Random Thoughts 5/30/2017

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Today is the last day of my wife’s staycation. She took Friday and Tuesday off because we were planning on going out of town for the weekend, but her strep kept us home. So we’ve been taking it easy for days, just hanging out at home.

It’s been fun having her home. I love her company and we have fun together. I prefer her company to anyone else’s. She gets me, and I get her. Tomorrow’s going to be lonely without her.


Went to go get an MRI done on my knee tonight. Results will go to my orthopedist and my general practitioner, and I’ll hear back from the orthopedist on the 6th during my follow-up visit. I’m a little nervous. I expected this to be a fairly simple case where I’d be sent home with exercises to do to strengthen the joint and the muscles in it. But now with my kneecap broken, there’s no telling what else could be wrong in there.


It’s been some time since I’ve reported anything to do with my mental illnesses and my progress on them. Doesn’t really feel like I’ve made any progress lately, but realistically I know that I can’t always be moving forward. It’s fine for me to be pretty stationary, mentally speaking. Feeling like I’m in a rut means that I’m not regressing, so that’s a good thing. Hopefully I can start making some headway soon. I feel like I’m stagnating.

 

Short, Sweet, and To the Point

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I put off writing today until something exciting happened. We bought Doctor Strange this evening and started watching it, and that was going to be my exciting thing, but about 50 minutes in I looked at our radio station’s website and noticed that there was a very unexpected DJ on the air, someone that hasn’t done a show in nearly a year, so we interrupted the movie and quickly turned on the stream and logged into the station’s IRC channel to say hello. (Breathe.) And that’s what I’m going to be doing for the rest of the night, I think. We own the movie now (on sale!) and can watch it at any time. Catching this DJ is a rare thing indeed and we’re very happy to change gears midway through the evening.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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I had a nice long conversation with my mother for Mother’s Day this afternoon.

She’s doing pretty well, although she’s been coughing pretty much non-stop for the past couple days, and she’s worried that the pneumonia is back. She was a little confused about what day of the week it was, although she knew the date and wished me happy birthday.

It’s conversations like today, when I had to correct her on the day of the week, that make me realize that our dynamic is changing once again.

When I was young, she was my caretaker and my teacher. She did everything she could to expand my insatiable thirst for knowledge, allowing me to read the encyclopedia at the dining room table while prohibiting anything else that I might care to read (except there was so much to the encyclopedia I couldn’t help but read it – it took me a couple of years, but I read every word in the thing). When I was older, she was, to the best of her ability, my adviser, trying to help me grow into a man even though she wasn’t really sure of the best way to go about it sometimes. When I was an adult, she became one of my best friends. And now that she’s older, the tables are turning. I’m advising her nowadays and being the best caretaker that I can be from half a country away.

It’s a little painful and a little sad that this woman who I’ve been able to rely on for so many years is now becoming reliant on me. But I suppose it’s the way of things for this to happen.

A lot of times, we take mothers for granted. They cook and clean for us and raise us and do their best to help you be the best you that you can be and do so very many things for us throughout our lives, and we only ever stop to thank them for it all once a year.

My mother is of an age that I can’t take her for granted anymore. She’s starting to go downhill, and it won’t be too many more years before she’ll be gone. We’ve had our moments, because it wasn’t easy raising me, but she did the best she could. And I thanked her for that today. And I will throughout this coming year and all the years to come until I can’t thank her anymore.

If you’re a mother and reading this, you have my thanks for being such an integral part of preparing the next generation for life. Happy Mother’s Day to you.

Movie Day

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Today I have had no real agenda for anything, other than just staying home and keeping my mind busy. I’ve played a couple of computer games off and on throughout the day, and I’ve been keeping up with my checklist well enough, but the silence in the house is a little overwhelming. So the day’s consisted of a barrage of movies.

V for Vendetta started the day, and after that it was Guardians of the Galaxy. Then came Deadpool and The Force Awakens. After that came The Lego Movie, and I’m wrapping up the day with Wanted.

As a result, I don’t really have that much to report for my day. No big revelations, no fascinating adventures. Just a lot of talking to my wife in Arizona while she’s looking after her dad. On that note, he’s improved dramatically, so she’s going to try and get an earlier flight home tomorrow. That would be a good thing for us both. This has been a trying time, especially for her, and we could use the grounding that we provide for each other. Plus she’d be home to help celebrate my birthday tomorrow evening, so there’s that.

On the down side, it means that I can’t make plans for my birthday tomorrow since I may or may not have to drop what I’m doing and get to the airport on just a couple hours notice. On the plus side, though, it means she’ll be home. I miss her and can’t wait to see her again.

Better, But Not One Hundred Percent

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Well, the stomach bug I had yesterday seems to be gone, but I’m still pretty run down from it. I cut a lot of corners yesterday in getting my full marks on my checklists, but today I’m playing catchup and it’s wearing me out. I’ve had some naps during the day, and that helped, but generally I’m kinda pooped.

Got a call from Mom today asking if I wanted to have dinner tonight, and I had to remind her that we’re in Austin once more. She also wanted me to know that I shouldn’t be in an infomercial under any circumstances, because she was and that’s why her back is hurting her today. I played along with what she said, though, except for the part where we couldn’t be there for dinner. She said “maybe this weekend” and I told her we’ll have to see. That much I was able to leave open-ended for now.

I finished Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology today. Excellent read, makes the pantheon much more accessible to the masses than the Eddas do. Each story is its own chapter, and the stories are quite short, so it’s a very easy thing to read a chapter a day. Took me no time to go through it, it felt like, and I’m glad I stuck to a chapter a day.

Still have a lot of stuff left to do tonight so I’m cutting this short today. (It seems like I’ve been doing that a lot. I really need to get a meaty blog post out at some point soon.) Hopefully tomorrow I’ll have more to write about.

The Courage to Be Vulnerable

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Today’s blog post is going to be considerably more personal than usual, even in a blog that deals with my experiences with chronic physical and mental illnesses. Today I’m going to talk about a part of my past that I don’t like to bring up.

First, though, let me preface where this is coming from. I am in the last few pages of Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW and today’s section is called “The Courage to Be Vulnerable.” It’s the last section in a chapter entitled “Wholehearted Parenting: Daring to Be the Adults We Want Our Children to Be.” The second paragraph in the section is as follows:

As I travel across the country there seems to be growing concern on the part of parents and teachers that children are not learning how to handle adversity and disappointment because we’re always rescuing and protecting them. What’s interesting is that more often than not, I hear this concern from the same parents who are chronically intervening, rescuing, and protecting. It’s not that our children can’t stand the vulnerability of handling their own situations, it’s that we can’t stand the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure, even when we know it’s the right thing to do.

This struck me not as a parent, but as a former child that experienced this behavior from my own parent.

Before I continue, I want to be very clear: I love my mother to death. I enjoy her company, I want the best for her, I worry when I can’t be there for her. (She’s in a nursing facility half the country away and neither of us have the financial ability to move closer to one another.) I know she did the best that she could with me, and I don’t hold any grudge against her for the way she handled my upbringing – but my mother was very much one of those parents that rescued and protected her son,

It wasn’t always that way. She did a great job of letting me experience life on my own terms and I did a great job of handling that – up until I was 13. That was the year I was repeatedly raped over a period of several months by a guy on my paper route, and Mom went from being relatively hands-off to a helicopter parent. I understand why Mom’s parenting style changed – there was a situation that occurred that she wasn’t there to protect me and a Bad Thing happened because of it, and she was determined that something like that would never happen to me again. I get that. But it severely affected my development as an adult.

Anytime I was faced with adversity or potential disappointment, my mother was there to bail me out of the situation I’d gotten myself in. That behavior continued well into my thirties, and didn’t actually stop altogether until my early forties. When I started living on my own, and started changing the questions from “Mom, I’m in trouble, can you help?” to “Mom, I’ve gotten into a situation and need some advice trying to get myself out of it,” her response was to immediately bail me out. This was usually a financial bailout of some kind. I tried several times to refuse her help, but she worked quickly to make my learning opportunities disappear before they were ever much of a situation at all, and I eventually learned that was what Mom was going to do, and that I wouldn’t learn things like how to make a budget and stick to it from her. I’ve finally gotten to the point that I consider myself grown up, but that’s only after several years of having no actual assistance and very little advice from Mom and needing to come up with the answers on my own.

I try to live my life without regrets, because I never know what decision that I would choose to alter in the past that would radically change my life today, and I like my life too much to want to take a chance on changing that, but there are times that I wish I’d learned how to be an adult earlier than what I did. I feel like I needed to learn that adversity and disappointment that Dr. Brown talks about in her passage above earlier than what I did. I can’t go back and change any of that, unfortunately, but I can move forward knowing that I finally learned what I needed to do to be a functioning adult.

It’s interesting to note that I don’t mention my father much in this. The reason for that is that Dad was very often a hands-off kind of parent and basically left me alone to try and fend for myself. I imagine there being quite the arguments between their parenting styles in my teens, with Dad always giving in to Mom in the interest of matrimonial harmony. The other reason that I don’t mention my father in this post is that he passed away when I was 26, and his ability to alter Mom’s behavior ended in 1995. Keep in mind that Mom was still bending over backward trying to preemptively bail me out of situations through late 2009, so that’s 14 years of Mom receiving no opposition to her parenting style of throwing money at the situation, one that was exacerbated for years by the windfall that was my dad’s life insurance policy.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t fight Mom more than I did, but I really didn’t have the self-confidence to be able to figure out my own way out of a situation, and I certainly didn’t have the know-how. At this point, it’s a thing that just was, and I’m glad that period of my life has come to an end.

So what does that mean moving forward? It means that I’ve finally figured out how to handle adverse financial situations, but it also means that my wife and I are barely scraping by. That will hopefully change in a year or so when I start looking to return to work in my new field of study – having two full incomes coming in will be a huge help to us becoming more social and more active in our hobbies, as well as provide the opportunity to travel more often to visit Mom and perhaps even save up to bring her out to be near us. We’ll just have to see.

It took me far longer than I wanted it to, but I finally learned that adversity and disappointment that comes with being vulnerable. I wish it had happened sooner, but I’m glad it finally happened at all. I’m a stronger person for it.

Welp, Maybe Not

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Today was therapy day. I say “was” because, well, the appointment started four minutes ago. You’ll note that I’m apparently not in my therapist’s office. There’s a reason for that.

Long story short, my back went out this morning trying to get out of bed. I’ve been on the heating pad ever since, and only moving around the apartment when absolutely necessary.

We’ve rescheduled for tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll have stuff to report then.

In the meantime, I’m going to write something kinda brief about how days like today (this has happened before and will almost certainly happen again) affect my daily activities.

The Four Agreements is a best-selling self-help book by Don Miguel Ruiz (has it really been 20 years since this book came out?), and it’s a good read. I recommend it if you haven’t read it before, it goes quickly and it has some gems in it. The fourth Agreement is to “always do your best.” This is further described as follows:

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to when you are sick.

So the bottom line is, I’m going to do my best, but that won’t be the same as what it would be if I wasn’t in a lot of pain.

It’s not a big change from what I normally do, but my exercise is radically altered. I’ve recently traded in laps of the apartment complex for trips down and back up the stairs outside. Three round trips of the stairs have me huffing and puffing far more than a leisurely stroll around the block, as it were, plus I feel it in my legs FAR more than I do while walking. One of these days, soon I hope, I’m going to shoot for five, but my legs are getting wobbly after just three trips and I always wonder if I can make four, so I stop there. On a day like today where I have persistent back pain, that gets reduced to two or even one trip up and down the stairs. It’s not much – it’s honestly barely anything at all – but it gets me out moving and doing something strenuous, for as long as my body will let me.

My to-do list is also cut down to size, and done in short bursts of activity in order to minimize the time I’m away from the heating pad. Where I’d normally be deep cleaning the kitchen, taking out the trash, cycling through our refrigerated water jugs as they need to be refilled, cycling the dishwasher from clean to dirty dishes, dusting, and straightening up the living room (as an example) today I’m likely going to just cycle the water jugs and clean the litter box and call it a day. (Fortunately much of that exemplar list has been done recently, so my list is thankfully pretty small today. If new things arise, however, I’ll likely delegate those things off to my wife or just hold off on them until tomorrow.)

Fortunately there are a lot of things on my checklist that can be done sitting right here on my heating pad, so there’s not a lot that needs to be altered. But things were bad enough this morning that I needed the heating pad for a good half hour before I felt okay enough to stand on my feet long enough to do my dental hygiene this morning.

The important thing is that a day like this, while a real nuisance and a very painful experience, isn’t enough to keep me from accomplishing full marks on my checklist. It would take me being bedridden at this point for me to break this streak, and fortunately I’m not quite to the point that I need to stay in bed. (Lying down actually exacerbates the problem, so I’m doing what’s best for my body by sitting on the couch with the heating pad on my back, waiting for the next round of Aleve to kick in.)

Tomorrow will be better. I have spoken.