Therapy

“My first therapy appointment is Nov. 6th.”

“I’m so proud of you!”

I was too. I was so proud of her for finally taking a step towards dealing with her issues and setting goals. It was about time she started seeking more professional help in her situations, instead of coming to me for advice all the time.

My thoughts turned to myself then, and wondering why I don’t just buck up and go? I’ve been wanting to for a long time, and since getting married and navigating my relationship, I began feeling the depression worsen slightly, but not enough to alarm me.

Overall, my real issue is I’m too depressed to go.

Building another professional relationship with a therapist feels overwhelming. Becoming a better person takes a lot of time and investment, and I’ve invested a lot of my time in other things, like my friendships, hobbies, and work. You know, those things every human needs to survive and feel functional.

Most days I hardly feel functional at all, but that doesn’t mean I don’t look it.

I find any free time I do have is spent wishing for other things. I used to be such a content person, but since getting married I find I spend more time wishing things in my life could be different. Wishing that I had better things, prettier things, better health, better home, better everything. I’ve spent most days having the “I wants” instead of focusing on the “I needs” in my life. Really, I’d rather put my money to retailer than to my own health, because I’m sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and the fewer specialists I have to see, the better. I’d rather have my money go to things I want instead of my needs. Thus, I retail therapy. A lot.

I feel terribly guilty after making purchases though, which makes me wonder why I enjoy buying things so much. Heaven knows how it got his way. The things I buy don’t make me a better person. They don’t make me feel better. They don’t really do much for me when it comes to self gratification.

Still the cycle continues, and I wonder why I don’t just do the right thing and go to therapy?

Because, I guess I really don’t want to.

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Family

Yes, for some, “home” is the nicest word there is. To Laura Ingalls Wilder it was. That little house out on the prairie was an ideal location, not just for it’s magnificent scenery but for the loving and supportive family she had with her.

For others, like myself, home can be a daunting word. Not because family doesn’t love and support you, but because they also know how to push your buttons in all the worst ways.

Next weekend my family will be meeting for a vacation together in MI. While I’m excited to get away from work, I’m a little concerned to spend time with my family. My brothers often ignore me, my parents often affirm my accomplishments half heartedly because they misunderstand how big of a deal it is for me. My husband doesn’t seem to know what to do when we go on vacations, so he spends most of the time on his phone.

I feel very lonely with my family. At home or at home away from home.

We’ll be spending time at a lake house my aunt recently purchased. None of us have been there before, so we don’t know what to expect. We know it has enough room for all of us, and my aunt just recently procured another house up the street from it, incase we feel the other house feels too small (oh to be that wealthy, that we can just buy another house to put family in). With it being the peak of the fall season and much farther North than I have been, I’m expecting there to be beautiful crisp days with plenty of sweater weather. At least I’m hoping. I’m planing on taking a lot of walks and sitting on the enormous wrap around porch in comfy sweaters and with big mugs of hot beverages. I’m planning on my husband and I tagging along into town for the shops and boutiques. I also plan on reading a bit if I can manage it.

Of course, I’m sure there is plenty I’m not planning on, but I’m trying not to think about that too much.

Fallen Tree

Days passed. As they did, the demise of the felled tree in the neighboring house’s back yard became more and more apparent. The leaves turned a triumphant gold before withering to brown and wilting to the ground. The remnants of crab apples clung to the dead and dying branches, their last chance at life, withering hopelessly as they clung.

Our neighbor had died some months ago, and while the yard was still being kept, nothing was done to remove the old fallen crab apple tree from the yard for several weeks. I inspected the thing the day after it fell. During a storm, the night before, the winds had howled ominously and the rain beat the ground hard, as if the earth its self had committed some kind of terrible crime they sky could not, and would not forgive. It was no punishment for the ground, despite the violence, because the ground took in the water, practically dying of thirst from the many dry and hot days that came before the storm’s relief.

I contemplated the dying tree as I sat with a large cup of tea in one hand, and my feet planted firmly on the freshly cut grass. How long until all things fall and die? How long did that tree stand for before it’s unexpected demise? How long had the old widow next door (who I can say I never saw nor met) lived in that house and for how long alone? I could not and cannot say. We saw the ambulance take her away, and heard from another neighbor she had passed.

She was as much a mystery to me as her death. No. As death itself.

Beach Bummer

My husband didn’t come on this Sunday evening car ride. He had to work. So when my parents stopped in, I felt free to accompany them to the beach to just sit and watch the water move.

“We need you to come up with some different words.”

“Why?”

“Because you always resort to saying, I’m good, just tired.”

Because I’m always fucking tired, mom. I thought as loudly as I could in her general direction. But then I finally blurted out:

“Well would you rather me tell people the truth when they ask me how I’m doing? Would you like me to tell them that the existential crisis is crushing me and my depression is exhausting?”

She said nothing. Her most direct way of mentioning her discomfort was silence. I was used to it by now. So I leaned back in the seat as the breeze met my lips and kissed them and my breath mingled with the summer air. I pretended that my breath alone was the reason the air was becoming more humid. That summer came directly from my mouth. I mouthed the word summer, just to feel a sense of power over nature.

My eyes closed, all I heard were the seagulls on the water honking their loud songs, and my mother shifting in the front passenger seat. Dad was outside the car, talking to an acquaintance of his, who had greeted us only moments before, and to whom I responded when I was asked how I was doing with I’m fine, just tired. Like I did with everyone, including my mother and father.

I had no motivation to get out of the car, neither did my mother. So my father ventured alone into the waves after wishing said acquaintance farewell. As I watched him walk further into the lake, I wondered how long it would take me to drowned if I went out to far and quit trying to swim. I wondered if I would be able to quit swimming if I tried hard enough, or if instinct and discomfort would save me.

On days like this…it felt as if nothing could save me.

Not Ready for Monday

A week long struggle with depression and stress at work ended with a coworker being fired Friday mid shift. Stunned by the sudden unexpected event and at least two weeks behind on just about everything, my coworker and I (the only two in for that day after other coworker was fired) ended up having to just call it a day. Both of us had plans afterward and the former coworker was supposed to be the one to stay late. Not that we planned on getting any work done if we stayed because with the shock we just had no idea what to do with ourselves.

Since leaving work Friday afternoon when my shift was over, I’ve had nothing but anxiety about the whole situation. Another coworker of ours has been gone because his father-in-law passed away. His two weeks of absence has probably been stressful enough , and now coming back to work, he’s going to be met with a workload a mile high and a coworker no longer with us that has been there since the beginning with him. None of this is going to go over well with him. He’s moody enough having not had losses in his life. I have a feeling this week is not going to be his week, and I’m afraid of the backlash me and my other coworker will be met with when he finds out.

So this weekend has been tainted with my anxiety in every moment. At the State Fair with friends, I had little to nothing to say, because my heart kept dropping every time I considered how quickly Monday morning was coming. In church this morning I found comfort in the sermon, about how God is with us in everything like he was with Esther, but still my anxiety was so high I couldn’t help but know the impending doom is coming. Yes, God is with us in all things, but that doesn’t mean it’s all easy, it just means God is there to show you what is next if you trust and obey, and for me…what was next is emotionally preparing for things to go badly, because it’s always better to assume that it will go badly, and to hope that there was some kind of pleasant surprise if it doesn’t.

After church I cleaned the whole house, made dinner (even though my husband is not home for dinner because he works the closing shift), and I called my mother to see how she was and try to get outside my own head, but even after all that….I feel so unprepared for Monday morning. I don’t want it to come, and at the same time I want it to have already been so I can say it was gotten over with and I survived it.

Sage Leaves and Dirt

When was the last time my feet had touched the ground? Like, the real ground? Dirt? It had been two weeks at least. Maybe three. So I wandered out to the garden, barefooted and spirit trapped within its own internal war, but he moment my feet hit the grass I felt all that stress and anxiety release. There was sage for picking in the garden. I would start there.

I did not start at the sage, but rather in a desperate moment of anxiety I laid on the grass and stared at the sky for a while. Why? Because I wanted to be reminded that I was so small in so vast of a world. That problems of mine were just as fleeting as my own life, and would soon drift away as time passed. That feelings were just feelings, no matter how strong they are, and that they too could fail me just as my own body could.

I needed to be reminded that I was finite. That a hundred years from now it is unlikely that I will continue to exists in the physical world, and all my emotions and problems would too.

I found comfort in this. As I laid on the ground staring into the sky, watching the clouds change from gold, to pink and purple hues, I found comfort in knowing the sun would also set on my stress, my sorrows, my anxieties, and my whole life. Maybe not today, but one day. I let that comfort wrap around me as the sky deepened in its blue.

I picked my sage and smelled it as I walked back to the stone steps of my tiny porch. Putting a soft leaf in my mouth to chew, I took my last deep breath of fresh air before entering and closing the door. Who knew I could feel so much better with just sage leaves and dirt?

Thoughts on “Boring” People

“I hate working on the assembly line. It’s so boring!”

I shook my head as I overheard the conversation. Despite trying to curb my habit of eavesdropping I’m a sucker for a good story in the workplace, so I end up unintentionally eavesdropping on lots of conversations that happen near by my office door. Hoping for a good one. It’s easy too, because for some strange reason, people at the printer just outside my door seem to think that because the printer is printing they cannot be heard over its sound. So I listen, and every so often, there is a good story or two.

Her story was not a good story. Sorry to disappoint you.

Recently our factory had a bunch of no-call and no-show terminations on our assembly line. With the assembly far behind and tons of orders coming in for our jerky seasoning, an emergency mandatory schedule was made of office workers to assist in two shifts a week on the assembly line stuffing our jerky seasonings into their boxes. It’s a pretty mindless job once you get a rhythm going. It consists of repetitive motion, and lots of it, in a very small area. Her particular story was…well…of how boring she found it, and wished her team had been able to go faster so she could feel busy. I had to sympathize a little, because my team also went much slower than I felt my pace required, but thankfully I did not find the job very boring at all.

There is nothing quite like a factory assembly line to daydream in, and if you can function pretty well in a rhythm and still have a rich inner life, assembly line work is wonderful. My experience had been different than hers because of this. As a story lover and teller, as well as a maladaptive daydreamer, I find that I am nearly never bored. I always have a storyline going in my mind. So as I stuffed boxes to the beat of a whirling and magnificent automated machine, I was also having a mystical fantasy adventure in the back of my mind, where the world was never boring and the story never had to end.

I often wonder how sad the inner lives of boring people must be, if they have any inner lives at all. I knew so little about this coworker, and yet, all I did know was about her dislikes. She hated cold, hot, rainy, or bright weather…which pretty much covers all weather. She disliked her vacation to the Bahamas because her phone got wet and stopped working…and somehow being unreachable makes a vacation worse. She’s a mother, but tends to only complain about motherhood. Over all, she seems to be the kind of person…who is unable to be pleased unless she is at home, her kids are gone, and the AC or heat is just right, and her husband isn’t bothering her, and she can just watch TV, or if people see her as some kind of victim in life and resonate with her struggle.

That’s just what I found out in the bits a pieces of conversations just prior to her comment about the assembly line. It isn’t much, but it’s enough to make drastic assumptions off of…especially if you’re a storyteller. So I will.

I wonder what those people are like in the head. I wonder if they just worry about reality all the time? Do they get caught up and stuck in it? Do they dream about things that are surreal? Do they have any imagination at all? I shudder to think they don’t. I worry about people who don’t daydream. I worry about people who live too much in the now, and don’t get to take a break from it. What must that be like? Do I even want to know?

I put a great deal of pride in having a very rich imagination. I like working on an assembly line and pretending I’m in a gold mine shoving bricks into sacks so my fellow dwarves can present them to the dwarf king. I like pretending that the large plastic mold machine in the other room is actually the engine room of an air ship flying high over an industrial Steampunk city unseen beneath my feet. I like pretending that the cardboard warehouse (where we keep the unused boxes for product) is a cave of layer upon layer of different rocks that I have to venture though to find the treasure I seek. I like that my world is more than it appears, that my mind is bigger than it seems, and that my imagination is free to wander during my waking hours as I wait to return to my evening dreams where I feel more at home. I have a really hard time relating to people who lack vision or imagination, and I worry if they are worse off over all because of it.

What baffles me about this coworker is that people seem to really like her.

I’m in a bit of a catch 22 over it, because a I find I also envy people to are really grounded in reality. I feel like more often than not, they’re far more relatable than people like me. They don’t seem to struggle with maintaining friendships like I do, because somehow they can craft small talk in a way my mind can’t. They aren’t awkward, because boring people can keep conversations going about simple things…and most people can follow that kind of conversation…while people like me tend to feel their soul getting ripped from their body when caught in small talk. People seem to gravitate to boring people. People seem to like to gossip with them and talk really rationally and plainly about stuff rather than wishy washy, awkwardly, and outlandishly like I do. People hang out with grounded people. People don’t know what to do with people who have their heads in the clouds like I do. People know what to expect with a boring person. The conversations will be comfortable. Nothing will get passionate or heated. No one will have to think too hard or use their imagination, and I feel sad for all of them.

Empathy

I have this interesting emotional attachment to this spider who has been living on my drivers side mirror for a while now. It’s been nearly a month since I gave up on removing its web and decided not to kill it, and every morning I feel a little sad as I’m driving to work and keep glancing over to make sure it’s hanging on or still there.

As it flaps in the wind curled up in a little ball and unfurling its legs when I come to a stop, I find myself having a little anxiety about its wellbeing. Is it eating enough? Is it still alive? I hope it makes it with me to the parking lot, and at the end of each day, I hope it’s there to greet me and got a few bugs while I was inside at work.

It’s an odd situation, because it’s not a pet. It’s more like a little friend or consistent comfort. I know it’s not my place to take care of it, because it’s been doing a great job taking care of its self, and yet, I find that if the little thing one day disappears…I’d feel very sad. Like I should have been more responsible for the little creature. Like I should have done more for it.

Why am I so weird?

At Work

Today was not all it could have been. While I was paying attention to our task list at work before July 4th, others were requesting their vacation time for the rest of the week, including the higher ups who were more focused on their time off than realizing we needed direction on a package design that has artwork due this coming Tuesday. So without direction, with myself and one other designer in for the rest of the week, and employee photos to do all day today and Friday…I can feel myself panicking a little.

I actually stand corrected. I’m here alone for the graphics team tomorrow. And I have a list a mile long for employee photos and other things that need doing, but require approval from my management…who are all on vacation until Monday. When I am not here.

On Monday, I’ll be at the doctors office in the morning and taking the rest of the day to recover from the doctor appointment…which exhausts me to think about. So, I, team member who is doing the food styling and photography for the panel images, is not going to be around to even start the project. Which means that the day the packaging is due…is the only day all of us are back from our vacation time and can actually talk about the design and process, much less get groceries, do the shoot, and finalize the images in photoshop.

It wouldn’t be such an issue if the images did not require food styling. I was never trained in food styling, and my boss and coworkers are satisfied with my work, but because I am not experienced in it, I feel like I take such a long time to do things that my photo shoots for the front and back panels of our packaging take me all day to do. So of course my anxiety is higher than ever knowing our time crunch and many obstacles.

My coworker has been doing her best to calm me down. She keeps telling me “How can we move forward without a direction from the higher ups?” And “It really isn’t any of our faults that everyone took vacation on us without prioritizing tasks.” Not that it’s really helping. Because normally the graphics team is the last brick in the wall, and until that brick is placed, the wall isn’t complete. Us being behind, no matter who held up the process before the graphics team was even involved, means production is held up…and it ends up being our fault. So we get shafted. Which sucks.

So as I sit down here, waiting for employees to come to the photo studio for their photos to be taken, I cannot help but sit in a puddle of sweat, both from the heat and anxiety. Especially when the employees don’t show up for their photo and I have to fight with myself over if it’s really worth it to be doing the shoots today. Especially with so many people unexpectedly on vacation.

Here’s to hoping today and tomorrow go quickly.

Victims

My car was in the shop a few days ago, and since my husband and I get off work pretty close together, and our jobs are only a couple blocks away from each other. I told my husband if he dropped me off at work in the morning, I would walk over and meet him at the car in the parking lot at his place of business.

Big mistake. On the way, I got cat called not once, not twice, but 5 times…as well as followed.

The first one was pretty usual. A honk and some lewd yelling. I flipped them off and they sped up. The second was immediately after them, a small piece of the chain reaction, only this one was a man with a young boy no older than eight or so in the passenger seat. I kept walking and mumbled curses under my breath for that one. The third one was just a honk, and when I ignored it and kept walking, they made a u-turn and started back my way very slowly. That really freaked me out so of course, I ducked into the nearest business I could. A hardware store within the block of where my husband worked, and sharing a parking lot. I told the manager what happened, and asked him to forgive me for loitering for a while. He offered to call the cops. I told him I didn’t get a good enough look at the car to really have that be useful. Only that it was a blue car, darker blue, but not navy and not quite royal either. When we looked out to see if any blue cars were around, and saw none, I finally was ushered by the manager to exit the building out the back door to get to the shared parking lot faster.

When I got in the parking lot, and half way across nearly to our car on the far side (where employees are directed to park), I got cat called again. Twice. One guy hollered and I increased my walking speed. Then another guy from another car did too just as I reached for my door handle. I yelled back some vulgar words, remarking on the kind of trash I thought the guy was, since he was nearer to me and I had just about had it with cat callers for one day. He was older too, not like the previous four who were all probably under 40 or so I guessed. I got a better look at him than I did the others since he was closer and moving slower as he was leaving the parking lot.

Of course, when safely in the car I locked myself in, and turned on the AC full blast. The thermostat claimed it was 87 degrees. I felt like I was out of breath and melting. It had been a hot walk in my bootcut black jeans and blazer. What pissed me off was that nothing I was wearing was provocative. No makeup. Wearing all black with a company t-shirt underneath. Which also made me super aware that people who catcalled me on my way to my husbands workplace might now know where I work and watch out for me.

After a quick moment to catch my breath I called my mother to look busy in the car in hopes people would leave me alone. While recounting my tale to her, my mother remarked “I always worry about that with you. You’re so small. Anyone could just grab you up and throw you in a trunk.” Thankfully I’m pretty strong which I half heartedly pointed out to her, but she wasn’t wrong either. On a hot day wearing all black and exhausted by a long workday, I was probably a tired target…which might make me an easy one.

My mother had even asked what I was wearing on my walk after I had recounted my tale and calmed down, conditioned by the culture she grew up in, and every fiber of my feminist being was outraged and I got wound up again. Then I had to calm myself down once more as my heart raced in anger, disappointment, and fear. I was not alone, and how many other women had worse experiences on the matter than I? Too many. It made me angry for them. For the women who were asked the same questions. For the women who were victim blamed.

Why does anyone want to victim blame? It’s rude and insulting to the victim, and it doesn’t call-out the perpetrator for their harassment. II’ve thought about it for a while now. Why do people victim blame? The more I think about it the more complex the answers or reasons become. Part of it is I think people want to give others the benefit of the doubt to make their worlds feel a little safer. Cat callers mean no harm. They would never act on their catcall. It’s just a compliment right? Besides it doesn’t it take two to tango? Then there is the justification issues. Lot of people do it (apparently) so anyone might feel justified in asking how the victim may be asking for it because they have catcalled women before thinking outfits and mannerisms are some kind of justification for it. They want to justify their own actions so they don’t feel badly about it, or worse, they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.

When I was harassed, I felt objectified and upset, and when I was followed for a while by the blue car, it didn’t really feel like I was being complimented as some might think. It felt like I was being intimidated. Maliciously targeted. I was afraid. I hated it. Worst part? I got cat called walking to my car (which I had gotten back that afternoon from the shop) in the parking lot the next day when I left work.

So what do I do about it? I can’t go back in time and call cops or come up with better comebacks. So as an artist and letterpress printer, I decided to make posters. A weird response I know, but it was more or less to release my anger as well as an act of public service. Because letterpress printing has its therapeutic qualities. The result:

It’s a pretty great feminist work if I do say so myself. I also like how the image shows the rectum as well, so you can either think it says don’t be a dick, or don’t be an asshole! Or both! You can pick your part! This poster was also a really satisfying way to use my newly purchased gold ink, which looks beautiful on the black hand-cut card stock. Not bad, for my first truly feminist work.