Sunday, August 28, 2011

What to say, what to say . . .

The past few weeks have been alright. I felt some depression kicking in again (although not as bad as the time before) and I started to notice a pattern to what triggers it, so I made an appointment with a therapist to help me work through it. It's been almost 5 months since I stopped interacting with my family, and that distance has allowed me to really learn about who I am. I actually feel very good about this because I believe that I'm getting close to the end of dealing with the past and therefore being able to, for the first time in my life, enjoy the present and look to the future with a big dumb grin on my face.

I met my therapist last week and I love her! She's much younger than me, something I've never experienced, but it's part of me getting older. As I get older, bosses, doctors and other professionals will just get younger. I wasn't sure if this young student would be able to help me, but she's wonderful (thank you powers-that-be!).

Much has happened in the past few weeks, far more than I can or want to write about, but it's mostly been good. Even the not-so-good has been part of the bigger picture of "good."


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Things are going well. Let me clarify--my outlook on the chaos in my life is going well. I have a busy, full, chaotic life and it's normal for me to rush around in order to leave the house on time, or to forget something from my huge, ever-changing to-do list, and this week has been no different. What has been different is my attitude towards it.

I'm also learning how to prioritize for me. I have a friend who is always getting involved in things--volunteering with: a cat shelter, community theater and a crisis hotline; attending various events, participating in yoga classes, etc. I asked her recently how she does it all while taking care of her adult responsibilities because for me, the adult responsibilities never allow me time for much else. She explained that she would go nuts if she didn't balance her life with things outside of work and home. She admitted that her house is pretty cluttered most days, and I admitted that I spend a lot of time trying to keep my house clean, that I can't stand clutter. She said that I need to find what's important to me and not be concerned with anything else.

That was a few weeks ago and I've just started putting it into action. About 2 weeks ago I decided to spend a few hours cleaning (even dusting which I NEVER do). I thought about what I was doing as I did it and noticed that I feel a connection with myself when I clean. My home is me, everything in it is a part of me, so caring for my home is in actuality caring for me. I feel so good when I walk into a clutter-free, clean home--it's inviting and feels like open arms welcoming me in. Like life, I sometimes have to purge what's no longer working, letting go of things that I've needlessly held onto for too long. When I toss these things into the trash, my spirit is lifted. A few months ago I had to toss away cetain family members that were weighing me down, and my spirit was lifted then too.

One of my biggest mental poblems is thinking of all that I'm not doing/getting done while doing something else (not doing homework while gocery shopping, not cleaning while doing homework, etc.), and wondering how what I'm doing will be accepted in the world (i.e. clean house but fat body). We live in a world where everything is seen and judged. We can't watch a commercial without being told we aren't good enough. I see photos of celebrities with gogeous culs in their hai and I feel small because my fine, staight hair won't hold curls. The other day I realized that my hair is fine the way it is. I can wash it, brush it, and let it air dry, or I can blowdry it in five minutes and add a bit of body to it. Because I CAN'T spend hours at a time styling my hair, I'm freed up for other things (plus I can drive with the car windows down on a nice day).

This has been sort of all over the place, but this is where my mind is right now too, so, yeah . . .


Monday, August 8, 2011

So how is life? It's messy, in every sense of the word. I cleaned my house from top to bottom a few days ago, and you can't even tell. No matter how much I plan for things, all I can expect is the unexpected. The past few weeks have brought many challenges, but I've handled far better than expected. I sank into depression for about a week and felt suicidal but pulled myself out of it (again). My cat was dying and I made the choice to euthenize him, through which I discovered that the "hard choices" really aren't so hard when love is the driving force. Exactly one week later one of my other cats broke his leg at the hip and had to have emergency surgery. I've missed a week of work and stayed home to play nursemaid, and he seems to be doing pretty well.

I graduated with my 2nd of 3 degrees on Saturday and family and friends were there (family = my child and fiance's family). I had a great weekend actually. After graduation we all went to lunch and then toured the site where the wedding will be. The next day I went rafting with the fiance and best friend (haven't done that in over 10 years). There have been challenges but nothing I couldn't handle. I'm in the process of rethinking how I handle things, some of which I'll write about at another time. But for now, my life is messy which means it's far from boring.

LL xoxo

Monday, August 1, 2011

Where to Go from Here . . .

The past few weeks have been challenging, to say the least, but the important part is that I have worked through it and come out stronger on the other side. During this, however, I really began to question the purpose of life. Join me on this thoughtful journey of one of humanity's oldest questions.

Does life matter if no one sees what you're doing? Is life meant to be completely experienced alone (e.g. your experiences are your own), and if so, what is the point? Whether there is life after death or not, what is the point of even being here?

Sure, I can have children, design or build bridges, write novels, crossbreed plants to make better fruits and vegetables, but again, for what purpose? We talk about leaving a mark and making things better for the following generations, but those people are going to die someday too, and their experiences will also cease to matter.

I know this is pretty abstract, but stay with me for a minute. If I read a book a week for the rest of my life, what purpose does it serve? I learn lots of things, my mind expands and begins to view certain ideas differently. But then one day I die and all of that learning dies with me. There is no guarantee that I'm going to share what I've read with anyone. I don't have a job where my thoughts about the books' topics will matter. I read because I like to, building up decades of intelligent, critical thought, but then it goes away with my last breath. It seems no different than spending decades collecting anything, anything at all, just to have it all completely and instantly destroyed. That is the point--anything we do, no matter how well we do it, makes no difference in the end. Maybe it does to other people for a while, but they will die too and will lose whaterver benefit they received.

We can say that bringing joy to a person while alive IS the point, but isn't that just killing time pleasurably? I'm here by accident, I didn't choose life, and I certainly didn't choose THIS life (the year I was born, the family and country I was born into, the wealth or poverty level I was born into, etc.), but the fact is, I am here. Now what do I do?

Two weeks ago I was feeling so low that I planned the perfect suicide, quick, relatively painless, and away from everyone so a) I couldn't be stopped and b) no one would have to pay for a funeral. I had reached one of my lowest points having been rejected by my last family member and doubting I could ever trust another person very close to me. I decided that I was tired of fighting, that I had given it my best and a good, happy life was just not meant to be. I'm going to die someday anyway, why not just move up the date and do it on my own terms?

When I hit this point, I felt very peaceful, very hopeful for the first time in a while. It felt right and it made complete sense. So why did I change my mind? There were some logistics involved in my plan which included going very far from home to a place no one would ever think to look for me, but that meant having the money to get there. Getting there meant traveling, finding places where I could sleep and eat along the way. I would have several thousand dollars and, as I mentioned earlier, I couldn't take it with me, so why not spend, spend, spend . . . live lavishly for my last few days? Death row inmates receive their perfect meals just before execution, so if they can do it, why couldn't I?

Along this line of thinking, I realized I'd have enough money to live lavishly for several weeks. My dreams of what I could do in my final days grew in a couple of ways. First, I could visit places, taste food and feel things that I never had (and probably never would if I worked and planned for a future, thus saved money more than enjoyed it). But second and more importantly--and this is the thought that led me to choose life--if I'm willing to die and leave everything behind anyway, why not live a bit longer and do the things I would otherwise never do? Instead of living lavishly for a month, take the money and live in Europe for 6-12 months. Death is always within reach so I can do it any time, a month from now or a year from now. Either way, I wanted to treat myself to things I would otherwise not have given myself permission to do.

I know this has been a bit long and may have been hard to follow, but stay with me because there is a point to all of this. I am a very logical person, to the point of having lost my sense of humor and ability to really laugh over the past few years. What I've explained thus far is pretty logical, yeah? So here I am, imagining my life in Europe before The Big Day. I see myself waking up with nothing but time on my hands. I can get up early and welcome the sunrise as it stretches across rooftops and city streets. I saw myself walking to the local bakery or coffee shop where I'd sit peacefully (peacefully! A key word here because this is something I NEVER feel), calmly eating a small breakfast item while sipping coffee. I'd walk all day, slowly, not fast like I usually do. I'd visit historic places, take long rides on buses, and even spend time in the countryside with the many shades of green that are found in the innocence of nature. The importance of this dream is that no one, no one at all, would know what I was doing. Therefore, for the fist time in my life, I'd be doing something JUST FOR ME. There would be no thoughts of, "I can't wait to tell him about this!" or "I can't do that because it will cause them to talk down to me even more."

This brings me full circle to the things that put me into a suicidal frame of mind in the first place. I've never been allowed or encouraged to simply enjoy my life and to be satisfied and proud with whatever I choose to do. I've always reached for the big things believing that my life doesn't matter unless I make it matter. It would not be enough to have a clean but dusty house. It would never be enough to read books just for the sake of reading them. It would never be enough to raise a child with a smile on my face and in my heart; there has to be misery involved. And it certainly would never be enough for me to survive my past, I'd always be reminded of it, one way or another (or because someone would callously bring it up to me). Why would I have to end my life to enjoy my life? Why do people change when they see the end is near? Why not change anyway, whether death is today or 50 years away? Apologize now, eat now, live now. That is what I have decided to do. Let it all go so that I can live with my heart more than my head.

So what is the meaning of life? I am no closer to understanding this than I was two weeks ago, but today, right now, I am choosing life over death. Knowing that death is a very real option, one that I can turn to at any moment, has renewed my drive for life. Why? Because being alive is the choice I made, today, right now. When life becomes a choice instead of a punishment (which is what it has felt like for most of my time here), it becomes more enjoyable. I've always loved eating at buffets, not because they are all-you-can-eat, but because I have choices. A regular meal is decided (i.e. preset) for you with either fries OR a baked potato, but with the buffet I can have both. Of course I can always choose more chicken if I'm not in the mood for starch; again, something you can't do with a regular dinner.
For now, death is off the table. I want to see where my life will take me, or more accurately, where I will choose for my life to go. Living in Europe is still a consideration. I feel that the world, the entire world, is now open to me and that I can do what I want regardless of what anyone around me says. I've shaken myself free of the dead weight (haha, no pun intended) and I'm not looking back.

Anyone who doesn't like it can just kiss my ass ;-)