Trapped for the Better

In the past couple couple days, I have been updating my resume and work history. These are things I have not done since 2012. I never thought I would go to all the trouble of getting an MBA and then doing nothing with it for five years. I simply assumed I would be working and updating everything regularly. Silly me.

The shame comes from not having contact with my professional references for years. Cindy who? Being Asperger-y, I have little felt need for social contact. It just doesn’t occur to me to keep up my social contacts. There have been times when, looking back, I have realized that someone was probably deliberately snubbing me and I either did not notice or was just so relieved to have that person out of my life that I was incapable of taking offense. So-and-so doesn’t like me? Phew. That means I don’t have to worry about them getting all up in my business. I am not always the most socially aware person.

While contemplating updating these things (for my time with Michigan Rehabilitative Services), it felt familiar. What I had done was to give myself absolutely nothing else to do. I used to do this all the time at school. I would have a paper I extremely did not want to do and I would go to the library, where I could play solitaire on the computer until I nearly lost my mind until I finally got bored enough to do what I was there to do in the first place. If I stayed at home, I would do laundry or the gazillion other things always needing doing. I had to give myself no choices. At all. How do you graduate college? One freakin’ paper at a time.

This is why I had to sell the house. I could not take care of Barry and the house and hope to prepare for a future without him. The house was sucking up my time and energy. It had to go. So now we are in an apartment that requires a minimum of upkeep. There is just nothing to do. Barry sits and watches TV. All day. Every day.

Now I have an abundance of books to read, some of them given to me by my New-Age-y friends. I should not have to purchase any books for a while on Amazon. Not having a list of books to buy from Amazon is alien to me. I need nothing now, except some more office attire, which I am building one piece at a time.

Soooo…… I need nothing and have nothing to do. This keeps me focused on doing what needs to be done. I have almost no distractions. I designed things this way. Because I know myself.

Breakthrough But Wary

Of course, this came from reading a book. It is The  Nature of Personal Reality by Jane Roberts. The book is from the early 1970s. Little of it is new to me. But this is what I read that struck me so greatly, “When you abruptly change your beliefs, then in the group you no longer have the same position—you are not playing that game any longer….The status quo which served a certain purpose is gone, new elements are introduced, another creative process begins….You are setting out to experience the most fulfilled reality that you can.” (Pages 76-77) This is not brain surgery.

What hit me was this: I’ve done this before. I did it in my late teens and early twenties. I remember it so clearly. I remember how painful it was to have my life not working on any level. My beliefs and attitudes were simply not working. At all. It was bad. So I went to therapy, just like my family had always said I needed to do. I was dating Barry, who was in AA and so I was in Al-Anon. I remember the first time, as a young adult, that I disagreed with my dad. I was now living by new more functional beliefs and values. I was so confused. I thought my dad would be proud of me. I was actually saying and doing things that worked. What a concept. I scratched my head for a few days before I figured it out: I was rejecting my parents’ values. If I had been forty, it would have been very different. To reject my dysfunctional values was to reject my entire upbringing. Of course, my dad was offended.

The last time I went through this process, I pretty much lost my family. I walked away. My brothers were doing drugs. I was tired of feeling manipulated and never being taken seriously (which, by the way, has never changed). It has been very hard to lose my family of origin. However, I do not regret it in the slightest. Things were chaos back then and the last thing on earth I needed was to be in the middle of the fan-hitting. I had been wrongly blamed in the past for creating arguments and the only way to highlight my not-being-at-fault was to be far, far away when everyone was going crazy. Getting myself out of the middle of that drama was the wisest thing I have ever done.

But the price was very high. Of course, I don’t want to do this all over again. Duh.

However, I have no choice. I am starting my life over and preparing for Barry’s death. This is not pretty. Barry’s dad died at the age of 68 and Barry turns 66 in September. The odds of him living that long are slim, but, then again, I didn’t think he would live this long.

Part of me is excited and relieved, all at the same time. I think I was treating this upcoming phase as something brand spanking new. So many dots got connected simultaneously. For some reason, I feel far less afraid. Yes, I am starting over, but I am doing it with thirty years of additional education and experience under my belt. I’ve dealt with a gazillion emotional issues and am no longer having my emotional ass kicked by my unmet childhood needs in various religious settings.

My hesitance comes from that underlying question, “What (or who) will I have to lose this time?” But I feel a lot less afraid now.

Having Issues Good?

I went to my shrink yesterday. I wanted to talk about how embarrassed I was to not have worked since getting an advanced degree and not having any contact with my former references. I am dealing with heavy shame.

As it turned out, Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) had faxed over their forms, wanting him to fill out exactly what disabled me. He read to me some of his responses, most of which echoed precisely what I wanted to talk about fixing. Woohoo?!

I have no self-esteem. Great! I am filled with shame for no valid reason. Swell!

What is funny is that on the 30th, I have a neuro-psych eval, just like the one the psychiatrist said Barry didn’t need. So I am having one.  Okayyyyyyyyyy………How dysfunctional do I need to be to get help from MRS? Perhaps I shouldn’t let them know how suicidal I was pretty much all of 2015. Or that, in the past few years, I have had several “close calls” auto accident-wise and felt more than a little disappointed to still be alive.

What I know I shouldn’t do is to be honest and say that my goal in life is now, and always has been, to get the hell out of Michigan! MRS is a division of the state government. Also, my shrink said that I could work 20 to 30 hours a week. That would be unbelievably difficult while Barry is still alive. But it’s all about my getting my foot in the door. I would be working close to every day. Barry would not like it, but maybe this is exactly what he needs to get used to. I am so done putting my life on hold indefinitely for him.

I feel very grateful to my shrink for his articulate help delineating my dysfunctions for my career benefit.  Also, he said I had “major depressive disorder.” What he is doing is very kind. But to say that I have mixed feeling is quite the understatement. Oh well, what else is new?

Is Everything About States of Mind?

I feel like I have either had an epiphany or discovered the obvious.

I think I was at Barnes and Noble and every dot imaginable got connected all at once. Every subject I have ever been interested in has come down to one: states of mind.

I’m not kidding. Here’s a very partial list of some of my interests: psychology, religion, diet, exercise, energy (personal and cosmic), hypnosis, Buddhism (with its emphasis on suffering, emptiness, and compassion), witchcraft, neurology (especially beta, alpha, theta, and delta brain states), languages, substance abuse and recovery, psychedelic drugs, meditation, corporate culture,  and I can’t even think of the rest. If you made a giant Venn diagram with all those circles, the overlap would be consciousness.

I don’t know if this clarifies anything because I could spend the next umpteen lifetimes refining various abilities. I could try psychedelic drugs, learn various forms of shamanism, do Zen meditation, tinker with my diet, try different antidepressants, move away from various electro-magnetic frequencies, master self-hypnosis, etc.

I feel like my mind is infinite. If only infinity was the same thing as happiness. People self-medicate with anything and everything. My choice lately has been potato salad, with its serious carbs helping the old serotonin levels.

What I am realizing lately is that absolutely is everything is “state-dependent.” I discovered years ago in school that if I studied for a test high on caffeine, I would do better on the test if I was the same degree of buzzed. If I studied half asleep, I needed to be half asleep when taking the test. It’s like having a really vivid dream. You get out of bed and forget it ten minutes later. Then, when you go to bed the next night, you reach that same level of consciousness as the dream, and there it all is, like it was waiting for you. Or you are watching TV and realize you want something from the kitchen. So you get up, go to the kitchen, and can’t remember what you got up for. So you go back to the couch, sit in that exact same position, and the train of thought resumes, reminding you of what you needed in the kitchen.

It is like everything creates a train of thought. But you can have thousands of trains in just one day. Zen helps you to see all the thoughts. Zen says you are not your thoughts. Zen helps you to let them all go. There is a purity in that, but I still have to take Barry to his doctor appointments, pay the bills, and basically function. How does that work? I just don’t know.

Better than Last Summer

The past couple weeks have been a little overwhelming. One of my best friends just had a heart valve replaced. She was in the hospital longer than expected. She just got out this past Friday. So I spent a good amount of time Saturday trying to be there for her and feeling guilty for being away from Barry for so long.

Then there’s the whole Michigan Rehabilitative Services thing. I went to orientation. I am very unsure of whether or not I qualify for their services, but I plan on forcing them to reject me, if I don’t. I arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and promptly felt over-dressed. Almost everyone else came in jeans and t-shirts. It was a little low-class, honestly. At the end, we all filled out a form. On mine, I put depression as my disability. I decided not to put that I spent  more than a few years as of late feeling suicidal. Not good for the resume. I gave my shrink’s name and said that I have an MBA and am trying to get back into the workforce now that I will have insurance help. Who knows what will happen? But I will do my part.

And then there’s the political circus. Almost every day had some new revelation regarding the President’s misbehavior. I tried to imagine the outcome if Hillary had won. Even if he doesn’t get officially impeached, his credibility is gone forever. “Make way for President Pence” is similar to a headline I saw on a Christian website. And it is only May of the first year of the term.

I thought about what things were like this time last year. I still get overwhelmed, but now I recover within a couple weeks. I know that I am recovered when I get bored. Vacillation between overwhelm and boredom is normal. Taking care of Barry and the house had me in a perpetual state of overwhelm. I am no longer weeding, freaking out about every noise I couldn’t easily identify, and praying for death at every turn. I was never bored.

My life may not be great, but it sure beats what it was this time last year.

A Potentially Bad Day

Yesterday, many things happened. I went to see a friend in the hospital. That went well. And that’s about all that went well.

My friend Lynn had a heart valve replaced Monday. I planned on picking up her roommate Wendy and visiting her at the U of M hospital in Ann Arbor. The home care worker arrived a little early. Yea. Wendy and I got a slightly early start. We get on I-96. And then it happens.

The “low tire air” light comes on. We went to a gas station. I couldn’t seem to put enough air into the left front tire, the one that seemed the lowest.  So we went back to Lynn and Wendy’s and got Wendy’s rental car. Getting to Ann Arbor is simple enough, I-96 east to US 23 south. Lori (Lynn’s sister) had given me directions that I faithfully wrote down. They were pretty good, but not perfect. Getting parked at the hospital was relatively easy. Figuring out the elevators was not. We had to get help to get to Lynn’s room.

I had wanted to get Lynn a Frosty because she had thrown up a couple nights earlier and was low on calcium. I thought it would be soothing. But, with the car drama and not being familiar enough with the area, we gave up on that idea. However, when we were about halfway to Lynn’s room inside the hospital, we ran into Lori and her partner and also found a rather random beverage center that sells coffee drinks and fruit smoothies. We got further directions to the room.  I got a strawberry smoothie for Lynn. That was rather serendipitous. She rather liked it and said it felt good on her throat.

At her room, I met her mom and step-dad. They seemed to like me. I guess they had heard all about my cat-petting ways. Everything was very good during the actual visit.

But I was running behind and called the health care people to extend the time for an hour because of the car drama. We left at a good time, got back in the car, and promptly got very lost. It was just like being back in WV, with everything on a hill and nothing properly labelled, street-wise.  I’m pretty sure we circled campus a few times. I kept looking for a sign saying I-96 or I-94 (a different but totally acceptable way back home) or US 23. Nope. Nada. We had to stop and ask someone and it turned out that we weren’t all that far from US 23.

Once northbound on US 23, we were on our way home. We got home even later than I had anticipated. I pet Shyla and gave her treats in a hurry. The home care worker was gone because, oddly enough, she has a life and can’t wait around after staying an extra hour.  I called the company and thanked them for the effort.

It was strange because, even as we kept getting lost, part of me truly did not care. I felt like I should have been upset. Do I have more equanimity now or do I just not give a rat’s ass anymore? I simply wasn’t willing to put out the emotional energy to get riled up.

So now it’s Friday morning. I still need to get at least one new tire. I was planning on getting two new tires before winter, maybe in September or October, but I can do it now. It doesn’t make a real difference.

Am I maturing or do I not have enough emotional energy to care? I’m sure people would tell me I handled things well, but the praise or lack of it would not affect me. There are so many things I need to do and part of me is unwilling to get emotionally involved anymore because it feels like there is no point to it. I feel like I am becoming more like Sheldon. (How scary is that?) If I had been upset when we got to Lynn’s room, then it would have been all about me and that’s not what I want. I’ll let her mom play that role. I’m trying to learn how to manifest better things now and part of that is using my emotions strategically. But I may need to have more of them than I do.

A Stranger

I am having a strange problem. Friday, I saw someone at the mall before I was to go grocery shopping. She acts like she has known me for years. I’ll call her “K”. I asked her where I know her from and she said, “Here,” meaning Barnes & Noble. She seems vaguely familiar. But she acts like we’ve been best buds forever.

I assumed I would remember her after a day or so. Nope.  I am now convinced she has confused me with someone else. Part of the problem is that it is not uncommon for people to remember me and for me to not recognize them at all. I am, apparently, memorable.I was voted most memorable in my high school class. But I am also a touch Asperger-y. Remembering faces and names is not my strong suit. Part of why I don’t gossip is that I cannot be sure of whom I am talking to. With an emphasis in HR, a husband in AA, and having volunteered at a battered-women’s shelter, I have been trained out of going up to people in some super-friendly way and saying hi. I willingly look unfriendly as opposed to risking people’s anonymity.

And she has started making demands upon me. She wanted me to call her back yesterday and I didn’t. She wants me to come to her place on Wednesday. Not gonna happen. She invited me to her wedding! Are you kidding me?

I am unsure how to handle things. I don’t want to upset her, but I feel like I have led her on. I did give her my cell phone number Friday, which she called Sunday. She does seem vaguely familiar. The real problem is that I already don’t have sufficient time and energy for the few friends I have. One of my best friends is having a heart valve replaced this month and she will truly need my help. This is the friend I plan on seeing Wednesday, not K. Do I just not answer the phone when I see her number come up? Do I try to explain things to her?

She seems like a nice enough person, but a little intellectually challenged. More street smart than book smart. And I was too weak to not give her my phone number when she asked.

I will confess to an evil thought. She told me she was engaged. I asked her for how long. She said eight years. I asked her when the wedding was and she said 2020. I am tempted to tell her that she is not getting married and that the guy is just stringing her along because it might get the focus off of me. But I don’t want to open up a can of worms that would unnecessarily throw her life into turmoil and create chaos for everyone that must deal with her.

What’s weird is that she is only three or four years younger than I am. Her hair is almost as gray as mine. I feel like we are the same age, but she is 25 years old emotionally and I am 80 years old emotionally. She is engaged. I have been married pushing thirty years and am making end-of-life choices for an ailing husband.

I just don’t like having a total stranger make demands on my time and energy. Over the years, I have had many people that wanted to be associated with me because they see me as smart. I was always wanted on quiz bowl teams in high school. People that wouldn’t give me the time of day the rest of the school year suddenly claimed a level of friendship that only existed in their minds and not in reality. I don’t want to be this girl’s “smart friend.” I am tired of being used. People want to claim my friendship as an affirmation of their choices. “See! Cindy agrees with me and she’s smart!” Church people wanted my approval, even when they had been christians for fifty years and I had only been baptized a couple years earlier. It is quite icky and repulsive. I have had my lifetime fill of it.

I attracted this girl into my life for some reason. If there is a lesson here for me, I want to learn it quickly and not have to repeat this all over again at a later date. I want to let her down easy, but she doesn’t seem to be taking hints, such as my lack of enthusiasm for seeing her Wednesday. My hesitance doesn’t seem to register with her. Subtlety is not going to work with her. She acts like we are long lost friends. And I have zero memory of her. I have to do or not do something that will get through to her.