So, yeah, this is an approximately 6,000 word post, and it’s not exactly a fun read. It’s therapeutic in nature and it’s also a post meant to answer the question of “How have you been? I haven’t really seen any new posts from you in awhile; what’s been going on?” So, just saying, if you read this, you’re getting fair warning. It’s a bit of a whine party! So bring your favorite munchies and beverage and sit a spell and I’ll update you. But before we do that, I also want to give you a different option if that doesn’t sound like something you really want to spend time reading.
Soooo, after I wrote this piece and spent time editing and re-editing this, I realized that this post is just not for everyone and I also realized that, hey, it’s January, which means it’s Girl Scout Cookie Time. So here’s the deal, y’all. For those of you who want to read this post because you’re — brave — then please, read on. However, for those of you who could care less about what my life has been like over this past fall and you just want to be amused — let me give you another option. Click below and it will take you to a post from last year about this time. It’s amusing. At least I like it. So, do we have a deal?
It’s about halfway through January 2019 and I’m so far behind on so many things that I don’t even know how to begin to prioritize them, which would at least point me in a direction where I could at least start focusing. I’ve written in the past how guilt plays a huge role in my life. I have so much to get done all of the time and so if I work on one thing, then that means something else isn’t getting the attention that it needs and deserves. I’d like to say that there are a few things that aren’t as important as others; however, that’s not really true. And I did cut back to the bare basics as I continue to live in survival mode, which I’ve been doing for numerous years. Except I think I’ve cut way too far back on sleep. Also, I know that I haven’t been eating as healthy as I should be nor have I been exercising. But between exercise and sleep, I always opt for sleep whenever I can get it.
There’s no doubt that I need much more restorative sleep than I get. That may be just one of the many reasons that within a week after I graduated in mid November, I crashed and burned. Even though I was no longer meeting with clients and I’d finished grad school, Thanksgiving was around the corner and then more shit hit the fan and I think my body just gave out. My hives were out of control and really there wasn’t a helluva lot I could do about any of the shit I found myself in, except to heavily medicate for the hives. That became my primary focus and has continued to be my primary focus for these last two plus months. Unfortunately, my blog has suffered and I’m also firmly convinced that several friendships have been dented because I truly believe they haven’t realized just how sick I’ve been (even though I’ve said nothing but that!)
Thanks to Benedryl, you’d think the pendulum may have swung to the other extreme of sleep and that I was finally getting caught up, more than caught up, with way too much sleep — especially, since I have a tendency to nod off while sitting in front of the TV, which is where I often find myself after taking Benedryl during the day. Unfortunately, my “naps” only provide me with a light sleep where I can still hear everything going on around me, but I’m too damned tired to really react or care — so, I’m in more of a twilight sleep — not the restful kind of sleep with the delta wave stage that allows you to wake up feeling refreshed and restored. Nope. No rest for this wicked and weary mortal even when I sleep.
It also didn’t take long before I started getting my days and nights backwards. Since I’m more of a night owl by nature, anyway, that was an easy habit to fall into; and it’s been damned near impossible to get out of. As a matter of fact, it’s 2:32 a.m. as I write this. And as of yesterday ( I still have hope for this night), I still am not able to fall asleep before the sun comes up. So I usually nod off around 8 a.m. and I’m back up by noon.
This past fall, I’m not exactly sure when, probably September or October, I started seeing the therapist at my general practitioner’s office because I’m very ADHD and like I said, I’m constantly overwhelmed — and I recognized I needed some objective perspective. The therapist that I’d been seeing off and on since the early 1990’s, had finally retired and moved faraway this past fall. So he was no longer an option and I gave the therapist at my doctor’s office a shot at working with me. Therapists (especially those in training of which I am one) are expected to utilize therapy in their own lives. Also, my hives were becoming more of a problem; and I was going through Practicum II hell at a site where much of my supervision amounted to me looking puzzled and asking WTF to what felt like virtually non-existent, subpar supervision, all while praying that I did no harm to the clients with which I met. Even though I didn’t want to stay at this site, I was trying to finish grad school and I didn’t have the practical option of telling my supervisor to go fuck herself, quit her practice and find another one in the short time I had — so I just stuck with the devil I knew — which led to my feeling even more guilty about this decision. Because how am I supposed to become a decent therapist, a good therapist, if I don’t have good training and good supervision? The disillusionment I feel still aches.
So this new therapist and I looked at some of my issues which have been as vast and varied as: trying to keep up with my regular job, school, practicum, home life, my dad, extended family, friends and writing.
Of course in mid July, we got Buddy (to save his life) and he was chewing everything up in sight and wreaking havoc with the cats. He may also be contributing to my hives because I am highly allergic to dogs (blood test proved it); however the allergist assured me that neither hay fever nor cats and dogs cause the kind of high tryptase levels she was seeing in my blood test results. Anyway, the fact that my tryptase levels were high explained why I was getting hives. Why my tryptase levels were high remains a mystery. But, also, I was told by the allergist, once they soared like mine had regardless of why they were set off, apparently, they tend to not just come back down on their own without medical intervention; hence the need for Xolair shots.
The one major thing that I put on hold this past fall was dealing with my asshole ex-husband and trying to get money he still owes us through the Attorney General’s office because there was no way in hell that I could focus on all that shit plus trying to finish school and deal with the other day-to-day with which I deal. I told David that either we focused on the Attorney General/ex-husband shit and I put my education on hold or I focused on finishing school and put the other on hold. So, I/we chose for me to focus on finishing school. Which reminds me, I still have to contend with my asshole ex-husband and the Attorney General’s office in the near future. Fuck.
It was probably early October when the woman who’d hired me for practicum delivered a bombshell — over the phone no less. She had originally told me when I interviewed with her that after I finished my practicums, she’d hire me on as an intern. That was one of the main reasons I decided to do my practicums with her to begin with. Also, her site was close to where I live and when you have a child like I have, even though he’s an adult, a job close to home is priceless. Well, no surprises (in hindsight), she lied about hiring me as an intern. I’m sure that she lies to all her practicum students when interviewing them and answering questions about hiring on after they’ve finished school —because she needs practicum students. She’s not looking to bring on interns who she has to pay, so what does she care whether she lies to the people she’s interviewing? The moment they’ve served their purpose, she disposes of them without regard, which is what she did with me and what she’s done to many others. Anyway, she needs practicum students to make money because she is able to charge clients to see them, but she doesn’t have to pay the students. In essence, this amounts to free labor in exchange for the practicum hours the student needs to graduate. (Don’t even get me started.) Anyway, no one told me that this person was just this side of evil and that’s what she did in order to run her business when I hired on — but now I know better. So I was about six weeks away from graduating when my supervisor made it clear in no uncertain terms that at the end of my practicum in mid November, I’d need to look elsewhere for an internship; while in the same breath, also asking me if I knew any students that were looking for a practicum site because she needed a practicum student to replace me. Now isn’t that special?
I told her I’d do what I could.
Well, even though it’s a good thing that I’m no longer contractually beholden to this woman because I needed to get away from her toxicity; it still felt like a bomb had exploded in my world. All of a sudden, I needed to worry about finding another site instead of feeling secure about having an intern spot (even if I wasn’t too excited about it.) So from that point until now, I’ve worried about finding a new place to work, plus taking my NCE exam. I’ve found that interviewing in my fifties is daunting because people tend to factor in my age and my weight — so up against others who have the same credentials I have but who are also twenty years or more younger than I am and healthier — well, it’s not easy getting a paid position in my circumstances. It’s not impossible, but it’s not easy.
Anyway, as much as I’ve tried to focus on the positives in my life and not let my ex-supervisor get to me; I have to admit, it did and still does. Once I actually find an internship and have passed my NCE, it won’t bother me anymore. I know this for a fact and I try and stay focused on that. Unfortunately, I’m not there yet.
Anyway, so back to the therapist I was seeing through my general practitioner’s clinic — she had me write a list of my responsibilities and categorize them when I told her I was overwhelmed and felt the need to prioritize and figure out a better strategy for getting it all done. Anyway, when she looked over my categorized list, she was as stumped as I was when it came to prioritizing what was most important. (As a side note: my brother once told me that people should only have three things that they have to get done on any given day. ROTFLMAO!) Anyway, this therapist recognized that writing for me is therapy and her thought was that I already don’t have enough “me time” as I need, so I shouldn’t stop writing. She understood my need to keep friendships and about my dad and my home life and my school and trying to begin a new career. She got the difficulties of living with someone with autism— and while people sometimes say they understand — they truly don’t get it unless they live with it. Trust me on this! She understood why I wasn’t as able to diet, exercise and sleep like I should, and she understood about my ADHD. She noticed the hives, and she understood about my concerns at my practicum site. She was concerned about the lack of supervision I was getting, as well, and brought this up every time I saw her, which was a whole four times. And then all of a sudden she was unavailable to see me anymore; which was fine by me because she wasn’t as helpful as I wanted her to be and none of the stuff that I went to see her about in terms of organizing my time and energy was doing a damned bit of good. It was like she admitted, “Yep, you’re screwed,” but without actually telling me that outright — so, I suppose in her own way, she gave credence to what I already knew.
So in early December, I got into it with the general practitioner I’ve been seeing for well over ten years. He decided that my hives were caused by stress and that I didn’t need expensive Xolair shots as much as I needed to see a therapist. I told him the allergist he sent me to said that my tryptase levels were too high and that I needed the Xolair shots because they (my tryptase levels) probably wouldn’t come down on their own. So my general practitioner said he knew nothing about tryptase levels but that what he did know was that ninety percent of the time, hives were caused by stress. He said that stress was literally killing me and I needed to get my stress-levels under control. Yep, he said those words. I said that if that were the case, then the stress wasn’t killing me fast enough. Yep, I said those words. Because, WTF do you say to someone who is trying to help but who is only stressing you out even more and making you feel even more guilty because, apparently, you’re not able to just turn off the stress? Plus, I explained that I had been seeing a therapist but that she’d quit being available — which just so happened to be the therapist they had on staff at their clinic! My doctor told me that the therapist moved to Colorado and that’s why she couldn’t see me anymore. I kind of threw my hands up at that. I didn’t go into detail that this therapist hadn’t been that helpful anyway. I simply tried to explain to him that I wasn’t going out of my way to try and be stressed, but this was the reality of my life. There’s a lot of shit that I simply have no control over but that I still have to deal with. And so if my body is reacting to that, well, it’s not like I’m wanting this in my life, but I simply don’t have the means in which I can just make the stress “be gone.”
What I realize more than anything is that I live in a state of perpetual guilt because I can’t seem to stay on task and get into a good routine and give myself the kind of care that other people just do without thinking — because to do so requires giving up something else that’s important to me. And I can’t stop the bullshit that is also perpetual that also requires so much attention on my part and only causes me to have more stress. That’s why I look at most of it as fodder for writing and try to find a way to laugh about it! And usually I’m pretty good at doing that; however, there’s been so much fodder that I just haven’t been able to keep up with it all.
A friend asked me over this past fall if I’d considered that maybe the reason I have so much “fodder” in my life was because I had a blog called Wayward Sparkles. She thought I might inadvertently be inviting crap into my life. I assured her that it was the other way around. Having this much shit in my life isn’t something new, even though there’s been a shit ton more these past several months than usual. It’s because I’ve had so much shit for so long that Wayward Sparkles seemed to be a good fit for the name of my blog. I’ve had at least two other people ask me if I’d pissed God off or whether there was a chance that I may have been cursed or hexed. And you know, I can’t really answer any of that. Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, so what? My life is what it is and I can’t undo a hex or curse or God’s wrath. And no, I’m not a modern-day Job either. God knows I’m His kid, His wayward kid, maybe — but I’m His and His alone. My soul belongs only to God. So if Satan has anything to do with my woes, “Well, Satan, get thee behind me, you sorry asshole, rat bastard!”
What I do know is that most people don’t truly believe and really aren’t interested in knowing just how much David and I contend with on a daily basis. And it’s not like I usually run around telling people my problems, anyway — though I guess you wouldn’t necessarily know that reading this now. I’m usually more interested in hearing about their lives rather than re-hashing the crap in mine. However, with that stated, I admit that my life is heavy in the too-much-shit department. I’ll never forget when my former therapist told me years ago that shit in life is usually pretty evenly distributed. Everyone has to deal with shit. But then one day he acknowledged, “Damn, Mona, for whatever reason, I’ve realized that you really do have to deal with more shit than the people I see and know.” I guess this was about the time he figured out that I tend to understate rather than embellish. So it’s not that I’m bellyaching about a little shit here and there. It’s the amount, big and small, and the duration that ends up building one-damned-thing-upon-another with which I’m contending.
So, I write this not because I’m wanting to get into some kind of bullshit pissing contest with someone out there who thinks they have it worse than I do or is looking to dismiss or diminish me or whatever I’m going through because they don’t have a clue and they don’t really know me, but they also don’t like whatever it is about me or what I’m writing about that is annoying them and so they feel the need to put in their two cents because they think they need to provide me and perhaps the world with whatever their truth is (which is all that really matters to them), even if it tramples over others’ truths — whether it’s mine or someone else’s. And that’s just rude and it doesn’t come from a good place. But, again, they really don’t care what other people think and they’re going to do what they’re going to do. You can’t stop them. And this isn’t a knock against the true friends, acquaintances and colleagues in my life who are understanding and encouraging but who also have their own stories to share that do come from a genuine place. These people share because they care and because whatever that was initially said touched something that resonated within them and they offer their stories and their truth with a good heart because it makes sense to do so — not because they want all eyes on just them. That’s one of the reasons I created Wayward Sparkles — so that we could be encouraging and share our stories and truths in kindness and compassion. It’s just that there are some people who exist with whatever neurosis or personality disorder or insecurities they have, who feel compelled to want to have it worse than anyone else and then let everyone else know this! So, perhaps, these people are trying to protect their claim to
fame shame — I don’t really know.
I had a best friend of thirty years who was like that. Anyway, the emphasis in that sentence should be on the word “had.” As long as I knew her (since we were 15 until we were 45), whatever I was going through, she was going through or had gone through much worse than I could ever have possibly imagined. She always felt the need to trump whoever was talking about their life with her own situation, whether it was something that was good, awful or neutral. She either had no clue or she just couldn’t help herself. And the funny thing is that for the most part, that aspect of her personality never really bothered me. I was aware of it, but so what? However, what did eventually register is when she revealed just how disingenuous our friendship had been from her side of the fence when she said to me one day, “I always thought that you were making things out to be worse than they were; but now I realize, you weren’t lying about any of it. You really have been through a lot more than I ever gave you credit for.” Yeah, she said that to my face. Backhanded compliment if ever there was one.
Well, my former best friend knew way more about me than most, of course. I guess I was more shocked when she revealed how little she believed in what I’d confided in her over all of those years. It was more than that exchange that ended our friendship, though; but this part of it does come to mind as I’m writing this now. Also, Kat at Angel Who Swears recently wrote about the ending of a long-term, best friend relationship she was in, which brought some of that past nonsense in my own life back to the surface, which is really a good thing, and I suppose is why I’m writing about it now because I’m now able to reflect on that former relationship in a way I haven’t before.
Well, since the termination of my friendship as well as my naivete in trusting just anyone, especially anyone I would think of calling a “best friend,” I’ve found that these kind of people with this one-upmanship trait are fairly common — about a dime a dozen. And again, I’m not talking about the extroverted bullshitters out there having a good time and vying for attention when the occasion calls for it! There’s nothing wrong with that and these people are usually lovely people who are fun and entertaining. What I’m talking about are those who don’t deserve to be trusted because of how little they respect your truth based upon their words and how they treat you and your truth, which also means they don’t have a lot of respect for you. You can’t have a serious conversation with them because they have to turn it into a conversation that’s “all about them.” And that’s sad. Anyway, I’ve found that these people are pretty easy to spot and I try and steer clear of them. And hell, God bless whoever thinks they have it worse than me, or whether it brings them some sense of satisfaction to believe that I have no clue what a real crap life looks like or that I just think I have it bad but compared to their shitty life — well, there’s just no contest. And that is the point I’m trying to make, this isn’t a contest — but for those who want to make it a contest — let me help you out here — I give up; you win the “my-life-is-shittier-than-your-life” contest, hands down — because I’m not going there with you and I would never want to win such a contest to begin with. I’d much rather win the “I’m more successful and happier than you are” contest. Not that I’m necessarily going to win that either, but it’s not been for a lack of trying.
So in writing this, I realize I’m not looking for judgment or one-upmanship or pity. I’m just trying to process, I suppose, and explain this past fall’s clusterfuck of my existence, so I can put it behind me to the extent I can. And I fully get there are people out there who have it much harder than David and I do. I get that life is truly fucking hard for everyone. I get it and I try to be compassionate towards others and their struggles. And I know that over these past several months, I’ve probably shared way too much shit about my personal life, including now; but I usually try to keep it a bit lighter than what I’m writing now. So I apologize that this isn’t as upbeat as I would have liked it to be.
With all of that said, if there were something that I could change about my life, I’m not sure what it would be. There’s a reason for everything is my belief. Maybe I’d ask for more quality time. But everything else? Yeah, it’s hard, but I usually like my life. I certainly have a great appreciation for all life, mine included. Maybe I’d ask for a less diva-like nervous system? Right now, life’s just intense. Hives and being sick have screwed with the quality of my life as does having a lack of time and money.
I know I’m whining. Shit, I was talking to my retired, former therapist about a month ago — I called him the day I walked out of my doctor’s office after I had my annual check up in early December; which, I’m not sure why I even went there now. I mean someone who is as remiss as, apparently, I am in taking care of herself shouldn’t be going in for her annual check up, should she? Sorry. I’m annoyed. Anyway, even though my former therapist retired and literally moved several hours away (I joke that this was the only way he could get away from me, which may be more true than I want to believe), I texted him and asked if I could come and see him. I think he’d thought I’d lost my marbles, but then I explained my hives, my general practitioner, etc. and he said okay. Well, as it turned out, I didn’t get to actually see him, but we still had our session (it ended up being over the phone.) And it didn’t take long before my former therapist decided that I can continue to call him anytime I need to; perhaps, even drive the four hours to meet with him face-to-face when need be. He was kind, but the conversation went something like —
My therapist, Dr. Stephens: “Why did you wait so long to call me?”
Me: “You’re retired and you deserve to be retired. And you moved away. Also, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t handling my stress as well as, apparently, I should/could be handling it. Besides, there’s nothing really that you can do. My life is my life and there’s nothing you or I or anyone else can do about those circumstances, so what the fuck is there to really talk about? I’m an existentialist and I get that we are alone in this world and that this is part of that. I get that the world and life, in general, is fucked up. Anyway, I’m calling because I don’t know whether I have hives because my life is stressful or whether it is just a heightened allergic reaction that has passed the point of no return, but I get that stress might be contributing toward my hives and my doctor thought it might be helpful to talk to a therapist and, frankly, there just don’t seem to be any good therapists out there to talk to and this felt kind of like an emergency. You’re the only therapist who has really ever understood me and the circumstances of my life — that I haven’t scared off. Still, even if there are other good therapists out there, it’s not like I can change anything about my life anyway, so it’s not like they can do anything and I really don’t want to just be a whiner. I just want the hives to go away. But, hey, if they are psychosomatic in origin, well, maybe talking to you will help; though, it’s usually my back that goes out when I’m stressed. But, nope, my back is good; so I guess the stress decided, “Oh, yeah, you and your good back think you can ignore me, Mona? I’ll show you!”
Then he accused me of being stoic, of which I vehemently denied and refuted, because I have been and probably always will be a warrior, whether I like it or not — a vocally loud, opinionated warrior that will fight motherfuckers who are fucking with shit that they should not be fucking with in my life or my loved ones’ lives; albeit, right now I’m an exhausted warrior. Dr. Stephens assured me that, yes, I am a warrior but sometimes I’m also stoic; and then I got a nice lecture on embracing and accepting my inner whiny butt and sharing my whiny-assed, existential life with someone I trust — even if it can’t change.
And why do I need to do this? Because, apparently, it’s therapeutic; hence, good for me; and so, apparently, I guess I’m not allowed to live a whine-free life because my nervous system won’t allow it. I have to bitch and piss and complain my way through the b.s in order to process it and let. it. the. fuck. go. Apparently, venting is good even when I don’t want to vent. And also I’m supposed to call a little more regularly now that we’ve established that I can call him again. The “retired” label is a lot more flexible than I think either of us had realized. Anyway, when we talk again, my therapist wants to talk to me more about guilt. And he gave me homework, which I have to get done before I contact him again because I told him that the only way I know to let go of the stresses I have would be to run away, but then I’d have to contend with guilt. And that would be worse than anything.
So as we were talking, he started referring to the big “G.” Except, when he first said this, I got confused because I thought — why is he talking about God — because to me that’s what the big “G” is — but his talking about God in the context we were discussing wasn’t really making any sense to me. And he kind of laughed when I questioned him about this because only I could get this easily discombobulated, I suppose, and he said, “No, I’m talking about Guilt with a capital ‘G.’ That’s what I mean by the big ‘G.’ Guilt not God.”
In all the years Dr. Stephens and I have known each other, how is it that he and I have never really had an in-depth discussion about guilt before? Also, is it just me or is there something that needs to be explored when he said, “Guilt not God?” Maybe there’s nothing, but…yeah…no — there’s something. I’ll continue to think about it.
Anyway, as I told my therapist, I suppose I could leave family and friends and responsibility behind in order to reduce my stress. I could quit caring about many of the things that I find important — things that give my life purpose and joy, even if they are on the stressful side. Of course, in order to do that I ‘d have an even higher price to pay — I’d have to live with even more guilt than I currently have because that is an intractable part of my mental make up, and my mind wouldn’t allow me to have it any other way whether I want it or not. So what I know for sure is if I had to live with that kind of guilt, no question, that would actually kill me. So leaving my cares behind isn’t really a good option for me.
Anyway, it’s almost 5 a.m. and I have a full day tomorrow/today. Maybe I can sleep an hour or two before I’m off and running. I wanted to get a post out before I lose use of my computer this week. Anyway, I originally intended to write this because some have asked how I am doing and what the status is on my hives and I said I’d write a post and give an update, so I thought I’d try and answer that the best way I can in this post. Sorry I don’t have time to put up any pictures or memes. And it’s totally gone in the direction that stream of consciousness often takes me. In other words, I digressed into all sorts of tangents that I didn’t know I was going, until it was too late.
So the update on my hives is that I had my second set of Xolair shots (one in each arm) a week ago, Friday, and I’ll get my third set at the end of this week. The shots seem to be helping with the hives. However, I have more shit to contend with regarding the insurance company because they’ve only approved six visits for these shots, which only gets me about 1 1/2 months of treatment. I think the allergist’s office said I need approval for about 25-30 visits in a year. Crap, I forgot about that. I’ll need to deal with that snafu tomorrow as well. So I guess it’s good that I’m writing this right now. Also, tomorrow (actually today), I have to take my computer back into the shop; otherwise, I would have put off writing this post until — well, at least not now. The computer was supposed to go in last week, but I got sick and David was sick and so now that we’re both feeling better, I have to get my computer back to the repair shop. The point being, my computer’s been in and out since before Thanksgiving (again, don’t get me started!) and it’s going back in again. Also, I have to take David to the eye doctor at 8 a.m. and Ry is supposed to attend an event at 1:30. I have to go to the grocery store. I also have a ton of housework and laundry. I was going to try and start walking and stretching and I was going to make dinner as well…potato soup, which I’ve been promising to make since our Thanksgiving that has yet to happen. We’ll see how it goes. At least I got a post out. Yay. I’ll probably go back and edit it several times as I find the time because this is a quickie and it’s rambling and it’s long. Again, sorry, y’all. So, hopefully, this will have served as an answer to, “So, how are you doing?” I know. You’re sorry you asked now, aren’t ya? Most importantly, though, hopefully, this will also serve as a reboot to my nervous system.
I hope you have a great start to your week. I’ll try to make the next post (God knows when) less whiny and more funny. Maybe. And shorter.