You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.

This time of year always feels a bit unreal to me.  I suppose that partly results from the fact that for me, the whole New Year’s big-deal just never materializes.  It never seems to me that December 31st and January 1st are anything other than ordinary days.  To me, they are not infused with anything.

I’ve been reading many blogs today, and the focus is overwhelmingly on recapping 2008 and proclaiming resolutions for 2009.  I am not particularly interested in doing either.  But I will say some things about the outgoing year.

2008 was a year like most this decade, for me.  My depression and anxiety took centre stage and ran my life.  I have not yet even approached the point where I can be a person, who happens to have a disability.  My life, my identity, revolve around my disability.  I hope one day that this will change, but for now, that’s where I’m at.

I formed a good relationship with a new psychiatrist, Dr. F.  She worked in my community for only seven months;  I was faced with finding another psychiatrist and starting all over again.  In June, Dr. F projected that I would be seen by the doctor to whom she referred me by August, or September at the latest.  In fact, it was November.  2008 continued the theme of lost referrals, referrals that are only acted upon when I call the specialist to find out what the hell is going on.

I last saw Dr. F in June;  I didn’t meet Dr. V until November.  Way too long between psychiatric appointments.  I did see the Counsellor (sometimes) during that time.  We really work well together, the Counsellor and I, but because he and I get to the heart of things, it is painful and hard.  I resist.  I avoid.  I don’t want to go there, even though I know that I must, that the path to a better life is through that hell.

I like Dr V, and I think he and I will also work well together.  I like that he specializes in depression, that he started our first meeting by telling me that he’d read my file and I didn’t have to tell him my whole story all over again.  I am hopeful.  I also extorted from him his word that he is not going anywhere anytime soon.

In many ways, 2008 was a year of anguish.  I have spent far too much time agonizing over a certain personal issue, and at the end of the day (or year, if you like), I am still unable to make a decision.  I hate being stuck where I am, but I seem to be unable to make the decision to change it.

I spent a great deal of 2008 failing to live up to the idea of who I want to be.  I have been unreliable;  I haven’t been able to keep my commitments on either a professional or personal basis.  I had to give up my role as Abuse Prevention Educator for the Canadian Red Cross, because my anxiety prevented me from following through on the workshops I agreed to do.  Personally, I made many plans to socialize with people I care about, and often my anxiety led me to cancel.

In many ways, 2008 was the year that anxiety took centre stage.  Up until about a year/year and a half, ago, depression was the major issue;  it was in the driver’s seat.  But then somehow, anxiety surreptitiously took over.  Anxiety is the controlling illness;  depression is still there and still prominent, but anxiety is the lead.

I have had yet another doctor confirm that my major depressive disorder has become chronic, and that my anxiety has reached the level of generalized anxiety disorder.  I have tried new medications, searching for that elusive cocktail of drugs that will allow me to be most stable.  I have battled terrible side effects.  Most, I have put up with, given the devil’s bargain that defines my life:  irritating side effect (like cotton mouth), or the ability to sleep/to avoid the deepest darkness of depression, to blunt the razor-sharp edge of anxiety?  Generally, my choice is to live with the side effect;  it is better than the alternative.

But I have also been confronted at every turn by a side effect to which I cannot submit.  At this point, every med I add increases my overheating.  Unless people have seen me, they cannot imagine the reality:  sweat literally pours down my face and neck.  It is humiliating and ugly.  Because I am fat, people assume that to be the reason.  It is almost entirely due to my medication, but I know what people are thinking.

(And my weight is due to medication as well.  I know the fat-phobic attitudes that prevail in our society, and I know that people judge and blame me.  I am tired of feeling like I have to explain that I gained 80 pounds in a matter of months due to a single medication.  Or rather, I am tired of believing that I have to justify, explain, apologize for my weight.  But I know that fatness is one of the few remaining grounds of discrimination that is acceptable.)

With the latest med, my overheating has taken on a new and frightening character.  My head feels as though it is overly full of heat, as though the heat is going to bust through my skull at any moment.  I can’t really describe it with any more accuracy.  Perhaps like there is a heat-filled balloon in my head that keeps expanding to the point where it feels like it cannot be contained within my skull.

In many ways, I feel like I’m further behind in my recovery than I was this day a year ago.  I am coming up on my ninth anniversary since my breakdown, and I am beaten down by my illnesses.

So, the year of our Lord 2008 has not been a banner year.  I didn’t want to think about all of these things, didn’t want to enumerate the various low points of my year.  But I guess I did a retrospective, even though I started out planning to avoid one.

It is difficult to think of ways that 2008 was a positive year.  My siblings and I are closer than ever, due to our coming together over the death of my sister-in-law in July.  I am very grateful for the time we spent together, for the new understanding we share.

I began blogging, which has been both a blessing and an anchor pulling me down.  I want so desperately to be good at it, and this desire makes me procrastinate and avoid.  I always feel better having posted, but actually writing has been intimidating and scary.

Dannan’s blog has been quite successful.  The numerous friends I have made in the blogging world are another of the high points of 2008.  However, my people-pleasing addiction makes even that pleasure into a towering monster of expectation (that I perceive to exist, but which I know – on one level – exists only in my mind).  Perfectionism is paralysis.  I have such high expectations of myself that I cower, unable to take the first step at all because I am afraid that I can’t finish the task brilliantly.  So rather than doing something, I do nothing, and beat myself up for it.

I have just sighed a very deep sigh.  This is exactly what I didn’t want to do, to write a litany of gloom.

I will just comment briefly about resolutions.  I find that New Year’s resolutions are a way to set myself up to fail.  I dislike the idea that I should make a resolution at this particular time, the pressure that tomorrow is the day to set my year’s goals.

I do have goals for the coming year.  They are not resolutions, and I am not proclaiming them today or tomorrow.  They are the goals I have been working on for many months, and I have tried to make them as reasonable, as reachable, as possible.  The last thing I need to do is set myself a goal that will reinforce my feelings of failure.

Having totally brought any reader I might have down to my gloomy level, I do wish everyone a Happy New Year.  I want for you what I want for myself:  a 2009 full of laugher and love, good health and good friends, hope and peace of mind.  If you are planning to celebrate the changing of the calendar, please be safe.  And be warm, it’s terrible cold out there.

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No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

To this, I would also add, without your participation.  To illustrate, a brief story.

On Boxing Day (December 26th), Mom and I went to a few stores;  nothing crazy, nowhere that would be super-busy.  In the aisle at Zellers, I saw a woman who was in my class at high school.  Back then, she was always dressed in the latest fashion, always wore the “right” brands.  (I, on the other hand, did not.)

So, I see her, and she looks just perfect.  Fashionable boots, well-cut dress pants, top of the line jacket.  She’s beautifully made-up, and her hair is styled just so, with expensive highlights and lowlights.

I felt like an absolute schlump in comparison.  Hiking boots that have been around a season or two too long, jeans, a sloppy t-shirt, and my ug-ly blue winter jacket.  Dirty hair, pulled back into a ponytail, no makeup.  Schlumpy.

For about 48 hours after I saw her, I felt like the drab wallflower that I often felt that I was while growing up.  She looked so put-together, and I was a disaster and an eye-sore.  I was left with a not-unfamiliar feeling of wishing that I could look good in clothes, that I had coloured my hair sometime in the past months and not let my mousy brown and silver roots get so out of control.  That I was someone that others would look at and think, wow!

I got home and made an immediate resolution that I would never again leave the house unless I was wearing something dressy, with my hair and makeup done.  That I couldn’t risk being seen as the schlump I am, and I would have to work hard to conceal my real self.

Now, how does this connect to the words of Eleanor Roosevelt?  Let me tell you.  This woman and I weren’t friends in high school, and we didn’t speak on Boxing Day.  She didn’t even look at me, that I could see.  I don’t think she even saw me.

Yet, I spent the next two days beating up on myself about my appearance, comparing myself to her.  Feeling as inferior as could be.  And I did it all on my own.

There was nothing in the “event” of seeing this woman that even hinted that she noticed or recognized me, let alone that she judged me to be inferior.  It was all me;  I was the one who came up with the whole idea, and I was the one that ruminated on it until I was crazy.  I made myself inferior;  not only did I consent to it, I created the whole thing.

In my many years of trying to develop a healthier mind, I have learned a lot.  One of the most profound things that I have discovered is that we don’t develop feelings out of nowhere.  There is always a thought that precedes our feelings;  we might not be aware of that thought, but it is there.  And it is not others who “make” us feel a feeling;  we make ourselves feel whatever emotion it is.

I saw this woman, and I had an instant, automatic, subconscious thought that I was not as good as she was.  That thought was what made me feel awful about myself.  And I kept reinforcing that thought, and adding other negative thoughts to it.

It is empowering to know that I am in control of what I feel, because I can control what I think.  (It takes a lot of work to get there:  identifying those thoughts, learning how to counter them, and replacing them with more positive thoughts.  But I have done it with a few of my automatic thoughts, so I know it is possible.)

It is also freaking scary.

I didn’t stop this trainwreck of thought.  But I could have.  And even if I didn’t stop it right when it started, I could have done so at any point, just by challenging my underlying thoughts.  My dump-fest on myself didn’t have to last for two days.  I didn’t have to lie in bed at night, vowing to never “feel” so ugly again.  I could have stopped that thought, that I am ugly, and then I wouldn’t have had the resulting feelings of unworthiness.

I could have challenged the thought that I am ugly, by remembering times when people have told me that I’m pretty, by thinking of pictures that show even to me that I can look cute.  I could have rebutted the original thought with the fact that there are people who find me attractive and let me know it.  I could also have redirected my thoughts;  just because this woman looks put together, doesn’t mean that she is.  Expensive hair treatments and clothing do not mean that she doesn’t beat up on herself every day for dozens of reasons.  I could have reminded myself of how far I’ve come on my journey toward mental health;  reminded myself that good mental health is the ultimate example of being put-together (in my opinion).

I don’t mean to trivialize the amount of work and self-awareness this requires.  It is a huge undertaking;  even for me to realize, in retrospect, what was going on in my head is huge progress.  It is a mark of how far I’ve come that I can recognize that it was my own thoughts that led to my feelings of unworthiness, and not something external.

(I think I’m wandering a bit from my original purpose, but to heck with it.  At least I’m typing something, after avoiding this blog for so long.)

I’m feeling better now, not so down on myself.  It is okay to notice that I’ve let myself go a bit in the last six months;  I have had more important things on my mind (like getting out of bed in the morning, keeping myself safe, leaving the house once in a while, going to my therapy and doctor’s appointments, etc.) than the roots of my hair.  But it’s also fine to decide that it’s time to care more about myself and how I look.  I’m not saying that I’m going to go all appearance-crazy, just that I can start taking care of myself in other ways.  The appearance-related things weren’t as urgent as the others, but maybe I’m well enough that I don’t have to concentrate so hard on keeping myself going.  Maybe I’m well enough that I don’t have to focus on just getting through the day.  It’s pleasant to wear nice, well-fitting clothes.  If I don’t have to concentrate on the basics of existence anymore, perhaps I can look at ways to make that existence more enjoyable.

Thanks for following me through this episode of negative self-esteem;  I am working on this with the Counsellor, so it will probably come up fairly often.  Feel free to skip my explorations, they will all be tagged with “self-esteem”.

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Greetings of the season to you!  If you celebrate a holiday this time of year, happy holidays to you!  And if you don’t have a holiday, hope you’re warm and with people you love!

May you have love and laughter,

Hope, health, and happiness,

Peace of mind and merriment,

Now and throughout 2009.

I was tagged for this one by my fabulous niece, Banana!  Twenty random things about me, then I’m supposed to tag twenty people.  Well, I’ll do the twenty random things, but I won’t tag anybody.  I know not everybody likes these things as much as I do, LOL.  Feel free to swipe it if you’d like to waste some time!
1. I still drive the car I learned how to drive in when I was sixteen. (Utterly sad, I know!)

2. I regularly wish I could move back to Victoria. Like, tomorrow. Even with the snow!

3. I am going to talk myself into staying on as Chair of the Kamloops SPCA Community Council, even though I often wish I could walk away.

4. Lately, my right hand has been much colder than my left.

5. I don’t spend as much time with my parents as I think I should.

6. If I could choose to have a super power, it would be invisibility.

7. If I were a vegetable, I would be broccoli.

8. If I were a pattern, I’d be paisley.

9. I have seen Great Big Sea in concert so many times that I can’t count the number of Kitchen Parties I’ve been to (at least a dozen).

10. I’d rather watch something on t.v. than watch a movie.

11. Dannan and I were interviewed for an upcoming feature about dog bloggers at Petdoc.com.

12. Dannan has ten times (at least!) the number of holiday cards as I do. He’s a famous little brown dog!

13. For the very first time since I started driving (eek, 20 years ago!), I was a little freaked about winter driving last weekend.

14. I bought Christmas tree ornaments this year, despite not planning to put up a tree.

15. If I could pick any job from my past to do again, it would be assessing dogs’ temperaments.

16. If I could have any job in the world, I would be an animal behaviourist.

17. I (almost!) never go anywhere without chapstick. If I forget it somewhere, I buy a tube the first chance I get.

18. One thing I’d like to do before I die is to have something I wrote published in a mass-market format.

19. If I opened a store, it would be a hat shop.

20. I drink at least four litres of water per day.

Stolen from my girl at Big Hair Envy!

Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? I like Egg Nog.  With nutmeg.

Does Santa wrap presents or set them under the tree? Santa does both!  And fills up the stockings!

Colored lights on tree or white? Coloured, definitely.

When do you put your decorations up? When (and if!) the mood strikes me.

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Turkey.

Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Being awakened Christmas morning by my niece Banana (only a seven-year age difference), creeping out to get our stockings, and then opening them in my bedroom together.

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I remember the whole thing like it was yesterday… I was poking around in my mother’s bedroom (TOTALLY not allowed) and I found a picture from the previous Christmas of my mother doing the Santa thing.  I think I was seven or eight.  But the experience is crystal clear!

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? I usually open one gift on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas morning.  I am terrible at having gifts and keeping myself from opening them right away.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? When I do put up a tree, I turn on the Christmas music and sing at the top of my lungs.  And have egg nog.  With nutmeg.

Snow! Love it or Dread it? I like to have a White Christmas.  Other than that, it doesn’t matter much to me.

Can you ice skate? Probably not, LOL.  I could when I was a kid, though.

Do you remember your favorite gift? I don’t know if it was my favourite, but I vividly remember getting my toy xylophone.

What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Seeing loved ones, and not losing my mind.  Seriously, if I don’t keep myself mellow, I go off the deep end.

What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? I’d rather have an extra helping of turkey.

What is your favorite tradition? Now, as an adult?  I guess it would be spending Christmas morning with my Mom.

Which do you prefer, Giving or Receiving? I prefer giving.  But I definitely love love love to open presents!  Even if it’s a tube of toothpaste, I delight in unwrapping it!

What is your favorite Christmas Song? O, Holy Night.

Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? I always have one over the season.  I don’t mind them, but I also don’t care if I have one, either.

Ever recycled a Christmas present? Sure.  If someone gives me a gift that isn’t really for me, and there’s someone I know that would really enjoy it, I don’t see anything wrong with recycling.  (Now all my family and friends are going to wonder… hah!)

I am not alone in finding December and the holiday season a difficult time of year.  There’s a lot working against us, folks.

It is winter.  We get up / go to work / go to school in the dark, and we come home in the dark.  It’s hard for many of us to find sunshine to get our Vitamin D.  A lot of people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is actually a form of depression, and not just the “winter blues”.  The weather is often grey, rainy, or snowy.  Just imagine if I set a story in this sort of setting;  how uplifting.  {sarcasm}

But added to these factors, we have the holiday season.  Whether one celebrates Christmas, Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, or some other celebration, it comes with its own challenges.  I come from a Christian background, so I’ll talk about things in terms of Christmas.  I am not familiar enough with other cultural traditions to speak in terms of them, but if someone would like to comment, I would love to learn!

So, Christmas.  Families get together, and everyone is expected to get along.  We are expected to have gifts for a certain group of people, and we are under pressure to have just the right one.  Probably most of us feel that we should really be giving more gifts than we do, even though we might not be able to afford to do so.  (Our commercially-driven society gives us all sorts of messages about what sort of gift is sufficient, or insufficient;  what the purpose is of giving gifts;  and all sorts of other ideas about consuming more, consuming better, consuming more expensively.)

Then we have the seasonal decorating.  Putting up a tree.  Lights on the outside of our houses.  Lights on the inside of our houses.  Decorations in just one room, or throughout the house?  Special table accoutrements for our special dinners?  Making decorations with the children or the grandchildren?  Do we really need to hang up all the cards our family gets?

Oh, and then there’s the cards that we send.  How many cards?  To whom?  And what if someone sends me a card, and I didn’t send them one?  Then rushing around to find a card to “repay” that card.  Letters to Santa from children.  Shopping for all the gifts.  Finding room in the budget, or going into debt to get that perfect thing?

And especially in a year like this, the money pressures are tremendous.  This year, some people may be asking themselves, food for the month, or toys for the kids?  Paying the mortgage / rent, or Christmas dinner for the whole extended family?

More superficial questions also badger us.  Artificial tree or real?  Special outfits for the kids?  Wrapping paper or gift bags?

And some of these superficial questions get us to thinking about bigger issues.  Which is the “greener” alternative?  Should I send e-cards instead of paper ones?  Will that make a difference for the planet?  Should our family volunteer at an agency that puts on Christmas dinner for those that might not otherwise have one?  How do I afford to send food to school with my kids for the hamper their class is putting together for the food bank?  Can I find room in the budget to buy the gifts for Christmas Amalgamated?

And maybe we spare a thought for the “reason for the season”, whatever that is according to our beliefs.  And we probably feel guilty because this wasn’t our first thought.

So many things that we think about.  Decisions to make, choices to live with.  Or perhaps we are among the portion of our community that is scrambling to find a way to afford any Christmas fripperies at all.

And the messages we are given about this season are tremendously unhelpful.  We all should get along.  We all must love each other.  We must be generous, gracious, and HAPPY!  We have to enjoy every single minute…  And if we don’t, then there’s something wrong with us.

Never mind that all of the above (and more that I’ve missed, I’m sure) combines to ensure that we CANNOT be happy and enjoy every second.  There is too much to do (in addition to all of the regular things that we do throughout the year), too many expectations, too little time, too much snow (which has to be shoveled and makes the roads treacherous), too much, too much, too much!

The point I’m trying to make here is that we are set up to fail.  We are set up every holiday season to feel like failures, because we didn’t bake the shortbread ourselves this year, or because we bought cards instead of making them ourselves.  Or because we snapped at Uncle Ernie, who is obnoxious.  Or we couldn’t make Aunt Maude happy, though we tried so hard.  We will never all get along, especially at a time of year that is so fraught with unrealistic and unreasonable expectations.  We will never make everyone happy;  sometimes, we know a person that revels in their dissatisfaction, and we’re doomed from the get-go.

We will never have the perfect dinner, the perfect house, the perfect decorations, the perfect family gathering, the perfect gifts.  We will never have the perfect anything.  Because perfection is not achievable.  Not in all of these things, not even in one of them.  And if we go into it thinking that it has to be perfect, we’ve already lost before we’ve even started.

So far, this post has probably made you feel awful.  But the good news is, we can choose how we tackle the holiday season.  And the first thing to do is to be realistic about what is likely to happen.  To have reasonable expectations.  To know that we cannot do it all, so then we choose the things that mean the most to us, or that give us the most pleasure, and we give ourselves permission to let the rest go.

For instance, this time of year used to be hellish for me.  My depression is always much worse in the winter.  And I had all these expectations about what Christmas was supposed to be.  We should be a happy family, we should feel tremendous love for our fellow persons, we should feel that Christmas is somehow different and more special than a regular Sunday dinner with the family.

The reality is that it’s probably not going to happen.  And if we think that it is, we are probably going to be disappointed.  If we don’t all get along throughout the year, we most likely especially won’t get along with all this pressure on us to be in perfect harmony.  And that’s okay.  It doesn’t make us bad people.  It doesn’t make us failures at Christmas.  It makes us human.

When I was growing up, I always thought that there was supposed to be something magical about Christmas.  That there was almost a higher level of being that we were supposed to achieve.  Well, my family is an ordinary collection of people, not superhuman.  So when we didn’t get the magic, the higher state, I was crushed.  The weight of my disappointment, caused by failing to meet those expectations, destroyed more Christmases than I can count.

We have to be realistic.  One year, I came home from law school for Christmas.  At dinner one night, I asked when we were going to get the tree.  My father’s response was something like, “What makes you think we’re even going to have a tree?”  Crushed, I was absolutely crushed.  For a number of years, I didn’t go home for Christmas.

But if I had been realistic, I wouldn’t have let myself be crushed.  My father has always hated Christmas.  He put up with it while we were children, and now that we’d all grown up, he was done.  If I had been realistic, I wouldn’t have let my father’s grumpiness take away from something that I enjoyed.

My own approach to Christmas these days is very laid back.  I choose the things I want to do.  Yes, some of them are things that I do for someone else, but I recognize that and give myself a break about it.  I go to the Christmas parties that I want to go to, not the ones I feel that I “should” go to.  If I’m not going to enjoy it, then why shouldn’t I stay home and do something that I will enjoy?  There is so much to choose from, why shouldn’t I choose what makes me happy?

I don’t do a bunch of Christmas baking, because baking’s not my thing.  Cooking isn’t, either.  So if I’m invited somewhere that I need to take a dish to, I buy it.  And I give myself permission to do that.  And I don’t beat myself up for it, either.

I often don’t do a lot of decorating at home.  Many years, I don’t even put up a tree.  If, sometime in December, I feel like I’d enjoy it, then I do.  If I don’t, then I don’t sweat it.  If I want to listen to carols for forty-seven straight hours, then I do.  If I want to send Christmas cards, I do.  (And yes, I struggle with this one.  Especially when someone sends me a card;  it’s hard for me not to return the thought.  But if finding a card for that person is going to stress me out and make me crazy, then I can decide not to do it.  And remind myself that it’s okay, as many times as I need to, to give myself a break.)

It is our choice how we make Christmas.  There is a certain amount of stress that is just a given;  but I don’t have to choose more.

I recognize that because I am single with no kids, I have more freedom than some.  If I had children, I would definitely find it harder to not decorate and have a tree.  But, I can choose to decorate only one room, instead of the whole house.  I can choose to let the kids put the trim on the tree, and not freak out because it isn’t perfect or the way I would have done it.  I can choose to have a four foot tree, not a six foot tree.

My own epiphany about Christmas was this:  the important thing to me about this celebration is being with the people that I love.  And the setting that we’re in doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter if we exchange gifts (although I do love to give, and opening presents, whatever is in them, is still a joy to me).  It is the togetherness and the love that we share that is important.

We can be together in a regular living room.  It can be decorated, or not.  My parents haven’t put up a tree since that fateful year, but they put lights in the front window and around the mantel.  My mother has a ceramic Christmas tree and snowman house that light up.  They always hang the same “Merry Christmas!” banner in the windows, for as long as I can remember.  It’s nice and festive, but it’s not too much.  And if my mother doesn’t want to put the lights up on the mantel, she knows she doesn’t have to do it for me.

What I want from the Christmas season is to see my family and close friends.  I want to spend time with them, not the decorations, or the food, or the gifts.  One of my favourite Christmas traditions is to get together with two of my wonderful girlfriends.  Sometimes we do it at someone’s house and bring potluck;  this year, we may go to a restaurant for brunch.  We exchange the tackiest Christmas-themed things we can find (bonus points if it doesn’t cost anything!), and we have a tacky wooden plaque that goes to the person who brought the goofiest gift.  This gathering doesn’t cost much;  there’s no pressure to buy something.  The point of it is to spend a little time together, to make a little space in our lives for each other at a busy time of year.  We don’t always make that space for each other throughout the year;  we’re all busy, and we get caught up in the daily demands of life.  But at Christmas, we always find a couple of hours.

That said, I have many other friends (also dear people, please don’t take offense!) that I don’t make that space for at this time of year.  Part of that is my decision to not overload myself.  Some of my friends are Christmas over-achievers, and I find being around them at this time of year to be anxiety-provoking.  Others, I would love to see if it works out, but if it doesn’t, we’ll see each other sometime in the New Year.

This post has run way longer than I ever intended it to be.  The bottom line is that I think we have to give ourselves permission to opt out of things at this time of year.  We need to be realistic and set ourselves a reasonable schedule of things to do.  And we have to sincerely remind ourselves (as many times as it takes!) that this is okay, I am not a bad person for doing this, Christmas can be redefined.  We can make it what we want, and we’ll feel so much better for it.

However you are spending this holiday season, I hope you can find time for “you” time, when you do exactly what YOU want to do.  And I hope you can be with the people you love, the most important thing of all.

…Why do I get the flu every winter even though I get my flu shot?

So I feel like crap today, and apparently so does Dannan.  He threw up all over the couch a few minutes ago, and I grabbed the wrong spray bottle.  I thought I was grabbing the bottle of odour neutralizer, but instead it was the bottle of bitter stuff that you spray on things to keep your animals from chewing on them.  I sprayed a whole butt load of it on the couch cushions, not realizing what it was because I couldn’t smell it.  Finally, I realized my mistake and went to get the Prosolve.  (I checked the bottle before spraying this time, natch.)

I can sure smell the bitter stuff now.  Cuts right through a stuffy head and nose, let me tell ya.  And that burning in the back of my throat?  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  I’m just waiting for the Prosolve to do its work, then I’ll try to sponge off all the ick.  And no dog will probably ever go on the couch again.

I totally wanted to do a post this afternoon about the December blues and holiday expectations.  Since I’ve just gassed myself and all furry creatures within a 100 metre radius, that might have to wait.  Dannan had the good sense to head downstairs.  He’s probably throwing up all over my bed now.  At least that’s easier to wash.

So instead of the in-depth, thoughtful post I envisioned, I’m rambling on about dog puke.  Welcome back to the Muse Asylum, aren’t you glad I’m back?

Um, hi.  Remember me?  Couldn’t, wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t.  It feels like it’s been a hundred years since I posted last.

I got stuck in my head, lost in my own issues.  The longer I didn’t post, the harder it was.  Then, I got all over the idea that since it had been so long since I posted, I had to have the perfect post to come back.  As a recovering perfectionist, I usually try to remember that “done is better than perfect”, but that old demon is never far away.  And it jumped on me, big time.

This whole blogging thing has actually turned into a whole microcosm of my various issues.  In non-blogging life, one of the biggest struggles I have is that for my whole life, my only sources of self-esteem have been through achievement and by doing everything I can for others.  This latter idea is a real killer, folks.  Because I derive my worth from service to others, I got into the trap of thinking that if I wasn’t following and commenting every day on my favourite bloggers and those who were kind enough to read and comment on my posts, then I was a failure.  And the longer I let myself think these thoughts, the more intimidating and overwheming they become.

Instead of a pleasure and a joy, blogging had become a duty and I was shutting myself down.  I’ve also had this problem over at Dannan’s blog, but because it was “his” blog, I tried to power through it.  I was more successful over there — after all, I was doing it for someone else!  (How twisted the mind can be…)

I know that I have to get over it and move on.  Read when I can, comment when I can, and post when I can.  And not put all this crazy pressure on myself, or turn what is supposed to be an uplifting and fulfilling creative hobby into another anchor pulling me down.  And I have to stop apologizing all the time.

Fact is, I’m a (recovering) perfectionist and procrastinator.  (The two go hand in hand, if you didn’t know.)  I spend a lot of time stuck in the morass of my issues.  Chronic depression and generalized anxiety disorder often seem to take the starring role in my life.  I started to blog so that I could explore my inner writer and enjoy myself.  And I need to keep blogging for those reasons, for only myself.

I may never be a regular-as-clockwork blogger.  I may not visit all the blogs I enjoy all of the time.  I might not comment on every post I read.  But I’m going to release myself from the pressure of feeling that I have to do all of that.  (And of course, I’m going to have to keep reminding myself that that’s what I’m doing!)  But I do truly enjoy the writing that I’ve discovered, the people behind that writing, and the connections that sometimes seem to spark from our interaction.  I’ll do the best I can at nurturing those connections, without letting my issues hijack it as another stick to beat myself up with.  (With which to beat myself.)

I’ve been told that I over-explain myself, when there is no need to do it, and that it sometimes usually just another manifestations of my issues.  But I do feel that need to explain (working on it), and to be able to “get over it and move on”, I choose to make the explanation.  Here it is, and here I go.

(Therapy in action.  Don’t you just love how, once you start working on yourself, everything in your life turns into a therapeutic exercise?  Or maybe you don’t have any experience with that.  Please excuse the use of “you”.  Not pointing my finger at “you” in particular.)

That’s it for that subject.  I need to write, and I need this blog.  Thank you for your patience.

The other thing I wanted to write about is somewhat ironic, given the timing.  Just as I withdrew from blogging, the fabulous Jack, over at Slightly Off-Centre, gave me an award.  Way back on November 26th.

award-kreative-blogger

The irony is not lost upon me, I assure you.  Jack, if you’re out there, I’m sorry for not getting on this right away.  After all, it’s my first award here at The Muse Asylum, and it’s from a fellow Canadian whose blog is very cool.  Head on over and check her blog out, you won’t be sorry.  And I’m going to get back to being that Kreativ Blogger that you gave this award to.  (To which you gave this award.  See, I do know proper grammar.)

And Jack, THANK YOU!

There are rules to this award:

♥ List 6 things that make you happy.
♥ Pass the award onto 6 Bloggers you consider to be Kreativ.
♥ Link to the blogger who gave you the award.
♥ Link to the blogs receiving the award.
♥ Notify the recipients.

6 things that make me happy

  1. Dannan, my Little Brown Dog
  2. My family and my friends
  3. The sight of dogs playing together
  4. Crisp days where the sun is shining brightly
  5. Reading a good book
  6. Making a breakthrough in the work I’m doing on, and for, myself

I’m not going to send this award along to anyone, at least not right now.  I feel rather odd, receiving such an award when I’ve been so checked out.  I don’t feel today like I am able to pass it along, but I will someday soon.  And if I have any readers left at all, please consider yourself awarded!

That’s all for now.  I’ll be back soon, I truly will.

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I will post my Kreativ Blogger award here when I figure out how to do it!