His red eyes weren’t from allergies, honey. The small glass pipe he kept in the front pocket of his military-style jacket wasn’t for tobacco, sweetie. Him saying, “oh, I smoke every now and again” response when you asked him how often he did after you did find out wasn’t the truth, pumpkin.

He hid his smoking spectacularly well for a few years after we got married. We had been lawfully wedded for about four years before I found out he smoked regularly. I had been cleaning our apartment and one of our washcloths was in a drawer in a side table in the living room. It looked dirty, so I picked it up to toss it in the dirty laundry pile when the smell hit me. I took a bigger whiff and was almost knocked over by the stench. There was a lighter, but he smoked cigarettes on occasion, so that didn’t phase me, but what the good-god hell was this foul-smelling washcloth for?

He got home from work and I asked him about it. His face turned red and he stammered out a barely audible reply of “I blow smoke into it…”

“You what?”

“When I smoke. I blow into the washcloth so you can’t smell it.”

“You smoke in the house?!” I was incredulous at this point. And, because I was innocent and naive as fuck, I immediately thought the cops were going to burst through the front door and arrest us both: him for smoking pot, me for being an accomplice to it.

Turns out my darling husband never told me the truth about his pot smoking, or how often he did, or that he fucking smoked in our apartment. I also don’t remember being that upset about it or with him. I think my exact words were, “dude, you don’t have to hide it from me.” Wife of the Year, folks.

Another hindsight moment is he used to hang out regularly with a guy who smoked constantly. In fact, the first time I met the guy, he offered me a hit off of his bong after asking if I was “cool.” Again, being naive as fuck, and thinking he was asking about my character, not if I was okay with people getting high around me. I laughed and said, “yeah, I’m totally cool!” Oh, precious Erin.

Honestly, not realizing the full scope of how often my then-husband smoked, I didn’t raise too big of a fuss about it after I discovered the vile washcloth. Perhaps I should have.

A few years of our marriage went by and things changed between us for various reasons. He took to being away from home a lot more than he used to, sometimes not coming home until 3 or 4 a.m, or mid-morning the next day. This is where it was tricky being his wife: we only had one cell phone and more often than not, it got left at home with me. His friends’ numbers were in it, but I didn’t want to be the uncool, nagging wife who called his pals to find out where he was. Besides, I got used to being alone. We never really did much together anyway–I did all the grocery shopping because he hated it, I cleaned, did laundry, made us food…gosh, I really had it made, didn’t I? Boy howdy! What a terrific relationship!

I digress. Anyway, we just had separate lives. He did his thing, I did mine. When we split up and agreed to meet to discuss our future, if it was worth fighting for and working on or not, he said something to me that made zero sense at the time, but makes perfect sense now: “we’re too codependent.” What? How can that be? We literally are never together! How can we be dependent on each other? Again, I am a precious angel to pure for this world. Codependency is his relying on me to have stable, steady job so he could do what he wanted. I relied on having to take care of him, even though he wasn’t there. I always made sure he was fed, had clean clothes to wear, had cash with him at all times, etc.

We ended up separating in July 2010 for various reasons that we deemed not worth fixing. He moved out of the house we were renting and I stayed there, which again, goddamn fucking hindsight because his best friend lived next door to us, so he would be next door all the time, something I didn’t realize until whenever I would be outside with the dog and it would start freaking out by jumping on the chain link fence between the two properties. Again, sorry for getting off track.

Fast forward a few months after he moved out and I get a phone call from his older sister. He had been in a bicycle accident and was in the hospital due to his injuries. I freaked out. I didn’t know if I should go to the hospital or not. He’d been gone for three months. Was he my responsibility anymore? No, he wasn’t. But…I still cared about him, so I ended up going.

He had been riding his bike late the night before and was on one of the bike paths when he had a head-on collision with another bicyclist. My ex didn’t have any lights, nor was he wearing a helmet, so when he and the other guy crashed, he got thrown off his bike and landed face first on the pavement, busting his face up and giving himself a concussion. Oh, and he had pot on his person, so when the police and ambulance came to his aid, he also got a ticket for possession. Classic.

He had to spend two days in the hospital for observation after his concussion and since he had been under the influence of both pot and booze during the crash, he had to visit with a social worker before he was discharged home. I was there with him in his room when the guy came in to talk to J and I asked if he wanted me to leave or stick around. He asked me to stay. Okay.

I am both glad I stayed and also wish to the stars that I hadn’t. The social worker asked him about his pot use, how often he did it (a few times a day), and if he thought it had caused any issues with his relationships.

“No.”

I about flew up off the uncomfortable chair I had been sitting on.

You dumb motherfucker. Really? Your daily pot use, several times a day, had no effect on your relationships? I could have killed him. I wanted to kill him. Killing him would have been so satisfying…illegal, but satisfying.

In that moment, I realized why we were getting divorced. The very reason why we were in our current state was almost a year prior, his hours at work got cut back. He’d send me a text around noon while I was at work, saying he was home for the day and he was going to play video games for a while, then head next door, or over to his other friend’s house, aka I’m going to smoke weed for the rest of the day. Our boiling point came the day where I had finally reached my limit and asked him what he was going to do about this job situation. I don’t think I was overly nagging or being a total cunt about it; I simply asked him, “are you going to look for another job? Maybe a part-time job? Or what about going back to school like you’ve always talked about? You have to do something, J. We can’t survive very well when your paycheck got cut in half.”

You’d have thought I asked him to murder his entire family for me based on his reaction to me, which was to lock himself in our bedroom for the rest of the day, that night, and parts of the next day. So…that’s a “no” then?

So, for me to hear him then tell this social worker that pot wasn’t an issue, it made me irate. It made me despondent that once again, he was choosing pot over me, like he had been for years. It made me feel worthless, that maybe I am such a truly awful wife and companion that not even my own husband can stand to be around me for longer than a few hours a day that he has to leave and smoke pot as an escape from his horrible home life and the wicked woman he unfortunately married.

So, when the topic of marijuana comes up, you’ll have to forgive me for having a Vietnam-esque flashback moment. But again, I don’t give a shit if anyone else smokes it. If you can handle it and still be a functioning, productive member of society, toke it up, brother and/or sister. If you want to fill your bed with nothing but pot leaves so you can sleep on your weed, by golly, knock yourself out. If you want to fashion a suit out of leaves, weave a pot hat, and drive a car made out of pot, more power to you, friend. If you want to craft a family out of pot and take pictures of your pot family to hang over your mantel made of pot, be my guest.

Back in September of this year, Facebook reminded me that on September 12, 2012 we made our divorce official. I hadn’t heard from him in over two years, but that memory made me think about him. I don’t do the FB stalking thing. I had once after we divorced and found his profile, took one look and went “okay, nope,” and never searched for him again, but that day back in September, I felt myself be very curious as to his whereabouts. I ended up sending a message to his older sister asking how he was doing instead. I was hoping to hear great news from her, that he had gotten his life together, had gone back to school and was working as a graphic designer somewhere; that he had met someone and they were incredibly happy together, maybe engaged or even married with a kid on the way or something. I wanted to hear from her that he was thriving, that he had ditched his old ways and was such a different person.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get that news. She actually hadn’t heard from him in quite some time herself. He ignores her emails, phone calls, text, courier pigeons, and smoke signals. She thinks he still works at the same place he has for the last almost 10 years, but isn’t sure. She doesn’t know where he lives, but last she knew, he had an apartment in a crummy part of town. He doesn’t contact his family, which breaks my heart for them and for him.

I truly hoped he realized what he has been doing isn’t good for him. Part of me wants to see if he still uses his old email address and write him a message, but I am not going to. It’s been six years since we split, four since it was official. He was a part of my life for ten years and I admit it’s been rough letting that go at times because there are still some ill effects of our relationship on me (obvs.), but I won’t let myself do that. Like I said, I very rarely think about him anymore, just the random “I wonder if he’s dead” thoughts.

So, you’ll have to forgive me whenever the topic of marijuana comes up and my muscles tense and my jaw clenches shut. I realize some people can be productive and not let their vices destroy their lives, but I’ve witnessed first-hand that sometimes, they can.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. I appreciate it. Okay bye!