Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter 2014

Happy Easter.

Today was a bit tough.  It was hard not being able to spend Easter with Catelyn's dad's side of the family.  Though I had several invites of people to spend time with, I chose to go through it alone.

I feel like Catelyn knew i was a little glum; I received several unique gifts from her today.

First, I walked outside into the driveway and as I approached my car a little voice exclaimed 'Mama!'  It sounded just like Catelyn.  I actually looked for her, only to turn and see a little child with their mom getting on a porch swing.

Second, I was walking out of a grocery store and a family of four was exiting with me.  As I returned my cart, I noticed the daughter was wearing a white Easter dress with pink ribbon, just like Catelyn's easter dress from 2010.  And, to top it off, the little girl was enjoying a banana (C's favorite).

Finally, I was playing words with friends and had a lot of vowels and only two consonants, so I pressed shuffle and up came 'Catie'.

It's always nice to know her spirit is with me.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

looking for planks

There is a huge disconnect between the way I see myself, and the way others do.  I don't know how to begin to incorporate 'reality' with my own very skewed perceptions of myself.  Sadly, according to my thoughts, I have no value to offer this world.  I have an enormous laundry list, in my head, of all of the things I've done wrong, and why I am not good.

I've been talking to my therapist, and, as it turns out, I have spent way too much of my life basing my value on the wrong things.  Basically, instead of placing any value in myself and who I am as a person, I placed all of my value in 'things'. 

According to my narrow thoughts "I only have value if I get a college degree in a reputable field of study, if I have a job in my field, if I can afford nice things, if I am married, if I am a mother, if I meet & exceed the highest expectations anyone could have for me.....and so on."  The list is exhausting, and sadly, the items on it really aren't the things that make me valuable to the world.  Besides, in one way or another, I have either denied or lost every single significant item that is on my list of what supposedly gives me value.

Trying to find value in myself and my life feels like an endless struggle.  It is beyond tough. 

Since I don't see any value in myself as a person, I truly cannot fathom how anyone else can.  I have stopped believing people want me in their lives, I have made up stories in my head to convince me why they don't really want me in their lives.  I think things like: "they get paid to tolerate me, they just feel sorry for me, they are my family so they have to care."

I have disconnected myself from so many people, things, and even reality, that it is as though I am out on a ledge on one side of a ravine while everyone else in the world is on the other side.  I feel so separated.

But, there is good news.  My therapist, working with my visual bias for comprehension, explained to me that somehow, there are ropes in place, above the ravine, and if I can find some planks, I can actually start to bridge my way across the ravine.

So, what are these 'planks', and how do I find them? 

'Planks' are when I notice that people around me care.  It's when someone is nice to me, writes me a note, talks to me about my life, invites me out, calls me in the middle of the night to check on me after I make a comment on Facebook that I am having a panic attack, directly tells me that they care about me, sends me a text message, offers me a place to live, checks in on me, etc. 

It's not my job to determine/wonder why they are being nice to me.  It's just important that I recognize people care.

Eventually, after I find a great many planks (perhaps it will take years), I will be able to connect to the fact that people care about me, just because I am me.  And that, my friends, is reason enough.

Now to find those planks...

Friday, April 11, 2014

keep chipping away

According to my login page, my last published entry was submitted on December 16th, 2013.  A lot has changed for me since then. Christmas came, Catelyn's fourth birthday came, the new year began, and somewhere in there I found out my marriage was over.

I have been struggling to know what to write.  I don't want to offend anyone, and yet I really want to keep writing about my life, and how I am doing since Catelyn died.

All I can write is what I know...

Emotional control has been extremely difficult for me since I found out about my impending divorce.  I have actually endured many of the same feelings of inadequacy that I did when Catelyn died.

There was one particular day when I felt like everything was going wrong at work, and my thoughts moved to 'I am such a failure that I can't even do simple tasks at my job.'  A coworker happened to walk by my desk at that moment and mention that lunch was ready in the kitchen.  His kindness during my internal ambush overwhelmed me, and tears began to pour down my face like a raging river.  I scurried away from my desk and took refuge in the ladies locker room.

As I slunk down in anguish, on a couch, berating myself over losing control of my emotions at work, I thought, I'll just call my husband.  Then I quickly remembered that was no longer an option.  My thoughts, once again, turned against me, proclaiming, 'you fail at everything: life, work, marriage, motherhood.'

After an excruciatingly painful mental knockdown drag out in the minutes that followed, I finally took a moment and realized my thoughts were only making things vastly worse.  So I started in with the 'Stuart Smalley' school of thought.  I looked up at the ceiling, perhaps for strength from above, and began saying things (out loud) such as:
'I am a good person.'
'Everyone makes mistakes.'
'My boss said it's not a big deal.'
'Many people get divorced.'
'I am not a failure.'

I began to smile as I remembered the old SNL skit where Michael Jordan was asked to look into the mirror and say "...because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me."  After a moment I went back to my desk, collected and renewed.

Catelyn's death has provided me an opportunity to learn some very important tools on how to overcome the mean thoughts I have toward myself.  I can only hope to keep chipping away at my cruel self-talk in the hard days of grief that lie ahead.