Wednesday, February 27, 2013

what i learned from abby

abby was my dog.

i had her for a short time.

the time she was here was intense, hard, and emotional.
abby!

it started saturday. s and i were having lunch. i was hemming and hawing about my life and the things i am or 'might-maybe' commit to doing. something you must know about s is she always has pen and paper with her at the ready. she said, "let's make a list : what are your three big maybe's that end up being 'i won't's'" and so we listed them - number three - dog. which s pointed out is g o d spelled backwards. it was decided that we would go look at petco for a dog. and we did. the first one didn't have any dogs.

so we tried a second one. and there she was. at the very end. and when i read her name 'abby' and saw her i felt a 'click' - get abby. and before i knew what had happened - seriously ask my close friends they'll tell you it was a shocking experience - abby was in my arms and i was her owner.

i opted to phone a friend. in this case my brother. who happens to work at a vet hospital and is AMAZING with animals. *ring*ring*ring* no answer = frantic text 'i own a dog! help me!' immediate call back. what do you want me to do? he asks. i want you to come here i say. s and i quoted that for the rest of the day :) he comes, checks her out, gives her the ok, s goes home, me and my brother c go to wal-mart abby stays in the car and we get the essentials for her.

don't forget that this is an anxious girl writing the story. an anxious girl who loves dogs and was tired of being lonely and had an idea of pet therapy in her mind that was unrealistic and who had never owned a dog before. so it wasn't just anybody shopping at wal-mart. she was thankfully well medicated but working at the highest anxiety level she has been at for a long - long time. and when that happens her adrenal glands work over time and she never reaches a sense of calm or rest.

tell me what to do and what to buy i say to c. i would like to make this note :: NOTE :: i worry about money constantly - but this experience was a learning experience and you cannot put a price on learning. it also involved the life of another and that also cannot have a price put on it. (this is what i tell myself when my anxious brain remembers bills, phones, computers, rocking chairs, hair colorings, and other things i spend my money on - breathing)

so he tells me and i buy and we go home. and abby is sweet and snuggly. she is a terrier mix and a good small/middle size. she curls up in a ball. she is easily frightened. so i held her in petco, in the parking lot waiting for c to come, in the car, and carried her up and down the stairs to my house. (hoohaa to her and me for mastering the stairs in one day :) don't leave me i say to c - i don't know what to do with her. and the truth is i really didn't. see, i was told abby was 'potty trained' but that wasn't exactly the case. and it was a new environment and i assumed she would know being a year old that when i took her outside she would go. well, she didn't know. and she went in my house. a few times. i love the carpet in my house. it was one of the main selling points. and so it was hard for me to see it 'accidented' on. i didn't yell. and i used all of my little knowledge to teach her outside and no and potty. but she was skittish and stayed by my feet when we were outside, which was sweet but also frustrating.

that first night was rough. for both of us. she wanted to sleep with me and i wanted a bed buddy but i'm a tosser - just ask my friends c and k from the girls' trip - i'm crazy in my sleep, and my sweet abby thought every time i moved it was time to wake up and play. well it wasn't. i take heavy medications at night to help calm my anxiety and calm me but i had raised levels of anxiety and so was staying on high alert. that caused me to drift in and out of a light sleep all night. abby also cried and it breaks.my.heart. to hear animals cry. so she went from my bed to her kennel to my bed a few times and i drifted in and out of strange dreams. i believe the two of us also stumbled out into the night at 4 am for a potty break - she didn't go but i suppose it was the thought that counted - and i was of course in my night gown without a coat.

the next day was sunday. i left her two different times. she did ok in her kennel no accidents in there - to my knowledge - but had accidents in the house. at this point i had my first break down. what was i doing? i had no idea how to do this! i cried and cried on facetime to my sister b. and to my parents. why didn't she understand - outside = potty. i had this idea of how it was going to go and it was not going that way.

before i knew it it was night again. i was still sore, stiff and exhausted from the night before so i really wasn't ready for what was coming. i would like to add at this point that i am a frequent prayer but got some serious frequent prayer miles while abby was with me! i prayed and put her in her kennel and turned on a noise maker in my room so i wouldn't hear the crying just barking if she really needed me. she barked once at 1 am and i got her out let her know i loved her but it was still night time and she got a drink and went back in her kennel then i didn't hear from her until 9:30 - progress. we spent the morning in and out of the house - i was desperately trying to teach her what outside potty meant and researching and calling people.

afternoon came and it was time for me to go to work. i had been anxious about it all day. scared of leaving her. i felt guilty and bad about putting her back in her kennel. i knew she had to go to the bathroom. even though we had been out a lot that day she hadn't used the restroom and i watched her like a hawk in the house, so she hadn't gone inside either. i put her in and had plans to come back a few hours later.

well, my few hours turned a little longer. some of my patients were late and i had to run an errand ironically for ms abby and of course have another melt down and when i got home i could hear her barking and crying from downstairs. it was dark when i got home and i hadn't thought to turn a light on.

the smell hit me like a ton of bricks. she did the only thing she knew to do. go pee and poo in her kennel. i started balling and took her immediately to my bathroom to give her a bath. she was thrilled to see me and did all sorts of tricks and was just as happy as could be but i was heart broken. i knew i could not take anymore of the pee and poo, i didn't have time to train her, i had less free/home time than i thought, and my freedom and peace of mind in leaving my home was important to me.

i cleaned her up and called my parents who came to my rescue. i cleaned her kennel and she used the restroom a few more times on the floor so i just followed her around sobbing and cleaning up with resolve. i don't know how to describe my feelings about the situation and what was going through my mind. panic and knowledge that this was not my time of life for a dog. i called a dear friend, st, who has 3 dogs and asked if she would dog sit abby for the night. i knew i couldn't listen to her cry another night. st was so kind and gentle with me. she was completely understanding and loving as she listened, validated, and heard what i had to say. she took abby for the night and i went to stay with my parents.
i loved when she would do this

the next day my mom and sister took abby back to the shelter where i bought her from as i had to work when it was open. there was more anxiety involved but i'm amazed at what medicine can do.

my counselor, shane, has talked a lot to me about shame gremlins. they are nasty little boogers that get on your back and tell you every negative thing about you that you can't do right and will never be able to do right now or ever. they bring up your failures and shortcomings and remind you of everything you hate most about yourself all the time. these shame gremlins often keep you so terrified that you don't let your true, authentic real self show. instead you cower to these monsters and let them walk all over you.

my shame gremlins have been rearing their ugly heads over this whole abby experience. 'you can't even keep plants alive; how did you think you were going to keep a dog alive?' 'you're a full time job; how did you think you could keep up with a dog?' 'did you think this was going to be easy?' 'you gave up!' 'you will never be able to have a dog in your life.' and on and on they go - absolutely killing me.

but truth is stronger than shame. and the truth is - if you never try, you'll never know. if i never tried having abby i would never know that now is not the time for me to have her. i would never know that having a dog in an apartment is really difficult. that training a dog takes a lot of time at home which i don't have. that it's simply not my season for a dog, and that's ok. as i was talking with st she said, "you're still a dog person. your life will change and one day it'll be better for you to have a dog. i have had to take back a dog or two and it's hard but it's ok." and she's right.

my mom also said many encouraging words. abby and i hadn't bonded. i liked her a lot and i wanted to be with her but it was ok that things didn't work out. i knew when i heard her crying and when she had been sitting in her own filth for i don't know how long that i simply did not have it in me at this stage in my life to give this dog what she needed. she needed a lot of time, attention, and training. and when i am home i'm busy doing my own things and when i'm gone it's for long periods of time.

that was another thing, i never got any down time. when she was in the house i had to watch her and make sure she was not peeing or pooping. it was exhausting. i couldn't do anything without making sure she was within sight. i never got a break or a rest. in my mind she was to help me calm down and breathe.

i learned i don't have the time right now for a dog. i don't have the time to commit to training an animal. i thought i was home a lot, but i'm really not. i'm gone quite often and when i'm out i can't call her to say i'm getting stuff for her and will be home soon. it doesn't work that way.

i learned that i don't need to 'jump ahead' in my life and rush to where i think i should be. in the show how i met your mother ted buys a house. and they all accuse him of jumping ahead in his life and trying to be where he thinks he should be. well, i was kinda trying to do the same thing. now my shame gremlins will say i gave up and quit, but it simply wasn't the right timing.

i'm obsessed with some things. one of them happens to be smells. when i had my first seizure it was like suddenly because i was in such a vulnerable way my other senses were heightened. most especially smell. that hasn't changed. my house *must* smell like lavender comfort and vanilla febreze and my car must be lavender vanilla and all sprays must be the same. i don't use anything different. having abby here created a new smell. a dog smell. i was trying to adjust but it was really hard. especially the pee smell. i did not do well with that. in fact i got home from work today and spent two hours cleaning my home and making it smell the *right* way again.

anticipation = anxiety :: the anticipation of something (ex : getting a dog) is probably the worst part of having an anxiety disorder. anticipation brings many, many different outcomes. the more time i spend anticipating something the more my anxiety levels increase. there are too many variables when you anticipate the outcomes. and so when i saw abby it was easier to just pick her up and take her then to stop, think through, anticipate, and prepare a little. if i had done this 1) i probably wouldn't have gotten her and 2) i would've had a full blown anxiety attack in petco. maybe not a seizure but i would've needed xanax.

something huge that i learned is if you surround yourself with the right friends and your family you will always have support no matter what decision you make. i have found this to be true. keep abby, take her back. we are here for you. rachel, we are invested in you and your health and welfare and we want what is best for you. i have witnessed an outpouring of love and sincerity that has strengthened my love for friends/family. how grateful i am for them.

finally, ms abby reinforced a simply yet powerful lesson ::: clean your house frequently. it just makes you feel better.

i learned so much while she was here. it was a short time but it was my time to have an unexpected growing opportunity. i think where i am seeing the most growth though is now that she is gone and i am left with memories of what was. am i going to choose to be kind to myself? will i treat myself with the same mercy i would extend others in my situation? she was only with me for a while but i still have the right to grieve her being gone. 

she taught me so much and i must admit, 
i'm grateful for the unexpected learning life gives each of us.
me and my sweet abby

Thursday, February 21, 2013

tonight, i'm lonely.

and there are things i could've and probably should've done to make my evening less lonely but i didn't do them. so here i am.

i really do like living on my own. having space and freedom. but i get so damn lonely. s has mentioned to me a few times the idea of pet therapy and i really do want a dog. so badly. i just don't know how to go about getting the right one. my brother works for a vet hospital and could help me / come with me to pick one out but i want to adopt an older, house trained dog who is just the right size and temperament for me and there lies the problem. there is such a huge margin for error and it scares me and shuts me down. but to have a companion would be so comforting on long evenings like this.

i have a major crash between 4 and 6 PM everyday. if i'm home from work between that time and fall asleep - which has been happening lately - then i wake up later and have "energy" for the evening that i just don't know what to do with. often times my anxiety keeps me trapped in my house. i worry about going out and getting home at a reasonable time, spending the gas, what would i do, money, on and on. so it's just "easier" to sit and watch tv :( which is not what i want. i want a family. that's not exactly the season of life i'm in right now so at least a companion would be comforting.

i was talking to my mom about this the other day and she said, "what about a roommate?" um, no. not willing to do that to myself. i like other people. just not in my space. and i'm very attached to the idea of my space. so no.

being on the girls' trip and around baby M so much really stirred up my damn hormones and made my longings for a baby even more intense if that's possible - which apparently it is. and my sweet cousin j just had her baby t and t is SO CUTE! just one of the most precious babies i have ever seen. all this baby lovin' makes my arms ache. 


 what a bundle of baby perfection! baby t :)

being anxiously lonely is a confusing emotion. i hope it teaches me kindness and gentleness. will it help me be more appreciative of the time when i have a family of my own and babies to fill my arms? will it help me see others who are lonely and allow me to reach out to them?



Monday, February 18, 2013

road trip road trip! haha!

me, two of my best girlfriends and baby e took a road trip! it was so amazing to have some relaxing and fun time off of work and also to learn so much about myself. here is what i learned about me in no particular order :)

1 - i like traveling at 'baby speed.' and traveling with a 5 and a half month old that's what we had to do. it was perfect. as my friend c put it, "we do one activity in the morning and one activity in the afternoon and the rest of the time needs to be down/resting/relaxing time." this was so perfect for me. and i am tempted to say for my time in life, but let's be real, it's just who i am! i'm a slower person. i just enjoy an easier pace of life. i don't handle fast transitions easily or going from one thing to another well. a few things in a day is just right for me. so traveling with baby e forced us all to slow down a bit and i think enjoy our time a little more.




2 - this was another milestone trip in my life as it is one of the few vacation trips i have taken without family and the first where i didn't see or visit any family the whole time. success!



4 girls don't travel light :)

3 - if you're squeamish, you might want to jump to 4, cause i'm about to talk about constipation. yes, that's right, constipation. it's a real thing folks. for years i have not traveled well in that department. and this trip was no different. i was seriously hurting. why i didn't think to pack my amazing travel sized miralax will be forever a mystery. but it taught me two things a) never travel without miralax - trips go so much better when you're not constipated and b) always pack gas-x - because you may think it's embarrassing to carry that pouch of chewable tablets around but i promise farting in front of your friends is worse :)



my new pjs!

4 - i learned something cool about myself - something i've known but really know and trust now -- i'm funny! i'm really, really funny. i can make pretty much anything a joke and people around me love to laugh. i will do just about anything to make you laugh - yes even socially and politically incorrect things - and i have various voices i use to mimic people - just ask c and k. we had a real good time with a voice we named "rae-rae" .... she was pretty funny ---- and cray-cray!




valentine roses and a sunburn!

5 - i learned that traveling with the right people makes all the difference. these girls were amazing. one morning baby e and mommy c had had a rough night. we all got up and had breakfast than slooped back up to our room and somehow, unspoken but understood we put the do not disturb sign on the door, crawled back into our beds, and took a glorious 2 hour nap! it was what we all needed and it was wonderful! we explored and shopped, ate and drove, but we also took time to take care of our basic needs and the simple pleasures like food and rest. because of c and k and their personalities i was able to be very open, honest, authentic and real. this helped me a great deal.



me, baby e, and c at the alamo

6 - i drove for quite a bit of the trip and i learned that i really like to drive! which makes sense because in my line of work i drive every day. i also learned that my lead foot will bring trouble - ya we got pulled over .... there's good news and um news that makes me pissed - i just got a warning / i got pulled over for going 70 in a 65!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! oh that REALLY SERIOUSLY and SOUNDLY frosted my cookies!!! clearly officer diddly-do didn't have anything better to do on a nice sunday afternoon than scare the freaking crap out of me. so ya, i was thankful and pissed - which is a very strange and flavorful emotion. anyway, back to nicer things. i like driving and my sweet friends tolerated our 2 close calls, 1 loooooooong horn honk and multiple swear words from me with grace and charm - thanks girls :)



such a happy girl!

7 - i learned that nothing is so important a vacation can't happen. i've always felt funny and bad/guilty taking time off of work to go on a vacation, but i have discovered that having something to look forward to actually makes me a better therapist and coming home refreshed and re-energized also makes me a better therapist! therefore i decided that c, k, baby M and i should take monthly vacations! oh in a perfect world ...




us with buc-ee the beaver - this gas station was the 'disney world of gas stations!'

8 - i learned that i really like music. a lot. i usually have the music or tv going all the time at my house, which may or may not be a good thing, but i love singing along and making harmonies on the open road. me and my girls would sing along and dance. we particularly got down to this song which was awesome! even getting a shout out from the vehicle next to us :p



we celebrated k's birthday on the trip!

9 - i learned that i need and enjoy alone time. i have often commented on how lonely i get at times. and that truth remains. but it is also true that i like to be alone. i need to know that there will be a space of several hours of uninterrupted time where i will be a l o n e. this time is sacred to me. i need it in the mornings to prepare for the day and in the evenings to decompress from the day. my friends were great about giving me space. even though we shared a hotel room i still had moments of alone time. it was just what i needed.


10 - i learned that i can conquer fears. one of my great fears is swimming. especially especially since i started counseling and how water represents emotions. i can still recall many nights of vivid dreams where i was drowning in seas and pools of water. i would wake up terrified. and so i have stayed away from all bodies of water, including baths. the last time i remember getting in a place where swimming would take place was in 2011 when i went to hawaii but i only went up to my knees in the water and i had to rinse and rinse and rinse right after. well, with the right friends, i was able to go into the hot tub at the hotel pool and really enjoy myself! we didn't stay for long - which was perfect - but i didn't feel consumed by the water and didn't have any flashbacks or hard moments. i.can.face.my.fears.


a bathing cutie!

11 - mostly i learned the difference good, real, solid, true friends can make in my life. sometimes i am overwhelmed with all the mental-ness that life has handed me. but with good friends who i can laugh with and play with it balances things out. they are real people who have real struggles and it was a joy to travel with them. i'm thankful for their influence and friendship in my life. and that's what this anxious girl learned.




me, baby M, k and c

Sunday, February 10, 2013

psychology test

i did this psychology walk through test for fun. i thought the results would be interesting to read. the questions asked are in blue. my answers in purple. then below, the explanation is in black and my thoughts are again in purple.

Imagine yourself in a forest.
1: Is the forest you see light or dark? dark
2: Did you see a path? no, but i see a light shining ahead
Now we ask you to walk through the forest.
1: You see a cup. What does it look like? it is clear, square, made of glass with lines as decor
2: What do you do with it? look at it and leave it
You continue on your walk through the forest. You see water.
1: What does it look like? it's a waterfall that falls into a medium sized river
2: Is the water you see moving? yes
3: How deep is this water? medium/waist deep
4: You need to cross the water. How do you do it? build a bridge and walk over it
You continue on your walk through the forest. You see a bear.
1: What sort of bear is it? a grizzly bear, brown and ferocious, growling at me
2: What’s your bear doing? standing on its hind legs, paws in the air, growling
3: You need to move on. How do get around the bear? i wait until it goes away
You continue walking. You reach a beach.
1: How many people do you see? none
2: How far are the nearest people? there are no people for as far as the eye can see

The forest and the path
If you saw a path in the forest you’re not yet settled into your life as it is. Younger people usually see a path. Why is this? The path is symbolic of where you’re going. People still finding their way in life are more likely to see a path. Those more settled in their direction or place in life are less likely to see a path. i feel pretty settled in my life. sure. there are some things i still want, such as a husband and children, a home and other big things, but i'm content with my apartment, job, car and life for the time being. i think that's why i saw a light. it was shining on ahead to the greater days to come.
The Cup
The cup is symbolic of wealth and your approach to it. The question gave you the chance to see any sort of cup. If you left the cup alone you were given the chance to take a reward but left it behind you. Either wealth has no real value to you or wealth is something you think you’ve got to work for. i hate money. anyone who knows me knows this is true. i hate bills and thinking about paying things and worrying about money. it all gets my anxiety to a point of no return. my approach to money is earn it spend it. one day i hope to be more on the end of earn it save it spend it but right now that's just not the way life is. i left the cup alone cause i'd just rather not mess with 'money.'

Water
Water is symbolic of love. The depth and speed of the water you see is indicative of your approach to love. The ease with which you cross the water is an indicator of your attitude and approach to love. The more easily you crossed the water, the more comfortable you’re likely to be in your approach to love. it's true that i can be sarcastically witty and mean :) but it's often to protect my heart from the harsh realities of life. i'm a softy. and love love. in fact i entitled one of my personal journal entries "romantic comedies are my kryptonite"
The Bear
The bear is symbolic of problems and how you deal with them. The question gave you the chance to see a problem. If you saw a teddy or Winnie-the-Pooh then in relative terms your life is stress free and when given a problem you don’t see one. You’re pretty happy with life too. If you saw a real bear you were given the chance to see a problem. People under routine stress will see large and very dangerous bears. If the bear has seen you and is looking threatening you need a holiday! You’re under high levels of stress or worry. How you get round the bear is indicative of how you deal with problems and how you resolve them. i totally feel stressed all. the. freaking. time. even over things i know i shouldn't stress about, i do. so it makes sense to me that i saw a grizzly bear on its hind legs growling at me. yep. that's pretty much what stress does. corners me and i cower and wait til it goes away.
The Beach
The beach is symbolic of how you relate to people around you. How many people you pictured on the beach relates directly to the number of people you want around you. If you didn’t see any people then you’re a person least comfortable in a crowded pub, club or bar. You may even avoid them. You have the potential to be a social animal, but you wouldn’t get lonely stranded on a desert island. You’re content for long periods of time with your own company. Where you see people on the beach is symbolic of how you relate to people around you. If you saw people in the distance then you don’t need contact with other people all of the time. You’re happy with you own company. i'm pretty content to be on my own. i do enjoy people, but one on one, not in groups. when it gets larger than 4 people including myself my anxiety kicks things into high gear and i start to go a little cray-cray.

*this was just a fun little exercise to end my sunday evening. nothing too serious. i'm taking all these answers with a grain of salt :)*

*what are your answers?*

Sunday, February 3, 2013

stress = regress

when we're stressed we regress.

this is where i'm at.

regression.

my mind is tumbling with thoughts.

thoughts, i don't know what to do with.

in my church we are all given assignments. and i feel small and inadequate trying to do my assignment. it is not the biggest one or the smallest one in the entire church system. but for me, it is enough to stretch me at to look up often to heaven and shout, "why are you pushing me?!" 

i don't like being pushed.

or stretched.

it hurts. burns. and stings a little.

this inadequate feeling has seeped into all aspects of my life. i find myself lacking motivation and desire to do even the simplest of things ex : put the 6 pairs of shoes by my front door in my closet. the task seems overwhelming and exhausting as foreign as that may seem.

i feel like i'm doing a super sucky job at work. i'm not fresh or fun. i'm boring and lame. i had to ask a for 5 reasons why i shouldn't just quit right then and there last week because i was feeling so down. and she gave me some good reasons. i asked s for 3 reasons. they were good too.

i feel like a wilted, dead piece of a flower. you know the kind you see and pick off. i'm just waiting to be picked off but in the mean time i continue to get brown and sticky. 

balancing all of my mental-ness with work - home - bills - cleaning - assignments - church - car maintenance - etc etc it all seems so little but it eats away at me until i'm left with nothing. no motivation. i lack. so much.

a waste of skin. that's what i feel like.

i talked to my sister b on my drive home today. she said, "i think you live a grander life than you believe." maybe, but i don't think so. she also said, "sometimes we just need to be recognized for the great effort we are putting into every aspect of our lives. a sincere, kind, loud and proud shout out for a job w e l l d o n e." in my words - a standing ovation.

but nothing i've done these days seems worthy of a standing o. i sloop from one place to another. barley getting by. does that deserve applause? maybe on my happier days it would. but not today.

i feel like i've lost the creative side of me. a side of me that use to be alive and well. ex : putting pictures in my blog. i can't think of anything that would illustrate what i'm feeling. i try to paint my pictures with words. but that doesn't always work.

well. i'm about done. 

s sent me a letter and gave the following advice : 

walk with patience the race that is set before you.

and then typed these five beautiful words :

i sent you a package.

i'm going to eat some chocolate now.