Post-trip Processing

I’ve been back home from my trip to East Tennessee for 10 days. I spent 8 full days there with my family. It was actually a pretty great trip. I was such an anxious, neurotic mess before I left; but I feel this trip was the best trip back to my hometown I’ve had in years, maybe even since I left my childhood home 22 and a half years ago. My son, daughter-in-law, and I spent some quality time together. We were even able to do a lot of those touristy type things I’ve missed so much over the years. Dollywood has changed a lot since I was last there 17 years ago, so has Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. I’m thrilled with joy and contentment to have had that time with my son and daughter-in-law.

While there, I was also able to help my mom out by giving her house a good spring cleaning, something that really needed to be done. Of course, I had to wait until she was out of the house at dialysis to accomplish most of this because I didn’t want her to feel bad about needing the help. It worked out well. She seemed genuinely appreciative and thankful for my efforts. I’m grateful I was able to help even in a small way by cleaning and running errands for her. The look of joy on my mom’s face when I arrived a day early, to her surprise, was priceless.

I’m also thankful for getting to spend an evening with my sister and her family at their house for a cook-out. I think that was the first time since my dad’s death, 11 years ago, that I’ve been to their house. It was a pretty special evening. We had some good laughs and caught up and the food was pretty great, too. My sister’s sweet tea recipe rocks! The perfect sweetness. Her kids are growing up so fast. I feel bad for not being involved in their lives.

These past 10 days have been an attempt to hold onto that fleeting optimism — an optimism that results from such experiences of connection and feeling loved. I want to hold it tightly, begging my heart, mind, and soul to savor the “good” times while acknowledging life need not always be so frightening and full of despair. I’ve spent this time processing the positive. It’s true, you know. Without suffering and pain, we wouldn’t recognize the good in life.

All those things I hide away, that I consciously or subconsciously avoid and distance from myself, I lock away in a far off, dark, shadowy place in my mind. I liken this place to an attic in an old decrepit house, something of a nightmare. This is a place where negativity, suffering, despair, anger, rage, deep sadness, loneliness, shame, etc. dwell. These are the darkest aspects of human nature — necessary to life, most of the time understandable when given to introspection, but often times very frightening. Yin.

The beautiful side of life includes those things that awe and inspire hope within me — nature, music, art, kindness, joy, love, gentleness, creativity, curiosity — the goodness of humanity. I need to spend more time there than I have these past couple of years. Yang.

“Seek balance between the two,” my higher self reminds me. Balance is key.

Yin and Yang



In other news, today I received a call from my disability advocate. My disability hearing is scheduled for August. I’m nervous about that. All the “what ifs” are rolling around in my brain, making me all kinds of distracted. For the last 2 and half years, I’ve lived without an income. I’m so thankful for KR’s support through all of this because without him, I don’t know where I would be. I don’t know what to expect from this disability hearing — the reason for my anxiety about it. I feel like my life, my choices, are on trial — not a particularly good feeling.

Also, I have a new case manager. I’ve met with her a couple of times, now. She’s nice, a bit more knowledgeable about her job than my previous case manager, yet I still have no therapist. I’m still not sure therapy would help that much anyway given past experiences, but I am willing to give it another try should the option become available to me. I guess that’s saying a lot considering a few months ago I was completely fed up with it.



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