Cooped Up

The wires are getting tighter.

Yesterday ended on a bad note.

Halfway through my day at work, I had a panic attack. Sudden, shaking, throat-clenching, heart, racing and pounding at the same time, chest tight with fear. I couldn’t look around, just knowing that everyone was staring at me. (They weren’t, logic tells me this, but panic doesn’t recognize logic)

I had to tell my supervisor I had to leave right now, and she understood. She knows what’s been going on, some of what I’ve been dealing with with E, & that my anxiety has been bad. But this panic attack kind of took the cake.

When I got home, it was all I could do not to crawl under my covers & hide. As it was, I had sharp, stabbing pains in my stomach, more blessings brought by the panic fairies, thanks, & had to curl up with a heating pad till they faded.  Thank all the gods for antianxiety meds…even if they make me groggy in higher doses.

I couldn’t even talk to my Beloved Nephew on the phone last night, it was just too much. I needed the silence, the darkness, the….nothingness….

And today, it seemed as though it lingered, yet. It’s not completely gone. But, then, until this situation with E is resolved, until I know that he’s out of my life for good, I will remain wire-tight…and that’s going to be rough.

Case in point…

I had to go to Hellmart today, to stock up on supplies for OnlySon’s graduation party. I wore my earbuds while shopping, as usual, so was OK for most of it. But, when I got in line, there was this one woman who got in line behind me, who almost sent me over the edge into another panic attack.

Or, I almost attacked her. 

One or the other.

See, I have this thing about Personal Space.

I like some.

Especially around strangers.

And she got up in mine.

Like, really CLOSE.

LIKEREALLYREALLYCLOSE.

As I maneuvered myself around my cart, putting some distance between us, she closed in again…and I angled the cart to prevent it. She glanced my way, as I quickly looked down to avoid her eyes. Eye contact is to be avoided at all costs to maintain personal space, folks.

For a minute, I thought she was going to move my cart, she came so close to putting her hands on it, I was actually going through responses in my head, ranging from a simple “Don’t” to a more direct “You need to take 3 steps back, Now.” And, I had a fleeting thought that, from the look she gave my cart, she really contemplated rifling through my stuff, including my purse.

My hands clenched, my face heated, my chest tightened, & I could feel my breathing getting shallower, the closer I got to the cashier. I needed it to end, quickly, so I could get the hell away from there, & her. 

As I told a friend, later, you could almost SEE the porcupine quills standing up off my skin as I stood there.

Luckily, I was able to get the cart angled across the aisle in such a way that the woman couldn’t get any closer to me, & I got my stuff paid for & escaped the store as soon as I could.

But, it was as close as I’ve gotten to losing my shit in public as I ever have.

Ever.

Not exactly feeling like the most stable chicken in the coop right now…

So, it’s back to the lab for the benefits of modern chemistry.

And a heartfelt prayer to KwanYin, for some serious guidance for one of her children in serious need.

Just Call Me Alice

What do you do, once you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, dusted yourself off, and realized you’ve followed that white-furred thing into a place you don’t recognize?

How do you get yourself back to a place of sanity, to some semblance of normalcy when everything around you seems to be running amok?

There’s a part of me right now that’s running on fear.

And I don’t know which way to turn.

But, there’s another part of me that fiercely screams out – We will NOT run away! We will stand firm & defend our ground! We will come out the other side of this stronger & better than we went in, even if the fire burns us, we will rise from the ashes as the phoenix! Get up, bitch!”

I like her better than the coward.

But, still, at times, I find my hands shaking, my stomach queasy, unable to eat, or think clearly. Anxiety sets in, and the panic attacks are coming more frequently.

It’s getting a little frayed around the edges, and I’m afraid that July is going to be a really rough month.

He’s coming here in July- or so he claims.

He was subtle, convinced me of so many sweet things, showed me such a bright future…Kept me dangling on such a long string with the pretty treats always just out of reach for so long.

Then came the manipulation. And the emotional blackmail. The secrets & the lies. The broken promises, the plausible excuses, piling up, until it was hard to crawl out from underneath them.

And now, he says he’s finally going to live up to every single word he ever spoke, all at once.

After I told him I was Done – I’m out. Finished. Full stop.  

He insists that he’s got to come, and nothing I say will stop him. 

He says he will right the wrongs, win me back, fix everything.

I said No.

But what the fuck do I know, right?

There is no going back for me.

I’m O.U.T.

Full STOP.

Go home.

Jen doesn’t live here anymore.

Call me Alice.


Exit Strategy

Graduation approaches swiftly, & I’m heavily in planning mode.

OnlySon has his cap & gown, & is eagerly awaiting the day he can kick high school to the curb.

He has requested Texas chocolate cake (a much-beloved recipe of our family’s) for his graduation party, which will be held at my house after the ceremony.

And…it’s going to be a joint party for my son…with his father, my ex-husband.

I know the ex really only wants to do a joint party because he doesn’t want to be bothered with having to plan a party, buy the supplies, host the damned thing, clean up afterwards, yadda, yadda, yadda… It’s always been his MO, to make me do all the work when it came to this sort of thing, while taking a share of the credit. Asshat. 

He says he’s bringing a second cake (he works as a baker at a grocery store here in town, so OnlySon requesting a homemade scratch recipe has wounded his pride, I’m sure), but I know his family… I’m making 2 of my cakes, just to make sure there’s some left for my family.

All the while, my anxiety has me in heavy emergency exit-strategy mode.

Except…

How do you get away from someone when they’re at your home? And they bring their family with them? Their very loud, very confrontational, very Greek, family? (If you’re picturing My Big Fat Greek Wedding in your head…Yep, you’re seeing the right people).

If anyone gets up in my face, I’m going to have a tough time holding my cool.  I will try, for my son’s sake…

But, as I’m passing out pieces of cake, I might be tempted…

The Seeker

For most of my life, at least what I can remember of it, I’ve been a Seeker.

A Seeker of knowledge, in that I love to always learn new things. I have a gift for remembering seemingly useless trivia, earning me one of my many nicknames. “The Queen of Useless Knowledge”. But, I also constantly search for new wisdom to fill my brain, of all sorts, be it historical, medical, scientific, supernatural, esoteric, you name it.

I used to seek for affirmation and approbation, as well. Other people’s opinions of me were almost more real than my own, and would color how I viewed everything, from how I acted, to how I felt about myself, and the world around me. I don’t do that anymore, because I discovered that I was never going to receive what I needed in life that way – SELF acceptance and love. I had to learn, over and over, that no one else’s opinions of me mattered, only my own. It took me a long time to realize that, but I’m better now for it. 

And, I’ve always been a Seeker of love. Love of family and friends, as well as that of romantic love from someone else.

That’s…been a lot harder to find.

I thought I had it in both of my marriages, only to be proven wrong. The first one, well, I’m not sure he knows what loving someone else means, that you have to give up a part of yourself to the other person, and that it’s about being there for each other, not just when things are easy, but most importantly, when things are bad. He never seemed to get that, so I had to walk away. Twice. It took me over 20 years, and 2 attempts at a relationship with him to get that through my head, but it finally stuck.

The second ex-husband…well, he hoarded all his love for our son, thinking that, well, since he married me, he didn’t have to actually love me anymore, since marriage says forever, right? All the hard work was done while we dated, so now he could sit back & watch me do all the work in the relationship. No. Just – no.  

And, I’ve had other relationships since, which have all fallen apart, for one reason or another. 

So, I’ve been doing some hard contemplation, lately. 

About what I truly want.

About how I’m going to get it.

And about what I’ve been doing up until now, that’s prevented me from truly Finding what I’ve been Seeking.

I settle.

Because there’s still a part of me that feels as though I’m not worth it. That…if all these men can leave me, that the fault must be in me, somewhere.

And, to a certain extent, that’s correct.

The fault does lie in me.

Because I settle.

If I’m truly going to find Love – yes, with a capital letter – then I have to make some changes.

First – no more settling for less than what I want.

If I want real love, the kind that will stay, will fight for a relationship with me, the kind that will work with me to keep the relationship a good one…I HAVE to act, and believe, that I deserve it.

No more “hanging out and hooking up”.

No more accepting relationships that have no future.

If I want Love, Marriage and Forever, and I do, (no pun intended), then I have to stop letting myself settle for anything less.

I will find Love again, someday. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, next week, or even within the next year.

But I will stop settling for its pale cousin.

Because I am a Seeker.

And I will Find another, someday.

Glass

Today is not a good day.

I woke up with a migraine- breath-stealing, nausea roiling, light/sound/smell/touch-sensitive; and all I wanted to do was take my meds & sleep it off. Stress has been high lately, & I’ve had more migraines in the last few months than is normal. I can’t afford some of the meds they want me to try, so I have to deal with them by smothering the pain in sleep. The doctor doesn’t understand… It doesn’t matter if a drug might help me, if I can’t afford it. It’s not even a guarantee of pain relief, just a chance. A maybe. 

I don’t make enough to throw utility money at a Maybe.

Then, I get a call from my regular doctor’s office. 

I have osteo arthritis in my hands, diagnosed by a rheumatologist. Most of the time, my hands, mainly my finger joints, feel as though they are full of broken glass, grating & grinding on itself, just under the skin. Occasionally, when there’s pressure put on those joints, the glass sets itself on fire, just for that extra-special kick.

He told me he couldn’t do anything else, as far as treating the pain long-term went, that I had to go to the Pain Clinic for that. I was to call my regular doc & have her send a referral to the Pain Clinic for me.

They sent a note back to her this morning saying they won’t see me.

Regular doc says I have to call rheumatology doc back, to see what my other options are. 

So, basically, the health care system here is telling me they want someone else to deal with it. No one is willing to actually sit down, LISTEN to me, & help figure out a solution. I don’t know if they don’t believe me about the pain, because no one is actually talking to, or listening to, me. They’re all looking at xrays & blood tests, thinking that tells the whole story.

I’m not a hypochondriac looking for attention. I’m someone who’s been through a lot of medical crap in her life, & because of that, has built up tolerances to certain pain meds. 

I don’t like taking pills. I don’t want to feel stupid & slow at work, & I don’t like the loss of control the drugs make me feel. I’m a control freak when it comes to my own body. I’m in charge, & I hate not feeling like I can say what happens with it.

In 2001, I finally had surgery that fixed a problem with one of my kidneys – that took 5 years & every test known to man & his dog to figure out. 5 years of flaring, excruciating pain, without a diagnosis to even give me a sense of reason. 

In just the past 3 years, I’ve had to deal with having my gall bladder removed due to gall stones & severe pain caused by inflammation.

I’ve had endometriosis, adenomyosis, & an ovarian cyst, which ended up with me having a hysterectomy. Following my surgery, my surgeon said he couldn’t figure out how I’d been walking upright, much less how I’d gotten into the hospital on my own two legs, due to the extensive pain the numerous occlusions of endo & adeno would have caused.

And now, the arthritis diagnosis.

I know pain.

I know how it steals your breath, messes with your senses, & turns your world into a small, very self-focused, & seemingly selfish, place.

I know that other people can’t feel my pain, they don’t understand that – even picking up files, taking a cap off a water bottle, using a pliers to take apart rivets & staples (part of my job, taking apart books held together by these things) – all these things cause my hands to flare, & tears to spring to my eyes because of it.

I gave birth to all 3 of my children naturally, without any drugs to aid the process, & ended up in shock due to blood loss during one of the deliveries.

I know pain. Don’t tell me I’m not perfectly aware of what my body is telling me.

I just want to be able to go to work & live my life without being either half-stoned on pain meds, or in constant, grinding pain.

Where do I turn now?

While I sit here with my hands full of glass, my head pounding, & my chest full of anxiety, depression & hopelessness.

What do you do when all the doctors, the “professionals” tell you that you’re not worth their time…..