Rethinking the approach

So, I was hopeful that I could try to maintain a somewhat “normal” life by returning to my house on my typical telecommute days and using my sister’s house mainly as a crash pad at night.

But it seems we may be in for long-haul on this, and looking at my home as, well, my home is not healthy for me. It’s not my home anymore. It is a house occupied by someone else that I will eventually get to reclaim as my home.

Instead of visiting my dogs and chickens 2-3 times per week and trying to carry out a productive business day, I will only drop by the house maybe once a week to pick up mail and more clothing. Other than that, I will stay away.

I’ve had to come to this difficult conclusion when I found myself having another panic attack in my therapist’s office. I’ve been working with Dr. L for a long time and I’ve been alarming her greatly in my level of upset around the situation I’m in. She set up a appointment yesterday with a psychiatrist who can prescribe, and now I’ve joined the millions of others in the US who find ourselves medicating our way through the day.

I hate, hate, hate, having to take mind altering drugs like this. I belive that if the situation is so bleeped up that drugs must be taken to get through the day, then it’s time to attend to the situation. Move. Get a new job. Leave the girlfriend making you crazy. Or step back and figure out what YOU are doing to make yourself crazy and change that.

Unfortunately, I can’t attend to this situation myself other than using medication to alter/mask whatever it is in my brain chemistry that triggers the anxiety/panic attacks when confronted with a situation like the one I find myself in. Actually, I’d really like to try that “move” option by getting out of town until this is over. Or going into a hospital and living in an induced coma until this is over. But by then I’d lose my job and be in yet another kind of big trouble when I returned or woke up.

So, I’m now taking my old, old friend klonopin.  I first took klonopin about 12 years when I started having panic attacks. Coincidentally, the panic attacks happened right after I agreed to marry Mark. Hmmm….At that time the klonopin was paired with Paxil, too. But I told the psychiatrist that I am dead set against an SSRI (usually referred to as anti-depressants in the vernacular) becuase of their evil side effects.

When taking an SSRI one basically has to choose between one that is “weight positive” (in other words, makes you fat) or has “sexual side effects” (a euphemism for not being able to um…reach fulfillment, if you know what I mean.) I’ve already been battling back the pounds added due to my thyroid issues, and do not want to mess up my progress. Nor do I want to be dead below the waist for next 6 months, minimum.

Klonopin has none of these side effects and can be tapered off much more quickly. The only problems with it is that it makes me sort of sleepy and clumsy. I’m drinking lots of coffee to counteract the doziness, and just being careful to counteract the clumsiness. The good news is that I don’t feel keyed up all the time about the situation. I’m ready to move the rest of my clothing over to my sister’s house this weekend when Mark is out of the house, and continue converting her basement into my boudoir.

Then, it’s just back to waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting, etc.

At least I don’t feel like my head will explode.

Breathing room

I’ve spent the last 2 nights at my sister’s house and am feeling much less frantic. When I think of how I have to stay away from my home, my sanctuary, it makes me sad. But I can deal with sadness.

At least I no longer feel such overwhelming rage and helplessness. It’s like staying at home with Mark around was triggering my fight or flight response all the time. My first inclination was not to run away, but giving in to the “fight” response was going to get me in worse trouble than leaving.

Yesterday was a day I would normally telecommute from home. So I did. I had a gym appointment and I knew that by the time that was finished he’d be out of the house. I worked a bit at my sister’s house after getting up, went to the gym, and then continued on home. I spent the day working and a bit of time with the dogs, then I packed up food and clothing for next day and left before Mark returned.

Tomorrow I plan on doing the same thing, but will have to pack up enough clothing for more than a day since I don’t plan on returning to the house again until the weekend. I guess I’ll end up with my entire professional wardrobe over there by the time this is over.

Living with my sister has been quite pleasant so far. I get to see my niece and nephew a lot now, and I’m enjoying the camaraderie. With more than one competent cook in the house, cooking duties can be rotated, too, which is a great benefit.

Now that I have some breathing room, I won’t be pushing Mark along through the process, either. Mark can be incredibly deliberate, plodding, and downright stubborn about getting all the time he needs to take action on something. Me pushing at him only increases his stubbornness, which is counter-productive for my purposes. Allowing him some time to figure things out on his end is necessary (unfortunately), and I just couldn’t do that while I was feeling so desperate.

Maybe…possibly…this can be over by the end of February and I can move back into my house again. I really hope so. I jokingly told my sister that I’d be living there for the next 6 months. As much as she may love me and be supportive, I don’t think she’d like that very much. Neither would I.

A difficult choice

I won’t be spending the nights at my house starting tonight. I just can’t stand to share the house with Mark anymore and he refuses to move out. Since he’s not beating me up, he can’t be ordered out of the house by a judge, either.

Over the past week, I’ve gotten more and more agitated by living with him. I see him every evening and most mornings. The only time I don’t see him is during working hours. I have to maneuver around him in the kitchen and feel his presence just a few feet away from me during the evenings if I want to watch TV.

I find myself thinking of horrible things that I wish would befall him, or that I want to do to him. And this is a clear signal that I must get away. My lawyer has told me I can take a few days away as long as I don’t go too far: Wisconsin, Michigan, or an in-state spa, for example.

Over the past few weeks as my distress has escalated, I’ve had several friends and family offer to let me stay with them. My main concern has been that if I leave the household, the pets — dogs and chickens — will not be cared for properly. But at this point, I can’t worry about them anymore. I have to just take care of myself.

So, I informed Mark that he has sole responsibility for the household as of this evening. I will still be returning to the house, just not when he is here. I will come here for my standard telecommuting days and to pick up things; I’ll also likely have to come by to do some cooking and laundry.

It really saddens me that I must do this. I’ll miss snuggling up with my dogs at night and the familiarity of my home enfolded around me in the evenings. I’m just hoping that putting some more physical distance between me and Mark will help me feel less anxiety and distress.

Literary stuff

I had a horrible day yesterday. Some days are just bad ones, and I have no clue why this particular day was any worse than others. I got up, I did a little work whilst munching some breakfast, then I went to the gym.

I spent an hour on the treadmill, alternately walking very fast (3.8 to 4 miles an hour) or running (at 6 miles an hour) for 2 minute stretches of time. One of my thoughts/goals is to get into running. It’s something that can be done anywhere (as long as you have a very good pair of shoes) and it would be fun to take runs with my sister every once in a while. So, I’m trying to ease myself into running.

One would think that after such a demanding workout I would have burnt off whatever anxiety I was carrying around, but that wasn’t the case. Instead I found myself getting more worked up as the morning progressed. I went to see my therapist and had a total meltdown in her office. This is what therapist appointments are for, right?

Except I guess I triggered some professional standard when I started wailing about what I wanted to do with Mark to get him out of the house. So I had to calm down enough to look her in the eye and promise I wouldn’t do anything to harm him physically. I guess I can yell at him all I want, though. So comforting.

I made it back home and took the course of action she suggested: I took a Xanax and went to bed. The afternoon was pretty much just a wash for me and I had to cancel my participation in some meetings, but luckily I have an understanding boss.

When I got out of bed a few hours later I started thinking about how I was feeling. Tasting it. Turning it around. Really trying to pin it down and make sense of it. And here’s what I’ve come up with: despondent.

I have no clue as to when this ordeal will be over, but I’ve had to admit that Mark and I must continue to live together for at least another month. He will not be moving out at the end of January. I will not be enjoying sweet solitude in a matter of a few days. Instead, I must continue to navigate around him in the kitchen, in the living room, in the dining area, etc.

My despondency comes from the fact that timelines are totally ambiguous. There are no dates or timeframes when anything will happen (a month? 6 weeks? 12.3 weeks?), and therefore there are no goals I can set for myself. I can’t cross days off a calendar literally or figuratively, as I have no idea of how much longer I must endure.

And I’m tired of people telling me things like “This is going pretty fast for a divorce,” or “It will be over soon.” WTF does soon mean to these people??? Every minute wasted on this ordeal is one that I will *never* get back again. I know that everyone must go through some crappy times to get to the good, but enough is enough.

I many times thought peace had come
When peace was far away;
As wrecked men deem they sight the land
At centre of the sea,

And struggle slacker, but to prove,
As hopelessly as I,
How many the fictitious shores
Before the harbor lie. 

Emily Dickinson, patron (literary) saint of despondent people everywhere wrote that. And Google Books deserves thanks for having this great collection of poems by Emily Dickinson easily accessible.

Control and comfort

I’m a control freak and I realize that. Digging deep into my life as I was growing up, there is an explanation for this. I won’t go into great detail here as I try not to get too heavy on this blog; I have a therapist for a reason, and that’s the proper venue for such revelations.

I only note this fact here to introduce the reasoning behind my nearly fanatical focus on food and exercise in the past few months.

I am NOT in control of what is going on around me these days, and I find that very stressful and anxiety-provoking. I am buffeted by the crazy economy and an internal reorganization at work; by a wildly changing mortgage market that impacts my ability to lock down a monthly budget on which to live, and; by the wacky legal system and it’s impact on my personal space/life due to divorce. (*STILL* no final agreement on paper or date for this to end and me to be living alone…arrggghhhh!)

One sure thing I CAN control is what goes in my mouth and how I expend those calories. So, my freezer is pretty much full of containers of the various soups I’ve cooked up nearly weekly over the past 2 months, as well as the fruits, veggies, and other freezable things I’ve put by such homemade crepes and bread. It makes packing lunch every day pretty easy, and it is a great way to make sure I am eating healthy, nourishing food.

I love soups, and I’m a big fan of beans and other high-fiber veggies. So when I ran across a recipe for Garlic Lover’s White Bean Soup I had to try it. This is gooooddd soup that’s really thick and stew-like. It’s vegan, but can be adapted for those who love meat. (I had some chopped ham on hand so I added it near the end.) I talked so favorably about this soup to my friends that I’ve been chided once already for not yet providing a link to the recipe. My friends, have at it and enjoy!

Today was a very special day for Chicagoans as our former senator was sworn into the office as president. Many of us took a break from work to cluster around the television on our floor (perpetually tuned to CNN and usually spewing dire financial news or disasters) to watch the key inauguration activities: Obama’s swearing in and his acceptance speech. I’ll admit that I was one of the people wiping tears from my cheeks. I still tear up as I see the replays of his speech on the news programs.

I know that Obama is just a man and that he will likely make mistakes, but it is such a relief to have real hope for the direction of this country. This is also an area where I have no control, but it makes a big difference to have a person that I trust and admire in this position. And the fact that so many outside of this country responded with great enthusiasm to this event, too, gives me great hope and comfort.

Blessed solitude

I used to live alone and did very well on my own. In my single years, I did live with a boyfriend or two (or three, to be exact), but that wasn’t the same as having a roommate. Those were more like auditions. (And they served their purpose very well.)

I’m looking forward to being on my own again, and it looks like that *may* happen by the end of this month. We have an agreement now. It’s a verbal agreement that has been communicated to the lawyers, and which they seem to understand, but it is not yet written up and signed off. Nonetheless, it also includes the stipulation that Mark move out at the end of January.

This weekend, Mark has been away more than in the past, too, which allows me to enjoy the house alone and in peace. It’s nice having the place to myself. I talk to the dogs, sing out loud as badly as I want, and look around the place for things to change up. I’m not sure yet what furniture will be going with Mark, so my plans for re-arranging the living room are not very solid. It’s still fun to think of them, though.

I’ve also been making steps towards my own personal goals. I had my first riding lesson last Friday. Thank goodness for indoor arenas, since the temps were still brutally cold outside. I mounted Moose (a lovely, calm gelding…and let’s leave off all the potentially racy remarks that can be made here so this blog can remain “family friendly”) and started out with a walk. I took corrections of my posture and positioning of the reins well, and moved on to a posting trot pretty quickly. I learned that I was spot on with my diagonals (and learned what those were, as I don’t recall that term coming up when I last took instruction in English riding), and the instructor pronounced my efforts “very good” when all was over. I have another lesson scheduled for next Friday and the instructor didn’t think me delusional at all when I told her I’d like to be ready to ride for a week in Iceland at the end of summer.

On Saturday morning I woke up expecting to be sore, but I was surprised by where I felt the soreness. My legs were fine, but my upper back and shoulders were feeling like they needed a rub down. I made sure to do my upper body exercises as the gym on Saturday in additon to cardio, as it was obvious I needed them. Tomorrow I go for my monthly therapeutic massage, so I’m sure that will help.

Tonight I’m enjoying the time alone with a cocktail, some fine cheese (Moonglow goat’s milk base from a small vendor at the Green City Market), and the second season of The Tudors. (I’m a sucker for costume dramas!) And every once in a while, I pause everything to enjoy the quiet sounds of the house around me. Ahhhhhh.

All’s well

When I opened up the coop this morning, all but Speedy came out for their warm mash. Speedy was too pre-occupied with finding a good angle to enter the nest box, which hopefully means I will get at least one egg today. All looked well with no signs of frostbite and they were eating quite greedily.

Last night I left the water on a trickle through the faucets of the bathroom upstairs and the kitchen sink. Both have pipes running along or very near the outside walls of the house, so it was a good pre-caution. Both taps were working well this morning, too.

My digital thermometer wasn’t even providing a reading this AM, but on the radio they said it was -17F with a -30F to -35F  wind chill. Amazing.