I’m not my type

I saw Andrea Gibson perform at the University of Maryland while I was a graduate student there. Her poems were fire and pain and glory. There is a reason that she was the poetry slam champion so many times in a row (at least 3).

In this poem she brings several thoughts to light in a short time. Soul mates, self awareness, romantic ideation. While humorous, I think she makes a great point. Would we chose ourselves?

I read an article about self compassion  by Michelle McQuaid. It states that you need to talk to yourself like a friend would do. It also mentions that you need a compassion mantra, so when the voices in your head are mean you can just state your mantra. I wonder what mine should be. “F- you stupid critical voice!” hmm, not quite my style. “You are doing better than you think.” Maybe. “You have been through hell and you haven’t quit yet.” That sounds better.

Onward Mel. You ran last night and evaded the rain. You walked a lot this morning and now you are getting more sleep. Keep going.

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About me, revisited.

Yesterday I read a post by the Huffington Post called “To Anyone Who Thinks They are Falling Behind in Life” by Jamie Varon. I needed to hear it. It isn’t that anything specific happened last week to make me feel like a failure, it is more of a constant feeling of not doing “enough.” I search for more and then shame myself when I don’t live up to my own unrealistic expectations. So I feel that I need to lay all of my ish out there, not seeking for pity or consolation, but so that I can get it out of myself and look at it. Look at it real hard.

No holds barred, here is my real “about me.”

Things that I am dealing with, in no particular order- both positive and negative-

Dog owner, sibling of a person with down syndrome, 4 degrees from UK, job that combines my academic and personal passions, depression and anxiety, PCOS, hypothyroidism, grief from my brother’s death and my grandfather’s death, father with unique severe cancer, middle of paying down debt from graduate school, condo owner, boyfriend, queer identity and how to maintain it, overeating, sense of humor, artist.

Phew. That is a lot.

If I am really honest with myself, really honest, I haven’t done too badly… I also think I take myself too seriously. If my brother could spend his last words to me making a joke while he was in INTENSIVE CARE, then I can learn to let go a little more.

Wait… let me put that in context. I do have a sense of humor, but I am very serious with my own goals. I need to give myself more grace. Here is the picture that I took at our last staff meeting with words that other people used to describe me- notice “best sense of humor” is pretty prominent.

senior staff

Where does this leave me? I do have a lot of pain. Pain from my past, pain from what is happening in the present, self-imposed pain and external pain. I want to get it out of me and let it go.

I often leave myself out or last. I think a part of this comes from growing up with Paul. I am not blaming him or making an excuse. The relationship of a sibling with a disability has shaped my entire view of the world. Paul was a beautiful enigma but he needed a lot of care. I loved him deeply and feel almost like he was my son. Growing up I was exceeding expectations, so I let my needs go to make sure that he was alright. He brought a lot of joy to my life, but also took a lot of energy. Fighting for myself was a secondary thought because in context what did I really have to fight for? I could eat, speak clearly, run, go to school, get married, drive, live on my own, etc. Paul could do those things sometimes, but needed a lot of help to get there. Then when he was struggling with Hepatitis C for the last 7 years of his life, it was an even bigger need.

I matter. I need to frame my thoughts to support my needs. I also need to be gentle with myself. Having goals is not bad. Having unrealistic goals and then shaming myself for not reaching them is.

Where do I go from here?

 

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“I believe in you– I need you to believe in you.”


I went to part of a leadership conference today. The quote in the title was said by the last speaker, David Rorke. It struck a cord because I am impossibly hard on myself. 

It is so simple and yet the action becomes complicated. I have done what I can this week. That is enough.

Now I’m enjoying the evening at the dog park with my boo- Lucy. 

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My milkshake brings… Wait


So this happened today. I felt like I needed it after writing my final paper all night for my graduate class and killing it at haggling today. 

I might reward myself with food too much. More to follow on that soon.

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“Imma keep running ’cause a winner don’t quit on themselves…”

Music- Freedom by Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar (Thanks for the title)

While driving and thinking yesterday, a dangerous habit I confess, I realized that while I often make excuses for taking care of myself (cleaning is too much, working out takes too much time, eating healthy only happens sometimes, etc.), I still persevere with taking care of my dog and the people around me even then I don’t want to do so.

Why is that?

Maybe because I was born in the context of a sibling with special needs? Maybe my self-concept is tied into what other people think of me? Maybe it has always been easier to make excuses than to do the work for myself? If I don’t make the decisions and try then I can’t fail. Right?

Today is a new day. Fight for myself. I am capable of dealing with myself, with love. I can be judgmental when it comes to the things that I need to do. I just need to do it all, even if it looks messy. Messy emotions, eating, working out and creating. I have a lot going on but I can place myself first.

Be gentle with myself.

I ran for over a mile this morning at 5 miles an hour and on an incline. Yes.

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Ordinary Days

Paul,

I was reading an article about life the other day, and one of the things that struck me is that one person who was dying wanted a “normal day.” I agree. There were so many types of days while Paul was struggling with his disease. Days on a diet, days at the doctor, days where he went to work and days where he was asleep as quick as possible. There were other days where we went to Disney World, and visited my Grandparents in Traverse City, and went on drives in the car. When I think back to hanging with my brother, I don’t want more vacation days or graduation days or party days. I want just a normal day. There can be so many expectations with the special days, when it is just a run of the mill day you just are happy to be yourself.

My favorite day was when we had a food fight with my brother. For years my brother had talked about food fights. He had seen several food fights on television and he wanted to do it in real life. We decided to do it. We got the food and invited several people to come over and participate. We combined the food fight with a water fight. Several people showed up and they were really excited. We go outside, his friend grabbed the mash potato container and right before she threw it at him, he said, “I don’t want to play,” and went inside.

Paul was definitely his own person. I loved that. There is something about the reality of a dream that is disheartening.

Mels

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Cars and Freedom

Paul,

Last week my car had a significant malfunction. I had to replace the transmission. Everything worked out, and while it was stressful, it wasn’t a serious life issue. Most of the week I had to beg for rides, and it made me think about how grateful I have been for multiple things. The ability to learn to drive and the availability of mostly reliable cars since I have been 18. I connect cars and driving to freedom. I think about losing the ability to drive and how I would start to feel trapped by my surroundings. I think about the times before I drove and I remember standing on the porch of my house and wanting to go somewhere….just go..but I wasn’t able to do so. I am comfortable in my mobility and my independence. Sometimes I felt guilty for this ability when I thought about you.

The first time that I was behind the wheel you were in the backseat of our brown Ford Windstar. My mother had decided that I needed to drive at least once before driver’s school and she took me to a local high school to practice. She parked the car and we switched places. The first movement of the van scared me. I took my foot off of the brake and the car was moving without me telling it to do so. I put my foot on the brake again to get my bearings. Now, I was not familiar with the power function of the car and we all thrashed about in the brown bomber as the car stopped–inches from the place it started out. I took a breath. From the backseat I hear Paul yell out, “WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE!”

That Paul and his impeccable timing.

Besides the idea that I was a failure at driving and I was never going to get the hang of this massive machine moving down the road, Paul had brought up in a joke that I could kill the family. I know that it was a joke and I was probably not going to harm them. The possibility was there. I was an impressionable and emotional teenager. What am I saying? I’m still a bit emotional.

Then he said to Mom, “Tomorrow I am going to learn to drive.”

My heart broke. Paul was older than me and was never going to learn to drive. We knew this. He did not.

Then the guilt set in. I was going through the throes of this freedom. He was not going to do so. How is that fair? He was always going to need rides. He was always going to be dependent on other people. His world of freedom would have to be created in his immediate surroundings. I would not. I still don’t know how to reconcile that. I still feel guilty. It was somewhat assuaged with our weekend drives and our singing in the car together. Overall, I still feel bad.

We will keep talking Paul. I will forgive myself for my able-bodied-ness. You loved me anyway.

Mels

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