New Paths to Comfort

Last night, my daughter just wanted a treat after dance, because it had been a hard practice. I totally get it, but right now, in my life, comfort cannot be taken from food. So we talked it out and had lots of hugs and I sang her songs.

Everything was kosher.

Lately, I struggle to find comfort. A soft blanket, pretty candles, a clean home – these were once things I found comforting. I just don’t anymore.

This is probably going to sound stupid, but I really long for a comfy couch. Our couches literally have holes in them and I’m tired of their awfulness. I don’t even want to sit on them.

We also have ants, despite the cleanish home that I’ve been pouring myself into. There is nothing like sitting on a couch and having an ant crawl on you.

Yet, I think some of this is symbolic. I can’t find comfort, not because of an icky couch, but because sitting is no longer comforting. Perhaps what I really need besides the cozy is an afternoon in the sun doing yoga. Maybe the ants represent the way worry crawls on me and ruins my zen. Maybe I need time in guided meditation away from the creepy crawly thoughts.

Most of all, I recognize these feelings, because I felt them long ago when I was not depressed. I didn’t care for them then so I squashed them.

I had better take care of them now.

*Side note: Yoga in the sun did help. I also poured myself into making the couch nice, which worked. Turns out the ants were following the scent of food Evan had deposited deep down in the couch. Facepalm. Though I still find worry crawls on me….**

Candidly,

Ash

Real Life

Phew. It’s anxiety today. Man, it’s anxiety a lot of days.

I’m tired of anxiety. I think I’m starting to have anxiety about whether my anxiety will ever pass.

Why does anxiety feel like running around in circles? It feels like I’m running around putting out fires constantly, except there are no actual fires. I’m putting out imaginary fires. THAT is frustrating.

And futile.

Lately, I’ve been longing to have a job besides mom. You know, something to consume my time. The idea of going somewhere, working and having my focus be work is really appealing. I think I’m desiring a way to take my mind off of my family things.

The family things are heavy.

I’m homeschooling our oldest. She had a terrible year of bullying and just needs some recovery time. But, god damn, its a lot of responsibility to parent someone AND make sure they learn algebra.

The toddler toddles and whines and is currently attempting to roll up the 8′ x 10′ rug onto himself. He’ll probably get stuck soon…

I get a call, text, email about Evan every day. It’s okay, nothing too catastrophic, but I feel like I’m the teacher’s personal OnStar representative. Like she can just hit the button and I’m there. I suppose I should implement boundaries. I tried that last year…that’s when he got suspended. Sigh…

I think this just might be life.

Yesterday, Tess asked me “Why can’t things be less stressful?” She was referring to her dance class where she is learning something new every single week. It’s stressful for her. In my sage wisdom,  I responded that she wouldn’t become a better dancer without the stress. Someday, once she knows this whole dance, it will go back to being just fun and free. Until then, its stressful.

Maybe life feels so stressful to me, because I’m learning something new. My new medicine has my mood swings controlled and so I’m finally feeling what I’m told is “normal”. Except it feels damn stressful, because I can feel all the things and numbing doesn’t work like it once did.

But maybe, if I take my own advice and learn to handle this anxiety and stress? Maybe then there will come a time when I can dance the routine of life with fun and freedom.

Until then, I’m just learning how to cope.

Candidly,

Ash

Letting Go of Worry

I don’t know what to write today. More about how I’m anxious? It’s getting old.

Sometimes I wish that I could control what thoughts come into my mind. Unfortunately, there is a significant body of evidence out there which says most of our hardwiring is completed by age eight. I can’t control the thoughts that come to my mind.

I can, however, choose which ones to focus on. I can choose to let go of a thought.

While that is powerful and a worthy topic, I just want to talk about the fact that choosing gets old. I can choose to let a thought go, only for it to return moments later. It doesn’t mean my earlier choice wasn’t true or with full effort. It’s just part of the process. Thoughts come and thoughts go. Choosing to let go has gotten easier. Choosing to let go on repeat?

That is hard shit right there.

This morning I was reminded by a friend of the words in I Peter 5:7

Cast your cares on Him, for He cares for you.

Literally translated, the word “cast” actually means “to throw upon”. Throw all of your cares and worries upon Him. I don’t know about you, but throwing seems a lot better than casting. Casting reminds me of fishing. If you cast your line or net into the water, then you also bring it back in (presumably with fish on it). I don’t particularly want my worries to come back.

But how do we throw our worries instead of casting them?

In many Christian traditions, a person will go to the chapel to pray for loved ones. Upon praying, they will then light a candle and allow it to burn as a symbol of their ongoing request being received into God’s hands. I love this symbolism.

I think maybe when I’m throwing off my worries to God, I might start finding a way to symbolize the worry leaving my hands and entering His. Maybe I’ll burn candles or maybe I’ll pour water down the drain of my sink. Maybe I’ll jot the worries down and then toss them in the trash.

Maybe, maybe this will help.

If not, then I’ll still be over here trying to let go, again and again.

Candidly,

Ash

Humanity is Hard

Butterflies are in my stomach frequently these days. It’s a new feeling, because my mind is aware of all that is happening around me…and it’s freaking out.

This could be called anxiety, but I’ve sat with it some and realized it’s simply my brain trying to cope with new information.

It started about a week ago when we increased the dose on a medication that has been working well for me.

The first thing that happened is that I started to find the games on my phone boring, which I admitted was probably a good thing. Then, I noticed that I couldn’t nap on command, my body was too aware and awake to zone out.

This is when I realized, “Holy crap! I’ve been zoning out A LOT!”

But now that I’m not zoning out, I’m also aware of things like boredom. My brain has a tendency to think boredom is actually bore-DOOM. It knows that if I’m bored then there is space for something to happen. Emotions can happen!

So I began busying myself, even when I didn’t want to be busy, because bore-doom needed to be avoided. Unfortunately, this, like my phone and napping, no longer kept those emotions nicely suppressed.

So now, I have this medicine that is helping me feel like a human being again…and the truth is, I’m not sure I want to be human being. It’s hard! I prefer zombie mode.

But I’m sitting with it, sticking with it, not running. Gently pressing into this wealth of feeling and trying not to be overcome. I wait for the shoe to drop with the next wave of unfamiliar emotions, the nerves in my stomach tightening with the sensation of butterflies.

The butterflies will pass. The pain/fear/anger/sadness or whatever emotion will come.

Then, it will pass. The feelings will pass. I will still be here.

Yes, I can handle this. I think…

Candidly,

Ash

Hang-ups and Issues

Maybe if I sit down and write here, then the anxiety will go away.

It’s debilitating. I have had it all day. Shortness of breath. Inability to sit still. Inability to choose a task. Catastrophic thinking. Stop.

I want to talk about the catastrophic thinking.

Damn, I’m good at it.

On my way to Panera Bread, I was almost convinced that if I ordered Mac ‘n Cheese, then I would have a terrible time writing, wouldn’t get my favorite table and would have to leave early. All because of Mac ‘n Cheese.

I didn’t order Mac ‘n Cheese.

Thankfully, it wasn’t to avoid some fictional catastrophe in my head. I ordered something else to be healthy. Maybe. Maybe that’s just what I’m telling myself.

Maybe I don’t really need to analyze this.

I’m a stellar catastrophizer. Catastrophizer isn’t a word.

It should be.

Definition? Ashley.

I literally agonized over the decision on where to write.

I have a few haunts. I drove around aimlessly for 35 minutes trying to dismantle the catastrophes associated with each place. I finally worked through (I think) my Mac ‘n Cheese catastrophe well enough to force myself in the building and to the table.

Now I sit here.

What to write? Besides my obvious hang-ups.

Well, sometimes hang-ups are all writers have. They make good plot lines.

In fiction.

In reality? They look a little crazy.

Candidly,

ASh

Learning is Enough

I don’t know what it is about a toddler that just sucks the life out of me. Actually, toddlers aren’t so bad as long as you stick to an exact routine, never leave the house and always give them what they want.

Let’s face it though – that’s not happening.

Today, I’m worn out from yesterday. We attended a four hour pool party with the toddler. Basically, that is my definition of hell. Maybe its my propensity for anxiety, but I’m terrified the child will drown. Add in that he seems to have no fear of anything and that alone could do me in. Added to all of this was the wonderful opportunity to meet new people. This was a kick-off party for the school year. You know, where everyone knows someone and they are reunited. Unless you are brand new, in which case, you get to meet everyone for the first time…in a swimsuit.

Because we all have so much confidence when wearing a swimsuit.

It was {not} great.

My nerves were on edge the whole time. I tried to stick to my health plan. I felt really proud at the beginning when I ate fruit, veggies and humus instead of fried chicken. Then, the bastards, I mean really awesome planner people that I love, brought out brownies and cookies. After consuming a brownie, I realized I had ventured into stress eating to cope with the environs. I pressed on for another hour, but eventually gave up and we went home early.

I’m not proud of how I handled my anxiety. It occurred to me on the way home that not once did I deep breathe or use any of the coping mechanisms I’ve learned. I knew the day would be stressful and not aligned with my health plan, but did I take any steps to prepare?

Nope, not one.

But I’m learning.

Sometimes, it has to be enough to just learn from an experience. I struggle to let it be, but I’m working on it this time around.

Next time?

I’ll set a timer on my phone to take a break in the bathroom every half hour to breathe. I’ll bring a treat that is on my health plan so that I’m not tempted by brownies and cookies. I might even see if someone else can take the tiger, I mean toddler, for the day.

Yes, sometimes learning has to be enough. After all, if I’m not learning, then how am I evolving and growing?

Good things to remember.

Candidly,

Ash

The Fiction Surrounding Addiction

I remember in fifth grade learning about addiction. Instantly it was villainized. Unfortunately, the majority of D.A.R.E. programs simply inspire anxiety and fear. Don’t get me wrong, I’d prefer my kid not get addicted to drugs.

I also don’t want them to live in constant fear of being one of the statistics or horror stories their guidance counselor showed them.

Somewhere there is balance, I believe.

Interestingly enough, D.A.R.E. was not my first experience with addiction.

Watching my mom drink Diet Coke was.

Today, I sooooo get my mom. I’m addicted to Mountain Dew. How do I know this? The moment things go wrong, the moment stress supercedes my ability to cope? I stop for a 32 ounce.

Now, there are much worse things to which I could be addicted. There are worse coping mechanisms.

That doesn’t make my addiction any less harmful. Other addictions might be more harmful. It doesn’t change that I am addicted and it hurts me.

Comparison is the Thief of Compassion

There is a quote from someone somewhere that goes like this…

Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I would venture to say its also the thief of compassion. Comparison allows me to lie to myself about the problems I have. Its easier to ignore my problems when I can say they are not as bad as someone else’s. In reverse, I also can destroy myself comparing how awful my problem is.

More than all of this though, it’s really easy for me to think I’m better than someone else simply because my addiction is legal.

The fiction surrounding addiction is this:

It can’t happen to me.

Now that is a myth. It can happen to anyone and chances are many of us would be able to say we are addicted to something or another. When you boil it down, addiction isn’t this giant, scary thing.

Addiction is a coping mechanism gone awry.

This is what I know for sure…

I am very fortunate that the worst thing my mother did was drink a Diet Coke when she felt tired, in pain or stressed. Had it been something else – something like heroin?My life would be very different.

Addiction definitely comes down to choices, but it also comes down to how pain and stress were handled in our homes as children.

The choices made in my home when I was a child have made all the difference.

Candidly,

Ash