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Managing Holiday Stress

When expectations and a sense of obigation are present, feelings of stress usually arise.  When my stress gets too high, I generally begin to shut down.  Depression starts to take hold, I become highly  irritabile too easy, too often and I tend to want to retreat (to my bed).  Holidays usually brought on this scenario for me and I felt dread at the upcoming holiday gatherings.  Then, I learned I could choose to “not”  attend and tell friends and family that I was simply not up to it.

Several years in a row when my coping skills were no match for my depression and anxiety, I stayed home.  I avoided many  Thanksgivings’, Christmas’, whatever “it” was.  When I stayed home, in my safe place I would experience mixed emotions:  1)  I would feel happy that I was not under so much stress and 2) recognized I had made a choice and that choice often left me feeling a little sorry for myself, that I was at home all alone.   I know that sounds a little crazy, like both sides of a coin. But, it is what it is.

Now I take a slightly different approach yet, still effective in managing stress that tends to accompany my sense of obligation.  I tell myself that I can always LEAVE.   To show up and bear as much as I can until I am done, then say my goodbyes (even if it is before a meal, or whatever).  Knowing I have this OUT, seems to remove a lot pressure.  There are times that I leave and other times when I stay.  I monitor how I am feeling during the event and if I notice I am feeling upset, angry, hurt, ignored, worried, etc. I can take an action to try to change it and if that doesn’t work, I can leave and go where I am comfortable (for me, this is home).

As I’ve grown older I realize that the Time spent with loved ones’ is more important than almost anything.  I spend time, when I feel I am able to.  Now I know they wont always be there to go and visit.


Why I Married A Sociopath

Sociopath:  Lacking guilt, remorse, empathy.

Does not adhere to social norms or laws

In the beginning the person I ended up marrying was (very) physically unattractive yet strangely appealing in that they exuded an air of money and dangerous excitement.   These elements kicked off the “feel good” chemicals in my brain and I was nearly hooked.

When I was a little younger, I would go to work and come home park myself in front of the t.v., eat and eventually go to bed.  This was my day in day out routine, spending my free time alone and pretty tired out from the day.  This pattern extended into my weekends and before knowing it years had begun to pass.   Depression, exhaustion and financial hardship permeated my life and dealing with other’s always feeling like a constant draining challenge. Frequent job changes didn’t seem to fix or help the problem.  I would often cry at my extended self-imposed isolation, wanting to change and yet resistant to change.

Traveling back and forth between east and west coasts became an almost every day or weekly event for us.   My own financial troubles felt less oppressive as we ate at fine dining establishments, took little vacations and I got to see a part of the country that had been foreign to me. I had been missing companionship and invited him to move in with me while he was here on the West Coast, I grew to see this person as not so unattractive physically and the cementing of this bond took hold.   Personal inquiries of my new partner were typically met with evasive answers which only deepened my resolve to get closer and uncover these wonderful secrets.  I am a Scorpio and we love a good mystery.

Those “feel good” chemicals in my brain were working overtime, and I felt great.  Even happy.  Then, one day while my other half was back East (his home)  and I was at home on the West Coast I received a phone call…   This would be the defining moment in my life where I intuitively knew and yet  deliberately chose danger and those wonderful brain chemicals over self preservation and common sense.  My reasoning was that my life was boring and I needed to change things up, to feel alive.

To be continued…

Waking up 50 y.o.

This is what I’ve learned about someone close.  Since the year that she turned 50 and found herself feeling alone and single, each morning was met not with gratitude but with dread as those first dawning thoughts encroached:  I’m going to die soon.

Her family history of depression was not being managed well as the unopened bottles of antidepressant medications sat nearly forgotten tucked away in the linen closet.

Self loathing and negative self talk seemed to consume her yet, help was not something she wanted to pursue.  I suggested this was her depression taking over but my words fell of deaf ears.  She said she was not happy with her: self,  station in life (living on disability), her smile (dental problems), unmanageable hair and coloring and negative personality.  When with others, she told me she sometimes feels like she wants to be invisible and is more on the quiet side while comparing her life with theirs.  I reminded her this is probably the depression working away at her.

Appearing tired, unhappy and reclusive, giving up on ever having a different kind of life than the one she is living now, I worry.  I not only worry for her but many of these elements are present in my own life.   The prospect of being an adult orphan, when no family members are left is also a common fear we share.

Rationalizing Hibernating

If I don’t go anywhere today I’ll save gas and wear and tear on my car.

If I stay home, I wont have to deal with crowds and annoying people.

I hate waiting and standing in line at the check out.

I don’t feel like washing my hair, if I go anywhere I NEED to do it.

Other drivers are getting crazier, don’t want to deal with that.

Im safe at home, it’s easier

I don’t have to get dressed. less quarters on laundry day.

What are some of your excuses rationalizations?

My Father Who Art In Heaven?

Dear Dad,

Are you in Heaven?  I know you didn’t believe in Heaven, in God.   Oh, I just discovered tears welling up in my eyes not because of your belief’s or lack of but because I am finally writing about you, to you.  This is clearly going to be a personal tearjerker ( category ) endeavor for me, but long overdue.

When I think of you, is that you being near?  Or is it simply part of my random thoughts and memories?

I recall several years back a conversation with an older man ( not you, you didn’t live that long ) about Heaven and what it might be like.   During this conversation, I felt tears come to my eyes and stated that I hoped I didn’t see you there,  I didn’t want to see you there because you usually terrified me, made me feel bad about myself and passed down this often unbearable depression.  Now, I’m not so sure about those declarations, maybe seeing you in Heaven would heal my wounded soul.

I am crying, will return to this topic as soon as I am able.

Visitors, Readers  What are your thoughts?

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