I resisted delivering my message at Quaker meeting this morning. For quite some time. Gun-shy. Because I had an Unpleasant Confrontation with an aquaintance in relation to my last vocal ministry.
How convoluted is that?
Here is the normal-person translation: I sang out of the silence during our unprogrammed meeting and someone didn't like my song.
This should not be earth-shattering. Not every "message" is meant for every person. Quite often I hear messages that do not speak to me. Sometimes things that people say don't strike me as terribly messagelike. But who am I to say?
Still, I wanted to make extra super double-triple SURE that the song had "risen to the level of vocal ministry."
This is Quaker-speak for sitting with the "message" (whether song or speech) inside yourself for long enough to see if it makes you physically uncomfortable. At least thats how I test to see if I really have a message to deliver.
Often I have a song that is playing over and over and over in my head. And sometimes the song is just a meditation. An internal chant. A way to focus my thoughts or unfocus my mind and center.
But sometimes when the song plays over and over and over it is fighting to get out. And to tell the difference I sit with it and see what happens. Meditative songs make me feel calm. Songs as messages make me feel jittery and light-headed.
This morning when my internal soundtrack went on continuous repeat I waited until I was taking deep shuddering breaths and my heart started to dance an unpleasant jig. My fingers were tangled in knots in my lap and my spine was stiff...
So I figured that I would just have to bite the bullet and let the song out and deal with whatever unpleasant consequences might follow because otherwise I was not listening to the small voice within. And it was rapidly becoming a big voice within. And it was starting to get really, really irritated with me.
So I sang. And it was not a song that particularly spoke to my own condition. It was about someone who is grieving and trying not to look back, but can't help herself. And can't let go. And is now forgiving herself for those feelings.
...and if the truth be told I'm a pillar of salt...
And when I was done singing the zizzing energy went out of me and my heart slowed and my whole body relaxed and I didn't care if there were going to be unpleasant interactions surrounding this particular song because it was so clearly a message for someone.
And there was one person at the meeting who had a small child... and had stayed away from meeting since the loss of that child's twin. And the song was a healing experience. A gentle welcome.
I am amazed at my own non-theism sometimes.
I don't need to understand what happens in meeting. I just need to listen.
I went into the kitchen last night presumably to unload and load the dishwasher. In the process of this I started stewing over some comment. Or maybe it wasn't even a comment. It could have been something I made up in my head. Or maybe just an observation that I often enjoy reading on my bed when other people are in the living room... which I managed to turn into an accusatory attack on my moral fiber and my worth as a human being.
(Wow, writing this a day later it seems utterly bat$#!t.)
Then I looked around at the counters full of shash and felt Monster Guilt. And then engaged in Hypomanic Cleaning Hour. Not long enough to be called a mood episode, thank goodness. But with all the feelings that accompany the driven, irritable, unstoppable, obsessive behavior. And I figured that if I was goingt to have to deal with all this anxiety-fueled zizzing energy, I might as well put it to good use.
I cleaned until I was sweating up a storm and the countertops glistened and every dish was done and the floor was swept and mopped and the chaos that I had created was half-gone. I only got around to the West half of the kitchen.
When Spouse asked what was wrong, I didn't really have a good answer.
The one I made up on the spot was this:
I am angry that I am needy. Because when you are needy and clingy, you don't know if you are needED since you are always clinging to the person you hope needs you.
And I don't like feeling needy. Because needy people are not fun to be around. They can be a real drag. And I looked at the house and the stuff and the chaos and owned ALL OF IT and thought to myself, why WOULD anyone want to be around me.
Sure, they can love me and like me and think that I am the bees knees and all, but who wants to be NEAR this kind of mess. Honestly. Better to engage in a relationship through correspondence. And that is not really the kind of relationship that I want with Spouse.
This, of course, was an entirely manufactured issue. I do not actually own all of the mess. I am not really a liability to my family. Spouse does want to be near me and I am well aware that I am loved. I just need to learn to cut myself some fricken' slack.
Super glad that I talked to Spouse about what was upsetting to me even though it seemed really dumb and it was hard for me to come up with the words. When it feels like you are upset just because you are upset... or the reason got lost somewhere in the third sinkfull of dishes...
Grateful Crap: developing a vocabulary and a capacity for talking about things that are causing me stress in the moment-- and not days later when I am the only one who remembers.
took meds every day
gym or tap on most days
tea with parent
yellow glasses at night (I really like this... although the prescription is not quite right for close-up, so reading is difficult. Which means I go to sleep sooner, which is a fine thing.)
I was supposed to have an appointment with OFP (the once and future psychologist) and she had to cancel. Which was an afront to me, because people in the profession of caring for others are not allowed to have anything unexpected happen in their own lives. Ha.
I would have been super upset if I had arranged my entire day around this visit, but here's what happened instead:
I was happily reading a book on my phone. Then an alert from my calendar popped up and said I had a therapy appointment in 1/2 hour! So I scrambled to get the daughter ready, called Spouse and arranged for him to take her to lunch, jumped into the car, dropped off the daughter and started speeding (just at the legal limit) toward the OFP's office.
Then I got a call from an unfamiliar number. It was her office. 10 minutes before my appointment was supposed to start. Cancelling the appointment.
So Spouse had lunch with the daughter and I picked her up when she was done. No harm, no foul.
Only now I have to call again to reschedule and I feel like I have to say something to the OFP and/or the clerical staff about PLEASE giving me more notice that an appointment has been cancelled. And also, I thought I was signed up to get a reminder call. Which clearly, I need.
There's a spot on my left wrist that has a scar from when I used to reflexively scrape at the skin with my fingernails as a teen. Two parallel scars, actually. Quite faint. I used to be quite self-conscious of them, but if I didn't know they were there I doubt I could even find them.
This is the spot that I scratched open when I was in the Depths of Despair following a confrontation with an aquaintance that did not go well a few weeks ago. And then I left it alone.
Only it bothers me now because it doesn't look right. I know what it is supposed to look like. It should be a solid line-- not a few patches of scabby skin. And I keep wanting to just even it out. Because it is not right.
You know those neuroses that they say people with Bipolar II are prone to? Well, here's another one. What seems to be tying a number of these neurotic thoughts and behaviors is a very specific idea of how things Ought to Look.
And what strange things I pick on. Do I need the latest fashions? Am I concerned that my nail color is "So last year?" Or that my garden is a manicured splendor of perennials and annuals competing for their place in the sun with bobbing heads? Nope.
Table settings. Bedspreads. Scars. The usual.
I will share this information with the OFP at my next visit. Only she is sure to want to get at what is behind the neurotic behavior. And heal whatever that is. And that sounds like way too much work. I'd rather just close my eyes and wear a lot of bracelets.
In the world of Adult Basic Education (and maybe elsewhere) there is a concept of "gradual release." In this model, students get a lot of help when they are beginners, less help as they gain more facility which prepares them for release-- when they can do things on their own.
Recently the children and I have proven ourselves to be competent enough to get out of the house without extraordinary measures on the part of Spouse. I think since my gradual return to usefulness happened so gradually (and in fits and starts and not without hiccups) it took a while for any of us to notice.
That instead of having one useful parent and one parent who was actuall a liability in the morning ritual of Getting Out The Door, we began having two parents getting in the way of one another trying to do the same things in a small house. So we tried an experiment: Spouse leaving for work an hour before the children left for school.
And most of my solo parenting days went pretty much okay.
I got out of bed before 7 am and was actually awake.
I did not forget to take my medication any of the mornings.
The children did not miss the bus.
I made it to work on time.
The children had lunches (although I think once the "lunch" consisted of an apple, some carrots and a cheese stick)
The children had school uniforms, backpacks with schoolstuff and warm clothes
One day the eldest even had matching gloves (!)
And most of the time this was done with a minimum of yelliness.
I engaged more in the quiet kind of yelliness.
The whispered count-down... we will leave in 5 minutes. Without reminders of all the things that need to be done.
And a bit of... I do not care for the way you are talking to me. We will not be leaving until you brush your teeth.
And a small amount of... because I said so. And I am the parent.
Note: house still a mess, still not really up on the folding of laundry or the cleaning of the kitchen or the making of dinner. These things still require extraordinary measures.
Here are my ridiculous and completely irrational excuses:
I cannot think about cooking anything until the kitchen things are all put away and I can't imagine putting them all away without making a giant unmanigeable project of it. So.
There is really no place to put the folded clothes until I have gone through all the clothes in all the drawers and taken out things that don't fit or that nobody wears, or that belong to summer. And in order to do that I have to go into the basement to get some large bins and I will either get stuck in the basement decluttering OR I will just get bogged down in the whole sorting mess. Instead people can just stuff their drawers full to overflowing and pull everything out in the hopes they can find something to wear. So why bother folding?
The last time I tried to do some light cleaning it very quickly turned into Yet Another Redesign of the children's bedroom. Complete with furniture moving and reshelving board games and moving of stereo equipment and sorting every toy. And a mad dash to have the floor clear enough that the children could physically get to their beds. This was Tuesday. So I am leary.
I think I need to phone a friend to come and boss me around. Do this one thing and then report back. My executive functioning is not to be trusted in regards to how to tackle The Desaster That Is My House. And the things that matter to me are different than the things that matter to everyone else. Which makes it even more confusing.
I admit, it bothers me that symmetry is not a palindrome. And come to think of it, it bothers me that palindrome is not a palindrome.
My favorite time of day is 11:11 pm. When I do beading projects or sewing projects or knitting projects I am so wedded to symmetry that more than once I have knitted two left mittens. Which is the wrong sort of symmetry.
I get twitchy when table settings are not matching or at least coordinating or have some semblance of order. Which they usually don't so then I would rather not even try and just have a giant mismatch of violent colors. The table equivalent of saying "My preschooler dressed herself today" in response to the purple tights, hot pink shoes, green plaid shirt and sparkly sweater.
And when people sit down at a table, it should have a regular shape. Symmetrical. Square or rectangle or oval or kidney-shaped. I am not picky. Only sometimes people combine tables. And sometimes the tables don't fit together just right. And this makes me more than a little bit twitchy. I can actually feel myself breaking out in a rash. A cold sweat. I can't imagine sitting at the table.
Naturally at work-related outing we had to smash three tables together to fit us all and they formed a misshapen L. It would have been so easy to correct the problem, only no one else saw it as a problem and they were already sitting down and the big boss was there and I was already feeling a bit out of place so I didn't say anything.
I just sat there in the elbow of the L and pointedly did NOT look down so I could pretend the tables were aligned just so. At the time this made me feel like a freak. Now, looking back, I think it was an excellent strategy for coping with something that was causing me an irrational amount of stress.
And what is amazing to me is that even though I know that none of these things really matter... I am not Martha Stewart. I do not need the perfect place settings. Nothing horrible will happen if any of these anxiety-producing happenings occur.
But as with most irrational things, knowing does not help.
Knowing that the spider in the house is not venemous and perfectly harmless. Knowing that the creaking noises in the dark are just the sounds of an old house settling. Knowing that there is not a predator lurking around the street corner waiting to snatch your child.
Especially when the over-developed paranoia centers of the brain (which I am sure encompasses at least 85% of our gray matter) argue that although these things are UNLIKELY, it doesn't mean that they are impossible.
There could be a venemous spider in the house. Maybe a brown recluse. They look just like regular spiders, right? And they could be here. You don't know.
And maybe the creaking noises in the house are the sounds of an intruder stepping on the third stair that always complains when someone puts weight on it. Maybe it is the sound of a burglar already in your house.
And however unlikely the predatory child-snatcher is, we know from sensational news reports that this does in fact happen. Never mind looking at any statistics that your child is in much more danger of being killed in a car accident with you at the wheel than being swept up by a lurking menace... It happens to some children. It could happen to yours.
What's interesting is that I don't even have a bad outcome in mind for the things that wig me out. What will happen if the tables aren't even? I will be uncomfortable. Gee, what a dire consequence.
the time is 11:11 sie mit eht
tables set with careful eye lufe rach tiwt essel bat
all is surely level y ler us silla
this alone our tenet ru oe no la siht
symmetry in every deed yre veni yrt emmys
I admit, it bothers me that this word is not a palindrome. And come to think of it, it bothers me that palandrome is not a palandrome. My favorite time of day is 11:11 pm. When I do beading projects or sewing projects or knitting projects I am so wedded to symmetry that more than once I have knitted two left mittens. Which is the wrong sort of symmetry.
I would like to go back and figure out if my obsessive projecty-things alternate between physically demanding and mentally demanding tasks.
As soon as I finished presenting, my brain went on walkabout. I was very slow. And tired. And needed to just not do anything.
EXCEPT that every time I turned my computer on I needed to mess with the website that is an offshoot of the presentation that we gave. (This sounds like that poem about this is the house that jack built. This is the cheese that lay in the house that jack built. This is the rat that ate the cheese that lay in the house that jack built...)
And because of that I neglected my blog because every time I got near a computer I was drawn in to this other project. For hours.
So TODAY I managed not to do more than ten minutes (maybe twenty) on the work-related (sort-of) website.
And I dug in to redesigning the children's bedroom (for the 2,348th time. this year.)
I moved a giant bookcase out and carried a dresser up from the basement and sorted through all the things on the floor and relocated all of my son's clothes and moved the stereo and carried up a table and thought about sweeping and my daughter looked at me as I was in zombie declutter mode and she said, "It's already night." and even as I was crashing around in her room, she crawled into her bed, pulled up the covers and fell asleep.
I am just idly curious to see if there is any pattern behind the obsessive projects.
Therapist cancelled on me today. Which was kind of okay because I forgot about the appointment until half an hour before it started. But I had just dropped off daughter with Spouse and was on my way when I got the cancellation call. Sheesh.
Grateful Crap: a bunch of stuff
a bunch of other stuff
Worked out at the Y today (this too had fallen by the wayside in the stressful crunch of presentation madness)
For the last few weeks... but especially this week I have been wrapped up in putting together my first professional presentation. Meaning my first presentation at a professional conference. I was not nervous about the public speaking part. I was more concerned about technology, and about having the handouts and slides Just So.
My co-presenter was very worried about other things. And this caused STRESS. It also made our presentation totally kick butt.
Here is an example of the level of detail I was getting hung up on: I requested to take control of the slide design because I am a control freak and have recently become enamored of Universal Design. So.
In the week before the presentation I was trying to get the PERFECT shade of green for a particular section. I went hunting for color charts on the web and wrote down the codes for the greens that I liked and tried each one systematically. I stayed up remarkably late obsessing about this. Knowing that it would not matter to anyone but me. And there was not right answer, which made it even harder to choose the right one.
My other quirky thing was my posessiveness of the handouts. And my determination that the handout packet would NOT be a copy of our slides, but would be a magical document that could serve as a resource for years to come. And also not be confusing to people while we presented.
Here is what my partner was doing: going over and over the slides and creating a minute-by-minute, slide-by-slide presentation outline. Changing little details. Tweaking the times by a little here, a little there.
So when she thought I had randomly deleted half of our slides the day before the presentation and she redid all of her notes based on this assumption... it caused some stress.
THEN, the night before the conference, my car broke down. On Friday afternoon on my way to pick up the boys from the bus stop. Spouse bussed to their stop and then they all road home with a kind parent in a blue car with butt warmers. My children were ecstatic.
Someone came to try to jump start the car. No go. So we had the car towed to a repair place. Spouse went with the tow truck. Children were watching television and eating pizza. I was sitting in a dark room, feeling despair settle in my gut and drowning in a sea of mis-printed handouts that I was cannibalising to make a tricked-out presentation binder.
And I had to work the next day and I didn't know how I was going to get all my things with me and somehow it did not occur to me that I have friends with cars nearby who would have been perfectly happy to either give me a lift or lend me their car. Funny how in crisis mode the brain doesn't work. It was like the engine that would not start. Turning over and over and over but never catching.
So I texted my boss and told her that I couldn't make it to work. I had all kinds of improbably alternate plans involving circus clowns. a singing telegram and a guest-appearance by Shirley Temple Black. She did not respond, which I took to mean she agreed with the plan.
However, I woke the next morning at 8:00 am to find that she had texted me at 1:00 in the morning: I will pick you up at 8:30 at your house. Please send me your address.
So, I jumped up, ran around, showered, found clothes, threw everything that I needed (and then some) for the presentation in a box, wolfed down some cold pizza and was ready with thirty seconds to spare when my boss arrived.
Then there was a snow storm, and my partner was late to pick me up and we were later than we wanted to be to the conference which meant that instead of having an hour to leisurely set up and talk through things... we had ten minutes in which to quickly check the technology, run down to the main doors to grab our nametags and GO.
However, we knocked the presentation out of the park. Really. I'm prettty sure that is a baseball reference. Once I went to a soccer game and the fans were people who had definitely not watched soccer before. When the ball went into the stands, a person in the crowd caught the ball and believed he could take it home as a souvenir. Ha.
I am enjoying the process of having my mental state be less interesting. Of my energy levels not kicking me to the curb for days at a time. I am not saying that I don't swing from one extreme to the other... but it is perhaps less extreme and lasts for less time.
I have not been keeping my "optimism" app populated with mood and hours of sleep. Becuase things seemed to be going well. But I want the data from the good times, too. So I will get back on that.
I had something to say... oh yes I am obsessing a bit (or a lot) over presentation materials for a regional teacher conference thing. I have not presented at a conference before. It is not the public speaking that has me nervous. It is having materials that I feel comfortable handing out.
Here are some of the things that have made me cringe in the materials we were starting with... hand-written page numbers. Copies from books that were printed askew on the page. Poor quality copies difficult to read. Hand-written acknowledgements.
So I am spending kind of a ridiculous amount of time moving everything to a single document, getting images as respectable as possible and eliminating hand-written items.
But I will say, that attention to this level of detail is taking a foolishly long time. And now I am going to go to sleep.
Long day at work. Forgot to drink anything until 12:30. Cannot recommend this as a strategy to avoid feeling floaty and full of headache. Tried to nap for a while. Failed miserably, but throwing everything at the headache (drugs, water, rest, warm compress on tense neck muscles, a bit of caffeine...) helped greatly.
I recovered enough from my afternoon malaise to do my 1/2 hour of tap dancing in the kitchen. I have discovered... now don't laugh... that my main problem with tap dancing is not the steps themselves, but in knowing which foot is supporting my weight. Too often I end up splitting the difference and kind of falling over.
I will miss my class tomorrow. Not happy about that, but work-related function. Oh well.
Big yawns, getting late, must dash.
took meds (the usual)
talked with friends
laughed with family
I had a good night's sleep only it wasn't clear through... there was a little space of not-sleeping for about two hours. But before that and after that I was just fine.
And for some reason I thought about looking at sleep disturbances as being injuries to a healthy night of sleep.
Different types of wounds to sleep:
Incision - when you're sleep is cut short by something suddenly.
laceraton - you wake more gradually. torn from sleep.
abrasion - skidding along the surface of sleep. Not really waking up, but not resting well.
avulsion - when you partially fall out of the bed and wake yourself
puncture - something enters your sleep space and wakes you and then leaves.
So last night I would say I suffered from a combination a sleep puncture caused by a 3yo who needed new sheets on the bed. And the resulting trauma to my sleep caused me to have a great deal of trouble getting back to sleep.
From 2 - 4 am? I think? I was awake. And I decided to stay in bed and read on my phone. This is probably not a good plan. I think I will get out of bed to read the next time this happens. I know that is what the sleep people recommend.
Energetic today, which makes me worry about tomorrow. I always pay for lack of sleep somehow, right?
First snow of the season today. 3yo went outside in her pajamas and bare feet before we could rein her in. Once dressed and outside she was so enthralled by the snow that she could not be coaxed back inside. I decided not to fight her on this one and packed a bag breakfast for her to eat on the way to preschool.
Grateful Crap: see above
forgot my morning meds until 3:45pm :(
but then I remembered
some other stuff
maybe I will tap dance
Went to Quaker Business Meeting today to hear my letter for membership read. Technically it is called Meeting for Worship with Attention to Business. And it begins and ends in silence.
I have had the membership packed in my home for many years. I have put off the process for some time. What prompted me now?
Well, in part I feel like I am getting my crap together enough to think about pulling together the membership materials. And I can stand to be around people enough to enjoy the process (since it involves other people... and at my lowest I could handle person, but not people).
Also, the fact that my oldest has begun to refer to himself as a Quaker. And that made me think that associate membership might mean something to him as well.
And it just seemed about dang time.
The clerk of the meeting likened becoming a member to becoming married.
I have been living with Quakerism for the last 10-some years. We have a committed relationship, Quakerism and I. I am not going anywhere.
But becoming a member of my meeting makes this relationship public. It is acknowledged by my faith community in a formal way. I will not be more a part of the community than I am now. In fact, the majority of people at business meeting assumed that I was a member of long-standing. Ha!
When I got married the minister asked if Spouse and I were living together. Yes. So why did we want to get married? This is the same kind of thing. Quakerism and I are living together. So why do I want to be a member?
I want to formally acknowledge my attachment to Quakerism as a whole and to my local meeting in specific. I have relaxed my standards of perfectionsim that I demand of myself as a member as well. It is the new kinder, gentler me.
Part of the reason I hesitated before was that I didn't regularly (or ever) attend business meeting. And I am not currently serving on a committee. And I didn't feel like a particularly "weighty" friend.
Mind you, I do not hold any other members or potential members to these same standards. And that is what I have realized is stupid. So perhaps it is the recognition of my persistent perfectionism and trying to live more in the middle that has prompted me to finally complete my membership packet.
Step one: write letter (done)
Step two: letter read at Business Meeting (done)
Step three: ministry and council does something mysterious including formation of a clearness committee (in process)
Quaker, teacher, parent,