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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The Peace Of God

September 4, 2017

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I grew up in  the Episcopalian Church and there was a part of the service called “passing the peace,” where you turn to someone near you and say “Peace be with you,” answered with “And also with you.” It’s been a while since I’ve been in an Episcopal church but I believe there’s also a part where the priest says, “May the peace of God be with you,” and the congregation responds, “And also with you.”

I miss the liturgy. I think I need to visit an Episcopalian church soon. It gets ingrained in your heart and our mind and I need that right now.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the peace that surpasses all understanding, that Paul promises we get from God. And Jesus saying that he brings us peace, not as the world gives.

The world is making me CRAZY. I’m worried all the time. I’m worried about nuclear war, and deporting DREAMers, and losing my health care, and public schools getting worse, and Nazis having a say in our world, and sexually assaulting men running the country. I’m worried about my own life, and dying alone, and the health of my dog, I’m worried about everything from the world ending from climate change to not being able to lose weight.

And yet, I profess to have a belief system that tells me not to worry, that tells me that I have peace, should I choose to accept it. I don’t know how to reconcile those two things.

I certainly don’t believe it means I close my eyes and plug my ears and pretend none of this is happening. I think it’s time for activism and speaking up. But I do feel like it means this shouldn’t break me. I shouldn’t be up all night worrying.

This is where I start believing I’d be a much better atheist than a Christian because I am better at worrying and not trusting God. But somehow I still believe.

If anyone has their own thoughts about this, please do share!


Worrying, Again

August 23, 2017

I’m so tired of worrying. But I don’t know how to stop. The Bible has a million verses about not worrying, but they’re all verses that tell you not to worry. None of them tell you HOW.

I’m worried that my landlord will sell my house and I’ll have to leave. (He hasn’t said he was considering it but he sold one of his three properties last year)

I’m worried that my dog will die soon. (She’s seven and in good health)

I’m worried that I won’t have enough money to keep living in my area. (While not a ton, I’m making more money than I ever have)

I’m worried that I’ll never find a partner. I’m worried about car accidents. I’m worried about health problems. I’m worried, I’m worried, I’m worried.

It’s exhausting. And I don’t want it. I just don’t know how to end this cycle.

Any ideas?


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.


Beauty and Loneliness

July 15, 2017

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It was an extraordinarily beautiful day today. I had little work to do (summer is my lowest time, which is stressful with money but good for mental health if I don’t worry about the money) and a friend called to see if I could have lunch. I had already eaten but asked if she wanted to go to the beach at the edge of town instead.

I forget about this beach. It’s slightly over a mile from my house and is the bay, not the ocean, perfect for kids, because there are no big waves. It’s not exciting: there are no snack shops, no souvenir places, no surfing, no snorkeling. But it is the beginning of the ocean, with sand and all the ocean smells.

I brought some camping chairs and we sat for over two hours, watching kids fly kites and play in the really cold water. I was absolutely covered in greasy sunscreen but it was perfect. The temperature was not too hot but warm enough and I felt so incredibly relaxed and content. I even kept saying, “This is just perfect,” sort of feeling like saying it aloud would keep the feeling.

The friend suggested we go for ice cream after which felt like a perfect little luxury at the end of this.

Then my brain kicked in, with all of its insecurities. I started worrying that I’d never have this experience again and that somehow I “wasted” it by not appreciating it more. I worried that I’d get depressed again when summer leaves because this weather is so wonderful that it’s going to be a huge loss. I worried that I’d never have friends to travel with again, that I’d be alone forever, that nobody would remember me, that tomorrow (I have no concrete plans) will be incredibly lonely, that my dog will die, and all of a sudden, I’m at the bottom again.

By this time I was home. In my ideal world, or what I think would be normal for a lot of people, I would have been glad for a beautiful day relaxing with a friend and savored that. Instead, I’m questioning if anyone would notice if I died or disappeared and convincing myself that I’ll be lonely forever and depressed and cold once summer ends.

I feel like I’ve thrown away the gift of a wonderful day. This is NOT how I want to be. I just don’t know how to change it.

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A Partial List of Reasons I’m Anxious

June 15, 2017

I thought I’d write it down so I had a better idea and maybe less “free-floating” anxiety, so, here is a partial list of reasons I’m anxious:

  1. I’m packing for vacation and might forget something
  2. The airline might lose my suitcase
  3. I had a blood vessel burst in my eye and it looks gross although it’s benign
  4. The doorknob on the bedroom that my new housemate will move into doesn’t work and the landlord isn’t answering me
  5. Something I sent priority mail got lost and the post office is not answering me
  6. My dog is 7 years old and won’t live forever
  7. What if my housing costs go up and I have to move out of the area?
  8. What if I have to move and can’t find a place that will take dogs?
  9. I have to figure out how to market the book I wrote
  10. I have to drive on the wrong side of the road in a couple of days
  11. I have to remember what I said I’d get people for souvenirs
  12. My nephew and nieces will grow up in a world that is not safe
  13. I might need to buy disability insurance because I’m self-employed
  14. I don’t know how to buy disability insurance
  15. Do I need long-term care insurance?
  16. I might not be able to sleep on the plane
  17. I’m spending money on therapy and it might not be helping me so I might be wasting my money
  18. I might get into a car accident one day
  19. I will miss my dog when I’m gone
  20. I might write another book
  21. I might never write another book
  22. I might have way too much work
  23. I might not have enough work

Clearly I could keep going and going. And this is not a particularly stressful time, this is just my head ALL THE TIME.

Anyone else end up like this? Any great coping mechanisms? Today I lay on my bed for about an hour holding my dog’s paw (she has this new thing where she loves holding hands) which helped. Temporarily.

The interesting thing is that I don’t think anyone who doesn’t know me well can tell! I hide it pretty well.