What I Know Here, Today, in the Now

My friend, Marilyn, often tells me I am doing better than what I think I am, struggling about the same as most people (sometimes a little less, even), and I often have a hard time wrapping my head around that little nugget of wisdom, although it is often very true.

I have “survived” a great deal in life, and here I am, still kicking almost 36 years into this great life that I have created.

I know what makes me happy, what makes me sad, what works and what doesn’t, and when I can keep these things at the front of my mind, I can exist in a state of fairly ok-ishness.  Of course, there are ups and downs in life, but everyone has ups and downs.  I think I just tend to experience mine a little more fully than some in the world.

There is very little in my life right now that is inherently “bad” or “negative.”  It has taken many years of therapy, but given enough time and the right support, I can usually get even the negative situations worked out fairly well.  When I am not in a full-on manic state or a full-on depressive state, I can say that I actually live a pretty full and happy life.  Of course, I have my moments, but I am beginning to learn and accept that everyone on this planet has their moments.

We all have certain things we struggle with more than others, whether our issue is bipolar disorder, some other mental illness, a physical issue, or just tough circumstances.  The point is to keep going, and to keep trying to make one’s life increasingly more peaceful, more happy, with more love.

I am currently dealing with some issues related to medications and a disruption in my routine.  It has thrown me for a loop, but I am dealing with it, how I know to deal with it.  In a week or so, I am going to be able to hit the exercise routine again, and in the meantime, I am getting the nutrition part of things under control.

I am crafting daily, have had some good sales at the gallery, and am working on some really beautiful new pieces for the gallery.  That makes me very happy; it is something I derive a great deal of pleasure from.

I have been getting back into my reading and am thinking about trying my hand about doing some shorter, yet still glowing,  book reviews….some that I had promised to do long ago, and some that no one has asked me to do, but that I feel the book is worthy of praise and is important for others to read.

So I am still that DBT girl, standing in front of my life, asking myself to keep trying, but to try a little harder, even though I am doing the best I can.  I will probably always be that girl, and that is fine by me.  It is progress, not perfection, that I am after.

 

Avoiding Self-Sabotaging Behaviors in the Mindfield of Current Happiness

Things are good, y’all.  I mean, really, really good.  LarBear and I are all moved into a really nice new (to us) home, things are organized, tons of junk and clutter has been purged, it looks good, hell, it even smells good.  There is nothing I don’t absolutely love about this new house.

And other things are good, too.  I started a mini dose of an antidepressant two weeks ago, and have had no manic symptoms.  I am slowly weaning off another medication that my psychiatrist believes is leading to my mysterious weight gain.

Things are going great with LarBear, have actually never been better.  I am in the most stable and healthy romantic relationship of my life.  We are a team and we lean on each other and we care for each other and we just make each others’ lives so incredibly much better than they ever have been.

I haven’t heard word one from my ex-step-father or any of his side of the family, and I am superbly grateful for that, and believe that has also gone a long way in minimizing my anxiety and stress level.  Getting rid of all that toxic negativity, it just did me such good.

So really, the problem is that there ARE no problems.  I went to therapy this week, and the first thing my therapist asked me, was what was I going to do to not sabotage the happiness I am finding?  Because that is what I do, it is what I have always done.  Happiness or contentment or joy have always been so fleeting for me, and it is always me chasing them off my own porch with a broom.

The answer to that question lies in many things.  First of all, how am I going to KNOW that I am sabotaging my happiness?  Well, I can spout out a short little list of things from just today that I have done to sabotage my happiness that range from picking a really silly fight (very short lived) with the LarBear to deciding to experiment with my Klonopin (as in not taking it even though I know that I really, really need it) to not taking a shower and getting dressed this morning (daily hygiene fail) to letting myself get too worked up about other people’s problems.

How do I let myself feel, or how do I reassure myself that it really IS okay to be happy, to feel joy, contentment?  I’m still working on that.  What my head always tell me is the inevitable — that it won’t last, it never has before, and its not going to start now.  My head goes on to remind me that Fall is upon us, meaning Winter soon, and that always spells horrors for my stability.

Does it have to, though?  Is it possible that I could make it through Fall and Winter relatively unscathed?  That I could keep up with my daily tasks and my hygiene and meds and relationship-building and therapy and all of the other daily skills, and maybe slide just fine through to Spring?

Well sure, I suppose it’s possible.  I just have to avoid all of these tiny self-sabotaging behaviors that I engage in, and focus on the more positive, skill building behaviors that I have been concentrating on lately.

Gee, Rosa, is that all you ask from yourself?  You are such a loser.

You see, that voice is there, so loud and strong, criticizing my every move.  It will take massive determination on my part to ignore it, to turn the mind, to practice opposite to emotion.  But I think I can.  I’m pretty sure I can, anyway.  Or at least I’m going to try.

What self-sabotage pitfalls do you find yourself getting tripped up by?  How do you keep yourself on a more positive path?  Do share your secret cures for all that ails…

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Moving On: Through and After Abuse

life-is-not-about-finding-yourself-achievement-quote

I happened upon this photo quote today and it struck me upside the head, blinding me for a minute.  Could this be true?  Do I get to choose who I want to be?  Of course, there are certain things I strive for, but could I do, ya know, ANYTHING?  If I wanted?

I often feel like I’m the un-cool kid at the party, drinking lemonade from a red Solo cup and hoping no one notices that I’m not getting drunk like they are.  I think I feel that way, because I’ve been there, and I just tend to extend it to other venues.  I want to hang out with the cool kids at their blog.  I want to find funny and inspiring and thought-provoking picture quotes for my little blog.  I want so-and-so to c0mment on my last FB status.

And when one of these things happen?  When one of the cool kids invites me to play?  I nearly shit myself.  But why would you choose me?  Hello there, Ms. Confident!

One of the things that can happen in an abusive relationship, is that your partner convinces you that you are no better than the dog poo on his shoe.  Everything about you is wrong.  Your hair, your friends, your job, your family.  You just suck and don’t really even deserve to live.  No one will want you but me, and I don’t even want you that much.  And as you’re begging and pleading for him to stop whatever the hellish thing is that he’s doing at the moment, you start to believe these things.  At the end of 11 months, he has totally destroyed your self-esteem and anything positive you have ever thought about yourself.

You thought your self-esteem was low before.  Well, yes, of course it was.  It’s partly how you let this go on for so long, you sack of shit!  And then those outer voices turn to inner voices and you start telling yourself that those things are true, plus more.  You have whole rants lined up, on tape, in your head, and you find that your brain wants to play them constantly.

It takes years.  Of therapy, of medication, of being surrounded by people who love you — to get even the smallest bit of relief.  Your belief in your non-existent self-worth starts to grow slowly, but can be quashed just as quickly by a sideways comment.  Every comment hurts, but you start to seek out the positive ones.  The people who are there for  you, day in and day out.  The people that don’t hurt you or beat  you down.

So here it is, I thought I’d been working on finding myself.  Turns out, when I see it in print, I have been CREATING myself.  I am Rosa, and I am Rose, and I am Rosie, but most importantly:

1) I am Auntie Rose.

2) My parents love me:  QoB and the Big Dawg, and Dad

3) I have two great dogs.

4) DSB would do anything for me.  ANYTHING.

5) I am proud to work in a bait store.  I personally feel like I am the key to organizing everything and making sure things stay in their place.  I feel useful.

6) I blog.  A lot.  I try to every day, and sometimes that’s hard, but it seems like I always find something to say.  There are even people that READ this blog.

7) My abuser has stopped trying to seek me out and I have stopped being afraid of him doing so.  I would love for him to show up on my doorstep and meet DSB and Rascal.

8) I have worked hard enough in therapy (and in life), that my trauma issues have greatly settled down.  When I don’t sleep, it’s not because I’m having trauma nightmares.

9) My psychiatrist and I have found a potent drug cocktail that appears to (mostly) keep my symptoms in check.

10) I have allowed myself to be open to friendship again.

11) I have stopped thinking of myself as gross and realized that it’s just fat, and I can still be attractive and be fat.

12) I have found compassion for those I don’t understand, those I don’t like.  I don’t need to understand and like everyone.

13) I have given up on friendships that were so clearly one-sided and unhealthy.

14) I have developed a schedule that I stick to, almost without fail, and that helps me keep my highs and lows to a minimum.

15) I feel, through many methods, like I have achieved something that feels a lot like peace and contentment.

 

Lao-Tzu-Contentment-Quotes

 

 

 

The Key to My Contentment

I don’t want to brag, but my nephew is just over seven weeks old, and my sister just sent me some photos of him on  his tummy, and, I swear to you, the boy looks ready to scoot around, if not crawl.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I’m telling you, that’s the look on  his face.

I had a very productive day yesterday in which I completely cleaned my kitchen, including scrubbing down cabinets and baseboards, bleaching my counters, cleaning out my coffee pot, reorganizing tupperware, finding all of the missing kitchen towels and potholders and putting  them in their correct places, unloading and reloading my dishwasher twice, and watering all of the plants in my window garden.  I am pumped and ready to take on another day.

I also started and completed quite a bit of laundry, including putting away a mess of clothes that were clean and heaped up on my folding table.  My goal today is to get all of the laundry done, and to be able to see the floor.  My big motivation is that I keep finding quarters everywhere and it just may add up to enough to go buy a bunch of Lifesavers.  Wild cherry, preferably.

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that we take for granted, or the people in our life we take for granted.  DSB has ceased the invalid routine, and so I am rewarding him in many ways.  Mostly, by bribing him with fresh-brewed sweet tea and making excellent meals.  They do say a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and I think there’s a bit of truth in that.  If I can keep him happy, it’s a happier household.  Similarly, if I can keep myself busy and happy, then I’m less apt to be bitchy and unhelpful to the process.

The time changed on Sunday, as you all may know.  Or at least those living in the USA, other than Arizona, who does not participate.  Do other countries around the world do DST?  I must know, could Google it, but it would be so much more fun to hear about it in the comments section, along with how you adapt.

I was very concerned that DST was going to make me be late to everything, as I had overslept Sunday morning by a long shot.  I think it turns out that I was just overly tired, because I have been up since 5:30am (which is early for me) and feel completely refreshed.

Something new and wonderful is happening in my life.  DSB has decided that he wants to try and sleep in the same bed again.  Woot woot!  This may sound strange, but, with the exception of his first couple of weeks here, I have slept in bed and he has slept on the couch or the recliner, citing pain and waking me up incessantly.

Since that time, my sleep routine has stabilized quite a bit and he thought we could give it another go.  It has been absolutely wonderful to fall asleep with my elbow and hand resting on  his side (whereas, I generally propped myself up with Rascal, our dog), and I have been getting great sleep.  He has not, but he wants to keep trying.  He says the reason he is not sleeping has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with the chronic pain he deals with.

Even on the couch or the recliner, he has a lot of pain, so we were hoping it would be eased a bit by being in bed.  No such luck, but as I said, we’re going to keep trying.  Ideally, we could get one of those adjustable beds, but they are ridiculously expensive, so I guess we’ll just have to win the lottery first.  What is it they say?  You have to play to win?  Right, right.

To make the day simpler, and allow me to hopefully get out and get the car washed amongst all the laundry madness, I just put a nice pork roast in with a bunch of sauerkraut into the slow cooker.  We’ll have it over either baked potatoes or mashed potatoes and it will be delicious.  And easy!  So easy!

Maybe I’m a simple person, but getting things done and making a good meal and treating other people well makes me happy.  Simple or not, I will continue on, and, in keeping with my homework, will find a stranger today that I can give a random kindness to.  These things all add up.

The Okay-ness of it All

I do tend to neglect this blog when things are going either very bad or very well.  It’s been a week and I have missed the release, the ebb and flow of words, the putting-it-out-there that seems to be so cleansing for me.  I have still been online, keeping caught up with most of the blogs that I read, liking and commenting.  I just haven’t felt a big press to post anything, no pull to my keyboard.  I honestly have just had nothing to say.

And then it hit me.  Maybe, because I keep this blog to track my progress, it might behoove me to write a post about how okay everything is.  There is no angst, no strife, no drama.  For me right now, life just “is,” and it truly is a strange feeling.  The up and the down and the down-down-down that have plagued me for almost every January and February of life since I can remember it, are gone.  I feel even, steady.  At times, I experience true contentment and at times, real joy.

It’s hard to say what has brought this all about, or to even say that it is necessary that I delve into that.  Let’s go with it being necessary to delve into it, because only then really, I think, is progress made.

I think it has to do with many different factors.  I have a new nephew and three weeks later I am still over the moon about that.  My sister is sending me a daily picture message, usually with a funny little comment.  He gained a half-pound last week and is just a healthy little guy.  I start to tear up when I think about him and how much of an impact he has already had on me.  I quit smoking in December, for a variety of reasons, but one of them being that I wanted to be around for a long time for my nephew.  And I didn’t want him to grow up seeing me smoking, and maybe think it was okay or cool.  I wanted to give my nephew a good example to follow, and I guess so far I am doing that, although I know he is too young to comprehend that at this point.  I just want to be there for him, simple as that.

Another factor that has really kept me on the level is a more steady up-keep of my medication needs.  For months and months, I failed to take my Ritalin three times per day, as prescribed.  I would usually take the morning dose, but the other two were often forgotten.  Here within the last month I have made a concerted effort to become religious about it. And I have, and it has made a big difference.  Now, I can really tell if I am late with a dose or if I haven’t taken it.  And DSB notices, too.  He has caught me slipping up with it more than once, and I am grateful that he is on top of it, as well.  It’s always nice to have that support.

And I think the third main thing is that somehow, I have learned not to take everything so seriously.  I don’t know how I’ve learned it or if I will unlearn it in a matter of time.  I’ve been spending more time breathing and listening and less time anxious and criticizing.  Am I annoyed with the way certain things are going?  Yes, but I am trying to approach these things with a compassionate eye rather than a critical one.  Instead of asking, why must it always be that way, I’m trying to accept that it is that way, first.  I’m not saying I’m giving up the fight on certain things, but I find that a lot of the stuff I get hyped up about is minor in the grand scheme of things.  So very minor, that it is almost embarrassing to admit my prior behavior.

I’m learning things don’t have to be a certain way or it’s a failed situation.  I’m learning that I can love others more if I try and love myself just a little bit.  I’m learning that faking confidence is a surefire way to get the real thing.  I’m learning to be less black and white, less rigid, less about perfectionism and to care more about things that are real instead of imaginations that reside solely in my own head.

And I blame all of that on DBT and the single therapy appointment I had with Goddess of Mindfulness almost a month ago.  DBT is hands down the very best therapy I know of, and I know of several.  The key to happiness, for me, is that I must first be willing, and then everything will follow from there.  It’s too cold and snowy to get out and hug a tree, but I carry a visual in my head of the first time I found willingness, and I just keep running that video tape in my head when things get tough.

When I post a comment on someone else’s blog that it will get better, that’s because I know it firsthand.  It will get better and it will get worse and it will get even and steady and, eventually, there might be days and even a string of days where you really won’t ponder too much on the status of your mental health, because it really, really, really does get better.  Take it from someone who has walked that path, more than once.

Reverb Day 18

Today’s Reverb13 prompt is as follows:  reverb13 - 400px

I am often surprised where I find peace, it is usually in the midst of chaos.  In the midst of living, did you find moments to breathe? Were there moments that held you in the embrace of peace and quiet and pure contentment?  Did these moments catch you by surprise or did you create the space for peace to find you?

Ahhh peace, you are so fleeting, yet so very welcome.  I’d say that, in life, I find a lot of moments to breathe.  I, in fact, do quite a bit of deep breathing (literally), just walking through life, sitting in life, talking in life.  Those deep breaths bring me a sense of calm, but they also send off a signal to me in my head that, really, really, REALLY, Rose, it is going to be just fine.  Sometimes I believe it and I can get a little peace.  The rest of it is just unnecessary worry (for the most part).

Moments of pure contentment.  Well, yes.  Kind of.  I can think of many a time, spending time with DSB and thinking, “This could be it and I would be good with that.”  This could be all there is, and I would be happy.  It doesn’t happen every day, but I think it probably happens to me more than most people, or at least the people I know.  And I think it happens more to me because I look for it and seek it out.  I want those moments where I feel safe and loved and cared for.  Mostly, I like to feel safe.  Few people can give me that feeling.  I think that might be how it is for most people.

 

 

 

Victory Laps

reverb13 - 400pxToday’s prompt from Reverb13, Day Seven is as follows:

Please post your favourite picture of yourself from 2013, self-portrait or otherwise!

And to Reverb13 and the dear Kat McNally, I have to just say “no, thanks” to this one.  I’d like to think I keep this blog fairly anonymous, and also, I don’t play well with cameras, in many ways.  So, no “selfie” of me, but I’ve already received Day Eight’s prompt, and will be participating tomorrow.  My regrets.  (But you really should go check out the links of people who did participate, because there are some good ones!)

But because I am liking this Reverb thing so much, I found another pr0ject by way of a new blog I am following, Jill at “A Thousand Shades of Gray.”  Apparently there is more than one Reverb host, so I was very pleased when I saw a different prompt at Project Reverb.  I’ve signed up, but haven’t received an email yet and can’t find a button, but I have seen what today’s prompt is on Jill’s website (and later on Project Reverb’s), so I’m just gonna go with it and file paperwork later.

Project Reverb’s Day Seven prompt is as follows:

Victory Laps: What was your biggest accomplishment of 2013?

I like the idea of doing a victory lap.  It’s fairly cold out right now, but perhaps if I were wearing different shoes or hadn’t just eaten a huge bowl of chili, I might make a lap around the neighborhood.  I had many accomplishments in 2013, but the one I am most proud of is somewhat vague.

My biggest accomplishment of 2013 is to have lived a whole year with the least bipolar disorder symptoms I have had in decades.  Decades, people.  I am not sure if that sentence makes sense, but life doesn’t always make sense.  I wrote what exactly what was in my brain when I wondered what my biggest accomplishment was, and this was it.

Some people might say it’s not an accomplishment because it can’t be measured.  I would argue that it can.  I have cried significantly less tears, had hundreds fewer breakdowns, gone on zero manic spending/sex/self-destructive sprees.  I am taking care of my house and it is a home.  I am a better girlfriend and partner in crime.  Now I can support DSB when he is going through a rough time, instead of the focus all being on me.

I am more in tune with myself.  I know when I need to take a “people break” and I do it.  I go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time in the morning.  I take my meds like I’m supposed to.  I play with my dogs, clean the kitchen, and go to the grocery store.  I organize the laundry room and put clean sheets on my bed and visit with family and friends.

These don’t sound like big things, I know.  They sound like everyday, normal things.  And they are.  But to me, they are huge, because a year ago, two, three, seven, ten, fifteen, and so on years ago, I couldn’t claim any of the above, at least not for any length of time.  And now it has been a year.  I year that I have kept my head screwed on, asked for help when I needed it, and have generally felt successful at life, if there is such a feeling.  I have even gutsed up the motivation to quit smoking.  I will be two weeks quit on Monday at 8:50 a.m.

I think I’m about ready for that victory lap.