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One girl, one life, one world shared.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Sound of Chronic Pain

Every once in awhile, I re-write songs in my head to match particular situations.

*sung to the tune of "Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel*

Hello pain, my old friend
You've come to talk with me again

Because a sensation softly creeping,
Left its marks while I was sleeping

And the throbbing that was planted in my brain
Still remains
And echoes through the nerves in my body

In restless sleep, I tossed and turned
Hoping one side would hurt less
'Neath the cover of my blanket
I broke a sweat and said "fuck it."

When my back was stabbed by the flash of a sharp pain
That split my soul
And touched the sound of chronic pain

And in the naked pain I saw
10,000 people, maybe more
People judging that I take pain meds
People judging if my pain is severe

People deciding for me
Whether I should hurt at all
And to what degree,
Missing the point of chronic pain

"Fools," said I, "You do not know,
Pain like a cancer grows:
It consumes all your energy,
Painkillers change your personality."

But my words, like silent raindrops fell,
On the ears of those who do not know severe chronic pain.

And I sat betrayed by my body
While my mind crumbled to nothing
I became less tolerable to be around
Angry and frustrated with myself

I just want to function normally,
Have my personality
And be done with mood swings...
I want the motivation stolen by chronic pain.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

When I Miss Him

Since my first foray into poly, I've noticed a consistent theme:

I LOVE to miss my partners.

After a partner departs, whether they're leaving for a home in the same city or a different state, I always feel high as a kite.

Riding high on waves of exultant joy, basking in the afterglow of time and love shared, I look around my daily life and see it shine for having been touched by a lover.

Walking through my kitchen reminds me of the meal he cooked, sitting on my couch reminds me of the cuddles we shared.

Their departure is second in joy only to their arrival.

Don't get me wrong:

There are times when I sit alone on my couch and wish he was there.

There are times I cook for myself and wish there was someone with whom to share.

These moments, though...

The moments after departure, when I am happy and loved, but exhausted and want my space for my self, when I want to resume my life and my routine, when I remember my goals and everyone I love who is not him...

These moments, I am glad to be alone and I am glad to miss him.

When I miss him, I know I will revel in his presence...

ALWAYS

Thursday, September 17, 2015

To the Child I Will Never Conceive

I have wanted you since I was 4 years old.

In my 20's, I wanted you so bad, I had vivid dreams of you in which we would have conversations about you, your life, my parenting, and my growth.

In my 30's, once I was single, every "oops" or delayed period became anticipation and dread.

Dread that I conceived you with the wrong man, done you an injustice, given you something less than perfect love in both of your parents.

Even when I had that moment with a good man who I was in love with, I still feared for you:

The circumstances weren't right and I feared you would grow up without adequate love, with pieces missing the way I had in my childhood and I didn't want that for you.

So I prayed my body would continue to malfunction and you would have no life.

But each time, I felt anticipation anyway.

I've wanted you since I was 4 years old.

Maybe this time my body will do as bodies do.

Maybe this time is the time I'll get to look into the eyes of the child I dreamt of.

Maybe this time...and I would dream of you still more and imagine our life together.

I would think of all I could do to keep you safe and happy. The ways in which I would rearrange my life in order to accommodate yours...seamlessly integrating you into my plans for myself; that's how much I wanted you, wished for, dreamed for you.

But not this time, dear child.

Not this time, not anytime.

My body does not function in such a way that will allow you to live and I've always known this, even before the first time I heard the words, "You will never conceive."

I am sorry, my unknown child:

You will always remain a person of my dreams.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Normalizing the Human Experience

I've often been asked why I post such personal issues for all the world to see. I often hear, "I can't believe how casually you just said that."

Why do I speak of what should be private matters so openly and frankly?

For me, the answer is simple: I want to normalize the human experience.

I'm often told how unique of a person I am, this facet or that is unique to me, I'm the only one someone has ever met with said trait.

Except I don't think so.

I don't think there is any trait I possess which I alone possess.

I'll give you: this particular combination of traits and experiences adds up to one unique human being -- ME -- but there is not a single aspect of me which is unique to me.

Here we find the purpose of this blog:

I want people who read this, who stumble across this to know they are not alone.

I speak plainly of depression, addiction, relationships, weight management, and other experiences because I KNOW I'M NOT ALONE.

And dear reader, I want YOU to know YOU'RE NOT ALONE, EITHER.


More than that, I want friends, family, and lovers of other human beings to read my words and know there's nothing wrong with the human being they love.

If you know me in life, you know I am a kind, generous, loving AND LOVED person.

You probably also know (at least from reading it here) I have struggled long and often to accept myself and my life.

So this blog is also about acceptance. Here is where I spill my mind as I learn to accept myself and as I desire to give acceptance to others.

This life is hard enough as it is, we don't need to alienate each other --or ourselves--for simply being human.

<3

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Addressing Addiction

It's been a couple of months now since I admitted to myself I had developed an addiction to my painkillers.

I had been suspecting for a little while, noting that sometimes my pain felt more existential than physical.

One particularly bad night in March, I decided to drink alcohol instead of take painkillers and ended up drinking too much. The alcohol, of course, had not relieved my emotional pain or my loneliness, instead amplifying both.

In my feelings of desperation, I texted two partners and my best friend. One partner, the one who had broken up with me the day before, responded. He kept me company, forgave me my transgressions, and ultimately, provided enough relief I was finally able to fall asleep.

The next morning, I was overwhelmed with feelings of desperation. I remembered my father telling me it was with painkillers that he fell off the wagon after some 15 years of sobriety. My lifelong fear seemed realized.

I've always known I am an addict.

I have felt the overwhelming pull of various drugs and other intoxicants over the course of my life. I have worked hard to stay away from all of it, barely touching alcohol until after I was divorced, allowing caffeine as my only vice.

I hit the danger zone after a break-up two years ago, I was drinking a lot. Every day. I reached the point where I was hiding my drinking from my family, pouring alcohol into beverages in my room and them finding out after I was drunk in the living room.

Because I've always been aware I'm an addict and I've always been aware of the impact addiction has on a person and those who surround them, I warned my children early. When I realized I was drinking more than usual, I wasn't worried yet, but I told my children about the warning signs and asked them to watch.

One day, my younger daughter staged an intervention. As part of the intervention she said, "At least you're not hiding your drinking from us," "but I am," I replied, hesitantly, realizing what my words meant.

After our meeting, I set about removing most of the alcohol from the household and avoiding what I had left.

And I was fine.

For awhile.

Until the car accident.

After the car accident, there was so much to manage, not just pain (though there was a lot of that), but the frustration of not being able to work, of not being able to do, of days worth of pain over simple tasks.

The pain finally got to me and so I started taking the pain meds I had.

Lightly, at first, careful not to use too much.

Eventually, the pain was to the point where I was almost always on the drugs. At that time, the drugs didn't make me feel good, I was depressed, robbed of my physical abilities and robbed of my mind. I could no longer keep track of my day, much less my week, my month, or my year. I was constanly angry and in tears for my lack of ability to do anything.

Fast forward to several months post surgery.

It was August or September and my efforts to resume exercise had redoubled my pain and landed me in the hospital. I was starting the pain meds lightly again.

I arrived to work one day, stressed out from something happening at home (don't recall which it was, but I'm sure it's chronicled in this blog) and I couldn't stop crying. I went to my boss and said, "Please don't make me take calls today, I can't stop myself crying, I'll be useless on the phone."

She checked in with her boss and responded, "He just wants you to take calls for one hour. You can take a few minutes now, but then you have to get on the phone."

"Nevermind," I retorted, tears streaming down my cheeks, "I'll be just as useless in a few minutes as I am right now, I'll just get on the phones."

So I did.

I was slow, fighting back tears, making frequent use of my mute button, choking as I was trying to not let them hear the sound in my voice. I was in a lot of pain, but I was afraid to take anything for it, fearing it would make me worse, put me to sleep on top of the tears. Finally, though, my pain grew to the point where I felt if I couldn't relieve my sadness, I would relieve the physical pain. So I took three pills: one muscle relaxant and two painkillers.

Thirty minutes later, I was dancing and laughing.

I could scarcely believe the transformation.

Ten minutes after that, I found fear.

So this is why my father fell off the wagon for painkillers! No wonder...this is amazing!

It was.

I didn't immediately start using after that, because I was aware, I was careful about when and how often I took them.

Then we come around to this year.

I met "fire guy" and things were pretty awesome.

Then my best friend ended up in the hospital, followed by a long hospital stay. Fire guy retreated and I was left alone.

It was then I started using. Using for no other reason than to relieve my existential pain.

I was free of the physical pain, having had two procedures in January and February to deaden the nerves in my back and legs to stop me from feeling physical pain.

So now we're back to March. Back to the night I texted everyone I thought could relieve my loneliness to tell them I was using alcohol and painkillers to relieve my emotional pain.

For two weeks after that night, I fretted, I beat myself up, I made myself wrong for my weakness.

FOR BEING AN ADDICT JUST LIKE MY FATHER

I spent a lot of time in tears, afraid, wishing I had stronger painkillers (my drug of choice, after all, was Tramadol, an extraordinarily light painkiller, because I'd had the foresight to repeatedly refuse anything stronger when the doctors asked).

Finally, one day in early April, it dawned me.

I'm making things worse for myself!

My fears and my frustrations were driving me deeper into emotional pain. And for fuck's sake, I was already in therapy, I'm already working on my issues.

I decided right there and right then to let go of making myself wrong.

The drugs were helping me cope at a time when my internal ability to cope wasn't functioning. I was in therapy, I was working on my issues and I was on the verge of a fucking breakthrough, I could feel it.

I just needed to get there.

Since I'm aware I'm an addict, I announced to everyone I care about that I was using and why. I also advised I had no intention of quitting, that my use was to allow me to cope through this difficult time. I included my therapist in the people I made this announcement to and she didn't bat an eye.

Within two weeks after that announcement, I had the breakthrough, the one I spoke of in Loving My Child, Myself.

The Friday before I wrote that post, I realized I didn't need the drugs anymore.

Over the course of that weekend, I went through some considerable withdrawals. I'd been using long enough and at a high enough dose that I didn't sleep all weekend, I sweated through every night and had the shakes during the day.

The following Monday, I was at work, exhausted, when a co-worker texted around 11am commenting about how quiet I was.

"Yeah, I didn't sleep much this weekend or last night, I've been going through withdrawals, they've kept me up all night and I still have the shakes today."

"Wow," he responded, "I can't believe you'd mention so casually that you're going through withdrawals."

I didn't have much of a response to his shock.

I realized, after, though, it isn't to me something I should hide.

It's in hiding an addiction that it gains power over us, a hold on us, where the people who love us lose the ability to watch our backs.

A few weeks ago, I was at a party and one of the attendees was in pain. The hostess brought out a pill bottle which was marked as Vicodin, but she revealed to me it was actually Oxycontin. The addict in me reared it's head and shouted, "Yes, I've never had so good of a drug before...I bet the high is AMAZING!!" My brain replied, "Oh, please don't offer me any, I really don't need it!"

Hi.

My name is Andrea and I'm an addict.

I don't, however, think this is anything to be ashamed of or to hide from anyone. It is as much a facet of my being as my eternal motherhood, my internal Herculean strength, and every other facet I value.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Loving My Child, My Self

I've mentioned previously here that I started therapy last year. I have yet to mention my reasons.

Close to two years ago now, I met someone and clicked with them immediately. This, in itself, is not rare. I'm most drawn to people I click with immediately. We met through mutual business and so, in the beginning, there was no personal relationship other than hour and a half long phone calls to discuss ten minutes worth of business. About four months after we met, we went out for drinks for the first time and both could not deny the spark between us. The business still hovered, so nothing happened other than a hug on my front porch.

A couple of months later, the business situation was resolved and we started texting about non-business matters. The following month saw our first true date. Our conversations, our sex, everything that flowed between us felt right and we enjoyed each other's company. I went on my solo trip to Europe, found a gift for him there, had it personalized. When I presented it to him upon my return, the emotion he displayed, I could not engage in. I stood near him, but did everything I could not to be with him in that moment. I became aware of what I was doing and I felt guilty and tried to get present, but I was too confronted by the situation. I knew something was off, but I let it slide.

Later that same evening, I believe, when we were back to my house after dinner and drinks, we were standing in my living room talking to my eldest daughter. As she spoke, she referred to him as my boyfriend. He said, "Oh, I'm your boyfriend now, huh?" I responded, "Everyone else calls you that, I don't." To which he muttered, "Oh," and fell quiet. I was immediately wracked with guilt. My mind raced, "Shit! Am I blowing a chance at a romantic relationship?! Am I just too distant? What is wrong with me??"

As I turned over the situation in my mind, I thought about the juxtaposition that is me:

Anyone who has met me knows me to be loving, kind, and generous. Accepting of everyone I meet. I present as more loving, kind, and generous than others you might meet. These are not a falsehood--however there is what lies beneath. The truth that only those that actually try to get emotionally close to me have found:

I don't let anyone in.

Not truly, anyway. My outer reaches are much more accessible to other humans than most are, but my innermost keep, few have ever penetrated.

In fact, there are few souls that have ever been let inside that innermost keep and none was ever willingly.

I have had almost every romantic partner I've ever had remark to me, "You love your cats more than you love me." To which I can only ever respond, "Because they have never made me cry except in their sickness/unconsciousness. I don't fear they will ever leave me except through their death."

And that is the heart of the matter, right there.

It is well documented here in this blog how much work I've done on myself over the last few years. I have a strong desire to be the best me I can be, so I am constantly working toward that.

Back to why I went to therapy.

I realized in those moments, after that situation, that I would never be able to be in a successful romantic relationship if I couldn't let people in. Here was this pretty awesome guy, who was there for me, would help me, who I very much enjoyed sex with and I knew I couldn't let him in, not that way.

Honestly, I had no idea whether or not he even wanted in, but the thought that if he did and I also wanted him in that I wouldn't be able to, was enough to cause me to seek outside help.

So, I've actively been in therapy for about 8 months now, with a great therapist for 7 months. It was only very recently that I was finally able to dig to this point that let me find what was in my way of letting myself be loved.

My therapist has a habit of giving out stickers. Whenever I tell her of a personal accomplishment, she celebrates by giving me a sticker. The first time, my internal thought was, "Seriously? How fucking lame is this? You can just say, 'Yay! Way to go!' and I'll be good." But since, I've gotten into the practice: allowing myself to feel like a child whenever I receive a sticker, proud also for my personal accomplishment.

One day, probably about two months ago now, she was presenting me with a sticker and it had Dumbo on it. I said, "Dumbo! That was my favorite movie when I was little..." and out it ALL came:

I ended up in heavy tears as I related the attachment that I had to Dumbo, that it was a child who was violently separated from their loving parent. I had recalled a specific incident from my childhood, watching my father desperately trying to get into my house, screaming, and finally being led away by the MP's (Military Police). I realized, at the end of this story, this particular instance is the source of all of my feelings of abandonment.

My therapist responded, "How old were you?"

"I don't know, three, four? Not more than six, I know for sure, that's when we left Washington and I didn't see him again until I was 14."

"When we're that young, the things that happen to us, we aren't really verbal enough to put words to it, all we have is a strong emotional sense about it."

"That would explain why, whenever I'm feeling intense feelings surrounding rejection/abandonment that I'm not able to talk myself out of them. Usually, when I'm struggling emotionally, I talk to myself, aloud, in my head, doesn't matter, I calm myself down by telling myself everything is okay, that I'll be alright, there's nothing wrong with me. But I can never convince myself in those moments, and those are what keep me distant from people."

By that point, we were out of time. Over my next couple of visits, we were never able to get around to addressing the issue, except for my therapist to say, "Because we're not verbal when these things happen, we can't use words. There's a method, we'll go over it next time, of assigning a symbol to the feelings, this usually helps."

That time has yet to come, but it seems I found my own.

About two and a half months ago now, I met a guy and we seriously lit on fire. It was amazing: everything about me that makes me feel different from the rest of the world, that I had no one in my inner circle who was the same as me on, we were the same. We texted every day, all day, basically narrating our days to each other on the days we didn't see each other. We saw each other every weekend and sometimes mid-week. But this only lasted for a month.

At the end of the month, he suddenly backed off. I had no clue why. He finally related a little, that the relationship was more intense than he wanted. But before I knew this, all I could do was the same thing I've always done, go absolutely fucking insane in my head. Add to it that my best friend was in the hospital for weeks, I was PMS'ing and having one of my bouts of severe depression with the PMS and I felt like I was falling apart, going insane.

The one thing I wanted, someone to hold me, comfort me, tell me everything was going to be alright, was the one thing I didn't have. To be quite honest, it's the one thing I've never had: my biggest, lifelong, unmet need. I desperately needed to cry in someone's arms and I had no one to go to, or so I felt. I should mention here, that I did, a couple of times, cry in the arms of my roommate, which helped, but for some reason, wasn't the same. I guess because the abandonment feelings come from my father, I needed a male, I couldn't be consoled without a male.

This guy, the one who was backing off, had made clear from the beginning that wouldn't be him. It didn't bother me too much, until I needed it. And then I needed it right after he started backing off. Or maybe he started backing off right after I needed it. That detail is not that important.

So, fast forward to just a few weeks ago. I had seen my therapist on Friday and she had told me this thing about assigning a symbol. The following day, Saturday, I was supposed to see fire guy...for the first time in weeks. He had said he'd be over later in the evening, I invited him to spend time with me and my kids in the later afternoon, but told him I understood if he couldn't make it until evening.

I woke up later Saturday morning and texted fire guy good morning, as was our ritual. I acknowledged that I slept late and he was probably already working on his weekend chores. I didn't hear back from him immediately, but wasn't surprised, assumed he was focused on getting stuff done. Finally, when I got out of the shower, just as my kids were arriving for our party, I found a text from him, essentially breaking up with me.

I texted back, acknowledging his feelings, apologized for my part in them, told him  I understood, but he didn't have to go away if he didn't want to. After about three texts of the thoughts that went immediately through my head, I decided it was time to leave him be, get dressed and go see my kids. As I got dressed, I fought little moments of tears.

When I finally made it out to the kitchen, I told my roommate what had happened. Her response was, "Look, if someone can't be in a relationship with you, the most accepting, least pressuring person I've ever known, they simply can't be in a relationship with anyone."

"I know. Thank you." And I cried a bit and had to retreat to my room.

I heard my other kids arrive, my younger daughter came to my door. It took me a couple minutes to let her in, but when I did, she hugged me and said, "I'm sorry, Mom, I heard."

And then the floodgates opened.

But this time was different.

As I had my arms wrapped around her and I cried, I said, "I know it's not me. I know it has nothing to do with me, but I can't help crying. It's that little part of me, the little girl who was abandoned, she feels the pain right now and I can't talk to her, so I just have to let her cry."

As I said, this, as I hugged my daughter and I cried, in my head, I imagined picking up myself as a child. That skinny little brown-haired girl who experienced so much pain and so much loss at such a young age. I picked her up and I held her. I stroked her hair, kissed her head and told her that everything was going to be okay. That I love her, that she is lovable, she is worthy, that there is nothing wrong with her, that what other people do has nothing to do with her.

AND THAT WAS IT

THAT WAS WHAT I NEEDED

Each time I started crying after that, I had the same mental picture and it was AMAZING:

I FELT NO HURT AND I FELT NO PAIN

I just cried.

Later that evening, fire guy came back, baffled by my response. He was maybe expecting anger, hurt, or rejection where he received none.

Our relationship has been tenuous since then, but it seems to have continued.

I also realized that I do have a close male friend who would gladly be there for me anytime I need to reach out to someone, anytime I need to be held. I've told him the story of feeling like I had no one and realizing I had him and he acknowledged, "Good, I'm glad you know. I am here for you. Anytime you need me, just reach out, I'll be here."

So after visiting him, I feel amazing.

I finally feel free to have any relationship with any person be exactly what it's going to be and no more. I finally am free of the need to draw more from a person than what they want to give.

All because I picked up my child, my SELF and hugged her. Held her. Let her know she's not alone, she's not unloved and there's NOTHING WRONG WITH HER.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

He Calls Me Home

Lately, I hear him call my name
He whispers it in the quiet moments of the day
At night in my dreams.

"Come home to me," he says, "come home.

You and I were born in blood and fire
And while I existed long before you
I became something new through your eyes.

When we were together
I felt all your joy and all your pain.

You and I, we grew together
Reinventing ourselves day by day
Becoming new, yet remaining old.

I long to feel your touch again,
I long to feel your joy and wonder
As you explore the depths of me.

I want you to discover all the ways
I have become new in your absence
As you discover all the ways
I have remained the same."

He tugs at the heartstrings
Which have been entwined in his Fingers
Since I was small.

And my heart yearns
It yearns to go home.

I yearn to heed his call
And rejoin him in his glory.
I long to feel his warmth once more
Feel the way he engulfs and envelops me.

The music of his heart
I hear it in my sleep
My life begins to pulse to his rhythm
My soul begins to dance

And in my heart
I plan my return.

(The "he" of this poem refers to my home city of San Antonio)