The grass is always growing

My last post was a year ago.  Robot and I have moved. Again. This time to our own house on a gorgeous property.  I love this house. I feel safe and at home. I joke that it’s a convalescent home, so perfect for me!

I lost one of my best friends.  I still think about her sometimes. I try not to. I try to pretend it doesn’t hurt.  I don’t regret the choice I made to end that relationship but I can’t pretend cutting off contact was everything I ever wanted. I needed the bullshit to stop. I needed the lies to stop. I needed the fakeness and passive aggressive mind fuckery to stop.

I had a nervous breakdown at the end of February this year. For about a month I was unwell.  I’m prone to them, it actually takes a lot to get me to that point but once I’m there – watch out!  I would spend days hiding in my closet. I couldn’t handle the sounds of doors or cupboards shutting, they all sounded like slamming and banging and loud, aggressive noise.  I was frightened and on edge and prepared for the worst.  Friends kept me safe and saner than I would have been. Robot did his best, even when I frightened him.

We’re out of that situation now. Things are stable. Life is better.

I feel dead inside.  I’ve been unable to cry since I started up psych meds again.  Depression has me.  All I want to do is sleep.  I’ve processed a lot of the emotional trauma from the last year and I think I’ll always be somewhat bewildered about it.

I have a small business now. It’s kind of cool. And scary. But cool.

I think that “the grass is always greener” only works for some people some of the time as a useful analogy. To get a more encompassing, helpful view of circumstances I think that the grass is always growing does the trick.

The grass is always growing and so too am I.

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I’m still a spoonie

After the first few months on progesterone therapy, I secretly thought to myself that maybe I was cured of fibromyalgia as long as I took the drops religiously and maintained good eating and exercise habits.  The bulk of fibro symptoms stopped, including the full body skin burning chronic pain and muscle spasms after the first month of treatment.

It’s been one hell of a summer.  At the end of May I got a case of strep that festered in my tonsils and stayed there for about 2 months.  I ended up doing 3 different rounds of antibiotics and it would bounce back each time.  The first time I saw the ENT he decided to drain the abscessed right tonsil and call it a day.  I made it almost 2 weeks before I had to go back with severely inflamed tonsils again.  I spent another week on antibiotics and despite this my tonsils were still actively infected when they were removed.  It was 7-10 days to recover from surgery and I was only on pain medication half the time.

In the middle of being sick most of the summer, my personal life was under strain as our newly formed five person polycule  spent considerable time in the “Storming” phase of small group formation. I had a lot of “You’re great but this is fucking hard” moments. Eventually we worked it out, even got consensus training and anyone who was previously not in counseling ended up with a therapist b/c polyamory has a way of bringing all your shortcomings to light.  I suppose there’s a nicer way to say that but the only alternative I can think of is that it forces you to deal with your shit and if you haven’t dealt with it you will make everyone else miserable, so go deal with it.

Also we decided to move. NEVER AGAIN. Except after the remodel, but it’s still the same house so it doesn’t count.

By the time we got to August, after being sick all summer and personal life drama, I was back in a state of chronic stress. I had my first flare up since starting progesterone drops well before moving day even occurred. I called my girlfriend in the morning after having muscle spasms again and cried. My body hurt, my skin hurt.  I had wanted to be done with fibro symptoms and I let myself believe and hope that maybe I was as long as I took progesterone.

It’s been over a week on the last round of progesterone now. The fibro symptoms diminished, but this morning I woke up and they had returned. I did a lot yesterday and I’m going to have to start treating myself like a spoonie again.  And that’s ok.  My body needs to heal from this summer and this move.  If I keep pushing it I’ll continue to feel awful.

Progesterone is a treatment, not a cure. It helps some things, but it can’t fix it all. I think of it like it puts my fibro into remission.  Because of progesterone I don’t have to use marijuana anymore which is awesome. I also seem to be better at regulating my body temperature so no heat exhaustion this summer and hopefully no hypothermia this winter!

I’m still a spoonie, but I got some spoons back which means for a general day to day I don’t have to constantly monitor every second of physical activity I do or count the minutes and weigh what it will cost me in energy.  I don’t have to always have my eye on the flare up meter. Yoga is not a form of nightly self torture anymore. However, I can’t pretend that I don’t have a limit and if I exceed that limit I will suffer.  Sometimes it is worth it. Sometimes I just do the best I can.  Like today.

Today I will do the best I can and hopefully tomorrow will be a little better.

I woke up like this

My day started like any other. I rolled over and hugged my snuggle buddy and tried to cling to the brief bits of sleep that remained. Eventually I gave in to consciousness and fed the cats who were pretty sure I was trying to starve them anyway. I winced and complained about my back pain which has been brutal since moving into our house last week.

Yoga was next, followed by granola and almond milk for breakfast. Then it was time to do things. Somewhere between breakfast and placing posters into picture frames I lost the ability to look people in the eye or respond to social situations in a manner that I deemed rational for myself.

I feel more wiped out and drained than I did before going to bed last night. I want to unpack all the boxes and make everything pretty and awesome but I am also feeling a bit stuck in my own head. I also want to nap but I’m afraid to nap. It’s hard to sleep. Nightmares.

My anxiety oscillates between very high and crippling to a dull murmur that I can easily ignore.

Did I tell you I’ve decided to accept Robit’s job offer of Homemaker?  It may not be forever, but it’s for now. I don’t know who I am or what I want to do. I feel very lost. I am disconnected from my art and I yearn to reclaim it as a place of solace.

I am integrated currently. It is a difficult today. I feel patterns that I am trying so hard to undo mercilessly work their way back into me. I want to cry and hide and mostly feel completely overwhelmed. Today I am a ball of feels.

It is food time now.

Stillness

Sometimes I like to sit quietly as I feel all the words I can’t express thrum behind my eyes. I want to ask a person a thousand questions so that I may better understand them, but I fall to pieces inside myself before I even begin.

I wear my heart and soul on my skin as tattoos that I have designed and personally inked into my flesh except the two which I couldn’t reach but I still designed. I wear bright colors when I’m happy and blacks and grays when I’m sad.  I simply try to be who I am when I am. Even in the best of times, I trail off, falter, and wonder how in the world I ended up here.

Thoughts burn me.  Ideas crash through my consciousness wave after wave and I breathe in, trying to stay grounded as the morning slips into the afternoon and nightfall beckons shortly before sliding back to morning.  I sit still as I wait for the morning to stay where it should and the afternoon to hold steady and evening to not rush itself in the mindscape.

I get lost in the racket and cacophony of daily life.  Voices blend together until they’re simply a background hum, indistinguishable from the thousands upon thousands of tiny constant pieces of information my eyes take in and demand my brain make sense of.  Smells become nauseating, my gut clenches and churns sympathetically.

I am depressed.  I do not feel empowered or enlightened or any particularly strong word that begins with the letter “E” except exhausted.  Exhausted by the constant awareness.  I have bipolar disorder.  I feel too much about too much, but it’s not just emotional. Despite my physical symptoms of fibromyalgia clearing up I am still very sensitive to touch.  I find the outside world demanding.

So fortunate, so lucky. I am so very blessed to be loved and cared for by an amazing support network of wonderful individuals.  I am exhausted.  I am also struggling with deep, ingrained old fear.  I walked into a tattoo shop this week.  I didn’t expect anything, mostly it was something I needed to make myself do.  I stumbled in-eloquently through an introduction, left feeling nauseated and hating myself.

Can I call myself artist?  I haven’t drawn anything, really, in about a month.  I try and falter.  The last time I sat and attempted a study I cringed and wanted to cry.  Even writing these words feels like scraping the bottom of the bowl.  I am wearing colors again, but I do not feel like they are mine.  Perhaps that is because the colors are not mine, perhaps it is another part of myself that needs to be expressed, despite myself.

I don’t know.

What is solace?  Is solace a person?  It solace a feeling?  Is it an idea?  Can we give solace and if we can give it do we also take it?  Why do we do these things?  I have a lot of questions.

I settle into these moments of exhaustion with an old familiarity.  The thoughts I have emerge like bubbles in a swamp of thick heartache.  I don’t really know what to do with myself in these moments so for this one I am trying to write.

I write and hope.

Maybe tomorrow will make more sense when I am still. Today the stillness haunts me.

Hope given wings

I remember…

Migrating butterflies.  When I was sixteen, before I had moved out of my mother’s house, there were two memories of delicate wings that I can see as clearly as the day I bore witness to nature’s brilliance.

The first time I saw the yellow butterflies migrating, I grieved.  Their migratory path took the delicate insects across a busy stretch of highway.  One of many I’m sure.  The road was yellow with their crushed bodies.  The front of my mother’s green Ford Explorer was covered with butterfly gore.  Some made it through to the other side due to timing, catching the right updraft, it’s hard to say.   Probably luck was on their side.

The traffic was relentless and indifferent to the butterflies.  Car after car tore into the kaleidoscope mercilessly.  The butterflies kept going.  There is something helplessly sad watching tiny, delicate, beautiful insects dessimated in moment shorter than a breath.

I grieved for the dead.

The second time I saw them that summer, I was sitting on the wooden steps outside the rental house mother’s boyfriend had found.  I was slipping inside myself.  Nothing made sense anymore.  Mother had found another man who would save her from her life.  I was wary of him despite being admonished for my wariness.  I would be leaving that place soon, by my own hand or some other intervention I did not yet know.

I remember feeling incredibly, profoundly sad and then I remember seeing the butterflies speckle the air. They looked like pieces of paper sunshine scattered in the wind.  First a few, then a whole kaleidoscope.  It lasted several minutes.  I remember feeling hope stir.  I clung to the inspiration and simple elegance of the butterflies.

I longed to go with them.

I left my mother’s home within a short time of seeing the butterflies.  I find I relate to them now.  They are delicate and small and beautiful. They can be crushed by clumsiness, recklessness, ignorance.  They migrate because they must. It is not an easy path to even become a butterfly. Surviving from egg then to worm, to cocoon, and finally an intricate creature given wings.

It is difficult to accept that we are fundamentally different from who we were.  It is difficult to accept that we are delicate like a butterfly.

Perhaps I am not just one butterfly.

Perhaps I am a kaleidoscope of butterflies.

Kaleidescope

 

Correspondence

So I sent my ex-boss an email yesterday:

Ex-boss,

I am writing to inform you that I expect to receive my full paycheck for the 18 tattoo commissions I took between 5/3/16 – 5/11/16. Based on the totals provided to you with my resignation letter the final sum should be no less than $780 plus tips.

After I tendered my resignation, you indicated that you intended to garnish my pay for expenses you incurred on the shop trip to Las Vegas. That was not part of our agreement for the trip, and thus it is not legal for you to deduct those expenses from my check.

Regards,

Me

And he replied in kind:

Don’t worry, I will be mailing your check to you this week. As far as the price for the trip I won’t be deducting that, Although tempting due to your ungrateful, bizarre behavior I’ll be giving you the full amount because to be honest I am just glad to be over this. Over the past two weeks your neurotic and irrational behavior has cast a dark cloud of needless drama over the shop and myself and [Co-artist] are just happy to be past this. Your quitting actually saved us a very uncomfortable and pointless conversation with you. As for your order from Kingpin, I will be returning to sender because you are not part of the shop and they only ship to artists who are in a shop – and it isn’t my responsibility to pay money to ship that to you. So they can refund your order but it is not my responsibility 😊
. As for your check you will be receiving the full amount minus 125$ because I have recently been asked to fix and touch up one of your tattoos and I estimate that it will take me at least an hour of my time so I will have to calculate that out of your totals (as per the shop policy and Just like I have done with [Co-artist] in such cases).

I truly hope you seek therapy and find help for your various “physical” and “mental” ailments; despite what you think of me I put a lot of effort into trying to help you succeed but not everyone can cut it as an artist and not everyone can act as a professional (I mean this – I hope you figure your life out because always being “sick” or using “Fibro” or “PTSD” or “Triggers” or “HRT” or as of late manipulating other’s situations to justify you skipping work to go on polyamory larping dates will truly hold you back both in life and professionally. Good luck to you -I mean that but I have a feeling it will fall on deaf ears.

-Douche nozzle asshole fucker @StabbingYouWithAForeignSubstanceToMakePictures
(Ok fine, he just signed his name.)

So here is my fake reply that I will not be sending to him b/c I’M PROFESSIONAL AS FUCK IRL:

Ex-boss,

Clearly not everyone can act as a professional given your bizarre behavior since my resignation. Now that I understand that you find another person’s point of view irrational and neurotic if their perspective doesn’t match perfectly with you own, I am confident in my decision to end my employment.

Your neurosis manifested itself in various ways including not allowing me to pack my supplies and being irrationally angry when I told you I was going to take the large items that were obviously mine like my printer and standing light. You felt the need to leave your client and quietly harass me as I was doing this. I had originally stated I would be in one last time time pick up the Kingpin order I had made before resigning which you originally agreed to, the next day (when I returned for the rest of my things) you stated you would forward them to me, and now you’ve changed your mind a final time out of pettiness.

As far as manipulating others’ situations, no one in that shop would know more about manipulation than you. You carefully crafted an environment in which you are the sole, benevolent tattoo king who graciously employees and coddles poor lost girls. You chose to give me extra cash under the table to compensate me for the non-tattoo work I did around the shop. You paid for a trip to Vegas. You bought lunch sometimes. And you did it with a smile while keeping a tally in your head so you could call it in when my performance or behavior wasn’t to your liking.

I don’t think you’re used to women standing up to you. When I tried to tell you about my experience in Vegas you quickly shut me down and invented your own story of what I was saying even while I was saying it to you. You decided to bring up all the things you had paid for. When I responded that I never asked you to pay for them the actual conversation was over. You blew up at my statement, called me ungrateful and bitchy, and spent the rest of that time trying to coerce me into saying something I wasn’t saying.

I find your reaction to the truth of what happened in Vegas repulsive and vile.

I informed you from the beginning of my apprenticeship that I was struggling with chronic illness. Considering I was only recently properly diagnosed and am now getting treatment, I also find your tactics rather manipulative. You would often ask me personal medical questions that were technically illegal to ask and violating ADA protocol. I spent the last two years having daily muscle spasms and waking up with extreme fatigue and full body chronic pain caused by a severe untreated progesterone deficiency. Your compassion for the sick is truly astounding.

Also, don’t worry your little head about me going to therapy. I’ve been attending and learning about myself since I was 18 and I never stopped. Considering you believe therapy doesn’t work for you so therefore you don’t need it, I think it’s safe to say who has the larger toolbox, especially based on your bizarre and irrational behavior.

Here are the takeaways: I will not be bought and paid for. My loyalty will not be bought and paid for. My skills as an artist are for sale and that’s it. I truly appreciate what I learned from you as an apprentice and I now have a solid foundation from which my skills can grow.

I’m going to keep learning, I’m going to keep growing. I’m thankful for the help I received when I received it.

I hope you figure out why you become bizarre, irrational, and neurotic towards women who defy you.

Regards,

Me

PS: Polyamory LARPing Dates are best dates.

Dear Co-Artist

Dear Co-artist,

I doubt at any point in the near future I will get the chance to speak with you again and your decision to quit speaking to me before I quit was quite clear.

First, I regret the loss of our friendship.  It was a small shop and you and I had a camaraderie that I hadn’t experienced in other working environments before.  You were kind and compassionate towards me and I always strove to be that way towards you.  I’m proud of you for trying to cook more and I hope you keep trying to improve your diet. I worried about you eating enough and cringed a little whenever you would talk about how fat you were. Your own eating disorder reflected mine back at me and helped me realize how unhealthy it really was.

I miss our talks about everything from philosophy to politics to relationships to bra shopping.  I appreciated that you felt safe enough with me to come to me for advice about personal issues.  I appreciated that you listened when I needed to talk to someone as well.

In telling my experience of Vegas to ex-boss I had to violate your trust and for that I apologize.  He didn’t take my words well and I have no idea how he decided to spin them when he told them to you because in my conversation with him he was already rewording what I had said and accusing me of not listening to him.

It is unfortunate.

When I talked to you before talking to ex-boss, you told me you couldn’t believe that someone would intentionally hurt you.  That Vegas Hookup wasn’t the first guy to hurt you in that way before and you just shrugged it off.

This is also unfortunate and rather sad.

Five years ago I might have shrugged it off too. Sometimes you get hurt, sometimes people are just kind of awful but you deal with it and move on. Except what does that actually mean?  And how do you prevent it from happening again?  Why has this happened to you more than once?

I can’t answer those questions for you.  I’m at a different stage in my journey than you.  I said something to ex-boss because some secrets need to be told. Some things need to see the light of day. If we continue to refuse to talk about them and hide behind closed doors nothing will ever change.

I don’t care that you decided to have a hookup with ex-boss’ friend.  I care that the sexual encounter you agreed to was violated and that you asked him to stop three times before he did.  I care that you came back to our room in tears. I care that you were in pain that would last until your body healed itself from the tears he left inside you.  I care that you were afraid to tell anyone what happened and that you didn’t trust ex-boss to be sympathetic to what happened to you.  I care that this turned out to not be the first time this happened to you.  I care.

It cost me my job.

I don’t regret leaving.  I don’t regret being as honest with ex-boss as I was able, even if he didn’t hear me.  I won’t work in a place every day that’s full of those kinds of dark secrets and fear.  I spent the first 16 years of my life that way and I’m not going back to that for anyone’s sake.

I’m sorry my honesty cost you pain.  I myself am not immune to the aftermath of my decisions.  I had loved my job, my clients, getting to learn with different artists and a supportive environment.  We had inspired and learned from each other and for that I will always be grateful.

It wasn’t all peaches and cream, but the things that weren’t copacetic  were much easier to ignore before harsh reality struck.  What can I say, I’m very patient and I have a long fuse but eventually there’s a point where I won’t accept the bullshit anymore.

Never let someone believe they can buy you.  You’re worth more than any material sum.  I think in our line of work it’s easy to fall into that trap because of the services we offer.  Don’t fall for it.

It is my hope that your loyalty to ex-boss doesn’t cost you further but my fear is that it will.  I will send out hope for you.  I hope you will be safe from now on. I hope you will be protected. I hope that he will treat you even better than he already does from here on out.  I hope you achieve all your dreams.  I hope for you.

It’s what I can do.

I’ll miss you.