I’m going to admit something here and I am not ashamed. I play the Sims. No, that’s not right. I love the Sims! And I get it. You are basically living the same life you are in real life on a screen but are you? Because I know that just for kicks I do a lot of stuff on Sims that I would never do in real life like try to murder my husband by feeding him beans from a magic bush for flirting with a townie. Nor would I voluntarily have 100 babies which is the current challenge going on right now I hear. Clearly, this silly, little fun game is giving you the ability to live outside yourself for a moment. It gives you this outlet where you can sleep with the entire town if you want or, in a very drastic turn, turn around and lock them in a room, taking away the door, and starving them to death. Yes, these are real things you can do and honestly, they are pretty tame compared to some of the cheats I’ve seen out there. My point is our real lives are full so much dumb stuff, some beautiful and most senseless, that it’s nice just to stomp your feet and scream sounds a the air when you don’t want to life.
I’ve done a lot of self reflection lately. It’s healthy. It hurts. It’s real and I’m being as honest as I possibly can with myself and with you, too. I want to give this person who I know is in there the ability to speak but I’ve been scared to let her out. I’m tired of being scared. I’m tired of being quiet. I’m tired of stepping back into the shadows to make the world around me more comfortable. I want to let my inner Sims come out, stomp her feet, wave those glitch arms, and scream for a little while. I’ve been thinking that I’ve been sad lately. I’ve sat down with my anxiety and looked it straight in the face and realized it is not just sadness. It’s not just the feeling of being broken and paralyzed. There is a lot of anger, too, so much anger. I’ve allowed myself to be pushed into this corner and I have done nothing to stop it from happening over the last few years. I wasn’t always so tolerant but I confused being tolerant with just giving up. So, that anger really isn’t at the world at all. It’s at myself. So many don’t see me because I don’t see myself. And so many show no concern for me because for years I’ve shown myself even less. I locked myself in a room and took away the door. I am coming to realize I have been starving myself for years now.
Listen I know comparing actual life to The Sims is a humorous stretch. And this blog may not be taken seriously because of it. That’s all right. I’m not here to tell you how to feel. You can’t make a Sim enjoy cleaning a toilet if they don’t want to. I had some phone calls this week. And, sure, I am going to make some Sims of these nasty people on the phone and probably put them in a pool and take away the ladder because Sims… but I realized something in their nastiness. I get frustrated when people are assholes to put it simply. There was a moment in this phone call this week where I realized I had a choice. I could allow him to treat me badly or I could make it clear that was not going to happen. There’s a bitch inside me, guys. I just don’t let her play very often but she’s getting restless and I felt her at that moment. I let her come out and it felt great to not allow this person to determine what I was worth. I have allowed myself to be treated badly. I have allowed that. I can’t put all of the blame on the people who took advantage of that. They saw the opportunity and they took it because I did not stop it. I will now.
There’s a balance I realized I need to find, this balance between the very kind, compassionate, empathetic person that in my heart I know I am and this other me that is hard, almost cold but fair who doesn’t tolerate being bulldozed over. And I can achieve that character when playing Sims because there’s no real hard choice, no real consequences, no explanations. It is simple and pure and silly. Life is none of those things. It is complicated and circumstantial and unpredictable. It is full of doubt and questions and darkness. It can be wonderful and breathtaking, inspiring. You can wake up every morning vomiting rainbows. There’s always a price to pay and sometimes you don’t realize how much you’ve paid until you’re all spent. Growing old is a lot of figuring out which versions of yourself you want to mesh together, which parts matter and which were just useless. I guess I’m finally seeing me, realizing the parts that have hurt me and the ones that kept me strong. I’m deciding who I want to be, not which me will be the most convenient for everyone else. It’s time I put the door back and let this girl free. If I don’t care about her, why should you?
I have been trying to do small stuff to help myself feel better, function better. I try to do Yoga at least a few times a week and a cardio video (which really just turns into me dancing around circles flailing my arms). I even took a walk on my lunch break the other day. I looked in the mirror the other day and made myself look. I tend to not look at my reflection all that often. It’s not that I am ashamed of what I look like but I don’t feel great about some things either. I realized that the way I’m feeling on the inside is reflected on my outside. I’ve gained some weight since leaving the back-breaking restaurant life. I no longer stand on my feet for anywhere from 6 to 15 hours a day. I don’t get that workout, that physical adrenaline release. I don’t get that feeling, after all, is said and done of making it through the chaos. There is this feeling of release after you make it through a dinner rush in one piece. And I just don’t get that same feeling from sitting at a desk being verbally abused by adults. That negative, motionless, uninspiring desk may be literally killing me (yep, totally overdramatic, it’s cool).
So, I sat down at my kitchen table and, just like Sonny, I pulled out my box of tools to figure myself out. I wrote last week about my anxiety and how it is just getting out of control. I feel like partially it’s my fault. I know. It’s not really a matter of fault but it’s me that doesn’t know how to cut off negative energy in a healthy way. These are how I deal with life. I let it fester, boil over until I have had enough. Then I either do something about it or I say fuck it and just don’t care. I struggle with what to fight for. So much of my adult struggle has been about the fight I fight for others around me. It wasn’t really about me. I wanted it to be about me but I never allowed it to be because when I did? Well, getting shoved back down started to take its toll on me. I feel like I’ve come full circle, still fighting the same annoying battle of feeling empty. If I look at my life, this empty is completely absurd and so I get angry that I can’t just shut up already. I look at all that reflection and understand I got to the point of being so overwhelmed, angst-filled that I just didn’t care anymore. Who was paying attention to me anyway? I certainly wasn’t.
I changed over the last year and not all of it has been in a good way. I can accept my own responsibility for it. I allowed my environment to drown me when I should have had a life jacket on already. But I feel like because I’ve stopped so much physical activity, I have also lost that natural release. My head had lost its ability to push through something because my body is now just this blob that sits at a desk, listening all day to people who have nothing better to do than to say nasty things. So, I have been trying to add things to my day like the yoga, the Zumba videos, the occasional walk around a building. And, in a small way, it is helping but it is not the solution. It’s only a part of the solution. My artwork and my drawing is another part of the solution but still, I haven’t quite figured out the entire equation. I think it’s important for me to see the whole picture, to really take in exactly what I’m dealing with. My head feels full of unnecessary jumble and I need to clean house but some of this hoard has been in here for too long. I realize that I enjoyed the rush of the restaurant life because I didn’t have time to think, to feel, to really deal with me. And now? Well, now that reflection is staring me right in the face and it’s time I stare back.
I know a lot of my blogs lately have focused around this same theme. I feel like I’m going through this journey right now and this is how I find my best way. I don’t know how to talk to people but I know how to write. So, this is where I go. At the end of a sentence is where I find myself. This is one of the small things that help me find my center, my balance on these two wobbly feet. I once believed that I should keep all of these feelings inside a journal where no one can see. And, I’ll admit, I do have a journal full of secrets I will never tell but part of this journey for me is learning how to be vulnerable, to tell people how I feel. Do I wish I could sit down with you and just say the words? Sure, sometimes, but that will come in time. The Poem I wrote earlier was about being sincere and how I will run quickly away if I even smell a hint of someone being insincere but I’m still learning how to trust this world around me. I’m still learning on how to let go of the hoard that is in my head which includes a lot of disappointment. Maybe my wind will change this week. Maybe I’ll look at that reflection and won’t feel so broken. Maybe I’ll find the voice to speak these words but it’s all right if I don’t. This is my journey and I will find my shine in my own time. We all do.
My husband laughed at me yesterday morning. My alarm clock went off and I was so angry at this innocent alarm clock, I slammed the snooze button and cursed at it. His laughter made me laugh and, though I woke up annoyed at the fact I had to wake up, I started my day in relatively good spirits. But here’s the thing I get angry at that alarm clock every morning. It buzzes and I curse and I stumble out of my bed to feed hungry cats who meow at me and walk under my feet. And then I go to a job where I get yelled at most day because people are entitled and rude. Listen, I’ve worked a lot of Customer Service jobs in my life. I’ve dealt with a rainbow of different people, from the best to the worst. After years of constant pampering grown adults who should know how to behave, I’ve found that I don’t much like that alarm clock very much anymore. In fact, I would much prefer to just stay in my house. Is this starting to be a problem? Probably but I’ve already started this journey of making my life a better situation. This is just another part of me that is in progress.
Last Friday, I woke up in my usual angry fashion, not wanting to go to work and not feeling great but I got up. I fed those hungry baby kitties of mine and made my coffee and lunch and out the door, I went. Then, I killed a bunny (and before anyone gets upset by that nonchalant sentence, I still feel horrible about it). I cried the entire way to work and thought about that poor bunny the rest of the day. I left early that day. I just kept thinking that perhaps the world just didn’t want me to leave my house and it sacrificed that poor animal so I would stay home. I understand this mentality of not wanting to be a part of the world is a bit of a problem. I have complete comprehension that my already hermit tendency may be getting a little bit out of control. I also understand that what I do during the day doesn’t help motivate me to come out of my hole either. Dealing with people is tough and taxing and downright demoralizing sometimes. And I feel like people who work in this industry are just like that poor bunny. We’re just trying to live our lives and then we get run over by things we can’t avoid.
I’m sure I’ve talked about this before but we’ll go down this rabbit hole a little bit (pun intended). I was on Zoloft for maybe ten years of my life. I had a lot of anxiety issues because of some life events that I experienced. I wasn’t able to function without it for a long time. I was young with a small child on my own and I mentally was a mess. So, I got help. There’s nothing wrong with taking medication that is going to help you live your life. It wasn’t a high dosage, just enough to kill the edge. The Doctor always asked me if I wanted to increase it but I always said no. I didn’t want to stop feeling my life. I just wanted to stop letting my feelings stopping me from living my life. So, for ten years, I was on it but then my life started to change. I met my husband. I switched jobs. I found some stability. I learned ways of dealing with my anxiety on my own without the aid of Zoloft. That was ten years ago. For a really long time, I’ve been OK as far as that goes. I know my triggers and I understand what I have to do when I start panicking. I worked at a restaurant, waiting tables and tending bar and it was chaotic, but I was still able to control my anxiety. I’ve been really proud of myself and I don’t say that very often.
I haven’t been doing too well controlling that anxiety in the last year. I’ve felt it come back. I’ve felt the moments of panic where I don’t feel like I can breathe, where I’m going to pass out, the buzzing in my head like I’m going to explode. And far too often lately, I’ve just wanted to hide from the world. So, I sit back and try to figure out what has changed so drastically that I feel like I need to go back on Zoloft. I want to make it something clear before I go on. I am not against having that sort of help again. I believe that help is there for us for a reason and, if we’re having a hard time, get the help you need to live your best life. My thing is I worked so hard to learn how to live without it. Maybe it’s a pride thing. I don’t know. I realized that it was what I was exposing myself during the day. There are all sorts of Customer Service jobs. Each has their plus and minuses. Each can be hell to work. But this what I realized in my current situation. All day all I was hearing was negative words with negative tones. I listen all day to grown, professional people bitch about things that shouldn’t cause so much angst. Let’s be real. You don’t call a Customer Service line to tell someone you think they are really cool. You call them because you’re pissed. And I get it, guys. I get that you received something that wasn’t right and you’re pissed but take a breath. You are not the bunny I ran over. If the ghost of that bunny called, it has every right to give me hell. I’m such an empath that every emotion you feel, I feel, too. And if I hear, if I feel nothing but anger and disappointment all day, that’s what is going to stick with me. The anxiety that I have had control over for so long now has fuel to it and I feel like lately, I’m losing control. My eyes are tearing right now writing these words because this feeling sucks.
I get so angry at the alarm clock every morning because I know what is in store for me. I know it will be nothing but unhappy people who can’t understand that an actual person is on the other line who has nothing to do with their problem. Everyone, please understand the people you deal with on the phone or serving your drinks or ringing up your shampoo have nothing to do with your personal problems or with company policies in any way. I just answer the phone, man. The other week I came home and cried every day. It was such a rotten week. It was because I felt out of control like there was this giant weight was on top of me, that I was in a constant panic attack. It is so hard to function when you feel like you’re constantly under water. I’ve realized this for a while now but something clicked in my head. This is not right. I’m on this journey right now of trying to make myself, my life better. In my younger years, I would’ve thought I would just have to suck it up and work like this but I’m tired of feeling like I have to sacrifice myself. I don’t want to be a martyr anymore. I have nothing to prove and my mental health is so much more important. I can’t be a good partner to my husband if I am miserable. I can’t be a good mother to my daughter if I’m a mess. I can’t be a good friend to you if I’m terrified to leave my house. If something is not making you the best you can be, find the thing that will. I hope that bunny forgives me and I hope one morning soon I will wake up without being so angry at the buzzing sound. Maybe I’ll have to go back on Zoloft for a little while or maybe my course will change soon to a better one. I may be a work in progress until the day I die and that’s OK. As long as I keep trying….
When I was younger, I said no to a lot of things. I drew a lot of lines. I set a lot of boundaries. If I didn't want to do something, you couldn't make me even give it a side look. I wore a stern face a lot. Was it that I knew who I was? No, I had no idea. Was it that I knew what I wanted? Not in the least but I did know what I did not. I observed life around me, what it expected, what I could get away with. I had this strange confidence about me that seems almost like an alien at this point in my life. I haven't felt that sure of myself for such a long time. Don't worry. This isn't a look-back-at-how-much-better-I-was-then blog. It's more of a train of thought currently so just come along with me. We'll reach my point soon. My words always find their way. I was in the shower this morning. So often I experience the best moments of revelations in the shower. I get this weird understanding. I'm stripped down to nothing and I allow myself to take a look, to check in, to figure out some sort of balance in this raging war that I seem to be battling lately. I don't have that confidence any more but I don't think I want it back either.
The one concept I think I have lost over the years is this one of self care. There used to be this girl full of spirit and light and determination. A mountain wouldn't move her and it wasn't always a great thing to be that stubborn. It caused it's own damage. I said no to the people that tried to climb it even ones who just wanted to be my friend. I put up barricades and waged wars and threw flaming arrows to keep them at bay. I knew who I was in a way only a young, naive girl could and I wasn't allowing anyone to change that. And then someone threw a stick of dynamite at me that I didn't want and I came crumbling down. I crashed so hard. I became this landslide that I think I'm stilling cleaning up all these years later. So, instead of setting my boundaries and keeping a firm line, I just let myself go. I didn't say no to anything because what was the point? If someone wanted something, they were going to take it anyway. I ended up surrounded in this darkness where I no longer understood this concept that I was still a person. I just said yes because what did it matter anymore? So, then I was the yes person, the one who always saved the day even if it hurt myself. You need to pick up that shift? Of course. I haven't had a day off in weeks but I got you. You need me to work on the weekend? I got you. No worries. I will help you and I won't expect anything back. I learned quickly that the hand you offer is so often not returned. As long as you don't bitch about it? You're good. You're all good. It wasn't just a work environment. It was my home life. It was everything about my life. I would just let people take what they wanted because I was tired of being bulldozed, because I felt like when I tried to stand I was pushed back down anyway.
Something in me has started to change over the last few years. I feel like when I lost my father, there was a switch that was flipped. I feel like over the last four years I've been sort of drowning but I see that I am so close to breaking free from these rip tides that keep pulling me under. I am fighting this strange battle. Some days I lose more than I win but I feel like the landslide that has been me for so long is starting to build itself back up again. I never got to tell my Dad some things I needed to tell him and that's on me but in his death this regret somehow woke me up. The scars of the footprints that had walked on me started to become irritated. I made myself a tiny hill at first and I watched the world around me. I heard myself say yes and then I felt the damage that it was doing to me. So, I started to say no again. I started to stand up for myself again. I started seeing the value of standing on solid ground. I didn't want to be everyone's Yes Girl anymore. I just wanted to be me, who ever that is right now. The world started to change with me. The people that once stood there when I so easily said yes I don't see a lot of them anymore. When I drew a line, they fell off my mountain but I didn't push them off this time. I let them fall away. While I've struggled with the loss of some, I understand how important it is to let the negative I've kept with me fall away, too.
We see these memes that say, "Say Yes," more but I feel like it is taken out of context. Sure, say yes to trying that chocolate covered cricket or say yes to zip lining while you're on vacation. Say yes to as much as you want as long as it doesn't hurt you. When I was younger, I did what I wanted and I didn't much think about how anybody felt about it. Then, life taught me a lesson, knocked that chip straight off these shoulders, and I became that landslide. I went from saying no to everything (unless it my idea) to saying yes to anything. Both were so incredibly harmful to me but I couldn't see it. I liked being the king of my own kingdom but then when my crown was knocked off, I just became this sad, pathetic peasant that somehow needed the world's approval. I've been shut down for a long time. I married my husband, this beautiful gem of a man, because for whatever reason he was the one person who was able to swim through that landslide and find me. To this day, I feel like he's the only one who really sees me because most days I just feel like a ghost to the rest of the world. But I want to change that and I'm working on it. I want to say yes because I want to say yes, not because there will be repercussions if I don't. And I want to say no because what you're asking is not good for me and I need to draw that line of what I will tolerate. We don't have to be afraid of being good to ourselves. I can love you and I can love me. I just wish I would've figured that out a long time ago.