Mental cargo

There’s about 5 different things that I planned to write about… that I need to write about…

But they are all complicated, sticky, and long… so they are all still sort of in the air…

But, maybe that in itself is something to write about.

Long ago, I started telling people that if they wanted a good judge of my mental state at any given time, to just look in my car.

It’s still true today.

Much of the time it’s fairly clean… a contained bag of trash, a gym bag, a backpack…

But when life gets crazy… the car upkeep gets lost in the chaotic schedules and running around trying to keep everything else juggled.

When life is in a rough spot, about everything else hits as a higher priority, and so the clutter multiplies.

The same thing happens with my brain by the same spells of life. The lack of downtime to sort things out and put them in the right places makes for a swirl of chaos.

Some of it is trash… stuff that needs to be completely removed and kicked out… but to do that, you first have to sort it out from all of the gym bags and backpacks of things that are truly needed to be in the car/thoughts… and all of the things like books and yarn that are optional, recreational stuff that is good stuff, but just not critical outside of a certain amount of downtime.

Right now, stress is kind of keeping things swirled around a bit… more stuff onboard than I want to have hanging out with me everywhere… but a lot of it is just in such big chunks that it’s hard to just break it down and move it out in smaller sections.

But, it’s in progress.

Slowly but surely.

Such is life I guess.

Hollow self pride

It started with a shirt.

There is a statue in town that’s a fairly well known statue… that sits at the meeting of the two branches of the river into the one main river that flows through town.

It’s of a native american with his hands lifted up, by a native american artist, and it sits on the grounds of the local native culture museum and meeting site.

This statue is one of those iconic silhouettes that is just a part of the town’s identity.. a well known place recognized by sight to just about anyone who lives in the area.

(If you’ve heard the Rich Mullins song line about the sacred rivers meet beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the Plains, yes, it’s a statue)

And so… this center was doing an event… a 5k… both as a fund raiser for the center and as part of a campaign to promote physical activity to battle the growing obesity levels in the native american population.

And the event, held right around halloween, had the most amazing logo.. of the keeper but done in day of the dead styling.

So that was the pattern that the shirts were done in as well.

I wanted a shirt.. and I sent the link to my mom… knowing she would want one too.

I would have wanted one even if it hadn’t been for a good cause honestly.

How can you not want this guy on a shirt? lol

So, a t-shirt was $30.

Registration for the 5k was $25 and included the shirt.

I was still in physical therapy from knee surgery… mom still has her issues and still uses the handicap parking pass of mine that she had for driving me around after surgery because she says she can’t walk that far…

So we just bought the shirts… like normal logical people would do… right?

Right?

Sigh.

Of course not.

I wouldn’t be typing this out if we had. :-)

Mom decided that she wanted to go to the events that they had going on at the center after the race… and so decided that we might as well just pick up the shirts at the race…

And in the name of promoting activity, the 5k said it was welcome to anyone to run, walk, or leisurely stroll along the river’s bike path… starting and ending at the keeper.

And so somehow the idea turned into "lets just walk for a bit and see how far we can make it.." in the name of supporting the cause.

So.. after seeing that my mom had actually signed up and wasn’t just talking…. I signed my daughter and I up for a 5k.

Ya ever have one of those moments where you go "did I really just do that? why in the world did I just do that?"

This was one of those moments.

Before the injury… I wouldn’t have worried about it much. It’s only three miles. Sure, I’d be tired and sore, but whatever.

But with the hurt knee??

I honestly did not think I had any chance of making it that far… at it was only a few weeks away.

But, I knew that a friend of mine at my old church and her husband were planning to run it, but then she had an injury, and was planning to walk as well.

And I had a friend who is familiar with 5k’s that acted like it’d be nothing… that I could do it.

And I would have my mom there in the same boat…

So… I tried it.

I decided that I’d better prepare.

I set off for a walk… and that first day, I made it 1/2 a mile… took more than half an hour to do it.. had a seriously sore knee.. and was rather discouraged.

Not good.

I decided to regroup.. rest for a couple of days… and instead of walking along the route I would normally bike (in the direction of a nearby park), that I would go to the school track on the next block over and go in circles so that I was close to home when I reached my limits.

With some rest breaks, I made it a mile according to the gps on my phone.

And so, more days of rest. and then I tried again. And I made it a mile and a half.. with my kiddo lapping me on her skateboard.

And a week before the 5k.. I’d made it 2 miles… and was about to head home….

When my daughter came over from the house, bringing me a drink. She’d wiped out on her skateboard earlier and gone home to wash her hands, so I’d assumed she was staying there.

And so I sat for about 10 minutes with the drink… and then made it the extra mile… for 3 miles. Just under 5k.

So, I knew I could at least survive it… it was a question of how long it would take, and how many breaks.

I did not real walking at all the week before the 5k… scared to push it.

I got my physical therapists less than enthusiastic approval and advice…

And, as I’d sort of already feared, my mother decided not to go the day of the race.. her excuse being because it was too cold. (My daughter and I were both in our very awesome, technical weight fabric, short sleeve keeper shirts and were comfortable outside waiting for it to start. It wasn’t THAT cold.)

I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but the friend had decided not to push it with her injury… a much more valid reason.

And so, not realizing that… I decided that since I’d prepared for it anyway to go ahead and give it a try… and kiddo and I set out alone.

Shortly into the race, I gave kiddo permission to run. She wanted to see how she could do, and I don’t blame her, and didn’t want to force her to hold herself back just to keep me company.

And so I hobbled my way along the river alone.

Kiddo gave up on her running idea around the halfway point, and met me at the water station… so she did continue the second half with me, hopping around grabbing leaves off of trees, walking on benches, etc.. a typical kid being bored and not really challenged at all.

As I somehow dragged myself along.

About the two mile point is where the bottom dropped out.

My legs felt spongy… and I honestly wondered if they would fail me and I would collapse.

I ended up with a quarter-sized blood blister on the side of my big toe… even when I’ve never really felt my shoes rub there before.

Somewhere in the last mile, it got to the point where I felt like the only way I could stay upright and with forward momentum was by bracing my hands on my hips and pushing.

The last uphill area, going from river level up to the pedestrian bridge level to go across to the keeper, I seriously thought I was going to have to put my hands on the ground and all but crawl up.

But.

I made it.

I survived a 5k.

And in an hour and 8 minutes… horrible time, but still a lot better than I’d expected.

Oddly enough, I wasn’t even last… there was a young mom about a minute behind us that was letting her adorable toddler walk along on his own as much as he could, and was carrying him the rest of the way.

So yes, I was walking about as fast as a 2 year old.

But.. I made it.

I finished it.

I did something that seems sort of small in the big picture of things, but that seemed huge in that it was something that I really didn’t know if I could do it.

But instead of seeming like the big victory that it was for me… it just seemed sort of bittersweet.

I crossed the line so late that they’d already started the awards ceremony for the fast people, and so the only person at the finish line to even see us cross was the guy running the timing system watching his laptop. They’d already stopped doing finish line pics so that the photographer could get pics of people getting their medals.

Which was probably just as well. The only people still left along the course were the people holding arrow signs at the places where there were turns, and even their cheering of random things just seemed forced and empty. Somehow when I’m barely able to be moving forward, telling me I’m doing great just really doesn’t sound all that convincing.

We didn’t end up going inside to check out the event stuff going on afterwards. Kiddo was bored, and I was feeling dead.

I showed my mom, the former nurse, the large blood blister… making sure she thought it was ok to just leave it alone… and rather than any positive comments on the accomplishment, she instead just looked at the blister and told me that was when I was supposed to have quit.

But as I curled up on my bed to take a nap at home, the hollow feeling just sort of puzzled me. I’d completed what my goal was. I was proud of myself for seeing it through, even when I was in pain, and even when mom bailing would have been a good reason to not even try.

I did it.

Why wasn’t I thrilled?

And as I thought about it, what came to mind was my high school graduation.

Because it was the same sort of feeling.

I’d done it. I’d made it through, the only one of my siblings who would do so… and I’d done well at that. I was off to college with a substantial scholarship.

But though I had my friends at graduation too and their families… I was still alone. Mine wasn’t there, even if I could share a bit of the joy and pride from the other families.

There was no fanfare from mine… or even really any acknowledgment. No parties or gifts or cards.

Yes, I was proud of myself… and yes, I was doing it for myself all along. It’s not like I was doing it for anyone else, I was doing it for my own future (Another topic entirely).

But, somehow, it just felt hollow that even as much as I was proud of myself… even with all of the challenges that I’d overcome… and even with the support of more distant people… somehow the lack of close people who seemed to even care made it all seem empty.

I hadn’t actually really thought about it at the 5k… but it did seem like everyone else had their cheering squad… their pack of people who cared about them personally, knew what their story was, and cared whether they made it or not.

I’m not sure that anyone else would have even noticed had I given up… let alone cared.

It’s not like I was doing it to earn the approval of anyone else… but, somehow, the fact that nobody else really would have cared whether or not I succeeded or even tried just sort of made the feeling of pride and accomplishment seem trivial.

Most of the time I’ve gotten better about self care… I’ve learned to "fill my own sock" as the post yesterday put it.

But sometimes… well, sometimes that just doesn’t work very well.

Sometimes self soothing and self parenting and all of the years of counseling and books such just can’t cover for how much not having someone there for you sucks.

The full sock

I haven’t been spending much time at my mom’s house… a long boundary setting story… but on this particular afternoon in mid-December, I almost skipped down the block to show off my new treasure.

A plastic charm necklace and a handful of cheap plastic charms.

Now, these things were massively popular when I was in about elementary school or so… I loved mine… and I know that I had mine until at least high school in a jewelry box.

Yes, it had a place in the jewelry box a decade later in spite of being a cheap plastic toy.

Actually, I’m not even sure when I got rid of it.

Some years back, I had actually looked for one for my kiddo when she was first getting into jewelry and had no luck… all I found was ebay sales of the originals going for high dollar.

So.. I was thrilled with my find… and knew my mom would very much remember my quest for those plastic charms when she saw it.

So I carried it down with glee to show it off.

She just kind of laughed about how everything old becomes new again.

So as I prepared to head back to my house, I jokingly commented that "I guess if it’s for my own stocking, I’m allowed to spoil my own surprise and post a pic already instead of waiting until I get them out Christmas morning."

Rather than joking back, she informed me in a serious tone that I wasn’t supposed to fill my own stocking.

I stayed in my joking tone… "If I don’t, then nobody else is gonna…"

There was unmistakable bitterness in her tone as she replied "That’s why mine always hung empty and I decided to stop hanging it up."

A bit caught off-guard… I pointed out that as kids, we just got candy in our stockings, and asked why she didn’t pick up an extra bag of the chocolate that she liked and tell us it was hers from santa and she didn’t have to share it.

Again I was told that you aren’t supposed to fill your own stocking.

I just kind of shrugged and left… but it stuck with me.

We were never given allowance as kids, and we lived 3 miles from the nearest store. We were never going to have been able to fill her stocking for her.

Even in the years before the divorce, my dad had some serious issues around shopping and people, and barely managed to make it through weekly grocery shopping with my mom. Asking him to go get random stocking stuffers for her without her around during the busy christmas season just wasn’t going to be something that was going to happen.

She knew that there wasn’t going to be a filled sock unless she filled it.

But rather than put in the same sort of inexpensive stuff for herself as she got for us.. year after year she chose self pity and bitterness instead.

Now, since we’ve been adults, my mother has been the only member of our family that gets gifts from us adult children. We don’t get gifts for each other, mom doesn’t get gifts for us… but we all give gifts to mom, every year.

More than a decade of gifts from us, when it’s something that we are now capable of giving…

And still the bitterness over the years that we weren’t reasonably able to have be expected to, and were clueless of the absence.

I get the pain and bitterness.

I battle it every year… around mother’s day, when the day is still is and always will be only about my mother with no notice that I’m a mom too… sometimes around valentines day, wishing i had someone both to give and receive a gift… sometimes around my birthday, knowing i will get no gifts but the ones that I get for myself.

But that’s the thing.

I fill my sock.

I care for myself.. and in the name of self-care, I do treat myself kind… and that means I fill my own sock. I buy myself a birthday gift. I wrap my own christmas presents to unwrap with my daughter… items that I want but don’t need.. knowing that they will be the only gifts that will be given to me.

Last year, feeling rather down, I even did my own valentines gift… of items that were probably more what I wanted than I would have ever expected of anyone else, and thus, made me happy.

I got my necklace… and my candy.. and a thing of perfume that I like… and a kindle fire that was on sale really cheap on black friday (my daughter got one too) amd case to replace my barebones kindle that the screen broke a few months ago… and a kid’s craft style pottery wheel that was half price on sale that I’ve wanted for a while just to mess around with…

And for about half the price that I spent on the gift I got my mom… I got items that made me happy, and joy… instead of self-pity and bitterness.

I choose to be powerful, and meet my own needs… to fill my own sock… when I could just as easily choose to be resentful of not having anyone in my life that feels a desire to fill my sock for me and to feel helpless and like a victim.

I choose to make my own happiness when it isn’t given.

And my necklace hangs around my neck at work being used as a lanyard for my badge… and the rest of the charms hang out around my rear view mirror on another chain in my (also 90’s looking) truck, which I also love… and they both make me smile.

It’s a very good lesson to have learned.

The visits

(I know, this is long and starts off as more of a topic everyone is sick of, but there’s a positive point… stick with me.. lol)

As a sort of offshoot of my main department, I work at another department for all of their special events.

It’s a living history museum, that needs some extra people for their event days, but they have to be employees and be trained, so they borrow some of us.

Except for one day that I was sick, and one day that I left early to deal with a crisis in K’s life, I’ve worked all of their special events for years.

So, obviously, K knew this.

Which is part of what made it extra weird when he randomly showed up to an event.

A halloween event.. meant for families with kids in costumes to bring them through to get candy and play halloween games.

But he came by himself.

No kids in tow.

One of the only people by themselves that weren’t tagging along with a family of their grandkids or friends with kids or whatever.

And of the three lines, came to my line…. even though it was cash only and was behind him as he entered the doors, so should have been the last line that he would choose… mainly the overflow line. And there was nobody at the other line, or behind him.

He just sort of appeared.. and goes "Hi! How are you?"

Out of just normal habit more than thought… I replied "Ok, and you?"

"Can’t complain!" and he pauses and waits.

Now, I know his cheerful answer isn’t an accurate story.

Through the head shaking wonderings of multiple mutual friends trying to figure out his life, I know that his rollercoaster has continued.

Hospital stays, surgery, his "career ambitions" job failing to be such and turning into two more short term jobs added to his list in addition to searching struggles, troubles with his dream truck turning into a nightmare, at least 7 women he has dated including two engagements both of which fell apart…

The rollercoaster for him has continued its course.

In retrospect later in the evening, there’s many ways that I would have replied had I been thinking on my feet enough… given what I knew.

But the response I gave… which later made two different mutual friends laugh hysterically… was simply..

"That will be $5."

The same thing I was saying to every person that I didn’t know at all.

I was at work… I gave a work response. LOL

He went in.. and I went on with my night, wondering what in the heck he was doing there, and what that was supposed to be about.

There was no emotional waves… no tears… just completely baffled trying to make sense of the randomness and figure out a "why"… even though as I sent messages to two mutual friends about it, I knew that whatever the "why" was, it was that he’s a mess. Whether it was just trying to get me upset, to get me to chase him again, to check if there was a ring on my finger or still a brace on my leg, whatever the goal was.. it wasn’t a healthy, sane action. It was simply a game playing maneuver.

And honestly.. the main feeling behind my side was a mix of baffled head shaking, and just true pity for him and the places he’s still in.

I kind of beat myself up a bit for even caring about the why.. for not just shaking it off completely.. but within a day or so, it was completely forgotten.

But it wasn’t until the start of December that I really stopped and realized the real significance.

At the museum again, the first night of the Christmastime events.

Another visit from a man from my recent past, the guy that I had fallen for over about a week of dating only to find out that he’d spent time in prison when he was 19 for fondling a 9 year old. (I forget what name I assigned him on here… and don’t really feel like digging it up)

In this case, this was a more honest visit.

I knew that he’d come to the Christmas event in previous years, and in that same conversation, I’d mentioned to him working the events.. but it’s a toss up as to whether he would remember.

He was by himself as well, but went to the other line and didn’t say anything to me, though I could tell he was watching me.

He went in.. and the night went on… but my mind lingered.

Wondering if he had someone new.

Kind of wishing I were out there walking through with him.

Considering catching him as he came back out later, or going out onto the grounds and catching up with him after we stopped selling admissions… just to say hi.

Or to maybe get a big hug.

Or.. ok, given that I’d had a hard week, maybe even let it develop into a shoulder rub.

At home that night, being honest, I really would have liked to just curl up next to him… to rest my head against his shoulder for a while with his arm around me.

I considered emailing him… a variety of different emails.

But.

I did nothing.

Not because I didn’t want to… or couldn’t have really used the emotional boost at that time… because I very much could have used it and did want to.

But because I knew that I didn’t want to take the path that it would lead.

I know that regardless of rather liking the guy, and loving being treated kind and sweet by the guy…. that the past is a dealbreaker.

I’m not sure if I would make that same call if I didn’t have a kid, but I do.

Logic won.

After all the times that the heart vs logic thing killed me…. logic still won.

But… the other realization was much more important to me.

I realized that I hadn’t had a single one of those thoughts towards K when he turned up.

None of them.

It wasn’t that I battled impulses with logic and won as I’d done with the second gentleman.

The impulses just never came.

At all.

That was what I needed.

That’s the point that I needed to reach.

I know a lot of people were not in much agreement with how I dealt with things with K so extendedly.

I heard that I just needed to stop thinking about it… stop dwelling on it… force the feelings to go away by not giving them attention… to focus on the "think upon these things" list.

But that’s why I needed to process them through… because now, they have been processed and worked through and almost entirely resolved.

I still think of him sometimes. I still care about him, and worry a bit sometimes about him.

But it is resolved.

The feelings are nothing at all like the unresolved feelings over the second gentleman, with whom there was very little history and development… even when things had developed so much more with K over the extended time together.

That is the why that I battled on, knowing it was the harder path at the time than just ignoring it and forcing forward.

Because it is now finished… rather than just buried to be dug up later and dealt with again and again in various ways.

As for the other guy… I realize that honestly, what I wanted was not a hug from him.

It was just a hug.

It wasn’t that it was him in particular the way that K was particular to K… it was just a desire for someone to be sweet and gentle and affectionate… for some emotional fuel from whatever source at a time when I was very much depleted… and he just happened to be a source that I knew was an availible supply that I could use to meet that need.

Someday, I hope there will be another source… but for now… life goes on anyway.

Bumpy equalibrium

So, out of the reflectiveness of last week, I figured I’d probably ought to start at least off and on writing in here again.

I’d quit making things public because the family drama amped up… not going to go too much into details, but lets just say things surfaced and got hairy.

But then, with only me seeing it, I dropped off writing period… something probably more depression related than I give it credit for.

So.

2015.

Was a rough year.

Honestly, there’s no way I can pretend otherwise.

Yes, life is still rocky… and still some pretty good sized battles going on.

But.. 2015 was not a rollercoaster.

Compared to the chaos and turmoil of 2014 that is well chronicled on here… there is a big difference.

2015 was more of a rough uphill climb… frustrating and slow progress..

2014 had been pretty much an out of control freefall tumble and the resulting dizziness and injury recovery in trying to even figure out which way was up again.

I’ll probably in the next week sometime write more about some of the bigger challenges of 2015 that are more open to being discussed on here… but I make no promises on when, and I’m sure they will probably be totally random in order.

And yes, unfortunately, like it usually ends up, they will probably be more rough spells than sunshine needing some processing.

But… if I had to pick a theme for 2015… I’d say that the year brought mostly a return to a semblance of equilibrium.

I don’t like using the word balance for it… balance to me sort of implies that things are correctly weighted.

Equilibrium is more about compensation.

It’s about managing the various weights after something gets changed.. making changes to then compensate for the difference and bring things back into some sort of a working order rather than leaving them all off kilter and out of whack.

Has it been a smooth process? No way. There have still been days and even weekends that I’ve barely made it out of bed… if I even managed to uncurl from a ball to try.

But the equilibrium does recover.

I’m getting better at trying to respond quickly and keep it as short as possible, or even prevent it in the first place by preparing for the initial unwanted changes… but that’s definitely a continued goal for 2016.

I’m still rather down, even with continued meds… and life is still rocky.

But I can very much say that it’s getting better… and that the chaos has calmed into more of a steady challenge.

A rough year. But progress is something anyway.

4 weeks later

So it’s been 4 weeks post-surgery.

Doesn’t seem like that long… but then, seems like I’ve been limping forever.

It’s still getting better. All of the staples and strips and bandages and all are off now, incision is healed over, and scar is open to the world when I have shorts on.

But still a slow and gradual improvement…. and flexibility is falling behind where physical therapist would expect right now.

So things have gone a lot more into the heavily pushing it in sessions… which is pretty painful.

And it’s frustrating… because I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to be doing… it’s just not being as effective as it should.

And more frustrating because in some positions, it can bend a lot better than others… but of course, the ones that they judge by are the ones that are the hardest and when it bends the least.

I know it’ll get there… just sort of wishing I could fast forward a couple of months or so.

Parking Doability

I never realized how much parking can make the difference between something being able to be done, and something not being do-able.

Right now, I’m able to tolerate driving a little… and hobbling on crutches for moderate distances.

But, there are some places that I can do, but if I’d had to walk from the normal best available parking, probably wouldn’t be.

Walmart (w the dorky motorized cart). Movie theater. Some restaurants.

It’s nice to be getting a bit of freedom back right now… but it reminds me how much I appreciate having the temporary pass for a while.

Because sometimes, it makes the difference between being able to take my teen to go see the movie she’d been begging to see for months (long before it came out), or making her wait until it’s on a dvd I can get from a machine.

Kind of nice to be able to do a bit of what I want to.