The Rabbit Hole

Brokenness

I just finished watching the movie Lars and the Real Girl.

Cinema speaks to me in a way no other medium does. Movies draw me in to their stories and out of my own head, like a small, much needed vacation. A break from my own reality. A sabbatical. And often times movies, like books, change me. They expand my horizons, grant me forays into another perspective, and sometimes–on very rare occasions–they teach me something about myself.

I feel like i can relate to the character Lars. Like me, he’s lonely. He’s broken. But as much as I feel compassion for him, I also envy him in a small way, because he can afford to lose himself in his delusion. He has the luxury of going a little crazy. And when he does fall into that rabbit hole, he is so very well supported and loved by his community.

I don’t think I have that luxury. I feel like I have to always be strong, in control, and competent. I don’t feel like I have the option to be weak. I’m not allowed to be needy. But I am. Oh how needy I am! I need companionship. I need love. I need to feel like I have worth, like I’m important, like I matter.

I wonder what would happen if I just let go of it all. …if I let myself fall into my own rabbit hole of mental/emotional illness… Would people surround me in kindness as they did with Lars? Would I ever find my way out?

Physical Manifestation of an Emotional Paralysis

Dream Journal

The dream:
I was at work (my current work, not the new job) in the reception chair. Everything was normal…but then I grew catatonic while the people around me continued with their regular activities. As I sat in the chair, my body grew stiff, my body leaning backward: back straight, limbs outstretched, mouth gaping. My eyes were open, but I was not able to see. My hearing, however, was perfect. People around me casually commented on my vegetative state, but didn’t act concerned. I woke up from the dream at one point, but then sank back into sleep and the dream continued.

My thoughts on the dream:
It was strange to be surrounded by people, yet separate. Although I was keenly aware of my surroundings despite my lack of sight, I was also terribly alone. Still, I was not anxious or panicked by my inability to move, but rather fascinated by the experience. It felt like an intellectual experiment, albeit involuntary. I wondered somewhat disappointedly at my coworkers’ lack of concern….but I wasn’t very concerned about it either. I was more curious about how I would get my work done than anything else.

Themes/Analysis:
Feelings of helplessness and paralyzation.
Lack of emotional connection to people around me — Academic interest in and over-analyzation of experiences rather than emotional interaction.
Feelings of not being valued except by what I contribute.
Finally, I think this stems from the fact that I am worried that although my last day on the job is Monday, no one will actually miss me.

My Illogical Feelings and My Excessive Use of Ellipses

Brokenness, Musings, Work

So much has happened in the past few months. So many times I have thought that I should write about this or that. Visiting my mom… Spending time with my sister and brother… Interviewing at the nonprofit and the disappointment of not being awarded the job… Interviewing at the real estate firm and the joy of being offered (and accepting) the position… The strange dream that seemed so profound, but oh so confusing at the same time… My birthday and the perplexing cocktail of disappointment and happiness that surround all my recent birthdays…

So many things I could have written about, but the moments all seemed to slip by. My life is slipping by.

And now here I am, finally writing, and I don’t know where to start. All I know is that I feel sad. Lonely. …and I don’t know why. I have been shown so much love recently, so my feelings are not justified. And yet, it IS how I feel. I want to analyze my feelings away, but I can’t because there’s no logic behind it all. It just is this way… I just feel this way… I just am this way… Without explanation. And why am I finally writing now when I should have written all those other times when I actually had something to say?

(Aside: I like to analyze my feelings when I’m low because, I think, I’m more comfortable in my cerebral mode than in my feelings. I may have already blogged about this. It’s been so long, and I just don’t remember.)

So there you go. I’m sad. For no apparent reason. (Yes, I know. “Feelings are not right or wrong; they just are.”)

Identity Crisis

Brokenness

I finally went to see a counselor yesterday…for just me, not for my marriage.  I’ve been wanting to for, oh, several years.  Now that the first appointment is over, I find myself wondering why it was so hard to just GO.  I told myself that I couldn’t afford it.  Probably true, but at this point I’d rather go into debt than not see someone.  I need it that much.  I told myself that I didn’t know how to find the right person.  Also true, but what’s so inherently terrible about finding a couple of wrong therapists in the pursuit of finding the right one?

All excuses.  I’m not sure whether my reticence was a result of laziness or fear.  I know that therapy (no matter what kind) is hard work, and maybe I just felt that I simply couldn’t add one more emotionally draining task to my load.  Hogwash, of course.  If my life is really so overwhelming that adding one more thing seems impossible, then that’s all the more reason to go to counseling.

So, I met my new counselor for the first time yesterday, and I am astounded by how helpful it was.  I know that I have a long and painful road ahead of me, but already I have learned something about myself that explains a lot.  (I know that the left-brain/right-brain theory is very over-generalized and not really truly accurate, but for the purpose of this blog post, let’s just accept the concept to a certain degree, because it has brought such a clarity to what I perceive to be my essential problem.)  I am not whole.  I have become segmented.

As a child, I used to pick up my pencil with my left hand (which is controlled by the right hemisphere of the brain), but my teachers trained me to be right handed.  I have always felt that I was right-brained, as well, because I am naturally a creative and intuitive sort of person.  I’m very in touch with my emotions.  Art was always my favorite subject in school, and not just because it was easier than, say, math.  I also sang a lot throughout my childhood and high school. Yep, right-brained.

The problem?  The professional world is more suited to left-brained folks.  I am very adaptable.  In school, where logic and intellect are prized over creativity, I learned to focus on using the left side of my brain.  And since completing my education, in my professional career, I have essentially trained myself to be exclusively left-brained while at work.  …So much so that I effectively become someone entirely different when I’m in the office…  It’s still really me, but it’s a different side of me that is completely disconnected to the other parts of me.  Case in point, someone at work will ask me on a Friday what my plans are for the weekend and my mind goes a complete blank.  It’s like I put on competency like a garment for the 9 hours that I am in the office, and I cannot switch out of that mode even for a moment to remember what fun I might have planned.  I literally have to whip out my phone and look at my calendar to see what the heck I have going on.  Same thing looking back, too.  “What did you do this last weekend?”  Complete blank.

I’m not a ditzy person.  On the contrary, while at work I am highly competent.  Very efficient.  It’s not rocket science or anything, but take a look at my blog posts and see my analytical tendency.  I don’t wish to seem arrogant, and I certainly don’t think I’m anything close to a genius, but I honestly think I have above-average intellect (and all the tests I’ve taken support that assumption).  That analytical way of thinking that I’m describing, though, is not my normal.  It’s my learned way of thinking.

So, I come home after work and I am exhausted after spending all day functioning in a mode that is not my natural tendency, and I crash both mentally and emotionally.  Then my depression joins the party and become completely useless.

Aside: My poor husband.  He catches a brief glimpse of me in my work mode and he almost doesn’t recognize me.  Then by the time I come home, I’ve transitioned out of my left-brained mode, and I’m just a lump of organic matter, not even able to make a decision about what I want for dinner.

And here’s the point of the whole post: No wonder I feel so broken and disjointed.  No wonder I can’t even take a simple personality test because I can’t decide which “me” I’m evaluating.  No wonder I feel panic when I try to define my identity.

So…  My homework from my counselor is to sketch.  Or paint.  And throughout the day at work, I’m to ask myself how I feel.  Weirdest homework ever, hey?

I am excited that I finally have something concrete that I can point to and say, “yes, this is what my problem is…or part of it anyway.”  Granted, I am a different person than I was when I was a child.  Perhaps I have migrated for good over into the left side of my brain…but maybe if I spend some time immersed in those activities from my childhood that I used to love, maybe I’ll feel a little more connected to myself.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense to anyone other than me, but …well, it doesn’t really matter.  It is enough that I understand.  And I am so thankful – so relieved – for the clarity and freedom I feel.

MWF Seeks Friendship and Confidence

Relationships

Do you ever wonder where you learned a belief that you hold?  I do.  I once read something that really resounded in my psyche.  I can’t remember where I read it or what the exact words were, but it said something like this:

Children are experts in everything; they can sing, they can dance, they can slay the dragon or they can be the beautiful princess…  …until some adult tells them they can’t.

Heart-breaking, no?

I bring this up because I used to think I was a truly fantastic person.  I was awesome.  I was cute.  I was funny and had a magnetic personality.  Most people genuinely liked me and wanted to be my friend.  And then, at some point in the last decade, for some reason I began to suspect this belief to be untrue, and now I find myself believing the opposite.  I’m not attractive.  I don’t have charisma.  People are too busy for me.  No one really wants to be my friend.

I wonder where I heard this message…  And, more importantly, is it true?

This last week I got a text from K asking me what I was doing.  She wanted to hang out with me.  To say I was thrilled would be an understatement.  J had the car, so I told her that I was free and would love to hang out, but that I understood if she didn’t want to come pick me up.  (As I analyze myself now, I’m ashamed by my almost apologetic response.  I completely understand if you don’t want to hang out with me.  …especially since I’m this horrible inconvenience.  Why would I think this?  After all, it was her idea!  She was texting me asking to hang out.  Sheesh, Soph.  Give yourself a little credit, will you?  But I digress.)  When she agreed to come pick me up and take me to a bar I was ecstatic.  Manic, even.  During our evening, I started worrying that I was coming across as too much: laughing too hard, talking too much, being too “me.”  I worried that she’d see how desperate I am to have a friend.  I kept reminding myself to play it cool.  …but I was unsuccessful in that attempt.  To my chagrin, I found myself apologizing for my over-the-top enthusiasm.  She assured me that I was acting just fine, but I still worried.

Clearly I need to get the heck out of my head and just have a little fun.  And yet, I can’t seem to.

I see my own insecurity even in my email interactions with people I don’t know.  I posted a Craigslist ad asking if anyone had any hobbies they’d like to share with me.  (Back-story: My friend, A, was talking about all the random, social things she does ALL THE TIME.  I asked her how she found out about these interesting opportunities, and she said Craigslist.  At her recommendation, I checked out the Community section of my local Craigslist page.  I didn’t see anything that immediately grabbed my attention, so I took a risk and posted an ad.  It felt weird…like I was posting a personal ad, but I’m really glad I did it, because I’ve gotten some really interesting responses…and so far, no crazies as far as I can tell.  Okay, now back to the point.) As I have interacted via email with people who have responded, I find myself believing that they probably don’t actually want to meet me, even though that’s clearly not the case, since they responded to my ad.  I keep saying things like “Let me know if you want to meet up,” rather than things like “Where do you want to meet?”

What on earth is my problem?  Why can’t I accept that I just might be a fun person to be with?  When I spent time with K, why was I so worried that I was laughing too much or acting overly enthused?  Who doesn’t want people to laugh at their jokes and who doesn‘t want to be liked?  When people responded to my ad, why did I still worry that they’d rather hang out with someone else?   I mean, really, if they didn’t want to meet a new friend, they wouldn’t respond to the bloody ad!

Where did I hear the message that I am not worth other people’s time?  Why do I believe I am unlovable?

…and how can I unlearn the lesson?

The Depths

Dream Journal

The dream:
I was scuba diving with a couple of professional diver guides. We were exploring shipwrecks, and at every site there was a dead body pinned down among the wreckage. I never saw the faces, only their legs, and aside from the stillness, nothing appeared amiss. After a time, we surfaced at a dock in order to unload a few unnecessary items to a colleague who was waiting for the divers. We were about to go under again and I woke up.

My thoughts on the dream:
I have always viewed water (especially deep water) as a representation of my subconscious or inner emotional state. In my dream, I was navigating the depths with two guides, but I was more like a silent observer; I followed them as they explored, but I didn’t really participate. Everywhere we went, there was death but I was afraid to take a deep look at the faces. I preferred to lurk behind and only see its periphery. I think the divers may represent my counselors, those who are skilled in diving deep into people’s inner pain.

Themes/Analysis:
Exploration of my inner emotional turmoil, but fear of looking at the face of death. It’s possible that there is treasure in the depths, but fear of death makes me hesitant to really delve into the dark places.
A need to unload unnecessary emotional baggage.

Nighttime Musings

Dream Journal

The dream:
J and CJ were at a thrift store. I was to join them after having collected a few items to purge from our home. I brought the small box of donations into the shop for the go-ahead from J as I didn’t want to accidentally donate something he wanted to keep. He didn’t really look at what I was trying to show him, and I was vying for his attention in vain.

Me: Oh, I think I grabbed some of your Lego by mistake.
J: *silence*
Me: Wait, no, it’s just a Lego-themed game for your old Game Boy.”

I finally got his attention, and he indicated that he didn’t want anything that I had brought. But then he pulled out some essential oil that I had accidentally put in the box, and began putting it on CJ’s back. I was concerned about the potency of the oil (oregano); I didn’t want CJ to have some sort of skin reaction.

My thoughts on the dream:
The predominant feeling was that of frustration. J would not pay attention to me, even though I had his best interests at heart – I didn’t want to get rid of something he wanted to keep. I think CJ’s appearance in my dream was just because J was at his house last night watching the game. Why was J putting the oils on his back? Not sure. It wasn’t a sexual type thing, although my waking mind feels uncomfortable at the thought. It was more of a goofing off type thing, like he was taking something that I was trying to show him – something valuable to me (I didn’t want to donate it) – and then sharing it with someone else rather than interacting with me.

Themes/Analysis:
Feelings of neglect and frustration in my marriage
A desire to simplify my life
Looking out for the well-being of others, but not being appreciated

100 Life Goals

Goals

J and I both love to read, and sometimes we’ll discuss the books we’re discovering.  Not long ago, J read a book called 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam.  Truth be told, I haven’t read it and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get around to it, but one thing J mentioned to me while he was reading it was that the author recommended writing a list of 100 dreams or goals.  I thought it was a great idea, so I decided to make my own list.

And now, for your reading pleasure, my dreams (in no particular order):

  1. Take a picture of myself every day (for age progression purposes).
  2. Attend at least 2 roller derby bouts every season.
  3. Go someplace new once every other month.
  4. Feel confident in a bathing suit.
  5. Have a wardrobe I love.
  6. Read 5 nonfiction and 10 fiction books every year.
  7. Give a million dollars to charity during my lifetime.
  8. Become an activist who fights against human trafficking.
  9. See the pyramids.
  10. Buy lingerie in Paris.
  11. Tithe a full 10% to the general fund at church in addition to the other various good causes I support. 2013 and ongoing
  12. Do a humanitarian trip at least once a decade.
  13. Learn to sew beautiful clothing and crafts.
  14. Send anonymous gifts to people twice a year.
  15. Visit my ancestral roots in Germany.
  16. Learn to make my own cleaning/beauty products (for the sake of reducing my carbon footprint and household chemical consumption).
  17. Visit all 50 states.
  18. Pray at the Wailing Wall at least one more time. Bring J.
  19. Call Sister and Oma once a week.
  20. See college friend G again before I turn 35. 2014
  21. Take college friend M out to dinner before the end of 2013.
  22. Take a Caribbean cruise.
  23. Find my place in ministry.
  24. Create a comfortable and beautiful home that is neat, organized, and decorated.
  25. Become “mostly vegetarian.”  Seafood excluded.
  26. Invest in T’s life.  Become her confidante and outside support system.
  27. Become a prayer warrior.
  28. Buy roller skates and skate once a month.
  29. Learn to believe in true love again.
  30. See Oma at least one more time before she dies. 2014
  31. Write R & R (sponsored children) once every other month.
  32. Find a best friend in my region.
  33. Volunteer once a month. 2014 and ongoing
  34. Eat more pizza and sushi.
  35. See Eddie Izzard, Jim Gaffigan, and Brian Regan (again) [2014] live.
  36. Have $0 of debt.
  37. Win employee of the year.
  38. See a live theater production once a year.
  39. Keep a dream journal.
  40. Take a vacation with Sister.
  41. At least once in my life, leave a $100 bill for my restaurant meal at Christmas time.
  42. Get my picture taken with Johnny Depp.
  43. Watch a documentary once a month.
  44. Take belly dancing lessons.
  45. See Petra – the buildings carved into stone.
  46. Ride a camel.
  47. Choose and wear a signature scent.
  48. Take J on a surprise vacation.
  49. Save enough to retire comfortably at the age of 60.
  50. Own something from Tiffany’s.
  51. Take a ceramics and/or stained glass course.
  52. Learn Sign Language.
  53. Keep a daily “I’m Thankful For” journal.
  54. Win a trophy that I get to keep indefinitely (not the Iron Skee Ball trophy).
  55. Beat J at least once more time at one of our annual Iron Skee Ball competitions.
  56. Do the “27 Days of J” for J’s birthday one year.
  57. Finish a half-marathon.
  58. Learn to swing dance, stunts included.  Or salsa dancing.
  59. Stay up late and watch shooting stars in a cemetery (again).
  60. Watch the sunrise from somewhere where an ocean is to the east.
  61. See Ground Zero.
  62. Kiss J on the top of the Empire State Building.
  63. Look out the window from the top of the Columbia Tower.
  64. See the view from the top of the Smith Tower.
  65. Start celebrating “Treat Yourself” day annually.
  66. Skydive.
  67. Every presidential election, take off from work the day after the election so that I can stay up late to hear the results as they happen.  Have a celebratory or commiseration beverage when the results are announced.
  68. Take off from work and celebrate Cinco de July-o annually.
  69. Perform my civic duty and serve as a juror.
  70. Feed a giraffe.
  71. Hold a baby hedgehog.
  72. Decorate my house with 1000 white candles for a special date night.
  73. Stay at the Albuquerque Holiday Inn.
  74. Visit New Orleans.
  75. Get a dog.
  76. Make and use fabric napkins so that we don’t have to use paper towels.
  77. Figure out a convenient way to compost.
  78. Send a care package to a solder (again).
  79. Make a rag quilt.
  80. Attend a masquerade.
  81. Cuddle and play with the little ones at the “Hogar San Francisco de Asis” Center for Destitute and Sick Children in Lima, Peru.
  82. Accomplish or be part of something truly great.
  83. Help at a homeless soup kitchen.
  84. Buy a decent car entirely with $20 bills from my savings account – no financing.
  85. See the Northern (or Southern) lights one more time.
  86. See a phosphorescent red tide at night (again).
  87. Take a long-exposure photograph of the twirling night sky.
  88. Get a mattress that doesn’t give me back/headaches. 2013
  89. Save the equivalent of three month’s income in case of emergency.
  90. Acquire enough emergency supplies in my home to survive one week without outside help.
  91. Grow my hair long enough to donate (again). 2014
  92. Shake hands with a current or former American president.
  93. Get to know my brother better.
  94. Pet a penguin.
  95. Have a vow-renewal ceremony with friends for my 25th wedding anniversary.
  96. Look sexy in the Wonder Woman t-shirt in my closet.
  97. Go on a helicopter tour of a pretty place.
  98. Ride in a limousine.
  99. Go on a safari.
  100. Develop my vocabulary to include uncommon words (not to impress anyone, but rather simply for the sake of my love for the English language).

I know it’s unreasonable to expect that I’ll accomplish all of these, but I’ll do as many as I can!

If you’d like, shoot me a comment with some of your life goals.  I’d love to hear them.

My Yearning for Meaningful Relationship

Relationships

I’m lonely, and I don’t know how not to be. In theory, I know that to have good friends, one must be a good friend. In real life, though, I’m not sure what I can do differently. I think that I’m a pretty great friend, or, more accurately, I have the potential to be a great friend if only people would make time for me. I’m a great listener. I’m generous. I’m kind. I genuinely care about people and how they’re doing. Why, then, do I not have a best friend who will return my emails, much less call?

I think that part of it is the Seattle Freeze.

But I worry that there may be more to it. When I was in high school there was this girl in my choir class. She was a sweet girl, but she was exhausting to be around because she was so clingy and needy…always seeking affirmation, rather than offering her own wonderful perspective and personality during daily interactions. She was, in a word, desperate. I worry that this is how I’ve become. I worry that people can see my insecurity and my desperation, and that I repulse them. People like confident people. But I am not confident any more. I used to be, but, alas, that part of me – the likable part – is broken.

How does one grow confidence back? How does a person stop being needy and desperate for love? If I don’t think of myself as likable, how can anyone else? But I can’t seem to fix myself no matter how hard I try.

And yet, I can’t be as messed up as I think I am. C and A like playing games with J and me, and M from church told me just today that she wants to hang out with me soon, and H tells me all the time that she adores me and loves working with me, and M from work frequently tells me that I deserve every good thing…

What, then, is my problem? Why don’t I have a “bosom” friend, as Anne of Green Gables would say? I want someone to share life with… Yes, I have J, but a husband isn’t the same as a best friend.

Am I expecting too much?

Sexism in the Workplace, and Other Demeaning Assumptions

Work

I work in downtown Seattle at a prestigious, national firm in a male-dominated industry. [Think of the TV show Mad Men.] I spend part of my day answering the telephones. I’ve been with the firm for nearly four years and my role is extremely important. One might say that I am vital for many of the regular day-to-day operations.

And yet, I feel like my job is lowly and unappreciated. I once fielded a phone call that was highly offensive and demeaning, and yet I think it is the stereotypical belief. “Can you help me, or are you just the receptionist?”

Another time I got a call, and I was able to efficiently assist the very frustrated caller. He thanked me by saying, “I generally don’t like to work with women, but you’re okay.” Oh jeepers, sir, thanks so much for such a shining compliment!

And then, more recently, this:

Caller: Hi, can you connect me to P (man)?
Me: I’m sorry, he’s currently unavailable. Would you like his voicemail or someone on his team?
Caller: Sure, send me to his secretary.
Me: One moment, please, while I check who is available.
*pause*
Me: It’s my pleasure to connect you to H (man).
Caller: *hysterical laughter* His secretary is a man!
Me: I’ll connect you now.

I wish I could have said Amazing right? Also, did you hear the crazy news that women can now VOTE! What’s the world coming to?!

There’s just not much respect, even today.