Posted in Truth

Admitting I’m Broken

Admitting I'm BrokenThe last few weeks have been particularly difficult for some reason.  I don’t feel like doing anything and I’ve found it really hard to motivate myself to work on any of the projects or goals I’ve begun recently.

In the shower one day, it suddenly occurred to me that I’ve been lying to myself.

I’ve been telling myself for years that I’m okay, I survived, I’ve moved on, I’m over it – all those lies you tell yourself because it hurts too much to face the truth.

I spent almost two decades married to a narcissistic sociopath.

It’s amazing how cathartic it feels just to write that sentence.

Shortly after we separated, I spent a lot of time in the library, researching how I was supposed to deal with the end of my marriage.  As our divorce progressed (it took over a year to finally extricate myself), I discovered exactly who and what I had married.

In hindsight, there were a ton of red flags, none of which I paid any attention to at the time.  It took me several months of living apart from him to admit that he wasn’t who I’d thought he was.

Eventually I came to realize that I had endured almost two decades of emotional and verbal abuse.  Once I had some distance from my abuser, my head began to clear.  I didn’t recognize the person I had become.

I lived my life walking on eggshells, trying to avoid saying or doing anything that would trigger his rage.  I tried to protect my children from him.  I failed at both.

When our divorce was granted, I felt like I had finally escaped the chains.  Except, of course, when it comes to narcissists, the only way to truly escape is to cut off any and all contact.  Because of our children, that wasn’t an option for me.

Fast forward several agonizing years, filled with ever-more ridiculous and outrageous behavior from my abuser, and I was on my own, working at a new job, and planning my wedding to an amazing man.

After we were married, I convinced myself that I was ‘over’ everything that had happened in the past.  That nothing my abuser said or did would affect me anymore.  I survived the abuse, I moved on, I made it.

What I’ve realized, though, is that I never really dealt with the abuse.  I appreciated its absence, of course, but I never really dealt with it.

The reality is that I’ve felt lost for a long time.  I don’t know what to do with myself, and it’s because I haven’t done the work to rediscover who I am and what I want.

I spent so much of my life trying to prove to the narcissist that I was enough, without understanding that for a narcissist, nothing and no one, except themselves, is ever enough.

Admitting the problem is the first step, right?

So here I am, admitting I’m broken.

On to the next step.

Posted in Anxiety

Everything All At Once

everything all at onceToday is one of those days when I feel like I’m running in circles and accomplishing nothing.

I have so many things running around in my head that I can’t focus on anything.  Everything becomes a big jumble, with my thoughts jumping from here to there to here and back again.

I keep meaning to take up meditation.  I’m hoping it would help me focus.  I think that’s why I like routines so much – I can put myself on autopilot and then it’s easier to focus on other items as I need to.

The last few days have been anything but routine.  Our hot water heater decided to crap out, and I’m now on day two of no hot water.  You don’t realize how much you take something like that for granted until you don’t have it.

I can still do most of our laundry, thank goodness, since it gets washed in cold water.  I can’t run the dishwasher, though, so I have to heat water in the kettle to pour into the sink to do the dishes.  (This is a #firstworldproblem, I know.)

But without hot water, no showers or baths.  Cold showers, while unpleasant, might have been an option.  Unfortunately, the water heater was leaking, which means the water to it is shut off.  The faucets in both showers happen to be the ‘one knob’ kind, and so even the cold water does not come out.

When you have teenagers, especially those in sports who come home very sweaty after practice, no bathing is NOT an option.  So, I’ve been heating up pots of water on the stove and filling up the tub so that we can bathe.  (I would never have lasted before indoor plumbing, I’ve discovered.)

The part we need to fix it wasn’t in stock (of course), so we’ve had to wait.  And while I’m thrilled to get it fixed and have hot water again, I am not thrilled to be having to deal with a stranger in my house for hours while I am the only one home.  Crazy, I know, but there it is.

In my teaching classes, I remember being told that students can only hold about 7 things in their brains at once.  So if they are worried about not having enough food at home, for example, that takes up one slot.  Trouble with a girlfriend/boyfriend? Another slot.  Working while they are going to school?  Another slot.  And so on – this was a way to explain why some students seem disconnected in class – their 7 slots are full and school isn’t important enough to dislodge something else to free up a slot.

I bring this up, because I feel like I have about 200 things I need to be doing, and my 7 slots are full.  So I keep trying to swap out items in the slots, so I can do everything I need to do.  It’s not working.

  • Worrying about the water heater and the cost of fixing it – 1 slot
  • My husband possible getting a new job with better benefits but less $ – 1 slot
  • Having a stranger in my home – 1 slot
  • Worrying about finances – 1 slot (I should probably give this one 2 or 3 slots, because I worry about it a lot.)
  • Losing weight/Getting healthy – 1 slot
  • Working on this blog – 1 slot
  • Learning photography – 1 slot
  • Learning coding – 1 slot
  • Filling out the FAFSA for my college student – 1 slot
  • Getting my oldest registered to vote – 1 slot
  • Getting organized – 1 slot
  • Providing drinks for a football game – 1 slot

This list may not seem that large, but it’s certainly more than my 7 slots can handle.  Especially when many of these include sub-slots for each larger item.

For example, my worrying about finances includes a lot of other things under that umbrella.  I worry about things like:

  • What if something happens to my husband and he can’t work?
  • Where I can find a part-time job of my own to bring in extra income?
  • What if we don’t have enough money to pay tuition next semester?
  • How can we cut down on our bills so we can save a little each month?

Some of this is my own propensity to overthink things.  Tell me something great that happened, and I can come up with a list of at least 5 things to worry about associated with it.  Now, I know that most of those things will never happen, but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about them.

That’s why the drinks for the football game is a big deal.  Here’s my thought process: Can I get the drinks? Yes, a trip to the store.  But I need a second cooler, because I can’t fit all of them in my current cooler.  Then add in the ice and out of shape me can’t lift the cooler when it’s filled.  My husband is supposed to go with me, but we’re having some weather here, Hurricane Matthew is causing chaos elsewhere, and he could get called out to work the storm (here or there).  The game is in another town, so I’m not sure where I’m going.  Once I find the field, great.  But often the bus is parked for the boys by their locker room, which could be blocks away.  So then I have to try and find the bus and the boys.   At this point, my anxiety is off the charts.

Do I know that all of this sounds crazy to other people? Yes.  Still worrying about it all.

I applied last month for a photography class and I just found out today that I got accepted.  Yay!  But then as I am adding the dates to my calendar, I realize that I may have some conflicts because of my kid’s sports activities.  Not a definite conflict, because I don’t know the times for those games yet, or even if they will make it into playoffs.  But I’m already worrying about whether there will be any conflicts.

Do you have techniques to help you cope with anxiety or worry? What are they?