Tag Archives: therapy

Purging and Cleaning and Finding Stuff

Matt Paxton Hoarders

Matt Paxton from Hoarders

I’ve been at it again. Cleaning out my house. My therapy. And also, kind of a strategic get out of jail plan. In the next year to 18 months I plan to move, and sell or rent out my home — the former hoarder’s house to which I fled upon the demise of my marital bliss — just one half step ahead of the hot flaming lava chasing me from my volcano of debt. Dramatic, I know.

So might as well start the pre-listing clean out now, right? Plus the kids are not here and I need to alter my surroundings. Again. And, it’s freee entertainment, which is a necessity right now, the free part.

I needed to seriously clean. Things are dirty. Even though I always felt like I was cleaning all the time, I wasn’t really cleaning. I was straightening up and clearing and cleaning around things — and those people I made — and dogs — but I never had all the stuff out of the way long enough to get to the really deep cleaning.

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction

We had downsized already when we moved here and got rid of around 2/3 of our possessions. Many other belongings were removed along the way as I realized I still didn’t have room for them. My parents got my formal sofa and chairs (and I got rid of their outdated stuff) some other casual furniture purchased for the house just didn’t fit. I get rid of things all the time. But as the kids grew in our modestly sized home, we have been stepping over each other. Literally. We’re all relatively and objectively tall and have large feet and long legs. We take up a lot of room. And the sprints to be the first one to get the only bathroom in the house were getting serious, and a bit dangerous. But now the kids are gone for a while — a college thing — to be discussed in another post — it’s time for me to, as a good friend I recently reconnected with said, “reset.”

“Reset.” I like that.

As part of my clean out, clean up, and just clean, I went through an ottoman that doubles for “storage” of our miscellaneous electronics. I’d throw any cord I couldn’t identify, or those I could identify but did not need at that moment, old phones, parts of video games, remote controls, etc. in there. Some of these electronics were even in baggies to keep them from tangling around each other. I was proud of that and that at least most of the stuff in there was part of the same category. But I hadn’t taken out everything in years.

Until now.

And at the bottom of the cords, games, adapters, phones, remote controls, and extension cords, there was a cassette tape. (For those of you who are not familiar, cassettes were used to store audio information before CDs, and CDS were and are used when music cannot be accessed from phones, or there is an absence of wifi or available data.)

raiders gifs

This particular cassette was an audio recording of my wedding.

Huh.

The church where I married recorded everything that happened there. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I assume this was to preserve sermons and music. In my case it preserved our voices stating our now defunct wedding vows, along with some really good music (I had a brass quartet at my wedding. It was beautiful . . . but I digress) and it recorded the reading of probably the saddest poem ever read at a wedding, “The People Who Never Say Goodbye.” This was a cry for help. As I’ve said before, ladies, your job as bridesmaids is not limited to showers, bachelorette parties, and shopping for dresses. Your job is to read the room, the bride, and call the whole thing off if necessary. Almost a Runaway Bride

My first thought was just to throw the cassette away, like my husband did with our vows. No fuss, no muss, no pomp, no circumstance. A Twitter friend suggested that I burn the tape. I’m no stranger to the burn. This ain’t my first rodeo. My Wedding Album. In response I joked that if I was a guy I’d whip “it” out and pee on it. The same Twitter friend reminded me — “You could squat.” Smiling about that, I put it on the table while I finished going through the electronics. Maybe, I thought, I’ll just listen to the music.

My next find wasn’t really a find.

crazy-ex-medication

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend finds a pill on the bathroom floor in front of the toilet.

I knew they were there. While cleaning out the medicine cabinet, I saw my old friends Mr. Xanax and Ms. Ambien – relics of my clinical major depression, anxiety, and insomnia following that pesky time when my husband of many years and father of our many children broke up with me. The pills were expired of course, but I kept them. Weird, because I never really liked them much and used them very sparingly. If I took a sleeping pill I couldn’t properly wake up in the morning. If I took a Xanax I was just a little bit off, out of it. But I tell ya, this was very helpful in certain situations. Very helpful indeed. It was my pharmaceutical prophylactic in difficult, awkward, or painful situations. Sharing Celebrations .

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend French Depression

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Still, having the pills in the house gave me comfort. I think I kept these old meds, you know, just in case . . .

After the scrub down and disinfecting of the cabinet (you’d be amazed at the mess that old razors for four girls leave), I found that the added space in my cabinet was far more calming than presence the old pills.

So — I chucked them. I brought them downstairs, opened the bottles, destroyed the labels and trashed the pills so no one could find them and sell them (it would be wrong for someone else to profit from my misery). And then? I casually dropped the wedding cassette — the audio proof of the “till death do us part” fallacy — in the same trash bin. I don’t want any of those particular reminders of the good, the bad, the ugly or the pharmaceutically numbed in my house.

And that was that.

There has been a slight shift in the universe. Did you feel it?

The Good Place - Season 1

The Good Place

Just Me With . . . space, and some peace.

Oh, and I found the remote control to the actual TV! Now I don’t have to get up to change the input from cable to Netflix. Not too shabby.

Plus, I already own a CD of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and am blessed to have access to a classical music station, wifi, and a smartphone. There is no reason to listen to a cassette recording of my wedding music. Nope. No reason at all.

Plus, one of the brass players was this asshole, I Don’t Go to Weddings.

I Went For Coffee and Took A Turn Into “The Twilight Zone”

Narrator:   There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone. 

— The Twilight Zone, 1959, Season One

My narrator:  Meet Roxanne, a divorced mother of five who sometimes forgets to eat,  or chooses to save  a simple breakfast bar for her children rather than “waste” it on herself.   It’s an ordinary day for  Roxanne, who had left home for her only true indulgence —  getting her morning coffee.  She didn’t know that when she returned into her neighborhood, she would cross into . . .    The Twilight Zone.

Over the weekend we had some icy snow in my part of the world.   I was out running errands (in other words:  getting coffee).   On the way home I was wondering whether I could get my children to shovel  the sidewalks for me, doubted that they would before going to visit their father and  worried about whether doing it myself would throw my back out again.   My Aching Back    A neighbor offered to pay my daughter to do hers.   I wished that daughter or any of the children would do ours also, without back talk, threats or rewards  — and before they had to go.   It probably wouldn’t happen.   I got my coffee, and while there I  picked up my daughter’s  favorite breakfast sandwich as a treat,  plus I wanted her to get something warm in her belly before going out  to shovel the neighbor’s walkway.    As is often the case, I didn’t get a sandwich for myself,  saving a couple of bucks, not wanting to spend the money on — me.  As I turned  into my neighborhood, I had my daily thoughts of  “I really hate this neighborhood, I don’t like  living here.”   Followed by, “I wonder if I can figure out a way to move again but keep the kids in the same schools.”  And rounding out the trilogy, “Don’t be ridiculous, there’s no reason to move except that you don’t like it here and that’s just not a good enough reason.”

Given all these thoughts rushing through my head it was rather amazing that I happened to spot a woman on the side of the road.    She had plastic grocery store bags spread in front of her in the snow, was shaking and clenching her hands and seemed to be trying to figure out a way to  pick them up again.   Clearly she was struggling to carry her groceries home in the snow.

I stopped, backed up, asked if she wanted a ride.   She only gave pause for a moment and eyed me to make sure I didn’t look like a crazy.  (Sometimes I can appear quite normal . . . but I digress).  It was bitter cold outside.   She accepted the ride, put her bags in the back seat and sat up front next to me, thanking me.   She explained that she rushed out so quickly to get some things from the store that she had forgotten her gloves.   It wasn’t that the bags were heavy, she said, it was that her hands were frozen and she couldn’t hold them anymore.  “My hands hurt so bad,” she said.

It  didn’t really matter to me why she was in her predicament, I just wanted to get her home.  It was too damn cold and icy to walk, especially with groceries, no cart and no gloves.  She went on to  explain that her brother couldn’t shovel the car out because of his eye.   His eye Huh.  I pondered this.  Why would  his eye keep him from shoveling . . .   maybe he’d had surgery?  I drifted off  to  my own little world, thoughts racing for first place in my head.

Then my passenger said,  “I’m Roxanne.”

Skid marks on the brain.  Thoughts stopped on a dime.

Get OUT!!!”   I responded, perhaps a little too energetically, reminiscent of  Elaine from Seinfeld.

What?” she responded, looking concerned.  It was an unfortunate choice of words for my exclamation —  I mean, saying “Get Out!” to a passenger in my car!  Smooth, Roxanne.

MY name is Roxanne,” I quickly explained.

Really?’

Yes.  Really.  Wow, that’s wild.”   It’s  a fairly uncommon name.  It was surreal.

Roxanne said that I could drop her at a nearby intersection but I told her, no, I would take her all the way home. During the ride  I  discovered that  we had gone to the same high school, and though I had assumed she was older than me, it turned out but she was too young for me even to have known her from school.  She appeared worn beyond her years. I didn’t recall ever having seen her in the neighborhood or around town.  It was odd.

So what of my surprise passenger, Roxanne?    A woman who shared my name, who was walking alone in the snow-covered street,  who failed to  think of her own needs while rushing to meet the needs of others.   The consequences of her neglect of self was  finding herself standing  in the snow with frozen fingers, groceries at her feet  and  blocks from home.  For whatever reason– her family was not there to help her  and she had to accept a ride from a stranger.

It gave me pause.

I’m that Roxanne, too, coming home with a sandwich for a child so that she could shovel  another family’s walk but bringing no food for myself.

I almost said to the other Roxanne, “How could you leave home without gloves?  You’ve got to take care of yourself.  You’re no good to anybody if you get sick or frostbite.”   But what stopped me, other than that being creepy coming from a stranger, is that other people have been saying that to me lately.  My therapeutic goals are largely based upon meeting my basic self-care needs without guilt.

Roxanne,  have you been eating and sleeping?   You can’t take care of your family if you don’t take care yourself.”  I’ve heard often.  Too often.

Did the universe send me that other Roxanne to  remind me that  I need to help myself?  I mean, I know that when I get sick, the whole system fails.  I know this, yet  I still need reminders that protecting myself from the elements, eating, sleeping and yes even doing something just for my sheer enjoyment of it  is as  important as, well — anything.    Somehow, that reminder got in my car that day, and her name was Roxanne.

I  dropped Roxanne off feeling good about having helped her,  since it was so very cold outside, but I knew that both of us need to take care of ourselves.   I need to take care of me.

Maybe  picking up a reflection of  myself —  what I could become, what I have been  . . .  was meant to be that day.

My Narrator:   Roxanne, a functioning, yet melancholy divorced mother who often puts her basic needs well behind those in her care, stops in the snow to assist an eerily familiar woman in distress, a woman who perhaps shares more than just her name  in . . . The Twilight Zone.

Just Me With . . .  an over-active imagination?

P.S.   I told my therapist about it.  She queried whether the woman was real.

I’m not even going there.

See the Sequel:  The Twilight Zone —  Again?  Seriously?

The Rage Inside Me

I am angry.  That is how my depression manifests itself these days.  I’m off the floor.  I don’t cry.  But  I have no patience for anyone and I’m pushing people away.  That’s my M.O.    I’m blinded by rage and can’t see anything but thankless obligation.  Suppressing myself for the common good.  That is what I do, that is what mothers must do.    Therein lies my rage.  It’s not pretty.  It’s not good.  Since I can’t let it out, it gets turned inward.  And it waits.  Customer service people and drivers beware.

No, I don’t bash my Ex in front of my kids, yes, I show support for his choices.  Because I have no choice.    blah blah blah     And, I count my blessings for having healthy kids, living parents, a roof over my head, and an Ex who pays court-ordered child support.   Yes, I know the drill.  Those will tell me to put on my big girl panties, pray, etc.   Yes, I know the drill.  I’m not an idiot.   I’m not a Stepford Ex-Wife either —   though I play one in real life during every waking hour.  I don’t drink.  I never utter a profanity in front of my kids.  I’m a good girl.

But just under the surface, is my rage, this  is where my poor choices, failed career, and misspent youth doing the right things  fester, while I watch, drive, stand in the rain,  in support of everyone else or dry the tears and say the “right” things when someone comes to me crying because of something someone else did, or accept being ignored when it is not “my day.”   I listen to crap to keep the peace and I bite my tongue while people pity me for not meeting my or their expectations.   I say thank you when my mothering gets praised when I’ve never felt so alone.  Yet I know that children are fickle creatures and will gravitate toward those who fulfill their needs and cling to those who fail them.   I’m honored to have certain people in my life, yet curse myself for having needed them so badly.  And I know that there are people suffering horribly from unspeakable disease, trauma and disaster, so how dare I be angry about anything?   Yes,  yes, I know,  I know the drill.  So again, thou shall not have feelings . . .

So I’m angry.  And the perfect empowered, pump wearing, summer house, happily c0-parenting with one child, dinner party, career-minded, alumni event and conference attending, people can shake their heads and waggle their tongues, all because I have feelings and dare to get pissed.   And, that’s why I’m pissed.  I have feelings.   I do the “right” things for my family —  my broken home, but it is not and never has been enough for me and . . .  I’m . . .  pissed.   I’m doing for my children, and I hope they do well and  I hope to assist them to gain the tools necessary to do whatever they want to do — live their life, achieve what they want . . . happiness.  But this  —-   this,  is my life now and it  . . . makes . . .  me  . . . mad.    And I do not like it.

I realize I may get negative nastiness from this.  Get in line,  and take a number — Bash Me in Aisle Two, Use Me in Aisle One.   These are, apparently, what I am here for,  my true calling.

And this, my friend, is the voice of depression.

Just Me With . .  . rage

And the Guys Say: Just Say Yes! — To Dating

NBC’s new show, “Go On”

I’ve gone to group therapy before to deal with my depression.  You know, in  a room of complete strangers baring my soul and my business.  I’m not sure why it works, but it can be effective.   I’ve never had any problem with drugs or alcohol but after having been to group I now understand why recovering addicts continue to go to meetings well after they are off the bottle,  pipe or pill.  Non-addiction related group therapy works kind of the same,  Hello I’m [fill in the blank] and I’m here for [ depression, OCD, anxiety, etc].

In group, sometimes strangers can be so supportive in a way that friends and family cannot.  These similarly flawed people served as a mirror to my own self and offered help to find a solution to my blues.   The last time I went to group, there was a theme for how to deal with my major episodic clinical depression, a chronic condition triggered by the end of my marriage.

The guys said:

“Just say yes.”

What?

It was a common theme.   The guys said I need to go out — with men.  In other words, I need to date.    Quite antithetical to my historically feminist sensibilities.

I don’t need a man to help me get over my problems,”   replied the feminist voice inside me.

The process of separating myself from my ex-husband  had been difficult enough and I certainly wasn’t looking for a replacement.

I’m fine alone, thank you,”  said my strong, invincible, feminist self.

But the group therapy guys, insisted:  “You need to go out.”

        Dude, is it that obvious?

It’s not like I haven’t had male companionship since my marriage fell apart, but  aside from the  Transitional Man, the other men were guys I’d already known from throughout the years.   You know, kind of comfortable guys.  What I hadn’t done is open myself up for  new men, random men, being approached by men  and actually being approachable —  just dating.

During the time I was going to group, I was perfectly content  with not seeing anyone.   Not because I was afraid of being hurt again.  I believed, and still do, that no one could hurt me as much as my Ex had, just given the sheer number of years I’d put in with him.  (Kind of like having cramps after having experienced labor, what once would have crippled me  in pain turns into a mere annoyance).  And, no, I don’t hate men, either.   I just didn’t really see the need, other than enjoying the occasional physical release they can provide.   My fear, if I cop to one, is really that I might actually find a man.  I was and am sure that another marriage is not the goal, nor do I have room in my little house  —  let alone  my life —  for another person.   Plus, with so many kids, well,  there are the practical considerations of  finding the time, etc . . .  I could go on and on BUT . . .

Apparently none of that mattered — to the guys.

The guys suggested, strongly suggested,  that I go out  on dates and “Let somebody treat you  right,”  they said.  They weren’t saying I should go on the hunt for husband number two or even a boyfriend, or  that I needed to get laid,  just that I  casually date.  “You need to let somebody spoil you,” they said.    “Guys would eat you up.” (double entendre accidental — I think) .      Really?

Jack Nicholson’s “McMurphy” in “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”

They were so sweet that way.   Some of these guys were in for anger issues,  had been victims of and/or committed abuse —  these were tough dudes.  The fact that these guys were suggesting flowers and dinner was  a real eye opener.  In fact, they were telling me to open up.

It was food for thought.  “No, I don’t need to find a man,” I told my feminist self,  but  could I benefit from seeing my value reflected in a man’s eyes over a meal or coffee?   Perhaps.    And,  wouldn’t it be nice knowing I  have the option of walking away if I’m not having fun?   Absolutely.    No lawyers, no visitations, not even any mutual friends —  just  “Buh Bye”?

Yes.  Can I get an Amen? 

So should I say yes?  Should I let a man “woo” me even though I have no desire to be “won.”

Seems so simple.  But it’s the one thing I haven’t truly embraced in my not-so-new state of singlehood.

Notably, the women in group were supportive,  too.   They talked about being thankful for the kids, and that what I’m doing for them now will pay off later.

But the guys?  They weren’t talking about mothering.

Out of the mouths of babes  . . . oops, I mean . . . the mouths of guys . . .

Just Me With . . . thoughts of just saying yes.