A Series of Messy Events

It’s been one of those days where I wonder why did I even bother getting out of bed. Seriously, coincidental messes have been the theme for the day. Right after KR left for work, I got up, showered, dressed – like I normally do. Walking down the hallway to the kitchen, I glanced in the laundry room and noticed that one of the cats pooped right outside the middle litter box. This has become a fairly common occurrence the day after I scrub out the litter boxes and replace with clean litter. And it’s always the middle box. Why?! My best guess is that it’s some sort dominance issue or laying claim to that particular litter box by whomever (I have my suspicions as to which one is doing it, but I’ve never caught her in the act) produces the perfectly placed poop. Ugh.

After cleaning up that mess, I decided I needed a hot cup of tea to properly wake up. Before I even got the cup of water in the microwave, my elderly, projectile-vomit-puke-king puked all over my desk. This time narrowly missing my computer keyboard, but right on target for the mouse and pretty much everything else on my desk! I spent the next hour cleaning that up. I even had to individually wash my drawing pens, one by one. I also had to discard the handmade pen organizer that I made a few months ago because it wasn’t salvageable due to being made from heavy cardboard. I’ll just have to make another one. Grrr.

Finally, I made myself that cup of tea and sat down at my computer to relax for a little while. All I wanted to do was spend today reading blogs because I haven’t had the chance to do much of that this week and get in a little drawing/art time. I needed a “me” day.

Nope.

I barely had a chance to finish my tea before I heard that familiar yacking-sound in the living room. This was a neat pile of dry cat food. Are all my cats sick? Maybe, the stress is getting to them, too. I gave up on relaxing and started a load of laundry to wash all the pet bedding. While I was up and about, I went ahead and grabbed the soda cans off of KR’s desk to rinse and crush. I’ve told him time and time again that he needs to get into the habit of doing this rather than leaving them sitting on his desk because of the ant problem. He doesn’t listen. And sure enough, his desk was covered in ants. I killed 68 just on his desk, not counting the ones I washed down the kitchen drain from the actual cans. (Total squished ant count today: 134)

So, I gave his desk a good cleaning, too. I figured since I’ve cleaned both of our desks in the computer room, I might as well go ahead and vacuum while I’m at it. Half-way through vacuuming, I blew the fuse. Again. This happens quite often when I vacuum that room which worries me due to all of our electronics. It generally happens more often in winter than summer, so I think it has something to do with the space heater that we keep in that room to stay warm. The weird thing about the computer room is that most of the outlets are on one fuse box and the light switch is on a different fuse box located in the addition that was built-on prior to us moving in. How is that even up to code, having two fuse boxes? Whatever.

After I finally finished vacuuming the floor, I swept the house and cleaned out litter boxes. Those two tasks are a daily habit. They have to be. When I took the dirty litter out to the garbage, I noticed a bag of our garbage ripped open, strewn all over the yard. OMG! At this point, I was pretty pissed. I came back inside, slamming the door as hard as I could, and grabbed another garbage bag. I spent the next half hour picking up garbage and made sure the garbage can lids were firmly secured. Honestly, I’m not even sure if it was the neighbor’s dogs or the neighbor’s kids that ripped open the bag because right before I went out there I noticed 4 of the kids hanging out close to where the garbage is located.

Other than a vicious wind blowing outside, I feel calmer, now. Maybe, I can finally get in an hour or so of drawing before KR gets home from work. While I’m drawing, I think I’ll re-listen to Ajahn Brahm’s video, Anger-Eating Demons. If you only have a few minutes and want to hear the story about the Anger-Eating Demon, start watching the video at 31:10. It’s well worth it!

I think I need it after today’s series of messy events. Some days are just like that, though. One thing after another thing after another thing…. I could sit here and be aggravated by all the interruptions and the aggravation of having to do exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do – more cleaning – or I can take advantage of the moment – now – to do what I intended.

I choose the latter.

From Cleaning & Ants To Dreams

And I’ll throw in the kitchen sink at the end, too. ;D

I’m in the beginnings of spring cleaning, today. Due to our serious ant problem, spring cleaning this year must be incredibly thorough. Along with spring cleaning, I’m also trying to accomplish some of my normal cleaning rituals, like laundry, scrubbing out the cat litter boxes, scrubbing down the shower, etc. Before I could even begin in the bathroom, I had to take care of the hoards of ants in there that we’ve been feeding ant poison to take back to their nest because I HATE having ants crawling all over me! And lately, they have been, even at night… in bed… I’m regularly killing the ants that make their way onto my person and within arms reach of me. Their numbers seem to be growing rather than dwindling. Thus far today, not counting the hundred or more in the bathroom I mentioned a second ago, I have squished a total of 166 strays as I’ve cleaned. Yes. I’m counting. It’s a war between me and the ants! No one should have to live this way, skin crawling whether or not there’s an ant there. And yes, I’m obsessing over these ants!

My thoughts wandered as one cleaning task led to another which led to another before finally getting back to the original task. My thoughts wandered to living in Hawaii. The ants were bad there, too. The year I was pregnant with our son, my ex-husband and I celebrated Christmas early due to a planned trip back home for my sister’s wedding. That was the only year I celebrated with a real Christmas tree. The scent was heavenly. We didn’t have many decorations, so we strung popcorn to hang on the tree. Honestly, we didn’t think twice about it. When we got back to Hawaii after our trip home town, we saw clumps of black hanging all over the tree. Those clumps of black were thousands of ants! Tree and all went in the dumpster.

Then, my thoughts wandered to my childhood home in East Tennessee. We often had a problem with ants there during the summertime. My mother swore by Raid ant spray; and that stench that makes Raid recognizable is what prevents me from buying it to this day. Sure, it killed the ants; but the fumes were like noxious gas to humans as well!

From there, my thoughts wandered to a recurring childhood nightmare. In this nightmare, I am floating above my body, above the bed, close to the high ceiling in my childhood bedroom. I’m looking down at my sister, curled up on her side of the bed under the covers, and me, lying flat on my back, covered from head to toe in spiders, centipedes, and a variety of other creepy crawlers. Just my side of the bed! This sight jolted me awake many a time with a flash of myself high above me as the me above willed my eyes to open. At first, this nightmare caused me horrible panic attacks in the middle of the night (I didn’t know that’s what they were at the time). The first time was the most memorable because when I jolted awake, I also woke my sister who shared the bed with me. I couldn’t breathe. As I sat there gasping for air, my sister took off running to wake my mother and father.

Our parents came into our bedroom, Mom annoyed, but Daddy scooped me up and took me outside to the front porch swing. It was a warm, summer night; and he simply sat there with me, rocking the swing, occasionally saying something or another. I can’t remember what he said. I just remember feeling comforted by the gentle sway of that swing as my breathing finally slowed to shallow snubs (I don’t think “snubs” is the right word, but I can’t seem to find an alternative). Other occurrences of that nightmare led me to “wetting the bed,” much to my mom’s and sister’s annoyance. I can’t remember at what age that nightmare began or how long it went on. I know I must have been very young, and the issues with wetting the bed lasted until first or second grade. It’s strange how vivid that nightmare is to me, even to this day, especially considering that I normally do not remember my dreams at all.

Granted, I was also horribly scared of the dark as a child and feared the monster that I just knew lived in our closet. I swore that he crept from that closet to hide under our bed in the shadows of the night to snatch me up should any limb fall outside the safety zone of the covers. I had a very active imagination and spent many hours trying to fall asleep as a result during childhood. It’s possible that my fear of leaving the bed in the darkness prevented me from getting up to go to the restroom in the middle of the night, too. Although once I do finally fall asleep, I’m a very deep sleeper. I rarely wake up for anything – then or now.

There’s only one other childhood dream that I can remember as vividly as that nightmare. It was another recurring dream from my teenage years. In this dream, I am guided by a young child through an old, decrepit house in search of something. Each time I had this dream, we ended up in a dark and dusty attic, searching for this unnamed “something.” I don’t remember a lot of details about that one, now, just the search and the little girl who kept pulling me along to find “it,” whatever “it” was. This dream and it’s recurrence actually prompted me to write a research paper about dreams and dreaming for my high school English class at the time. This makes me think, “I wish I still had that research paper.

I rarely, if ever, remember my dreams nowadays. Like I said, I’m a deep sleeper. If I do remember one, though, it’s usually some freakish, nightmare type scenario. Now, I’m wondering, “How did I go from writing about cleaning and ants to dreams?” Oh, yes, now I remember. I just followed my train of thought. Thoughts are as weird as dreams. You never know where they’ll lead.

And hopefully by now, the hot water has built up enough so that I can go and wash dishes, completing the final task on my list for tonight!

The End of Silence

Kitchen WallWith the warmer weather comes the end of peaceful silence. Another problem with the place where we currently live in addition to the ants and structural problems (to the left is a photo of our kitchen wall, underneath the air conditioning unit) that I’ve mentioned before is that we share this piece of property with a second trailer that is full to the brim with people and animals. It’s a smaller 2 bedroom trailer, in worse shape than ours (if that’s even possible); but our mutual landlord will do nothing to repair that one, either. Up until last summer, I was at least friendly to the people who live there; but they tried my patience to the extreme with their bizarre behaviors until finally, I just had to start ignoring them completely, or at least, as best I can.

Three adults regularly inhabit that trailer. However, it’s unclear whether or not the other two adults and three children also live there. They’re constantly over there, though. Every. Single. Day. The children get off the school bus here daily. And as soon as they do, the yelling, screaming, and destructiveness begins. In addition to these three children, three others from down the road regularly spend their evenings hanging out in our yard. Some of the more disturbing antics of these children include purposefully startling me by pressing their faces up to the window, peering in at me (which has resulted in my not being able to open the curtains for sunlight during daylight hours), or drawing graffiti all over the house and fences, or bouncing a ball off the sides and roof of our trailer.

The worst – by far – was the day I came home from the grocery store and caught the children throwing gasoline into a bonfire that one of the adults had started and left unsupervised. Yes, I called DCS over that one. No, nothing ever came of it as far as I know. The awful, horrible things I’ve heard said to these children, including contemptible name calling that would make a grown man blush, makes me very sad for them. I’m thankful that I never endured emotional abuse such as this; but at the same time, it reminds me that shame takes many forms.

Within the last month, they’ve constructed this shanty type shack in our mutual yard that looks completely ghastly. And the trash and junk piled up out there embarrasses me to no end. Yesterday, I walked around our trailer and picked up a full bag of garbage just within a 20 foot parameter and out of the driveway. In order to protect our vehicles’ tires, we regularly have to walk the driveway to clear it of potentially hazardous debris.

Neighborhood Shanty

Honestly, when it comes to our neighbors, I have witnessed the absurd, the insane, and the completely baffling. Oh, the stories I could tell! They would certainly put the Clampetts to shame. I didn’t particularly care for the TV show as a kid. And I certainly didn’t want to live it!

And it’s for all these reasons, I don’t have the luxury of spending time outside in my own yard.

I See The Moon, And The Moon Sees Me

I’ve become so good at hiding my emotions from other people that I also hide them from myself. Then, when I completely break down, I wonder what am I feeling and why? Granted, this has always been a problem for me, but today… mercy. I’m sitting here crying my eyes out with this heaviness in my chest, a panic attack trying very hard to take control. Today… I feel helpless. I feel insecure. I feel ashamed. And I feel frustrated.

There’s a lot going on – some very real problems, some probably imagined. One of the very real problems is that we’re having transportation issues. We both own older, ’90’s model vehicles. KR’s truck began giving him problems a few weeks ago. The transmission needs replaced. This is a highly costly repair, not to mention KR is having a problem finding a replacement transmission; so he’s been driving my car back and forth to work. Yesterday, I had a therapy appointment. I had a few different options for getting there. In the end, we decided that I would ride with KR and his coworker (more about him in a moment) to work so that I could take the car from there to do some much-needed household shopping – pet supplies, groceries, and nonfood items – as well as get to my appointment.

After dropping them off at work (about a half hour’s drive from where we live), I had close to an hour and a half before my appointment. I decided to take the scenic route because I had the time. Tennessee has some of the most beautiful countryside views I have ever seen – rolling hills, wide open spaces, and curvy roads that simply make driving here fun. Now, for some reason, there are two highways in this area that I constantly get confused. I have no sense of direction; and like I told my therapist yesterday, “I would get lost in a bucket.” Getting lost has always been a game for me, ever since I began driving at the age of 17. Get lost; find my way back. I’ve often taken the opportunity to drive just for the pleasure of driving and exploring. However, I actually had someplace to be; so I ended up backtracking in order to get myself to my appointment on time. Luckily, I made it there with 15 minutes to spare.

After my appointment, I decided to go for a walk at a local park since I haven’t had the opportunity to get any exercise outside lately. After that, I did all the shopping and went back home to unload everything. Finally, I quickly ran through a few of my daily chores and relaxed for about an hour before having to go back out to pick up KR and his coworker. On our way back home, my car’s battery light came on. Great. Other than the serpentine belt, I’ve had no problems with this car. KR spent the morning replacing the alternator. He ended up driving his truck to pick up the alternator for my car at Auto Zone ($153 later); and his transmission seized up. He left his truck parked somewhere, and took a taxi home. And he was late for work.

I feel guilty because I feel responsible for this chain of events due to my little driving excursion. KR expressed his stress over this added financial burden before leaving for work.

And, of course, the coworker who rides with KR to work was also late for work today. He depends on KR to get him there. I’m not really sure how this arrangement came about, but he’s been riding with KR for a few months since he has no transportation of his own. As far as I know, he doesn’t even give KR gas money. Until yesterday, I had no idea just how far KR was driving to pick up and drop off this coworker from where he lives. I think he should, at the very least, be giving KR gas money for the extra miles per month that he’s driving. Even if it’s only an extra 4 miles as KR says, that adds up. Gas is expensive. Personally, I think this coworker is taking advantage of KR’s  kindness. And I don’t like it.

I also don’t particularly like this coworker due to other impositions he has placed on KR, including added stress. Yesterday was only the second time I have been around this coworker. After our first encounter in which I will admit that I was extremely irate over what he was asking KR to do, the coworker told KR that I was scary. That particular morning, he must have called our house a half-dozen times, waking us up. He then shows up on our doorstep asking KR to pee in a cup for him because this coworker couldn’t pass a drug test to get hired on as a permanent employee. Damn right I was pissed; and I feel completely justified in my anger! I don’t want people like that in my life. Period.

However… there’s one reason for my dislike of this coworker that is completely irrational… hence, an imagined problem that causes me to second-guess all of my other reasons for disliking him. He’s a very large, black man who reminds me of my second rapist. I sincerely apologize if this sounds racist or prejudiced because I know in my rational mind that I shouldn’t associate a race of people to a past victimization; but this coworker’s mannerisms, attitude, behavior, and overall physical appearance is so similar to the man who raped me that I can’t get it out of my head! Last night… as I sat waiting in the parking lot of where KR works… in my car… in the dark… waiting for KR to finish working, I was so thankful that this coworker did not immediately get into the car with me when he came out first. He waited outside the car until KR came out… what felt like an eternity later. So, yeah, there’s that… and the odor of sweat (?) that lingered in the car. KR drove home; and I sat in the backseat, staring at the moon most of the way home.

There’s comfort in those craters.

On Loss and Forgiveness

I need to call my son. I didn’t call him on his birthday last weekend due to being in the hospital. I know, that’s really no excuse. There is no excuse that forgives my lack of involvement in his life. Even though my rational mind knows the hospital was where I needed to be, a part of me struggles with the shame of my perceived weaknesses. And when it comes to being a mother, weaknesses are all I see. Ours is a very complicated history. I haven’t been involved in his life since he was 4 years old, at the time of the break-up of my marriage. It’s only been within the last two years that we began talking again and attempting to bridge the gap. From age 4 until 18, my best guess is that we only saw each other a half a dozen times, spoke on the phone even fewer. Those first 4 years of his life filled me with doubts of being a capable parent, but they are also my most treasured memories. In moments of complete despair, thoughts of him kept me alive. One day, I must thank my child for saving my life on so many occasions. Something, I’m certain, he’s completely unaware of.

I tried calling my son once since my release from the hospital, but he didn’t answer. His training schedule is pretty varied right now, so that doesn’t really surprise me. I also missed congratulating him on getting married to his high school sweetheart last week. They chose to marry at the courthouse on the 3rd and plan to have a ceremony for friends and family in our hometown later in the year. Why do I feel this sense of loss? I don’t understand this. I should be nothing but happy for them, and I am. I’m thankful to be gaining a daughter-in-law. She’s such a sweet and kind person. I just didn’t expect to feel this sense of loss, as well.

Maybe, I’m finally grieving the loss of the relationship with my son that could have been. More than any other trauma in my life, this one is the one that causes me the most distress: not being a part of my son’s life. Granted it wasn’t all my fault. His father played a large part in keeping him from me, but I am as much responsible. Placing blame does no good now, anyway. The damage is done. I missed so many birthdays. I missed his first day of school. I missed seeing him grow up into the fine, young man that he is. I missed so much of his life, and I just don’t know how to forgive myself for that.

Home and Calmer

I sincerely feel that my time spent at the crisis stabilization unit in my area was time well spent. It was the much-needed break from my relationship with KR and our home-life that I feel was necessary to clear my head and think a little more clearly. I was admitted on Friday (2-28-14) and came home Wednesday (3-5-14). Thankfully, they did not pressure me into medication, which was my greatest concern prior to reaching out for help. Everyone there, the staff and patients alike, were so supportive and encouraging. Most of the groups were somewhat helpful (something I’ve never said about group therapy before); but most of all, I just found it comforting to be around caring people, most going through similar problems with depression and anxiety. Being there didn’t exactly change any of the situations that I am currently facing. It simply gave me the pause from life in order to reassess how I am coping and think about what changes I actually need to make in my life.

I have to admit, however, that I’m neither closer to deciding what these changes should be nor figuring out how to go about them.

Looking back over my hospitalization timeline yesterday (this one made #10), I noticed a strange coincidence. Back in 2002, when KR and I dated the first time, I had another hospitalization (hospitalization #5) from, oddly enough, February 28, 2002 through March 14, 2002. Maybe, the admission date is nothing more than a mere coincidence; but I see a lot of similarities in our situation now as what we were experiencing at that time – like the financial stress, constant arguing and fighting, and the differences in sex-drive and sexual expectations. I was also going through a severe bout of depression back then due to all of these stressors in addition to a few others. I find this coincidence odd because it truly feels like history is repeating itself. In a lot of ways, our relationship has faced this déjà vu over and over again; and yes, it does feel completely insane.

This coincidence led me to spending today researching “triggers” and how to identify emotional triggers in myself. Emotions are an incredibly fuzzy area for me. I struggle to recognize, identify, and label them. Even expressing an emotion feels unsafe to a certain extent because I so often find them completely overwhelming. I’m one of those people who can be moved to tears by something as simple as a TV commercial or a piece of music. And it doesn’t matter, I cry if I’m happy, sad, angry, frustrated, or whatever else. To me, this is particularly confusing.

Then, there are the times when I feel completely shut down – numb. I rarely recognize when this is happening thereby making it extremely difficult to pinpoint what triggered the shut down of emotions. Sometimes, this void of emotion results in a lack of presence of mind. Nothing feels real as the present moment seems to evaporate into a muddled mess of vagueness and ambiguity. While I recognize this as a form of dissociation (as explained to me by my first therapist in 1994), it can be very frustrating, not only for me, but also for anyone I interact with (particularly KR).

In researching emotional triggers, I did run across one article that I found particularly helpful that I wanted to share, Find Your Emotional Triggers on this list. If anyone else knows of good resources for identifying triggers, please, don’t hesitate to share. I welcome the input.