Depression, Mental Health

A Much Needed Phone Call

It is true. God does place people in your life who are full of encouragement just when you need it.  He knows what you need.  And He provides for you.  He did just that for me today.

At some point today (while I was napping/resting/sleeping), I heard Bella barking. Lord, was she barking!  But, my head was throbbing, and I chose to just lie there, like a knot on a log, and not get up to see if anyone was there. After a bit, Bella came back to bed and I asked her what she’d been barking at, but she just crawled back under the sheet and didn’t answer. So, I didn’t worry about it.

 After finally getting up, I saw that Mary Helen had sent me a message saying someone was trying to get in touch with me. Upon seeing who it was, I told MH that I’d get in touch. I sent this person my number and said to give me a call, which she did.

She began the phone call by saying that I had been on her mind and that she thought God was telling her to contact me.  We spoke for a bit about random things and then she told me how much she enjoyed reading my thoughts and wondered if I had ever thought about writing a book. I had to smile at that point. Yes, I’ve thought about it. Yes, I’ve been encouraged to do so. But, no, I don’t think I ever will. I explained that my thoughts are so random and most of them are so very personal, I cannot imagine getting them corralled into any type of meaningful book-type grouping.

I explained that I had begun my blog as a way to finally purge myself of childhood memories and experiences. As a means of therapy, the blog has been extremely successful. I was finally able to “let it all out” and that was good. I was cleansed of the secrets. But, in the same breath, it was devastating. I had spent my life keeping secrets and I had done a good job doing so. By finally putting those memories into word form for others to read, I exposed myself to judgement and criticism. I had told the world who I was and what I had done and that was, and still is, a frightening feeling. And I had done it in front of the town in which I live. I had come clean in front of the people who had been participants. Not only did I expose myself, but I exposed them, also. While I named no names, I know that people aren’t stupid. With a bit of thinking and talking to others, identities can easily be known. And that is not fair to them. At that point, the guilt began.

I’ve always been someone who can claim guilt in a hot minute.  I do it well.  In fact, I am a dad-gum expert at claiming guilt.  I have to smile at this thought because my therapist has told me a million times that I needn’t think that I was so important that I could claim to be the “best” at anything in the world, but I know that if I’m not the best guilt-claimer, I’m right up there at the top of the heap. So, with this, the cycle begins again. 

But, let’s get back to God putting people into your life at specific points.  I needed this call today.  I needed to hear words of encouragement.  I have cut myself off from most of my friends lately.  It’s safer to isolate, to not have to constantly wonder if someone is judging me.  I have a core group of friends with whom I can be totally open and they have been my salvation.  They know me; they know all my secrets and they know how these secrets have affected me.  They pass no judgment; they only give love.  But saying that is not fair to others.  I most certainly have received encouragement and love from many others.  And I know, in my heart, that judgment is not being passed.  It’s my head that gets in the way.  My head is trained to believe that I am guilty of everything and that I am not worthy, and I find it almost impossible to get rid of those thoughts of guilt and judgment.  That, my friends, is what depression does to you.  It makes you believe all those dark, ugly thoughts that swirl through your mind.  It makes you believe that you are not worthy, not deserving of anything good, not deserving of forgiveness.  No matter how many people give love, there is always that one memory of someone telling you that you are not worthy and are not loved.  And you latch onto that one thought and believe it.  And yes, at this point, I truly miss my sweet friend, Luann.  She was always quick to remind me to clean out my thought closet, to rid myself of all those dark, ugly thoughts, and to remember that I am loved. 

But today, God sent someone to remind me that I am worthy. And I needed to hear that.  He knows that I am struggling.  He knows that I am in the midst of a war with myself and that isolation has become my best friend. So he sent Elaine Hicks.  Thank you, Elaine.  I needed to hear your words today.  You will never know how much I appreciate those kind words.  Yes, I will continue to write as you have suggested.  I will use my words to help myself and perhaps to help others.  Who knows?  Maybe one day I will find a way to put them all together in book form as you suggest.  We shall see.  Until then, I will use my blog.

As I got ready to post this, I received a message from Mary Helen making sure that I had followed up on contacting Elaine.  I shared with her the encouraging words I had received from Elaine and how they had helped fill my heart.  Here’s the kicker.  Mary Helen then sent me the following message and from it you shall see why she is part of my core, part of what sustains me.   “Like Mark Twain wrote about the Mississippi, Faulkner about race and class, you write from the depths of your soul.  And often your pain is palpable.”  Mary Helen “gets” me.  With words like this, my heart is full. 

~~~ Betty

 

Depression, Mental Health

And Here I Sit

I know it’s been quite some time since I’ve made a blog post.  I’ve tried to many times, but the words just fail me.  I guess it’s because I’ve quit.  I’ve quit caring.  I’ve quit wanting.  I’ve quit trying.  I’ve quit just about everything.  And I’m not exactly sure why.  I think it’s because I’m just tired.  When I try to figure out what I’m tired of, I just keep thinking that I’m tired of EVERYTHING.  And I’m tired of NOTHING.  I just don’t see a purpose in anything.  I look around at everyone enjoying life, enjoying companionship, enjoying laughing, enjoying their own thoughts, and I think, “It’s just too hard.”  I feel like I’m just stuck here, all alone.  Many days, I don’t even use my voice, other than to say, “Bella, you got to go potty?”  And that’s sad, mainly because all she does is run to the door.  You’d think that she’d at least bark once to say yes, wouldn’t you?  But, she doesn’t.  And then I say, “Good girl.  Let’s go back in now,” and she runs back up on the porch.  And we start back over with the circle of no communication with anyone.  And I sit here.

So, you say, “Geez, Betty, get off your butt and go do something.”  Easier said than done.  That takes energy.  That takes desire.  That takes someone to do something with.  That takes somewhere to go do it.  And I can’t seem to connect with anyone or anything.  I can’t seem to be able to gather the willpower to try anymore.  And so, I sit here.  I read.  I do communicate on Facebook with some friends.  I do a bit of crafting.  I watch far too many videos on You-Tube.  My sweet granddaughter makes me take her to lunch every other week and that is a good thing.  I truly do enjoy my time with Ash.  I sit here and wish I could make myself go to Douglas to visit or to Columbus to visit, but for some reason, I cannot find the energy anymore.  Just getting ready for a trip is stressing and exhausting.  And the ride just kills me.  I remember a time when hopping in the car and driving three hours to see the kids was a piece of cake.  Now, it takes me days to get things together and get the car packed to go.  By the time I have gotten everything in the car, I am so tired I can barely handle the trip.  Plus, the kids are always so busy; I feel like they don’t need some old Grandma to come in and slow their lives down.    That’s ridiculous when I think about even saying that because I know they would like me to visit more, but I have convinced myself that I’d just be in the way.  I never, ever want to do anything that would hurt my children.  So, I stay home.  And it’s really getting to me as I sit here.

Since Sandra died, I feel that I have nothing here in Eatonton.  Moving back here and facing my fears was necessary.  In time, I was able to do that and it was good for me.  I had been so very hesitant to move back home, but Sandra made it OK.  She was always there when things got tough.  She was always just a phone call away.  We’d visit several times a week and I had a connection.  It’s gone now, and I just can’t get over her loss.  I’ve thought about leaving Eatonton now that I’ve conquered my fears, but I have nowhere to go.  So I sit here.

I see other people grieving the losses of loved ones and my heart goes out to them.  It truly does.  But, I’m afraid to connect with them because I’m afraid I’ll lose it all over again.  I can’t stand to see someone in pain.  I was in such a deep dark hole after Sandra’s death and I know that I cannot allow myself to go there again.  I know I have a loving heart and I feel compassion, but I’ve bottled it up inside and am deathly afraid to let it out.  And I know that is selfish of me, but I can’t do anything about it.  So, I sit here.

Just before last Thanksgiving, I was connected with a half-sister that I had known existed, but never thought I’d meet.  Come to find out, she had had no idea that she had four half-sisters out there somewhere.  She was overjoyed.  In each message I received from her, she called me “sister”.  I was absolutely overwhelmed with joy.  And then I was just overwhelmed.  And then the feelings of unworthiness set in.  In my mind, I told myself that she’d be better off not really knowing me.  I was nothing special and in fact, I was just a big ole heap of problems.  And who wants to willingly jump into a relationship with someone who is nothing but problems?  Each day, I tell myself that I need to connect with Joan and then, somehow, the day is over, and I have failed again.  I have good intentions, but I haven’t been able to do what I need to do to establish that connection.  And that’s unfair.  To Joan and to me.  But, it’s because I just sit here.

I stopped seeing Roz several months ago because talking about the past was torture.  Week after week, she’d ask how long I was going to let my past rule my future.  And I had no answer.  I still have no answer.  And I’m not even sure that this has anything to do with my past.  I have finally realized that what’s in the past is over with and I know I can’t change it.  I’ve accepted the fact that what happened may have been crappy, but that it wasn’t my fault.  And believe me, that is HUGE.  I never thought that I would forgive myself for the abuse.  But, I did.  So, I ought to be able to enjoy life, right?  Well, evidently not.  It’s hard to enjoy a life of solitude and isolation.  And let me just tell you – I do a darn good job of isolation.  Each day is the same.  Nothing changes.  Others go on with their lives and I sit here.  I wonder why.  I wonder how long I will do this.  I should probably give Roz a call.  But, I just kept thinking that if I couldn’t figure things out in 8 years, it just wasn’t worth the effort.  I wonder why I let myself do this.  But, I continue to do it as I sit here.

I stopped going to church several months ago.  Of course, I had excuses.  I was going through some tough problems with my ear and really couldn’t hear anything that the preacher was saying so I thought I’d just wait until I could hear again.  Well, that hasn’t happened, but that’s not the real reason I quit going.  When I sat down and thought about why I wasn’t going, I realized that it was after I made my blog post about having my son that I quit going.  Did I think the church members would judge me?  No, I didn’t.  Was I judging myself?  Well, sure I was, but that wasn’t the reason.  I stopped going because I didn’t think I had the right to be THERE.  Not at THAT church.  People were too nice to me at that church.  Too many people in town were able to figure out from my post who I had been talking about (the curse of living in a small town) and I didn’t think that it was fair of me to be THERE. I wasn’t willing to give them a chance to show me that it didn’t matter.  I immediately took the safe route and I quit going.  But, I miss my church.  I miss the family feeling there.  I truly miss my pastor and his precious wife.  I miss the music.  Oh, how I miss the music.  I miss my friends.  But, I still tell myself that I don’t belong there.  I haven’t given up on God.  I have my own private church service here each week.  I turn on the Statler Brothers or Mercy Me or some other Christian music and I praise the Lord.  I get out my Bible and I lose myself in the Word.  But, I do it as I sit here.

A dear friend and I had a conversation quite some time ago about the difference between the feelings of jealousy and envy.  To me, jealousy is when you want something that someone else has and you’re willing to do anything to get it, even if it hurts the other person.  Envy, to me, is when you see something they have and your heart longs for that, also.  You, in no way, want them not to have it.  You are truly proud that they do have it.  But, your heart aches because you do not have it also.  You become consumed with the fact that you have nothing.  And that’s how I look at others now.  I see them enjoying companionship and I envy them.  I see them traveling and I envy them.  I see them enjoying their families and I envy them.  I see them living their lives full of laughter and joy and I envy them.  I, in no way, want them not to have those things.  I just don’t know why I can’t have them, too.  I envy their lives and their loves and their laughter.  But, still, I sit here.

There was a ray of light a couple of weeks ago, though.  My Hens (my most dear, most special, loyal group of friends) and I spent a day together.  We started the day off with lunch at a new restaurant here in town.  Can’t say that I was blown over by the food, but the atmosphere and the waitress was great.  We spent a couple of hours just hanging out, talking about what we’d been doing, and just having fun.  Then, we went to the package store.  Hold on, let me explain.  This package store is owned by one of our good friends.  About a year ago, the Hens and I had been out for the day and happened to ride by there.  As we did, one of us made the remark that we needed to stop by to say hello.  Well, next thing we knew, we were in the parking lot.  We meant to only stop in and say hello, but things happened.  People we had not seen in YEARS came in (for whatever reason) and we ended up spending a couple of hours just hanging out, reminiscing with customers and having a ball.  The owner invited us to come back the next time we were out.  So-o-o-o-o-o-o, we decided to take him up on his offer the other day.  The daughter of one of my old teaching buddies works there part-time, also, and she’s a true barrel of laughs so we figured it would be a fun time.  We pulled up some chairs in the lobby, scanned through the latest newspaper and talked about everyone mentioned in the newspaper, and caught up on the latest gossip.  Or maybe it wasn’t really gossip because you know, if it’s true, it’s not gossip.  Anyway, after a bit, the owner came in, some more long-lost friends stopped by, and we turned it into a real social event.  We suggested that for the next visit, he should put an announcement out on the marquee that said that The Hens would be in attendance from 2 – 4 (kind of a way to boost business).  We shall see if that happens.  Anyway, it was a great day with great friends and we all had a heap of good ole innocent fun, something I needed.  But, when all the fun was over, I came home, crawled up in my recliner and there I sat. 

I do know one thing.  Isolation works.  It works so well that after a while, others give up on you, too.  If you sit here long enough, all you have left to do is to sit here.

I do wonder if this is what my life is supposed to be like.  I don’t think that it is.  I believe that there is a reason for everything.  I believe that God has a plan.  I believe that at the right time, He will reveal that plan to me.  I just hope that when He does, I’m at least dressed for the occasion and not just sitting here.

 

Depression, Mental Health

A Video That Totally Blew Me Away

Let me first say that I LOVE YouTube.  You can find anything and everything on YouTube.  It started out where I just watched music videos.  Then I moved on to videos about sewing and crocheting.  And then, cooking (as if I still did that –haha).  Then I got hooked on watching court trials — man, there are some good ones on there!  Then, last week a couple of friends and I got to talking about those folded football things that kids used to use in school to write notes on.  I asked them if they remembered how to fold them and nobody did.  Then, it hit me — I was sure that I could find a video on YouTube that showed you how to do it and sure enough, I can now fold paper into those football things.  My life is complete.  HaHa

As I was browsing around one of the channels of a lady, Darlene, who I love to watch sew, I found one of her videos about the anger she had felt when reading some posts about her videos and in receiving mail.  I thought, “What the heck” and began watching.  The beginning of the video was pretty much what I expected, and then — wham, she was talking about ME! Not that I had left a response to her videos, but her feelings about life pretty much were my own feelings.  By the time the video was over, my heart was breaking for her.  I was so sad that she felt the way she does and then I began to wonder why I felt so badly for her, but just thought it was a way of life for me.  That really got me to thinking.

In her video, which is rather long, but so worth watching, she talks about how it’s hard for her to accept the fact that people are nice to her.  Oh boy, did that hit a nerve.  One of the hardest things for me to accept is people being nice to me.  I’ve tried to explain it before to some people and they just look at me like I’m crazy.  I think I’m always waiting for the next shoe to drop and the mean come out.  I usually never see the mean, but I expect it, just the same.  Darlene also talks about how she has been led to believe her entire life that she’s not good enough, that she doesn’t try hard enough, and that her feelings are not real.  Each of those feelings hit home with me, also.  As I’ve said before, I know in my heart that I am good enough, but in my head, there is always that feeling that I’m not.  And my head NEVER turns off.  After years and years of being told that I was not good enough, I sadly came to believe it.

It would take forever for me to explain all the parts of her video that touched me so I won’t try.  Just watch it when you have some time and perhaps it will help you understand why some people are the way they are.  Or at least why I am the way I am.

There are many of us out there who want nothing more than to be accepted just as we are.

~~~~~~~~

Thoughts about my thoughts: I knew as soon as I saw this video that I wanted to share it.  Darlene does an excellent job in explaining how hard it is for some of us to “do” things.

~~~Betty

Depression, Mental Health

Why is There Always a Hole in My Sidewalk?

I sometimes believe that I live on a street that has been bombed, full of deep holes just waiting to gobble me up.  Have any of you ever lived on my street?  Have you ever been afraid to go outside because you know that those holes are out there and you know that you are bound to get too close to one and fall in again?

For years, I had heard people make statements about  a “hole in the sidewalk,” but had never really thought about what they meant.  Then, one day in therapy, Roz read me the short story,”There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk,” and it was as if it had been written about me. So many times in my life, I had fallen into those holes. I spent years in those holes, able to crawl out, only to fall right back in. It has been an ongoing cycle — fall in the hole, find a way out, fall in again, get back out, fall back in, get back out — over and over and over again.  After that session with Roz, I ordered a book that contained the short story.  (She ought to be getting a commission from Amazon; it seems as thought all she has to do is to show me a book, read one sentence out of it, and darn – I have to have it. My children will most likely be able to furnish a Mental Health section of a library with all these darn books when I die and they have to clean out my house.) I was looking through my bookcase today and ran upon this book and thought I’d share it with you all.  I think this is something that each of us should think about.

THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SIDEWALK
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
by Portia Nelson

CHAPTER ONE

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost….I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

CHAPTER TWO

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

CHAPTER THREE

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit … but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately

CHAPTER FOUR

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

CHAPTER FIVE

I walk down another street.

Have you ever walked along this sidewalk?  Were you aware of the holes in your pathway? What did it take for you to get out of the hole?   Have you thought about WHY you keep falling in these darn holes? Have you found the new street to walk upon?

The following information was found at www.lessons4learning.com concerning the short story, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk.

Chapter One’s hole is a natural hole in the walk of life.  It is there for us all.  Life is always throwing unexpected things as us.  Losing a job, being in some type of accident, being a victim of some type of natural disaster,  losing a loved one – we don’t ask for any of these things, but they happen.

Any of these events can place you in a hole of darkness, despair, anger, loss, anxiety, worry, or grief. You did not have anything to do with creating the situation but you must live with it. The hole can indeed be deep and dark, and you have to struggle long and hard to climb out of it.

This is the nature of life. Some things are out of your control. Unexpected events happen. Change always occurs. The most that you can do is adapt to them the best you can. You must struggle out of the hole into which you were thrown and journey on. Hopefully, you grow from such an experience and become a more mature person who is better able to cope with other pitfalls of life.

My thoughts — These pitfalls and holes are certainly a part of life.  I don’t think that there is anyone who has not experienced something to lead them to a hole of grief, anger, anxiety, etc.  It’s just knowing how to handle these feelings that is so important so that we can live a happy, healthy life.

With Chapter Two,  the question to consider is, “Have you ever found yourself in exactly the same hole more than once?”

  • Are you in exactly the same bad relationship (but with a different person) for the twentieth time? Are you starting to wonder how all of these jerks find you?
  • How is it that you always get into the same type of conflict with the boss? She is so negative and critical and always expects so much. She makes you feel miserable.
  • Maybe you are in the midst of the exact “word for word” argument with your spouse for the ten thousandth time. He says this and you say that just like you always do and you fall into the hole once again.
  • Your son, mother, sister, or brother does that thing that they always do. It pushes your buttons and you respond as you always do. The cycle of conflict begins once again.

You cannot believe that it has happened one more time. You wonder, “Why does this always happen to me? Why do they always do this to me? When will they ever stop? Why can’t they understand what they make me do?” If other people would just “act right” life would go better. You begin to work harder and harder to get others to change.

My thoughts — Wow!  Don’t we all do this at some point?  “If we could just get s0-and-so to see things my way”, life would be so much easier.  I think that habits fall into place here.  Even if things dont change by our actions, they are what we know and what we tend to do.  Breaking these habits are tough.

Chapter Three challenges us to wake up. Fall into the same hole often enough and you may come to a realization. With the frequent occurrence of the same or similar events you sense that these things do not happen by chance. Maybe this repetition is a pattern that is not just inflicted on you solely by others. Such a reoccurrence of events must mean that you are playing a role in creating them.

As we go along the sidewalk of life we all fall into holes of psychological and spiritual distress. Sometimes it seems that we were shoved. Initially, it appears that it is not our fault to be in such a situation once again. However, as we continue in the journey of life we often find ourselves falling into the same hole more than once. When we do so we are given the opportunity of recognizing that there is actually a pattern in our lives. Patterns do not exist until an event happens more than once. A pattern cannot be recognized until we have encountered a situation (in all its various forms) several times. Only with repetition is it possible to see the pattern or cycle. Once the pattern is seen then the possibility of new insight arises.

The next time you find yourself once again in one of life’s familiar holes, and are busy saying:

  • “It is not my fault,”
  • “Don’t blame me.”
  • “Who is responsible for this?”
  • “They are doing it to me again.”

Call for a time-out. Now, look to see how you might be responsible for your situation. Ask yourself, “What did I do to get here? What role did I play in creating the circumstances that placed me in this hole?” The terrible truth is that if you are not responsible for being in this hole once again then you are in real trouble. This is because if you are not responsible, it must mean that someone is. Maybe, it is not just one person but a group of people like your coworkers or your family. It is even possible that the entire world has decided to conspire against you. If you are truly not responsible for your current situation, and you do not like being in these recurring holes then you face a dilemma. What you have to do is find out who is making you miserable. Next, you have to change that person, or group, or the entire world to make it or them be exactly the way you want them to be so that you can be okay. Your strategy becomes to change others.

This is the trap of playing, “Let’s fix you.” Husbands and wives and parents and children often play this game. One spouse shows up at the counselor’s office claiming that their mate is the problem. Parents bring in the child saying the child’s behavior needs to change. Children say that their parents make them act this way. Employees blame the insensitive boss. The overworked boss criticizes the inefficient employees. No one is responsible for anything. (How many times have we heard this or said it ourselves?)

Playing “Let’s fix you” doesn’t work. Have you ever tried to change someone? Of course you have. Maybe just change a small child making them just a little more the way you want. Perhaps you have tried to make a few minor adjustments in another person’s personality. It seems that if you just gave this person a little bit of a “tune up” then you might be able to live with them. Did you succeed? The answer is, “No!” Changing others is an extremely difficult, if not impossible task. The other person may actually try to cooperate but often cannot make or sustain the change. Your effort is directed in the wrong direction.

Fall into the same hole enough times and you might awaken to the true nature of the problem. You are responsible for being there. You played some role in the process. You must change. Learning this is good news. If you can find out what you are doing and stop then you can avoid these holes into which you keep falling. Having some responsibility for your problems means that you have control. All you have to do is to change yourself and the situation can improve. While this task is very hard, it is at least possible. Changing others is not.

  • When you find yourself once again in that same bad relationship, but with a different person, you need to realize that it is you who is making the same mistake over and over. Maybe it is time to ask yourself, “What am I doing?” “How did I get here once again?”
  • When you are in that same tired old argument, ask what did you do to get there? When you wake up with a hangover once again, ask what went wrong with my resolve to never drink again?

When you discover what you are doing, or why you are doing it, then change is possible. You can begin taking responsibility for yourself.

If you change yourself, your experience of the situation will change. Surprisingly, if you do this, the other people you were wanting to change may change as well. You cannot change others by directly trying to influence them, but if you change yourself, then they may be forced to change as well. Once you are different and can maintain that difference, then others around you are given the opportunity to change in relation to you. By effectively changing ourselves, we may actually change another person, a group, and perhaps, the world. But we must start with ourselves. When you start with yourself a good place to begin is with your attitude.

My thoughts — Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!  Seven years of therapy is helping me to change myself (I hope).  My problem with this is that at one point, I did change myself, thinking it would help my marriage.  I thought that being a better wife would somehow make him a better husband.  But, I guess this goes to prove the idea that one should not change themself FOR someone else.  Change yourself for YOU and then if they change, GREAT.  If not, that’s on them, not on you.  

Chapter Four is indeed a new chapter in your life. Once your responsibility is seen you can change. You can begin avoiding the holes on that street of life. You are now able to see what is coming, because you know your pattern. This knowledge gives you control and you can intentionally respond to life in a different manner. A different response gives new possibilities.

When someone invites you into a familiar hole, you do not automatically enter. Your friend, who has been awaiting your arrival to leave for a party, sarcastically says, “Well, you are late again!” Your typical response is to defensively say, “Must you always complain?” Now when you see that familiar hole of an argument and a bad evening looming, you make a different choice. You realize that your friend has had the legitimate frustration of waiting and has also been worried about you. You speak to these issues and say, “I am sorry to be late. Traffic was terrible. I couldn’t get to a phone. I know that you were wondering what happened to me.” Your choice allows your friend to acknowledge the concern and apprehension rather than just voice the frustration of waiting. The hole of another repetitive fight is avoided, and the evening goes well.

My thoughts — My favorite line here is “When someone invites you into a familiar hole, you do not automatically enter.”  I am working very hard to learn to take a deep breath and think before I react.  I’m not always successful, but when I am, I can certainly tell a difference in the outcome.

Chapter Five is a new day. Finally, you change streets. You change your inner dialogue and behavior so completely that the old pattern no longer occurs. Once on the new street, you must be careful because, unfortunately, this street will have its own holes. It will have holes that you have never seen before. But you now know the rules about the “holes” in the sidewalk. The first time that you encounter one you should ask, “How am I responsible?” It may be that you are not responsible, but the sooner you ask this question, the sooner you can take charge of your life.

This process is like a spiral that leads us upward towards psychological and spiritual wholeness. The sidewalks of life do not go in a straight line. They may not be flat. They may be like a trail that winds round and round a mountain until it reaches the top. Each time you break out of an old pattern of thinking and living, you begin a new switchback that leads you ever upwards to the fundamental goal of life.

Fall into enough of the holes in the sidewalks of life and you may become whole. Through the lessons of the holes of life, you approach wholeness. Becoming whole means striving to be all that you can be. All potentialities are explored. You know what you do, and why you do it. Choices are made, and you are responsible for these choices. The holes in the sidewalk are actually invitations to grow. Are you open to the invitation?

My thoughts — As I read this, I realize that many times I don’t change streets because of some purposeful thought; I do so because I have chosen to isolate.  I tell myself that if I don’t put myself out there, the temptation to stay off the holey street is less.  This is a pretty ridiculous choice, isn’t it?   I know that I have to learn to live among the holey streets and avoid those streets, not stay out of town.  

~~~

Thoughts about my thoughts: I love this short story.  Not sure why I had never heard it before Roz read it to me, but I’m certainly glad she did.  I think that each of us probably wonder why things happen to us and this story certainly gives us a bit of insight. This short story is appropriate for everyone to read and think about.

Todays Feelings’ Barometer:  Made myself get up this morning, take a shower, wash my hair, put on makeup and go to town.  I haven’t been doing this lately and I know (in my head) that I have a better day when I make myself do that, but I’m terrible about actually doing it.  When will I learn?

~~ Betty

 

 

Depression, Mental Health

Don’t Wait

 

sandra

“Don’t Wait.”  How many times have I heard these two words since Thanksgiving Eve?  I can’t count the number.  If I rubbed her arm, I heard “Don’t Wait.”  If I asked her if she wanted some water, I heard “Don’t Wait.”  If I asked her if she was ready to sit in the chair, I heard “Don’t Wait.”  If I told her I loved her, I heard “Don’t Wait.”  If I kissed her on the forehead and told her I’d see her tomorrow, I heard “Don’t Wait.”  It seems as though no matter what I said or what I did, her response was always the same – “Don’t Wait.”  And it wasn’t just me that she said it to.  She said it to anyone who asked her a question.  I only wish I knew what it was that she did not want us to wait for.

I asked my daughter, Marti, if she knew what Sandra meant by “Don’t Wait.”  I thought that maybe since Marti works with stroke patients she might be able to tell me.  She gave me a clinical answer – after a stroke, the brain thought process can get stuck and although in her mind, she may be telling us different things, her response just comes out as “Don’t Wait”.  OK, I guess I understand that.  But, I’m not satisfied with that answer.  I think there’s more to it.  Why those words?  Why not “The cow is black and white” or “Jump in a Lake” or “Go away”?  Why was it always “Don’t Wait”?  I’ve thought and thought and thought about this and have come to the conclusion that Sandra knew exactly what she was saying.  Although she couldn’t communicate with us to a great extent, she was trying her best to tell us something very important to her.  I just have to pull my thoughts together.

Sandra has fought a valiant fight for the last five years.  When first diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided that she was going to fight with all her might.  And she did.  Bless her heart; Sandra has never done “sick” very well.  No matter what the medicine, if there is a side effect to it, Sandra is going to have that side effect.  If something can go wrong during a surgery, it will go wrong when that surgery concerns her.  If a child she is teaching has some communicable disease, Sandra’s going to get a case of it.  Never fails.  When she began her chemo for the breast cancer, it really kicked her butt and after about three rounds, she decided that she just couldn’t do that anymore so she quit the chemo.  Radiation was next.  Thank goodness the sickness was gone, but the radiation was no day in the park for her either.  But, she did it and the day she was told that she was cancer free was a day of rejoicing for us all.  She had overcome that nasty cancer.  What had happened to Daddy, Mama, and Sonja was NOT going to happen to her.  Everyone was so full of joy.

It wasn’t long, though, before she started complaining about her bones hurting.  After a couple of months, a PET scan was done and she was given the bad news that it had now moved to her bones.  Not again.  Please, Lord, not again.  But she weathered this bone cancer with the same determination as she had the breast cancer.  Determined to fight, determined to win this battle, she began the fight one more time.  It was another year and a half of treatments, tests, more treatments, and more tests before she heard the words “You are cancer free” again. There had been many days of sickness and tiredness and just feeling lousy, but she had fought the fight again.  There was now more rejoicing.  More thanks to God.  More believing that life would go on for her and for those who loved her.  There were good days to be had.  And through all this time, she continued to work.  After retiring with over 40 years of teaching under her belt, she took a job of doing some in-home teaching.  I used to love to hear her talk about her kids.  She truly loved these kids and only in about the last 10 months or so, did she have to give it up.  Not being able to continue to work with these children was rough on her.

But, there were not many good days to be had.  After just a few months, she told us it was back.  At first, she said they had found a few spots on her bladder, but it was on the outside so that was good.  She said that they were going to treat it with a very low dose of oral chemo and that the doctor had told her she would not get sick and would not lose her hair.  OK.  That is good, right?  Well, it should have been, but within a week of being told this, she seemed to just give up.  I went down to her house one day and she was on the couch, not wanting to talk at all.  In fact, the only thing she said to me that day was “Three Strikes and You’re Out”.  Well, I thought about that for a few minutes and then told her that as far as I knew, there wasn’t a single damn person in that house who was playing a game of baseball.  She just looked at me and closed her eyes, totally shutting me out.  I finally left and went home to think and pray.  After a week of her just lying on the couch I couldn’t stand it anymore.  I was determined that I was going to MAKE her get off the couch and fight.  Yeah, right.  Sandra and I had not had a pure fight since we had been teenagers but we had a doozy that day.  It started with me asking her to get up and go take a bath.  “Nope.  I don’t want to” was what she said to me.  I tried a couple of more times to no avail.  Zeke and I would both ask her to do something and again, “Nope.  I don’t want to.”  After several of these responses, I asked her what she did want to do.  She wouldn’t respond at all.  There is almost nothing in the world that can get to me more than to have someone totally ignore me, but I just sat there and waited.  I guess I thought I could outwait her, but, of course, I was wrong.  I tried a few more times of asking her nicely what she wanted, only to have her continue to ignore me.  Zeke continued to try to get her to get up and she would just say, “Nope.  I don’t want to.”  After at least thirty minutes of that, I finally asked her if she planned to just lay on the couch until she died.  No, that wasn’t nice.  I know it.  But, I didn’t know what else to say to her to try to convince her to get up.  She finally turned her head to look at me and said, “If I want to.”  Well, those were not the words I wanted to hear; those were fighting words and I lit into her.  I told her that I’d never known her to be a quitter and that she had to think of others and try for them even if she didn’t want to try for herself.  I gave her that old “Well, Sonja never quit.  Sonja didn’t lay on the couch and wait to die.  Sonja and Mama and Daddy would all tell you to get your ass off the couch and fight if they were here.”  The entire time I was yelling at her, she just laid there with her eyes closed.  After a few rounds of yelling, she raised her arm, pointed at the back door and said, “Get out of my house.”  I know.  I deserved it.  I had been mean and cruel and said things that I never should have said.  But I was afraid.  I was scared that if she gave up, she would die and I wasn’t ready to lose another family member to cancer.  I wasn’t ready to lose my big sister for any reason.  Afraid that I would say something else, I was the one who got up.  I walked to the back door and told her to let me know if and when she decided to fight to live.  I walked out and came home and cried and cussed and yelled at my dog and threw things around.  And then I started praying.  I didn’t go back to her house for a week.  It broke my heart to see her with this mindset.  She had always been so determined that she was going to beat it.

When I finally went back, I had no idea if she’d even let me in.  The door was locked so I had to knock.  Nobody came to the door so I got the key and let myself in.  Sandra was in the kitchen cooking.  After a little silent “Thank you, Lord,” I walked into the kitchen and asked her what she was cooking.  While the conversation was not as friendly or loving as I wanted it to be, she didn’t throw me out.  We never mentioned the fight again.  She called me the next Sunday morning and told me to come down for Sunday dinner about 4.  In my mind, things were going to be ok.  She told us that day that they had determined that the cancer was not involving the bladder, but that there were some spots on the liver.  But, she said that the doctor had repeated that the treatment would be a mild dose of chemo.  I asked her if I could drive her to her next appointment and was told no.  Each time one of us asked about going to the doctor with her, we were always told no.  She continued to say that things were going well and told us the beginning of November that Dr. L. had said that she’d have another PET scan in February and that he was going to change her treatment meds again and felt sure that things would be fine by February.  Yay!  She had done it again.  She had beaten cancer for the third time.  What a fighter.  What a winner.  Things were going well.

Sunday, November 8th, the Mains girls all decided to get together in Macon.  Sandra had been feeling poorly all week, but was excited about going.  I am SO very glad we made this trip.  Sandra, KaKa, Kalli, Shannon, Brooke, Marti, Gina, Emma, Ashley, and I had a blast at Olive Garden that afternoon.  We spent several hours just having fun.  I’m not sure how much fun it was for everyone else in the restaurant, but we really didn’t care.  We cut up, told old stories, and talked about what everyone was doing for Thanksgiving and for Christmas.   It was decided that we would do Thanksgiving at Sandra’s.  Another Mains’ family holiday was just what we all needed.  Below is a picture of Sandra and me taken that day.  I will always treasure this picture.

sandra-and-betty-11-8-2015

The morning of Thanksgiving Eve, Ashley called and asked if she could come over for the day and of course the answer was yes.  As soon as she heard that Bowen was at Sandra’s, she took off to go down there.  I talked to Sandra on the phone and told her I was heading to the grocery store and asked if she needed anything.  She assured me that everything was covered and that she was finishing up her famous “Green S*it” for our dinner the next day. (Long story about Sandra’s Green S*it, but I’ll just say it’s a Mains’ Family Dinner Must Have.)  She said that Ashley and Bowen had gone to Wal-Mart and to Zaxby’s and that she’d talk to me later.  I got busy working on the dressing for the next day.  Ashley got back about 2:30 and excitedly told me that she had watched Aunt Sandy make the Green S*it for everyone.  Pretty soon, she headed back to Milledgeville.  It was a busy afternoon for me making 6 pans of dressing for the next day and I didn’t get back to Sandra.  About 5 or so, Will knocked on my door with the news that Sandra was on her way by ambulance to Athens and that the EMTs had said that she’d had a stroke.  My heart dropped.   He said to stay home and that he’d call me when he knew something.  Oh, what an evening that was.  I knew that Sandra’s greatest fear was a stroke.  She said that she NEVER wanted to end up being dependent upon someone else for all her needs.  Please, Lord, let her be OK.

What a long night that was.  Will called and said that by the time the ambulance got her to Athens, things had changed.  She was talking; she was moving.  Thank you, Lord.  You’ve done it again.  They were told that she’d had a mild stroke, but that things looked good.

Since family was due to come in the next morning for what we thought would be dinner at Sandra’s, Gina offered for us to come to her house. Will said for us to go on to Gina’s and he’d call if there was something I needed to know.  I didn’t talk to Will or Zeke during the day, but we all prayed and thought of Sandra throughout the day.  The next morning, I went to Athens with Zeke.  He was quiet during the ride, but that was pretty much expected.  The whole way to Athens, I just kept thinking about how blessed we all were that Sandra was going to be ok.  This was not to be.

When Zeke and I walked in the door to her room I knew that something was up.  I walked over to the bed, gave Sandra a kiss and asked her how she was feeling.  She looked at me with a blank stare – one that meant she had no idea who I was or what I had just asked her.  I turned and looked at Will and he motioned for me to go outside.  He, Zeke, and deLacy came into the hall and gave me the bad news.  Sometime during the night after she had been admitted, Sandra had suffered a major stroke.  The nurses had said that she had been fine when they checked on her around 2 a.m. but by 6 she was not responding in any way.  I was devastated.  How in the world had this happened?  Why didn’t anyone call me to let me know?  What was the outlook for recovery?  I had a million questions, none of which were answered to my satisfaction.  Will said that he had started to call, but knew that all my kids were at Gina’s for Thanksgiving dinner and he didn’t want to upset us.  When I asked Zeke why he had not told me anything on the way to Athens, he said that he had thought that Will had told me.  I told him no, that the last I had heard Wednesday night was that she was doing well and was talking and moving and that it had just been a mild stroke, but that all would be well.  I just didn’t understand any of this.

A short time later, Sandra’s doctor came in to meet us.  He took us all into a conference room and pretty much laid it all out on the table.  He said that Sandra wasn’t going to get better.  He said that she would never talk or walk again.  He said that the Sandra we knew was gone.  When we asked him what would happen if she had another stroke, he said “It really won’t matter.  No further damage can be done unless it’s a stroke on the opposite side of her brain.  She has suffered massive damage at this point.”  I had never heard a doctor be so blunt.  He didn’t try to candy coat things one bit.  He told us to get ready for some rough days ahead.

After a week, we got Sandra back here in Eatonton to the local hospital.  We spent as much time as possible with her and did the best we could to keep her in good spirits.  She had many, many friends to stop by to see her and many of her classmates made daily visits.  She was always close to her classmates and loved them dearly.  During most of these visits, she slept, but occasionally she would be awake and would do her best to at least smile at them.  It was a crooked smile, but such a beautiful sight to see.  Her son and his sweet wife were amazing.  Will seemed to be the only one who could make her eat anything.  In fact, he pretty much would not let her not eat.  She wasn’t happy about it, but she did eat for him.  These days were so very tough for me.  I could not stand to see her in this condition.  And it seemed as though the harder I tried to get her to eat or do her exercises, the harder she would shut down.  I don’t think there was ever a day that I didn’t leave the hospital in tears.  And once I’d get home, I would just collapse.  Sandra never, ever wanted to be in this condition and I know that she was tired of fighting and trying.  She had fought for five years and she was done fighting.  I know that eating was the only control that she had left and she was going to use that control.  Finally, the doctors told us to stop trying so hard.  If she wanted to eat, we needed to be there to feed her, but if she turned away from us, just let her be.  Good Lord, was that hard for me to do.  I knew what the outcome would be and I couldn’t stand it.

What in the world was I going to do without Sandra?  She had been my big sister my entire life.  I had never known life without her and I knew that soon, she was going to be gone.  Another sister gone. Sonja was gone and now it would soon be Sandra gone, leaving just KaKa and me.  There were so many things I wanted to say to Sandra, and say them I did, but it was evident that she didn’t know what I was saying.  Why had I not told her all those things before now?  Why did I wait?  What if she didn’t understand just how much I loved her and how much she had meant to me?  What if I hadn’t thanked her enough for taking care of me after I got out of the hospital in Atlanta?  She opened her home to me and let me live there for two months before I moved into a house of my own.  It had been so good to be back in the house with her.  I had had so many hesitations about moving back to my hometown and she did her best to help me understand that moving home was going to be a good thing for me.

Sandra’s family doctor came over to the hospital one afternoon and spent a couple of hours with us, explaining everything.  She had been by Sandra’s side for so many years and Sandra truly loved Dr. P.  When she walked into the hospital room and spoke to Sandra, she got the biggest smile we’d seen Sandra give anyone.  My heart was full.  Sandra knew that Dr. P. was there for her.  The next day, Sandra’s oncologist came over and gave us the very bad news.  All this time that Sandra had been telling us that things were good and that there was nothing to worry about, she wasn’t being truthful.  Her oncologist told us that during one of her appointments the first week of November, he had given Sandra the news that there was nothing more they could do and that the meds he had her on were just to make her life bearable.  And we had thought she was getting better.  We asked if he could give us any idea as to how much time she had.  I’ll never forget what he said.  “Will she be here next week?  Yes.  Will she be here for Christmas?  Maybe.  Will she be here for New Year’s?  Most likely, no.”  Those words rang in my ears as I left the hospital that day.  I kept thinking that he had to be wrong.  I now understood why she would not let anyone go to her doctor appointments with her.  She knew.  And she didn’t want us to know.  I had such mixed feelings.  I was mad.  Mad that she had not trusted me enough to tell me.  Mad that she had decided to keep this news to herself.  But, after talking to my daughter about it, she reminded me that most likely, I would be the same way.  And she was right.  I understood why Sandra had not told us the truth.  She was trying to protect us.  I can’t say that I’m happy with her decision to keep us in the dark, but I do understand it.

We finally reached a point where we had to make a decision about what was going to happen when Sandra left the hospital.  We talked about a nursing home, knowing she was going to need round-the-clock care, but finally, the decision was made to take her home.  We divided up shifts and hired some sweet angels to help us and of course Hospice was there.  And the wait began.  I have to believe that Sandra knew she was home and was content being there.  She communicated very little with us, but on her very good days, when we asked her something, she’d get a very serious look on her face and say, “Don’t Wait.”  Here it was again.  Sandra was trying to tell us something and none of us knew what that message was.  Those hours of sitting by Sandra’s bed were so hard.  She was in the same room where we had had Mom as she was waiting to die.  I was sitting in the exact same place as I had been when I sat by Mom’s side.  So many times, when I’d turn my head and look at Sandra, I could have sworn it was Mom lying in that bed.  All those feelings kept rushing back to me and it was killing me to relive those days.  And in Sandra’s lucid moments, she kept telling me “Don’t Wait”.  I prayed so many times for God to tell me what I was supposed to do.  What am I not waiting for?  “Just tell me, God.  I can’t do this.”  But, He never told me.

December 30th was Hell.  I had almost reached my breaking point and was a wreck when I got home that night.  I took a sleeping pill and prayed that God would just let me sleep.  “Please, just let me sleep and not think.  Not tonight, God.  I can’t think any more tonight.”  God was good to me that night.  I slept a peaceful night and didn’t wake until early afternoon.  I got up and did a few things around the house and just never made it down to Sandra’s.  I was so very afraid to go that day.  I did everything I could to just not think about it. I couldn’t think about my big sister dying.  I just couldn’t do it.  I had to have a day for Betty to re-coup.  About 11:30 that night, New Year’s Eve, Will called to tell me that Sandra was gone.  And I hadn’t been with her.  I should have been with her and I was too selfish to have gone down that day.  Dr. L. had been right.  She would not be with us on New Year’s Day. And I had not gone down to tell her good-bye.  I had not been with her.  What kind of sister does that?

The rest of that night was torture.  But, it was over.  I had stood on the front porch and watched them place Sandra in the hearse.  Those were the same steps where I had stood and watched them as they placed Mom in the hearse.  I stood on the steps where we had always taken our family Easter pictures and the importance of those steps just kept running through my brain.  We had sat on those steps so many times as kids and watched the National Guard convoys go by.  We had sat on those steps when Mom and Dad were fighting.  I had kissed my boyfriends good-night on those steps.  Sandra had chased me out of the house one time during a fight we were having and I had cleared every one of the steps.  Looking at those steps that night brought back so many childhood memories.  But, now, the steps don’t matter because there is no more Sandra.  Her memories would always be there, but I wouldn’t be able to pick up the phone and call her.  There would be no more Sunday evening suppers at Sandra’s.  There would be no more Sandra for me to talk to when I was feeling blue.  But, Sandra’s pain and suffering was over.  There would be no more doctor appointments, no more chemo, no more radiation, no more…, no more….  No more anything.

Sandra wanted no visitation and no service of any type.  She just wanted it to be over.  We finally decided to have a visitation because there were so many people who wanted the chance to say good-bye to someone who had been their friend.  Once it was over, I came home and began a major isolation.  I spoke to nobody (except my children – I knew I had to speak to them when they called), went nowhere, and did nothing but sleep and pace.  And think.  And think some more.  My mind went into overdrive.  Big time, overdrive.  I relived every mean thing I had ever done or said to Sandra and relived every good thing she had ever done for me.  What kind of a sister was I to have not gone to see her that last day?  Did she remember that I loved her? Did she know that I was sorry for every mean thing I had said or done to her?  I was a wreck.  After a month of this, I called my therapist and said I had to see her.  I knew I was very close to the breaking point and had enough sense about me to know that I couldn’t let that happen again.  It took another month or so for me to reach the point where I could be around people again.

It’s been almost ten months now since Sandra died.  I can’t say that I’m through grieving, but I can look at things in a much better light now.  And I can’t say that I truly understand what Sandra was trying to tell us by repeating, “Don’t Wait”, but I have come to my own conclusion.

I may be totally wrong, but I think Sandra was telling me to get better, to get a grip on my depression, and to start living again.  She was telling me to forgive, to forget, and to live.  She was telling me to let go of my past.  She was telling me to somehow accept that I’d had a shitty life, but that it had not been my fault.  She was telling me that it was now time to find the good things out there.

But, most of all, Sandra was telling me to love myself.  “Betty, don’t wait any longer to realize that you are worthy, that you are loved, and that you deserve a good life.  Go find it.  Don’t wait any longer.  We don’t have forever.”

I hear you, Sandra.  I’m trying.  I’ll make you proud of your little sister.  Just watch!

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  Sigh……..I finally gave up trying to sleep last night.  I had tossed and turned, thinking about Sandra, and finally decided to get up and put my thoughts together.  Now, I’m tired of thinking.  I think I may post some kitty-cat pictures tomorrow.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:  Guilt, sorrow, loneliness, missing my sisters, thankful that I still have KaKa.  Mind going a frillion miles per hour.  I need to get a grip.

~~~ Betty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depression, Mental Health

Trying Is Just So Darn Hard

“I’d rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star, I’d rather be a has-been than a might-have-been, by far; for a might have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are.” ~ Milton Berle, American Comedian and Actor

Are you an “are”?  Sometimes I don’t think I am.  But, that’s part of my illness.  In my head, I know I’m an “are”.  I know that I’m important in the lives of some.  I know that I have been a “could-be” and I have been a “maybe” who has reached for that star.  I have caught a few stars in my lifetime and they were bright and beautiful stars.  But, I tend to forget those stars at times.  I tend to reach a point where I forget that there are still stars out there.  They are mine for the picking.  I just need to try a little harder.  It just becomes so tiresome to always have to be the one reaching.  I long for someone to bring me a darn star every once in a while.  That would be nice.

For those who battle depression, the fear of “trying” is sometimes overwhelming.  Rather than step out of our superman cape and take off our mask, we will stay covered up, for we are sure that’s the safest thing for us to do.  Safety is paramount for us.  Constantly “trying” is just too risky.  But what if we try?  What harm can come to us?  Will we be ridiculed?  Will we be blamed?  Will we be put down?  The truth is – maybe we will be.  But, maybe we won’t be.  Maybe we will succeed.  Maybe we will be good at it.  Maybe it will be fun.  But, “trying” means that we have to step out of our own heads, take off our masks, remove our superman capes, and we have to get out there.  That is the hard part – getting out there.

The idea of stepping out for someone with depression is not something we do easily.  For many people, stepping out may mean going zip-gliding or parachuting from an airplane.  Stepping out for us may mean something as simple as going to a baby shower for a family member.  My goodness, there are going to be people there who we don’t know.  What if they can just look at us and see that we are not like them?  What if we say something wrong?  What if we find a seat and just not interact with others?  Will they know that we are terrified of them?  What if we start thinking about how we were happy once upon a time – back when we had our first baby?  If we do that, we may start crying.  What will people think of us then?  What if the mom-to-be doesn’t like our gift?  What if everyone there is prettier than we are?  What if there is a family member there who has done something to hurt us in the past?  Will we be able to be polite to that person?  What if they say something to us to hurt our feelings again?  What if we decide we just can’t do it?  Will our family members be mad?  What if…what if…what if?  Our mind is full of what ifs!  By the time it’s time for the shower, we have worked ourselves into such a tizzy, it’s almost impossible to go.  Sadly, for many of us, the temptation to stay home wins out in the end.  We once again choose to not go to another function.  Our lives are full of functions that we have not attended because of our fears.  We have, once again, denied ourselves the possibility of having fun because of the fears that swirl in our heads.  And that, my friends, is a shame.  And we know it.  But, we stay home anyway.

So, how do we solve this problem?  Honestly, I don’t know yet.  There are many functions I don’t attend because of these fears.  For those functions that I just can’t avoid, I dig out a mask, suffer through the panic attack, and then go.  I do the best I can while there and then collapse upon returning home.

My biggest fear is in going back to the town where I lived for 25 years, where my children were raised and where one of my children still lives.  For years, the thought of going there would bring forth huge panic attacks – shaking hands, racing heart, and even having to pull over to throw up before I reached the county line.  It’s not that bad now, but I still have those thoughts running through my head with the mere mention of going there.  And that is so unfair to my grandchildren who live there.  And I know it.  And I can’t get over the fear.  And I hate it.  Hate it.  Hate it.  Someone asked me once what I was afraid would happen if I went there.  I’m not afraid that anything will happen TO me.  I think I’m afraid that all those terrible feelings and thoughts will come back to me and I don’t think I’m strong enough to fight those thoughts again.  I truly believe that a person is allowed just so many fights in their lifetime and I’m afraid that my fight quota is real close to its limit.  My daughter and I spoke about this fear a couple of weeks ago.  She hears my fears, but I know that she is hurt by my inability to visit often and that saddens me.  I so want this to change.

I do know that being retired and living alone makes things harder.  If you are not around a lot of people, you become used to isolation.  I was just thinking, “here it is, 3:33 pm, and I have not used my voice today.”  Sometimes, I long to just hear someone else’s voice.  And, yes, I know that my telephone works both ways.  I can always call one of my children or my granddaughter to talk.  But, I always worry that they are busy and don’t really have time to talk, so I wait for them to call me.  I just wish there was someone “here” to talk to.  But, that’s not true, either.  I cringe at the thought of being around someone all the time.  I guess I just want someone when I want someone.  Kind of greedy, huh?  Oh, well, that’s me.  I guess I’ll go talk to my dog now just to hear my voice.

One day, I will have the nerve or desire to get back out there.  I wish it would hurry up and come.  I hear there are some stars that need catching.

THOUGHTS ABOUT MY THOUGHTS:  Thinking about my wants, desires, and fears makes me feel extremely vulnerable.  Thinking about isolation makes me feel safe.  Sharing with others about my vulnerability and fears is such a strange thing to me.  I am still having a hard time sharing.

TODAY’S FEELINGS BAROMETER:   Headache is back.  Feeling crappy, both physically and emotionally.

~~~ Betty