Chaos Theory, aka The Butterfly Effect

Over the past several months, I have had a slow progressive spiral down towards serious depression. I know that I am prone to depression, so I do whatever I can to avoid it. It’s not a fun place to be. Sometimes, sheer will is the only thing that gets me through the day. The past two weeks have been especially hard on me. I have known for 26 years that my left knee is bum. A combination of patella-femoral syndrome and arthritis, so I’ve spent roughly 68% of my life favoring that leg because of the pain and stiffness. Finally, things came to a head and on Saturday, the 7th, my right knee decided that it’s had enough and it collapsed beneath me. The bright spot in this event is that it happened when I was walking up the stairs on my way into work, so I do have worker’s comp helping me out, but it’s a slow, bureaucratic filled process, and my knee is not getting better on its own, as far as I can tell. I’m waiting for approval to get physical therapy, which hopefully would make everything all better again. Unfortunately, it appears that it is either a severely sprained or torn lateral meniscus, so PT probably won’t do a whole lot, but I can’t do anything else until I get past this next step. That’s not really what this post is about. That was just a mini-vent, because I’m in pain, and being in pain for long periods of time is a known contributor to depression.

On to the real statement of this post.

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. I’m sure I’m not alone. I accept that they are my mistakes, and I have to deal with the fallout from the choices I make in life, including mistakes. I’ve come to the conclusion that every single bad choice I have made in my life is because I have chosen to put the needs and/or desires of someone else before my own wants/needs. There is a reason why flight attendants always tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping other people. If you are helping other people before helping yourself, they are going to benefit – which is a good thing – but you are going to suffer for it – which is a bad thing. Being the type of person who tries to please others whenever possible, I forget that sometimes I need to make decisions based on what is going to be best for me, first. I know that sounds a bit selfish, but I still think it’s true. The only major decision I’ve ever made in my life where I put my own needs first was when I packed up my life and moved from California to North Carolina. I knew I was unhappy, and that I needed to do something drastic before I became one of those people you see on TLC or MTV reality shows. Living in the Carolinas – both North and South – are some of the happiest years in my life, barring a few bad events. Again, those bad events happened because I put someone else’s needs before my own.

I’m alive, but I’m not living my life. Everything I do is because I’m trying to make someone else happy. Somewhere, along the line, I subconsciously decided that my own happiness was not as important. That’s just plain stupid. I deserve to be happy, but I know that in order to get that back, I need to start evaluating every aspect of my life and deciding which things I’m doing because they are beneficial to my well-being, or if I’m doing it because I think that it’s the expected thing to do to make someone else happier or to make their life easier.

I’m 38 years old, and I’m having a mid-life crisis. Unfortunately, unless we’re using a very, very loose interpretation of “mid-life” (as in, it’s happening at some point between being born and dying), I’m well past the mid-point in my life expectancy. The worst part of always trying to make other people happy is when it doesn’t work, and then both you and that other person are unhappy. I have said ad nauseum that I want to get out of California, because this state is sucking away at whatever happiness I have left. So, it’s time to play with some butterflies, and set some changes in motion that are going to make me a happier person. I’m tired of hiding my unhappiness, and the fact that I’m always in pain, and that I feel like no one cares about me. I know that last part is the depression talking to me, but it’s a very convincing whisper repeated in my brain endlessly. I want to be happy. I’m scared of doing anything that is going to make someone else unhappy, but I can’t keep living that way. From now on,  I promise myself that every choice I make will consider whether I am doing it to make myself happy or to make someone else happy. If the answer is that it only makes the other person happy, it’s just too bad for that person. I need to start focusing on myself. It’s time to write down my list of goals, and get back on track to finding my way back to happiness.

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Today has been excruciating for me

I know I complain a lot about my constant pain, but it’s such a central part of my existence that I can’t really ever get away from it. With the new damage to my right knee, I’m hobbling in a completely different way than normal, which is – naturally – causing my already bad left knee to whine that it’s being mistreated as well. So, now I have two knees in constant pain, that both make crunchy grindy sounds and random pops, even when braced.  I’m beyond exhausted right now, and all I want to do is sleep for the next two days until I’m forced to go back to work. And of course, working in an office building, I get stopped constantly to ask if I’m okay and to find out what happened. I explain it several times a day, but it never ceases to be a enthralling to my coworkers. Today is one of those days where I would happily be ugly as sin and even flatter broke than I already am, just to trade off having the constant pain. Does anyone have a line to the Devil? I’m ready to deal.

On love and family

I wasn’t planning on writing tonight, because my pain level is through the roof, but then I decided that maybe if I got some of my tangled thoughts out of my head, it might help me sleep. This is going to be a very personal post, because I’m feeling stripped down to my most basic feelings right now. There is a very special person in my world, whom I have known for most of my life, and who I have been madly in love with for many years. The problem is that I know that he doesn’t love me, not the same way. We have our moments where everything works out wonderfully for a short period of time, and then it breaks down again. I know that he and I will never have a successful relationship, but I still can’t completely pull myself away from him. I know that’s a toxic situation, but I had a toxic upbringing, so I guess that’s “normal” for me.

I was the unwanted child. I was the afterthought. My older sister did her best to kill me when I was a child. Back in the 70s, it was considered cute, not dangerous, when an older sibling would shove a younger sibling down a flight of concrete stairs. Repeatedly. My father doted on my sister (and still does, I imagine) but simply put up with me. I remember, after my parents divorced, every Friday night, my father would get dressed up and go out places. Presumably looking for women. I hated being alone in the house, so I taught myself to bake, because if I was busy, I didn’t think about being alone in the house when I was 10 years old. The good thing is that I am now a fantastic baker. The bad thing is that life with my father has screwed me up as far as relationships go. I have spent most of my life dating men that I knew would either reject me, abuse me, or otherwise not be available to me. I have been punched, I have been beaten, I have been thrown into walls, I have been told repeatedly that I am not worthy of love. And so, I go on chasing what I can’t have, or what I know will cause me pain. Physical pain heals so much easier than mental pain. Bruises fade within a week or two. The emotional scars from my childhood are still there nearly 40 years later.

I don’t know how to love. I don’t know what it feels like to be loved. I have friends who love me, but that’s a different kind of love. I have never been the most important person in anyone’s life except for perhaps the first two years of my son’s life when he depended on me for everything. My son is in 6th grade now, and nearly as tall as me. I realized today that he has told me he loves me more than both of my parents put together. Maybe it’s just an automatic sign off when we get off the phone, but it still touches me. The only other family member who always made it a point to say “I love you” was my stepdad. That’s right. The one who married into my family could tell me that he loved me, but my own parents couldn’t express it. Not that I am ungrateful to my parents. After all, without them, I wouldn’t be here. Then again, I’m pretty messed up medically, so maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.

I keep telling myself to just keep on being me, and maybe someday I’ll find that “perfect” person out there that is supposedly waiting for me. Unfortunately, I don’t believe in perfect, and I don’t see myself ever finding anyone who can see past the physical problems and the mental problems, and deciding it’s worth it. There are a lot more women out there who have less baggage, and require less effort. I know that deep down in the reptilian core of my mind, I’m searching for the unconditional love that I sought from my father, who was an expert at throwing rejection back in my face and telling me everything in life I have done wrong, and probably will do wrong. If I thought I’d live long enough, I’d joke about becoming the crazy old cat lady, but instead, I worry about who is going to care for my cat when I’m gone.

For those who know me, yeah, the pain is excruciating today. Worse than normal. I tell myself that it’s just pain, and to go on, but sometimes, I just wish I had someone who loved me enough to hold me and lie to me to tell me that everything will be okay.

Today was a rough day for me

Unfortunately, I never know when a day is going to be good or bad, so I can’t plan around it. I get hints, when my insomnia kicks in, but sometimes I still end up having a good day afterwards. I know that I have depression, and I know that it’s probably caused from having long term pain, and I know that my body hates me and is trying to slowly kill me, but knowing something doesn’t always make it easier. I could psychoanalyze my life to explain why I am the way I am, but again, knowing doesn’t make it any easier. I very rarely allow people to get too close to me, emotionally, because I know that it’s only going to cause pain down the road. I figure I have enough physical pain, without having to deal with emotional pain as well. That would explain why most of the people I consider good friends, I have never met in person. Being anonymous on the internet is a strange thing. You can choose to be a bully and hide behind your anonymity, or you can bare your soul and hide behind your anonymity. I share who I am, and some people think they know me, but I still don’t allow them inside the messed up confines of my mind.

Today was one of those days where every single part of my body hurts. It hurts to breathe, it hurts to walk, it hurts to move. These are the days when I border on suicidal. I start thinking that the world wouldn’t notice if I was gone. Oh, a few people might care for a little while, but in a year, I’d be forgotten. These are the thoughts that creep into my mind when the pain gets bad and the depression kicks in. Oh, you don’t have to worry about me. I have no intention of killing myself, my body is doing a good enough job of that on its own. This is not a plea for intervention. It’s mostly just whining. Complaining. Venting. I get tired of being in pain constantly, and I get tired of hiding it. I get tired of becoming emotionally attached to someone or something, only to have it taken away. I gave up on happiness a long time ago. Now I just enjoy the occasional bouts of contentment. I look forward to the rare days when my body doesn’t feel like I’ve been hit repeatedly with a wooden bat. They’re becoming rarer as time stretches on. I guess, like finding a four leaf clover, it’s the rarity of the thing which makes us appreciate it more.

Time for a little levity

I know that my past few posts have been rather serious, and perhaps even depressing to some people, and that’s not my intention. I write about the things that are relevant in my life, and maybe it means something to someone else, and maybe it’s just drivel. For me, it’s a way of organizing my thoughts and blowing off steam. Today though, I thought I’d share a little bit of insight as to why I am single, and have given up on ever having a serious, long-term relationship. No names will be provided, nor will there be dates, so the men in question can remain happily anonymous (and/or oblivious). We call this “I knew [the relationship] was over when…” And yes, every single item below is absolutely true. I knew it was over when:

  • He told me that he couldn’t see me next weekend, because he was going to be in a wedding that weekend. His own.
  • He broke up with me because spending time with me was keeping him away from hanging out with his friends
  • I came home from work sick, and found him in bed with my then-best friend
  • He told me that he could tell that I was becoming an alcoholic because I went out and had a glass of wine with friends after work
  • (the ugly one here) He shoved me into a wall and told me that I was a waste of space
  • He went off to college in another state, without letting me know until he was moved into his new dorm
  • He decided that he would rather get shot at as a government contractor in Kuwait than be with me
  • He called me from jail and asked if I could bail him out. And also his girlfriend. After they were arrested for having sex in public.
  • He started talking to me in babytalk
  • He told me that if I really loved him, I’d get rid of my cat
  • He lied to me about graduating high school

I could go on, but I’ll cut it short for now. The funny thing (to me) is that I warn men up-front that I am very difficult to deal with.  I’m pretty darn close to being a Type A personality (or whatever the current terminology is) and I have extremely high standards as far as basic cleanliness and manners and, well, honesty. I don’t think I’m unreasonable to expect that if you make a huge mess in my kitchen, that you wash the dishes, or at least stack them in the dishwasher. I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to wipe down the counters when something sticky gets spilled on them. I just want to be treated with respect. 

Moving forward

It’s been a rather crazy past couple months in my life. Going back to May, I’ve ended a relationship because he decided that I was his maid instead of his girlfriend, I’ve stressed over finding a new place to live, at the very last moment (literally, a week before the lease ended) I found a place, ended up moving on the hottest two days that I remember, had insane customers at work, had to deal with two cat fights between my poor sweet kitty who just wants to be friends and play and the landlord’s cat, who doesn’t know how to play (he’s old and grumpy), all the while housesitting for a friend for the past week.

I’m just a wee bit stressed.

The hard part is over, I keep telling myself. I’ve managed to mostly keep myself together, and I’m looking forward to good things happening in my future. On the downside, the one friend I’ve always been able to count on has seemingly dropped out of my life for now. I know he has a lot going on in his life right now, too, but I feel slightly abandoned. I don’t know where the future is leading me, and I’m just taking things one day at a time. Sometimes, it’s one hour at a time. Sunday, I had the misfortune of forgetting to refill the container I keep in my purse of various prescriptions, and started having panic attacks while at work. I managed to tough my way through it with the help of some great friends and meditative breathing, but it was not fun. I just need life to settle down for a bit, so I can get my bearings and set a direction.