I am aware that I am less than some people prefer me to be,
but most people are unaware that I am so much more than what they see.
— Douglas Pagels

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

My Feelings Since Turning 40, and Other Confessions

My friend across the pond gifted me with another fun coffee mug. It's beautiful, and it gave me a good laugh. We met through our journals back when we were both married, and she's now the proud mom of eight (!!!!!!!!) lovely children. She has been a dear friend to me all of these years in spite of the distance between us (darn geography)! We both still participate in writing adventures, including NaNoWriMo. I think writers are unique in that any experience or conversation we encounter has the potential to turn into a fiction plot or dialogue if we think about it long and hard enough, so the mug is hilariously appropriate (or inappropriate, if you choose to see it that way). :-)

That said, don't panic! As open as I seem to be with my life, there are things that I still do not share, at least not publicly:

I may bring them up occasionally, but I don't usually talk about loved ones in detail. I do share a few photos every once in a while. Sometimes, I go back and remove them months later just because I don't want them floating in cyberspace forever or getting downloaded by weirdos (yes, I have an app that lets me see when photos here have been downloaded). Anyway, things have been fine on the blog lately where that is concerned, so no worries.

I haven't elaborated on my experience with neglect, religious abuse, or sexual battery even though I have briefly mentioned that it occurred. I have a right to talk about it if I want to, but I haven't wanted to. If I do go through with publishing a memoir someday, it won't be in my real name. I am a heavy blogger, but I am surprisingly bashful in person. My anxious introversion is strong.

Some things I would never (!) make public without permission are private conversations or relationships - yours or mine. Doing so would cross an invisible boundary of respect. Mind you, I haven't dated or otherwise been in any intimate relationships since this blog has existed, but if I ever am, you won't know it (without their direct consent, that is). Like I recently told my Facebook friends: as long as it doesn't impose on other peoples' privacy, I will consider talking about whatever they are interested in knowing, and probably a lot they couldn't care less about too. Spoiler alert: I'm not terribly interesting. I'm rather boring most of the time, and average in nearly all aspects. Feel free to be my pal anyway. :-)

I used to not share my full name or location, but I've given up on that since this is the internet and everything is on the internet. I recently decided that I might as well embrace my rich, intricate genealogy and my swampy, impoverished homestead by showing it to whoever cares.

I feel a bit changed since turning forty. It's only a number, but it is almost as if the wind has shifted, and it's pushing me in a different direction ever so slightly. It's barely noticeable, yet it's impossible to ignore. I don't know what life will bring. I do my best to take one day at a time. I'm forever analyzing my behavior, though, and over the last several months, I've noted the following:

I sleep like a starfish.

I used to curl up in a ball on the edge of the bed. Now, I wake up like this:
Oh look! EuropeanBedding.sg says I'm a good listener. LOL

Perhaps my chronic pain is to blame, but my sleeping position transformed from "fetal" to "stretched out and flailing all over the place". Sometimes my head is at the foot of the bed and my feet are at the head. Sometimes I lie sideways and my feet dangle off of the side. Sometimes I cross my legs (always a mistake) and I fight with my own arms (where are the stupid things supposed to go anyway?) It has been a strange and fascinating change. Mostly strange.

Good thing I'm single? I mean, I can only imagine the poor guy would be kung-fu'ed to death by morning.

I will give up salsa when it is pried from my cold, dead hands.

Despite how badly digestive paralysis has plagued me this year, I cannot give up salsa. I tried, y'all. I tried and I failed miserably. I don't care if I have to eat it with a spoon, serve it on a Saltine cracker, or drink it out of a teacup. Salsa is my lover. Somebody call Rick Astley.
Never gonna give you up.
Never gonna let you down.
Never gonna stop
Eating salsa.

Pants have become overrated. I've never been comfortable with my body, and I have always been awkwardly modest. Now I'm suddenly fed up with clothing. I'll sleep in my birthday suit or wash dishes without pants on. I don't even care anymore.

I don't like shopping. Give me libraries. Give me museums. Give me food trucks, family-friendly festivals, and football games. Give me thoughtful conversation at a coffee shop, a slow night at home listening to music, or a fantastic bowl of soup in a cozy restaurant.

We'll probably have a nice time.

But do not make me go shopping if you value my sanity.

Since I lost weight, I was needing to be fitted for a new bra, as my back and shoulders were in agony. I had never been professionally fitted before, and was nervous about my chest being touched because I have a tendency to panic (no matter who is touching, yes I need therapy, no I'm not ashamed). At any rate, the fitter handled my boobs and it wasn't a problem. Good news, I think.

If you have chronic pain and bras are a nightmare for you like they are for me, this is the one I recommend trying on. I think the model number is at the bottom of the label there. If you take the pic to Dillard's, I'm sure their certified fitter will know which one it is. It's sadly expensive. Best of luck, ladies.

Because of anxiety, I interrupt people. Occasionally, I even answer yes when I don't mean yes and no when I don't mean no. Sometimes, I am absolutely obnoxious because all I can think about is getting away from wherever I am. It is rarely about the other person. In fact, some people I've done this to have been very lovely, and I would give anything to fix me and start the conversation over with them. This is the number one thing I want to change about myself.

I reopened my Facebook to public only because someone said they were worried about me. My settings are still tight otherwise. I have hundreds of locked photo albums and read very few posts. Interactions occur when I either specifically check on someone or they comment on my statuses. Social media is a turbulent place, especially with all that's going on in the world at the moment. I'm doing what I have to do to keep it together. By it, I mean my head. Be well, Internet.

I finally resolved my lifelong shower curtain issue.

Some people don't like dark closets. Other people think about monsters under the bed. Some hate clowns. Others hate socks. Me? I have cringed over shower curtains since early childhood. Don't ask me why, because I don't know why, but I simply cannot stand them touching me or being close to me at all. Last week, I finally invested in a curved shower rod and reinstalled my late MawMaw's frilly curtain. It's a miracle that I didn't break my neck, but success! It is no longer close enough to harass me in the shower. Yay!

Ableism is frustrating, but unless you're being condescending or willfully obtuse, I'm going to be forgiving. I realize that many people don't understand ableism because it's not something they personally face or are being educated on. If your heart is in the right place, just know that I'm not mad at you. I'm only mad at the situation. Please understand how important that difference is.

I'm feeling a little lonely. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Painful, sure, but it's a part of the human condition. Surprise! I'm normal.

I'm not actively seeking a solution at this time. It's simply an observation. My life is complicated, and so are people. I've experienced a lot of social changes since my condition took a nosedive in 2011, and many more for valid political, moral, and religious reasons. A few have gotten married and are living new and busy lives. Some have moved away, or are planning to. A couple of friends have also died over the last year, including my one close friend in SoMo. All of the above has been challenging to process. I feel like I'm decent friend material, but my limitations don't make it easy. Managing my illnesses is more than a full-time job; it's 24/7/365. I don't get a break. Sometimes I get to go places and do things. Sometimes it's not possible. Often, I have to make choices that people don't understand because they don't live in my unpredictable body. Some people feel more comfortable making assumptions and passing judgment than effectively and respectfully communicating. Friendship is a two-way street, and a real friendship is like any other relationship. It takes work. We unfortunately live in a "fast food society" where empathy, selflessness, and genuine effort are fading.

I've always been an introvert, and I've never cared for dating. I am notoriously fair. I am the type of person that if I can't put in an adequate amount of work (not just in relationships, but anything at all), I'll opt out for their sake. I am not materialistic in the least, but my illness makes me high maintenance, and that's not my fault. Regardless, I don't know a single man who is kind and patient enough to take on my messy existence with enough effort and understanding to make it a safe and reasonable decision. As much as I'd like to operate as an abled person, the reality is that I never will. All I can do is the best I can in my less-functional state, but is that enough? I seriously doubt it. PTSD and anxiety are also factors that should not be disregarded. And I also, like everyone else, have strong opinions about important things. So yes, I have standards. Everyone should. After the life I've had, I cannot allow my health and safety to be compromised. I've been through enough. I would be honored to have coffee and conversation, but anything beyond platonic companionship would require therapy that I will never be able to afford.

So in summary, I repeat: my life is complicated, and so are people. Living with chronic illness in a world not designed for it is isolating. I do my best to be as independent as possible, and I am more than happy to live alone, but I don't always want to be alone. That's just how it's turned out.

In conclusion, I am OK. Sometimes I'm not OK, but it's OK to not be OK sometimes.

C'est la vie.