August 28, 2019

In praise of overthinking

The man I'd been seeing since late June has been ghosting me for over a week. I know that something bad happened in his life but no more. After we'd started spending time together I was very happy. Many people commented on it. I asked myself, will I be as unhappy if/when this ends? But told myself not to overthink it and just enjoy. I had a reason to look forward to each week and had hope for the future.

Big mistake. I should have listened to that voice and backed away. I should have guarded my heart instead of trusting that the lessons I'd learned from past relationships would help this time. I hadn't factored that I don't get to have the things that everyone else does. No health, no job or career, no partner. None of that is for me.

I'm sure my broken heart will heal eventually; it always has. But for right now I hate almost everything about my life. I am very thankful for good friends, and my mom has been very supportive, but this still feels like too much to bear.

June 6, 2019

The simplicity of hard choices

I've been thinking about hard decisions. We often frame them as choices between right vs wrong or good vs bad. Even simpler than that is the question I ask myself: will I like who I am more or less based on what I decide?

My ex-husband was an abusive narcissist. I watched him make choice after choice to become that person. At first they were very small decisions, not even perceptible as good vs bad. At the end of two years, however, he was no longer recognizable as himself. I learned that every choice to sacrifice your ethics for convenience or selfishness compounds. A tiny compromise now becomes difficult or impossible to recover from when repeated enough times.

Today I had the opportunity to believe a friend or not. Faced with an uncomfortable fact, what do I do? I chose to set aside the ego I had in my own judgement and trust someone else's experience. I didn't need to know both sides of the issue because only one side mattered: my friend's. I know the power of being believed and having my experiences valued. Being able to do that for others is a gift.

October 21, 2018

42 and 25

October is a strange month in my life. Last week I turned 42 years old and the week before that marked 25 years since my constant headache started and I became chronically ill. I remember brief clips from that time: crying in pain while waiting for my mom to get home from work; listening to my mom unenrolling me from my community college class with tangled feelings of relief and failure; a kind nurse holding my sweaty hand while the doctor performed a lumbar puncture; thinking that surely I'd be better by Thanksgiving, by New Year's, by Senior year. I turned to hand work and old movies, which is when I started quilting and taught myself to knit. An inpatient headache clinic decreased and stabilized the pain enough that I could attend college part time with my friends.

I've been trying to write a second paragraph for days but can't find the right thing to say. As the autoimmune cognitive disfunction worsens it gets harder and harder for me to put thoughts into words. I've made the best life I can given the constraints and difficulties. Pain and illness have changed me in fundamental ways and have pushed me outside the mainstream. I don't have the career or romantic partnership that I assumed I would, nor do I have relatable experiences or anything resembling a normal life. But I'm usually happy and probably enjoy life more than the average person. Above all I try to love others and be kind.

Right now I'm going to be kind to myself and take a nap.

 I climbed a view tower yesterday in memory of an arthritis friend who passed away recently.

July 31, 2018

Caribbean Vacation! and hard news

I just returned from a week-long sailing vacation in the British Virgin Islands with family and friends who are now family. It was beyond expectations and words cannot convey the amazing time we all had. We snorkeled and talked and ate and played with the kids, and I jumped off the flybridge into moonlit water to swim with bioluminescence. Three times.

My energy level was amazing for most of the trip and I was one of the first into the water every chance. We saw so many fish, I practiced snorkel diving, and my body did so well! The tropics are a fabulous place for me to visit, but heat rash let me know that more northern climates are best long-term! The travel days, especially the flights, were exhausting and tremendously painful but I knew that going in.

The trip wasn't all positives, though. Seeing the scale of hurricane damage up close proved the consequences of how greatly humanity is changing the climate. My cousin and her young family were on the trip; her husband was our captain. The last full day we learned that their home in Redding, Ca, was destroyed by the Carr Fire. There were some tears shed and shock all around, but also tremendous gratitude that they didn't live through that nightmare. They're now making big decisions about their future on an increasingly risky planet.

June 2, 2018

Here's to not failing!

I've been feeling better--spontaneous partial remission if you're fancy--and have been taking full advantage of that. I started a tenants union in my building, which has been scary and daunting and lots of work. But also very rewarding. I realized tonight that I had a realistic expectation of failure. But instead of petering out due to my poor health and neighbors' lack of interest, it's actually happening!

A local news article about the Seattle Housing Authority's shady evictions has brought some positive attention. There's a huge conversation about housing in Seattle right now. I think we may be able to create meaningful change, including among the poorest and most vulnerable tenants. It feels really good to have a job again.

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