“I want you to notice when I’m not around…” ~Radiohead a-la Postmodern Jukebox

“Are you thinking of hurting yourself?”

Not today, is my usual response but the last two days, I considered it an option. Not the best option but as an analyst, of course, I consider ALL options and Full Stop was one of them.

Was it because the man I love remarked flippantly that he “didn’t feel like making the drive” to visit next weekend? Or that he was considering playing in my backyard in the mountains without inclination to include me? I had been pulling punches since our fallout two weeks ago because he took what I told him in confidence and not only held it against me (“Your insecurity makes you unattractive”) but also threw it back in my face. He JUDGED me. He made me feel so ashamed. So I don’t tell him what I’m feeling now. He doesn’t want to hear it and I don’t want to give him ammo to use against me later. Some friendship, huh?

But the last two days were so dark. A friend text this morning to say “Smile! I love you” and I snickered at his uncanny timing because I was doing the opposite. He joked, “I felt a disturbance in the Force.”

But that’s what this is really about, isn’t it? My friend “L” is staying with me for a few months following a bad breakup. He seemed okay until two nights ago when he found out his ex was seeing someone else. He told me this today. Told me he hasn’t slept in two nights and he is deeply depressed. Bingo.

Empathy strikes again. I share his pain like it’s my own.

The Universe, I’m told, is full of vibrations, frequencies, which I don’t understand but I know this: These vibrations are like metaphysical dog whistles: What one person may not “hear” at all may cause others pain. Saying I suffer from being an empath sounds hokey, like someone suffering from the supposed ghost pain of fibromyalgia. These ailments cannot be scientifically “proven” so they must be psychosomatic, right?

I read Psychic Shielding for Dummies last year and admittedly the techniques haven’t worked for me. Or maybe it’s a Catch 22? Maybe I have to be in a better place physically and spiritually in order to manifest a shield but I NEED a shield because I am physically and spiritually vulnerable!

Not vulnerable. Sapped.

I fondled the bag of rocks and “wish” I had been toting round my neck for two weeks. In a fit of frustration, I tore it off and threw it across the room. Feeling sacrilegious, I apologized and put it back on. Then I lit a sage bundle, set it near a lit candle and walked outside to nurse a whisky while the space fumigated. Walked back in 10min later to see the bundle on fire. Well, that should do it.

I am the worst “witch” ever.

But there is a small comfort in knowing where these feelings are coming from and knowing that the root of the problem is external. Why am I bleeding?? Oh I see. I’ve been shot. A psychic bullet sponge.

If the pain is not entirely mine, it doesn’t hurt less. I exhale every drop of air in my lungs and pause, willing my heart to stop. Just. STOP…

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​“I wanted everything I never had…” ~  ‘Alive’ by Sia

They played that song in my ballet class and I began crying. Softly, in the corner so perhaps no one noticed. Even now, just thinking about it…”I’m still breathing…” yes, but is breathing enough? Existence, survival…

“I saw my life in a stranger’s face…”   Is this akin to seeing your future in another’s eyes? Connecting so primally, at least for me, and you can only pray it’s mutual. I found myself asking “How soon is too soon to know?” To know in your bones that you want to nest under the skin of the one who crept in on their own, your heart like a dark, unlocked bedroom and they slip quietly under the covers and make you the ‘little spoon’. And you want to stay like that.

Or is it a reference to happening upon our Mirrors? Not our literal mirrors but a stranger who reminds us of ourselves. Recognizing ourselves in strangers? I saw a woman days ago who was built like I am right now. And I still thought she was beautiful, which is a thought I don’t apply to myself. And evidentially, from her body language –tugging at her shirt, shoulders hunched as if to hide her generous breasts—‘beautiful’ was a thought she did not apply to herself either.  

“You’re taught to cry in your pillow…”   Have I mentioned that sometimes I cry after I orgasm? Don’t worry guys, it’s only after sex-with-myself. It’s at that peak when you open your eyes and know that the person you just ‘used’ is not and will not be yours. That ecstatic moment which you fantasized about, possibly repeatedly, has never and likely never will happen. At the peak of orgasm, I feel acutely alone.

I’m leaving for my bucket-list trip to hike the Highlands for my 40th birthday this weekend. Note to self: Don’t get shit-faced at a pub on your bday. Not a foreign woman traveling solo, celebrating a milestone without anyone accountable to her, no ‘wingman’…could be a bad idea. I joked to my former roommate (still don’t know what to call him) “How do you say ‘Put on a condom’ in Gaelic?”

“No.” was his response.

I thought it was funny. He’s neutered so aside from swapping body fluids and risking the spread of STDs, he doesn’t use one.

Eight days alone, trekking and biking countless miles (I wonder if there is an app I can download on my phone to track my distance. Just out of curiosity). What is there to be worried about? “Are there bears in Scotland?” someone asked me. I said “I don’t think so. But there are sheep. Possibly rabid, blood-thirsty sheep. But I have a set of hiking poles which can double as Kali sticks. Yeah, I’ll just go Muy Thai on some sheep ass!”

“But I survived.”

“I’d die for you…A bullet for everybody in this room” ~ 21 Pilots

May the alterna-rock g-ds gasp and strike me down but I’m not a 21 pilots fan (nor Strokes or Kings of Leon for that matter but that’s another blog). When one of their songs comes on, I usually flip to another channel but this morning I sat through the song “Ride” and the lyrics struck me. Maybe it’s the timing, maybe it’s just my sentimentality. They aren’t profoundly poetic but he makes a point that I can relate to when he says that it is easier to take a bullet for someone than to live for them. Perhaps that isn’t exactly what he meant but that’s how I choose to understand it.

I sent the lyrics to him. He likes 21 Pilots. He text me pictures of furniture that he purchased for his new apartment. Oh, he’s committed now. Can’t pack his entire life into the bed of a truck and run away anymore. He said he didn’t know if he was running away or starting over. I said it doesn’t matter which one it is. Fear and Excitement are the same emotion; the only difference is how you interpret them.

Desiderata…

I give it a week, to stop hearing from him. By then, his abusive ex, their mutual acquaintances and a handful of new friends will have his attention again and I’ll be forgotten. He treats me like a “stop gap”, someone to talk to when no one else he prefers more is available for whatever reason.

Forgive me if I’m repeating myself here (memory of a goldfish, remember? Nope.) but I made a list about 3 years ago detailing what I was looking for in a man. Long before Oprah began pushing her “Vision Boards” with more glitter and glue than a kindergarten project, the Millionaire Matchmaker suggested a physical written list of the “non-negotiables” of a relationship. To keep things in perspective in the crush-phase, you must remember exactly what your deal-breakers are. I have a fine list, I think, and someday I may post it here but as an exercise in reality, I compare those I develop strong feelings for to this list to see how they measure up and most of them fall quite short. And if it seems that every other blog I write is about some heartache I’m experiencing, consider the dates, and you will see that there is a good year or more between them. Because I don’t meet many men who get under my skin. Or maybe I just let the broken ones in.

But I digress. So I compared my former roommate, friend? I don’t even know what to call him, to “The List” and he failed on every point. That’s not to say that he doesn’t exhibit those qualities at all, but he doesn’t for me. Integrity, steadfastness, loyalty, kinky… there is evidence to support the assumption that he has those traits but they are reserved for those he cares about. And if they do not apply to me, then they are moot.

He teases me. Flirts. He doesn’t need to add the details that he’s naked AND horny to our textual conversations but I’m an easy target, (sexually frustrated is a gross understatement) and he cant resist. Even though he gives no indication that there is or ever was a mutual physical attraction. Maybe he just likes the attention or knowledge that someone out there wants him. Chemistry is #1 on my list, by the way. But the caveat is “mutual, enduring chemistry”.

Over time, however, I came to realize that my friend, nice as he is, prizes extreme beauty above all the other desiderata that one might seek in a partner.

— Adelle Waldman, “‘A First-Rate Girl’: The Problem of Female Beauty,” The New Yorker, October 2, 2013

I also did a walk-in at the VA hospital last Friday morning, based on my mother’s advice. The ironic thing is, I had my bi-annual check up with Mental Health less than a month ago and after a half hour chat, the doctor says “Well, you are in a good place so want to catch up in a year?” Sure, see you in a year. Or three weeks, crying uncontrollably in your nurses’ office. With chronic exhaustion still lingering post-op, what anti-anxiety or sleep medication won’t turn me comatose? She prescribed a mild sedative for sleep and told me she wanted me to consider going back on Wellbutron. I chose to come off it last September because I felt I could cope fine without it. She said “The nightmares and anxiety could be the depression coming back and I think we need to nip that in the bud”. You don’t have to stay on it long-term, the nurse told me. It takes weeks to build up in the body and weeks to ween your body off it so at the shortest, I’m looking at 3 months back on medication.

Listen, I don’t judge anyone on Xanax or anti-depressants but the military judges ME. On one hand, the military urges it’s members to seek help when needed while quietly destroying the careers of those that do. At least, that is my impression. No, we do not have to disclose any form of counseling unless it concerns the intent to harm others but we are expected to disclose our medications during routine and annual physicals. And that is where you could end up in a never-ending “waiver” battle to keep your job and your security clearance because many fields in the military are deemed “incompatible” for those on psychotropic medication. Although last I read, as much as 80% of our military is medicated. It’s inevitable when people are faced with decades of violence. Consider everything you see on TV and remember the Military, law enforcement, and medics may be living and reliving it.

I ASKed my bestest friend (who happens to be an asshole) to suggest an “uplifting” movie since I was in a bit of a funk. He suggested Reese Witherspoon in “Wild” since I am gearing up for a 10 day solo hike through the Highlands for my (gulp…) 40th. Half-way through the movie, I text him to say “WTF.” His response “Well, she doesn’t die.” I did enjoy watching Reese get railed but hey, I’m a bit of sicko in the sexual fantasy department.

On a lighter note, I danced quite a bit this weekend. My stamina isn’t what it was 18 months ago but I did manage to swing dance for nearly 2 straight hours without passing out and/or vomiting. I hang primarily with a group of seniors because the group that is closer to my age-range is “The Scene” and very clique-y (F*ck those guys). We took a picture of our filthy legs and feet when it was over. Then they suggested that I follow them to a nearby brewery to continue the dancing with another live band. I was still panting and thinking incredulously, “So this is what it’s come to: I can’t even keep up with the 60 year olds…” (PS: that’s my foot with the yellow mosquito coil around the dirt blackened ankle)

I also returned to ballet and combatives classes. I’m the fat girl in the ballet class, surrounded by waifs and mirrors. And coincidentally, I’m the only one without a diamond on my left hand. As for the combatives class, it’s led by a coworker of mine; a retired Green Beret. He personifies what it means to be a Green Beret. Perhaps it’s partly generational bias but our Army’s best-of-the-best suffers from “they just don’t make ’em like they used to”. To quote another older G.B. that I work with, “What a bunch of fucking girls”. As a “girl” myself, should I take offense to my gender being one of the worst derogatory slurs one can bestow on another human being? If I did, I wouldn’t survive in this environment.

PS x 2: , “ohhh woah woah ohhh woah woah I’m falling, and taking my time on the riiiiiiyeee eyeee eyeeed eyeee eyeee eyeeed”

“I’m not alone cuz the TV’s on yeah…” Jimmy Eat World

I helped him pack out and he left at 3am. But he said “Goodbye” so that makes it okay. And maybe in a few weeks, months, I’ll really be okay with it, not take it so hard, so personally. Because my rational mind says it’s not at all personal but my heart aches for the friend that could have been. I wanted to help him, to hold him, to erase and shield him from all the hateful, hurtful abuse he’s suffered over the months from a poor emotional investment and in doing so, heal myself. Those who know and love me best have told that both my greatest strength and weakness is my heart.
I woke up alone in the house 7 hours later with the intention to keep to my usually peaceful weekend morning routine starting with good coffee and a breakfast. But the skillet sits cold on the stove because I’m not hungry. And coffee right now would only aggravate my anxiety, I tell myself. Because I am feeling anything but peaceful. I’m just feeling alone. And sad.
So I turn on the TV LOUD and give my dog a hug.

“Caring is Creepy” ~ The Shins

“Cardinals mate for life”, I recall him saying as I smile and watch the feathery couple bounce across my backyard, my dog and cat mutually disinterested.
And that is the word for him: Disinterested.
I thanked G-d for him too, literally. Just a few months ago, I thanked G-d for bringing a someone into my home who would be a friend, assist me with chores made difficult by my wavering health, he even said he would dance with me. I didnt ask, he offered. He set my expectations so how can I be at fault for believing? Innocent until proven guilty, truth until proven false. I especially trusted him because he also served and veterans generally dont fuck over other veterans. Be patient, my mother advised me. He was going through a divorce and a rough rebound. His head isnt screwed on straight, we agreed. Still, he disappeared for 2 months. Not a word to ask how I felt, how the latest surgery went. Nothing. I finally text him to ask “Do you still live here?” If I were a landlord, his shit would have been in the street. But I wanted a friend, not a tenant. He knew that.
He apologized, said I was “right about everything” and he would make it up to me, we would be friends. The first week, he did make an effort. We hung out, watched movies, talked, laughed, drank wine… but then he disappeared. Into his room without explanation. For two days, I hear his phone, text and email alerts, going off every few minutes at all hours. It’s maddening. As an empath (I dont know how to shut off the “give a fuck” no matter how often I read tips on Shielding) I continued to knock on his door and ask how he was, try to coax him out. He eventually got frustrated and “I’ll be out of here in 15 minutes” he announced as I stood there stunned. Later, he text to ask if he could stay through the month and be out in August. I”m not an asshole so I agreed although it’s difficult for me to share my pesonal safe space with someone who is not my friend, and I told him that.
Today he announced he’s moving to Atlanta, his apartment will be ready Monday. Total abandonment and a few months rent-free storage. He realizes it but just as my “Give a Fuck” wont turn off, his wont turn back on. So I wished him well and said if he regained his humanity later, to feel free to look me back up and re-friend me on Facebook. I’ll probably never hear from him again.
Less than 2 weeks between (what appeared to be a sincere, determined) “We WILL be friends” and “I’m leaving”.
I had a nightmare last Sunday night too. THe worst I’ve had in over a year. I went to bed happy after a dance and woke up 5 hours later screaming into my pillow, wishing to G-d I had someone to hold me. He was being reclusive in his room and I tried to coax him out. Of course, I’m too proud to call a friend or ask for help but here was this “friend” 10 steps away and I wanted him to come out. Hang out. Talk to me. Watch a movie, have a glass of wine and laugh like we did two nights earlier. A friendly distraction. But he only got irritated and left the house.
So I pushed him out. The “needy roomate” has a bad dream and wants a hug but I’m not on his short-list of people he cares about. But his phone goes off every few minutes with an incoming text or email to which he readily responds. That nightmare clung to me for two days. I hovered on the verge of a panic attack and was late to work, distracted, irritable, kept disappearing to the bathroom to cry. Granted, I’m surrounded by cohorts with some degree of PTSD but what do you say when they catch you red-eyed? I had a nightmare.
I feel so stupid. To be this upset, to feel so rejected and abandoned by someone who I hardly knew, even after 5 years of social media acquaintance and the shared venn diagram of social circles. Not “as advertised” certainly. But I was emotionally invested. Hey Empaths, how do YOU shut off your “give a fuck”? Can you? I’m not asking G-d to make me different in this sense, but some control would be nice. Like faucet valves, adjusting to a comfortable emotional temperature rather than being scalded or numb. Balance? Shielding? Advice?

Popular advice is to surround yourself with only positive people, cut negativity out of your life entirely. Isn’t that selfish? Everyone can’t be “up” all the time. Mother Teresa had bad days, years in fact. Would you cut a good person out of your life to save yourself? But because of this thought, I tell myself “Don’t call for help. Don’t bring anyone down with you.” So I hold it in (or spill it here, to an anonymous audience of none). Is that healthy? Somehow, I think not…

Hey but the good news is, I can return to walking around the house naked.

“My thoughts were so loud, I couldnt hear my mouth…” ~Modest Moust

“I still haven’t gotten anywhere that I want.
Did I want love? Did I need to know?
Why does it always feel like I’m caught in an undertow?

The moths beat themselves to death against the lights.
Adding their breeze to the summer nights.
Outside, water like air was great.
I didn’t know what I had that day.
Walk a little farther to another plan.
You said that you did, but you didn’t understand.

I know that starting over is not what life’s about.
But my thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud I couldn’t hear my mouth.
My thoughts were so loud…”

Just days after surgery, what did I expect? A miracle, I admit. But even after plucking a rogue, swollen parathyroid gland from my chest where it had migrated, nothing has changed. Nothing. I dont feel better, improved. It could take weeks, they said. It may not even work, is what they didnt say but I had read.

So I wait with a fresh scar across my thickening neck.

I dropped off Facebook for a bit. Needed to. I found myself resentful of the health and happiness of others. Everyone has someone, it seemed. I struggle alone in this house. I finally got a new roommate but he wasnt as advertised. He’s never around and he’s not a friend. He ran off to Atlanta to be with his on-again rebound, a thin, age-innappropriate 20-something bitch in every sense. And this Ive learned from him. But he ‘loves’ her inexplicably and unconditionally. Fool for a young, pretty face. Do I sound jealous? Maybe I am. I want someone to care about me. I may not have been happy but I was at least content before he moved in. He bleeds what little energy I have left and generally, of no conscious doing of his own, makes me feel worse about myself. He is an emotional vampire and I generally suck at shielding because I cant stop caring about those who dont care back. So it’s better that he’s not around. But he didnt even bother to send a message to ask how surgery went. As I said, not a friend.

Thank G-d I have one or two close friends who check in on me daily, ask how I’m feeling, just remind me that I am in their thoughts. Still, I could use some physical help. An extra set of strong hands. Someone to tackle the back yard with the lawnmower. Or just to take those strong hands, place them on my cramped, pained shoulders and PUSH DOWN HARD. Like an anti-shrug. Not a massage. Nerve damage means massages feel like a hornets nest that has been kicked under my skin. But firm pressure to break up the tightly woven fascia or a bear hug to crack the part of my back that I cant reach would be nice. Really, just a hug in general might be nice. Shit, I’d probabaly start sobbing like a baby if anyone touched me.

I was always a caretaker. Working the pressure points in the FOot, scalp, hand, back. I miss having someone to take care of but these days, I wish I had someone to take care of me. Someone who doesnt ask but just “does”. Because I dont ask for help.

There are several dance events this weekend and I was hopeful but I know now that was overly ambitious. I still hurt. I’m still weak, exhausted and in a fog. Coherence is still a challenge. I get frustrated and depressed in my failure to communicate effectively so I shut down, too tired to continue trying. I could die here and it would be days before anyone realized it. Here she lies: uninspired, she just gave up. Because she didnt care enough about herself to push her way out of bed. And then what? Go where? Do what? What doesnt HURT?

Dont tell me to stop feeling sorry for myself. It’s already on the menu. Self pity is the gravy over the self-loathing that I feel. Or is it the other way around?

I didnt want to live to be old enough not to wipe my own ass but neither did I think I would fizzle out like this. I couldnt watch “Seven POunds” the other night. I read the synopsis though. Then I asked my mother how long a body had postmortem before it’s parts were cooked and unusable. Not long at all. In fact, unless you die in the hospital (or a bathtub full of ice while on the line with 911), there isnt much that can be recycled. And for a moment I had this comforting thought that I would leave nothing wasted but my fingernails.

G-d, and the boredom…I catch myself staring at the floor wondering if I can knock out just 2 push ups without the sutures tearing out of my neck. I don’t take kindly to limitations.

Low-grade pain is a constant current that never disappears completely. Like water dripping on your forehead ceaselessly, it’s maddening. It saps your desire to do anything but go back to sleep.

Sleep. Or company. I havent got the latter so I’ll choose the former.