Can you fix me?

I have been having a debate with myself forever over what is coincidence and what is meant to be. Do things happen for a reason or is there no rhyme or reason?

When we bought our house almost a year ago, we had some problems with the dryer. It was taking forever for the clothes to dry. I really didn’t notice it after awhile. But then other things started to break. The fan went out in our refrigerator. The dishwasher started to leak. I needed to get someone out to the house to fix these problems. While the guy was here, he might as well check the dryer.

I started to time how long it took to dry clothes. Three hours for a big load! I knew it was long but I didn’t realize it was that long. Maybe I just needed a new dryer?

The guy came out and pulled tons of lint out of the machine. It was backed up into the vent inside of the house. Big time fire hazard that I wasn’t even thinking about fixing until other things started to break.

Why did I ignore the biggest problem that needed fixing?

I think that I ignored it because it was still working, however dangerously and inefficiently. It only became a problem for me when something else wasn’t working at all.

This past week I went to see the counselor alone for the first time. I never would have set up an appointment by myself for myself. My husband insisted on talking to someone when we were having problems with our son. Now our son is doing so much better and here I am going to the counselor talking about myself.

I asked the counselor if she could fix me. She said that she could not, but I can. How come I ignored this for so long? I want to fix everyone else, but don’t want to work on the broken parts of myself.

I think the way I’ve been living my life has been working, although at times not very well.

The counselor asked me what are three things I wanted to keep the same about myself:

  1. My grit/determination
  2. Honesty
  3. Continue seeking self-reflection/growth

Then she asked me what are three things I want to change:

  1. Worry less/relax more
  2. Healing
  3. Be at peace

When discussing these goals, I realized that I was afraid. Part of me wants to stay the way I am. The demons I know aren’t as scary as the unknown. My anxiety and inability to relax has given me great determination as a runner. My depression and quest for full healing and making peace with the past is what I attribute to my honest self-reflection as a writer.

If I am able to change the things that I perceive to be negative in my life, will I still be able to keep the positive outcomes that was ignited by my pain?

Will I still have grit if I have nothing to run from? Will I still be able to write if I was totally happy with my life? Would it be worth giving up some of my grit in order to be at peace or relax more?

Would I even be me anymore? It was very confusing.

Some of the negative things in my life I turned into blessings. If I get rid of the bad, would I purge the good that came out of it as well?

Do I have to give up the good things I have to get the good things I want?

I guess the big question I can ask myself is why I didn’t do anything about the major problems until something else wasn’t working?

Why didn’t I start writing my book until I lost my job?

Why didn’t I ask for help until my house was almost on fire?

I was so upset when I lost my job, when my son was acting up, and when several appliances stopped working. But I now believe that God used these things for my own good to spur me into action that I needed to take. Maybe I am wrong, but I can’t believe that any of these things have been a coincidence.

 

 

 

Anxiety

A couple of weeks ago, I told Paul that once the kids leave home I will worry less. With less stress and anxiety, I would stop taking my medication for acid re-flux.

As a child, I lived with a constant stomachache. Sometimes it was a dull ache and sometimes it was a sharp fiery burn. I had a lot of nausea. I had it down to a science how much food I could eat to just feel okay. My parents never took me in and after awhile it became normal to me.

My autistic brother Matt also had stomach issues. He did a lot of gagging with his tourette’s. There were times that he even threw up at the table between the acid re-flux and tourette’s. It was not unusual for him not be able to keep his breakfast down and barely make it to the bathroom in time. There was a period of time that his valve between his stomach and intestines closed and he wasn’t able to keep any food down at all. He was very sick and almost died before the doctors figured out what the problem was and surgically corrected it.

As you can imagine, my stomachaches were ignored. It wasn’t until I was over 40 that I went to the doctor because of it because I was in a lot of pain. I probably had an ulcer. The doctor put me on 1 Prilosec a day and when that didn’t take care of my stomachache, I was put on 2 a day. It’s been a couple of years now.

I’ve always attributed my stomachaches to stress which I believe greatly aggravates it. Although there may be a genetic component to it since multiple family members have similar issues.

Childhood was the most stressful period of my life to date. Not only was my autistic brother violent towards me on a regular basis, he also had some very serious medical concerns as well. My dad was abusive. It was no wonder I had stomachaches.

It wasn’t all that long after I left my childhood home that I had a family of my own. Having 3 little children was stressful. I didn’t get a lot of help from either Paul’s or my family. I had a lot of stomachaches.

Then I helped my husband run a business while having three teenagers. I had a lot of stomachaches.

I am no longer running a business. One of my children has moved out and soon will another. Maybe I wouldn’t worry so much if I wasn’t always stressed out.

Then Paul said something interesting. Alissa, you will always have anxiety. You will just find something else to worry about. I thought of this as I reread my old journals. They were filled with anxieties and worries.

Sometimes I feel so full of anxiety for no apparent reason at all. I feel like something bad is going to happen and for some reason it is my fault. I felt that way a lot as a kid. If I wasn’t hyper-vigilant enough and missed the signs that my brother was going to attack someone, then it was my fault because I didn’t stop it. But the truth is that sometimes no matter what I did or didn’t do, I couldn’t have stopped it. The truth also is that I have lived my whole life with an anxiety disorder.

What makes me think that someday it is just going to go away when it was always there? The smartest thing that I can do is accept the cards I have been given and play them as best as I can.

I can’t relax. I get a lot done.

I worry. I care too much.

I have useless nervous energy. Running burns it off and makes me feel human.

I feel anxiety. I can help others by understanding their struggle.

I try to control things I can’t. I’m not to blame for things outside of my control. I realize that now.

Doing rituals made me feel safe when I wasn’t.

Isn’t overthinking better than not thinking at all?

I have the solution for every what if scenario whirling around my head.

I have to run back home to make sure I turned off the coffee pot. Got a keurig.

I’m not saying that I am no longer anxious. I just learned to live with it.

I have many fears. But I won’t let that stop me because I learned over time how to manage it to my advantage.

I learned to cope. I’m afraid that I wouldn’t be able to function without it. Strange because most people would think that I couldn’t function with it.

 

Backstage fright

I’m sorry that I’ve been a bit of a stranger as of late.

This past weekend I was in a theatrical production. Last week we entered into hell week starting with an 8 hour practice the previous Sunday to kick things off. To make life busier, my daughter was home from college last week for spring break. I tried to spend every minute with her that I could. I felt very nostalgic since this will be the last time she will be home for an extended period of time. She decided to get her own place after this semester in her college town several hours away.

The show itself has been going really well. Most of the time it seems like there is more drama backstage than onstage. This time has been no exception. I wasn’t going to say anything, but I did.

Yesterday I got a message from one of the other actresses in the show wanting to iron out a problem with a scene. This message was sent to the leadership of the show. The stage manager was happy that she came forward with the problem and told us to let her know if we had any other problems with the show. Any problems??

So I opened my mouth and I’m not sure if I should have.

There is a girl helping out backstage who I would guess is around 11. She is a very nice girl, but has special needs and functions like someone half her age. Once in awhile she grabs a chair to clear the set, but that is about it. She does not help with costume changes. If anything, she gets in the way. She can be loud and distracting. She wants to play and riles up the young actors who we constantly have to tell to be quiet.

What really is bothersome though is that she is constantly touching people in inappropriate ways. She jumped up onto the chest of a man piggy back style. She hangs on a teen girl and won’t get off when the girl tells her to stop. She is constantly invading the personal space of people she doesn’t know. This has made everyone uncomfortable but no one wants to say anything.

I feel like her parents dumped her off backstage for us to babysit. She needs help more than she is helping. I can tell that her behavior frustrates others. So I said something within a very small group message towards the leadership. Someone said in response to my concerns that I needed to be more compassionate. When she acts inappropriately, we should respond by redirecting her. I said that was not my responsibility. That was the responsibility of a caregiver or parent, not mine. I needed to focus on what I needed to do for the show.

Am I overreacting?

Last week was not the easiest. My mom came over and my daughter Arabella confronted her. My mom will travel hours with us to see Angel’s shows when she is not feeling well, but did not drive 20 minutes to see Arabella’s performances. There was crying and hard feelings. Then my mom told me to have a good performance after she told me that she had a biopsy done and might have cancer. She also said that the caregivers were not taking care of Matt properly in the group home. All of this stressed me out before a big performance.

Then the afternoon of opening night, I got a call from my brother Luke. He stayed at my parents house for a couple of days to attend a conference for work. He had a hard time staying at my parents house. It brought up a lot of painful memories. We talked for over 2 hours. Luke and I struggle with a lot of anxiety and even PSTD symptoms from our childhood. Within the last couple of months, we found solace in talking to each other about things that no one else understands.

I think I am upset about two things with the girl backstage. First, whenever I got a hobby or found something special that I liked my mom always tried to include Matt in on it. I liked roller skating. My mom made sure that I included Matt in on my hobby. One time when we were roller skating, Matt attacked a little girl. He grabbed her by the hair and started kicking her. It was very traumatic for me. I never felt like I could enjoy anything by myself.

The girl at the theater has a sister in the show. I feel angry that the parents want both of their kids involved in the same thing. Is this unreasonable on my part? Probably.

The second thing that bothers me is that the girl is autistic like at times. She does a lot of self-stim behavior and does a lot of inappropriate touching. I feel like I have to keep a close eye on her like I had to with my brother. It is bringing back a lot of dormant feelings.

My brother Matt’s birthday is this week. I will be spending a lot of time with family. Then I will have another weekend of shows. This is stressing me out. A lot of contact with my brother or family, even thinking about it while writing my book, during a stressful time causes a tremendous amount of anxiety in me.

The second thing that I am truly afraid of is that I will have flashbacks of painful memories during the show. I think it might help if I find a quiet area that I can hide out  during the show if possible for my own mental health.

This morning the woman that said I needed to be more compassionate posted a video on Facebook of a kid helping a special needs team mate stating that there needs to be more people like that in the world. I felt like it was a personal attack on me.

I don’t have a problem if a special needs kid wants to help out with the show. But in this case she is not mature enough to handle the responsibility. I simply suggested that a parent or caregiver should be with her to help her respond appropriately. I think that it is cruel to leave a kid floundering in an environment that sets them up for failure, not just for her but also for her sibling. Again, maybe I am overreacting based on my own experiences.

Oh, I hope I break a leg and not lose my mind!

 

BVI, day 11

The time zone in the BVI and Puerto Rico is two hours ahead of us at home.

I woke up the morning of the 11th day at 12:45 AM to shower, leave by 2 AM, and catch a plane at 4 AM our time at home. I was approached by someone asking if I would do a survey at the airport. Normally I would say no because who has time for that. But there I sat while everyone else in the group waited in an endless line for coffee.

I didn’t get coffee. Instead this time I took my anxiety medicine. I was hoping to relax and sleep on the plane since I didn’t get much rest on the sailboat. But things never turn out the way I plan. The flight from San Juan to Chicago was 5 hours long and I’d be lucky if I slept half of it.

At the end of the flight, we were warned we were headed towards some nasty turbulence but that the pilots were very experienced and would get us through it safely. Terrified I braced myself to my seat for the longest time but the turbulence never came.

Many of the passengers coughed. I thought to myself that I would rather get sick after my vacation than during. That was until I got sick and decided I would rather not be sick at all.

We reached our connecting flight with just enough time for me to get a cup of coffee. I had play practice that evening that I couldn’t miss because I already missed 4 rehearsals from the vacation. Time to wake up!

Our second flight home was very short and as we were making our descent, I was filled with dread. There was snow everywhere! No more warm weather for a long time.

I had just enough time to unpack before heading out the door again. I heard stories of how things went when we were gone. Paul’s step-dad Darryl stayed at our house over the weekends we were gone. Monday morning he overslept and Arabella had to wake him up to take her to school. He left in such a hurry that he didn’t let the dog out and there was a mess to clean up later in the day when my mom came. He also told Arabella that he was going fishing on a day that she had to work and wouldn’t be able to give her a ride.

My mom stayed during the week and things didn’t go that much better. Alex skipped school one day because he didn’t wake up in the morning. My mom and Arabella were having so much fun that my mom didn’t take her to school one day until 10 AM. My mom wrote Arabella a note saying that she got stuck in our driveway which wasn’t true. Those things made me very angry (now you can see why I worry so). But I let it go reasoning with myself that the pets and my children were still alive.

That night I felt horribly tired at play practice. Jet lag I suppose. I felt dizzy as well. For all the time I spent on the sailboat, I didn’t feel like I was on a boat at all until I got home. Everything was rocking for two days. Then I got a really nasty cold for 2 weeks and maybe only slept two nights in a full month. But, hey, at least I had a pretty good vacation.

At this point you are probably wondering if I would’ve done anything different if you are still reading this. Yes, I would’ve left the wet suit at home. I would’ve brought a good pair of boat/water shoes. I would’ve done more research online. If you decide to read any books regarding the BVI make sure they are written post hurricane because some of the things we read about and wanted to visit simply weren’t there anymore.

Also, we opted to sail the boat ourselves without a paid captain or chef. I would recommend doing that if you have people onboard that are skilled at both. Also, it does help if the crew is in good physical condition.

It is always iffy to travel with friends. We didn’t know Tim and Cara that well and didn’t really know Stan and Angela at all. Overall, we got along pretty good. But there were instances when someone felt like the third wheel. Also, we were in very tight quarters and at times under stressful circumstances which doesn’t always bring out the best in people. There is a lot of invasion of private space and necessity to work together as a team to make decisions. I guess that’s what makes it a real adventure!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

BVI, day 9

img_0196

Today was the best day and our last full day on the sailboat.

We wanted to get as close as we could to our end point without actually going there. It was still very windy and a very rough ride. There were 6 ft waves that were close together. Everything creaked and loose stuff shifted position. It was hard to walk without falling down.

It seemed to take forever to reach our destination. Paul brought a bottle of Chardonnay and two glasses out after we moored while I was sitting on the bow. We shared the wine only to find out that it was only 10:30 AM. Whoops! Afterwards, we ate a huge lunch. We had a lot of food and drinks left over.

After lunch, we all went snorkeling. For the first time, I put on my wet suit. Just a quick bit of advice, leave the wet suit and flippers at home. They take up tons of luggage space and are not necessary. The water was cool and refreshing, but not at all cold. The only thing nice about a wet suit is that it provided a layer between my skin and whatever was in the ocean. It gave me a feeling of protection, but not enough to take up a quarter of my suitcase. The charter company had flippers to use. Save the room for extra clothes because laundry is a pain. Invest instead in a nice pair of full face goggles.

I felt indigestion after feasting, so I decided to go to shore. It was rocky, not sandy. It hurt to walk on the stones, they weren’t very smooth. At one time, someone was camping on shore. There were a couple of old boat cushions, remnants of a campfire, and miscellaneous empty bottles. At any time I was expecting Tom Hanks to come out with his ball Wilson. Behind the beach was hilly terrain and thick foliage which was rather creepy.

To make things more unsettling, I heard the intermittent crying of a kid in the distance. A kid?? Did someone have a child on their boat? Not that I knew of. Yet the crying continued. It was a while later that we spotted goats. It was a kid after all, just not the kind I originally imagined.

Later in the afternoon, we decided to visit the legendary Willy T bar for drinks. On the second story of the boat, people were jumping off into the water despite the no jumping, no diving signs. I watched several people jump and debated for at least an hour whether or not to give it a try. I spent enough time in my life watching other people have fun and decided I couldn’t forgive myself if I left without jumping. Paul, Stan, and Tim already dove off the platform.

img_0160

This was the picture of the Willy T I posted earlier that was shipwrecked from the hurricane on Norman Island. The new Willy T is located on Peter Island.

I was utterly terrified as I stood on the platform overlooking the 15 ft drop. I talked Angela into jumping with me but Cara could not be convinced. Strangers cheered us on as we stood on the platform in fear. We couldn’t wimp out now! Jumping was utterly exhilarating! I convinced Angela to jump in from the water. After jumping once, we jumped in several more times. It was so much fun!

The hardest part about jumping was getting back onto the boat. There weren’t any steps, just slimy dock poles. The guys had to give us a hand. Angela and I bought hot pink Willy T t-shirts to remember the day. Then we decided to head back to our boat for supper. We had a lot of food left. Our adventures of the day bolstered our conversation that evening. But our adventure wasn’t over yet!

Later in the evening, the guys caught another shark. It took Tim 2 hours to fight the monstrous beast. They decided to bring the shark onboard for pictures then set him free back in the water. I thought it was a crazy idea. The shark was huge, almost 7 ft long! But by the time we brought the shark onboard, he was sick of fighting. I was kind of glad I wasn’t planning on doing any more swimming though.DSC_0386

Sorry the pictures aren’t the greatest. It was dark and I didn’t want to get too close!

DSC_0389

What a great way to end our sailing adventure!

 

 

BVI, day 4

Cara got sick during the night and we ate the same thing. I feel fine. Cara was also feeling seasick. She slept a lot while we were sailing.

We left this morning heading to Cooper Island. We stopped at the Indians for a short snorkeling trip on the way. We still didn’t see any sharks. We were told if we did see a shark to make eye contact and stand our ground, not swim away frantically like I would instinctively want to do.

I decided not to snorkel with everyone else and opted instead to take photos of the incredibly scenic area.

We are heading into the wind today so we motored instead of sailing. It is very windy and wavy. The journal I am writing this in got wet on the bow. Paul was worried about my safety. We were very careful to make sure that everyone was accounted for at all times.

I feel so very far away from home. It is really difficult not having a way to communicate with those at home. Cara was able to access data on her cell phone and spoke of another snow storm that was supposed to hit home. I was worried about my son driving on the roads. But I reasoned to myself that he was in his element while we were out of ours. Maybe they should worry about us with the rough seas and sharks.

We got to Cooper Island at lunch time and decided to go to shore to eat. It was a lovely place. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger and fries. They also brought Cara the same meal although she just wanted a hamburger. She sent her meal back, they scraped off the cheese and brought it back. With Cara’s sickness and trouble with her meals, I jokingly said if we have any problems we might have to throw her overboard. It would be a shame because she did all the work to plan the trip.

After the meal, we went to the gift shop. Paul bought a swimsuit and I bought a Cooper Island Brewery shirt. The problem was I didn’t try any of their beer. I solved the problem by buying a keepsake mug of beer at the bar next door. It was the best craft beer I had on the trip. However, the local craft beer options were very limited.

After lunch we went snorkeling and saw a manta ray. Stan saw a shark while snorkeling. We hit a patch of rain in the dinghy on the way back to the boat which was chilly. It seems to rain several times everyday for about 10 minutes keeping everything damp. We saw beautiful rainbows for 4 days in a row starting today.

We saw another turtle with fish sucking on it. Paul caught one of the turtle sucking fish with his fishing pole. It looked like a cross between a worm and an eel. The guys spent the evening fishing.

I’ve been having a hard time sleeping. It is hot and humid at night. Most evenings it rains and I get wet through the hatch over the area where we sleep. I’ve been waking up stiff with a backache. I’ve been having a hard time relaxing. I feel sad and disconnected from the group because I am worried about those at home and have been having a hard time just letting it go. Sometimes it takes a few days and I wish it didn’t because it is frustrating. As if being close to home will prevent accidents from happening. Anxiety apparently cannot be reasoned with.

I had to escape my fear to truly enjoy the time away. It did happen eventually.

 

 

BVI, day 2

img_0128

We left Puerto Rico late this morning to take the puddle jumper to Tortola. Some of us were a little nervous about our flight on such a small plane that we decided to stop at the bar before our flight. I ordered a Bloody Mary which I thought was rather strong. Maybe it was just too early. It was 10 AM, 8AM at home. I jokingly said that is when the school will call me at 8 AM a little tipsy. Hey, it’s noon somewhere.

I wasn’t especially nervous about the flight. I figure I can handle just about anything for 30 minutes. I wore pants which ended up being rather ridiculous. I am always cold on planes, but this plane was very hot and loud. We spent the whole flight filling out our customs form and then it was over. There were only about 12 people on the plane, half of them belonging to our group.

We got off the plane and entered one of the smallest airports I’ve ever been in. There were chickens wandering around outside. It was very hot and everything went at a slow pace. We took a shuttle ride from the airport to the marina. We got to our sailing charter a day early and would spend the first evening sleeping aboard at the marina.

We couldn’t check in until later in the afternoon and decided to walk around to find something for lunch then provision at the store. We got a recommendation for a restaurant, but when we got there the sign said closed. We heard people inside and wandered in anyway. They were short staffed so we sat at a table outside and relaxed waiting about 2 hours to eat. We weren’t in a hurry. While we waited, we could hear the band students playing Bob Marley songs nearby. The band room was located in a tent ever since the hurricane.

We walked to the store later. It was strange since the traffic moved in a different direction than it did at home. Cara started to cross the street and had to run back to the curb because a car came around the corner fast. She earned the nickname frogger from the old Atari game where the frog tried to cross traffic without getting squashed. Later that evening, the same thing happened to Cara. This time a man on a motorcycle stopped so she could cross and almost got rear ended by a truck.

Our trip to the store was interesting. It was strange because there were people tailgating in the store parking lot. I found that to be an unusual hang out place. The store had a lot of interesting food like squid and fruits and vegetables we’ve never seen before. There were cases of beer for $50. There were also 6 packs that people mixed with other brands. Coming from WI, it was weird to see beer for sale by the bottle. I also did not see a large selection of coffee creamers. Some of the items did not have prices.

After we bought our provisions, we stuffed them in our backpacks and walked back to our boat at night. We weren’t worried about crime although it was a little scary to cross the road. The next morning we were going to have our bigger items delivered like our cases of water and soda. Then we were going to be on our way.

BVI, day 1

This is a new series of our British Virgin Islands sailing charter vacation..

We weren’t sure what was going to happen, even if we were going to be able to leave.

The night before we left, shortly after I posted, Paul and I had a meeting at the sailing club to plan this summer’s cruises. Paul was tying up loose ends at work and ended up plowing out our driveway and my parents, so he did not start packing. Not to mention his trip to the ER the night before. The next morning I was planning on getting up at 2 AM to shower and depart.

After the meeting, I started receiving texts from our group. My friend Cara planned the whole trip. Paul and I were traveling with Cara’s husband Tim and their friends Angela and Stan. Cara was concerned because the weather forecast was predicting rain, snow, and freezing rain for our flight departure time.

We tossed around the idea of leaving at midnight and driving a couple of hours to the nearest major city’s airport that had a direct flight to Puerto Rico, our layover location. That plan was rather iffy too. We wouldn’t get any sleep and still might have to drive through bad weather. In the end we decided to keep things as planned and risk it.

It was a slow drive to the airport. Our flight was delayed by an hour due to a mandatory rest for the flight crew. The roads were icy. It was hard seeing through the windshield. The streetlights looked like cars coming towards us in the wrong lane down the dark highway. The roads were empty and icy, I drove slow because I didn’t want to go in the ditch. What would we do then?

Before we left, I received calls from the school saying that school was cancelled due to an ice storm. We ended up sitting on the plane for over a half an hour for them to de-ice the plane. They told us 15 minutes, it is never 15 minutes. Once they de-iced, it seemed to ice back up again because of the ice storm.

The only way Cara and I could sit by our husbands on the plane was to take seats in the exit row. Cara jumped at the seats before I could say no. I decided not to take any anti-anxiety meds because I didn’t want to be dopey for our overnight stay in Puerto Rico. Plus I had to be responsible to save people in the event of an emergency landing. It was only a 3 hour flight to Atlanta. What could possibly go wrong?

The drink cart just made its way over to me. I ordered a ginger ale, Paul ordered coffee. I got my drink, and as Paul was getting his we hit a really rough patch of turbulence unexpectedly. The drink of the lady in front of me hit the ceiling. I poured my soda onto Paul’s lap. The flight attendant packed up and ran off before the coffee had a chance to scald my face. I screamed and held on tight to anything I could grab onto. I started to hyperventilate and scream that we were all going to die. Perfect exit row material right there.

The flight to San Juan from Atlanta was rather uneventful. We were able to make the flight with enough time despite the delay. I watched the movie ‘Beautiful Boy’ which was about a teenage drug addict that looked remarkably like my son. It was kind of a downer to start my vacation that way.

We got into Puerto Rico at suppertime and ate at Casita Miramar which was creative in decorating and food. The restaurant is very charming. I ate mahi mahi in a stuffed avocado. There were a lot of nooks and crannies of uniquely designed rooms. The waiter brought out the menu on a chalkboard.

That night we shared a bedroom with Angela and Stan which was rather awkward. Stan snored and I didn’t have the heart to go over and kick him like I do with Paul.

The next morning we had a flight booked on a puddle jumper to Tortola.

 

Goal 10: Make peace with the past

For a long time I’ve outrun my demons and wondered how they could still catch up to me.

Writing this blog has been a great first step in making peace with my past. If that wasn’t enough, I started writing a book. I’ve found the process to be very therapeutic.

In a few months, I will start the process of public speaking about my experiences.

In doing all of this, I realized that I missed a very important step. I need to be open and honest with the people that care about me even if I get hurt. It’s not like I didn’t get hurt in the past and move on with my life.

I spent my whole life pretending to the outside world that everything was alright in my life. Life is good now. But I want to be able to tell people I am close to that things are not alright if they aren’t. I want to be able to ask for help instead of pushing everyone away and dealing with things myself.

Right now I’m trying to look back without having blinders on. Hindsight is not always 20/20. Sometimes I tend to wear sunglasses when I look at the darkest days. I make excuses and cannot face things as they truly were.

I tell myself that what happened in my life was completely normal. It wasn’t that bad.

Sometimes I think I will just be able to throw all of my painful memories into a book, then close the book and walk away. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to do that. But I do think that my story could help others and that I will be able to make peace with my past.

Geez, sometimes I wish my goal was to lose 10 lbs. Revamping myself on the outside sure seems a lot easier then stoking the demons within. But I feel like this is what I was meant to do.

Goal 9: Work hard, but take time to rest.

One of the hardest parts of losing my job is telling people what I do.

When meeting someone new, the first question that they ALWAYS ask is what you do for a living. The second question people ask is how many kids I have. Never fails.

Yesterday I went to the gym later than usual. Someone asked me why I wasn’t at work. I think people are just too nosy.

Two days after I lost my job some friends had a party at their house. Right off the bat, someone asked me what I do for a living. The question hit me hard and knocked the wind out of me. What? I didn’t have an answer prepared. I stumbled awkwardly through the whole story of how my husband and I sold our business last year and that the new owners recently eliminated my position unexpectedly.

My answer seemed to confuse people more. Is it a good thing that you lost your job or a bad thing? Yes, the answer is yes to both. Losing my job after working with my husband for 11 years was very hard. Not to mention that as a workaholic I wrapped a lot of my identity in my work. Yet it was a good thing because now I decided to write a book.

Now do I tell people that I am an author when they ask me what I do?? Then I have to explain what my book is about which is very personal and painful experience of growing up with a disabled sibling in an abusive home environment.

If I am a writer, I should be able to come up with a creative way to tell people what I do for a living in one word. If I tell people I am retired, that brings up even more questions since I look a lot younger than I am.

Then I decided to tell the next person who asks that I am independently wealthy just to get a good laugh. Would that shut them up?

The strange thing about not working is that I really don’t have any extra time. I am still running around like I am in a hurry. I keep a strict schedule. I drop my daughter off at school, go to the gym for an hour or two, write my book, then work on this blog. Plus I do other things like clean the house, laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and run errands. Now I wonder how I was able to do all of this while working 30+ hours a week.

You know how the saying goes, ask the busiest person that you know if you want to get something done.

I’ve always been a workaholic. I feel very stressed out if I don’t accomplish enough in a day. Resting is a form of torture and usually only happens when I am sick. One day I had doubt about writing the book and said that heck with it, I am going to watch a show on Netflix. My daughter came home from school, saw me watching TV, and was concerned I was sick. She felt my forehead for signs of a fever and was worried about my health.

Relaxing is something I rarely do. But it is something that I want to learn how to do. I’ve always had the harsh workaholic task master of perfectionism pounding constantly in my head. If I learned anything from losing my job, it’s that I can’t let how much I am able to work control my life and dictate how much I am worth as a person. It is a wonderful way to avoid relationships and look like a martyr.

Working hard was something I was good at and I ran with it. There are few that top my work ethic and determination. But it controls me. I’ve learned anything that controls me isn’t good for me. I am no better than an alcoholic looking for the next drink. I am always searching for the next project, the next goal, and I am viewed as an inspiration and a hero for doing it.

I am afraid of success. What will I do next? Running marathons is not enough. How about a 50k? I drive myself to the ground. Are you proud of me now? What more can I do to prove my worth?

It is a great way to avoid intimacy. I am in the middle of something and am too busy to talk with you right now. What a safe place to hide.

If you give me a hard time, I will condemn you of your laziness with great pride.

Then I wonder why I can’t relax. I am worried and stressed when my mind is free.

Here I am, a workaholic without a job. I never ask for help. I do everything myself. I think I am beyond reproach, but I can’t run from myself.

I am starting to see a wonderful coping mechanism being torn apart. Maybe it is a good thing I lost my job because I am now faced with myself.

You can only outrun your demons for so long.