Feeling the Regrets

It’s been a bit since I last wrote. I’m working from home. My state has a stay-at-home order, so I’m not going out except to the grocery store or the pharmacy. I do go out for some exercise by speed walking a few days a week. That feels good. There are lots of people on the trail where I hardly ever see anyone. I suppose they’re all wanting some time outdoors, too.

I’m sure all this has something to do with these very strange times we’re all living through, but I’m really feeling a lot of regrets from some choices I made in the past. I’m feeling the weight of those choices. I have fantasies about how things might have been had I made other decisions.

I once met a man who was the hiring authority for a school district. I made a favorable impression on him, and I could have become a teacher. I chose not to.

I was good friends with a man who was in a relationship that ended. That man and I started spending a lot of time together, and I could have become his boyfriend. I don’t remember my reasoning at the time, but I can see now that pairing up with a man who’d just broken up with another man would not have been a wise move, but I still regret it right now.

I chose to leave disability and take the present job I have. I had good benefits, and I was building a solid, very small life. I am positive that had I continued on that path and in today’s political climate, I would have been kicked off disability. I would have lost all my benefits. In the small town I was living in, that would have been devastating.

I am a better man for having left disability. I have greater self-confidence, I am more self-assured, and I have much higher self-worth as a result of choosing to take this job and move to a larger city. Most importantly, I believe that I have recovered. I take medication for bipolar disorder, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life, but that disorder has little effect on my day-to-day life now.

If you live on disability, do not let my circumstances make you feel anything negative about your circumstances. I have a very good friend who lives on disability, and he is doing very well that way. He needs that life. It allows him to live as symptom-free as possible. Working would devastate his equilibrium.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to date a man. I let him get away. I regret it.

As long-time readers know, I broke up with a man last year. I have very mixed feelings about that. My head knows it was definitely for the best. He was mean to me. I don’t want a reunion with him, but I still have regrets.

Before all this craziness in the world, I started seeing a new man that I’ve known socially for a few years. He’s a remarkably cheerful man, and he’s very intelligent, which I value highly. We’ve continued to communicate by text and occasional phone calls during this time of social distancing. Things are going well, but I can’t help but wish for face-to-face meetings. Nothing romantic has happened. It’s still too early, but I’m wishing for that. Missing it.

I will talk about all this with my therapist at my weekly appointment tomorrow. (The appointment is done remotely.) I will be fine. Writing in this blog is part of the way I process all these feelings. It’s a bit like writing in a journal. That’s a good exercise for people who are dealing with heavy things.

If you have recently tried meditation, I congratulate you. Keep trying. The most important thing to remember is that having thoughts during meditation is not a sign of failure. Thinking is exactly what our minds are supposed to do. Count your breaths. That’s a good way to concentrate on breathing as a beginner. Or do guided meditation like I still do. I still go to My Happy Place. You can create your own happy place. Meditation can be just about anything you want it to be.

Meditation: sit, relax, and breathe. Think about your breathing. When your mind wanders, gently return your thoughts to your breathing. Gently. When your mind wanders again, again gently return your thoughts to your breathing. Gently. A wandering mind is not a failure.

Wherever you are on the globe, I wish you all the best during this stressful time. Stay healthy.

I Don’t Feel Good

I woke in a panic attack yesterday at 4AM. As usual with these things for the past two months or so, I was having a nightmare about my dad. It set the mood for the whole day. I was on edge all day long.

I realized yesterday that since my parents disowned me, I’ve become much darker in many of my thoughts. Some of my actions are not well thought-out. They border on being self-destructive. I’m going to talk about this realization to my therapist tomorrow. I’m also going to ask him if there’s any way to have more appointments in a week. I don’t feel stable.

I’m still doing the things that I’ve done for years to stay well. I take the medication my psychiatrist gives me as prescribed. I’m meditating daily and often more than once a day, but I’ve noticed it’s really hard to concentrate and get calm during some sessions. It was that way this morning. I’m talking to my therapist weekly. We’re meeting by video for the time being during this current health crisis. I’m getting good sleep, and I’m eating healthy food. The one thing I’m not doing is exercising, and I refuse to beat myself up about it.

The current world-wide health crisis makes all this worse. I don’t mind working from home, but the news is scary. I don’t watch news on television. I read it online. I prefer to get my news from a source that I read, because it’s less sensational. There’s less a sense of entertainment to how it’s presented. It feels calmer to me.

Here’s what scares me most: I have a sense that my behavior is self-destructive. I’m worried that could play itself out to become truly so, and I could drink. I’ve been sober twenty years, ten months, and 28 days as of this writing. I do not want to drink for any reason. My drinking days were horrific. I do not want to go back there. I’m grateful that I can go to AA meetings online. I will certainly get to a meeting today.

All this makes me feel bad. I feel damaged. I was describing myself to a friend like an old dented car. I’ve done a lot of work and healed a lot of my pain, but the dents are still there. I’ve only painted over them. I just don’t feel good.

Reason for Hope

I feel good even if it is Monday.

I got a letter from my dad last Friday that said I’ve dishonored the family name and I need to repent. When I read the letter, I felt nothing. I knew that was not really the best response. By that evening, I was angry, which seemed more appropriate. The next morning in meditation, the grief came. That also seemed like an appropriate response.

I’m happy to say it faded. I’m completely over it. I will take that letter with me to my next therapy appointment, and I won’t read future letters from him.

I had a second date with a man last night. We went out for coffee for our first date, and we’ve been regularly texting since. This one feels different. He feels different. He doesn’t feel like he needs any fixing. He feels whole. He’s whip smart and has a very singular sense of humor. We had a good conversation about many of his ways of looking at life.

I honestly feel like I’m approaching this budding relationship in a different way. Regular readers know that I can rush things. I’m really not doing that with this man. At least, I’m not doing it and then acting on it. I have had some fantasies of being with him long term and what that might look like, but I’m not telling him about those fantasies. I’m allowing the fantasies to have their space, and then I let them fade. The result is that I’m allowing this relationship to develop organically.

I met him at a monthly gay professionals group that I’ve been going to for some years, so I’ve known this man for a while. That’s also a good thing. One of the points that makes me the most hopeful about this relationship is that he asked me for my number. That’s only the second time in my recent life that’s happened. It’s always me asking the other man for his number. This man asked for my number, and then he followed through and texted first.

So I survived an abusive letter from my dad, and I had a good second date. I have reason to feel good this morning.

Off Kilter

I’m sad today. It’s not an unreasonable response to events in my life over the past few months.

It could devolve into panic, so to allay that, I’ve taken some medicine to help me stay calm. It’s working.

I had a good meditation this morning, but my mind is not quiet right now. It’s restless. I think that’s the best way to describe it.

I’m not having negative thoughts exactly, so there’s no reason to use the STFU tool my therapist and I came up with. However,  I like that tool. I’m thinking of expanding its use.

Ugh. I just want to shout, “Ugh!”

I know this will pass. Something will come along to cheer me up.

I went out and got some exercise this morning, even though I really didn’t feel like it. That’s two days in a row. Yay me!

This post is rambling like my thoughts.

Again, I know this will pass. I just wish it would hurry up and do it.

The Plan

I had a session with my psychologist after work yesterday, and it was obviously timely. I needed it badly. Anyone who read yesterday’s post will understand I was not in a good mood.

He helped me formulate a simple plan to silence The Voice that I wrote about yesterday. It is very loud, and it lies to me telling me many evil things about me and my self-worth. The grand plan is to stop The Voice and tell it to “Shut the f*ck up!” in no uncertain terms.

The Voice was put inside my head by parents who don’t love me and by a society that really doesn’t give a rat’s ass about how I’m faring in life. It only rears its ugly head when I’m stressed or feeling low due to other matters. January was not a good month for me: my parents disowned me and a reorganization at work is causing me great pain. Those were tremendous stressors, and my grief in the face of the tumult was completely understandable. Yesterday, I experienced a renewed wave of the grief.

That wave has passed. I am confident The Plan will work.

I will continue to use my tools. I slept well last night, one of my tools. My meditation this morning was a good one. I had lots of interfering wandering thoughts, but I was able to get some good breathing in. My psychologist liked hearing that I’m using the medicine I get from my psychiatrist. He said to keep it up. My diet is the same healthy food that I’ve been eating for years.

And to top it off, I went for a brisk walk this morning before work. There it was. I had an extra thirty minutes this morning with nothing really that needed to be done, so I tied on my walking shoes and went out the door. I probably walked a mile and a half, and I went at a much slower pace than I’ve done in the past, but who gives a rip? I have my fingers crossed that I’ll keep up the exercise.

Tools: medication, meditation, therapy, diet, sleep, and exercise. These things keep me on an even keel. I’ve done them today. We’ll let tomorrow take care of itself.

Now, where is that elusive boyfriend?

Shallow Heaviness

I wrote about feeling heavy a few weeks ago. It’s never really lifted, and I feel just a kind of lassitude. I don’t know how to describe it otherwise. I’m just not cheerful. At the same time, it doesn’t feel tremendously awful. This feeling has a bottom.

I know what it feels like at the bottom of the pit of despair. I was there many, many years ago. I haven’t been there in a very long time, over a decade, and I hope to never return. Still, I feel low.

I have good reason to feel low. There’s the parental thing. There are enormous changes at my job directly causing me pain. I’m single, and I don’t want to be.

Here’s the thing I’ve never written about. My finances are a mess. I’m so ashamed of it. I’m going to talk about it in therapy tomorrow. I’ve talked about it there before. It’s not credit card debt thankfully.

I had a plan – an actual budgeted, written plan – to get myself out of this mess, and then the changes at work happened putting everything in turmoil. My salary is going to be decreased, and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to make it.

[I am editing this post after having written it. I want to add that difficulty with finances and overspending is an honest symptom of bipolar disorder. It’s written in the DSM-V. It’s right there in black and white. This is a real diagnosable thing. Did I mention that in this post when I originally wrote it? No. That’s how deep my shame is about my finances. I have a real illness that causes me difficulty, but because it’s a mental illness and there is stigma attached to it, I feel shame. I still think this is completely my fault. Did I spend the money? Yes. Do I have to pay my bills? Yes. Do I need to feel shame about it? No.]

I’ve written all this to say that I have good reason to feel low. This is not unreasonable.

I also know this low is shallow, because I’m at work, and I’m functioning. I’m getting stuff done. My mood is down, but it’s not desperately low. If this were despair like I’ve experienced in the distant past, I would not get out of bed.

Writing about all this helps. I know this for a fact: speaking my pain out loud makes it lose some of its power. That’s one of the reasons therapy is so powerful. It’s a time to go and talk about all the crap in my life to a person who is not personally involved in all the mess. It’s validating to hear him simply tell me that yes, indeed, I have a lot going on.

I know I’m going to make it through all this mire. I know this will end, and I will feel better. I just wish it would hurry up.

Turning the Corner

I had a great therapy session yesterday, and I slept nine hours last night. I feel great!

I worked through some important points in therapy yesterday. I’ve been working through them for a long time, but the anger I had yesterday was the catalyst I needed to complete the work.

I have been obsessed with finding a boyfriend. To hell with that! I’m going to date and just leave it up to the Universe. I’m just going to have fun. The boyfriend will happen when it happens. I have released the obsession.

I am worried about the reorganization that is happening where I work. It’s causing me problems directly in the form of compensation. You know what? I’ll figure it out. I do not know what’s going to happen, but I’ve decided I can’t worry about it right now. Somehow it will work out.

I am fabulous! Fuck anybody who disagrees!

Heaviness

My heart is heavy. I had two real traumas in January. The first was when my dad called to disown me. The second came much later in the month, and it had to do with my job.

The agency where I work is being reorganized. As part of that reorganization, my job is being reclassified, and the little office I run is being made part of a new office. The result is that my salary is being slashed by a lot. The reorganization takes place July 1. At that time, the new office will come into effect. It will have a new office manager, and I will be eligible to apply for it, but there is no way to know in advance if I will be successful.

I spent much of last week reeling with this news. There were days my anxiety was so high I had to take sick leave at work. The slash to my income is too high for me to manage. If my application for the new management position is unsuccessful, I will have to take a roommate to afford my rent. I have analyzed my budget, and I can’t make ends meet by simply cutting expenses.

I have done several things to prepare. I have immediately slashed spending. I still have a number of months to go at my current salary. I will save every stray penny that I can.

I just feel very heavy.

Through it all, I realize that I’m quite strong. I have weathered two real traumas, but I’m still standing. I haven’t isolated. I’ve been out on two dates. One man came to my house, and I made him a cup of very good coffee. I met another man for coffee. I was able to tell both about my troubles and demonstrate that I’m resilient.

I’ve been seeing my therapist weekly.

I’ve been sleeping a lot, which can be a sign of depression, but sleep is one of my recovery tools, so I take this as a good sign. I say “a lot,” but it really just is a healthy amount. It’s not too much.

I’m taking all my medications as prescribed, and I have made an extra appointment with my psychiatrist to tell him what’s going on. He needs to know about these things to help me monitor myself for signs of debilitating relapse into depression or hypomania.

I’m meditating as much as I can. I’ve started walking down to the cathedral during work breaks and getting some even breathing in that time.

My diet is unchanged. I eat healthy food. I don’t drink soda. The only thing that is close to junk food I’m eating these days is trail mix, which is mostly nuts and raisins with a few M&Ms.

I’m going to AA meetings when I can. That’s about two or three times each week. It’s good to be around other people working on improving themselves.

One thing I’m not doing is exercising. I’m just not doing it, and I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

Despite two real traumas, I’m going to be OK. Right now, I’m allowing myself to feel heavy. This is grief.

Just Maybe

I feel OK this morning.

I’m definitely not doing a happy dance, but I’m not in a pit of despair either. I was in that pit Tuesday. That was a really painful day. I managed to stay at work all day, but I was hurting bad.

I’m not hurting bad this morning. Just maybe I feel a teensy bit light. I guess it’s not hard to feel a bit light after how low I’ve been.

I even went out this morning and got a bit of exercise. I walked a mile at a very brisk pace. Speed walking is something I’ve enjoyed for years. For a long time, I walked 6 mornings every week. I haven’t walked recently, but I walked this morning. After meditation, I stood there and thought it would be a good idea to cap off that good experience of sitting and breathing by walking, so I did.

Just maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I am certain there will be more sadness, but just maybe it will be of shorter duration when it comes. Just maybe I’m healing.

If you don’t know what’s going on, you’re going to have to back up in the blog and read the events of the last 3 weeks or so.

Negative Self-Talk

I had a really good session with my therapist yesterday. We were able to work through my anger I was feeling toward him. I was also able to talk more about this enormous loss. Finally, we went through the really interesting dream I had. It had a lot of hope in it.

I’m struggling this morning. My negative self-talk is really loud. I’m combating it by first coming to work. Keeping busy will give my mind less time to wander.

I’m also using a technique I learned: Catch it. Check it. Change it. The first thing to do is catch the negative thoughts. Then check their veracity, and finally to change the thoughts.

With the kind of loss I’ve suffered, my mind is telling me lies about many things. I’ve got a list of ways to counter those thoughts. I’m having to repeat those things a lot, and it’s tiring.

Recovery is tiring. I’m going to keep doing it just for today. I’ll let tomorrow worry about itself.