Friday, July 13, 2012

Chemical states and relationship transitions

Something that probably isn't obvious is: the frequency I write is largely dictated by how much shame I feel about what is swirling around in my head. I haven't been writing as much. I feel too much shame. I feel ashamed of who I am and how I experience the world. I shouldn't talk about how I am experiencing things because that is drama. Which means I am running in little hamster circles in my head. It's almost fun only it isn't.

I think I am depressed. If I look at my physical activity lately and my attitude I have (for me) almost stopped moving. For normal people this means I am still fairly productive. I do this by sitting down in the morning and drawing up a schedule for the whole day and marking by the half hour what I should be doing. I put in a lot of reading on days when I have to do this. I can follow a schedule and "do what I am supposed to do" if I am just following a set of instructions. I no longer have to think during the day. I check the posted schedule at least five times an hour because I can't remember what I should be doing.

I feel very sad and disconnected. On one hand I am seeing friends and trying to deepen relationships. On the other hand I spend all of my time with people experiencing a lot of physical distress because I believe in the core of my being that people actually think I am a piece of shit and they are just tolerating me because that is what you do in life. It's what I do with the pieces of shit in my life. I don't tell them I think that about them. But I think it. So I firmly believe I am not the only one in the world.

I'm trying. I'm trying to ignore the irrationality in my head but it comes at a fairly high cost. My stomach hurts right now. It has been hurting for quite a while. My throat hurts. My arms even hurt from clenching. My jaw hurts. I can taste the bitter metal of fear and adrenaline a lot of the time. I can't help but feel like living with this much stress will kill me whether I commit suicide or not. My body is simply working too hard. And I won't give myself much of a break on the other activities in my life.

It is my job to show my kids how to be productive, sensible, functional adults. That means I can't really model getting depressed and sitting around with my books and movies for months. Even though I know I used to do exactly that for long stretches. I'd go to roost and avoid people. I can't any more. My kids can't deal with that kind of isolation. They actually need people. 

I suspect that part of my issue is around money. I use money to fill in the cracks on what I have to do versus what I want to do--I expect that is standard. Right now and for a while I can't do that. I have to stay home and not spend money. That's hard because it means I am making today and yesterday and tomorrow a lot harder than they "have" to be so that some day off in the distant future we can do as ok as we are right now while we have a dip in income. Self discipline is hard. It wears through my willpower. I get physically tired. And knowing that I can't do much of anything with money to make my life better triggers a lot of feeling hopeless about situations in my life. Either I can figure out how to do everything by magic with no money or I can deal with them just not happening. Things won't get fixed. It makes me feel bad.

I don't like feeling thwarted. It makes me want to stop trying. But I can't. It's not fair for me to stop trying. It's not fair for me to stop hoping. I provide the structure of everything for my kids. They need to understand that frugality is not a death sentence. They shouldn't view it with abject horror as making their lives terrible. You need to live within your means. It's not a harsh sentence. It's life.

My tomato harvest will once again be epic. I anticipate begging access to a pressure canner this year. I have frozen enough fruit to get us through the winter. I feel good about that. We will need more meat before the end of the year. Ok, I just set up a beef pickup in September. I believe the internet is Magic. This means I can save up the $600 for the meat over more than one month. Woo. I am starting to build my stockpile again. I cleaned out all the food in the house for Sarah so we could build a stockpile of foods we both like to cook with together. That didn't really happen and I haven't had a full larder in a year. I have a fair bit of stuff in the freezer I will probably never use because it's not stuff I like and I have otherwise been just trying to make up the deficit in the food budget for a long time. We've been buying week to week until last month. I would like to spend the summer/fall stocking up so that over the winter I can lower the food budget and eat out of stores. We'll see. Temporarily I raised the food budget by taking it out of other places. Money is not infinite.

I think it is kind of weird that I feel bad for feeling frustrated about money. I have access to far more money than anyone in my family. By far. My mother broke $30k/year for the first time the year she turned fifty. My sister I think got up above $60k/year. Noah makes more than twice that by himself. 

When people tell me that they don't see any relevance for feminism in the current era I think: "Why is everything that women do esteemed so little and why is the stuff men do esteemed so highly?" If you think it is because the men stuff is more important I might kick you in the shins. If the poorly-esteemed work that women do stopped happening then all of a sudden you would have MUCH BIGGER PROBLEMS than if your god damn magical phone stopped working. Or if you didn't have a computer oh no what would you do?! What your fucking ancestors did for millenium. Stop whining. 

We have an interesting way of deciding what is important and what is worth money here. I'm grateful that I get to be on the receiving end of that money but I feel pretty ashamed of the fact that I would never have had a life this comfortable without Noah. No chance. Comparatively I am worthless. That feels bad to me. If I didn't have Noah I would probably have to go on welfare for a while. I can't just go get a teaching job. I would have to go back to school because my credential lapsed. 

I know that all of my status is worthless if I stop having this man stand next to me. I feel thin. I feel unimportant. I feel permeable and insignificant. So of course I'm binge eating and I've gained weight.

I am only worthy of low status occupations and activities. It's certainly all I do with my time. I garden and clean. I play with my kids. Shouldn't I pay a gardner and a housekeeper and a nanny so I don't have to sully my hands with those activities? Ugh. Yet more evidence of my class issues; I suppose. I feel strongly pressured to be idle. That should be the point of all this status I inherited from Noah. Only I physically cannot handle idleness. It makes me feel terrible emotionally and physically.

If I am not working to make my home nicer then I sit here and stare dejectedly at all the things I can't fix right now and I cry. It's not better.

I feel really bad because I can't handle dealing with new people right now. I am slowly moving around the people I've known for many many years deepening relationships but I'm terrified of new people. I don't know how to act around them. I feel so physically bad that the experience is really unpleasant. I feel guilty about this. I don't believe I am done finding the people I will be close to this lifetime. I'm just really scared right now and I can't do it.

Well I know one thing I'm doing today. I'm getting rid of the spider web right above where I write that is currently home to a spider the size of the tip of my pinky finger up to the joint. That's rather disturbing. Awesome.

I feel bad because Noah takes my fussing over money as sign that he is not providing well enough. I'm having trouble convincing him that I believe he is a good provider. I think that is kind of funny. He is supporting me with a degree of luxury I have never consistently experienced in my entire life. Yes, it's adequate. Really. When my petty cash runs in the tens of thousands no one should feel guilty. Holy fucking shit. We have a high burn rate. In order to ensure that we will actually be ok in case of a temporary set-back we need a very large cushion. It's simple mathematics. Why does it feel so emotionally complicated?

But he grew up with parents who didn't work at all and dealt with family investments. It's a whole different world. He grew up with parents who didn't have jobs and still paid people to clean their house and work on their property. It's a whole different world.

I think I don't want to have an outside job partially because I don't want my kids to believe that cleaning up after themselves is beneath them and should be done by a menial laborer who cannot aspire to better for complex reasons of race, class, shame, and bigotry. I don't want to get a job so I can have enough money to pay someone to be beneath me. I never get what I want from those relationships and then I hate people. It's not a good system. You can't pay someone enough to care about doing their job. People are either interested in their work or they aren't. I'm interested in the work of maintaining my house. No one else is. I have to live here. I don't want to live in a piece of shit house that is falling down around my ears. Maintenance is god damn mandatory.

Part of what I am struggling with right now is the fact that I want my kids to have relationships with people. That means they are going to have to deal with the fact that people are not reliable. They can't be trusted to tell the truth. You have to be very careful how you partition out trust. Look at what people do and not what they say if you want to know the truth of a person.

This is what I tell myself because I try so hard to do the right thing even though I feel my speech is often offensive and wrong. I say inappropriate things. But at least I am physically doing all the right things at the right times of the day. Sometimes it feels like all that I have to prop up my self worth. Of course I value it highly. 

I have been thinking about storyboarding for the book but I haven't picked up a pen. I'm afraid. I have ideas and I'm afraid I'm not good enough to complete them. I think the best thing about NaNoWriMo is the structured pressure of it. Produce, motherfucker. I am really looking forward to being post-marathon and in a writing phase again. I need a better ergonomic system before November or I am going to damage myself. My arms are tingling as I type. Shit.

I've been thinking a lot about the structure and nature of my compulsive sexuality. When do I do it? Why do I do it? What are the lead-up events? It's a group coping activity. I don't do it one on one in the same way--even with prey. I do it as a way of finding a position in a group of people. I know how to be the slut. It's pretty much the only group role I feel comfortable in. As an aging woman it is one I need to get out of before I look more desperate and pathetic than I already do. 

I slept. I swear I did. I still feel tired. I feel exhausted in the marrow of my bones. I'm going out tonight. Sigh. Like, after bed time tonight. I leave at dinner time. Lately I have been finding it very important to financially prioritize supporting the endeavors of long time friends. I've paid to attend several shows/events recently just because I wanted to be in the same physical space as specific people. I don't care much about the activity. I never really have. I want the people. I want to stand in close physical proximity to people who know a lot about me and like me. I ache for it. Being an audience is a fairly comfortable role right now. Little is expected of me but I get to make someone else feel good by being present. Nearly half of the fun money I have had for the whole year has been spent on going out to see two people in particular. I like them. I need them. If you add in this one other friend you get to more than half of the money I have spent other than the book. That's been my money for the year. I don't go to Starbuck's. I don't treat myself to books or music. I did take Shanna to see Brave. That is our movie for the year. We go to the park and to the kid places we have memberships to. We pack lunch. I severely limit my driving. Yesterday we drove to Oakland then Oakley then Vacaville to see people and I don't think I can drive much the rest of the month. I've used more than half of my monthly gas allotment on one day. Well, ok. It was worth it. I only see them two or three times a year. I only drive up once. It's worth it. That is how I am setting my priorities.

I like relationships that have a lot of hurdles to existence. If they continue then I feel like someone truly loves me. It is hard for someone to prove they love me. I get into trouble with expectations. I try to keep them low but once in a while I am foolish and I expect more from people than they are going to do. I recover from that with ill grace. I'm never thrilled when someone shows themselves to be not worthy of trust I have given them. It causes me to feel a lot of self-doubt about my general worth. I thought I could trust this person to do what they say and I can't. It must be because I am not worth telling the truth to. It must be because I am not worthy of even thinking about long enough to follow through on commitments. That must be it. I am so fucking pathetic.

At this point I can't talk about my anger and frustrations about these situations because I can't express it in front of my kids. My kids get to have their own reactions. They don't need to learn my anger. So I am doing a lot of stuffing. That means it creeps out in little insidious ways. I'm snippier and shorter of temper. It feels so unfair to my kids. I'm not mad at them. I'm just out of patience because I wasted it on adults.

I feel like I should hide in my house with my kids and not deal with people because that is the only way I can ensure I am just reacting to my kids and not the other people in the world. Only it only kind of works. Because then I bring the trouble home. The kids need relationships too.

This too shall pass. One of the greatest gifts of getting older is I trust that this phase will end. I won't always feel this way. It's a cycle.  I still don't think I have bipolar disorder. This is why I put myself on a schedule when I feel like this. If I haven't gotten anything done by nine in the morning I have to write up a schedule or it will be a couch day. I know it. I have occasional couch days when I believe that physically the rest is probably a good idea. I try to keep those to once or twice a month. I don't want to teach my kids that a great big part of life is just sitting around not being productive in any way. You need rest, sure. But find a way to get your rest in while still doing something. Reading does count as an activity. It's a great excuse to rest. Watching movies... well, sometimes. When you are sick, sure why not. Otherwise you need to move your body more than that. We don't stay in one position while we read. 

I love seeing my kids develop my physical mannerisms. I feel affirmed and loved and seen. They read like me. We like to change positions a lot. Sitting still is quite hard. We squirm and wiggle and roll over and over. We stretch at the same time. They get books and do yoga with me. I get to set normal for them. They will grow up believing that what I do is right and good. It makes me cry. I have always been different from everyone around me and I was viewed as bad and a threat to be stomped down. I was supposed to be more like them. My kids think I am great. They don't know that I have never fit in any of the molds I have been shoved towards. They don't care. We fit.

I strongly encourage my kids to be different from me. I support them having different opinions. I talk to them (mostly Shanna still) about how I have control over them for a very short period and then they get to make all of their own decisions. I talk about how I don't want to have control over them because they will have different ideas and opinions than me and they should do what will make them happy. I also talk about how to coexist peacefully. I talk about having respect for people around you. I model what that means. I really love my kids. I get to be good and kind and respectful towards people who absolutely deserve it and have no ability to let me down. My expectations of them are that they are helpless little amoebas at this point who will flail and be random. I'm pretty much right. But they will become adults who understand in the marrow of their bones what it means that Mom does what she says

That freaks me the fuck out. That pressure. That is what gets me out of bed every morning. That is why I make schedules and get shit done no matter how I feel physically. I god damn need to have more people in the world who believe that I am trustworthy and good and kind. I say some very harsh things and as a result a fair number of people think I am an asshole. I can't really say they are wrong. But that is such a small part of me. I feel defined by the negativity in me. With my kids I have a perfect chance to have a different experience. 

I must say it is going well. This is one of the hard phases. I can objectively understand that my emotional cycles and their behavior cycles are being wonky and I'm being patient with all of us. That is what a good mother does. Well, I'm not patient with the screaming. I will put my hand over a screaming mouth because otherwise I get horrible headaches to the point where I can't really see straight. If I have to drive I cannot allow them to hurt me in that way. I just can't. Why do I feel so guilty about covering their mouths? I don't make it hard to breathe. I am not cruel. I don't do it for an extended period of time. I don't shake them. I don't hurt them. I don't yell at them. I try to calmly say, "That's an outside voice. Inside you have to be more quiet." "No really, that hurts me so you cannot scream in my ear." I have to teach them boundaries, right?

I don't feel worthy of defending and my kids are pushing boundaries all over the place. It's a hard combination. I'm trying to live up to my end of the bargain. I have to teach them how to be respectful of other people. It's my fucking job. One for which I have managed to trade having a very cushy life. I have an easy job. I shouldn't bitch about it. 

It's weird to think about how I would handle these emotional cycles if I had a job. I think I never would have found time and space to really write. I think that would be one of the things I had to drop. I would be more volatile. When Noah showed up and asked me to marry him I was trying to work up the courage to ask him to raise a child with me but I thought I had no right to ask him for what I have now. I planned to work and raise one kid by myself. That would have been a very different life. I'm really glad Noah actually wanted me.

It's really odd to me when I think about how to write about the journey from eighteen to now. My different phases seem extreme. When I was eighteen I was engaged to Stephen and supporting myself by working in the library and the theatre. I planned to make theatre my life. I really wanted to run a spotlight for Cirque du Soleil someday. I knew I wanted kids but I had things to do first. I thought college was a good idea but I was nervous. I really wanted to go to CMU for technical theatre.

Then I left Stephen and found Tom and the bdsm community. I transferred to the English department. I went to college but I did not have the immersive college experience; I was a commuter student on campus two days a week and I took classes straight through from ten in the morning till ten at night. When I finished my BA I had a choice to make. If I wanted to be active in the bdsm community and be an Adult all the time then I should probably go through graduate school and try to work at the college level. Then I don't have to be as paranoid about being outed. Or I could decide that I wanted children and go for a degree that will give me a schedule more potentially compatible with theirs. Tom was not open to me being a stay at home mom. I went through some graduate school. I decided that kids were more important than Tom. I broke up with him and started the credential program. In order to transition out of that relationship and emotionally distance myself from him I started having sex with a lot of people. It worked.

I dated Noah for the last six months of my relationship with Tom. I think that Noah was probably a lot of the reason I finally had the nerve to end things with Tom. Noah doesn't permit me to be unaware of why I am doing what I am doing. He's kind of annoying. I broke up with him for a lot of reasons. I can't sum that up.

I went through the credential hunting hard for someone to have kids with. I wanted to start soon and I knew it. I was very frank about it when I talked to people I was having sex with. There are some men who ping hard for the idea of having kids and there are some who are repulsed. I needed to know who was potential prey. I was hunting.

Puppy was a mistake. I thought he was like Tom only younger and wanted kids. I was quite wrong. I should have never tried to date someone who thought it was funny that I was an actual Californian and would mock me and my vapidness for living here. And he thought I was fat even though I was at my lowest adult weight. He was very harsh about my body. He was very bitter because of his ex-wife and has a lot of mommy-issues. That relationship didn't stand a chance.

After that I had a few months where I stopped hunting. Then I met Spot. I knew he wasn't The One to have kids with. I made up my mind to ask Noah about having kids with me even though I didn't think he was interested in the kind of relationship I wanted. He wanted the kind of relationship he wanted and I was not going to fucking be the Other Significant Other. Hell Fucking No. I'm not going to make someone my priority as long as I am their option. 

But out of the blue he asked me to marry him. Just like that. Five months later we eloped. I moved into this house more than six years ago. Our sixth wedding anniversary is in September. I have to say that it is going well. I have the wonderful four year old and two year old of my dreams. My two year old is currently yelling "baby! high!" because she wants to be pushed on the swing. I should go before she slams the laptop screen on my fingers.

But I'll come back to edit and tag and add that it is because my life is so good that I feel so bad about feeling bad. I need to stop feeling like someone who has had my life. It's really hard.

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