MUSING MOMENTS 134: LFTIO – Dealing With Change

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Side note: I find it amusing that in the time line of my posting, this is the post which happens right after writing about the unexpected change of keeping the kids for a week longer than expected.

DSS Leadership – Assignment 11
Book – “Leadership from the Inside Out”



Think about the times you faced major crises or challenges. What qualities or potentialities arose?
I feel like a broken record constantly going back to the situation of mom’s death. It has been one of the most recent events in my life and by far the most self-changing.

I think back to the beginning, the phone call and how I immediately began problem solving. How would I get out there? What did I NEED to pack? Who needed to know I would be leaving for an unknown period of time? Who didn’t know about the situation within our family/friend circle and how was I going to contact them so they knew? I wrote things down so I wouldn’t forget later. I continued to try to write as a way to manage my emotions. I didn’t give myself shit for not having answers. I didn’t berate myself for not going to the gym. I praised myself for showering and cooking breakfast and actually eating it. I reminded myself that I HAD to leave the hospital during the day, when I changed shifts with my brother’s because I needed sleep. I needed to keep taking care of myself so I could be there rather than getting sick myself.

Even in the events that followed her death, I ensured I had the papers to fly with the urn in my backpack. I made sure people knew about the service. I made sure to attend the service and be there as the representative of our family.

When I got back to Orlando I dealt with the break up with Zane. I found a new place to live. I removed my belongings from the apartment. I made sure Scarlet had a safe place so she wouldn’t be alone any longer than she already had been.

In relation to my career, I worked the last months to see my class through its transition. In regards to beginning this new career, I researched the different schools I could obtain my CNA from. I studied. I passed my tests. I applied for jobs. I kept pushing through the endless stream of “no”. I cried and acknowledged that it sucked but it wouldn’t get better if I didn’t keep trying.

I bitched about how tired I was and how it felt unfair and how I wanted to give up and yet I kept taking steps to try to change things because I didn’t know how not to and eventually things DID change.

I saught help in the form of counsling because I knew I did not have the skills to handle all of the change going on in my life without help; without guidance and support and resources both emotional and spirital.

I guess the quality that I think of is strength. I think back to the conversation I had with my mom on the couch in what had been my childhood home in South Carolina. The conversation where Law and Order reruns played in the back ground while she told me one day she wouldn’t be here and that she knew it would be hard for me. She knew it would suck but that she had raised me to be strong and to get through it. She had believed in me. She had faith that I could do it and I couldn’t let her be wrong. I had to prove to her that I could in fact be strong and get through it so I did.

Whenever I faltered I reached out. I called people I normally wouldn’t have and told them that I was struggling, that it sucked to live without her. I had text message coversations while the other person watched the same show as me on Netflix so I could feel less alone while I stayed in an extended stay, sneaking Scarlet in with me because animals weren’t allowed.

I rebuilt everything; every aspect of my life. I relentlessly worked on understanding my grief and my emotions and insecurities. I found purpose in life again. I lived until I began living again. I didn’t give up even though there were so many times I wished I had had it within me to do so and from where I’m sitting, today, nearly three years later, I’m glad I didn’t even though I still have hard days sometimes.


What qualities would you like to develop further during those times of crisis?
I would like to develop a kinder inner voice. I would like to be as considerate of my own emotions and complexities of life as I am with others. I feel I have come a long way in this regard and would like to continue to develop it.

I deserve the same unbiased, calm, level-headed reflection and perspective as I give others. I feel a lot of that comes after; after the emotions have their time, after I acknowledge and accept that yes, I do have these emotions and it’s ok, but what am I going to DO? What actions are avalible to me? Stepping back, what would logically be the best move for me to make, not the most emotionally fulled one. Not the knee-jerk insticually driven on.


What were the key things you learned during those times?
The key thing I learned from mom’s death is to value the time I have and to trust myself. I learned that I will make mistakes and that’s ok. I learned that I CAN learn and that I can do better for myself. I learned to be my own cheerleader. I learned to be my own protector. I learned to value my self. I learned to take risks and to try new things and that doing my best is all I can do. I learned that as long as you make it to the end of the day then that is success enough. The greatest success is survival. If you survive that means you have a tomorrow to try again.


When presented with a new experience, what is your first reaction?
I feel like this is pretty open-ended and I honestly don’t know how to answer. I suppose I freeze for a bit. I have to analyze. What are the pros of this situation? What are the cons? Do I gain anything? Do I lose anything? Is there a balance or am I the only one put out? Does it positively affect someone? Is there kindness involved? Is the experience in line with my values and priorities?

I need to figure out what the experience is to me and so I suppose there’s hesitation because I need more information before being ok with it. That also brings into question was the new experience something of my own doing or in the case of going to the pumpkin patch with the kids, an event wholly unexpected and created without my voice being involved? I remember the initial situation being “not ok” in my mind because it took away time from myself without my consent, but the trip itself was pleasant and I’m glad I went. I could have handled the initial change better than what I did because the change itself, with hindsight, was a good thing.

How do you react when you have invested significant work and effort into something and it doesn’t work out? What do you fear most?
Most of my projects with work have been successful. I remember how my first project when I was in finals had the issue with the facial deformation, causing me to receive a 70 as my grade rather than the 100 it would have been. I remember how I spent nearly two weeks contemplating dropping out because I was obviously a failure. Here I was about to graduate and I was making a barely passing grade. How was I going to get a job with barely passing work to show for myself.

With relationships, there’s usually a sense of “I have nothing left to give”. I try and try to make it work and it doesn’t. There can be frustration and anger. Injustice. Fury. Betrayal.

Closure in the form of the “INFJ door slam”. That moment where something snaps within myself. I’m done. Not just done, but DONE. There is no recovery. There is no talking or working it out. It’s over. It’s dead because I am killing it, here and now, without remorse. It deserves to die. Quickly. Cleanly. No suffering. It doesn’t deserve to suffer. It doesn’t deserve my time to suffer and when it is over I burning everything within my inner landscape to the ground and I stand within the flames letting them consume me so I can emerge clean from a situation I know I let myself stay in for much too long.

What I feared the most was my mom dying. I no longer fear that. It happened and yet, here I am, still alive. Still breathing. I fear losing Ox. I fear losing my brothers. I fear losing the people I care about, but I know it’s going to happen and so that fear, that anxiety, while it makes my chest tight and causes me to irrationally cry sometimes, is not something that I feel paralyzes me as often as it used to.

I don’t know what I fear most. I still fear disapproval. I still worry about hurting people’s feelings. But I don’t worry about finding a job. I don’t worry about finding a place to live. I don’t worry about money or making ends meet. And even with the disapproval of others, there’s a quiet calm within myself where I know I honestly don’t care. If they don’t approve, fuck them. I’ve lived through so much, fought through so much, survived so much. I’m not here to meet their approval. I’m here to live my life the way I feel I should be living it.

So I don’t know what I fear. Maybe I fear not living up to the expectations of mom now. Not making her proud. Doing something that would dishonor her memory or make her hang her head in shame.


The next time you face a potential loss, how will you address it?
I suppose the same as I have in the past. Analyzing my situation and figuring out where to go from wherever it is that I’m at. Potential loss is too broad of a term to really be able to say how I will react. There will be emotion involved, but after the emotion there will be reflection, and then action.

Reflect on how well you manage the following:

Focus on Opportunities vs. Problems
I think I do well with this one. I may focus on the problem for a bit, but generally, I’m able to shift my focus from one of dwelling to one of action. What can I do to change the situation? What options are there? Out of those options which is the best one for the moment with the information I have? What other obstacles could potentially arise? Should other people be involved or informed? Are there trusted mentors who could give me a clearer perspective or other avenues to pursue? I myself, being in involved or in the middle of the situation, may not be able to see the whole of the picture as someone uninvolved might be.

Focus on Long Term vs. Short Term
I feel I am, for the most part, balanced here. I am fairly good at identifying sort term goals as well as long term ones. What short term actions fit into my bigger overarching project? What can I do in the now to progress to where I want to be? What in the short term benefits the longer term?

Focus on Purpose vs. Circumstance
I feel I struggle here. I do tend to get caught up on circumstance. This situation, this issue is wreaking havoc on my life. This moment of struggle and challenge and despair and grief is the only moment in all of existence. I can lose sight of what I’m working towards or trying to achieve. Emotions become overwhelming and I falter. I lose sight. I cannot see past the enormity of what is before me, this mountain in the time of my life that has no end. It will go on for forever and I don’t know how I will move past it.

I forget the purpose of what I am trying to do. The why behind my struggle. My reason becomes the struggle, not the goal at the end, the summit I wish to reach. The view which the thought of had captivated me so strongly. The rain and mud and rocks and scraped knees and bloodied hands are all I can focus on and see. My eyes are down rather than ahead.

Eventually, I come out of this state. Either I remind myself to look up, to focus on where I’m going, or something, someone sparks the perspective shift for me. If you look down while you’re crossing the thin line of wire of a tight rope you will only fill yourself with doubt and fear and worry. You won’t see where you’re going, your destination, your light at the end of the tunnel, the view of the summit you so convictedly wanted to climb in the beginning. We all get caught in “the long middle”. I don’t think it’s weakness or a fault to need help and support and reminders that there is, in fact, a bigger picture, a bigger purpose. I think it’s human. I think it’s something we all go through in varying degrees. The bigger the project the easier it is to get caught up in the “things”, the circumstance.

There is a driving factor behind everything. Sometimes we just need a reminder to look up and remember what that factor, that purpose is.

Focus on Adaptability vs. Control
I think I’m getting better about this. I think I do a fair job at flowing and blending with others. I can take control when I need to, I can also delegate and divert when needed. I am not concerned about having the main role or the credit or the control. I’m more concerned about achieving what we are striving for. If that means stepping back or doing what I’m told, ok. Things are going to change. New information will come into play. The battle plan that was created with such care will become obsolete and a new one will need to be constructed.

Mom’s death taught me that very little is actually within our control. It is better to alter your course to match life because life will not, cannot alter its course for you.

Focus on Service vs. Self
When I become overwhelmed I struggle in this area. The more burnt out, the more hurt, the more tired and battle weary I am, the more concerned about me I become. What do I get out of it? How does it affect me? Why should I care?

I feel that much of my life is service oriented. I should be mindful and more aware of when the “self” thoughts begin to creep in. Why are they there? Could I be handling things better or in a more constructive way? Am I truly living by my values or am I regressing back to coping rather than character?

Focus on Listening vs. Expertise
I am not sure what is meant here. I suppose it might mean listening as in being open to learning or other perspectives rather than falling back on what is known or understood to begin with. Preconceived notions or patterns from the past which may cloud our judgment of the present situation.

I feel I do a decent job at listening. There are still times where I find myself listening to respond rather than listening to understand, however. Such a case can be illustrated by a conversation with my younger brother where he was expressing his frustration over his living situation. I realized halfway through his explanation that I was waiting for him to finish talking so I could launch straight into what I wanted to say. That’s not listening. That’s not hearing or understanding. That’s not being open.

Being aware that this is still a habit within myself allows me the opportunity to catch myself, call myself out on it, and to do something to correct it. It is a behavior I do not agree with. It is not how I want to behave.

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to learning from first-time situations?
Firstly, most likely allowing myself to have them. Secondly, being open enough to see the positive in them if they happen to be a negative situation. Accepting that I am still human and will make mistakes. Accepting negative emotions and allowing them to have their time so I can move past them is another challenge. I try so hard to pass that initial stage, the emotion stage. I glaze over it and rush past only for the emotions to come back later.

Emotions: Um, hi. I know we had a little bit of time together a few days ago, but I just wanted to let you know that it really wasn’t enough time and now we’re going to stick around for longer and be even more annoying and unruly to deal with and take even more time and energy from you. You really should have dealt with us in full in the beginning rather than brushing us off or pushing us down or to the side or into a box you knew we wouldn’t fit in.

I feel like if I could have a conversation with them, the emotions, that that’s how it would play out. Emotions are natural. You can’t hide from them. You can’t deny them their time and space. If something makes me feel bad, or wrong, or like a failure, I need to own that emotion. I need to embrace it, accepted as real, and then ask it why it’s there.

Me: Hello, my friend. It has been a while since I felt your presence. Anger, wrath, fury, despair, depression, apathy, insecurity, abandonment. Please sit and tell me what brings you back to me?

Maybe if I said that to my emotions rather than, “Not now, guys. I’m far to busy at the moment and tomorrow doesn’t look good either,” more constructive progress would be made in that beginning stage and prevent unnecessary hardship for myself later.

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Daily Post 152: Finally Up to Today

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Just a warning… this will most likely be long-ish post.

It’s 7:30 in the morning. Both kids are already up. Bacon is thawing so we can have breakfast in a little bit. Ox is still sleeping, and though I thought I heard Mama Ox moving around, she must have gone back to her room because I didn’t see her when I got up to use the restroom and make coffee.

I’m hoping to have enough time to catch up on my writing before the day starts in full swing. I sort of feel like the Universe is snickering at me behind my back in that regard since the last two or three posts have all been about events from over a week ago at this point.

Continuing from my last post… Ox and I were “beta-testing”. I had finally admitted after maybe about an hour of not knowing that I wasn’t 100% sure what he had said and that I was sorry for that. I was sorry if I had misheard. I was sorry if I was making a big deal out of nothing. I was sorry for being myself and confused about the emotions I felt.

Ox: I said wife.

Everything inside me went still. Quiet. Calm. I don’t think I have ever felt a warmth like that within my chest before. If I have, it must have been in a slightly different way because nothing comes to mind. It felt like I belonged. It felt right. It felt like I had finally been given something I hadn’t realized I ached for.

Me: Ok. I’m your wife.

And that’s how that went down. No proposal. No romantic down on one knee. It was simpler than that. Deeper than that. It was the stating of a fact and an acceptance of that fact as true. Undeniably accurate.

There still aren’t plans for anything legal or formal. I don’t know if that means it’s less “real” to others or not, but as one person put it I didn’t get married to make them happy. If they want it to play out a different way, they can make their own choices. They can do it differently and in a way that works for them.

This way worked for me and Ox. We affirmed something to each other that I think we’ve felt and known for a long time. That we’re not going anywhere. That we’re together regardless of what the government says or recognizes. We’re loyal, considerate, compassionate, respectful and supportive of each other without a piece of paper saying that’s how we’re supposed to be.

I have a new word, a new title to go along with all of the other ones Ox uses to identify me. I’m his kitten. I’m his Jennifer. I’m his wife. And I’m ok with that.

I don’t really remember a whole lot about Thursday after that point. I don’t think a whole lot happened for the rest of Thursday which was totally ok in my book. Thursday was a hell of a long day full of lots of stuff.

Friday I worked. It was the last day before my stay-cation week; this past week. I was with my FA. It was a smooth day. I didn’t go to the dojo. I came home instead. I was tired. I’m pretty sure I went to bed early-ish.

Saturday and Sunday happened. I don’t remember much about those days either. Well… now that I think a bit harder on it. I do.

Saturday started out rough. I had gotten groceries to make protein waffles to go with the eggs and bacon for breakfast. Papa Ox is doing really well with sticking to a keto diet, but it does sort of suck to feel like you can’t have any of the stuff you like or are used to. I’ve had a recipe from my sister-in-law for a while. It was a recipe she had made for me one morning while I was visiting my older brother. It had turned out good, but since no one was on the “healthy eating” train until recently, I never really had a reason to make the waffles.

Well, that was my project for Saturday, the only downside was I had tried making a homemade syrup and it had turned out awful. And I’m not just saying that to be down on myself. This was Grade-A awful stuff and I don’t even know why it turned out that bad. I followed the recipe…

But it sucked and I was left in a “breakfast is ruined” state before it even really began since I had tried the syrup when I got up that morning. The recipe said to refrigerate it overnight. You can’t have waffles without syrup… You just can’t.

So what was I going to do to recover? Drive to the gas station so I could be out of the house and have a breakdown. That will totally solve all of this.

I called Ox while I was there.

Me: I don’t know what’s wrong, but I’m trying to figure it out and I’m sorry.

We talked on the phone for a little bit. Having distance between me and the crushing feeling of everyone being awake and not having a place to retreat to helped me start to feel a bit better. Hearing Ox’s calm voice helped. I found a different recipe to try on my phone. I came back home and made it, and though it still wasn’t what I had been hoping for as far as a syrup goes, it was passable for the time being. Breakfast was salvaged.

After breakfast Ox and I went back into town. We went to Bed Bath and Beyond to look at waffle makers. We have one, but it’s not a very good one. You can’t pop the waffle molds out to wash them. That really bothers me since I’m a bit of a germaphobe. If I can’t clean it “properly” with hot water and soap, then it’s most likely not clean and shouldn’t be used.

Bed Bath and Beyond didn’t have what I was looking for. Mom had a waffle maker that had different plates that could be swapped out. I was looking for something similar. While we were out Ox and I stopped at a grocery store. There was a particular syrup brand mentioned in the protein waffle recipe that was low carb and ok to use. Walmart hadn’t had it when I went grocery shopping the day before which is why I had tried to make my own.

The store we stopped at on Saturday had a HUUUUGGGGEEEE selection of this particular brand. Walden’s Farms. They have salad dressing, syrups, jellies, all sorts of stuff. And so far, everything we have tried has tasted pretty alright. We got a couple bottles of syrup; one pancake and one blueberry. Breakfast on Sunday went over much better. Everyone is ok with the new waffles and the syrup is a pretty good substitute for normal pancake syrup. You can tell there’s a bit of a difference, but it’s not a bad difference.

So that was last weekend. I got a bunch of the chores done. I’m not sure when I got through chapter two, but at some point, I did that. That was a bunch of emotional stuff. I meal planned for the coming week and had a grocery list made out. I went to sleep Sunday night looking forward to not having to get up early for work.

Monday I had a text message from my FA saying patient census was down and that I didn’t need to come in to help with change over. Score. I still had my meeting with the head of the LPN program at 9:30. I drove down and met with her. We talked for about an hour. She gave me some things to look into as far as the application process goes as well as some ideas for as which classes to register for and how. She gave me a few names of people for me to contact in regards to financial aid and my application, and with that, I had a clearer idea of what I needed to get done for school and when.

Tuesday Ox and I met in town for lunch at Arby’s and to do grocery shopping at Walmart. I woke up tired from not sleeping well the night before. The simple act of walking out to my car to drive had me short of breath; like I had just finished a light workout at the gym. When Ox and I hugged I told him how I was feeling. It didn’t feel like sickness. I wasn’t overly congested or anything. It was just hard to feel like I was breathing right. I didn’t have an arrhythmia… I didn’t get it. I didn’t really think there was a reason for me to be feeling the way I was, but regardless of that, this was how I was feeling.

I had planned to try to get my blood drawn after grocery shopping. The school needs to know my immunization status for a few things as part of the application process.

Ox: Why don’t you save that for Thursday. Today we’ll get lunch, do the shopping, then go home.

I was on board with the “not doing much” idea. Lunch was enjoyable. We tweaked the shopping list a bit to try doing a homemade cauliflower crust pizza since the frozen one had been alright, but not awesome. The shopping trip itself went well. We spent about $110 dollars, keeping a few things I wanted as a separate transaction. Mama Ox had left $60 sitting on the kitchen table for me, so it worked out well.

When Mama Ox got home later that night she asked me how much the grocery bill had been. I told her the amount and that it had worked out perfect. Everyone paid a quarter. She said, no, that she needed to give me more money. As she tried handing me another twenty I asked if I was allowed to not take it. It felt wrong to take more money because Ox and I eat the food, too. It’s not like I was buying stuff that we weren’t allowed to touch. We all ate the same meals and that’s what I had bought on the trip. It was food we all were going to be eating and we all had contributed. So if anything, I owed her $10.

Mama Ox: Next time.

She that certain smile… I think it’s a mom thing. It’s that smile where she knows she’s won and you’re going to accept her decision. End of story.

I sheepishly took the $20.

Me: Next time.

I don’t think Ox’s parents are used to someone being as proactive around the house as I am, or as concerned about balance and fairness. I used the extra $20 yesterday to get Halo Top ice cream for Papa Ox since it’s something that had come up in conversation. I really wanted to find SO coconut ice cream since it’s even lower on carbs, but sadly the Walmart I was at didn’t have that brand. Point being, I still used the money for the family. I didn’t spend it on myself because I didn’t think of it as “mine”.

The new pizza crust recipe turned out better than the frozen store bought one. There wasn’t corn starch in the homemade crust and it had more flavor from added spices. It was still pretty soft though instead of crispy so you had to eat it with a fork. I may or may not have forgotten to spray the foil for the first two crusts as well… >.>;

That was a disaster avoided due to Ox being amazing and helping me salvage the crusts. I now have a bag of almond flour so take three of the pizza crust will hopefully be an outstanding success.

So, that was Tuesday. My breathing got easier as the day went along so I’m still not sure what was up with my lungs in the morning.

Wednesday I went in to work for what I thought would be two hours of helping during change over which turned into 5.5 of making sure the clinic didn’t burn to the ground. Yeah…

So the story behind Wednesday…

I woke up thinking it would be a “normal” day. Normal for dialysis. Oh, how foolish of me.

Right before I got into the shower I got a text message from our float RN. She was going to have to leave the clinic for personal matters and wanted to know if I minded staying the rest of the day to cover for her. Um… Last I checked I wasn’t an RN yet so unless my FA was also going to be at the clinic there wasn’t much I could do as far as covering for her. I could be a third person on the floor, but I couldn’t be charge RN.

I told her to give me a few minutes to figure some stuff out. I had planned to use Wednesday to get through chapter three in my book. I didn’t really have time obligations, but working a mostly full day was definitely not having a “stay-cation”. Arg…

As I was driving down to the clinic I tried to call the float RN to figure out what was going on. Her cell phone doesn’t get good reception in the middle of nowhere so I couldn’t get through to her. I tried calling our new tech who was supposed to be at the clinic covering for me this week, but she didn’t answer either. I wasn’t all that surprised. I was calling right at the start of change over. I talked to Ox a bit to let him know the limited information I had. I told him I would keep him posted as to how my day changed.

When I got to the clinic I went straight to the floor. Good thing, too. The new doctor was rounding on our patients with my FA and the nurse practitioner and shit was hitting the fan. Never fear! PCT Jen is here.

I haven’t sweat that much during a change over in a while.

We got all of our first shift patients rinsed back, taped up, and out to go about their day. We got all of the machines disinfected, restrung and ready to go for second shift. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but I’m pretty sure I rinsed back three of our patients, reset four of the machines and initiated four of our second shift patients. Out of eight, I did half.

Everyone was extremely grateful that I came in. I stayed until around three. That allowed the new PCT to go to lunch. That allowed my FA to talk to the doctor and round with him for the second shift patients. That allowed the float RN to leave once all of the second shift patients had received their meds. I was able to run an extremely important lab over to the hospital; one that was almost forgotten to be drawn.

I apologized to my FA for not knowing about the lab.

FA: Thank you. But it’s not your job.

Accurate… but my FA shouldn’t be the one to make sure everything gets taken care of either. There has to be some level of reliability, and right now it’s really hard to defend our float RN. She’s a great person. I don’t mind working with her as much as I did in the beginning. But when your boss can’t count on you to cover the shifts your scheduled for or to complete the tasks you’re supposed to be in charge of… I don’t know. It’s rough. And there was more than just those two situations that the RN dropped the ball on Wednesday.

I checked my email while I was at the clinic. My yearly review is coming up so I have a self-assessment to complete. More writing… I could feel my fingers glaring at me as I sat down to type out a few of my answers. I didn’t get it finished, but I’m over halfway through it.

I also got to talk to the social worker and my FA about the Wall of Fame I volunteered myself to do. I have some ideas brewing in my head. Unforantetly I haven’t done much in the way of progress on it. The week just hasn’t played out to let me do a whole lot in that regard.

I also got to talk to my FA about the few things I still needed to get taken care of for my LPN application. She gave me some information about the CPR class I need to take. I guess there’s an online option where all I will have to do is show up, provide proof that I’ve completed the online section, test out of my skills, and call it good. I’m down for quick and easy.

So Wednesday was a good day in the end. I’m glad I was able to help my team. It was good to see my patients smile at me. They hadn’t thought I would be there all week so it was a pleasant surprise when I walked out onto the floor.

Patient: What are you doing here? I thought you were on vacation.

Me: I’m here to join the party. : 3

So, five and half hours later, I clocked out and headed home.

Thursday started out better. I tried to register for a class online and found I couldn’t. The step by step instructions started with “click on this tab” only… I didn’t have that tab on my student page for the college’s website. I didn’t know if there was an issue with my application or what, but since I couldn’t complete the first step there wasn’t much else I could do on my end. I showered. I had breakfast. I meet Ox in town to have lunch at our Chinese place again. After we ate he asked if I wanted him to drive me to the different places I needed to go.

Me: I wouldn’t mind spending more time with you.
Ox: In that case… I’m going home.
Me: Wait! I meant I would mind spending time with you. I totally mind.
Ox: Oh… In that case… I’m going home.

I love how we can banter with each other like that. He did stick around, driving me to the clinic I needed to go to for my blood draw. That actually went extremely smoothly. No resticks or anything. They will automatically send my results to the college. Woo. Another item I can scratch off on the college to-do list.

After that, we went to the Lincoln campus to figure out the registration issue I was having. That got taken care of and while I was there I went ahead and registered for Human Anatomy. That’s going to be $417 dollars for just the one class. It will be another roughly $300 to $400 for the two books I need, depending on if I get hardback or not. Since I need the code which comes with the books, it wouldn’t be a good idea to buy them used or to try to rent them through the book store. The upside? These books will also be used for Human Physiology, so theoretically I won’t have to spend much, if anything, on books for that class. We’ll see…

I didn’t have to pay anything on Thursday for the class and I opted to wait on buying the books. I wanted to talk to Jon to see if the book he used was the same one my class was requiring. I sent him a message asking him to send me a picture of his book later when he got home. He said he would and if it was the same one I was welcome to use it. Code and all. Sweet.

Ox and I then went over to the Hy-Vee store where we had successfully found the pancake syrup over the weekend. I wanted to get salad dressing for Papa Ox since a lot of the meals I cook are served with a side salad. We also got a few jellies to try out.

With all of that taken care of, Ox drove me back to my car and we headed home. Once we got home I began taking care of dinner. I had started it before I left since it was a slow cooker recipe. Shredded buffalo chicken bowls. It turned out alright, but it was definitely missing something that I can’t put my finger on. Not sure if I’ll be making it again in the future. I did listen to about half of chapter three. That happened while we were waiting for Mama Ox to come home. I got a bit of stitching done during that time as well.

Instead of cross-stitching after dinner like Ox had wanted me to, I went back to plucking away at my to-do list. I signed up for the CPR class I need to take. That was $55 dollars, but work will reimburse me for it. I set my debit and credit cards up for travel during my trip. I transferred $600 of my tax return to my credit card to cover the plane ticket and rental car I had already paid for. I updated my calendar. I set up the account I needed to begin making payments on the Trax since we’ve had that information for a little bit. That allowed me to put more papers away rather than having them scattered around my desk. I also created a “school” sub-calendar on my Google calendar since my class starts on April 1st. I’ve been told it’s not a joke and class actually will start that day. We’ll see… >.>

Oh! I also posted a daily post as well as my DSS assignment on Thursday.

For the record… the only reason I remember half of this stuff is because I actually wrote out a to-do list for Thursday so I have something to look back on. By the end of Thursday, I was beat. I felt like I had gotten a lot of stuff taken care of, which, I guess I kind of did.

Friday was another good day. It started with a phone call to Jon. It’s been nice talking to him so much. After talking to him I came inside and began writing for a bit. I didn’t get as far as I wanted to before I had to shower and head down to work.

I wasn’t there as long as I had been on Wednesday. Everyone was still glad to see me again which warmed me. It was just the float RN, the new tech, and myself. Originally my FA was supposed to be there, but personal matters came up which kept her from being at the clinic. The day turned out alright. The three of us found a rhythm that worked well. I helped end treatments and clean/reset machines. The new tech helped with ending treatments and walking the patients out. The float RN initiated the treatments for second shift. As the new tech got freed up, she began initiating treatments as well. Once all of the machines were restrung and ready to go, I also jumped in and helped start treatments. I’m the fastest and most experienced with our machines, and while, yes, the new tech is going to need to hone her skills, she’s going to be going back to Cap City for three weeks until our clinic is opened to six days a week again. Yesterday was not the day for skill honing. It was about surviving, and we did, and the system we found worked really well for us. I’m proud of us. Go, team!

I stayed at the clinic while the new tech took lunch. I checked my email again and replied to a few surveys that were sent out. I made sure some of the closing tasks were done so New Tech didn’t have to worry about them. When she came back to the floor I clocked out and hung out for another hour or so making CVC termination packs. I got to chat with our Administrative Assistant (AA) for a while. I got caught up on her new grandbaby stories and I told her about my continuing adventure with schooling. She’s happy for me.

Oh… And something I don’t remember writing about… On Thursday I found out that I made the Dean’s list for the fall quarter. All I did was take a CNA course. I don’t feel like I earned or deserve recognition for “academic excellence” but never the less, I have a certificate saying that I did well.

Both my AA and FA say they’re proud of me and are looking forward to me being a nurse. They say I’ll make a good nurse. I don’t know how I feel about that. There’s a part of my brain that shrinks away from those comments. It wants to say, “I don’t want to be a good nurse. I just want to help people.”

Another part of my brain feels like being “good” means there’s the potential to let people down or not live up to expectations. There’s the potential to fail. I guess that’s something I need to think more on since there’s a bit of discord there. Overall it was a good conversation. I’m looking forward to seeing my AA again on Monday once I’m back at the clinic.

Once I finally left work, I headed to the Beatrice campus for my college. I wanted to talk to someone in financial aid. After getting registered for my class, one of the other tasks I had tried to complete at home was putting my current loans back into forbearance since I’m officially a student again. That hadn’t been the one-step process I had been hoping for. The website did say that the school could send my information for me, though. I also had questions about additional loans. I mean, really, I didn’t have a lot of questions, but I felt better about talking to someone in person if they had time.

When I called to inquire, the woman I spoke with said any time was fine and to stop in whenever. So I stopped in. Yes, they will automatically send my information to the loan company so there’s nothing further I need to do with that. The deadline for scholarship applications with the school ended at midnight that night, Friday night, so if I was quick, I could still potentially get assistance through scholarships. There was also a step by step sheet of instructions for completing FASFA which wasn’t a lost cause. She explained that even though I already had loans that I might be able to get additional assistance for my new endeavor. It wasn’t guaranteed yes, but it wasn’t a guaranteed no, either. The worst they could say is no, and the application process was free to find out.

I thanked her for taking time out of her day to meet with me. I said I had a clearer idea of how to go about my next steps and that I appreciated her help. From the school I headed back home, stopping at the Walmart in Beatrice for a few extra things we would need over the weekend. Ox wanted me to try to make a keto brownie or cake type recipe for Papa Ox. I wanted to see about finding the keto friendly ice creams I had mentioned earlier in the week. I also needed to return a spice shaker I had bought on Tuesday.

Since I’ve been making my own spice mixes for a while, I’ve been wanting a larger container to keep them in with a shaker top. I haven’t been able to find anything in stores and I don’t want to buy something full of spice already, just to dump it out so I can use the container. That just seems ridiculously wasteful to me.

Well… while Ox and I were at the store on Tuesday I found one that I thought “might” be ok. It was pretty enough. It seemed larger than the containers I was currently using, but I wouldn’t really know how I felt about it until I tried it out.

Fast forward a bit to Tuesday evening when I emptied out a Kraft grated parmesan cheese container…

It’s… perfect.

It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for this whole time. I can fit multiple batches of my spice mixes in it, so I don’t have to worry about mixing them so often. Wooo! And there’s a second one in the fridge that’s almost empty and the tops are different colors so it will be easy to tell my spice mixes apart. Omg. My brain was/is so happy over how perfect they are for what I want. I don’t even have to worry about icky glue being on the side of the container because the container design was shrunk wrapped on. All I had to do was cut it off and poof! Perfectly clear, unmarked large plastic container with a shaker top that can come off if I would rather scoop an amount out instead.

So much happy.

Anywho, since I now had the perfect shaker already at home, I didn’t need the smaller one I had bought from the store. That got returned, and once that was done I was able to officially head home for the day. It was later than what I was expecting, but I had taken care of everything that I needed to and it felt good.

When I got home I told Ox about the scholorship application deadline and the FASFA application. Papa Ox and brought home dinner with Ornery Ox so I didn’t have to worry about making anything for the family. I heated up the leftover shredded chicken and began plucking away at the “paying for college” stuff.

I got the scholarship thing done well before the midnight deadline. I figured out FASFA, too, so that should be processed by the college before too long I hope. I had a half cup serving of the black cherry Halo Top ice cream. It’s not bad. Ox and I got some laundry put away. I got two more posts up on my blog. I got a phone call from New Tech letting me know that she hadn’t been able to get to creating the needle packs, but everything else should be in order for Monday. I told her that was fine and that I appreciated her covering my week off for me. We most likely won’t see each other for a while since she won’t be at the meeting on March 5th. I told her if she needed anything to feel free to call me.

And I think that’s about it for Friday. I woke up around midnight and had a hard time falling back asleep. Lame.

I woke up at 7:30 like I said when I started writing this and so far it’s been a good morning. I’ve spent most of it typing and recapping the past week. It’s not what I had in mind when I wrote my DSS post about starting “weekly recaps” again. I haven’t been all that awesome about getting to the gym or writing daily either, but I think I’m staying afloat.

I’ve been back and forth from the computer a bit. Ox and I made breakfast for everyone. The waffles seemed to go over well, though the kids aren’t giant fans of the new syrups. They don’t know that the waffles are made with oatmeal and cottage cheese.

I have plans to finish listening to chapter three in my book once I’m done writing this post. I’ll most likely cross stitch while I do so. Once I reach the end I’ll make my zucchini brownies for Papa Ox along with a batch of “normal” brownies so we can try to work through a bit of the stuff sitting in the cabinets while the kids are here.

Once I complete those kitchen projects, I’ll start work on the reflection sections for chapter three. This chapter is about purpose so I feel like it will be a bit easier to get through it than the previous two chapters. Purpose is a bit more defined for me. I might not have to dig as deep to find the answers to the questions asked. Only one way to find out… >.<;

I’m not sure what time it will be once I complete that task or if I’ll even be able to see that task to its completion today. It would be nice to start the laundry. It would also be nice to figure out the meal plan for the coming week along with the shopping list associated with it. I would like to make green curry. God that would be so awesome to have for lunches.

Anywho, today should continue to be a chill day. We have blizzard advisory warnings for today into the early morning of Sunday. So far it feels pretty nice outside. Cloudy and overcast, but it’s not ridiculously cold, so I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s been raining off and on. It would suck for temperatures to drop and for the roads to freeze over. I haven’t had to deal with black ice yet. At least not that I know of.

So I guess that’s enough procrastinating on my part. Time to go back and half-heartedly proof-read my writing and get it posted so I can continue going about my day.

It feels good to be caught up. It feels good to say I’m in school. I’m officially working on being a nurse. I’m one step closer to being an RN, mom. I know that would make you smile.

MUSING MOMENTS 124: LFTIO – Character Vs. Coping

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DSS Leadership – Assignment 3
Book – “Leadership from the Inside Out”






Coping



Particularly in times of stress, which of these qualities of Coping are more prevalent for you?

Fear: In extremely stressful situations there is usually an internal sense of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of not being good enough, fast enough, smart enough. Fear of people thinking less of me or my character. Fear of damaging my honor. Fear of the people I care about not being there for me. Fear of being alone. Fear of experiencing grief all over again. Fear of loss.

Control: Control is another quality I turn to in order to cope with stress. If I control things I have a better idea of what’s going to happen. I have a better idea of the outcome and the obstacles that will arise and how to handle them. With control, I don’t have to worry about something not getting done, or being done incorrectly, or to a subpar standard. With control, I take most of the unknown out of a situation which gives me a sense of security in an otherwise insecure time.

Safety/Security: Both safety and security become more important to me during stressful situations. I want to know I’ll be ok and I want to know how I’ll be ok. I don’t want just nebulous pretty words and phrases. “Oh, it will turn out fine. You’ll see.” No. No it won’t. How will it turn out fine? I want a solid, detailed to-do list with bullet points and cliff notes ensuring that there are no hidden potholes for me to stumble into on my path towards “ok-ness” or error recovery. I want to know exactly how things will be fine or better or ok.

I want to know I can contact the people I want to contact. I want to know everything will be where I left it. When situations begin to turn stressful or unfamiliar, unclear, unsure, there’s an increased want for things to be the same and familiar. No more unknowns. I’m already dealing with unknowns. I want to know I’ll make it home and everyone will be there and that I can have a hug and that even if it was a horrifically horrible day that everything is alright because I can count on something, anything, being normal and stable; like a light at the end of the tunnel. There needs to be some small measure of consistency that I can count on.

Winning at all costs: My drive to win can come to the surface sometimes. This can come out in the form of speeding if I’m running late which is essentially breaking the law when you get down to it. Staying up late to finish a project before a deadline at the expense of not getting enough sleep and suffering for it the next day. Clocking out at work yet staying to finish highlighting flowsheets because I refuse to let time win or prevent me from starting the morning the way I want to. A lot of the things I can think of for “winning at all costs” involve self-sacrifice. I would never be ok with “winning” by being underhanded to or with someone. That would make it a hollow victory and lower the standards I hold myself to. If you have to cheat someone else to win then it’s not winning. It’s dishonest and wrong.

Distraction: When my emotional pain and grief are particularly strong, distraction can become a coping mechanism. In those instances taking something like Benadryl or drinking alcohol so I can sleep have happened. Distracting myself, more accurately, removing myself, from the situation provoking my grief is my way of coping. It happens less than it did in the beginning, but that does not excuse the times it still occurs or when the thought to do so enters my mind. Distracting myself from the situation does not address the underlying emotional discord. It doesn’t fix anything, only prolongs the emotional anguish I am trying to avoid. Avoidance is not honorable. While for a majority of the past two years I have chosen to be brave rather than be a coward, I won’t deny the fact that being brave is hard and that sometimes I still feel like a small child on the inside that doesn’t want to face the monsters. Sometimes it feels easier to hide from them, the monsters, the problems, the emotions, and to pretend they aren’t there.

Overwhelmed by Circumstances: Being overwhelmed is something I contend with as an introvert. If change over at work is extremely rough I can feel myself fraying towards the end. Each additional request from a patient takes more and more from my already tapped out resources. I can become short. I can feel myself shutting down and grasping at the thought of “as soon as this person is on I can go to break and it will all be ok”. Or when I am at home and I cannot get the space and solitude I want, I can begin to feel trapped and confined. I need to work on not shutting down when I feel overwhelmed. If I shut down then communication breaks down and there is a greater chance of conflict or additional stressors being created.


What is going on during those times? Inside you? Outside you?

When situations are stressful externally, there is usually a lot of people involved or a lot of input I am having to process through. The trip to Devor for Academy was a stressful situation for me. I have PTSD with flights which I had to contend with. I had to share a room with someone I didn’t know. I had to participate in group activities with people I didn’t know. I had to be in a room with 600 other people I didn’t know for not one, but two days. Distraction was implemented in the form of smoking more than what I normally would have at home. It gave me a reason to go outside and be away from the majority of the people.

There is physical tension in my body. Mostly my shoulders and upper chest. I tend to be more guarded and less open to additional external stimulation. I strive to resolve situations so there’s less input to worry about. I can be controlling because if I’m in control I know what will or will not get done and when. I have an issue asking for help because I don’t want to be seen as weak or deal with others who may have a negative attitude in regards to being asked to do something. This can backfire however and lead to people feeling excluded or thought of as inadequate since I did not request their assistance. They could have made the situation easier but I denied them the chance to help and feel useful and needed.

When a situation is emotionally stressful there is usually pain and feelings of coldness. I feel small and alone even if I’m surrounded by people. Feeling safe and like I belong become extremely important to me. I need to know I matter and that I’ll be ok. Certain dates are stressful for me. Certain topics are stressful for me. Admitting or consciously accepting certain things can be stressful for me. Certain situations can bring emotions to the surface as well. All of these emotional triggers, both known and unknown, and invoke feelings of isolation which as paradoxical as it may sound, cause me to withdraw.

How do you feel? What do you notice in your body? What do you notice in your relationships?

I feel overwhelmed. I feel fear. I feel insecurity. I feel hopelessness. I feel determination and a burning drive to prove Life wrong and that I will win no matter what it throws at me because I refuse to be defeated. I feel injustice and frustration. I feel anger and exasperation and tiredness and burnout.

Physically, I feel muscle fatigue and headaches. I become lethargic and apathetic.

In my relationships, I notice I pull away and close myself off because I do not want my negativity to affect others. I feel I am seen as a person people can turn to. It can be off-putting for them to realize that I don’t always have my shit together. I have learned who to turn to during these stressful times and who not to. I am getting better about admitting when I need help and when something is stressful to me and understanding why it is stressful in the first place.

What fears, limitations, inadequacies, or beliefs arise when you are in a Coping pattern?

I am not good enough. Everything is pointless. It doesn’t matter. My feelings don’t matter. My struggle doesn’t matter. I should give up. I won’t be able to achieve what I’m trying to do. No one cares. I’m alone. I don’t make a difference. I can’t change things. Nothing will change.


Character

Which of these Character qualities are more prevalent for you?

Serving Others: This is important to me. It permeates through almost every aspect of my life.

At home, I actively do chores before being asked to do them because I know if I do something that needs to be done, someone else doesn’t have to do it or worry about it later.

At work, I take on every task I am able to as a PCT because I know there are things I am unable to do as a PCT. I can’t draw or give meds. I can’t assess patients. I can’t chart. I can’t put in new orders or change existing ones. I can, however, spin and pack labs. I can generate for the coming day. I can test machines and enter the values into the computer. I can clean stations and unpack shipments when they come in. All of these actions are able to be done by anyone, but since they are some of the few things which fall within the narrow scope of practice I am allowed to work in, I strive to make sure I am the one to do them, not others who have other tasks which need to be done which I cannot help with.

At the dojo, I help keep the younger members focused and on task. If sensei is busy training with other students and I am in the back doing bag work, I can help correct improper forms. I can remind students that while roundhouse kicks are fun and cool, sensei wanted them to practice their hooks and it’s disrespectful to stand around chatting or doing other things. We’re at the dojo to be focused and to learn. I am serving not only sensei by allowing him to be elsewhere within the dojo, but I am also serving the younger students by teaching them self-discipline, respect, focus, and accountability.

Purpose: I feel purpose can be synonymous with intention. Everything I do usually has a purpose. Even the act of doing “nothing” serves the purpose of allowing myself to relax and decompress and regroup so I am better able to handle future situations. Everything I do has an intention and I feel that’s important. Why do something, anything, if there is no reason to be doing it?

Inclusion: This is another driving factor for me. I want others to be and feel involved. I want them to feel like they matter, that their effort meant something and was not only noticed but appreciated.

Anything from putting the dishes away or baking muffins to surviving a hellish change over at work. Communication plays a huge roll in a task’s success and progress. Communication helps ensure everyone involved understands what the end goal is and how they make the end goal happen. Taking the time to communicate to my team members “If you are ok with taking care of these things, I can take care of these things,” allows us to have a solid understanding of how to handle individual and collective situations, which moves us closer to the end goal of ensuring we provided caring, safe, and timely treatments for all of our patients.

“If you help me unload the dishwasher and put the clothes away, we’ll be able to play games sooner,” lets the kids know that if they help with chores, there’s a positive outcome for their time and effort. They know what their part in the process will be, and they know what we’re working towards. I give them the option to be part of it and it is up to them to make the conscious decision to be part of that process or not. Inclusion to me, is an option, a compromise, not a demand.

Tolerance/Openness: Tolerance is something I try extremely hard to practice. I try to be understanding and tolerant of others because I know there’s a lot behind the scenes that I may not be aware of. Past experiences, discord in personal relationships, internal struggles with emotions or negative thoughts… We all have our own stories and baggage. Just because I get what I view as crummy service from a server at a restaurant, does not mean I should immediately pass judgment as “they’re a crummy server.” Just because a patient is snippy with me does not mean they are a jerk and intentionally trying to make my day harder. Events and situations merely are. They exist. It is our own perspectives and emotions which have us color these situations in hues of good or bad. Being tolerant, patient, and open to the fact that my perspective and hue may be different or even incorrect I feel is vital to finding harmony and understanding of true intentions.

Wisdom: There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is having facts or ideas through actions such as studying, researching, observing, or experiencing. Wisdom is the ability to use knowledge to understand what is right or applicable to a situation.

Knowledge is passive. Wisdom is active. I try to be wise in my choices. I try to gather as much information about a situation before using my knowledge to make what I feel at the time is the best choice. I willing share that wisdom with others who seek it or who seem like they would benefit from understanding my perspective and experiences.

Humility: I try to remain humble through all of my successes. Firstly, I did not reach success by myself. Even if it is merely the emotionally supportive statement of “I believe in you,” that support played a role in my endeavor. Success does not make me better than any other human. We all struggle. We all strive. We all breathe, and in the end, we all die. Humility is my reminder that we are all mortal and therefore, all the same. I treat others how I want to be treated; with respect, honor, and dignity, regardless of what I have or have not done with my life.

Presence: I enjoy being present. I enjoy experiencing life, and maybe enjoy isn’t quite the right word. While I did and still do enjoy many aspects of my schooling, career and personal life, I did not “enjoy” the abusive relationships I was in. I did not “enjoy” my parents’ divorce. I did not “enjoy” my mother’s hospitalization or her resulting death.

I am, however, grateful for the lessons those situations taught me. By being present and confronting those situations, rather than shying away from and avoiding them, I was able to grow as a person. I was able to transcend the narrow-minded thoughts and perspectives that I had at the time and to truly empathize with what others go through during those situations.

By choosing to be present and to fully experience my own emotions and thoughts rather than distracting myself from the inner and outer work which needed to get done, I was able to find peace within myself, in my relationships, and with my place in the world.

I try to take that mentality into every situation I enter. If I am with another person, I will not actively play with my phone, texting other people. If I need to make a phone call or receive one during our time together, I ask if they would mind rather than off-handedly saying, “Give me a second. I need to take this.”

If I am taking care of a patient, I will not think of the 8 million chores I need to do once I am home. The chores will remain undone because I have yet to meet the elusive Chore Fairy that my mom constantly mentioned. While I am with my patients, the only thing that matters is making sure they are cared for; that I listen to them and legitimately hear what they are saying. What matters is that I am present with them because this is the only moment I will get with them. I can’t go back and redo the moment later.

The same is true for every interaction with every person in my life. Life isn’t a video game. There’s no saved file to reload. No checkpoint to return to. No undo option to set the situation back to the beginning. Life can’t be redone. There is only ever this moment and I want to experience it, understand it, and be part of it.

What is going on when these Character qualities are present?

When I am at my best self, things are usually going “right”. I typically feel like all areas of my life are figured out and fairly balanced. No one area is receiving more undue attention than the others. Everything is in accordance with how it feels it should be. I feel like my energy is going to the “right” places and that my causes and projects are honorable and worthwhile.

I have a clear understanding of what is supposed to happen in a given situation. I have minimal external and internal conflicts demanding my energy or focus to resolve. I’m not sick. I’m not tired. I’m not overly stressed or burnt-out. I don’t have an endless to-do list looming over me with the thoughts of “how in the world am I supposed to get all of this done?”, yet even if I do, the tasks seem manageable because I understand how it will all get taken care of. Not many things are nebulous. There are solid time frames and quantitative progress is made at a rate which feels fulfilling and rewarding.

How do you feel?

I usually feel good. Energized. Motivated. Upbeat. I want to do things. I want to make progress. I want to get out of bed. I very rarely have to convince myself to do things or that it’s worthwhile. The situation on its own feels worthwhile. I don’t have to use mind games or tricks or reward systems to get things done. The completion of something on its own is reward enough to give me the drive to see something to completion.

How can you continue to lead from Character in more situations?

I suppose now that I am more aware of why situations are stressful and how I tend to respond to that stress, I can try self-correcting more. When I begin to feel overwhelmed or when I begin withdrawing into myself, I can pause for a moment and breathe through the tension. I can make the conscious choice of how I want to continue forward in the situation. Do I want to merely cope through it, or do I want to actively practice what really matters to me?

What is more important, my sense of self-preservation and getting to my break as quickly as possible so I can have a few minutes alone, or being fully present and realizing that even though there might be a lot of stuff going on, there is still a moment to experience and if I shut down I might miss out on something I’ll never be able to get back?

Daily Post 145: An Uncomfortable Truth

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Written Tuesday. Posted today.

Today started out like most of my recent days off have; with no motivation, an overcast sky, cold weather, and the pervasive feelings of depression and pointlessness.

It stayed that way for most of the morning. I had a bowl of cereal knowing it was full of carbs and not caring because what’s the point in my hallow crusade to lose weight. It’s not that I’ve given up on being healthy, or that I feel the 60 pounds I’ve already lost is enough. It’s more that I keep losing touch with myself. The candle flame of drive that I find periodically keeps getting snuffed out when held up against the storm that’s still going within my inner world; a storm which I know is happening but have yet to understand why or how to whether it properly.

Do I bash myself about eating? Do I make myself feel like crap for putting in the effort to actually have something instead of staying in bed like most of me wanted to do? Do I say fuck it and have my single serving sized bowl of cereal with milk that reminds me of childhood and warmer, happier days and keep going or do I give up this early in the day and hope that tomorrow I do better since for whatever reason what I’m doing doesn’t feel good enough?

Most likely because it contained a curse word I went with the fuck it option.

Papa Ox wasn’t awake yet. Mama Ox had already left. It was the perfect time to finish up Jon’s cross stitch. I could have used the kitchen table to spread out my craft supplies and cut the fabric down to size. I could have used the Exacto-knife to carve out the piece of mounting board I need. But no. I went back to bed, the task of eating accomplished. A single task of necessity off my list with all other tasks lurking in my head gathering dust, waiting for a moment where they felt worthwhile.

When I woke up again Papa Ox was in the living room. The thought of walking past him to go outside for a cigarette was enough to keep me in the room. I knew I was getting worse. I could feel it and yet I didn’t know what “it” was. Just that it was building and eventually there would be a revelation where everything clicked into place and I finally gained clarity and understanding and I would know what to do to fix what I felt was internally broken.

Well… I guess that day was today.

Work went well yesterday; Monday. It was just me and my FA. We got everyone on the machines on time. I had to have my yearly TB test done, so that was one needle stick. I had to have lab work done as well. My FA tried to draw the labs on me but my veins didn’t want to play nice. After two attempts she said we would try again later. I said I would work on drinking my container of water since dehydration might have been part of the issue.

Fast forward to the end of the day where we to try to draw the labs again only for me to end up with a busted vein on my other arm and still no tubes of my blood to send to the lab. I have a pretty impressive bruise on my left forearm. She felt awful for not being able to get the labs and for having to stick me so many times. I felt ill for most of the drive home from work because of the swelling pressure under my skin. I was also covered in band-aids from all of my needle sticks. Once I got home and was able to ice my arm things got better. Eventually, I was able to take a shower since I could move my arm without feeling nauseous.

Workwise, It was a good day even with all of the evil spikes of death being shoved into my arms. That’s sort of where it ended, though.

The kids weren’t here and that’s always hard for Ox. He played on the computer for most of the night. When it was bedtime he fell asleep instantly like normal. I envy his ability to fall asleep. My brothers can do it, too. They just… sleep whereas my brain stays on. It can take me hours to fall asleep and all the while I’m ticking down the time.

Brain: If I fall asleep know I can get this many hours of sleep… If I fall asleep now, I can get this many hours… If I fall asleep now, I’ll get this many hours…

I felt alone Tuesday night. I don’t know why sometimes it bothers me and other times it doesn’t. I don’t know what I needed that I didn’t vocalize to feel so… unimportant, but listening to Ox’s steady even breathing made me want to cry.

Sometimes it feels like the game is more interesting than me. The game is better than reality and there’s nowhere for me to go to get away from it. No room where I can be by myself, away from the screen that is better than me.

I know all of that sounds horrible. It’s petty. It’s whinny. It’s needy and insecure and self-absorbed. It’s completely untrue that he likes the game more than me, and logically I know that, but when it’s dark inside of my head, those are the types of thoughts that my brain whispers to me and when I’m awake, alone after only a few cigarette breaks to facilitate interaction between Ox and me, it’s hard not to listen to it and think it’s right.

Ox has his own emotions he has to contend with. I should be understanding and supportive and strong enough to allow him to have what he needs to be ok and instead, here I am being emo. It only adds fuel to the self-destructive thoughts that I know I shouldn’t be having, but that doesn’t change that fact that I am having them and that I don’t know how to stop them or fight them.

The only thing I know how to do is to be alone to try to deal with my Evil Voice. Alone I can think through those whisperings. I can try to understand why those thoughts aren’t true. I can try to figure out where they’re stemming from. What’s the root cause? Listening to another person breathing a peaceful sleep while I mentally struggle isn’t being alone. It just emphasizes the feeling of, “I don’t have anyone to help me through this.” I ended up sleeping on the couch last night because being alone was easier than feeling lonely.

We still had our shared cigarette this morning, but the feelings of isolation and unimportance were still there. I hadn’t been victorious against my Evil Voice. I still knew what it was telling me wasn’t true, so I hadn’t lost ground, but I hadn’t gained any either. I was still where I had been and that was sort of a shitty feeling.

I was still in that place later when Ox called me and said he was off work. He had texted me earlier asking how I was. I had been honest and said that I was cold and sad and that I missed the sun and warmth. He said I had seemed sad this morning. I said I was sorry; that I didn’t mean to be sad. I didn’t mean to always be this way.

He asked if I wanted him to come home. He was supposed to stop and get more nails for the nail gun. We were supposed to work on the addition. There was a part of me who disliked myself for answering yes; I did want him to come home. I didn’t hate myself for it, but I should have been ok. I should have been fine and doing stuff and productive instead of on the verge of tears and wanting a hug more than wanting to make progress on a project that’s important to both of us. But, no, even if I didn’t like it I was honest both with Ox and myself.I wanted it to be warm outside and not winter and cloudy. I wanted to feel more important than a video game.
I wanted him home.

Ox came home. We cuddled. We talked. There was sexy time and not good feelings afterward because sex wasn’t what I had wanted. I had wanted to feel connected and now it was over and we would go back to playing video games and cross stitching and ignoring each other and it would be like nothing had ever happened. The feelings of aloneness were more intense then they had been and yet I still didn’t know how to vocalize that or explain why they were worse or even why there were there in the first place.

It sucked.

I did realize one thing in that particular moment, though. The issue always seems to be the same. Feeling alone.

I’m surrounded by people at work. I get touchy about being home because there are always people around who want to talk to me. I have so many people in my life who love and care about me and yet I feel alone.

Score. One small step towards understanding. I now have a place where I can start on my quest to untangle all of this confusion. Why is there always this feeling of being alone?

Ox and I ended up having what I feel was our first true BDSM scene together. It wasn’t sexy. It wasn’t about cute fluffy handcuffs and roleplaying out some make-believe slutty scenario.

It was about having a safe environment and letting me cry. It was about trust and safety and brutal honesty with myself inside my head. And while he held me against his chest, my face buried in the darkness he had created for me I heard the words my inner self had been screaming at me for months now but that I’ve been too busy and occupied to listen to or hear. I heard why I always feel so alone.

Mom left me.

When mom died she left me alone without a safety net and I’ve faced all of these challenges and trials without her. She’s not here to help me or listen to me or encourage me. She’s not here to answer the phone or have lunch or visit. She can’t send or receive cards in the mail. She can’t tell me about her coupon stories.

I’m alone.

Realizing those words were inside my head… that was my revelation today.

I know my mom didn’t leave me. I know she tried as hard as she could to not die. I know her death wasn’t her fault. I know her death wasn’t my fault. It was no one’s fault. I also know she’s still with me as much as universal energy can be. She’s still here and a presence within my life. But inside, in my heart chakra where I still hurt and ache and constantly count how many days before or after the 4th of the month it is, I feel alone because she left. She died and she didn’t take me with her. She died and I couldn’t follow her. I know she couldn’t take me and I know couldn’t follow, but inside none of that logic matters. Knowing all of that information doesn’t change what the emotions feel like. It doesn’t change that those words have been what the storm within myself has been feeding off of and using to build and build in its intensity since before my move to Nebraska.

I haven’t cried as hard as I did on Tuesday in a very long time.

I’m not sure if I was really ignoring this part of my grief. I always feel like I have to choose between anger and sadness and I opt with sadness more often than not because there’s no one to be angry at. But there is anger and heartbreak and abandonment with the words, “She left me.” Whether I want anger to be there or not, it’s there and it’s something that I needed to realize and make peace with and it’s something that until Tuesday I hadn’t acknowledged or really even truly knew about or understood.

I think it was healthy that I had this realization; that I finally realized these words are within me. Knowing they’re there means they no longer have the power to eat away at me. I still feel tired and raw from the outpouring of earlier but I also feel cleaner. I know there is more there, on the inside. I know my grief is something that I haven’t been paying enough attention to and so there’s most likely emotional infection that I need to tend to. I’m sure this new phrase is only one of many that I need to sort out.

Mom didn’t leave me. Not by choice. And I’m not alone. She’s still here and I have my brothers and Ox and my friends who support me and keep me struggling forward even when it feels hopeless and pointless.

It’s not pointless. Winter has an end. This weekend it’s supposed to be warm; in the 50s. Grief doesn’t have an end, but it’s not all sadness and loneliness and hopelessness, either. My grief doesn’t define my life. It doesn’t define me. I still have good days. I still have good thoughts.

Sometimes my brain is a terrorist. And sometimes it shows me what I need to work on. Tuesday was a little bit of both.

I don’t know what else to really say or type. I haven’t had any other breakthroughs. All I know is my inner-eight year old thinks my mom left me and that I know she didn’t.

My name is Jennifer Conley and my mom didn’t leave me. That is one of my truths.

Letters To Mom 021: Goddamnit

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Goddamnit, mom.

That was the thought I had ricocheting over and over again in my head as I left the gym today.

I know you’re still here. I know you know all of this. I know you see everything, but goddamnit. This is the only way I can talk to you, other than talking to myself and wondering if I’m crazy. This is one of the few physical things I feel I have to represent our connection. It’s not just words in the air, carried away by the wind, never to be heard again.

This is lasting. This can be printed out and held and hugged and cried on, and so I need to write it even though you know it. I need to make it physical.

It’s worse this year. And maybe worse isn’t the right word. I didn’t understand it as I left the gym. I haven’t understood it every time it feels like I backtrack to square one. What’s different this time is I’ve had time to talk to Jon and Ox and I’ve had time to be home and to read posts online and to try to figure it out because in my head there’s a problem and so I need to find a solution to fix it, only there isn’t a problem according to the internet. It’s normal. Worse is normal even though it’s not actually worse.

The first year you died sucked. It sucked so much mom. Every fucking day. Yet at the same time, it didn’t. I didn’t feel much of anything for the longest time. There wasn’t a point in feeling anything. I was on auto piolet a lot of those days. The only thing I had to do was survive.

I had to eat. I had to drink. I had to care for my body enough for it to not break down. And when I started taking CNA classes I had to study and learn and make good grades. Things I have always been decent at. It didn’t take effort. More auto piolet. Just do what needs to be done. No thinking. No emotion. Just do.

In a way, it was simpler than it is now. I cared about things less. I didn’t worry about a lot of things because I didn’t have the energy to care.

I’m past the survival stage. I’m past learning how to meet my basic needs without you being here. I’ve learned how to wake up with the pain. I’ve learned how to cope with the hard days where I want to break down and cry. I’ve learned how to breathe while I tend to an invisible wound I can’t touch or show anyone.

I’ve done all of that, and so now we’re going into year three. I made it through Mother’s Day. But Saturday is your birthday and goddamnit, I’m back to crying and feeling directionless and hopeless and alone and angry and sad and it sucks.

It sucks worse then it did the first time because the first time was about surviving. It sucks worse than the second year because I was in the middle of training for work and worrying about paying my bills and having a roof over my head and enough gas in the car and food in the kitchen since Warren was a dick and not paying rent. So, really, the second year was still the survival phase for me, maybe moreso than the first because at least in the first year I had the money you left me to cover my needs. It was more about figuring out how to drive to the store without screaming in emotional agony over doing it while knowing that you were dead.

The second year I had to donate plasma just to keep making ends meet. While I still had hard days, I was still more focused on becoming stable. I had to figure out all of my shit for work and not quit because there were a lot of days that I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I had to worry about becoming a stronger member of my team so no one dreaded working with me. I had to figure out how to support two adults on a single paycheck because Warren wasn’t holding up his end of the deal. It wasn’t emotional survival the second year; it was actual survival and I did it.

I moved to Nebraska because I was done figuring out everyone else’s crap. I moved here to take care of me, and I guess this is part of that process. I’ve been stuck in the first year of grieving for two years because for two years I’ve had to worry about survival.

I’m past that now, though, and so now I get to move on to phase two, which are the emotions.

I actually feel the pain this time and so now I have to cope with a whole new aspect of my grief and I guess a lot of people go through this.

There’s the expectation that surviving the first year means it will make coping with the countless additional years easier or more manageable or doable or something. It will be more “something” but painful was never on my list. That’s the reality of my grief over your death, though. I feel the pain more now because I don’t have to put all of my time and effort and energy into merely surviving. I have the energy to deal with the emotional aspect of it all and I almost wish I didn’t because I’m supposed to be doing better. I’m supposed to not cry as much. I’m supposed to be more ok and not have people worry about me or darken their days with my sadness and that’s not what’s happening.

I’ve gained two pounds of muscle and two pounds of fat since my last weigh in two weeks ago.

When my trainer asked how my eating has been going I said I’ve been inconsistent. On my days off I have the tendency to skip breakfast. If I eat breakfast I normally forgo lunch. I don’t eat my snacks like I know I should. Dinner usually happens, but it’s a crapshoot as to when. The days I work are a bit better, but not by much. I’m still not really drinking enough water, though I am doing better than I was last week.

So it’s not that I’m eating poorly, it’s that my body is freaking out and thinking that it’s never going to be fed so it’s holding onto what I do give it. Which, to be fair to my body, it’s not wrong at the moment.

When my trainer asked if I’ve gone to the dojo I said no because I haven’t. When he asked if I’ve gone to the gym near home I said no because I haven’t. Since my race two weeks ago, I haven’t done anything extra. I go to my training and that’s it and even then, I missed one of my sessions because I didn’t want to go.

I don’t want to go anywhere. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to talk to people. I don’t want to pretend to be ok when I’m not. I don’t want to explain why I’m not ok because it’s no one’s fucking business and even if I did, a vast majority of people wouldn’t understand and just feel awkward so it would be a waste of time and energy.

I mean, really, when someone asks you, “What’s wrong?” What are you supposed to say? “Oh, nothing. It’s just that my mom died. It’s cool though. Don’t worry about me. I’ll get over it.” No one is prepared for a super heavy answer like, “My mom died.” That’s not the answer they want. It’s supposed to be something small and manageable like a breakup or a bad day at work. They don’t want a real answer so why give one?

It’s like when people ask, “How are you?” “Fine” or “Ok” or “Good” feel like the only ok answers because 99.9999999999999999% of people are only asking out of social obligation, not because they actually want to legitimately know how you are doing emotionally.

I want to be left alone. I want to be alone. I want to make it through this hard time and I don’t want outside input on how I should or should not be getting through it.

My trainer has goals for me, but I don’t care. My work has expectations of me, but I don’t care. I don’t have goals for me. I don’t have expectations of me.

It’s almost your birthday. Nothing else matters right now. Everything else is insignificant and trivial and meaningless when held against the fact that you’re dead.

I woke up today. I showed up to training instead of canceling again. I need that to count towards something. I need it to matter that I’m trying as much as I am when I don’t have an answer for “What’s the point?”

If none of it matters, if waking up doesn’t count, then why even do it? I showered. I had breakfast. I got dressed and drove like a diligent, responsible adult. I parked within the lines in the parking lot instead of like a douchebag who doesn’t care. I need all of those stupid, small, little things to matter because if they don’t then why bother?

I want to know why there’s more anger now. What is there to be angry at? There wasn’t a drunk driver. There wasn’t malpractice. It was a shitty situation and we’re both doing the best we can now. What good does anger do? Why is it here, within myself? What am I supposed to learn or gain from it? Where is it supposed to go?

All of the posts I’ve read have helped. There was one about loving through separation. All of the posts were things I can relate to. They’re things that I feel now. It helps, knowing that it’s worse in future years for others, too.

It’s not regression. It’s not abnormal. It’s not a fuck up on my part.

The first year is about survival. The other years is about figuring out why you survived in the first place. What was the point of that horrific struggle? You’re still not here. You didn’t magically come back. You’re still gone and I have to go through all of these days all over again, without you, still, and they’re not magically easier because fairy dust doesn’t fix anything, so why? Why go through it all again, and again, and again, and again, and for forever again?

Goddamnit, mom, I wish I had an answer, for you, for me, but I don’t, and that makes me angry and frustrated.

I don’t want it to be your birthday again. I don’t want to not be able to call. I want an address where I can send a card and know that it will reach you and make you smile and feel loved because I still love you so goddamn much it hurts.

I want to be better even though I never will be and I really don’t want to be because that would mean whatever it is we still have will be gone. In a way, I love my grief because it’s you. It’s the result of our connection being changed by your death. If my grief wasn’t there or if it changed or didn’t hurt as much it would mean our connection when you were alive had been different and I would never want to change what we had. I’m ok with my grief because it means I had you in my life for as long as I did the ways that I did.

I’m in another wave, mom. I’m getting through it. At least I think I am. And I think it’s ok that I’m here. I have more hope that I’ll get through it than I did when I left the gym.

I don’t really know what else to say right now. I don’t have answers for you or myself. I guess I just wanted to let you know that what I’m feeling is ok and that I’m angry but I’m not angry at you. I’m sorry that I’m angry. I’m sorry I’m having a harder time than I think I should be. And I’m sorry I put that expectation on myself.

I’m trying to be understanding with myself and after reading the things I have, I think it’s easier for me to do that.

I love you, mom. Forever and for always.

With love ~ Your Angry Dragon

Letters to Mom 016: I Promise I’ll Try

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Hey mom,

I woke up tired today.

I miss you.

I miss a lot of things.

I miss Jon. I talked to him today while I was on break at work. I got to tell him that I’m homesick.

I guess it started when I got a text message from Big Bad.

I miss him, too.

And there’s a part of me that wants to hate myself for that. I want to be angry at myself for missing the times he and I cuddled together. For missing our quiet mornings. For fucking up our plans to do the Warrior Dash in February.

I want to not miss him. I want to remember what it felt like to read his message about being “disappointed. Thanks.”

But I’m bad about remembering things like that. I’m bad about remembering how he never said, “I love you.” I’m bad about remembering that there most likely would have never been a family Thanksgiving that I would have been invited to. A house I could come home to with him. There wouldn’t have been an “ever after”, but that doesn’t make me miss what I had less.

I miss wrestling with him. I miss kicking his ass at Mortal Kombat.

I miss my friend.

Just like I miss Jon. I miss going to Friendly Confines with him. I miss driving up to Daytona for breakfast. I miss our sappy hugs goodbye. I miss the times I slept on his couch.

I miss my dojo. I miss not having anxiety over going to work out. I miss feeling strong and healthy.

I miss feeling like a warrior because right now I don’t.

In a lot of areas in my life I know I’m doing better, but the overall feeling I have right now, the most pervasive one, is that I’m treading water. I’m bearly holding on and maybe that’s just the tiredness. Maybe that’s just the overwhelm of having the kids for the weekend and not having a safe space to get away to.

I feel apathetic right now about most things. About gaming. About working out. About eating.

I don’t want to do anything.

I want to sleep. I want to wake up and feel ok even though I know I’m not “not ok”.

I don’t have drive or motivation for anything at the moment, mom, and it sucks.

I’ve been breathing better for the past few days. I’ve been taking a lot of decongestant stuff and I guess it’s working. So now that I don’t have to struggle so hard to breathe I guess my body thinks it’s ok to remind me that my soul hurts. That’s I’m actually still really injured and I need to take care of that.

But I don’t know how because I don’t know what’s wrong.

I know I like it here. I know I’m starting to love my job again. I know that I don’t dread getting up in the morning even though I still wake up at 3 am.

I know I don’t want my own apartment because I like coming home here. I like being part of a family. I enjoy falling asleep next to Ox. Being away wouldn’t feel right. At the same time, all of my things are mostly still in storage. When the kids are here I don’t have a space for myself. And there’s a part of me who’s not ok with giving up the few days I have off to socialize.

Maybe “not ok” isn’t the right words. I would rather it be a choice rather than something I’m forced to do due to the living situation. But it’s not a choice. I have to and there isn’t really a way to change it at the moment. Maybe ever.

If I’m not “ok” but I’m not “not ok” then what am I?

Why can’t I just figure out what it is that I need to do?

Why can’t you be here for me to talk to? Why can’t I hear your voice on the other end of the phone? And saying, “because I’m dead” doesn’t count.

I don’t care right now. Because you’re dead isn’t a good enough answer.

I miss you, mom, and I so desperately want to say that I need you, but I know that word isn’t true because I’ll wake up tomorrow having survived another day without you and so it’s not a true need. Not like air or water or electrical impulses within my heart.

But I need you, mom. I need you to be here and you’re not and it sucks and I hate it.

I meet with a personal trainer tomorrow. I’ve signed up for a Warrior Dash in July. I have no motivation to do either of those things, but I’m going to do them because I know they need to be done.

This is the therapy part of healing. This is the hard part. The part that hurts. The part that sucks. The part that makes me cry and want to give up because the thought of doing them feels like it’s too much. Too heavy. Too hard.

It’s so much easier to hide away and stay in bed and be sad and to not do anything, but I know that’s not what I truly want for myself. I know it’s not what you would want for me either, so I’m going to go to my stupid meeting tomorrow, mom.

I’m going to try, mom. For you. For me. For us.

I’m so sorry I can’t promise more than that. I’m sorry I can’t do more than try. I’m sorry I can’t say that I’ll kick ass and take over the world and be an amazing person who does amazing things.

I wish I could, but right now I don’t feel those things. I don’t feel amazing or strong. I feel weak and broken and all I can do is say that I won’t let the sadness win and that I’ll try really hard for you.

Today sucks, mom. Nothing bad happened. Work went smoothly. I’m back home and I’m writing, but today just really, really sucks.

I love you. I promise I’ll try to make tomorrow better.

 

Daily Post 080: Finishing the Recap

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So last week started with what will forever be known as the horrifically sockless Monday. I continued improving at work and doing more things on my own like spinning labs, packing labs, and switching the CWP over to disinfect and taking it back out of disinfecting for normal operation. It was also the first week of working on my own, out of training. I was able to get measurements for things like shelving units and plastic bins to eventually make different areas/processes at the clinic easier.

Work-wise it was a good week.

Emotionally, the week had its ups and downs. Monday was pretty bad. Unintentionally making a mom joke didn’t help anything in that regard. As far as my writing goes, I recapped all the way up to Saturday evening, which Saturday was an amazingly good day.

That brings us up to Sunday, so I’ll continue from there.


 

April 1st – Sunday

April. Mom’s death month. And it’s not even like it’s a week into the month. Only four days later… Maybe it’s because her death happened so close to the first that the changing of months feels significant.

I woke up to snow on the ground; about an inch of it. It was still coming down, too. We were projected to get roughly three inches, which we did.

We had a good breakfast that morning. Mama Ox made monkey bread, Ox made eggs, and I made bacon. Real bacon, not the microwavable things they typically buy.

I didn’t do much of anything for the rest of the morning.

I was sad and it was hard to fight through the apathy and sadness. The weather didn’t help since it was cold. Ox helped a bit. Laundry needed to get done so he carried the basket into the laundry room for me.

Eventually, somehow, we ended up going to the U-Stop in town to do minor grocery shopping. It’s really a gas station with a mini food mart built into it. It’s nice and clean inside and their prices aren’t bad.

I guess it helped that the snow did stop in the afternoon and the sun came out and the day did warm up nicely. It helped that Ox was there to make it feel less like I was fighting my battle on my own.

Did it still suck? Yes. But not all of it sucked and it was up to me to recognize that fact or not. he could have been a jerk and not helped at all with the laundry. He could have given me shit for feeling sad instead of being understanding. He could have been harsh or distant verses encouraging and warm.

The trip to the store helped. Being productive usually does, regardless of how hard it is to start that upward trend/turnaround. I was able to get chicken and instant potatoes to make decent lunches for my work week. That led to a conversation with Mama Ox when I got back to the house about what to do for dinner. I said that I could make Parmesan chicken with the leftover seasoning packet I had. That led to another trip to the store for more chicken and to me making dinner for everyone.

The meal didn’t turn out as good as I wanted. I should have used more sauce. The whole package of noodles ended up being too much so there was a ton leftover. The bag of frozen broccoli sucked and I really should have bought some fresh instead of being cheap frugal.

It wasn’t an awful meal, but it wasn’t one that left everyone saying, “That was good.” It was a meal and no one left the table hungry or puking and swearing off my cooking for the rest of forever. Small victories I suppose.

The day ended up being a good day even though it was rough in the morning. I was looking forward to going to work and being able to set up my shelving unit next to the bleach sink.

I’m pretty sure I played WoW for a bit. I don’t remember specifically when I did that, but it did happen over the weekend at some point. I basically screwed around in Outlands completing super low-level quests and one shotting elite mobs that use to kick my ass. It was a nostalgic feeling. And gratifying…

That fel reaver totally deserved getting destroyed. Just sayin’ >.>


 

April 2nd – Monday

I worked Monday. It was a smooth day. I liked how I knew how the clinic would be since I worked Saturday. No guesswork as to if the lab packs were made or if the correct supplies would be laid out.

Nope. Everything was exactly how I wanted it because I made it that way.

The first shift went well. After my break, I put the shelves together. I love them. ❤

The second shift went well until four out of six people wanted off their machine at the same time. Holy fuck was that a bunch of crazy. Me and the RN survived though and once everyone was taken care of I spent the remaining time cleaning stations and getting ready to close up for the day.

I would have left the clinic early but I ended up staying to talk to our AA, administrative assistant. I haven’t had a chance to really interact with her all that much, so I had a distant level of respect for her but no real opinion of her as a person. After talking with her though, my opinion has changed to one of “You’re one of the people I super like”.

She showed me where the extra highlighters were. If that’s not true love I don’t know what is.

All joking aside, though, she was amazingly complimentary about how I’m helping to improve the clinic and she’s glad to have me as one of the solid, stable members of the crew.

She was supportive of my suggestion to rearrange a few things in the stock room for ease of use. She said if there was anything that I wanted to be purchased for the clinic to let her know. We talked about the future prospect of getting a second shift on TTS and she told me a bit of her story and why she is only part-time for the company at the moment.

She even emailed me a few files so I can print things out when I need them, versus having to wait or ask for someone to do it for me. I know that may not seem like a big deal. I mean, it’s not like their top secret files or anything, but I do feel it shows a level of trust that didn’t have to be given. It helps make me more independent as a worker. I’m able to be helpful rather than a hindrance. It’s a good feeling.

That actually led to how we were able to share part of our stories with each other. She had been trying to find my email address in the company directory, but could only find a Jennifer Conley in Orlando, so she didn’t think that was me since I’m clearly not in Orlando. I said no, that was me, that I had been working at the downtown clinic in Orlando, Florida before moving to Nebraska. She had no idea I had moved or been part of the company beforehand. She said that made her even more comfortable with me working at the Beatrice clinic because I had previous experience.

Even though it would have been nice to leave work early rather than on time, I’m glad I stayed. Getting to know her better makes me more comfortable with having to interact with her in the future and I think our conversation gave each of us a better understanding and level of respect for each other as people as well as coworkers.

Because we had so many noodles left over from the failed mediocre parmesan dinner the night before, I stopped by the Walmart near my clinic to pick up a few ingredients to make a soy sauce noodle recipe I found online. I am not a fan of that Walmart, or any Walmart really, so I’ll most likely avoid having to go there in the future, but I was able to get the things I needed. Since my mission was successful I headed home.

Dinner was super quick to make. It turned out pretty awesome, too. Hopefully, that makes up for the not amazing-ness of Sunday.

I had messaged Warren super early Monday morning; before I left for work which would have been around 5 am his time. I asked him to please reply to my previous message. You know… the one I sent on Friday asking about my spare key, the internet account, and our financial situation. I had emailed my old landlord Friday and was told everything was square with the lease. Ms. Side Chick is on it. I’m off it. We’re done in that regard.

I had let Warren know what the landlord had said, but still wanted answers for everything else. I had my “not amused” face on as I sent him a text Monday morning.

Me: Dude… Seriously… I know your phone is an extension of your hand because I’ve lived with you for a year. I know you’ve seen my message. I know you’re choosing not to reply to me. This is why people think you’re a dick when I tell them about our situation and why it’s hard to defend you against their opinions. You’re not doing much to make yourself look “non-dickish”.

He did eventually reply that evening, but it was after I had gone to sleep so I didn’t get his reply until Tuesday morning; yesterday.

All in all, Monday was a good day. I don’t remember being sad. I knew I was worried about the next two days since they were/are my days off. I was glad I wasn’t going to have to go to work, but at the same time, not having anything requiring me to be busy left me worried since the sadness and grief of mom’s death would have a better chance of seeping in.

I curled up in bed with Ox and went to sleep, turning my alarm off before doing so since I didn’t want to wake up at 3 am on a day I didn’t have to.


 

April 3rd – Tuesday – Yesterday

Yesterday started ok. It was weird not having to be up before Ox. Normally I’m the one up and dressed, lunch packed, breakfast eaten, sometimes showered, other times not with a bandana strategically covering up my bedhead used to keep my hair out of the way while I’m working…

We still did our “goodbye cigarette” in the morning only it was reversed with me being the one to crawl back into bed and Ox being the one to leave for work, off to be the breadwinner for the day.

I think I didn’t make yesterday easy for myself. I was still fuzzy and sort of headachey from drinking the night before. I ended up oversleeping with left me feeling groggy when I did actually wake up. I didn’t have a reason to shower, so I didn’t. Instead, I had breakfast then decided that I was still tired and got back in bed, in the dark. I basically stewed in my own thoughts of “this is the eve of mom’s death” for most of the day.

Ox called me a few times. He’s been talking to one of his friends and he wants me to meet her. It worked out that yesterday would have been a good day to do it. The thought of having to go out into the world, to interact with anyone, anything, hurt. The thought of doing anything hurt, much like the way I imagine physical therapy to hurt.

You know you need to do it. You know it’s beneficial and that doing nothing is only going to make things worse in the long run, but the thought of having to stretch those muscles is agonizing because you know it’s going to suck. It’s going to take a lot of work. It’s going to take a lot of time and effort and determination and willpower and discipline, and sometimes you really just don’t want to do it. Sometimes it just sucks and you need to have those moments of self-pity where you allow yourself to feel that suckage in all its unadulterated realness.

Everytime Ox called me yesterday I ended up crying. He mentioned that I sounded sad during our second call and I said I was. It was as if finally being able to admit to someone that today sucked made it more ok; less like an overwhelming weakness I was trying to hide from.

It was ok to be sad because being sad isn’t inherently a bad thing.

He ended up convincing me to shower and to drive into town. We could get dinner together, just us. We could drive up to his friend’s work and say hi, or not. Staying at home all day hadn’t helped anything though, so maybe trying being out of the house would.

I agreed that going out had a better shot than staying in since staying in had done nothing but make things worse.

So I showered. Getting up and doing it was hard at first, but I felt slightly better after doing it. I had done “something” so doing “something else” didn’t seem as bad; as hard.

I got dressed, putting on the overcoat/jacket thing I wore to my interview during my initial trip to Nebraska. I knew that I felt injured internally, emotionally. I don’t know why, but putting in that one small extra effort to make myself look a bit more presentable made me feel a bit better about myself. Yeah, I’m still sad, but you know what? I still did amazing enough in an interview to get a job that I’m doing well with. I can still look classy while being injured. I can feel broken and still function because I’m doing it, right here, right now.

I guess the jacket thing was more of a visual reminder to myself that have I done, and am doing, well regardless of what my emotions make me feel sometimes.

I picked up the Amazon package that had been sitting on the porch all morning. It had been there when had my first cigarette after waking up, but the thought of bringing it inside with me was too much at the time. It would get done eventually… by someone…

I’m glad that I’m the one who did it and that I didn’t let the apathy I had been struggling with all day make someone else’s day mildly inconvenient. I’m able-bodied enough to pick up a box and put it on the kitchen table, damnit.

Me: Fuck you, Brain. I KNOW I’m not that weak and feeble.

I cried almost the whole time on the drive into town and I really can’t explain why. The sun had finally come out and though it was still cold, there were puffs of warmth mixed in, like the Earth is struggling to wake up out of its winter sleep. Coughs of spring mixed into the fierceness of the wind.

It hurt to drive. It hurt to be outside, slightly dressed up, driving into town to do normal things on a day that isn’t normal.

It’s the “Eve”.

It’s the night code STEMI was called on mom. It’s the night she bled all over her hospital gown. It’s the night I didn’t sleep and I worried about her bleeding out while I held her hand because the heparin wouldn’t let her blood clot properly.

Today isn’t normal, but it’s sunny and I’m showered and I’m about to go do whatever it is I’m about to go do and it sucks and I cried because, for me, all of those facts suck. For me, the memory of April 3rd, 2016 will always suck, no matter how bright and sunny and warm the day may be.

Ox and I met at the parking lot of the PetCo in town since his snake needed more mice. I had a few minutes alone to compose myself and to come to terms with the fact that mom wanted me to get through yesterday. She wouldn’t have wanted me to stay home in the dark being sad. I know she would understand my sadness, but she would want me to find something about the day to enjoy, no matter how small so I was going to try to. For her. For me. For us.

One of the things Ox and I ended up doing was going to a HyVee and getting Bang energy drinks for me. There was a Super Saver in the plaza we met up at, but they don’t sell my drink and the thought of having one made me feel better in one of those silly, slightly childish “a piece of chocolate would give me warm fuzzy feelings” sort of way.

When I asked if we could go get one, Ox said sure. It nearly brought me to tears all over again because I know it was a silly request and yet he made it seem like it was no problem at all. He could have said no or asked why and forced me to explain all of the things I didn’t want to explain, but instead, he said yes with a smile and drove us in his car so we could be together, leaving mine in the parking lot until our impromptu adventure through the town was done for the evening.

He drove to a nearby HyVee where I got 12 cans of Bang because they were on sale. I don’t know why those drinks are so amazing, but having one of the Cotten Candy flavored cans makes me feel like I’m drinking liquid childhood or something. It was another small action that helped keep up the emotional improvement.

We drove to the Home Depot where his friend worked since she was getting off work soon. I was nervous. I mean, obviously… It’s a person I’ve never met before. Their sole purpose in life is to attack me on sight…

Me: You can chill the fuck out, Brain. I would be totally ok with that right now…

While Ox and I waited, we looked at paint and wood stain for the kitchen cabinets. We walked back and looked at the countertops since his mom wants new ones. We talked about color scheme and tile backsplashes for the kitchen walls and looked at different pantry cabinets since I want to get one for the kitchen. We talked about how we could move things in the house around and what type of flooring we want to put down in the addition once it’s done. We talked about how a lot of things in the house feel half down and how I’m not wrong in feeling that way; that’s an issue with his dad. Projects not getting finished.

It was a really awesome experience. I’m not sure if it was intentional on Ox’s part, but I’m grateful for the time we spent together in the store looking at home improvement stuff. It helped me remember there’s a lot of things in the future I want to be here for and that I’m looking forward to being a part of.

I was also able to get a white milk crate for work. I want one as a “shred” box for the treatment floor. It’s so annoying having to constantly walk back behind the nurse’s station to put documents into the bin there. Now I have a crate I can put on the main tech counter. I can put treatment sheets and lab forms and all sorts of paper in there and at the end of the day I can take my crate and empty it all at once. It’s a small, trivial thing, but it makes me happy knowing that my workflow will be improved.

I did get to meet Ox’s friend. She seems nice and I’m curious to get to know her better. I think we have had very different experiences, I also think we’re very different people. I don’t think we’ll be best buds or BFFs or hang out buddies, but it would be nice to know if we wanted to hang out with people other than ourselves that Ox and I have people we can call up and spend time with.

Once we left Home Depot we decided to try Buffalo Wings and Rings again, the wing place we had tried to go to Saturday evening. I can’t lie, part of the reason I’ve wanted to go there is simply because the name makes me smile because I think it’s cute. The other part is because I really like their color scheme. A very small, insignificant portion is because I want to find another wing place. I had already determined before moving that nothing would compare to my sports bar in Orlando.

BW&R was much quieter yesterday evening and though the food wasn’t as good as my sports bar in Orlando, it definitely is better than Buffalo Wild Wings in my book and overall I was satisfied with my meal. I would be ok with going back there. In fact, it might be where I go for lunch today since I’ll be in town.

Dinner was nice. Once we were done we drove back to my car and picked up snake food before coming home. I spent most of the evening writing which helped iron out details and timelines in my head. It helped shift things into a clearer, less sad perspective.

I’m glad to say that even though yesterday was hard that it turned out to be a pretty amazing day; one that I’m grateful for experiencing.


 

That brings us to today. April 4th, 2018. The two-year anniversary of my mom’s death. I… am ok so far. Better than I was yesterday. I’m already showered. I’ve written again and was able to remember all of the positive things of yesterday. I have therapy scheduled for 1 pm today and I’m actually looking forward to that phone call. I haven’t spoken with my therapist in almost two months now. There’s so much that has happened that I want to share with her. She’s been on this journey of recovery with me since the beginning. It was only about a month after mom’s death that I sought out counseling, and I do believe it’s one of the reasons I’m as stable and strong as I am today.

I need to buy a flower today. A second one to go into the vase I have by mom’s urn. I want to go to the gym today because I know mom wants me to keep living my life and to actually live it rather than exist through it. I want to cook dinner tonight since I didn’t last night and I already know the recipes I want to do. I’ll most likely need to stop by the store for a handful of things. Making sure laundry is squared away so I have scrubs and socks for the next three days would be a smart move, too.

Since I have a few hours before my phone call I think I’m going to try going through and organizing the piles on top of the freeze and cabinet in the laundry room. Maybe I’ll even poke around inside of the cabinet if I have time.

I don’t know. Today has possibilities and I can still enjoy them, experience them, while I miss my mom.

Today, two years ago, my mom died, and yet I am still her daughter. That is the fact I take comfort in right now. Life can’t change that fact. Death can’t change that fact. She and I are forever connected because I’m her daughter and she’s my mother.

Fuck you, Universe. You can’t take that away from us.

And with that, I’m going to go live my life today because I know that’s what my mom wants me to do.

I love you, mom. Forever and for always.