I am moved. I have gotten rid of so much stuff, I am amazed.
I am trying to do things very consciously. I want to know everything I own. Having less stuff is so cool because I know very quickly when I am about to run out of something. No wondering if I have more of it somewhere.
I am also meditating more. I am absolutely determined to dig deeper within myself to know what I want and don’t want. I am trying to turn my life into a sort of retreat. I am going within and buying much less stuff. This means building new habits. In some ways, it is easy because TV sucks so much. I am not trying to practice Buddhism so much as trying to live my entire life in more of a Zen fashion. I am trying to do things that actually mean something to me. It’s very different.
I was talking to a friend a few days ago, telling her about lying in bed and listening to my heart pound and she characterized it later in the conversation as a “panic attack.” I had never thought of it that way, primarily because I do not hyperventilate.
I feel that old, familiar foot-standing-in-the-middle-of-my-chest feeling and wonder if this is what a heart attack might feel like. Sometimes, I pray to die simply because walking around feeling that way is truly oppressive.
It can be triggered. Today, for example, is haul-away day, the day to get rid of as much as possible before moving. Part of me feels that everything going on is wrong. This is my life and I hate having to do all of this myself more than words can say. Barry does not participate. I don’t know how things are going to go. The anger is palpable. Literally.
Logically, moving is not just right—it is non-negotiable. I could not take care of the house and Barry, so I sold the house. Now it is time to start vacating it. This is all very reasonable. Moving is essential. Snow is not far away. I have driven to Grand Rapids in late October in whiteout conditions when I was going to school. This needs to happen soon.
But my emotions are not cooperating. Meditating becomes nothing more than mindfulness of my chest aching. Whether my mind thinks something or is empty, the physical sensations are right there. Do other people feel this way? Is this normal?
I’m in Morgantown, checking out the WVU hospital and apartments.
It is totally overwhelming, but it also feels right.
I’ve been letting myself feel as much as possible. I believe that at least part of the reason people don’t heal emotionally until they are on their deathbed is because that is the only time they have available. It’s hard to meditate and do emotional work as I get lost in the hills of Morgantown and almost get run over by coal trucks. It has been invigorating, confusing, and petrifying–all at once. Holy crap.
I closed on the house! The house is officially sold.
The new owners are not hurrying me out, but, wow, it really feels weird living in someone else’s house. Truly strange. I now need to find another place to live.
The difference between this life transition and all the previous ones is my level of awareness. I have no youthful enthusiasm left. There is no idealism.
I am moving forward very carefully. I am trying to do things in an orderly fashion. I am trying to listen to my intuition.
I never thought I would be in the position of moving the two of us. When Barry got stage 4 cancer in 2008, he had only a 20% chance of living five years. I got my MBA at the end of 2012. I spent 2013 and 2014 sitting, watching TV with him, and waiting for him to die. Once he died, I would move south. Part of the problem is that he got used to me just sitting and watching TV with him. He liked it, while my soul died. Watching TV and waiting for someone to die is a soul-crushing way to live.
I woke up in 2015 to the realization that I was responsible for a disabled husband and a house, neither one of which I knew how to take care of. And taking care of both was beyond my capabilities. And then there were the crises: automotive problems, a BB through the living room window, an iffy mammogram, Barry’s possible prostate cancer (all health problems are possible because he will not get tested for anything, let alone treated), the bullet through the living room window, the abandonment by people when I needed them most, and on it went. I refuse to feel guilty about waiting for Barry to die back then because I thought it was the most compassionate response I could give, given my information at that time. Who wouldn’t want to die in the comfort of their own home? The point is that I put my life (health, career, etc.) on hold while waiting for him to die. And then he didn’t. Therefore, I am moving us elsewhere. Not my plan.
Now 2016 is two-thirds over. I am living in someone else’s house. And I want to make the next transition as sane as possible. I don’t know what I am doing.
And I am absolutely exhausted. I was sitting in the mall yesterday, trying to meditate, and was asked by a guard if I was okay. I had fallen asleep. Did he think I was passed out? Or worse? Sometimes there is not caffeine in the world to keep me awake. I have decided to try to prepare, as far as is possible, for when Barry dies so I can spend the following month sleeping. Right now I am coping, and I am good at coping. But I know that I am never going to truly relax until he dies and I am out of the perpetual caretaker role. And, if I am not careful, I will get really sick as soon as the stress lets up. That is my pattern: when the stress is on, I am okay and when it relents, I collapse. When going to school, I would get really bad colds about ten minutes after taking my final exams. Selling the house was just a small taste of some of the stress letting up. I know what comes next if I don’t prepare.
The other part of my problem is that I have no goals or dreams anymore. They have died in the past few years. I went to school with goals and ideas. That part of me died last year. Now I have an advanced degree (and the student loan debt to go along with it) to pursue goals that are dead. I just don’t care anymore. I don’t know what, if anything, I can do about that.
So the last thing I want to do is to conjure up a whole new batch of goals and dreams to motivate myself in a new direction.
I don’t know what I am doing and part of me is incapable of caring. I really need to tread carefully here.
I was looking for apartments online in Fairmont WV and saw one I actually got excited about. I haven’t closed on my house, but have accepted the offer of the potential buyer.
What’s significant is that I did not know if I was even capable of getting excited about anything anymore. I started to believe that excitement was the logical expression of stupid idealism. Perhaps it is sometimes. I certainly cannot discount that possibility in my life.
The excitement came from seeing the hardwood floors. Nobody should get excited about flooring, except that having hardwood floors, for whatever bizarre reason, has always been a dream of mine.
I am not excited in the same way as when I was young because I am not naïve anymore. My plans include visiting the local office on aging down there and the movement disorders clinic at the university hospital. It’s hard to get enthused about it all. I’m not 25 or even 35 anymore. I’m pushing 50.
People have been asking me what I want. Deep inside, I know exactly what I want: to be alone, to have some serious alone time. To not have to be so available all the time. The other day, I was meditating and Barry just casually asked some question. He has zero social awareness. I can’t blame him for asking the question, but I still yearn to not have to answer it.
The truth is that I am not just looking at this move; I am also looking down the road at the next. When Barry passes, I can literally move anywhere, without regards to Huntington’s resources. This is part of why I want to travel lightly: I don’t plan on staying put. I would love to check out Asheville, NC; Charlottesville, VA; and maybe places in KY or TN. Places where it snows, but it also melts. You’re not still looking at the same nasty slush on Valentine’s Day that came down all pretty and fluffy on New Year’s Eve. I would never move to Buffalo or Cleveland because of the three dreaded words: “lake effect snow.” I would like to be far away from any Great Lake. The idea is to take some modicum of control over my life and have it be about me and move any darn place I please. Preferably with hardwood flooring.
Yesterday, I was at Barnes & Noble, as usual on a Friday. When I arrived, it was 84 degrees, bright, sunny, and a touch humid (okay, it was like breathing soup).
Then I sat down and did some meditation with my eyes closed. I opened my eyes 17 minutes later. It was as if someone had turned down the lights. Suddenly things were noticeably darker. I looked outside and it appeared ominous. I checked out the temperature online and it was 80 degrees. It was like it had gone from mid-summer to early fall in 17 minutes! I was jarred.
A couple days ago, I accepted the crappy offer (that was actually my idea!) for the house. It will still be worth it to get out of Michigan. The old real estate adage applies: location, location, location! The reality is that pretty much no one wants to move to Michigan and educated people like myself find even bankruptcy a small price to pay to escape a state with few decent-paying jobs and zero chance for promotion.
I don’t know when I will be able to work, but, without a house to take care of, I have a better chance anywhere else on earth of finding meaningful employment.
And yesterday reminded me just how quickly things can change. That offers me hope.
Tomorrow, I am going to my realtor’s office to accept the offer of $15k for my house.
I am getting less annoyed at the loss and more excited about moving. I just have to find us a place to live. That’s all.
But my goals are getting clearer. The place I am looking for needs to be affordable and as barrier-free as possible. I’m thinking of checking out senior housing. Barry will be 65 at the end of September. He may not last more than a few years, so I need to know how long I can stay after he passes because I am not a senior.
It’s starting to become real. We will close by September 1. I will be extremely gone by November 1. I am getting out of Michigan before shoveling season starts! That is my dream come true. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the low 90s. My thought is that it will be the hottest day I will ever spend in Michigan again.
And meditating has been giving me insights. I never get to the point of stopping all thoughts. It feels like thoughts leak upward into my consciousness. The insights seem real obvious, but if they were, I would have had them already. I am extremely logical and I have conscientiously prepared for as many eventualities as I have thought of.
I can’t say with a straight face the things are “falling into place.” Instead, I feel like I have been slowly removing every imaginable obstacle (financial, social, emotional, you name it). I have been clearing the tracks and now I can hear the train in the distance.
I am dealing with lots of stuff right now. The “tire pressure low” light that I need to get turned off, fixed, or whatever, an upcoming doctor appointment, needing to get rid of a desk, and maybe selling the house.
I’ll start with the giganto one: selling the house. I have a guy that wants to buy the house. I told him he could have it for $15k. My realtor is not going to be happy, but I have been lowering the price for a while, so she has no right to be shocked. I told her to lower it to $25k in September if it didn’t sell. I was going to have it lowered to $20k in October if no sale. And $15k by spring. How many more winters do I want to spend here? We still owe $20k, but we have enough savings to pay off the mortgage if the guy has the money. At first, he wanted to do a land contract and it sounded enticing. I told my realtor about it and she said, “I will not help you with a land contract. They’re risky and you’re still stuck with the mortgage.” I told the guy that I am trying to reduce the number of balls in the air (caring for Barry and the house are just too much at once) and that the last thing on earth I am willing to do is to pay rent somewhere and still be stuck with a mortgage in Michigan. Not going to happen. The house has been a grave for my hopes and dreams. It can have my body, too, if the alternative is taking on more responsibility. When I leave Michigan, I am not taking a mortgage with me. Period.
Of course, nothing has actually occurred. There is no point getting excited or worried about something that is not actually happening, right now, here, this moment.
But I couldn’t sleep last night for beans. I did my meditation and my heart hurt so badly I thought my chest would implode from the pressure, but I didn’t care. Let it. My brain cannot wrap around everything that needs to be done, so that is exactly what it tries to do, while I am trying to fall asleep!
My niece doesn’t want the desk. I have a beautiful desk from Oak Express that I am not moving with us. I will probably give it to Good Will. It was perfect when I was going to school, but I haven’t been going in four years and never desire to go back. The next step higher would be a DBA (Doctorate in Business Administration) and the only job description I have ever seen requiring one is being a teacher of MBA classes. Perhaps I will get rid of a dresser, too. I need to buy a few laundry baskets because right now Barry puts most of his clothes on top of the long dresser that I cannot imagine taking with us.
Up until last week, I had totally forgotten about my doctor appointment next week. I needed to fast for certain blood tests. So I did the blood draw today and voted (today is the first Tuesday in August). I hope my vitamin D level has improved.
Thursday, I need to go to Domino’s and order the pizza for Saturday for Barry for when I am at the Chevy dealership getting that annoying light turned off.
When I told a friend about the car appointment, the doctor appointment, and the possible buyer for the house, she said, “It sounds like things are coming together.” Coming together or falling apart? I have unbelievably mixed feelings about selling a house I purchased for $63k for $15k just to get out of Michigan. I am humiliated, fearful, angry, and a little excited.The bottom line is that I am not capable of taking care of the house and Barry and that, the longer I own the house, the worse shape it will be in and the more un-sell-able it will be. When I told my favorite barista at Biggby about selling the house for a pittance, she said, “Is this a good thing or a bad thing?” I answered, “Yes.”
The ultimate question never changes: what’s it worth to you to get out of Michigan and out from under the mortgage? I’ve seen so many people get foreclosed upon that perhaps I should feel lucky. Definitely not there yet.
The Presence Process is bringing stuff up. My skin seems angry at me. My emotions seem okay, but my skin is breaking out in odd places. Also, there is the bad warning light regarding my tire pressure. I feel like my car is literally “going off” at me.
I am always reading a variety of books, as usual. I had two books in one day give me the same advice: to focus on positive memories. I immediately felt resistance to that idea. It sounds so innocuous, until I thought about it. My resistance comes from two concerns.
My first concern is that I know people that have many positive memories—and that is what they talk about all the time. I am thinking specifically of one woman I grew up with. Every time I would see her, she would be like, “Remember when….” She was always referring to our early twenties, when I was very confused and felt like I had zero support. My response was always, “Yes I do remember. And it sucked for me. Moving on.” Back then was the last time she was happy and there I was, raining on her parade. When every conversation starts the same way, it gets old fast. I wanted to make good memories now, not live in the past. I also think of those hoarding shows where the people have had repeated, horrific traumas and all they do is think about “the good times.” They have no place to sleep, their residences are filled with vermin, and they have often lost their children to the squalor, and yet they are upbeat. These people, including the one I know, are all as delusional as can be.
The second issue, that I only realized in the past week, is that the only times in my life that I have been truly excited have been when I was looking forward to some future event where my needs would be met—and they very seldom, if ever, were. I was happy, not because anything good was actually occurring, but because of something I hoped would happen and then did not happen in reality. Invariably and inevitably, I would wind up feeling deceived, duped, stupid. Good times.
I don’t have a lot of positive and reality-based memories that I can draw upon.
Things are definitely becoming a lot clearer. Better? I hesitate to get excited about possible positive future experiences because I need to be functional, not delusional.
There are a couple main reasons I meditate: to create less karma and to change my consciousness.
I believe there is a limit as to how much bad karma I can create while meditating. My only hazard is to meditate to escape reality, which is very easy to do, especially when I feel like my reality sucks. Meditating to escape reality only puts me in the same category as all those holy-roller type that go to church to escape from the drudgery of real life. Been there, done that. Not creating trouble is always a good idea, on the other hand.
And then there is the consciousness-changing aspect. I believe that consciousness is the interface between science and spirituality, the overlap of their respective circles in a Venn diagram. And I believe that our minds are ever-changing, going from and to various states. The ability to consciously determine which state I want to be in is a lofty goal. Also, I believe that two people in alpha or theta or whatever state have infinitely more in common than two people living under the same roof but in different brain states. I think one of the hazards of getting older is when one person in a relationship grows and the other does not. You can start out on the same page and end up in different libraries.
There is the Buddhist idea of annica, or so self. I still haven’t figured out if there actually is a real me or simply a conglomeration of temporary states and characteristics. I look forward to someday being able to find out, but that would require me to not have all of my needs drown out by care-taking responsibilities. Who am I when not the care-taking wife? I hope someday to find out who the real me is, if there is one.