Long, long time ago…

Hello friends, it’s been a while since we last spoke, so to say. I hope you are still with me. Let me take you through the last month and why there were no updates on the blog (there will be, again!). It’s going to be a long post, so grab some hot tea, maybe a biscuit and keep on reading. It would make yours truly very happy. Warning: contains dog talk.

When I started this blog, I was hopeful, I could manage this challenge without a break. It did look good for a while and I was on a high, constantly looking for new challenges, looking for content to feed you, dearest readers, with. Reality turned out to be a little different. When I went back to the countryside, a lovely young dog, Dana, was waiting for me. Waiting to be loved, looked after and to be taken out for walks. Boy, we had a good time! I wasn’t happy, when she had to go, I can tell you that. We bonded instantly. She would sleep in my room (a dog in my bedroom? If you had told me that 5 weeks ago, I’d have laughed in your face, snootily telling you, that animals have no place in my room) after we found out, that if she couldn’t be close to me, she would not get any rest, and neither would I. I even allowed her to sit next to me and curl up in my lap on the sofa (on a dog rug, relax, you guys), also something I strictly oppose, normally. She really captured my heart in a beat. We loved relaxing on the sofa, me reading (yay!) and her sleeping or chewing on a ball, after we went out early in the morning and shortly after again, and we always went for really long walks in the afternoon. She doesn’t bark. She loves all other dogs and humans. She is very easy-going.

It wasn’t only a bed of roses. At my best days, I took her outside 8 times, for hours and hours. 8 times! It’s not like I just had to grab her leash and walk out the door. I am currently living on the 4th floor, that’s 74 steps up and down, each time I leave the house. That’s 1184 steps. Add those to 3-4 hours of walking, running and play time and you may easily see, that my two weeks with this beauty, were challenging on a physical level. Dana was very clingy; I learned later, that she was a street dog in Spain, almost dead when she was found, so I guess, it’s natural for her to keep close to those looking after her. That also meant, I couldn’t even pop out to the supermarket for 5 minutes, or go visit the doctor or anything really. It was either, I can take her with me or I am not going. It’s not as fun as it seems. As she slept in my room, I had to adapt to her rhythm, meaning, go to bed at 9pm, get up at 6am latest. She also turned out to be in heat – two day after she arrived here. If you never had a female dog, let me tell you, it’s not an easy time. The best trained dog turns crazy for a couple of weeks, looking for love adventures, demanding to greet and sniff every single dog around and they also leave blood trails on the floor. Lots and lots of blood. Where before she could be off the leash, running around freely and listening to me yelling at her to come, she then would run away, not listen to anything, the leash was her most favourite enemy, she started to hunt ducks and the flat looked as if I had slaughtered a cow and garnished the scenery with piles of fur. Two challenging weeks, I tell you. Physically and mentally.

But, yours truly hasn’t yet learned how to say no, so I agreed to take another dog, Paul, for one week after Dana. I knew Paul from before, and I know he is a handful. What I didn’t know is, that the two dogs, overlapped for a few days, so for a long, LONG weekend, I had two dogs to look after. We are not talking about dogs tinier than a squirrel and almost as deadly, Dana and Paul are both shepherd mixes and over-knee high. And: they fell in love. Don’t tell me dogs don’t fall in love -these two did. Maybe it was due to Dana being in heat and Paul not having lived with another dog ever, but they were inseparable. They did everything together. And made twice the mess. Paul is a handful himself. He is hard to take for a walk, as he thinks he’s the alpha male from the block (bow to me, puny insect dogs – you get the idea) and never plays with other dogs, there’s only growling, barking, teeth and dominant behaviour. Not something I would accept from my own dog, but I am just the sitter. He also doesn’t listen, so you can’t take him off the leash, ever. With that in mind, you will maybe understand, that for these 3 days I had both of them, I went outside with them at 6am, after 7pm, and somewhere very isolated during the day. Even with all precautions, there were some incidents. Paul decided chasing joggers is totally awesome, you guys, and hunted them down, never biting of course, but barking and testing my nerves. He also loves chasing down bikes, cars, ducks, swans, squirrels, cats and pigeons. Basically, walking with him means, being on the lookout constantly for anything: dogs, other animals, humans, bikes, balls, cars and joggers. Something quite enjoyable like a walk in the sunshine turned to a nightmare very quickly. He was so jealous of other dogs, that when his beloved Dana, still under the influence of hormones from the heat, would merely look at another dog, he started barking, behaving like the big bad wolf, posing as the deadliest alpha around, when he normally is the sweetest dog. Dana was very slutty, in his eyes – to be honest, I can’t blame him. But that’s nature, what do you want to do. After one day of having them both, I was a snap with a finger away from breaking down.

It’s not only the dogs’ fault. 5 days before Paul arrived, I ran out of my antidepressants, both of them. I tried to organize a new prescription, but I couldn’t take Dana with me to the doctor’s office and the pharmacy insisted on a prescription. My lovely sister jumped in and ordered them from her office, but they only arrived a week later. I stupidly thought what’s 9 days without, I’ll just take them when they arrive, no biggie. Well, I was wrong. I couldn’t sleep, I was on the verge of crying for the smallest things, my nerves were all on the edge, I behaved aggressive, irrational and with a bad temper. I suddenly felt again, what I haven’t felt in some months before. I felt alone, miserable, desperate, hopeless and exhausted. My body reacted with withdrawal symptoms and a roller coaster ride doesn’t nearly describe, what was going on with me. Two dogs behaving like the little missy and mister above are tough to handle for anyone. For me in that situation with all of these emotions it was almost unmanageable.

When Dana left, Paul alone was better to handle, but I was so exhausted, sad and an emotional wreck, that I didn’t enjoy that one week a lot. And that was the week leading to my birthday, my 30th birthday, to be precise. I was in no mood to celebrate. I never am in the mood to celebrate my birthday, let alone the big 30. I once jumped over my own shadow and thought it’d be nice to celebrate with some friends in an attempt to battle the early outbreak of depression and symptoms of being burned out. In my eyes, it was a disaster. There was no real party mood, most guests kept to themselves and left early, it was stressful for me to be the party rocket, I expected of me to be everywhere, doing everything. Afterwards I pretty much felt ashamed for that disaster of an evening and vowed to never, ever have a birthday party again. This time, I was in a different situation. Pretty much all the people I like to have around me, live in the city. Or in another country. Or on another continent. I never even thought of hosting a party, due to that. To be honest, that was a relief. (Although, in a weak moment, I once thought about gathering all my dears for a little get together, when this journey towards getting better is almost over. But that is way in the future.) And you will laugh, when you hear, that on the big day, after a great brunch, I was so eased, that I thought, it would have been nice to see at least some of my friends. On the afternoon of said day, I was quickly convinced of the opposite. You will hear about why in a bit.

Time for a break. Stretch those legs, refill your cup, ramble about my ramblings, but then do come back. I’ll be waiting. Ready again? Me too.

There is one element to living on the countryside again, that I think I haven’t told you about yet. It not only means to no longer live in the hectic city, it also means, that I am way closer (distance-wise) to my family again, than I have been in over 11 years now. I had good reasons to pack my bags after school and move to the furthest city away, while still staying in the same country. In the first years after moving out, I did my best to break off contact with some of my family (successfully), I started caring for myself instead for everyone else (being far away and not hearing about new drama helps a lot with that) and I even started bonding with some parts of my family again, after a few years. Now, I am confronted with people I broke off contact, with people I have a very difficult relationship with and people, I am closer to now than ever. All in the perimeter of 50km. My therapist says, that this is or could be the examination for my master’s diploma: to manage to say what I think, to create boundaries, to live like I want and to remain true to what I need in life, what I really want and what I do not want to do, without ‘fleeing’ from this influence, old patterns, the old milieu, like I did with my move far away. I have yet to pass this test.  I had my boyfriend swear he wouldn’t plan a surprise party or anything even remotely festive or anything that would require me to act like someone I am not. I am not ready yet for big outings and I am not strong enough to be true to myself, when something else is expected of me. I was still struggling from the antidepressants’ effects on me, the week before my birthday, I still had Paul to take care of, I was confronted with turning 30 and I was tired. And in the middle of all that, there was my boyfriend and parts of my family, whispering, being all mysterious and making a huge deal. That didn’t help with my relaxation efforts. I grew more nervous with each day until I couldn’t hide it anymore and I took my boyfriend and told him, that whatever they had in mind, it was his responsibility, that I wouldn’t have to do anything I didn’t like, that there was no party, no surprise guests, no nothing, really. Knowing my family, I knew, nothing wasn’t going to fly. I expected the worst, hoped for the best and prepared for ultimate destruction. My destruction.

I won’t bore you with minutely accurate report of what happened that weekend. Instead let me tell you, I had good times, I had exciting times, I had relaxed times (no way, right) and I had really bad times. I had brunch with the only two people on the countryside, that I can call friends, and with my precious – it was very relaxed and it went so well, that I had this little voice in my head, asking me if it wouldn’t have been nice, that all my dear ones could have joined us then? I would have been. Especially because it was the first time, my family accepted my wish for peace and quiet and never even made the attempt to join in. A brunch with friends and only friends! Who knew? I never had a birthday morning so relaxed and  not stressful. In the afternoon however, my family came around for coffee and tea and those two friends insisted on joining us as well, like normal people do, you know. I however, know my family, expected the worst, and warned them, not one, not twice, but three times. I have made the mistake in the past to let anyone of my friends come into contact with a certain family member and I have always regretted it. Badly. This time was no different. During these two hours of coffee and cake I was tenser, than I have been in the last year. Not only, that suddenly the tiny flat was filled with 4 dogs (yes, 4, two of them larger than a grizzly bear), 2 children, 7 adults, the mood was tense, the dog owners didn’t care if their dogs barked their lungs out or completely destroyed my room, everyone was helpless catering themselves, which left me in the unfortunate position of trying to calm the chippy mood, making conversation with my friends to distract them from the family madness, yelling at the dogs, protecting my room, handing out cake, refilling cups and pretending not to see old disputes rising again, not caring where the combatants are or why they are here. Not even on my birthday, my family can pretend to be civilized. In the end, what saved me (or us) were my niece and nephew, asking us to play categories with them. When everyone had left and I went for a walk with Paul and my love, the strain of the day asked for its tribute and I broke into tears.

In many ways, these past weeks were one enormous challenge, with little challenges on the way. When finally both dogs were away and I was alone again, I needed almost 10 days to recover. I felt horrible. I didn’t even think of posting. I am now back in my rhythm and pace. I am having therapy sessions again. And one week ago, when I felt pretty much like my old self again, I learned, that my health insurance, hasn’t paid me since December. For the first time in my life, since I was 15 and earning my own money, I am broke. I owe the bank money and I don’t have any cash, till the insurance pays up. I wanted to recharge the interne stick for a week now, but without money, that is kind of impossible.

So this is why there were no updates, posts or life signs from me for all these long, long weeks. I have missed you, I have missed blogging. Good talk. Let’s speak soon.

PS: I also talked about the challenges vs. posting on the blog with my therapist, and my daily posts will change a little bit for me due to that. It won’t change for you, I promise.

 

 

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Day 16 – an unexpected treasure

Day 16 – time really flies when you’re having fun, or, in my case, a lot to reflect on and even brave the odd challenges along the way. I got up ok, determined to avoid another binge watching incident. I did, what I (now) always do in a situation like this: write a new blog entry (I am still behind!). What followed afterwards was a matter of hours, I kid you not and I will also spare you the technical details, but I managed to salvage some of my lost data. It’s magic! Not really, I used a software, and thankfully, it almost did, what it was supposed to do. I will have to look at each file and reorganise it (400 gb, no biggie), but not now, this task won’t run away. Relatively proud, I walked away from the pc after salvaging a few files, without spending even more hours to organise and browse through everything. Why bother with a gruesome task, when there is so much more to do.

In my case, that was risking another gruesome challenge. I sat down, trying to identify why I didn’t feel as good in the city, as I hoped. It could have been way worse, but also, a bit better. After the excitement of the first few days (home improvement – I definitely need more excitement in my life), I felt like spiraling down, without any means of stopping it. The energy was down, the mood was down, the lust for exploring anything was gone, I went to the great outdoors only three times in three weeks, I didn’t sleep as well, I made myself a smoothie only once (once – in three weeks, when it previously was a daily thing), I felt exhausted once again, desperate, sad and depressed at times. Even though I had my little book full of challenges, things to do, places to visit and so on, I never even picked it up anymore, everything seemed too hard, too much effort and to scary. Time to meditate on that. Without the actual meditating – laying down on the sofa serves me just as well.

Some people may find an epiphany through meditating – I didn’t. But I compared my days on the countryside with my days in the city and realized a few things. The city, my own flat, my friends, my love, my family distracted me a bit. A distraction I don’t have at the countryside as much. That’s not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong, I went to the city as some kind of holiday and trying out new things, to reconnect with my loved ones and that’s what I did, mostly. I meant, that having these many distractions and temptations at once, is still too overwhelming for me. It showed me, that I am not ready yet, to throw myself into the hectic life. I am not yet as well as I can and will be and I am not able yet to look after my own needs in a more hectic surrounding. I still need the quiet and alone time to be able to put myself first. I still lack interests, stuff to do, things that keep me busy. In those moments, when I felt lost, I didn’t know what to do and I looked for comfort in what I knew to have worked in the past, to silence the inner nagging voice: improving the flat, cleaning, organising, watching tv, playing games. Basically doing and thinking about anything else, than me. I didn’t actually watch tv or played a game, but the temptation was there. It could have been so easy to just let it all slide and retreat to a world without challenges, without having to work on myself. There’s a few things I can’t quite put my finger on. I get up more easily at the country side. It’s easier for me to make a smoothie, have a nice breakfast, to ready myself for the day, to go out, do some grocery shopping, to have a walk. That last one is no shocker, there is nature everywhere basically. I have more energy, at least it feels like it. I think in a way, I feel safer. Of course, spontaneously booking that yoga course or talking to people, really talking to people, is still a problem for me, even at the country side. If you, dearest readers, have any input for me on that matter, please, feel free to contact me privately or share here. Many brains think better than just one.

Still some work to do! I am looking forward to what it feels like at the end of the rainbow. I aim to think about my fulfilled desires, how it will feel, not the hard, rocky way to reach them. Feel free to remind me of that, sometimes.

Day 7 – Reunions, ice-cream and family

Yesterday wasn’t a good day, challenge wise. It was a really good day for many other things. There’s a little voice inside me, nagging, that I wasn’t able to provide you all and myself with a worthy challenge for Day 7 – the end of week 1. One quarter, you guys. We are getting somewhere. And although I can’t tell you about a great, soul-searching, fear confronting challenge today, I still very much liked my day yesterday. Let’s say, I celebrated week 1, ok? There was ice-cream.

I am a little shy. I am not warming up easily and talking to strangers or people I hardly know is a big deal for me. Before the breakdown, I met my people regularly, with joy, for hours. I wasn’t afraid of strangers, friends of friends, colleagues at university. Although, that all changed in the past years, I am working my way up to the top again. In all these regards and many more. For someone, who has great friends, that take pride in being my friend, following my journey and helping me through it all with calls, comments and text messages, it may seem odd, but I am not seeing a lot of people these days. Until 2 weeks ago, I only had visited one friend at the countryside, maybe 4 or 5 times. In the course of over 8 months. I kept in touch as well as I could, but picking up the phone, sending a reply or writing an e-mail, was an intractable task. I wanted to, but I didn’t have the strength. I came to the city almost 11 days ago, filled with energy, strength, plans, challenges, tasks. And the joy of what it meant for me to see a few of my best friends. I met the first one on sunday. And even that reunion wasn’t something I made happen. It was a surprising coincidence. Get a grip, you say? You want to see your friends, don’t you? Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I want to, I am looking forward to and I can’t wait. What makes it a little hard for me to go through with that plan, is myself. My need to be perfect. My overwhelming tiredness, when presented with a challenge, may it only be to shower, get dressed and meet someone. My own 4 walls, that provide so much security for me. And my inner chicken.

Yesterday, I met 3 people. 3 people! High-five, or rather, high-three! I had an amazing lunch date with an even more amazing friend, that was everything: funny, deep, delicious, joyous, easy-going, relaxing, profound. As if I’d never have left the city for almost 8 months now, we connected, shared, laughed. And I extended the invitation. Booyah! Afterwards, I felt like sitting in the sun for a little while, but when I called my granny to let her know, I was going to arrive a little late, my beloved cousin took over the phone and told me, he was at her place too, skipping a university class, just to meet me. It was meant as a surprise, and boy, was it a good one. He skipped class. For me. Oh boy, OH BOY.  Needless to say, I hurried there as fast as possible. My gran is that sort of gran, that is incredibly intelligent, in top shape and totally in love with me. She also has the tendency, to rant about everything, mostly my family. None of this, yesterday. She couldn’t have presented me with a more valuable gift. We chatted for over 2 hours about history, books, politics (did I mention, she is close to being 90?) and music. Before the burnout, talking to her was frustrating, depressing and extremely exhausting for me. Yesterday I left, light on my feet, a little tired, as it still is fatiguing for me, to concentrate for a longer period and to follow and focus on people and a conversation, but very relieved and thankful for the pleasant surprise. My cousin and I had some super decadent ice-cream afterwards, (because treat yourself, right?) and I shared the blog and a challenge idea, that includes him. The darling sweetheart that he is, he was excited, interested and agreed instantly. Keep your eyes peeled – you’ll soon know why. I feel like this first day of actually taking the plunge and meeting people, took a lot of pressure and unease off of me and that there are and will be many more reunions soon. I took the first step – all following steps now, will be a lot easier. Also, ice-cream, you guys. Treat yourself.