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I have something to say

Excuse me, but I have something to say

You may think because I sit here quiet, listening, unflinching as you tell your story

That I have no opinion, no thoughts, nothing to add

But I’m speaking up now to tell you you’re wrong

You may look at me and think I’m an accessory to the man standing next to me, that perhaps he speaks for me

But I’m a grown woman who speaks for herself

I’m an independent being with my own thoughts and dreams

I choose my company

I choose how I spend my time

You look at me and see a captive audience

An empty vessel here for your alterior motives, whatever they may be

To share your good news (I’ve heard it a thousand times before)

To hear your bright ideas (tell me something new)

To be used in whatever way you see fit, to make you feel important

But I’ve seen your kind many times before, and I know what you’re trying to do

You have something to prove

So how about we cut the bullshit right here

I’m not the child I used to be

I’m a grown woman, and I’ve earned every last new white hair I find every day

Through the grief of lost loves, the lies, the deception, being used, and being disrespected

Through the pain of being seen and treated as less than I am, and having to work damn hard for what I have

Save your empty words, your proselytizing, your attempt at empathy, your patronizing youth

And see me for who and what I am

Start by listening first, put away the bullshit assumptions

We all have a story to tell

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This will be a relatively personal post about my recent surgery and the events that led up to it.  I feel like it’s kinda important to share this because there are definitely other women out there dealing with a similar decision and all the feelings that go along with it.  I want to discuss the time before surgery, the thought process that led to it, the events after surgery, and the feelings I’ve experienced.

I had surgery on Thursday.  The surgery.  I finally had a tubal ligation.  At 32, I’ve known for well over a decade that I don’t want kids.  My ex-husband had a vasectomy so it wasn’t a thing I previously had to worry about.  More recently I realized this was necessary.  Since my divorce I’ve been on birth control a few times and I hate it.  I hate anything that messes with my hormones.  This most recent time I gained twenty pounds that I can’t seem to lose in spite of being a relatively active person, regular trips to the gym, and eating somewhat decent (no worse than I had before).  Not only did I gain weight, but birth control really fucked with my mental health.  It wasn’t worth it anymore.

I’ve obviously known for a while that I don’t want kids.  My sweetheart, at 26, has known for over a decade that he also doesn’t want kids.  His opinion is obviously important to me not only because we’re together, but I really see myself spending the rest of my life with him.  He’s absolutely amazing, he’s everything I’ve wanted, and I want him to be happy with these decisions, too.  We’re in this together.

The time leading up to the surgery was quite stressful.  I worked a shit ton, right up until the day I had surgery.  Given that I’m off work for two weeks to recover, I wanted to pack in whatever hours I could since there will obviously be no overtime pay while I’m off.

The day of surgery went well.  A friend brought Jake and I to the hospital.  She had to leave for a little bit, so it was just Jake and I in the hospital room beforehand.  He thankfully encouraged me to take the anti-anxiety med they offered, saying it’s helped him before his previous surgeries.  Given this was my first surgery ever, I was nervous as hell.  Not only that, but the conversation became sensitive.  My gynecologist walked into the room and asked if I was sure I wanted to do this.  Of course I was.  After she left Jake asked if I was sure.  We both teared up.  I hadn’t let myself really feel any emotions around the decision I was making until right before the surgery, and that’s a hell of a time to feel it.  I got my anxiety med, Jake and I said our “I love you’s”, and they wheeled me to the operating room.  I was out before I knew it.

My surgery went well.  While I was in recovery my gynecologist talked to Jake and shared pictures of the endometriosis they discovered while operating.  I’d always suspected I had this but doctors were never able to diagnose it until now.  She told Jake that even if I’d wanted to become pregnant it would have been really difficult.  He was very happy with how thorough she was.  So am I.  This was only the second time I’ve seen her, and I’m glad she took good care of me and was so open with Jake.  The hospital staff were great, too, though I wish there’d been more follow up about what the hell I’m supposed to do for recovery.  I had general written instructions, but they didn’t say anything about this tape over my incisions so I had to call and ask when I can take it off.  It’s driving me nutty.  I keep it on for a week.  I’m beginning to wonder if I even have stitches.

I found out as I was coming to that I’d been cathed during the surgery.  I had no idea this was a thing that would be done.  Ouch.  Thankfully I wasn’t too sore from that, only a little stinging.  It still would have been nice to know given that’s a personal area.  Don’t know about you all, but I like to know exactly what’s going to be done to me when I’m not awake.  It’s my body, dammit.

When I was wheeled back to the hospital room from the operating room, I saw my sweetie, and I saw my friend with her adorable, happy little five month old.  What a welcome sight.  Needless to say I was feeling a little emotional as the anesthesia wore off, and the sight of a happy baby was enough to melt away some of the emotional discomfort I was experiencing.  I was immediately hungry and thirsty and was given snacks, water, and juice (and initially ice cubes) to help.  Nice since I also got some Norco, which always makes me feel sick (I hate acetaminophen).

My recovery has gone well.  Much less painful than expected, even with getting my period the day before surgery (sorry if TMI, but it’s pretty relevant to me right now).  I was up and about the day of my surgery.  Probably shouldn’t have been as much as I was.  Jake had to (lovingly) scold me a few times for picking up something I’d dropped.  I know, I’m stubborn.  Every day has gotten a little easier.  I go for small walks every day to speed my recovery, keep my digestive tract happy, and to stay healthy.  And to avoid going completely stir crazy, which is admittedly becoming a challenge.  Though I’m not supposed to drive for a week after surgery, we went to a local coffee place yesterday.  I justified it by saying I had to drive Jake to work this morning.

Something unexpected has come up since my surgery.  Maybe I should have expected it, but I didn’t.  Both of us became emotional over this decision.  The finality of it hit us both the day of my surgery.  Among other feelings.  After we came home, we talked about all the reasons we knew that having kids wouldn’t be good for us.  We talked about everything we want to do together and how kids would make it impossible.  We talked about how expensive it is to have kids and how difficult it can be to get by without that extra expense.  We talked about all the sleep we wouldn’t want to lose, the patience we’d inevitably run out of, the sacrifices we wouldn’t be ready to make.  And we talked about how if we ever change our minds, there are so many kids waiting to be adopted and that would be more ethical than bringing another life into this overpopulated, crazy world.

All of that said, it’s still been emotional.  I have a lot of regret over not treating it as a more spiritual process.  I regret not meditating over it beforehand, acknowledging a deeply feminine (and dare I say creative) aspect of myself, of womanhood, that I was about to give up.  I never really anticipated having these feelings, especially because I’ve felt so strongly about this for so long.  If nothing else it signifies the importance of looking at such decisions with an open  mind.  It’s okay to feel strongly about something while still acknowledging certain aspects of it that may or may not make you “doubt” your decision.  Or, maybe even better put, it’s okay to acknowledge vulnerabilities.

Before and after the surgery, I’ve had people asking what I was going to get done.  Some said they were okay if I told them it was none of their business, and some didn’t.  People I don’t really know at all have asked what I had done.  And I’ve felt incredibly hesitant to tell them what.  Why?  I think it’s because I’m tired of being judged for (being a woman) that doesn’t want kids.  I’ve been called selfish.  I’ve been told I’ll change my mind.  I’ve gotten the awkward silence.  I hate this shit.  I’m hardly a selfish person.  I value my independence, but I’m not selfish.  There is a difference and this culture needs to figure it out.  As much as I wrestle with the implications of my surgery, it DOES NOT make me less of a woman now that I can’t have kids.  In spite of this little voice in my mind that asks, “what if you’d had kids instead?”, I still don’t want them.

So I’m trying to learn that it’s okay to be open.  While I don’t owe anyone an answer or an explanation, there is also absolutely no reason that I should be afraid to admit I don’t want kids, just like people who want kids aren’t afraid to admit that they do.  So what?  It’s my life and I’ll live it how I want.  No one is hurting because of my decision.  If anything I should be proud of making a decision for myself that went against what this culture expects of me, and in spite of the guilt trips I’ve received from certain people close to me.  I did what I knew was right for me, and I have an amazing life partner who stands by me and supports me.  What else could I ask for?  Lots of rest, relaxation, love, and introspection.  That’s really all I need.

Thanks as usual for reading.  As always, I hope that this has helped give another perspective or offered support to someone who’s been through this or who is contemplating it.

Stop.  Stop your thinking and focus on what you know, not what you perceive to be true.  Perceptions lie.  I can say this because I know first hand how faulty perceptions can fuck up relationships, opportunities, experiences, life itself.  I’m still learning how to give others the benefit of the doubt, and I’m learning how to handle my thoughts when they’re a runaway train.  We’re only human.

Maybe you have a specific diagnosis that alters your perception of reality.  Maybe you’ve been through hell in your life with a variety of people who you love(d) and they somehow wronged you, so now you think everyone you’re close to is trying to hurt you.  I obviously can’t speak to your specific set of circumstances.  Maybe you do have a lot of very unhealthy people in your life.  But maybe you’ve also learned to perceive things in the worst way possible as a defense mechanism.  Maybe pushing people away to avoid getting more hurt is how you protect yourself.

But let me ask you this: how is this really helping you?  Be honest.  Is it really doing you any good?  If you have isolated (or nearly isolated) yourself, do you truly feel happy this way?  Do you feel like there’s constant conflict whenever you interact with others?  Do you find it useful to rehash events from years ago, decades ago?  Do you find it helpful to be so stuck in your own head that it’s difficult to understand how anyone could think or feel or be any other way than the way you perceive them?  Are other people allowed to be just as human and imperfect as you know you are?  I say this because I know you’re an intelligent person.  I hope that deep down you know it, too.  You know your faults.  It’s possible you know them better than anyone else.  But there may be some you just won’t admit because it might just shatter the illusion that you have a damn good reason to pretend you’re an island.

You know you’re strong.  Deep down, I know you know this.  You don’t have to go through this alone.  You may hurt those who love you because it helps you feel better.  It perpetuates your (now comfortable) loneliness, pain, depression.  But please know this: just because these states are comfortable doesn’t mean they’re okay.  It doesn’t mean they’re not damaging.  Don’t be friends with the things that hurt you.  Please.

Get help.  You’re not as alone as you think you are.  You’re never too old, too young, too poor, too busy, or whatever.  Unless you’re literally in the middle of fucking nowhere, or you live in a shithole of a town, city, country, etc., there are resources.  And even then…if you’re reading this then clearly you’re on the internet.  There are online support groups and pages.  There are phone numbers you can call.  There are places that will work with you.  You just need to reach out.  Your life isn’t over until you decide it’s over.  But it’s a fucking tragedy to pretend you’re dead when you’re still breathing.  You owe it to yourself to get the help you need and deserve as long as you’re alive.  It can only help.

 

Yes, this post is incredibly pointed.  But I hope it can inspire at least a few.  I know what it’s like to feel alone, even when I’m not.  I know what it’s like to have regret.  I understand contemplating suicide and even coming up with a detailed plan, even when “logical” mind doesn’t understand why I’m thinking such thoughts.  I understand what it’s like to come up with a detailed plan when it feels like the only logical decision left.  I understand what it feels like to hit “rock bottom”, even if my version of that is different from yours.  I survived.  I plan to survive some more.  It’s not easy, but it’s a decision I needed to make.  Survival is a decision.  I might not have had the same experiences as you.  I may be a different race, sex, gender, or age as you.  None of that means my experiences or feelings have less value.

I understand the energy dedicated to feeling like absolute fucking shit.  Depression isn’t a choice.  Nor is anxiety, or BPD, or bipolar, etc.  But how you choose to handle it is…well, a choice.  Take back whatever control you have, and use whatever will, hard-headedness, etc., you have left and use it for good.

 

It’s been a while

Rest assured, all is well. Life is life, the usual struggles continue (working too much, job drama, trying to pay bills, that kinda shit).

I continue on my path. I’m a different person than I used to be. I’m still me, but I’ve grown a lot. I’m happily with the love of my life. I can finally say that I am at home.

Nonetheless, this time of the year brings some things from my past to the forefront of my mind. Grief is a process and what can I say, this time of year holds some not so happy anniversaries.

So I share a song. It’s cathartic. There’s a story behind it and why it’s cathartic, it dates to over a decade ago. But I still played it a lot when things ended. You can still love someone from your past, but as a friend now. You can grieve the loss of an old love, an old life, a previous future you envisioned. You can be with the man you want to spend the rest of your life with and grieve the one you spent nearly half of your life with, who you thought you’d always be with. You can grieve transitions. Losses. What was. Not because I wish it still was. But because it mattered and it still matters. Because it was real. Because so much changed. Because it hurt so bad. Because it changed me forever, and it changed them, too. Because it shaped who I am, for better or worse. Because this is life in all it’s beautiful, bittersweet, messy glory.

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=UEW8riKU_tE&feature=share

Shifting thoughts

I’m tired. This is no secret to anyone who knows me. I’m always going. Good things are happening in life, but there’s still a deep sadness and anxiety that doesn’t leave. I’m convinced it’s partially because I work so much. I’m convinced it’s also med shit: birth control and experimenting with this antidepressant that was once effective and hardly is at all anymore.

Sometimes I get stuck. Stuck in feeling like this won’t end, that I’ll always feel this way. I’ll always have to work like this. I’ll never get a break. And the number of white hairs on my head keep growing just to show how tired I am.

But what good does this thought process do? Maybe it’s accurate, but maybe not. Last time I started to get stuck I reminded myself that I’m a fighter and I won’t go down easy. Feels like another day to shift to that thinking. I’m a fighter and a survivor. And to repeat the wisdom of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, it’s not just about surviving but also thriving. I’m learning what that means for me. I can do this. Getting there is a process but I’m on my way. And so are you.

I see the potential irony in writing this today, given it’s the anniversary of a break up a year ago.  It took me a while to get over him, but once I finally let myself do that a whole world opened up.  My life has changed so much in a year.  I’m not lost.  I’m still figuring some things out, but I’m definitely not lost.  I’ve learned what it means to enjoy solitude.  Silence.  Art in various forms.  I’ve learned to be more firm, more confident (my job at the hospital has really helped with this).  I’ve grown wiser.  Also a bit more jaded, but wiser.  I’ve experienced more loss, and I’ve cultivated new friendships and grown others.

I’ve found love.  I didn’t think I’d find it again, especially a love like this.  This is special.  And sure, maybe we all say that when we first fall in love.  I know I’ve said it before.  And at the time and in their own ways, those loves were special.  But this one is different.  It’s different in a few ways.  To start, it’s always been long distance.  We met online in January of 2017 (not through a dating site either, but an introvert group where we were both looking for friends).  We were acquaintances for quite some time.  We talked at first but drifted apart until shortly before Claudia’s death.  Being an animal lover, a huge marshmallow, and very empathetic, he reached out to offer support.  It grew from there.  I expected nothing, I wasn’t looking for anything, but it happened.  Our first conversation over video chat, I immediately felt comfortable with him.  It’s hard to explain, but I felt like I knew him very closely already.  We have such similar mannerisms, expressions, passions, the list goes on.  He felt familiar.  The longer we talked and the more deeply we grew to know each other, the more the feelings grew.  He feels like home.  Not just home in the sense of a place I go to feel comfortable , safe, and where I can rest.  But also in an old, familiar way.  Parts of myself I’d let die, I’m finding back.  Dreams I’d given up on I’m starting to realize again.  Simple things I’ve thought about doing that have always felt homey, he wants to do these things to.  The kind of places we want to be.  It’s hard to put words to some of these things, but the feelings are there.  He’s opened up a whole new word of possibilities for me.

We’ve been through some similar things.  He understands me on so many levels.  Even though I explain my thoughts or feelings, there’s really no need to.  He completely gets it, and when he explains himself first I feel like he’s speaking my thoughts.  We say the same things at the same time.  We really, really know each other.  I’m not a religious person but I’m spiritual, and I feel that side of me growing.  Our spirituality is definitely similar, and I’m starting to see more and more beauty in everything.  Little things.  I’m finding meaning where meaning had been lost.  I have so, so much hope.  I’m going through some of my own personal shit lately, but still.  This is right.  I know it’s right.  I have so many hopes and dreams for us that I won’t even get into here.  But I just *know* deep down how things will be.  I can’t wait.

One thing that’s been a little difficult is that some people don’t understand.  I get that it stems from a place of concerns, and I don’t really even blame them.  In their place I’d very likely feel the same.  I can’t expect people to understand when they’ve never spoken to him, when they haven’t experienced his honesty, openness, or his essence the way I have.  At the same time, I’ve been through some tough shit and I know what I want and don’t want.  I’m not a child, and I’m not completely naive.  I’ve changed a lot.  I kinda miss my innocence that I used to have.  But I also know I couldn’t find a love like this, least of all be prepared for it, if I was who I used to be.  There’s a reason we only recently started talking again even though we’ve been connected online since a year and a half ago.  We both needed to live more life.  And here we are.

Someone told me today that it was okay if other people didn’t understand.  If we have a rare connection and I know what’ll make me happy, seize it because time is precious.  Every day matters.

A few weeks ago he got me a plane ticket.  More recently he reserved a moving truck.  In three weeks we’ll meet.  I fly to meet him and we road trip home.  Us and his cats.  And his music.  We’re going to listen to so much music and share so many stories.  And maybe stream some episodes of some of my favorite radio shows (he doesn’t know that yet but is about to :P)  We’re going to see new places together.  I’m going to be with the man who has my heart and whose soul is connected to mine in a way I can’t really put words to.  It’s a thing I can’t explain, but I feel it and I know it.

I can’t wait.  I can’t wait to be together.  I can’t wait to share my life with someone I feel like I’ve known forever but haven’t met.  I can’t wait for him to meet my family and friends.  I can’t wait to finally visit his home town (hopefully later this year) and meet his family.  I can’t wait to go back to his current home at the end of September for concerts and to meet his friends.  I can’t wait for so much.  We all have our shit, and we’ve shared some of our biggest mistakes with each other.  We’re not perfect, but he’s perfect for me.  I’m going to be that person who rants for a little while about how fucking happy and excited I am.  I can’t make anyone understand, but I at least want people to know what he means to me and to trust that I know what I’m doing.  Three more weeks.  I didn’t want to keep this to myself anymore.  I want to share him.  I want to share how full my heart is and how unbelievably blessed I feel.  I absolutely cannot wait.

all I want

all I want is to breathe

to exhale

not to have the wind knocked out of me over and over again

to exhale because I feel safety

security

and peace

something I always long for and think I’ve found but I’m always wrong

so much changes so fast

so much can go wrong so quickly

I feel like I can’t keep up

all I want is to be seen

really seen

for someone to know I’m struggling and to ask how they can help me

to try not to make it worse

to really see how unwell I am and how much I fake it to get by

all I want is to be appreciated, to not be taken for granted

I’m tired of feeling like my efforts aren’t enough

and I wonder what it’ll take for others to see that I am human, too

I hurt, I am not okay as I pretend to be, I am not a means to an end, I deserve respect

and I wonder what it’ll take for me to escape this rat race

I wonder when my heart will be broken again

I ached with so much longing before, how different everything would be in so many avenues of this life

but it’s always the same

and all I want is for someone to understand

to take my hand, to gently hold my heart, to take me as I am

so I can finally rest my mind, my body, my heart

and breathe