Wednesday, July 12, 2017

To Drug or Not to Drug

Ten months ago, I finally decided that I'd had enough of the emotional ups and downs of my daily life.   I was tired of having even the slightest disappointment send me into tears and depression.  I was tired of my husband manipulating me like a yo-yo.   I could tell myself a million times that he wasn't any more in control than I was, but it didn't save me from these episodes that washed over me without warning at any time of the day.

I don't remember what finally made me take action, but I found myself whispering into my cell phone at work to my doctor that I needed help ... soon.   I was initially prescribed a daily dose of 10mg of Lexapro.   Three weeks into the regime, I began to feel a real difference, a calm.  I felt much more rational and in control.   Still,  the emotional episodes continued - although much less frequently. After two visits to a therapist, we agreed to up my dosage to 20mg a day of Lexapro.

Now life got reeeeeallllly calm.    I had to be careful not to take it too close to bedtime or  I would be practically comatose when the alarm went off the next morning.   Eventually, my body adjusted.  This seemed like a miracle pill.   Literally nothing phased me.   I had been struggling to see my future.   Unsure of the state of my marriage and with our only child living on the other side of the state, the second half of my life stretched ahead of me like an empty void.   Now I could calmly analyze the things in my life that weren't working and decide on an action.   I switched jobs, switched church choirs and took a leave from my other chorus.

With all of these positive changes accomplished, I should be feeling terrific, right?  Not so fast.  Suddenly, I feel too calm.   Things that used to move me no longer do.   It seems that the happy, "good" emotions are just as quick to vanish as the bad ones.   I retired from the Board of my chorus after serving for 14 years of the good, the bad and the ugly.  I was walking away from the thing that brought my best friend into my life.   I expected to be in tears when the end came.   So, I wouldn't go as far as to say that I felt nothing, but I just couldn't muster up the feelings that I should have been feeling.  I can't even think of the words to describe my feelings - relief, mostly, that the season was over.   The idea that I wasn't more moved was disturbing to me.  I started having doubts about my miracle pill.

10mg.... 20mg........    how about 15mg?   I dug up my handy dandy little pill cutter and went to work.  Should I have called my therapist?  Probably, but I'm guessing she would have told me to try exactly what I was doing first before making any prescription changes.    I noticed a different about a week after making the change.  Someone at my new job told me about some tragedies that had happened to her in the past year, and I actually felt tears welling up in my eyes.   Not the uncontrollable ones that would have run down my face pre-Lexapro, just some welcome wetness.   Thank God!   My libido resurfaced (another Thank God!).  

Not so fast..... there's ALWAYS a down side.   Someone forgot to remind my brain that I was living with the emotional equivalent of a hormonal teenager.  Someone forgot to remind my brain that my best friend is one of the most un-retired retired people on earth who also happens to be 20 years older than me.     When I was taking 20mg of Lexapro, being alone didn't seem so bad.    I could hang with the cats all day, all weekend and be perfectly fine.

So now the dilemma.   Face my demons and hope that 15mg helps me figure out a real solution?  Or jump back to 20mg so that  I don't have to face the fact that I am a #1 priority for absolutely nobody within a 500 mile radius of me.    I'm tired of playing second fiddle to a car.   It seems I'm the right model year for my if only I had 4 wheels instead of 2 feet.    As for my best friend...her priorities are in line - home and family first.   We established a while ago that I am a high maintenance friend, which explains a lot of why she's the only one I've got.

Maybe I need to go back to the therapist.  I need to do some thinking, I guess.   One thing I know for sure.   Nothing is ever as easy as it looks at first.   And happiness can't be found in a pill.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Life in the Other World

"Hi there!  How was your day, today?"

"Well, Mom, you won't believe this, but __________."
<conversation continues....>

"Maybe we can all see the new _____ movie this weekend?"
"Sure!   Talk to you tomorrow."
"Ok.  Bye!  Love you"
"Love you too"

That's how I see my life in that world where my daughter lives in Western New York.   Unfortunately, my real world does not resemble this in any way, shape or form.   Instead, we see each other sporadically for concentrated periods of time during which we attempt to cram weeks or months of conversation into 2 days.  What happens next is that uncomfortable phenomenon that happens at the end of vacations where nobody can think of one more blessed thing to say to one another, but we feel like we have to keep talking while we have the chance.

This is not to be confused with the silence that happens when you see each other all the time and are just comfortable enough with each other that words aren't really necessary.   This is the "I really need to get away from here because my brain hurts from trying to think of something to say" situation.


I miss the everyday stuff.     Occasional dinners or brunches instead of gorging ourselves for 2 days straight.  Picking things up for each other at the store.  Pet-sitting.  Shopping.

Well, this may be the world's shortest blog post, but it's really all I have to say about this right now.  Everyone needs a dream, right?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Throwing in the Towel

Well, readers....

You're read my ramblings and aborted attempts to help myself. You've read about my relationships, all few of them. People who mean the world to me, but somehow I keep messing up with them whether I try hard or just try to go with the flow. 

I've tried yoga
I've tried meditation 
I've tried extreme exercise and dieting. 
I've tried blogging-obviously.
I've tried the old "do what makes me happy and don't worry about anyone else" routine. 
I've tried turning myself inside out in an attempt to make people want me (or want me more than they already do). 
I've tried to get myself involved more in activities hoping that something magical would happen. That I'd suddenly become an "It Girl". 

I'm tired. And I just feel like a big ball of resentment and anger. This is a dangerous combination.  It makes me say and do stupid things.

Is there really such a thing as unconditional love and support between anyone other than parents and children?  It doesn't feel like it right now.  Is there anyone out there who has enough faith in me to  just say "you're in your stupid place right now, aren't you?" instead of reacting with anger when I'm in my stupid place?  Is it fair to even expect anyone to be able to do that?

Maybe I don't deserve such a person. 

I need professional help.  It has taken me years of flailing around trying to cure  myself to say that.  I've unfairly leaned on other people who I claim to love for too long because I didn't want to admit the truth 

I need a shrink. 

I want to cry but I can't because I'm at work.   Put up the facade and soldier on. But very soon, I need to get help, before I really end up as alone as I feel. God help me. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Halfway Down a Black Hole, or Halfway to the Top?

It seems like ever since I decided that I was a co-dependent, my existence has been a series of epiphanies strung together by my determination to get through each day in a positive way.  The latest one came last month.  

I think I've written about the struggle in my adult life to find nauseum.  I don't think I have high standards.  A few people who might actually want to include me in their group activities would fit the bill just fine.  Maybe a person or two who have some free time that they're looking to fill....  I guess it would be nice if I even shared their basic philosophies of life, but lets not get carried away.  

The fact is, I can't force anyone to want me.   Wow, I just typed that and read it, and it looks really pathetic.  But really, sometimes I feel like one of those older cats or dogs in the cages at the SPCA with the caption above them that reads  "Please give me a forever home.  I might be older but I still have a lot of love to give."   I can't do anything about other peoples' lives, only my own.  Yes, it boils down to this -  the act of not only desiring my company but having time for it can't be forced, and throwing myself into things and being rejected only makes me feel worse.

So, I decided last month that I would just "be".   I decided that I needed to put it into God's hands.   I needed to have hope that God has something in store for me down the road that will fill this hole.  I decided that I needed to involve myself in things that would get me out of the house, but without unrealistic expectations.  "Do it to live in the moment - nothing more, nothing less".   And as for the people I am close to.......   I can't expect more from them than they are willing and able to give.  In my last blog, I mentioned the human relationship food pyramid. It leads to the dinner plate and how much of it should be protein, veggies, etc...   What an interesting intersection with the "plate" as people refer to it as a symbol of their lives.   So, it stands to reason that where I place people on my "plate" usually will not match the position that I  hold on their "plates".   I won't lie - it would be wonderful to be at the center of someone's plate.  Maybe I was at one time.  In the here and now, it doesn't feel like I am.  Mostly, I feel like a side item that's out there in its own dish because it doesn't fit on the plate.   So... word to the wise - if you're the center of someone's universe, don't take it for granted!

I've been mostly ok with this for the past month or so.  I just try to live one day at a time and pull the positives out of whatever happens to be going on at the moment - whether I'm alone or not.  There are days like today where my resolve breaks down and I wonder what the point of my existence is.  I mean, really, what is the point?  What am I here for?   These are the difficult days.   These are the days when I have to power through, take deep breaths and tell myself over and over that God has a plan for me and for how my life will evolve.  I just have to have patience and let it happen.

One thing that seems to crop up almost every day is people lamenting about how summer "flies by," blah blah blah ........ Erie County Fair.......blah blah blah ........back to school.... blah blah blah.    For me, it moves at the speed of wet cement.   In a weird sort of way .... since summer is supposed to be so wonderful ..........  I guess that makes me lucky.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

One Again .....and Control

As a follow up to my most recent post, allow me to say that I had hoped that things were improving.  In a way, I think they are. But I wish I felt better about it. 

I have no control over others. I can't force people to make me a priority in their lives or invite me places or even remember that I exist. This includes the people closest to me.  It's nobody's fault. Everyone is just living their own life as best they can. But when a child that I care about very much hugs me and tells me that she "hasn't seen me in forever", how do I respond without letting her see into my soul. Because I don't think anyone in their right mind wants to see into my soul right now.  So I put on my adult face.  Smile. Agree and change the subject.  Because I have no control over this. Victory.  Right?

Acknowledging this really should be some sort of victory ....yes?    I guess it is. It doesn't feel like a victory, but then I guess not all victories are meant to feel good. 

What this victory means to me right now is that I'm back to trying to figure out my purpose in life, knowing that I may have to do it basically alone. The black hole in front of me is still there.  My job is to figure out what's in there waiting for me. 

Maybe if I concentrate on this instead of obsessing over the "alone" part, I'll be able to finally figure it out.  I'm only 52 years old, but at times I feel like I've already become my mother.  Even she had a better social life than this at age 52.  Maybe, maybe, maybe.  Maybe some day cows will fly. 

I'm developing a theory in my head that our relationships are like the food pyramid.  And each person's relationship "plate" is unique and some plates are much more complex than others. I know where people are on my plate. But I'm never really sure where I am on theirs. And I have no control over where I am on theirs. And I never will.  We eat to nourish our bodies. Relationships nourish our souls.  I am now at a stage in life where I am more in control of my physical nourishment than I ever have been before.  The other..... no control.  Irony. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

One is the loneliest step

I have co-dependent personality disorder.  There. I've said it and I've written it.  I realized this a few months ago. Once I identified why this came to be, I needed to figure out what to do. I am now trying to get a grip on my life.

Like many other disorders, the road to recovery involves a 12-step program.  I have zero experience with these programs.  I really thought they were only for addicts. But isn't that what I am in a way?  I'm addicted to destructive behavior. Behavior that is destructive to me and to my relationships with others. 

I had to start somewhere if I was to ever find peace. So a couple of weeks ago, I started working on Step 1. Step 1 goes like this:

We admitted we were powerless over others - that our lives had become unmanageable.  

I thought this sounded so easy.  And I was so wrong.   Because it's about trying to manipulative and control others with our words and actions. These are things I've been doing my entire adult like.  For me, this is like breathing.  Now I no longer trust my own thoughts or words.  I feel like I have to examine everything for ulterior motives. But in the heat of the moment, I'm prone to forgetting, and I revert back to what comes naturally to me.  A part of me wishes I could just go away somewhere and practice on total strangers for however long it takes me to get it right.  I'm being too hard on myself, I'm sure.  I've only been at this for a couple of weeks, and it might take years.  Why did I think I could just flip a switch?

"When we love others too much, when we so desperately want and need what they have - whether that is acceptance, approval, love or friendship - we forfeit our ability to take care of ourselves with them, out of fear that we may not get what we need.  We may hope that if we hold things in place by willpower, we will finally be safe and get what we need.

We won't."

This is wretchedly difficult. I never thought that something that sounds so easy could be ... to this extreme, not.  Because I am no longer sure if my words are born of opinion, concern, advice or manipulation. And this makes me feel very scared and alone.   To be clear, I know I'm not alone.  But being alone and feeling alone are very different.

What I've read is that some of us are completely ready for Step 1 because we are "tired".   Tired. Tired of fighting, I guess or of mental agony of constant self doubt?  It is tiring, but somehow it isn't that black and white for me.  When I examine my relationship with my spouse, I feel as though I'm on the cusp of surrendering to this Step. Because I've been trying to manipulate him for such a long time, and because I see the positive results lately in those instances when I've just let go.  But he's just one person.  What about everyone else?

A few years ago, I put myself in the position of being the "great communicator" in one of my volunteer positions.  It just dawned on me that, in my current condition, I must be insane to continue in this position.  What's coming around the bend for me and the people I serve?  Should I view this as "good practice"?  Or maybe as self-help exercises?  It doesn't seem quite fair to the people who find themselves having to put up with me.

I've had a couple of minor victories at home and elsewhere but for every step forward there seems to be three steps back. I guess the fact that I'm even aware is a step forward - instead of stomping through life like a wrecking ball.

I've also read that co-dependents have a habit of apologizing all the time for things that they shouldn't be apologizing for. Yes, there is truth in that.  Somehow I have to get control over Step 1 before I deal with extraneous apologies. I'm having a hard enough time categorizing my communications properly before, during and after I issue them without wondering if I should or should not be apologizing for miscues. 

I guess I really do need a support group. Because I have no idea if I'm on the right track or not. And in those moments when I think I'm on the wrong track .... I just want to go off and curl up in a ball and cry. Sometimes I just need someone to put their arms around me and tell me that eventually it will be alright.  How in the world did I, someone who was deprived of physical and emotional affection as a child, end up married to an emotionally challenged man who doesn't like to be touched?  I suppose that's a subject for a different post and a different time.

Right at this moment I don't know if this is better than the black hole I was looking into last month. If I knew that someday I might be able to just communicate like a normal person if I were to stay on this track, I'd say it's worth it. That day seems awfully far into the future. I just hope when it finally arrives, I'll have someone to communicate with. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Undiscovered Path to the Afterlife

Suicide is a mystery to those who have never contemplated it.  Why do some people choose to end their lives while others who appear to be so alone in the world choose to soldier on, day after day?  Catastrophe.  The stock market crash of 1929.   The poor souls who chose to jump from the upper floors of One World Trade Center on 9/11.   People with severe addictions.  Even people with terminal illnesses.  But what about the others?  What about the people who look like they have it all together- even to their loved ones?

When the answer is not easily known, then I think that only the deceased can know the entire story.  Suicide is so personal, so individual as to almost be beyond the comprehension of anyone other than a higher power.  I reject the idea that it is an unpardonable sin that condemns the deceased to Hell.   I choose, rather, to hope that the deceased had strong faith in a merciful God who will thereafter cradle that person in his arms and will grant the thing that the deceased wanted above all else – peace.

My fatal flaw is my total inability to deal with uncertainty.   I’m not talking about everyday uncertainty like what to order in a restaurant.  I’m talking about real conflict resolution that involves major pieces of my life.    I don’t know why I do what I do, and maybe only a psychiatrist would ever be able to figure it out.  When serious conflict arises that jeopardizes the future, my coping mechanism is to do whatever I have to do to identify steps to a solution.   I compulsively must do this.  Whether the solution be in the near future or far off does not matter.  Maybe the real solution has yet to really be defined.  But if I can at least know in my head that there is a path leading to peace, I will be ok.   

How do I go about identifying those steps on that path…. that’s the hitch.   Usually I talk to the other parties involved until the path reveals itself.  The parties are not always happy about this.   I would even go so far as to say that the parties are usually not happy about this and sometimes will even tell me what they think I want to hear just to shut me up.   This tends to backfire – on me, not them – when the path never actually happens and I end up feeling betrayed.  Sometimes I write rather than talk.  Writing is not the ultimate solution but at least it allows me to “get it out”.

I am writing now because I am talked out and don’t know what else to do.  Because every major aspect of my life is in a state of uncertainty and conflict, and I’m fairly sure that the other people are tired of my talking, while in other cases, there really is nobody to talk to.  

When I write about looking for a path, what I really mean is that path that I was on has ended.  Imagine that you are hiking deep in the forest by yourself on a path miles from anywhere or anyone, and the path just ends and you are staring at tall woods.   That is what my life feels like right now.   Only this is a one-way path.  There is no turning around and going back from whence I came.    I must go forward…. except I’m lost.  I don’t know which direction to go or what I’m going toward.   As I struggle to cope, my brain will not shut off.  It is filled day and night with scenarios and outcomes.  I have conversations with myself.   “What will I do if………”  “Who can I talk to about……?”    “If this turns out like _____, then…………, but what if _______ happens?”   One of my conflicts is so unpredictable on a day-to-day basis that it sometimes feels like walking in a never-ending minefield where the only way out is to step on a mine.  Or if I do somehow find my way out, I might have to run away from it as fast as I can.   I find myself having imaginary conversations with people because the real thing has just become too difficult.

Everything resolves.  Or so I’m told.   The act of suicide has been described as cowardly and selfish.  I don’t know if I totally agree with that.   I actually think it takes a lot of courage.  I know I could never pull it off, and I know that the people who care about me don’t deserve to be punished in that way just for living their lives to the best of their ability based who they are deep inside – whether or not their act of living does anything to help me.    What I know for sure is this.  We all have a path that we are destined to walk.  Sometimes we stray down wrong paths.   The worst is when the path disappears completely.  For some people, there is only so long they can struggle to find it again before it all just becomes too much.   As for me, I don’t think I will ever again be one of the people who ponders a suicide and thinks – “We never saw it coming.  What could have happened?”  Every story is unique, but ultimately it comes down to the undiscovered path.