Disorganized Memories

Yesterday, I tried writing about a time in our lives when our finances were a huge mess. We lost our house, moved to a tiny apartment and started over. Yet, I struggled to summon memories from this time in my life.

That’s when it occurred to me that I have some unprocessed pain. My brain is clearly trying to protect me from the pain of remembering, but what if I don’t want to be protected anymore? What if I want to explore this and learn from it, process it? How do I break through to the memories?

I think part of the process is just recognizing that the block is there, keeping me from something. It’s frustrating though, because I want to wade through this in an organized manner. I want to get to the other side of it and see the lessons learned, the final outcome.

Life’s troubles aren’t processed that way though.

They come in patches and glimpses, minutiae and pieces. Our job is to sit with each little thing and work through it until the next thing comes.

Man, that sucks.

Candidly,

Ash

Honor the Girl Inside

I used to push through things. Difficult things. Easy things. Dwelling on problems or negatives didn’t solve anything. I had to keep going.

After my stay in the hospital that all changed. In therapy, I was able to recognize that part of the reason I wanted to end it all was that I had pushed through things too many times. I was living a life that I didn’t want.

For most of the time since then, going on four years, my goal has been to listen to myself and honor the things I feel. For several years, this meant waking up to suicidal thoughts, sharing them with my husband and him staying home or calling a friend to stay with me. It hasn’t been an easy road.

These days, I don’t wake with suicidal thoughts very often. I believe a steady practice of listening to myself has helped me create a life I want to live.

Like (probably) many people, I still have days when I wake up without motivation, not wanting to do the things the day requires of me. Today was one of those days. It has me walking around sad, consuming caffeine to feel strong and equipped for the next thing. It hurts to push myself, but maybe sometimes that is okay?

Harder than pushing myself is discovering what I need, because it feels incredibly like something is missing. So I go through the motions and I try to listen to the sway of my feelings, while still keeping up with the day. I find this to be infinitely harder than the pushing onward.

Honoring the girl inside.

THAT is the real struggle in these days.

Sepia-toned Rainbows

I worry that my medication affects my ability to write. It has me so stable that I don’t feel those highs and lows anymore. I miss them. I never thought I would miss those vicious swings, but I do.

The rational part of me says this stability is a good thing. I really can’t argue with her. She points out things like functioning well and making good decisions. She tries to remind me that I wanted to die so badly that a lot of times I needed someone with me. She has lots of good points.

Then there is the side of me that feels things. I don’t want to call it the irrational side, because I don’t think feeling is irrational. She says to observe my life and see if I notice the beautiful things just as much as the difficult things. I don’t. I see glasses half empty all around. She says to pause and see if you can sit in silence doing nothing. I can’t. She says to whisper sweet nothings and play with the children. I can’t.

I believe this is the point where maybe someone who is bi-polar considers going off the medication or cutting back.

It’s so hard to live life in sepia tones when you’ve been full spectrum for so long.

Perhaps this is the hard part of being diagnosed at 34 years old. I have lived a good amount of life in the struggle and in the beautiful. What if stable isn’t what I want? What if I want the ups and downs?

What if I can’t have them?

Candidly,

Ash

Small Hurts, Big Lessons

I scratched my eye.

It hurts and waters and, in general, makes life miserable. Who would have thought that something so small could make such big waves in my life?

This reminds me that even our smallest hurts, pains and fears must be recognized and felt. Like the splinter that is never removed, they can become infected and an even larger pain.

I think this is part of what happened with me. I never attended to the small hurts and pains in life. I think of the disappointment I’ve often felt in myself, how I didn’t want to feel it. Instead I became angry with myself as a way to mask the pain, but this only made the pain greater.

My therapist once described it as hurting myself, then taking out a hammer and hitting myself again.

Pain on top of pain.

I think disappointment with myself has been the most difficult small pain in my life. The hardest thing to sit with and feel.

I’m still learning, but I need these reminders. Reminders not to belittle myself, to feel the pain and let it guide me.

Because pain can be a guide.

Pointing us toward change, showing us our sensitivities, teaching us what works and doesn’t work.

Yes, the scratch may hurt, but I’ve learned not to wear my contacts for months on end. I’ve learned to give my eye a break so it can be healthy.

Maybe I can feel the scratches to my heart, but learn to take care of myself in a greater way.

Candidly,

Ash

Lessons from Nature

Today, I tried to be in nature.

I’m reading this book about re-enchanting your everyday life. Everyday has seemed boring and mundane lately so it sounded like a good title. The book suggested being in nature so I tried to take to the back porch while I wrote my goals this morning. Three giant spiders later, I found myself on the front porch instead.

I’m not sure I like nature.

Nature is not controlled. I can’t control it. Our yard is evidence of my relationship with nature. We literally have weeds five feet tall out back, because, well, my 14 inch mower won’t tame the 1 acre yard. I mean, it would if  I spent 14 hours mowing each week. You can guess, I’m sure, that never happens.

Yet, that’s not all. I don’t love the creepy crawly things and I’m allergic to most trees. Literally, I’m allergic to 14 trees, plus ragweed and every other common plant on earth.

Nature and I are not friends.

Perhaps I spent too long in the suburbs.

This book I’m reading says that nature has something to teach us, if we only take the time to listen. The lesson nature is trying to teach me?

Go hide inside.

Or perhaps it has more to do with control and standards that I impose. You see, growing up in the suburbs, lawns were finely manicured, weeds exterminated. This is just one example of the standards I have for nature, which I’m finding are rather unreasonable. Perhaps if I let go of the perfect suburb ideal, I may find more acceptance for the overgrown areas on our acre.

Deeper still, perhaps it is time to relinquish the control I desire, but cannot have. Perhaps the lesson here with the spiders is becoming okay with the creepy crawlies of life, because they do exist and are out of my sphere-of-control. Perhaps learning to sit next to the things which make me uncomfortable is the real lesson nature teaches me.

I just wish, metaphorically and physically, those spiders weren’t so big.

Candidly,

Ash

Facing Resentment

You know when the person next to you can do nothing right? I mean, they are just driving you nuts with whatever they are doing – chewing loudly, tapping their feet, etc.

Turns out that says more about you than it does about them.

Exhibit A.

Me.

Lately, my husband could do nothing right in my eyes. Poor man. For weeks, I’ve walked around with a chip on my shoulder, resentment and a bit of irritation to go with it.

You see, I was feeling resentful, because he has two college degrees and I do not. I helped put him through college for one of those degrees and so I felt there should be something to show for it (monetarily). I also felt bitter, because I don’t have a degree and that seemed unfair since I helped him get one.

The truth is that all of this resentment wouldn’t work out of my system. I tried processing it, feeling it deeply, trying art to work it out of my system. Yet, it still kept rising up. I was beginning to give up hope when it suddenly dawned on me.

Maybe I don’t resent him so much as I resent myself.

All of the angst, the bitterness, the short fuse – wouldn’t go away because I wasn’t really angry at him. I was angry at myself.

For not succeeding. For failing. For not finishing a million times. For not doing what it takes.

Because as much as the shit is his, it is also mine. We don’t make a lot of money as a couple, because I don’t contribute. And I sort of hate myself for that.

I also know, deep down, that living is more important than trying, succeeding and the rest. For me, a job is probably too stressful to manage on top of my current responsibilities of being an Evan-guru, mom to three others and mentally-ill (but stable) person.

I wonder if now that I know the resentment is towards myself, if I can process it and be less god damn irritable….

Because that would sure be nice.

Candidly,

Ash

 

Part of Being Human

Let’s face it – rejection pretty much always hurts. I applied for a job recently that I didn’t even want. Big surprise – I didn’t get it. (Can’t imagine why….)

It still hurt! Even though I didn’t want it. Maybe especially because I didn’t want it.

The reality is I often go for things I don’t want so that I can fill a whole that I don’t know how to fill.

It’s that void thing I talk about all of the time.

Searching for meaning, purpose, etc.

I often think affirmation will fill that void so I do things to please others or try for things I don’t really want, hoping I’ll get that little bit of affirmation.

If affirmation filled the void, then I think mine would be full. I do have people who love me and affirm me. try to affirm myself.

Why haven’t I learned that people pleasing and even self-affirming don’t fill the void? Why do I keep completing the same types of circles in my life? When will I learn?

I’m probably being too hard on myself. Sigh.

There is a part of me that says The Void isn’t meant to be filled by anything other than God. That is the way I was raised. Unfortunately, in years of seeking God, I still have this emptiness.

I suppose maybe it is because I have bi-polar disorder, but I know other people who feel the void too – and they don’t have bipolar disorder.

What is the void, this emptiness?

Maybe its just humanity.

Candidly,

Ash