The free time conundrum

22 Jul

Once upon a time I was quite skilled at balancing out my free time and my work time. I took yoga classes, volunteered, painted, meditated, socialized, exercised, blogged, and rested. Somehow I have gotten into this rut of either 1. working 2. doing house projects or 3. lazing around. There really hasn’t been much in between. So after many weekends devoted to house projects and finally reaching what my husband calls “the end of the internet” (i.e., there’s nothing good to watch on Netflix) I declared that this past weekend was for relaxing and adventuring, but then we didn’t actually know what to do. What is that?! barney I know it makes sense. For years I worked several jobs without a lot of free time and then when I started running my practice full time, there was ALWAYS something extra to do. Also, we bought a house a couple of years ago and there’s always some project to work on. And I do get out sometimes. I see my friends, I go to yoga once a week, I still knit like a fool, I read books. But when it comes to a long, free weekend day? I’m at a total loss. Pooh So here’s the thing. We have a baby on the way in a few months (more on that later and yes, I’m thrilled and it has been and will continue to be a roller coaster, I am sure!).  I don’t want to waste my precious free time for it will certainly be taken over by the little one! So I’m getting back to basics to make sure I actually get out and about to do enjoyable things. So every free weekend (sometimes we have family in town or we are going out of town), I want to try something new. I also want to get back to making Sunday recipes. That’s it! Here are some of my ideas:

  • Go berry picking
  • Hike in a new place (an easy hike for me, please!)
  • Take Radar to the beach
  • Paint a picture for the baby’s room
  • Go to a new farmer’s market
  • Get a massage
  • Blog instead of wasting time on Facebook and other sites (yes, I’d rather waste time blogging!)

So that’s it for now!

I came back.

30 Mar

Isn’t there some rule of blogging that you aren’t supposed to post about not posting?  Probably, but I don’t really care.  I took a really long and well needed break from social media.  Here’s my wordy advice to you: If you’re going through some crap and you just can’t seem to bear the seemingly non-stop flood of other people who seem to win at life while you continue to lose, well then TAKE A BREAK in order to get some perspective.  Since last summer, I’ve done a lot of thinking, complaining, crying, pouting, avoiding, and searching.  I’ve gone through all those freaking stages of grief that therapists like me love to talk about.  I actually got to the point where I could finally accept the fact that I lost my pregnancy, that many other people have healthy pregnancies, that lots of people have kids, and that I could actually have a pretty nice life even without procreating (think- trips abroad, lots of rescue dogs, a quiet and clean house, extra money… ahhh).  It took a long time to get to that place…and it’s still a process.  I still reference Idiocracy quite often.

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I gave myself three months of moping after the miscarriage.  When I found I was still bawling my eyes out over very basic and expected life stresses, I decided it was time to medically treat the depression I struggled with for years.  I managed it pretty horribly for a long time through denial, anger, and various vices, and then later with clean living.  But after the miscarriage I had no extra reserves and there was no motivation to exercise, eat well, rest effectively, or to do any of the other things that really did help manage my mood.  Last fall, I swallowed my pride and began swallowing an antidepressant every day.  And hot dog!  They worked!  I found myself doing things I hadn’t done in years, like blasting music while driving and dancing while cooking.  It occurred to me that I’d probably been a bit depressed for quite a few years and just got used to it, which is just really sad.  I recently stopped taking the meds for various reasons but I’m still doing okay.  I realize I’m having to work a bit harder to manage my mood again, but I’m able to put the effort in, and I even danced in the kitchen just this morning.

I gotta say, I sure do envy the people out there in the world who have their brain chemistry just nice and lined up.   Go ahead and enjoy that, you lucky dopamine blessed ones.

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And for those of you who are more like me and you live with a more cloudy disposition, well here’s some advice:

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As a mental health professional, it’s been hard to admit all of this.  Admittedly, being a therapist seemed very intriguing as a 25 year old because I assumed that line of work would assure I had all of my shit together, which I longed for desperately at that time.  Ten years later, I’ve found it’s actually quite the opposite.  I don’t have my shit together.  Instead, I am keenly aware of my baggage and in a constant state of reevaluation and improvement.  It sounds kinda tiresome, but it’s actually pretty awesome.

So after a long fall and winter, it is now spring time.  Last summer I planted a little baby Japanese maple in my messy garden as a way to memorialize the baby I lost.  I love those trees and they thrive here in the Pacific Northwest.  Its leaves are currently growing in for the season.  Most of last summer, I could only look at it peripherally while watering the garden as it was too painful to look at it directly.  But I’m able to see it in full view now and I’m quite happy to see it coming back for the year.

And, I’m sure I’ll be back to post more.

So hard to do the things I know I should do

14 Jul

In the mental health field we love that joke about not shoulding on yourself, meaning don’t harass yourself with self talk about what you should and shouldn’t do.  Yet that is precisely what I do-  I should do this, I shouldn’t do that, should, shouldn’t. should, shouldn’t. should.  shouldn’t.  SHOULD. SHOULDN’T.  SHOULD!  SHOULDN’T! 

Gross, huh.

Even though it’s been a month since I lost the baby, I’m a bit of a mess.  I stay up too late, forget to eat, then eat lots of crappy stuff, and lately I’ve been working way too much.  I often stay in the office until my brain shuts down in an effort to avoid free time.  Something I used to love and savor so much has become something I dread: free time usually means crying and moping.  Running my own business, I have no boss so it isn’t like someone stands in my doorway and says “your last client was 2 hours ago.  Why are you still here?”   Nope, it’s just me so I piddle away, listening to music, reorganizing my files and concocting new projects to occupy my mind.

So many of the shoulds are things that truly will help me feel better- eat more veggies, get more exercise, go outside more often, walk the dogs, lay off the coffee, lay off the sugar, for god’s sake PUT DOWN THE WINE, and so on.  But I just don’t do it.  Admittedly, there’s a part of me that really doesn’t want to.  In the moment I enjoy the chocolate, the wine, the coffee, and the 4 consecutive episodes of True Blood.  Also, part of me feels that I deserve to feel like crap and rush through each day like I’m white knuckling it on the interstate during rush hour traffic with only 1/8th of a tank of gas.  I don’t have much reason to treat my body like a temple right now. After all, it feels like my body betrayed me and because of that I had to give up one of the most meaningful dreams I’m ever had- the dream of being a mother.  I know it may still happen, but like I’ve written before, that dream feels far off.  Like, really, really far off.  I know, I see how irrational I am.  I know I’ll feel better if I take care of myself, I know I’ll be in better health both physically and mentally but it all seems really… really… annoying and difficult and stupid right now.  I should…. I should… I should…. 

I’m doing this big training for work all next week.  It is a two year training intensive so it is like being in school all over again.  Prior to the in-person training, I was to complete an online portion.  Wouldn’t you know I put most of it off until….um….yesterday.  I have to give myself some slack though, I planned to do mostof it this past month and well, things got a little crazy this last month.  So yesterday I stayed up late working on the online training and got right back to it this morning.  I was determined and when it was finally completed all of this dread and irritation washed over to me.  How odd, right?  I was so ready to be DONE with work and then when I was, I just couldn’t think straight.  I told my husband, very clearly, that he HAD to pick something for us to do, that I am incapable of making decisions in my free time because everything seems kind of pointless and annoying.  “Just pick something, I’ll go along with it and then I’ll be fine,” I told him.  Usually I’m pretty bossy and picky about just about everything, so this probably seem extremely exciting for Q, except that I’m probably rather scary to him these days.

Godzilla

In case you wonder what I look like in real life! I admit that this isn’t a great photograph.

We managed to keep our cool (I’m so luck to have such a nice husband, because I’ve been acting really crazy lately.  Thanks hormones and grief!  What a combo!) and came up with a plan to take our dogs to a K9 FUN ZONE where we threw dog toys and chased the dogs around for an hour.  It was fun and exhausting for all.  That was followed by a walk, some sushi and then a visit from a dear friend, so I am feeling better now.

So this next week will probably be pretty hectic, which I admit is what I prefer these days.  I recently decided to change offices and billers and conveniently both of these tasks have proven to be quite time consuming and attention consuming.  It’s a blessing to love my work and it helps to find things to keep me busy, but I’m also aware that I’m keeping myself occupied as a way to avoid what I’m really feeling.

I’m going to keep trying, bit by bit, to take good care of myself.  The shoulds don’t really help, they just make me feel worse and more frustrated.  Eventually I will make it back to a yoga class and start cooking again.  Also, this week’s training might help because I’ll be by the water and much of the training is about mindfulness.  It might actually be beneficial to get out of the office and away from the overworking habits.  In the meantime, I’ll look at some pictures of corgis and maybe go see the new Guillermo del Toro movie.

It’s all gonna be okay.

The lady at the restaurant

8 Jul

We went out for dinner last night.  Q has been on call and much of his day was spent dealing with some mess while typing away on his laptop. I worked for hours in the garden, pulling weeds and even planting some new things.  So after he was finally done working and I was cleaned up, we decided cooking was not an option, so we went out.

We ate at a nice neighborhood restaurant.  We got a table outside and enjoyed our drinks while we waited for our food. The food was fabulous, by the way.  All of it was lovely until the hostess sat a family of four right next to us.  Like 2 feet away from us.   Cute kids, normal looking parents, but let me declare, THE MOST ANNOYING MOTHER IN THE WORLD.

Okay,  I know.  I’m in no state to be judging parents.  Just the fact that parents ARE parents is a sore spot for me right now.  But I am sure that even in a more normal and serene state of mind, this woman would have made me bonkers.  For those of you who know me in person, you know that fake mother voice I put on, right?  With the midwest accent and I say things like “Oh!  You better not be doin’ the marijuana, Billy!”  That voice.  It’s a lot like Kitty from That 70’s Show, except so much worse.

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Anyway, that’s how this woman spoke.  And one of her kids was WAY too young to be in a kind of nice restaurant.  He needed to be at Red Robin or something.  He hated everything and yelled and was overall really annoying.  And the husband was silent.   I tried to ignore and look away, but we couldn’t help but hear her lecture her small children on how they HAVE to have full body wet suits on their upcoming trip to Hawaii because without them, they’ll get too cold.

Anyway.  Yes, she was annoying but it wasn’t like she was hitting her kids in front of us or anything.  She was just annoying.  Kind of funny that just a few hours after posting about letting go of resentment, I dealt with just that.  Resentment. Lots of it.  I mean, I’m sure I’d be an annoying mom in a lot of ways.  But I’d be a cool mom too.  I couldn’t help but think of one of the many teens I’ve worked with who said “You’d be the cool mom, like really fun but strict at the same time.”  It was a huge compliment and at the time, I hoped someday that would be true.  Now I feel so discouraged and dark that I can’t help but just be pissed at the world that the annoying lady with the ugly sandals and a desire to cover her children in neoprene while vacationing in a tropical paradise, that SHE gets to have these cute healthy kids.  And also, that I have to hear her crap when I’m trying to enjoy my dinner and fill my babyless abdominal area with a fancy glass of Pinot. No!  I can’t enjoy it!  I have to hear her shrill voice saying “That’s not nice!”…  “Oh but the aquarium was fun!”…. “But you liked alfredo sauce last time!  It’s the creamy kind!”

Angry cat

Yeah so that’s me.  Angry.  Bitter.  Same old stuff.

I feel rather crazy some minutes, some hours, some days.  Truthfully I am a bit afraid that I’m going to stay like this forever.  Really,  know I won’t and this moodiness and grumpiness and sharp bursts of anger are all part of the process.  But I’m still scared that I’ll be the grumpy cat forever.  My humor is getting darker and darker, I’m bitter about so many things right now, and I even listened to TWO Nine Inch Nails albums today.  What is that?!  I haven’t done such a thing since I was an angsty seventeen year old.

This is the tough thing with loss- we are crazy when we lose something.  It is hard as hell and it hurts.  Loss comes with a lot of hard to feel emotions- sadness and anger and guilt… we feel it drag us down but at the same time we’re changing and adjusting to the absence of what we once had and what we once loved.  Evolving in that way is hard but the alternative is to not evolve.  I don’t understand how I couldn’t change after going through a miscarriage, so then I’d have to be living in a world of denial.   The desire to avoid all of these emotions is understandable because it is not fun to feel this way.  But this is the way through it and I just gotta keep going.  Every so often, I get a glimpse of how this awful time will make me a stronger person.  It may even help me to better serve others.  But most of all, I’m just doing whatever I can to get through it.  That’s really the main reason I write here, I’m just trying to deal with it.

“Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue.  Realize the strength.  Move on.”  -Henry Rollins

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Okay, Henry.  I’ll try.

Letting go of resentment

7 Jul

Buddha quoteAn old friend recently posted very openly on facebook about his recent losses.  Considering his pain and suffering, I sent him a few messages and  hoped for his healing and happiness as I moved throughout my day, states away from him and years since I have ever even seen  him.  I wonder how just those caring thoughts can offer comfort and help lighten the burden, even if just a bit.  If it actually works then that is quite amazing, especially if that process can occur from hundreds of miles away.

I admit my initial post online about our fertility issues and the recent miscarriage was primarily an act of rebellion.  I’ve written before about my love/hate relationship with facebook.  So recently I kind of snapped when I went online and found it to be so hollow, so fake.  I wanted to shake it up, I wanted to shout across the endless streams of clouded, filtered photos of lemonade and kiddie pools to declare that life isn’t all about a sugary drink and sometimes it really fucking sucks.  I know people out there are living life in complex ways just as I am.  I know you all hurt and struggle.  I know it is gritty and awful at times, and those happy lemonade moments make it all seem worthwhile.  And yet all we see online are the happy vacations, the selfies with no double chin, and the subtle bragging about #yummy meals.  I do it too.  This isn’t how any of our lives are though.  It’s fake.  I think we can all admit that.  We choose to display the best five minutes, or the parts that are the easiest to show publicly.  We don’t show the sadness, the arguments, the losses, the bitterness.  That’s all part of life too.   I can certainly understand not wanting to show everything publicly but I also compare my life to those happy pictures I see online, and I feel I’m falling short.  It feels hollow and sad.

Of course one of the simple remedies from this situation is to simply close the laptop and go outside, which I have been doing.  You should see my garden, it is looking nice!  Writing, and sharing, about the pain and craziness of infertility and miscarriage has quickly transformed my online life from a distraction that often led to resentment to a place of support.  I’ve heard from people all over the country and the world, old friends I’ve lost touch with and who I have missed.   Some of the very people I judged and resented because of their seemingly perfect lives have lovingly shared with me details about their own suffering and sadness.  It reminds me that we’re all in this together.  To anyone reading this, and to all of you who have written to me, thank you so much.  You have helped me let go of my resentment and to focus more of my energy on healing, rather than on anger and jealousy.  I can feel your love and support, not just online but in the real world too, and it helps me through each and every moment.  And for those of you out there who are suffering, I encourage you to speak up and reach out.  It really does help.

Staying busy

5 Jul

It helps to stay busy. The days when I work seem to be the easiest. The days at home, especially when I’m home alone, start to feel heavy and way too sad. Today I worked most of the day. Sometimes I stop what I’m doing and it all hits me like a flash flood of grief. But that’s an improvement over two weeks ago when I couldn’t even work between my session meetings, I had to run errands, talk to someone, or just cry.

The support I’ve received since I started writing about my miscarriage has been amazing. I’ve been feeling a lot better the last few days. I think writing about it and communicating with so many people, near and far, has contributed to that. Thanks to everyone who is reading. This isn’t much of a post as I’m afraid most of my brainpower was already used up today. But thanks. I’ll be back to write more tomorrow.

How to talk about a miscarriage

4 Jul

“A miscarriage is a natural and common event.  All told, probably more women have lost a child from this world than haven’t.  Most don’t mention it, and they go on from day to day as if it hadn’t happened, so people imagine a woman in this situation never really knew or loved what she had.
But ask her sometime: how old would your child be now?  And she’ll know.”

-Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams.

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Right after my miscarriage I found this blog, Things People Said After My Miscarriage.  It is funny, kind of bitter and all rings very true. Like me, the author dealt with the double whammy of  miscarriage and fertility issues.  If you’ve had a miscarriage or you’re trying to talk to someone who has, please go check it out!  The only thing I don’t like about it is that she only posted for a while on it, because I wanted to read more and more.  I hope it means she went on to have a baby and worry about things like diapers and daycare.  I would like to have those worries someday too.

It’s interesting how different people respond to this kind of loss.  It has made me think a lot about how I’ve responded in the past when my loved ones had a loss, whether it was a miscarriage or a death in the family or something else.  Loss is hard.  It is uncomfortable to talk about and it feels like the elephant in the room.  You don’t know what to say.  You don’t want to upset the person.  God forbid you make them cry.

The thing is, you just don’t know what to say about miscarriage because we’re not given any scripts for it.  For so long, miscarriage was suffered through silently.  No one talked about it.  My hope is that this is changing and will continue to change.  It seems wrong that it is a taboo topic and that women should be quiet about it.  So now when people are starting to talk about it more, what do you say?

Here are some suggestions I have, based on my own experience.  The blog I posted above has some great suggestions too.

What to do/ say when someone you care about has a miscarriage:

Say something. Even if you say “I don’t know what to say”, say something.  Say “I’m sorry” or “I’ve been thinking of you” or “Wow this sucks”.  The timing may be off and it may be awkward, but it means a lot just to have the loss acknowledged.  It sucks to feel like you have to bring it up all the time.  Chances are, everyone’s sitting there thinking about it anyway, especially if it was a recent loss.

It’s no one’s fault/ it’s not your fault.   Of all things people said to me, this was the most comforting, just simply “It’s not your fault”.  The nurses and doctors are clearly well trained and used to this, because everyone in my Ob-gyn office said this and it really, really helped.  They reminded me that it happens for various reasons, but not because I did anything wrong.  This helped because sometimes I worried about the kombucha I drank one day (I didn’t know about the trace alcohol!) or that weekend when I didn’t know I was pregnant yet and I sat in the hot tub for hours and drank wine.

Make some concrete plans.  Many people offered to bring things, or to get together.  That was really nice, but I seem to benefit most from someone forcing me to make concrete plans, like “what night next week can you come over for dinner?” or “how about tomorrow?” Truth is, sometimes I just sit in my pj’s and cry or watch a marathon of stupid shows on netflix and the whole idea of making plans seems overwhelming.  It helps to have someone take the lead a bit more.

Don’t try to make it better.  My husband is the pro at saying things to try to make things seem more positive.  I love this about him, but after my miscarriage, it was NOT what I needed.  After a while I just told him “This sucks and nothing will change that.  I just need time to deal with it and you probably do too”.  I’m sure it was harsh of me to say that, but I was very upset about the comments like “at least you can get pregnant” and “you can try again” and things like that.  Nope, it just sucks.  Sucks, sucks, sucks, sucky sucks.  I know people mean well when they say such things, but it is hard.

Don’t tell me statistics.  Miscarriage is very common.  My doctor told me that one out of four pregnancies will end in miscarriage and that at my age, it is more like one in three.  I know it happens and it could very well happen again.  One woman who wrote to me pointed out that she felt she was being ridiculous when she felt so heartbroken by her miscarriage, if they are so common then why does it hurt so much?  While it is common to go through such a thing, it doesn’t make the pain any less.  Minimizing someone’s pain only invalidates them, it doesn’t help them to feel better.  It is also common for people to get sick and well, we all know that there is no escaping death.  I certainly wouldn’t tell someone who just lost a loved one “You know, every one dies someday” or “One out of 3 people get cancer”.  Come on, that’s messed up.  I’m fine getting that information from my doctor, but it really doesn’t help me to feel less crazy or less like a sad-wombed loser to hear that so many others have gone through this, it just makes it feel more awful that other people go through it so often, and yet we never talk about it.

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