Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Stress

So, the days have rolled by, and the blogging has slowed down. Today I am out in Abingdon, VA at a coffee house, Zazzy's, and am enjoying a day away from the family. I am having a particularly difficult struggle right now. A struggle that involves some very, very old family patterns. I am writing with some trepidation, since my mother often reads my blogs. But I am desiring to return to the intention of this blog - to speak the truth of my heart without any censorship, and to offer that up to the universe. I love my mother, but she is very, very difficult to be around. Hence my retreat to this coffee house.

I have had a fall season filled with intense stress. I have lost one of my kitties, I have watched my beloved neighbor move away, I have lost my bamboo flute, and I have totalled my car - an accident in which I was somewhat injured. And I am also grateful that I have had many blessings through this hardship. I have the opportunity to love my little Friday kitty more than ever. I enjoy my visits with Lynn more than ever. I have also welcomed her former tenant, Alan, as my new housemate. I have met an awesome bamboo flutemaker, Billy Miller, and have three of his flutes to try for now, and he thinks he can fix my broken flute, too. And I am grateful that the money my insurance company gave me for my totalled car was enough to provide me a significant down payment for my new car - a green Prius - which is giving me incredible gas mileage, and is really, really nice. So, I am able to see the blessings in the midst of the darkness. But, in spite of that, I am finding that my body has accumulated a great deal of stress.

I am endlessly grateful that I have a wonderful acupuncturist who has helped me through these events. I am also grateful to be seeing a wonderful herbalist now, and I am sure that the herbs I am taking (tea and tincture) are really helping. But these things take time. And in the meantime, I am not feeling like my usual strong self. I am feeling exhausted. I am not able to handle as much stress and chaos as I might usually be able to handle. I need a lot of peace and tranquillity in my life right now. And this little jaunt to Tennessee has been more than I am feeling able to handle with ease right now.

My mother was diagnosed several years back with bipolar disorder. And the last two times I visited - last year for Christmas, and this past May - seemed very different from previous visits. Last year at Christmas, my mother was peaceful and easy to be around. She was also on medication for her disorder. I had never felt more heard by her, nor more connection in our conversations. Last May, things were a little less flowing between us, and I learned that she had decided to discontinue her meds, due to expense. She seemed more moody, more snappy, more negative than last Christmas. She was harder to be around, and I found myself wanting to avoid her. I don't want to do that, though, and that's where I find it hardest to deal with. I love her, and I want to know her. And sometimes things are good. But when she started to go off her meds, I saw flashes of the old mom within. Now, a year later, I see the very same woman I walked away from years ago.

I have changed in this time, too. I have pursued great healing within myself. I have let go of my anger and resentment toward her. I have committed myself to the choice of not going back into a place of hostility and anger. And I am grateful to my Nonviolent Communication training for providing me a series of reliable tools. I can now see her behavior and patterns without being angry with her. I understand what is going on. I see that she can't help it. And in spite of that, in spite of the compassion I feel for her, I am currently feeling that it is purely toxic to be around her. She gets very, very caught up in negativity. And I just don't want to be around it. Last night, I felt so stressed out that I snapped at her a few times. I just needed peace and tranquillity. But what I had instead was my mother rambling on, talking talking talking about whatever crossed her mind. It seems as if there's no censor between what rolls through her head and what rolls off her tongue. And the noise of ceaseless chatter alone is enough to make me crazy. Add to that the nagging, complaining, pouting, demanding, passive-aggressive controlling ... and the absence of meaningful talking, and the absence of listening, and I'm just exhausted. Being that I'm already working with my own high levels of stress, this has put me over the edge. And I just can't take it anymore.

I wish that I could have a conversation with her about this. But I feel convinced that she just doesn't get it. She likes to just "yah-yah-yah" and "be funny." She likes to narrate all the activities of her day. All of them. She likes to grunt and moan as she expends effort doing the things she is doing. She likes to complain about how she does everything with no help from dad. She also likes to gossip about all the problems in the neighborhood. And if there's nothing else to talk about, she will reach back into her mind and withdraw some long past event when she was wronged, or when demands were made on her, unfairly. Victim complex plus martyr complex. And for years, it made me angry. Right now I feel no anger toward her. I just feel overwhelmed by it all. It, to me, is the behavior of one who has no interest - or ability - to remain aware of her own behavior, or take responsibility for herself. And perhaps that is the truth of her illness. And beyond that, I am clear that I will not put myself through this kind of toxic crap. Right now, my own system just can't handle the stress.

So, today I'm out. I went to the health food store in Bristol, VA. I wandered there for ages, since they're going out of business and offering some good deals. Then I headed to Abingdon to find this coffee house, and to have some peace. I am feeling so exhausted in my body, and in my head too. I slept very poorly last night. I would love nothing more than to return to my own little sanctuary, to spend the evening having meaningful conversation with someone, to let go of the stress in my body. I am indeed thinking about going home early. I hate that I may miss getting together with some people, and that I may not make it to Asheville this time. But it will be what it will be.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Welcoming Willow

Between busyness and an inconsistent internet connection at home, I have fallen out of my daily blog. And I have had much to write about, much to explore. Today, I begin anew, re-dedicating myself to my process of daily writing, charting the days of one year of my life. And now, as I sit on my bed, little Friday has curled up around my left knee, purring loudly. He is warm and sleepy, and is going to lure me into his world very soon, I can feel it.

My car was totalled. In the last week, I have been through the torture of trying to find a used car within a reasonable budget, as well as reliable and fuel-efficient. I have also been through the final surrendering of my little blue Honda Civic, the first car I ever bought, and the beautiful collection of peace-centered bumper stickers she held. Serena, you have served me so well, and I bid you farewell. Now, my life has come to include Willow. 2002 Toyota Prius, emerald green. I could never have imagined getting a new-to-me car right now, not unless the universe made it necessary, and brought funds through the settlement from my car insurance company. Man, the change just won't stop these days...

But I am content with a nice, new car, a hybrid, with a navigation system, and a reliable way of charging my cell phone and playing my Ipod. That's a treat, for sure! And tonight, I got up to 44.5 miles per gallon driving home from massage school. That's a blessing...if my driving can cause as little harm to the Earth, then I am much happier!


Inside a hostel in Cusco, Peru