Taking Back the Happiness Key

Keys

I’m not old by any means, but at thirty-four years of age, I have learned a few things.  Many of them have solidified here in my brain quite recently, but there is no less reason to celebrate, and no other reason to not be joyful that the lessons WERE learned.  I believe that one of the most important lessons I have learned references the above photo, and not letting others hold the key to your happiness.

I spent the majority of my life figuring this one out, and now that it is fairly stuck in my head, I have absolutely no intention on letting it slip back out again.  Not to say that I won’t have moments when I don’t misplace said key or loan it to someone that isn’t worthy, but overall, the key to my own happiness resides within me, and I can’t be any more pleased to have finally figured out this life lesson.

Part of a Rosa problem, is to let the actions (and sometimes inactions) of people around me, bring me down.  Through DBT and individual therapy, and just a whole lot of pondering, I have realized that what other people do or don’t do, is entirely up to them; it is my REACTION only that I control.  If someone acts offensively toward me, I might wonder what that had to do with me, and be very confused (or scared or upset or other negative emotion).

Here recently, I have realized that sometimes people behave badly for no reason (or, no reason to do with something I can control).  I can walk away.  AND, I can walk away with my head held high, because I have learned another lesson the hard way — this is not about me, and not everything IS about me.  I am not the center of most people’s universe, so just because they throw sticks and stones my way, doesn’t mean it is about me.

I wish I could have realized some of these lessons when I was much, much younger.  Growing up in a household where one parent often flew off the handle for (seemingly) no reason, and spending a lot of time thinking that things were my fault — much displaced guilt, shame, fear.

Being in romantic relationships where I was constantly being bullied, although I could never see a *why* in it, but just figured it was something I “had” to take — how I wish I wouldn’t have lingered in those situations so long.  Knowing that I may not have, knowing that I hold the key to my own happiness and it is my reactions to other people (and their behavior) that I am able to control…wow, if I could only have known those things then.

So where to go from here?  I have already stopped taking the bullstuff of others so personally.  When someone around me is having a bad time, I don’t always assume it is because of something I have done.  If I am feeling down or blue or sad or anxious, I have tools that I pull out to make myself feel better.

It doesn’t always work, but it seems that I have learned to better comfort myself, rather than constantly seeking comfort from another person.  Now, I still do seek comfort from others, but I am also now much more likely to do the things I know how to do to comfort myself first.  This makes for better relationships all around, especially if I am not begging someone else (generally QoB or my Dad or LarBear) to comfort me all the time.

comfort myself

via teachingliteracy.tumblr.com

 

 

 

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This Week in Gratitude

I used to do a link-up that was a 10-things of thankful, and I did quite enjoy doing it every weekend.  The format has changed now, and I can’t find any linkups, so I decided that at the end of every week, I will go out on my own and do a gratitude post.  There are so many things out there to be thankful for, yet it is easy to not bring them to one’s consciousness in a mindful way.  SO, this is part DBT exercise, part because-I-wanna exercise, and mostly because I want to remember the good stuff, for when the time are NOT so good.

Without further adeiu:

  1.  This week, I am thankful for the four-cup coffee pot my mom purchased for me.  I had a huge coffeepot before, and the result was always that I would drink the entire contents every morning, which would leave me sick.  Ok, so yes, no self-control.  To remedy the situation, I gave up caffeine, but have started to miss it oh-so-much, so this is the solution.  The theory — the less coffee that is made, the less I will drink.
  2. LarBear has been a champ this week (well, every week), but especially this week, with helping me get a caffeine fix every morning even when there was no coffee pot.  I’m not sure why a large coffee at McDonald’s must cost $1.95, but it is clear we will be saving money now with brewing it at home.  Oh, and LarBear can avoid going out in 25 degree weather, all for the sake of a cup of coffee.  I think he will appreciate that!
  3. The very small mouse problem that started a couple weeks ago in my basement (this is what happens when you live in the country), is no more, after Mom’s boyfriend hooked us up with some poison.  I placed it carefully where the dogs couldn’t get to it and there has not been one sign of a mouse ever since.
  4. I am thankful that I have found it within myself to continue to work on giving second chances and third chances and fourth chances to people in my life who, well, may not deserve it (from the outside looking in).  It can be really hard to give up on someone who has been around your entire life, although not impossible.
  5. In a related thankfulness/gratitude moment, I am grateful that I can still see the good in most people, even when it is buried very deep below the surface.
  6. I am excited about Thanksgiving plans, getting to see the Big Dawg’s side of the family, and possibly going to see my maternal grandfather’s side of the family a few days after the big Turkey Day.
  7. Somewhat related, I am very grateful that I am *with it* enough to think about doing these things, and being around all of these people (that I am not used to).  Baby steps, Rosa.
  8. I am grateful basketball season is upon us, and I have already made it to two games at the local college.  Go Bods!
  9. I am thankful for interpersonal communication effectiveness skills learned in DBT, as it seems like LarBear and I get clearer with each other every day, and my other relationships continue to improve, as well.
  10. I am grateful/thankful/proud that I have cranked out almost one post every other day for over a week, and don’t feel any signs of slowing down yet.  I am grateful people still read, still comment, still like, and still listen, even after all this time.  Some of my favorite people are my online blog friends, and I am glad I didn’t mess that up too terribly with my extended absence.

What are you grateful for this week?  Making these lists may seem a bit mundane now, but they are very helpful to look back on in the future when things might not be so rosy.  I know they have helped me tremendously!

A Plan of Little Things

Yesterday’s post was pretty bleak, and that is how I have been feeling.  I have had an okay day so far today, namely because I have just been hanging out with DSB and not doing much else.  It’s midday now, and I plan to get my kitchen cleaned up (God bless dishwashers), do a little laundry (maybe), go to the grocery store for a few things DSB needs, and buy dog food (essential).  I am hoping these tasks don’t stress me out too much.  It seems like every time I leave the house, I get overwhelmed by this and that.

There are little, small, tiny things that improve my mood.  I know this from previous depressive episodes and I did a little investigating through past blog entries to come up with some of these tiny things.  And that is the best reason for this blog…so I can remind myself and do a little first-aid when things hit the fan.  And even though a combination of little things doesn’t cure anything, at least I can feel better for five minutes or an hour, or even seconds.  When you feel this bad, even a few seconds of pleasure are cherished, held close, until that depression comes and devours those pleasant feelings.

First and foremost, DSB and I have come up with a plan for how I can come home and not immediately pick a fight.  When I come home from doing whatever, I am going to go in, give DSB a kiss and tell him I love him, and then go do some distracting or cathartic activity.  My guess is it will be blogging, reading other blogs, or some combination of the two.  I need my “alone” time and DSB is a person that doesn’t.  He somewhat takes offense to me needing “alone” time, but he has learned that he will just have to deal with it because things are so unpleasant otherwise.

Other things I will be doing to improve my mood, in no particular order, include:

  • Keeping my surroundings clean and clutter-free
  • Coloring (yes, as in colored pencils and a coloring book)
  • Cooking
  • Blogging regularly and reading other blogs
  • Reading books on my Kindle
  • Getting back into watching my favorite three shows (that I am so far behind on) — The Good Wife, Grey’s Anatomy, and Downton Abbey
  • Showering regularly (as hard as it is to make myself do, it always makes me feel better)
  • Using my sunlamp

That doesn’t seem like much, and it really isn’t, but if I can do those things, I know in time I can feel better.  I don’t feel as helpless today as I did yesterday.  It really helped to go back and read posts from when I was feeling severely depressed and to think, “Hey, things might not be as bad as they were then, and you made it through it before.”

Grief Anniversaries Compounding More Grief

I am so glad this weekend is over.  I’m glad DSB’s surgery is over and now everything is on the steady with that.  I’m glad I have the first round of inventory entered into the computer.  I beyond love love love my dishwasher for enabling me to keep a very clean kitchen at all times, although it was constantly being cooked in by a very messy DSB.  I am thankful for Klonopin, even though I get tired of taking it.  But mostly, I am just glad the first five days of 2014 are over, because I don’t think I could take much more.

I have spent more time today crying and boo-hooing and angsting and sobbing and catastrophizing today than I care to spend in about a month.  I mean, the waterworks will just not shut off.  The negative tapes were churning away in my head and I just felt so sad and hopeless.  And I couldn’t figure out why.

And I’m not saying this is the only reason, but it is likely a factor.  My grandmother died two years ago yesterday, and today would have been her birthday.  I wasn’t particularly close to my grandmother, but it was her death two years ago that sent me over the deep end.  I firmly believe that I probably wouldn’t have taken such a nosedive if that terrible timing hadn’t ended up the way it did.

I have a lot of my grandparents’ furniture in my house.  I bought some new silverware yesterday, and I cried when I found some of my grandparents’ old silverware tucked underneath some more current items.  Cheap steak knives is what they are.  Except they don’t look cheap.  And are probably not.  They were Grandpa’s and thinking about him and those steak knives brings a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

Isn’t it awful how grief compounds grief?  I’m over my grandmother being dead, and it’s only been a couple of years.  My grandpa is a whole ‘nother story.  He died in 2004 to be exact.  He died exactly 14 days after my 25th birthday.  I distinctly remember that I was on the Atkins diet at that time, and I heard the call right as I was starting to eat a steak dinner.  I couldn’t ever eat that particular blend of seasonings again.

There was a huge thunderstorm going on and I can remember the Big Dawg picking me up and taking me to the Assisted Living place where my grandparents had been living.  There was a big empty room, and Grandpa was on a stretcher, all wrapped up in white sheets.  And I totally lost it.

And I still do lose it, thinking of him.  I think of all the things I wish he had been able to see, to do.  I wish he had been able to meet DSB, to go fishing again, to make terrible soup, to hold his favorite dog, to see my sister get married and have her little boy.  He has so much to be proud of, and I can’t help but think that he absolutely MUST be up there looking over.  I don’t know how I would or could go on if at least some part of me didn’t believe that.

And maybe that’s strange to not know if there is a God, but to be certain there is a heaven.  I really don’t care.  I pray rarely, but I do talk to Grandpa, and the Bird Lady.  And I really do think sometimes they answer me back.  And I light a little candle and I send a thought, and that’s enough for me.  So that’s what I’m going to go do.  Light a candle.  Take a Klonopin.  Pray for dreamless sleep.

Amen.

Self-Loathing in the Face of Self-Compassion

Reverb13 Day Nineteen Prompt, provided by Jill at A Thousand Shades of Gray, is as follows:

The Buddha said, “You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

In the past year, I have been on a mission to understand and practice self-compassion, which is sometimes defined as “extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering,” and what I have learned has made me realize that this practice is at the heart of everything. 

How will you practice self-compassion?

Talking about practicing self-compassion and actually doing it are quite two different birds.  All throughout DBT, there are mentionings of practicing self-compassion.  And really, I’ve never been good at it.  And frankly, I’ve never tried at it very hard either.

Below the surface, there is just so much self-loathing.  Even now, when I’m doing better, I still really hate myself for a variety of reasons.  From the fact that I can’t seem to keep shit straight at home to the “failures” I see in my interpersonal relationships.  I turn quickly in judgement of myself, over and over.  At the slightest action or inaction, I belittle myself in my head.  I am not sure I could be kind to myself, if I tried, and I really am not sure how to try.

My thought is, “S0 what, you let yourself off the hook for things just in the name of self-compassion?”  I guess so.  I don’t really know.  You criticize yourself less, see yourself as more human, give yourself the benefit of the doubt?  I don’t know how to do that.  I don’t know if I can even try.

But I find myself telling people I care about to be kind to themselves.  Be good to yourself, be kind, be loving.  I can encourage that in others but I can’t pick up a torch for myself?  This topic hits a raw nerve, because although I have come so far, I still, deep down, hate me.  I’m sure that isn’t quite right, but it is so.

Cutting through the Bullshit

So, as posted yesterday, I’ve been feeling a bit off.  I blamed it on the weather, and that probably has a lot to do with it.  DSB did point out, however, that it has been sunny, even with the snow and ice and cold.  He does have a point.

I don’t like to use my sunlamp a lot because it can push me into a manic phase very quickly.  I only use it on dark and gloomy days and only September through the end of March.  I have never been instructed by a doctor or therapist on how to use the sunlamp, but have figured out through trial and error what works best for me.  Sometimes that is the best way to figure things out, trial and error (others, it is obviously not!). 

DSB pointed something else out when I was speaking with him about feeling “off” yesterday.  I have stopped taking my Ritalin as prescribed.  I am supposed to take it morning, noon, and early afternoon.  Within the last month, I’d say I’ve probably missed two out of every three doses.  

I just felt like I didn’t need it anymore, at the time.  Aren’t our bipolar brains effed that way?  “Oh, all is well.  Guess I don’t need that one anymore!”  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  Of course, I didn’t talk with anyone about it, just kind of snuck around, not taking it, thinking no one would notice.  Well of course DSB noticed.  He notices everything!  As soon as I mentioned to him that I wasn’t feeling myself, he brought it up.  So busted.

So, I have made myself a promise.  I am going to get back on the Ritalin full-time and see how things go.  I don’t have an appointment with my psychiatrist for another two and half months, but I can always get in sooner if need be.  

It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t been in therapy for almost a month now, due to weather conditions mostly.  We are due another 8″-12″ starting this afternoon, and my appointment is tomorrow afternoon, nearly 45 minutes away.  I called her this morning and told her that I may need to cancel and she asked that I call her in the morning, saying that she didn’t know if she would even be coming in tomorrow yet.

I am feeling better today, after an in-depth talk with DSB and motivating myself to clean my disaster of a kitchen last night.  Today I’ve mostly just been spending time with DSB and doing a little laundry.  I plan on making spaghetti for dinner tonight and watching some Hulu with my better half.  I might even go crazy and take a shower, or use some other self-soothe skill. Skills coming on strong now, radically accepting that I can’t BS DSB about medication compliiance and, of course, the 8″-12″ of snow that’s coming. 

Weekend Snark

I’ve been feeling kinda funny around the edges here in the last few weeks off and on.  Sometimes, the day passes and all is well.  There have been more than a few days, however, that would likely have been better spent in bed, thereby protecting all those who interacted with me from my snark.  This weekend, I have been particularly snarky.

It seems that I am losing my ability to communicate effectively.  In that, words are tumbling out of my mouth so fast that people are asking me to repeat myself.  I hate that.  Hate when it gets like that.  Instead of concentrating on talking slower and more clearly, I get pissed.  I refuse to communicate.  I can barely stand to speak to anyone, nevertheless get around to enunciating.

It is times like this that I let shit slide.  And I mean, the shit has done slid here in this house.  There are dirty dishes in the kitchen, dog hair lining the hallways, used tissues piling up on the coffeetable, and plants dying of thirst.  And while it causes me anxiety that my surroundings are in such disarray, I can’t seem to make myself do anything about it.  Such is the dialectic here, people, ever-shifting…anxiety-provoking disorderliness, yet I just don’t give a shit.  I think I’ll sit here and stare out the window at the gosh durn snow.

Effing snow.  Effing cold weather.  Effing February.  Oh mother effer!  I should probably use my sun-lamp, but I’m afraid that I am on the fringe of a mixed episode and that would shoot me straight to the heart of one.  Ok, maybe not on the fringe, but on the fringe of the fringe.  Of the fringe.  Denial is so cute, isn’t it?

I’m starting to let this broken foot bullshit get me down.  And the prospects, according to the doctor, my physical therapist sister, my mother (who invented the Inernet), and everything I’ve read indicate that this is a very slow-healing break and it could be 3-4 months for it to heal, if it does heal, and maybe even then surgery will be necessary.  I feel effed six ways past Wednesday.  I am sick of this boot and sick of being off balance and not able to do the things I want to effing do.

And for today, I’ve said the effing “eff” word enough and I’m thinking of opening my back door and screaming “Mother Fucker!” to the effing snow.  Maybe that little release will keep me from eating DSB for dinner, and maybe I will practice a little radical acceptance around the fact that 8″-12″ of snow (and ice) is headed our way tomorrow and there is nothing I can do about it.  DBT can be a real bitch.