Tag Archives: catharsis

Adding Up

I should be happy.

We are financially stable, I have three wonderful jobs that fulfill me and make me happy (for the most part). My husband is almost finished his graduate program! He also got a great job in Vancouver! My dad is cancer free! New York is almost 70 degrees today!

And yet.

I’m happy. I really am but man, things add up! I swear, I don’t come here just to complain but I think 140 characters is slightly limiting and this all needs to come out somewhere.  So. Hi.

I attended my 20th birth almost exactly 7 days ago.  I have 3 more due any moment now, one in May, two in June and then who knows. I’ve supported multiples, VBACs, first timers, second time moms.  I am teaching childbirth education on Sundays from 2pm-9pm and it’s so amazingly fulfilling. It’s just… a lot.  I am Tired. Yes. Capital T, Tired.

My husband has a job lined up for Vancouver.  Where he will move to in JULY, if he cannot find work here in the US. Without me.  The job has some serious perks and within 2 years, would allow me to go to midwifery school SANS LOANS. No loans! No more debt! I mean…that’s kind of crazy right? His thesis has been sent to the FBI and he defends on April 29th. If he decides to apply to the PhD program (which his advisor is really wanting him to do), then he will return to NYC within a year.  If he doesn’t? Well… then I immigrate.  Either way, if he doesn’t find work here soon we’re facing separation for close to a year.

One year apart.  I’m dying.

I realize that people do it often, but we’ve been with each other for almost ten years now. TEN.  We’ve struggled through thick and thin and thinner still.  I supported him and he’s supported me.  Now, it’s looking more and more like I am staying here, supporting myself in NYC (Holy crap, can I do this!? ) while he moves back to Vancouver without me.  Sure, he’ll visit me.  But still.  Guys? I just really don’t want to live in New York without him. By myself.

So I’ll need to keep teaching. Keep working my office job. Keep taking births.  I have a coworker who doesnt’ want to support me being on call anymore ontop of it all and whoa nelly, NYC is EXPENSIVE.

This is just a fraction of the things in my head lately.  There are tears daily. Meltdowns probably every other day.  There’s a ticking clock that explodes around my birthday when Andrew will have to leave.  It’s just all weighing and each day that passes is one LESS day, yet…I’m struggling to just get through that one day without feeling absolutely exhausted and drained.  Working out? Haaa. I’m trying.

I’m sorry to dump here but appreciate the space in which to do it.  I’m hoping to be here a bit more regularly with some cheerier things. I promise. There ARE bright things in life right now. BEAUTIFUL bright things.

Just this week has been one hell of a week.  I hope next week is lighter – yours too!

Friday Feelings

I have had company for four nights and three full days. My company has been lovely, low key, low maintenance and really a good time but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely LOVING the quiet of my apartment right now. I have been 100% alone for about four hours now, I have not uttered a single word but to the cat.  Blissful I tell you.

I know three days doesn’t seem like much (and I feel horribly guilty that I have so little staying power), but then again, the kids playing outside of the school next door might not be much to you either. A normal day for me involves a little bit of time, retreated into the bedroom with a game or a book. It sometimes has a long subway ride where I sit quietly by myself, or next to my husband, not talking. Reading. Just zoning out to myself.  For introverts and highly sensitive people a like, that quiet recharge time is SO important. It’s taken me a long time to learn this about myself, but I really do need a LITTLE alone time in my life. It helps me. It resets me. It allows me to take a breath and get back up and moving. Without it, I feel frazzled and exhausted. Yesterday morning, I was on the verge of tears because I just felt like I could NOT get up and sight see one more minute. I got up, we got food and it got better but it was touch and go for a little bit.  Add to all of that, that I live in less than 500 square feet and my friend slept on my couch in my livingroom. Add to that, that I am the only person who cooks. Who gets up and says, “Okay let’s go out!”. Who gets anything moving or makes plans.

Friends, I am toast. I really am and I am looking forward to emptying my DVR and barely leaving my apartment this weekend.

*

A very close friend of mine has been ill, on and off for years.  He was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a year or two ago and while avoiding gluten made him feel better, there were still things that did not clear up. I just found out today that they are waiting on blood test confirmation, but that he most likely has Lupus.  I feel so bad that I have not been around like I should have been for him.

He can’t talk about this with his wife as she is expecting any day now and has a whole host of her own issues due to her maternal size and so forth. I worry about how prepared they are. I worry about her health (or lack there of) and their baby being healthy. I worry that she now has to deliver in a completely different town because her BMI and size has made it so that no doctors want to deliver locally. That they need to go where there is a better NICU.

All of this I’ve been worried about too. Just, lots of worry for my friend, his wife and their baby waiting to be born.

*

My doula training starts two weeks from TODAY. I suddenly got a huge jolt of energy just thinking about it. Thinking about the fact that while a good chunk of my life is in chaos and is not perfect, I am taking ONE step just for me. Not for anyone else but for me. One step that will be the first of many to get where I want. At least one of the places I want to be.

I’m excited. I am hopeful. I just really want to be the support that women deserve. I want to share the love and care that I have in my heart.

*

I am going to get back into writing poetry. I wrote when I was younger quite a bit. I droned on and on about lost love when I was a teenager. I loved writing.  I rediscovered it a couple years ago and have since fallen out of practice.  I’m not one of those people that words just come to. It takes work. It takes writing down things every day even if they are just a phrase or two. Even if they never make it into a ‘proper’ poem.

I really loved being able to express myself in that manner and I would like to get back into it.  I think it’s a good part of my self discovery and this journey that I am on. This path.  I have a page where I share my poetry here. As I read over the past, I realize that they are some pretty violent and sometimes graphic images. Maybe even a bit emo, so, be kind please. They are snippets from moments in my life. Some of them.  Others are simple wordplay without a deeper meaning.

I hope you like what I have written of my past and what I will write of my future.

*

I think of a lot of people, often. People I’ve never met. People I have grown to love and cherish over time. People I’ve learned about by scouring their blogs, reveling in their honesty and the vulnerability in their words or perhaps their humor or way of being. I think so, so often.

I don’t think I speak up enough so I am going to try to do that. I’m going to send the emails waxing poetically about how amazing this person is when I think it.  I’m not going to worry about how odd it might sound, I’m just going to do it because I know what a difference a kind word can make.

So if you think no one is listening or watching. If you think no one is reading. Just trust me. I lurk a lot. I think a lot and I love a lot.  I’ll try to tell you more often that I saw something your child would love or that I am amazed that you are still standing. I’ll do my best to tell you that I thought of you this morning, and was proud you got out of bed or that I am proud of you for going to the Doctor.  I will work hard to tell you how SORRY I am that you’re going through so much, that you are so strong for taking care of everyone, that I see where you’re hurting even though you keep going and that I love you. I promise you that I will let you know the little things that I seem to censor day in and day out.

If you’re reading this – you’re lovely. I will try to tell you more often. I don’t want to miss my chance to let you know you’re loved and that you matter.

*

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.

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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.

Dad
            Me & Dad, August 2013