Archive for the anxiety Category

Choosing to Leave The Madness

Posted in anxiety, awakening, resolutions, Social media, stress with tags , , , , on June 14, 2016 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Yesterday I deleted the Facebook App from my phone and decided to take a nice, long break from it.

For weeks now I’ve been reading post after post filled with vitriol over any number of subjects: The current political climate, the tragic shooting of a beloved gorilla in the zoo, the sentencing of a convicted rapist. News stories posted and shared repeatedly, personal opinions from friends and acquaintances, speculation about the world and future we’re creating for ourselves and our children. All mixed in with selfies, memes and videos.

Usually I enjoy Facebook, because who doesn’t like a tiny peek into someone else’s life?(Even if it’s been proven time and again that the “peek” doesn’t really portray reality). I enjoy seeing pictures and posts about my nieces and nephews and reading the often insightful thoughts of my friends.

Lately, however, everything feels like it’s rubbing my emotional skin raw. The more I read, the more I started to feel like most of humanity just plain sucked. Comments on news stories left me wondering if most people were really as cruel, petty and shallow as they appeared on social media. Coverage of the Stanford rape case filled me with uneasiness about the world in which I’m trying to raise two daughters. Seeing news clips about an actress, and speculation over whether her unusual appearance was due to plastic surgery, the day after the largest mass shooting in the history of the U.S.? I felt sick.

I’ve felt myself on the verge of tears just from feeling overwhelmed by data, much of it negative and heartbreaking; Suddenly, I had the realization this was something I was inviting into my life multiple times a day. I was constantly feeding on negativity, getting sick from it, then convincing myself the world is a really horrible place. How crazy is that?

The last week with my kids has been better. The arguments (a future post on that!) with my nearly fifteen year old have been less frequent and I’ve had an easier time staying calm in the face of frustration. We’ve cuddled and talked, enjoying each others company. One day we decided to go out and dance and splash in a sudden rain storm, getting completely drenched and laughing hysterically. We made hot chocolate afterwards and spent the evening between reading and watching a favorite show. Another day we pulled out an old Wii game, all three of us giggling over how bad we were at it. My daughters drew, they helped more in the house and I felt more relaxed than I have in weeks.

I was reminded that so much of the world is what I choose to create for myself: Beauty or ugliness, depth or pettiness, it’s within my grasp to choose what to focus on. I believe sometimes we need to see what’s wrong in the world so we can choose a response to it, so we can take a stand to effect change. But most of what’s wrong with the world can only be changed from one place: Within ourselves.

I can’t say I’ll be done with Facebook forever, but it feels good to have made the decision to take a break and focus on the beautiful things in my life: Family, friends and the wonderful community I’ve chosen. More dancing in the rain and less ranting about Trump and Clinton. More giggling hysterically with my kids and less focus on the terrible injustices in the world. Lots more doing my part to be love and compassion, in the face of horrific and almost incomprehensible tragedy.

So long for now, Facebook!

 

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My Super Power: Introspection To The Point of Insanity

Posted in anxiety, Dating, dealing with ex's, intuition, Relationships on December 7, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

So, due to a triggering event, I have now replayed my last relationship in glorious Technicolor several times. I’ve gone through rage and pain and a semi-acceptance and back again. I met up with an old flame turned friend and he commented, “That relationship really fucked you up, didn’t it? ”

Yes. Yes, it did.

My brother and his wife recently purchased a new mattress to help their back pain. They decided to go with “extra-firm”. After a night of sleeping on what amounted to concrete with  thin padding over it, my brother exclaimed: “Buying that mattress made me question all of my decision making skills.”

My last relationship amounts to a really bad mattress purchase.I now question all of my decisions and wonder if I’m capable of making a good choice romantically. My faith in my intuition feels pretty fragile and risky.

I’m dating someone. He’s smart and funny and perceptive. He likes me a lot and I enjoy spending time with him. I’m also completely terrified. I’m petrified of hurting him or being hurt, so I know at times I come off as reserved and distant. I’m trying to honor my need to go slowly with realization that part of this is just fear from my past, but it’s challenging.

When I realize I’m overthinking whether or not I’m overthinking, then I start to go just a bit crazy. We’ve been dating a grand total of 6 weeks. That’s no time at all, so surely I don’t need to make some big decision. Right?

Meanwhile, the specter of my last relationship haunts me and I’m terrified of becoming D. I have no plan of stringing someone along for months just because it’s comfy and I don’t want to be alone, but there is still a tiny voice in my head chanting “Figure this out quickly so you don’t hurt him!”

Sometimes my introspection drives me a little bit bonkers.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Posted in anxiety, dealing with ex's, eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, stress with tags , on November 12, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

In the past, I’ve blogged numerous times about D, the ex who broke my heart multiple times and over whom I spiraled into a terrible depression. It’s been two years since our last encounter and it’s really only within the last year that I’ve started to feel at peace. By peace I mean that I no longer go into panic attacks when I come within a 5 mile radius of his house. I don’t weep over what happened or wonder what’s wrong with me that allowed him to treat me the way he did.

He is still the only relationship where I’d love to pull an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and eradicate any trace of him from my memories. It’s the only relationship where even time and distance hasn’t create a sense of bittersweet acceptance. The deep pain and anger I experienced over the course of knowing him negated any happy memories. No other relationship has such a lasting negativity for me. With time, the lens through which I see how things happened and choices he made has become even more clear; the clarity doesn’t soften the experience in a positive way or make me feel more kindly toward him.

Is that perhaps why the Universe is taunting me by throwing him into my path? Despite blocking him and his girlfriend on social media so that I would hopefully NEVER have to hear anything about either of them, I’ve had several pictures of them drop into my newsfeed because of mutual acquaintances. Now, it appears they’re going to invade my professional life as well. Should specific decisions be made, I’d have to deal with one of them on a near daily basis. I’m in a unique position professionally of having most of the people I deal with be part of my personal community as well, so they would be invading my world.

All I want is for them to stay as far away from me as is humanly possible so that I can continue on my path of healing and peace. Why the FUCK does that not seem to be an option?

I’m struggling a lot with this possibility and trying to breathe through the stress. I have enough on my plate without allowing this man, who took up space in my mind and heart far longer than he deserved, to bring me more grief and worry. I will face whatever comes and try to find the lesson and growth opportunity in it. That’s my goal for tomorrow. Today, I’m just really, really angry and stressed out and wanting to stomp my feet that I have to deal with this at all.

Old, Alone and Done For

Posted in anxiety, depression, self-esteem, self-improvement with tags , , on October 29, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Several years ago, there was a Peter Pan remake film that my children loved. Near the end of the film, as the villainous Hook is being conquered, the children around him begin to chant, as he attempts to escape using the happy thoughts of pixie dust, “Old, Alone and done for!”

Hook begins to falter, his internal fears suddenly arrested by the growing chant.

“Old, alone and done for!”

Old, alone and done for!”

Hook slowly begins to sink, weighed down by his sad thoughts and fears, until he is eaten by the waiting crocodile below.

Lately, I’ve felt a lot like Hook.

About a month ago, I tore my ACL. Surgery was required and I was three weeks post-op as of yesterday. The recovery has been humbling, to say the least. Despite my best intentions of independence, I ended up staying at my parents for three nights following the surgery, drugged and dizzy and in pain. I went home and was barely able to hobble around on crutches. I started back to work slightly over a week past the surgery, aware that life had to move on, yet by the end of each day I was wiped out.

Today, I managed to straighten my leg completely for the first time in a month. It’s a victory won through hard effort, which I know will escape me after a night of sleep. Tomorrow I will begin the process again of stretching and strengthening, until eventually, after enough months of therapy, my knee remembers what it’s supposed to do and I don’t have to grasp the simple concepts of motion all over again. It doesn’t help that nerves in my leg were cut, which leaves most of my shin completely numb. I feel like I”m dragging a zombie leg around most of the time They tell me the nerves will, hopefully, regenerate after a year or so.

Two years of serious physical fitness, nearly down the toilet in a month. Now I’m resigned to simple exercises to  strengthen my mostly useless muscles, that a month ago would have made me laugh.

I feel physically vulnerable and weak, my body incapable of things it has always been capable of–the simple act of movement without difficulty.

What I hadn’t counted on was the emotional demons this injury and surgery would conjure. Loneliness, fears of being alone, fears of being vulnerable, insecurity over aging.

Over the last three weeks, I have wept off and on indiscriminately. I have found a new fear of my singledom–now not only has it represented the fear that I am less than those who are coupled and the insecurity that my loneliness will be a permanent condition–it has also represented the fear of being incapacitated and by myself. Family and friends have helped me through the worst of things, but even they couldn’t quite compensate for the fact that I live alone. Suddenly, being single seemed to have negative impact beyond the sentimental. Now, it seemed like a practical disadvantage as well.

I’ve had to face the fear of “What if this never changes?”

Right now, I feel incredibly vulnerable, emotionally and physically. I’m trying my damndest to strengthen myself and put on a brave face. A lot of the time, I just feel like taking to my bed and hiding.

But of course, I don’t. I stretch and strengthen and smile.

“I’m getting better every day!”

“I’ll be better than ever in a few months.”

“Now I’ve got something to work for.”

I’m trying really hard to ignore that fear in my head that says I’ll be alone forever, that this is the start of a long progression of things that go wrong with my body and that I’ll never win. Because that is defeatist and just the exhaustion and residue of trauma left over from the surgery. I know that this is just a blip in my life and I need to be patient and just work at getting better. I know that I have loved and been loved and that will come again, I just haven’t met the right person yet. There is nothing whatsoever that would prevent me from finding someone who will love me and want to be with me and I just need to have patience for that as well.

Acceptance and patience seem to be the two things I need the most of lately and they are two of the things I find very challenging.

I’m trying especially hard to blot out the voices that whisper, when I’m tired and aching and lonely:

“Old, alone and done for.”

I’m vibrant, fairly healthy and far from done for. So it’s time to rally and face my demons and battle them down. I may not be able to vanquish them totally, but unlike Hook, I’ve still got a lot of happy thoughts I can reach for when those damn, pesky demons start whispering.

Melancholy Mermaid

Posted in anxiety, depression, parenting after divorce, Relationships, self-esteem, self-improvement with tags , , , on April 4, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Seven years ago, I took what would prove to be a momentous trip. In the middle of a deep depression, the collapse of my marriage and the unrelenting arguments between my husband and myself, I knew I had to get a breather. Feeling like I had failed at everything in my life and not really wanting to live, I made plans to head to the beach, alone. This meant leaving my husband and my very young children, driving cross country, and being alone for the longest period of time in my entire life.  I’d only ever spent the night away on my own once before. To leave everyone behind for 10 whole days while I tried to recover from a nervous breakdown and decide what the hell I needed to do to pick up the broken pieces of my life was terrifying. I drove straight through without stopping, arrived at my beachfront condo, then celebrated my 33rd birthday alone the next night.

The ocean has always called to me and if I spend too long away from it, I start to feel edgy. My soul feels soothed in a very profound way when I hear the waves and feel the sand between my toes. In some ways, the solitude was exactly what I needed to heal. In other ways, it was extremely dangerous for me to be by myself. I didn’t feel enthusiasm for life. I thought of my marriage and I felt profound sorrow and hopelessness. My husband didn’t love me and I was pretty certain he hadn’t loved me in quite a long time, despite the fact that he was “making the best of it”. I’d made horrible choices that haunted me, but that I couldn’t escape from. I felt like I’d failed as a parent and wondered if my children would be better off without me. I’d never felt so alone and I’d never been so close to the brink of saying “fuck it” and giving up completely.

After an aborted suicide by drowning that is almost comical when narrated, I realized I didn’t really want to live but wasn’t sure I wanted to die.  Probably the less said about the trip, the better. I survived it, my husband and children joined me after 10 days. After pleading and begging my husband to stay with us for the remainder of the time, he refused and left to go back home, an abandonment which would set the tone for the future. When I returned home, scarred from my experiences and feeling fragile, I knew I needed safety first and that didn’t involve hours and hours of verbal sparring. So I asked for a trial separation, just to give us a space between interactions to retreat to…which turned into a permanent separation.

I’ve been to the beach location since then, but always in the company of other family members. When I decided to return this year, I was excited at the thought of a week away and the thought of being near the ocean. I hadn’t counted on the nearly crippling anxiety that would begin to plague me as I got closer to the trip. Memories, incredibly painful memories, began to surface and I struggled with the thought of going. I had fleeting moments where I wondered if it was a good idea, then I thought I was being ridiculous and tried to just take a deep breath. I wasn’t the same person and my life wasn’t the same.

Driving toward my destination, as my children were engrossed in their own activities to pass the time, my mind returned over and over to the past. I found tears streaming down my face and my anxiety returning. What was I thinking? I should have picked a different location. I shouldn’t have even attempted to come to this place again without support, distractions, a way to distance myself from everything that had happened 7 years earlier.

Yet as we drew closer, at the first sight of the water, I felt something in my chest ease. The excitement of my children and the scent of the ocean water buoyed my spirits. As our days have passed here, I’ve been mostly fine. A few stray moments here and there were I’ve had a hard time not getting bogged down by the memories, but I’ve mainly felt happy and relaxed. I feel like I’ve reclaimed this place I’ve been coming to since I was a child. The bad memories aren’t banished, but they haven’t completely ruined the experience for me. This has been a wonderful time with my children.

I have felt some sorrow thinking of what it could be like if seven years ago, my husband hadn’t chosen to leave when I’d asked him to stay with us, be a family with us for the rest of the week. I can’t help but muse about what would have happened if he’d taken me by the hand and said, “I love you and I want our family and I’m willing to be here while we figure it out.” He didn’t and it’s hard to know what effect that would have had. Given our current relationship, I certainly can’t even picture a life with him now, nor do I want one. Still, that’s the thing about choices: Each one means a different path in the road and a different possible outcome.

I’ve spent a lifetime believing that if I feel a moment of sadness it invalidates all the joy and it’s impossible for those two emotions to live side-by-side. For me, that’s simply not true. I feel intense joy that I’m here in this moment with my children. I feel wonderful that I can hear the ocean when I walk on the beach at night, that the stars shine so brightly overhead. I love lazing around with them and doing whatever we want, whether its going for night time swims or playing Guitar Hero in an arcade.

At the same time, I feel sadness it’s just me that’s here with them. I feel lonely. If I allow myself to slip out of the present moment, I feel regrets about the past and worry for the future. I feel a desire to not go back to my “real” life, which has seemed to involve a lot of stress. I intensely want a partner at some moments and feel unhappy I haven’ met someone I want around long term. Then at other moments I wonder if I really want to give up my freedom. I can recognize that being here alone with my children creates some loneliness. I can also realize a partner might not want to play Guitar Hero in an arcade, go for night time swims and then drink hot chocolate, or do any of the other things we think are great. I realize a relationship would mean conforming to another person’s agenda and desires. Right now, neither being completely alone or being in a marriage or partnership, with all that entails, sounds quite right. Still, I’d like to try starting things off with someone wonderful and see where it goes!

So…sadness and joy. Perhaps living betwixt them is the work I’m learning to do. Mindfulness. Being present. The recognition that feelings are just feelings and come and go.

For tonight, I’ll stand outside and look at the waves and listen to that rhythm that calls to my soul. I’ll check on my sleeping children one last time before I go to bed. Then I’ll wake and see what the day brings us. I’m sure for at least one more day, it will bring us sun, sand, water, giggles, some sibling fights and seafood. I’m going to try to not worry about what tomorrow brings. I’ll face that tomorrow.

The Ebb and Flow of Feelings

Posted in anxiety, depression, Parenting, Relationships, self-esteem, self-improvement on March 5, 2014 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

So, just a few weeks ago I posted this wonderful blog about how much better I’ve been doing and how many moments of pure joy I’ve experienced lately. I even waxed poetic…something about stringing together the moments of joy into a necklace to light my way into dark days. Or some nonsense like that.

I wish my necklace had a few more moments on it.

I am trying to keep in mind that life and emotions are an ebb and flow and it’s easy to get trapped into thinking “I feel like shit today, so my life must be shit”. Or thinking that things are so wonderful and beautiful we’re surprised when things change on what feels like  a whim. Life, and feelings, are so fluid and transitory. But boy, it sure doesn’t feel that way when the dark times hit.

The last two weeks have been a big, steaming pile of crap. There was crap before, but I was managing to handle it. The extra crap, on top of the normal crap, is starting to wear me down.

My ceiling still has a hole in it, although at least an insurance adjuster is finally going to come and see if I can get it fixed ($750 deductible out of pocket). My car has to go in for work ($1027 out of pocket). I’m now sleeping, hopefully very temporarily, in my children’s bedroom in a family bed. Every night. I love them, but it’s starting to get to me. I’m cold all the time and I’ve almost lost all motivation to live except for in front of my heater or under a blanket. The realization (prompted by my father) that I hadn’t changed my furnace filter in years may, hopefully, lead to a warmer house. I had a horrific stomach bug for a week, yet had to drag myself to work because of drama. I’ve had ongoing drama with THEY WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED and it has really started to get old and wear on my spirit. I decided to get brave and ask someone out with whom there was a flirtation, only to be told that he had a “reputation” he had to uphold during his pending divorce and that he probably couldn’t be seen around town with me, but since I was cute he’d totally be up for a “make-out session” at his house. Hmmm…I think that only works if I hate myself. Since I don’t, I declined. I wondered if he might be a douchebag before I asked him out for a drink, but I didn’t expect such complete confirmation so quickly. My children have been at each other’s throats and my parenting has felt like it mainly consists of mediation lately. My workouts the last two weeks have been almost nonexistent and yesterday, when I worked out, I thought I might die. Today I’m so sore I can barely move.

And rolling around it all is the anger that is still percolating about my blog and the invasion that happened. I’ve had a lot of thoughts around ethics and what responsibility a writer has when discussing another person, even one whom they don’t specifically name. I’ll probably get around to that at a future date.  Yet I’m very much feeling like my blog is tainted, much as I did when D informed me he’d been reading it. Again, I can’t stop people from reading if I choose to publish it on the internet. But the strong feeling of ickiness and violation is persisting. I’ve had a promise the blog will never again be read by THEY WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED, but I heard that just last week and had it proven to me very quickly it wasn’t true.

So, I’m trying to take some deep breaths and remember these emotions are transitory. Life could change within a few minutes. Breathe through the bad times and don’t get too comfortable in the great times. Change is inevitable and I have to look for the beauty in every moment and accept it when things suck. Life isn’t out to get me, it’s just the journey.

Breathing in, breathing out…trying to be mindful and in the present moment. Crying when I need to cry and laughing when I need to laugh. Waiting for the sunshine and warmth to return and lend some cheer to what has felt like the long, hard winter. Only a few weeks until spring…

 

Feeling My Feelings

Posted in anxiety, Dating, depression, self-improvement with tags , , , , on October 2, 2013 by sexandthesinglesoccermom

Last week I asked my therapist if it was possible to die from anxiety.

“No, not really.” He replied in an infuriatingly calm voice.

“But my chest hurts like I’m having a heart attack and it’s been going on for days!”

“I’m sure that feels really bad, but it would basically take years and years for it to kill you.”

This week, still in the middle of what feels like the world’s longest anxiety attack and a complete, sobbing mess, I basically ask for drugs.

“I need something to make me feel better RIGHT NOW!” I tell him between sobbing fits.

He tells me I need to feel my feelings. In protest, I ask him what the hell he thinks I’m doing? All I’m doing is feeling my feelings, that’s the problem! He insists that I’m so busy thinking about my feelings and trying to distract myself from them so I can continue functioning, I’m not really allowing myself to feel and identify them. He makes the asinine suggestion of taking the next two days off from work, a suggestion I immediately reject because…well…I just can’t…even though the thought of having space and time to grieve is certainly appealing to me. He tells me to use my weekend without my children to let myself sit with any feelings that come up and just feel them, without rejection or judgement.

I immediately am able to clearly identify the feeling of wanting to throttle him with my bare hands until he gives me a pill…a practice…a solution, anything that will ease this tightness in my chest and sick knot in my stomach. Anything that will make me feel better, quickly. Because getting into the hell hole bubble of grief and fear and anger that keeps surfacing sounds really, really bad and like a monstrously unappealing and scary idea.

Still, I went into this weekend prepared to try to dive headfirst into this darkest before the dawn sort of thing; feel bad so I can have hope of feeling better. I vow to myself to A.) Not drink, because I know that I drink to mute my feelings, even though I rarely get drunk; It’s still a way of escaping. B.) Let myself feel whatever comes up and try to identify what it is and trace it back to the source. Is it anger? If so, what am I angry at? Is it grief? What am I grieving?

Over the weekend, I went and met face-to-face with my lover…well, ex-lover. Perhaps that’s a future blog. Suffice it to say, for now, it gave me a lot of feelings I could work on.

The weekend was unpleasant. I cried a lot. I realized the extent of the emptiness and depression I often feel and how much my lover lifted me out of it and gave me something to look forward to; I saw how much this wave of emotion is related to not wanting to sink back into that place. I felt anger and frustration and fear and sadness. And deep down, I feel hopeless because I don’t know how to mitigate it. I can recognize relying on a partner (or the hope of a partner) to change my life is absolutely setting myself up for failure. Because if I do and things fall apart, it thrusts me right back into crisis and self-doubt. Yet I don’t know what to do differently, because I feel like I’ve tried everything. Getting “out there”, being social, starting hobbies, taking up projects, throwing myself into parenting, studying, meditating, yoga, exercise…it all feels like I’m pouring water into a jug with a bunch of holes at the bottom. At the end I’m left feeling empty…lonely…bleak. How do I change that without relying on a partner that may or may not show up, or may or may not stick around? I also realized how often when I’ve expressed sadness or anger I’ve been told all the reasons I shouldn’t feel those emotions, rather than receiving validation or even simple acceptance. Being told “feel different” is hardly a valid solution to any negative emotion; I’ve gotten the message loud and clear that what I feel is wrong, therefore who I am must be wrong. Feeling my feelings seems scary; there are all these voices in my head saying “stop being ungrateful, selfish, whiney, self-pitying, a drama queen, unenlightened, angry, a bitch, unreasonable, too sensitive…”. The list goes on and on.

So I have lots of questions, with no answers, drugs are still sounding like an appealing option and I don’t feel tremendously better. I’m calmer. I’m a week and a half past the end of things with my lover and the anxiety is still present, but I don’t feel it every single moment of the day at least. Is that progress? Or just a sink back into the emptiness?

My goal was to use this year before I turn 40 to get answers, but all I feel is the clock ticking and not really closer to knowing how to truly be happy. So…come on, Universe! Send me some light! I’d like to kind of start to figure this life thing out sometime soon…