- How is it mid-February? So much has been crammed into the first 6 weeks of the year that I swear it should be June.
- Anybody watching the impeachment? We’re 2 days in, and well, the House manager’s case is compelling. I mean really, it should be a slam dunk, but the way blind allegiance and hypocrisy are set up…
- Hope is really coming along this week, and when Hope does and feels better, we BOTH do and feel better. I think we might finally be getting a little more stable. This is a long road though, and I’m used to upset apple carts. My optimism remains guarded.
- I’m entering a crunch period at work, and I’m struggling to work thought my anxiety about it. Lots of presentations, lots of zoom meetings, and a never ending inbox of cannibalizing requests. The things people ask of me are just…beyond. Like, I’m not a therapist. I’m not a search engine. I’m not a priest. I really don’t know what people expect when they email me. It’s just so unbelievable sometimes. It is exhausting, and I genuinely do not understand why people will spend 3 paragraphs writing about themselves and then ask something that an elephant in Thailand could probably figure out how to ask Google, Siri, Alexa or Google Assist. #Baffling. If I were to ever write a memoir about this period in my life, I’m totally including the shittiest of the shitty emails.
- Anyone watch Bling Empire on Netflix? I binged it a couple of weeks ago; it’s essentially if Crazy Rich Asians was a reality show. There’s a whole story line in which a TRA Korean adoptee searches for his birth family and another woman looks for her dad that she hasn’t seen since she was a young girl. Both characters find some resolution in their searches. It was really lovely to the guy’s mom be supportive of his search., but I was also glad to see that the show didn’t shy away from the fact that he really felt like he needed to know why he had to be adopted. The abandonment, the open wound…even with a good life and what appeared to be a good family and support system, he needed to know about himself and his people. Would love to hear other thoughts.
- I made CBD gummies last weekend. I purchased isolate from a local shop, researched some recipes and voila. I look forward to improving the next batch. Each gummy has about 15mg of CBD. Two take the edge right on off of me. I made them for Hope to help her sleep. We’ll see what works.
- I need a vacation so bad. Not a staycation, but a get on a plane and fly far, far away, where the food and language are different and the drinks are cool and plentiful. Travelzoo keeps sending me trips and I so want to book something. Maybe I’ll book something after I’m vaccinated. I soooo need to get away from the DC area for a minute.
- Yappy is not enjoying winter at all. At 6, he’s surprisingly showing his age. He’s not feeling the snow, sleet or rain. He’s only willing to cuddle on his terms. He’s demanding when it comes to just about everything. Doc says he’s healthy. My spidey sense kind of worries about him.
- Anyone else watching TV and sometimes getting anxious because folks are all close together without masks? Just me? Seriously though I’m really increasingly conscious about the trauma response to life during a pandemic.
- I need this upcoming long weekend. Got a few Valentine plans, but I mainly plan to rest. Of course I still need to create these presentations for next week…they ain’t writing themselves. But I’m looking forward to sleeping in, having my long hot bath and napping.
Category Archives: Coping
- I’ve been doing yoga nearly every day since December 1st 2020. I used to do an annual December self-challenge to practice every day. It was a great way to end the year taking some time to stretch (literally and physically) and to recalibrate mentally and spiritually. I fell out of it for a few years and decided to reengage with my practice in December.
- The first few weeks were hard. I was forced to face just how limited my body was in terms of mobility and flexibility. It took nearly two weeks to really embrace the rhythm and ritual of practice.
- During week three I pulled a muscle in my neck. My body was telling me I was pushing too hard, too fast so I pulled back and worked on more gentle postures and not pushing my body past the brink.
- On New Years, I figured, I can continue this for another month. And in spite of a shitastic month, I did.
- Every night, I roll out a mat and stretch and bend. I pay attention to what is tight, what is limber. My practice is free flow. I haven’t been interested in too many standing postures at this point; maybe next month.
- Maybe next month…so here we are nearly at the end of January and I’m thinking hey, I think it can do it another month.
- It is a few minutes a day when I just breathe and let the thoughts just wash over me. I just let my body move.
- Yesterday I realized that I can now get really deep into some postures that were beyond me 2 months ago. I was shocked. I was like, “Is my whole torso really laying on my leg right now? Like without hurting?” In the midst of sooooo much personal chaos my body is still working and thriving. It was a revelation.
- I’ve also gotten back into taking luxurious baths. Hope bought me one of those bathtub caddy things with a place for your tablet, a glass, etc. I have made a point to take a long, hot, healing bath at least once a week. I got all out—bubble bath, booze, my kindle or my phone to stream something. I light candles. I stay in there until I’m prune-like and the water is cold. I often am not ready to get out, so I let some water out and run some more hot water. I have some CBD bath bombs and it really is just such a wonderful experience, especially after I have calmed myself with some yoga. (I’m about to run a bath as soon as I post this because…Wednesday.)
- While I definitely have been pushed to the brink, I am doing what I can to practice some self-care. I’m hydrating. I just bought an under-desk treadmill—it arrived today and it’s MAGICAL. I’m cooking the comfort foods that I like and eating in moderation. I’m doing the things I should be doing to take care of me. I still need to take some time, but I’m doing what I can under the circumstance.
Not gonna lie; I have a number of vices…
A good glass of wine.
An occasional edible or three.
Buying organizing stuff that I don’t bother using to actually organize.
And a bunch of other stuff…
But I also have a lot of healthy habits.
Simple prayers of gratitude.
Desperately fighting my anxiety and depression.
I’m fortunate that I have had only a few moments in this life where my mental health rendered me unable to function. About 15 years ago, I took a month off from work to just pull it together. It was hard. I was keeping crazy hours, trying to define myself professionally, trying to navigate a dreadfully unhealthy relationship, and struggling with an eating disorder. I just had to hit the pause button.
The early years of parenting nearly brought me to the brink. I’m not ashamed to admit that I wasn’t prepared to really tackle the trauma that Hope had endured. I thought I was, and Lord knows I fought for her every step of the way. The reality is that those pre-adoption classes that agencies make APs take as a part of the approval process are bullshit; they are soooo woefully inadequate. I knew nothing about secondary trauma, post-adoption depression or all the ways in which trauma might manifest in my daughter’s worldview.
There were definitely times when it brought me to my knees, begging for a timeout from the rest of my life so that I could really figure out how to parent and do it well.
I spent a lot of time just putting my head down and plowing through.
As Hope and I recover from another recent major trauma, I’m considering hitting the pause button once again.
I’m tired. This pandemic with non-stop social unrest has gotten the best of me, and it’s gotten the best of Hope as well.
In recent years, I’ve really tried to model healthy behavior for Hope. I work out daily; even if it’s just a YouTube workout video in the living room. I get outside every day, rain or shine. I balance my sweet tooth with attempts to get my fruits and veggies in. I get up; I get dressed even when there is no where to go. I, at least, put on fresh lounge wear. I make sure she sees me reading for pleasure, for work and for information.
When Hope fell into the deepest pit of depression a few months ago, I really tried to include her in light workouts, cooking, doing hair, reading. It was hard to see her decline and just roll over to go back to sleep. I get it; gosh to I get it. I often feel like I could just roll over and sleep for ages because my emotions are just too much that they feel both burdensome and invisible. But I’ve got to work and keep us fed and sheltered, so I soldier on.
With the recent developments, we’re back into the stuck in bed thing. It’s so hard because really, there’s a pandemic and crazies are out protesting an election that was resolved months ago. Other than going for a walk and to buy groceries, being out and about isn’t really an option. On my days off I still get up, get dressed and pull together a plan for the day—even if it is sitting on the couch watching movies. I try to stay active. I try to model pushing back on the darkness for Hope.
It’s hard to maintain that flow. It also feels useless as my beautiful daughter languishes in bed for days at a time, getting up to eat after I’ve gone to bed and jacking up my Netflix recommendations even when she has her own profile. I encourage her to try. She never regrets getting up and about, but she never initiates it on her own.
Recent developments have just taken their toll on me, and I’m finding it hard to keep going. I, too, could use some time to lay in bed—even though I know I won’t, or at least won’t the same way Hope does—and just sit with my emotions. I’m kinda overwhelmed with all that’s going on.
So, I’m looking to take some time off. Even with that, I feel bad because I need to cancel some engagements and some workshops I committed to recently. But I try to remember that if I got hit by a bus, those things would go on and folks would simply find someone else to do the things I thought I would do. Cancelling is not the end of the world, and some of this stuff…well, I probably should’ve said no to in the first place anyway.
I’m trying to model self-care. I’m trying to model coping. I’m trying to model self-love and resilience. I honestly don’t know if the lessons are landing, but I’m doing the best I can as I try to find my way through my own darkness.
We’ll see what the next month holds and whether I take the time I need and show my daughter how I hit the pause button. I just know I’m really tired, right now.
Each year I do a vision board. I have it blown up and I keep it framed in my bedroom so that I see it daily and am reminded that there are things to do.
My 2020 board included things like evolving my parenting now that Hope is in college, chasing some adventure, self acceptance, health and as always love.
How does the meme go?
How it started…It was to be a year of great promise.
How it ended…It was a year of survival.
COVID-19 pretty much took a wrecking ball to the year.
Hope is currently not enrolled in school, and I’m back to daily, active parenting. Just when she was becoming more social and connected, everything was cut off. It all made her really vulnerable, and just like that trouble found her. It’s been really hard dealing with the fallout of the summer’s drama. The pandemic made it just that much worse—there are so few outlets for having any sort of social connection.
Adventure? Well, going to the grocery store became an adventure. Going anywhere became an adventure. I feel like my world just closed in this year. In January I was counting down days to a trip to Israel in March, but instability in the region made my travel buddy want to cancel. We rebooked and planned a trip to Costa Rica, but then COVID hit and our trip got postponed to November. November came, along with a surge in cases, and Costa Rica was cancelled. In July Hope and I took a day trip to see my parents. That was a highlight for the year.
My vision board has hiking and relearning how to swim on it, meanwhile the pool never even opened. Adventure finally came about two months ago when I decided that we would start visiting local farms in the area. It was fun, and I have a lot of jam in my pantry now. It was wonderful having fresh pressed cider and fresh picked collard greens. I will likely sign up for a CSA in 2021 so that I can be sure to keep the goodness coming.
While I’m grateful that I found small ways of creating adventure, I’m sad that my world shrank in so many ways.
I have had a lot of time to think about what I like and dislike about myself. I’ve also had a lot of time to remember that Hope watches and learns from me. I have been able to make a lot of progress on self-acceptance. Listen, I’m not saying I’m “there,” but I’ve at least switched my thinking from focusing on my looks and size, to focus on what my body can do and what I need to do to make sure it is able to keep doing those things. I lost about 20lbs this year, most of it in January-March, but have largely kept it off. I walk every day. I’ve managed to increase my daily steps substantially. I cook more.
But I also still make a cake every 4-5 days; I still eat too much sugar, I still haven’t mastered hydration and my coping mechanism when it comes to consumption is still…an issue. 😊
I’ve been fortunate that I didn’t take a financial hit this year. I’m grateful for that. It’s meant that I’ve been able to keep debt low and afford some things that have made quarantining more comfortable—more streaming subscriptions, a new electronic standing desk, and some other odds and ends. I’m now contemplating some updates to the kitchen and my bathroom. I mean, if I’m going to be hold up here indefinitely, I probably should make it pretty and comfortable.
The flip side is that this has been one of the most challenging years of my career. The emotional toll is heavy. Dealing with rampant White supremacy in the midst of a pandemic is draining. The murder of George Floyd will be with me for a long time. The fall out has changed the way I think about the work I do, the pleasantries that I’m sometimes forced to engage in, the patience that I’m nearly always in short supply of. And watching some folks just fade back into racial oblivion is…toxic, yet to be expected during the best of times.
It’s been hard.
And love? One of the great loves of my life passed away in January, Elihu. I miss him every day. I wonder what I could’ve done to change the course of our relationship, even though I know my ending it was the right thing to do at the time. The loss of E came on the heels of losing another one of my great loves just the year before. Dating this year was trash. I am seeing someone, but I know it’s not a great fit for me, so I also know it has an expiration date. What can I say pandemics…#shrug. I’m hopeful that maybe I’ll make a meaningful connection in 2021—not meaningful like the Match commercial with Satan and 2020, but meaningful nonetheless.
But I suppose there are some bright spots.
- I survived my own bout with COVID early in the year.
- Hope had two jobs for a while and was really good at them.
- Yappy is much more affectionate with Hope, even if he is primarily still very attached to me.
- I managed it all without completely falling apart.
- I deepened some of my friendships.
- I did a lot of writing and creating, though not in this space.
- I found another level to my voice regarding diversity at work.
I’m also super conscious of the fact that lots of folks would trade places with me in a minute during this crapshoot of a year. Hope and I are fine. I would give my left foot to hug my mom and dad, see my sisters and snuggle my niece and nephews, but I guess I’ll settle for waving on camera. In the grand scheme of things Hope and I are very fortunate to be comfortable. Our families have not suffered any losses. We are able to afford what we need and largely what we want. We have each other and Yappy.
I have no idea what my vision board will look like for 2021; right now I just want a giant picture of OUTSIDE, but I’m guessing I should be more specific.
Everyday I set a couple of small goals for Hope: help me with making dinner, going for a walk, showering and getting dressed. It is not easy, but most days we achieve one or two goals on the path towards healing from the trauma of the summer and early fall. Naturally, some days are better than others, but there is an element of “pulling teeth” to everyday.
This week I acknowledged to myself that juggling work full-time and a heightened level of care-giving is hard. Actually hard is an understatement. My job takes its own emotional toll on me, and this year that toll has been extraordinarily high. Racialized social unrest in a pandemic during an election year is like the worst of the perfect storms for folks like me who do diversity work. I usually am able to compartmentalize some things, but this year–really where was I going to compartmentalize my own emotion? Under the kitchen sink? I upped my therapy to weekly, figured out my preferred strains of cannabis that would help me relax a bit and cope and increased my exercise. I knew that my rope was frayed, but I felt like I wrapped around a little duct tape and was able to keep going.
Then things hit the skids with Hope, and everything has felt like a house of cards built on a seesaw for a couple of months now. At first I could busy myself with the immediate task of pulling together the medical and mental health teams (part of which involved securing a new psychiatrist who does not take our insurance). I’m actually not bad in crisis–I can clearly identify what needs to be done, so I got to doing those things.
Work continued to be demanding, and I began making a cake nearly every 4 or so days because: EATING MY FEELINGS. I tried to pull back on a few projects, and set better boundaries. My evenings became devoted trying to cook better meals, spend quality time with Hope and Yappy and trying to create some sense of normalcy in the midst of what is becoming the worst time in my life.
My own light began to dim a couple of weeks before the election. The idea that that Orange Demon could possibly win began to set in, and I had a harder time managing my anxiety. I took up crocheting a few months ago and I just started trying to focus on that. The COVID cases began to rise and the hopes of visiting my family for Thanksgiving started to fall. I started baking, crushing chicken figures like I was a toddler and throwing myself into dealing with Hope’s challenges. I started feeling just too tired to get my 13.5K steps everyday. It became hard to answer any phone call that wasn’t work related. I tried to pull it together. I bought a new desk, since it’s clear I won’t be in the office anytime soon. I became consumed with rehabbing an office chair I bought second hand (I ended up just running out to buy a new chair this morning), Amazon started making more frequent deliveries as well.
I could and can feel my depression and anxiety is at an all time high; I also feel like there was and is pitifully little I can do about it.
Hope began to make baby steps forward on her journey, and that was the only bright light.
And then both of our bad days collided. On the weekends, I try to plan several activities to get us out and about (safely of course). Last week we went to a farm and did some shopping. We got some fresh fruit and veggies, fresh pressed apple cider, jam and honey sticks. Everything was delicious and it set us up for a few good eats during the week. Hope wanted to go back this weekend, but I found another farm for us to visit that had more things (fresh ice cream!) to enjoy. We’re supposed to visit today.
But yesterday, I struggled. I keep crying for no reason. I was fixated on the stupid office chair, and I was furiously crocheting Yappy a 2nd new sweater. I
was am emotionally exhausted, which makes me feel physically exhausted. Yesterday’s goal was to go on a short family walk. The walk happened and the walk was a disaster. By the time we returned from the house, I just felt like giving up on everything.
I didn’t cook.
I didn’t fold my laundry.
I binged watched Fargo.
People called, but I could barely talk.
I sporadically cried.
I tried to nap, but couldn’t.
I air fried half a bag of tater tots and ate the left over cake and a bunch of chocolate covered peanuts because yum.
I finished Yappy’s sweater (Bright side: he looks very handsome in it).
I sat and just looked into space.
Today, is not much better. I do not feel like dealing with anything or anyone, sadly not even Hope or Yappy. I am disgusted that there are no more chicken fingers in the house–yet I also know I’ll be disgusted if I ate more chicken fingers. There is not more cake which means I need to make some, which is energy I don’t have. I know I can make a mug cake but it’s not the same. It’s mid-month and I need to pay bills, which frankly enrages me for no apparent reason other than hating the exercise. I still don’t have the energy to talk to anyone, even when I know it will help. My gout has flared because I’m eating poorly, so I hurt and I have no one to blame by myself, and well the Holy Homeboy for allowing me to have gout.
Oh yeah, I’m in deep. I *know* I should get Hope up and I know I should try to achieve the small goals, but real talk: My tank is empty and even the fumes are gone. I got nothing, and that’s hella problematic because Hope really doesn’t do well when I lose my shit.
And my shit is definitely gone today.
So because I’m the super fragile one today and I’m also the one who has to keep this boat from capsizing, I’m taking the day to just wallow.
My coffee is currently in a wine tumbler. I’m about to eat some buttered bread for breakfast. I’m going to take a shower, put on some comfy fleece and crawl under my weighted blanket. I might go for a walk at some point, and I might even stock up on more chicken fingers. I’m putting some butter on the counter for later, so I can make a cake. And I will make the Tikka Masala I was supposed to make yesterday, if for no other reasons than 1) the chicken might spoil and 2) I bought fresh naan yesterday and I don’t need the guilt of eating it without the dish.
Yeah, we are both fragile over here.
Hope and I have had an interesting journey. The first year was tough–getting used to one another, trying to create a sense of normalcy, trying to get the healing started. I remember when my depression kicked in and when I started learning about secondary trauma. Hope was in yet another school–she’d already been to so many, and had difficulty making friends.
We connected with some birth family, dealt with a lingering criminal investigation back in Hope’s hometown, estrangement from my mother and oh yeah, finishing a dissertation. I think of that year often nowadays; there’s something about 2020 that reminds me of our “bonding’ time the first few weeks.
I made a cake every week.
I have baked cakes most weeks since March. It’s one of my ultimate comfort foods. As Hope doesn’t really get into cake like I do, I also do not have to share my cake. Yes, that admittedly gives me some petty pleasure. And yes, I just had my nightly piece of chocolate frosted cake.
I have struggled with depression most of my adult life. It’s managed by meds and therapy. Even though my very high intrinsic motivation is one of several triggers for my depression and anxiety, it’s also likely the thing that keeps me from tumbling over into the abyss.
My drive and inability to sit still for very long has meant that I won’t just lay in bed watching the ceiling fan for hours. There have been times when I have wanted nothing more than to do that because the sadness, emptiness and darkness had taken over. The anxiety keeps me up and functioning. It’s frankly an awful vicious cycle.
Proof? I took today off to rest, to just be. Instead I worked on finishing up setting up my new desk, checking and responding to a few emails and drafting a couple of things that need to go out tomorrow.
I did lay on the couch for a couple of hours with Yappy while playing on a coloring app, so there’s that.
Today it really, really sunk in that Hope’s depression and anxiety don’t look anything like mine. They aren’t even in the same neighborhood. They manifest so differently that it has taken me 6 years to realize this. I feel really foolish that I’ve failed to see it as clearly before. I’m also embarrassed and ashamed that there are times when I said things without realizing Hope’s emotional limitations in the moment. I am certain that there are times when my dimwittedness really harmed her and our relationship. That will weigh on my heart until I die.
I’m grateful for whatever grace she has extended me because I certainly don’t deserve it.
Tomorrow brings another parenting pivot. I never stop learning and try to incorporate the new knowledge and make changes. This pivot requires some significant changes. I expect to stumble…a lot, but Hope needs some things from me and those who love her that I really didn’t understand.
This week, I feel like I hit the wall. I’m just over and done with everything. I feel like I could just crawl into bed and sleep indefinitely. I’m just emotionally exhausted.
Nothing about this year has been easy, but these last 4-5 months have just been brutal. Work just exploded after the murder of George Floyd, and while the intensity has died down some the expectations and work haven’t. I decided about 2 months ago to stop accepting speaking and writing engagements. That hasn’t stopped people from asking though, and I’m getting better at saying no without explanation.
My job cuts across so many other programs within my organization. During a recent meeting I swear I hear my name over and over and over on projects led by others. It was then that I realized part of why I am so effing tired. I’m spread pretty thin.
And then of course there’s home life. While we are past the crisis of the last two months, we are still very much in a tender phase. We’re stable, but fragile. I don’t feel like I’ve had much time or space to process anything because I was just trying to soldier us through it. I threw myself into finding support for Hope, figuring out what needed to happen with the rest of her college semester, dealing with health issues and just babying her, because she needed it.
Oh and can’t forget about Yappy and the day he shat all over the living room and dining room. Or the second COVID scare. Or the inability to get away from here and take a vacation. Or…Or…Or…
And Thursday evening, I feel like I just cracked. I don’t even want to watch TV. I don’t want to read. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want much of anything but to be left alone to just drift away to lala land. My brain just doesn’t wanna. I know that after I post this I will curl up on my couch and go to sleep. I already have my blanket and my pillow.
I’m not sure how to get on top of this. I’ve taken another day off next week and I’m committed to trying to block off more time to just rest. I’m realizing that I’ve got some ego issues (but I just HAVE to be a this meeting) and some issues about disappointing others that I really need to confront and wrestle with because the status quo is not sustainable.
I’m also worried about how my mini-breakdown will affect Hope, who is coming off of her own crisis. I believe it is important that she remember I’m human, but I don’t like her seeing me like this. It can be triggering for her. But I also know that I”m simply incapable of faking it right now. I’m just empty–and this is after having a weekend completely free last week when she went to visit the grands.
I know I’ll be ok, but right now I just feel blah with too much to do and a lot of responsibility that I’m not sure I can handle. Rough times…