Tag Archives: depression

Three Faces

Sometimes I feel like I have two faces – the one that I wear on the outside and the one that I hide on the inside.  Or maybe it’s more like three.

There’s the one that everyone sees, on a regular basis.  That’s the Badass Victoria.  The girl who gets her hands dirty, who doesn’t give up, who fights for… well… everything that she feels like she needs, who bends the world to her will.  That one is very well known.  That one has made friends, she’s lost friends, she’s won great gains and lost great losses, but she still stands because at the end of the day, she is a survivor.  That one everyone knows really, really well.  And, maybe, that’s the one that people come to most often because they know that, no matter what they throw at her, she’ll be able to take it.

Underneath that, is a softer Victoria.  A more compassionate Victoria.  Some people get to meet her… a very few, select people whom she deems worthy for whatever reason or another (or maybe it’s just because they need her to be that way at the time and she (actually) doesn’t like to see people suffer).  This is the girl who takes in friends who are homeless, who sits beside them, unwavering, when they’re at the Emergency Room for hours on end.  This is the girl who lovingly ships packages full of snacks and super glue and plastic bags (yes, plastic bags) to Afghanistan and doesn’t ask for anything in return.  This is the girl who leaves her ringtones up at full volume all night so that, if someone needs her, they can reach her no matter the hour.  She’s the girl that drops everything to fly a thousand miles when she gets an intuition that she is needed.  And because of this, she’s tired a lot.  She’s often worn down by the problems that other people bring her.  But she does, in fact, give a shit (which surprises the hell out of people who have only ever seen the Badass side of her). This is the girl that, despite the badassery, can love, and who loves deeply when she chooses to.  This is the girl who is loyal to a fault, who does not lie, who does not cheat, and who, often, gets taken advantage of because (despite the badassery) she’s been known to put her trust in the wrong individuals.  The badassery gives her a bandaid to seal her many wounds, and the two keep walking together.

The two of those parts?  They coexist really well.  Because when she needs to be compassionate, she can be compassionate.  But when that compassion needs to turn into strength to pull her friends and the people she cares about out of very dark places, the badass part steps in and does it – the compassion keeps the badass in check.  The badass makes sure the compassion does not overwhelm her so that she is rendered useless.

About three weeks out of every single month of my life?  These two things exist harmoniously.  I can move mountains.  And I have (figurative ones).  I don’t know, sometimes, where that reserve of strength comes from, any more than I know where the compassion comes from.  But believe me, as a survivor of many things, I’m glad I have the ability to be both simultaneously.

There is, however, something else.  It’s a part of me that I don’t let people see very often… even less-so than the compassion.  I’ve been fighting with myself over whether I wanted to write about this right now or not, but since it’s relevant to what I’m doing right now, and as it’ll be relevant to the narrative later on, I think it’s necessary.

I suffer from PMDD (yes, this is an official diagnosis), which stands for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. I jokingly say it’s like having PMS on crack.  And I guess, in some ways, this is a fair assumption.  This is something that only a small fraction of the female population suffer from – and physically, it’s an exacerbation of the normal PMS symptoms.  My cramps are bad when I have them.  I have headaches.  I am tired, literally, all the time post ovulation until my period starts.  Since this is something that manifests about two weeks before my period, I literally have it pinpointed to two phases.  During phase one, the headaches start.  The vision changes start (seriously, my vision – already bad – gets worse… no one could explain it until I started tracking it).  The fatigue sets in and you’ll find me taking naps after work.  Concentration is laughable and I take a lot of mental breaks because trying to focus on one little thing becomes impossible.  Oh, and then there’s work.  I’m not really a fan of most of my coworkers… they’re a lot like teenagers, except they are all masquerading as adults.  But the balls hitting my office, the yelling, the loudness outside my door, that gets to me more during that first week than at any other time.  I put on relaxing music and I try to get through my day.  The first week isn’t that bad.

The second week?  Oh my god.  See, the headaches subside.  I can concentrate a little bit better than I could the first week.  Most of the symptoms from the first week are long gone.  The second week is when my demons start to talk to me again.  They say that PMDD is most prevalent in women that have suffered (or that do suffer) from a depressive disorder.  I am not depressed these days, but I used to be.  This makes me more susceptible to the PMDD.  And it’s not that I get particularly depressed during this time.  No, my problems stem from anxiety.  Really, really, really BAD anxiety.

It’s like “fight or flight” all the time.  They have drugs for this.  And I take them.  When I need them.  My OBGYN wants to put me on an SSRI, but I respectfully decline as I do not want to be a robot, and writing is kind of what I do.  I opt for Xanax instead, which makes them shut up most of the time, but it’s really ridiculously difficult for it to shut them down all of the time.  I am not a hazard to myself, and I never really was.  I’m not suicidal.  But before I knew what was going on, I was incredibly self destructive.  My relationships suffered.  My decision making abilities went out the window.  And when the anxiety takes hold, I can’t even read the tarot, because my mood comes through in the cards, making it impossible for me to read them accurately.  I can’t trust my own intuition – and you have to understand, when it’s your intuition that normally gets you through the day, you feel kind of naked without it.

Now that I know what it is, and when it’s going to hit me, I’ve learned to combat it a little.  I’ve learned to put off any major decision making until this subsides (and it will… it always does).  I’ve learned that, whatever is going in my head at that very moment, that 90 percent of it is garbage and I’d do better to ignore it.  That helps to a degree.  But it doesn’t shut it up.  I still have to listen to it.  I just don’t do anything about it.  That’s free will.  That’s the exercising of free will.

It begins a countdown, of sorts, because I know that it will get worse before it gets better.

That said, when it hits, and when you’re sitting in the middle of it (like I am now), it doesn’t matter how many support forums you read or how many pills you take, or how many days you have until you don’t have to deal with it anymore… every day seems like a hundred years.  You want to feel normal again, and you put on that “normal” face so that no one knows that underneath you’re this ridiculously stressed out, anxiety ridden chick (the kind you really hate), you pop a Xanax, and you go for a run, because, really, what else is there to do except wait it out?  It’ll go away eventually.  I’ll get three weeks or so of normalcy, and then, maybe, the next time around it won’t be that bad… because it ebbs and flows, depending on the cycle.

 

More information:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004461/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/expert-answers/pmdd/faq-20058315

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premenstrual_dysphoric_disorder

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/11/23/pmdd-is-not-just-normal-moodiness/

Anniversary

In a couple of weeks it will have been exactly a year since Botboy returned from Afghanistan, took all his toys out of my closet, and left.  It sounds funny when I say it that way, and I mean for it to sound funny – because if you can’t find some humor in a situation, no matter how badly it made you feel at the time, then you never do quite manage to heal from it.

I’d be lying if I said I was ready to face that anniversary on my own.  I can’t think of anything worse than sitting in my house, alone, on that day with nothing to do but remember how I felt after I’d came home a year ago and found my closet empty, his note on my end table, and his energy bouncing off the walls of my apartment.  Or how confused and completely bereft I felt for a couple of months after that.  It’s quite something when you realize that someone who had made the first half of a year spectacular has the same power to make the first couple of months of the second half of a year absolutely horrible.  I have no other way to describe it except to say that it truly felt as if someone had died.  Because here was this man who had been a constant (virtual) companion for the first five months out of the year and then who, within the course of a few hours, was suddenly, and inexplicably, gone.

But, what was done was done.  Time moved on, as it tends to do. And when it does, we have the choice to linger behind while the world moves on without us, or to pick ourselves up as best we can and move along with it.

And, regardless of how I did it, I chose to move along with it.  I healed.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t carry with me some very real scars from the earlier damage, but I became stronger for it.  I’d spent the first half of 2013 getting ready for his arrival – moving things around, rearranging the house, revamping the bedroom and the bathroom.  I’d made space in my closet for his things, given him the two lower drawers, and lived in constant anticipation of his arrival.

I’ve since spread back out into the rest of my house (I needed the room).  Although he is away again (and not due to return home until later in the summer), I am not living in constant anticipation of his arrival – I can only hope that when he returns, I will see him.  But otherwise, it is out of my control.  I do not want to be alone on the anniversary day, but, then, likely I won’t be.  Metalhead is a fairly constant fixture here during the week due to those anxiety attacks and I’m sure we’ll be sitting around, as always, watching television.

True to my word, though, in an attempt to make something potentially irksome into something more tolerable, I’ve been building May into something better. I’m attempting to give myself something to look forward to despite all of the mental garbage that I could potentially fall victim to.

There is that wedding of course.  I’m not looking forward to the wedding.  But I am looking forward to my Louisville trip.  I’ll find myself zip lining through some underground caverns under the city of Louisville on the very day I get there.  I’ll get to spend time with my friends.  I may find myself at Kentucky Kingdom (the amusement park in Louisville) one of the days that weekend – this is the first year it’s been open since a ride cut a teenager’s feet off several years ago.  I’ll be so busy there that there won’t be time to feel sorry for myself.

But, as they say on the TV infomercials, “Wait, there’s more!!”

I’ve had a surprise!!

I reconnected, recently, with a very old friend (like a friend I’ve had since I was fourteen) that I call 1.0.  Or, as he described it, when he heard his own nickname for the first time, “DOS before Windows” (that’s about the measure of it).

1.0 has decided to make plans to visit Tampa, citing a need to get out of the city.  He asked which weekend in May would be good for him to do that.  My social calendar is not brimming of late, so I told him any (even that weekend for the wedding – since he could come to Kentucky instead if he was really that desperate).

A little back story on him.  After August 1997 – as in after I got raped, escaped the rapist, and found my internet connection disconnected, I needed to set up a system that would allow me to keep in touch with the people I needed to keep in touch with.  Very long story short, with the help of my friends in high school (who still have my undying gratitude), I managed to keep in touch with two:  Buttface and 1.0.  1.0 and I talked through most of my high school years (he was in college) and finally met in person during my Freshman year of college.  We dated for a few months (we never had sex) and then broke up.  I saw him two other times after that – once when I made my own pilgrimage up to New York for the first time, and the second time after I had met and was living with Mr. Ex (who was very jealous of him).  I haven’t seen 1.0 since.  And twelve years have passed.

And so, once he found out that I was okay with it, he bought the tickets.  Sent me the itinerary (I didn’t ask him to, but I appreciated it – after last year, the proof of all of this was awesome).  It was a very welcome surprise – I was so excited I almost couldn’t get through the webinars that day.  We’ll have fun.  Because we’ve always had fun when we’ve been around each other.  There are so many things I want to show him – my Alice bathroom, photos of my mother which most people never get to see, downtown Tampa and some of my favorite places, the beach at night (we’re going to smuggle some wine).

It’ll be good to catch up now that the divorce is well behind me and now that I am truly settled (or as settled as I care to be for the moment) for the first time, really, since we started talking in 1997.  We’re taking a short road trip up to Orlando to visit one of his friends as well.  And it should, really, be quite a good weekend.  It won’t be exactly the anniversary of the Botboy fiasco last year… but it’s close enough so that it gives me something to look forward to during that week instead of letting the demons get the best of me.

And so, despite the fact that May is the first anniversary of that very horrible experience, intentionally or otherwise, it’s wrapping up to be very different this year.  I’m busy taking care of my friend who needs me at the moment.  I’m hosting another one of my friends that I haven’t seen in a very long time.  And then I’ll wrap it up by going to Kentucky for this wedding – and seeing even more friends there.

The past is resonating… it always does… and it’s doing so especially right now in ways I won’t disclose, because I’m still sort of watching to see where all of this eventually goes without any interference from me.  But just because it resonates doesn’t mean that it’s all bad.

What If?

In 1999, when I was sixteen years old, I moved out for the summer for the first time to go work at a camp.  I met a boy there.  We fell in love.  There were fireworks, he was my first, and six months later, on December 18, he gave me a ring to replace the promise ring he’d put on my finger a month before.  As it was being sized, two months later, in February 2000, a woman who was 28 years old (and who he had apparently been in love with since he was eight) told him she loved him.  He became confused, left me for her, I was devastated.

It was the shock of my life – at least back then.  I didn’t want to get out of bed for weeks (and did only to go to school – the rest of the time, I spent moping in my bedroom).  I ate, but didn’t taste anything.  I broke another boy’s heart when he asked me to prom because I realized I just wasn’t over the first one enough yet to really be with anyone else.

Four months later, I agreed to work at the camp again.  I knew he would be there.  I don’t know what I expected to come of it… but things were very awkward.  He was still seeing the woman.  She had a two year old son that was mad about him.  He was crazy about her.  Despite all of that, we were the only two staff members in residence that summer, so we were forced to share the living space above the dining hall once the day was over and everyone else had gone home.  Awkward silences spent staring at each other from across the breakfast table eventually became limited conversations which evolved, finally, into hour-long talks that never ended, quite, in a reconciliation, but the interest was still there.  He felt it, I felt it.  And I still loved him.

On the Fourth of July weekend, the camp always hosts a special festival event for the small town that it’s located in.  The camp staff usually works the hot-dog and refreshment stand.  I wasn’t scheduled to work until that Saturday, and I was looking forward to having the Friday off.  The guy, also, had finished his work for the day, and we’d sat upstairs talking.  Finally, he’d invited me to go with him to visit his sister, her boyfriend, and their kids.  It was a three mile walk, but I didn’t care… this was the alone time I’d been looking for.  And I said of course I’d go – I had to change my shoes.  About that time, my boss came upstairs, frantic, because the girl who was supposed to work the evening shift that night didn’t show up.  She asked if I would work.  I didn’t have a choice… I lived there… I was the only one that could be there.

He walked out to the stand with me, and I asked him if he could wait.  He said he couldn’t… he wanted to get there before dark.  I understood that… walking down a busy highway at night is not the safest thing to do – especially when there is not only traffic to worry about but coyotes as well.  And so he set off.  Several weeks later, he took another job with a construction company.  Permanent, and making better money.  I was happy for him.  Whatever happened between the two of them, he needed a job now that he was out of school and had decided against joining the army despite his ROTC program.

But I still wondered what would have happened had we gone on that walk.  I felt, the way that I feel things, that something would have turned that evening.  In my favor.  Knowing what I know now, that my gut feelings are rarely, if ever, wrong, I believe that things would have been very different once the evening had completed, had I gone with him instead of spending my time working in the Canteen.  But things were what they were.  He married her.  I moved on and married someone else.  They are still married, they have a little girl.  I am… well… divorced.  And in some ways, I’m grateful that it didn’t work out.  It would have been a hard life, and I don’t know that a marriage between us would have lasted – we were both so very young.  But still, I wondered.  Because sometimes “What If” is worse than anything else.  You can try and fail, but at least then you know.  “What If” just… lingers… with no resolution.

But I believe the past resonates.  I believe that, if we just wait long enough, we are given a second chance… a chance to repeat where we were before.  A chance to clarify a resolution that never came.  A chance to resolve the “What If” question.  The past resonates.  It repeats itself.  But the repeats are more of a “harmony” than they are a carbon copy of the past.  One can say things differently, do things differently, wait if they want to wait, work if they want to work, and go on walks, if they want to go on walks.

I experienced the same shock, the same devastation, eight months ago when Botboy came back from Afghanistan and left suddenly.  It was the same surprise, the same unpredictability, the same chaos and the same depression that had set in before.  And for at least a week after, I was back where I was before.  He was the only other man that ever affected me that way.  But the depression didn’t last as long… I wouldn’t let it – a casualty had come out of the first one, and while the casualty wouldn’t come out of the second one, I wouldn’t let those feelings eat me alive, either, so I got busy doing other things.  Time passed.  Things healed.  I wouldn’t say I got over it entirely, but I was better.  Botboy started calling again, we talked.  And finally, in January, we went to dinner – a “flashback” date as he called it.

And so, two months ago, when I was in the car with Botboy, and we were talking, despite the fact that I was very much in the present, and very much interested in what he had to say, and very much smitten with him, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities.  Botboy was not, by his account anyway, seeing anyone else.  Or in a relationship.  Or married.  But there were similarities all the same.  The way we talked.  The things we said to each other.  The two of them look nothing alike.  Their mannerisms are nothing alike, and they don’t even speak the same way.  But there were enough similarities there that my mind was drawn, for an instant, back to the summer of 2000 when Jacob was leaving for his sister’s house, and how he’d invited me to go with him.

Somehow I knew that this was a repeat of the walk that I never got to take.  It wasn’t the same… hell, we weren’t even walking, I was driving, and when we got back to the parking lot, we were standing between our cars (and Jacob didn’t have a car).  But the feeling was the same.  Botboy did not invite me along with him that night – it wasn’t that kind of evening.  And we aren’t kids.  But I was given an option all the same.  I could walk away, I could go, do whatever I wanted to do, and, likely, be gone by the time he got back.  Or I could stay.  I could wait.  I could see what happens.

I chose to wait.  Because I love him, yes.  But also because I know, because I feel it in my bones, that this is the answer to the “What If” question I’ve been looking for since I was seventeen.  Botboy is not Jacob (thank god – I love Botboy now more completely than I ever could have loved Jacob at the age of seventeen).  And this is not an instance where I am being called to work an emergency shift at the Canteen.  But it is another “What If” situation.

If, once his adventure is over, he comes back to me, I’m willing to make a go of it.  At least to try, to make an effort, to see if we can.  And if he doesn’t?  Well, I’ll be disappointed.  Not as devastated as last time – I won’t be so blindsided this time.

Regardless, though, once this waiting cycle is over, I believe I’ll finally know what would have happened had I gotten to go on that walk.  And then there’ll be a new phase, though I don’t know what it will look like.

Silence

The loudest noise in the whole world is silence.

In every other instance, we find ourselves able to drown the silence out with noise, with chaos, with the comings and goings of our daily lives.  We can occupy our time, and our minds, with the menial tasks that we throw ourselves into on a daily basis.  We distract ourselves with work, with mindless television shows, with our hobbies, with our friends.

Until everyone goes home.  Or we run out of supplies.  Or we run out of money.  Or we run out of work to do.

And then there is silence.

Suffocating, deafening, all-encompassing.  It’s in the silence that we hear ourselves.  It’s in the silence that we hear all of the things we want to hear, and all of the things we never wanted to hear.  It’s the silence that makes us look at ourselves under a microscope, that makes us dissect every little thing we’ve ever thought, every little thing we’ve ever heard, every little thing that everyone has ever said to us, or about us.

It’s in the silence that we, for better or worse, internalize those things.  It’s in the silence that we over-analyze these things until they become second nature – whether they are true or not, whether we accept that they are true or not, we make them a part of ourselves.

There’s been a lot of silence at my house lately.  Too much silence.  Botboy is away, communication from him is minimal (and I sort of assumed that would happen).  And while I miss him, that’s not really the biggest worry that I have – because eventually, all of that will, for better or worse, resolve itself.

No, the deafening silence comes from all of the anxiety over the things that were said to me at Christmas.  But let me begin at the (sort of) beginning.  My mother and I have a strange relationship.  We were close, once, when I was little and malleable.  As I grew up, though, and my stubborn streak came into play, she became more and more frustrated with me, and more and more disappointed when I did not live up to the things she wanted for me.  This has snowballed into disappointment over a bad marriage, an even more humiliating divorce, a move that placed me 1000 miles away from her, the fact that I do not go to church regularly (or really at all, unless I’m home and need to keep appearances up– she’d die if she knew what I was really doing), a modeling career she did not approve of, etc. I suppose it is the breaking point that I am not, and cannot, live up to being the person, even personally, that she wants me to be.  Because what she really wants is the bubbly, cheerleader type of child, that listens, that will go to church with her, and that is not full of strange ideas.  Now, I’m not an unhappy person… or even a negative person… but I am sarcastic.  A smart ass.  And I have many, many strange ideas and interests that she does not understand… beginning with the strong aversion to chick flicks (Downton Abbey excluded, I’ll admit, I’m hooked) with flowery, happy endings.

Which is why, I suppose, she decided over Christmas to sit me down in the living room and accuse me of being bipolar.  I’m not.  And she’s no professional.  But diagnose me she did.  On top of that, she (and my father too – at a different time during that visit) seemed intent on assuring me that I would never really be happy married and that I shouldn’t worry too much about having children.  I looked at each of them, coldly, and said that they were right… I would never be happy if I were married to the wrong person.  But had I married the right person, things might have turned out very differently.  And as for children, I do want them very much.  Being thirty-one without any, when that is what I really do want, is frustrating.

But what’s worse is having your own parents, the people that are supposed to be supportive of you, sit you down and just throw it in your face as if it were nothing.  Granted, I did not tell her that those two things were my biggest fears (not marrying, and not having children).  I don’t admit ANY of my fears readily to people (oops, I guess I just did – GASP) and certainly not to them, who have not always been the most understanding people to talk to.  I keep those things largely to myself.  Wrapped in grubby newspaper in the back of my head in a corner so that I don’t have to think about them very often.  I’ve even managed to do that, to a large extent, with the majority of their disapproval – I accepted long ago that they were never going to approve of me for ME.  I learned to live with it by throwing it into the back of my mind, in its own compartment, so that I didn’t have to look at it.  I like myself well enough, my friends seem to like me well enough, didn’t matter what they thought.

Except for times like this… when my sister decides to get married, and I’m expected to be there.  I love my sister.  We haven’t always gotten along either, but I do love my sister.  It’s not her fault that our mother wishes I could be more like her, and it’s not her fault that they wildly preferred to go to her school functions over mine.  It’s not even her fault that they canceled their fall trip to Florida because she decided to go on vacation with them.  She didn’t have anything to do with that any more than we had anything to do with our opposing hair color.  But I do not want to go.  I do not want to put myself through that ordeal again, of having to sit there, and be psychoanalyzed by my own parents.  I do not want to, by proxy, have my own failed marriage brought into the limelight again, and have to answer questions about whether or not I am seeing anyone (because I can’t go into detail, period, about anything – not when things are so up in the air).  Not because I can’t bear it when I am in the middle of it… for me it’s like a personal battle I have to fight – how much can I endure without cracking?

But because once it’s all said and done, I have to come home to the silence.  Where there is no one to continually put me under a microscope, but also where there is no one to distract me from my own thoughts.  It doesn’t matter whether I believe her or not.  Because I don’t.  Not really.  But that doesn’t mean those stupid inner demons don’t keep poking at me, whispering about how I can’t even keep a man in my life for longer than a few months these days, how I can’t get into anything stable and healthy, how my damned clock is ticking louder and louder and louder, and how I really can’t say for sure when it’s going to stop since my biological mother died long before she hit menopause.  Whispering how do I KNOW she is wrong?

No, I’d prefer to stay here… not that the demons don’t whisper at me, they do.  The silence is deafening because they not only echo the insecurities that were brought painfully into the center ring over Christmas, but because there is the anxiety over this unfinished Botboy situation and the acknowledgement that I have no control over it.   That said, those insecurities are largely under control.  Or at least they are managed.  But I’ve managed them so well that I don’t want to add any more to the load.  And I know that if I go up there, more would be added.  I know that the load would become heavier than it is already.  I can carry it… I am freakishly strong for my size.  And I’ve carried far worse in my day.  But I’m tired of carrying this shit around.

I’m not a religious person by any stretch of the imagination.  And I don’t really know what I believe sometimes.  But if I were a praying person, I’d pray that someone would come along to prove her wrong.  And that someday I can put a family together that will thrive on building each other up instead of tearing each other down; a family that is not so over-involved with appearances that they don’t push the “different” one into a corner somewhere and lavish approval on the one that is more normal.  But, even more, I’d pray for an atmosphere in which the silence is peaceful, and not so deafening.

It’s not a lot to ask.

But maybe, in this case, it’s simply too much.

Facebook Stalking

A little over a month ago, Facebook celebrated its ten year anniversary.  Say what you want about Facebook (I often do), but it’s become a necessary evil to the girl who lives a thousand miles away from her family and from everyone she knew growing up.  Facebook lets me keep in touch with people I probably would never have seen again after high school and honestly, after it’s all been said and done, I’m kind of glad about that.

That said, Facebook also has become a hub for turning otherwise reasonable, smart, secure, confident, well-adjusted women into insecure, psychotic stalkers.  I’m serious.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken with my female friends where the conversation has turned into “So I was looking at his Facebook page and I found…”

Okay, so it’s fine to look at your boyfriend’s, or love interest’s, Facebook page.  If done correctly, this can help you get to know him better.  You can see the things that are the most important to them, you can quickly see what you share with them and what you don’t, and it may even help you realize whether or not you are compatible – for example, if you absolutely HATE video games and your current love interest posts nothing except status updates about video games, it’s probably not going to work.

But this takes a nastier turn when you start using it to scrutinize their every movement.

So here’s the scenario:  You’re Facebook stalking.  You find a post.  You decide to see what the comments say underneath it.  You read the comments, you find most of them to be funny, you then move onto the “Likes” and you see some chick you can’t remember EVER having commented or Liked a status on that page before.  “Who is THIS bitch?” you say to yourself as you’re quickly running another Facebook search to find her profile.  Her profile reveals a few public posts.  He may have “Liked” her posts a time or two also, commented on one of them – the comment is admittedly innocent sounding, but you’re on a roll now and in your mind you can build that up to be as awful as you’d like.  Convinced that he’s cheating now, you wait until the next time you are together.  It doesn’t matter how good the sex is, it doesn’t matter how good a time you’re having, you wonder whether he’s waiting for you to go to bed, or for you to leave, so he can text HER.  So you wait… you wait until he takes a bathroom break and you roll over and you swipe his phone and you go through his text messages.  Quickly, mind you, you don’t have much time.  But you can see that he’s been texting her and other women too.  Mind you, you don’t have time to READ these texts.  He’s taking a piss, remember, so you file that away in the memory bank and by the time he’s come back from the bathroom, you’re pissed at him, he senses there’s something wrong, you refuse to rat yourself out and just admit that you’re worried now, he doesn’t know what he’s done, and a perfectly good night (and, in the end, a perfectly good relationship) is ruined.

It sounds ridiculous, but I’ve seen this, and heard this, time and time again.  And I’ve seen and heard this out of my friends who are otherwise very intelligent women.  Granted, in some cases, perhaps there is a good reason to be this paranoid.  Maybe he really is cheating.  Maybe there’s some gut feeling there that tells you something’s wrong.  But Facebook stalking, truly, isn’t the way to get to the bottom of that… not unless he’s stupid enough to post the evidence blatantly, and publicly, online and to be honest, if he is, then he deserves to be ratted out for pure stupidity.

With that one exception out of the way, Facebook stalking, at its best, gives you half of the story.  Maybe I’m being generous… maybe it’s less than half.  Maybe it’s more like a quarter.  Anyway.  The bottom line is, while Internet stalking may work if you’re trying to see how many sex offenders live in your neighborhood and how close they are to this house you’re thinking of buying, for the most part, the internet can give you only a fraction of the story.  And the fragmented pieces that you get may be enough to tell a story, but let’s face it, most of us are not Sherlock Holmes and most of us are not sophisticated enough in our detective work to put together a story accurately.  We let our imaginations run away with us, we let our fears begin to dominate the way that we think and behave.  And then we fabricate the details that put our worst fears into the forefront whether this is warranted or not.

And that’s the thing about our worst fears.  When we give them energy, they manifest.  It’s magic, yes.  But it’s more than that.  When we allow our worst fears to take control, we’re constantly on the lookout for things to feed the conclusions we’ve caused ourselves to arrive at.  They eat at us… innocent things don’t seem so innocent anymore.  And what’s worse, once you start searching, it’s hard to stop.  Fuck the fact that you may be leaving comments on one of your friend’s Facebook page… WHO IS THAT BITCH that’s leaving comments on his??  Screw the fact that he’s called you today… who is he with when he’s NOT talking to you?  Because of these questions, you continue to dig, you continue to gather “evidence” and you continue to fit it together in all the wrong ways, filling in holes where the pieces really don’t fit with your own fearful assumptions.  It’s a slow, special kind of self-torture.

Suddenly it doesn’t matter if there were problems in the relationship or not.  It doesn’t matter if your boyfriend (or girlfriend) is doing anything at all.  Your suspicions are enough to get the ball rolling.  It builds and builds until finally it’s so big that there’s a big elephant in the room that he doesn’t understand and you don’t want to talk about.  You don’t trust him.  You don’t have all the details, but you don’t need them.  Your fabricated story is so big that it’s taken over completely.  The relationship becomes shaky.  And as your trust continues to falter, the foundation collapses completely, and you’ve lost everything.

I often wonder if, despite the technology and all the developments we have at our fingertips, we’re worse off in the long run.  I mean think about it… twenty years ago, if we wanted to talk to someone, we had to call them.  Or write them.  Or go visit them.  And when we weren’t communicating with them, we thought about them, sure, but we couldn’t “stalk” them without actually following them or hiring a PI to do the “following” for us.  The only “Jonses” we were keeping up with were the ones next door and there weren’t constant news articles that talk about how the 24/7 access to the lives of our friends and relatives (and the “happiness” – real or imagined – that is projected on Facebook) that make us become more depressed and disgruntled with our own lives.  If our relationships ended because of infidelity, it was because the infidelity was proven, in one way or another.  You caught them together in your bedroom.  You heard half of the conversation on the phone (I think about the famous “Camillagate” tapes from the 90’s as a prime example of this).  If you wanted to prove something, the evidence was more concrete… not something you fabricated out of your own mind based off of half-assed search results that you gathered off of Facebook.  Or the internet.  It’s pathetic, really.

With all this said, do I intend to delete my Facebook page?  No.  For all that I think it’s silly, I need it to keep in touch with my relatives that I barely see.  Botboy will use Facebook chat to contact me occasionally and it’s an avenue of conversation that is open to us while he is away (though I do not “stalk” him).  I still shake my head when I hear stories of “evidence” people find on Facebook that “prove” that so and so was cheating.  First because I don’t approve of the “digging”, and second because the digging provides an outlet for more questions than it does answers.

And what I think we’d all do well to remember is this: Unless he’s a blithering idiot (and I know there are some out there – hence the disclaimer), if he’s posting this shit online for everyone to see, chances are he’s innocent.  Or, at least, innocent until proven guilty without the shadow of a doubt (and I mean there needs to be DNA on the sheets).

Besides, if you can’t trust him, then why are you with him?

Valentine’s Day

I used to love Valentine’s Day.  When I was a kid.  Because when I was a kid, it was fun.  You bought Valentines.  You put your name on them.  You passed them out at school, to everyone, because everyone made their Valentines Day card pouch.  You had those silly elementary school parties where you stuffed yourself stupid on junk food and got to spend the afternoon watching Disney movies instead of doing math problems.  Then, if you were at my house, you went home and your parents gave you Valentine’s Day presents and then you watched them open theirs, your mother made a fabulous dinner, and you retired onto the couch afterward, watching Alfred Hitchcock and Superman reruns on TV Land before going to bed.

I started hating it in High School.  In High School it became a competition to see who was going to get flowers that year versus who didn’t.  You waited until the middle of the day when the front office looked like an extension of the local florist.  And then they’d start calling names to come pick up their flowers from their boyfriends.  One by one, girls would go to the front to get their flowers, each with a bouquet bigger than the other.  I was the tall, skinny, awkward, acne-ridden freshman and sophomore.  Flowers did not get delivered to me.  I’d sit there, doing homework, doodling in my homework planner, or otherwise writing letters to my out-of-state friends, and I’d pretend not to care.  But secretly, it mattered.  And it mattered a lot.  Not that I would have admitted that to anyone then.  Or even to myself.

And then, finally, there was the Valentines Day in 2000.  I’d been seeing a guy for months.  Met him at camp.  I was happy.  I was turning eighteen in a few more months.  We were going to get married.  He was poor.  I didn’t care.  In January, toward the end of the month, he left me for a twenty-eight year old woman with a two year old son.  That, in and of itself, was horrifying.  At seventeen you are not supposed to see twenty-eight year old women (ancient, by your standards at that age) as competition for your nineteen year old boyfriend.  That just isn’t supposed to happen…  But it did.  And I was devastated for months.  Like for serious, I didn’t really even get out of bed except to go to school for months after.  Valentines Day 2000, watching the girls go get their flowers that day, that was painful.  But what was even worse was that he called me that night… and he wanted to get back together.  I loved him.  Deeply.  I agreed immediately because that was all I really wanted.  Two hours later, he called to say that she had shown up at his house and he’d changed his mind.  Devastation again, made worse by the fact that I went to visit him the following weekend where he gave me my Valentine’s Day present – a large, stuffed white bear that I kept for years.  I finally gave it away to Goodwill last winter… it had spent most of the previous decade in a box.

After that, for years, I’d get dumped on Valentines Day.  It was like a curse… I could be in a great relationship, and it would all come crashing around my ears on that day, or on that weekend.  So naturally, I wasn’t a fan.

Combine that with the fact that even when I was married, we never celebrated it – my husband had to work every holiday, Valentine’s Day was no exception.  There is no stop to the gambling on holidays – they overschedule because they think they’ll be busy.  I’d spend that day home, cooking, cleaning, freezing because of the winter, watching all the pathetic Kay’s Jewelers commercials on TV, listening to people talk about all the fun stuff they were doing with their significant others.  And again, I’d pretend not to care.  Secretly I did.  Not because I loved him.  I question, now, whether I ever really did.  But because I felt left out.  Everyone else was having these great experiences.  Mine were nothing but memories of being dumped unceremoniously around that day or, if not getting dumped, sitting by myself most of the night in that big lonely house with two cats, waiting for my husband to come home, strip so that his ever-growing gut would pour over the front of his too tight pants, and watch TV as he ate copious amounts of junk food until bedtime where he would go, attempt to fuck me (if I was lucky), fail, and pass out after crying a bunch.

That said, there’s such thing as conditioning.  After years of not getting anything for Valentines Day, you start to expect nothing.  And honestly, I was kind of okay with that when, after the divorce, I was on my own on that day.  At least if I were alone, I wasn’t sitting around thinking about what I COULD be doing if my significant other just had a better job, or could keep it up, or whatever.  At least when I had my own place, I wasn’t having to watch flowers being delivered for everyone except me.  And I had my vibrator.  That was more dependable than what I’d been exposed to for the last six years.

Things looked up a little, though, after I moved to Florida.  Gatsby gave me an electric blanket for the Valentine’s Day we were together.  I wasn’t getting dumped.  I wasn’t being showered with affection, in fact he was telling me he wasn’t “sold” yet, but by then I’d learned to take whatever I could get.  The following year, before Valentines Day could ever even roll around, I bought tickets to fly up to Columbus, Ohio for a goth masquerade ball which was being held the weekend of Valentine’s Day.  I figured, at that point, if I was single… well… at least I’d be distracted.  And the goth theme really seemed to sum up how I felt about that day.

I didn’t anticipate being in a relationship with Botboy when I bought those tickets.  I didn’t expect anything out of him at all, really, since he was where he was right then, we hadn’t been together that long, and anyway, I was heading north.  Materially, I didn’t get anything.  I sent him some “coffee”, and some of the other stuff he’d asked for.  He was getting stuff he wanted.  I was getting stuff I wanted.  It was good.  It arrived, for him, exactly when I wanted it to – on the weekend I’d be gone so he’d be nice and distracted and wouldn’t miss me too much.  But it was during that plane ride that I got the best Valentine’s Day gift I’d ever gotten.  Whether he meant it or whether it was the alcohol talking, I do not know.  And I may never know.  But he told me he loved me.  He never said it when sober.  I never asked him to.  Mostly because I was afraid of the answer he’d give me when he was sober… if what he’d said when he was drunk wasn’t the truth, I didn’t want to know.

And I guess that’s when I really realized… it’s not about the flowers.  It’s not about the chocolates (it’s REALLY not about the chocolates).  It doesn’t really have to do with any of those things.  Because I’d gotten a gift the year before, and it had been nice, and I used it on my bed all the time.  But without any real emotion behind it, it was just what it was: a blanket.  And I suppose you could argue that Botboy’s words were just that: words.  Especially since, now that I look back on it, I don’t know whether he meant any of them or not.  But without actually having to give me anything, without having to send me flowers, without having to give me expensive pieces of jewelry, he said something to me that I’d really needed to hear.  Something that I hadn’t heard with any kind of conviction in nearly five years.  And I believed him.  Whether he meant it or not, I believed him.  Because I needed to.  And what’s more, I loved him too.  I still do (and he knows that). And, for the record, I am still afraid to ask whether the feeling is mutual, because I’m afraid of the answer.  Yes, I’m chicken shit.  Sue me.

This year, I’m on my own again.  At least mostly.  Now I’m waiting for Botboy to come back (back as in back from his adventures) again, but things aren’t the same as they were last year.  I’m okay with that – as I’ve said before – I’d rather sit here and wait for the possibility that I can have what I want, since the alternative is not waiting with the certainty that I’ll never have it.  I’ll be alone on Valentine’s Day weekend.  There may not be flowers.  There may not be electric blankets.  There may not be words typed to me over gchat while I am thousands of feet in the air and the speaker is a world away.  Would I rather it were different?  Of course.  But not in that I want to make plans to go out and do something fancy for it.  Not in the essence that I want to have some crazy gift exchange.

But there will be food.  There will be painting.  There will be… well… whatever I want there to be.  I won’t be sitting around here, moping, calling it “Singles Awareness Day” the way that some of my friends do.  I won’t be depressed because there is no reason to be.  It could have been different, of course, but it’s not.  And this time, it’s because I actively chose for it not to be.  I could have gotten a date.  I don’t have to sit here by myself if I don’t want to.  But in truth, other than Botboy, there is no one else that I want.  And pretending otherwise is not fair to them.  Or to myself.  And anyway, before he left, I told him I would wait.  And, whatever happens at the end of this “midseason break” as I’ve taken to calling it, I will wait.

So I’ll sit in my house on Friday night.  I already bought myself a Valentines Day present.  Candles lit, as usual, since it also happens to be a full moon.  I will probably walk several miles.  I will likely watch something completely un-chick-flicky on TV later – maybe stuff about the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre… And that will be that.

All in all, not such a terrible way to spend it.  I mean look at it this way… I’m not getting dumped…  See? Things could always be worse.

Karmic Debt

With the acknowledgement that the past resonates, the question, then, becomes WHY does it resonate?  If one believes in past lives, that we live again and again, learning things, making up for things we did incorrectly the last time, with the goal of becoming something better with the passage of each lifetime, then one could argue that the past resonates because those are the life lessons that we failed previously.  A second chance, per se.

But in my life… in this one… the past resonates often.  And it’s not the past lives… it’s this one.  Things echo.  People walk in and out of my life, more people come in to take their places, and the replacements resonate the way that the other ones do.  It’s like déjà vu.  I told someone not long ago that time is a funny thing.  It echoes.  It throws itself up in the air time and time again, the pieces get re-mixed, and then they all fall back down again.  In a new order, yes, but still the same old pieces – a reflection of what was.

I’m beginning to understand that now, particularly with what I’m doing with the men in my life.   Where two have now left, two others have taken their places.  Not in the same sense, no, but let’s start at the beginning.  I have only ever been madly in love with a man three times in my life.  There was my first fiancé, years and years ago.  When that ended, it took me months to recover.  There’s Buttface.  Who built that one up for a decade.  Getting over that, over it entirely, took forever too.  And then there’s Botboy.  Who I never really truly met, but it’s hard not to fall hard for someone when you speak to them daily, for hours out of the day, and when (whether they’re being real or not) they are everything you’ve been looking for for forever.  They have these things in common:  I was smitten with each of them in their time.  It also took an inordinate amount of time for me to recover from the fallout when it was over.  From the first two, I have recovered.  From the third… I’m mostly there.  It still pains me now and again but I am taking the pieces of that that I can salvage and making those mine.  Letting everything else go.

But that isn’t enough for Karma.  At least not for me.  See, she’s a bitch.  When I do something wrong, when I fuck something up, she makes me do it again.  And since, apparently, I am on my last life before I get to do “something else”, that means that whatever damage I do in this life, I have to fix in this life too.  So the past resonates.  Hard.  I have lessons to learn and no time to learn them in.  It’s like crunch time for finals.  It’s extreme.  But I’m dealing.  Anyway the two in question this evening are Buttface and Botboy.

I am not a bad person.  But I do like control.  I do like stability.  I do like to plan.  I like to know where things are going, what I am doing, and while I realize that you can’t plan for everything, christ, I try anyway.  So we’ll start with Buttface.  Ten years.  We waited to meet for ten years.  When we met, we tried to make it happen.  I believe he wanted it as much as I did.  But we were also both freshly divorced.  Things fell apart.  I don’t have enough words to go into detail here, but suffice it to say that out of a need to control, out of a need to understand, I suffocated him.  I was much younger, of course.  I didn’t realize what I was doing and I didn’t understand that I was killing from the inside what I was trying so hard to protect.  Things ended between us nastily.  My friend that I’d had for a decade was suddenly gone.  I was left to recover.  That was painful.  An impossible task, really.  But I did it.  We had one more small affair, casual that time, and then decided that we were better as friends.  We are friends to this day.  But it’s a hard won friendship.  There were years where we did not talk.  Long years.  I learned some things.  Hard won lessons, but I learned them.

Buttface = Metalhead

Enter Metalhead.  One of my best friends.  He’s had a blog… anyone who doesn’t know about him can go back and read about Rule Breaking.  But we’ve been friends since I moved to Florida.  He’s been one of my best friends through all of this.  We’ve had our periods where we didn’t talk, too, but that’s been more out of business than out of anger or frustration.  However it’s been interesting, at the very least, since we started sleeping together.  I’ve gotten to know him on an entirely different level, which is normal when you go from one level of friendship to another.  But it’s been bizarre too.  He doesn’t look anything like Buttface.  They are opposites right down to their height and hair color.  But their mannerisms, the way they approach life, the way that they respond to things… those things are exactly the same.

At first it was funny in a way, but then, as things progressed, as Metalhead started distancing himself, I started seeing things happening again.  I wasn’t controlling him… not at all.  I was keeping a lid on that, because after Buttface, I know better.  Hence the Karmic test.  Or part of it.  But I realized something else, too.  That I did not want carnal desires (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase!) to disrupt my friendship.  He was gone for a week, taking care of his kid.  I missed him, I missed the company.  I do not want a relationship with him, but I don’t want to lose my friend either.  And so, over drinks last night, we talked.  And we sorted it out.  He understands I’m not looking for anything else (because apparently he was worried about this), I told him that if this was going to fuck up the friendship we’ve built then I’d rather just stop it, and then we agreed to continue on for the time being with the way things are.  Airing out dirty laundry, communicating, that’s what friends do.  They don’t sit around and wonder… not communicate… not grow a pair and just ask (the way I refused to do with Buttface).

I apologized to Buttface for the past.  I squared things away with Metalhead (who still stays over, hangs out, is accompanying me on a trip I’m taking in a few weekends, yes we’re still having an affair because neither of us want to stop right now).  Everything is good there.  Karmic debt paid.  Hopefully this is a lesson I don’t have to continue to do over.

Botboy = Jesus

But there’s another one.  Botboy.  And it’s not the same lesson this time.  Not one of control.  Because with deployments, you realize you have very little and you learn to be okay with that.  Or you move on.  Deployment (his) taught me patience.  It taught me that I can’t always do things my way.  I am good with that.  What it did NOT teach me was not to jump into things headfirst without looking at what I’m jumping into.

And so, I’m doing it over.  There’s another overseas boy.  This one I call Jesus.  Because he physically looks like Jesus.  Same name as my first ex fiancé (the only other one of those).  Different country, but a similar situation.  The food sucks, the smiley faces are the same in the chats, the boredom is apparently the same, the movie watching, all of that is reminiscent.  And all of those things are minor.  Very amusing, but minor.   He doesn’t play with TransFormers, but in the midst of all of this, TransFormers are everywhere… on billboards.  On the freaking television.  On the back of vehicles I randomly pass in the road.  And then there is the girl.

I wrote about her.  I wrote about the girl that at least played some sort of part in the Botboy breakup (The Bot is the blog to reference for that one).  His ex wife, the one he said he did not want, but who wanted him.  The one who kept stalking him.  Torturing him.  Who had made his life more difficult than it needed to be and who, by proxy, made mine difficult.  With Bot, I chose to jump in anyway, knowing she was there, knowing he wasn’t over her, knowing that there was likely to be some baggage (though not knowing how much).  I made that choice.  I made that choice and then what looked like it was going to be okay, ended up not being okay.

Jesus has another woman in his life, too.  The same age (roughly).  And she looks just like her.  I mean these two women could be sisters (though they are not related to my knowledge).  And she says she loves him.  Red flags went off.  Immediately.  Because we learn, don’t we?  We learn from the past.  I had my heart stomped on, I wasn’t expecting it to be stomped on, because I trusted Bot.  It’s not that I don’t trust the new one… Jesus.  I have no reason not to trust him, but I don’t have a reason to trust him either.  And that’s the point.  We’ve not met face to face.  And we won’t until he gets home.

I’m not getting invested.  I can’t.  I’m intrigued by him.  But the girl may be a dealbreaker.  And what I have to learn this time is to let it go.  To let it develop in its own, if It’s going to develop, and leave it be if it isn’t.  I say this isn’t a lesson in control, and it isn’t for the most part.  This is a lesson in patience.  In waiting to see what happens.  In not jumping the gun out of desire.  And I’m learning it.  While it is a painful one to learn, because it is so reminiscent of what I’ve just gone through – what I just began to get over – over the last few months, I’m doing it.  Because I have to.

I have to learn to stop putting the cart before the horse.  I have to stop jumping the gun, I have to stop trying to make those choices for him.  Did we talk for six hours?  Yes.  Did I have fun?  Yes.  But that’s all it is right now.  And that’s all it’s going to be right now, because everyone has free will.  If he wants the other woman, he should have her.  Botboy did not want the ex wife… but I believe he did find someone else, much as I did not want to admit it for awhile.  So this lesson… this one is just letting time play out.  Let the chips fall where they will… let time do its rearranging and just to be okay with whatever design it chooses until it decides to throw them up again.

Karmic debt isn’t completely paid on this one… it’s a work in progress.  But I got this.

Housecleaning Take Deux, Part Trois: Myself

It’s funny.  I’ve spent the last couple of weeks writing my blogs well before the day they were due to be posted, knowing what I wanted them to say.  This week I procrastinated – partially because I’ve been busy, mostly because things have been changing at a rapid pace and I’m trying desperately to keep up.

Housecleaning is a funny business, especially when you are experiencing a period of transition.  Some things happen because you plan for them to happen.  Some things happen because you realize that something has to be done in order to get things moving.  And yet some other things happen because they have to happen – whether you want them to or not.  And this is the case with the Botboy.  He has effectively made his exit, both physically and virtually, from my life.  I can’t say that this was entirely unanticipated.  I half expected something of this caliber to happen when he came home, picked up his stuff, and became absent.  Physically, he is away for work again.  That much I know because of what he told me.  Virtually, he’s  deleted me from his Gchat list and made no contact before he left, despite his confirmation to the contrary.  As I’ve said, I am not surprised.  And because this began to fall apart in May, I’ve had over a month to deal with the emotional repercussions of most of it.  I’d even thought about deleting him from Gchat myself so that I didn’t have to keep looking at him and tearing myself apart over and over again about what was lost, but I didn’t have the strength to do it.  He did what I could not.  It is funny… even at the end of things, we were still on the same page.  At any rate, I accept that this is what needs to happen, at least for the time being, and I’ve let it go.  It is all I can do, the best I can do, for him and for me.  And so, knowing that, at least when sober, I was able to hold my head up and keep walking.

I walked to Gatsby.  It’s Gatsby that has been keeping me entertained through the majority of this – with the parties, and the dinners, and the silly movies, and the crazy board games and racquetball matches.  Thanks to Gatsby, I started doing the things I’d stopped doing when Botboy was a part of my life – drinking, smoking, staying up until all hours having a good time.  I was eating out more, skimping on the healthy eating habits I’d adopted, too, in order to get myself prepared for Botboy’s arrival.  After all, Botboy wasn’t here.  I missed him, but he wasn’t here.  And Gatsby was FUN.  It was always a party there, always a reason to get drunk, to go swimming, to wander around downtown half conscious.  The alcohol made the voices shut up for awhile so I could just be myself.  And I could forget, at least most of the time, the pain of the last month.

And that’s what it was all about, anyway.  Forgetting.  Forgetting that he’d hurt me, forgetting that he’d made all of these promises and then, in one fell swoop, had broken them all – and continued to break even the new ones.  I could forget that he was ever NOT the selfish asshole he’d become since his return to the States and I could tell myself I’d moved on.  I could tell myself that – but then I’d realize I was lying.  Because in that state, somewhere halfway between sober and drunk, the pain would come and I’d lose myself.  I’d begin to think, to cry, to get angry.  I’d drink more because it was the one thing he didn’t want me to do – I’d drink to lash out at him.  I’d smoke my eCig because I just didn’t care anymore.  I’d go downtown and have a hookah because he’d told me he stopped that too.  I’d do all of these things to spite him.  He wasn’t here… what did it matter anymore?

But then, I guess, the carnival ride stopped.  Gatsby began to remind me, in his drunkenness, why we’d broken up to begin with.  If I cried over Botboy, Gatsby, rather than consoling me, would tell me he was worthless, that I was an idiot for caring, that I should have listened to him to begin with and not gotten involved.  And I’d get angry – angry because I knew what Botboy could be when he wanted to be, angry because Gatsby had no right to talk about someone I cared for that much with that kind of attitude, and mostly because he was being rougher on me than my own father was being.  Where my father was just concerned that I was holding up alright, Gatsby was kicking me when I was down, and I had enough of it.  When hanging out with Gatsby became more drama-filled than fun, and when I began to realize that I was in the same downward spiral that I often got into, I realized that something had to change.

Since the world began to collapse around my ears, I’d wandered Tampa searching for answers.  Talking to my friends, listening to the voices in my head, talking to psychics, counselors, anything to try to get my head back on my shoulders, to find some answers, to make some sense out of what happened to me.  Everyone, it seems, had an opinion and, funnily, it was the counselor that predicted the complete break first.  It happened just a few days later.  The thing is, I also realized that in that month, the voices that were so very loud during this whole ordeal, since the beginning, since December, they’d changed.  When sober they’d tell me things once in awhile but most of what they said was convoluted.  If I was drinking, they’d stop talking altogether.  My dreams became stronger – even on sleeping medicine they would communicate with me.  And in some ways they were more trustworthy – I suppose, perhaps, because they didn’t have my own inclinations to argue with them.  But when drunk, those dreams became nightmares.  Horrible, horrible nightmares that were, by far, the worst I have ever had.

But in some ways, this search was good.  I got some answers.  But, more than that, in that search, I began to figure out a few things about myself.  Namely that I am not as crazy as I thought I was.  Hypnosis sessions with the counselors I’ve seen have yielded visions that are, perhaps, more vivid than many of my dreams and I’m beginning to understand that, whatever has happened, has happened for a reason.  I am here for a reason.  I think I understand what that reason is now, and so I’m beginning to adjust things so that I can meet that purpose.  It’s when I am taking these steps, when I am meeting with these counselors and with others that are like minded, that I am happiest these days.  Meditations bring me peace, they give me this light that I have never seen before, and I am learning to channel it so that it can help others.  Combined with those individuals, there is an energy unlike anything I have ever felt before.  The voices are loud again, but now, in those sessions, they have faces.  And their advice is solid.  My dreams are talking to me again – sometimes telling me what to do, sometimes just giving me pictures that keep me going when things seem to become very, very dark.

I thought, for awhile, that I had failed – especially when the purpose I felt I had seemed to vanish in front of me.  And I wondered… if one is put here for a specific purpose, and one fails to achieve that purpose, then what happens next?  But then, my friend Chuck asked me a question: do you feel like you failed?  The answer is no.  I don’t.  “You’d know it if you had,” he replied.  And he’s right.  The voices said that at the same time that he did.  I have not failed.  Things simply aren’t happening the way that I thought they would happen – because they are not supposed to happen that way.  The time is not right.  Time is a linear thing – it is something that man uses in attempt to harness something he cannot control.  I am not ready to achieve my purpose yet, I do not yet have the technology, but I am learning.  I am growing.  And I am becoming stronger.

I’ve stopped drinking and smoking again, but this time it is for me.  Because I know I cannot do the work I came here to do if I continue to poison myself.  This time I do it for my own benefit.  I felt differently today… like things are beginning again.  I do not know, not entirely anyway, what is coming.  I can’t predict everything because so much of life is left up to free will and the choices that we all make.  But I do know that the housecleaning is done.  I have the epiphany that I sought.  Things are beginning again, the canvas is blank but the paints are brighter than they ever were.  And what I paint on that canvas now is entirely up to me.

Crazy

There are voices in my head that tell me things.  They tell me what to do, they tell me what is, what was, and sometimes what is coming.  I’ll begin this entry with that, and also the affirmation that I am not crazy.  Not entirely.  Most of the time I trust the voices.  When they are at their peak, they have never steered me wrong.  They fuel my perceptions.  Together we are spot on.

There is one week out of the month, however, that I do not trust the voices.  I call it PMS week.  And during this week, they will say anything, ANYTHING, it seems to make me sabotage anything good that I may have going for me.  They will do ANYTHING to keep me on edge so that I lash out and yell at someone who is laughing a little too loudly.  During this week I am a mess of nerves, panic, anxiety, depression.  The conversations going on in my head are so ridiculous that I’m ashamed even to verbalize them and yet, what we make true in our minds becomes true whether we want it to or not.  And so it is a monthly battle to keep those demons at bay.  I certainly do not want to bring them out into the open.

I can’t really tell if it’s demons that take up residence in there for a week or if the voices just go on some kind of monthly hiatus and come back all amped up from their vacation, ready to wreak havoc on their usual digs.  I used to lose my temper a lot during PMS week.  My previous marriage, if it taught me anything, taught me to control my temper – at least better than I used to.  That’s not to say I do not get on edge.  When people laugh a little too loudly or when noises filter into my training office while I am working (and while it seems no one else is), I have to remind myself to stay calm and resist the urge to go out onto the floor and start screaming at the offender.  I keep my temper because I don’t like feeling guilty about things I would say or do at the height of it all.  That is enough motivation not to lose it.  My coworker’s laughter isn’t the only thing that gets me on edge, but it’s minor.  It’s a good example of how very extreme it can get.

But it manifests itself in different ways, too.  I am generally not an insecure person.  I’m not arrogant.  At least not most of the time.  But I am confident.  I model.  I write.  I do calligraphy fairly well.  I’m smart.  And I have a startup business.  I’m proud of all of these things, and I have every reason to be.  PMS week comes, though, and it doesn’t matter – none of these things, no matter how well I do them, are done well enough.  Last week I shelved the book I’d been writing for the last five years.  I did it because ultimately I had decided that going back and reliving the past, even fictionally, was more of a detriment to the person I was trying to become than I’d wanted to admit.  Like I said before, you can’t move forward if you have one foot stuck in the past.  I picked up the pen again and took up a completely different project – one based on fantasy, totally fiction, no basis in reality whatsoever.  (Because magical dwarves, demons, gargoyles, and gods/goddesses, and dragons don’t actually exist  – and people don’t travel on wooden ships either.)  I started writing it, the first few paragraphs… and then the voices started up.  They didn’t criticize the story.  They never criticize my writing (unless it’s warranted and in those cases, no matter what week it is, they are usually right). 

They got critical of other things.  Things I really can’t even be critical about because I do not know the whole story or have a full picture of the circumstances.  Logically I can’t make a judgment, but try telling them to be logical.  If they could jump around and laugh maniacally, they would do it.  Because for awhile, they were winning.  I got moody, depressed, insecure, anxious.  I panicked.  I stressed.  I hate the way that feels.

Worst of all, though, it fucks with my perceptions.  I felt distant this weekend.  Moreso than I have in months.  I don’t know if it’s perception or if it’s real.  The voices say it’s real.  If it were any other time of the month I would trust the voices.  And since I habitually trust the voices most of the time, it is difficult to tell them to shut up right this second.  I’m used to having perception.  I am used to being spot on about shit.  When I can’t be, I grasp for it because I can’t stand for it not to be there.  Without it, it’s almost like being naked in public (though probably worse for me, since I sort of enjoy being naked).

That’s why this weekend, particularly, was a struggle.  When less than favorable news came on Saturday, the voices went mad.  I tried to compensate for their madness.  I over-reached, and between their incessant screaming and my overcompensation for the fact that my instincts were way off, I did some damage.  I don’t know how much damage.  I’m not even sure if the damage I did was perceptible.  I hope it was not… damage that is imperceptible is much easier to fix than damage that is evident.  Irreversibly, though, things are different and once again, I’m in the dark.  I do not know if the difference is in my perception or if the difference is in the actual circumstance.  Logic and reason and the small tiny voices that are still in there that still have any kind of sense tell me to give it time, be patient, wait it out.  The ones in the forefront that seem to have taken speed or something over the last week want it NOW, NOW, NOW!!!  And when they don’t get it NOW they start pulling similarities between what is and what was – and what was is not a factor here.  I cannot, and I will not, apply the past to the present, even though they tell me that this is exactly what this is.  I think they lie.

It’s a waiting game.  I’m sitting here, because I called in to work today – I needed a mental health day, a day to get my shit together, a day to figure out what is and what is not.  I am taking steps to get this under control, once and for all.  I made some calls, things are getting done, but that will also take time.  Everything takes time and it is never my own time.  I sit, I wait, I observe.  I trust that sense will eventually be made – things will become clearer, because they always have before.  And whatever it is I blew out of proportion is probably not even remotely as bad as what I made it out to be. 

Patience is not one of my virtues.  It never has been.  I want what I want, when I want it.  My supply of patience has been anorexically thin most of my life – though it’s been gaining some weight lately out of necessity.  It becomes critically thin during this week of the month.  I’ve been doing better with it lately.  I slipped a little this weekend, but I am attempting to get a handle on it.  And praying that I didn’t fuck things up to irreparably.

Someone who read my blog once said that the reason they liked it was because it was honest, I take what is wrong with me, I identify it, and then I fix it.  Life is a learning experience, there is a learning curve here, though many times I have broken that learning curve, lost everything, had to start over.  I wonder sometimes how many second chances I’m going to be given.  And how many times I will take those second chances, do really well with them for awhile, then tear them to shreds and laugh at them while I watch them burn, only to look regretfully at their ashes once they are gone.  And then I realize that the only person who has any control over that is me.  And I laugh… not maniacally, but I laugh.  Because I am a doer.  I may not be able to have what I want right this second… the time for that may not be right now, though I cannot fathom why.  I can’t control the circumstances, but I can control how I react to them.  I may need some help this time, but even that is up to me.  So I’m making my calls, I’m getting this under control, and like everything else, I’m making it mine.

And, of course, praying that the voices will win this stupid mental battle sooner than later because I miss my Tarot cards.