Thirty Before Thirty

Okay, in honor of my 29th birthday tomorrow I am writing a thirty before thirty list. I should’ve done this sooner in order to give me more time to cross things off my list but here goes:

1. Travel to another country. It can be Canada for all I care; just as long as I get to use my passport.

2. Sell a piece of my art. This would be really cool especially if it was one of the pieces I am proud of.

3. Display/ teach/ show off my journals. This is probably more of a self-esteem thing. I’d like to be able to inspire someone though to make an attempt at a long term journal habit.

4. New car. ‘nuf said

5. Bake a cheesecake. I love cheesecake and would like to make a really good one to share with friends.

6. Write more letters to people. This is kind of like journal writing for me, especially since I rarely get a response back.

7. Seek therapy and ask for what I need. It seems like no matter what the relationship I hardly ever ask for anything. I want to have at least one relationship where I can feel free to “make demands.”

8. Find and make use of a mentor. Not really sure about this one…something about encouragement on the professional and personal level.

9. Have more “honest” conversations with Mom and Aunt Elaine. I want to be able to tell Mom, especially, all of the things I’ve been afraid to tell her in the past. What makes me angry, what hurts, how I feel, and to ask her the questions I have been afraid to ask her.

10. Spend more time with Dad, just Dad, and to not feel like we’re not a part of his life anymore.

11. Wear a bikini in public. Erm…I guess this goes to confidence level and that I could probably count the number of times I have actually worn a bathing suit and felt comfortable on one hand, less than one hand.

12. Visit with Kate. That one friend that no matter how much time passes you can still get together and feel like it was only yesterday that you talked.

13. Get a cat. Unlikely but…to have that unconditional love all my own…to have it be my cat instead of sharing it with someone else and worrying caring whether the cat prefers the other person over you.

14. Do something for myself that does not require buying or eating anything and truly enjoying it. I’ve always been so terribly hard on myself so “being nice” to myself has always seemed to entail buying something or attempting to buy something without feeling guilty or eating something “indulgent” while attempting to not feel guilty.

15. Learn to adequately grieve for the things that cannot be changed in the past. This is a big one for me. I know the whys and wherefores behind my childhood experiences, at least I think I do. What I need to do now in order to accept that they occurred and move on I need to learn how to grieve. I need to be able to accept more personal responsibility and not let the past define me anymore.

16. Wear more hats. I look good in hats but I rarely wear them out of the fear I’d look silly. I mean besides baseball caps and the “hat lady” customer at the grocery store, who wears hats anymore?

17. Go on a drive with no particular goal in mind even if it means staying overnight in a hotel somewhere. I want to go on an adventure like this, without ties, just seeing what the day or days bring.

18. Visit the sea. Water has soothed me and I have noticed it more in these last few years…or maybe even since living in an area where the beach was frequently a 2-3 hour drive.

19. Go on a cruise. Again unlikely but I could combine spending more time at the sea and visiting another country with this one.

20. Cut back on sugar. I have a sweet tooth and I know eventually all of my sweets will catch up with me.

21. Learn Origami. The story of the 1000 paper cranes has always attracted me and I feel drawn to the paper folding art.

22. Go back to the John C. Campbell Folk School. An indescribable place to someone who is craft, art, history, and community minded. The folk school is just a magical place where enthusiasm for one’s craft is embraced.

23. Do more with less. I’m tired of all of the extra purchases I seem to be making especially with my craft/ art stuff. I don’t need so many things to dabble in so many different crafts. When will I ever use up the supplies I have? And yet I continue to buy specialized art tools and supplies that will eventually just take up storage space. I should have a craft yard sale!

24. Enjoy/ spend more time in nature. (Twin Lakes) Nature=magic

25. Participate in more group activities. More and more recently I have noticed my strong desire to be part of a group, to experience a sense of belonging and more and more I have been reading about the beneficial effects of feeling a sense of belonging. I have been felt alone for so long it is an energizing and joyous experience to feel as though one belongs somewhere. This is probably why I enjoy extended family get togethers so much. With family you don’t have to earn your way in. You are born to it or chosen; no one questions your membership.

26. Try to be neater/ more organized/ cleaner. It is difficult for me to put stuff in places. When I am using things like my art supplies or reading my text books or writing it is easier for me just to leave things where they lie so that they are right there when I need them again. After I number of days this leads to quite a mess.

27. Eat dinner at the table more instead of sitting down in front of the t.v. to watch the news. First I have to put away all of my art supplies that are currently occupying the table.

28. Eat more protein at dinner. Don’t rely on pastas and vegetables so much.

29. Use fewer hearts in my art and try to more specifically describe the thoughts and emotions I am trying to convey.

30. Budget money better. It is not like I go anywhere or do anything very often but all of those little insignificant purchases add up. It would help if I could figure out better things to take to work for lunch. Then I wouldn’t be buying so many unhealthy things while on break.

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Fight Club or Variations on a Single Theme

 

I am tired of feeling this way.  I’m tired and irritated.  It is the same damn issues over and over and over again.  I am tired of writing about them.  I am tired of not knowing how to fix them, how to fix my mental state.  I hate the way I mentally and emotionally beat myself up 90-95% of the time.  I hate living in doubt the way I do.  I hate never  not being sure of anything relationship wise and I hate feeling like everything, every choice I make effects people’s opinions of me or perceptions of me.  I know people don’t think about me half as much as I think they do, that’s true for anyone, but somehow that doesn’t make me feel all that much better. I hate thinking that I might not be liked by someone.  I wish I could stop my negative internal dialogue ’cause it really hurts.  They are things I wouldn’t say out loud to anyone so why do I say them to myself?  I know it must fill some kind of psychological need otherwise I wouldn’t continue to do it.

Trying to reach out to people just hurts so much and is so scary no wonder I feel like crap.  I am petrified of being rejected.  I am petrified of not having some kind of emotional connection with someone and at the same time petrified of what that person might think of me.  I am okay with being alone, living alone, not having a boyfriend because there are things I need to fix within me first.  But I want a relationship that reassures, comforts, nourishes, and cherishes me.  I need someone or something to fulfill the job of support and providing confidence bravery until I can perform those functions for myself.  There is just something I need, something that is missing, that I cannot put a name to.  I know I have attachment issues involving my own mother so maybe that is more or less what I am looking for.  Like a child, I am scared, needy, lonely, and in need of support and comfort.

Many times whenever I reach out and try to make a connection with someone in a similar fashion, I end up mentally beating myself up abusing myself afterwards.  Abuse truly is the word for it.  Much of the time it is nothing particular that they said or did but the emphasis I put onto it, what I choose to focus on, gives it its meaning.  99% of the time that meaning is negative. And so I end up running through my typical internal “dressing down.”  “You’re such an idiot!  Stupid idiot!  Clingy, needy, bastard!  Self-centered, self absorbed, inconsiderate… Me, me, me, mine, mine, mine, my, my my.  Do you hear yourself?  What a fucking ass!  You shouldn’t talk so much!  Shut up, shut up, shut up!  No. One. Cares!”  And on and on and on…  As you can imagine, it hurts.

When I am in this state of mind I am better aware of needing a therapist and I am more likely to seek one out.   But then my negative state of mind fades into the background, just like bruises do, and needing to see a “doctor” becomes less of a priority, until the next time I engage in my own internal fight club.

Just a Little Give and Take

Friendship is a curious phenomena and sometimes a scary one.

I read a story a couple of weeks ago about a young teenage girl and an older 20 something woman.  The woman had been very sheltered while growing up and had had very little experience of the outside world.  The teenage girl came to live with the woman and her sisters during World War 2, having been evacuated from London.  The girl and the woman develop a close friendship even though the woman was older, more confident, and more experienced in intellectual pursuits.  The girl is not understood and does not fit in well with her family of blue collar workers and so finds a home with this woman and her sisters to whom reading, writing, and intellectual development have always been important.  The friendship between the girl and the woman interested me because it was obvious what the girl got from the relationship.  She felt understood and felt as though her reading and writing and ways of thinking were valued.  To experience that, to finally be accepted, to receive encouragement, would be very intoxicating to a girl whose parents always sought to make her conform to their humdrum life.  I understand the girl’s attachment to the woman. I only have a vague understanding of the woman’s attachment to the girl.  There is the experience of forming a relationship with someone other than her sisters, there is the girl’s unique sense of humor, there is the fact that the girl has seen more of the world (London) than she has, but…I still feel in a way that the woman’s friendship with the girl is somewhat charitable on her part, as if there is a greater and a lesser member involved in the friendship.  The girl would be obligated to the woman…

The reciprocity of friendship is what interested me.  Sometimes it is very obvious what one person in a friendship gets from being a part of the relationship.  Sometimes it is harder to see.  For someone like me especially, friendship is often felt as if…the other person is being charitable, tolerant, very giving.  I work not to offend, not to overstep, not to make demands or requests, not to seem needy or annoying or distasteful.  I work to not be rejected.  As such, another’s preference often takes precedent.  I take what others see fit to give me.  I do not ask.  To be so…tentative and uncertain, is exhausting and devastatingly lonely.  But there has to be something that the other person is getting from me.  There has to be some kind of give and take.  My Aunt, for example, would not seek out my company if our relationship were only one of familial obligation.  Right?  What is it that she gets from our relationship?  What makes pursing a friendship with me worthwhile?  What do I provide?  I’m not just fishing for compliments and reassurances.  I am serious.  I can be…insightful, funny…um…What makes me worthy?

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby, Right Round

Sometimes it feels like I get anxious about weird things. Like this morning I planned on going to the gym where I hoped one of my favorite people would be working but she’s been hopping between different gym locations so I wasn’t entirely sure she’d be there. I worried myself sick over what if she isn’t there and wondered who would be working and whether it would seem weird for me to be jumping from one club location to another. Would they think it weird that I would change my workout routine just so I could be at the club where she is? I worry far too much about what other people think and feel. I told myself this morning; if it isn’t hurting anyone else, do whatever you want/ need to do. I also came up with some half-assed excuse consisting of the benefits of switching up one’s workout routine and morning routine in general…blah, blah, blah.

I have also been anxious about finding a therapist lately. I asked a former professor of mine if she would be willing to take me on because I really enjoyed interacting with her this summer. I thought, I think, I hope, she might be able to help me. But there was some question as to whether it would be possible mainly because of the professor’s possible future involvement with the program I am in. There were other considerations too, how far she is from me and insurance concerns, mostly. This whole time through an exchange of e-mails this professor is emphasizing that it is my choice and that she’ll do whatever I decide. The responsibility is mine. This whole time I’m agonizing; How will I pay her? Can I drive an hour each way to my appointments? Will she like me? Would she rather not see me? Am I brave enough to say yes? What would I do if I backed out? How would she feel? What would she think? What would I do? and on and on and on…ad infinitum The program director has approved of my working with this professor so that is no longer an issue. The only real hurdle now is for me to say “Yes, I would like to work with you.” directly and finally to the professor I want to see. Oh, and time and money of course…

I’m restless in my anxiety. It is like making a major purchase while still consulting one’s parents. Inevitably they turn to you and say, “I don’t know honey. It’s up to you.” And you think you perceive that hint of disapproval. You just know they are thinking it is an unwise purchase choice. Except here when the responsibility of choice is placed upon my shoulders I fear more of how the other person feels. Is she hoping I say “no” and back out? How will I pay her? It is my responsibility to say, “Yes! Damn it! I do want help! I do want to change! And I want you to help me.”

More likely, if I ever get up the courage, it’ll be something like, “Yes, please, if you wouldn’t mind, if it is not too much trouble, if you’d be so kind, I would like the opportunity to work with you.” I’m tired of being so scared all of the time.

It comes in cycles. I wish someone would shed some light on this for me. PMS? PMDD? Am I freakin’ bi-polar? Is this just something I have to deal with? If it is, I’m going to need much stronger antidepressants/ anti anxiety meds. A half of a week to one week out of a four to six week period I might feel pretty good, what I term to be “normal.” Every so often I get lucky and the “good days” go beyond their usual time frame or extra days might sprinkle themselves in between the bad days. For at least a couple of weeks, frequently more, out of this time frame I feel depressed. I’d be absolutely miserable if I were just to hibernate for the day. That I have work to distract me is a real blessing sometimes even if I struggle through the day. Sometimes I have to rely on incentives in order to put one foot in front of the other. “Tonight, pasta for dinner.” or “Two more days and you get a day off.” “Short shift today. You only have to work five hours.” Sometimes it even comes to counting the minutes to break. “Just another hour…” Or I have to dredge up memories that make me smile and remember people who make me smile to make it easier to get through the day. But I run the risk of waking my internal critic who will extinguish the light of these memories. At least one week of this four to six week period, sometimes a week and a half or more, I feel anxious like I do now. This usually precedes the depressed period and frequently over laps it. Then the majority of the rest of the time I just feel dull. I get up, go to work, go to school, come home, eat, go to bed, over and over and over, day after day. I survive.

The problem with living in cycles like this is that you can never get used to anything. Just when you think you’re doing alright, wham!, anxiety, depression, self psychological flagellation. It is during this time that I am more likely to seek out help. It is also during this time, when I am at my lowest, that I am especially lonely, especially hard on myself, and in desperate need of comfort. While this time period can be very painful it does provide a brief window of opportunity where I might actually get the help I need.

It’s Always Been a Matter of Trust

I saw the movie “Hope Springs” with my Aunt this weekend.  It wasn’t a movie I had a great deal of interest in seeing but my Aunt wanted to see it and with Meryl Streep in it I figured, “Why not?”

It was a good movie in that I found the psychological aspects to be very interesting, not surprising for someone going into the mental health profession.  I was greatly relieved to be able to take Steve Carrell, who played the role of the counselor, seriously for once.  In this role he did not act like a complete jackass which was a pleasant surprise.

I found the psychology of relationships explored in this movie interesting.  There are a lot of different factors and personal inhibitions involved in relationship problems, not just between a married couple.  It is curious to see how honest two people can be in the presence of a third “objective” person.  I hadn’t seen a demonstration of couples therapy before and so I found the interactions between Meryl Streep’s character and Tommy Lee Jone’s character to perhaps be illustrative of how couples or family therapy might work.  Why does it take the third person to facilitate, to encourage, the honest interaction between husband and wife?  Why do we find it so difficult to be honest with each other?  Trust, I suppose.

I found the emotional aspects to be very sad even though this movie was meant to be mainly comedic.  The emotional turmoil and unhappiness that “Kate,” Meryl Streep’s character, goes through resonated with and saddened me.  I felt like I could relate, very much so in parts, even though our life experiences are nothing alike.  Wanting to reach out but being afraid of rejection.  Being uncertain of yourself.  Being afraid of change.  Wondering if you can change.  Being afraid of failing to change.  Confronting the questions, “is this it?”  “Is this all there is?”  “Is this as good as it gets?”  And then being terribly depressed by thinking that perhaps this is as good as it gets and wondering if something is wrong with you for not being happy and for wanting more or something different.

It is unrealistic but I was very impressed and inspired by the dramatic, huge leaps of effort and faith both Meryl Streep’s character and Tommy Lee Jones’s character took in order to create the change they both needed.  After a point in the movie they both gave up a little of their fears and went in for change, all or nothing.  They were both scared and uncomfortable but they made the effort to trust each other. In a constructed fictional scenario or in reality such a leap of faith is so incredibly brave.

I was more than a little uncomfortable by the sexual topics addressed in the movie.  I don’t know why I have a problem with sex.  Maybe it is because it is so uninhibited and I have yet to allow myself to be that emotionally unbound….I remember reading when I was doing a research paper on eating disorders that anorexics (not me; although I probably have those tendencies) may have an underlying issue with sexuality.  By restricting their eating habits they subconsciously refuse to sexually mature.  I wonder why that is and what it is all about.  Why is sexuality a flaw or taboo even?  (Wow, no wonder it was so easy for priests in the Catholic church to make their congregants feel guilty about enjoying a natural bodily function…)  Also, I discovered that the majority of anorexics have not been abused in that way but have a tendency to come from more perfectionistic families.  Perhaps there are roots in the direct and indirect ways society constructs our perceptions of sex.  Anyway…

I’ve never really actively sought that kind of relationship.  Besides wanting William (it’s complicated), to like me and then wanting to fill the emotional holes his ex-wife left, sex without the emotional and intellectual connection was never what I desired.  Sex was not my intent, a relationship was.  Though I couldn’t quite put words to it then, I was seeking to fill the holes in myself too.  Also, I was seeking in some way to be “normal,”  like everyone else my age.