Friday, November 29, 2019

Back To Counseling

New goal! I need to find someone to talk to. I've made so much progress in my recovery from grief and infertility that I can now give energy to other areas of my life. Namely, my relationship with my mother. I'm out of ideas for how to deal with her. She's not healthy and she's not going to get any help and I need to know what I can do.

I've seen several counselors throughout my life. I started going to counseling in high school. To process all of my feelings about my mother. That counselor was a great listener and ally.

I saw another counselor in my late 20s when I was in a rough spot in my life and did not know what to do. I was severely depressed and I was so confused because I didn't know why. Turns out, you don't need a reason to be depressed. Yay for precarious mental health...

Then when I was going through infertility my best friend gently but firmly encouraged me to start talking to a professional. I figured she wouldn't suggest it if she didn't think I needed it, so I gave it a shot. I saw the counselor at the fertility clinic where I was going.

Ironically, she was AWFUL. I had to cancel an appointment last minute one day because it was flooding and it was dangerous to get out on the roads. She explained to me that she would have to charge me for the appointment anyway. Lame but whatever. Then the very next week (or maybe it was two weeks later, I don't honestly remember) she called me to cancel my appointment last minute because she couldn't find child care for her sick kid. Are you kidding me?? She had zero flexibility regarding my cancellation due to weather and now she was asking me for flexibility regarding her child care problem when I was seeing her for infertility?? I was so pissed but so depressed I couldn't do anything about the injustice. I simply stopped going. I never saw her again.

My best friend gave me good advice. She said that finding a good counselor was like dating and that I might have to try a couple before I found one that was a good fit.

So I gathered all the mental resources that I (didn't) have/had and trudged on. I logged onto my insurance website to see who was covered and started calling around to see who was accepting new patients. This is seriously hard to do when you can barely get out of bed and you have to force yourself to get showered/dressed/fed just so you can sit in your recliner all day to read fertility boards.

But, I found a gem!!! I found the greatest counselor I could have possibly found. She helped me in so many ways. In retrospect, she saw things in my life that I wasn't ready to see at the time. She didn't push me to deal with or even admit to things I wasn't ready for yet (cough, my marriage, my mother, and my crappy friendships, cough). She simply listened to me, validated me, helped build me up, and supported me as I went through fertility treatments and then my eventual coming to terms with the fact that I was not going to parent in this lifetime. I will forever love this woman and I wish her nothing but the best.

With impeccable timing, she retired just as I went back to graduate school to begin a new life for myself. It turns out that I was the last new patient that she had accepted into her practice. I always felt like our meeting was divine intervention.

Then grad school completely sucked. My program was toxic and the professors were incompetent and emotionally abusive. And that's putting it nicely. But the school offered free counseling, so once again, I started seeing someone. She was great too. She gave me an outlet to complain about the program and to also process being infertile in a very fertile world. Going back to school was the first time I had interacted with others in several years, and I was encountering all sorts of comments and kid-related situations that I had successfully avoided up until then. Thank goodness for this woman too.

Then I finished my coursework and moved to a different state, left my husband, completed my clinical rotations, graduated, studied for my national board exam, got my professional license, finalized my divorce, got a new job in my old career, and moved out of the city and into a rural small town. Whoa. The last year and a half has been something else... But I'm still standing.

But I also need help. I realize this and I am not afraid to seek assistance.

I am capable, functional, thankful, productive, and happy. I am also struggling in some areas. Mostly, I don't know what to do about my relationship with my mother who constantly invalidates me, subtly insults me, and undermines anything that brings me joy and/or excitement. I love my dad and my parents are still married, so I am not interested in completely cutting my mother out of my life. But I really don't know what to do anymore. I also think I am in the anger stage of my life post-divorce. I am mad at my ex about several things, and I am mad at myself for staying in a loveless situation for so long.

The true catalyst though is my gynecologist. Due to my history and repeated abnormal pap results, she said she will give me a hysterectomy but she wants me to talk to a counselor about it first. Fine with me. I'll go for the hysterectomy discussion but stay to process the other stuff.

I am hoping to find someone who can listen to me, help me process, and give me effective strategies for the next phase of my life. Wish me luck in my search!

It's okay if you need help. It's okay if you're too tired to seek it. Do it anyway. You deserve it.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Who I Am Now

I've been seeing a lot of "end of the decade" type posts around social media. Now that there's only a month and a half left, I've seen things like what have you accomplished in the last ten years or what has changed about you over the decade. I find them interesting and it's made me a bit reflective. I mean, the last ten years of my life did not go as anticipated at all.

But I love Mali's post: "Who I am: 2019 Version." 
I loved reading it and I enjoyed learning more about her.

Being a lover of lists myself, I wanted to join in on the fun.

So, off the top of my head, here are my thoughts...
But I have to give credit where credit is due. I just had to reuse Mali's last point. It's too perfect.

Who I Am in 2019:

1. Teacher
2. Artist
3. Sister
4. Friend
5. Daughter
6. Co-Worker
7. Quilter
8. Divorcee
9. Survivor
10. Gymnastics Fan
11. Writer/Blogger
12. Empath
13. Mentor
14. Therapist
15. Dreamer
16. Planner
17. Skier
18. Reader
19. Organizer
20. Listener
21. Food Lover
22. Solid Sleeper
23. Aunt
24. Cousin
25. Niece
26. Anxiety and Depression Manager
27. Sensitive Soul
28. Loud Laugher
29. Warrior
30. Infertile Phoenix
31. Enough

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Trust Yourself

I used to be extremely private. Definitely while going through infertility and even more so when going through fertility treatments. I was also very private about my marriage. There were incompatibilities from the beginning, but I never told anyone or talked about it. It's one of the reasons why I stayed in a marriage that wasn't good for me for so long. I wasn't talking to anyone (not even the awesome therapist I was seeing during infertility) and so, therefore, I wasn't hearing myself. That's something I don't ever want to repeat.

I'm still a private person (except when I'm blogging anonymously on the internet, haha), but lately I've been sharing more. Just venting a little to trusted co-workers and processing with my best friend. I appreciate everyone's support. It's good for me to talk because then I can hear myself and be honest with myself about what I'm thinking and feeling. Then I can take this new knowledge and apply it to changing my life in ways that I need to change. For one, I'm getting better at communicating my needs with others. For another, I'm getting better at not communicating my needs with people who are unable to respect my feelings and boundaries.

However, as great as it is that I'm being more honest and open, I've noticed something over the last several weeks: it's easy for others to play armchair quarterback on your life.

I am so, so glad that I am the age I am with the lessons that I've learned along the way. Younger me had no boundaries, oozed all over the place, looked to others for validation, and always questioned my own decisions. Infertility taught me boundaries. (I mean, nothing taught me that no one else is living my life better than the fact that I'm almost the only adult I know living without children. My life really is different from the majority of my friends and family.) And leaving my husband and getting divorced taught me to trust myself. (Again, no one else is living my life... Even I wasn't living my own life for awhile...)

These lessons are serving me well now.

I was going through some thoughts and feelings and stuff last month. I shared with others. And, just like it was with infertility, everyone had an opinion on what I should do. (Side note: my sister that I've reconnected with told me again recently that she only likes talking to me about her current hard times because I'm the only one that just listens and doesn't ask intrusive questions or offer unsolicited advice.)

I get that that's how people connect, by relating and offering their opinions. And I appreciate that the people I chose to talk to listened to me. But I am also reeeally glad I didn't take anyone's advice. None of it was very good. Ha!

Now that a couple of weeks have passed, the same people that I trusted have trusted me. (Another side note: How nice it is to finally have reciprocal relationships in my life!) And now I know what stressors exist in their lives. And now I understand their advice to me. It's just easier to make the tough calls on OTHER people's lives, especially when you're going through your own crap that you're not ready to change yet.

All this to say... Whatever you are going through right now, trust yourself. Listen to others, but you are your only authority. You know yourself better than anyone else. You don't have to know any answers right now because, even if you don't feel like you do, you've got this. Trust yourself.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Cultivating Gratitude

I started a list on one of my white boards in my classroom. It says "30 Days of Gratitude" and I add something to it each day. (Well, I add three things to it on Monday to account for the weekend.) I'm trying to teach my students about cultivating gratitude, about how, no matter how bad things are, there is always something to be thankful for.

Of course, I know that it doesn't always feel that way. There were years where I was thankful for nothing. If pressed for an answer, I could've said I was thankful for my dog (may she rest in peace and playfulness), a roof over my head, and food in my pantry. I have never taken those things for granted. Same thing for electricity and indoor plumbing. But still... I recognize that, while deep in the black hole of grief, gratitude is not something that is easily found. Which is why I want to introduce my students to the concept of cultivating gratitude. They do not have easy lives. At all.

I am back in a state where I can function. I could mostly function for the past couple of years, but that was due to the massive economic and errand-related support from my husband at the time. Although my marriage didn't work out, I will always be grateful for his support during infertility and the acute phase of my recovery from it.

But now I am functioning really well. I work, I pay bills, I run errands, I do laundry, I enjoy my free time, and I even socialize a bit. I am so grateful.

I had to create this new life of mine. I had to devise and execute a completely new existence. But, in order to do all of that, I had to cultivate gratitude first. I had to realize what I did have and where I could go from there.

And I want to keep moving forward. I want to live a full life filled with love, laughter, and service.

I am so grateful.