If they have individual personalities, I’m not sure we should be eating them.

I’m Alison Wonderland.  (It’s what my family often called me when I was growing up.)  I embrace it because I recognize it’s accuracy.  I do live in my own world.  It’s the only way I know how to be.  I connect with people who can accept me as I am.  Usually, it’s individuals who are steady enough within themselves to come a bit closer.  Close enough so I can hear their song.  My wonderland is a bit slower and calmer.  In my world, I look with my ears because they never lie.

I’ve been watching more Stevie Nicks: Live from Chicago, after wrestling with nightmares.  It helps yank me out of the post-nightmare dread quickly.  It’s a far gentler solution than flashing light in my eyes.  (That has its own miserable aftermath.  It works, though.)  I’m super unwilling to linger on bad dreams.  They can only fuck with me while I’m unconscious, dammit.  And only then because I haven’t yet figured out how to annihilate them once and for all.

It’s been a rough few days.  My nightmares have brought background fears front and center.  I’m using paranoia level security in my apartment again.  Nobody’s getting in safely without my permission.  M. knows the drill.  He finds something else to do when I’m fighting a skirmish with PTSD.  I like that he understands my need for him to be scarce exists, and my need for him to comfort me does not.  I did a horrible job of expressing my wishes, but he still got it.  Whew.

I tried to tell him I became my own mom after my mom died.  I meant it to be a gentle way of telling him I don’t need him to comfort me;  I can do it myself.  I strongly suspect he quickly decided he’d rather go play video games alone than wait for me to explain what I meant to my satisfaction.  (Good call, M.)  He works long hours and could sleep through a tornado.  I info dump while he falls asleep, (and long after, of course.)  It’s amazing how much he remembers.  It’s fun to quiz him sometimes.  I think surgical residents are also human tape recorders.

I realized today I’m tensing around men again.  It feels like I’m going backward after so much progress.  It’s unbelievably expensive to my energy level to be wound so tightly at work.  I’ve never worked in a field that wasn’t male dominated, (but I can’t think one that isn’t ATM.)   When the nightmares stop, and I catch my breath,  I’ll worry about it.  Right now, the fear I typically keep in check is kicking my ass.  I’m hyper aware of my vulnerability.  I hate The Fear so much.

I know I can beat it back, but right now I feel whiny about it, and there’s no fucking whining allowed.  I want The Fear to be tangible so I can ask a Republican to come over and shoot it.  (No, wait, they’d want to take it home and feed it.)  Fuck!  I hate being irrational!  I want to go for a run, but…  Whoa.  Almost went there.  I’m going for a run.

How big a look did you get?

I got all my chores done early this weekend. I canceled the Twilight marathon because I don’t have any shields when I watch movies, and it’s super emo.  I can’t go there right now, but perhaps soon.  I’m too hyper to sit still for long, anyway.  I watched Stevie Nicks Live in Chicago, for a bit instead.  It’s awesome.  (Nobody is screaming, fainting, or rushing the stage.)  It’s a pretty big crowd, but not rabid.  I like the band, too.  The lead guitarist, especially.  There are three women singing back-up, but they do it like Fleetwood Mac.  It’s not a lead singer with a few voices in the background rounding out the sound.  It’s multiple voices becoming one by blending together beautifully.  It gives me chills when people can pull it off this well.

In a way, watching it on DVD is better because it’s seamless and well recorded in Dolby 5.1.  She did a duet with Vanessa Carlton, who also played the piano.  It. Was. So. Good.  I held still for the whole song, barely breathing.  That good.  I’m starting to hope I get to see Stevie Nicks perform live someday.  I know she’s not done writing music.  She’s probably working on a song right now.  I know because she’s alive.  I’m familiar with The Muse;  We’ve hung out.  I’m pretty sure The Muse has Stevie Nicks on her home screen.

I’m afraid to go to sleep tonight.  If I stay up all night, I won’t have nightmares, but I’ll be overtired tomorrow.  Being overtired has a distinct drawback:  Once I do finally sleep, I sleep too hard to force myself awake from a nightmare, and I get locked in for the duration.  I hate playing chicken with myself.  My cat usually wakes me up, but sometimes she just goes somewhere else to sleep.  Welp.   I’m going to get it over with tonight while I can still easily awaken at will.  I’ve been having flashbacks all day, so I know I’m in for a doozy.  There’s nothing I can do about it now, so I’m ignoring it until I can’t.  I just wish Anxiety would get the fucking memo.

I only have one hard thing to do this whole week.  I’m already calling the victory because it’s happening, dammit.  I might even tack on another hard thing because my anxiety can only rise so high.  Worst case, I have a panic attack in public.  I’ve never died from a panic attack.  I’ve wanted to, but it can’t kill me.  The most it can do is ruin an hour of my life.  Shit.  I’ve spent more than an hour wedged (stuck) under a missile while on guard duty in the desert, (It was the only shade.  Desert.  Shutup. 😂)  I can take the hit.  It’s worth having two hard things out of the way.  I’m off to beat my drums.

Thanks for mutton.

I had a strange dream last night.  It was like being trapped in a novel.  Everything centered around a young child who told lies.  The kid continued to tell lies regardless of the actions taken by adults in an attempt to correct the behavior.  Despite the pattern of misery this created, the child kept lying into early adulthood, unconvinced their behavior had consequences.  While studying at university, the liar becomes more aware of their government.  Soon, it’s obvious the government has been lying to its citizens for years.  The pain of being deceived becomes a teacher, and an effective reminder to always tell the truth.

It’s possible I need to take a break from reading Dickens novels for a while.  (My first hint an interest has passed over to obsession is weird and intense dreams.)  At least it wasn’t another World of Warcraft dream.  Those are so surreal because they’re almost identical to playing the game, except for the pop-up messages from Blizzard during login.  For some reason, Blizzard is like an old philosopher-poet who might be a bit lonely in my weird dreams.  When awake, the pop-up messages offer in-game tips and suggest you go outside once in a while, (in kinder terms).    In my dreams, they question my loyalty to the Alliance and make me feel guilty for abandoning my farms when Warlords of Draenor came out.  And doing the same with my garrisons when Legion came out.

It totally stresses me out because for some reason, when I’m asleep, all of my adulting skills vanish.  It’s not like I have a vast amount, to begin with.  The only good part about WoW nightmares is when I awaken and recognize there are perks to being an adult, after all.  I’m addicted to the ability to reason with myself when my inner 5-year-old is threatening mutiny.  Of course, I’m loyal to the Alliance.  But it’s a game meant for enjoyment in my spare time, not a job.  Why I can’t recall that obvious fact when I’m caught in a nightmare, I don’t know.  It does feel a bit like I’m aging from toddler to adulthood every morning during my walk from my bed to the bathroom.  (I start out with shitty balance and legs that aren’t sure they can support me.)  Shit.  I’m getting old.


I think I see a nipple.

Brace yourselves.  I have unbelievable information to report.  I totally missed my Seinfeld fix today.  I usually catch it on TBS.  I haven’t started shaking or anything, but I am considering subscribing to HULU+, and streaming a few episodes later.  Yes.  This is happening.  This is America, dammit.  Nobody should have to go more than 12 hours between Seinfeld reruns.  We’re a civilized country, for gosh sakes.  Ask anyone who plans to vote in the upcoming POTUS election.  They’ll tell you, (to vote for their candidate).

I’m in a mood.  It involves my being too lazy to identify it as good or bad.  I passed a threshold in therapy today.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but it became quite clear later.  As with all challenging things in life, the ones you choose to face will come to a point where you have to decide if you will continue fighting onward, or if you’re going to cut your losses and try another tactic.  Once that brief window closes, you can either decide to fight onward, or you can decide to allow it to level you.  I’m not 100% convinced that the latter is an actual choice, or if it just happens sometimes.  Either way, hesitating is foolish.  Nothing good can come of it when you’re playing chicken with yourself.

So the way I see it, I have to fight onward.  I can’t pursue a tactic I know will fail.  So onward it is.  I’m scared.  I was going to say I hate that feeling, but who doesn’t?  I’m vulnerable because I chose to trust my therapist.  It’s not something I regret.  It feels to me a lot like posing nude for an art class.  Intellectually, you know they are looking at your naked body, and are now privy to a part of you that was previously private, but also that they aren’t seeing you as a person, but as a form to recreate.  So you pose, and you wrestle with your mind and self esteem, and it becomes a whole new level of privacy.  They can see your naked body, but they can’t know the many thoughts racing through your mind as they stare.  (It’s an experience where you can measure positive personal growth in a single afternoon.  I highly recommend it).

So I’ll be scared, and I’ll probably have some nightmares here and there.  She told me up front how things were likely to go, and so far she’s been spot on.  I’ve been scared before.  It’s very uncomfortable, but I can survive it.  Some people like that feeling, and are thrilled by it.  And of course I can survive nightmares.  So it’s not really a mountain.  More like a hill.  I’ll just lean in.

Are there keys to a plane?

I had my first session with my new therapist today.  I’m stunned.  She warned me that it would happen, so I’m not freaking out.  I paced for a bit earlier, trying to wrap my head around it.  I think I’m drained of my daily quota of abstract concept comprehension.  She also predicted I will sleep hard tonight from being worn out.  I’m already feeling it.  I came pretty close to crying a few times, but I bit my lip and soldiered through.  Crying is a good way to cope when you’re sad, but for some reason, I was cursed to spend my life crying exactly the same way I did when I was 10;  post-crying hiccups, and all.  That went over well in the Army.  /sarcasm

So I pushed them back.  I’ll let them out the next time I shower.  That’s my crying place.  It’s so efficient.  So I told her why I have nightmares.  I don’t know how it happened.  I didn’t come anywhere near having a meltdown.  I had a hard time remaining seated, but I feel comfortable with her.  Being still is something I normally reserve for when I’m sleeping, but I’ll try to make an exception for this next time.  I can’t believe I told her.  Holy Shiitake Mushrooms, Batman!  She’s going to teach me some coping skills, which is good, because running and distraction don’t feel like enough sometimes.

She told me she was proud of me, and honored that I shared with her.  Wow.

A coffee table book about coffee tables

It’s cold today.  It’s 37F but windy.  I guess my blood has thinned already for this to feel cold to me.  Running outside acclimatizes me to the weather quickly.  Now if it would just stop changing so drastically from day to day.  Looks like it’s warming up again next week.  I guess tonight it’s back to the treadmill.  Unless I can find my good baclava.  I keep all my outdoor accessories in a basket, but I’ve gone through it a few times and didn’t find it yet.  I doubt I misplaced it.  I think it’s more a case of going on 48 hours without sleep.  It’s starting to hurt in my bones.  That feeling means my body is going to go to sleep whether I like it or not.  I have a 2 hour window for my run, so it’ll be fine.  When I return, I’ll stretch, and take a bath with a lavender bath bomb.

I should sleep after that.  The only potential barrier I foresee is the fact that I just got a new book.  Well, 3 actually.  But at this point, I don’t think I’d retain anything I tried to read anyway.  I met with a new therapist today.  We talked about my reasons for seeking therapy.  More like she gently guided me through the process of recognizing things we can work on.  Normally, I would have had a script worked out in advance.  But sleep deprivation has left me like a zombie.  I did remember to ask her why she chose to be a therapist.  Her answer made it a cinch to pick her.  She gave a thorough answer, too.  I was impressed.  I know it probably doesn’t seem like the right question.  But the way I see it, a person’s motivation says a lot about them.  Some people are motivated by money, or fame, or championships.  Some people are motivated by accolades and recognition.  Many people claim they are motivated by helping others.  But you have to be careful with this one.  Not everyone who claims it means it.  It’s interesting that the seemingly altruistic motivator is also the one most often lied about.

There are also a lot of people who just aren’t motivated at all.  I wasn’t concerned about what motivated her to pursue her career so much as I was interested in knowing if she’s passionate about her chosen profession.  Body language is generally wasted on me, but I can often detect emotion by the words used, and the delivery.  If it sounds rehearsed, it might be rote rather than sincere.  Long pauses that are out of rhythm with the conversational cadence often mean half-truths, lies, or no comprende.  I could tell she’s motivated, passionate, and sincere.  For me, those are a prerequisite for anyone I allow in my life.  The rest is mostly frosting.

It just occurred to me that the things I think when I’m meeting someone for the first time are probably weird.  I know.  I should have seen that coming.  I pay attention to things like, how many times did they laugh?  Do they smile with their eyes?  Do they figure out what you’re trying to say before you manage, and say it over you more loudly than the other words?  In most cases, it means I’m taking too long to express myself.  Too long for the time allotted versus too long for their tolerance level matters.  Are they draining my energy?  That one is harder to work out in real time.  But usually if my thoughts get that far, I’m not really in the conversation anymore.  I’m just memorizing what’s said to go over later.  When I go on autopilot during a conversation with someone new, it’s usually because they’re too loud, or too much cologne, or physical contact without permission.  Those are pretty much the “on” switch for autopilot.

I stayed in the conversation with the new therapist the whole time we talked, (~30 minutes).  It means I’m comfortable talking to her, and not in sensory hell.  Yay.  Maybe some cheesecake…

Stunned by soup?

It’s still raining.  I’m going to go for a short run on the trails since it’s dark already.  And cold and wet.  But still well above freezing.  It would be silly to skip it now that I’m dressed and ready to go.  Okay.  10 minutes, then I’m going.  I didn’t sleep again, so I’m a little loopy.  I’m meeting with a therapist tomorrow to see if we mesh.  I’m not using the VA this time.  I negotiated an agreement with my work partners, and work is going to pay for me to attend 10 sessions.  Beyond that, it’s out of pocket, but it seems fair considering I’m going outside our insurance.  It would have been the first time we used the insurance, as far as I know.  Our expenses are so low it blows my sister’s mind.  Our product is a service, so I suppose this might be typical.

We are invested in each other professionally and financially, so whatever keeps the team tight rules.  My chronic insomnia due to nightmares is effecting my work performance.  I’ve been working quickly, and sufficiently, but not excellently.  This is not acceptable.  My job is my passion, so it’s not work to me.  For me, the work part is going to my office and interacting with my coworkers.  Since socializing is optional, there’s no pressure to bother with it.  We skype.  We work well together, and compliment each others skills.  So if talking to a therapist can help me get back in my groove, it’s a good thing.  I have a pretty good idea what I’ll eventually need to talk about, but tomorrow is just meeting.  I’ll know fairly quickly if I think she’s someone I can trust.

I’m about 65% certain we’ll mesh.  I base this on things she’s written on her website regarding her approach.  I’m going to take some Benadryl tonight.  It’ll help with allergies and sleep.  Okay, the trails are calling.  Off to my soggy run.

Denver bound

I’m off to Denver today. Yay!! I’m excited to go this time.  My anxiety is a little high, but not more than I can handle.  I didn’t sleep well again.  More Trump nightmares.  Sigh.  It’s just so hard to reconcile the fact that it’s 2016, and so many are still ignorant and full of hatred.  I’m trying not to think about the fact that the 2 leading candidates are racists.  I’m not feeling terribly proud to be an American.  For the next few days, I’m going to have fun, and try to forget about the ugliness.  At least I’ll get some sleep.  Hopefully nightmare free.

The sea was angry that day, my friends

Today was slow.  I had bad nightmares last night, and still remembered them when I awoke.  I hate when that happens.  The dreams involved family members who have passed away.  Only they were still alive in my nightmares and were rejecting me as a sibling/daughter.  I analyzed it, and have decided it means I feel betrayed by my family members who have died.  It’s proof that I’m still experiencing grief in my subconscious.  The only death that I experienced externally was that of my brother Steve.  When my Mom, sister, and Dad died, I didn’t react in a way I can identify.  Certainly not in the way I responded to losing Steve.  I fell apart completely when he died.  My entire life came to an abrupt halt, and I cried or was on the verge of tears for a whole year.

I remember wanting to hunt down the surgeon at the Mayo Clinic and kick his ass for letting my brother die.  When my Mom died, I felt numb for a long time.  When Heather died, I felt angry.  When my Dad died, I felt alone.  But I didn’t express those feelings.  They all died over a period of five years.  I still have other siblings, but my relationship with most of them is good but distant.  Most of them were grown up by the time I came along.  I was very close to Steve and Heather when growing up, and after becoming adults.  When I left for basic training, Heather was the only one still living at home.  She moved out on the day she graduated.  She was fed up with racism and didn’t want to spend another day putting up with it.  Her experience was different than mine in that regard, even though we were only a year apart.

Most of the racism we experienced was subtle.  This meant it went right over my head for the most part.  When we were the only ones not invited to a birthday party, or when we exchanged gifts at school, and Heather got a wrapped, empty box, it didn’t occur to me that it was because we were black.  In high school, a few black families moved to town, and Heather dumped all her white friends and hung out with the new black kids exclusively.  I remember feeling like she was mean and racist to do such a thing, but she vehemently disagreed.  She entered her first abusive relationship while in high school.  Her boyfriend was the first and last person I ever fought with the intention of killing.  He punched her, and she had hearing loss and TMJ as a result.  I saw red when she told me.  It was the angriest I had ever been in my life.  I took a baseball bat and went to his house.  I walked right in without knocking and proceeded to beat him with it.  I told him if he ever hit my sister again, I would kill him, and meant it.  It scared me how angry and violent I became.

When I was in the Army, stationed in Germany, Heather called me and told me her boyfriend beat her with his belt.  It took every ounce of discipline I possessed to refrain from getting on a plane, going there, and killing him for it.  It made me feel like I was going insane because I couldn’t protect my little sister.  As I was pacing and raging, it hit me.  Heather knew I couldn’t come there and protect her when she told me.  She told me because she needed to know I loved her enough to want to murder the fucker who beat her.  When I realized this, I was able to calm down.  I begged her not to let that fucker into her home ever again.  When she realized I was weeping, I think it registered with her that she was hurting me too by allowing psychopaths in her life who did nothing but rob and beat her.  It all felt very twisted, and beyond my ability to fully grasp at the time.  In hindsight, I don’t really understand it any better.  But I do remember the murderous rage I felt when someone hurt her.  I don’t ever want to feel that way again.

I began calling her more regularly and checking in on her.  When she would tell me about some cute guy, I would ask her if he had a job.  When she said no, I’d advise her not to bother with them.  It was a turning point in our relationship.  I was finally the big sister, and she valued my advice.  When she had a job that she didn’t like, she asked me if she should quit.  I asked her if they spelled her name wrong on her paycheck.  She said no, then we both laughed.  I told her that a job is a means of earning money, and nothing more.  Just do what you need to do to the best of your ability, and don’t expect it to be fulfilling.  I told her if she wanted a career instead of a job, she’d have to get more schooling.  So she started going to university part-time, and eventually got a degree and a position she loved.  She kept a journal that was given to me after she died.  In it, she talked about how she looked up to me.  I treasure it now.  Whenever I feel like I’m failing at life, I read it.

I miss the times when she’d visit, and we’d laugh until our faces hurt.  I miss being able to pick up the phone, dial her number, and say something like, “remember the dent?” Then hang up, knowing she would be on the floor laughing from just those 3 words.  I miss her picking out my clothes and making me look a lot cooler than I actually am.  I even miss her teasing me by telling me that I’m the whitest black person she knows.  I would give her a lecture on how culture and skin color don’t correlate, and why her statement was ridiculous, and she’d listen for a while and then burst out laughing.  I’d eventually laugh with her, and realize I was just as silly by taking it seriously.  I miss my Heather.