Monday, December 6, 2010

...the Ear Plugs?

Remember last year when I was working on being more optimistic? Well, I've been trying, and we have determined that I'm being sabotaged by a little something called my internal dialogue, ID for short (Freudians reading this can start laughing now)

If ID were a person, I would slap it's face. It complains incessantly about everything from my hair to my handwriting. It never shuts up and it never says anything nice. To mangle a line from Star Wars, if there is a bright spot in the center of the universe of my life, ID is on the plant that it's furthest from.

If ID were listing some of it's skills, it could say:
  • ID is a first-rate archivist, maintaining a database of 46+ years of memories and experiences, fully indexed and searchable.
  • ID is proactive, keeping current on cultural references in anticipation of melding it with memory data to effortlessly produce disparaging comments at a moments notice.
  • ID is an operator, working seamlessly with the subconscious to produce nightmares that are as terrifying as they are complex (yes, seeing Inception was a very bad idea).
Basically, ID is a devious SOB that is hell-bent on making sure that I stay in the depths of unrelenting self-doubt.

How do I fight my ID? How do I deafen the sound of my own internal dialogue?

Here is what I have learned

Re-frame: This doesn't stop ID from spewing forth it's typical drivel, but means that I become a translator of sorts, telling myself things like - ID didn't really mean "I am a useless, lazy oaf. " It meant that "I'm overworked at the moment and am suffering from an appropriate level of burn-out."

Ok, I think I can do this one. (Sorry, ID didn't mean "think" it really meant "know" - Hey ID learn English will ya!).

Re-write the Script: This requires me to consciously develop a new script for ID to follow.

Hmm, I can write a new script, but make ID follow it?

*maniacal laughter*

Does anyone know where I can get a set of ear plugs?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

...the Optimists?

Those who know me, know that when surrounded by horse poo (keeping it PG here), I'm not sitting there looking for Pony. I'm a - Glass half empty - Clouds don't have silver linings, they block the sun and bring rain (or snow)-kind of gal.

I'm not an optimist. To say the least.

So of course during this recent bout of unpleasantness I'm forced to, therapeutically speaking, look on the bright side. OK, if not the bright side, at least acknowledge the positive rather than focusing on the negative. "but I already do" I say, "I believe in giving those around me positive reinforcement, not to focus on the mistakes but look at them as learning lessons and move on"

"No" I'm told, "Not about how you treat others, but about how you treat you"


Now there's a bit of good news...

...not!

After a few moments of stunned silence, it begins to sink in. Looking at it honestly, if I treated others they way I treat myself, I would probably be a friendless wonder, alone, and bitter. So why do I always focus on what I haven't accomplished, on what I've done wrong. Why don't I focus on what I have done, and what I have done right?

I look at my therapist like a sheep looks at a 747 and say "This will be like teaching colors to someone who can't see."

I'm gently reminded to take it a step at a time - let's look at work first.

Oh joy.

Where are the optimists when you need them!

Friday, February 5, 2010

...The Lights at the End of the Tunnel?

"You'll get through this" is a phrase I hear a lot lately. Typically it's what I hear while I sit there looking (and feeling) like something the cat dragged in, tear-blind and exhausted. Now, I know that it's probably true, that I'm not likely to die from unremitting sadness, stress and anxiety, but Jiminy Crickets, I feel like a red hot poker is being shoved into my psyche on a daily basis. What exactly do people mean by telling me that I'll "get through this"?

In it's best light, I'm sure it is supposed to be comforting. That people are telling me "this may be painful but it won't last forever." But to me that sounds an awful lot like "stay the course" and to that I say refer to the red-hot poker analogy above.

So am I supposed to just hang on, go to work, go to therapy, and hope the medication works (ignoring of course the depressing article in Newsweek about antidepressants)?

Apparently so.

You might ask - why not take some time off? - and that would be a good question and even what most people do in this circumstance. Let's just say that isn't really an option. Before you ask why. Let's just say that it's for a host of complicated reasons that would get me in trouble by writing down here.

So I have one question for the choir signing "You'll get through this"

Where in the world are
the lights that are supposed to be at the end of this damned tunnel?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

...the Rails?

I've found that life is like riding the rails:
  • There isn't always a direct train to your destination.
  • You can't guarantee that you'll remain on schedule.
  • You alternate between full speed and slow crawl.
  • Sometimes the ride is smooth but frequently it's bumpy.
And sometimes you come completely off the tracks...

My life derailed this summer. One of my co-workers died practically in my arms. Then, less than a month later, my mom passed away. They were within two weeks of the same age and had similar health issues. So essentially I saw my Mom die twice in a month.

Like I said, completely off the the tracks.

For the last 5 1/2 months I have been trying to get my life back on the tracks, but I can't find them. Apparently, you don't just brush yourself off and get back on. The tracks are destroyed.

Life, as I knew it, ended shortly after dawn, September 27, 2009. Yes, I have a loving family at home and friends who care, that didn't change. Yes, I still live where I live and work where I work.

Why then can't I just pick up from where I left off?
  • Because I feel like an orphan?
  • Because I lost the one person with whom I always shared my troubles?
  • Because it hurts so damn much I can't think?
  • Because I'm alone in a way I was not prepared for?
  • Because I can't even believe she's gone?
All of the above, at least in part, but mostly because I am forever changed.

I'm not the same Angie who went to bed on September 26, 2009. This Angie is filled with a bottomless, unrelenting grief, which will lessen in time, but will never be gone. This Angie worries constantly about the similarities she shares with her Mom and doesn't want to die early and leave her daughter as she has been left. This Angie wants nothing more than to feel her mom's arms around her and knows this can never be. This Angie will forever carry a shadow behind her smile.

It isn't so much getting back to normal as it is discovering and adjusting to the new normal.

Turns out that in order to get back on the tracks I have to find a new set.
a blog of exploration, discovery, and recovery