Tag Archives: worry

Not Going to Make It

I have a fear of being without resources; particularly without financial resources.  No, it’s not just a fear.  I think it actually falls more into the category of absolute abject terror.

I was a sensitive child.  When I was growing up, we didn’t have much money.  Until I was 9 years old, my family of 4 occupied an 8 ft. x 24 ft. prefab trailer that had a couple of small rooms added, built on by my father around the time I turned 6 or 7.  Those rooms didn’t have finished windows (no sills or trim), nor were there any baseboards, pictures, or fancy decorations.  And tar paper covered the outer walls to protect thin, bare wood walls from the weather.  We had one couch to sit on and it was a little couch that was moved from the trailer into the new lean-to living area.  There was one small table that held our old black and white TV.  We made do with very little, my father supplementing our meager grocery budget with the dove, rabbits, quail, squirrels and bass or trout he shot or caught.

I’m not sure why we were so poor.  My father was a teacher, and while teachers don’t make great amounts of money, I was always mystified at our continual lack, even back then.  My mother also worked as a commercial artist until I was 15 years old.  With both of them working, even though they weren’t working in high paying fields, I would have thought we would have had more to live on.

My clothes were homemade, if I was very fortunate.  More often, they were hand-me-downs from my aunt (who was 20 years my senior) or purchased at the Goodwill store.  And back then, Goodwill didn’t offer much. There were no music lessons or other activities that cost money.  If we did it, it had to be free.  My grandparents had a large garden and we ate lots of fruits and vegetables that they grew.  Our trailer was on a concrete pad on the back part of their property, so one would think our modest living arrangement would have allowed us to make ends meet.  Yet, I still remember the financial crisis we faced each month, without fail.

“We aren’t going to make it.”

This was my father’s standard frantic declaration at around the midpoint of the month.  And it sent shards of ice and terror through my heart.

Honestly, I didn’t understand what “not making it” entailed.  I was too young to grasp the full implications.  I just knew it was something akin to the world ending in a massive catastrophe during which all of us would surely die a horrible death…or worse.  It meant no food, no shelter, no warmth, the end of life as we know it, and having no way to survive.

Discussion would ensue.  What could we do to stretch what remained in their bank account to get us through until the end of the month?  Inevitably, my father would announce that he would sell his shotgun.  The shotgun that he used to hunt.  To provide food.  A shotgun he had sacrificed to buy in the first place, for which he professed great love, but that he would forfeit…for us…because it was the only thing standing between us and horrific disaster.

I was only 4 or 5 when I first became aware of this monthly crisis.  I would have nightmares night after night as a result of our frightening dilemma.  I didn’t want my father to have to sell his gun, but neither did I want us to “not make it.”  And since there was nothing I could do to contribute, other than to perhaps not eat, my fear would grow with each passing day as I dreaded reaching the end of all things as I had come to know them.

And then, suddenly, miraculously, we survived.  We made it through another month. 

Though we would somehow manage to make it, I never felt secure.  And it was very confusing when my father would come home after some of these monthly calamities with a new, better, more expensive shotgun.  A shiny  and lovely gun that he had managed to buy after trading in the old model.  The old model he never had to sell.

Is it any wonder I am terrified of financial lack?  Or that I have an underlying sense that disaster is always waiting for me just around the corner?

If I don’t have a few thousand dollars in my bank account, I start feeling very uncomfortable.  When I get below the thousand dollar mark, I begin to panic. 

I haven’t been in the safe range for a very long time.  Haven’t even been in the panic range.  I’m so low on resources, terror is my constant companion.  I live paycheck to paycheck and there are many times I don’t think I’m going to make it.  For real.

I don’t have a shotgun to sell.  Everything I can sell has been sold, other than the jewelry I made when trying to start a side business.  Before my current crisis, I made occasional sales and those sales provided a small, but nice bonus.  Yet for some reason, no one wants to buy anything now that I really need the money. 

Besides being systematically deconstructed by the continual abuse I suffered while in the “care” of my parents, I learned that a person could never count on anything or trust in anyone.  I learned needs probably wouldn’t be met.  That love was painful, cruel and selfish.  That security was a fairy tale.  That life would throw disaster after disaster into your lap and…you just might not make it.

I’ve been trying. I’ve been trying to make it my entire life.  But I’m not certain what I’ve accomplished could be called anything close to success.

I’m still not sure I’m going to make it.

 

Empty

This past weekend, I was working and playing on the computer, which is pretty much what I do most weekends.  At one point, I was reading various posts on Facebook…people thankful for some person in their life.  Maybe it was a relative, a friend, someone who had touched them deeply, a spouse, sibling, child, even a teacher.  I was also reading all the inspirational quotes.  Topics like “never give up”, “be thankful,” “have a grateful heart,” “be positive,” etc., etc., etc.  I saw quotes on marriage, how it’s not about finding the perfect person, but staying with someone and loving them even though they aren’t perfect. (Note to all happily married people who are lucky enough to experience this:  it takes two to tango.  Some of us were willing, but our partners didn’t want to dance…because they didn’t think we were worth it…which hurts…a lot.) And there were posts about a trip to the lake, a trip to a resort, a cruise, a family reunion, a wedding, an engagement, a baby shower, a big birthday bash, going out for a special dinner.  So much going on.  So many things happening.  So much to consider.  A lot of life taking place out there.
 
I looked at the two little dogs laying on my lap.  I looked around the living room.  I listened to the wind blowing outside, occasionally rattling the gutters.  I heard the little snores and sleep noises my girls make when they are in the deep stages of slumber.  Little whines, whimpers and muffled yips that sometimes wake them.  With blinking eyes, they would gaze around, then yawn and lick their lips in contentment before going back to sleep.  The refrigerator kicked on and off. The heater too.  My wind chimes played a duet with the wind.  Shadows lengthened.  The noises of silence were loud in my ears.  And realized how alone I am.  And how empty my life is.  Except for those two little Miniature Schnauzers who lay sleeping, protected and secure on my lap.
 
I’m not sure how I got to this place.  This wasn’t at all what I had planned.
 
When I was young, I had big dreams.  I was in pain.  I was broken.  I had nothing and no one.  But I had hope.  I believed.  I had a vision of a future that was full and fulfilling.  I saw me laughing with people who loved me; people I loved.  I dreamed of deep conversations, acceptance, enjoyment.  I also believed I would have something meaningful to contribute…to the people in my life and to the world in general.  I had a story.  I was terribly abused as a child; criminally so.  It had hurt me in ways I couldn’t comprehend or even begin, at that point, to sort out or acknowledge.  But I believed I would heal.  And be able to share that healing journey with others.  Helping them to heal as well.  Maybe offer a tidbit of wisdom or two that I picked up along the way. Moving them in the depths of their soul where the hurt resided.  Touching them. I wanted to shine a little bit of light into the world and penetrate the darkness in hearts that were also damaged.  Like me.
 
Fast forward to today.  Me and my dogs.  Listening to the wind blow.  Alone.  Still broken.  No dreams survived.  Nothing to believe or to anticipate.
 
I love my dogs.  Deeply love them.  It’s just…they aren’t people.  They are wonderful.  But…they aren’t people. I need them.  But…I need a little bit more.
 
 

Me & my sweet girls!

My life is so empty, I can barely think about it for more than a few seconds at a time.  It’s so sharply painful, this place I have somehow gotten myself in to, the desperateness of my situation makes me want to die.  Truly.  If it were not for these two little dogs who love me and depend on me for everything in their world and were it not for my love of them, I would find a way off of the planet.  Permanently.  That is how disturbing and overwhelming and horrible my “life” is…if you can call this life.
 
Yes, I breathe and bathe and eat and go to work.  I walk and talk and drive to the store.  I navigate through the empty days. Run my errands, pay bills (for now, thankfully, I’m still able to keep my head just above the water line), get gas in my car, figure out what I will wear the next day to work, load my dishwasher, put on makeup, brush my teeth, eat.  I log on to my computer, write, check Facebook (too often).  I take my dogs out to do their “business” and bring them back in and take them out again and bring them back in and take them back out again…a never ending cycle.  I watch them play.  Throw their toys for them.  I check the mail, take out the trash, do laundry.  And I pray.  With barely a mustard seed of hope.
 
God help me…is this all there is to life?  Is this what it is like for everyone?  No joy?  No hope?  No excitement?  No purpose, meaning, wonder, delight, connection, security, refuge?
 
Has everyone lost their dreams?  Have they all forgotten what it is like to be glad to be alive?  I can’t even remember that feeling.  I question whether or not I ever experienced it.  Though I do remember having dreams.  Big, small, noble, crazy…and I remember what it was like to expect I could make at least a few of them come true. Even some of the wild ones.
 
How did I get from that place of being hopeful and sure to this place of silence, isolation and emptiness?
 
And more important, is there any way out?  Other than to permanently leave the planet?
 
I fear there are no good answers to my questions.  No positive outcome.  No solution.  I fear the darkness has won.  And the emptiness may be the thing that finally kills me. 
 
 
 

Hospital

This past Sunday evening, I started having some rather alarming heart issues.  I was fine and then I wasn’t.  My heart started racing.  I felt shaky and very weak.  I couldn’t see well.  My balance was off.  I was hot  (and I’m NEVER hot), then normal, then hot again.  I tried all my tricks…drinking Powerade Zero, using the Enlyten electrolyte strips, eating salt.  Nothing helped.  I would feel a tiny bit better and then, bam!  It would get worse again.  And I knew worse was bad.  Worse was, “I’m in trouble.”
 
After a couple of hours of trying to get my body to begin to stabilize, I realized I needed medical help.  So I drove myself to the emergency room.  Stupid to drive.  But I wasn’t thinking all that clearly either.  And I was scared.  I was also thinking about how little I could afford the $250 ER co-pay.  Hoping I was really sick enough to make it worth the expense.  Thought I was, but it’s so hard for me to gauge this.  And always, in the back of my mind, I hear my father’s voice telling me I had “better be sick enough” to justify the expense of taking me to the doctor.  I have a hard time knowing if I’m sick enough.
 
Turns out, I was.  In fact, my potassium was 2.4.  They told me my calcium and sodium was also at life-threateningly low levels.  And that they were going to have to admit me to the hospital.  I felt good about that for about 2 seconds.  I WAS sick enough!  And they waive the co-pay when you are admitted to the hospital from the ER!  Then I realized I would be responsible for the $1500 deductible AND 20% of the bill up to $3500.  I’m so close to bankruptcy, I almost told them to forget it, I’d rather just die.  But then I thought of my dogs.  Zoe and Hannah.  Waiting at home for me to return.
 
So I let them admit me.  I lived.  And now I’m in worse debt than ever.  My situation is direr.  And I’m scared for different reasons than I was on Sunday night.
 
While in the hospital, I realized I have no one to call.  No one who could take care of my girls for me in an emergency.  No one to come in the middle of the night.  I did call my brother.  He said he would try to come down the following day.  It’s a 2-1/2 to 3 hour drive for him.  Too far to be comfortable and easy.  And he was angry with me.  He knows about my eating disorder.  He blames me.  Lectures me about how I need to stop.
 
Yes.  I do.  I just don’t know how.  For some stupid reason, it isn’t that easy.  Or maybe I’m just stupid.
 
I lay in the ER bed, watching the heart monitor, feeling my heart swing wildly from crazy beating, skipping beats, then slowing.  I could see the breaks in the lines when it skipped.  Could track the acceleration when the third line would swing up, up, up.  Watched the numbers go from 7 to 76 and everything in between.  And all too frequently those numbers were displayed in a red box.  There was also a strange symbol that kept popping on the right side of the screen next to the numbers.  It seemed to correlate to those skipped beats.  I wanted to ask what it all meant, but in the end, I decided it didn’t matter.  The bottom line was, I was an idiot and it was all my fault. 
 
I need so much help, I feel as if I’m in an impossible situation.  And I’m making it worse with everything I do.
 
To be completely factual, I did have some extenuating circumstances that probably propelled me into a crisis state.  I’ve been taking antibiotics for a sinus infection.  I have had some pretty awful sinus problems and I’m terrified of sinus infections.  So even though the medication caused the worst diarrhea I have ever had in my life, I kept taking it.  Between that and my eating disorder, I suppose you could say that I was doomed.  But still.  Having to go to the ER and admit you have an eating disorder and you’ve been having diarrhea is much more shameful than only having to confess to diarrhea.  One is entirely my fault.  The other, being purely physical and largely not controllable, could be excused.  We are not responsible for our illnesses, unless, of course, they are mental health illnesses. 
 
The ER nurse was very kind and compassionate.  She didn’t treat me like the plague.  In fact, she went out of her way to talk with me and treated me as if I had value.  The doctor…not so much.  Nor were any of the nurses I met once I was admitted the least understanding.  They treated me the way I feel.  Like I’m nothing.  Stupid.  Worthless. 
 
By the next morning, after a few IV’s and some mega-horse-pills, my potassium had risen to 3.5.  They said that everything was still very low, but not at life-threatening levels.  Still too low to go home, but the emergency was over.  Problem.  Who to call to take care of my dogs.  Same answer I got in the middle of the night.  No one.
 
Which is why, at 8 a.m. on Monday morning, I checked myself out against medical advice.  It wasn’t what I wanted.  I told them I would come back, but that I HAD to take care of my dogs.  They looked at me like I was even crazier than they had first thought.  Drew up the AMA forms, predicted dire consequences; I signed and walked away.
 
I was exhausted.  Still trembling.  But my heart wasn’t beating as if it was going to burst from my chest.  My hands weren’t shaking.  My vision wasn’t blurry.  My blood pressure had returned to normal.  I could stand without feeling like I was going to pass out.  Good to go…well, good enough.  I came home and finally got some sleep.
 
Went to work today.  My boss, whom I had e-mailed from the ER, wanted to know what had happened and why I wasn’t at work the day before…what had caused my hospital stay.  The company has a thing about attendance and I am supposed to set an example.  Sigh. Didn’t tell him about the eating disorder.  Just the diarrhea caused by the antibiotics, and luckily, that seemed to be good enough to satisfy him.  I showed him the bruises and huge knots caused by the IV’s.  Brought in my expensive hospital bracelets to prove I wasn’t making it all up.  I think I get to keep my job.  For now.  Even if it doesn’t pay enough to cover my expenses. It’s way better than unemployment.
 
I’m ashamed. 
 
My brother hasn’t bothered to contact me since I sent him a text and told him not to make the drive.  That I was home.  Sorry to have bothered him.
 
But I’m going to have to try to find someone who will take care of my dogs for me, just in case I am stuck in the hospital again and near death.  I can’t find anyone who will take care of me, but they are sweet and innocent, so maybe, just maybe, someone will rescue them. 
 
I think it’s too late for me anyway.  And no one has ever felt compelled come to my rescue.  I seem to repel people rather than make them feel good about providing me with assistance or cutting me slack. Which, I suppose, is how it is supposed to be.  It is, after all, totally and completely my own fault.  And I am, as is expected, simply reaping what I have sown.  Mercy is for the worthy people.  For those who are not to blame.  For those who have value.  Not for broken, messed up, idiots like me.  Who are not deserving of compassion, love, caring, or aid. 
 
Even if tenderness, mercy and assistance are what I so desperately need.  And what my still-beating heart is begging for.
 

Wednesday

For 14 years, I was the 4:00 p.m. appointment on Wednesday.  Fourteen.  Years.  With insurance.  Without it.  With a job.  With no job.  Married.  Divorced.  Horrible weather.  Pretty weather. Half sick.  Tired. Depressed.  Hopeless.  Trying to hang on.  I was there almost every single Wednesday of the year for all those many, many, many years.
 
When I finally got a job this January after 6 months of unemployment, it became evident very quickly that keeping this appointment was going to be a problem.  They are attendance Nazis.  I had a couple of doctor’s appointments already set up prior to starting work.  I told them about the appointments before I started and got approval to go.  But when the time came, I felt the cold, the nonacceptance and I realized I was clearly getting a black mark for taking time off work.  When I had to have a follow-up appointment, I was afraid to say anything.  I made it for as late in the day as I could.  I fearfully told my boss.  No response.  Just cold.  So, it didn’t take me long to figure out that leaving work 30 minutes early every Wednesday to see my counselor wasn’t going to be embraced the way it had always been in the past.  I mean, it’s not like I only work 40 hours a week.  I typically work 9-1/2 hours a day.  That’s normal.  So taking off that 1/2 hour weekly was very much a non-issue at any other place I had worked.  Not here.  Not with the attendance Nazis.
 
When you have been pursuing healing for 14 years…not just through weekly counseling, but when that has been an integral component…saying goodbye is emotionally wrenching.  For me, it represented an acknowledgement that I am not going to get any better than this.  No more support.  No more encouragement.  No more help untangling all the massively tangled thoughts.  No more assistance uncovering buried feelings. No more intense work.  It’s done.  It is finished.  And I know in my heart of hearts, it’s not good enough.  I know I am still very broken and needy.
 
I also know I’m out of options.
 
Letting go of my appointment and discontinuing counseling was an admission of defeat.  It was giving up hope.  Giving up on life.  On myself.  I’m alone now; totally and completely.  There is no one to turn to.  No “maybe today will be the day I realize a breakthrough” moments in my future.  Not even a sliver of expectation.  I fought long and hard and I lost.  I am not healed.  Not even close.  I’m unloved and unlovable.    Too much baggage.  Too much damage.  There will be no rebuilding.  No restoration.  No happy ending.  I have to let it go.  I have no choice.
 
I started counseling a few months after my father died.  I finally felt as if I was at a point where I could talk about what happened to me when I was growing up, under his control.  I no longer had to protect him…he was dead.  So I didn’t have to keep silent any more.  I could try to figure out what  was left of me, what the years of abuse had done to me and what needed to be done to put me back together into some semblance of normalcy.    It was hard initially.  I was so closed off.  Took a long time to trust the counselor.  But I finally started talking a little and then a little more.  I had hope.  Not much, but enough to keep going; to keep trying.
 
I kept trying even when my marriage fell apart.  Even when I didn’t see results.  Even when I tried to kill myself.  I knew if I stopped trying, I would be giving up on myself completely.  And I was afraid to do that.  Afraid of what it would mean.  What I would become.  Without hope.
 
Saying goodbye was gut wrenching.  It hurt.  It was so much more than an end to a counseling relationship.  It was utter defeat.  Loss of the last thread of belief that my life could be better…someday…maybe…if I kept trying and working and praying.  I had put a lot of time, effort and money into this endeavor.  And now, it was over.  I didn’t get the return I had hoped for.  I don’t know why healing has eluded me and even my counselor has been perplexed at my lack of progress.  In light of that lack of progress, perhaps I shouldn’t be so devastated to end the process.  But when that’s all you’re hanging on to…letting go means a free fall.  Nothing to stop you.  No parachute.  You’re a gonner.
 
That’s where I am now.  Awaiting the smack of harsh reality when I hit bottom.  Because I am falling.  And there is no safety net or parachute.  At the moment, I’m numb, suspended in this Netherland; a world between.  Without anchor or rudder.  Without direction.  I am being thrashed by the storm, tossed about, slapped senseless, knocked around, beaten.   I am utterly lost.
 
Sadly, it appears doubtful now that I will ever find my way.  The howling wind throws back its head in manic laughter at my plight.  The thunder claps in approval.  My tears are lost in the endless rain.  The darkness wraps me in its cold, unyielding arms.  Alone, I fall.  I reach out tentatively, but grasp only air.  The lightening dances across the sky, rejoicing in my demise.
 
Wednesday provided a miniscule amount of shelter.  And that small place of semi-safety is gone.  That tiny light of hope has been extinguished.
 
My parents should be proud.  I thought I could escape them.  I thought I could overcome the damage of their touch.  I was wrong.  They have defeated me, even from the grave.  What they began is playing out and nothing can stop it or alter the path.  I have lost the battle.  The storm, the darkness, my parents have won. My destruction is now but a matter of time. 
 
 
 

Hollow

Hollow.  I feel hollow.  Emptied out.  Empty of dreams.  Empty of hopes.  Of expectations.  Of goals.  Of desires.  Of wants.  Like a gutted fish…everything inside is gone.  Except for the pain. There is still a great deal of pain.  And terror.
 
It became overwhelming, this feeling of hollowness, when I was driving to work the other day.  It was as if my senses expanded, my reality opened, and I saw my bleak existence for what it is. I was no longer able to disguise it or push it away. Or make it pretty.
 
I get up.  Take my dogs out to do their business, feed them, fix my coffee, get dressed, drive to work.  I work 9-1/2 hours a day without a break.  Then I drive home, let the dogs out, feed them, get something to eat myself, throw it up.  Boot up the computer and check Facebook.  Check Twitter.  Have a cup of coffee.  Eat more.  Throw that up too.  Have another cup of coffee, maybe, play solitaire, check my e-mail, which is mostly junk, let the dogs out a few more times (sigh).  I think about everything I should be doing, but that I don’t have the energy for.  Cleaning, organizing, or even being creative, reading, writing.  Just can’t muster the mental wherewithal to make it happen.  I hate living in the conditions I live in…such an out of control mess.  So depressing.  Which is part of why I can’t muster the mental wherewithal.  And so the vicious cycle continues.  And so it goes undone.  And finally, I take the dogs out for the last time for the night, plug the phones in so they will be charged and ready to go the next day, figure out what I will wear tomorrow, get ready for bed and go to sleep.  Next morning, repeat.  And the next.  And the next.
 
Weekends aren’t much, if any, better.  The dogs usually get me up at 4:30 or 5:00 and I feed them, then take them out.  But I get to go back to sleep…a luxury.  I get up whenever I wake up, which feels decadent.  That is usually around 8 or 8:30.  At which point…guess…I take the dogs out yet again.  Then I get dressed and run errands.  I generally visit a couple of grocery stores and get gas in my car so I’ll be ready for the coming work week.  Sometimes I have to go to the pharmacy.  Occasionally I run to the post office.  Even more rarely, I’ll meet a friend for coffee.  Then I’m home, unloading way too many groceries for one person, but this ED must be fed.  Even if it all just goes in the toilet, the ritual continues and it is usually more active on the weekends.  I eventually log on the computer.  Check Facebook and Twitter.  Read e-mail.  Delete junk.  Play solitaire.  Drink coffee.  Take a nap.  Take my girls out a few hundred times (how DO they make it all day during the week when I’m at work?).  Then I go to bed, usually crashing on the couch whenever I get sleepy.  Yes, sleeping on the couch Friday and Saturday night is my big reward for making it through the week.  I live such an exciting life…
 
Sunday, I may hit yet another grocery store because I get really insecure about running out of food.  I take a nap; maybe two.  Take the dogs out a few hundred times again.  Wash my hair.  Do my nails.  Figure out what I’m going to wear to work on Monday.  Feel the depression descending.  Go to bed.  Wonder where the weekend went.
 
Hollow.  Empty.  Lonely.  Meaningless.  Hopeless.
 
I tell myself that I need to do something fun every now and then.  But what is fun?  I have forgotten how to have fun.  Can’t even imagine what I might do that would be fun.  I don’t have anyone to call.  My “friends” have families that they center their lives around – rightly so – and they have friends that they are much closer to; friends they make a priority.  I don’t fit in well.  I take work.  So those get-togethers don’t happen often.
 
I run from the stark emptiness of my reality.  I pretend it isn’t what it is.  But sometimes it sneaks up on me.  Sometimes it gets in my face and I can’t avoid it.
 
I’m so weary.  So tired.  Even when I wake up, I’m exhausted.  True, I usually only get 5 or, if I’m lucky, 6 hours of sleep.  But no amount of sleep can erase the weariness from my mind and soul.  My weekend naps prove this.  It’s not about sleep.  I’m just worn out.  Worn down.  Broken.  Defeated.
 
This is my life.  This is my world.  If it weren’t for these two annoying little Miniature Schnauzers who have to go out SO MANY TIMES, there would be no life whatsoever in my daily sphere.
 
Hollow.  I have nothing to look forward to.  Far too much to regret.  Far too many things to fear when I peek at the future and catch a glimpse of what I can expect to find there.  It’s terrifying.  Thinking is dangerous.  It involves seeing all of my bad decisions.  How little I have to look forward to.  How much I have to fear going forward and how unstable I am…mentally, emotionally, financially.  I’m so broken, I can barely navigate the day.  It’s all I can do to get myself to work.  All I can do to take one step.  Then another.  If I’m fortunate, another.  I live in the empty nothingness of the moment and the moment is endless.  And Empty.  And pointless.
 
I am a shell.  The pain echoes through the emptiness within me.  The terror reverberates off my outer walls.  Dead man walking.
 
Hollow. 
 
 

Night Terrors

I woke up in the middle of the night last night, as I commonly do anymore.  And as has become a far too frequent dilemma, I find myself unable to go back to sleep.  Because I start thinking about things.  How I’m not making enough money to pay my bills and also I’m terribly in debt. So the hole keeps getting deeper.  About how many things that I own are old and nearing the end of their life.  How I don’t have money to repair or replace them, even though they are necessities.  How I am tired and want to retire soon, but can’t because I don’t have any money and I have too many bills.  But how much longer am I going to be able to work, realistically?  I’m getting up in years now.  That’s terrifying in and of itself.  Which leads me to thoughts about how I’m so alone.  That when I die, there won’t even be a funeral because, seriously, who would come?  And how am I going to die…other than alone…with no one to care for me?  No one to hold my hand.  No one to ease the transition.  Will it be hard?  What if I can’t breathe?  That’s the worst nightmare to me.  Worse than pain.  What if it’s prolonged?  What if I suffer horribly?  Who will the anonymous caretaker be who watches me die?  Will they care at all?  Will I even be able to afford a caretaker? 
 
Before you know it, I’m jumping out of bed and pacing, trying to rid my mind of all the tormenting thoughts. 
 
Night terrors.  When I can’t keep reality at bay any longer.
 
That’s the real problem. The real issue.  These are not nightmares that you can wake up from, panting, panicking…they can’t be shaken off.  Your breathing isn’t going to return to normal after you have been awake long enough to realize what you were experiencing was just a dream.  Your heart rate isn’t going to slow.  Because it’s not just a dream.  It’s actuality.  Fact.  With all of its challenges.  The truth.  And you can’t escape the truth.  Not really.
 
You can ignore the truth, bend the truth, lie about the truth, refuse to look at the truth, only look at part of the truth and deny the truth.  But you can’t change it.  It is what it is.  And when you find yourself in the dark part of the night looking that truth right in the eyeballs, it’s utterly terrifying.
 
I don’t know how to change my today so my tomorrow won’t be so bleak.  I don’t know how to mold the nightmare into a better reality.  All the indicators are that what has been will continue to be.  The isolation.  The lack of money.  The impact of my abusive childhood hasn’t lessened.  My soul is still destroyed.  And that makes it all the more difficult to change.  It makes it ever so much harder to have hope.  So in the middle of the night, when I am assailed by my uncensored brain and all the thoughts I normally squelch, I can’t filter or deny the reality of my world any longer. 
 
There will be no happy ending.  There will be many, many more sleepless nights.  Nights of torment.  Of abject, stark, endless fear. The terrors of the darkness are my reality.  And in the middle of the night, they overwhelm me and I can’t ignore them any longer.  What they hold for me, where they are leading me, can’t be avoided.  There is no way out.  I can’t wake up.  Because for once, here in the bosom of night, I am fully, completely awake.  And it’s petrifying.

Crisis Averted

My life feels really scary right now.  Okay, let me rephrase.  My life has been scary for a very long time, but it feels especially scary right now.  I’ve had to fight for every little scrap of ground I’ve been able to obtain and I’ve had to work incredibly hard, expending every tiny bit of energy I could muster just to make it through the day each day.  Day after day.  Year after year. Decade after decade.  After a horribly abusive childhood filled with sexual, physical and emotional abuse, I’ve had a lot of rebuilding to do.  The damage has been massive and daunting.  Overwhelming.  Frightening.  As a result, I’ve had struggles others never have.  The kind that aren’t especially generally accepted or embraced.  The kind you aren’t supposed to have and certainly aren’t supposed to talk about.  You know, like depression and hopelessness and feelings of worthlessness and isolation and attempted suicide.  And an eating disorder.
 
I’ve long been baffled by my eating disorder.  It doesn’t help, I know it doesn’t help, in fact, in many ways it makes things worse. BUT I NEED IT AND I CAN’T LET IT GO.  And why do I need it?  What positive thing is it doing for me that is so powerful it compels me to tenaciously resist all efforts to change?  The understanding has eluded me.
 
I’ve read books, listened to others, talked to my counselor.  And there’s one thing everyone consistently says about it.  Yep, I’ve heard it over and over again, enough times from enough people to give me pause…it’s about control.  That it gives you this false sense of control over your life.  Somehow. But I don’t get that.  Because I’m so obviously NOT in control!
 
However, last night as I was purging for the 3rd time of the evening in spite of my efforts not to, I think I finally got a spark of insight. 
 
I either withhold food or I binge and purge.  I’m a good purger…I can get just about everything out and my low weight is a testimony to how thoroughly I rid myself of whatever I put in my stomach.  But binging is uncomfortable.  Not just physically uncomfortable.  There’s this panic… “Will I be able to get it all out this time?  What if I can’t?  Oh, God!”  It’s terrifying at that point in the cycle, so there is a tremendous amount of relief when one is able to purge and purge well after a binge.  I call it “getting back to okay.”  When I get back to okay, I can do something other than fight with my eating disorder for an hour or two at a time.  Until the cycle starts again.
 
So last night as I was “getting back to okay,” I kind of got a peek at how this whole process parallels my life. And that’s the key.  That it parallels life.
 
My life, as I have mentioned, is scary.  It’s a nightmare, really, and has been always.  The reasons for the nightmare have changed over the years.  A childhood filled with abuse.  A marriage without love, filled with rejection and never being good enough.  Working crazy hours for low pay and with no recognition.  Struggling to find a way to live with so much internal damage while not letting it show.  Divorce.  Job loss. Financial problems.  No connections. No resources.  No reserves.  Huge debt.  I am in terror of what is going to happen next and totally unsure I will be able to make it successfully through the next crisis or disaster.  I literally can’t sleep because of the grip terror has on my heart.  Everything feels totally out of…control.
 
So here is my life: frightening, chaotic, empty, hard, unfulfilling.  I’m still broken from my childhood and have been broken further by all that has come after.  And that panic and terror?  They’re a lot like the panic and terror I feel just before a purge.  OMG, WHAT HAVE I DONE…WHAT IF I CAN’T GET THIS ALL OUT (what if I can’t make it through this)!!!  WHAT AM I GOING TO DO!!!  HOW AM I GOING TO DEAL WITH THIS AWFUL, HORRIBLE MESS!!!!!
 
And then, I throw it all up, watch it go down the toilet and…ahhhhh.  Back to okay.  Crisis averted.
 
It doesn’t last.  That’s why I have to do it again and again and again.  I’m trying to gain control over my out-of-control life.  By recreating the nightmare and dealing with it by flushing it down the toilet.
 
It doesn’t fix anything.  It doesn’t change anything.  As I said, in many ways, it makes things worse.  But for a few minutes, I can breathe.  For a short period of time, I feel a little relief.  I get a small break.  I can deal with my messy, messed up life a little bit longer.  Mission accomplished.  Crisis averted.  Until the pressure builds and the cycle starts again.  Then I bow to the toilet and release my pain and fear one…more…time…as I pray for relief and favor and a way out of the nightmare that is my world. 

Not Interested

I used to do a lot of writing.  Journaling.  Stories.  Poems.  Songs.  I played guitar so I could (okay, I admit…badly) accompany myself as I sang the songs I wrote.  I sang on the worship team at church for years.  I read voraciously; books and magazine or web articles.  Loved computers and computer games.  I designed web sites.  Logos.  Learned new software.  I took different classes.  Ballet (it was a sad spectacle, but mostly fun).  Computer programming.  Spanish.  Computer networking. Whatever held my interest at the time. I sewed a little bit. Loved to decorate.  I also loved shopping for bargains and kept tabs on my favorite finds, waiting for them to go on sale.  Enjoyed walking around the mall.  Getting out and going places.  Antique shopping.  Going to the flea market.  Eating out.  Trying new things.  I collected angels. Ornaments.  Tried my hand at different crafts, like jewelry design.  Attempted to learn how to work with stained glass.  Loved to drive. Hike. Travel.  Ride bikes. Run.
 
I had dreams too.  Of getting better.  Healing.  Someday being a writer and speaker.  Sharing my journey to help others who were coming along behind me.  Dreams of having a good marriage, a profound closeness with my husband.  Of having deep connections with friends.  Of having enough money so I wouldn’t have to worry about how I was going to pay the bills every month and handle emergencies.  Of making a difference in the world.  Of leaving behind a legacy.
 
There was some life in this old girl!
 
And then, I wasn’t interested.
 
It didn’t happen overnight.  Not like a flip of a switch or anything that dramatic.  But life narrowed over the passing years until there was practically nothing left of the person I had once been.  I became numb.  Dead inside.  So depressed I couldn’t move.  The realization of how much had been lost recently struck me hard when I saw how few things remained of the things I had always loved to do.  And how hard it is to do even those things that I once loved so dearly. 
 
Simply put, I don’t do most of the things I used to do.  I’m not interested.  In much of anything.
 
I have no energy.  I have no focus.  I have no drive.  I have no desire.  I have no interest.
 
I think I still have a pulse.
 
There are many reasons for my dilemma.  Reasons and excuses, I suppose.  The fact that I was married for a long stretch (22 years) to a man who didn’t love me had an impact.  Maybe I could have responded better than I did, but I did the best I could given what I had.  I tried to keep going, to go through the motions even though they felt very empty.  Even though it was horrible once I found out he really didn’t cherish and love me during our first year of marriage.  I was fairly successful  for a long time…at going on.  But it became harder and harder and harder until I just couldn’t do it any more.  I died incrementally and there came a day when I was so numb and so depressed, I couldn’t keep it all up.  Things had begun to drop off all through those many years, but the last 5 to 7 were pretty bad.  I remained faithful.  I kept believing God would work a miracle if I just hung on.  But eventually, all I was doing was hanging on. 
 
To be clear, I don’t blame my ex for not loving me or for leaving me for another woman.  Admittedly, I’m not an easy person to be around. I’m damaged.  My abusive childhood left me bloody, broken, totally messed up and horribly wounded.  So I don’t blame him for rejecting me, though I don’t understand why he wanted to marry me to begin with.  I do blame myself for being stupid enough to stay all those years.  I know others who are bloody, broken, totally messed up and horribly wounded, but they have husbands who love them, cherish them and who have stood beside them as they have gone through the healing process.  I could have used that.  That support.  That love.  That acceptance.  Tolerance was better than nothing, but not much.
 
Working like a fiend took a toll too.  I put in a lot of crazy (no, make that absolutely insane) hours as I tried to succeed in my career.  It was demanded.  Expected.  And since I was the wage earner, married to a man who had no ambition and no real drive to try to support us (he held a low-end job, but never came close to providing for even a minimal existence), I had to do what was expected.  It drained me physically, mentally and emotionally.  Burned me out.  In job after job.  Until there wasn’t much left.  I did it for “us.”  And then, there was no us.
 
Just depression.  That seems to be mostly what is left.
 
Little by little, I stopped writing songs.  I stopped riding my bike.  Didn’t take any more classes…hey, I was too tired after work anyway.  Didn’t enjoy getting out like I used to.  Couldn’t even get my housework done, much less do something fun.  Stopped going to the flea market on Saturday morning.  No more concerts.  Dinners.  Computer programming and computer games took more focus than I could muster.  As did learning new versions and tricks  with Photoshop or Bryce.  I don’t read much now.  I write this blog, but rarely write poems or stories these days.  And my dreams have mostly died. I did try to start an artisan jewelry business, hoping it would supplement my retirement (assuming I ever get to retire).  It’s generally just a hobby that I rarely participate in now because I can’t sell much of anything and I have a vast inventory built up from long sleepless nights after my divorce.  Activity has basically stopped.  I stay home with my dog when I’m not at work.  I try to play with her (my one reason for living) enough to keep her happy and engaged.  She deserves that…and more.
 
I get out when I have to…to work, to get groceries, gas, prescriptions, go to a meeting.  But rarely for fun.  And fun is…work.  I have anxiety about having fun.  I can’t afford it.  I can’t see well at night to drive to an unfamiliar place, so I’m nervous.  I don’t know what to say to people any more.  I don’t feel that I have anything WORTH saying.  So it’s hard to “chat” and keep up a facade.  And then there’s my eating disorder.  It demands time.  I have to take away from it to do something with someone else.  It’s all very complicated.  Which means I avoid it.  Which means I don’t do activities or events very often.  Life has become quiet and empty and lonely to the point that it’s hard even to survive.
 
And sometimes, I’m not altogether sure I’m all that interested in just surviving. 

Moment by Moment

I am utterly, absolutely, completely, totally terrified.  Terrified of life.  Of what is to come.  Of how I’m going to make it.
 
Being alone makes it worse.  Being alone is terrifying in and of itself.  Everything is harder.  Everything is darker.  Every dark moment is more overwhelming because there is no light.  No helping hand.  No words of encouragement.   No one to help you find your way. Or to help carry the load.
 
You are left to listen to your own thoughts as they go round and round..and to drown in them.  You can’t leave yourself behind no matter where you go or how hard you run.  You can’t shut off your brain (or, at least, I can’t).  You can challenge what you are thinking for a time, but the brain is relentless.  You can’t counter every negative, every fear, every worry, every pain, every concern.  You can’t even counter most of them because most of them are unconscious.  You can capture a few of the conscious thoughts and challenge them when you realize they are emerging.  You can try to tell yourself certain “truths” over and over in an attempt to dislodge beliefs.  But you won’t always recognize what your brain is processing or where it is stuck.  And you can only deal with the one fish you can catch.  The ocean of fish that remains out there in the murky depths continue to have an impact, even though you aren’t aware of each one of them.  There are too many and your net is too small.   They swim through your vast unconscious mind doing what they will, going where they will, taking you to dark places where there is no air.
 
I don’t know how to overcome.
 
Terror doesn’t feel good.  It grips the heart and squeezes hard.  It paralyzes.  It is dizzying.  It’s like being wrapped in layer after layer of a dry cleaner’s plastic bag.  You can’t get out and you can’t breathe.  Stops you in your tracks.  Destroys you.
 
I deal with terror quite a bit.  It jumps me frequently when I least expect it.  It usually starts with my dismal financial situation and spirals to new depths from that point.  I try to trust God…for my finances and my future.  I do work a full time job, so it’s not like I expect Him to drop a pile of money in my lap, though I would be incredibly relieved if He did.  I don’t buy much.  Mostly, I pay those never-ending monthly bills and have all the additional cash out due to medical needs, things that break around the house and car repairs.  Things break often.  My car is old.  I’m getting there (old).  We all need to seem a great deal of maintenance.
 
There are economic considerations.  As in, the economy, sucks.  My job is shaky because the company I work for is being sold.  There aren’t many jobs out there.  What will I do if I lose my job?  How will I ever manage?
 
Then, there are the emotional issues, for lack of a better word.  Depression.  Eating disorder.  PTSD.  Trauma from childhood sexual and physical abuse.  Counselors, therapists and medication.  It’s a constant battle…trying to rethink, relearn, recover.  Heal.  It takes most of the energy I can muster.
 
Getting out of bed each day is hugely difficult.  Most of the time, I manage.  Some days are more productive than others.  Some are not productive at all, which frightens and depresses me.  I see no end in sight.
 
When I start thinking about how I will never be able to retire and how I’m in this totally alone, I am done for. 
 
Last night, I had to move myself into the “moment by moment” mode of living.  If I can just make it through this moment, right now, I’ll be okay.  If I can just make it through this half hour.  If I can just make it home.  If I can just pay this one bill.  Whatever I encounter, when I encounter it.  That’s what I deal with…no more.  Denial?  I don’t know.
 
I may actually be on to something.  Not sure.  But I felt a little bit of a release.
 
I told God that I couldn’t handle what I was going to do at retirement age…or when my screwed-upness kept me from being able to work any more.  I couldn’t handle what was going to happen to the company (and my job) after the sale.  I didn’t know what I was going to do when my car wouldn’t go any more.  Or when the AC went out.  Or my refrigerator died.  I can’t afford ANYTHING.  And I can’t handle trying to figure out what I’m going to do to handle those things right now.
 
I feel like it’s all up to me and I can’t deal.  But maybe that’s okay, for now, at this particular moment.
 
I’m doing the best I can.  It’s not great; not even close.  But it’s the very best I can do.  Right now.
 
So I thanked God that my car still ran and that my refrigerator still worked (we’ll talk about the shorted out over-the-range microwave some other time) and that today, I don’t have to replace my AC unit.  I have groceries, utilities are paid, at least now, I still have a job at this very moment and I put in a full day of work that I could be reasonably happy about.
 
Tomorrow, I’ll try to do my best to meet my obligations and handle problems.  Tomorrow is another day.
 
It didn’t make the terror go away.  But I did avoid the endless spiral that normally gets progressively worse as it plunges downward.  I did manage to get about 4-1/2 hours of sleep last night.  I did get up and come to work this morning, even though I’m exhausted.  But I made it.  Through this moment.  Then the next.  I’m wondering if that’s a step in the right direction.