Messy

Good friend sent me this recently. I have another close friend, who every time I come over to her house, apologize is for the mess. I constantly tell her that I expect a house to be messy that has two small children in it. I used to be very tidy people would come over to my house and comment that they could eat off the floor everything was sparkling clean and put away and dust free. My grandma taught me how to be very regimented when I was young. The reason that things had to bake in the oven, was so that we would have time to clean. Everything had its place, and it makes more sense to put it away right now then deal with More of it later.

I kept this up for most of my life, for my married life when I was the only one doing it, to my newly single life, “in case somebody came over.” During the pandemic, people stopped coming over. I realized it would be a long time before anybody came over again. So I let my life get messy. Since no one else was around to see it it was okay to leave things on the tables and leave my clothes on the floor. Of course it was going to be me picking them up later, and I don’t know if this is a better or worse routine. The way Grandma taught me, I had to be hypervigilant and constantly monitoring myself to make sure that I closed cabinet doors and put things where they went and not just down. Sure, sometimes I can’t leave my house because I can’t find my key. Sometimes I have to do a lot of cleaning up. The only thing I know is that I’m way more relaxed now that I’m not focused on how my place looks.

On the rare occasion someone does visit my home, I don’t need to have any special cleaning frenzies. The people I allow into my home are good people and close to my heart. I’ve been in their messes, and they’ve also been in mine. A friend who lives close by offered to occasionally surprise me with a visit in order to help me manage my startle response when I hear a doorknock. The first time she did this, I was very nervous looking around at the mess. But then I remembered it doesn’t matter she’s here to see me, not a museum.

I’ve seen the world from both sides now, I spent most of my life being a very type a personality. My whole identity was my ability to manage a lot of responsibility with very little supervision. I was the organized desk person at work, the minimalist. I got my job done Even if I had to stay late to do it. I used to wonder how people could miss an appointment, or be late somewhere. Now I am that person and I know why these things happen.

#happinessinavacuum #estervessence #wordpress #wordpressblog #GenX #Ihavesomethingtosay #myhappinessisnolongerinavacuum #storytime #writing #writer #story #stories #storytelling #storyteller #art #write

Masking

I have previously referred to myself as wearing a mask, and I assumed I was speaking in the PTSD sense of masking my pain and my vulnerability because feeling freely felt unsafe.

I’ve been on TikTok for a number of years. I’m a relatively young Gen X’r, I was born in the seventies, a kid in the eighties, and a teenager in the nineties. I had the bonus of a computer nerd momma who connected us to the internet when I was TWELVE YEARS OLD. Not having any online experience, Mom connected us to Prodigy, where I joined chatrooms and got my first taste of KINK. At age 12. I don’t blame momma in the slightest, she’d only interacted with other nerds who had only kindness in their hearts. SO TO ALL THE WOMEN (I mean ALL the women) out there who are under age 18 and getting attention from older men ONLINE OR IRL… It’s not flattery. They are taking advantage of your naivete. I promise. Date people younger than you, you will learn so much about relationships….

But I degress.

Point is, I know how to adapt to new technology, in a way that some people, even more than a decade older than me, cannot.

So here I am, scrolling TikTok for a good two hours a day (when I’m following the “routine plan”). It’s almost no time before I find myself in “weird” TikTok. #neurodivergent TikTok. Full Disclosure: I am a trained therapist. When I was earning my degree, I wanted to pretend I didn’t see all the clues that led me to diagnosing my partner (at the time) with a personality disorder. I held many groups for women who were survivors of abusive relationships. I could identify with their distress, as I had many similar stories, however; I was not able to step back from myself and call my partner’s attention “abuse”.

He liked to identify as an autistic person, as it allowed him the freedom to be inhospitable to others, while pretending that his insults were actually compliments.

But,

The longer I spend on TikTok

“liking” what speaks to me

I have started to notice

Maybe the PTSD isn’t the whole story

Didn’t I have symptoms of ADHD and Autism

ALL MY LIFE

I didn’t know to look

I used to walk on my toes (like until three years ago)

I couldn’t remember to pee or eat when I was focused on a task that interested me

THere is AUTISM in my family

My Cousin

More than one cousin, now I think on it.

ANYWAY… Now I’m looking at how hard I’ve tried to fit in all this time

I read books. All the young ladies books, written in the 80s/90s contain similar themes of unpopular “weirdos” trying to become popular. I read all of these books. The lesson I got from them is: “They didn’t do it right”

So I read all the YM magazines I could. I took all the advice (ilterally).

All my friends were “boy crazy”

So I was, too

Boys were easy, I could always figure out which ones wanted me.

So I spent a lot of time giving them their fantasies.

There was enough approval that I felt comfortable in that space.

I have been paid for sex. I didn’t mind.

But I’ve had the thought:

“Why do I need this?”

“Why do I seek this?”

It’s easier to take care of someone else’s needs than my own.

“WHY?”

Because other people’s needs are OBVIOUS

My OWN needs are whispers in A FART.

#happinessinavacuum #estervessence #wordpress #wordpressblog #GenX #Ihavesomethingtosay #myhappinessisnolongerinavacuum #storytime #writing #writer #story #stories #storytelling #storyteller #art #write #masking #mask #wheredoallthelonelypeoplebelong? #whispersinafart

good

Again, just when I’m feeling confient.

“I feel good.”

I think to myself. I do, for a bit. Then I’m reminded that self-care is a full time job and if I want to keep the “functioning” in front of my diagnoses then I’m going to have to get back to it.

I was very proud of myself for remembering to apply for Medi-Cal before my (employer-provided) health care lapsed. Then, I sat on the paperwork until it was two weeks overdue and my insurance was cancelled. I received a notice that my coverage will end on May 31. Which leaves me confused as my coverage was not supposed to begin until June 1.

I know it’s because I didn’t get my assignments in on time. (I’m realizing now that’s what I learned in school. How to turn things in on time). I’m usually the one that’s very ‘type A’ about appointments and deadlines. In fact, I used to be so organized that I couldn’t understand how others could not. I’ve recently learned this was all a part of my masking process. Following procedure used to be second-nature to me. I wonder what happened.

I knew I had the paperwork to do, I had been sent a series of large envelopes full of papers and I was so overwhelmed with them, it took me several weeks of re-organizing the pile, moving it to new places so I would “see” it, and going completely blind to it. I finally asked a friend for help, and she immediately tested positive for COVID (for the third time), so we won’t be working on that together.

I did finally get into it. I filled out all the parts I could fill out, and I made a list of documents I need to send with it. Then, I opened the weeks mail that has been collected on the table. I found a bill that’s due *TOMORROW* (Oh shit. I’ll just pay that online…).

There it was, the notice. I’m cancelled before my coverage even begins. It’s funny, I can remember being able to “keep it all together”, but I can’t possibly imagine how I could pull it off now. I have this feeling that I need to strip myself bare in order to finally heal. I’ve been holding myself together for seven years now. I’ve been running at top volume, never taking a moment to think about the necessity of all that. The isolation during the pandemic really allowed me to evaluate what I need to be happy and what I can let go of.

I’ve been masking so long I don’t have a clear sense of self. The more that person comes into focus, the more confident (and less prone to fixate on the perceived opinions of others) I feel. I imagine my skeleton stepping out of my skin like an old fur coat and walking into the forest.

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #GenX #Ihavesomethingtosay #myhappinessisnolongerinavacuum #storytime #writing #writer #story #stories #storytelling #storyteller #art #write #good #cancelled

Nest

I remember when I was a very little kid every night when I got into bed I would grab the sheet and the blankets with both hands and kick my feet like I was riding a bicycle in order to get the blankets to smooth out before I would cover myself back up. I’ve always been a very violent sleeper, and my fitness tracker told me that I moved more than 16 times per night. So when I get up in the morning, the blankets are usually quite a mess.

A little later in life my grandmother taught me that it was important to make my bed in the morning and she gave me very specific routines for maintaining a clean home.

When I was married, the bedding was very specifically my spouse’s taste, although was “my job” to do the chore of making the bed in the morning.

3 years after the divorce, I realized that making the bed was a chore I no longer had to impose on myself. So I went back to waking up in a pile of blankets, and now I’m in the habit of making my own bed, in my own way, just before I go to bed instead of in the morning.

I’ve also learned that my preferred bed contains an inordinate amount of pillows on which I prop my arms and legs at night, and my preferred blanket configuration consists of many layers of granny quilts.

Recently I was video chatting with my niece, who showed me her bed… A pile of clothes and blankets. We now refer to our beds as our nests.

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #GenX #Ihavesomethingtosay #myhappinessisnolongerinavacuum #storytime #writing #writer #story #stories #storytelling #storyteller #art #write #bed #sanctuary #nest

Voice

#voice #myvoice #happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #GenX #Ihavesomethingtosay #myhappinessisnolongerinavacuum #storytime #writing #writer #story #stories #storytelling #storyteller #art #write

Bus

The first time I remember taking a bus, I was about twelve years old and I rode a series of busses to Dodger stadium from the *way out* suburbs. My friend knew the whole routine. I was so impressed with getting off one bus at one stop and getting on another bus at another. Three buses in total? Maybe? it stuck with me.

Buses gave me my first little bit of independence – my senior year of high school, it was more reliable for me to take clunky west-coast public transport than it was to count on my caregiver to get me to school on time. If I took the early bus, I had to get up before dawn and then arrive at school a full 30 minutes before the first bell rang. If I took the late bus, I had exactly two minutes to run from the bus to my classroom- which for some reason was never at the front of the school.

I took a bus home when I escaped from Mexico (we don’t talk about Mexico). It was a huge statement for me to just say, “no, I’m not going to put up with this,” by walking away from a fight in a foreign country with no transport. There was a man on the bus, he gave me his Chivas hat to cover my blooming black eye… (but we don’t talk about Mexico).

I’ve taken buses and trains in many countries since, and I always find the same sense of freedom. Because when it comes down to it, I can only really count on myself. I may not have a car, but I’ve two feet and I can navigate public transportation.

It’s no easy task, if you’re unfamiliar. If you’ve grown up in a rural area, or never “needed” to take a bus, it may be difficult to imagine how frightening it can all look at first. Especially for someone with anxiety, who has been told for years about their inability to function by the person that is supposed to be the most trusted in their life… For me, learning bus schedules gave me freedom.

I lived two hours away from the nearest airport when my abuser took me the furthest away. I knew how to get away. I knew which buss to take, to where, and when. I knew where to switch busses. I knew I could get to the airport.

The bus ride from Bunbury to Perth airport takes a good two hours, depending on traffic, as well as at least 40 minutes driving around the city making stops on the way to the airport. The last time I left, I had taken this bus enough times to know the route by heart.

I am living proof that you can take everything from a person, even their self-esteem and ability to trust, and they can rebuild. I can rebuild, and I’m in that process. Every day is a little better than the last one. I get the chance to learn something new. I work and work and sometimes have breakthroughs. Also, there are relapses. I’m getting better at this.

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #GenX #Ihavesomethingtosay #myhappinessisnolongerinavacuum #storytime #writing #writer #story #stories #storytelling #storyteller #art #write #bus #nonfiction #recovery #relapse #resilience #healing

Nostalgia – please comment on the quiz questions below:

I have a theory about nostalgia. I noticed a pattern that affected three generations of women in my family. This documents the experiences as told by my mother, myself and my sister, and my niece.

I’m noticing the kids with parents of my generation (X, in case you care) are basically reliving the gothic vampyre look I was fond of in the nineties, and they do it different. The eyeliner is put on in as many different shapes as there are eyes. Sharp lines and geometric perfection. While back in the day we basically used white talcum powder for foundation and put on the eyeliner like we’d done it on a roller coaster. Our clothes were a lot baggier, though. I distinctly remember a favourite outfit of mine: doc martens, fishnets, a biker-sized lumberjack shirt, and some kind of black top. My colors weren’t all black: I had various shades of purple, burgundy, red, and wine. These kids have technology on their side, I saw an instagram ad for silicone heel cups that keep stiff boots from taking bites out of the ankle.

I noticed the phenomena with my mom during my “disco” phase in high school. Everyone was dressing like the characters on our favourite show: “That 70s Show.” We’d all grown up with daytime TV either being game shows from the 70s or reruns of “Gilligan’s island.” We had multiple school events that were 70s themed. We all shopped at the thrift stores; I remember mechanics jackets with some random name on it were extremely popular. My mom couldn’t get over how we brought back wide leg pants… they were terrible in the rain, or any kind of wet weather, really. I get it now, the moment of confusion: with all the choices available, why did the kids decide to bring that back? (That being any of the more offensive throwbacks from the 90s; let’s say “platform shoes.”

Now, about the theory: the 1980s had a very fifties vibe (just watch “Back to the Future” if you need an example of this): the Nineties were very much a Seventies throwback. (Here, a subtle reminder this is my experience, I’ll not comment on anything out my my own personal experience). Now, it’s been thirty years since my “coming of age.” I’m in my forties, and the people my age in the entertainment industry have been in their careers long enough to crank out the nostalgia of their own “Wonder Years.”

So, the pop culture of the day is driven by people reliving their own nostalgia as soon as they have earned the power to do so. I admit, the “reboots” are fun for me. Is this why there seems to be constant repetition in media and entertainment?

Now you try: comment with a story containing as many pop culture references as possible.

Nonfiction vs. Fiction: Is it really a binary, or more of a spectrum? Discuss in the comments.

#nostalgia #nineties #seventies #fashion #popculture #repetition #happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #GenX #Ihavesomethingtosay #myhappinessisnolongerinavacuum #storytime #writing #writer #story #stories #storytelling #storyteller #art #write

Relapse

I had gotten to a certain point in my recovery and I felt I no longer wanted to talk about my ex. I finally experienced understanding that forgiveness is really for myself. It was exhausting trying to carry all that hate all the time. All that hurt and betrayal is very heavy. The only way to lay it all down, and to truly begin to heal myself, was to forgive my ex for taking advantage of me. I finally “looked at the big picture” (as they were always telling me) and saw that in their eyes, they were doing what’s best for me. I was a project and they were the puppetmaster: I would be nothing without them.

Then, I was finally able to look at my part in the whole thing. Yeah, I was gaslit on a daily basis and basically had no control over myself… but I did choose to stay. Every day, I woke up next to them, and every day, I chose to get back in that bed. I made that bed. I chose to keep lying in it.

There is always a way out.

I had come such a long way in my recovery. I didn’t want to discuss the dynamics of a relationship that was still occupying my mind years later.

I tried to write fiction. We had a pandemic. My heart wasn’t in it.

I backslid considerably in my recovery over the past two years. I had the same litany of symptoms as I did when I first escaped… plus some new ones I hadn’t experienced before. I had some suppressed memories pop out to the surface. It’s been a rough time, but I’ve made time for my therapy, and added a psychologist and a neurologist to the care team. I’ve reached out to friends and told them I’m struggling. I took some time of my demanding job in order to feed my soul.

Backslides are part of recovery. It happens. Sometimes things get out of control and my reptilian brain feels the need to take over again.

I’m not finished discussing my recovery journey. It’s long from over. I still get tearful sometimes when I think of how they just get to keep living out their toxic lives, blaming all and taking no responsibility, while I have to struggle every day just to barely keep my head above the water. I guess that’s the curse of the Empath: sociopaths and narcissists see us from a mile away. Except now, I have the power to see them, too. I know how to freeze them out and give them nothing to feed on.

Each day I strive to live more mindfully, and I will always carry my past with me. As time goes on, it becomes somewhat lighter, less of a threat. I’ve been jumpy lately, which means I literally jump and often scream at sudden noises. It’s entertaining around people who aren’t familiar…

I’ve come a long way and I’m struggling. That’s where I am at the moment. There are more OK days than terrible ones, but there were far more really-bad ones this past winter. I struggle during the winter and this past season was very hard for me.

Where are you in your recovery?

What have you struggled with over the past two years?

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #recovery #relapse #mindful #empath #sociopath #PTSD #anxiety #depression #blame #heal #gaslighting

Meow

I woke up on the couch. I wasn’t that unusual as I often fell asleep binging one show or another. My cat, Ms. Mouse, usually curled up beside me on her little blanket and napped while I watched. Near me, but not touching me. She would sometimes make this squawking sound when she woke up and stretched, I could only imagine she was announcing her intention to “have a snack,” as this sound would generally be followed by her trotting over to her bowl and crunching away at the kibbles.

I awoke to one of these snack squawks and saw myself (not in the way I can look down and see my body, but in the way I could see all of it, as if I were another person entirely), awkwardly galloping toward the kitchen on hands and feet. I closed my eyes, under the assumption I had woken instead in some creepy dream, but quickly opened them as I heard a crash. My eyes snapped open to see myself, lying awkwardly in front of the kibble bowl, looking exactly as confused as I felt. I tried to stand up, but my balance seemed off and the floor seemed much softer than usual. I sort of crumpled back into my seat. I took a more critical look at my surroundings and saw I was sitting on the “kitty” blanket.

I could feel my ears press against the top of my head and a hiss escaped my lips. The “me on the floor” jumped up and tried to run up the stairs; slipping across the wood floor and stumbling up the steps, eventually falling back to the landing. I watched myself lick my left hand and drag it across the top of my head. I saw the stunned look on my face, and I saw myself crouching on the scratcher. I saw myself dragging my fingernails across the rough surface. Then I saw myself take an awkward seat and begin licking at my chest, fists, and face.

I shook my head and stood up, more carefully this time, quite painfully aware that I was now inhabiting the body of a tortoiseshell chonk. I tried a few test hops on the couch before I attempted to leap off of it. When I finally did take that leap, I landed mostly on my chin. I self-consciously licked my chest and began padding around the room. The coordination of four legs took some time to get used to, but I eventually ambled toward the kitchen. I’d always thought it rather convenient this particular cat was physically unable to climb onto the counters, now I worried I would never again be able to eat.

Having just woken from a nap, I was rather hungry. I could not open the refrigerator, nor the pantry door. I didn’t seem to have any strength at all. I was suddenly very thirsty. There was a bottle of water within reach by the couch, but I couldn’t imagine how I could unscrew the cap, or even hold it in a way that would get some liquid into me. I stared at the small bowl of water in the corner and tried to recall every documentary I had ever seen regarding how cats drink. I knew the drinking gesture had something to do with dropping my tongue in the water, but I was having difficulty coordinating the tongue bend with the drop. I somehow managed to get more food on the floor than down my throat, but I was feeling much better and somewhat hydrated. My stomach growled and I thought about the cat food, but one sniff and I lost my appetite.

I tried to text, but toe beans apparently don’t have the right texture, and it’s actually very difficult to tap out the code. Obviously facial recognition didn’t work, but I tried anyway. I even tried to pick up the phone and put it in my human face, but that only spooked the cat as I kept dropping it and she ran upstairs. I wasn’t sure I could get back down if I managed to get upstairs (she usually took it at a run and I wasn’t certain I could coordinate four legs and stairs at speed).

After some time, I was able to get myself up on a chair, and on top of the table (bad kitty!) where my laptop was open to my blog page. It’s been hours. I’m starving. The cat has had much more trouble navigating her unfamiliar limbs and my poor human body is quite battered and bruised. There is blood everywhere and I fear that if someone comes to find my dead body I will not be able to communicate that my consciousness has somehow been transferred to the cat. The mouse has proven to be impossible to navigate, so this my only possible form of communication. As you may imagine, it’s very difficult to type. This has taken me what seems like years to complete (I no longer have a sense of time as I have to keep stopping for naps or to snack on the ever dwindling supply of Friskies (the shapes may be whimsical, but all I taste is dusty and dry).

Please send help. Please save my body in case I can be returned to it. Understand I will not be able to communicate beyond some pathetic whining noises. I have been practicing my meows, but I really can’t say if they are communicating what I am intending. If the human body cannot be saved, please give this cat a good home. She likes to be brushed and must be fed salmon and rice, or any kind of sushi.

#happinessinavacuum #wordpress #wordpressblog #shortstories #shortstory #storytime #shortstorywriter #writing #writer #story #stories #storytelling #storyteller #fiction #art #author #write #creativewriting #words #wordporn #read #reading