Note: The "Trooper" in question is not actually in the military. It's a metaphor, people.

May 27, 2008

The Rope Swings

I'm taking a step away from the relationship dramas that keep my mind busy during the day to focus on something larger today. Is it just me or does it feel like the world is ailing? From entire countries (China and Myanmar), to cities (tornado stricken towns throughout the Midwest), to institutions (greedy investment banks that fueled this credit crisis), to individuals (the many people I know or friends of friends who are battling various forms of cancer)....everything seems just "off."

I have struggled on and off with mild depression over the years, so I've been thinking that I've just been in bit of a downward spiral that existed only in mind. But after reading an email that I received tonight from a friend about another tragic story of cancer striking someone far too soon, I realize that this is not my mind playing chemical tricks on me. I only wish that was the case. Unfortunately, things just really do suck right now.

I know, I know. In the scope of history, I'm sure there have been many times when people thought, "This is as bad as the world has ever been. Surely the end is near." So perhaps this is just a blip that will be swallowed up by centuries to come. But does that really matter? All we have is the here and now and the here right now is sinking, sick, burdened with something that seems to only get worse.

I realize that I tend to take on the weight of the world, as if there was anything I could do to fix these kinds of problems. So I try very hard to only work on controlling the things within my actual power. But when those uncontrollable things start piling up, it is just plain impossible not to feel that burden.

What can I do? What can any of us do?

When I start feeling really low and helpless, I try to envision myself hanging at the end of a long, thick rope that swings slowly over a dark abyss. I can't control the abyss. I can't control the rope. But I can control how hard I grip it as it swings back and forth, back and forth. It has to stop eventually, right?

So here I am, swinging. Here we all are swinging. I guess all we can do is hold on for now. And keep looking up.


May 22, 2008

Are You Listening???

I have a few hangups, but by far the most burdensome one is the deeply rooted belief that I am not being heard, listened to, acknowledged. Wine Guy (who is a trained astrologer believe it or not), says that is a textbook charactistic of my sign (Double Sagittarius). But since he won't give me a real reading (he says it's too weird to do that for your significant other), I can't really say for sure. But I guess it doesn't really matter. The point is that it's there.

I will admit that I have made a lot of progress over the years with this problem through therapy and increasing self-awareness. I remember the first time I articulated this belief to my therapist about ten years ago. I described it like this, "I am convinced that when I walk down the beach, I don't even leave footprints behind me." And I meant it. A sense of total irrelevance. Sad, really.

During college (my lowest point ever) I would be speaking and, convinced no one could possibly be paying attention to me, would just stop mid sentence. It never occurred to me that others might find this odd or wonder, "Is she going to finish that sentence?"

But, like I said, I am MUCH improved. In fact, you can hardly shut me up these days.

But lately I've been noticing that this deep fear has been creeping back and taunting me. It doesn't make me stop what I'm saying, but it certainly has my mind running a mile a minute. "Is he really listening?" "Why does she keep looking around while I'm talking?" "He keeps interrupting me. He must want me to shut up." That kind of stuff.

The difference between now and before is that my conscious mind is well aware that my subconscious mind is full of sh*t. But for some reason that awareness isn't helping. I'm still thinking it. And it's driving me nuts.

For the most part, this doesn't affect my relationships with friends, acquaintances and colleagues. But it is wreaking havoc on my most intimate connections, those I feel comfortable enough to turn to and say, "Are you even paying attention?!" As you can imagine, this does not go over well. As Wine Guy told (yelled) me last night in yet another fight over this very issue, people really don't like to be accused of something they aren't doing.

And why would they be doing it? Wine Guy loves me. He chooses to spend all his free time with me. He's moving in with me. If he really didn't give a crap about what I had to say, why would he be doing any of that?

But let's just suppose that he might be doing what my paranoid subconscious suspects. What about the others? See, there's a pattern here. Everyone I've ever elevated to the closest levels of intimacy (mostly just serious boyfriends and my mom) end up on the same end of this accusation. Could they ALL be guilty of tuning me out? Logic and common sense says of course not.

So I know it's me. I just don't know what to do about it. I don't even know why I'm sharing this here with you. Possibly because writing is the most effective form of therapy for me (I haven't been to my shrink in years at this point). Plus if I put it out there in virtual black and white for you all to read, I suppose that makes me more accountable to STOP doing it.

At this point I've got Wine Guy on edge wondering when I'll accuse him of inattentiveness. And my mom and I are currently "taking a break" from each other, brought on by a similar exchange. Self destructive perhaps? Well I'm here to say I'd like to stop the habit and get back to just assuming that everyone I talk to is hanging on every word I say.

You are still reading, right?


May 16, 2008

My Side of the Bed

My alarm went off the other morning, jarring me out of a gloriously deep sleep. Wiping the drool from my flattened pillow, I lifted my head to assess the damage. Yep, just as I figured – I had managed to occupy the complete diagonal of my queen size bed. Head in the top left corner, feet in the bottom right. And in between, a jumble of blankets and sheets that make it appear as if a tornado whipped through my bedroom during the night.

Nope – not a tornado. Just little old me – the Tasmanian Devil of sleep.

The first person to criticize my wild sleeping habits was not a boyfriend, but my mother. As a kid, I liked to watch TV in her bedroom and would inevitably fall asleep. At some point, she says, she would wake up in the middle of the night with my foot basically in her face. For whatever reason that I can assuredly blame on my overactive subconscious imagination, I had flipped over and around during the night and ended up with my head hanging off the foot of the bed. This is not all that unusual for me, even as an adult.

Of course, a few men have fallen victim to my spastic sleeping, but usually only the ones of the long-term boyfriend variety. See, I can contain my sleeping habits for a little while when necessary. Just long enough to get through a long, romantic weekend. It’s true, I never get a really good night’s sleep when I do this (how can you when you are trying to behave yourself and sleep at the same time?), but I usually plan for some quality nap time to make up for it.

So what about those few men who have made it to the more consistent overnight status? Yeah, they’ve suffered. Poor Only Child has awakened more than a few times to one of my high-pitched screams (hey, they wake me up too!) or had to fend off some blows while I act out whatever kung fu dream decided to visit me that night. I remember one poor soul who made the mistake of letting me go to sleep angry. He woke up with a punch right in the face – and a black eye to remind him not to do it again.

I promise I’m not this bad every night (though the sheets ending up bunched in a ball by my head is definitely a nightly occurrence), but it happens just enough to make me nervous. I’ve told Wine Guy about it, but I still dread the first time it actually happens. Right now we pretty much only spend weekend nights together and I can exert some slumber restraint for those nights (again, with naps every Saturday and Sunday afternoon to catch up). But he already complains that I hog the bed now, which scares the crap out of me because I know how much worse it can (and will) get.

I suppose I should warn him not to piss me off before I fall asleep!

Dismissed and sleep well.

May 8, 2008

Surfers, Sunsets and Sadness

Just got back from an evening with Only Child (my ex-fiance -now friend - just in case you're a new reader). We've talked several times over the last few months but haven't seen each other since soon after my surgery in January. He had purchased tickets to a charity auction and needed someone to join him since his girlfriend is out of town and all his other friends were busy. I decided not to be offended that I was so obviously his last option(I'm not his girlfriend or potential girlfriend after all) and said I'd go.

It was a nice event, with an open bar and a chocolate fountain that I would happily install in my home if ever given the chance. The crowd for this environmental fundraiser was very "San Diego" in that it was almost entirely made up of 30-something surfers with money dressed in their finest duds (think Jack Johnson in a silk Tommy Bahama shirt), along with their natural beach-beauty 20-something girlfriends. Only Child, being a 30-something surfer with money, fit in beautifully. I did not.

The event was held at a stunning beachfront community center on the same beach in Del Mar where I grew up playing in the waves until I had to be dragged home and reluctantly thrown in the bathtub. The sun was out and setting in a blue sky, the water was clear and capped with foam, and the sand was white and dotted with wet-suited surfers. But it all hurt to look at.


This was the exact location where Only Child and I were supposed to have our wedding reception.

Don't misunderstand me. I am very at peace with the fact that we did not marry. Relieved, in fact, as I know we would have been terribly matched.However, our wedding-that-never-was is still the only wedding I've planned for myself and I picked that spot for all the meaningful reasons a girl picks a spot for her only (hopefully) wedding. My fondest childhood memories are right there. It is a postcard-perfect location without being overpriced or pretentious (it is a City-owned community center, after all).

But I haven't been back there since we called it all off and I collected what was left of my deposit in a shameful hurry. And I certainly never expected to return for the first time on the arm of Only Child.

I didn't think it would bother me, yet it did. Probably because I'm already emotional as I prepare to make a huge relationship leap with Wine Guy (see previous entry if you need proof). And I'm f*cking scared of it all blowing up in my face - just like it did with Only Child. This little Thursday night excursion was just too obvious of a reminder.

So I left a little early, telling Only Child I wasn't feeling all that well. Truthfully, my back was hurting from all the standing, but really I just needed to get out of there. The sunset, clinking wine glasses, and happy people gathered around tables was just too much of a reminder of what I have yet to pull off for myself.

Needless to say, I managed to pick a fight with Wine Guy on the phone during my drive home (he's out of town on business and did not mind that I was seeing OC). I tend to do that when I'm upset - misplace my emotions on those unfortunate enough to be closest to me. Oh and I'm PMS-ing too. The perfect storm. I think I'll just quarantine myself for the rest of the night and go to bed. But not before I send Wine Guy a makeup text to tell him I love him.


May 4, 2008

PTSD and Packing

As the days quickly slip by on the calendar --getting us closer to moving day-- it seems my sanity is also slipping. Before I elaborate, understand this:
  • Yes, I'm excited about embarking on this phase of my new relationship with Wine Guy.
  • Yes, I am looking forward to starting fresh in a new place (I've been in my current apartment for six years and have been ready to leave for the last two).
  • Yes, I am (over)eager to adopt a dog and take it to dog beach.
OK, now that the optimism is clearly stated, let's get on with the pessimistic, neurotic head games, shall we?

  • I'm terrified (and a bit disappointed) that we are moving in together without being engaged. That was a promise I had made to myself after my failed living together experience with Only Child and, even though this seems more than right (certainly "righter" than it did with Only Child), I'm still scared that I'm getting myself into a "Why Buy the Cow/Milk for Free" scenario.

  • I'm scared that we will end up realizing we hate each other once we are actually in each other's faces 24/7. Right now we see each other primarily Friday nights through Sunday nights and pretty much do our own things during the week. Maybe that was all we could/should handle? (For the record, I do think this fear is "normal" and falls under the "you gotta take a risk" category.)
These are both "what if..." fears and I think they are the typical side-effects of an overactive, semi-neurotic mind. But I'm also suffering from what I can only describe as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As I've said before, I have some serious "abandonment issues" that are under control for the most part but, when under stress, they can rear their ugly heads and make my life hell. They stem from my dad's sudden death when I was 5 and were recently exacerbated by Naval A-hole's heartless disappearance.

No matter how ridiculous I know it to be intellectually, I seem to be holding my breath and waiting for Wine Guy to just plain disappear. (This is not anything new - read A Ride on the Baggage Carousel for a little reminiscence of my early days with Wine Guy and a refresher on the pure evilness of Naval A-hole.) Perhaps Wine Guy will decide he doesn't want to move in together. Perhaps he will just die in a car crash. Either way, he just stops calling. That's my fear.

The other night he said he'd call me back later. By 10pm I was in tears and called him expecting the worst. He was stunned to hear his crying girlfriend on the line. As far as he knew, he just got busy on the computer and didn't realize how late it had gotten. No biggie. I knew it was no biggie. But this deep, dark, creeping feeling that settled in my stomach during the hours I waited for his call were stronger than my common sense.

I KNOW Wine Guy is not an asshole. I know he would never do such a thing. I also know he loves me and wants to be with me. And, finally, I know that all my worrying and paranoia is starting to drive him crazy. So, if I can't at least stop thinking and feeling these stupid thoughts, at the very least I should STOP sharing them with him.

So forgive me readers. I suspect you will have to be the ones to bear the brunt of my neuroses. Feel free to share your thoughts right back.