Sunday, January 30, 2011

Forgiveness

We went to church today, and there was a message that really hit home.  It was about forgiveness, and that is probably my biggest weakness.  People who have wronged me in the past I find it very difficult to forgive.  I told my counselor that I needed to forgive my mother, and she asked me why I thought I hadn't.  I couldn't give her a good reason.

I learned today that forgiveness isn't an emotion.  That's what I had been looking for - a peace to pass over me, no more anger towards that person (more specifically, my mother).  I could still have emotions when I thought about that person after I forgave them - anger, sadness, etc., and that was normal. 

The next part was a bit harder.  Grace is about forgiving people, the way God forgives us of our sins, completely, no matter what.  He said it doesn't matter what you've done, God forgives us, and we should do the same for others, otherwise how we can expect God to do that for us?  Yes, I get that part.  But he said forgiveness was NOT  about "enabling" people, such as enabling them to hurt you again.  For example, so you're in an abusive situation or your spouse cheats on you, that doesn't mean you should forgive them AND let them continue to do these things to you, and continue forgiving them time and time again. 

So where that gets hard was the last step in forgiveness, reconciliation "when it makes sense".  That's the caveat, "when it makes sense".  If I do truly forgive my mother and reach out to her, I think she will hurt me again like she has done over and over the previous times I've tried to connect with her, so doesn't that mean I would be enabling her to hurt me again? 

Many years ago my counselor suggested I cut all ties with my mother, grieve the loss for her as if she had died, and discontinue trying to make contact with her.  I would never have a positive relationship with her.  So I did, and it's not like she was calling me and I wouldn't answer the phone, I just stopped reaching out to her and nothing happened.  She just never tried to reconcile with me, I assume she has never wanted to, and yet I was the one who was abused.  It's never made sense to me.

But many many years have passed since I've tried to contact her, she's never tried to contact me during this time. If I really want to progress in my faith, shouldn't I be the better person and at least send her a letter letting her know I no longer feel no ill will towards her?  Even that might be offensive to her, I don't believe she feels that I have any reason to feel negatively towards her.  Everything that happened went on when she was on drugs and she may have been totally oblivious to it all, as a matter of fact, she could still be under the influence of drugs.  As a nurse, I find that hard to believe she would be so in her profession, but maybe that's why she became a nurse. 

What would be so bad about sending her a very short, simple letter, and not expect anything back in return.  I will have done my part, and can feel comfort that I tried.  I have absolutely zero expectations that anything would come of it, except maybe it would be a good way to begin the healing process.  Maybe I would stop being so bitter. 

The pastor also said to pray for people you need to forgive, wish good things for them, and I know in my case when I pray good things for people, it completely changes my attitude towards them.  But do you know how hard it is to pray good things to happen for my mother?  I don't want good things for her.  I've always wanted her to suffer the way she made me suffer.  I try to see things through her eyes, but I just don't understand how a mother could let her husband treat her daughter the way she did. 

It doesn't really matter, I need to find peace in this, it's gone on for decades now.  I think Mark is worried about my attempting any sort of reconciliation with her, he doesn't want to see me fall apart.  But maybe God is telliing me that now the time is right, and I should make the first move.  I've lived so long - since I was 16 - without her in my life, having a mother now would seem strange, and we  could never have a normal relationship.  The trust between us would never be there. 

I'm afraid to send a simple letter consisting of maybe 3-4 lines and regretting it later, when I feel so much anger towards her again and regret sending it.  If I have no expectations, don't even want a normal relationship with her and don't assume she will ever answer or make a move on her part, why would I get hurt?  The lies she must have told everyone about me, I can't even imagine. 

I broke down at church today crying, it is such a sensitive topic to me.  But the pastor gave me such practical life steps to take on forgiving, more than any counselor has ever given me.  Counselors don't really give advice, they ask you questions and let you discover your own answer about what to do with their guidance. 

I'm not going to do anything right away, I was born with two toxic parents, lucky me, but I don't have to live with resentment and anger my whole life.  It's just...if I make a move in this direction, I'm afraid of what emotions it will conjure and if I can handle it.  Maybe I'll wait and talk to a counselor before I do something.  After all, the paster didn't know my exact situation.
Thursday, January 27, 2011

Curse? Blessing?

Last Sunday at church, the pastor talked about counseling younger people and finding out they had blocked out hurtful feelings, but at the same time, they also blocked out joy, leaving them "numb".  On the way home, Mark confided this was him, although he said he was trying to get better.  I would say this is him to the "nth" degree - we can't even get a pet because losing one 4 years ago is still too hurtful to him and he's built walls around anything getting that close to him again. 

I told him that was NOT me, I felt too much, if anything.  I get teary eyed every Sunday at church at the smallest things - a song, a baptism, anything could spark emotion in me.  He said that was a big attraction to me for him - that I was able to feel emotion so freely.  I thought "seriously?  Does he totally not 'get it'"?  I told him no, I'm not normal, I take medication because I feel TOO MUCH.  My highs are too high, but mostly, my lows are too low.  But when I think about it, if I were given the choice to be like him - to feel very little and put walls up, or to be like myself and be moved by the smallest thing, I think I would choose to FEEL.  If you can't feel pain, you can't fully appreciate joy or happiness either.  Maybe I feel those on a hugely diverse scale compared to most, but would I change it?  I would change the label - I do not want to be this horrible disease called "bipolar".  I do not want to take medication every day.  But I want to FEEL.  I want to be moved.  I want to cry at sad movies, at events at church, laugh so hard that I can't stop and people comment how much they love hearing me laugh.  Wild abandon! 

But tonight - I found myself drawn to the "dark side", it can happen so quickly.  I was simply watching videos on youtube, and it led me to some dark artists with dark songs.  All of a sudden I noticed I was being drug into a deep pit, with a black cloud forming above me.  Music can be a trigger for me.  I was startled when I recognized it, all I had done was listen to a few music videos.  But that's all it takes with me to drag me down, and if I let it continue, eventually I won't be able to get back out of it.  So immediately I closed youtube and picked up my Kindle, eager to get my mind on anything else but those dark thoughts and feelings.  I think it worked, I feel okay now, but it scared me for a bit.  You never know when you start feeling that way if it will linger.  The trick is to catch it in time - go to the doctor, ANYTHING, but do it as fast as you can before it spirals out of control and there's no stopping it. 

Feeling too much.  Strange that after 13 years, I would find out something about my husband that I didn't know was such an attraction he had to me.  But you know, if given the choice, I wouldn't give it up.  Maybe what some would consider a curse, God actually gave me as a blessing.
Monday, January 24, 2011

Dropouts

I always panic a little bit when I enter my email and password for blogger, and I get the message that they are incorrect.  It has always been a user error, but that doesn't keep me from being alarmed for a few seconds.

It's the beginning of the week, and so far it's started out well.  I had been using a different kind of over the counter sleeping medication, and I'm wondering if that was what was making me so lethargic and hungry.  I switched to what I was previously taking, and now I seem back to normal.  It's only been since the weekend though.

I took a speed test today, and made 120 errors.  Yes, that's not very good, but considering that 3 weeks ago I made 220 errors, that's a huge improvement.  I got out of bed this morning and made it to school on time too!  But...Mark had to wake me up, I didn't even know my alarm had gone off and I'd been pressing snooze for 45 minutes.  I think I finally fell asleep last night around 2-ish.  So my alarm going off at 5:15 and not waking me up seems plausible.

People are dropping out of school left and right.  Of my class that started in January 2010 of 15 students, there are only 3 of us left, maybe 4 if the person who went part time is still enrolled.  I can't believe that in one year's time, 11-12 students have dropped out.  The latest reason seems to be that people can't handle progressing speed-wise as fast as they want, or seeing other people that have been going to school for less time than they have be promoted to the next speed level before them.  At the rate of dropouts that I've seen, I totally get what my teachers have been telling me.  It's not a race, but who actually crosses the finish line.  I must admit, it's hard not to compare yourself to others, wonder why they are so much more successful than you are, and decide maybe this just isn't for you.  Perhaps ego gets in the way, or jealousy, so much so that they can't deal with it and drop out.  From the beginning, I've had to struggle to pass every single test, not breeze through the first 2 or so, so I learned from the beginning how hard it was going to be, where most expected to pass speed tests every few weeks like they had in the beginning.  What upset me so much and left me crying at school because I wasn't keeping up with others in my class has turned out to be a big advantage to me.  I don't feel upset when people achieve goals quicker than I do.  When I got into the 100 class, a student actually made a comment to the teacher that if I passed my tests before she did, she would kill herself.  Everything is so emotional, people get really freaked out about passing these speed tests.  During testing, someone had brushed back their hair, causing another student to lose concentration, and it led to an actual fist fight.  One teacher told me that someone had opened the door during testing, and someone was furious because it let light in and it broke their concentration.  I have to admit, I get mad when people distract me too.  If they aren't writing during the test, but fiddling with their paper or their machine, I have to bite my lip when the test is done not to say something horribly mean.  If someone coughed?  Oh my gosh, I don't know what I would do.  But if I coughed or had a coughing spell?  I worry about that, too, because the class would probably lynch me afterwards.

Mark and I have been getting along really well, I think going to church together has made our bond stronger.  I totally do not get out of church as much as he does, it seems he takes every message as a life lesson and applies it immediately, where I listen and it does give me strength, but it's more like food for thought.  I have "aha!" moments.  At any rate, it's been a positive influence on both our daily lives, and whether someone believes in God or not, I still think the life lessons they teach would help anybody.  Or maybe not.  It's founded on Scripture and faith, so maybe you have to believe to accept it.  Maybe for me, I'm learning that to believe in God doesn't mean you need to feel emotional like I've always thought, because that fades eventually.

That's about it, I feel pretty stable, not back on a good diet yet, but hopefully I'll get the willpower again soon.
Friday, January 21, 2011

Lost

My eating has been out of control lately.  I did so well last year - lost 34 pounds - then starting around October, I quit counting calories and my eating habits have progressively been getting worse.  I was really bad yesterday - I bought turtles and chocolate covered cherries, and had both boxes polished off today.  Maybe now I've disgusted myself badly enough to get me "back on the wagon".  I definitely feel gross and disgusting, I can tell my clothes don't fit as well, and I don't feel as good about myself.  I'm afraid to get back on the scale, but I know it will be the catalyst to get myself back into gear.  It's just...what has increased my appetite or made food so appealing?

I'm not doing so well in school since the beginning of the quarter in January either.  It's not grade wise, I have a high A in English, and I guess I'm doing ok in my speed classes, I just keep missing class.  I stay home and sleep, then get up and feel guilty thinking "I could have gone to school and been home by now".  I don't know if it's because people who have been going to school a lot less time than I have are passing me in speed or what my deal is.  I think I've resigned myself to that fact, that I'm not going to be the fastest, that I can't be the "best" in that area, but maybe it's affecting me more than I know.  However, it's affecting other students much more than it does me.  Several students who see people pass them that have been going to school for less time than they have quit going on ground and go online.  They can't deal with it - I guess sitting in class and perhaps feeling like a failure.  Out of sight, out of mind, I don't really know.  It's been drilled into my head by many teachers that it's a destination, not a race, and I know the percentage of people who actually graduate is so very small, maybe 6-9% that enroll.  Yes, it's really that hard.  There are so many things to discourage you, like failing test after test, week after week, until you finally pass, just to move up to the next speed to start failing again.  I just need to motivate myself to GO.  Right now I'll deal with not practicing at home, I just need to make it to school!

Mark thinks I'm depressed right now.  I do go to bed a lot in the middle of the day.  I always give him different reasons besides being sleepy:  I'm cold and want to get under the covers, I'm bored, it varies, just anything so I can lay down and snuggle in bed.  The bed is so comforting to me right now.  I can leave my stress or worries behind when I'm in bed, except for when I go to bed at night.  Then my mind races and it's hard to go to sleep.  I don't know why at that time it's different.  But I'm not listening to depressing music or anything like that, I just want to be in bed all the time.

I used to not take showers all the time in the past, but have been doing much better lately.   But now when I lounge around on a weekend and don't take a shower, it really bothers Mark.  I don't know why now it bothers him, and before he wouldn't say anything about it.  He'll make comments like "don't you have any respect for yourself?" things like that.  I don't know, do I?  I should want to at least make myself decent for him since we're married and live together, it seems like the polite thing to do, but it is also a lot of energy on some days. 

We've been going to a church I picked out for several months now, but Mark is getting much more out of it then I am.  I was the one who decided to go to church, picked out the one I wanted to go do and Mark just followed me.  Now I don't get a lot out of it, and Mark takes to heart each message and applies it directly to his life week after week.  He had a work crisis recently, and believes his faith and prayer pulled him through.  Sure, attitude has a lot to do with everything.  If I really think about it, I started going to church to make friends with the same values I  have, but have failed in that department.  I don't go to a smaller group before church where I could make new friends.  So I basically stay isolated from the world at my own choosing.  The weird thing is, I've always been an extrovert.  I don't know when or why that changed.  Don't get me wrong, if I decide I want to talk to someone, I can start a conversation and keep it going with just about anyone, I just don't have the desire to bond with someone right now.  I may have those conversations, and maybe people believe I get to know them, but I never let them in to get to know ME.  Why I have walls up I have no idea.  I was hoping to change that by going to church.

I stopped going to therapy - I just went twice.  I'm sure it would have been helpful, and I may go back later, in a few months when things are better financially.  I just feel like, because I don't have an issue to talk about besides my anxiety during tests which I don't have right now because I'm not close to passing, we really don't have anything to talk about.  Sure, she wants to talk about my childhood, but I really don't want to talk about that.  Yet, I know that is the basis for a lot of my problems.  Why can't she tell me the name of a book to read, and then I go in and we discuss THAT?  I've asked her for a book name, and she scanned pages from a book that applied to me and sent them to my email address.  I think she scanned the corresponding pages in a workbook for it too, because it was something I filled out and took with me to the next visit.  I thought about buying the book I think it is, but then thought, perhaps the whole book isn't for me, or she'd had given me the name so I could read it.

That's about it - still taking over the counter sleeping meds at night, but I don't think it's because I sleep during the day.  When I don't sleep during the day, the exact same thing happens to me at night. 

I just need some major changes in my life, and I feel a bit lost right now.
Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just Okay

I'm back in school, taking English Comp 1 (for the third time, I don't know why schools won't accept previous credits), and in the 100 speed class (Court Reporting).  I took the first speed test after being out for 3 weeks, and made over 200 errors!  I was upset, but not freaking out crying upset.  I tried to work out a plan to pass this speed by the end of the quarter.  Today I took another speed test, and made 158 errors.  That's still a whole lot, but 60 less than just 2 days ago.  My plan was to make 20 errors less a week which would get me to passing by the end of the quarter, so I'm well on my way.

I feel so bad for Mark.  He's been going to church with me, praying, pouring his heart and soul into his job, and now work isn't going so well for him.  It really hurts me to see him hurting, to know he's going to a job that he hates being at every day to make a living for us.  I told him I would drop out of school and get a job so he could get another job that paid less, but he refused to let me drop out of school.  I know how hard it can be to put everything into your job to find out it's not enough, to work towards a goal and not achieve it - it was the trigger that sent me to the psych ward 9 years ago.  Knowing he could be that unhappy kills me.  But...perhaps once I graduate and get a job it will be better than any job I could get now, being unemployed for over 2 years, and I can then help.  He's one of the smartest and ambitious people I know.  I wish he could find something he loved doing that utilizes his talents, not that they aren't being utilized now, but with technology, he's such a natural.  I wonder how you could combine the two - hands on technology with high level strategic leadership.  Maybe run your own business?

I've been going to therapy, but I think I'll stop for now.  I don't have any pressing issues, and I don't want to burden the family income any more than it already is.  Mark talks about selling his Porsche and I know how devastated he would be if he had to do that, so the luxury of counseling can come later.  Besides, it just makes me think about the past and gets me all worked up and emotional, anger mostly.  Perhaps that means I should keep going, but if I don't go and don't talk about it, the memories don't come flooding back and I don't have to deal with them.  I think cognitive behavior therapy is still a good answer for me, and I'm considering buying a book about it.  I think I found one that comes with a workbook.

Last session, we did touch a bit on why I felt old and why it bothered me so much.  I told her a big part of it is that Mark is 7-8 years younger than me and it made me feel old, but if he was older than me, I wouldn't worry that he would want a younger woman or view me as old.  She asked me why can't I believe that he loves me for who I am, not my age.  I'd never considered that before, I guess I'd always thought it was more superficial than that.  You see all the time on television, in movies, how men want younger women, how they leave their wives for younger women, how older women are viewed negatively.  I look and look in the mirror to see signs of aging constantly.  Because Mark is younger, men my own age look kind of old to me.  Not in a bad way, they just look, well, older.  So doesn't that mean I look older too? Of course it does.

I'm trying to get back on my diet that I was on last year when I lost 36 pounds (but gained some of it back over the holidays), but can't seem to get that strict again.  I think I've finally stopped gaining and am just maintaining, but that's so not good enough.  I wish I could just buy phentermine on the internet like I used to do.  When I read back through my blog entries during that time, though, I see how big of an issue anxiety was for me.  It consumed me.  Every medication has its' side effects, I'm sure.

I've already missed 3 days of school because I was just too tired to go.  I got my days and nights turned around during the 3 week holiday, and now that I'm forcing myself to go no matter what, it's really hard.  But if I had a job, I'd have no choice, so I'm doing the best I can.  I hope every day gets a little easier, but so far, all I do is long to go back to bed.  Maybe that's normal and I got lazy.

That's about it, nothing major going on, pretty stable I suppose, kind of blah.  But "okay" overall.  I cherish "okay" though - "okay" means I'm not in the deep dark depths of depression!
Monday, January 03, 2011

New Year - 2011

I weighed myself at the start of the new year - January 1st - and I weighed 175.4.  That's 20 pounds lighter than January 2010.  However, that means I've gained 14 pounds from earlier in the year when I weighed 161.  So it's a toss up, not sure if I should celebrate or reprimand myself.  I guess I should look at it as I can always go down (weight wise) from here.

Mark and I spent the New Year's Eve at home eating cheese and crackers with wine until midnight, then went to bed.  Apparently he had gone to bed last year around 10, his normal time, and I had given him a lot of grief about it.  I totally don't remember that, but he stated many times he was making it a point to stay up until midnight to escape my wrath (haha!). 

Tomorrow is my first day back at school in almost 3 weeks, and I have only practiced once.  It will be HORRIBLE tomorrow!  I know she will ask me to read back, and I won't be able to read hardly anything  because I'll just get a word here and there of what she says when she dictates.  I guess the two girls who were kicked out last quarter for attendance will be back tomorrow.  I'll be glad to see them - I hope they'll make coming to school a priority this time.

Mark and I went to church last Sunday, and I was kind of bored with the message.  When we got to the car, Mark was remarking how great he thought it was and asked what I thought.  I just kind of shrugged my shoulders and said it was alright I guess.  He didn't really blow up at me, but he said if I wasn't getting anything out of going to this church, why didn't I choose a  new one?  Why continue to go?  That's so unfair, every single message they have every Sunday (and this week was a guest speaker) isn't going to blow me away.  Sometimes I'll feel like they just don't hit home, I don't think every one is meant for me, right?  Like this week it was about "wisdom".  He brought up many many many scriptures that talked about wisdom.  I kept waiting for him to say wisdom about WHAT, but then I realized that over half of the message was probably over, and he wasn't going to say.  Sure, he talked about reading the Bible, but isn't that a given?  And I go to school, I'm in therapy, I go to church - my life is a constant breeding ground for new knowledge.  I'm not trying to knock the message about "wisdom", just saying, it's great that he found it so enlightening for whatever reason that I'm not explaining here because I didn't, but that doesn't mean I don't find other messages enlightening.  It doesn't mean I'm not going to pray for wisdom, that was a great idea, I just wish he would have given examples of reasons when you would pray for wisdom.  "Pray for wisdom" and reading so many scriptures, talking about why wisdom was important to seek in your life, that's great and all, but why that was so insightful to Mark I have no idea.  It was like "no duh" to me.  And the guest speaker had just achieved his doctorate in theology, so while I can appreciate his recent achievement, I don't understand why everyone thought it was such a great message.  People applauded it and everything.  I guess I'm out of the loop.  If the message "pierced our hearts" and we wanted to take action, what was his suggestions?  To attend the class (I forget the name) for the new Christians, no matter where you are in your journey, or a join a Life Group (it's like finding a Sunday school class in our 4000+ people congregation).  I was left thinking...that's it?  I have no idea why it's bothered me so much, but I think it's because of Mark's comments.  I barely talked to him for several hours after that and he kept asking me what was wrong.  All of that time I was thinking what was wrong with ME?

I go to my therapist tomorrow for the second time, and am not really looking forward to it.  I'm actually dreading it.  After my first visit, as time went by, I started to talk about my childhood more and more to Mark, it's like I couldn't stop myself.  I rarely talk about my mother or step father, good or bad, yet I guess it's been on my mind and I found myself even repeating stories I'd told him before, knowing I'd told them to him before, and telling them anyway.  But, it could be the holidays too, memories flooding back, but it wasn't really Christmas memories.  I think it had everything to do with my first counseling visit.  I really don't want to go down this road again.  I don't WANT to remember, I don't want to relive, I don't want to figure things out about myself if it means I have to analyze why I am the way I am and it being because of how I was raised as a child.  But I found out that is exactly true from my last visit, so I'm dreading tomorrow.  I find myself in pretend conversations with my therapist in my head without realizing it.  It's just me talking to her, not her giving feedback, and I don't know why.  Maybe I need someone to talk to, I don't know.  I really just went because I was freaking out during court reporting testing and didn't understand why.  I'd talked to many teachers, tried different things, and nothing worked.  I know it's psychological, it just seems like this is the long way to getting to where I want to go - being able to test without freaking out.  It's weird to think it's a childhood issue, but she helped me to see during the last visit that it totally is.  Which means one thing:  revisiting things I do NOT want to revisit.  I don't want these things constantly on my mind, I want to move on, I mean really, I'm 42 years old, do I really have to continue to deal with my childhood?
I wish I was sleepy, but I'm not. It's almost midnight, and I know the alarm clock with go off at 5:30a and after 3 weeks of waking up and going back to bed whenever I wanted to, it will be really tough.  Reminds me of high school - when you would get your days and nights mixed up (sleep all day, stay up all night) until the first day of school.  But somehow, it didn't seem like a big deal.  However - I'm not 16 anymore.

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