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Apr. 14th, 2009

sakura

Hey Readers!

Hey trusty readers (all like 3 of you...) -
I'm moving. I've been trying to maintain several different blogs for a while now, and I think I'm just going to integrate them all into one platform. So, if you want the address to the new blog, put your contact info in the comments and I'll redirect you!

Happy Tuesday!

Apr. 8th, 2009

sakura

Step One

Working through this whole loss issue is really sucking. I think the hardest part is that the people you expect to be there for you really aren't there for you...or if they are, they don't know how to be there for you so it's a vicious cycle. I remember being on the other end of this several times, so I get it. And part of me does work through things better alone. But this one I want to work through with partner, who has decided to be shockingly absent during the process. It also doesn't help that his friends are basically encouraging him to avoid the issue and run away from it rather than deal with it (and promoting poor choices and decision making while they're at it). So once again, I find myself utterly alone.

I've been going to counseling and it helps, but not enough to sustain me for more than a few days. All of the energy I have is used up making it seem like I'm okay on the outside just to fall apart when I'm at home. And looking at your phone wanting to call people but not knowing what to say, or looking at your LJ page not knowing what to write is painful. More often than not, it's the night that sucks the most -- and by the time I know I need to talk to someone, it's late and I don't want to be a bother.

So today I decided to do something about this and find a better support system - I went to my first "grief share" group. It's a whole bunch of people also dealing with loss, and they walk you through all the seven stages of grief, etc. It was actually really helpful!! We talked about the "emotion knot" today, which is basically the feeling like you have too many emotions going on at once to deal with any one at one time, so you get overwhelmed and start reacting to things out of sorts. I think I already went through my serious denial phase, but now I'm hitting all the complicated anger emotions - bitterness, abandonment, rage, vindictiveness, helplessness, envy of all the other people who have perfectly healthy children. We also talked about some of the physical symptoms of grief that manifest - like memory loss (I seriously forget things such as what my seniors are doing their research projects on or that I was supposed to turn off the highway to get home only to find I'm 20 miles north of where I was supposed to turn) and exhaustion. In a lot of ways, I connected with the group (most of whom had lost children or a spouse) because it was comforting to have people who were not trivializing my experience and also have those who understand that an absent spouse while dealing with these things is almost harder than the loss itself.

Trick is...they always meet on Wednesdays, and I usually have class on Wednesday (I just didn't today because my students were working on something). Of course, class is only three more weeks...and the coordinator there suggested another group that uses the same curriculum at a different church, so I might be able to go on a different night somewhere else. In all though, it was worth it just for the chance to cry and not feel stupid in front of people and the whole book of daily exercises to help work through grief. Plus, they served a pretty good dinner.

Apr. 7th, 2009

sakura

Spring Time's Back

The blooming of cherry blossoms is always my favorite part of spring. They opened just in time for my sister's wedding this weekend - and the weather cooperated too. Overall, the wedding went well, but I am exhausted. My sister doesn't really "plan" things all that well, so the entire weekend was a whirl-wind run of me troubleshooting problems. I got to see some old friends, estranged family, and meet the new Greek in-laws. Our side of the family was all "peace out!" after dinner, and the Greeks stayed to shut the night down. It was pretty funny. But the entire fiasco reminded me why I agreed to marry partner, and we were able to get a couple moments where no one was asking us to do anything to enjoy each others' company. Plus, my nieces are super cute. The awkward conversations were the ones with people who had somehow heard I was pregnant but not heard that I'm not anymore. Luckily for me, I was too busy to get upset over it (and come to think of it, too busy to even take advantage of the open bar).

So yesterday I returned to my regularly scheduled life...and while there isn't a whole lot on my plate this week, it's all important stuff. Unfortunately, I'm so exhausted I don't even want to get started on it - I just want to go back to bed! Hopefully a shower and some caffeine will shake me from my apathy. To be honest, I'm still a little freaked out about last night's episode of House. Not sure who all watches it here, so if you don't want a spoiler, you should stop reading. It was a brilliantly written episode, and given that I follow spoilers and TV gossip like no other, I was surprised I hadn't heard anything about the major plot twist that occurred.

One of the main characters (House's intern Kutner) commits suicide - and it's not in a way you've ever seen suicide done on TV. It's sudden and unexpected, cold and painful. We've all been given the narrative where there's a clear cry for help and someone just doesn't listen (in order to teach us to listen better)...but to the characters, there was no such cry. If you think over the past few episodes, there were moments in retrospect that make sense as a potential cry for help, but it wasn't nearly pronounced enough to draw attention from the focus of the episode. The entire episode chronicles the staffs' attempts to make sense of his death, and their guilt for being unaware of his unhappiness. Several times, they commented that he always seemed just fine - that he had everything together - to the point that House denies that it is a suicide, claiming that he must have been murdered. Wilson confronts him about how not seeing the signs was taking a toll on House because he believes he is losing his edge to see complex mysteries and solve them prior to the crisis. It was jarring and emotionally disturbing, making you worry about anyone you've known who seems like they have all the pieces put together. It even made me worry about myself. Apparently, the next few episodes will continue to push boundaries, and if they are at all as haunting as this one, I'm in for more emotionally disturbing Mondays.


Mar. 31st, 2009

sakura

Nervous...

I just submitted an application for a position that would move me in a new direction for the next stage of my career goals post-tenure. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I seriously have spent over 20 hours on the cover letter in the last week or so. Very happy to have that off my plate.

In other news, I have a cold. It sucks, especially since this week is crazy busy for me! Good news, I got paid today! Bad news, tax lady called and said I'm going to owe the government money. Damn it! I was just getting ahead. *sigh*
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Mar. 29th, 2009

sakura

Situations

Over the past year, I have been struggling. One thing I have been working on to improve these struggles is distancing myself from situations that were not healthy for me. There were many points where caring individuals intervened and let me know that I was doing something unhealthy and should work to eliminate that kind of toxicity and stress from my life. I'm not perfect at it, but I'm much better than I was...and I'm glad for those people telling me that I was losing it (and offering helpful advice to move forward). It's incredibly frustrating to be in a situation where you see people you care about put themselves in bad situations and make bad choices.

Today, I'm on the other side of the coin. People I care about are making some pretty terrible choices. I keep trying to say something but it doesn't seem to get through, or I'm avoided, or I'm simply dismissed on some sort of prior fault that somehow makes me incapable of having an unbiased view of the situation. But I'm seeing things pretty clearly -- and despite my best efforts, I'm starting to think it's just one of those situations where I have to let them screw it up to the point that things are unsalvagable. And that is what it will be - a complete train wreck that will pretty much kill everything. In order for me to survive, I've spent several months staying out of the way, focusing on improving my own situation and moving forward even after all of the trauma of the past six months. I cannot control the actions of others, but I can set limits for myself in terms of what I can and cannot accept/tolerate.

Mar. 27th, 2009

sakura

Crash & Burn

I really should be trying to plow through work this afternoon, but I just can't seem to bring myself to do it. So maybe dumping the stuff on my brain will help clear it out so I can read some more papers (they aren't very good and I keep getting distracted by things that seem like more fun, but are really me just killing time).

My life should not be as complicated as it is...and I'm annoyed by it. I'm tired of my meandering 20s, ready to be settled into 30something. But it doesn't help when most of the people closest to you aren't on the same page. And it really sucks when you see something happening that repeats something that totally sucked about your 20s but there seems to be nothing you can do to stop the train wreck. So although things aren't entirely derailed, I'm ready to cash in my chips and move to another table to see if the deck will be nicer to me with the cards. But I also DON'T want to do that. It's so frickin' annoying. I could write more but I just don't even think it would help at this point. Guess this wasn't as successful as I thought it might be when I started trying to write.

Mar. 21st, 2009

sakura

First Day of Spring

I'm always excited when the first day of spring rolls around, but it always brings a cloud of sadness. On this day 30 years ago, my older sister drowned. Thirty years. It's crazy to think about it now seeing as with everything I just went through losing my first child, my parents have been opening up more about her death and they are faced with the 30 year mark. In general, it's a pretty sad day for me and I don't like to be alone, but given a few twists I was unaware of until recently, I will be spending the majority of the day alone.

I'm sure I could call friends or something, but at the same time, I feel like my isolationism the past couple months has left my friends kind of confused. I haven't really shared what's been going on with too many of my RLF because I just can't deal with the pity faces and "Oh I'm so sorry" or the conversely cheery, "Well, it could have been worse!" conversation...and these are the only conversations people really know how to have with you when you drop big news like that. I finally got back out this week to karaoke and was reminded how great my karaoke friends really are -- no matter what people think, they are the best, hands down. They're kind of like the friends in Good Will Hunting...there for you when you need them, but you don't need to spend a bunch of time talking about depressing crap...the focus is on having a good time and living in the moment (things I don't naturally do well). One of them mentioned this week that beach house week is ON for May (I went with him last year) and that I'm invited to come down again this year. It just so happens, it falls on the only week I could do it in May, so I'm totally going. This time I will try not to have strep throat so that I can actually enjoy the whole week instead of only two days and even those on anti-biotics.

Anyway, my sister -- so, sometimes I have dreams where my sister talks to me. My counselor says this is a manifestation of my subconscious (or if you believe that angels can show up in your dreams, that's one way to take it too...my take is it's probably somewhere in between) trying to bring forward things that need to be addressed. The past week she's been showing up with a baby saying that Elliott will be okay and that I'm meant to move on (yeah, that was probably the name if it had been a boy). She also cautioned against being in toxic situations which I guess can be taken a number of ways -- I'm assuming interpersonal, but there are some work related things that might also apply. So sleep has been kind of stressful yet peaceful.

Every year on this day (my younger sister and I joke that it's a "deathday" rather than a birthday when we're in a particularly inappropriate mood) I take stock of where I'm at in my life and wonder if where I am now would make my sister proud. If I could talk to her about all of the things that had happened to me in the last year, what kind of advice would she give me? And of course, I assume my sister would have been brilliant and insightful and know me so well that she could nail all of these things without really needing to think it over...but this year I think the following are the pieces of advice she would give me:

1) You can't control life so stop trying. Because of the nature of your career and its reliance on strategy and planning, you often take that same approach to your entire life. Sometimes you just can't control what's happening around you and that's okay. When you can't control something, quit letting it bother you so much and give yourself a break. You can't force yourself to feel something you don't, and you can't force yourself to stop feeling something you do. Relax.

2) People are always going to let you down, but they are always going to surprise you. When you have one person you expect to act or react a certain way doesn't act that way and hurts your feelings, you will always be surprised at the person you never thought would be helpful who comes through in the end. That's the beauty of having a social network that is deep and wide. Case in point, some of the best advice I've received this semester has been from my two of my students who have never been pregnant, barely know anyone who's pregnant, and have absolutely no concept of what life at 30 is really like and from one of my karaoke friends who's an army guy who barely says two words of serious stuff in a conversation.

3) Stop feeling like you need to "fix" yourself. Balance has never been my strong suit...particulalry since I have relied so much on others to help shape and construct my identity. I don't want to do it any more. I don't want to feel like I need to be "fixed" by some kind of drug or counseling or new situation. I am who I am and that's just me. If anything, I should be reveling in my accomplishments and planning next steps while at the same time enjoying the free time I have to make art, sing, or whatever I want to do...not spending my free time analyzing what I need to do to fix myself in order to be this "better" "more interesting" "more caring" person that I seem not to be. Sometimes, I really am just like House...and that's okay. I know enough to know not to act like that on a regular basis, but there is something liberating to not feeling like my "House" side is this evil, bad, ugly thing that needs to be purged. It's part of who and what I am.

So, I'm off to see what today brings me on my own. I think I'll do a little work, maybe call my dad and see where my Saturday goes from there.

Mar. 18th, 2009

sakura

And so, or so, and so...

I feel like I haven't written here in ages even though it's only been a few days. Mostly, I've been busy -- throwing myself back into the daily grind of work is keeping me motivated. I'm trying to get to a point where I simply don't worry about things so much any more. There's only so much I can do. I think the past couple years have been hard for me because I hit bottom of what I would call my self-critical streak. This thread was always there in my life, but I think it became exasperated by the demands of grad school, my job, and some close relationships that made me start to question my self-worth at a very deep level. And for some reason, post-beach weekend, the clouds have cleared.

Some of my friends who were on anti-depressants before talk about waking up and just feeling like the weight of depression had be lifted. I was on those drugs for almost a year and never felt any better - but this week I have been feeling better. And it's odd because at any other point where I might be feeling better, I'd notice that people around me were upset or depressed or having a hard time and then I'd take that and internalize it until I didn't feel good again. So in a way, this week I've noticed that I'm just ignoring anything outside of myself that might be depressing. I see the cues, but I just don't care to interact with them. This is really weird for me because generally I'm very in tune with people who aren't feeling the greatest...or even in tune with what might happen next that will be depressing for me. But I kind of hit this wall where I just don't care -- and I'm not sure how to feel about that.

The feeling of not caring is actually freeing, but at the same time quite scary. I don't know if any of my reader folks watch Brothers and Sisters, but this week one of the story lines about one character emphasized that when she doesn't feel like fighting any more, or doesn't feel like expressing herself, then you know she's given up on something (the show was in the context of her relationship with her husband, but I think it can apply more generally). And I don't know that the kind of detachment that I'm feeling at the moment is a good thing, but I do know it makes my day to day life a lot easier to deal with. Maybe that makes me a mean, insensitive person. I feel like part of why I try to be so in-tune with other peoples' feelings is that I spent a large part of time growing up feeling like no one cared about my feelings. Maybe it's the fight with my bro/SIL, maybe it's my impatience with students, but I just don't care. If you don't care about my feelings, I don't have to care about yours. And even if you do, I may not need to care about your feelings at this moment in time. Or something like that.

Wow - I totally didn't know that was going to come out when I started writing. I'm trying this new approach to blogging where I just let my emotions out without editing them or really thinking too much about them first. We'll see how that continues to progress...

Mar. 13th, 2009

sakura

Oh yeah...

And...I forgot this part...even if you think I didn't have a baby so I shouldn't be upset, it's insensitive of you to say it to my face. This is why many of the things I just put in that last post are things I would never say to your face because they would *hurt your feelings*! If someone is upset about something, even if you don't agree with their perception, if you care about them you don't throw it in their face that you think they're being stupid and then hold up your two healthy kids as the reason why you can't deal with me. And then you certainly don't stand on some made up moral high ground about how you have to make sure your opinion is heard. Sometimes your opinion isn't the issue.

In other good news, the OB appointment went really well. The doc says I'm healing nicely and that everything looks fine. She even commented that I have "healthy, almost overactive" ovaries, and she has absolutely no concerns that I will not be able to go on to have a healthy pregnancy in the future. So that's good news! The question will be -- when will I be ready to try that again? Especially since the adorable couple my age with the not more than two year old boy sitting next to me in the waiting area found out on their ultrasound that they are having a girl. They were pretty excited. It was weird to be excited for them one second and then almost crying the next and then excited for them again to literally crying about what appeared to be nothing to them the next. *sigh* Embarrassing. More embarrassing - continuing to cry in front of my doctor knowing full well that she's not a therapist. She was very nice about it and quite understanding, which makes me SO glad I switched practices. I'm never going back to the other place again.

sakura

Vent

So - good news, the beach was fantastic -- I REALLY needed some time away from life next to the ocean to put things into perspective. Probably overdid it on the alcohol, but that's what happens when my sister and I want to party. I've also had a successful couple days back to work -- actually getting large tasks off my plate and moving forward on a few things. Setbacks include my follow up OB appointment today which will take most of the morning and *accidentally* dropping my computer out of a window. Partner is trying to fix the computer, but it will probably take all weekend which is part of why I've been so MIA lately.

But this morning I need to vent, and that's what I have this blog for, so if you don't want to read venting, stop now. It's like a choose your own adventure blog day.

SO - Sister in Law still has not called to apologize, but I did talk to my brother yesterday. And basically, my brother asked me to pick up the phone and call her to apologize. This is big coming from my brother - the guy who when you ask, what do you need for Christmas? and his wife says, oh, he needs jeans, he says, "but babe! I already have a pair of jeans." A pair. Singular. He's a minimalist kind of guy who never asks for anything. So asking me in this case most likely means he's spent the past week asking his wife to call me and she's being a stubborn bitch about it. Personally, I think if you hang up on someone, it's your responsibility to call them and start the apology conversation. Calling doesn't indicate that *everything* you said was wrong, but rather that you acknowledge that you ended the conversation poorly and are ready to talk about it. Especially since the last thing you said was, I'm not going to waste another minute of my daughters' lives talking to you.

The tricky part for me is that I love me nieces, although I think my brother is kind of an asshole sometimes and I now have a less than favorable opinion of his wife. And basically, the conversation with my brother boiled down to "if you don't apologize, you won't be able to be in the girls' life." So...I probably will suck it up and call, but in the spirit of not bottling my emotions (because that is what I will have to do in order to get through that conversation), I'm going to vent them here.

A) Both of you are assholes. In the past three years of your childrens' lives, I have sent birthday, Christmas, and all other means of holiday cards/presents. You're railing on about how you want family to be involved in your kids' lives. I've been more than involved - I've been like super aunt. And you? You didn't bother to send a card, or even call or text when it was my birthday (or partner's for that matter). You didn't bother to send Christmas presents this year because you were too busy to go to the post office. I spent two hours in line mailing packages to your kids. In my world, that's about $100 of my time. You could at least acknowledge this effort by not being assholes.

B) I have rearranged my work schedule to be more convenient for you to travel with two young kids because I acknowledge that my time is more flexible. I've spent tons of money traveling to visit you in Far Away State because you don't have money to make the trip to see me. Or at least that's your logic. Well - I'm fucking sick of it. This whole rhetoric of "it's easier for you" to travel, make plans, etc. is bullshit. I get that having kids is difficult, but it doesn't give you the right not to recognize that reorganizing my life is difficult. When you say February is the best month for us to get together, I have to reorganize a shit ton of stuff to get a weekend off -- that's the worst month of spring semester for me to travel besides April. March? Not too bad - spring break helps. February and April? Near impossible. But of course, your logic is that my work is portable, and I complete it at all hours of the day, so it's not like I have to take "vacation" time or anything. Can you at least acknowledge that my work is difficult? That in order to take that time, I need to work 14-16 hour days for a couple weeks in order to be enough ahead of the game to take that time? Or that I am sacrificing a week of solid, no distraction research/writing time in the summer to visit your kids?

C) Quit lecturing me on my "glass is half empty" mentality and how it's no way to live life. The nature of my work - my entire being is tied up in this. Does that mean I'm never positive? No. Does it mean that I'm never fun? No. What it means is that my work is difficult, isolating, and highly internal, not to mention full of the kind of politics that necessitate looking at things in a glass-half-empty kind of way. Quit bitching at me for being an internal person. If I weren't an internal person, I wouldn't be so good at my damned job. If you can't understand these simple things about me, you are never going to know me.

D) If you don't want to know something, don't ask. When you say, "we really want to be involved in your life and know what's going on" I take that at face value. Don't turn it around and then say, "oh, that sounds crappy and is making me feel bad, so why don't you quit telling me bad stuff?" If you don't want to hear the crap, then you're not really my friends. Everyone has crap. Friends are there to help you through it. If you want me to be a fake person for you, fine. But here's the thing - I don't like being a fake person. I'm fake most of my day because my job is a performance contingent on people liking me. I don't have the luxury of coworkers that I can talk with crap about because I'm their senior colleague now and taking about crap is tacky when you're someone's senior. I'm also in charge of the lives of hoards of students who don't want to hear my crap because they need me to listen to their own. AND I STILL FIND TIME TO LISTEN TO YOUR CRAP. Even though I'm tapped out and exhausted, I still make time. Don't bitch at me that you're exhausted from dealing with your kids and that's why you can't take time to listen to me.

E) On that note, quit being helicopter parents and quit using your kids as an excuse. You haven't been to visit partner and I ONCE in the past five years we've lived here. We've been to Far Away State three separate times (and once I even helped you remodel your frickin' house), not to mention trips to Parent's house (which is substantially closer) for all holidays and weekends because it's easier for you to get there (usually on weekends that it's NOT easy for us to travel - like Labor Day when we DO actually have classes). Every time we suggest doing something, you say, "oh we can't because of the girls." When my parents or your family offers to watch them, you won't let them out of your sight. You refuse to get a babysitter. You hover over them all day every day. You don't even own a play pen because you feel like it's inhumane. You two are crazy parents and you're going to give both of your girls issues when they realize that they don't automatically get everyone's attention 24/7 and that sometimes they aren't allowed to do certain things. And when I try to talk to you about this, don't say I just don't understand because I don't have kids. I have plenty of friends with kids who figure out ways to work around the stress of having kids, take time off to relax, and STILL have time to be my friends, so quit fucking whining about how hard your life with two beautiful kids is.

Okay, I should stop -- I could probably go on for another hour, but that's the jist of it. Now I need to figure out ways to frame all that in a nice way so that I can get through the conversation...or I may just say it's all my fault and then never really talk to them about my life ever again since they apparently want me to be someone that I'm not and they are never going to change...so, what's the use really?

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sakura

April 2009

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