I Always Get The Sheet Wrong

I Always Get The Sheet Wrong

Every. Single. Time.

One of my main responsibilities in my brother’s recovery is that of family housekeeper. I wash the dishes, run the errands, clean the house, wash the laundry and make sure everyone is fed. I occasionally solve the problems, fix the things and chauffeur people around. I’m glad to be of use.

But if there is one thing I cannot do, it’s get the queen size fitted sheets the right direction on the bed on the first try. I miss every time.

Every. Single. Time.

It’s just funny. And thankfully I find it funny.

It’s a microcosm of a lot of other things in my life.

Somewhere in the middle of those things is me trying to make it out of bed every morning. I never get it on the first try.

The thing about fitted sheets on certain beds is that if you miss the first try, you’ll get it. I have actually had to try three times before, but… ok I don’t even have an excuse. The point is, I miss a lot. First try, second try, third try…things often don’t work out for me. But there are a lot of things that, thankfully, I don’t have to get it right the first try. Or at all.

I am not getting my bedtime routine right…I think I’m on the 164th try.

I am not getting my eating right…5 weeks later.

I am not getting my full workouts in…5 weeks later.

I am not managing stress…years later.

I am not managing my time well enough…months later.

Good thing I didn’t have to get it right on the first try…and good thing I’m still trying.

Choosing To Not Envy

Choosing To Not Envy

I am in a place that envy is a real temptation.

I’ve gained more weight in the last month, in addition to the weight I had already gained (I stress eat). I am spending all of my free time (and then some) taking care of my family while my friends run amok enjoying summer and new relationships. I frequently change plans because of my family’s needs and schedule or curtail my time out and about to accommodate them. Like I said, envy is a real temptation.

Envy is also a bad way to go. It benefits no one, least of all me, and the dissatisfaction, depression and lack of motivation that come from comparing my life and myself to others is not a place I want to be. It’s not a place I’m willing to be. So I choose not to.

Because I have choice.

I am not required to be here, I choose to. I am not required to skip out or be single, I choose to. I am not required to gain weight or dislike myself for my eating habits under stress, I choose those too…or choose not those. Sometimes what we choose not to do is more powerful than what we choose to do.

Understanding that I have choice is very freeing. It takes the burden off of me and puts responsibility where it belongs – on me and not on other people where I can’t control it.

If I want to work out, I can. If I want to change my eating habits, I can (and am, as of this morning for the first time in a month). If I want to spend more time out with friends, I can, but likely won’t, and if I want to choose to take this time to put my energy into my family, I can.

No shoulds, shouldn’ts, shaming or guilt. Just choices. And I am choosing to be content with mine.

The Dilemma of a Capable Woman

The Dilemma of a Capable Woman

I was having a chat with a friend of mine who travels quite a bit for work. He was relating a circumstance in which his team’s safety was of concern traveling between the job site and the hotel, and he had been clear with the female team members about no unscheduled cab rides, notifying the concierge of their whereabouts, etc. Apparently the ladies were not excited about this until they realized there was good reason for the precautions.

I could relate. I don’t want to be told what to do.

I also think I’m the baddest bitch on the block.

But I got it. He was taking responsibility for the safety of the team, and wasn’t interested in whether he appeared to be overbearing or patronistic or overprotective. It wasn’t about protecting the women, it was about protecting the team. It’s what a good leader does.

To say I have a hard time with that is an understatement. Because as a woman who has had to work SO HARD to prove that I am capable in my field, and who has had to prove that I am capable time and time and time again when the gender-based assumption was that I am not, the last thing I want is for a male colleague to tell me that I need to be cautious about my personal safety and to decide for me how to accomplish that.

Separating those things is a dilemma. How, as a woman, do you show your capability while letting someone take care of you? How do you not confuse care with control, and how do you let people help with you without being concerned about the impact on how others view you and your abilities?

It was good to hear his point of view, that it wasn’t about anyone’s abilities, it was about making good decisions and what made sense in the circumstances. And it’s good that I have finally begun to acknowledge that you can be completely capable and accept care and concern. And you don’t have to accept anyone else thinking otherwise.

Back to the concept of “and“. This is that.

Trust Issues Begin With You.

Trust Issues Begin With You.

My mind was blown when I finally understood that my myriad trust issues stemmed from not trusting myself.

Because I felt that I had made decisions that led to a lot of trauma for me – including hydroplaning and wrecking my car, which was not a decision but an event from a number of factors that were mostly outside my control – I did not trust myself to make good decisions. And it had nothing to do with anyone else, although I was putting that on everyone else.

Nope. It was me. I didn’t trust me.

I had to start making decisions that had good outcomes so that I could see that I was capable of making good decisions, both personally and professionally. I was second-guessing myself constantly and had no self-confidence. I had let a few bad events dictate my entire (and distorted) view of myself. And it was distorted, because I am really good at what I do. I knew that before, I believe it now.

It makes a pretty big difference.

The Concept of “And”

The Concept of “And”

Personally and professionally I have adhered to the notion that one cannot have it both ways.

Pick a side.

Chose one of two diametrically opposed things.

Etc.

It usually applies to client’s poorly conceived notions of what they can have for the price they want to pay and for my friends’ bad dating choices.

I have let “have” spill into “be”. As in you cannot be two things or two ways at once.

Turns out that isn’t true.

I can be angry and be at peace. I can be grieving and laugh. I can be deeply uncaring and passionate about things like work. I can just want to hide in my bed all day and accomplish a lot (I adulted hard yesterday and barely got out of bed to do it). And I have been evaluated for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia with a “it’s not that” result by two qualified professionals as part of my evaluation for PTSD, so it’s not that.

It has taken me a long time to be able to recognize this. It is really annoying to try to explain it to my therapist, who “hears a disconnect”. Well, hell, I’ve been smashed to pieces so sure, a few things about me are probably disconnected. I don’t think this is one of them. If anything I finally connected to my ability to experience a lot of emotion at once and be comfortable with the friction. I’ve stopped trying to make myself feel ways that “I think I should” and just let it be what it is.

Gratitude and pain, not gratitude or pain, is one of the most significant. It’s powerful. It’s good. And it hurts like hell the whole time I’m genuinely smiling.

Why Self-Care Is So Hard For Me

Why Self-Care Is So Hard For Me

I have no muscle memory for self-care.

It’s a relatively new concept for me, and one I am still working to understand. I grew up putting others first, working hard and not caring much about getting my appearance just right. I am actually usually the first in the car when it’s time to leave. So when my therapist introduced the concept of self-care to me, I really didn’t know much beyond a few feminist articles I had read. I really couldn’t connect to the concept though.

All this talk about bubble baths, pedicures, wine, naps, etc. (and I am making no claims or illustrations about the content of feminist writings about self-care, I am speaking to my own experience and the suggestions made to me) were of zero interest to me. I don’t do this stuff.

I don’t relax. Ever.

My therapist and I went round and round over the concept and my complete disinterest in it. I simply don’t understand why one would do that. It just seemed like so much effort and cost and inconvenience and time and why not put those resources to more productive use? And anyway, my tub doesn’t work for bathing, it’s for showers. And I like showers.

STOP TRYING TO MAKE ME TAKE A BUBBLE BATH ALREADY. Or any of this other weird girly shit that I don’t identify with.

Yesterday changed all of that, because I finally figured out the disconnect.

My therapist was trying to connect me to coping mechanisms that I would have to learn. I have dealt with trauma and crisis (which have been a substantial part of my life for the last twelve years), a lot of which have happened through my work situations, with more work. When shit hits the fan, I work. It is what I know I am good at, it produces tangible outcomes and the admiration of my peers and colleagues.

Being a drunk was never going to look good on me. Being a workaholic was. So I chose that. I had no idea what self-care was, so I did not choose that.

When faced with trauma and crisis now (or their after effects), I still have a desire to choose work. That is how I am programmed. That is what I know. Unfortunately, my brain is so broken at this point that I can’t power through like I used to, and my need to work, and my muscle memory of years of using that to cope, is overridden by anxiety.

I have no muscle memory for self-care, so that’s not where I go. Self-care is a skill I have to learn, and in crisis my capacity to learn new skills is reduced. Hence, I don’t do it.

Now that I’ve realized that, I can change it. One more thing I have to work on, yes, but there is a clear path this time and a clear realization of why. I’m to start with one thing per day – one thing that is for me that takes care of me. Exercise doesn’t count because I have to relearn that too (or re-learn to like it). So here’s to learning about this thing called self-care and working to build that as a muscle memory.

Don’t Ask How It Happened

Don’t Ask How It Happened

One of the most exhausting and frustrating questions for me, for my brother and for other trauma survivors I’ve talked to is “How did it happen?”

That is none of your fucking business.

If you weren’t there, if it wasn’t your experience, not only will you not understand, but I don’t owe it to you to explain it to you. I don’t owe you answers. I don’t owe you an explanation. I don’t want to relive it. I don’t want to repeat it over and over and over again. I don’t want the constant reminder. I don’t want to hear what you think about it. I don’t want to hear you ask if it could have been prevented. I certainly don’t want to hear you state with authority that it could have gone differently. I may not even have processed the answer. Sometimes it takes time and a lot of pain to do that.

None of that helps me. Not a single fucking bit.

Beyond the personal side, trauma often involves legal action or investigation. Asking how it happened potentially exposes me or whoever I need to protect to legal issues that I am better off not having to face. Not only do I not necessarily want to share that information with you, I don’t know that you won’t share it with someone who will hurt me with the information.

This is not about you and your desire to know. This is about the person at the center of the trauma and making sure that your ignorance doesn’t compromise or damage them further.

Don’t ask how it happened. If we want to tell you, we will. We tell our stories to the extent we can, we want to or we have the emotional energy to. Or we don’t. Trauma was not a choice for us, telling you is, and don’t ask us to make that choice. Ask us how we feel, ask us if you can help, but don’t fucking ask us how it happened.