Tag Archives: Writing

My Pity Party: The Importance of Taking My Antidepressants

26 Sep

Last night I was in quite an emotional state.  My husband and I lay in bed talking about a few things from the day, and I got triggered big time from the feeling that he was keeping something from me.  He kinda was.  We ended up resolving the issue, but that feeling wouldn’t quite go away.  I was incredibly overwhelmed.

The last few days were both wonderful and a blur.  My entire morning routine got messed up last week when, on a rushed morning, I forgot to take all of my pills (vitamins, antidepressant, and allergy medication).  I started taking them at lunch, instead, since I need to take them every 24 hours.  Then one day I didn’t make it home for lunch, so I began taking them at dinner.  Then we went away to the mountains for the weekend, and I left all of my medicine at home.  Last night I realized that I hadn’t taken my antidepressants for 3 days.  At least I don’t think so.  I actually can’t remember.  Did I take them when I got home on Sunday or didn’t I?  How about Monday?  Even last night I couldn’t remember if I had taken them that morning.  It’s like my brain was in a fog.

After we had our talk and connected really well, my husband was all talked out and ready to go to bed.  I didn’t really have anything else pressing to talk about, but I just couldn’t go to sleep.  We turned off the lights and I gave it a try, but my brain was swirling with everything and nothing all at once.  I didn’t want to get on the computer because I knew I would end up awake half the night, so I got up and grabbed my journal.

As an aside:  I’m pretty awful at keeping a written journal because I hate hand-writing…  It is mostly because I prefer typing and I’m faster and more efficient that way.  At least that’s what I tell myself.  I realized, though, that what’s behind that preference is the fact that I don’t like the messiness of it.  I don’t have bad handwriting, it’s just that I can’t edit, tweak, and polish what I have written.  I don’t like the rough, unfinished quality of my words right out of my head.  I don’t like the fact that I can’t rearrange paragraphs, insert new sentences, and change words without leaving a mess.  I don’t like having something that incomplete and raw sitting around, even if it is just for me.  It drives me crazy.  So, I’m going to address that irrational perfectionism head on, and share what I wrote last night.  Unedited.  Here goes:

I’m a mess.  I want to write about our fantastic honeymoon weekend.  Instead I’m feeling emotional and hormonal, sitting up at night not able to go to sleep.  I don’t think I’ve taken my ADs for 3 days.  My dog just walked in and peed on the floor out of nowhere.  Wow…  Just my day.  No ADs (my schedule got messed up), I’m starting my period, my neck and shoulders are tweaked, I’ve got a cold, and my emotions are running wild.  Now I’m cleaning up dog urine at 11:30, too.  Oh, and my husband has gout…  Yeah, gout.  Last year I was convinced that was some medieval disease that no longer existed.  Now I know better, although I’m not really all that thrilled to be enlightened.  So, I guess this is just one big bitch session.  I’m obviously feeling sorry for myself and needed to throw a little pity party.  Tomorrow I will get back on my ADs, load the beautiful pictures from Shenandoah, and get on with enjoying life.  Right now I’m just going to let this extra strength Tylenol work on my cramps & muscles, hope this cold medicine makes breathing easier, and try to get some sleep…

English: The Gout by James Gillray. Published ...

English: The Gout by James Gillray. Published May 14th 1799. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Proof that I was feeling completely out of it is the fact that I wrote “honeymoon weekend” instead of “anniversary weekend.”  I almost edited that here before I posted it because it is just so ridiculous and embarrassing that I got it wrong.  No one will probably care at all about that mistake, but I still have the urge to go fix it before I hit Publish.  How crazy is that?  I just have to breathe and accept that sometimes I really am a complete mess, and not even a beautiful one (although my husband argued otherwise last night).

Today really is better already.  I am in an amazing, feminine skirt suit set that is polished, luxurious, and was on sale at over 80% off.  I have a deep purple top on that looks amazing with my skin tone.  I’m wearing the pearls that my husband gave me at our rehearsal dinner for our wedding day.  I have on adorable Tahari heels with a bow detail and decorative stitching.  I took all of my medicine this morning.  I have my annual review this afternoon with my boss, who is taking me out to lunch where I already know I’m receiving a nice raise.  I feel like a million bucks.  Even though this head cold is being stubborn, I have a few twinges of cramps, and my neck is still incredibly tight, this is going to be a good day.

Yesterday wasn’t even a bad day.  My outlook just wasn’t right.  I let the little things overwhelm me because I wasn’t in the right head space.  I’m getting back there, and trying to focus on all of the great things that I have going for me.  Tonight we are continuing our anniversary celebration by going to a great local restaurant that I’ve wanted to go to for ages.  We were supposed to go on Friday, but I didn’t want to miss karate and my husband had a flare-up of his gout (which he wasn’t aware he had until yesterday).  Tomorrow I’m going to try to write about how our anniversary went, complete with stunning pictures of the mountains.

Today, though, I’m going to focus on noticing all the little things that I’m thankful for.  Starting with you guys.  Thanks for listening.  Thanks for helping me see my mess and giving me insight to address it head-on.  Knowing that I’m going to post my thoughts for you to comment and “like” (or not), somehow allows me to see the truth behind my words, the real reasons behind my excuses and justifications, and put my thoughts and feelings into perspective.

It also gives me the opportunity to face my demons head-on, like admitting that I make mistakes sometimes and I have off days.  It helps me to realize that it’s okay.  I will be fine.  No one is going to stop following me (hopefully) because I wrote “honeymoon” accidentally instead of “anniversary.”  Even if they do, who cares?  That doesn’t define me.  I’m more than the total of my faults and mistakes – I’m also a complicated, beautiful mess with an interesting perspective and a zeal for life who is improving every day by growing and changing and becoming a better version of myself.  Instead I could be stuck, afraid of admitting that I’m not perfect, and slowly languishing into mediocrity.  I’m glad that I’m able to recognize when I’m throwing a pity party, pick myself up, and move on.  I’m also happy that I have people along the way who can help motivate me to keep moving forward.  So, thanks!

Thank You

Thank You (Photo credit: purplekiss024)

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Our Emotional Lives (Retrouvaille – Friday Night, Part 3)

18 Jul

So, where did I leave off?  That’s right…  Friday night and presentation #2.  After we all came back down from dialoguing a new couple was at the front of the room with the priest and ready to begin their presentation.  This one was about our emotions.  The first thing they wanted to give us is a definition of emotion.  Here it is:

Emotion – A spontaneous inner reaction to a person, place or situation.  It is the feeling that I have within me when I come into contact with something outside of myself, or even with a thought that I have.

Likewise, they wanted to differentiate between emotions (feelings) and thoughts.  Thoughts can cause emotion, but they are not feelings.  The rule they gave was this:

If in a sentence you can replace the words “I feel” with the words “I think,” you have expressed a thought, not an emotion.

If you can substitute the word “am” for “feel” then you have expressed a feeling.

That’s a pretty neat little trick.  They also said that we should avoid the statement “I feel that…”  Again, this is not an emotion.  It is the beginning of an opinion.  Light bulb!  So very true!  Finally, they said to avoid using why, because, or any other explanation for your feelings.  We are not looking to talk about the situation, we are just looking to talk about how we feel about it.

So, how do you do that?  So far it sounds like a lot of “don’t”s.  To help with that they gave us a few tips on how to be specific about our emotions.

  • Rate the intensity of the feeling on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.
  • Make sure that you use the right word – be precise.  Utilize the list of feeling words on the handout and stretch your vocabulary.
  • Go beyond/ below the surface, like peeling an onion.  Find your first feeling (anger) and then dig deeper – what is underneath the anger?  Fear?  Insecurity?  Doubt?  Now, be even more specific – is the fear more like terror, dread, horror, anxiety, panic, distress, etc.?
  • Describe your feeling in as much detail as you can.
  • Identify your emotions alone, not your thoughts or opinions.
  • Try to communicate in a way that your spouse can understand.  Knowing your audience can help you get your point across more effectively.  Think of ways that they can relate to your feelings.
  • Use analogies for your feelings such as images, similes, metaphors, and examples from nature.
  • Utilize shared memories or experiences.  Think of a time when you and/or your spouse had that same emotion.  Call on past events to help you explain what you are feeling now.
  • This is not a time to blame.  The point is what you feel, not why you feel it.
  • This is not the time to change your spouse.
  • This is not the time to make a decision.
  • Exchange books in silence.  Avoid negative body language.
  • Remember, this ability is not innate, but it can be learned.  Practice!

A little more organized (and using an anagram), the process is:

  1. Find the word that most closely relates to your feeling
  2. Rate the feeling on a scale of 1-10.
  3. P –> Identify the physical feeling that you have
  4. I –>Describe the feeling in terms of an image or something you can compare it to
  5. M –>Recall a shared memory – an incident that you both experienced and can relate to.

They then gave us a mini-example.  Here it is, step-by-step:

  1. They asked us to think of a specific moment that day.  The moment I picked was writing my blog about our last counseling session.
  2. They then told us to look at the feeling words list and pick the one or two that are closest to what we were feeling at that moment.  The emotions I was feeling were lost/confused and frustrated
  3. Then they asked us to rate the feeling(s) on a scale of 1-10. I rated them both at a 7.
  4. Next, they wanted us to describe the physical sensation we had at that moment or a physical sensation that describes that emotion.  The physical sensation that these emotions gave me was fatigue.  My body and mind were both exhausted.
  5. Next, they asked us to come up with an analogy.  Mine was, “I felt like I was in a swirl of thoughts and feelings that I couldn’t differentiate, like walking through an unfamiliar place in the dark.”
  6. They then asked us to elaborate on our feelings and find a way to speak to our audience (our spouses).  I wrote, “I couldn’t remember the exact order of things or specifically what we had said.  I could finally relate to how not remembering would feel for you.”
  7. Finally, they asked us to come up with a way we can relate to our spouse using a shared memory.  I wrote about a time that we got lost.

Finally, they provided us with barriers to open communication.  They told us to be aware of them and try to avoid this type of behavior:

  • Fear of rocking the boat
  • Defeatist mentality (there is nothing I can do, our marriage is already over)
  • Withdrawing
  • Overanalyzing
  • Not keeping an open mind
  • Not following directions
  • Burying emotions
  • Falling back into old patterns from our culture or background
  • Dwelling on the past (acknowledge, but focus on the present) – what are your feelings NOW?

Before we were allowed to go to bed, we also had three more questions to answer, this time focusing on our feelings.  The questions were:

  1. What do I like best about you?  How do I feel about my answer?
  2. What do I like best about me?  How do I feel about my answer?
  3. What do I like best about us?  How do I feel about my answer?

Just like Friday night, I am already starting to feel exhausted.  Our writing and dialogue went well on this topic.  I’m going to save you all of the details of my answer.  I will add, though, that given we had one bed in our hotel room, the couch was more like a loveseat, and most importantly, I now felt closer and more safe with Mr. Mess we shared a bed again that night.  It felt like the right thing to do, especially since we were going to be leaving all of the recent mess behind us for the weekend to focus on repairing our communication and overall marriage.  It was a good decision that I do not regret.

Retrouvaille Weekend – Friday Night, Part 1

17 Jul

The Retrouvaille logo – It was at the top of our name tags with the slogan “We are not alone.” Mr. Mess and I quickly decided that was due to the aliens – a running joke that got us past all of the religious propaganda.

This weekend Mr. Mess and I attended the Retrouvaille program.  It was intense.  It was looonnng.  It was immeasurably helpful.  By the end of the first night we already felt closer.  It helped us both to understand one another’s feelings.  The process they taught us was like a light-bulb coming on for Mr. Mess.  Even the super-religious sessions brought us closer as we came up with an inside joke to help us laugh at their fundamental perspective instead of getting frustrated.  I would highly recommend it to any couple who needs help communicating effectively with one another and understanding their partner’s point of view.

Let me back up just a bit.  We are about 2 hours away from where the program was being held – provided there is no traffic.  I was convinced it was going to take us at least 3 hours to get there because of the direction we were headed.  We left in plenty of time and surprisingly hit only one stretch that was significantly slow.  The car ride was somewhat awkward, but there was only one incident where I got frustrated.  He handled himself well, and we got there with almost an hour to spare and no major issues.  That left us time to have a nice dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Dinner was already a step in the right direction.  We talked about the Boundary Agreement.  He went over the items I had put down, asked a few questions, and said that he doesn’t have any problem with agreeing to any of my boundaries.  There were a few that he didn’t understand why they would be necessary – like not keeping a secret email account or phone.  He has never done that before, but I have fear surrounding it.  I will take a look at those items and really examine my feelings about them.  Part of the boundary agreement will be really deciding what is an actual boundary and what is an unrealistic fear or attempt to control him.  I think I can pare down the list a bit and still be true to myself.  He also said that he will think of a few things that he would like to add to the agreement.

Back to the original point of this post.  We got to the hotel during the designated “check in” time, and headed over to the Retrouvaille table.  The couple there handed us our room key and said to be back down by 8:00 pm.  That’s it.  I asked if we were going to get an agenda or anything to help us know what to expect.  He said “No” and that we should just “trust the process.”  Already I was feeling leery and apprehensive.  As a planner, I do not do well with a “just trust us” mentality.  I wanted to know what we were going to be doing, what time I could expect to get to bed, when I would have to get up, and what I should expect.  Challenge #1 to my controlling mentality was not well-received.  Mr. Mess, however, was already stepping up.  He told me that we would figure out what to expect when we got down there, and that all we were giving up was one weekend if it didn’t go well.  I agreed, calmed down a bit, and said that he was right – I could commit to let go for one weekend and see what happened.

Down in the conference room at 8:00 we found tables set up with two notebooks and pens for each couple.  We choose a table and sat down…  Looking around the room at the other couples, they also seemed just as nervous and unsure of themselves.  None of them appeared to me to be “troubled.”  I found myself wondering what had brought them here.  I was almost convinced that we were the only ones there with real, hard-core marital problems.  Everyone else seemed so normal.  I’m sure we seemed normal, too, though.  On second inspection, I noticed that no one seemed to be holding hands or even touching.  There was an air of tension and questioning in the air.  After a few minutes the room settled down into almost absolutely silence.  In the front of the room was a table with sound equipment and three chairs – two were filled by an elderly couple and in the third sat a tall middle-aged man.

Finally it was time to begin.  The people at the front of the room introduced themselves.  The elderly couple had gone through the Retrouvaille program several years earlier.  The middle-aged gentleman was a priest.  The couple introduced themselves individually, gave the name of their spouse, and one positive quality about their husband/wife.  Then they asked everyone in the room to do the same thing.

Panic set in immediately.  My brain was completely blank…  What was one positive quality about Mr. Mess?  I know the answer to this, I told myself, yet I couldn’t think of a single thing to say.  The train of introductions was winding itself through the room.  We were in the second row of tables directly in the middle.  There were just enough couples in front of us for me to get a chance to breathe, hear a few of the other people’s answers, and allow myself to get even more worked up.  The first couple had raised the ante and said TWO positive things about their spouse.  Everyone else after had felt pressured into doing the same.  Now I needed two things?!?  Oh gosh!  I couldn’t be the only person who said nothing, staring blankly at the presenters like a deer in headlights…  A few couples before us the presenters chimed in that we only have to say one thing, not two.  Phew!  But I still had no idea what I would pick.

All too soon, it was out turn.  Mr. Mess had to go first because of the direction these intros were headed.  He said that my best quality was that I am forgiving.  I felt a little embarrassed that he would be airing our problems so soon… everyone else said things like “kind, generous, a good mother, etc.”  I am just forgiving?!  Doesn’t that say more about you than me?  I didn’t have much time to think about his answer, though, because it was my turn.  I mumbled that he is hard-working and has a good sense of humor.  I thought of two after all.  I let out the breath and tension that I had unconsciously been holding in.  The introduction train continued, so I must have done okay…  I tuned out the other answers in the room, too caught up in my relief and simultaneous fear that we would be put on the spot like this the entire weekend.

At the end of the introductions, the presenters said that would be the only time we were asked to speak to the group.  I let out a huge sigh of gratitude.  They then went on to read from papers in front of them to describe the program.  I took some notes in my newly, provided notebook.  After a few minutes I wrote a note to Mr. Mess that said, “These people have no personality!”  It was double underlined.  The woman of the couple was reading from her paper in a monotone voice, not making any eye contact.  They explained that they are not professionals, and it is easier for them to read from prepared statements because it ensures that they don’t forget anything.  It also helps with their nerves.  Okay…  I could understand that.  I vowed to give them the benefit of the doubt and try to curb my sarcastic tendencies.

Here are some of the things I wrote on my first page of notes:

  • We will be learning dialog communication technique
  • Writing is the best was to get your thoughts and ideas down! (my blog)
  • Other Rules:
    • You will receive a question after the presentation.
    • Answer and reflect (separately, then swap)
    • Read your spouse’s answer twice.
    • Silent time is silent: no talking, socializing, distractions, etc.
    • No snacks during presentations, writing or silent time
    • No maid service
    • No cell phones
    • No right or wrong answers, just honest ones (don’t hide things)
    • Be gentle (no attacking)

I did not know then, but this was the first of nearly 60 pages I would write that weekend.  I thought I had the rules down pretty well after that first session, but I learned later that I had plenty to learn and absorb.  We were given our first dialog questions:

  1. Why did I come here this weekend, and what do I hope to gain?
  2. How can I make this weekend a disappointment for us?
  3. What can I do to make this weekend a positive experience?

The women were asked to go up to our rooms to write while the men stayed in the conference room.  We weren’t told how long we would have to write.  We were just told to write for as long as we needed on each topic.  We were also given a little booklet that had an outline of the dialog process and some good “feeling words.”  There were two pages, one for positive and one for negative feelings, and basic headings under each like angry, sad, happy, and loved.  Under each heading were more feelings and words that express specific, more descriptive emotions such as furious, despondent, ecstatic, and tender.  We were to use those to help us find the correct words for our feelings.

I will share my answers and more about the process later.  I also need to talk to Mr. Mess to see how much he is comfortable with me sharing on my blog.  I would like to say that right off the bat, once I allowed myself to participate and leave my judgments at the door, we started being more connected.  I will also add that I wasn’t nearly prepared for what was to come – including sessions that lasted until 11:00 pm that first night!

Photo Credit

Taking the Leap

26 Apr

Yesterday I was contemplating changing the name of my blog to focus more on me and more on the positive.  I took my friend Ben’s advice and slept on it, and today I decided to make the change.  I have officially changed the title of my blog to Beautiful Mess.  I have also updated the website address to www.beaingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com.  I am already glad that I have made this leap.

I have beeing taking other leaps of faith in my “real” life, too.  I am still working on letting go (see my post Letting Go… Easier Said Than Done), and I have been seeing much more success in that area lately.  In the last few weeks I have let go of my feeling of responsibility for my husband going back to individual counseling.  I told him why it was important to me, how it would make me feel if he went back (safer, loved, and important), set a deadline…  and he took care of it!  I realized how good it feels to give away responsibility for things that weren’t mine to take responsibility for in the first place.  I want to be the “fixer” but then get frustrated that I’m having to do all of the work.  The only way to stop that is to stop “fixing” and start asking for what I need.

I have also worked on my procrastination (see Procrastination… Check).  Last night I went back to my women’s support group for wives of sex addicts, and remembered how much I love being able to connect to other women who are going through the same thing.  It was like going back to your childhood home – that feeling of nostalgia, welcome, and being transported back like nothing ever changed.  Of course things had changed a bit – for all of us – but there was the same camaraderie and understanding.  Blogging and being part of an online community are very valuable, but there is something about being in a room and speaking face-to-face with other people who honestly know how you feel that is validating in a way I can’t quite describe.

That’s certainly not to discount my blogging buddies!  I have also been inspired by other bloggers a lot this week.  I have found several women this week in the forums and blogs who seem to be going through the same internal battles that I am.  One really struck me today:  If Happy Ever After Did Exist – Diving Off The Cliff.  Her blog in general always hits home – it’s like we are living parallel lives.  In this particular post she talks about coming up with her expectations for their marriage recovery, then handing them over to her husband to let him discover his own way to meet them.  That is exactly where I am right now.  I get to set the bar, but my husband has to find his own way to get there.  It is his problem to solve.

Just like me, the whole process is somewhat terrifying for her.  The overriding fear is what will happen if he doesn’t do the work.  I have those same worries.  If I’m not there driving, will he take the wheel or crash us?  What if he can’t figure out his own way? What if he isn’t motivated?  What if he just doesn’t meet my goals or expectations?  It used to paralyze me.  It is still really, really scary if I’m being totally honest with myself.

But I’ve realized that all I can do is make goals, set deadlines for when I want to see things accomplished, and be ready for him to either do it or fail.  And if he fails I have to decide what that will mean for me and what actions I will take in response.  I guess that is the scariest part – am I ready to deal with failure?  Historically I’m not very good with it and have done everything I can to avoid it at all costs.  For now I am choosing to feel positive.  I’m not pushing away or burying my fear, but after I feel it I try to let it go.  I am choosing instead to believe in my husband and that he will step up.  I have to give him the opportunity to shine.

So for now this play-by-the-rules, need-to-be-in-charge, scared-of-failure woman is taking a giant leap and letting go of the outcome.  I’m going to trust, face my fears, and stop worrying if my husband will be there to catch me.  I just have to believe that he will be.  Thanks again to My Ideal Woman, Repairing Shattered Pieces, and all of the other people out there in blog world who have been reading, supporting me, and helping me to feel positive and empowered about myself!

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