Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Faltering and Recovering On The Road

Yikes! What a kick-off to the holiday road trip!

Everything was ahead of schedule and going smooth until lunch. Our "to-go" order at the bustling local burger joint took longer than expected and leaving the restaurant we drove into a toxic road rage situation.

Unfortunately the hubby responded in kind and the ensuing 60 seconds were horrendously uncomfortable, tense, and scary.

Over half-an-hour down the road I had finished my lunch and was cleaning up when I felt the stress of the road rage incident descend upon me. The hubby noticed my comfort measures and asked why I was tense, claiming that he was "over" the incident.

Once he convinced me to share my emotions we found ourselves in a rather intense discussion about his road rage (rare episodes a few times a year) and the origins or his anger.

Next thing you know I'm navigating his emotional arteries and digging out decades of emotional trauma to substantiate my claim that he has unresolved anger causing his road rage outbursts.

Long, complicated story short, I ended up breaking him down. Abandonement, betrayal, pain, hope, the whole shebang, oozing into the daylight. All this while speeding along the freeway in holiday traffic. Kinda dramatic but there it is.

(FYI not the best policy to incapacitate your driver mid-driving)

Around the holidays we love seeing our families and always look forward to Thanksgiving at his parents'. Unfortunately lack of family togetherness can be accented during the holidays and no matter how happy his parents are to see us or us them, we all think of those that aren't around.

Every family has different traditions and not all families can be together at the holidays, but the weight of so much left unsaid, pain and love, can make any day harder. Especially "family" days.

Be thankful for what you have and whomever you have to share it with! Always keep hope and love alive in your heart, practice acceptance, forgiveness, and charity. Never be afraid to care.

It doesn't matter how far apart your family is during the holidays as long as they are in your heart.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I've Cracked It!

Y'all know that I'm a pondersome sort and the other night I was pondering reincarnation.

It's one of those subjects I wander back to think on every so often like death or the origin of the universe. Subjects I'll probably never have a straight answer for and don't expect to, the things that make up individual faith.

Well, I don't recall ever deciding to believe in reincarnation. I've just always accepted it as a probability. I do remember my mom talking about ghosts and my dad philosophizing about death and souls and reincarnation, so I probably got indoctrinated from a young age without realizing it. People talk about being a romantic and I suppose believing that love transcends life, death, and time, reincarnation seems to go hand-in-hand with that too.

Anyways, I used to think that every person on earth had to receive a soul from someone that had died before them, one for one. I pondered that for a while and tried to figure out where the extra souls came from. I decided that the most tormented people and the most evil people on earth were miserable like that because they were being torn apart to make more souls. It was a destructive, painful process to create more souls as our populations increased.

This conclusion worked for me for a while, until the other night when reincarnation came up for me again and I pondered away on it in bed before sleep.

This is what I came up with.

We've never had a soul deficiency and we never will. Souls aren't created from a negative, painful, or angry source, they're made out of love. What packs the most loving power? Creation. And by creation, I mean conception. Where am I going with this? You guessed it, OVUM!

Women are born with all the eggs they'll ever have and the majority of those eggs go unfertilized. Thus, reserve souls. We've been exponentially creating souls without even realizing it! It totally solves my supply issue!

It's an miracle whenever a baby is conceived and all that cosmic energy pouring in to those rapidly replicating cells whips up new souls for the next generation. Sure, every soul gets recycled when someone dies but the reserve souls keep the system running.

Call me crazy, but it works for me.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Not Bad, Not Bad At All

Tomorrow is Friday and the end of my work week, sort of. I might be going in Sunday night depending on the pace of business and how much the other personalizers can get done.

I was able to eat something for breakfast most days and was able to meet my lunch goal of three days! Didn't exactly pack a lunch each time but making food when I got home at midday was an achievement just the same.

In other eating habit news I've been on a sugar binge which I believe is related to the elevated stress of working and soaking up the emotions around me.

Tuesday I had a therapy appointment and my therapist, J, made a good point about how my being more sensitive and emotionally porous makes me vulnerable to sponging up other people's stress and emotions. Sometime I may be emotional without realizing that I'm channeling someone else's frustrations and not my own. It sounds a little kooky but it resonated with me and makes sense.

This week and last week I've been feeling remarkably cheery, goofy, and even lovey dovey. Without any major issues percolating in my mind I've been able to enjoy the hubster's company and the pets much more freely than in the recent past. Navigating trouble spots and flexing my positive emotional muscles along the way with a dash of faith and calm.

But it hasn't been all roses. Stress that isn't my own has been dogging me, causing anxiety and trouble getting to sleep. At first I tried to figure out what was bothering ME about these issues, but after talking with my therapist and thinking on it, I believe I was internalizing the struggles around me.

At first I believed I was playing my old "Mrs. Fix-it" role and attempting to solve other peoples' problems. "Mrs. Fix-it" is my first reaction to most external emotional trouble, but I had dropped that role and tried to leave behind the stress when these pesky, sticky, bad feelings kept grabbing me. Not being able to move on or reason myself away from the angst I began to realize these emotions weren't mine.

When people I care about are hurting I'm bound to listen and try to help, but even when they're not opening up about their problems or trying to "talk it out," my emotional energy field is still receiving their stress beacons. The challenge is ejecting those feelings before they cause me too much heartache or complicate my life. All the while understanding the source of the stress may go unresolved for some time, and that there is nothing I can do about it except cope as best I can and take care of me.

Thankfully the hubby has been helpful talking through the emotions with me, going on walks, and even shaking and yelling out some anger (he's a great in-house therapist). I also employ some deep breathing and visualization to help shoo those nasty, dwelling emotions from my mind. My favorite is launching the feelings into storm clouds and letting them float away while blue skies and nice cumulus clouds take over my mental atmosphere.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Change Of Pace

Tis the season for ornament work and I am feeling the adjustment period. I can't believe it's already been a year and that I was personalizing ornaments for over ten hours straight without losing my mind last season! This year I'm more aware of the breaking in period and feeling my tolerance grow while remaining aware of my self-care.
Yes, those snowmen are making

That said this past week wasn't a stellar example of personal responsibility. I was able to eat breakfast most days but failed to pack a lunch all week. I remembered a snack a couple of times and have been drinking water while I work, even calling it a day when I start feeling burnt out but before I go nuclear. I know things will only get busier, especially after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so getting into a lunch habit now will help me prepare for the extra pressure.

Goal set! Lunch everyday at least three times this next week.

Resuming a regular work schedule isn't the only change of pace, I've been adjusting to post-IUD life and tracking my waking temperature for a new type of birth control.  So far I really enjoy it. 

That's an odd thing to say about waking up around 5:00 am everyday to take your temperature, but I have a special affection for "mystery prizes" like quarter machine toys or concealed design mystery items, so having a different temperature every morning satisfies a weird gambling/surprise/mystery urge for me.

The whole "natural birth control" thing is really Fertility Awareness Method, a similar type of birth control to Natural Family Planning although unlike devout Catholics, we're allowed to use barrier methods in addition to tracking fertility. The basic gist involves tracking my waking temperature to monitor ovulation habits and my general menstrual cycle habits as well as tracking cervical fluid to calculate potential fertility and in turn likelihood of pregnancy. 

My DO didn't have a lot of positive things to say about the practice, which I can understand. Every type of birth control has its limitations. For FAM to be effective users have to utilize sympto-thermal tracking and practice discipline when planning unprotected sex. Adding condoms to the mix improves effectiveness. 

As it is, we're on a condom regimen until we've had a few successful months of tracking and gained confidence in the FAM rules and methods. We just have to wait and see if this technique will work for us and if the non-hormonal birth control really improves my mood.

So far I've felt great! I don't think that can be wholly attributed to the IUD removal, but I don't think it hurts. Time will tell.

And I don't necessarily think my crying episode after sex earlier this week was a negative thing... Just out of the ordinary. We think it was hormones. 

Yikes! It was not pretty crying either, totally out of my control and my face contorted into a half-laughing, half-sobbing look that was pretty confusing for my poor husband. Not that I had a total grasp of the situation either.

I think part of it was me feeling guilty about changing up our birth control situation and placing more responsibility on the hubby. An IUD is pretty carefree as far as birth control goes! The hubster reassured me that he was supportive and that we are working together to manage our fertility. He even mentioned some positive changes in my mood since the removal. I felt better, I felt encouraged, and hopefully next time I won't end up sobbing!

As I said, time will tell.

In other news, the battle of the flea-splosion continues and we aren't exactly happy with the effectiveness of our flea treatments so far. Topical ointment and flea baths for the animals and still flea hitchhikers are being dropped all over the apartment. Looks like a second round of baths is coming our way and I'm not looking forward to it.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Feeling Changes

Today I was at my ornament gig personalizing ornaments and realized something wonderful.

I was sitting next to a scalpel and NOT concerned with it at all. Not a glimmer of self-harm on my horizon.

In past ornament seasons I've felt myself tempted by potentially harmful objects, my mind drawn to the possibility of self-harm. Sometimes I would wonder, "Do they have any idea how bad off I am right now? How can they trust me with this?" But today I recognized a change in this behavior, and I'm so happy.

I may not be totally out of the woods, but it's important to recognize positive changes. I know that the next couple months will be trying for me, exhausting and stressful, but I seem to be at a better starting place this year. I've even said "No" to personalizing beyond my personal wellness already, and hope to continue the practice! That's not to say I won't stay at work until 2:00 am again this year, but I'll try to take better care of myself and set limits.

In other news, the temperature tracking for FAM has been going well. I'm not sure if I'm experiencing a true period or if it's just a withdrawal from the progesterone, but so far that's going well too. Although I have been really focused on mac 'n cheese lately... and chocolate. Hmm. ;)

Iroh, Millie, and Fio are all recovering from flea treatment baths and we've been vacuuming the house trying to eradicate the last few visitors. So far we've avoided a major breakout but boy, this warmer fall weather really snuck those flea-bastards up on us. Thanks Mother Nature.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Roller Coaster

Today was my IUD removal and while the procedure itself wasn't noteworthy, the experience and my reaction is worth mentioning.

My appointment was at 10:00 am and I really didn't want to get out of bed. Mostly because I slept better those few hours after the hubby left than I have all week! While I didn't eat a good breakfast (munched a piece of dry toast) I did feed and pill the cats, feed and poop the dog, and remember to down a few ibuprofen before the appointment-just in case.

The wait was usual, about ten minutes past my appointment time. Of course, they had me wait nearly another ten minutes after I had undressed from the waist down. So nice how they request you get indecent and then make you wait around, awkwardly bare-ass on the paper lined exam table with a perfectly proportioned-to-be-useless scrap of drape.

I was happy to see the same nurse I had last time. She was cheerful and witty and generally pleasant. My DO on the other hand seemed skeptical with a veneer of supportive doctor. Not exactly the type of supportive provider I'm used to having.

Before the procedure the DO chatted a bit, made sure I was ready to go type of thing. She mentioned some of her colleagues had seen positive changes for their patients after removing hormonal birth control from their systems, that even the low doses of progesterone had affected their moods. But the main gist of her spiel was Natural Family Planning, Fertility Awareness Method or any other sympto-thermal birth control is basically playing with a loaded gun.

I suppose if I said we were planning to augment our natural birth control with barrier methods she would've been appeased, but I just didn't feel like saying the word "condoms." She on the other hand kept coming back to it and I felt like a teenager being scared off sex by the threat of unplanned pregnancies.

While she said some supportive things, the overall feeling I got was she expected me back with an unplanned pregnancy very soon. Not exactly what I would call supportive.

Anyways, the procedure was seamless. No signs that my device was embedded at all. All I felt was the usual speculum ratcheting and a little crampy traction as she pulled the IUD out by it's strings with forceps. Nothing worse than an annual exam when they tickle your cervix with the fuzzy tipped tools and spatulas.

I remember her parting words tinged with warning, almost like a schoolmarm shaking her finger at the kiddies playing rough at recess, "You are fertile as of today."

I don't doubt that I made the right decision. I feel better already knowing that my uterus is unoccupied and while I'm a little nervous about the increased risk of unplanned pregnancy I'm excited to be hormone free. But the doctor's words and attitude, intended or not, greatly affected me and my mood, sending me on an emotional roller coaster after my appointment.

At first I was simply befuddled. I was happy, already feeling better noticing my nearly daily cramps subsiding but also angry and frustrated, hurt by my doctor's words and confused at my reaction. I felt insulted, I felt scared, I felt doubt and doubted.

Poor hubby, he walked in home from work and became a lightning rod for all my turbulent emotions. He played his cards right and got me out on a walk, historically a tried and true method for rooting out problems and getting me talking. By the time we showered I had ranted and raged to a point when I began to get a grip on my thoughts.

Unfortunately part of my process involved snapping at the hubster like a handful of Snap-n-Pops and eventually I burrowed into a pile of blankets to finish reflecting on my own and eased into a lovely afternoon nap.

Here's what I came up with.

I think I'm in the midst of a big "growing up" phase and still learning to make my own decisions and take responsibility for my own actions. I first started taking oral contraceptives at my mother's bidding (from what I remember I was 15 1/2 or 16) in order to rein in my heavy flow. I don't regret taking those pills or hold it against my mom for putting me on them, but I don't think it was really my decision. I don't think I was mature or educated enough to make that decision at 16.

Without me knowing it, decided to have my IUD removed and having the procedure done brought back those teenage memories. The doctor's skeptical words triggered my insecurities and I fell into an eddy of self-doubt and anxiety. Years of following Mom's orders (spoken and implied) has insulated me from consequences and ownership. Today marked the beginning of a new era.

I'm going against my indoctrination, society's message that smart, modern women use birth control and have careers while babies are a secondary goal relegated to your thirties, after you've polished a cookie cutter home to Better Homes and Gardens standards. That message has been floating around in my psyche for years and the birth control pills I started taking as a teenager just reinforced the programming. article photo. Sure, I'm pro gender
equality, but I hate the pressure I feel to "wear
the pants" to do right by women's lib instead
of doing what's right for me, whatever
gender role my dreams may fit!
Brene Brown's books are a good resource when hashing out these internal schemas. She mentions something along the lines that once our minds form certain beliefs, they begin interpreting the world in a way to support those beliefs, good or bad. Well, getting this IUD removed and going "granola" AKA hormone-free goes against what I've lived towards for many years.

I'm on the cusp of releasing those old beliefs and creating my own world. Without trust, faith, and confidence in myself it sure makes for a rough transition! The doctor's doubts spoke to my own insecurities and set my panic center into overdrive. I'm the only one who knows what's best for me and it's my responsibility to myself to do what's in my best interest and advocate for my rights to do so.

But boy, this path comes with some tall hurdles! I have to process the anger and betrayal I feel toward myself, my family, and my society. I need to cultivate and protect my self-trust, self-respect, self-confidence, and self-esteem. I need to develop coping techniques to process judgement and doubt, from internal and external sources.

A lot of changes on the horizon, and I'm not just talking about my uterus. ;)