Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Turning 50 - anxiety


For all the

"...you are in the prime of life..."

"...oh you wait and see, I blossomed when I hit 50..."

"...you still have time to...."

"...here's a list of people who didn't hit their stride until after 50..."

"...you look good for your age..."

I wish I could get just one

"I hear you."

-----

Why can't we seem to say that aging in America is hard? That it comes will all kinds of anxiety?

Anxiety about not knowing how you will survive.  I've already googled the question of how soon I can get myself on waiting lists for elderly housing because I know the waiting lists are long.

Anxiety about suffering alone at the end. I understand how people die alone and are not discovered until something starts to stink.  How many days of not posting on FB does it take before someone calls for a wellness check?

Anxiety about being seen as no longer valuable. How many times has it already been assumed that I don't know certain things because of my age? As though my brain shut off at 30.  

Anxiety about who to ask for help when the body can no longer do.

-----

For every, "Oh, stop worrying so much..."

I'd like just one, "Yes. It's hard."


Monday, January 17, 2022

Turning 50 - Anger

 

 


I'm turning 50 in about two weeks and I'm angry. 

I'm angry I'm still doing the things that I should be instead of the things I want. 

I'm angry that there is still this deeply planted seed inside of me that says I don't deserve to want.

I'm angry that I still can't bring myself to confront those who planted it there. 

I'm angry that even now, saying "yes" feels unsafe. 

I'm angry that when asked to give an adjective about myself 

the 

first 

word 

that 

comes 

to mind 

is 

selfish. 

 

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Broken hope...

I grew up believing real systemic change was possible. I don't believe that anymore. 

I used to think that maybe one day we'd have this cultural defining moment that would change us. I stopped believing that about 15 years ago.

Then I thought that maybe the theory of the arc of change bending towards justice however slowly as true and held that close. Sometime in the last year I stopped believing that too. 

I used to believe that it was so clear why we needed to reach out to one another, why we needed to see, care for, and support "the least of us." 

As a kid I heard the stories of the loaves and fishes and thought it was right that someone who could produce abundance like Jesus supposedly could, would also feel compelled to share it with those who did not. The message was so clear to me...

It is the pandemic that has pushed me over the edge from denial to letting go. If there was any event in my lived history that could have, should have, broken through our hyper-individualism it was all of us facing a common fear.  But it didn't. 

Instead it just highlighted how deeply embedded the myth of hyper individualistic solitary self-sufficiency has become in our world; at least here in the United States. 

And it is here that my hope broke. 

I don't think we can break that myth.  

We have managed to demonize human connection. 

We have framed compassion as weakness. 

We have placed our individual wants over the needs of the suffering, 

And we have made convenience the scale on which we weigh our actions.  

 


Monday, June 14, 2021

The Anxious Gloomy Sads

I woke up with a case of the Anxious Gloomy Sads.

I think it is mostly that it is Monday. 
Monday's always make me anxious. 

The start of my work week just primes my brain for all sorts of unhelpful questions. 

Why do I feel so overwhelmed?  
Am I going to work enough hours to pay bills?
Am I going to tank out too early and let someone down?
Will I have time to do the things I need to do to feel content (like eat, meditate, journal, be social...) or will I reach the end of the day with not enough left?
How does everyone else do this?
How does everyone else get by?
 
I'm guessing they don't. 
I'm guessing like me they push through as best they can
and fighting that feeling 
of
not 
being enough. 

A brisk early morning walk to the grocery store and back took care of the Anxious part. 
This just leaves me with a case of the Mildly Gloomy Sads. 
 
The sads always seem to linger longer. 




Thursday, June 3, 2021

Why self care feels like it takes so much time

 

This morning while journaling I had a revelation. Like many revelations it felt small in the moment it happened.  It was just one sentence, a question, in the midst of a longer rumination of words about how much of a struggle it can be to fit selfcare and healing into my daily routine.

Will selfcare feel any easier when disrupting my old ways of coping is no longer a part of the process?

It is one of those questions that seems to have the answer in its asking. Well, yes…of course it will be easier, or course it will take less time.

I was writing about how difficult it feels to fit selfcare into my daily routines.  I was lamenting about how it felt like it took so much time and effort because it involved not only the actual activities but also included a process of constantly checking in with myself and my body. It is an ongoing effort to release tension, to disrupt obsessive thoughts, to remind myself to eat, to move, to breathe.

Take my daily journaling for instance.

It sounds simple enough, sit down with my journal and pen and write. But my brain and body want to disrupt this – writing is how I do my best processing and sometimes that processing is painful. Even when writing about successes and joys there is a whole lot of self-talk I need to disrupt and overcome to get to the point of writing.

I have to intercede in my thought process, disrupt it, and redirect it so that I actually pick up the journal and pen. Then my tendency, once I am there, is to rush through it as though it is just another task I need to check off the To Do List. I start to feel hurried and rushed, so my shoulders tense and my grip tightens on my pen. I often find myself holding my breath.  

I pause, breathe, pause breathe, write, pause, release tension, write more, breathe and eventually I get into a flow and the words come.

Is it any wonder that it feels like it takes forever?

I reminded myself this morning that this is like learning any new skill. When I learned to play the drum, it took time to learn the proper way to hold the drum and to learn the rhythms to play upon it. Of course, unlike selfcare I didn’t have a bunch of bad drumming habits to overcome. I was starting fresh and so could learn the best way to do it from the beginning.

Integrating selfcare into my life includes not only learning the new habit but overcoming a whole host of non-useful coping mechanisms. Of course, it is going to feel like it takes so much longer to learn how to do it.

There are all kinds of estimates on how long it takes to gain a skill or instill a new habit ranging from three weeks to ten thousand hours. I’ve no idea how long it will take me.  I do know I am committed in a way I have not been committed before. I know that while it may not feel this way now, like any new skill it will get easier, overcoming the obstacles will get easier and take less time.

And one day soon, I am sure of this, these things will become as much a part of my life and as automatic as the old ways were.

I am looking forward to that day.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

A Valentine to my Body

 You give my soul a way to touch the world.




February 14, 2021

#my52valentines

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Dream: The Wounded Cat

Last night I dreamed of a cat that couldn't walk. 

She was a fluffy silver tabby, much like my own Miss Pickles.  When I first saw her she was sitting up, as cats do, with her front paws side by side in front of her. She looked like a perfectly normal and healthy cat. Except when she tried to walk.

She would start to take a step and she would just tip over and fall to the ground. 

She'd sit up again. 

And she'd try again.

And she'd fall again. 

I watched this over and over, not understanding why it was happening. 

I moved closer and this time when she moved I saw that she would pick up her front left leg to take a step and the moment her little paw touched the ground again, the leg would become smoke and vanish. And she would fall to the side again. 

She would sit up and the leg appeared to be back. 

I reached out to touch the vanishing leg and it disappeared. Where the leg would have been was a well healed stump with a scar faintly visible beneath her fur. I realized that whatever caused this kitty to lose her leg happened a very long time ago.

She looked down and licked the stump a few times. 

I woke up shortly after. 

The dream reminded me of how so many of us are unaware of our own wounds, or how those wounds impact our ability to make our way in the world. We may think that because the injury itself is in the past, that its impacts are too. Or we may, like the cat in the dream, not even know we were wounded; we just know that we seem unable to navigate the world well.

Even when we are aware and we decide to do the work of healing, we too often begin the process with the idea that that it will lead to a restoration, as though the wound will be excised leaving no trace of it ever existing. But we can't go back to exactly who we were before our traumas, some of us live with traumas that happened when we were so young, we don't remember who we were before, or we have been carrying it for so long that healing involves learning a completely new way of being in the world. 

I feel like this is where our country and culture are at right now. There are many, many people who are only now becoming aware of how wounded we are as a culture, and there are many of those people who want to do something about that but feel stuck because the only way they, we, know to go is on the path we've been blindly walking all along. There are other paths but they are not as clearly marked and that is frightening. But we also know we can't go back, because what is behind is what caused the wound in the first place; many of our personal wounds are the result of this same wounded culture that continues to perpetuate the harm.  

Healing our cultural wounds will require us to heal ourselves.  2020 brought the awareness, I hope that 2021 brings us the way forward.