So it has been a rough couple of months. Honestly, I don’t even know the last time I checked in, the last time I wrote something that wasn’t schoolwork or workwork or some ranting, raving text or email that I hoped would perfectly and pointedly enunciate whatever the hell has been trying to claw its way out of me. Heart, brain, mind, soul… all a big confusing blob of Idon’tevenknowwhat right now.
Radiation was a downer, but I got through it. All of this activity with my thyroid has sent my hormones into overdrive. Concerns about my health have sent my head spinning, and three days in isolation, binge watching Game of Thrones, sure as heck didn’t help.
But I have, at times, been a raging bitch. It’s not that I am imagining things to get upset about; it has just been far too easy for me to explode about anything and then find myself curled into a sobbing ball of inconsolable self-recrimination.
In the middle of a tense discussion about it a couple of weeks ago, Rango told me that he doesn’t understand why I am so drawn to chaos.
“It’s like you need the tension.”
He doesn’t get it. He says he prefers to be in the middle, at even keel and as balanced as possible.
“I don’t trust extremes,” he continued. “I don’t like euphoria any more than I like chaos.”
But me? I thrive in chaos. Euphoria is my drug.
“I need the tension to know I’m alive,” I replied. “It’s the only way I know I’m not numb, and I don’t ever want to be numb to my life again.”
I challenged that I abhor the happy medium he espouses. But he has a point: I am drawn to extremes.
Lately, though, there seem to have only been extremes of bad, of anger and disappointment and outrage, over the slightest things. I can blow a gasket if the towels aren’t folded right or if the boys didn’t clean the table.
Last night, I was adamant that I’ll be kicking Max out of the house when he’s 22, because he can’t hold down a job or finish school or take care of himself—all because the kitchen was a torn apart by a ravenous, irresponsible, 15-year-old boy.
For the last week, I’ve been hearing other people say things, often random things that aren’t directed at me, that seem like messages the cosmos intends for me to hear. There was a gathering of the Castration Committee at my house over the weekend, and all three of the present girls said something very specific about themselves that I also needed to take to heart.
Yesterday, I was driving to work, in a total funk, listening to my favorite podcast, Death, Sex & Money (with Anna Sale). The latest episode was an interview with author and Buzzfeed senior editor Katie Heaney. Anna had interviewed her a couple of years ago after she published Never Have I Ever, her memoir of then-lifelong singledom. Now dating and now openly gay, Heaney talked about what it was like to let go of much of her apprehension about dating when she realized she really might want to date women instead of men.
No, I didn’t need to get the message that I’m really a lesbian, no matter how often the Castration Committee and I plan to swear off men and just be together forever. There was actually a lot in her story and in her words that jumped through the car speakers toward me. (That happens a lot when I listen to Death, Sex & Money. That’s why it’s my favorite.)
Sale asked Heaney if there’s anything she feels like she needed to be taught in her new relationship, having never been in a relationship herself.
“Not really, no…. Not taught. I think that I… and I am still learning this… I have to learn how to not catastrophize every disagreement or every feeling that comes to me that isn’t a one-hundred-percent joyous one. You know, I always thought that I was above the sort of ‘white knight’ narrative and thinking that a relationship was going to improve my life. I don’t think I thought it was going to improve my life, but I thought that I had struggled so long to find it that once I did it would just be perfect or easy…. I was naïve about what it really means to spend that much time with someone and still be happy but still have days where you’re just like, ‘Ugh, I don’t feel good, I don’t feel good today, this is not my favorite thing that’s going on today,” and I think early on I would get very nervous about that, because I was putting a lot of pressure on both of us.”
Is Katie Hearney living in my head?? (I’m sorry if you are, Katie. It’s a cacophonous place.)
Sale did the same thing I did, questioned whether or not “catastrophize” was a real word, or whether Hearney’s mom had coined it in reference to her daughter.
Turns out, it is a real word. It’s an irrational thought that something is much worse than it actually is. According to psychologist John M. Grohol, catastrophizing can take two forms. The first takes a current situation and turns it into catastrophe—a small mistake at work will result in your firing. The second form takes thoughts of future happenings and creates a reality around the anticipated catastrophe.
Guilty as charged, on both counts.
In the very beginning of my break-up with Bounder, when I saw the potential of so much going badly because of something he felt I had blown out of proportion, he called me on it.
“You’re always looking for the worst thing to happen, waiting for it to blow up, because you just know it’s going to. Things aren’t always that bad, Sass.”
Well, he was right and not, of course. So was I.
I am incredibly analytical by nature—I am a good Virgo, after all. And my job requires me to be hyper-analytical, looking not only at what is wrong, but also at what might be wrong, to anticipate a response and a rebuttal and a reply to the rebuttal, all with the end goal of being right. I am very good at my job, but the cacophony in my head is often just the buzz of this computation of possibility and plausibility in a way that is extreme, even for me.
So while I’m analyzing the minutiae of every relationship I have, often to my own detriment, I don’t know if I’ve ever been able to give this one with Rango (or any one) a fair and healthy shot. He noted that I am constantly scrutinizing everything, waiting for it to break down and fall apart.
And with another year of hormonal chaos ahead of me—so says my doctor—I don’t know if either of us has the energy to try to keep up with my thoughts.
My crazy train can be gloriously and devastatingly exhausting. I am always on the go, and the next year will be no exception. There is not time to slow down, between work and school and the kids. But somehow I have to find a way not to expect the worst, even though I have planned for it so carefully.
I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to just stop being me. And I am afraid of taking away the glorious if I abandon the devastation. I am afraid of being numb again.
I don’t have an answer. I have a recommendation for a book, The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living, and I have ordered a copy. I am not one to turn to self-help books, unless someone very special recommends the book. This time is no exception, and it feels like the cosmos wants me to read something.
So for now, I am waiting patiently for Amazon to deliver my copy. I will not expect it to get lost in the mail—I can always go to the book store for another one if that one never shows.
But I will try to take those thoughts when they come and let them be that, just thoughts. They are not action, they are not reality, unless I make them so.