Racing

My thoughts are constantly racing across, through, under, over and deep down in my brain. Especially at night. Sometimes weekly, usually less. And I forget to come here and write instead. It’s hard to make your brain remember that this would be more helpful when it’s the dead of night and it’s too quiet to do anything but think.

During the day I can find ways to occupy or distract myself. At night though, the more I try not to, the more my brain drills down; really just ruminates and grinds on something, anything, nothing. I never seem to gain any clarity or find a solution or a way through whatever it is. Honestly, at night and in the idle times when I spend too much time in solitude, I exacerbate the smallest, maybe harmless worry or problem. I work myself into a state of almost nausea, tingly fingers and chest, wild eyes and racing mind.

Sometimes I can lay wide awake or in a state of purgatory between waking and sleeping for hours. Hours! On those nights, I might find sleep in the early morning, seemingly just before my alarm sounds and it is so, so unsatisfying. On those mornings following fitful sleep, when I’m vertical and especially after I’ve left the confines of my house, whatever I was perseverating on seems less … consuming. Almost as if I dreamed that the battle raged.

Matters of the heart are a frequent source of my discontent and remain longer throughout the day than other conundrums because, unfortunately, I’m just not good at navigating relationships. I am currently trying not to penalize a good man for the sins of the ones who weren’t. I have a lack of positive experiences for sure but maybe even just lack of experience period? Unclear. This has never, ever been clear.

Work-related midnight wonderings definitely seem lesser in the morning light. For instance, I have an event this week, three nights from now, and I started perseverating on it last week. At night. I work on it all day at work and I am adequately if not overly prepared with very little left to do these next three days. And yet…and yet! I think about some of the details or the steps or the potential questions or the flow or the logistics, and I think about each of these things over and over and over. Sometimes complete thoughts but often I start to drift to sleep before I can gnaw down far enough, only to wake with a version of the same thought over and over again.

I’ll try to intentionally think about something else, another problem even, but it seldom works. I just move on to doing the same thing with that new thing though and, usually, I cycle back to the original or both or just keep adding more to the mix trying to overload the matrix so that I short circuit and have to shut down. If only I could force quit my brain! The too many open tabs analogy has never been more accurate.

I’ve spent nights worrying or over-analyzing or reliving awkward or powerful or scary or sad or frustrating interactions with others, perceived slights or wrongdoings, guilt over times when I am the slighter or the wrongdoer instead, my upstairs and next door neighbors and how loud and inconsiderate they are, what to say to them, how to say it, whether I’m too sensitive or if they really are willfully or blissfully ignorant. If I could afford to move. To sell. To rent this place out and rent or buy elsewhere. But I love my place and my location. Why should I have to move? Can’t I just insulate the ceiling or find a non-offensive way to get them to be less oblivious? How much would it cost to buy a beach house and live off the grid? What can I do to work remotely in perpetuity? Maybe it’s time for John and I to get a place together? But I like things the way they are.

I worry a lot of those restless nights about my parents, their age and health and safety and missing out on time with them by living here instead of there. Of what I could do for work to allow me to be there instead. Of how much time I have spent here on the earth and what I’ve done with it. Or not done with it. Whether I’m continuing to waste it or if I am motivated enough to make changes so that I don’t. Whether I am clinically depressed or just seasonally. Whether I have a clinical level of anxiety. Both? Whether I will ever meet someone that will value me and want to make time for me because they would rather be with me than do most anything else. Is John that person? Am I unsure because of what we have or because I am projecting the past onto the present? Is it actually too late to fall mutually in love for the first time at this age? Whether it’s actually too late to get married and start a family. Whether I actually want either of those things or if I just always thought and said that’s what I wanted because, you know, it’s what people do and I think I hurt far too much in wanting it for it not to be worth it. Right? Right? What if he doesn’t want that? The last one didn’t. At least not with me.

I think about how I would be able to live this life without either or both of my parents. About how I wouldn’t want to. About how I just wouldn’t. I think about what it might be like to have someone in my life that I could do it all with; if John were there all the time, to go through life with me for the trivial shit and the big moments. If it is possible that this relationship could allow me to withstand the loss of a parent or my brother, either of which render me unable to breathe at the thought. Real hit your knees, shit.

I think about g/God, religion, the origins of us, the purpose of us, why it even matters, who I am or what I do but also who am I and what should I do? Is it different from what I want to do? Why am I here? Why are any of us here? Am I a good person? What is a good person? Why do so many people and opinions and mannerisms and *lack* of manners annoy me so. damned. much? Why am I so judgmental? Am I judgmental? Do I annoy others? In what ways? Am I inconsiderate? Am I not as self aware as I think? Is this why I’ve always felt kind of alone? But also why I find comfort in it? What exactly is wrong with me? Nothing? Actually, wait, do I want to know the answer? To most of those questions?

How did I let myself get out of shape? Do I drink too much? Is it a problem? How would I know? Maybe I should have my liver tested. Then again, several people in my life drink as their primary social interaction, regularly to excess and repeatedly. Surely, I’m not as bad off as them. Why am I so nervous to walk away from a dude if he isn’t making enough time for me? Why isn’t it enough time? What is enough time? Am I accepting less than I deserve? Do I even have a clue what I deserve? Who even decides what that is?? Is it wrong to accept whatever it is with said dude because it’s so, so great when I am with him and it makes me happier than being alone-alone? I lean toward the latter and I think I actually feel guilty and slightly embarrassed about that. You know, in the age of renewed feminism and all.

Why do I become so emotional about the outcome of Steelers games? What will I ever do without my dad? I definitely do not want to know the answer to that last question. Ever. But it’s maybe the only one I care about. All of the others? I think I would really appreciate an answer to all of them. Please. Then I can sort through them and analyze. Probably drum up a whole new round of questions to ponder in the process though. So, never mind. I’m good.

How do you know you know?

See, the racing in my head just doesn’t stop. Ever.

Kind of like the fucking upstairs neighbors.

“I’ve learned less from daylight, than from night threatening to leave”

Music for the Mood: Try for Thunder – Chamberlain

The sads and you

It’s been three months since you tried to break up with me before we even started … well, anything. Your decision and your words made me feel ill inside that night. We didn’t talk for several days which was, frankly, torture for me. I finally caved and messaged you. You messaged right back, like you were waiting for me. And we continued with this dialogue that, for all intents and purposes, was eerily similar to all the other dialogue we’d had before you lost your damned mind. That’s what I told you — that I refused to accept that the “serious,” mid-coitus conversation had even happened because you had lost your g/God damned mind. You laughed. You agreed.

Things were strained the next few days in that I wanted to just keep going like nothing had happened while, at the same time, never really succeeding at forgetting that it had. We went to dinner one night and watched football and, when you dropped me off after, I said I’d invite you in but that I didn’t know the rules anymore and you needed to set them. You parked and came inside. I sat far away from you while we watched the game and you said I didn’t have to be like that. Again I said that I didn’t know the rules and I was earnestly trying to follow your lead. I want to respect whatever boundaries and rules and preferences you have. But I also don’t. Not for nothing but I also really don’t know exactly what your preferences are and now it feels kind of unsafe to broach that subject because it was SO weird the first time. So I just try to navigate without a map. It’s going great, as you can imagine.

Three months later though, we’re basically back to where we were. And that makes me really happy. I’ve loved the time we have spent together over these months and I always, always want more. I never get tired of you which is super rare for me with … any human, but, as we’ve both said out loud, there’s also really no opportunity to get tired of you. There are times when I feel incredibly happy and times, like earlier today, when I am worried if I allow it spiral too long, that you are intentionally or unintentionally drifting away. We see each other, on average, once a week right now, sometimes every other. I don’t know if it’s the whole winter blues or your basketball schedule with the kids or what, but I don’t like that at all.

I like to be alone in these shorter days too but I find myself still thinking about you every day, multiple times a day, wether you text or not, unless I’m super busy at work, yet hesitating before initiating a text because I don’t want it to be too much or too often or too needy. That’s some high school nonsense. And as much as I also recognize that’s patently ridiculous to feel about a man you are with and have been for several relatively blissful months, I can’t help the feeling. You can call it baggage. I have some.

I try not to think about past relationships, unrequited and otherwise, where I tried too hard to make it work. I gave too much or I just wanted it too much maybe but, regardless, the result was … nothing. Me alone. Never knowing if it was because of me or in spite of me or nothing to do with me at all.

Here’s what I do know and it scares the hell out of me: I am 39 years old. I have never had a relationship that was equal. I have never gotten what I have given. I have never, not in romantic relationships or friendships, been someone’s number one. Not that I always knew that at the time. I don’t know if it’s because I was with the wrong people or if that’s all that exists. I have had my heart broken, shattered twice, and yet “love” is still my holy grail. I want it and long for it and ache for it more than anything. Would I sacrifice my parents or my brother or genocide of a million strangers for it? No. No, I wouldn’t. I don’t think that’s a fair or realistic question and, thanks to Yuval Harari’s “Sapiens,” I’m also rethinking a ton of existential shit that makes me wonder just what, if anything, we have control of in this life.

Does it matter what I want? How much I want it? How deeply I feel the lack of it? Does it matter if I’m a good person? If I put kindness and generosity and sincerity out into the world? Does it have any effect on what I get back? No? Yes? Unclear.

What I also know is that it is unrealistic to think that you, or the next person I meet, is going to be “The One.” But is it worth “wasting” time at this age on someone that isn’t the one? How do you know? Would I feel more confident in this current relationship if I knew that it was, in fact, mutual now that we moved past that initial weird shit in the first month when you got scared or whatever that was? That this could be something “serious,” actually more of the dating and not just (and with increasingly-less frequency) fucking and spending less time together since the days got shorter?

It’s possible that I’ve spent too much time alone in my winter solitude, with the sads, and that I’m making something out of nothing. That happens. I’m acutely aware. So are you. We’ve talked about this. You do it too. By contrast, I might also be making something seem like nothing because I’m hypersensitive in these darker days. I like this man in front of me so much. I love spending time with him and, when I’m spending time with him or even just when we are texting, I feel completely at ease and content and happy with things just the way they are. When it’s been too many days between physical time together, my mind, my heart and that ache that buries itself deep below my rib cage come back like an unwanted specter lurking in wait. I have no idea how a man cannot want sex more frequently. That first week? He was insatiable. So once a week is, you know, less than ideal. For me.

Earlier today and, if I’m being honest, the past several days, I have been worried that he would forget about or bail on this evening. There is thing for Yelp Elite where I get to go to this opening, with free drinks and a plus one. I always love the idea of doing “holiday things,” particularly with a (gag) special someone. I am not immune to the occasional Hallmark movie trope. But I’m also interested because it’s an opportunity to do something, anything, with John. We don’t do much outside of my house. Granted, it’s only been a few months, there are plenty of times we hang out and don’t have sex, but, annoyingly, I can never really get past the “I’m not really looking for anything serious right now” sentiment from months ago. Which he said to me while buried inside me, exactly one month after we met. Who could forget that? What woman who wants to see if there might be more, possibly could?

But he did remember tonight and, although I wanted to wait for him to initiate a “hey, what time do I need to be there” text, I initiated. But then I spent an hour feeling tortured by the lack of reply; an hour that felt like several. Mind you, I waited an even longer time for a return text from a friend today about a play we’re seeing tomorrow night and that caused a very similar, silly anxiety. But John’s reply came, it was clear he was planning on it all along, and I am just so sick of fighting myself to remember he isn’t the last asshole. Or maybe he’s driving over here right now, several hours before we have to be anywhere, just to initiate another “can we be serious for a minute?” talk. I hope not. And I hope there’s never another one while we’re literally physically connected to each other.

Three months ago, after that awkwardly timed confession, I refused to accept him ending things because nothing had started and it seemed premature and unfair when things were so fun and easy and chill. Now though, because of the holidays or because of the four-month (meaningless) milestone or whatever, I can’t help but wonder if I made a mistake in refusing to just take the hurt back then and get past it eventually. Time will tell I guess.

He said back then, in August, that he didn’t want to get down the line and then hurt me because he knows himself and he is selfish with his time. The latter seems to be exactly true and I try to recognize that when I’m feeling slightly neglected. On one hand, he should want to respect that I need to feel serious the way he needs to feel not-serious. Does that, by default, make us incompatible though? Aren’t these normal early relationship things to iron out? Or am I going to get hurt again and have only myself to blame? Is it going to happen again during the holiday season; a season that is already tinged with as much heartache and longing in me as it is joy and happiness in others? I want to be hopeful and be present and just accept whatever will be.

I’m not sure if that is stupidity or willful ignorance or healthy optimism though. And I’m never sure how much of this introspection is normal or would be happening at any time of the year – or if it’s just that the sads that are never far away and are most acutely present during this time of year.

I know that I am a different person in these darker days. The sads are a pall over everything and I have to actively work to remember how easily I can be tricked into thinking my gloomier affect is reality.

It also needs to be said that I question whether I am settling or if I’m just into him because he’s, you know, around and made the mistake of talking to me in a bar in July when I was on the way to being inebriated. He remembers everything though so it helps to know he knew what he wanted. Just like me though, he didn’t know we weren’t going to just hook up and say goodbye forever. If he had, would he have been interested in coming home with me? Would I? I don’t know. He’s been different, better, easier to be with from day dot. That’s something.

I try to be logical – to really think through what I like about him as a person and figure out in my lists in my head what goes in the settling category and what goes in the I-like-it-because-I-actually-like-him category. The thing is, yes, I’m 39 and I am acutely aware of my clock and all that unfortunately and frustratingly real shit. I am also cognizant of the fact that I like being around this guy. So much! He makes me laugh, he makes me feel attractive and funny and smart and accomplished. He seems to appreciate that I am exactly who I am. He knows how extra my mind is, constantly, and he laughs about it with me. I really like his laugh. He doesn’t seem to want to change me so do I want him to change? Or do I not actually know what he wants now? I mean, it’s been four months for both of us. Things have been so, so nice since we chose to move past those silent few days in August. Time changes things, for better or for worse and sometimes back again. But at this point, it’s still early. It feels good. I love being with him. I love talking to him, for hours. I love being the person he chooses to talk to and spend his limited time with. He already makes the sads of this season feel less heavy.

I know that tonight will be fun and I am excited to spend it with him. Maybe he’s what I should have found a long time ago. Surely wish I had.

Winter of my discontent?

I’m affected by the change in seasons, the shorter, darker days. I know this. In reality, I might have “the sads” more frequently than just the winter but I feel it more intensely or just perseverate on it’s never-far-awayness more in the dark, dreary days. I tend to hole up in my house and hibernate which, it could be argued, makes it worse. The solitude is both a security blanket and an excuse. I am irritable over nothing and everything. People that have done nothing wrong, sometimes people I care about, become targets of my frustration, avoidance and even loathing. Why? I have no idea. Like a bout of road rage, I can feel it, recognize when it’s happening even, but I am virtually powerless to be in the feeling and control it, lessen it, stop it or redirect it. Though I certainly do think it through later, when I am calm and have the space and quiet to do so.

One friend, in particular, and for no logical, tangible or concrete reason I can determine, is driving me crazy. Her texts cause me to roll my eyes, feel internally annoyed and exasperated, and immediately begin scrolling through the possible excuses or “outs” in my head to avoid responding or respond in the shortest, least expressive, least engaging way in order to discourage further conversation. Why?? I. don’t. bloody. know. It’s been that way with this friend for several weeks now, if not months. I cannot pinpoint when it started or why.  I also cannot determine any source of legitimate irritation, offense, jealousy, betrayal or any action, opinion or thought or perceived action, opinion or thought that got under my skin. I can’t. 

I do this sometimes with friends though and as much as I wish I were wired differently, I’m not sure how to change or move beyond it or if it’s even possible. I know myself. I’m just simply over it. I have the ick, so to speak. In my experience, once you have the ick, it does not go way.

Maybe I’m making too much of it.  Maybe I’m not making enough of it.  Would a therapist?

I’ve been to a therapist twice in my life; once in college, once as an adult.  In college, it was post Sept 11th, in the winter of course, and I was immersed in courses full of psycho-social-biblical-philosophical discussions, papers and research. The result of talking to this campus psychologist, whose name and countenance I cannot even vaguely remember, was merely being prescribed an SSRI (Paxil, I think). I had some dark thoughts. And I don’t know now if these were before, during or after the medication. I stopped taking it at some point as I didn’t feel like it was doing anything and I didn’t want to go back to talk to anyone in order to get a refill. Not surprisingly, no one prepared me for the withdrawal symptoms of stopping cold turkey. So nauseous. So sweaty. Miserable. Constantly. I remember days of just being in my bed in a ball wondering if I was lucid or not. And then it was over and you wondered if any of it even happened.

A couple of years later, as an adult, living on my own for the first time in Pittsburgh, I went back. To a doctor in my insurance network (I haven’t had a primary care doctor since childhood and urgent care clinics weren’t a thing yet). I told them all the same depressed and anxious and not-sleeping feelings I was having and that I had been on an SSRI before. That was it!? I walked out with a prescription again after maybe 10 minutes of talking to them. Truthfully though, I don’t even remember if or for how long I took it. Don’t even know if I got the script filled. I know that I probably should have been doing therapy along with the pills in order to see any kind of benefit. Grad school for counseling taught me all about that — I just never did it.

I tried therapy again as an adult, for one tear-filled, complete embarrassment of a session, when I had a boss who made me feel kind of terrible every day. I used to sit in my car at lunch and cry. I still have something like PTSD when I hear a certain DC NPR radio voice that used to play during that lunch time hour.

I remain genuinely unsure whether it was her, me or the combination of us. I began my professional career as a school counselor with her as my supervisor at the district office. She was impressed by me and championed me. She convinced me to take a job at the district level as part of a stimulus grant and I did, with the understanding that, when it was over in 18 months, I would go back to my same role in my same high school. I never got that in writing because, frankly, it never occurred to me that I’d need to. Within two weeks of the new role though, I knew it wasn’t for me. I had virtually no interaction with students, I couldn’t actually “fix” anything that was broken and couldn’t even touch most things that needed improvement or streamlining (or complete obliteration) with a ten-foot pole. I did get to work with 80 counselors at all levels across the district and it was nice to learn that they respected me, my opinion and my work. But I was profoundly bored. My boss turned from this sweet, encouraging person I admired and that I used to go on walks with at lunch, into this passive-aggressive, suspicious, accusatory person who never had anything for me to do but would be visibly put out when I appeared not to be working. She would actually come stand next to my cubicle, peer over the top at me with just her eyes, glasses and top of her head showing. WHY?? Creepy as hell. In truth, I spent about 3 months of my 16 months there earning a post-Masters certification in sports counseling … online … 12 credits worth! I felt guilty using company time for it but, honestly, I did not even remotely have enough to do. I would find ways create my own projects or work across divisions but that seemed to rankle her even more, as if I was somehow plotting against her or ingratiating myself with people that didn’t care for her. I never knew, really.  It was just an awful situation. 

At one point we had a discussion about it and I expressed that I felt underutilized, regretted leaving the school, recognized that our dynamic/relationship had changed, and suggested that it seemed like she was threatened by me. She laughed, no cackled, at the last part in the most condescending way. I’ll never forget how that felt and I’ve replayed that moment a million times; I’ll also never know what the real problem was if that wasn’t it. I finished the position two months early so I could return for the start of the school year only I wasn’t able to return to my old school and spent the next two years in a school that was fine but not challenging and never felt like home. It’s overwhelming and weird to regret losing nearly a year and a half of your life. It makes me second guess “opportunities” now, for sure. Unfortunate but it is what it is.

All of that to say, I tried therapy as part of our employee assistance program and after crying uncontrollably throughout the whole session and being challenged on things that didn’t seem relevant but that I still bear the scars from, I never went back. It was a truly awful experience.

I think there’s a lot to be said about talking to an impartial, unbiased, unconnected person about your problems, real or imagined. I just don’t know how you establish a rapport with a random someone and/or how you know that someone is the best someone for you. What if they are behavioral when you need cognitive? What if you don’t know what you need and end up with the wrong type? What if they are too religious? What if they aren’t religious at all? What if they are full of shit? What if they don’t give me advice? What if they do? I know they aren’t supposed to; they’re supposed to lead you to your own conclusions and plans. What if they help me to the conclusion that I’m crazy? That we all are?

I have a person in my life now though that also feels the heaviness of winter, like thick curtains that keep out the light but not the chill. It is nice to normalize the experience with someone that doesn’t seem crazy at all! It is refreshing to not have to talk about it to just know why the quiet is nice sometimes. But I also worry that it could pull us apart if we don’t try to make each other push through.

Maybe we can keep the light on between the two of us. That would be really nice. He’s pretty great.

I need to write more. It’s cathartic and I don’t make time for it enough.

Music for the Mood: Fell on Dark Days – Soundgarden (Chris Cornell acoustic)

Half the world don’t even know, what we could’ve had…

Okay. The weekend with no contact and even Monday wasn’t unusual. But also today? What gives, man? If I’m being honest, the distance has me wondering if it even happened and, by default, if I really care or if it’s the sudden absence of possibility (any, not specific) that has me in my feelings. And then, again by default, of you being the one to broach the subject, to have an actual stance on what you wanted/didn’t want, that this lack of communication would even further distance you. Maybe you’re feeling like, “Hey! I’m totally free. Easy peasy. She wasn’t nearly as broken up as I thought she’d be/as the last one/as every other chick.”

I mean, frankly, until I hear otherwise, what else could a girl think?

Are you willing to fight?

Mood music: Willing to Fight – Ani DiFranco

Subtle as a windowpane

I’ve been listening to a lot of Ani the past few days. It makes me nostalgic for college, reminds me of past heartaches which were far worse than this, and also provides a little soothing balm to the still tender wound you’ve added. Granted, I don’t feel as consumed as I did the first day and, although I definitely do not like it, not hearing from you for more than three days has put some distance between me and my raw emotion. The thoughts are still swirling though. I have to wonder if yours are too or if, similarly, the lack of contact has allowed you the distance to realize you want more of it; distance, not me. I hope not but I also realize that it’s not up to me. Instead of rambling here though, I have been able to distill my thoughts into smaller, salient points. We know I love a bulleted list.

Why I’m angry:

  • You pulled the plug too fast. I didn’t even get a chance to see how I really felt about you or if you would get annoying.
  • If you decide that I’m worth it, worth giving a relationship with me a fair shot, you have made it far more serious than it should be. The carefree, by default, has been snatched.
  • Likewise, although it didn’t worry me before, now I will have an insecurity about other women. Jealousy is not beneath me but it isn’t where I like to hang out.
  • I was really fucking enjoying things the way they were!

Why I’m disappointed:

  • By your own words, you think I’m pretty amazing and like spending time with me too. I’m disappointed that this either isn’t true, you think you can do better, or isn’t a strong enough pull for you to try.
  • It seems like sex was as good for you as it was me. Again, either that isn’t true, you think you can do better, or it isn’t a strong enough pull to make you want to try.
  • I was really fucking enjoying things the way they were!

Why I’m sad:

  • Queue vulnerability — I got caught up in being happy and didn’t do a good job protecting myself from catching feelings. What’s sad though is that I would even have to do that with a man. Sadder still that I’d have to do it with a good man.
  • I cannot tell if you are just a nice guy or a good guy. They are different. The latter is unacceptably rare, the former is just a master of disguise.
  • At least a dozen times in the past three days, I’ve wanted to tell you something funny or an observation and I didn’t feel like I could. Because as much as you’ve said it’s not goodbye and we can still talk and blah,blah,blah, you’re the one that made this wave. You get to ride it and I just have to fight the undertow.
  • I really want to be able to just rewind to before that “serious” talk and watch it play out if it hadn’t happened. But that isn’t possible.
  • I was really fucking enjoying things the way they were!

So, I wait.

Music for the Mood: Anticipate – Ani DiFranco