My Team Showed Up

November 28, 2017

Today was a rough day.

We’re four days post-Thanksgiving and rapidly approaching Christmas. My family was totally fine this year – only very very minor blips. I had a great time with the kids (two nieces and a nephew who are the light of my life) and no arguments. But *I* felt not good enough. I noticed I was single, I noticed I don’t have my own “little family” as my siblings say. I was my own worst enemy in my head and my heart and I haven’t been able to shake that off. I feel like I am not good enough.

Christmas is coming up. I loved having Christmas with my ex. Actually, the last two men I’ve dated; we’ve had our own little rituals and not a lot of presents, but thoughtful ones, and our own ways of celebrating Christmas. Last year, my ex and I met up with my family on Christmas Eve (his is not local) and brought lunches to homeless people and cleaned trash on the beach on Christmas, ending with watching a gorgeous sunset over a clean beach. I miss that so much — someone you can build traditions with.

I’ve been working way too much. Every day, at least a little, and frequently 10-12 hour days. I love my work but I’m exhausted and emotionally depleted. I had some housing drama today that I won’t get into but I feel unheard and treated unfairly and it triggered everything in me about security (housing, financial, emotional) and unfair treatment (I was the scapegoat in my alcoholic family. I always felt like if I could just find the magic words to explain how things weren’t fair, that someday my parents would actually GET IT. But they never did)

I also had a reading today in a new venue, reading something that I’ve read once before but it’s not my usual subject. I usually read my writing about my students, about education, about social justice, and those sorts of things. Occasionally I veer out into reading about depression, which is tough.

This piece was about being a beautiful empowered woman with my head held high. If there was an opposite of a beautiful empowered woman with her head held high, that’s what I was feeling today. I was feeling like a broken, defective, ugly, guilty woman cowering in bed.

But I had promised and it was a partner reading and I went. I got dressed up, I put on lipstick and sparkly earrings, and I drove to BART and took BART to San Francisco and took Lyft to the venue. The housing drama was escalating on my phone as I went and I was fighting back tears. I don’t even know what exactly the tears were about except that they were about everything.

When I was young, I had undiagnosed asthma and most of the people in my extended family were smokers. I had (and still have) trouble breathing at all near smoke, and when I was near them, I would say I couldn’t breathe. They’d laugh at me and the drunker ones would blow smoke in my face. I said my throat hurt. They didn’t care. I switched to saying my teeth hurt, no idea why, but it made sense at the time. Nobody cared. I started saying that my EVERYTHING hurt. They still didn’t listen, but I felt like it was true. My everything hurt when I was around them.

This is how I was as I walked into the venue. My everything hurt. My everything was making me cry. I looked around for the one friend who had said she could come and found only a text saying she had to work late and wouldn’t make it. I felt completely alone there.

Then, people started showing up for me. These are people from my writers’ group who were there to support the group (there were four of us reading), not specifically me, but they were also there for me because I’m part of the group.

The person who had asked me to partner with him in the reading asked how I was, and I didn’t say fine. I said I was having a hard time. His partner came and asked me how I was and I said the same thing. I didn’t lie. I told people it was a hard day, that Thanksgiving had been hard, that I feel less than everyone else, that I was having drama/misunderstanding with someone which felt awful, and that I just do not feel good enough. And that I feel alone. And single. And alone. (I wouldn’t mind single if I didn’t feel alone).

They didn’t run away. They didn’t get scared. They listened to me, I cried a little, and they told me how excited they were to hear my piece again and how maybe it was just what I needed to do tonight.

I listed to the other readers and tried to fight my thoughts and feelings. My throat hurt from trying not to cry. My eyes burned. My heart hurt. Because my heart always hurts when I feel worthless. My everything hurt.

And then it was my turn. I haven’t watched the video yet but I felt good about it. I felt like my words were what I needed. I explained why I loved flamenco dance even though I’m not good at it (that photo is not me) and how my experiences with ballet had made me feel worthless. I told the audience how flamenco is empowering with beautiful women dancing who are stomping, who have a proud carriage, and who don’t lower their heads. I told them that I felt irreparably damaged and like I wasn’t allowed to take up all my space or be empowered. And I told them that I want to live my life with my head held high because I am beautiful and empowered and strong.

And these people, who I dont know well… these people were there for me. It wasn’t the support I wanted. I wanted a partner to drive me there, to buy me flowers, and to take me home and congratulate me. But it was a whole team and they got what I was saying. They were present with me. I hadn’t known how much I needed their presence.

I had a whole team with me. My team showed up and I hadn’t even known they would be there.

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Here We Go With the Darkness

November 5, 2017

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The time change is tomorrow and, while many people are happy about it because they don’t have to get up for work in darkness, I am… not. that’s a bit of an understatement. Darkness affects me very, very strongly and always has.

Although I’ve been depressed in every type of weather and light, warm and sunny is best for me, as for many people who suffer from this. Dark is hard. Cold is hard. Obviously the two often go together and I tend to lose hope.

I know people who like the fall and winter. “Enjoy sweater weather!” they tell me. “It makes me want to die,” I don’t respond. Because people really start to worry when you tell them that out loud.

Some years are better than others, and this is a better one. I’m struggling hard with being single but I’m expanding my friends and community and that is really joyful. But it’s work. I have to actively be aware of all this.

It’s just that for far too much of my life, the dark cold night (and of course, I live in California so I’m a wimp) feels like a manifestation of what’s going on inside me.

We’ll see how tomorrow goes.


Well, This is Just Ridiculous

October 31, 2017

5BF5F0AE-BAF5-40D3-9C51-5D0809968CFEI’m feeling super sad and lonely today and I caught myself being really upset that I’m going to be alone on Halloween (tomorrow). Halloween is not a holiday I have EVER cared about and it’s not a holiday that feels like a real holiday to me. It’s just a Tuesday when I have less work than usual.

But the sadness and loneliness is real. I don’t want to be alone; I’m sad about being alone. I have a bunch of invitations to parties but I don’t want to go to a party. I want to be with someone and pass out candy like we’re partners, or a little family.

This feels ridiculous. I really never have cared about Halloween, never. I’m just sad. And it’s cold and dark and people are celebrating and I feel alone.


Loneliness

October 8, 2017

I read this recently: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201708/loneliness-poses-greater-public-health-threat-obesity

It seems particularly relevant today as I’m sitting alone on a Saturday night watching a movie and planning on going out to dinner alone. Now, don’t get me wrong. I actually enjoy going out to eat alone. It seems like a luxury, both in time and money. But I still feel bad for myself when it’s a Friday or Saturday night and I’m alone, strangely, even when it’s by choice.

I am really fortunate in that I have a great community. I have a lot of people who love me and who would be there for me in an emergency. But most of them have families and all are busy so, while there’s no doubt they’d come in an emergency, it’s much less likely they’re be there in a non-emergency. And that part is important too. Really important.

I’m not sure what to do about that, and I’m not sure if married people also have this issue. It might even be harder if you’re married, because being lonely while having people around is really tough.

But I only know this from my own end. And I’ll tell you, being single in a world of families is tough. And that I’m going to go eat dinner alone this Saturday night and try to make the best of it.


A Reprieve

September 19, 2017

Something has shifted lately. I don’t know if it’s meds, therapy, prayer, or what, but I’ve been feeling… content. Maybe even joyful sometimes. And much less sorry for myself.

I went to a family event over the weekend. When I spend time with my family, I go way into self-pity mode. I’m the only adult there who’s not married, who doesn’t own a home, who doesn’t have children. Mostly, I’m just the only one alone.

But something about this time was different. I got to spend time with my nephew and nieces who I love very very much. My youngest niece just warmed up to me (she’s two and VERY picky about who she spends time with) so I got to read her books and have her sit on my lap and play games with her. My nephew and I have always had a really strong bond and even though he managed to spill a whole jar of syrup all over my lap, we still had fun.

Things feel good. The tough part is that depression waits. You don’t get cured, you get reprieves. One of the triggers that has been most consistent for me is the season change from summer to fall. So here we are on September 18, and I feel like it’s tapping me on the shoulder. I don’t want it, I don’t want anything to do with it, but there’s a reminder.


I Don’t Have the Words Today

August 3, 2017

Last night, I got an email from my ex-boyfriend. When we broke up, his father was sliding into dementia and I asked him to keep me updated on his dad’s health if there were any major changes. He also had some elderly women in his church that I had gotten to know pretty well and so we agreed to give health updates to each other on important people.

So when I got an email with the subject line “Sad News,” I thought that his dad had probably taken a turn for the worse and that was sad but you now, his dad had lived a good life and was elderly, and this happens. But it wasn’t his dad.

It was his 13-year-old goddaughter, who had been killed by a car. Maggie was crossing the street on her way home from a dance class, in the crosswalk, with the light. She was hit by a car and died on the way to the hospital. She was almost 14.

Although I haven’t seen Maggie or her family (or my ex) in over a year, I am devastated. Her parents were my ex’s best friends, more like family to him than his family. he had been friends with Maggie’s dad since they were in 7th grade and with Maggie’s mom since their freshman year of college. He had been on family vacations with the three of them, had 13 years of photos and artwork and notes from Maggie, who referred to him as her uncle. We went for dinner there every month and he went more often. Every vacation we took together, we got a gift for Maggie.

One year we took a vacation to Veracruz, Mexico. We got Maggie a hammock, not realizing that they didn’t have trees to hang it from. My ex and Maggie’s dad stood in the living room, trying to hold up the ends of the hammock and lift her off the ground while she laughed hysterically. I had my ex buy her flowers for a dance recital a few years ago. He said it was boring and that he didn’t want to go. I said he was her godfather and basically her uncle and he had to. He said it didn’t matter because she would just take the flowers, say thanks, and go back with her friends. I said that is totally age-appropriate and one day she would remember how he came every year with flowers and how special that was. Only she never made it that long.

She was an only child. She was very close to her parents and good with adults and their lives revolved around her, but not in a bad way. I don’t know how they are even still breathing.

I won’t get to say good-bye. Unless he invites me to the memorial, it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to go and even if he did, I’m not sure. I’d have to bring someone with me and that’s a weird ask, “Will you go to the funeral of a child you don’t know so I don’t have to be alone?” My mind is not letting me believe this really happened. I wrote her parents a condolence card and in the back of my head keep thinking that they’re going to be so annoyed because clearly their daughter is fine. I’m exhausted from trying to make myself believe it’s real, and I feel guilty that I’m this sad when it’s not about me, I’m not her family. But I was close to it for a while.

Obviously, being depressive doesn’t help any of this. Everything feels so much stronger and sadder than it would, I’m sure. And all my grief about the break-up is coming back. I don’t want him to have to go through this alone, but he chose that.

So I guess I did have words. But I still don’t, because nothing I’ve said has made one bit of difference. It’s too much.


Worry, Worry, Worry

July 24, 2017

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this here, but fairly recently, a friend of mine, who is an atheist/agnostic, depending on the day, called me out on something. She said, “Listen. You believe in this God who takes care of you. You believe in a God who created you and loved you. That should make a difference in your life.” She went on to explain that this was something she (and a to of people) didn’t have. She doesn’t believe there’s any higher power or anything past humans, and she thinks that if I believe that, my life should reflect it. I should have more hope than people without this.

She explained it better, but you get the idea. If I believe in a loving God, who I can even TALK to, why doesn’t this make a difference?

I need it to make a difference. Either I believe this or I don’t. If I do, then I should, well, not give up worry entirely, because I’m human, but I should have a basic confidence that God is with me. Who can be against me? What can “man” do to me? I shouldn’t be afraid of housing prices or illness or anything else, but have a “peace that transcends all understanding.”

I know that a lot of people who read this are not necessarily people of faith, but many of you are. Do you have any ways to remember this, really deep down? As someone very very prone to anxiety and depression, this is essential for me to not go down.