Aaargh, sympathy.

It’s not maybe the unpalatable truth that I’ve been skirting around thinking about all weekend, but I have realised this morning that I suck at sympathy. I really really suck at it. Not in being sympathetic or giving out sympathy, I think I do pretty well at that. But receiving. I run a mile from receiving sympathy.

The trigger for this revelation?  I got a card in the post. It’s in reply to the card I sent last week when I was trying momentarily to “man” up to my problems and apologise to someone for letting them down and then going all radio silence (my usual modus oporandi).  I put a note in, this little gem, in the card.  So, of course I’m going to get a reply of some sort, unless the person I sent the card to is completely heartless, which they aren’t.

I don’t know what the card says though. I have opened it. I peeked in, upside down, from the back (yes, I am the kind of person who literally hides behind the sofa when Dr Who is on) and confirmed that it is from who I think it is. But I cannot bring myself to read it.

I’m trying to process why. Why is it so hard to hear someone being nice to me.  I keep coming back to how it reminds me of the thing I hated most about being pregnant. It was n’t the tiredness, or the uncomfortableness sleeping. I didn’t really get morning sickness (sorry), I didn’t mind, giving up alcohol, kicking my lame part time smoking habit to the touchline, or being the size of a house. I minded the intrusion. The fact that everyone knew I was pregnant (well, after a certain point) and thought that they could talk to me about this, like they knew me.  I wasn’t ashamed of them knowing I was pregnant, but that didn’t mean I wanted people I barely knew to discuss it with me. The fact that it took over other peoples view of me, reducing me to a mother-to-be and erasing all other parts of my personality. The fact that I was expected to be excited about it and want to talk about it at all times. Sheez, I mean I was excited, just not on a constant state of excitement for nine months solid, that would be exhausting and make me more than a bit unhinged.

So what do I think will be in this card that makes me so reluctant to read it? I’m pretty sure they’re not going to be horrible, so I’m not catastrophising this. But I feel raw and exposed just thinking about reading it. The feels man, I can’t cope with all the feels. It’s too much. Too much fuss as my mum would say. She hates people fussing over her. I’m thinking maybe this is a sensory overload, aspie, type thing going on here. Which is going to lead me down the sidetrack of where to place myself on the spectrum.

But I wonder if also this is part of the problem in talking about all the shit that is going on with other people. Because I have been spectacularly rubbish at talking about all the things I probably need to talk about with other people. I don’t really feel able to tell anyone because I can’t cope with how the conversation will go. Hence this blog. Sometimes I can talk to my husband, but there are complications with that, especially when he’s been ill too.

Which brings me to, I dunno, another side track, a branchline, a conclusion, an action, whatever. I have been thinking about trying to find a counsellor/therapist again. One in the goldilocks zone. Not too Lovely But Just Lets Me Talk About The First Thing On My Mind And This Feels Like There’s No Direction, like the one I paid for. And not too CBT By Numbers Not Listening To My Answers Cos She’s Already Decided What I Will Be Saying, like the one I got through the NHS Anxiety service. Trouble is, I have no idea how to find such a person. So I need to add it to my to do list. Which is in a state of disaray as I have been in full on life avoidance radio silence mode for a while and I’m not sure I can even go there right now.

So. Well.  I have brain dumped. And now I will read another chapter of a book (and that is a story for another day). And then I will sort the washing out. And maybe, while I do all that, my subconsious will work it all out for me.

Advice or Query?

So, you may well not be au fait with the little red pamphlet of thorniness that is known to all British Quakers as Advices and Queries.  It is not a book of answers, oh no, it is not full of certainty or platitudes. Rather they are meant to be seen as a source of challenge and inspiration.

Today I found Number 11, which starts like so.

Be honest with yourself. What unpalatable truths might you be evading?  When you recognise your shortcomings, do not let that dissuade you.

(The rest of it uses language that may well confuse non Quakers, and a implies a certainty of faith in God that doesn’t reflect my experience, hence the partial quote).

Hmm, looks like I have some homework/discernment/thinking to do then.  The first part seems hard enough. The second part might just be the killer. (Except, of course, I’m not supposed to do it on my own, I have just omitted that part of the advice.  And herein lies part of the problem).

By Way of Explanation

Depression and anxiety are terrible things.  You think that you’ve left them behind and then all of a sudden they blindside you and you’re back with them again.

When they hit me I shutdown, I go into firefighting mode, I focus on my children, on feeding them and washing up and all the day to stuff. Everything else, the bills, emails, telephone calls gets pushed to the wayside and piles up.

Then, when I start to feel a little better, I peek out at the wreckage of my life and feel overwhelmed, unsure where to start. Sometimes it tips me back into anxiety. Sometimes I ignore it until I feel stronger. Either way, the longer I leave it, the worse I feel, the more ashamed, the guilt grows and knaws at me. It’s a terrible coping strategy and one I’m trying to change.

Late

What do you do when your child just doesn’t get ready in the morning. They don’t scream, or shout, they show no sign of concern about being late, they just ignore you and read a book?

What do you do when your child, finally nearly ready, oh so late,  sits there looking at their shoes and says that putting them on makes them feel cold?

What do you write in the reason column in the “not that late book, that only goes up to a certain time, can I ask you to write in this one” late book, for why your child is at school an hour late?

What do you do when he then sits on your knee in the office, snuggling, holding you, not speaking, not moving, while school life goes on around you?

What is the right thing to do?

 

Visit

Ah Anxiety/Avoidence/Withdrawl/Depression welcome back my old friend. I wasn’t expecting you. But I’m  not surprised that you’ve called by. After all, now that you’re here, I remember that I don’t really deserve any better.

I so do not like modern technology

I discovered a new thing to add up to my Ways in Which I’m Fucked Up List this evening. Video calls. Who’d’ve thunk it. Actually, considering my sporadic issues with answering the phone and  my ongoing inability to watch anything with more personal content than an archaelogy documentary without at some point sticking my fingers in my ears/ shutting my eyes/ leaving the room,  it was kind of predictable with hindsight. Bloody hindsight.

Not sure that would’ve helped anyway.

There I was, on the sofa, merrily using an e reader app on my laptop to read a book, when my laptop made a horrible, insistant, sound that I’d never heard it make before. Slightly freaked I bashed at keys trying to work out what was going on and I realised that my sister-in-law was trying to connect a video call via facebook messenger. The sister in law that never seems to use facebook, is now using it in a function I don’t know existed. I fumble my way through some Grant Your Camera Permission type screen in time to see that she has hung up.

A nice, calm, short, text based interaction confirms that she was in fact trying to see if they could contact us that way. I  let her know I’m going to extract my husband from bedtime and we’ll call back. I know I need my husband for this somehow, anyway, it’s his brother.

I go upstairs and settle a slightly hyper girl and in the middle of some random new ritual involving 17 teddy bears, and then go and try and extract my husband from The Boy’s room. The Boy is feeling clingy and has inveigled The Man into his bed and is lying there wide awake not looking like he’ll settle any time soon. I tell The Man that  I need his help with something and he manages to get away a couple of minutes later.

I explain the situation, press the call back function, suddenly realise I can’t do this. I. Can’t. Do. This. So I mthrust the laptop at him muttering something like “I can’t do a video call, I can’t talk with myself on the screen” and scarper.

It turns out that was not enough of a chat to explain.

He keeps trying to get me to come and sit next to him on the sofa and look at our baby niece and join in the conversation. He tells me he’s changed the view so we can only see there end now.  I have no way of saying to him with my brother in law and his wife listening that I simply cannot do this.  I lurk nervously outside the room, pacing. In answer  to questions thrown my way about a planned trip I grab the calender and throw it around the door at him, then I go and wash up. With the door shut (I nevr shut the kitchen door). Washing up is good. Washing up is calming.

Feeling a bit calmer, I make it back to the living room and sit on the floor, facing my husband, eyes closed, fingers in ears, trying to remember to breathe. I manage to take one hand away from my ear and make a fist and put it on my head, hoping that he knows the symbol I learned as a teenager that means “I’m invisible, behave as if I’m not here” (yup, I did some minor forays into Live Roleplaying in my youth). Surely that has cropped up in our 20 years together. Surely.

I start to relax a little. I open my eyes. I look at him. I reach out my foot so it’s on the edge of the sofa. He squeezes it, not giving my position away. I can do this. I just have to keep breathing. In a minute I’ll be able to take my fingers out of my ears. He turns the laptop screen around, I panic, but he’s just showing them the dog, not me. Still, my anxiety rate has shot back up.

Then he talks to me, and of course they can hear at the other end, asking me to sit next to him and see our niece on the screen. He doesn’t understand after all. I feel paniced, betrayed that he’s given my position away. I know  this is illogical, that nothing bad can happen, but that is knowledge is not taking my panic away, and the thought of my in laws knowing how crazy I’m behaving is making everything worse.

I run from the room. Go up to my room. Lie face down on the bed in the dark, dry sobbing. Goddammit I can’t even cry properly. I can’t distract myself with my book, he has the laptop. Or noodle online.  I check the bedroom, his tablet isn’t here, that’ll be with him downstairs then. I try and think what might calm me down, I could phone my friend, I have a landline phone here, only her number is on my mobile in the living room.

I feel paniced, anxious, stupid, ashamed.

It passes. Of course it passes. I even manage not to yell at him when he’s finished talking and comes to explain how everything was ok, that I needn’t have woried. He explains, like he did downstairs, that he’d minimized the image we were sending, that I wouldn’t have had to see it. I explain that I knew that and it was still a problem. And I manage, somehow, to gently remind him that he knows what a panic attack feels like and logic doesn’t help when you’re having one.

So now, I’m processing my latest crazy. Alone in my room. Wondering what my in-laws think of me. Mulling over how Asperger’s ish this behaviour is.

Happy Fucking Valentine’s Day.

 

 

Facing Facts

This week has been, well, pretty grotty. Not terrible, not dramatic, but not exactly wonderful either. I feel like I’ve been firefighting and I thought I was getting away with it until today when I got the phonecall about a meeting I didn’t show up to. Not a meeting for me, no, that would be too easy.  A meeting where I was supposed to be helping someone else, another parent having a hard time, and I had completely and utterly forgotten about it. And the guilt hit me head on like a truck.

I briefly wallowed in self pity. Then I tried running away (well, into town, chatting to the nice stall holders at the farmers market, same difference). Then I tried justifying to myself why it was not my fault I’d done this. Going over all  the rubbish things that had happened this week that had led to this almighty fuck up. I thought I was being compassionate, not beating myself up for an honest mistake. Then, bam, I got hit again. This time with a phrase I said to my daughter this morning, that can straight back into my mind and reverberated between my ears. When I was trying to talk to her about something she’d done wrong and she was too busy explaining all the things her brother had done wrong to listen to me, I said “if you don’t admit to yourself what you’ve done wrong, you won’t learn to make better choices next time”.

Shit, that was what I was doing. Blaming others, pointing out their mistakes and flaws to myself rather than facing up to my own failings.

I started trying to compose a post in my head, but every which way I tried what was supposed to be about what I had done wrong, started turning into a list of other things that had gone wrong to justify it. However much I tried, the order of the words swapped around (“because of X, I did Y”, “I did Y, because of X”), but the blame shifting continued.

So, I think I have now, finally, got to a point now where I can say, without justification, that my behaviour has been less than stellar this week. My main issue, was downloading an e reader onto my laptop. A fairly harmless crime you might think, but I’ve always been a binge reader and spending a few days obsessively reading a trilogy into the wee small hours has been pretty selfish with knock on effects for everyone. Yes, a bit of escapism is good the soul, especially when things are a bit tough,  but when the morning routine is being a problem for the whole family, struggling to drag yourself out of bed from lack of sleep as you were reading until 3am is not a good place to be in. When tempers are frayed and boundaries are being pushed, having constant background headaches from accumulative lack of sleep is distinctly not a good idea. When the housework is taking longer than usual (one of the issues we have is being without a working boiler at present, and the no hot water aspect of this is a real drag), sitting in bed reading a book rather than cracking on with it doesn’t help. And when you’re feeling frustrated at (fairly minor) communication issues with your partner, turning all your attention to a screen and blocking them out isn’t wise.

In short, I, A is for, have been rather selfish this week.

I’m quite pleased that I have got to the point of admitting that, of being able to write it without a how list of justifications why it’s not my fault. It feels like it has to be the first step to moving on. That I’m finally getting somewhere.

The next step is still proving a little elusive. OK, the “stop reading all the time” step is pretty obvious, but how to discuss this issue with  my other half is a little harder. I think I’m ready to say sorry and fess up, it feels like the right thing to do, but I’m wary that the answer might well be along the lines of “yes, you have been selfish” with a possible extra list of things I’ve done wrong that I’d omitted to mention. That has been known to happen in the past. And I’m pretty sure that will just make me cross and lash out, with my own list of failings for him in return, just like I have in the past.  The thing is, what I want is a “sorry, I’ve been less than stellar too” response of some description, but that’s not how it works is it. It’s not really saying sorry if what you actually want is to trade apologies. Sorry should come with no strings attached.

So, maybe, instead of saying sorry, I just need to say that I’m aware of my failings and that I’m going to try and change them. And maybe I need to say it to the whole family, which will make it less personal than a one on one with my other half.

I haven’t finished working out the details yet, but I do feel that I’m starting to get somewhere. And then maybe I can face that big lurking stack of guilt in my head, rather than shutting it away to lurk in my brain and stoke my anxiety in future.