I’ve been feeling rather sad and isolated the last few days. I think a lot of it comes from the stress of dealing with chronic illness and chronic pain. Anyone who has chronic illness is probably familiar with spoon theory, an illustrative way to describe why you have to choose carefully how to use your energy to do things when you have very limited physical ability.
In other words, sometimes you have to choose whether you would like to go out and socialize for a short period of time, spend that energy getting some much-needed housework done, work on a hobby or personal interest, or even simply take a shower…because you just don’t have the energy and the physical ability to do them all within the same day like a healthy person could.
Most of the time I end up choosing to spend my “energy” and limited abilities to either spend time with my husband, work on my art/writing/blogging, or take care of personal hygiene or light housework. Prioritizing these things leaves no extra energy or time to socialize on a wider scale or do much outside of the house, other than maybe occasionally going out for dinner or doing a little necessary shopping. Even the thought of going to a movie is often too exhausting to contemplate.
All of this makes me sad, especially when I remember how I used to enjoy so many other things I can’t do any longer. I used to love hiking, playing tennis, roller skating, bowling, dancing, working, swimming, being a foster parent, and going out to various activities with people I know or share interests with. I’ve pretty much lost all of that for good. And that is depressing.
Here is the photo prompt and my entry for this week’s Twittering Tales writing challenge hosted by Kat Myrman:
Olivia sat on the edge of her daughter’s unmade bed. She ran her fingers over the ridges and bulges of the white blankets. She leaned down to sniff the fluffy pillow at the head of the bed, then laid her head down on it heavily.
She’s really gone. The pain hit hard and fast.
(Note: The photo prompt this week really reminded me of the novel I am currently reading, “The Night Olivia Fell”, by Christina McDonald. So, I stole the character name for the writing exercise.)
I have to be careful how I word this post as there is a slight (but unlikely) chance the person I am talking about might read it. However, it has been weighing heavily on my mind so I wanted to talk about it.
There was a person in my personal life I was really close to for several years. I cared about them deeply and loved them like family. They were much younger than myself, so I tried to set a good example for them and be a sort of big sister to them. We spent much of our time together, partly out of necessity at the time and partly because I genuinely enjoyed their company.
Now they are all grown up and I am still in loose contact with them and seeing how they have turned out has kind of broken my heart. They have embraced some radical ideologies that are rude, ignorant, and sometimes bordering on mean or even cruel. I know I only had a real influence on them for a few years, but it still makes me feel like somehow I failed them that they have turned from such a thoughtful, sensitive, caring young person to a cold, bitter, angry, and sometimes hateful adult.
I still love them and know that goodness I knew inside of them must be there somewhere. I know they have had a rough life and many hurtful experiences, just as I had growing up. I wonder if I am being too hard on them. I know sometimes the other side goes way too far with political correctness, perhaps it is just a reactionary thing? Maybe they are just being young and foolish, like we all once were? I don’t know, but it still hurts my heart.
Yesterday my husband and I traveled over to Indiana to meet my mom and her husband for Christmas dinner. We all decided to meet at a truckstop that is about halfway between us, so that neither of us would have to cook, clean up, or drive too far:
I genuinely had a good time and am glad I’ve been able to spend more time with them recently. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while, may remember that there has been a lot of water under the bridge between my mother and myself over things that happened when I was growing up. She made some huge mistakes, and as is often the case, my sister and I had to pay for many of those choices just as much as she did…maybe more in some cases.
She genuinely seems to be regretful and is trying to make things better between us, so although I am always going to be cautious and protective of myself, it feels good to be able to embrace forgiveness for my own peace of mind and well-being. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that what we went through was ok, or that the damage wasn’t done, but it does mean that it doesn’t have control of my life, my mind, or my heart anymore. I can move on.
I am somewhat a believer in the saying “When we know better, we do better”. Some of us take a long, long time to “know better”, but healing and wisdom are ours once we finally do face the truth.
Today has been a rough day 😦 I had to get up early to go to an appointment with my lawyer to talk about my upcoming SSDI hearing in February. I woke up feeling exhausted, achy, and sick to begin with, my stomach and digestive system freaking out from the anxiety of the change in routine as they always do.
The meeting went ok, I suppose. The lawyer seems really nice and genuine, but the whole thing depressed me. For one thing, it isn’t easy to have everything that is wrong with you physically and mentally just laid out on the table for everyone to see. It isn’t fun facing the reality of my own limitations and self-perceived flaws. I know I can’t help having mental and physical issues, but it SUCKS to have to dwell on them and think about them more than I already do normally.
The lawyer wants me to try to get my doctors to fill out some forms to take to the hearing and that gives me high anxiety. I hate having to ask anyone to do anything, it is just the way I am. I have a deep fear of rejection. What if they say “no” when I ask them to fill out the forms? Then I will feel even lower than I already do. I know my doctors are caring people who try to help me and they will probably be more than willing to help, but my brain just can’t shut off the “what ifs”.
I came home from the lawyer visit, cried for a little bit, then crashed for a few hours in bed. I still feel like absolute crud, but am trying to get back into my normal routine. I am desperately in need of some self-love and comfort right now, but that isn’t easy for me to do.
Do you ever wonder if it all matters? I sure do. I try to be positive most of the time when I think about the things I do and whether they make a difference, but when I get depressed, the voices of doubt tend to get louder. They say some pretty mean things:
Are you just wasting your time writing and making art? Who really cares?
Why would anyone care what you have to say? Who do you think you are?
You try to support others, but do they even notice? Does it even help them?
You only focus so much on art and writing because you can’t keep a REAL job.
Your own family never cared that much about you, why would anyone else?
If you died today, barely anyone would notice or care. Your funeral would be empty.
You are selfish and everyone sees through you.
You are a drain on your husband and society in general.
I know these are very negative (some would even say abusive) thoughts, but when I am feeling low, they play in my head like a stuck record. By writing them out, I am hoping they will finally shut the hell up. Do any of these thoughts (or similar ones) ever haunt you?
Last night I had an interesting dream. In the dream, there was a big snake loose in our house and I was trying to stay as far away from it as I could because I feared getting bit. Every time I would see it somewhere, I would run to another room. Then, the dream took an unexpected turn when the snake attacked my cat, Spyder. Spyder has been my baby since the day he came home to us and has been with us almost 12 years.
When I realized the snake was attacking Spyder in the dream, I was suddenly like “HELL NO!!!” and I ran into the room with a small sword (that suddenly appeared out of nowhere) and I cut that snake’s head clean off! I was suddenly as brave as an Amazon warrior, or like a mother bear defending her cubs.
When I woke up today, I was trying to decode this dream a bit, and I think what I was actually dreaming about was the fear of death. Just last night I was talking to someone about the short spans our pets live and about how my last two cats died around the same age Spyder is now. I think the snake symbolized death coming to take a loved one from me, and while I clearly have a self-preservation instinct and a healthy fear of my own death, that fear pales in comparison to the terror I feel at losing a loved one.