I went to Lowes today at lunch to scope out floor replacement options to continue work on undoing the pee-havoc that the puppy has wreaked on our various carpets. My initial solution was going to be self-adhesive carpet tiles. That’s still something I’m going to do on the stairs, but I have to order them online and if I know one thing about myself is that there are certain types of things I almost always do on a whim. When I decide that I want to do something in certain categories, I want to be able to go to a business and get the materials/services needed. For instance, a few weeks ago I decided I wanted to cut my hair short, so I went to a Hair Cuttery on the way home and had it chopped off. I have gotten sudden impulses to paint murals on our walls at home and…so I do. In the context of this particular home improvement project, I found nice looking vinyl self-adhesive tiles that are readily available in abundant quantity at the store, along with all the tools and shit I might need right there in the aisle next to them. Solution found, and I’ll be working on that this week in the room where that kind of solution is appropriate. HOT DAMN.
As I wandered around the store, and then subsequently as I walked outside towards my car, I was suddenly aware of how calm and generally “fine” I was feeling. I remarked to myself that this feeling of general calmness and okayness was what I have grown to expect from myself. It is my new normal. I then realized that it has been 3 years since I began my Great Journey to Mental Health: Extreme Makeover Edition, 2 years since beginning the search for a therapist and going on Zoloft, 1 year since winning the epic wages increase battle of 2013, 8 months since ending a relationship that was not doing anyone (especially me) any favors, and about 4 months since some other rather unfortunate stuff happened resulting in the end of a friendship I cared deeply about. In hindsight though, everyone is better off with the way things turned out. Sometimes people and lives are not compatible and it’s important to find that out earlier rather than later.
I honestly never believed that this general feeling of personal wellbeing, of calm, of Fine would be normal for me. Sure, I’m still on Zoloft but Zoloft (and other meds) didn’t do all the work required for me to get here. Zoloft is a tool for wellness and one that I still use and need for balance. There’s no shame in it. I’ve worn glasses every day of my life for the last 20 years because my eyes don’t work properly without them. The chemicals in my body are imbalanced, so I do what I need to in order to correct that and lead a happier, more productive, highly satisfying life.
But before and since medication, I have done an immense amount of work on myself to find the person I want to be hiding underneath. The biggest change I have experienced is that the things that are important to me have shifted. It used to be that being well-liked, or more to the point, having no one be upset with me, was pretty much my main social goal. This backfired, like, all the time in terms of people treating me well and my getting anything I wanted or needed. But I did achieve the goal of no one having an issue with me. In my younger mind, this meant that I would never be voted off the island. But that’s because I was the most obedient mule around and I would work tirelessly to pull that water wheel…or whatever it is you would need a mule for on an island. Pulling a cart full of coconuts? I’m mixing my metaphors I think. The point is I figured that if I was indispensable as a friend (through the services I would do for them), no one would leave me in the lurch! It was a substitute for actual trust in people.
The problem was that I was constantly being left in the lurch because I wasn’t communicating anything accept acquiescence. I was selfless in the fact that I never, ever put myself first for anything but it wasn’t altruistic. I got a sense of security from it.
I am still a helpful person but I have learned to pay more attention to what is a reasonable thing for me to be asked to do. This might seem like a small step, but I wasn’t doing this AT ALL before. And the scenarios in which I have to do this range from the mundane (“Come pick me up at a location 10 miles out of your way even though I can totes take the train”) to the fantastic (“Lie to me about your feelings…better yet, don’t talk to me about your feelings”). Both types of scenario are things that I have said no to and life is better for doing so. Saying no when you honestly want to say no is better for everyone in the long run. If there is backlash, it can be weathered knowing that ultimately this is the system working. Holding your wellness and happiness as central goals is better for those who love you and those who don’t.
I’ve learned a lot about what I want, what I need, and what I’m worth to myself. It’s still a struggle to express those things and sometimes I falter. But the underlying change in focus is there. I have a lot more to say about that and the things I have learned and am always trying to act upon, but for now I celebrate this peace time after so much war.
Tonight, Wes and I are going to have a few drinks at the Franklin Institute and learn about the science of gross stuff (Happy Halloween!). The Science After Hours series has been so much fun and is pretty much the best idea ever. I have always loved the Franklin Institute and the fact that they are making kids in adult bodies events after the work day is so very cool.
The rest of the week will be spent working, celebrating 10 years of employed bliss at my company’s Employee Appreciation Dinner (I’m totally getting a mug. I just know it), knitting a hat (my first project with double points needles…gasp!), coloring drawings, and replacing urine soaked carpet. I definitely did not save the best for last in that list.
So life is good overall. The happiness baseline is at a good place. The sinusoidal nature of the human experience notwithstanding, I am satisfied with the amplitudes of the highs and the lows. As for the frequency of the waves, well, that’s getting longer and more mellow all the time.
OK, that was just a pretentious metaphor. What am I even talking about here? Am I failing at mule AND math metaphors? Look, my point is, I’m doing well and I’m happy being me. What a novel concept!