A new year (almost)

Anna came down with a very sore throat and fever today, so my guess is we’ll lay pretty low for New Year’s Eve.

Normally around this time of year, I feel pretty excited about the prospect of a new year, a fresh start, and making new year’s resolutions. Although I rarely keep my resolutions, that hasn’t stopped me from making them. This year, I’m not feeling it. Maybe that’ll change tomorrow. The feelings of discouragement and perhaps of depression are a barrier at the moment. But, who knows? Maybe this will be the year that I actually do lose 20 lbs. and start exercising.

Facebook, as expected, has been difficult for me. At first, it was a rush to be back in touch with so many people I care about and catch up with them. I get to be a part of the group that Alan enjoys communicating with on Facebook and I get to make sure he doesn’t flirt with anybody on there (yes, I am that jealous). Now that rush is gone, and I’m left with this annoying feeling like I have to check it multiple times per day. I am thinking a lot about my friend, Allison, who is really good at managing screen time. I think she checks Facebook once per week. That would be good for me and perhaps this could be my New Year’s resolution. Interestingly, research shows that the more a person uses social media, the less happy a person is and the less satisfying real-life relationships one has. I can see that in my own life. There’s a feeling of being left out without Facebook and not knowing anything, but maybe this ignorance is bliss. Being with Facebook brings far more complicated problems to conquer, such as risk of infidelity, competing with real-life relationship quality, comparing one’s life to others’ lives, information overload, anxiety, and getting triggered by upsetting posts.

My self-esteem has been at rock-bottom for quite some time now. I’m not completely sure what is going on. I think I’m suffering from legitimate mental illness right now, even though I don’t really buy into mental diagnoses completely. I know, ironic. With a few exceptions, usually mental illness is a matter of a spiritual crisis combined with poor life choices and is usually correctable without medication or even therapy. I do think there is a hormonal/chemical imbalance thing going on with me, possibly related to diet and exercise, intestinal flora, negative beliefs, aging, and stress. There is a spiritual crisis of sorts that is going on, and this can’t be fixed from the outside. I have to go through it from within. What is my purpose here? Am I even worthy? Am I lovable? Is God punishing me? Sounds stupid, I know. I think everyone is worthy, lovable, and I don’t believe God punishes anybody…except for me. Why is that? The part of me that thinks I’m not good enough has been around as long as I can remember. Can I maybe let this go in the new year? If I let it go, I can hardly imagine what could be possible. Everything in my life would be better if I could let it go.

Here are some photos we had taken at JC Penney this year. We weren’t able to get them done in time to send out Christmas cards this year, but had them taken, anyway. Honestly, that’s ok. I really dislike myself in the family photo and prefer not sending it out. I love Alan and the girls, though.

I ordered a copy of the Lamsa Bible, which according to David Hawkins is the Bible most close to the original Aramaic text of Jesus. I see online that there is controversy over this, so it’ll be interesting to learn more about that. Bible passages have been comforting to me lately. Here is one I like today, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5 in the King James Bible. It fills my heart.

1And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the [a]earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Inner work

As a part of the ongoing inner work and also re-joining Facebook, I’ve realized more fully that there are a lot of addictive tendencies I experience from day to day. My endless struggle seems to be maintaining focus and staying on the straight and narrow path. To me, this path is taking care of my health, my family, and doing the spiritual work. I get sucked into negative thinking, paranoid thoughts, eating impulsively, not exercising, and checking my phone endlessly. I feel frustrated with myself. I feel like I have ADHD. The underlying cause of the addictions seem to be a sense of entitlement that I’m not letting go of. There is a desire to escape discomfort. And, there is the general feeling of emotional and physical fatigue that has been around for a while.

While the inner turmoil has been somewhat better recently, I continue to experience this sense of feeling lost and directionless. The visual metaphor I have in my mind is that I’m walking at night through a small town on cobblestone streets. The town is asleep, with only street lights turned on. I’m cold and it’s raining ice cold rain, and I’m covering up with a rain coat. I just keep walking and walking but don’t know where I’m headed. Despite this, there is still a sense of safety and security and that there are people in the houses that I can turn to if I need them. My astrology predictions say I’ll feel this way until 2021, so I’d better get comfortable with this.

What I’m very drawn to right now are spirituality and especially Christianity. Maybe because of Christmas, maybe because it’s just my path right now. I have been listening to Christian music and watching Jesus videos. And, I’ve enjoyed it a great deal and feel that it nourishes my soul. Over Christmas we went to a traditional church service at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church and I enjoyed it greatly. We also went to Alan’s church on Christmas day, which was not enjoyable in the religious sense but it was enjoyable because we saw many special people I haven’t seen in a while. I think that since leaving Alan’s church, I’ve been uncertain of where I stand and what I need in terms of religion and spirituality. Maybe I’m in a place now where it feels safe to explore and find my own meaning in these things.

Good again

I’m feeling a lot better now. I slept through the night last night without coughing, and this is a major milestone. It means Alan can come back into our bed and things can be normal again. I go back to work next week.

I am grateful for Alan, the girls, my friend Lish, my mom and my mother-in-law for the love and support they provided so that I could lie in bed for two weeks. Without them, I’m not sure what I would have done. When I was sick I wrote in this blog that Alan didn’t provide me good enough care, and I feel badly about that now.

I am grateful for the illness because as illness does so well, it pushed me to make the decision to change what needed changing. It forced me to admit that some things weren’t working. It forced be to experience and purge a lot of old gunk, like feeling unlovable and like a failure and all of that. Things will be better from here on out because of that–at least, it will in the career domain of my life.

My astrological chart is somewhat of a mess right now, and, in my mind, this is contributing to the challenges that have been presented to me lately. It tells me I will feel like I’ve lost my way until March of 2021. Bracing myself. So far, it’s true.

A day makes a difference

What a difference a day makes. Every hour I feel better than the last. I was up and about all day today for the first time since before Thanksgiving. I can talk normally again and am coughing a bit less. Still winded and a bit fatigued, but I feel happier and more alive. I think it’s safe to say I’m going to survive this. And also it’s safe to say that I don’t ever want to go through this again.

This morning, on an old oak tree right out our back window, sat a big bald eagle. It was eating a meal up in the tree! There were about five crows huddled around it, harassing it and trying to steal its meal. We have seen the bald eagle and the crows around here a few times before. Usually when we see them, the crows are chasing and cawing the eagle away with all their might–and the eagle leaves! Crows are fearless and relentless birds. They are tough. But this time, the eagle was tougher. Seeing those birds in the tree today was a metaphor for me–the crows are the pneumonia and the eagle is me, my life. I am winning this time, and I’m glad for that.

I hope everyone out there is happy and well.

xoxo

Getting better

Today I am up and about. Despite being short of breath and fatigued, it is good to be out of bed. Physically, I’ve turned the corner. Emotionally, I’m still pretty stuck in a painful and negative place. Today it’s anger that’s rearing its head. It has been waiting to come out, I guess–trapped in my lungs.

Anger is here because my ego is on full blast right now. My ego has been hurt. I know that sounds ridiculous, but that’s how it is. I feel like I shouldn’t have to clean the house when I have pneumonia. I feel like the three people I live with should be able to take care of everything when I am sick. I feel like Alan should have washed the bedding that I’ve been lying in 24/7 for 10 days. I feel like Alan should have changed to dirty furnace filter when I asked him to a week ago so that I could breathe clean air. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because that would make me feel loved and cared for. Loved and cared for in the way that I love and care for my family when they are sick.

Anna has been very caring and loving, and being that she’s only ten years old, I don’t expect a huge amount from her in terms of caregiving and house cleaning. She’s probably been the most attentive one in the house. It’s meant a lot to me. I feel unconditionally loved by her. It is a gift, and I am grateful for it. There have been a a few times over the course of 20 years that I’ve been bedridden, and each of these times I’ve gone through this same thing. Feeling forgotten, feeling uncared for, feeling unloved, living in a dirty house. What am I supposed to learn from this?

I really do believe that these feelings and events are here to teach me something. What is it? Perhaps I need to learn that I am loved and lovable, with or without the kind of demonstration of love that I prefer. I want acts of service. That’s my love language. What better time to provide that than when I’m sick? At least, that’s my logic.

The logical part of me know I need to just let this go. Let go of the need for a clean house. Let go of the desire to be loved through acts of service. Let go of the judging part of me that thinks I’m not loved. Let go of the guilt I feel for admitting these feelings and writing them in my blog. Because feelings are okay. And because I am loved, probably more than I will ever know.

Still lost

I’ve been sick for seven days with what began as viral pneumonia and has transpired into something bacterial, so I’m just a mess of wheezing and coughing and pain. There is so much pain in my throat that it’s almost intolerable. I am running out of coping skills and mental resilience. I resisted taking antibiotics because I’m fearful and stubborn when it comes to modern medicine. But today I caved and took the first dose, and it seems it’s already helping a bit.

The sickness arrived because I’ve been lost. So lost. Grieving, hurting, drowning in life. I feel like I’m in a snowstorm in the dark, listening for sounds in the distance that are calling me in their direction. Marriage and work and life overall have been an absolute fucking mess and my feelings have been so hurt. My self-esteem totally shot. Depression through the roof. Of course, somewhere along the line I was exposed to someone’s germs, too. I guess needed a break from life, and I got one. Not exactly the kind of break I would have planned, but here I am nonetheless.

During this bout of illness, I’ve been soul searching, crying, letting stuff out. Tonight at the dinner table I could barely talk but started bawling at my family and trying to say things that I was sad about related to work. My words were unintelligible through my blubbering and hoarseness but still they came out of me and I think that was healing. Then Anna, my angel daughter from heaven, touched my hand and then proceeded to draw me a bath, complete with eucalyptus, soothing music, and candles.

My mom came over today and that was really nice. She is a nurse so she listened to my lungs and convinced me to take the antibiotics because my lungs are full of gunk. She brought a bunch of food and took care of us. Later, my mother-in-law brought a crock-pot full of turkey noodle soup. Mia, Anna and I then binged on Dr. Phil and Judge Judy on the couch. It was just what I needed–all of it. The bath, the crying, the antibiotics, the crappy tv, my mom, the soup. I felt so loved. I am loved. I need to remember that.

In an impulsive, feverish decision, I sent a resignation email to my company for my role as outpatient psychotherapist, which is practicing therapy in the clinic. My last day doing that will be Dec. 17th. It’s a relief. I love the clients and the practice of therapy. Absolutely love that. What I can’t take any more of is the clinic atmosphere and the fast, impersonal pace of it all. Working there for the last 3 months has drained and discouraged me deeply. I’ll go back to doing the community-based therapy, which is a slower, quieter pace. In the community-based work, I’m mostly alone, I get time between clients, I can manage my own time and pace.

That’s that. Hope to feel better tomorrow. Thank you for listening.

Celebrating a 5-year pneumonia anniversary with more pneumonia!

That’s right! It’s about a month late, but still. Congratulations to me! In October 2014, Alan and I had bacterial pneumonia and felt like I was on the brink of death. Here I am now in November/December 2019 and have had viral pneumonia for almost a week. I don’t feel like I am on the brink of death this time, though. Apparently, viral pneumonia is rarely fatal–so, that’s comforting. I’m probably going to come out of this alive.

What is there for me to learn this time? The emotional backdrop that preceded this bout with pneumonia is similar, though less intense, than the backdrop of five years ago. Five years ago, I was bursting at the seams with way too much on my plate. This time, there was a full plate and I was starting to pull at the seams a bit, but it was manageable. There was a great deal of emotional suffering and holding on to beliefs and feelings that were hurting me. But, I wasn’t about to lose my mind, necessarily. And so it seems the main trigger has been emotional stress, and perhaps also that a child coughed on me multiple times.

The details of the emotional stress will be spared in this blog. All that needs to be said is this: the relief of suffering comes in letting go. It is in letting go of judgment and of wanting things to be different, and choosing unconditional love and forgiveness instead. We can even be as radical as finding a place of gratitude for the whole situation that came with the pain. Suffering is a teacher of sorts.

So, I’m working on that. Letting go. Forgiving. Loving. Finding gratitude. Remembering I’m not better than others. Being “hurt” is a function of the ego; the ego loves to make a victim of itself. I’m working on reminding myself that the events that transpire are events that are here for me to learn and work out my karmic debts.