It Helps to turn on the news

I have always volleyed back and forth between watching the news regularly to not paying much attention at all. It’s a difficult balance because I do not believe in being an ostrich, just burying my head and being uninformed, but at the same time I have a real problem with the media and how they deliver the message. My compromise is usually reading select articles on-line and watching programs like 60 minutes. Today it caught up with me. Hugo Chavez apparently died earlier this month and I have been so out of the loop that I am just now hearing about it. I know he had been diagnosed with cancer a few years ago I just hadn’t heard much more about it since then. I am very curious what this means for Venezuela. I texted my ex who I still occasionally keep in touch with today. He grew up in Venezuela and still has family there. He said the Vice President follows Chavez’s antics and is similar to him politically speaking so this isn’t necessarily a good thing for the country. I guess what I find so surprising is that is was something so everyday that took his life. Cancer, ordinary people get cancer. Ordinary people beat cancer. Throughout history you hear about all these infamous dictators that were murdered in a coup or by another countries army or by firing squad or even suicide. Its always something so violent much like the rule they had over their people. Chavez dying on cancer just reminds me that this man was not above nature and genetics, it shows his humanity in a way. He was not as invincible as he would have liked to think.

Man that’s just so crazy. I am mad at myself for being out of touch. I get annoyed with the media because they can be sensationalists and fear mongering but I still need to stay informed. Shame on me.

 

Sometimes sleep doesn’t come

If it has not already been established, I have an anxiety disorder. It is not severe and quite manageable but it does make somethings more complicated than they should be, like sleep for example. Over the years of sleep-overs with friends and serious relationships I have noticed how effortlessly some people fall into slumber with a bit of envy. My last boyfriend took his sleep quite seriously, not that I blame him, and found my dilemma with not being able to fall asleep easily to be a huge inconvenience. Todd is a bit more understanding, not that it doesn’t at times inconvenience him as well, he just does his best to help me rather than become frustrated, not that I would blame him either if he did become annoyed. I annoy myself with this, I can only imagine how someone who falls asleep easily and sleeps soundly must feel when faced with my restlessness.

Alas, tonight is no exception. We were in bed by 10 and here I sit hours later still awake with all sorts of nonsense running through my mind. It is not my intention to use this outlet as an alternate anxiety journal. I have one that has been therapeutic over the years. However, it has always been my intention to use this as a means to chronicle my experiences as a returning student. This is a part of the experience so for tonight I have decided to untie my knots here rather than going to my journal as I usually would.

There are many things on my mind that are keeping sleep away tonight. Tomorrow is the first day back to school after spring break so I know that is where this anxiety is stemming from. I always have a concern of not being prepared literally and/or figuratively to return to work/school after a break. i think that is normal. I think most people feel nervous or apprehensive about returning to their responsibilities after having some downtime. I made sure to check all my syllabi to confirm there is nothing I needed to do to prepare for tomorrow’s classes so that is one knot I can easily untie. I do have a bit of dread going into tomorrow’s statistics class though. As always I am having trouble in math. I feel lost in the current chapter and am nervous about the upcoming test. I know that all I need to do is sit with Todd and have him guide me through my notes and homework, I am just not looking forward to it and the self defeating side of me is telling me I just won’t get it. That’s a terrible attitude to have, I know. I HAVE to push through that negative self talk and truly do my best.

I also have been laying in bed thinking about my major. There are things I need to do to prepare myself for graduation and transferring to UCF, that is no real concern, they will be taken care of. What is keeping me up is thoughts of “Am I sure I can do this?” and “Can I even get a job I will be happy with once I have my BSW?” I like the idea of getting my Masters in Social Work but that is something that would come later. My preference is to get my 4 year degree and then get my feet wet in the field. Even after completing my BSW I feel that I will be too green to know with certainty what career path I want to pursue so I would rather work for a while and then go back for MSW once I have a better idea of the work i would like to do long term. This is the same approach to college in general and although it may have taken me longer to finish, I would not change anything. If I had followed through at 18 and gotten my BA or MA straight out of high school I would have gotten a business degree and wasted a lot of money to be miserable. It took me working in the professional world for 5 years before I knew who I was and what role I wanted to play in society/the work force. This is not different. I know I want to Social Work, I just don’t know in what capacity yet, that will come with time and experience.

Anyway, I finally gave into the fact that sleep was not going to come anytime soon and started searching career options for BSW degrees. Not super excited about the results but I am sure I will have a much better idea of what is out there once I am in the program.
I also did a search of my professor, Dr Padilla, because I know he is a published author and am curious about his most recent book. I forget the exact title but it has to do with being your authentic self. It is about self identity and the role society plays etc. It sounds interesting but I am always a bit critical of the self- help or just insightful “meaning of life” type books. I’ve always found that to be a weird truth about myself because I am so introspective and into these topics usually but I am not usually very quick to “buy what people are selling”, I have to take a while to make up my own mind about the message. I do find him thought provoking though and would be willing to read his book.

The main thing keeping me awake tonight is far from any of these some what related topics though. I have put it off to the end because I as I have been sitting here I have been debating mentioning it at all. This is one of the things I struggle with in keeping this blog. This is not the first time I have struggled with the choosing to be honest and putting in everything or editing myself for fear of who might read this. The last time I was in this position I chose to write everything and I will this time as well. I have to mention how exposed what I am about to include makes me feel. The last time I how to make the decision on whether to include something or not my concern was the person I was writing about being judged or what I was saying being misunderstood and feelings being hurt, it was a delicate matter involving someone I love deeply. This time my concern is that I am opening up about something I do not share with anyone. I have no real interest in sharing and have a bigger fear that the wrong person will read this and judge me. I know the probability of any of this is low so i will leave it at that and continue.

There is a song, Little Hell by City and Colour, that talks about what I am about to get into. Specifically, the lyric where he says; “There’s a degree of difficulty in dealing with me, from my haunted past comes a daunting task of living through memories”.

I have only really broached the subject with Todd once, briefly. When I was having an episode of anxiety one night I told him how I feel haunted by things I have been through. I was not specific because this is one thing I keep close to my chest but maybe that is part of why I have a hard time with it. There is one part of my life, my past, I have never been able to.. I don’t know how to finish this sentence.. work through, get over, forget.. None of that really feels right. I am not even sure what exactly it is that keeps me.. stuck. Lack of closure maybe?

I have never had too much trouble moving forward in life. Things have gone wrong, relationships have not worked out, I have dealt with heart ache and disappointment just like everyone else, I am not unique and no more or less damaged than anyone else. I think what helps me get through hard times is taking ownership for my part. This doesn’t work for everything, somethings like death are completely out of my hands, but in many situations this has worked and helped me forgive and grow. I don’t ever think of myself as a victim. There is this one area though that I have never been able to deal with though. Looking back at it I feel confused. I dont know what my part was. I know now that I reacted badly to situations at times because of anxiety I was unaware of at the time but even then these situations I am referring to should have never happened. They are situations I should have never been put in and they were situations I had no control over. I blindly trusted someone that I am not sure I should have. I want to believe that this person cared about me, they acted in a manner that would make me think so but I have never been sure. Whats worse is that many times this blindness was willful. I am ashamed of that. I knew I was being lied to, I knew things were not as they seemed but I was afraid to question it and rock the boat. It wasn’t until I was pushed to a limit of losing all self respect that I finally drew a line, a line that was immediately crossed and forced me to make a decision I would never have otherwise made..

I have never been able to understand what really bothers me about what happened years ago in this period of my life. I see the good that came out of it, I became stronger, I found myself. It ended up being the best thing that could have happened to me, I know that I would not be the same person if all of this had not happened, I just wish I could let go of the hurt. It is a hurt so deep that even years later I still think about some what regularly. And it isn’t the ending of things that hurts, it isn’t the fact that it didn’t work, its what I went through well I was involved. It is the compromises I made that I never should have, it was what I allowed to happen. I still will not allow myself to feel like a victim because I made bad choices, no one forced my hand. I may have been influenced, yes, but I could have been stronger. Maybe the struggle is with myself. Maybe the person I need to forgive is myself. I have never thought of this situation from that perspective…

The person I think I am really mad at here is myself. I chose not to call the person out at times when I knew I was being lied to, I chose to cave in times when I should have fought, I chose to do things that are outside of who I am and what I OK with, I put every other relationship in my life at the time second to this, and after finally finding my strength and walking away, after finding happiness on my own for 10 months I gave in the second the opportunity presented itself. I went right back into it even after it was clear nothing had or was going to change. I compromised everything for nothing. I have never been more ashamed of myself.

I do not wholly regret the person, there are good memories there too and I know there is good in this person. I just regret what I allowed to happen and the bad decisions I made repeatedly. I know now that is not love.

This is the first time I have ever opened this box this far and I am glad I did. I guess what I am looking at now is no longer the person but myself. How can i forgive myself so I can finally move on?

Be the change

My cultural pluralism professor does a good job of getting through to me. He is very insightful and his lectures always leave me thinking. He has a tendency to ramble on but it is interesting and meaningful so it does not bother me too much. He talks a lot about the changes that need to happen for society to grow and even quotes Gandhi at times.

The one thing he talks about quite a bit that comes from Gandhi’s teachings is that you have to be the change you want to see happen around you. I never really bought in to the idea before but now I understand. The idea of making drastic changes seems pointless to a lot of people because they feel like one person cannot change the world but if enough people made the decision to a change would come, slowly I am sure, but it would come all the same.

I have started small. I started with my own life and things I wanted to be different, better. I deleted my facebook. I got a lot of.. I wouldn’t say push back about it but there were definitely  lot of questions. Most people asked “what happened?” as if the only reason someone would leave FB is because something bad happened. This made me chuckle on the inside. Are we really that obsessed with something that isn’t even real? My answer was always something to the tune of “the best time to leave is when there is no reason to stay”. This is what I began to realize about FB, this is my own personal opinion, FB is like each person’s very own reality TV show. People can sit on Fb and post pictures of themselves and their friends/family, they can go in and post updates about what they are doing, post articles and music they like but why? I see people posting “Shower and coffee time for bed” with a picture of themselves with wet hair holding a coffee cup.. Who is that post for? What was its purpose? Do people even think anymore before posting things online? Is there no filter? I mean, if it’s not something you would call a friend about then what makes you think anyone will care about on FB? I would call a friend to tell them how I just ran into Dave Matthews walking downtown but I don’t think I would call a friend to tell them I just took a shower and now am having a coffee while I get ready for bed. I definitely wouldn’t send them a picture of me doing so. I think Carly Simon’s Your So Vain could be the theme song for FB. I was tired of being a part of it. That’s the truth. I told people that now that my brother is moving home I no longer need it to keep up with my niece and nephew but the truth is FB is absolute bullshit and it keeps people from actually living their lives. I don’t want that kind of distraction in my life. I went three years without seeing friends that I used to see every weekend, why? Because I saw them on FB everyday and followed their posts so I it felt like I was still involved. The day I deleted it I called them both and made plans for the following weekend. Not having a FB has made me accountable for the relationships in my life again. If I want to stay in touch with a friend now I actually have to do it. I have to pick up the phone, I have to make plans. I am so glad I did it. This is just the first step in living a more meaningful life.

Another small change I made was cutting off all my hair. This change in the grand scheme is hardly worth mentioning but it carries a bigger meaning. I have not cut my hair since my depression two years ago. When I was in the middle of it I stopped trying. I didn’t do much with my hair, I stopped wearing make up, I didn’t go out much. So my hair continued to grow unchecked. Then I got better and liked the length so I continued to let it grow. Then when things got serious between Todd and I over a year ago I made a conscious decision to let it grow because I knew at some point we might get married and I wanted to have long hair I could wear up. for months I have wanted to cut my hair and haven’t because I don’t know when the ring is coming and I wanted to have long hair for our wedding. In the mean time I am sick of this long hair. It is boring, it takes forever to dry, it just wasn’t me and it was making me kind of miserable. Finally over the weekend I realized how stupid the whole thing was. I am keeping my hair long for pictures so that way I can look back and see how pretty I looked with the long hair that made me miserable. I cut it all off the next day. I will look just as pretty with short hair on my wedding day plus I was waiting on something that I have no control over. Todd will ask when he is ready and I shouldn’t put my life on hold waiting for that moment. I love my short hair, I have not regretted the decision once and I love even more that I the hair they cut is long enough for me to donate. This hair that began to feel like a weight holding me down will be something beautiful for someone else.

I want to do my best to live a life of purpose I am hoping that by making changes in myself it will help empower me to get involved on a greater level in the community and find ways to help and make changes there to. To help others I need to be able to see my own short comings and help myself first.

Break

I have been off this week for spring break but this is the first time in a while that I have had the time to just sit and be quiet. I guess I am wishful thinking on the “be quiet” part as I am watching my parents pug for two weeks, she doesn’t understand what quiet is. She is barking at me as we speak because I won’t share the cold pizza I am having for breakfast. Tough luck for both of us I guess.
This semester has been a frustrating one thus far. I am in two sociology classes, Social Problems and Cultural Pluralism, then  I have an intro to Anthropology and Statistics. The statistics class is hard for me, math classes always are, but the Social Problems class has become the biggest pain! In an attempt to make life easier for herself in terms of grading the professor has assigned one big project for the semester that counts for both the mid-term and the final exam. We do not have tests in this class just a few other small writing assignments so this project is essentially our entire grade. That is not my gripe though, oh no, I can handle a research paper and presentation no problem. My complaint is with it being a GROUP PROJECT. Who assigns a group project in college? This has felt like middle school but worse . In middle school most kids had at least one parent that was active in their schooling keeping them on track, in college its a damn free for all. And that is exactly what this has been. My group members do not participate online leaving me with zero feedback on the work I am doing for the project, they wait until the day something is due to start working on it.. When I am assigned something whether it be at work or school I start working on it that same day. I am not saying I rush to complete it immediately if it isn’t due for two weeks but I don’t wait two weeks to start it! I ended up involving the instructor just to find out I am not the only one in this position. Their are 6 groups all of which are comprised of one person that seems to be doing all the work and two other people that are non-responsive. After receiving a zero or two for not participating my groups members came around, I cant say the same for some of the other groups though. It has been a very trying experience.It stinks too because I actually feel very strongly about our topic. We are conducting our research around bullying. It has been easy for me to want to work on this project because I feel so strongly about it and find it very interesting.

Luckily we are to the point that all our research has been submitted and all that is left to do is compile the actual paper and create a power point presentation.

So far in the semester I am looking at two A’s, a B and either a low C or a high D (statistics is no joke). I know I will be able to pull up my stats grade though.

Todd’s parents stayed with us for a week while I have been on spring break. They left earlier this morning. It was nice having them here. We went to St Pete beach last weekend. It was cold but it was still pretty. After dinner there was a fire work display on the beach. The next day we got up and went to a spring training baseball game. I cant watch baseball on TV but it is fun to go to a game. It was the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Blue Jays won. There was a cute downtown area that was having a crafts festival near by so we went there for lunch and walked around a bit. That night we went to a movie once we were back in town. Sunday we went to my parents house for dinner and games. It was full weekend.

My parents are in Washington right now helping my brother and his family move back to FL. This is why I have the dog. They will be back in a little over a week. I am so excited they will be living here now. It has been 10 years since my brother left for the army, I am glad he kept his promise and is coming home. I cant wait to play with my niece and nephew. It is going to be fun having them close by to do things with.