Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself


Monday, July 27, 2009

we are all made of stars

A terribly sad few days here in the Lil household, as we said goodbye to Possum. My mom has had Possum and her brother Tigger for 10 years, half of that time they've lived with me, and as kittehs are part of the family, her death has hit us all hard. She had an embolism or heart attack (not sure which) and although she was clearly no longer "all there", she was not in pain, so we brought her home to spend her last hours in front of the log fire as we said mantras for her rebirth and laid her under a pillow case blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. As Buddhists, it's really really really a difficult decision to euthanaise and we were thankful she wasn't suffering and could just pass peacefully. It happened early Saturday morning and we're adjusting to a house with just three kittehs. Her brother has been calling for her, and wandering around a bit lost. She was tiny, and quiet, and not the most robust of kittehs, but she had the sweetest personality. We will all miss her.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

love cats never fails to make me smile!

not somebody who's seen the light

Sometimes I like to do Sudoku puzzles. I always carefully write the answers in pencil, so I can rub them out and start over, but every now and again I just can't solve it and the puzzle ends up illegible - scratched and rubbed raw. No matter how many times I try to erase and rewrite the answers, there are the odd Sudoku puzzles I just have to accept as failures. Draw a line through. Either throw them away, or turn the page and start a new one.

What if a life is like that? Are there a finite number of ways in which I can try to make things work? What if next time I try to reimagine myself and start things over, it's just too late? Maybe the bare bones of my life are so fragile and patched up that I need to draw a line through it and start a new one?

These are the things I think about.

(title from Hallelujah, all versions I think, but my favourite is Leonard Cohen's original)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

closer i am to fine

10 reasons to be grateful:
  1. My brother had minor surgery today, and came through with flying colours. A full recovery is expected
  2. Finally finished my darn tax return and according to my estimates I should get a couple of grand refund. Enough to pay back my folks for the Great Child Support of 2009 and have some left over for my Christmas getaway-slash-runaway
  3. I finally got around to replacing my first and most loved Indigo Girls cassette tape with a CD (hence the title of this post, celebrating one of their best tunes)
  4. After finding out a few peeps at my new workplace consider me a) distant, b) bitchy and/or c) up myself, I resisted the temptation to get all BPD on their asses and start demonstrating Anger Mismanagement 101
  5. Also resisted temptation to quit and run away
  6. I think my hellish cold may be just that, and NOT (as I suspected) the slightly more malevolent cousin to swine flu. Can almost breathe without coughing now - hooray
  7. I have some wonderful new readers, and therefore some new blogs to visit! Hi there!
  8. Due to my dual citizenship with the UK I can almost get away with celebrating England's terrific win in the 2nd Ashes cricket test. Tho' I feel slightly guilty, their team is vastly more talented and considerably cuter than the Australian team.
  9. Yesterday it hailed so much here that it looked like SNOW!!! We don't get snow. Or even hail, usually.
  10. The new season of The Amazing Race starts the day after tomorrow (well, new to us anyway). My favourite thing is to groan over Phil's thrift store style outfits with my mom, and be thankful it's not me having to zoom through Pakistan/Russia/Laos in 24 hrs. Hooray for television in general, really. It's saved me more than once, especially this year.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

this is the last day of our acquaintance

Something that I didn't anticipate when I joined this cracked bunch of mental health bloggers is how darn FOND I would become of y'all. Consequently, I've been majorly bummed out lately to find a few of my blogging friends have either deleted their blogs or abandoned them. I also clicked some of the blogrolls of my regular visited sites and found a fair few of their links also led me to the ubiquitous "site not found" message. In my research, I've discovered there's an actual term for it - "blog abandonment".

I know it happens. People move on, get lives, get committed (ha!), find other outlets. I read somewhere that 60-80% of blogs are abandoned within the first month, and that the average lifespan of the 20-40% that survive is seven months. In my other blog-life, (2 years as part of the weight loss surgery community) people regularly come and go from my comments and followers pages. But somehow, it doesn't feel as sad. I think the way in which I connect to, and support, mental health bloggers is much more real to me. Which no doubt says more about ME than about anything else lol. Did I ever mention my pathological fear of abandonment??

I miss you, my lost bloggers - especially Belinda, Kate and John. If you're still lurking about and reading, you know who you are and know that I wish you well. I hope that the things that took you away from the blogs I loved are good, healthy, happy, positive things. I hope you are thriving, or at least surviving.

(*today's post title is from the awesome Sinead O'Connor song of the same name)

Monday, July 13, 2009

til you lost me there in the open road*

Mr Ex came over yesterday, to have his weekly custody visit with The Dog. I'd planned to bring up the D.I.V.O.R.C.E. last week, but he played the Deadbeat Dad and didn't show for the visit. I knew Dr A would chew me out if I saw him this week having still not broached the D-subject with Mr Ex so I bit the bullet and said, ever-so-casually "So, I've been finding out about how to start divorce proceedings".

I swear, he was surprised.

We've lived apart for well over a year, and except for a handful of social gatherings the only time we've spent together is when he picks up or drops off The Dog. He's never mentioned reconciling, apart from immediately after I told him to move out, and has made no effort to win me back in any traditional (or, indeed, visible) ways. But he seemed shocked that I would actually download and print out paperwork to officially end this thing. Weird. Although, having said that, I became hollow and teary after he left. Even though I don't want to be in any kind of relationship with anyone, and certainly think it's best for me & Mr Ex to not be married, I was struck by the inevitable wave of sorrow that true endings bring. For a long, long time our marriage was good, and for almost all the eleven years we've been together our relationship/friendship has been rock solid. We just aren't meant to be married.

This has been a truly tough week. My friend Michelle, my only regular-contact friend, has decided she doesn't want to continue bowling in our team, and as bowling is my only social outlet/hobby, it's kind of devastating. I'm trying to decide whether to find another team, but given that I have only ever bowled with Michelle, I think most of my enjoyment in bowling has been in spending time with her. I understand her reasons, and most of the time I manage to not take it personally, but it's just one more hit in a week when the hits just keep coming. Dr A rang me just now to reschedule today's appointment to Wednesday, and had I told him even one of the things I've dealt with over the last 2 weeks he would not have rescheduled. I told him everything was fine, showed some High-Functionin' Flair, and now have to struggle along. I knew he would only ask me to reschedule if someone was in a major crisis, so how could I be petty? There are a great many folk worse off than me, even if I am having a tough week lol. I think I am going to have a bath, make a cup of tea and read my new book. It's not a permanent replacement for therapy, but it's okay by me.

(*today's post title is from Tori Amos' A Sorta Fairytale)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

No More Guilty Left To Pardon

I was browsing in a bookstore on Friday night, after a difficult and tiring week, when things became even more hideous. I saw my father. He was pretentious and fancy-suited in the literature section, looking at Joan London's "The Good Parents". Okay, I didn't really see the book he was holding, but afterwards (during the vomit/rant/vomit phase) I laughed to myself that it was probably some such thing. Thankfully, although he glanced my way (and I was only 20 feet from him), he didn't recognise or acknowledge me and I was able to slink away, shaking and feeling the Black Empty invading my insides once more. I haven't seen him, or contacted him, in eleven years yet I knew without a doubt who he was - a visceral reaching out that surpassed any negativity or memory. Part of me felt like the four year old he walked away from and didn't contact again (until forced to 14 years later). Part of me wished I resembled the semi-confident, only partly-mental 28 year old I was the last time he hurt me. But most of me just had to run away and throw up the lovely meal I'd had with work colleagues, and then sit shaking and enraged on the train home.

A few people looked at me as if I was on drugs, and catching a glimpse of myself in the window I could see why. It's weird how emotional and mental challenges reflect in the physical being. I was pale, shivering, fighting back tears, wanting to smash something, desperately desperately wanting to EAT (even though I'd been throwing up into a trash can just moments earlier). I managed to get home without incident, and was fairly composed by the time I got here - rather than ranting or screaming I just made a passing comment to Mom about this small-town-city, and how I'm lucky to have not run into him before now. She, in Queen of Denial mode, said something like "Oh, you shouldn't let people like that upset you". No kidding LOL.

Seeing him, and then in the hour or so coming home afterwards, I could feel the Great Unravelling start. I'd already been having a stressful week (divorce papers, tax returns, pain-in-the-ass work colleague, hormones, yadayada) and I clearly saw looming the coming apart of all my hard work, and my hard-won stability. And you know what, I thought


Excuse the profanity all! But I truly thought to myself, Lil, this can go either way and you get to chose where you end up. So I practised some DBT (Self-Soothed, Distress Tolerated) and talked myself down from the anger. I simply REFUSE to let him hurt me any more. This episode showed me that techniques like Mindfulness and the Non-Judgemental Stance have become comfortable for me, as they came into my mind fairly quickly when the Emotion Mind started to create havoc. I know a lot of people question DBT, and consider it to be jargonistic and over-simplified. I've read some criticism of it, and a lot of praise, and the praise seems to come from people who have used it to become well. That's enough for me, I suppose, and I think it's the best recommendation - people who are managing their Borderline Personality Disorder are often doing so by using the skills of DBT. That's what I want more than anything, to be well and healing. It was a rough couple of days this week, but (as I've said before) those are the ones that really test us - right?

The photo at the start is one of only three or four photos I have of myself with my father. I think I could already tell he was an imposter. My expression certainly hints at it...

(*Post title is from Iron & Wine's song "A Book Unfinished")

Sunday, July 5, 2009

It's The End Of The World As We Know It

And I feel fine (as the song goes).

This week's session with Dr A focused mainly on the two tasks he's set for me as homework. A while back he mentioned that me getting my driver's licence would be a huge benefit, not only in practical terms but also because it would mean I had conquered a life-long fear. He's right, and it's not like I haven't already thought of that myself... but the actual physical task of going and getting my Learner's Permit (for the SIXTH time) is beyond me at the moment. However, I have promised to visit the licensing website and do the online Learner's test as practice, and also to find out the costs involved. I first got my Learner's Permit when I turned 17 (the legal driving age in Western Australia), and was also given a car by my beloved grandfather. The car, a 1972 Ford Cortina, had been his and when he died a few months later I wondered if the loss of freedom (he never got another car) had finished him off. I moved to the city a few months after my birthday, leaving the car with my parents until I eventually decided to sell it (having only had a few lessons and not really ever feeling comfortable with the idea of driving in our country town, let alone the Big City). I've had other goes at learning to drive, with varying success, but I've never booked a driving test - the idea of having to park on command, and to follow complicated instructions from the examiner, seems to negate the fact that I am actually a fairly competent driver (according to the various instructors I've had over the last 22 years).

My second piece of homework involves Mr Ex, and the fact that our 12 months' legal separation was completed this week. I downloaded the paperwork (don't you love the technological age) for the divorce but had yet to broach the subject with Mr Ex, especially as last weekend he came along to my Bowling Birthday Party and we had a great time. Not a "getting back together, happy every after" great time, but a great time nonetheless. Dr A had a bit of a go at me for the mixed messages I was sending out willy-nilly... especially to myself. I definitely DO NOT want to be married - to anyone. But that fact remains that I adore Mr Ex, for all his faithlessness and foibles (and by that I don't mean "infidelity". Blame Wandering Coyote's deep thoughts here for the use of the word "faithless" haha). Part of my worries about him, whether he thinks we'll get back together, whether he will do something self-harming. But, in the spirit of "Being In Therapy" I agreed with Dr A that the paperwork needs to be addressed. I printed it all out today and was planning to deal with it when Mr Ex came over to walk his dog. My best-laid plans were thwarted when Mr Ex texted me to say he can't come over today. At least the papers are printed and filled out, and in reality I don't need Mr Ex's permission or signature to file them. I do, however, need an amount of cash to go with said papers. Ouch.

Apart from these nagging administrative tasks, my life continues to sail along. I start my new hours tomorrow, which sees me working every second Monday along with Tues, Wed and Fri each week. On the opposing Monday I see Dr A. Which still gives me Thursdays to sleep in, vege out, blog and blog-visit and see friends. I think I will manage, it's a fine compromise, and having some extra money is always welcome. I can save up to get divorced - blah. I still haven't written to my friend H, who sent me the out-of-the-blue birthday presents. I've been thinking about it, and intend to do it, it's another one of those "when I have the energy" tasks. Being mental is exhausting lol.

One area I need to watch is the continuing urge I have to over-achieve at work. Given that work was my area of downfall prior to this most recent breakdown, I've really been keeping track of my thoughts and emotions at work - and during the week I had a weird "showing off" hypermanic episode. I still crave validation and approval constantly, and have to fight the urge to pursue it from my superiors at work. It's one thing to do my job well, but another thing to undermine other staff, over-achieve, big note myself and get breathless and giddy when I'm given praise. The best thing was, though, that I caught myself in Emotion Mind (as DBT would call it) and could step back and use Reasonable Mind to see the situation for what it was - thereby stopping the roundabout before it got going. Something that might have progressed and spun out of control, was dealt with fairly quickly. Being only low-dose medicated also helped, because I am not as numb/blunted these days I'm more aware of my changes in physiology (heightened colour/warmth, faster breathing, shaking hands, talking faster) which sometimes come along with my Emotion Disregulation episodes.