I haven’t written in a long time again. I really want to keep a log of my present day moods, because I am becoming more aware that peri-menopause has changed something in me. Perhaps it’s because I have such an ADHD or Anxiety? mind, I get stuck quite a bit more than I probably need to. I am becoming more aware of the ways my brain tends to over think about everything. Definitely resulting from PTSD trauma, I know my brain was altered from childhood through my young adulthood. Given that is the past, at 51 years of age, I am more interested in how to manage any uncomfortable symptoms. When I say uncomfortable, I mean, my mind doesn’t like to rest. In fact, I think my brain prefers to be jacked up on adrenaline, however, it becomes rather unpleasant and exhausting. I learned a lot about this last year when I decided to go back to therapy to deal with the fallout from Liam coming home from college with anxiety, and learning how much his anxiety and my mental issues, and parenting style merged into our relationship.
I’ve learned about how PTSD causes hyper vigilance, and although I’ve been acutely aware of this attribute, I did not really understand the impact on the kids. I have been in therapy on and off since I was about 21. I suppose it is safe to say that trauma issues go on in one’s life, regardless of whether one has awareness about it or not. The result being variable with each individual. As self-aware as I have always been, it is safe to say that my journey has truly been an unraveling or like peeling the layers of an onion. For some reason, I spent an extraordinary amount of my life thinking that I was responsible for figuring out what is wrong as well as figuring out a solution to fix it. This has been the cause of great angst in me for my whole life. In childhood, having such chaos and instability caused me to adapt to “figuring it out”. I’m pretty certain it is the result of fight,flight, freeze. Children don’t have the maturity to solve complex problems stemming from an alcoholic household. My situation in childhood was extreme. It was complex. I was/am intelligent. I had a keen sense of intuition. I could read situations that most kids probably would be oblivious to. I wish so often that I could have been a kid like that. That wasn’t my experience, and I can’t change it, no matter how much I long for it to have been different. I am truly over delving in the past, despite still having triggers as a result (of it). I have been attempting to integrate what I know now about the past and how I respond in the present. It can sometimes be a blur for me. I can’t always see things clearly in the present when I am stuck in feelings/emotions.
One of the reasons that I decided to write today is because I took adderall today. I confess, that I love the effect of it. Perhaps because my mind perseverates so much, the stimulant reigns me in, and I can go off on clearer mind explorations. I have so many things that I want to talk about, to explain, to discuss, to contemplate, to understand. I am writing this as a catharsis for myself because who else is likely to ever read it? Do I want someone to read my flowing thoughts? Well, I know it would certainly not be boring, but I am not sure what someone else would get out of this kind of writing. I did make this blog private, or so I think it is. Sometimes, I swear to gosh that I was not made for this time. The technology is here to be used, but sometimes it just feels too overwhelming, as one more thing I have to learn but it is not something I am really interested in investing in learning because it is so fucking boring. My mind likes more tangible ways to express, like writing without having to think about where this blog will end up in the future. I suppose it could go on paper, you know, like a journal – but I am so disorganized, paper then becomes an issue for me because I never know where the heck to put anything. It would end up in a pile that only ends up stressing me out. Since I tend to be on the messy side, everything doesn’t have a place. As much as I would like for everything in my home to be completely organized and minimal, I never seem to be able to get there. This is why if I had the money, I swear, I would hire an assistant to help me keep myself together. Well, perhaps that should be on my list of things I would like to have or people to hire. I would love to have a professional organizer come in and make my life more efficient from that perspective. Part of me doesn’t really care about my messes, but sometimes I do. I think perhaps I am more stressed out about it because it drives Bill crazy. If I am being honest though, I like when things are organized and efficient. I just have a hard time being that way consistently, despite wanting it desperately. I do it to myself. It is a habit. It is one of things remaining as a trigger for me. There is some deeper aspect of why I make piles. I think it goes back to being ADHD and not being able to sit and complete one task at a time because I frequently feel as if there is just too much that I want to get done, and then I get stuck because I don’t want to deal with it. I end up paralyzed in not only getting started but in finishing. I know if I made a list, that would be a great help. Sometimes, it just feels like the list is one more thing I need to do, of all of the things that are racing about in my mind that I am trying to remember to do, or get done. Anyway, sometimes I think to myself, that if I lived alone, I probably wouldn’t even care if I left shit all over the place like I do sometimes. That really isn’t true all the time. Sometimes, it really does stress me out quite a bit. When I start to clean, everything becomes magnified, and I start to notice details of things that make me even more neurotic. So yes, messes are actually toxic for me on most levels. I think that it is in my nature to have a lot of tabs open at the same time. I believe that I get triggered by Bill when I feel that he is stressed out by any mess, even sometimes when in my opinion, it isn’t that big of a deal, but his stressing on it, makes me stress on it, then I get internally anxious about his attitude of frustration. I end up feeling like it’s all my fault. Everything is my fault. I am a bad person. I am lazy. I am…it’s all part of the neurotic mantra that I can get going in my head about how I am feeling. This pattern stems from my abusive stepfather, who was a misogynistic, authoritarian, abuser. Even though I know in my mind now that none of that matters, this is a pattern of behavior or emotions that seem to continue when I get stressed about messes. I can honestly take a moment here to tell “Little Alice in Wonderland” that all of that is over. The criticism, the contempt, the anger, the hatred that I felt directed at me was not my fault. It was his fault. Ralph Barbour did not know how to parent. All of the things that he inflicted on me mentally as a child got ingrained in my psyche. I don’t know his story, not that it matters.
The only thing that matters to me now, is that I want to be mentally healthy. I want to have good relationships with people in my life. I am currently in my winter mood, which means that there may be a bit of S.A.D. that affects me every year. I feel less motivated to do anything or go out. I think of what I want to do, and often there really isn’t much that I actually want to do. When I say that, I mean literally. Lately, I could sit on the couch and surf the web during the day. I have too much idle time, and I also procrastinate getting other work done. I end up at the end of the day being mad at myself for not being productive. There is always, always, always work to be done around the house. The thing is, that I really don’t pride myself anymore on being some kind of domestic goddess who I would have been almost forced/conditioned to be during the 1940’s – the 1970’s. For one, like I mentioned before, I am not the most organized person,not consistently anyway. Deep down though, I know that pissing away my time so often only makes me feel like crap. I sporadically get a lot done, here and there. The essence here boils down to one thing with me. “I NEVER FEEL GOOD ENOUGH ABOUT MYSELF OR WHAT I DO”.
This is another reason why I wanted to write today. I am back into my self obsessive mind, about my hair, about my body, about my looks, about my aging. It is almost systemic with me. I become really obsessed about my looks. My hair seems to be an ongoing mental illness with me. I can’t make up my mind about what I want to do with it. I want to look like a healthy, attractive normal middle-aged, 51-year-old woman (who really looks only 40) if I am being honest. I know that it is seemingly a cultural issue in some ways, and I am not alone in the pervasive thinking about my looks, but still, this kind of more intense with me. Even though I am aware that this is the result of a childhood abuse, I am working to heal it in myself. I’m not sure about the nature of true healing without lingering unhealed parts. Perhaps this is what Noah Levine meant by the nature of suffering in humans. That we will suffer because we are human, and one cannot get around that. It is possible through regular meditation practice that I can find more peace. The thing is, I have difficulty establishing regular self-discipline in my life, in many different areas. I am inconsistent. Maybe everyone can be inconsistent sometimes, and for me specifically I use it as a way to beat myself up. This is the crux of my story here. There are literally times when I feel such self loathing, and honestly, I have no idea why. I just know that it makes me feel horrible about myself when I do it unconsciously. Right now, I am being a witness to my own dysfunction. Sometimes, I sit with the feeling that there is nothing good about me. Which I know in my mind and my heart, that isn’t true. Yet, my mind ends up in this darkness about that which for some reason, I want to be different. If it isn’t my hair, it’s my body, or my intelligence, or personality, or my parenting style (or lack of it).
There is a pervasive lack of satisfaction with so much. It disturbs me that for some reason I can never seem to find contentedness. Maybe that isn’t exactly true. There are times when I am content overall, but it is fleeting. A lot of the time, I feel discontent. I know that I shouldn’t, that I don’t really have reason to. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in my current life, I would have to really think hard about what needs are not being met. In fact, after being with Bill for so long, I feel like his support of everything about me has been above average compared to some other people that have had a difficult childhood. For some reason, I do not know if I have self-actualization or if the premise of the hierarchy of needs is one that involves a person in their lifetime. That being said, if I am being honest with myself about my own Self-actualization, I do not feel as if I have reached my full potential. I know I have reached beyond where I would have been, had I not met Bill and married him. I married above myself in some ways. We compliment each other, I do know this, but I know that he could have probably married a less fucked up person. (I had to throw that in there) Yes, we each have our albatrosses, and we have each grown through our relationship together. Who really ever knows how differently things could be, in any given situation. Anyway, that doesn’t even matter. In that pyramid of needs, 1. Physiological: Basic needs of food, shelter, sleep, activity, sex – I can say that I have everything I need. Sex is a weird issue, but as I have gotten older, I understand now that I am not the only one whose drive is compromised. 2. Safety: Feeling safe from potentially dangerous physical and psychological situations and events. Security of health, work, money, (routine) and familiarity. I am completely safe. *I think this is an area of trigger for me though. I have quite an obsession with making sure there is food in the house, all the time, or overstocking. I have no reason to feel scarcity. 3. Love and Belongingness: Affiliation, feeling part of a group – family, socially, and/or work. Giving and receiving trust, acceptance, affection and love. * Here is a little tricky because I DO have love and belongingness, I feel trust and for the most part, I think other people perceive me as a trusted person. However, I struggle to feel like a part of. I often feel like an outsider or different from my own family of 5 and even in social situations with friends, I can find myself not fully trusting in the relationships that I have. I’m certain it goes back to conditioning. I’m working on that in my friendships, but I am constantly over-thinking this. 4. Esteem needs: Feeling competent. Self-esteem and self-respect. The respect of others, family, socially, and at work. *This is a difficult area for me, in that I never really feel a sense of competency. On one hand, I have come to accept my type of intelligence yet, I don’t feel that I know as much as I want to. I want to know more. Perhaps I do have a learning disability that challenges me at times, but I know that I am intelligent and capable of learning. I think this is a weak area for me though, and is one of things that causes me to have a sense of not being good enough because I have a perfectionistic side. I want to be an intellectual that feels both credible and also humble. My short term memory is truly an issue for me. That isn’t an excuse. How can I work around that though? There are ways to explore, if I could only work on each “problem” that I want to “solve” through discipline and consistency. I get sidetracked and distracted easily, and I can be lazy sometimes. I like to play more than work sometimes. *SELF-DISCIPLINE* 5. Cognitive needs: The desire for knowledge and understanding. The need for meaning and predictability. As I said, I do love to learn and grow. I have always been a curious person, and I love learning new things. Perhaps this is an area worth looking at too. Meaning and predictability are things I think are very important to me. My life actually does have meaning by all of the things that I have managed to accomplish or rise above. Being a good mother, a good parent is one of the most important things in my life because I want to give my children the life that I did not have. I know that I have done well, considering. I feel torn sometimes about what the right thing to do is. Having no real role models, I have done okay. I think a part of me feels that nagging that I am not doing good enough, that I could do better. *Always not good enough* 6. Aesthetic Needs: The need for beauty and order. Creativity, design and art. I think this is an easier one for me. I like to surround myself in beauty. *although, I seem to have a nagging discontent and want to change things. Part of me would love a magazine perfect house with matching decorations, the other part of me loves to play with creative ideas and I like the notion of comfort and personal eclectic style. (Maybe that is why The Wonderfactory office was so amazing) It had the feeling of playfulness and creativity for different moods or desires. Personally, I love this concept. 7. Self-Actualization: Reaching Full Potential. Becoming everything one is capable of becoming. Perhaps I am not giving myself enough credit. Perhaps this ideology is a lifetime ideal. I do want more for myself, but I cannot seem to figure out how I am going to get there. I don’t even know where “there” is.
All I know is that I am working to become my best self, and I seem to get in my own way. A lot of this has come up from talking to Jillian about her father (my brother) and all of the ways that I analyze my family of origin. I wish I could “fix”. I can’t. I can’t even completely fix myself, and by fixing myself, I sure would be happy to not be so erratic with my thoughts all the time.
After my last round of therapy, I learned that it is possible that I have Borderline Personality criteria. So, how do I work with that at 51? I want to not have mental illness, but I do. It is genetic and also conditioned by living with a broken household, addiction, instability, chaos, abuses, lack of support. I see correlations between John (my brother) and myself in our behaviors and some of our ways of thinking. The one area where we are really alike is our desire to be heard, even sometimes when it is not rational. The difference is that I am constantly striving to learn how to not hurt people, yet I have hurt my loved ones, and some of my friendships. I do try to make amends when I figure out that I have done something that needs to be made right. In this case, it is easier for me to avoid a relationship with him because he can be so damaging. I know he doesn’t mean to be, he is also trying to preserve himself. Even though I think it is pretty self-destructive. I can relate in some ways. I have no answer for this.
2016-2017 has been challenging for me on the political front because it brought up triggers that come from abuse and misogyny. I have a lot of unresolved shit. Perhaps this is also developmentally normal for a middle aged woman who is close to having an empty nest. I know politics have challenged many people, particularly women this time. My goal is to stay present and work to make things better now. As for my family, there is not a lot I can do to teach them how to get out of the pattern they are in. I do try to, but perhaps it is just one of those things that is not my responsibility to try to fix. Then again, I feel that my breakthroughs are worth talking about to Jillian in particular. She has her own set of life challenges. If I were to create a mind scenario about them and how their lives are going to turn out, I don’t feel very positive about it. For my own kids, I feel much more confident that I have actually done things to teach them about my experiences and what I do to handle situations. When my kids are launched into the world, I want them to be better prepared than I was. I think they are already.
Okay, so I have been writing for quite some time now. It is time for me to release this. It was good to get some of this out of my head. Although, initially, I did want to also explore my own addictive behavior, and the possibility that the tendency to avoid can come from my lack of self discipline. Sometimes I just want to keep my addictions because they are not working very well for me at times, in terms of self-actualization. I learned how to numb and disassociate, and that is very familiar for me. I don’t like it, but that is just where my behavior goes sometimes. A part of me is very delicate with myself. I do feel the need to protect myself when I feel insecure or incompetent by hiding. My next question for myself is, do I want to go away to a Dharma Punx retreat and get my shit together in the way that I think I could if I abstained from all chemicals? I don’t know. I have so many ideas about what things I would like to do, to accomplish. At the end of my life, I just hope that I am at peace with my decisions. Life is too short not to be using my gifts and talents more than I allow myself to. I have a lot of self-consciousness and fear. I remember when I was on the Kripalu track and I was SO ON. It was hard, but I was engaged, and I pushed through. Why can’t I do that again? Where did my self-confidence of that time go? I want it back.