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lonely

It’s a polar vortex as I’m sure you’re aware. I’ve braved the bitter bitter shattering cold every day, waiting until mid-day to go for my outing. Getting out consistently lifts my mood. I layer – long johns, wool sweater with turtleneck, large scarf, very large furry Russian grandma type hat. Got the hat last year but never used it, so I thought it was a wasted purchase. Nope. It’s enabled me to leave my house these last days in fact.

But I’ve done little else. Today I’d planned on two activities and chickened out of both. Kind of due to the cold and dark, but also due to my difficulties going to social events. The cold adds the last overwhelming reason not to go out, and it’s the straw. So I’ve been home alone for days which sucks a bit. I get lonely and wishing a lot for some company.

Tomorrow it is to warm up some by afternoon. At least it won’t be dangerous to have skin exposed for more than ten minutes, if not exactly comfortable. Sigh.

I went to therapy last week. Ron looked a lot more rested than before the holiday, when he looked pretty much shattered. I’d actually wondered after the session if someone had died. Somehow it came up, and I commented that I didn’t think he’d tell me if someone died, but he said he would. He’d just been struggling to get over being ill.

We talked about my Christmas. Also I’d gotten very ill boxing day. I spoke about that for a longer time than I usually devote to topics. It felt very satisfying to just tell the story, and Ron seemed happy to listen. In my life, no one has the patience to listen to stories. I guess that’s who I’ve surrounded myself with – people who are uncomfortable with narrative for some reason. As if telling the story of something isn’t worth their time, they must get on to the next important task.

Anyway. I believe we have a deep almost biological need to speak our stories, to tell what’s happened to us. Not even just huge events, but things that are important to us. It’s not a waste of time to speak or to listen.

Boxing day I spent seven hours in the ER. I’d woken with a painful abdomen, which proceeded to get worse throughout the day. I realized mid-morning I had to call someone with pain this bad. First I called a friend, asking her to look my symptoms up on the internet. I thought at that time maybe it was severe gas and she looked up remedies for me.

A few hours later the pain was so bad I could barely walk, and because my back was also hurting, I couldn’t lie down. So perched on the edge of my bed, I reached out to my brother, who really came through for me. He went with me to the ER by taxi and stayed a while. They did various tests, and at the end of my stay, they’d diagnosed a bladder infection.

There was a moment in the ER. The pain became very bad, and I was sitting with everyone else, waiting, starting to groan aloud. So I asked for something for the pain. They gave me morphine! And I was allowed to lie down on a cot. The sweet relief when the morphine went into effect in indescribable. Like peace after great war. After that, my stay in the ER became fine, and I left at end of day with a prescription.

Next day, the pain came back. I phoned my ex. He came over and just stayed with me, and that helped in itself. Such a relief to have someone there as I couldn’t really move, it hurt too much.

And finally, next morning, the anti-biotic kicked in and the pain receded. Wow.

Now it’s come back a bit, very mild, but I think I’ll get it checked out with my doctor. I’ve had cancer, and they did a scan in the ER which came back negative, but still. I’d like some explanation of what is hurting.

Anyhow.

Interesting to me how the pain became more bearable as soon as a friend was there – maybe twenty percent easier to bear.

So I told Ron this story, and various other things about Christmas.

The sessions are quite adult. It’s good maybe to stay adult and discuss things. Take the space to take on board what Ron has to say about things.

I am having some parts issues which I brought up at the end. The trick for me is not switching completely, but still hearing what the part wants and taking care of it. Even talking about this, I start to slip into a more childish way of talking, but never quite go over that line and switch completely.

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Such a difficult day. Nothing’s happened, but my mood plummeted. Finally at five I decided to go for a walk and that helped a bit. The sky was purply with some interesting clouds. I just feel so freekin lonely I guess. I suppose that’s it, but i don’t really know. The wind is making this eerie whistling sound. I feel hollow and sometimes on the verge of tears but I don’t cry. If there was someone, I likely couldn’t explain what’s wrong. I mean, lots of things are missing in my life, but I’m not usually this down. Maybe it was bad dreams that I can’t really remember.

I went to Unitarian church this morning. I’ve started taking notes of the sermons. Seems maybe odd, but I can’t remember very well what was said if I don’t. Though today’s maybe I would have remembered as it was not that complex. The congregation is trying to find a new home so this was the topic – about being true to the past and yet moving into the future and changing as needed.

I stay after for coffee time. I have been feeling like crap already all morning, but I’m there to try to connect so I go. I do chat for quite a while to a nice woman. It’s small talk I guess. I’m trying to communicate like a grown up and so don’t mention any heavy topics. I do want to have meaningful conversations, but isn’t it best to keep things very light when you just meet someone? On the other hand, then the conversation is not very exciting. We talked about skiing, snowshoeing, the congregation’s move, that the minister is a cool guy, that she’s thinking of buying a canoe, how long we’ve been coming to the service, where we live, and right at the end that she has a grown-up son as do I. Then I excused myself and left. I was feeling more and more stressed and just wanting to leave.

I had that feeling of being fake in the conversation that I sometimes have in therapy also. But really, I wasn’t fake. I just wasn’t speaking about my deeper concerns. I was trying to keep the conversation going and hoping she liked me. I have this fear that I will be rejected by everyone so it always seems I have to work hard to prevent that from happening.

So I didn’t find out that much about her. Neither of us asked what the other did for work.  She had been going to the church a lot longer than I had. I wondered after if she actually wanted to talk to me or was just being nice to a stranger. Who knows.

Spent some time on an online dating site. Not something to cheer anyone up. Men who contact me are ten or more years older than I am….Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again. I want someone my own age. Then there was the catholic gentleman – we messaged back and forth for two weeks, then it emerged he wants someone ‘god-fearing’ for marriage. I message that I’m not religious and I never hear from him again. He was my age and I like how he looked…Better to find out right up front that we’re not compatible, but this did not lift my mood.

BTW unitarians are spiritual but non-creedal. There is not much mention of God and there is no sacred text. I’m sure a practicing Catholic would not be impressed.

Anyhow.

Ron was sick last week so no therapy. I still want to write about my sessions but I’m too depressed at the moment.

First of all, a happy holiday to readers, commenters and blog writers. Hope all are well and happy if possible. I appreciate you all. Fellow blog writers are part of my daily life, as I read blogs every day, and it’s almost like having company, or just like having a window into someone else’s life. It’s a good feeling for me.

At this moment I feel good. I spent the afternoon and evening with a friend, and it was low stress and pretty good overall. My friend is suffering from a relationship which went wrong, and after a movie and a drink, she didn’t want to be alone, so I went over to her house and we watched netflix together. I really know what it’s like to want company when you’re suffering, not to talk it all out, but just because it helps to have someone there. I like being useful. Plus it’s nice to watch TV with someone else – it is less lonely.

I think I’d be able to heal faster if I was less lonely. If when things are bad, I had somewhere to go, somewhere to not be entirely alone with it all. But I really don’t.

Christmas I had two dinners. On the 24th I went to my family’s Xmas dinner. I volunteered to bring a veg, so I made green beans and off I went. All day I’d dreaded going. The dinner wasn’t that bad, but I can’t say I felt much connection to anyone there. I’m not going to describe in detail because I want to stay out of the depression and pain for a while. One way of looking at it is it wasn’t bad. I left fairly early, and that was that.

On the 25th, I cooked a meal. I’d gotten a Christmas tree a few days before, and decorated it on the 24th, so that was done. I’d planned, bought the right groceries, so that helped.

A problem I have struggled with is my tendency to shut down, and this has been in full force the last few days. By shutting down, I don’t mean just that my emotions shut down. I shut down entirely – I have to lie down, and I either stare out the window, or doze. I feel enormously tired and unable to move. That’s a problem when you have people coming for dinner that you haven’t started yet.

This shutting down problem is what I need to tackle in the coming year. I need to find a way to stay conscious. Because with me shut down so much, I don’t get much done.

Anyway, dinner was good. I cooked lamb, rapini, and apple crisp. I bought a really nice wine to go with it. My ex and my son came over. We had a pretty decent time – much nicer than with my parents.

This year I sent Ron an email wishing him a Merry Christmas, and thanking him for all his care in the past year. I worried about whether it would be intrusive to send over the holidays, and ended up sending it boxing day. Then I shut my email down for the night, because I didn’t want to worry about whether he would respond or not. It didn’t need a response. But the next morning, I saw he’d responded within a few minutes – wishing me also a merry christmas, and saying it was his pleasure. So nice. I did feel warm and fuzzy with this exchange. I am grateful to him, and it felt good to express that, and then getting a kind email in return felt good too.

I went off to my 12 step group on Boxing Day. That day, I was feeling down, and I feel like my share there was over-wrought. I don’t know. It all depends how I want to look at things. I wish I was calmer – my sharing just wasn’t at all calm. Why can’t I talk about things in a calm tone of voice?

One thing I did at the meeting was I let a younger part be there for much of the time, also reassuring her that it was safe. This part, B, loves being with people, so having her sit there, while telling her all was well and she was perfectly safe, felt really good and healing.

I’m hoping to stay on a more even keel for the rest of my holiday – all next week. Some good things have been happening, but I’ve also felt really down and unable to move around – the shut down problem I guess. But tonight I feel good. I’m glad I have my tree, and I have work that’s going pretty well overall, and I have one friend at least.

My last therapy session, I left feeling really connected to Ron, which was really fortunate, going into the holiday. I think at the end of the session, I was talking about missing him, and then B took over and I think talked about missing Ron also. And I said something about what an odd situation therapy is, where you feel close to someone, but they’re not really in your life, apart from one hour a week anyway. Talking about this made me feel closer to him I suppose, in a nice, warm way, not a desperate craving type of way.

 

Well, I’ve been lonely today. I feel as if I can’t describe how things are, so likely I need to make the effort to communicate, even if it’s just to my blog.

It’s been about a week and a half since my last therapy session, and so parts of me really miss Ron. I wish I didn’t feel this way. I’ll see him for an hour tomorrow – not long. Maybe at that point I won’t even want to talk. Maybe the conversation will go no where much. Still, it feels important.

Work has been swinging widely up and down. At least, my feelings about it have. For the first part of the week, I was wishing to quit altogether. It seemed the project I was hired for had evaporated, mysteriously, and a different project which I’m not suited for was in place instead. I’ve been struggling again with my client, E. He cannot seem to plan a project, and it’s very frustrating for me. He has good intelligence and lots of knowledge, but his way of dealing with the people involved is so haphazard. If he likes them, and doesn’t feel threatened by them, he’ll talk to them and invite them to meetings. If he doesn’t like them, he avoids dealing with them. You just can’t manage a project on that basis.

The other problem was I had nothing to work on, so was back to clock watching, which I find depressing. The second half of the week, things finally started to become more interesting again. There were meetings to try and set up this new project, and it was engaging. I enjoy working with people. As I am so alone so much of the time, I guess it becomes a way for me to be with others, and I know I really need that. And E’s very positive qualities emerged – he is not critical, he is interested in my ideas, he is interested in trying new things, as long as they don’t involve tackling difficult people.

I took today off. We have a two week mandatory holiday at Christmas for contractors. No way do I want two weeks off at Christmas – it’s cold, dark, lonely and depressing then for me. So I’ve asked if I can take some of that time in advance instead, and I can, so today was the first day.

It was an OK day. I felt tired and sad, so that part wasn’t great. I can’t seem to sleep in, so I get up still tired. I bought fish for supper, went out for tea, and in the afternoon went for a longish walk in the nearby park. The park was beautiful, but empty and lonely also.

I know I need to work on having more people in my life. I did go to my twelve step group last week, and it was helpful. It’s hard though in general to find friends while depressed. I tried asking a co-worker to go for coffee, and that was OK, but he did not have much interest really. I’ve asked this person a few times, and he’s come with me twice, but he’s not really a breaks type of a person. If he doesn’t initiate, I may ask him once in a while, but not more.

Sometimes I feel B taking over. The whole feeling of myself changes – I become less anxious, but often very sad. But then, as B, very little things can cheer me up, like happy music, or seeing squirrels….

I wonder if this loneliness is really coming from these young child parts. It feels so basic – as if people should be here, and it’s not OK to be by myself. It is OK for an adult to be alone, but less so for a very young child.

 

 

Well, I’ve slid into a pit of loneliness. I had been congratulating myself on feeling a lot less desperate and alone than previously. Not that there are more people – just for some reason, I felt I had enough to do with managing myself.

This is my second week of working from home, plus a therapy free previous week. And it’s been hot.

I don’t do at all well with heat. I’m not sure what it is, but I wilt. My air conditioner doesn’t cope once temperatures go above thirty. I think I have a tendency to dissociate when I’m uncomfortable, so I end up feeling quite spacey. I wanted to go out to a group on the weekend, but it’s held on the second floor of a church, and I thought it would be just sweltering, so I didn’t go.

Today I didn’t do much. I went out at noon to sit in a cafe and then got my nails done, in an attempt to break out of my lassitude. It didn’t help much. I’ve been needing to vacuum and clean my bathroom, and that hasn’t happened.

I feel miserable.

I talked with a friend on the phone on the weekend. She lives in another province, so we never see each other, but we talk sometimes. We first met about twenty years ago in a support group, both trying to work through the effects of abuse. Since I was in a frightening and abusive marriage at the time, not much working through was able to happen, as my PTSD was simply triggered over and over by my situation. She seemed better off – she was working, unlike me, and she was  in love with her boyfriend.

However, things worked out badly for her. Her boyfriend left her, and she fell apart, to the extent where she needed to be hospitalized. She got herself a major diagnosis (schizophrenia) and some heavy duty medications. And she went back to her family in a western province, to live on disability and stay with a (formerly) abusive brother.

No way on this earth is she schizophrenic. But….she is afraid. She is afraid of not getting her insurance money, she is afraid of doing her own research, she accepts doctors are smarter than she is. She is a lovely, kind person, but she is living a nightmare as far as I’m concerned. If I was stuck, dependent on my insane family, my life wouldn’t be worth living.

I on the other hand found a very slow way up and out. I went back to school for a writing qualification. I slowly separated from my ex, despite complete economic dependence on him. Finally, finally, fifteen years ago, I found steady work which paid enough to live on. And just five years ago, I finally moved completely out of my ex’s house, found a therapist, and was able to start healing my PTSD.

My life is difficult. But it’s going in a good direction IMO. My friend’s life seems to have crashed and burned. She said she’s struggling with ‘motivation’, getting out of the house even for a walk is hard for her. She thinks it’s part of her ‘condition’ – apparently with schizophrenia, lack of interest in life is supposed to be an issue. Well – I wonder, is it the ‘condition’ or is it the anti-psychotic meds that cause that? And to me, if I was trapped in a small apartment, living with my abuser – I would completely shut down also.

So it’s painful to talk to her. It’s good, in that we’ve shared a lot of our struggles with each other, and I can talk about most things and she’ll understand. But her situation seems so very sad to me, and I can’t really say much about it without offending her. She has no prospects of ever getting off of disability, off of meds and working. Of ever being able to afford much of anything, like being able to live on her own or with someone she chooses.

I always want her to get angry. Maybe you can’t get off the couch because you’re angry? No, she doesn’t feel angry. Then I remember trying to get her to feel her anger twenty years ago. It didn’t happen then either.

I am so sad this friend’s life has gone this way.

I’m going to whine, and the purpose is to get a grip.

I hate work. Though it has good things about it. But I hate it. I talked a bit about it with Ron last session, because one day, I’d ended up partially switched into a kid part, and it scared me that that happened. It was just my voice. A manager called me up, and I answered and talked like a shy child.

What I don’t like. I am by myself. I am in a cubicle, and no one talks to me all day long, for the most part. I’ve got lots of internal documents to read, but not much else to do. My task is uncertain – I am to create a large document, but how it’s all going to work isn’t clear.

So I’ve struck up this tiny relationship with the very young woman in the next cubicle, who is very quiet, and also very new to her job. I believe she still lives with her parents, out in a suburb somewhere. She’s a little frustrating to deal with, just because she doesn’t respond much to my chat. She doesn’t ignore me, but she never initiates a conversation, beyond saying hello, she never seems to get up, while I go for tea four times a day, plus lunch, plus restroom stops. She literally sits quietly all day. But she’s important to me, because I talk to no one else all day – I’m a stranger in a strange land.

I sympathize with her also – at her age, I was also super shy, and didn’t see the need for chat with anyone unless we were best friends. It’s not her job to help me feel better, after all. She’s perfectly pleasant, and quiet is restful also.

I tell Ron I think that’s one reason I switched – no one to remind me that I’m grown up now and working.

I’m supposed to figure things out on my own it seems. Not easy, in a complex organization like this one. In fact, impossible. Unless I talk to people about this work, I will not be able to do it. An outsider can’t walk in and produce an important document on her own.

Yesterday I finally did meet with one of the managers there, at my request. In a way, it was a good meeting, as she was able to clear up a lot of puzzles for me. In another way, not so good. She seemed almost angry, or impatient, and I really don’t know why. It was as if she’d expected me to get things more clearly on my own. But I don’t report to her, and I hadn’t looked at our meeting as a test of what I’d done. Afterwards, I was puzzled about her, but put that aside as I was able to move forward with my project a bit.

This morning, my manager came by, and mentioned that this manager had told him my outline needed a lot of tweaking, that I had to go back and do a lot of work on it. Well, not really. Sure, it had changed, but it was no disaster. So.

I got a bad feeling about this – that she would actually go to him and say negative things about me. Why?

Then on a coffee break, I passed my manager on the escalator, him with coffee cup in hand, with someone else. He saw me, then pretended he hadn’t. Which made me feel like a complete loser.

I’m pretty paranoid now. I’m spending a lot of time at work spinning my wheels – not sure how to proceed. The manager has simply said to read and become acquainted with the organization. Plus I’m producing this outline. I feel that he somehow expects magic – that I’ll be able to produce without taking up his or his staff’s time. I fear this. And of course, I won’t be able to do that. What I basically do is facilitate a documentation process. I can ask questions, I can write, but I can’t provide the work in a vacuum.

Sorry, I bet this is boring.

Today I came home, and just felt devastated. One of my suicidal parts is foremost again also.

I’ve realized why I get so down when no one talks to me. Besides the practical reasons. This was one of the tortures of my childhood. My father wouldn’t talk to me for a few years, and the rest of the family followed suit, though less spectacularly. When I’m again surrounded by people who seem to be ignoring me, I think all my feelings from this childhood experience are stirred up. I become afraid I don’t exist, somehow. Then I panic, I stuff the panic down, then I feel uneasy and more and more depressed. And when I’m struggling with these kinds of feelings, it gets more and more difficult to relate to anyone in any natural way.

This is not something we came up with in therapy. I had a lot I wanted to talk about in the session, not related to work. But since I’ve thought about it, this realization seems big to me.

So, I have to go to bed at nine, as I wake up during the night and it takes me over an hour sometimes to get back to sleep. So I guess I’m off to bed. I hope tomorrow is better. I think about taking a day off, or an afternoon, if I can’t stand it. Because I’m making a good rate, I’ll lose quite a bit of money if I do that. But I have to take care of myself, overall. The main thing is not to get too depressed, too anxious. I need to keep working.

friendsIt’s no secret that I struggle with relationships. Not just big R romantic relationships, but basically all of them. I feel like the term social anxiety was invented just for me. Except that I don’t think it’s some strange brain disease that requires Paxil to cure. It’s based on my habits of mind, related to what happened when I was a child. But, it’s basically my top issue where I struggle consistently.

I have been shedding relationships. Partly through ineptness, and partly because I have changed and friends have not liked that. I met up with a friend last weekend, and it really underlined for me how my perceptions have entirely changed.

I had stopped calling a particular friend, E, and she then called me over the holidays. She asked me what was up, that I hadn’t called lately. I didn’t say much, because it’s not that she’d done anything, it’s more that I don’t think we’re that compatible anymore, which isn’t something worth discussing IMO. She asked did I want to go for a walk, I said I wanted to meet for coffee instead, so we did that. I felt good about that, because a complaint I have about her is that she controls everything – what we do, where we go, and when. So although I would have been OK with a walk, I also wanted a coffee, so I expressed my wishes, and she went along with them. That already felt quite good to me. I think she does tend to seize control if anyone is not sure of what they want, but she is somewhat flexible if you have a firm plan.

So we had an OK chat for half an hour. The next weekend, I’d decided I’d like to see a movie, and I picked one I thought we might both like. My pick was more slanted towards her tastes, but it was still a movie that interested me. So I called her, and yes, she wanted to come. So far, great. I was asking for stuff I wanted, and she was happy I was making a plan.

So about the controlling part of this, I felt better. I was no longer at her beck and call, doing things that didn’t interest me much. I could see how I’d been buying into that, by not proposing my own agenda, and just going along with hers.

But when it came to actually talking, it was rough going. I felt uncomfortable, and instead of blaming myself as per usual, I paid more observant attention to what was actually happening.

First, she was extremely anxious after the movie to rush home, so we kind of jogged to the subway. I asked her if everything was OK – she said she wanted to get home fast and have an evening at home. So what else made me uncomfortable? Well, she doesn’t share much about herself. No problems or feelings. She started peppering me with questions, but didn’t actually want to discuss further anything I said – I’d say something, and then she’d throw out another unrelated question. It seemed like she wanted desperately to keep the conversations going, without saying anything about herself, and without taking in anything I said. So I couldn’t discuss anything I wanted to discuss, because she couldn’t listen and wasn’t actually interested. I’d ask her a few things, to which she only replied very briefly.

I concluded feelings and problems make this friend very uncomfortable. She needs to keep things very superficial. She doesn’t know how to discuss anything, so she tries to control interactions and people so she feels less anxious.

I used to be jealous of another friend, because she’s friends with E also, and I’d always imagined they had this great relationship, while I was not getting along well with E. I really felt it was my fault. For having issues, for mentioning my feelings, for being weird in general. This time, I didn’t think that. I felt sorry for this other friend instead, for having E as a friend who cannot really connect with people. This was a huge shift for me. I no longer blame myself for not having a good friendship with E.

It’s quite amazing when you suddenly see things so differently. It actually occurred to me that maybe E has changed towards me – maybe she’s decided I’m no longer a person she likes. But actually I don’t think so. I think I can suddenly see. Oh. This person does not connect with others. It’s not me. Wow.

Reminds me of someone important. Yep, my mom. The model of a woman who does not connect with people. That’s why E seemed familiar and safe to me.

This is not a venting bitchy post about a friend, though I realize it may come across that way. I’m trying to think about a relationship and how I’m changing in my view of what friendship might be. It might be better. It might be a good time. It might be a mutual give and take. It might not involve so much fear of judgement and so much withholding. I am not going to feel bad about this friendship not working out anymore. I don’t think there’s anything I can do. Except seek distance and look for others who are able to connect, and who want to be around me.

I’m not needing to end this friendship. Maybe I have it wrong. I don’t after all know the insides of E’s head. But if I can be around her once in a while, but not feel bad that we don’t connect well, that’s a big change. I’ll let it be her problem I think.

Art: 1892-94 panel painting by Maurice Brazil Prendergast (1858-1924)