Corona virus and wanting to go Home

Well, it’s finally gotten to me. The whole virus thing. I’m not even worried about catching the virus, because I’m not in a particularly vulnerable group, so it would probably be like a normal flu for me. I hate flues, but I don’t think I’d be hospitalized or anything like that. But all the same, I want to go Home. I want to be with my parents. I’m tired. Everyone is talking about working remotely for a while. I wish my job didn’t involve the fact that I have to go to the office for certain tasks. But I don’t know how I could do certain things from afar. MOST of my job, I could do from afar. Like 90% of it.

I’d want to go Home in the best of times. But now I’m very stressed. I’m snapping at the people I live with. I’m getting a bit short with people at work when they don’t respond to my questions within 24 hours. And it’s probably because they’re choosing to work remotely at times and I can’t, so I’m jealous.

You know, whatever job I get next, I’m going to make damn well sure that it’s something I could do remotely if push came to shove. I hadn’t PLANNED on going Home yet, but my partner has to stay home for the next month. A lot of places around here have told their workers to work remotely. The trains are bizarrely empty and it’s nice because I get a seat, but it’s also weird. I wonder if I’m the smart one or the stupid one.

My parents are kind of worried. They’re in a vulnerable group. I want to be with them. I am Homesick. If the vision of going there hadn’t entered my head, maybe I wouldn’t be so wistful, but it’s in my head and I want it so badly.

I mean look, if worst came to worst, I could ask for unpaid leave and go there anyway, and leave the company in a lurch. And if they said no, I could quit and walk away, and go Home.

I’m kind of lonely lately. I have been arguing a lot and, like I said, I’ve been very snappy with the people I live with. I don’t feel connected with them right now. Everything they say and how they say it feels alien. They don’t understand me and I don’t understand them. But it’s become so bad, I’m not sure how to get out of it and get back on the same page, at least with my partner.

Oh the things I wish I could say on here.

Log: Jul 29 – Aug 4 (Wed – Tue): Lowered thyroid and mood

Jul 29 (Wed): Work; Stayed overnight at my uncle’s, alone
Jul 30 (Thu): Work; Bicycled on bridge while my brother jogged
Jul 31 (Fri): Work;
Aug 02 (Sun): Dinner w/ Peter’s folks
Aug 03 (Mon): Work;
Aug 04 (Tue): NO THERAPY; Work 8a – 4p; Psychiatrist 5:30p

Wednesday: Work. Went to my aunt and uncle’s house. She was out of town, but my uncle and cousin were there. Peter joined us for dinner and then he left after we watched part of a silly movie, and I stayed and thought I’d sleep better, but slept poorly anyway.

Thursday's Sunset

Thursday’s Sunset

Thursday: Work, but there was little to do, so I ended up watching Stephen Fry videos, inspired by BlahPolar’s blog. They were wonderful but I ended up on the topic of HIV and other things that made me feel quite ill after 4 straight hours on the topic. I felt so yuck at the end of the day, I started to try and contact people. I ended up in contact with my brother. He was actually in the area and about to go jogging on a bridge, so I joined him with my bicycle! It was sooooo beautiful. I felt so much better after that. Even though he thinks my upcoming plans still place me as a mooch / using/abusing the system around me. But I think we got along fine and we then had dinner together and it was really good.

Friday: The morning was strange in that Peter had to leave quickly and I was still getting ready for work. I floated around, doing random, unnecessary things, like deciding now would be a good time to mop part of the bathroom floor. I was still in the process of making myself breakfast when he showed back up — I didn’t know he was coming back after that appointment. But I’ll confess that was infinitely more helpful for me. Especially since I was considering practicing piano briefly after breakfast… Who knows when I’d have actually left for work on my own. Then we left together.

ADDITIONAL, IMPORTANT NOTE: I forgot to take my Lexapro + Thyroid medicine until around 4 pm. That is when I started to feel some odd withdrawal-type symptoms — which is what alerted me to the fact that I hadn’t taken my medicine.

Keyboard Failure

Error message from a couple of days ago

It was this night that I have an odd email to my psychiatrist. After work, I think things felt fine. Peter and I made a dinner for ourselves. We were finishing up when his roommate and a mutual friend of theirs came over, and we all chatted. I was interested and engaged verbally with them when the topic of autism and programmers came up. I learned a different perspective. Then I was clearing up dishes and such and no longer having anything to say, but was sort of listening and wanting them to all keep having a nice time, when Peter’s roommate offered out some whiskey for himself and the friend. It was not offered to me or to Peter. Peter eventually asked if he could have some. I didn’t get up this bravery. (Mind you, I HATE whiskey and would have refused the offer anyway). But I felt so intensely jealous and left out. I went quite insane. My emotions literally took me to what I consider a bit of insanity. I couldn’t get past it. These emotions were building and I knew they have a cabinet where, if I had wanted some alcohol for myself, I could have surely asked and found something I would find palatable, and could have joined them and no longer felt left out. But I didn’t. I finished up the cleanup and then I think I went to my bedroom and sat and thought. It was already very late and dark outside, but I had the option of going outside, just down the street, and bringing myself back a wine cooler or something. Or I could go into a nearby bar and ask for a mixed drink. Or I could cut myself. That was a very, very strong urge. I could go into the kitchen, get a sharp knife that is likely not sterilized, and cut myself, and then have a bandage and another scar to deal with at some future point when I’m no longer feeling this burning and intensity inside.

I looked up how to go to bars alone as a female at night and stay safe. I read some tips online but none seemed that helpful. I was debating how to safely carry my wallet when Peter came to the room. I don’t know what I said to him but he asked if I wanted to go on a walk and I said yes, I was about to go on a walk. He asked if I wanted his company and I can’t recall my response; I was torn because I didn’t want him to leave his friend. I didn’t know that the friend and roommate were out on the deck partaking in marijuana anyway (or that probably would have sent me COMPLETELY over the edge with jealousy/ feeling left out).

But I agreed to his company and I hope I got across that I appreciated it. We walked. My fancy pedometer says I was walking very intensely for 2 hours. It took a while before I would talk about why I was so upset. I felt it was so STUPID and silly, I just wanted to walk off the feelings first and then later be able to talk about it in a detached way. But yeah, I finally talked about it, and I think I’m glad I did. He didn’t think feeling left out was a stupid/silly response. (He also pointed out that he and I are implicitly invited to join, but I’m not sure I could make that assumption). But I insisted my response was incredibly out of proportion to the scenario / fairly insane. I was INCREDIBLY upset for very little reason. (I’m a little concerned that Peter will be wary of people drinking around me in the future, since I reacted to this so strongly. But time will tell.)

We walked so hard that I had to stop at one point. I had been going even with a side stitch, but at the top of one hill, I got too light-headed to continue and ended up laying down on someone’s front steps.

Even when we got back, I was still upset. So I took 1 mg of clonazepam, and an unknown time later emailed my psychiatrist about it. I’m very concerned that the lowered thyroid dose has increased my mood instability. I have definitely felt more melancholy lately, but again, how can I know what is thyroid, versus my usual response to HUGE upcoming life changes?? I am very close to no longer being an employee for the first time since 2002. Even sometime in 2002, I got a part-time job. And I will be a full-time student for the first time since 2003!!! And that’s not to mention that Peter and I are going to buy me a wardrobe and us a bigger bed any day now, which will mark the time I’ll officially move in with him and begin to help pay rent/utilities and whatnot, and will also qualify for his health insurance as an opposite-sex non-married domestic partner (his work has that option). It is scary. But my own premiums went up $60 last month, making them now cost $785.66/month, I kid you not!!!!! But his insurance is much worse for prescription drugs. Instead of a set copay, it’s a percentage of the overall drug cost, which is very bad news if I ever have to take a drug that is costly. My thyroid and iron are very cheap, so that’s fine there, but I’ll have to shop around for the cheapest escitalopram (generic Lexapro). When that first went generic, it was still very expensive. But it’s been a good ‘nother year or two now, so hopefully the cost has gotten lower.

Anyway, I was eventually able to sleep.

River rafting!

River rafting!

Saturday: OMFG!!!! River rafting with Peter and two of my cousins and their dog, I kid you not!!!!!!!!!!!! It was SO FUN. OMG. (One of them is my cousin legally, the other is her fiance, but I count him as my cousin already.) So at the start, one of my cousins was running the car down and then bicycling back to our start position. My other cousin was walking around in the water and getting her dog used to the river (it was his first introduction to water / swimming). Meanwhile, Peter and I got used to the water temperature (it took me a while — I’m a huge chicken for feeling cold). Once in, we swam upshore a little way and watched some kids who were swinging off a tree and dropping off of a rope into the river. I decided to do it! CRAZY. Even though the water level was way down and so the dropping area was quite shallow, I decided to do it, because it’s something I’ve never done before and always thought I’d be too afraid to ever try. It’s good that the kids yelled at me when it was time to let go of the rope, because I’m afraid I would have kept holding on otherwise. It was fun! I touched bottom but I didn’t get hurt. It turned out to be sandy there, not rocky like the rest of the riverbed.

Anyway, there was very little current and so two of us were out of the “raft” at all times, pulling and/or “paddling” it down the river. We didn’t have paddles, but when the bottom was too deep for walking, we used our arms and legs to keep it moving. What a day. I feel terrible because Peter got terribly sunburned, even though we had slathered on sunscreen at the start. Apparently we went too long before re-applying it. Afterward, we all ate out together.

Sunday: I forgot to mention that while all this is going on, my parents and my dog have been out camping!!! I’ve been getting pictures of my dog snoozing with them in a tent. 🙂 It’s so sweet.

Gluten-free-dairy-free-vegan-cheeseburger - image of a slice of lettuce and a slice of tomato on an otherwise empty skillet

Gluten-free-dairy-free-vegan-cheeseburger Meme

I have no records regarding what I did on Sunday. If I remember right, the day started very slowly and I had a killer time getting out of bed, yet again. At some point, we walked and I looked in a shop, and then we ate fries somewhere as a lunch-snack, because we were scheduled to eat with Peter’s folks for dinner (they were generously sharing a $100 coupon with us, from his dad’s work). We ate dinner with them and it was really good. We went to an Indian restaurant because they were trying so hard to make sure I’d have something to eat! My eating is a pain in the @$$, let me tell you. I’m going to try going back onto barley in the next couple of months.

PTA: Gluten-free, lactose-intolerant pescatarian. That’s what I am right now. PTA.

Monday: Work. Slow at first and I was able to post pictures of the rafting trip for my cousins. Then it got super busy and I had to stay a couple of hours late, but that was fine. Peter was late too, so we met around 8 pm and ate out. Then we got ready for bed. I tried to sleep in the bed, even if it meant I wouldn’t sleep well, but it actually turned out his very bad sun burn was causing him to be super ticklish and my hair kept bumping it, so I decided to sleep on the floor anyway. And I was able to fall asleep at some point, so I’m glad I moved down there. I’m too alert/aware to fall asleep, otherwise. I’m so anxious about having to flop around and wake the other person, I can’t relax enough to fall asleep.

Tuesday: Work. It’s slow so far, as you can see. Later, I have an appointment with my psychiatrist.

Mood Ranking for all of these various days: 2 (Friday, such strong self-injury feelings count as a 2; in my book, there’s only one step lower) – 5 (Bicycling on the bridge with my brother; River rafting w/Peter and my cousins)

Saturday morning fear of getting out of bed (Journal#035)

I am documenting a Saturday morning yet again, because I just KNOW that one day, a solution is going to come to me!

Here’s the scoop. It’s morning. I actually woke up at 12:30p which is pretty good for me. I’ve only been hanging around in bed for fifteen minutes, that means.

Y’all already know I slept pretty poorly, what with the random anxiety attack 1.5 hours into my sleep. Here’s the graph:

Saturday morning

Saturday morning

Okay, so I was restless most of the night again (you can find all of this info on my Sleep Experiments menu page, btw, but it’s terribly ugly because WP keeps reformatting my hand-written table HTML code and giving it terribly tall spacing and removing my borders. 😦 )

Anywho, so I’m awake! I can hear their voices upstairs. My cousin is strumming a guitar which is awesome. There’s pacing steps above my head. And here I am, scared to go up there. My thoughts:

  1. I need to take my medicine
  2. I need to eat breakfast
  3. I can’t do either because they’re upstairs and I haven’t showered in a week and I’m very gross
  4. So I need to shower
  5. I’ve got to eat some food before I shower; I’m starting to feel weak and shaky
  6. How do I go up there without being seen, when I can tell they’re up there?
    1. I could wrap myself in a big blanket?
    2. I could brush my hair first and pretend I don’t see the grease?
    3. Also, my current PJs are too ugly to let my cousin see
    4. I can’t change because all of my clothes are in the washing machine (I forgot to move them into the dryer last night)
  7. I need to move my clothes into the dryer so I have clothes to change into after the shower
  8. So obviously a shower is out of the question
    1. (Why the heck did that just publish?!)
    2. Either wrap myself in a blanket or
    3. Pull on other random clothes so I’m not as ugly, but I’ll still be stinky & greasy

Okay, that’s settled then. LOL

BUT what I’m THINKING is — why don’t I start keeping food downstairs?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Isn’t that brilliant?!?!?! If I keep food downstairs, then I wouldn’t have to fear going upstairs because I wouldn’t have to go upstairs! Oh, I’d have to keep some spare medicine down here too!!!! It’s brilliant.

I think that’s going to solve a lot of my morning anxieties!!!

Other tips, all brought to me by my TaskRabbit:

  • I have a small heater run for a half hour each morning so I don’t have to avoid my room due to coldness
  • I keep a glass of water by my bed for the morning, and drinking it really does help me wake up
  • I just purchased a candle scented, allegedly, to help with awakeness and energy. I have it lit right now and it’s quite a pleasant scent

Now there is a raised voice upstairs too. But I’m not too anxious. Probably that’s because of the clonazepam I took in the middle of the night. 🙂 I don’t know how I ever survived without anti-anxiety meds. WOW now he is SHOUTING. SHOUTING. Oh, it’s about sports. Expletives and something about you can’t miss that pass. Thank god for anti-anxiety meds being on board, that’s all I can say, because it’s barely even affecting me. Sweeet.

Zoey squirrel

Zoey squirrel

Okay I’m going to go start my day. I’m going to throw on some random clothes, brush my hair, start my laundry into the dryer, and then brave the upstairs world. Normally I’d be scared, too, about the unknowns of the day, but again, I’ve got some meds on board, and I’m pretty calm about the different prospectives. We might be traveling to a distant city today, which always gives me worry, but I think I’m going to feel okay declining the trip today. I need to stay home and tackle some chores. I haven’t vacuumed in a LONG time! I haven’t done any chores in a LONG time. There’s stuff I need to DO today! Lol. It’s going to be great. I’m going to play some of my favorite musics and just maybe I’ll be all alone because they’re going to the distant city. I don’t know yet if my cousin is going. If he’s going, I’ll want to go too, but I’m still going to refuse. I need to get some crap DONE!

[I was only delayed in bed for 38 minutes!!!! That is really good for me!!!] 😀

Venting; might want to steer clear of this one (Journal#019)

Hypoglycemia: A Hidden Hell

**UPDATE x3** It is confirmed. My cousin confirmed that those sweets last night were loaded with sugar!!!!!!!! Gah!!! No wonder!

**UPDATE x2!!!!!!** OMFG I just realized something. I had four deserts last night!!!! I ate the vanilla almond-cream for myself, and had a little more than usual. But then my aunt’s relatives were sharing these AMAZING sweets from China and I had 3 of them. They were made of rice and bean paste so I thought they didn’t have sugar content.

But I feel like SHIT today and am dragging and feel drugged and hung over and everything is BLACK.

I had too much sugar!!! That’s why my emotions went so far off scale. I’m hypoglycemic according to one doctor, called pre-diabetic according to another. My body doesn’t handle loads of sugar well. I get all kinds of out-of-wack. My pancreas over reacts and pumps out extra insulin and tucks away ALL the sugars from my bloodstreams. It overreacts. Just like my mood in response…haha. I’ll have to look up how that all works again.

So basically, y’all did hurt my feelings last night and I felt left out like I was an insignificant speck of dirt on a dog’s butt, but my extreme REACTION and crying and wanting to run away, I think was sugar-laced. I still physically feel TERRIBLE today, just like I was sugar poisoned. Damn. Gotta be more careful.

**UPDATE (first update)** It’s a while later now. They’ve gone to bed from their private party. I did not say goodnight or anything to them; I was hiding in the dog room and they did not see me. I texted with my mom for a while and she tried to calm me down (but couldn’t). Finally I pulled up some Jimmy Kimmel street interviews and then some stupid Ali G interviews, and I feel much better now. Well it helps that there’s no longer a private party going on above me. That I used to be invited to but have since had my invites revoked. But at least I can think about it calmly and rationally now. I did have a good cry, too, which maybe helped regulate my body chemicals? I don’t know how that all works. Something worked and I’m calm now. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep but at least I’m not on the verge of running away at present. I’m not going to post tomorrow, by the way. Just because.

—-Original post follows——

Autumn Tree

Autumn Tree

I am upset. You might not want to read this. I haven’t decided what to screen out of my own words/thoughts yet. Rest assured, the following is just a self-pity party of nonsense.

I am upset. I talked with you for forty minutes last night about the hurt I was feeling on That Topic, and how left out I feel, and all sorts of how screwed up I feel on That Topic. I TOLD you.

And you and he went upstairs to your private party and there you are, and he shared it all with you, everything he won’t let me touch anymore, everything he would talk with me about for hours on end only to decide it wasn’t good for me after all and I can’t. But you can. And he can.

Like I’m the child living under this roof and I can’t speak up for myself as an adult because of it.

I’m so blessed to be here and there are a thousand positives, but this ONE. THING. ALONE. makes me want to leave.

I’m healing here, I KNOW I’m healing here. But maybe I’d heal somewhere else, too. Maybe this is not healthy for me. I don’t know how to deal with the downs. I don’t know how to deal with the hurt. I don’t know how to deal with being pushed aside like I don’t matter. Like I don’t exist. Like I wasn’t the one who started the whole damn thing.

I’d rather you throw rocks at me than do this. Behind my back, like I wouldn’t even know. Or like I don’t even matter.

Or you’re both just so selfish that you really don’t think it would bother me, you’re just living your own lives and doing what you want to do and I didn’t cross your mind, so how can I feel left out when it wasn’t considered for me to have been included.

I KNOW I’m over-reacting but it hurts so damn bad.

Maybe there is just something wrong with me today. I didn’t connect with anybody at all today. I don’t feel like I belong and I want to run away. I want to crawl into a hole and die. Maybe two nights of clonazepam contributed to my not-connected feeling? I did go on an awesome walk today with Maddy and my aunt and cousin. I really enjoyed it, but I also couldn’t shake the worry that I’d invited myself on the walk (I did invite myself) and that maybe they had been wanting some mother-son time alone.

How can I have felt so middle-of-the-road so recently, and now feel so low? It’s not healthy. I’m doing something wrong.

I have an ISSUE with feeling left out. That I REALLY need to work on.

Holidays and the meanings they once held (Topic#032)

Drawing of a dog carrying a candy cane

Drawing of a dog carrying a candy cane. Drawn for my parents’ Christmas card this year.

I am on clonazepam again tonight, so I don’t know if I’ll make it through this post. Clonazepam is my nighttime anxiety medicine that also helps me to fall asleep and suppedly has an 0ff-label use of helping with restless leg syndrome, which I have. It’s also one of the few anti-anxiety medicines that doesn’t leave me with a hangover feeling the next day, so I like it. This marks the second time I’ve used it in over a month.

Holidays. How did they get to this? What meaning did they once hold?

When I was a child, Christmas was the pinnacle of holidays. I had so much anticipation and excitement wrapped all around it. We hung stockings by the fireplace, although I was never sure if they should be near the wood stove or the more decorative fireplace. Only a couple of times did my brother and I place out cookies and milk.

Personally, I thought it was stupid because Santa was going to have access to SO many cookies by the time he reached our house, there’s no way he’d want even more. But I figured I’d eat whatever was leftover the next morning.

Christmas time was special for me. The lights were special (except any green lights, which scared me thanks to horror/scary movies). The little, fake tree with the lights was special. Hanging up the same ornaments on the tree each year was special. But the most special of all was the music. My whole family would gather around the piano and play and sing Christmas carols. Somehow, that included, “Those Were The Days”. My mom and I could play/sing that one over and over and over again and it was very special for me.

I slept downstairs, in the room next to the fireplace. Sometimes, my brother slept downstairs with me, too. Before I fell asleep, I would stay up for long periods of time, praying (remember, I was not raised to an organized religion. I had built up my own religous/spritiual beliefs and they were extremely strong and meaningful to me). I prayed. I meditated. I sat in peace and joy, watching the patterns of the Christmas lights strung sloppily around the walls (I was not a perfectionist about hanging them up). I’d watch the tree lights. It was peaceful, private, and wonderful. Although it would be hard to fall asleep, I slept soundly and never heard a thing. Somehow, presents were deposited in the room by the fireplace.

It was terribly exciting but also, I did not feel I deserved any presents.

We always spent the day together as a family. We had a special breakfast and lunch, courtesy of my mom. We nearly always went on a ski that day. It’s part of the tradition. For dinner, we often either ate at our neighbor’s house or had the neighbors come to our house. It was wonderful and peaceful. Sometimes we played card games after dinner.

MARRIAGE. Marriage. At first, we tried to preserve our own traditions and meaningful times. We struggled between attending his parents and my own parents. On our first year together, I think we tried to hit both at different times.

I haven’t yet mentioned that holidays stress my ex out very badly. The first holiday didn’t work for me. Splitting between two families was too stressful and hectic and left no quality time for either location. So we decided to alternate. One year here, the next year there.

But something changed and could never go back to how it was before. Holidays became more of people walking on eggshells, people making small talk, people just trying to get along. The meaning was lost. It was just a meal or a ski and the pressure was high and the stress was palpable. Nobody could relax into the old way of being. It was just different and tense and stressful.

I could no longer connect spiritually. I couldn’t have a moment in silence to pray and contemplate the Christmas lights and the tree and the peace and solitude and personal meaning of it all.

That was all gone for me. I greived for a while but after several years had given up. For me, holidays became meaningless aside from just another meal with the family, which was fine. But no special significance or meaning.

I tried to do some reasarch on my own; study religions-of-the-world on my own, but the feel was gone and it was just a ball of grief and giving up. It because just another day.

In one of the final years of the marriage, I did suggest we make our own holiday traditions — have our own dinner and find our own way. But that did not go over well, because certain parents could not forgive our absence. We were controlled by my in-laws, literally (in more ways than just that).

How could I connect in any spiritual way when spending that time with a family who spent most of the time with raised voices, getting angry with the children and each other, and being very particular about the food (not eating anything my husband brought, which was very hurtful. Granted he CHOSE to disrepect his mum’s decision to stop eating bell peppers and cooked with them anyway. So). It’s all so complicated.

The worst part was how stressed my ex got around holidays. He was almost on the verge of panic (aka rage) at all times. I remember once we were driving home from a dinner and his car was making this annoying clicking noise up in the dashboard somewhere. It had been doing it on and off for months. But on this night, he just lost it and started punching it hard. It didn’t change the clicking of course, but he did damage his knuckles. And lost ever more trust and respect from me, sadly.

So now? I don’t know what to think of holidays. Mostly, I feel they are a time to get through rather than to relax and enjoy. I’m scared of the potential things that could happen. People get drunk here and could say things they should keep private. There’s going to be a lot of people at this upcoming meal who have never met each other, and there’s always the chance that they won’t get along.

I have one dish I’m going to prepare. I’ll buy the ingredients tomorrow afternoon (our main dinner isn’t until Friday). People are arriving already. My aunt and my brother both arrived today (and my cousin arrives soon). And already, I was not connected to reality when my brother came in. Not for any particular reason, but I was fixated on the fact that the dog I was walking had a TICK in her skin, and I got so absorbed into that that I failed to notice that my brother had just come down the train steps and was standing beside me!!! What a welcome from me. “OMFG IS THAT A TICK?!” Yes, it was, and had obviously been there a long while. Even though I groomed her just the other day and didn’t notice any lumps at that point! So what the heck.

So we are having a meal tomorrow with some relatives I’ve never met, and the main one on Friday, with many people I’ve never met.

So I need to come up with something positive to focus on. First of all, the food is going to be amazing. Second of all.

I’m stressed because That MFing Topic came up tonight. I was with my aunt in the dog area, helping to clean and vacuum the whole area, in case of ticks. When we finally finished that, I went upstairs to see my uncle and my brother sharing That Topic!!!!!!!!!!!! Is there any point anymore? And they were about to go Upstairs to their own private party. Thanks a lot!!! I know, I KNOW, I am being so ungrateful. Just be grateful I’m allowed to live here. I don’t have to be included.

Included in things that I MYSELF STARTED but you’ve forgotten about that and now don’t allow me to participate. But you showed my brother! I’m not allowed to tell a SOUL but you went and showed my brother behind my back.

Yeah. Fucking topic. I’m SO so done with this. The jealousy, the pain, the feeling SO left out and pushed to the outskirts and left alone and ignored and forgotten. That’s what comes up in me. It isn’t rational, but it’s there. This topic is going to cause me nothing but pain. It has to stop. I MUST come up with a way to be at peace with it and accepting of it.

What you told me was “ours” and were so excited about, you later tried on your own while I was still at work, and did that again and again and again, and then when I finally swallowed my hurt enough to inquire about it, you declined sharing and said it would not be healthy for me.

It’s feeling like I am a brainless child, unable to make my own decisions about myself and my health that bothers me.

BUT, to calm the FUCK down, I have to remember, I’m the one who came here falling to pieces. I’m the one prone to mental illness.

But if I was going to live a life where other people decide for me what I can and cannot do, I may as well have stayed married. I may as well NOT be trying to start a new life for myself as an independent-ish adult.

BLAH. Sorry for the dump of negativity. I’ll bounce back again; I always do.

Back to the positives to focus on and get me through! First, the food is going to be amazing. Second, my brother is here and I can talk with him. Third, my cousin will be here and maybe I can get to talk with him

and maybe he’ll invite his friends at some point too, and I can talk with them again. Lastly, family. Acceptance. Be at peace. Try to just listen to others talk. Just listen and be present. Go down and pet the dogs as needed.

OCD: Fear of BEING crazy (originally titled: Disorientation and paranoia that led to a ground-breaking realization) (Topic#025)

Streams of Falling Water

Streams of Falling Water

This is by far the most embarrassing post I’ve written. I am actually quite anxious about having posted it. But if just one person relates and maybe feels less crazy because of it, it will have been worth it.

I just got one of these moments of disorientation so I wanted to attempt writing about it/explore it/see where it takes me/help me not fear it. I doubt that I can give it justice. [I get weird shifts in reality at random from time to time. No idea why. My ex-best-friend with temporal lobe seizures experiences something like that, too, which has made me wonder. But it doesn’t seem to matter since even if I did, I wouldn’t want to take even more medicine. The shifts can affect different parts of my perceptions at different times. This will only describe this one moment in time, where a perfectly normal-for-me way of viewing the world suddenly changed for no reason.  And it’s really only me writing about THE RESULT of the shift, not the shift itself. That would be too hard to explain. Dang, now I want to try… So… Like I’m having a perfectly ‘normal’ day and suddenly **BLAM** Suddenly it’s like reality is a bit different than it was, and I’m thinking about the world in a different way, and viewing things a different way, experiencing things a different way. Feelings could be different, or sight, or sound, or mood, or thoughts. My sense of Reality is just somehow *different* and for NO reason. I could just be sitting there watching TV and have it happen. I can almost describe it, sometimes, a bit like when your ears have been plugged for ten days straight and you’re used to it that way, and then suddenly your ears unplug and in that instant, things feel a bit different. Man I wish I could describe this better.]

I was thinking about a particular person and suddenly felt a shift in my head. Suddenly, I was thinking about, is this person insane or completely grounded? I mean, please excuse the words I use to describe this. (A lot of the words I use to describe the rest of the post are offensive, but I don’t mean to be offensive. I am trying very hard to be honest about the anxious thoughts I have/had, and offensive words are part of it.) But I mean it quite literally. I realize, I have no idea. I have no idea if he’s perfectly normal and grounded or is actually quite out there. I get so insecure. Because it’s really a crazy feeling. I genuinely don’t trust whether or not another person is experiencing the average “reality” or is actually quite insane. It leads me to think about other people, too. So many people I know experience/view reality VERY DIFFERENTLY and they don’t even realize it. Differently from each other, I mean. Different people I know view the world and life COMPLETELY DIFFERENTLY from each other and that is very disorienting for me sometimes. Going between different people is a bit like traveling between completely, completely different realities. I can’t find words BIG enough to describe what I mean! It’s like a COMPLETELY alternate life when I’m with different people, even for short amounts of time.

And of COURSE leads me to wonder if I’M insane and can I trust my own perceptions? I wish I could figure out how to explain this!  And there’s no way of ever, ever believing. What if people are just going along with the things I do and say because I’m actually insane and they’re just humoring me? MAN I wish I could explain this but I just can’t figure out a way! I’ve re-written these top paragraphs for at least an hour or more so far. (The rest of this post is even more of a mess, because I was trying SO hard not to censor my words and to be quick enough that I could still remember the feelings so as to write this.)

This is one of my deep, down, insanely strong fears. It rears its ugly head time and time again.

Here’s the thing. I will NEVER KNOW what ANY of you actually think of me. I’m talking you amazing people who read this. I’m talking anybody I’ve met in person in the past year. I’m talking anybody I’ve known my whole life. I’m talking the people who humor me and chat with me in text or over the phone on the occassion that I call somebody.

I have the deep down paranoia that every person I interact with is just humoring me and that really I’m insane or have mental retardation and I just don’t realize it. These memories are coming back right now. In elementary school, I used to be SO SURE that really I was mentally retarded and in a wheel chair and that the way I was viewing the world was all in my head and that the people around me were all humoring me. I used to feel that way strongly and worry about it aaaaallllllllllllllllllllll the time.

Literally speaking, the ONLY PEOPLE I BELIEVE are people who are so messed up themselves, that I trust they are not just pulling the wool over my eyes. These are the people who are extremely depressed or have other severe emotional problems, -OR- people SO socially awkward and have such symptoms as they are actually on the autistic spectrum and don’t read people very well.

Holy. Shit. I think I may have just found the “why” of why I only date and gravitate toward untreated-mentally-ill people. I. never. thought. of. this. before.

I can’t even believe it. You guys don’t know how hard I’ve thought about this and how many times I have grasped at straws in trying to come up with an explanation when people ask me.

If a person seems “normal”, I am afraid of them! Afraid of them humoring me and being “in” on my issues that I don’t know I have. That my every movement is SO LAME and is actually quite offensive at times, and I’m the only one who doesn’t know it. That I am a buffoon.

I honestly believe it is impossible for me to ever not feel this way. I will. NEVER. TRUST. that you are not “in” on it.

So yeah, I was super, super paranoid about this in elementary school. I do wonder if this is related to the childhood ‘abuse’ I previously wrote about. Because he did tell me time and time and time again how I was so stupid and lame and mentally retarded and everyone was humoring me and nobody liked me. And he did set up things to make it seem that everyone was ‘in’ on it, like the time I wrote about already. And I was always the butt end of jokes. When I read, “Flowers for Algernon,” I cried and cried because he was me, or exactly how I felt, at least. That was me completely. I was always the butt of the jokes but I laughed right along with everybody. I just loved being included in the group.

When I came back from college and was having my first mental breakdown, the paranoia got WAAAAAAAY worse. I constantly worried that maybe my parents had set up cameras all around their house, to be watching me all the time because somehow they knew how insane and suicidal I was. I worried that the medicine I was prescribed were actually being written and filled as placebos. That placebo pills were stopping my panic attacks, proving that it was all in my head and nothing was “wrong”, etc. That the therapists were actually humoring me and watching me make a fool of myself day after day. At the same time, I worried that I was losing my mind completely and losing all touch on reality (I kind of was, though, in hindsight). I was worried that I was going to somehow make myself schizophrenic. (And I was extremely sure that all of my thoughts were going to cause me cancer.) I was extremely worried I’d be diagnosed bipolar. (I have nothing against bipolar now, but I was PETRIFIED of it back then.) I told one of my therapists that I would kill myself if I was diagnosed bipolar. Months later, I finally had the nerve to ask her if she thought I was bipolar and she said no and explained her reasoning. But of course, I didn’t know if she was telling me the truth or knew I was still not ready to hear it (and, as with all of these thoughts, there IS NO WAY for me to believe you, no matter what you do or say). When I read that the first antidepressant I was prescribed was to be avoided for those with bipolar (because it can worsen the symptoms), I did believe her just a tiny bit. To this day, I always wonder if I’m bipolar, but it doesn’t scare me like it used to.

All of these things are IN me, surfacing from time to time, but otherwise living just barely beneath the surface.

Today’s Goals: Improved Mental Focus (Goals#009)



I’m positive these goal posts are boring as hell for you guys, but they REALLY help me focus, and I can tell I’m very distractable right now, so… [First, here is a side note: I finally completed one of my topic seeds! It’s the one titled “PRO Hugs“.]

Today’s Goals:

  • Send my dad a bag of Trader Joe’s cinnamon almonds for Christmas
  • Send my mom a couple of those rubber counter top grippy things I saw
  • Attend bicycle ride this Saturday morning
  • Must bring new scripts to pharmacy
  • Pick up all scripts
  • Fix SugarSync on that one computer …HALFWAY SUCCESS
  • Dump my phone pictures to a laptop so I can take more pictures
  • Organize my bedroom
  • Run a load of laundry …SUCCESS
  • Wash my bedding
  • Work with Maddy on “down” again 🙂 …SUCCESS
  • Attend meditation center on Sunday? (Am I brave enough to go there alone?)
  • Clean bathroom sink + counter
  • Clean bathroom mirror
  • Call my old friend, S
  • Text my old friend, K

Journaling: I wanted to tell those of you who have read my previous posts that last night marks the first time That Topic came up that I didn’t have any emotional slip! What I did was try to drown out any mental focus on it by literally saying, “LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA,” in my head. I could still hear most of the words, but my attention was split, and somehow that prevented the emotional impact. So YAY!!!!! Progress. I have to thank all of you who are reading this, because I don’t think I’d be as motivated, and I DEFINITELY wouldn’t be as honed-in on the problems, if it weren’t for me recording notes in this blog! If you remember, I didn’t even know what was causing my extreme mood swing until I was writing a post about it! I had no idea this would turn out to be such a powerful tool for my healing.

UPDATE: I have an idea for a different structure for future Goal posts and future Journaling posts and I’m excited about it. Then I have ideas for two future Topic posts. No. 2. OCD: living by the rules and I can’t remember No. 1. right now, but it’ll come back eventually.

Today’s Goals: Party prep and stable mood (Goals#008)(Journal#003)

Halloween Dog

Halloween Dog

Today I have already:

  • Spent time with my mom
  • Done a LOT of walking (in the rain!)
  • Found a “tail” for my costume that is actually a dog toy and will be given to the dogs later
  • The older dog is very, very sick today and is with the vet. I spent some time with the new gal. I brought her a huge rawhide to keep her occupied by herself, too.
  • Admittedly, I bought the dogs witches hats for Halloween. I know the other dog won’t be home in time, but I’m assuming he’ll be okay by next Halloween. Also, once I’m done wearing my mask tonight, I’m just going to put on one of the witches hats myself. 😉 The mask is not comfortable, but was a gift to me from my brother.

Goals for the rest of today:

  • Vacuum main level …SUCCESS
  • Relocate any of my stuff that’s still on main level …SUCCESS, I think
  • Sweep garden walkways and front door areas …DID GARDEN WALKWAYS
  • Wipe down kitchen counters and main table …FAIL
  • Don’t get jealous later in the evening, especially when you and my brother plan to get wasted and have already indicated that I’m not invited to the upper floor at that point. But I know my brother needs your attention
  • Remember that I can count on you guys; I don’t need to feel left out at any potential points tonight
  • Work with the new gal again on “down” …ENDED UP WORKING WITH HER AND A GENTLE LEADER (nose halter) INSTEAD [I love her so much already, but am SO allergic]


  • Expect to be in the background somewhat during the party. There will be a LOT of people (17+).
  • My brother is jealous of me again right now, so I really want him to have more of the spotlight tonight. He needs the attention. I get to be here all the time now, and am somewhat stable, usually. He has recently gone through a horrible time in his life and doesn’t really know what he’s doing and blames the world for a lot of shit. If I could help him understand how amazing he is, I would. He COULD have everything going for him — he’s smart enough, has the social skills, the looks, the charisma, etc. He’s even got the high paying job. But he has an inner darkness that eats at him and tells him he’s no good and he gets self destructive.
  • I talked with my mom a lot today. We were walking together. I think it was all positive. I think she almost cried once when I told her how I no longer have time for people who think depression is just the sign of a weak mind. I think she was glad to hear I’m not taking these comments personally. But I also hope I didn’t scare her by mentioning depression at all. Actually, she brought it up because You told her I needed off the antidepressants. (Which of course I want, but I’m not ready for that yet. My therapist AND my new family practice doctor both think I need to stay on them for now). But I’m getting there. I’ll get there.
  • I love you. I don’t know why, but I feel a lot of love for all of you right now, total strangers I’ll never hear from and never meet. And I really appreciate that anybody might have the time to be listening to my ramblings.
  • He got upset by the gentle leader and the only reason I didn’t cry was that I was trying so hard to maintain in front of my mom. But really I was kind of crushed when you came over and unclipped it when I’d bought it and had it on her already. I knew you wouldn’t like it. I guess it’s my fault for not mentioning it ahead of time. But pup’s neck has a cut on it so I didn’t want to use the normal collar because she pulls so hard sometimes. Truthfully, I was hoping you just wouldn’t notice it and everything would be okay (i.e. conflict-free). I hate conflicts.

CON Weekends (Topic#010)(Journal#001)

Sleeping tiger

Sleeping tiger

[This post turned into a journal, which I dislike and had not intended. I’m debating whether or not to delete this whole post.]

Goddamn me and weekends. I’m so frustrated. I have fucked up every weekend for the past 4 months. I thought THIS weekend would be different but no. I actually had a plan but at 8a my anxiety was too high for me to get out of bed. At 8:30a I knew it was too late for me to make the bike group. I hate myself sometimes. So I stayed in bed and now it’s 2p and someone just gave me a reason to get up: we’ll go wash their dog at the pet store.

I have no fucking motivation for getting out of bed. I wish to God I did but I don’t and I never have and now that I live here, I’m supposed to be doing this on my own but I need help. But I’m not supposed to need help because I’m supposed to be heading toward real independence.

I was hoping to save some money by not having TaskRabbit call me on weekends too, but I’m going to have to hire somebody for weekends.

The only thing that gets me up on weekdays, for work, is that I have hired somebody to call me every weekday morning. She’s great. She talks to me only about pleasant things, nothing that will evoke anxiety, until I am somewhat aware of my surroundings. Then she encourages me to sit up, and eventually to stand up and gather my clothes for the day. I try to have them set aside the night before, but sometimes I fail.

For whatever reasons, I hate life in the morning. I wake up and often don’t remember what day it is, or what I have to do that day, or what my plans are, or what time I meant to get up, etc. It’s just this awful sensation and knowing that I’m comfortable under the covers, with my face pressed against my soft blanket.

Then I might remember things like having picked at my acne the night before (stress habit) and how inflamed my face is now, and how I don’t want anybody to see me today.

But mostly, there are no actual, tangible thoughts. Just a feeling of apprehension and dread about the day. And an inability to motivate myself out of bed.

{I used to be literally unable to turn off the water in my shower. I would try to reach for the knobs and my body wouldn’t move. It’s like I’d forget how to send a signal from my brain to my hand. I’d have to literally stand there until the water turned cold and then my hand would reach out automatically to turn off the water. I couldn’t bottle that feeling to use without external motivation, though!}

This is sometimes the same thing. I will tell myself to get up, I’ll intend to get up, I’ll have even made plans the night before. But when it comes to the moment of getting out of bed, nothing happens. The more I think to myself that I need to get out of bed, the more anxiety floods through me and the less likely I am to move a muscle.

I don’t know how people do it. Thank goodness my therapist told me about TaskRabbit. I will hire someone to call me tomorrow morning, so maybe I can salvage half of this weekend at least.

I’ll literally stay in bed until 4p without external motivation. (And the “motivation” can’t be anxiety-provoking. I have a long history of people trying to wake me up, over the span of my entire life, and trust me, yelling  at me, chastising me, guilting me, shaming me, getting mad or disgusted with me, threatening me, leaving the house without a word, pulling the sheets off me cold turkey, dumping the bed over, etc, doesn’t work! In fact, the moment I experience anxiety, which also happens when I know I’ve let you down again, like today, only makes me less likely to get out of bed. I want to just pull he covers up and enter into some weird twilight zone in my head where nothing exists and I just rest in darkness and fall back asleep and hope that none of this really happened, and wait until tomorrow when I can try to get out of bed again.

I’m going to get up now. I’m sitting up already, so that’s good. Hopefully she didn’t go wash the dog already without me, while I was writing this. But EVEN IF I AM ALONE NOW, I AM GOING TO GET UP, GET DRESSED AND EAT (and take the medicine I’m now very late taking), AND MY PLAN FOR TODAY WILL BE TO VACUUM THE HOUSE.

Okay, I am up, eaten, dressed and on route to the dog wash. I feel so yucky and gray and numb today, but that happens any time I stay in bed for so long. Must come up with a way to make mornings positive, even deep down inside of me. How do I wipe out 3 decades of negative morning experience?

It’s night now. I salvaged part of the day! I was there for a dog adoption. I took them on a little walk (the new dog has NO idea how to walk on a leash. She actually scraped my skin by pulling so hard). I did vacuum 1 flight of stairs and 2 levels.

But I learned that I missed 3 bike rides and at least one walk while I was in bed. I was then reminded to jump out of bed each morning, excited and ready for another awesome, kick-ass day. I said, it would help me if you would tell me when you’re going to go on a bike ride at a certain time; then I’d have some reason to get out of bed. But no: I have to learn how to get up on my own and be responsible and accountable for myself. Which is something I want.  And you just LOVE every day and can’t wait to get out of bed every morning. Which is awesome and I really, really hope to learn that. My mood plummeted a little then, because of my extreme jealousy for people who feel that way in the morning. I want that.

I really need to work on my jealousy. Why can’t I just live and let live and be happy for them, rather than the terrible feelings that leave me hating myself more?

And why CAN’T I feel that way in the morning?! I’m sure the power is within me somewhere, yeah? But I’ve never found it or tapped into it. I have been able to jump out of bed a few times in life. Like when I was little and waiting for morning so that I could catch an airplane to my grandparents. So I have FELT it before. But hmm. I wish I knew what I could do to make mornings tolerable for me.

Partly, too, I have a ton of anxiety about getting up too early. I used to be so exhausted all the time. So I developed a real fear of getting up too early. Especially when you consider that I wasn’t going into REM sleep until close to wake up time. I would be SO upset if someone tried to wake me even 5 minutes early. So one of my hopes is that I will gradually feel safe getting out of bed early, because I have been sleeping better lately.

NEXT DAY: So now it’s Sunday morning. I just got up and it’s noon. So that’s better than yesterday. I’ve been awake for hours because I had alarms set and I opened my blinds and I’ve needed to pee really badly. But every time I thought of getting up, I was flooded with anxiety and dread. How do I turn that around? What’s something positive I could focus on instead?

My plans for today aren’t bad. I’m going to vacuum some more, mop, and clean some sliding glass doors that are super dirty. I’ll also take the dogs for a walk. I hope to try some trick training with the new gal, since she’s SO food motivated.

Update: I am amazingly down today. I could cry right now, and why? I think it’s my jealousy issues, honestly, but I won’t say why yet. I just need to turn this around! I’m on a walk by myself, now. No dogs, because I need to go into a store. 😦

Update: I have successfully altered my mood. I took a little of my new medicine. I am walking in sunshine, listening to great music (nothing too “down”, as much I was tempted to listen to ‘Space-Dye Vest’). I am feeling SO MUCH better. It’s amazing how one of those moods can creep in uninvited. I’m now feeling a little content, and a whole hell of a lot more positive.

Update: I’m still feeling very positive. Whew! And I bought myself a vegan fudge pop to enjoy on the sunny walk back!

Update: I turned this m-fing day AROUND. After my walk, I played music loudly while trying to clean the glass sliding doors. Nothing would get that dirt off! We tried water, Windex, water-vinegar-soap mix, acetone, alcohol, and a razor!!! They look SO much better now but there is still a layer of weird gunk left to get off. Meanwhile, I got to chat with a construction worker here who is nice. He invited me to icecream afterward which actually sounded really fun, but I declined. I’m only supposed to go out with people who are not untreated-mentally-ill, and he has one thing in particular that makes me unsure he fits the bill (I promised my previous therapist!). Plus he’s twice my age. But it still sounds fun. Oh, well. I really need to make some friends around here.

Final Update for this weekend: (I did end up vacuuming 1 more flight of stairs.) I went on a walk tonight, the topic came up, and instantly I was transported to a very negative place. I actually cried a little. But at least I know now what’s bothering me so much. It’s this topic. It was supposed to be “our” thing but instead it’s yours. Every single day since the day you got your part, it’s been yours and I haven’t been a part of it. That’s why I’m so jealous. And feel so left out. And you tell me about it for literally an hour a day because you’re excited about it and I swallow down my jealousy and try to smile and nod along. Then if I suggest I participate, it’s rather frowned upon. No joke. Don’t you see it? I’m finding it really hurtful. So I tried to tell you tonight, on a walk, that I feel left out. I’m not sure you understood. But for me, even admitting out loud is something very new for me. I NEVER admit how I feel out loud if the feeling isn’t positive, but it was eating me up inside and I wanted it to stop, and I want to be healthy and have healthy relationships that don’t involve me constantly pretending to be some way I’m not. Instead I started crying, which I hid from you. I just want the topic to go away now. Don’t mention it to me anymore because I can’t handle my own jealousy. I really, really need to work on that. But sadly, I know the topic isn’t dead. I’ll hear it again tomorrow and all future days, unless I really insist out loud upon not ever discussing it again. But avoiding a topic can’t be healthy either, right? Frankly, it’s easiest to run away. Pack up and move somewhere else. Just keep running from problems that will come up again and again until I learn the healthy ways of dealing. So I’m going to try to stay put and figure these damn things out.

Superfluous Update: Aanndd the first topic of today (Monday) became…? LOL That’s right! The topic! Having written out (and attempted unsuccessfully to say out loud directly) my feelings on this topic last night, I dealt with it slightly better today. I still felt a ping of distance and aloneness, but it didn’t bring my mood down. I’m still psyched about today.

Important Update!!: Today, my therapist mentioned that she has talked with A LOT of people who have trouble in the morning, and she’s starting to sense that some people’s body chemistry is actually different in the morning! Perhaps their neurotransmitter aren’t fully circulating yet, or whatever may be the case. She said most of those people start to feel a little better once they move around a little. It’s food for thought. If I could get up early, move around, lay back down for a while, and have that do the trick, it would be amazing… I just have too much fear to get up early without getting to lay back down, though.

The desire for and fear of posting and reading blogs (Topic#009)



I don’t have the focus to complete the other topic seeds right now, but I’d like to say a few things about me and blogging.

I had a really nice day today, by the way. | (Does anyone else think of Maya Angelou every time they use the expression, “by the way”?)

Anyway, blogging is strange for me. On one hand, I LOVE the idea of getting to say whatever I want to say and having it actually be heard by assumedly somebody out there. On the other hand, I’m terrified that I will get to know my (future; nobody’s here yet 🙂 ) audience, and then will start slanting whatever I write toward the audience I think is there. Do any of you find that to be true? I want feedback and yet I’m afraid that feedback will shape the course of my writing. That I will begin to write about whatever generates feedback and avoid the topics that sit silently. So in a way, I wonder if it is best never to receive feedback. Or at least not for a long while. Not until I have figured out what I want to say and how to say it.

I am finding myself afraid to read other people’s blogs for the same reason. I’ve read a couple so far, and can feel myself experiencing a couple of things that I wouldn’t normally admit:

  • Intimidation. I feel your writings are so smooth and “real” sounding. I feel my writing is fake, pretentious, irrelevant, phony, stupid, poorly formed, poorly written, boring, topics I ‘shouldn’t’ have written about, etc.
  • Jealousy. Jealous that you can describe things so beautifully and put it all out there the way you do. Jealous that people respond. Jealous that you seem to have it all figured out, even in your down moments. Jealous that the way you write pleases other people and they are so able to connect with it.
  • Interest. I love reading about your life. I read every word and put myself in every scenario and try to understand…
  • Low slime. This goes back to the first bullet, but I can’t emphasize it enough. I end up feeling like low, invisible, irrelevant slime that shouldn’t even try.

So! I’m thinking I will stay incognito for now. I might still read a few other peoples’ blogs, but I’ll have to be careful. And while I desire and appreciate feedback, I might request silence instead. Because it will influence me. It will. I know this from previous experience. And the PRESSURE that develops! The pressure when you HAVE followers and you want to keep them and you want their approval and it changes everything about the way you write and what you write; you’re no longer writing for yourself. You’re writing for them. And right now, I really want to try to express something I don’t yet understand, and want to use this blog to do that. I can’t do that in a complete vacuum and I also can’t do that with too much influence around me. So.

**Update** I’ve had one idea. I can ask (future) people to respond if they would, but keep it strictly to non-content comments. For example, “I am listening.”