Tag Archives: anxiety

Listen Up

There are so many topics out there that are heavily polarized. One side thinks the other is crazy. The other side thinks the first side is nuts. And neither side is very kind about it. We’ve seen this day in and day out with politics and it just seems to be the way things are right now, but I have a problem with it.

Note: This is not going to be a post arguing vaccine safety, gun control, the right type of ‘diet’ or animal cruelty. While I realize I am opening myself up to such scrutiny, I’m not looking for a debate on the issues and as such I’m closing the comments. If you’d like to send me a kind note, please do, ( salamanderpal at gmail) but know that I am really not into being berated or lectured. It’s taking me a lot of guts to put this out there, so please be kind.  I’m going to make my choices, and you can make yours and I’m pretty good with that.

That said, this is coming about due to my experience on social media with my political views and others. I am a liberal, hippie-crunchy vegetarian that disagrees with mandatory vaccination, is pained by factory farming and the slaughter of animals, and loves socialized medicine. It takes a LOT of guts and pep talking on my part to even POST a response, or something I believe in, simply for fear of the response. (Some will say – who cares what people think!? But…being sensitive I just can’t dismiss the replies, so I keep my mouth shut) I’m pretty familiar with being on the edge of things. It’s a tiring, exhausting place to be some days and biting my tongue gets painful.

I bite it because I don’t want to argue, not because I don’t care or don’t have strong views. I bite my tongue because inevitably, it won’t be a discussion where both people are heard and we agree to disagree with a better understanding of each other. I bite my tongue because nine times out of ten, it will devolve into accusations of stupidity and idiocy with a side of hurt feelings. I don’t care if you think killing animals is awesome, vaccination is the greatest thing we’ve ever done and it never hurts anyone or if MOAR GUNS is your battlecry. I do care, that you don’t call me names or be insensitive.

So maybe you can already tell, but my problem isn’t that I am on the minority side of things here. It tends to be my thing. My problem is exactly the same problem I had during the elections – the way one side ostracises the other. The way articles label the side they are not on as crazy, idiotic and just plain stupid for even questioning the ‘truth’.  The way they invalidate good peoples’ fears and concerns without batting an eyelash.

Guys, why do we do this?

I personally live in a constant state of feeling stifled. I realize some of this lies in my own sensitivity and fear of reaction, but should I have to fear being jumped on? Should I really keep my mouth shut, because I don’t want to get attacked? Called stupid? Made to feel inadequate or unintelligent? Told I clearly don’t believe in science? Made to feel like I must not understand or I’d feel differently? Really, should I fear all these things?

I don’t think so.

There are extreme ends to every issue and there always will be. Is it possible we make them even MORE extreme by our constant labeling and ostracism? By the way we immediately brush off their concerns or fears? By continually not validating people who buck the status quo? By villainizing the ‘other’ side or the minority, we make people more defensive, more aggressive and more rabid in their attempts at being heard. It’s really no wonder that speaking my mind gives me such great anxiety that it keeps me from doing so.

Questioning authority is a GOOD thing in my book. So much of the controversial topics have things that DO need more investigation by impartial parties. Studies. Research. Why are we teaching the world that questioning the rules is such an awful thing? Shouldn’t we be encouraging each other to think for ourselves and to keep pushing for truth? Truths change. Scientific theories have changed over the years, repeatedly as technology and innovation happens. We wouldn’t have many of the innovations we have if people hadn’t kept questioning. Kept seeking. Kept searching.

It’s easy to be big, to talk boldly and to stand up when you’re with the majority. It’s easy to talk about your beliefs when you know you’ll get support, without doubt. It’s not so easy when you’re in a minority without the same vocalization and safety in numbers. I’ll say from experience, it is REALLY FREAKING HARD to be brave enough to say – this is what I stand for – when you know you’re going to get shot down. When you know people will make you feel like an idiot, if they don’t actually call you one. When you know the majority won’t understand where you’re coming from, or even care. Then what happens is the loud majority gets heard, while the minority still gets stifled, ostracised and isolated.

When what they really need, is validation. They need someone to listen to them, and even if they don’t agree, say that they understand where they are coming from or at least WHY they feel/believe the way that they do. You don’t have to agree, but I feel like we take disagreement as a cue that we don’t have to listen or try to understand. I don’t need you to not vaccinate your children, but I do need you to hear my personal story with vaccine injury and maybe understand where I’m coming from. I don’t need you to agree that no one should carry a concealed weapon, but I do need you to hear my experiences and listen to me. I need you to understand my feelings on the matter, whether you agree or disagree and in return? I’ll do the same for you, as long as you’re not making me feel inadequate or calling me names. Really! That’s how it can work! If it is so clearly me vs. you, why do I need to understand?

Well, because it’s the only way that we’re going to get anywhere in this world. If two people on opposite sides of gun control can’t sit down and understand why they feel the way they do in a safe manner, how will effective policy ever be made? If the Pro-Vaccine people can’t hear the cries of those with injured or deceased children and be at the very least compassionate, we will just keep yelling at each other. If Democrats paint Republicans as conservative crazies and Republicans continually tell you that Democrats are one eyed monsters, well, who the hell is going to want to sit down and really understand each other? (If you’d like to see a well spoken speech on this, and the media’s effect on polarization, go look up the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Jon Stewart is pretty brilliant in my opinion with his words.)

I just don’t care what the issue is. Political parties. Gun control. Drugs. Vaccination. Religion. GMOs. Vegetarians vs. Cavemen. I don’t care. What I care about is that we watch how we talk about ‘the other side’. Both to their faces and in general. That we watch how we make others feel. That we be compassionate while discussing these things. That we don’t just say what idiots a group of people are, off the cuff without thinking. While it might be simple open and shut for you, it may not be for the other person. Maybe they’ve had a gun death, or a vaccine injury in their family that you don’t know about that has brought them to where they are. Maybe you’ve had other experiences that they don’t know about that have helped form your views.

Maybe before you tell someone how irresponsible they are for their choices, liken someone’s unvaccinated children to rabid dogs, tell someone they are a moron for owning a gun or call a group of believers idiots, think about the story they might have.  I know they can be impassioned topics, but we each have a reason for the views we take, we each have stories to tell and experiences that color our take on life. Why not share your story, rather than an aggressive argument? I just can’t help feeling that we’d get a lot farther in this world and even in our little pocket communities if we listened. Truly listened. Not to respond, but to understand.

I don’t need you to agree with me, but I do need you to respect my intelligence, my beliefs and my story. I promise, I’ll extend the same courtesy to you. (And maybe we can get our politicians to do similar 😉 )

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” 
― Stephen R. Covey

All Over

My Dad starts his first round of chemo tomorrow and I just don’t know how I feel. I don’t really have anyone to talk to save A and my feelings seem to be all over the place. I started crying on the train yesterday as I was reading and cancer came up. The heroine in the book was saying how awful her chemo was and I just couldn’t really handle it. It made me realize that this was my Dad’s last weekend before he beings six, long months of chemotherapy.

When I found out that he had cancer, I was upset naturally but…I had so much going on with me that I don’t know if I really processed it. I went into problem solving mode and dealt with it rather cooly to avoid a full meltdown like I’d had weeks prior due to my own chaos. When I was in Maine for a bit, he found out more about what treatment would entail. They found swollen lymph nodes in his neck, groin, chest and armpits as well as in his bone marrow and I guess that’s when it really hit me. He doesn’t just have a cancerous growth, he has lymphoma. As he talked about how careful he would have to be with himself to avoid infection, it hit me harder and I did my best to not react negatively, even though my heart hurt. They will have to really hit his immune system hard since it is not localized, but lymphoma. The doctors have been positive and say it responds well, but if it was your father, would you be able to really take that at face value?

He can’t fish, for fear of getting a hook in his hand. He has to wash his garden veggies even more stringently than he normally does. He has to be careful about people with colds or flus coming over. He can’t handle firewood without gloves, for fear of a splinter. Now, if you know my Dad at all (which I realize most of you don’t…) he lives in a log cabin on 25 acres of woods. It’s dusty. It’s dirty. I worry.

I worry about what 10 days on then 10 days off will be like for him. I wonder how sick he will be and if he needs more help than he has. I wonder how he will pay for it all in the end, without medical insurance. I worry that he’ll get frail and too soft. I just…worry. Six months of 10-day increments. Six months of no immunity. Of sickness and pain. I just…it hurts.

I just…I feel like I’m a mixture of things. One moment I’ll be happy exploring New York, the next? I am overwhelmed. There is no telling when, where or why this will happen. It just…does. Today I just want to be alone. Even A isn’t helpful or comforting yet I find myself screaming for that comfort. That love.  Today I find myself missing some people in my life SO dearly, those I was close to and am now distant from.  I find myself struggling as I battle needing to go pick up a few things with not wanting to move the car lest we drive around for days on end to find a parking spot. I realize life is consistently a balancing act, but jesus.

A quick moment too, to say thank you for all the support you’ve poured out to me in the last month. I feel ungrateful to be so needy, but honestly. Every last word has meant SO MUCH to me. To be able to reach out and get some cheering, a hug and some genuine love and support has been just unbelievable. I know how much I lay awake worrying when one of you is struggling, or something I see reminds me of one of you, so I can only imagine how true and sincere you all are. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Honestly.

Yesterday I felt pretty good. Pretty accomplished. We put together my kitchen, the bathroom, a couch and chair. The apartment is starting to feel liveable. There’s a mile-long list of things we ‘need’ or would like to have. Some as little as a drawer organizer and some as large as a table and chairs. But there’s a list that feels like it is CONSTANTLY on my head. I’ve been looking online at curtains and bedding until my eyes go cross eyed, trying to shop at places my family has offered to order and ship from.  I am TIRED.  My feet ache from the hardwoods and my head feels cluttered from the sound of the fans and air conditioning unit. By the way, a quick AMEN for the air conditioner. Holy hannah. I wouldn’t have lasted this long. (Speaking of heat, I clearly am an outsider. All of New York is in pants, HOODIES…I just can’t even comprehend this. I am in dresses and tanks and shorts and am a virtual slick of grease and sweat as the humidity clings to me. I know. I’m a delicate flower)

Anyway. This is all a jumble but like I said, I just feel like I’m all over the place right now and am not sure how to manage it all. I feel stupid whining like this. I feel like, some have it SO much worse than I do. I am lucky. I have family support. A husband. I feel somehow ungrateful to speak like this but what else do I do right now?

Also? My aging but beloved cat with kidney issues has started peeing on furniture. Yeah. Not good. I’ve dealt with her having accidents on the floor etc but now I just can’t handle it. Unfortunately, I know what this means. I can’t spend a few grand on surgery again for her, so I either deal with this, or I have to put her down. This is what I’m thinking of today, on the eve of my Dad’s cancer treatment.  Having to put my fur baby down. I’m tearing up as I write this because it all just feels like too much and I wish I had friends nearby that would let me cry. I’m quick to stop up my tears most often, for fear of pushing others away, but I really just need someone to let me get it out. To sincerely care for me and let me let it out. I’m not so good at asking for the help. I mean, I’m kind of awful at asking for the help I actually need, which is someone to dig it out of me. Someone to really ask what’s going on, and not expect a superficial answer, because I’m pretty good at giving those if it means keeping everything intact on the inside.


I love my family, but their motto in life is “Buck up!” so not very helpful when I need to cry and express my fears, sadness and worry.  I’m just not sure where to go. I know things will even out and I’ll find my groove. I know it. In the meantime? What to do is the question.  I want to do something for me in all of this.  I have just enough money sitting in my personal account to sign up for the doula course I have been wanting to take but am too scared to dump it into this one thing before I’ve found a job, a steady source of regular income. I want to JUMP into the doula work but at the same time, my fears and worry about keeping that extra ‘nest egg’ hold me back under the name ‘rational thinking’.  

So, there you have it friends. I am here. Some days are good. Some days are bad and others are just confusing.  I am bone tired from this journey. From the packing, the unpacking, the hotels, the travel, the hardwoods, the walking, the shopping, the constant feeling of ‘needing’ things. I am tired of the emotions raging through me, the fears, the worry, the huge highs that come crashing into fearful lows. I feel turned around and upside down. I want to pray, but don’t even know who to pray TO at this point. I just feel like begging for breath, for air and for compassion. Begging for a break from my sensitive self.  I feel like such a whiny, complaining…thing saying all this. Worrying at how it will come out. But…this is where I’m at.

I moved across the continent. I struggled in my marriage. I need to find a job after two years of not working. My Dad has lymphoma. His other daughter doesn’t speak to him, even after I have told her about his illness and I might have to put my best friend to sleep.

Then, I see a woman on a train, asking for money and food for her and her baby and I tear up. It hits me and suddenly I feel selfish and self-indulgent to be able to sit here and complain with food in my fridge and a bed to sleep in. But here I am.

            Me & Dad, August 2013

Spinning Brain Dump

To say that a lot of things are going on with me would be a gross understatement. Perhaps even the understatement of the century. It’s been trying to say the least but I am hanging in there and working pretty well I think. I always feel guilty when I whine on twitter and then disappear, but it’s kind of all I’ve got at the moment and I appreciate everyone sticking by me and with me.

I am currently at my Mom’s house and have been for over a week now, while trying to remotely hunt for an apartment in New York City that is within budget, near a certain train and that has a kitchen I won’t feel disgusting in. We seem to have found one at this point that I am not thrilled with, but can make work. So. That’s a bonus. Now to figure out the financial aspect of things with cross-border banking yaddah yaddah yaddah. Seriously. I hate this stuff.

Being at my Mom’s has been great at times and…simultaneously the WORST. I love her. I swear I do, but holy ever loving is she critical. We have spats while I’ve been away but I think I have forgotten just HOW critical she is of me. Of others. Of just about everything.  Then the best part is when I speak up and call her on it, she scoffs and makes it seem like everything is my fault and she is just trying to help or have an opinion. There literally is NO comment that I can make and stand up for myself. Somehow, she always wins. She always comes out on top. People will say, “Well stand up! Tell her that’s not okay!” and I have. Trust me. It just somehow doesn’t work. She’s an evil magician that can turn anything around to make me look like a whiner, a weak person, a negative Nancy when all I want to do is just be comforted.

I want to be able to cry and be validated. To hear that yes, this sucks and it’s okay to be upset. I don’t really want to hear how I’m not looking at this right, it should be an ADVENTURE. I don’ t really want to hear that everyone has anxiety, when I say my father WITH CANCER is anxious about the future. It’s not supportive or helpful. It’s just…ugh. It’s cold and annoying and it feels so dismissive of every feeling I have worked SO HARD to allow out in the open. Honestly, it’s no wonder I am so worried about others’ opinions. It’s no wonder that I have trouble speaking up for myself or believing in myself. It’s really no wonder that I am so uber, highly critical of my appearance and self. My eyes are just blown wide open when it comes to understanding where all this negativity has come from in my life.

I feel anxiety and stress when Mom comes up the stairs. I tense, wondering what she wants from me now. She comments on when I eat, what I eat, how much I eat, how often I eat and what I eat. SHE only eats one big meal a day, so…I must be a pig to eat so often or so much. Honestly folks. She truly comments on this. Just today, my grandparents took us out for lunch and an ice cream afterwards. I came home with an iced coffee and she commented on the fact that I had ice cream and iced coffee. Uhm. Well. They serve different purposes. She remarked that it was all “in between meals” as far as she was concerned so, oh well!

I just hate how weak I feel against her. A dear friend on Twitter said to respond with, “I Love you Mom.” and I think I’m going to have to start doing so because man, this is just eroding my sense of self. I’ve worked SO HARD to love myself. To not be critical of others, of myself, of my relationships. I’ve struggled with anxiety and oversensitivity – knowing that I am not abnormal and it’s okay.  All this to come home and feel crushed and absolutely helpless against her, at thirty three years old. It’s humiliating. It’s painful and I just can’t handle it.

On top of that, as I mentioned above, my Dad has been diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It’s been really hard on me and I haven’t said much about it but have been SO GRATEFUL for all your prayers and love and support. So thank you for that. Truly. He has had many tests in the last week that I’ve been home and the results today say that he has cancer in the lymph nodes in his throat, armpits and torso/groin, as well as some cancerous cells found in his bone marrow. He will have 24 weeks of chemotherapy and will have to stay at the hospital for three days when treatment starts. He’s having to not go fishing with his friends, for fear of getting a fish hook in his hand and getting an infection. Dad lives in a cabin on some acreage, with a HUGE garden and lots of house projects. It’s extremely difficult for him to rest and be still, so already he is worried about this.

Icing on the cake? Dad has no health insurance. Yeah, let that one sink in for a while. The next time someone wants to argue against socialized health care, I’m sorry, but I will tell them RIGHT where to go. Just for his local visits he is in for over 10k. This does not include any body scans, bone marrow biopsies or anything like that. Already. I just am not sure how he will pay for all of this and I cannot imagine how that is weighing on him even as he is fearing for his own life. How can someone heal when they are so stressed about how to PAY for each treatment? I just…I lay awake at night thinking about this.

It’s been so hard to hear my Dad with such worry. Such anxiety. I can hear the tension, the fear in his voice everytime we speak and it just wounds my heart. He hugged me yesterday, what he thought would be a goodbye for a few months, and I felt his sadness. I felt his person clinging to me even as he released me physically. Thinking about that moment now, I am tearing up. I wanted to hold onto him forever in that moment. We had just spent a few hours at the local fair, showing me his blue and red ribbons for the vegetables he’d grown, eating fried dough and ice cream – his favourite. The way his person lingered, the way he looked at me really broke my heart and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

There is a lot more inside me but I just don’t want to overwhelm anyone. I’m worried about finding a job. About furnishing this apartment. I’m worried about being qualified for jobs after not working for a few years. I’m scared of not having enough for food and necessities. I’m just…scared. I apologize in advance but for a little while my posting will be brain dumps. Spots for me to get out the feelings that I’m spinning on and worrying about. I understand if you step back for a while, I’m cool with that.

I wish I could step back for a little while.

All that said? I honestly think that I AM handling things pretty well. I need to have a big ol break down at some point soon and cry it out but for now? I’m doing okay. I’m trying still to talk about things even if I’m getting shut down. I’ve exercised a bit (I can’t wait to get back to regular working out – good LORD I can’t wait!), I’ve gone for walks, I’ve eaten what I”ve wanted and not what I haven’t. I’ve really been trying hard and am pretty proud of myself for the most part.

I AM excited about this new chapter. It’s not where I thought I’d be a few months ago but here I am and I am making the best of it. I have already started the reading list that is required to become a certified Doula. I am hoping to take a course in November that would satisfy two out of three coursework requirements for the Doula certification. I am excited at the opportunities that New York will provide me for this certification and have plans for the next four years at least when it comes to my future and career. I feel confident in that and I am looking forward to the undertaking itself. The end goal is to become a Midwife and I truly feel in my heart that whether or not I have my own children, I will be a great support, resource and ally through birth and beyond.

So yeah. Lots going on. So much up in the air and uncertain but…I’m hanging in there. Thanks for hanging with me.

Peaceful and Happy

I’ll be honest with you folks. It’s been a rough week.

I’ve taken a tumble downward and have had a few dicey moments. I’m hanging in there and taking it day by day but this prompt couldn’t have come at a better time. I really have needed to take a few minutes and look back over the positives this week. Those moments of peace and happiness. The things that I wasn’t spinning over, that actually calmed me and made me smile. So, thanks Ginger.

Packages. I got packages this week. With my birthday coming up I was expecting a couple but it was a good week to get them. I got one from my Nana that had Pepper Jack Cheez-Its in it as well as a bright, fun purse, flavoured K-cups and a little fun money.  We spoke a couple weeks ago and I mentioned that we couldn’t get other flavours of Cheez-Its here. She’s so cute. Mom sent me a bunch of ‘little nothings’ in a CDP style package. I couldn’t resist with such crappy times and I opened all the brightly coloured tissue paper wrapped packages. My Mom would be a great CDP sender as I got lots of little kitchen gadgets and she sprinkled candy across the top! I hadn’t had a tootsie pop for YEARS. It was a really happy moment that I believe I cried through. Shocking, Sarah. Shocking.


The best package I received this week though, was my CDP from April. I’ve been anxiously awaiting its arrival and was SO happy to have it in my hot little hands. Of course, I now feel anxiety because I’ve opened a few already in the last two days. Ridiculous. It’s just so thoughtful to hold a package like that in your hands you know? Something that a friend thoughtfully put together for you, thinking of you on the days where you need to be thought of. It made my day yesterday and I am ever so grateful.

I had a few hours to myself on Monday, Canada Day, and I spent it at the pool. It was so nice to lie in the sun, read and just breathe. I listened to kids running around and enjoying the beautiful weather. I watched seaplanes land on the ocean. It was so peaceful and lovely. I got to have a nice light dinner afterwards, a delicious drink and to top it off with Canada Day fireworks. For a day that started off iffy, it had some beautiful happy moments for me.

One of the most peaceful things for me this past week was honestly getting to take many  naps. I rarely indulge and allow myself to nap but with my emotions being out of whack and the temperature being STUPID HOT and humid, I just gave in and napped. Recharged. Sometimes several times a day. It always felt good to curl up in bed for those naps and I felt better for taking them. Indulgent maybe but I think I really needed them and listening to my body was a smart thing to do. I should remember that.

The other thing I really want to remember and note in the happiness category is my twitter family. My goodness. You guys really reinforce the idea that the internet truly can be a beautiful place with honestly GOOD people in it. Sure there are assholes out there, but the people I’m around? So much love and understanding for the world. Old friends. New friends. Doesn’t matter, your’e loved. I feel so guilty for whining, moping and just being low. I think things like “I’m not as bad as other people” or “There are people truly starving in Africa” to try and diminish my own feelings, to not trouble other people but boy, you all just hold your friends close. You hold them up when they can’t hold themselves up. You hug them and help make them feel like they are not alone in this world. I cannot thank you all enough for the support and love you continue to show, not just to me but to everyone around you. You’re making the world a better place, one note of support at a time. You’re gorgeous people and I feel so honoured to be among you.

I have had a few happy moments and beautifully peaceful moments this week and while not as many as I’d like to have had, there were sunny spots to remember.  I think tomorrow I’ll create my own peaceful moment with a quiet morning prayer to Kuan Yin in front of my gorgeous porcelain statue.


Yes, I think I’ll do that.

(This post inspired by Bring Back The Words Week 3 link up over on Ramble Ramble! Why not check out the other people participating or join in yourself? Everyone could use some inspiration and community!)