Letters to Mom 020: Relationship Rambling

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I ran my race.

I didn’t run all of it. I didn’t really try to run all of it. There were two points where I met another runner and walked with them while we talked about life and our past race experiences. I could have run more, but I don’t have this pressure or feeling that I should have run more. I did what I wanted and I’m ok with that.

I’m surprised with how recovered I feel. I know I ran more this race than I did on any of my previous races. I still did all of the obstacles. I still crossed the finish line and had my victory beer.

I’m… happy… with my race and that makes me feel sad in a way. I wrote about it at least once that I can remember. I never thought success could be painful, but it is now. I did well and so I hurt because I did well when mom isn’t here. Maybe one day I’ll grow past this point in my life where everything comes back to her death, but right now I haven’t and so this is where I am.

I did well and I can’t show mom any of the pictures. It hurts even though at the same time I have all of these positive feelings. Ox went with me. He was there when I crossed the finish line. He even gave me a half-way hug while someone else took our picture for us. He drove me to and from the race. He went to dinner with me the night before where we got subs and had ice cream from a local deli near the race location.

We had a mostly serious conversation about our relationship, and though nothing was really solved or figured out, I feel like it was important that we talked.

It’s hard to want to go back to work. I want to see my patients but I really don’t want the stress that goes with my job. I don’t want the annoying hours. Maybe part of the discontent is from being tired. Maybe I’ll be more ok with the thought of work tomorrow, but for right now, I would be ok if I didn’t have to go back. I have too many tangled emotions right now to want to be around people.

I’m glad that almost all of the obstacles felt easy and that the hardest part about the run was running uphill. I’m glad my new Vibrams performed well. I’m glad I didn’t get super sunburnt. I’m glad I went to the race.

There’s so much I want to write about but I don’t know how right now. It’s why I didn’t write yesterday or before the race.

Mom, I miss you. I know you would be so proud right now. I know you would listen to every word if we were talking. I’ve already been cornered by Mama Ox and talked about all the different obstacles and how I felt I did and was the time with my trainer worth it and all of these other questions and side tangents…

But it wasn’t you. She wasn’t who I wanted to talk to and though I knew it was a conversation that I had to have, I didn’t want to. I wanted to talk to you. I still do. I still need it to be you that I gush and ramble to. I need this to be for you right now.

The “race day” adventure started Friday evening. Ox came home after getting off from work. We packed the car up and said goodbye to his parents so we could try to out drive a storm that had the potential to hail on us.

We stopped at a gas station before getting on the interstate to fill up the car and get snacks. He helped me scrub the windows clean of bug guts since that’s a thing I have to deal with here in Nebraska. We ate pretzels and beef jerky while listening to music as we traveled. We were able to beat the storm because we’re badasses like that.

We made it to the town of Blair, home of the bears, which is where I had been able to get a hotel room. We were still about 30 minutes from the race location, but that was the closest hotel I could find. Nebraska is so spread out and a lot of the towns are small. I was sort of surprised we ended up as close as we did.

Blair is quaint. It’s bigger than Hickman, but it has a lot of mom and pop type places. The deli we went for dinner is a good example. In a way, it reminded me of Ye Old Fashion in Summerville. The food wasn’t anything crazy or out of the ordinary. I had a roast beef sub. It wasn’t anything that I couldn’t have made myself at home, but it was still good and I enjoyed eating carbs at night guilt-free, knowing that I would run them off during the race. I even indulged and had a waffle cone with cookie dough ice cream.

It had been a choice between driving to the race location so we could see where it was at and getting food since we didn’t get to Blair until 8pm. Food won out and I’m glad it did. I enjoyed sharing a nice meal with Ox. It was datey feeling, getting ice cream with him.

This was our second road trip together since he flew down to Orlando to drive with me to Nebraska when I moved. It was nice to feel like we got away together.

I wish I could ask you about sex advice, mom. I know Ox says it isn’t me, but it’s hard to feel like it isn’t. We were finally alone. Away. I’m losing weight, again. I’m doing well at work. I cover my bills. I’m domestic with doing laundry and cooking and cleaning.

I don’t know what else to do to be a better, more attractive or enticing mate.

I have been told it’s not me. I’m doing everything right. But that doesn’t change the feelings of “It is me”. This issue has followed me through all of my relationships. I have a higher sex drive than my partner and I don’t know how to change that or to come to terms with the feelings of loneliness that go with it.

Did you ever experience relationships like this, mom? How did it make you feel if you did? What happened? How did you cope?

I’m told I am sexy. I am beautiful. But I don’t feel those things, mom, and I don’t know how to change that. When I say them, when I say, “I am beautiful” it feels like a lie. That combination of words isn’t one of MY truths. I know my truths shouldn’t be based on another person’s opinion or actions or feelings. It should be based on mine, but in my head when I hear “You’re beautiful” I think, “No. I’m not. I’m just me.”

Just me…

That’s a lot of things, though. I’m “just” amazing and fantastic and compassionate and empathic and logical and emotional and structured and spontaneous and fun and funny and outgoing and reserved. I’m an INFJ and there’s so much that goes into “just me”. I don’t know why having sex less often than what my nervous system wants causes so much strife within myself.

Why does it make me question my self-worth? What does it make me wonder if there’s something I should be doing, or doing differently, or not doing? Why does it make me feel like the problem is within myself?

I don’t know if you would have any insight, but I wish I could talk to you about it. I wish I could hear your voice assuring me that Ox and I will figure it out. He’s so many things that my past relationships haven’t been. Why can’t I let this one thing go?

It made Friday night hard. I had packed a piece of lingerie with me. We were alone. We didn’t have Life breathing down our necks with obligations or responsibilities. Sexy time wasn’t in our cards for that night, though. The lingerie went unworn.

It was hard to not feel unattractive.  While we were outside smoking before going to bed I asked if there was anything I could or should be doing differently.

In the end, I asked if it was like my grief and how it can’t really be explained. Was it similar to how I wish my grief could be something like the memory orbs from Inside Out where I could let someone else hold it and say, “This. This is what I feel.”

Ox said yeah. It was like that. He could try to explain as best he could, but there wasn’t really a way to explain to someone else what it feels like to want to please your partner and not be able to.

I know we’re more than roommates or good friends, but it’s hard to feel or support that fact inside my head. It feels like a big part of the relationship is missing or withering away. We both come home from work. I do chores. He plays video games. We go to sleep. We wake up and repeat.

We ended up sleeping cuddled close together which helped keep the lonely feelings from winning. I still didn’t feel sexy or beautiful, but I didn’t feel alone.

When we woke up we checked out the breakfast bar at the hotel but decided to go to a local diner instead. It was another decent meal of nothing super facey. I had rye toast with a mushroom omelet. I even had some of the hashbrowns. We drove to the race site. Ox helped spray my back down. I wore the top he found for me. I had my new shoes. He was at the start line taking pictures and watching me raise my hand for Nebraska even though I had been giving him shit about still representing Florida.

He was there at the end, mom. He was there when I crossed the finish line covered in mud and he didn’t make me feel bad or weird for doing it. He held my bag and let me have my beer and… goddamnit, he’s awesome and I feel like shit for having such a shallow hang up.

He didn’t have to drive two hours to sit for an hour and fifteen minutes out in the sun surrounded by strangers while I ran a circle. He didn’t have to sit there and worry about me not finishing the race because I hurt myself on an obstacle he couldn’t see or twisted my ankle while running. He didn’t have to go. He didn’t have to give me a partial hug. Hell, a partial hug is more than what Zane would give me when I got home after biking to and from work so he could use my car and all that was was sweat.

Ox didn’t try to stop me from going or try to talk me out of it. He doesn’t make me feel bad for spending as much time at the gym as I do or the nights I’ve spent a majority of our “together” time at the dojo instead of being home. He goes to SCA combat practices with me even though he doesn’t fight. He wakes up at 3:45 on the mornings I work just so we can have a cigarette together before I leave even though it almost always fucks up his sleep. He lets me sleep on the couch when I feel the need to have space. He lets me write. He always says thank you when I do something. Making his lunch. Doing the laundry. The small, trivial, unnoticeable things of everyday life aren’t unnoticeable to him and he acknowledges those actions.

Through our conversations of Friday night, he told me he thinks it might be low testosterone. Having been in relationships where I’ve been told I need to be on medication to “fix” myself, I feel awful about the thought of Ox feeling like he needs to take or do something to “fix” himself.

He’s human, so I can’t say he’s perfect, but the thought that I might be making him feel pressured to do something like taking pills or medication sucks. It didn’t make me feel good when it was done to me, so I don’t want to do it to another person, intentionally or unintentionally.

He said taking supplements is something he wants to try; for me, but for him too. He said he’s noticed other things which could be related to low testosterone. I guess it’s something he’s thought about since before our conversation.

I guess there’s not much else to say in regards to this. I wish I knew your opinion, mom. I wish you could tell me if I’m making mountains out of molehills. I know sex is important, yet at the same time not, yet at the same time is… I wish it wasn’t such a big part of the race but since all of this talking happened the night before, it’s tied into it and so there’s no way I can talk about one without the other. It’s the part that’s unresolved in my head and so it’s the part I need to talk about first.

The conversations I have with Ox always bring us closer. In the end, we agreed that we’re ok. We cuddled close together, his arms wrapped around me, and slept through the night. I woke up rested even though I was in a foreign environment and usually have a hard time sleeping in a bed other than my own. I was with Ox and we were ok so it was ok.

We had a nice breakfast in a cute town. He let me have my day. We drove back to Lincoln and we went to our Mongolian Grill and he let me wear my fuzzy warrior hat inside the whole time along with my medal. He went out in public with me while I was still grimy from the race. He even looked up other events I could still sign up for this summer while we were eating.

He let me be grouchy and sad afterward when my headache from dehydration started setting in and I came down from the high of my race. He let me sleep for hours once we got home.

And today, he’s let me be whatever it is that I am. I’m not as sore as I expected to be. Physically I’m doing pretty well. Emotionally I felt frayed, though. I’ve wanted closeness and contact and I think a lot of that has more to do with the runner’s high than anything. It felt a lot like sub-drop after an intense BDSM scene.

We ended up going to the movies since they have the dream lounge chairs. I was able to sit cross-legged the whole time while we watched the new Jurassic World movie. We were close and touching the whole time. Being out of the house helped. Not being the “responsible one” was nice. I didn’t have to drive. I didn’t have to choose anything. I didn’t have to talk to anyone. All I had to do was be present and watch dinosaurs attack shit. I was able to be low energy and quiet and near him and it was nice.

We were able to stop at GNC before going home so I could have my energy drink in the morning since my stockpile was out. So not only did we get cuddle time with dinosaurs, we were also productive.

You would really like him, mom. He honestly does take really good care of me. We take good care of each other.

I want to run another race before summer ends. I want to meditate more on the sex issue because I do feel like I need to explore that more within myself. I need to figure out why it is such a big deal for me because as much as I don’t want it to be one, it is and I can’t expect others to understand it if I don’t understand it myself. I want to keep training and losing weight. I want to figure out why I have such an issue with the words sexy and beautiful. And I want to figure out what I want.

That doesn’t seem like a lot, but I know on the emotional “figuring myself out” level it’s going to be a lot of work. I guess it’s a good place to start, though.

I don’t feel as frayed anymore. I feel more ok with the thought of going to work. I have a battle plan for figuring out some of the stuff that’s bothering me.

Thanks for listening, mom. Maybe next time I’ll be able to gush about the obstacles and which ones I liked and which ones were annoying and about the two runners I met and winning my free water bottle and all of the things that went into making my third Warrior Dash the warm memory that it is.

I love you, forever and for always.

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Musing Moment 114: Inching Closer

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I don’t do well on the days where I go back to sleep after I wake up, and though I know how to fix this, I sort of don’t.

Today is my first day off of four. I have my race on Saturday so I requested Friday off. Thursday, today, is a normal off say and so is Sunday. It’s like a mini-vacation.

Today is also a day where I am truly alone. Papa Ox has a field project he needed to go out for. Mama Ox and Ox are both at work. I don’t have training until 2:30 this afternoon. I have no other obligations unless I’m alive enough to go to the dojo after training for kickboxing, krav, and jitz, in that order.

When I go back to bed after Ox leaves on my days off it’s hard to not feel apathetic. It’s better on the days that I have training earlier in the day. I have a reason to get up. To shower. To eat. I have things I need to do and so there’s a level of motivation I guess that gets me up and moving.

Today I didn’t have that.

I went back to sleep. I woke up again. I had a cup of coffee for the first time in weeks. I had part of my breakfast but not all of it because I wasn’t super hungry.

I pretty much passed out right when I got home yesterday. I’m not nearly as sore, but I’ve also slept for somewhere in the ballpark of 16 hours. Small wonder I’m not really all that hungry. I haven’t done much.

I still really don’t have much motivation for anything. I “could” clean my computer desk, but I really don’t want to. There are clothes that “could” be put away, but again, I’m not really feeling it.

I made myself eat lunch since my trainer would give me shit later today for not eating. Saving myself from future heartache I guess; maybe that’s a mild form of self-preservation. I feel like he’s going to push me pretty hard today since I did so well on Tuesday. We did sled work at the end. My chest hasn’t been that sore in ages. I haven’t had to dig that deep on the emotional side in a while either.

I feel like the times where I have to fight against my grief and the darkness are the times that really matter. When I pushed the sled down the gym the first time I knew I was going to struggle more emotionally than physically. When my trainer turned the sled around and said I only had to do it three more times I wanted to cry.

My Brain: You say it’s “only” three more times. But that’s THREE MORE TIMES. THREE. I’m already fucking burnt. I can’t do three. No. It’s not that I can’t. It’s that I don’t want to do three. What’s the point? Why do three, or two, or even one? What’s the point in doing any of this when mom’s dead? You know, it’s so easy for you to say it’s “only” three. It’s “only” something. It’s so fucking easy for the rest of the world to just keep going like everything is easy and “only” three when just waking up is sometimes the hardest thing to do and then not only do I have to do that, but then I have to get out of bed. And then I have to shower. And then I have to do all of this other bullshit and interact with all these other people and pretend that living isn’t hard and doesn’t feel heavy and hollow and pointless. It’s already “only” fucking hard, ok? I don’t need to do your three. I don’t NEED to do anything because I’ve already done more than you can even imagine just by standing here. I don’t have to prove to you I’m strong. I’m already strong. Being here, standing here, makes me strong. So you know what? Fuck you, Life. No. Seriously. Fuck you and you know what? I’ll do three more just to prove to you that you can’t win. I won’t let you win. I WILL NEVER LET YOU WIN.

The last three pushes were some of the hardest pushes I’ve ever done, more because I was trying to breathe and control the urge to break down into rage-filled tears, though my body was totally ok with not having to push the sled anymore once I was done.

There’s a part of me who likes being pushed to that point. My mental and emotional breaking point I guess. It makes me confront my grief and the harder emotions that lurk in the dark, dusty corners of my mind that get ignored during everyday life.

I had a thought Tuesday as I sat outside recovering from my training.

I wonder if mom hurts, too.

I talk about my wound and what it feels like for her to be dead. I wonder if she hurts from us being apart, too. I wonder if being dead is hard for her because she can’t be here. I wonder if she has her own wound in her chest where she aches for one more phone call. One more hug. One more, “It’s ok”.

I wonder if I’ve been selfish and small and inconsiderate of the other side of the situation. Maybe it sucks just as bad for her as it does for me. Maybe worse since she lost so much more. She lost Jon and Jason and Jace and Lio and her coworkers and her brothers.

I only lost mom. Mom lost everything.

There’s a sick part of my brain that feels a little bit better thinking that mom and I are struggling together. I’m not alone in my hurt. I’m not alone. It sucks for both of us and we’re doing the best we can with what the Universe will let us have.

It sucks that I have to go for now so I can actually shower and get to the gym on time for training where I’ll have to push again when I don’t want to. I don’t know why I do this. I don’t know what I want. Or maybe it’s that I keep forgetting or losing sight of what I want and so it’s easier to say I don’t know what I want rather than to look for it or remember.

I miss you, mom. I miss you so much. I’m going to go to training and I’m going to run my race and I know I’m doing these things for me, but I’m also doing them for you. That’s why I’m able to do three more. Because I tell myself it’s for you. That’s why I get out of bed sometimes. That’s why I eat. Because I told you I would. Sometimes the only reason I’m able to do things is because I say they’re for you and I don’t want to let you down.

Today isn’t a hard day, but I guess with finding the dojo and everything else that I’ve been doing recently, I’m inching closer to… I don’t know what. Closer to something, though. The emotions are there, near the surface. They’re not the raging, chaotic, swirling beast they were in the beginning. They’re calmer now, more settled. They don’t overwhelm me in the same way anymore even though they’re no less powerful.

I don’t understand that foreign aspect of myself any more than I did before I started writing this, mom, but maybe I’m on the right path to understanding it.

I love you. Thanks for being there for me. We’ll get through it together.

Letters to Mom 019: Good Morning

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Hey mom,

I don’t have a lot of time and I’m sorry for that. I went back to sleep after Ox left for work and have stayed in bed for longer than I should have if I wanted to have more time to write.

I talked to Jon for a little bit just now. I know it would make you happy to know we’re getting along better than we ever did while you were alive. I know it would make you feel like you had done something right to know that we love each other as much as we do and that we support each other as much as we are. We’re there for each other and I think, in the end, that’s all you ever wanted for us to learn.

The past few days have been hard. I’ve been missing you a lot and I don’t know why. I know it’s almost the fourth and so that means it will be two years and three months since you died. I know that a lot of people think it’s unhealthy to count that way and to be so aware of the numbers like that. But when I have to write the date, everyday, on everything I open at work, when I write the date at the top of my to-do list everyday, when I’m so hyper-aware of what date it actually is in relation to when you died… it’s hard to not be conscious of it; to not know. At the moment my brain processes the information in that way and I don’t know how to make it not do that, just like I don’t know how to not breathe or blink or how to make my heart stop beating on its own, firing off electrical impulses to move my blood through my body. I don’t know how to make my muscles not use energy.

I don’t know how to make my body not do all of these automatic functions, and knowing how many days it’s been since I last held your hand is one of those automatic functions now. Maybe that will change with time, but so far it hasn’t and it’s one of the things I live with; this constant knowing, constant counting, constant ticking further and further away from that day.

I miss you a lot. It hurts and I don’t know how to explain to anyone what it feels like. I know it’s pain. I know it’s in my chest. I know I can feel the edges of this wound. It feels circular. I know it doesn’t pierce all the way through to my back but I don’t know how far in it goes. It feels deep. It feels like it reaches into something past my self, into something that is no longer physical; a part of myself that can’t be seen or touched. I know it feels like it’s on the inside and that it’s under the surface of my skin; beneath the bones of my rib cage. It’s higher up in my chest, sort of below my collar bones. I know it feels like the edges are trying to close rather than growing bigger. I know it feels like spasms when I do feel the pain of missing you, like the muscles around this invisible, untouchable wound are twitching, contracting. It makes my shoulders hunch inward. It makes it hard to breathe. It makes silent tears run down my face and I have no control over them. I can’t hide them or stop them any more than I can stop anything else. They’re an automatic response to the pain just like the short shallow breathes I have to force myself to take to get through the aching twitching spasms in my chest where something used to be.

The pain makes everything feel heavy. The pain makes me feel injured because even though I can’t see it or show it to anyone, even though it seems like it’s not there, there is a wound and I am injured and when I hurt the most I wonder if I’ll ever heal at all.

Ox tried to hug me after one particular episode of Violet Evergarden and I pulled away because I knew his hug would be too much. It would hurt too much because I felt my wound more than ever and accepting the hug would acknowledge it; would acknowledge the pain that has no cure. It would admit that I’m lonely and that I miss you and that I hurt in ways that I try so hard to hide and work through on my own.

That hug would have meant it’s all real. Your death. My pain. The invisible wound that connects us… It’s all real and I can’t hide it.

I love you, mom. I never knew or understood how much until you died and I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry for all the times I was selfish and didn’t do the things you asked me to. For not taking care of the dishes or cleaning the litter boxes. I’m sorry for all the times you asked for my help and I didn’t only to turn around and ask something of you and for you to selflessly give your time and energy.

I know I wasn’t an awful child. I know that you’re proud of me and that you feel you raised me right. I feel like you did, too. I feel like I’m the person I am because you were, because you are, my mother. I’m grateful for having had as much time with you as I did.

The past few days have been hard and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that with the kids being gone and me not working overtime as much as I was, I finally have the time and space to address the wound that I haven’t given much time to.

I think there’s still a lot I need to address in regards to your death. I don’t really agree with the stages of grief but I also don’t have anything else to express what I’m going through. I feel like, on the inside, there is more anger now than in the previous years. I know that I do feel regret now even though I try not to.

I regret that Ox will never be able to meet you. I regret that you’ll never be able to play Cards Against Humanity with him. I regret that you won’t be able to banter with him because his sense of humor totally fits our family. I regret that I am with someone I know you would be proud of and that he’s the one person you’ll never be able to meet face to face.

It sucks and I’m angry about it even though I don’t want to be angry. I fight and try so hard not to be and that most likely makes it all that much harder.

I’ve fought for so long, mom. Ever since you died. And now I don’t have to. I don’t have to fight to pay rent. I don’t have to fight to get to the gym. I don’t have to fight through the exhaustion of work.

I don’t know how to not fight. I don’t know how to not have things be a struggle and I guess that’s part of learning how to live this new life that I’ve moved to. I guess it makes it harder, feeling like I can’t call or ask for advice on how to do this.

How do I be a parent, mom? How do I be happy? How do I love someone after everything I’ve been through? How do I stop fighting and let people get close again?

Did I make life easier or harder for you when dad left? Did I give you purpose, a reason, to get out of bed on the mornings you didn’t want to? Did I make life feel heavy and like an overwhelming burden on the days that were hard? Did I help you after Mawmaw died? How did you get through those days? When did you cry? Did you every scream because it hurt so much to not have her anymore?

Did you ever feel like giving up?

Why can’t you be here to answer all of these questions? Why can’t you come back? Why did you have to leave? Why? Was it a choice? Did you know how everything would turn out? Is there some major thing in the distant future where it will all make sense and I’ll understand why and that the pain was worth it and things really are and were ok?

I wish I could hear you say those words one more time. I wish you could tell me “It’s ok,” just once more. I promise I would believe them. I promise I would cherish them.

Hate that I need to go for now. I hate that I have training at the gym at 10. I hope I do better than Thursday. I hope I don’t break down during my training and yell about how it sucks and it’s unfair and what’s the point and how no one understands because how can they? They weren’t, aren’t, your daughter. No one but me will know what it feels like to be me in the wake of your death. And in a way, I think I’m ok with that. It makes me feel privileged. It makes me feel honored.

I’m ok with being your only daughter. I’m ok because I’m YOUR daughter. Even if you had had another one she still wouldn’t have been me.

I don’t know. I didn’t know what I wanted to write when I started this.

I guess… I guess I just wanted to say good morning, mom, and that I love you and that I miss you and that I’m going to try to make today a day. I hope you’re doing ok. I hope that you don’t worry too much about me. I hope that I’m making smart choices and that even if I am giving you more gray hair that it makes you smile because at least it’s me doing it.

I love you. Forever and for always.

Musing Moments 112: My Favorite Color

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It’s the last day the kids are here.

I’ve survived the two weeks without getting a hotel room or an extended stay and with minimal freakouts over not having my own space. This morning has actually been pretty nice so far. Lil’ Ox and I played Little Big Planet 3 for a while. I made her waffles for breakfast and ate my own premade steak and egg breakfast container next to her.

It’s been a low key morning; one that makes me think maybe I’m not so bad at this parenting / mentoring thing. Maybe it’s not the horrific end of myself and my independence that I feel like it will be. I enjoyed this morning and a lot of the days they’ve been here so, theoretically, it’s possible to enjoy others.

I was still able to go to the gym and train. I was still able to work on my tattoo design and on the nights I was super tired I was left alone in the room to sleep.

Yes, there were hiccups and not everything went smoothly or flawlessly, but it went well enough that I’m still ok for the most part. Ok enough to not be terrified or completely against the future or the “next time”.

We made decorations with pearler beads and went swimming. We got work done out in the garage and in the addition. Work has been going alright even though I was shorted 15 hours on my last check.

I can’t really think of anything major to write about even though I haven’t written in most likely three weeks.

Jon is doing well. I’m looking forward to seeing him and Jason in August. I’m not going to be going to Orlando afterward and there’s a lot of factors that go into that choice. I’ll most likely use the leftover money in my “Me Fund” to switch over my car’s license plate.

My race is in roughly two weeks. I know I won’t be able to run all of it but I think I’ll be content with what I’m able to do. I’ll be running alone which is nice. Ox mentioned going with me and hanging out while I run so he can watch. Nothing has been decided, but I do like the idea of not having to worry about pacing myself to match someone else. I want to do this for me. I want to do this alone.

There’s a lot of things I want to do that I haven’t been doing. Alone time is one of those things.

I’ve been missing mom a lot. It will be her birthday soon.

I feel bad for Ox. When I lived alone I could seclude myself away in my room and hide until I was better. I would drink or cry or sleep or whatever it was I needed to do to survive the waves of grief. I didn’t have to worry about messing up anyone else’s day with my sadness.

I don’t have that option here. We share a room. He has to deal with all of it. There’s no real way for me to “get away”. It doesn’t help or make things easier. I haven’t learned how to cope as an introvert with no safe space. So on top of dealing with his own stuff, Ox is stuck with me on my “hard days”.

I don’t know what else to write about on that part.

I wish mom were here. I wish she was still alive. I wish things had been different and at the same time, I don’t because I wouldn’t be where I am if they had been different and I kind of like where I am.

I think I know why it’s hard to hear my name. Everyone calls me Jen. Ox is the only one who will say Jennifer sometimes. Every time I hear my full name I hurt. I think it’s because my mom was the only one who called me by my full name. I can remember the first night at the hospital when the painkillers finally started wearing off and I asked her if she knew who I was. I can remember how she rolled her eyes at me like it was the silliest question ever.

Mom: You’re Jennifer.

I am Jennifer but that seems like such a hard and impossible person to be. It’s easier to be Jen, the PCT or Kitten, the not girlfriend / not wife nebulous life partner.

It’s easy to get caught up in the trivial, surface level pettiness of Life and to forget that I’m injured, but hearing my full name reminds me. I can’t pretend when I hear it. I can’t fake my way through that pain. I have to face it and I don’t want to.

I guess there’s a large part of me who doesn’t want to be me. I don’t want to put in all of the work it will take to heal all of the injuries I have.

I don’t really know what I’m doing with my life at the moment. I go to work. I pay my bills. I try to eat healthy as I have a bowl of mint ice cream at night that I don’t log on My Fitness Pal.

I’m still doing well at work. I’m still losing weight and gaining muscle. I’m still making ends meet.

I don’t know what it feels like, this life I’ve been living for almost five months now. Maybe that’s because I’m not allowing myself to fully feel it. Sort of like how I ignore my injuries. Maybe I’m just existing through my life at the moment rather than fully immersing myself in it and experiencing it.

There’s a part of me who doesn’t trust it. I’m waiting for it to run out; to end. The good times can only last so long.

I say “I love you,” but I don’t feel it the way I used to. There’s a part of me who doesn’t want to. I love as much as I feel I can. I’m broken. You’ll die. There’s only so much I can give. It doesn’t feel like enough, though. It feels like you deserve more. It doesn’t feel like it used to before mom died and I don’t know if it ever can or will.

Ox: Are you happy?

He’s asked me that a few times and I don’t know how to answer. I’m not “not happy”. I would like my own room. I would like for things to stay organized. I would like for the dirty clothes to not be on the floor. I would like for there to not be pop tarts on the kitchen counter tempting me every morning. But in the scheme of things, I have a roof over my head. I am staying here rent free. I have food. I have a car. I have a job. I have a support structure and people who care about me.

There’s no reason for me to not be happy. But most of the time there’s this feeling of distance. Like I’m holding my breath. A tension.

I hate this part of myself, but I already know what I would try to do if the relationship failed. I already have a “backup plan”. I wouldn’t move back to Orlando. I would try to move to Beatrice so I would be closer to my clinic.

And maybe that’s something else that keeps me from giving fully into whatever this is.

A relationship is supposed to be a compromise. Give and take.

I moved away from my lovers and brother. It feels like I’ve given up my solitude. I have taken on the responsibility of helping to care for two children. I have changed work environments. I agreed to pursue another obligation which I’m going to leave vague because I don’t want to write further about it. Sorry if that’s frustrating.

I knowingly accepted a lot of things before moving.

I want it to feel fair. But when asked if I’m happy the most I can bring up is apathy. I don’t hate where I’m at, but no, I don’t really think I’m happy. I’ve lost too much too fast with very little to compensate that loss to feel happy right now.

I’m happier then I was in Orlando. I don’t hate Life. I think that’s an improvement.

I want to see my brothers. That’s about it. I want to see others but I can’t go to Orlando and see the people there because if I do I know I’ll fuck everything that I have up. Ox and I talked about that aspect about it so he knows.

And I guess that’s something I can admit to and acknowledge within myself. If I went to Orlando I would most likely have sex with Big Bad and my Blacksmith. I don’t know if that’s weakness. I don’t feel like it is. I still care about them. I cared about them before I moved. I still care about them after my move. I didn’t move because the relationships sucked or because they treated me poorly.

I know they had their own issues. Big Bad never said “I love you” back. He sent the drunk text message the day of the Warrior Dash lashing out in his hurt. My Blacksmith and I were never able to spend much time together and that dynamic had its own complications. Then there’s Sir who chose not to see me to say goodbye before I left and all of the history from when we dated.

Maybe this is another aspect of me that’s broken and needs to be worked on.

They still built me up the most during a time where I was at my lowest, though. They let me be myself and didn’t give me shit for it. I still care for them and I still have the mentality that you can love more than one person without it affecting the love you feel for another.

Ox and I agreed to be monogamous so it’s better to not go. I feel like if I went to Orlando I would be choosing myself over the relationship and that the relationship would die because of my selfishness. There’s still a part of me who feels like I’m losing something else, something more, because I am making the choice to not go. I’m giving up more on top of what I have already agreed to let go.

I don’t feel whole. I feel like I function “good enough” and that’s the best I can do. The jagged, broken pieces of myself grind against one another rather than being well oiled and cared for. You can tune out the sound of friction if you try hard enough. I feel like that’s what I do most of the time.

I ignore. I pretend. I go day by day and it’s “good enough” so I should accept it. I’m never going to have mom back so I should learn to be ok with what I have.

I think there’s still a lot of stuff for me to work through and like so many of my other writings I don’t feel like I’ve figured anything out. I still feel like it’s all pointless and a waste of time because I never seem to figure any of it out.

I just keep finding more and more things to try to fix with no solution for fixing them. They’re just problems within myself that keep me from fitting in properly with the world I find myself in now. The world I’ve placed myself in.

I still love people, but I’m not allowed to express that love so I’m wrong. I’m an introvert living in an environment where I can’t be alone so I’m wrong. I don’t want to be a parent but I’m in a relationship with two children so I’m wrong to try to not be a parental figure.

I guess that’s the core of it all. I feel wrong. I feel like I’m the problem. I’m the only one with issues so it’s me that needs to change. Everyone else is fine. I’m the one who’s not.

What do I want?

I want to be ok. I want my mom back. I want to be able to cry and curl up with her urn alone without the fear of someone coming into the room or hearing the TV playing Modern Family.

I want things I can’t have and so I feel defeated. I can’t win so what’s the point of feeling anything?

Am I happy?

No. But I can’t have what will make me happy so I’m “good enough” and right now that’s the best I can do. I’m sorry I can’t do better. I’m sorry I feel this way. I’m sorry I can’t be normal like the rest of the world. I’m sorry I’m myself and I’m sorry for being sorry about that. I’m sorry I make things harder and more complicated than they should be. I’m sorry I don’t game as much as I did in Orlando. I’m sorry for wanting sex more than you. I’m sorry I’m always trying to complete a project or organize something. I’m sorry I don’t know how to relax more. I’m sorry I’m not more social and that I don’t want to find a dead bird for us to play with and hopefully writing that makes you smile knowing that the rest of the Internet is going “What the actual fuck?” right now. I’m sorry everything seems to come back to my mom being dead. I’m sorry I can’t seem to get past that. I’m sorry that you’ll read this and feel some sort of failing on your part. I’m sorry for messing up your day. I’m sorry if now we’re not ok.

I love you and I’m sorry if that’s not enough. I’m sorry if my love is broken and not the same as yours.

Thank you for everything you do and have done for me these past almost five months. Thank you for the nights you let me sleep on the couch without making me feel bad. Thank you for trying so hard to make safe spaces for me. Thank you for your patience and the times you’ve held me while I’ve cried. Thank you for not giving up on me. I promise I’m trying to get better. I promise I’ll try to be ok today.

It’s one of the few things I look forward to; seeing you at the end of my days. No matter how shitty they are, no matter how much work sucks, or how much I feel like I didn’t push hard enough at the gym, or whatever other nonsense my brain plays inside of my head, I always look forward to seeing you. I always think about you, about how I’m almost home, when I see the cell phone tower you pointed out to me because that’s how I know where to turn. I look forward to your hugs. I look forward to your voice. I look forward to you because you’re my favorite color.

I will see you tonight. I love you.

Daily Post 093: Enjoying Summer

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This past week has been one of my rougher ones since moving to Nebraska. I worked five days this week. I survived until Thursday, my first day off, and since that was my main goal I feel like the week was a success.

On top of surviving, I got the news that I’m down a pound in body fat and up two in muscle. That’s validating and motivating.

I went to the Anytime Fitness for the first time to work out on Thursday. I like the gym. I like how it was mostly empty and I was able to do my own thing. I rowed and worked on my arms. What makes that workout even better is the fact that I did it after working with my trainer, so that’s two workouts in one day. I feel like I’m getting back to my “pre-work” level; back when I was able to spend three hours at the dojo pretty much every day sparing with people I now miss.

I feel like I’m back to making progress and that’s a good feeling.

I feel like this next week is going to go smoother in some ways and harder in others. I’m almost done with all of my cooking. I have the laundry to switch over to the dryer. I just got back home with Ox from running out to get new work shoes since my feet have started to hurt again. Since my days are shorter then what they were in Orlando and because I’ve had my shoes for over a year now, I’m pretty sure it’s an issue with the shoes themselves. We’ll see how tomorrow goes with the new ones I suppose.

Ox is going to have his kids for the next two weeks.

That’s where things are going to get harder. I’m prepped better for the coming week but we’ll have the kids…

That’s two weeks that I still have to work and wake up early while they’re on summer vacation. That’s two weeks of them being home on my days off and wanting to do things. Two weeks of “I don’t know how to be a parent what the fuck and I’m supposed to do I need an instruction guide someone please save me”.

I’m thinking about looking into getting an extended stay room close to my clinic for the coming weeks. That would give me a quiet place to retreat to when I need silence and space. That would give me a place to sleep without raining on everyone’s fun.

The downside is that it would be expensive and unlike the hotel rooms I’ve been booking for the nights before my shifts in Omaha, this wouldn’t be reimbursed. I also feel like it would be running away and hiding from something that I have to eventually face.

I haven’t made any decisions yet. But I’m going to have to figure something out soon. The kids will be here Thursday evening. I work both Friday and Saturday. Being tired and sleep deprived and mentally / emotionally tapped out from not having recovery time isn’t an option I really want to entertain. Arg >.<;

Saturday went well. And I guess I should back up to Friday. Friday went well, too. I worked with a new nurse that day since my FA had to go out of town. The nurse was familiar with the machines my clinic uses so that was a plus. The day went smoothly and I was grateful that it went better than I had thought it would.

I drove home and packed for my overnight stay in Omaha before driving into Lincoln to have dinner with Ox. He went with me across the street where I filled my car’s tank up and then wished me well. I’m glad to say that I was able to make the whole trip to the hotel without GPS. It helps that I’ve been staying at the same hotel each time. I’m getting familiar with the staff there. I like their facility. They have a pool that I haven’t been in yet. They also have a fitness room that’s 24 hours which I almost used this time.

Saturday started out nice even though it was a rainy and windy morning. I slept deeply and woke up feeling rested; at least rested enough to make it through the day. I didn’t need the GPS to get the clinic. Go me!

Even with the complications of a machine not working the day went well. I’m more familiar with how tasks are divided up and I have a better idea where things are located. I know how to be helpful past the point of setting up machines and taking care of patients. I can help prep the clinic for the next day. I can make needle packs and organize the morning shift setups.

I was able to close down the water room fine on my own. I was confident this time rather than holding my breath and hoping I did it right. I’ve gotten to the point where I know which steps take a while, so I don’t have to have everything on the floor done before beginning the water room. It doesn’t require my focused, undivided attention. I can get to this particular step then go back out and finish wiping down chairs. I can get to this step then go empty the bleach containers. Once I get to this step I can count the dialyzers.

I can be more efficient with my time, which means I can close the clinic faster than the hour or so it’s been taking me. That’s another good feeling. Efficiency is a big thing for me. I knew I would be slow at first. I knew it would take me a few times to get comfortable with the process. Now I’m getting to the point where I can improve my workflow. I’m no longer “learning”. Now I’m tweaking and figuring out what works for me.

I’m thinking about offering to work Saturdays for their clinic until they can get people through training. It would keep me making overtime while working a fairly chill shift with people I like. I don’t mind the thought of being there. I don’t feel a sand-pappery aversion to the thought. There’s not the crushing, draining weight of “I don’t want to do this,” that makes me cry silent tears on the way to do anyway.

There are grocery stores on the way home I can stop at after my Saturday shift. I can work that back into my weekend routine. Meal plan on Thursday’s most likely since Friday is a 12-hour shift. With meals planned out, I can make a grocery list. With a grocery list, I can do the shopping on Saturday like I used to, along with any prep work that needs to be done once I’m home. Put meats in marinades. Cut up veggies if I need to. Then Sundays can go back to simply being cooking days rather than everything all at once.  With a little bit of planning, a little bit of proactiveness, I think I can make this work for me.

I want to see if I can.

I have already been approved for having July 13th and 14th off. That’s the Friday before my race and the day of my race. I’m actually looking forward to it a little bit. More than I was when I first signed up. I signed up because I knew I wanted to do a Warrior Dash this year. I missed doing the one in Florida. I wanted to see my patients one last time instead. I wanted to give them their thank you cards in person. I didn’t want my Warrior Dash to be the last time I was with Big Bad. I didn’t want the weight of knowing we were saying goodbye to hang over the entire event, which it would have for me. It would have hurt to run it that way. So I didn’t.

But it’s something I think of as “my” race. It’s where I started. That first one; that was my moment of taking me back for myself. That was me giving a giant “Fuck you” to the person so undermined so much of my self-confidence for so long. I could do it. I did do it. I can do it. And there was, is, still a part of me who wanted to run the race even though I didn’t in February.

That’s why I signed up for the one here, in Nebraska, in July. Because there’s a part of me who still needed to run it even though I was feeling bad at the time. I had regressed. I knew I needed to address that and I’m glad I did even though in the beginning it sucked. I’m glad I met with my trainer and I’m glad he’s working with me. I want to do better this race. I want to keep improving. So yeah. I’m a little more jazzed about it than I was when I first signed up. I’m looking forward to it even though it’s a small, soft, vulnerable thing at the moment.

I hope it continues to grow. I hope it becomes a confident and stable thing. A, “I know I’ll do well” feeling rather than a, “I hope I do well” feeling.

I finally was able to spend most of a day outside today. Ox worked a bit in the addition but we’ve run out of 2x4s so he can’t keep working on the walls. We were trying to get work done in the yard, but that required moving a piece of equipment which ended up taking most of the day. We didn’t get done with that until 2 pm. It would be easier to write about if I knew what half the stuff we used was called, but I don’t. All I can say is that my arms and core are sore from all of the work we ended up having to do manually, but it’s a good sore.

We got something done, something pretty major, and we got it done together. We sweated together. We got tired together. We accomplished something together and that makes me feel good. It makes me feel connected and like I’m part of something.

It was a fantastic day outside. Warm. Sunny. I wanted to get more done, so I did. I moved some piles of scrap wood and raked up last years dead leaves and sticks. I’m not through with the raking and there’s a part of me that feels bad for not getting it completed. There’s part of me who feels like I add to the mess and disorganization by leaving something half done, but I could tell my body was wearing down. I was sunburnt. I needed water. I needed food. I still needed to still finish my cooking. At some point, I needed to shower again…

I needed to do all of these things that take time and energy and I only have so much of each to spend and use each day. So as much as I wanted to get everything done, the yard was something left at a state of half complete; contained and better, but not finished.

I would like to finish the yard Tuesday after my shift at Cap City, but I’m not sure how that day is going to go, so… We’ll have to wait and see. I might not be able to really get back outside until Thursday. But yeah, even with that task incomplete I feel really good right now and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I was finally outside doing something.

The day actually started later than I thought it would. I woke up at 2 am since I’m conditioned to wake up early. Thankfully I was able to get back to sleep. I slept until almost 9 am; way later than that I thought I would or could have. That’s an additional seven hours of sleep. As Ox said, though, I guess I needed it if my body let that happen. With how little sleep I got for the first part of the week maybe that’s more true than not. Maybe it’s not just pretty words to make me feel better, but a truth I should accept.

That’s harder to do when the Evil Voice nags about how much time was wasted doing nothing. Fucking Evil Voice… I will break out the Q-tips… >.>

I spent the first part of the morning cooking before going outside to help Ox. I think that helped since I had a break from cooking and didn’t have to spend four solid hours in the kitchen.

I used a spice mix last week for the deer roast I cooked which turned out amazing. So amazing I’m actually using it again. I’ve seasoned some steaks with it and chicken thighs as well. It really is that awesome. Since it helps to marinate the meat a bit first, I seasoned everything before Ox and I ran into town.

We went to the Skechers store where I got new work shoes. I was surprised to find out that I get a discount because of the company I work for. A 30% discount. Woo!

We stopped at Walmart after that so I could get another packet of a glaze I tried last week as well. Again, something that turned out to be pretty amazing.

So the cooking is almost done. Just have to bake some stuff now. The laundry is almost done. My hotel for Friday night is already reserved. My bills are already paid and though I’m lower on funds than what I would like, everything is overpaid as far as my debt is concerned and nothing is due until next paycheck which will have my billion hours of overtime on it with my double incentive shift.

I didn’t get my bike rack this weekend, but I’m ok with that because I got the window AC unit with Ox and new shoes and two cases of my Bang energy drink. I got new sunglasses that I actually like. The hotel had my laptop charger in their lost and found when I checked in Friday night since I couldn’t find it when I got back home last weekend.

There’s a lot of warmth going on in my life right now. A lot of progress. A lot of security. I’m not worried about my job anymore which helps.

It’s summer. It’s my time. My season. I’m not sick or working so much that I can’t enjoy it. And though I grieve every day in my own way, I’m not the shattered version of myself I was when mom first died.

It feels like this is the first summer since mom died that I’ll be able to go out and do things and… live… I guess. It’s… it’s a good feeling even though it makes my eyes sting with tears. When I was raking earlier today I remembered how I would help her rake when we lived in South Carolina. I remember how she hated to do yard work and how I would help her because many hands make light work. She would always say it went by faster with help and so I wanted to help her.

I don’t know what else to write or where to go from that train of thought. I guess that’s it. I don’t really feel like writing anymore. My heart aches. It’s not good or bad. It’s just life…

Mom is dead and I can’t rake the yard with her anymore, but I can still enjoy my days and be outside in the sunlight and I can remember her and all of the things she taught me. I can remember all of the moments we had and what they meant to me; what they still mean to me.

Today was a good day. Saturday was a good day. Friday and Thursday were good days, too. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m looking forward to going to work and telling my patients about my weekend and how I got new shoes.

I don’t dislike my life anymore, mom and I’m sorry that there’s still a part of me who feels guilty about that. I know this is what you want for me. To be happy. To live. To keep going. I’m sorry that it still hurts and sucks sometimes. I’m sorry there’s a part of me who feels like it’s a betrayal to you to be able to keep going. I promise I still love you. I promise it still hurts as much as it ever did; as much as it ever will.

I’m thankful at the same time. I’m here because of you. I know it. It’s one of my truths and I don’t care what other people think or feel about those words. You’ve done so much for me in life and in death. Thanks for helping get me to a point where I actually have the option to enjoy summer again.

I love you, mom. Forever and for always.

Letters to Mom 017: A Late Mother’s Day

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I wrote this on Tuesday, but for some reason, it didn’t post properly. I cherish this writing even though it was painful at the time I wrote it. It’s another writing where I grieved and bled invisible blood onto my keyboard, but it’s important to me and so even though it’s from the past, I feel the need to post it.

 


 

I didn’t write on Mother’s Day.

I had a dream about mom the night before. I still remember it.

I was in a house. I was with other people though I don’t remember who they were. I remember that I knew them, but I’m not sure if it was family or close friends. We were supposed to be going somewhere, but mom had said she would be visiting and I really wanted to see her before we left the house. I knew I wouldn’t be able to see her again for a while. It was important that I be there. It was my one chance.

I remember the feelings of anxiety and worry. Mom was running late. Her flight was delayed and there was traffic and all of these things keeping her from getting to the house on time. The people I was with were getting annoyed with me because we ourselves were going to be late if we didn’t leave soon, but I kept asking for more time. Just a few more minutes. Please. She’s so close. Just a little longer…

I remember in the dream I was almost in tears but the other people wouldn’t wait any longer. It was so hard, so heavy, to close the front door, to turn the lock. It sounded so final; the door closing. It was like I had allowed myself to give up. It was me giving in. It was me walking away and not waiting. It was me caving to pressure.

I wanted to wait. I wanted to be there. I wanted to see my mom. But I wasn’t staying and that felt like a betrayal. I was making the wrong choice and I hated it but I didn’t know what else to do. I had to leave with them.

There was so much confliction inside me and still, I turned to walk away from the door. But just as I did there was a knock.

I knew it was her. I knew mom had finally arrived and I didn’t care if I was late to whatever it was I was supposed to go to. I turned around as fast as I could and unlocked the door, throwing it open without regard.

She was there. My mom was there. I threw my arms around her and hugged her and cried.

I heard her say my name over my tears.

I KNOW she said it. I can still feel it in my chest even though I honestly can’t remember what it sounded like.

I just… I know my dream was real and that mom is still here, in whatever way the Universe is allowing.

This Mother’s Day my mom gave me a gift instead of the other way around and I still cry when I think about it. Fucking tears…

I’m grateful for my dream.

Thank you, mom, for everything that you did in life and everything you continue to do for me. I’m sorry I didn’t write on Mother’s Day. I’m sorry I still get sad and have hard days like Tuesday.

I’m sorry I’m not doing better even though I know writing that will make you frustrated with me because I know I’m doing amazing right now. I’m doing so much better than I ever have before and that makes me angry and sad at the same time because I wish you were here so I could show you; so you could be part of it. I wish I could call you and tell you about everything. I wish you could come visit and watch me beat people with sticks at SCA practice and meet Ox and just… everything.

I love you, mom. I wish it hadn’t taken your death to make me the adult I am now. I wish we had had more time. I wish I had thought to ask you all the questions I have now. I wish I had listened to your stories more. I wish I knew more about the hardships you faced while you were growing up. I wish I had you the way so many people still have their mom, but at the same time I know we’re closer for what we went through.

Thank you for raising me. Thank you for the dreams I have of you. Thank you for helping me get through the hard times.

Happy late Mother’s Day, mom.

I love you. Forever and for always.

Daily Post 088: Hello Old Friend

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Not proofread because sleep is a thing


 

Hello dearest Microsoft Surface,

It’s been a while since I’ve written on you. It’s been a while since you’ve been charged and updated. I’m sure it’s nice to have the dust brushed off of you. At some point, I’m sure I’ll clean your screen.

I can remember moments with you. Good moments like the ones at my sports bar where I would pay bills while eating lunch after going to kickboxing. I remember you were what I wrote on for my “first birthday”. The first one without mom. I remember that night; how I had been in Vegas for the holiday season. I remember how we all went out to dinner and how other than that it wasn’t a big deal. It was a decent day and yet I still came home and cried as I poured everything out through your keyboard.

I’m grateful for the times you’ve been there for me. I’m grateful for the tasks you’ve helped me complete. I’m grateful for moments like now, where you’re the instrument, the key, to letting me write my thoughts onto a blank page which in turn leads me to understanding myself better.

We’ve been through a lot together even though our times recently have grown more distant.

A lot has happened in the past week. It was the first week of the new schedule at work. It’s been getting better but one of our patients has become pretty unstable and so the days have still been hard. Harder than what I’ve grown used to.

The first day, Monday, tried really, really hard to be on par with the Orlando clinic. It was probably only better because the day was shorter; 12 hours instead of sixteen. I still wanted to cry on the way home with how completely tapped out I was.

Tuesday I met with my trainer again. We went through some of the things he wants me to be doing on my own then did a half work out where he totally destroyed my legs. It was good though. I haven’t had to work that hard in a while and it was a tiredness, an ache, that I’ve missed. The pain of making myself be better than I am.

I mailed my thank you cards to Orlando after stopping by Walmart. The receipt said they should arrive at my old clinic on Thursday. I’m glad I finally got that taken care of. I hope the cards reach my old coworkers well and that my words mean something to them.

After the post office, I went to my clinic where I started on the NFACT training to become an expert cannulator. I made it through all of the video training and printed off all of the P&Ps that I need to read (policy and procedure). I have a print off of everything I need to do to complete the training and I was glad to see so many highlighted lines of things I was able to get done while I was there. Having all of the quiet time to myself made me more ready to face my next workday. It helped me recover from the lameness and overwhelm of Monday.

Wednesday was another crazy day, though not due to A-Level alarms. The morning started off well. Things were going smoothly. Then we had to call EMS for one of our patients. I’m not a doctor. Neither is our RN. We’re only able to handle so much with just the two of us and seven other patients who need our care. It was better for everyone that she agreed to go to the ER.

Mr. Non-compliance showed up, which was good. He needs to be there. He needs his antibiotic since his CVC is infected. He needs to be dialyzed so his blood isn’t full of toxins slowly eroding away at all of the years he still has left to live.

I have never personally been on dialysis, but I know, just like any other disease or hardship, that it doesn’t have to define someone. It’s only the end of it you let it be the end. If Life sucks and starts being a dick tell it to go fuck itself and fight to live the life you want to live. Don’t let it stop you.

Does that mean compromising on a lot of things?

Yes. But better to compromise and have a halfway happy than to give up and have no happy at all.

I guess it’s all about perspective and, for the most part, I try to make mine one of, “I’m going to make this work no matter how hard you try to stop me.”

Another thing that happened Wednesday was my FA reached out to me asking if I would be interested in covering some shifts are other clinics in Omaha. With the rush to get everything squared away from the PCT registry, there are some techs who aren’t able to work and so there are spots that need to be filled until all of the red tape can get figured out.

Normally I wouldn’t be jazzed about working more hours, but there’s incentive pay and it would be overtime if I did work those shifts. I also know what it’s like to work shorthanded. And I guess I was asked for specifically. My FA travels a lot and has mentioned to several other FAs how well I am doing on her team. When the need arose to have someone float to their clinics they wanted to know if I would be willing, thus why my FA reached out to me.

I talked to Ox before making a decision about the first shift. It was for the coming Saturday; a day we would have the kids. Being there two days in a row is hard for me. There’s little downtime where I can recharge and as awful as it might be, the thought of working and being out of the house was better than being constantly bombarded by an eight-year-old. One day I could do. Two was more than I wanted at the time.

Ox said he was ok with me doing whatever I wanted to do; that he supported me, but to make sure I wasn’t biting off more than I could chew.

With Ox’s support, I replied to my FA saying I could cover the upcoming Saturday shift, but that I would need to talk to my trainer about moving my times around before I could say anything about the other days.

I was glad when Wednesday was over. My RN was feeling under the weather and it was her last day which didn’t help make the day any smoother. We had planned a few weeks back to get dinner together and even though both of us were tapped out I’m glad neither of us canceled our plans. I got to meet her daughter. It was a nice evening even though I ended up having to drive home in what felt like a hurricane level downpour in Nebraska.

Thursday I had training again. My legs were still sore from Tuesday so I was worried about how well I would be able to do. We started by looking at my food tracking on MyFitnessPal. I’m doing ridiculously better than I was for the past… we’ll say four months, but I was still over in some areas while being under in others.

I was over in carbs. My limit is 100 or less. The highest I was over was 67, but that’s still 67 that’s taking me away from my goal. I was over in calories by roughly 700 on my worst day, but again, that’s 700 more I have to burn through to make the level of progress I want.

I was drastically under in protein, which I need if I’m going to be working out as hard as I’m going to be.

My trainer and I talked about it. I made mental notes on what I could change and how for the coming week and then proceeded to go to the floor where we had our first full workout.

We started with the machines again, doing the same ones we had done on Tuesday but with slightly lower weight. I was proud that I made it through everything. Maybe it was a psychological thing, but knowing the weight was less made it seem more ok. I had done 200 lbs. on Tuesday. 175 wasn’t necessarily a cakewalk, but it wasn’t 200 so I knew I could do it, and I did.

After the machines, we went to the back room where we did a lot of plyometric stuff. At the end, he said he was pretty impressed. He said I had more coordination than what he was expecting and that it really was more of an issue with getting the nutrient side under control.

I would rather not be insulted by his comment. I know it could be taken that way. It would be easy to have one of those, “What? Did you think I was a sack of potatoes?” type of response to his comment.

I would rather not think of it that way. I know I may not look like much but I’ve done a lot of things in my life so far. Marching band. Boxing. Kickboxing. Aikido. Jiujitsu. Muay Thai. Running. Yoga. Zumba. Warrior Dashs… All of that goes into what I’m able to do now. Not all of that is apparent on the surface.

I talked to him about the changes to my schedule and we worked out times in the evening, after my shifts at the Omaha clinics where we could meet. I knew the coming week would be brutal but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I was going to cover those shifts and have my workouts too.

Once I had showered I went to Walmart again so I could make the changes I wanted to foodwise. From there I went to the clinic where I clocked in and read through all of the P&P that I needed to. I wasn’t at the clinic as long on Thursday but I was ok with that. I got the remaining things checked off my list and sent an email to my FA letting her know the only thing left, aside from a training module that appeared to no longer be on the site, was to be checked off on my skills list.

I went home. I did laundry. I unloaded, loaded, and ran the dishwasher, later emptying it again to fill with the dishes from dinner. I cooked a new zoodle recipe which I think turned out pretty good. I made sure I was ready for Friday and went to sleep.

Friday was another rough day.

My left leg was seriously hurting me when I woke up and not in a sore muscle sort of way. It was the back of my knee, towards the outside. It hurt to straighten it completely. It felt like the tendon in that area was overly tight; like a rubber band that you’re trying to stretch too far. I knew I had to make it through my day regardless of how my leg felt so after my shower I took the last IcyHot patch that I had gotten for my back forever ago and put it on the back of my knee. Since it was in a place that would move and flex a lot I wrapped it with adherent wrap a few times and hoped the compression would be enough to let me at least hobble through the day.

My leg wasn’t any better by the time I got to the clinic so I was slower in getting things done but I did the best I could and that’s all I could do. The patient we called EMS for on Wednesday started having issues again. We think it might be an allergy to the dialyzer she’s using, so we have orders from her doctor to try a different one. I’m hoping that makes Monday better.

Since I was going to be working in Omaha the next day I tried finding a hotel room to stay in, but I couldn’t find anything for under $150. I guess there was some super big conference meeting going on. With having the kids Friday night there wasn’t really a way for me to get the amount or quality of sleep that I would need if I was going to be waking up super early to drive that far from home to work a full day.

I ended up getting a hotel room in Beatrice instead. It would make the trip a little longer but, ideally, I would be able to get the proper rest I needed to make it through the day.

Ox and I met near home for dinner. I tried making smart choices with my food; ones in line with the metrics I’m trying to stick with. Even with going out to eat I came in under my limits for calories and carbs. Go me.

Neither of us liked the thought of being apart for the night, but we both understood the situation and that it was a smart choice. The incentive pay essentially covered the hotel cost, so that was negated, but I would still be making overtime pay, so even with the extra expense, I was coming out in the positive. I would be helping my sister clinics and making myself a more valuable team member. I would be getting time with the other machine models so I don’t lose those skills, and I would be meeting more team members and seeing how other clinics are run which could give me insight to how my own clinic could become better.

Overall I was looking forward to my Saturday. Ox and I agreed that I would wake up a little earlier than I had to so I could stop by home in the morning on my way to Omaha so we could still see each other.

He fell asleep shortly after he got home which led to unresponded to text messages and missed calls. It wasn’t a warm fuzzy way to end the night, but I figured something must be going on for him to not respond. I was glad that I didn’t freak out or have the knee-jerk reactions I would have in the past. I didn’t instantly think he had died. I thought, “Maybe he didn’t realize his phone died. Or maybe he forgot to pay the bill.”

I stopped at Walmart before going to my hotel room. I picked up more IcyHot patches with ibuprofen and an actual knee brace. I made it through checkout then immediately found a bench to put the brace on. It felt amazing. I wore it the rest of the night until I was about to go to sleep.

I slept deeply and solidly for the whole night, waking up only a few minutes before my alarm went off, which is actually a nice way to start my day. I like waking up on my own, coming out of a REM cycle rather than having it interrupted by an alarm.

I showered and had half an apple before packing up my car and heading home. I started to worry then since he still wasn’t answering his phone. I could feel the icy fingers of dread trying to curl around my stomach. The closer I got to my turn off the stronger those feelings got.

Luckily he ended up calling me and explained that he fell asleep super hard and that he was just now waking up. I explained where I was at on the road and that we would see each other soon.

It was nice getting a hug from him. I liked the physical reassurance that everything was ok. We still had our cigarette together and I was able to have my Bang energy drink, something I had forgotten to pack with me the night before.

The drive up to Omaha was uneventful. It was actually pretty nice to watch the sunrise as I drove since my shift started at 7:30 am. The clinic was also pretty easy to find; another plus to the day. I got there early to make sure I had time in case I got lost along the way. I was able to sync my account with their systems so I could chart. I got to meet the other team members who were working that day and explain what I felt my strengths were verses my weaknesses. One of the RNs walked me through stringing one of the machines since it has been roughly three months since I had worked with the ones they use.

I’m glad that after seeing it done once that I was able to fall back into the swing of things and that the day was smooth and uneventful. All of the patients were pleasant and kind. I was able to jump in and carry my own weight and as the staff started heading home for the day, each of them stopped and thanked me for coming to help out and that they enjoyed working with me.

I enjoyed my time at the clinic and I wouldn’t mind working there again if they need me. It’s a bit of a drive, but they have a very solid team and, in a way, it reminds me of being back in Orlando. It’s a bigger clinic and not many techs can work in that type of environment. A lot of the clinics in the area are small; eight to twelve stations. So when they have to cover something closer to twenty stations they get overwhelmed. Since that’s the type of environment I started in I just go along with it. It’s nothing new and honestly, it was a pretty easy day, but then TTS days usually are since they’re the “lighter” days. Fewer patients and such.

Once I was clocked out I headed home. Once again Ox wasn’t answering his phone which was frustrating but I knew I would have an answer to why eventually.

When I got home he said he had been sleeping for most of the day. He’s been sick not only with whatever has been plaguing his lungs but also with a stomach bug. We had dinner. I showered. I unpacked a bit. But mostly I went to sleep.

And so now we’re here at today. Sunday.

I woke up. I had my egg and chicken breakfast, crushing my protein intake like a bawce.

Shortly after everyone had eaten Lil’ Ox, that’s what I’ll refer to Ox’s daughter as, since I’m going to stick with the Ox theme I have going, and I went for a bike ride. It’s the first time her and I have been alone together and I think it went well. We made it all the way to the park near our house and played for a bit. Eventually, other people showed up and she played with the other kids that were there. That meant I had to interact with the mom’s and keep cool and not freak out over that fact that I have no idea how to be a parent because Lil’ Ox isn’t actually mine even though she was saying how she had to ask her “mom” for permission to go to the other area of the playground.

Omg. I’m so not ready for this. >.<;

It might have been low of me, but shortly after that, I felt it was time to go home. We had been gone for close to an hour. I had done my part of holding my shit together in the face of a totally foreign situation. It was getting warm. I didn’t have sunscreen on…

Yeah… totally time to go home.

I told Ox about the park adventure. He snickered at me. We had plans to go into town for the day so I showered and changed and we all piled into my car to spend the afternoon together.

We stopped at GameStop first so Ornery Ox, his son, could get a few games. He gets allowance money but rarely spends it. He also had a gift card to the store for his birthday, so he was able to get a couple game all on his own.

Lil’ Ox got a few toys while we were there, using her own allowance money even though she was upset that her brother had more money than her. That caused a little bit of friction on the way to the store since Ornery Ox kept making comments about the amount of money he had.

Honestly, it was like listening to me and Jon when we were younger. I don’t understand how my mom didn’t kill us. XD

We stopped at Best Buy for me where I was a totally irresponsible adult and bought my first TV.

Yep. That’s right. I now am the proud owner of a 38-inch Chromecast compatible TV which I plan to hook my PS4 up to and play through the new God of War game and the remastered Spyro games when they come out in September because Spyro is amazing.

It’s a weird feeling. But… I think it’s a good one. I don’t know yet. I’ll keep you posted.

I went across the street to my new sports bar for lunch. After eating I stopped by my storage unit to get the rattan sticks I had gotten forever ago for my SCA swords because that’s something I’m going to be doing again.

It’s something I started looking into shortly before falling asleep Saturday night. There’s a group in Lincoln and their first outdoors fighter practice is going to be Tuesday, the 8th.

I so want to go. I can’t put into words how awesome it would be to make progress in the combative area of my life and to have a group, outside of work, that I belong to.

With working on Wednesdays, there’s not a way for me to make any of the meets for the embroidery guild and I’m not ready to go back to the dojo. I want to wait until after my Warrior Dash to venture back into that area of my life.

But SCA… That’s something that I would totally be ok with being involved in now and it would still be fighting and lining up with my training and… I don’t know.

I’m excited about it. Like… hardcore looking forward to going even though I don’t have any armor or gear that I can use as armor.

We came home after the trip to the storage unit. I hid upstairs for a little bit to decompress from all of the social of the day. I played a little bit of Crash Titans with Lil’ Ox. We’re on a boss level so she got tired of not winning. Booked another hotel room in Beatrice so I could get another good nights sleep without worrying about people having to tiptoe around my early bedtime or me constantly waking up since I’m a light sleeper.

I packed my food for the coming day along with everything I would need for the gym after work since that’s something I would really like to do if I’m able to.

My leg has been way better today but I have the knee brace with me if I feel I need it. I’ve eaten dinner. I’ve set everything out. My alarm is set. I’ve written. I’ve talked to Ox, so really all that’s left is to take my contacts out and go to sleep.

So with that, my dear friend, I guess I’m going to go.

I don’t think I really needed to figure out anything tonight. I think I just needed to write it all out and reflect on the week. It’s had some hard moments, but when compared to everything else, I think I had a really good week and I think there’s a lot of things to look forward to in the coming week.

Thanks for letting me write. Thanks for being there for me, the hard times and good times alike. Get some updates, and hopefully, it’s not another six months before we spend some time together.