Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Celebrating my Healing on my Mother’s Birthday

I got through my Mother's birthday, sheer would have been 78, without falling apart. Might be the first one in 7 years that hasn't included a meltdown.

And I had a hard week and a busy day! Honestly, I did fill the week up a bit so I couldn't get stuck in a wallow of anger and grief. I told my therapist it could either help me get through the week or be terrible.

It's turned out positively. I got sushi and tempura takeout for us (yes, did my Mother didn't like) and made the fancy cocktail I made up. We played our video games and watched summer Netflix. Ursa was a delightful good.

I know some of this success is from therapy and my commitment to keep going during these times. I don't fully grok why facing and integrating the horrors of my early childhood makes it easier to be present and start the challenge of moving to another country, but it does. I'm just grateful.

Our realtor came and we reviewed the bottom floor today. Really, it's more of the same; get rid of stuff, pack, and get out of the house. Then more serious work to repair, clean, and present can be done without us in the way.

My first project is to clean up the yard a bit in preparation to get landscaping folks hired. I'm hoping to be to this point by April.

I also want to have a goal of getting rid of things weekly. Maybe a daily task too. I'll find some way to use those habit tracking pages in the calendar!

In a couple of weeks, since CK's current manger had a health need scheduled, she'll ask for us to be connected with the relocation manager. Then we might start sharing the news more.

While this is public, we discussed it and this diary isn't well known, I haven't really shared much that I've been doing this, so the only folks seeing it are making a point to do so and/or an old RSS feed started sending it to them again! Those folks have heard the rumblings that we're slowly doing a big thing.

I heard from the Oregon Health Authority; no, hospice volunteers, even if they're actively working with patients, after not eligible for the vaccine. June it is, still. I got is both in the system though!



Today I hosted a support meeting about getting vaccinated for COVID. Last week there was so much anxiety and crosstalk that I offered time this week. Not a lot of folks came, but this have improved since last week.

The best part; helping a student realized that they're eligible now, despite being younger, because they use oxygen at home.

The other best bit was a student I admire sharing how she managed to get herself into a clinic in Woodburn, a little south of Portland. She noted how the Oregon Health Authority site states that you can go outside your county, she takes that to mean she can go anywhere she can get one quickly.

She made a plan to check out the taquerias and took her dog with her to give him an adventure. She got in early and then enjoyed Mexican food in her car with her dog.

In the past she's traveled alone and she would often show up with bright pink hair.

She has so much gumption and curiosity, I really admire her. I have a lot of good role models for aging now, bit she's up there with Dame Judy Dench!


Emotional Detachment

Our amazing realtor came over with an N95 mask and walked around the property and the upper floor of the house. I have a plan to move us towards vacating for sale. I know what clean up to prioritize, what contractor to get going first; landscapers.

There's so many things happening for CK at work, including her manager taking a few days off for a health need. When they return CK will ask them to connect us to the relocation support folks so we can start to get a timeline.

Since we're with the same amazing realtor, he recalled leaving us with this great house that we were moving my Mother in. When is mentioned her upending our life and then dying a year later, her assumed that was recent. I gave him a high level and noted that within a year of our doing everything to move her in, she had a massive temper tantrum and left.

I told him we had a lot of shame over not taking better care of the house. He told me that from now on we work to emotionally detach from the house, the yard, and all the dreams we had for it. From now on, it's a business to get it ready to move us on to something that's better for us.

I definitely made up a cocktail tonight! It needs work, but it wasn't bad.


Soothing to Avoid

At therapy today something that came up, likely brought on by the proximity to get birthday, about my Mother's inability to soothe herself.

I am often uncovering how I taught myself emotional regulation of a kind, like finding outlets for the anger I was not allowed to show. I also found ways to soothe myself beyond just venting the anger through physical exertion. Comforting myself when no one offered comfort that was safe or without strings attached.

I struggled to even call my Mother's use of shopping, romance novels, soap operas, gossip, food, and pills "self soothing".

My therapist noted that my Mother found these things soothing, bit perhaps the difference I was looking for was that she soothed to avoid being present or taking responsibility.

I soothed to comfort and encourage myself, to get rage out of my system since letting it be seen was dangerous. I soothed to compartmentalize, lock away incomprehensible horror so I could live.

Animal Crossing remains a favorite soothing past time, nearly a year into playing it! Ursa likes to "help" me play.

Tomorrow will be a long day with my respirator mask and airing out again after having someone in the house. We'll be doing this a while since it might be July before were BOTH vaccinated.

I'm firmly focusing the positives, knowing what we need to prioritize doing, and how much CK and have gone through since buying the house.


Fuck Off, Whinnie!

Realizing last night that my Inner Jerk, "Whinnie" as I dubbed her, was driving my anxiety helped some. When I realize that energy is getting big I can then invite it to settle down or just fuck off.

I still slept poorly and had some nightmare. I also thought I felt pee down by my feet and was convinced our elder dog had an accident at around 4:50am, thus sleeping even more fitfully until my alarm went off. When I got all the bedding pulled away there was nothing!

Thanks, brain!

It's not likely to be an easy week. I can't decide if adding two visits that will result in hours of wearing a mask and trigger shame feelings during the same week as my Mother's birthday is a good distraction or a terrible plan. I'm hoping distraction, plus the energy to get quotes for work that's necessary regardless of what happens but the end of the year.


March Comes in With Anxiety

I am having a bad "Whinnie" night. That's the name I gave to my inner jerk after working on an art therapy project to make a portrait of her.

It's the usual soup of feeling like I don't get anything done. I don't prioritize getting the "right" tasks done. I need to much rest and I waste to much time.

All I can think of is what isn't done.

It's triggered by the upcoming pandemic anniversary, "Pandemiversary", my Mother's birthday, making progress on the taxes (great of owing) and, the match on the fuse, scheduling time to have our realtor look over the property to help us prioritize some work.

Hoping a hot shower helps.


In Motion

Over the past two days I've started some big processes. We're not fully committed to going through with it all, but I've set things into motion for us.

The bigness of it directly relates to the current insomnia state!

I'm realizing that I'll have to step up into driving this because CK isn't going to get less distracted by work. I'll have to get good at giving her small jobs to. I stickered up a journal to help, a place we can both put notes.

I saw my doctor online this morning. My cholesterol is "discordant". Trending towards good results, but a bit odd. We're making a small medication change to see if I tolerate it and if it helps to improving trend. I'm to prioritize moving summer daily, bonus for days I feel up to doing an activity that raised my heart rate.



It finally happened this week. The 500,000th person died from COVID.

We still don't know when we'll have access to one of the vaccines. Many of my students and friends have been at their wit's end trying to get an appointment. A student in Ohio got hers at a grocery chain pharmacy, no trouble.

Meanwhile I'm making progress on hard tasks. I sent a pile of 2018 paperwork to our tax people today and I already have a question back to answer tomorrow. I sent an email today that officially kicks off The Great Big Change; asking questions that help us know where to begin.

CK is still having numbness in her lower body. Still surface based, but persistent. I sent a detailed chronology of all the weirdness she's had going on the past few weeks.

Meanwhile, I have a telemedicine session with said doctor in the morning to discuss my heart and general health. It's all been good news, but it's a recap on everything with my doctor.

Managed to capture Ursa alerted on a "Sparkle Beast”, what I dubbed a reflection on the ceiling or walls that makes his prey instinct go off. The results were hilarious


Times They Are a Changin’

Last week we received news that we're still integrating and strategizing the first steps to take in response. It will result in a significant change. We haven't talked much about it yet, not a huge amount ourselves or with others.

It hits as we approach the anniversary of shutting ourselves aways from social interaction, except a few outdoor occasions last summer. Who knows what this summer will bring, eventually our local friends and family will all manage to get vaccinated.

My Mother's birthday is next week, March 5, and it still seems to loom on the horizon like a leaden, grief balloon. I suppose it doesn't feel quite as big or heavy, but it's still there. I've been calling CK's attention to it earlier this year, so I don't suddenly collapse in a heap of anger/grief.

All of this gave me a big rush of anxiety this morning as I tried to get ready to teach. When my Dad's clock started chiming that it was 10am I jumped back into focus. Thankfully I'd had the room well set up already and just needed to turn on Zoom, and lights. I just told people, thanked them for their patience.

I'm really enjoying a set of pens I got for myself to write in the household calendar/diary. Hoping they encourage me to keep it up. I need all the help I can get!


Too Tired for Donuts

Today was the reschedule of Beignet Day at Doe Donuts. Since it was an icy mess on Mardi Gras, they opted for this safe choice.

I like to take beignets to students on Mardi Gras. It's not a family thing for me, we didn't make a big deal out of Shrove Tuesday or Lent. It's more an expression of of love for New Orleans and the spirit of Mardi Gras.

We eat fried food on Mardi Gras because you've got to celebrate the "fat" of life. The fat is where all the richness and goodness is, it's got to be celebrated when we have it. For people who observe, they abstain from richness for a time, so they're sure to celebrate before that withdrawing and after, it makes that Easter feast all the richer.

I like to pass that on. It's one of many fine lessons I've learned from New Orleans.

Pandemic Days means no classroom with students; nearly a year now without students in shared space. I was going to drop off beignets with friends this year to still have a little of that joy.

Only today I've been worn out and more headachy than just my sinuses complaining. I think 3 hours of breathing through the double mask, doing chores part of the time, took it out of me today. It felt like my asthma was acting up, so I think today I'm just depleted.

Like so many COVID losses, this isn't tragic. It's donuts. Special donuts that take me back to a city where a small piece of my heart most certainly lives, but still, donuts.

Yet, it's another chip of grief. One more small loss and disappointment, amidst many.

I realized I'm counting down the 14 days after the plumber visit. We've been so careful for so long, it would be hell to have a clogged drain bring this virus to our home.

Ursa is sleeping with Dora, whether she wants to or not.