Author of Breasts Don't Lie

Posts tagged ‘anxiety’

Jamming My World

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My forty-year-old Swingline stapler is jammed. I’ve stabbed myself in the thumb with a pair of tweezers, a pen, and now a knife trying to get it working again. I understand the urgency of my righting the stapler has more to do with the state of the world and my fear for the global future than the need to attach pieces of paper. But the world is an ugly place right now. Right now, it is really ugly.

I’ve tried to keep out of social media for the last two months. That world is another chaotic and mean venue. Real mean. One word and everyone descends to feed on your bones. Kind of appropriate for last week’s Halloween but I don’t want any part of it.

I’m not chicken shit, but life is tough, and I feel myself pulling away in response. As I get older, I wanted to get a little sweeter, a little nicer (that might be a stretch), and a little more thoughtful about where I put my fiery energy, but I’m not becoming any of those things.

In massage school and then again in yoga teacher training, come to think of it, even in graduate school, I have always been the fireball. The one who is not afraid to say what I’m thinking and usually a few others too, the one who will stand against what is wrong. This stance is necessary and right (and self-righteous).

I am pitta; I am Aries, I am the consequence of a history of inflicted wrongs, one who wants justice. I pick up my sword to fight but in the darkest hour of the night, when I am honest with myself, the question – do I like the Adrenalin high – pings around inside my head. What if I am addicted to fighting for the sake of fighting, basically self-mutilating to get that feeling of being on the side of justice?

And it is getting in my way of allocating my energy in useful ways – ways that are beneficial to myself and humankind?

My graduate school advisor, the thoughtful and wonderful Dr. Norm Thies-Sprinthall, told me to “Pick my battles.” My therapist, a kindly soul, told me to “Be careful with your judgmental stance.” My friends tell me to “Use your power for good not evil.”

So, I’m trying to use their words as my mantra and good grief, it’s hard work. As a child of a Holocaust survivor, I cannot look away. I could not live with myself if I negated the millions of lives demolished then, now, and into the future. I don’t want to dwell, hyperfocus, obsess because PTSD is an ugly and incapacitating result.

I need to find balance. I’m working on it. Paying attention to the world but placing parameters about the amount of time I watch TV or listen to NPR, spending more time with friends not talking or picking apart the latest terror, and guarding my sleep. Those 3 am panic attacks suck. I am so over them.

In the meantime, I am asking you to pick up the sword, pay attention to the world, while I get my own house in order. My father’s death and the repercussions hit hard. The move to Texas continues to be tiring. Coming back to jobs where I have been replaced while looking after my father and family was hurtful.

I stare at the stapler. Work dammit.

(My image – you can use it.)

A Fable: Ugliness in Raleighwood

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Once upon a time, in the Shire of Raleighwood, lived a confused, sad, and alcoholic smurf named Jennifurlee. She had not started her life as evil but was born to the bad wart-faced witch, Shirfurlee. This devious witch had promised the small, deformed smurf great power if she only destroyed the Good Fairy. The Good Fairy had been living in Raleighwood for a long time doing kind things for the people and animals of this area but Jennifurlee, under the spell of Shirfurlee, could not bear for anyone to have anything she did not own. In a fit of spite, she abandoned her cats and kept her dogs in cages.

Jennifurlee promised to destroy the Good Fairy. She started by calling her names to other people. The Sheriff rode in on his white horse. He said to the Good Fairy, “Avoid putting energy into this fight because Jennifurlee is unhappy and under the influence of the bad witch. She knows not what she does.” The Good Fairy, having many friends in the legal profession, some prestige in the community, and a mostly forgiving nature shook off the irritation and went about doing her good deeds.

But Shirfurlee whispered to Jennifurlee awful things to spur on her daughter’s craziness. With each act of stalking, vandalism, and trespassing, Jennifurlee became uglier like a bloated, purulent skinned toad.

With the act of smearing feces, Jennifurlee developed a clump of warts on her nose. Everyone wanted to know – did Jennifurlee save her poop or was she running around snatching poop from other inhabitants? Eeoough.

Wanting to give Jennifurlee another chance, the Good Fairy sent a missive to the cranky smurf. Jennifurlee, misguided soul, full of pus, ignored it.

With the act of scraping her key down the side of the Good Fairy’s carriage, Jennifurlee’s chest broke out in a pustulent rash of pimples!

With the act of letting the air out of the Good Fairy’s tires, Jennifurlee’s name was reported to the dungeon keepers of the shire. Also, detailed missives were sent out to the neighborhood watch about her carriage, her deformed appearance, and the carriage and appearance of her accomplice, DICK.

Each act of STALKING, VANDALISM, TRESPASSING, and COMMUNICATING THREATS made Jennifurlee increasingly deformed in body and spirit until she was recognized everywhere she went. One sad day, the Sheriff of the Shire exiled Jennifurlee to live with the crazy old witch mother, Shirfurlee in the barren place called Mary’s Land for Misfit Smurfs. Meanwhile, her accomplice, DICK, was called before the head bean counter and held accountable for his collusion in the criminal deeds.

 

This fable is the ugliest thing I have written. Ever. I loathe writing about the bad behavior of a woman, but I am being stalked. She’s covered my car with feces multiple times, let the air out of my tires, stolen porch ornaments, harassed me by telephone and text, threatened my safety and property by text, keyed my car, smeared feces on my front porch and door, does drive-bys, covered my car with condoms. She’s promised to be especially mean this week. REALLY? What the hell?

Women are having a difficult enough time in the world at present. We don’t need to be fighting each other.

You Can’t Buy Sleep …

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I have slept with the same man for three years. Without him, I do not sleep and not sleeping is the enemy.

Insomnia has been my enemy since high school. From that first sleepless night, when I laying sweating on my sheets, my teenage brain addled by the prospect of first love, and into college test-taking terrors.

Periods of insomnia continued to dog me through my 20s until three years ago. I tried many things. I reframed it as lost time, painting my toenails can only be done so many times before the nails turn yellow, brittle, and have this look of wanting to give up the toe. I tried baking muffins. Twenty minutes and poof, you have corn-studded or jam-stuffed goodness. These were especially helpful for bribing colleagues when late. Thinking this was the way out, muffins became my solution until the night I almost burned down the house. I slept through the time to wake up to the smell of smoke and some slight popping sounds as the oven caught on fire. No more muffins for me. I tried taking baths. Being very clean is one thing. Having your skin become so dry that it falls off in sheets is another bad thing.

The doctor was unhelpful. After nights of Ambien-induced slumber, I would wake up surrounded by empty containers to follow the trail of crumbs to the open fridge. One night, I walked to the top of the stairs to yell out, “Chopped liver,” frightening everyone in the household. I don’t remember. Goodness knows what else I did.

Three years, desperate for sleep, I downloaded a sleep CD. The voice on my phone sounded like a New York cabbie. He guided me through several relaxation inductions then I took the plunge and meet my inner sleep advisor. I let my mind go blank then swirl with a mist. From the mist my inner advisor would emerge to give me information about my insomnia. My inner advisor would be “both kind and wise.” Sure. First, I saw a mustache. Then a round form emerged in blue overalls and a red cap. Huh. Who can this be? He spoke with an Italian accent.

“My Princess Toadstool, you need to relax. Get a massage. Eat more protein. You need a good moisturizer. You need to stop reading that “Trauma and Recovery” book in your bed.”

His white-gloved hand patted my face before giving my cheek a little tweak. Okay dokey. That sounded like good advice and I liked his accent. But who was Princess Toadstool?

At my computer the next morning, I punched into my search engine, “Italian cartoon character with blue overalls and red cap.” Up came articles and images of Mario, an Italian plumber who resides in the Mushroom Kingdom. He was a hero in a video game on something called Nintendo.

Then I typed in “Princess Toadstool.” Yuck. Up came articles and images of a big-haired blonde in a Pepto-Bismol pink evening dress loaded with jewelry and red shoes. Okay I can get behind the red shoes. I haven’t had big hair since the 80s and I’m not going back.

So my inner advisor, kind and wise, is Mario the Italian plumber, savior to Princess Toadstool. I needed rescuing? And she has a tiara … eeoough. Do I need a tiara? Must I wear a pink evening gown? I had a parasol when I was an Azalea Trail Maid (don’t ask, I got a college scholarship out of it). Does that count? I have bigger problems than insomnia.

After my initial feminist outrage, I researched Princess Toadstool. Yes, she wears red high heels and an old style puffy dress (like my Azalea Trail Maid get-up). But she kicks ass sometimes, gets grumpy, and rides a motorcycle. I was beginning to like her. She’s rich, really rich, on Forbes wealthiest fictional people list. She perseveres through multiple kidnappings, reframed as stressors and life events, even if she has to pull her hair into a ponytail or in my case, chop it off. I could get behind this woman.

So maybe Mario’s advice, self-care, is not such a bad idea. Maybe when I have insomnia it’s because my self-care is not up to Princess Toadstool’s standards. Guess I’ll go buy some moisturizer and sign up for a self-defense class. Oh and buy a pair of red shoes to kick insomnia’s ass.

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