Monthly Archives: April 2015

Used To Coulda

It’s been a discouraging week. A weather system came through and so I have had a headache every day. These headaches drain me and I get very little done. I did sleep when I felt tired and I suppose I needed the rest. And the dreams were useful so there was that.

Last week was the two year anniversary of the day I quit the Terrible Job. My truck spent much of my anniversary in the garage getting a new steering thingy installed. Nice and expensive. Then we went out to dinner to celebrate. Dinner included two pieces of white and dark chocolate cake from a bakery and it was the most wonderful cake I have ever eaten. I did not think cake would be the highlight of the day! But it was just that good.

I know that I am slowly healing and have made measurable progress during the past two years. But I am still in a different world completely compared to who I used to be and what I used to be able to do.

The other day I drove by a place of business and saw that they were hiring for a job that the old me would have at least gone in and asked about. This new me realized pretty quickly that I still don’t know how I would manage relationships with co-workers and customers.

I used to be able to imagine myself doing just about anything I put my mind to. Now I remember all the ways I have gone wrong in the past because I was usually in over my head and was getting by on being an over-achiever.

I used to have an answer to everything, lots of opinions, lots of belief in those opinions. Now I censor myself and stay quiet a lot of the time.

The old me could be kind of bold at times and I often jumped into things without thinking. Now I think myself away from the noisiness of life.

There’s me with my picture in the paper. There’s me being treasurer of this and vice president of that. I was out there, in small ways mostly, but still out there. Not too much anymore, though.

It makes me wonder what it will be like when I believe I have healed enough to enter into the give and take of the community again. Will it be too late to start again? What will be interesting to me? Will there be like-minded people to connect with? That’s hard to imagine just now.

It has always been difficult to find like-minded people. That was part of my stress that built and built over the years and drained the life out of me. I probably would have been happier in a very large city or a different, more liberal part of the country. But that is not how life turned out.

For now, I am playing it safe. Maybe if I had been a touch more cautious in years past, I might have had an easier time of it and maybe not gotten stuck in intolerable situations. Then again, maybe not.

It will be nice when I can look back on this time period and smile at the progress I made and be happy with how it turned out after all.



Filed under anxiety, bullies, depression, healing, progress, social phobia

Not How I Remember It

We had a quiet Easter this year. It was just my husband and me. I heated up some ham steaks, baked cheesy scalloped potatoes and scavenged together a green salad for our dinner. Dessert was Easter chocolate from our local landmark candy store. Then we went to the county park and walked about a mile or so along a cold, snowy road and breathed in the awesome fresh air.

As a result of posting a picture of this walk to Facebook, a former neighborhood playmate “introduced” himself to my husband and mentioned in a post that nobody messed with the “Pearl St. Gang” in those days, etc.

He clearly has fond memories of the “gang” and our growing up days.

I… remember it slightly differently. Or maybe I just put a different emphasis on certain memories. I know for sure that I did not understand the workings of the “gang”.

Most of my summers, from about 1967 to 1973, were spent at the playground across the street from my house participating in the Parks Program with crafts, games, softball, etc.

We did that every year until we moved two streets away in 1974. My sister and I rode our bikes to the park at the beginning of July that year only to be greeted at the park entrance by two boys waiting for us on their bikes. They had apparently been appointed to wait for us to get there and inform us that we were no longer welcome to participate in the Parks Program.

It’s kind of funny now to recall my sister freaking out and screaming at them about how “unjust” it was as we turned around and allowed ourselves to be chased off our old street. She may have even raised a fist to them to emphasize her point.

I remember being torn between my embarrassment at my sister’s behavior (as usual) and the pain of this terrible rejection. Those two boys broke my heart actually. Imagine someone thinking ahead of time to ban us from the park and planning to get there early enough to greet us with a “go home, you are not welcome here anymore” speech!

This was not an isolated incident by any means. For a middle class, WASP-y neighborhood, it was a tough block to grow up on.

Forty years later and I have lots more insights and memories and knowledge to draw from in order to understand why it had to be as tough as it was growing up there. One family had an abusive, alcoholic father, one family lost a baby, one family had sexual abuse going on, two families lost fathers to suicide, one family lost a mother to illness, several families had lots of kids and I imagine the parents might have been overwhelmed. These are just a few examples of the “stuff” I remember and have learned in order to help myself try to understand what was going on back then.

I mean, there was so much fighting and meanness among these kids! And for some reason, I kept going back for more. I kept trying to “make it work” for all the years we lived on that block. I suppose there was enough “good” for me to be ever hopeful about fitting in. Until the day we got banned, that is.

There were fun times growing up there and I do remember them. But the way the story ended took the shine off those memories for me.

There was less meanness once high school rolled around. But by then, it was too late. I had gotten on a different path and did not get to finish the growing up process with the neighborhood “gang”. Perhaps I just left at a very awkward time in the life of the old neighborhood. Who knows.

I have to admit, though, that it was entirely true: Nobody ever did mess around with the “Pearl St. Gang”!


Filed under bullies, depression, dysfunction, getting along, injustice, peer pressure, scapegoating

My Dance

Quite some time ago I found a YouTube video of a gorgeous belly dance choreographed by Rachel Brice to a song called “Glide” by Felix’s Machines. The song and the dance were mesmerizing and I wanted to learn it and have our troupe learn it to perform at a Steampunk Festival we have performed at twice before.

I watched it over and over again to break down the steps. It was so intense! I had five full pages of notes. Finally I concluded it would have to be a much simpler choreography for us to be able to learn it.

Since I don’t know how to do choreography, the project floundered for quite some time. But I had talked about doing it often enough that I kind of thought there was a small expectation that I would bring a dance to the troupe one day.

Lately, life in the troupe has gotten a bit stressful. “Creative differences” is the best way to describe it without getting negative and personal.

In order to cope, I and one of the other dancers, who feels the same way as I do, decided to work on my Felix’s Machines dance in earnest, on our own, and really polish it and have it ready in plenty of time for the Steampunk Festival this August. At least there would be something about the show that we could feel confident about!

The first time we got together, we picked a different song on the same CD that we could start from scratch with. The song is called “Machines 140207”. We spent two hours working on it and came up with about 50 seconds worth of steps.

This week we got together for about three hours and choreographed another 50 seconds worth.

It was awkward at first and there was some disagreement at times as well. But we got through all that. It has turned out to be so satisfying.

The dance is coming out very well. It flows and goes nicely with the music and it has special touches in it as I wanted. My idea was that because this music is made by machines then the dancers should mimic machines but in a subtle way.

I think my friend was worried at first that I was trying to pack the dance with complicated moves and she wanted to rely on tried and true steps so we could learn it. And I didn’t want the tried and trues as they seemed too easy and dull to me.

But! She figured out what I wanted to do and I figured out what she wanted to do and it is coming together so well.

I suspect we can finish the dance in our next session and then spend much time polishing it and planning our costumes. We can perform with confidence when the time comes.

It has been such a long, long time since I have been involved in something this creative. Working this well with someone is also a very, very rare experience.

Since, in general, my life is not going all that great lately, this project has come at a very good time and has made the other stuff less trying.

It’s not that new bad things are coming along. The reason life seems not so great lately is because I have made the decision to allow “stuff” to rise up to the surface and then allow myself to experience the emotions without judgment and without rushing it along. It’s just hard work most of the time. It’s not fun and it wears me out. But I believe it must be done.

“My” dance and the belly dancing in general are a nice little break from the tough emotional work I am doing. I have had the idea for a long time that art and creativity would be key for me. I just did not know exactly how it would work.

I am figuring out my healing work just about the same way I am figuring out how to choreograph a dance.

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Filed under anxiety, art therapy, decisions, depression, emotional health, healing, pressure, self-care