Monday, 21 September 2015

Things That Go Bump In The Night

The past few weeks have been a struggle at bedtime. Our one son in particular seems to have developed a paranoia about things that go bump in the night. Consequently, he often ends up on the couch, or worse yet, on the floor outside our bedroom door - ever vigilant for those evil spirits that lurk within our home.

Last night was no exception. After trying to lay in his bed for mere minutes, he was quickly downstairs and onto the couch. Ten minutes later he was sobbing at my door, certain that something had 'run up his arm' and demanding to sleep on the floor.  After countless attempts at reassurance, we relented and allowed him to take up residence at our door.

Flash forward to 2 a.m.  I slowly roused myself from my slumber, only to be confused by what I heard. While normally quite quiet at night, there was a whooshing noise that pervaded the silence - one that I struggled to identify. As I laid there, I suddenly had visions of our water system spewing out buckets of water everywhere (sadly not an uncommon event). I bolted out of bed and rushed down the stairs.

There I discovered our vacuum hose laying on the floor - running! WTH?!? I've heard of peoples' tv's or other appliances turning on suddenly in the night - but a vacuum?!? "This is some freaky shit" I thought to myself as I turned it off and retreated to my bed. I told my husband that clearly we have a ghost suggesting I could step it up when it comes to the cleaning department. Also, I could use a glass of wine to settle my nerves.

As for our son - thankfully he slept through everything. I can only imagine how long it would take to get him convinced there are no ghosts in the house if he had happened to wake up.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Too Busy

It's not about having time . . . 
It's about MAKING time . . .

I haven't blogged much lately, and to be honest, I've kind of felt guilty about it. I think it's because when I first started out with this project, I envisioned making time every day to write - to create - to challenge myself to maintain the energy and consistency I felt when I first began writing.

In my enthusiasm I foolishly forgot what I know to be true ... LIFE happens. Circumstances change, priorities shift, unexpected challenges emerge that inevitably impact the path we are taking as we move towards our goals. It doesn't necessarily render our goals unimportant or unachievable - it simply means that we may need to adjust what we choose to make time for. 

Over the past few months, I've had plenty of time to write, and there has certainly not been any lack of material - believe me. I've quite simply made the choice to focus my efforts elsewhere. Sometimes this is a conscious choice - other times it is more of a subconscious decision, typically manifesting itself as good old writers block. 

I've stepped away from spending time with friends - not because of a lack of desire or interest - but because I have had other things that require my full commitment and attention. 

For a long time, I've used the excuse of "I'm too busy to do _________ right now". I've noticed a lot of people do this. The 'busy' word seems to have become an acceptable adult response to anything we choose not to make time for. 

This isn't to say we aren't busy. Of course we are. We have children, jobs, marriages, health, households, activities, and responsibilities that fill almost every moment of our day. This is the reality of adulthood - we have to prioritize where we are going to choose to spend our time, where our efforts need to be, where our impact is needed most. Often, this is dictated by the circumstances in our lives. We may be going to school, staying at home with the kids, solo parenting while a spouse works away, moving, or working on a project that is near and dear to our hearts. We may be supporting a family member or friend while they experience challenges, or we may be looking within ourselves to determine how to be a better person - a better parent, a better spouse, to be more connected with those around us. 

The reality is, we make time for the things that are important in our lives right now. There is no shame in this. There is no need to make the "I'm too busy" excuse. Why can't we just be honest about what we are making time for? Is it because we are worried about hurting someone's feelings? Is it because we do not trust ourselves enough to determine what is important at any particular moment?  Or is it that much of the work we may do is hard to quantify and describe? After all, contemplating how to be a better person is not something that typically manifests itself in a concrete manner - rather, it requires a great deal of reflection and internal examination. When someone asks "what have you been up to?", it's much easier to say "I've been busy" than attempt to describe an often sedentary and extremely personal process.

The other day I was lamenting to my husband that I was finding it a real struggle to keep on top of maintaining our house, coordinating schedules, and ensuring the kids are entertained. I was feeling discouraged because I had previously been somewhat (and I use this term loosely) successful in keeping the house clean; however had a couple of really difficult weeks with some issues occurring in my life. My husband said to me "You have made a commitment to your health and you are able to make sure you get to bootcamp each week - even when you are struggling. If you put forth the same commitment to maintaining a cleaning schedule of the house, you would be able to do it". At the time, I definitely probably didn't respond in a way that suggested his comment was helpful.

My husband, however, is a very wise man. He was not criticizing my lack of cleaning prowess. He was not stating that my priorities were in the wrong place. He was simply stating the obvious - if having a clean house was very important to me, and I made a commitment to having a clean house, then the house would be clean. I would make the time to ensure it happened. Because he knows - he has seen me do this time and time again. I appreciate his faith and belief in me.

There will always be time for the things that are important to us - we will do everything in our power to make sure of this. However, it is equally important to recognize and accept that priorities shift depending on circumstances - not just in our own lives, but the lives of others. My lack of blog posts lately is most definitely not a reflection of how I feel about writing - to me, writing is still a very important part of my life; however there are more immediate responsibilities that take precedence right now. When those things are resolved, I will be back to writing more regularly - I know this to be true. There will be weeks when everything is falling into place, and the house will be clean. There will be other weeks where s$^# is hitting the fan and the house will look like a bomb went off. And that's ok.

In the meantime, I'm going to cut myself a bit of slack . . . and I'm going to be honest when I'm asked about what I've been up to or why I haven't done something. I'm going to accept responsibility for my choices and remember that things will not always be this way so there is no need to feel guilty. The people who love me will accept that I'm doing my best, and trust that I know where to best utilize my time.

How about you? Do you fall into the "I'm too busy" trap, yet struggle to describe what you have been doing in a way that seems to give your 'busy - ness' credibility? How do you handle these situations? Do you have a spouse, partner, parent, or friend who helps to remind you of your strengths and capabilities?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

I'm Calling a Truce

Photo credit: someecards

Since I was in my late teens, I have been forced into a 'relationship' with someone incredibly condescending, rude, disrespectful, negative, and an all around asshole. She's frustrating, she's tiring, she's caused me to question everything in my life - especially when good things happen. When bad things happen - well, she's like a kid in a candy shop - touching every raw nerve, leaching all my negative emotions to the surface, saying nasty things that cause my belly to ache. Sometimes I am successful at maintaining some distance - some space from her. Sometimes I get brave and call her out on her bullshit. Most times I walk on eggshells and hope she isn't going to suddenly show up.

Why do I keep her around you might ask? Well, walking away isn't quite as simple as it seems. You see, this jerk lives inside me - she inhabits every small corner of my brain, monitoring my thoughts, my movements, my emotions.

For years - and I mean YEARS - I have fought tooth and nail with this b****, most times successfully, and many times unsuccessfully. I have lived in fear of her rearing her ugliness during times of great joy, and I have lived in dread of her know-it-all voice echoing through my head when times are tough. I have fought back when she scrambles all the thoughts in my brain, leaving me struggling to know where to start and feeling overwhelmed. I have tried not to give in when she attacks every muscle in my body to the point that all I can do is stay in bed and rest. There have been nights where she tries to convince me I have nothing to live for, that I am worthless, that no one loves me - and I get up exhausted the next day because I have been arguing with her ALL.NIGHT.LONG. My husband will tell me he loves me, and I struggle to believe and embrace this because - well, you get the picture.

It has been difficult living with this internal conflict all these years - it has taken a toll on my relationships with others, my ability to work, and my confidence. It has been frustrating doing all the right things (exercise, counselling, medication, etc.) yet still feeling like she can arise and bully me at any time she feels an opportunity.

So this year, I've decided to try something different. Instead of trying to push her away and drive her down, I'm going to embrace and love her.

When she's telling me I'm worthless, I will wrap her in a hug and tell her that it's ok to feel alone and unwanted, but I have a lot of worth and am willing to share it with her.

When she's telling me that I can't do it, I'll hold my head high and say "yes I can - we can do it together".

When she attacks my body creating an exhaustion that is difficult to understand, I will remind her that I will cuddle with her, but only for a little while because let's face it, we have things to do.

When she tells me the medication I'm taking isn't working, or I don't need it anymore, I'll advise her that she shouldn't feel scared of being happy - it's a great feeling. Then I'll bring her along to my psychiatrist appointment so she can feel reassured by a professional.

When she tries to muddle my thoughts, I'll surprise her with a pre-made list of things to do and suggest she needn't be anxious, I have things under control.

When she snarls that no one wants to spend time with me, I'll invite her along for lunch with my best friend who always knows just what to say to make me feel better. Maybe it will work for her too.

In the end, I might as well make peace with this person, because after 30 plus years, she's made it clear she isn't going anywhere - despite my best efforts. You know how the saying goes … If you can't beat them, might as well join them - except this time it will be on MY terms.

This post is written in honour of #BellLetsTalk day. While I believe we should be open to talking about mental health issues daily, I do appreciate the opportunity to bring it to the forefront on days such as these. The fact of the matter is mental illness is an invisible disease - there are no blood tests, no physical deformities, no genetic markers - just some screening tools that can suggest it does indeed exist. This makes it hard for people to understand. If you have never been so desperate that you've thought of harming yourself, it is incredibly difficult to understand and empathize with someone who has. It's hard to appreciate how asshole-y a brain can actually be. Sometimes there are triggers, many times there are not. Even once treated, the risk of what I call "a flare-up" is always present - and when this happens it can be discouraging. Not one person who has a mental illness actually WANTS to have it - just as someone with Diabetes does not actually want to be diabetic. Wishing it away, pretending it doesn't exist, blaming someone for a lack of a positive attitude will not.change.anything.

If you, or someone you know is struggling, PLEASE ask for help. Ask your family, friends, pastor, teacher, counsellor, Dr. - anyone you feel close to. You aren't alone. There are many resources available to you. Is the process easy? Not in the least - but don't get discouraged. You are worth it!