Tag Archives: Friendship

Clueless, Part Two


A while back I wrote an entry called Clueless about my inability to tell when people like me and want to be my friend. It’s not that I don’t have a lot of friends, it’s just that in some part of my mind I assume they’re there merely out of habit rather than desire. Which the rest of me knows is just fucked up and somewhat insulting to the people who do call me their friend.

It came up again the other day when someone very stressed out by finals said that they missed spending time with me and my daughter, and I remember feeling somewhat surprised that someone actually missed me, other than my daughter and husband. I mean, if people are my friends, then of course they would miss me when I’m not around or if they haven’t been able to see me for a while. It would be stupid (and again, insulting) to assume otherwise.

I don’t know why I do this, really. Enough time has passed between now and when I was incredibly insecure in my early 20s that I think I shouldn’t feel this way any more. I have achieved what I had sought for so long: to have a stable and long-lived community of friends, something my parents were never able to maintain. They couldn’t help but to offend people eventually, and the people they didn’t offend were just as fucked up as they were.

I need to work on appreciating my own worth. I’ve solved many other of my baggage issues, which is a fucking miracle considering how much of it I was hauling around. Seriously, if mental baggage had to be carried in something physical, I would have occupied an entire FedEx 747. I’m down to a small two-engine plane these days: just a few bags. One of the last ones, though, is the one marked “Poor Self Esteem”, destination code SOL. That’s a tough one. I have a mantra that I tell myself when I think I suck:

“I cannot suck.
I am surrounded by intelligent people who would
not spend time with someone who sucks.
Therefore, I cannot suck.”

It’s my personal Dune fear mantra (which is another fabulous one: I need to memorize it). I’ve told it to myself enough times that I think I suck much less than I used to, but it still needs tattooing on the inside of my eyelids, along with a Zen koan I recently read:

Let go or be dragged.

Amen. Perhaps I should see the baggage as being what’s in motion, rather than myself, and it’s dragging me along. Or flying the plane. That seems dangerous if I want to be mentally healthy. I wouldn’t let someone who’s delusional drive me around in a car: I shouldn’t let tenacious negative delusions drive my life.

Speaking of delusions, news on the headmeat front is fairly positive lately. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that the lithium went away last year (thank the gods) along with a couple of other meds that were causing skin and breathing problems (I like air, I’d like to have as much of it as possible, thank you very much). They were replaced by Lamictal and Ritalin, of all things. I used to think that disorders that “required” things like Ritalin were a bunch of trumped up hooey made up by teachers who just wanted a quiet classroom. I know differently now. Ritalin lets me focus and think. Without it, my mind meanders here and there, like that dog in “Up”.

“Squirrel!”

Recently I’ve added another: Saphris. Which unfortunately is incredibly expensive. Like $13 a pill (FUCK ME SIDEWAYS!!!), but unlike the other drugs in its class, it doesn’t cause severe sedation or weight gain (which is a misnomer: these drugs don’t cause weight gain, they cause uncontrollable munchies). Fortunately, it’s pretty new so the headmeat folks are still drowning in samples.  If I can float on samples for another year, I’ll be able to actually afford it since we’ll be done paying off an old debt. And I’ll probably keep taking it, because it’s outstanding at shutting off the constant mental chatter and musical jukebox going on in my brain (you only think you know what an earworm is like). A good friend calls it the Mental Dinner Party. Sometimes the guests are all happy and enjoying their meal and conversation. Other times they’re really angry and are throwing dishes and wine glasses at each other. Or knives, if it’s a really bad day (those are just analogies: I do not throw things at people). Saphris makes everyone get along.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get angry. But it’s a normal-in-the-way-others-get-angry sort of thing. It’s hard to describe how to tell the difference between good angry and bad angry. It’s a mental quality that’s impossible to tell someone about unless they’ve experienced it. It’s the difference between being in control, and being out of control. And the latter is very frightening, let me tell you. I’ll take anything that puts a lid on that happy horseshit.

On that note, I’m going back to working on my spiritual journal. It’s the most fun I’ve had creatively in a very long time.

Clearing


Yesterday I wrote about getting stuck on this one aspect of Spiritual Nomad: stripping down one’s altar. Seeing as how I have at least five, that was a confusing thing to figure out which one I should pick, or if I should strip ALL of them. I went with the latter choice. I cleaned up the yoga room so there would be space to put everything (wahahaha! as I would discover), and then one by one went to each altar, removed each deity, and lovingly cleaned it with a cloth dampened with a bit of wood polish and then a dry, soft toothbrush to get into all of the little nooks and crannies that are always on statues.

Before I did that, though, I took a picture of each and every altar and all of the surfaces that have nice things that *could* be used on an altar. There were more than ten places in the house! I had no idea there were so many. I’ve just gotten used to them: I’m surrounded by deities no matter where I go in the house. I didn’t know how many until I put them all in one place. Holy crap. There are multiples of each deity with the exception of Hekate, who really, really needs her own statue (I want this one: http://www.goddessgift.net/hecate-miller-RP-HEC.html), seeing as how she’s the patron goddess of our house. We also do not have a statue of Hestia or Hathor, who are goddesses of hearth and home, one from Greece and one from Egypt, respectively.

Who we do have is this: Lakshmi, Ganesha, Quan Yin, Ho-Tei, Kali, Shiva, the Green Man, Bast, Dragon and Turtle Dragon, Lucky Cat, Catrin y Catrina, and La Virgen de Guadalupe. Wow! With everyone standing side by side, I couldn’t help but notice that the figure of Quan Yin is almost identical to the figure of La Virgen de Guadelupe. I’m willing to bet that happens a lot between the deities of the world. Take Buddha and Jesus. Both left a mundane life to pursue higher spiritual goals. Both preached peace and love as the path to wisdom and freedom. I imagine it goes on and on. I don’t know enough about the actual people, Jesus and Siddhartha, to be able to do any more comparison.

I also gathered together all of the candles, wax and oil, and cleaned them off as well. I have a lot of really pretty stuff after all these years. I’ve accumulated these things in waves. I’ll acquire a bunch of things, then get rid of some. Then I’ll get another bunch, and I’ll refine the collection again. So on and so forth. I’m really happy with what I have. Putting everything all together, though, I see a few things that I realize don’t jibe with everything else in the house that I really love. Some of the items I touched yesterday positively radiated with energy, particularly as I gently cleaned each one off with the soft toothbrush, which seemed to be scrubbing away not only years of dust and dirt, but also muddled chi.

The chi of our house is generally pretty good, as evidenced by how many people come here and say, “I love your house, it’s so peaceful.” But even good chi can get confused with itself and wind up in a tangled mess, like a pretty necklace that wasn’t stored carefully. So I felt that I was removing the cobwebs, so to speak, and in doing so revealed each statue anew. I held each one and carefully considered it as I cleaned it, especially their faces. I remembered where I had gotten each one, or if someone had given it to me, who it was and what they meant to me. Most of them had good memories associated, though a few had unhappy memories attached to them. Not because of anything that happened regarding that actual object, but because the relationship with whomever had given me that object had dissolved in the ensuing years.

Regardless, each received the same careful attention. When they were all lined up on the table, I surveyed the entire collection as a whole. I have never put all of my statues in one place like that before. The energy was so interesting, but not disharmonious whatsoever. It was easy to tell which things didn’t belong any longer, though. Those things are no less sacred: they just don’t match up with the energy of everything else. So I will try to gift those things properly so that they have a home where they will be properly loved.

Today I tackle everything else on the altars. The deities took the most time since there are more of them than anything else. But there still remain the incense holders and burners along with any other significant objects that live on the altars, like my triquetra medallion for Hekate or my skull mala beads from India. A cool thing from yesterday was rediscovering my ankle bells! They were around Lakshmi’s neck. She was happy to have them off, though. They had gotten very dirty with dust over the years, and as I took them off and cleaned them I could feel her energy build and even out, like an engine reaching its sweet spot. She is nearly as important a goddess around here as Hekate is. She deserved special treatment. 🙂

As an aside, I can’t help but notice that every time I finish a 750 Words entry, it takes me to an analysis page where it tells me my typing speed, how long it took to write, and other mundane statistics. But it also tells me what sorts of things I was writing about and how I felt, along with telling me if I was focused on myself, others as a whole, or another person specifically. I notice that as I write about working through Spiritual Nomad, the observations of my posts have been much more positive and extroverted than usual. Instead of being a mix of all kinds of good and bad things (often more negative than positive), they’re definitively upbeat. I think I should take note of that considering this is the first time I have truly focused on my spirituality in a very long time.

Refining


I’m up waaaaay too early for a day off. Especially after last week. I put in a lot of extra time at work last week for side projects. So I’m more tired today than usual.

Aaaand it might have something to do with not only going back to karate for the first time in six months (dear god I’m never doing THAT again), but also spending about eight solid hours cleaning out my garage with my husband yesterday. Consequently, just about every single muscle in my body hurts at some level or another. That’s okay, it’s kind of nice to feel evidence of moving around intensely for a while. I’m going to do it more often. It’s fun.  Karate that is.  Not cleaning out the garage.

Speaking of the garage, holy shit. We haven’t given the garage a thorough flensing in several years, so there was a lot of…stuff built up along the sides of the garage and then piled in a second layer towards the middle of the garage, leaving mountains alongside a narrow, and getting narrower, valley between them going from the inner kitchen door to the garage door. It was getting dangerous out there, never mind not actually being able to find or store anything any longer.

So out it all went into the driveway. We moved the mountains in reverse order into the driveway, but separating them into keep and discard piles. The keep pile was further filtered as it all went back into the garage, which we spent at least two hours actually *cleaning* and taking almost everything off of the shelves so everything could be grouped with their similar companions.  There was a lot of dust, cobwebs, and swearing, but also laughter, particularly when I decided to test the fire extinguisher IN the garage, resulting in a strange splot of sulfur dust on the floor.  That was entertaining.  Anyway, the result of our work was astonishing. We can actually find things now. There are a few areas and boxes that need going through and sorting, but overall it’s awesome.

Then we spent another two hours on the discard pile. Several boxes of house miscellany were put together along with an old computer, an old laser printer, and a few other larger items. The rest was trash or recycling. There are now four lawn and leaf bags full of trash and a mighty pile of recycling, not to mention the moderate pile of stuff that will go out in two weeks for bulky trash day. Sheesh. It was so great to filter through over thirteen years of stuff and get rid of a substantial portion of it that was useless, duplicated, or otherwise undesirable. Now it’s all sitting in a tidy and very large pile of boxes and such at the end of the driveway, awaiting a trip to Goodwill. I don’t have garage sales anymore. They’re a pain in the ass; not worth the effort for what little money one usually gets.

We found lots of stuff while we were cleaning, too. My husband likes to keep old electronic gadgets and measuring devices. He ran across a whole pile of scientific calculators and other stuff that only mad scientists like, including a magnetron from a microwave. Don’t ask. I found a bunch of aquarium stuff and got it all grouped together. We also found some media archives we had forgotten about, mostly magazines and other publications from our pagan/magick days. That stuff’s totally worth keeping for a walk down memory lane someday. I even found some stuff for the spawn in the form of cute little boxes. She loves them. So do I, so I guess she comes by it honestly (now that I think about it, that phrase doesn’t make any sense at all: I’m not sure why we use it).

Now that the garage has been cleaned, exposing the last boxes of my grandmother’s things, I can finally go through them, along with six boxes of papers, and finish up that four-year-old project. I need to send some things to the family that my grandmother was friends with and who took care of her during her last year. I’m ashamed that I have not been in much contact since then, but it was quite an experience to have to go out there to Orange County, pack up all of her stuff in two days, and then haul it all back to Texas by myself. Then I had to go through it all, and quickly if I wanted to ever use the garage again. That was about the time that our house became just a little too small for all of our stuff. After a few weeks, I pooped out and couldn’t go through any more boxes. They’ve sat there since then. My grandmother’s friends were hoping there might be some papers pertinent to the cabin they bought from her, and the wife was hoping to get some teacups from my grandmother’s kitchen things. I’ve never gone through the boxes, or sent the teacups. I still really want to do that. So I think I’ll be spending some more time in the garage today.

Itchy


*scratches madly at legs* I seem to have my first ever case of chigger bites. OMG. I thought fire ants were bad. Well, they are, but in a different way. And not nearly this itchy. Holy crap. According to the internet, I have another week or so of this. Oh joy. Nature’s gift to me for standing outside whacking limbs out of a tree gone crazy for two hours straight without any bug repellent. At dusk. In Central Texas. Not the brightest of my ideas. I think I’m misfiring in a number of ways this week, though.

Not the least of which is in the cranky department. Just because I get a bug up my butt about something doesn’t mean I get to be rude to people, least of all people I actually like. Not even if I’m right. I’m better about this than I used to be, but graceful debating skills don’t come easy to someone used to a more below-the-belt style of arguing. Which was often a with-the-belt style of arguing. Not nearly as much fun as just being in a bad mood and stepping on someone’s toes, which is much more easily fixed.

Note to self: Before I sit down to do my words each day, I need to read over the previous day’s words to make sure I’m not repeating myself.

This week’s big stress is the car, which recently rolled over 100,000 miles. Go Tethys! Tethys is the ancient Greek Titan of the sea. Before and bigger than Poseidon. Yeah. Anyway, all of our cars have been silver, green, or blue, so we started naming them Tethys. We’re on Tethys III at the moment. Well, Tethys needed a new pair of soles for her shoes (that’s new brakes in modern parlance), particularly since they were making a most horrible squealing noise. The report from the mechanic is always either much more or much less than you were expecting to spend. In this case, it was the former. Luckily we could split the work in half and take care of the rest later, but it still left us a little tight.

So what? We’d be totally screwed if I hadn’t actually been saving money for the last few paychecks for the express purpose of taking care of old car and old cat related emergencies, that’s what. And while I keep trying to get on myself for already depleting the savings account, the rest of me tries to remind the anxiety-ridden side that we’re using it for it’s intended purpose. That is the very definition of “emergency fund”. Well done! *pats head* And it didn’t take all that long to get it to where it was; it won’t take that long to get it back there again, either. I just need to hold off on any more emergencies for a little while.

Here at home, I still haven’t planted my ‘three sisters’ garden bed yet. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for, if not a convenient time window. If I were more of a morning person, I’d take care of these things then. Which is when one is *supposed* to garden here in Central Texas. Unless you *want* heatstroke. Actually, I am trying to be more of a morning person. My daughter loves it when I get up in the morning with she and her father, even if I’m mostly just a tea-drinking lump. On a more practical level, I should get up with the rest of the family so I can take our daughter to school instead of him: I have more time and don’t have to dodge rush hour traffic. I would also have a lot more time to do things that I’m always complaining about not having enough time to do.

I’d have to sacrifice my entire evening routine. That means no more late-night tv watching, or at least reserved for special evenings and my favorite shows. If I’m watching a series on Netflix, I’m going to have to set a weekly limit as to how many episodes I’m allowed to watch. Otherwise I’ll do what I did recently: watch all seven seasons of Star Trek: Voyager in just over a month. That’s 168 episodes over what was once seven years. That’s a lot of tv. I need to break the extraordinarily bad habit of falling asleep while watching the telly. Reading would be much better. Just turning the damn light off at a pre-appointed time would probably also help. I imagine it would mean several days of weird sleep while my body tried to adjust, but I would hope that my internal clocks would settle in after a time. Seeing as how it’s already 10:37pm, I don’t think the night to start that is going to be tonight.

Liebster Award


I am a shocked blogger today, or rather, I have been for the last few days.  I checked my email over the Thanksgiving holiday only to discover that a good friend had nominated me for a Liebster Award.  Explanation as follows.

“Liebster” is a German word meaning dearest and the award is given to up-and-coming bloggers with less than 200 followers.

Here’s how it works:

1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.

2. Reveal your Top 5 blogs (with under 200 followers) and let them know by leaving comments on their blogs.

3. Post the Award on your blog.

4. Enjoy the love of some of the most supportive people on the Internet.

Um, uh, well, gosh!  Color me…something.  I’m not used to being acknowledged in such a manner, but I’m very happy and flattered, to be sure!  I will certainly be following item #1, and I will do my best to follow #2 (I have several blogs listed down my sidebar, but I have absolutely no idea how many followers they have).  #3, no problem.  #4, I will do my best.  Taking praise is one of the most difficult things for me to do.  I like to think it’s some kind of Buddhist humility, but really I’m pretty sure it’s a pathological incapacity to acknowledge anything good that I do.  Read up on “self esteem in dysfunctional families” if you really must know.

So, for item #1!  I give you the lovely and hilarious Bon Steele and her blog Bits of Writing.  Really, put this one on your blogroll, she is a particular flavor of funny that I have not yet run across and am happy that I did.  Thank you so much for nominating me for the Liebster!  I am truly honored.  🙂

Item #2, I direct you to my sidebar, which as I said before contains many blogs of unknown followers.  However many they may have, they are among my favorites.  Click on each of them whilst languishing with coffee, you won’t be sorry.  I will do my best to find out which ones are deserving of this particular accolade.

Item #3, the Liebster Award!

Description above.

#4, I will do my best.  Really.  It’s good practice for me.  Seeing myself for what I am is the most difficult thing I do each day and I live in constant admiration of people who think highly of themselves.  How do you do it?  I don’t know how to praise myself on one hand without cutting myself down with the other.  As though one holds a bouquet of flowers while the other holds a scythe.  I would really like to put the scythe down and just hold the flowers.  Things like this help.  Thank you, Bon.  🙂

Experiment


I underwent an experiment over the last few weeks.  I tried to taper off my lithium, mostly because I didn’t like its side effects.  Mostly things like big muscle twitching and vision impairment.  It sucked not to be able to read a book, and it really sucked to be using a mouse and have my hand freak out and decide it needed to click things I didn’t want it to, or to bang the keyboard randomly.  Riding a stationary bike?  Straight out.  Karate?  Not much better.

Then there were the memory issues.  I couldn’t remember a goddamned thing.  I could watch an entire tv show and not remember anything about it.  Fun times.  Never mind tv shows, what about my life?  My daughter?  Memories are what make a human life.  Without them, what’s the point of living?  It was like I had gone full circle around suicide back to a place where I couldn’t see what the point of living was anymore.  Something was terribly amiss.  A quick check over at Crazy Boards told me I wasn’t on the wrong track: there were many people over there who absolutely refused to take lithium for the exact same reasons.

So I asked my psych nurse what to do and he suggested slowly tapering off until I was only on my other drug that is supposed to balance my moods, etc.  So I did that, very slowly, over several weeks.  I got crankier and crankier the closer I got to zero.  600mg seemed to be okay.  I figured out that I really needed to take at least some dose of lithium when I had a couple of days that were just awful.  I was terrible to the people I love most, and I felt horrible.  I added lithium back in and took some Ativan to mitigate my horrible feelings and to make me sleep.

This really upset me.  I had really wanted to be off that particular drug.  It was a purely psychological reaction to have so many different things to take.  I wanted to be off at least one of them, and if I could be off that one, maybe it meant I wasn’t so bipolar as we had all thought.  But I was.  I really was, or am.  And I had to grapple mightily with my desire not to be like my mother, who was bipolar and an awful person.

But in a way, making that realization and staying on at least a small dose makes me NOT like her, because realizing she needed help and needed to stay on her meds was something that she could never do.  She was always too proud to stay on them, telling herself that she could push through any trouble herself, she didn’t need any drugs’ or doctors’ help.  And that clearly wasn’t true.

I have bipolar illness.  I am not bipolar.  That is, I have a disorder, rather than being the disorder.  It’s tough to make that distinction.  I imagine it is for other people as well, especially ones who really don’t know anything about it.  And if I have this disorder, I must take my meds, just like a diabetic.  Granted, I have far more medicines than the average diabetic, but we’re talking about the human brain here.  It has a lot of convolutions, and if I need to take several meds in order to address those convolutions, well then so be it.  I imagine those meds will change a lot over the years as we figure out what works and what doesn’t.

But what absolutely does NOT work is denial.  I can’t tell myself that I can stop taking this stuff after a while.  I’ll always have a little army of brown bottles that are my friends twice a day.  I can’t escape that, not if I want a normal life.  Other things may mitigate that little army, but they’ll always be there in some form.

Part of me is asking myself why in Heaven’s name I have chosen to write about these things in a public blog.  After all, most folks with a mental illness don’t decide to wave their flag high and proud.  They hide it as much as possible.  That’s why: I’m not a hiding person when it comes to something important to me.  And this particular important thing is subject to a lot of prejudice and misunderstanding.  Perhaps waving my flag will help end that prejudice and misunderstanding that seems to be attached to bipolar, depression, mania, suicide, mental illness and its medications, so on and so forth.  People speak freely of other physical maladies they suffer from: MS, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, cancer, etc.  Why not these?  Afraid we’re going to snap and go Hannibal Lecter on your ass?  Not likely.  So chill, and read, and hopefully learn something.

40


So I hit the big four-oh recently.  40.  I know it’s just an arbitrary chronological marker, like 20 or 30, but you remember how seriously you took those particularly markers, don’t you?  Crossing 20 was like the loss of your youth.  Only one year away from legally drinking, your days of clandestine partying were just about over.  Crossing 30 was like the loss of the rest of your youth.  You could no longer be irresponsible and head out for the weekend on rock climbing or motorcycling adventures.  Or so your psyche told you, anyway.

40 is much the same way.  It’s telling me about all of the things that I’ve lost, about all of the things that I’m not “allowed” to do anymore, and all of the things that I “should” do now.  And I’m having an incredibly difficult time with all of those “shoulds” and “alloweds” and everything that goes along with it.  So what does being 40 years old really mean?

On the surface, it means just that: I have achieved 40 revolutions around the Sun, and no more.  In my case, that’s a fine accomplishment.  I should have been killed either by someone else’s hand or my own by now.  The chances of being killed by someone else dropped considerably long ago when I didn’t live with either of my parents anymore.  The chances of being killed by myself?  Not as low, I admit.  It’s times like those I’m glad I have such a loving husband, magickal daughter, spectacular friends, and a print of Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” hanging over my desk.  If Vincent could look through the bars of his sanitarium window and create that, then I have no room for complaint.  So 40 revolutions around the Sun aren’t such a meager accomplishment for me, or for any of us, I’m guessing.

It also means coming face to face with some old baggage.  I’ve had this weird notion since my 20s that there was a “wall” of sorts at 40.  I could ‘see’ past my 20s and into my 30s and guess pretty well what I’d be doing, but I couldn’t see past 40.  I still can’t.  That’s terrifying and heartening at the same time.  What am I going to be doing?  Will I finally publish that book of mine?  Will I simply keep trudging through the domestic life of Mom?  A life that, I hate to admit, is not very satisfying.  Culture tells me I’m supposed to feel guilty about that, but I don’t.  A much smaller cultural template tells me that it’s just goddman fine to want to have a life of my own while I simultaneously walk the path of Mom.  Maybe it’s right, though at the moment I lack other voices to hear and hands to hold to help me along that path.  And I have a horrible fear of “doing the wrong thing”.  Don’t we all?

If I kept along the path of Mom and nothing else, what comes after that?  Nothing happy, I fear.  If I keep along the path of “Hey, I can do both!”, what comes after that?  Happiness?  Unhappiness?  Fulfillment?  A happy daughter?  An angry one?  That’s really the crux of all this.  I am raising a daughter, who is nearly 9.  She wants to listen to pop music, and she wants her clothes to be just right, and boys make her feel “all melty”.  I’m not sure if I’m ready for all that yet.  I know the time of separation is coming sometime soon.  The day when she will not run across the schoolyard with a belly-crunching hug and an “I love you” for me, because that will just not be cool.  Or maybe it will and that’s just my fear speaking.

Speaking?  My fear screams these days.  It shouts from the rafters and tries to convince me that it will all be the same as when I grew up, and I shout back at it that it’s wrong and has no idea what it’s talking about because it’s never seen the things that I hope for.  Hope’s in there too.  Lovely Hope.  Her voice is quieter, and I wish it were louder so that she could drown out all of the other voices that plague my mind.

That is what 40 means for me.  Many veils to pass through, many doors to walk through, none of which I am familiar with because I have previously walked through a very different set of veils and doors that led to horrible places with angry faces and treacherous lessons.  Now is when the last fetters of childhood are ripped asunder, and it’s going to smart.  People keep telling me that the 40s are better than the 30s.  I look at them with more than a bit of disbelief, but maybe they’re right, because I certainly don’t need any of the things that I hope to strip away or ignore.  It’s just not going to be any fun at all, not for a while anyway.