Self-Indulgent Drivel

naked on the internet

Hand in unlovable hand

I just spent six days in the psych ward of Providence Portland hospital. It was boring, but I feel better.

Things had been shit for awhile. I’d had trouble leaving the house by myself for six months, only occasionally making it further than the grocery store without someone to keep me company. Most of the time that person was Travis.

Travis and I have been together since July, 2014. He is over eight years younger than me. He is quite tall, he plays the bass, and he is a good kisser.

Travis doesn’t want private details on the internet, so I’m going to try to be careful here.

When we met, I was a cab driver, and he worked at my local e-cigarette shop. He still works there, actually. I gave my number to the sweet boys at the vape shop, and he sent me a text one night asking for a ride. Two weeks later I went to his apartment and never really left. Sounds like the beginnings of a fantastic love story! And it was, kind of.

But I am troubled, you see. And he is not entirely without troubles himself.

When I went to the hospital, it was because we’d been fighting all day and I became hysterical. He was being a shit, but I went nuts all out of proportion to what was going on. It had been a long time coming, I think, in that it got me to finally go to the hospital and get some help.

We are two stubborn, bright, funny, loving, intense, troubled people. We would be hard on anyone. We are hard on each other.

My paternal grandparents, from what I hear, sometimes couldn’t stand each other. They’d divide the kids and go live in different houses. My Grandpa was loved by everyone, my Grandma was apparently an evil witch. They managed to raise nine kids together and make it to see their fiftieth anniversary. I don’t know how they did that. I don’t know how anyone does.

Back in the old days, marriage was for life. Richer or poorer, better or worse, love or hate. Divorce was frowned upon, people were encouraged to work it out. That isn’t true anymore. People go through half-a-dozen marriages sometimes, or more, before they die. My dear friend Bruce is on #3, and he’s only 37. I have never been married, but I’ve had a few longer relationships. Sometimes they end with me throwing things.

I don’t know what makes love last. I don’t know how much you’re supposed to fight to keep something going when it’s so easy in today’s society to just walk away.

What I do know is that I am immensely lucky that I had Travis to come home to when I left the loony bin.

That’s enough for now.

Song in title is “No Children” by The Mountain Goats

Get Down With The Sickness

“Don’t borrow trouble” is something my mom says to me when I’m worrying about something I have no control over. It means that it’s silly to stress out about things before you know what you’re up against. I think it’s a pretty good idea, but it doesn’t always work.

At the beginning of summer this year, I started having weird symptoms. Some of them could be dismissed as symptoms of known or suspected illnesses, but all of them together seemed like something I should pay attention to.

  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Strange visual disturbances (flashes of light)
  • Minor aphasia (words coming out jumbled or incorrect)
  • Minor ataxia (lack of coordination, especially in my right hand)
  • Confusion
  • Inattention/lack of focus
  • Short-term memory loss

This was in addition to the joint pain, headaches, stomach issues, and other assorted FUN! things I always have going on. The above symptoms were either new or worsened.

The extra-alarming thing about all these symptoms is that I’d experienced them back in early 2012. At the time I blamed them on the car accident I’d had in November of 2011, and my neurologist diagnosed me with Post-Concussion Syndrome.

PCS doesn’t reappear 3.5 years later. I have had no recent head trauma. So it’s gotta be something else, and it’s not a coincidence.

I’m still having that FUN! assortment of symptoms, but with some new, exciting ones too!

  • Shaky legs
  • Worsening lack of coordination in both hands
  • Dizziness
  • I’m spacey pretty much all the time
  • Petichiae (clusters of burst blood vessels under the skin)

Those who know me might think I’m something of a hypochondriac, but this isn’t true. I just happen to often be hyperaware of any weird things going on in my body because I have so much annoying shit wrong with me already. I might unnecessarily jump to conclusions, but I don’t diagnose myself off WebMD. I talk to real doctors, I research things, and I don’t “borrow trouble.”

…but I’ve had my suspicions on this one. And it’s because of The West Wing. Yes, the TV show that ran from 1999-2007. It’s a really great show, you should watch it.

Martin Sheen plays an idealized president. It’s unrealistic and wonderful. Anyway, fairly early into the show (maybe the beginning of season two?) we find out that President Bartlet has a chronic, incurable disease. It causes a bunch of crises and good TV drama. Yay.

It planted an idea in my head.

But I try not to borrow trouble.

I’m trying to get disability. I went and got evaluated by a doctor last week as part of that (long, arduous) process, and when I told him my symptoms, he asked…

“Have you ever been screened for multiple sclerosis?”

Nope.

But that’s what I’ve been thinking too.

I have an appointment with a neurologist in two weeks. I am not panicking, or not much. I am trying not to borrow trouble. But I’ve done a LOT of reading, and… damn. It sure sounds like MS. There are plenty of other things it could be. But none of them fit quite like MS does.

It could also be a brain tumor! I wouldn’t prefer a brain tumor.

It could not, however, be “nothing,” as someone recently suggested. This is not “nothing.” Trust me.  Something is wrong, and I have a feeling it’s going to change my life in ways I can’t yet predict.

I don’t know what’s wrong yet. I am trying not to panic. But every night I find myself researching MS, learning how it’s diagnosed and treated, wondering how it’ll affect my life, whether it’ll be mostly annoying or totally devastating. It manifests differently for everyone, it seems. Some are inconvenienced. Some are crippled.

I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep.

They’ll do blood tests, and probably an MRI, and probably a spinal tap. Those are to rule things out more than anything else, because there’s no definitive test for MS in a living patient. They can find indicators, but they can’t prove it. It’s just an educated guess. Which will probably involve a spinal tap. I am not looking forward to the spinal tap.

I’m not really looking for advice right now. Since I don’t know what I’m up against, I don’t know how to fight it yet. But I think I’m going to buy a day planner to keep track of my health, mood, level of activity, food intake, and other related things.

I also don’t really want to be told to keep my chin up. This is scary and I’m being as brave as I know how to be.

I’ll keep ya’ll posted as I find out more.

Love,

Kate

 

You’re a million miles away. It doesn’t matter anymore.

I saw K the other day. I had the advantage of knowing it was going to happen, which was nice because usually one doesn’t know about accidental encounters ahead of time. K and his wife were at the store where my boyfriend works. He knows her from previous store interactions, and I’d seen her review the shop on Yelp… nothing stalkery. We figured out that this customer he had was someone I knew of. I’d told him the background.

And I was on my way to the shop. My car got totaled a couple weeks ago, so I was taking the bus. Travis texted me that H (the wife) was in the shop and I asked “Is he there too?” And he was. So. I had about 15 minutes to decide what I was going to do. I seriously considered hiding out until the coast was clear, but I thought– no. I’ll go about my day. I’m not going to hide, nor am I seeking them out. If they had been there when I arrived, my plan was to sit quietly in a chair until they left. I didn’t want to bother anyone, but I wasn’t going to hide.

Turns out they left just before I got there. We passed on the sidewalk about a block away from the shop. I studied my shoes. I expect they did the same.

I know that the greatest (and, for the foreseeable future) only thing that I can offer K is silence. Peace. But it took me a long time to realize why.

Regardless of where the blame lays for how things ended and what happened before, I have behaved abominably since. I didn’t mean to. I thought I was right to be outraged that I’d been cut out of his life. I thought she was to blame for keeping us from being friends. I was venomous. I was pushy, vindictive, and petty. I didn’t do much in the last five years to bother him, but what I did was more than I should have. I continued to write to him, even after he asked me to stop. I started trying to move into their social group (during a time when I was in the grip of the worst crazy I’ve ever been through in my life.) I wanted to make them uncomfortable. I wanted to be noticed. I was angry, and it showed.

Last night, laying in the dark with Travis, I told him I had a secret I wanted to confide. And then I told him that I’ve been blaming Her for years, and it’s not her fault. I told him that I’d acted really crazy, even if I didn’t know it at the time (and I kind of knew it at the time,) and that the damage done was my responsibility, not hers. And he said that he knew that I knew that. And I realized today that the act of admitting my fault, and forgiving this woman who had nothing to do with what was wrong with me and K, had lifted a weight off my chest that’d been crushing me since Saturday afternoon.

If I could say something to them, I would tell them how sorry I am. But the damage is done, and they don’t want to hear from me. And damn it, they’re right.

About a year ago I had a dream that I was dying, and K came to visit me because he didn’t want me to die without saying goodbye. I woke up really sad and knowing that this was so unlikely as to almost be ridiculous. And about two weeks ago I dreamt that we met on the street and he forgave me.

But truth be told, I don’t really think about him much. When I lost my mind, a lot of things fell away because I didn’t have the energy or space for them anymore. I didn’t have room for grief or resentment of things long past. Letting go of K was harder than I ever thought it would be. It took almost six years to do it, but finally it just sort of didn’t matter as much. Loving him carved places in me that will always exist, loving him shaped me and changed me and made me very happy and very sad. But it’s been over for a very long time.

It still hurts, but it doesn’t matter anymore.

(title is lyrics from “Fireproof” by The National)

Mmm mmm mmm mmm

Hey there, internet. It’s been awhile.

About eight months ago, I started hanging out with Travis. Travis is awesome. In mid-July I went over to his place after a party and sort of never left. It is a good thing and we’re happy and I’m sure I’ll tell you all more about him soon.

I am not dead, in case you were wondering.

I had this idea in my head of writing some big thought-piece about feelings and blame and letting things go, but I am hung over and in pain (I threw out my back!) so I think I’ll just not do that right now.

Hiya!

In the midst of all my crimes, I feel lost

(or have I lost enough?)

Went out to my local karaoke bar on Friday night. Someone I used to date (long, long ago) was there, and I ran into two other people I’d trysted with previously.

It’s a small town, for such a big city.

My tendency to rush headlong into things means I have a lot of “exes” in the greater Portland area, throughout California, and all over the world. I get around, or did once. Both geographically and in the bedroom.

Only a few of these people were ever in a position to break my heart, but several of them hurt me. Most of them? I rush headlong, I get hurt. It’s sort of my thing.

Carrie Fisher once said “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” Princess Leia is wise.

I don’t know how to feel truly alive if I’m not wrapped up in someone. Whether I’m chasing after someone or trying to keep them around, other people have always been my favorite way to get high. Maybe the reason I never got addicted to anything more intoxicating than cigarettes is that there’s no drug that can get me as high or as low as infatuation can.

I have discarded people, rather coldly, because they didn’t match up to my idealized picture of them. Some people I didn’t cut off soon enough, hoping they’d change. Others, I walked away from and tried not to look back. But I look back, harshly or longingly. Wallowing is also sort of my thing.

Lately I’m having all these revelations and realizations and re-realizations, and it’s exhausting. What do I do with all this hard-won knowledge? I can try to apologize to the people I’ve hurt, forgive the ones who’ve hurt me, and do better in the future. But my life is sort of a mess, and I’m lonely.

I picked up two women from the grocery store tonight and drove them to a party at their friends’ house. Only when we arrived did I realize that I kind of knew the people there, fellow cabbies, and I was invited to stay. I hung out for three hours in the middle of my shift, practicing being social. But I’m really nervous around people, knowing how I can be. I say strange things. Tonight I was mostly quiet because I know that I have a tendency to act crazy just so I won’t be invisible. I think too much. That is definitely my thing.

I feel a great imperative to be a better person than I was. I’m trying to figure out how. Addicts make amends and stop using their substance of choice. But how do you give up being mentally ill? I don’t know how to put down that particular bottle. And how do you ease your addiction to other humans without becoming a recluse?

from an email…

Alcoholics make amends when they try to get better. I am not an alcoholic, but I am trying to get better. I wanted to make things right, if I could. Or at least get this weight off my chest, which is maybe selfish.

All the bridges that you burn

come back one day to haunt you

One striking feature of borderline personality disorder– striking because it is so accurate for me– is described like this: “A pattern of intense and stormy relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often veering from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation).”

I have cut people out of my life for slights that, looking back, may have been better responded to in a more measured way. When I got my diagnosis of BPD last year, it caused me to reexamine my harsh and unforgiving attitude about what I saw (at the time) as betrayal.

I managed to mitigate a lot of the disordered thinking that BPD lends itself to, even before my diagnosis, because I resolved some time ago not to be an asshole if I could avoid it. I knew that I could have monstrous mood swings and a lot of self-destructive behaviors. So I taught myself ways to be less of a jerk, and they worked, mostly.

But I know that I have that tendency to idealize people, to put my friends, family, and lovers on very high pedestals, and then feel betrayed and devastated when they fail to be everything I thought they were or could be to me. I have ruined friendships, pushed people away, and caused some very nice people to never want to be in a room with me again.

The struggle now is to separate rational, righteous indignation from… well, tantrums. To realize that my loved ones are, above all, human, and humans make mistakes. No one can be everything to anyone else, and my disorder makes me prone to try to suck the life and love out of people.

I am terrified of abandonment, terrified of being alone in the greater sense, but my disorder has made me act in ways that have caused people to get fed up and leave me. Over and over. It’s a vicious circle. Abandonment leads to greater fear. Fear leads to more abandonment.

I know that I am responsible for my own behavior. But last year I graduated, in my diagnoses, from “mild” to “serious.” Knowing that I have always been seriously mentally ill is both comforting and horrifying. Coupled with the bipolar II I was also diagnosed with (at least it’s the less severe form!) I know now that I have always been a fucking mess. And I think, considering everything, I’ve done a damned fine job of building myself into a decent, loving, caring person.

But reading through the list of the symptoms of my mental illness, I see my whole life, every relationship of every kind, all of it.

I wonder how I can change without losing myself. I wonder what the best version of myself actually is. I wonder when I’ll stop doubting my own feelings, because now I know that seeing life through the veil of my unstable emotions has warped almost every intense experience I’ve ever had.

And that’s a lot to process.

So many stories of where I’ve been

I am a writer. My experiences, almost when I’m experiencing them, become narratives. My life is a series of stories.

But I’m realizing that a lot of the stories I tell are needlessly tragic or dramatic, that every lost love either was the purest love or the greatest heartbreak or most damaging betrayal. I’ve been spinning and repeating these narratives about how I’ve never been seen, loved truly, or deeply desired and wanted for who I really am.

Part of healing will involve being more honest and less inclined to cast myself as the tragic heroine in all these stores of love gone wrong.

I want to know your feelings, I want to know your name

As I mentioned in my last post, a guy at work has caught my eye. More than that, it seems like he (or my idea of him, which might be horribly misinformed) has decided to occupy my mind, leaned back in a chair, put its feet up, and made itself very comfortable there. I would use the word “obsessed,” but that doesn’t really fit. There’s nothing scary about it, I’m not about to set fire to his car if he won’t get coffee with me. I won’t be leaving strange gifts on his doorstep or driving by his house repeatedly (especially because I don’t know what/if he drives or where he lives.) We have spoken twice or maybe three times ever. I have no real expectations– he’s not my prince charming, I don’t expect him to be the love of my life, he’s just a ridiculously attractive and compelling person whose image is stuck in my mental overhead projector, which coincidentally I seem to be unable to turn off. So, not obsessed. Occupied. He disappeared for a month and then he came back, and Holy Crap, I couldn’t breathe when he walked in the room. I couldn’t make eye contact. I couldn’t say hello.

The other day, I wound up alone with a woman I know to be one of his friends, and screwed up the courage to ask if he is married and/or gay. He is neither.

He is mountains cooler than I am. Loads, tons, lots cooler than I am. And this… ahem, THIS… is not about him.

This is about me.

But here’s the background: A little over a month ago, I was at Radio Cab waiting to get assigned a car for the night. This involves waiting in a room with every other lease driver who wants a cab. And lo, Alex (his name is not actually Alex) turned around from a distance of approximately six feet and smiled at me. Like, a 180 degree turn. Smiled. At. Me. While looking directly at me. And the rest of the world stopped and I mumbled something about not remembering his name, and he said “I’m Alex. You’re Kate, right?” And I died and said something incredibly stupid, because I am Kate and he knew that. And I’m sure that for the rest of our time together waiting for cabs I smiled like someone who has been pleasantly lobotomized while internally berating myself for completely losing my cool.

So then I went out and bought new pants and broke up with my boyfriend. One smile from Alex, and the fact that he knew my name when I’d forgotten his (he is so pretty that I almost forgot my own name, too, so I’m glad he knew it) made me want to be a better person. It made me want to become the best version of myself I can be. Not so that he’ll like/love me. But so that I won’t feel so damned unworthy of that potential love. Because this guy– whoa Nelly, this guy is out of my goddamned league. I have fucked-up teeth, I’m fat, and I’m somewhat unhinged. I’m clawing my way out of madness and suicidal depression. I can be selfish, I have a temper, and sometimes my feet smell really bad.

The mixture of elation and hope combined with such a crushing sense of unworthiness really did a number on me. So I’ve been thinking very hard about where that insecurity comes from and what I can do to fix it.

And part of trying to fix it is figuring out how in the fuck I’m supposed to date now that I know I have borderline personality disorder.

Because, let’s say Alex agrees to go to coffee with me. How do I avoid coming off like a complete freak? How do I avoid letting him know that I know more about him that I rightfully should? How do I hide the fact that I’ve been thinking about him far more than I’m comfortable with since the middle of April?

How would knowing those things not terrify him, even if he did initially think that I’m ridiculously attractive and compelling? Would it even be fair to enter into a friendship/makeoutship without letting him know that I’m a bit prone to fixations and also, y’know, clinically emotionally unstable? How the hell am I supposed to ask somebody out when I’m reasonably confident that the truth would cause any man with a decent sense of self-preservation to bolt?

Is the solution to be single for awhile? I can handle that, I think, except that Alex is already wedged there in my mind and I know I’ll kick myself if I don’t get up the nerve to ask him to hang out sometime.

Is the solution to seek out people who have some understanding of my sort of issues who might not be immediately deterred by my intensity? Because I really don’t want to get into another relationship based around mutual brokenness.

And how do you just stop thinking about someone? Especially when you are prone to fixations, when crushes are your version of heroin, when you know that you’d be a fool to not at least try.

Every day he doesn’t show up at work (he doesn’t show up very often) I feel both relieved and disappointed. When he’s there, I’m almost paralyzed. Some days I spend time trying to become brave so that if he’s there, I’ll be able to sidle over and talk to him. But he’s only there when I’ve finally accepted that he probably won’t be.

If he, for whatever reason, declined the opportunity to get to know me better, I know that I would be disappointed and feel like an idiot for awhile. But at least I would have asked. At least I’d know and I wouldn’t have to wonder anymore. It’s the uncertainty that bothers me. The knowledge that there are only a few reasons why someone would turn around, look right at me, and smiiiile, and most of those reasons are good.

But whatever the reasons, whatever the outcome, this isn’t about him. Not really.

It’s about trying to be less intimidated, less scared of failure. It’s about realizing that risks are necessary for rewards. I’ve spent too long doubting myself, and I am really making good progress and doing well, and… maybe this guy isn’t so far out of my league after all. I have limited myself so much because I haven’t taken the leaps of faith necessary to start writing a book, working on my dreams, recording my music. This feeling of not-good-enough is keeping me from singing in public, building my media empire, living my dreams, and… talking to this hot guy at work.

So regardless of whether anything comes of it or not, this crush has inspired me to confront some of the self-defeating thoughts and behaviors that have been holding me back, and that is an amazing accidental gift that this guy has given me. I really hope he’ll let me express my gratitude with hot, caffeinated beverages, and possibly smooches.

but there’s something waiting out there that says i’ve got to try

Desire slowly smoking

A lot has happened in the past few years. A lot has happened in the last several months.

I’m living back in Portland now, in a small, windowless bedroom that will be perfect for this summer because it will remain dark and cool on days when I need to sleep in for work that night. It’s a step in the right direction. I have landlords I seldom see and a downstairs roommate who is gone for long stretches of time, and whom I’ve yet to meet. It’s not ideal, but for now, it’s workable.

I’m single. I have friends and ways to stave off the loneliness, but it’s always weird for me when I’m not particularly pining for anyone and I don’t have a partner. I don’t know what to do with my energy if I’m not trying to make a relationship work or convince someone to love me.

There is this hot guy who also works for Radio Cab, and I’m trying to screw up the nerve to ask him out for coffee sometime. I feel like a teenaged girl around him, tripping over my feet and unable to speak or look him in the eye. It’s stupid and sort of wonderful. I found out a bit about him, and realized he’s like SUPER COOL and way out of my league, and that made me sort of… reevaluate. I made a decision.

I am going to get my life to a point where I feel proud of where I am, I’m going to get my body in a stronger and healthier condition, I’m going to seek treatment for my various psychiatric concerns, and I am going to become awesome enough that this guy would be a goddamned fool not to want to date me. And then, if he doesn’t want to date me, he’s a damned fool and not worth my time. Also, I’ll be awesome.

I’m well on my way.

I had dinner with an friend tonight, someone I had a brief relationship with a coupla years back. We hadn’t hung out in about a year because of stupid life stuff. He brought up our breakup in reference to something I’d said on this blog, wondering if it was something that had scarred me. I told him that it hadn’t, and in the process of thinking about WHY NOT, I realized something:

This past year-or-so has been so chaotic, so full of loss and madness and sadness and heartbreak and losing myself, that I really don’t have space in my head anymore to hold on to old hurts. Am I pissed off about a relationship that ended for the right reasons almost two years ago? No, I am not. I’m not mad at Chris, or Cody (who keeps apologizing for things I let go of months ago.) I no longer pine for a certain someone I pined after for years. I let it go. I had to. It was time.

C. Joybell C.

C. Joybell C.

I’m still shaky, still insecure and undecided, still mentally illish, still a bit fatter than I’d like to be. But I’m working, and I have a safe place to live, and I’m striving for better things. It’s not all great, some of it isn’t even good, but on the whole, I’m doing really well because I’m doing so much better than I was six months ago.

And for the moment, that’s enough to keep me going.

 

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