Burnt. Toast.

“It’s just what you do all the time.”

I’m back from my brief stint in relative seclusion, and I have nothing left today. Everyone is going to get “no” as a response. Everyone.

I deeply enjoyed my weekend in the desert. I did not enjoy coming back to sub-freezing temps, and that short break was enough to highlight the things in my life that are really weighing on me.

It really bothers me that no one asks me how I’m doing. No one close to me, that is. If they do, it’s a surface level question, and any response I have that isn’t “great!” gets dropped as though I didn’t just say “I’m not doing well today.” My people aren’t checking in with me. Strangers and acquaintances, sure, but not my family and close friends. No one asked how my flight was, and I’m scared to death of flying. No one celebrated with me that I didn’t have to take Xanax for either flight. My Mom wanted details of my trip while I was hauling my luggage upstairs. Yes, I want to give you every detail of my weekend while I’m struggling to drag a suitcase and a couple of small bags up to my room. Can it wait ten minutes?

I hide most of what I experience because sometimes I don’t even understand it, and because I have yet to see it help for me to say what’s going on. “I’m having a bad day” or any other version of it gets met with the appearance of indifference. I can understand it must be hard to look at me or talk to me and know that I don’t blurt out what I feel, I need time to work out how to talk about it. If I ever did blurt it out, I would terrify everyone, because I exist in a painful reality. There would be screaming and yelling and probably a few punches thrown. So I keep it in, and I don’t get the time to slowly release it to someone. And they otherwise don’t see it so…it’ doesn’t exist? And I’m fine. And I can do anything. And Ashley is so strong and capable.

I am because I don’t have an option. There is no space in your life for me to be anything else. I do what I have to do to survive.

Therapy was rough this morning. I cried a lot. When we got to the root of my tears, it was that I don’t feel like I matter. I have been busting my ass for a lot of people, and don’t feel like I’m getting any of that in return. My business partner picked me up from the airport in the cold yesterday, and that was the most someone has gone out of the way for me in…ever? As much as I can grouse about him, he can hear what I need and just do it, no questions, no judgment and no making it about him. He said such a kind thing to me yesterday when I thanked him for picking me up, “It’s just what you do all the time.”

I’ve been driving around, working with clients, writing documents, getting us more work, taking care of my increasingly frail grandma, trying to keep the chaos at home to a dull roar and being emotionally supportive to the point that I feel burned up. I wanted to say “no” to everyone today. I don’t want to answer calls or respond to emails. I certainly didn’t want to comfort my grandma or work on my business partner’s project to help him finish or be supportive of David while he swoops in long enough to be supported and encouraged then disappears again to go help someone else. Anyone else but me. Because for whatever reason, me not having a good day only merits an, “I hope you feel better.”

Well shit, I hope I feel better too. It’d be nice if I didn’t have to do it alone…

Adulting Hard (And the Bruises to Prove It)

I think I’ve outgrown my life without realizing it, and without the room to move and stretch I’m getting banged up.

If there was a point in my life that Fridays elicited a “Yay! It’s Friday! The weekend!” response, I have forgotten when, and those days are long gone. Weekends are not a break, weekends are a continuation of work, a different set of work, or an endless round of chores and responsibilities. The only thing that distinguishes the weekend for me is that BAGELS happen on Saturday mornings, and traffic downtown isn’t as bad in the morning.

PTSD took away whatever semblance of “fun” I used to be, and there’s not a lot of free-wheeling, spontaneous, free-to-seize-the-day about me. That and my grandma not aging well (lots of things upset her and I’m the one that gets to hear about it), the unending health crises in my immediate family (we are maybe stable again after my brother’s visit to the ER last week for addiction), running a company with a business partner that has no executive function (it all lands on my shoulders) and my efforts toward recovery, which lately have just meant getting triggered a lot and being tired to the point that I hallucinated while driving.

What am I doing wrong? I thought I had this handled?

I have a stack of work on my desk that has approaching deadlines, I don’t have the focus or energy to tackle it head-on, yesterday I had to pivot to finish two courses for my fellowship that I hadn’t realized weren’t done so that pushed other work off a day, I ran a meeting last night that was completely dominated by a woman who has expertise and does know a lot about the topic our committee meets about, but who does not know all of the context and connections to the topic (and I do), so for every point I made that will help expand the breadth and depth of our organization’s position on this topic, she said “No.”

Y’all know the type. She knows everything, and everything she knows is stuck in the past, and not easily communicated to people who are not experts. That’s why I’m the committee chair, I am good at translating and good at connecting, and I hold more experience and more degrees relative to how to manage the process. And I got stepped all over. And it wasn’t going to be any other way without a fight. Cause she says “No.”

I can’t even make anti-dating fun. David has just as much chaos and barriers as I do at the moment, and it’s starting to consume his energy too. My struggles with mental health killed any kind of “honeymoon phase” we might have had, and my continuing series of triggers has not made our relationship less challenging. I can barely function some days as an individual (my therapist has described me as “high-functioning anxiety”, I see it more as “high potential to fail” anxiety), and there has not been a lot of time for me to adjust to functioning as a couple before everything has kind of hit the fan. Yay.

Long story for another time, but I was at Disney World a few years ago having one of the worst moments of my life. I had been obliterated by my ex and the fireworks show was going on and on about your dreams coming true. What a shitty message to the broken person I was. My dreams were destroyed, thanks. Anyone have a flask in this park?

I’m not a fairy tale kind of girl. I don’t dream in sparkles, I don’t wait for a happy ending and I am certainly not going to be rescued from the shit show that is my life right now.

That message wasn’t for me because that message isn’t me. It doesn’t fit. And I think that’s part of what I’m struggling with right now. I don’t fit. I think I’ve outgrown my life without realizing it, and without the room to move and stretch I’m getting banged up. In figuring out who I am and what I want post-trauma (I am a different person, and it’s a good thing), I don’t fit. Anything. So I guess now I get to figure out how to make it fit…

Going Off The Meds – Check In

Well that heart rate is getting a bit high…

I’m off two of my meds and a week into tapering off the last one, the antidepressant. It could be other things, I certainly have a lot of stress in my life. But it could also be tapering off the antidepressant that is causing me to have a lot of constant anxiety. 

I’ve noticed that I start ramping up in the evening, a little less than 24 hours after my dose. I’ve always taken my meds at night because that has worked better for me. Now that I’m on half a dose, I don’t think I’m quite making it to the next pill, and I’m drinking nearly a gallon of water a day so I may be flushing the chemicals out of my system faster than I otherwise would. Gotta renew those cells! Plus now that it’s actually winter my skin gets really dry if I’m not chugging water all day. 

I never know what to expect in my recovery process, but I knew this part could be hard. It is. I’m leaning on a low dose on Xanax every night to not go tumbling down into the pit. I’m hoping this doesn’t last too long, and there are positive effects of getting off the last of my pills. My creative function is higher, I’m dreaming with clarity and I feel much more connected. I did catch it earlier tonight, so at least observing myself and being body aware is starting to work! 

I Got Dumped…Before I Got Started?

When you ask a guy out, then he makes plans with…mutual friends?

Some friends of mine are playing a house concert this weekend, and I have been looking forward to it since the moment I heard it was happening. They. Are. Good. Soulful, they write their own songs, and the house is an acoustic environment that reverberates with magic. The last time they played this venue was Valentine’s Day, and I went alone. It was a soul-filing experience.

I met Matt through a colleague last year and he introduced me to one of his good friends, Carrie. Carrie and I get on like peas and carrots, and it was a very thoughtful connection on Matt’s part. I also think he is super attractive, so when we were at the same non-profit event a couple of months ago, I had just found out about this gig and invited him, knowing he would appreciate it (Matt and Carrie’s husband play in a really good band that stays pretty booked whenever they want to play). He said he’d put it on the calendar.

This past weekend I saw the whole crew at an event that the band played, and Carrie and I tried to catch up over the volume and the tired crankiness of her kids (I get you, kids!). She told me that they and a few other families with small kids are camping in Matt’s backyard this coming weekend, and she couldn’t make the house concert but I should come by Matt’s. Yeah! So fun!

Except I thought he and I had plans…haha. Yeah, no. But I get it, they’re friends like family, and a backyard camp out sounds so fun. Fun for them. I’m not part of the close group, and I have been looking forward to this house concert as something I am willing to share with people who I think will appreciate it, but I am not missing this for anything, and I am not driving way out of my way to go be an awkward camp crasher.

I got a couple of sweaty hugs from Matt after their set ended, and got him to introduce me to Carrie’s husband since she had already left with the kiddos. Matt had teased me about something, and I headed out when they started packing up their gear on my way to another event. I messaged him later with a further comment on what he had teased me about, just a short lighthearted comment.

No response.

People respond when they want to. They show up when they want to. If they can’t and they want to, and they care, they let you know why. My ex didn’t. A couple guys I’ve sort of not really dated since didn’t (dating with PTSD has been something I’ve pretty much avoided so far). And I have finally learned the lesson. If he was interested, he would make an effort. And he didn’t. And that’s that.

So I’m going to go to listen to musicians pour their souls out over guitars, eat and drink in a kitchen with strangers older than me, and not be sad that Matt chose not to join me. Because I won’t be missing anything, I’ll be right where I want to be.

Family Drama Over Groceries

It’s not inexplicable that I occasionally fantasize about running away to Canada.

My aunt, after many years of being mean to my grandma, has decided to mend her ways (I guess?) and pitch in on caring for my grandma. Her version, which is very generous and welcome, is to occasionally buy a cart full of groceries and drive them up to her. She doesn’t discuss this with my grandma so it usually comes as a surprise, and my grandma is not very receptive to surprises at this stage of her life, nor is she quite willing to let her guard down with my aunt. Understandably.

Now that curbside grocery pickup is a thing in my area, my aunt can now shop online and make me to pick up the groceries, which I did this morning because it helps keep the peace and I can soften the surprise a bit. Grandma still had no idea what to do with so many groceries, and because her arthritis keeps her from cooking much anymore, she was a bit overwhelmed and not sure what to do with it all. I offered to take anything she thought might be too much trouble and make meals we could share (which is the normal way I do things, she calls me “gourmet meals on wheels”), and I told her if it just got to be too much to just put a sign and the food outside her apartment door and it would be gone by evening.

We’re suppose to be glad when people do nice things, right? Except this “nice thing” is a bit too little too late, has no gentleness (but hey, neither does my aunt), and is massively inconvenient to me. Grandma was a little upset I had to be put to trouble (I assured her it was not, and quite easy), but she was glad it was me and not my aunt delivering the groceries, since my aunt can’t make a visit without bringing up something contentious that my grandma would prefer not to discuss.

It’s not inexplicable that I occasionally fantasize about running away to Canada.