Archives for category: Hormone Hell

I was once a compulsive diarist. I wrote page after page of prose, poetry, commentary, peculiar emotional screeds, and quite a bit of inappropriate this-n-that. I began writing sometime in the 4th grade.

My first journal was in a blank book like this, that I nicked from my Dad’s workbench in the basement.

I wrote compulsively. I wrote most days – for years. When I left for the Army, I left my journals (those that I had, which were of my high school years) in a box, hoping they would be held for me, or sent along once I was at my duty station. Those are now lost volumes. The handful of volumes I wrote during the years between 4th grade (I’d have been… 9) and the start of high school (when I was 14) are also “lost volumes”. I’d dearly like to have those once again; they would span the “before and after” period of significant head trauma. (Who was I before that injury??)

My violent first marriage doesn’t have much writing in it, and what writing I did do, lived in volumes “safely” stored in safety deposit boxes I didn’t keep (in some cases forgot about, in others did not or could not maintain) – or hidden (and subsequently lost somewhere in my shitty memory). Those are also lost. (Well, except for one very peculiar volume that I’ve strangely held onto – that’s a story for another time.)

What remains are the volumes I wrote from the very afternoon I left my violent first marriage (finally), in 1995, until I realized my writing was undermining my emotional wellness (years later, after I returned to therapy to save my life), in 2013 (ish?). There are 916 weeks in the timeframe I know I was writing (and I have these volumes). 75 volumes, I counted. More than 15,000 pages of intimate uncensored (sometimes deceitful, sometimes incoherent) personal writing detailing my subjective experience of the events of my life in those years (and what I observed of the lives of many close to me, too). My 30s. My 40s. A lifetime spanning 3 very different career fields , many different jobs, 5 different addresses, 8 cats, 3 significant relationships, quite a few lovers, and numerous tales told – and I’m no longer at all certain this clutter of words needs to live on in durable media. I’m fairly certain it does not. I’m attached to the idea of the volumes, the legacy of so many words, but… I don’t read them. I don’t want to. I don’t hold on to them with purpose. They just sit in a bin, gathering dust and being “clutter”. I have occasionally used them to look up some specific event to clarify a recollection. That’s been a rare thing.

I had an idea about how best to deal with all these journals, that doesn’t amount to “put them in a bin in the attic crawlspace”, because honestly, why am I storing their physical forms now? SO. I’ve decided to sort them out, photograph the assorted volumes, and maybe take some shots of especially good or interesting writing, or the details of some important moment that lingers in my memory (or doesn’t). I’d like to preserve the poetry that may have been written somewhere in these volumes. I’d like to save original sketches that may be lurking there. There’s no reason to keep the totality of this body of work though, and there are quite a few reasons to let it go. Once I’ve gotten a few pictures – so that I have the lasting memory that these did exist, and what they looked like, and their very vastness of thought – I’ll destroy them. Shred the pages. Dispose of the covers (or give them away to be repurposed, perhaps).

Today, on this last day of 2022, I’m getting started on it…

Something like 20 years of living… in so many words.

It’s been a peculiar day, flipping through these volumes, year by year. Spotting some… moment… and reflecting on it, briefly, then moving on in time. Strange patterns emerge. Details that did not seem significant in my lived recollection become oddly prominent from this new perspective. A lot of it – most of it – is ferociously hormone and lust fueled reverie (and recollected misadventure)(or wishful thinking) that is neither especially novel (human primates being what we are), neither is it good writing (I’m no Anaïs Nin or Henry Miller). I found that most of that simply amused me ever-so-slightly. It has been easy to let that go. Harder were the forgotten traumas, the despair, the hedonism… and the friendships that have been lost to time, geography, and poor memory. Embarrassingly, some of those friends were lovers. “Ghosts” now, I guess – memories, half-recalled for an instant before being lost again. Those poignant “oh, remember… I wonder how they’re doing these days…” moments. I cried kind of a lot in the morning, before it sort of sunk in; this is all 100% in the past. Part of how I got where I am, and little more.

…It’s been nice to find so many “lost” sketches and beautiful poetry…

Anyway. It’s the last day of 2022. New Year’s Eve. It’s a good time to put down baggage. A good mark on the calendar for letting things go. It’s so choice for making changes that we have a funny culture that embraces “new year’s resolutions”, then also the inevitable self-mockery because it’s equally commonplace to fail to follow through. That doesn’t have to be your way, though. What is your way? My way, as I sit here thinking of the woman I most want to be, the woman I want to see looking back at me in the mirror each morning, is to embrace change, practice the practices that will get me where I want to be, understanding that we become what we practice. My way? My way is to cultivate calm and contentment, to develop wise perspective (and humility), to be kind, and to follow my path without aggression. My way is to assume positive intent, and let small shit stay small. I mean… my results vary. This is the path I seek to follow. Doing my best. Still quite human.

…I mean… there’s no plan in mind to be anything but human, I’d just like to get quite good at doing that well. lol My idea of “living my best life” isn’t about vast wealth or accolades or fancy titles. I would like to be a good person. Kind. Not a raging bitch. Wise (if I can get there), and humble (because I won’t have gotten very far alone). Chill. Merry. Fun to be around. I won’t say I want to “be happy” – it’s a trap. I’d like, instead, to feel joy more often than sorrow, and a genial contentment just generally. I’d like to live a strong sense of sufficiency. I think all of this is within reach… I think I can practice a lot of it.

So here it is the eve of a new year. Time to turn the page and begin again.

Damn. Still struggling with my bullshit today. There’s no obvious driver. For some folks, the weather would be enough; it is gray and chilly and the rain falls pretty steadily. A wet autumn day, with a twilight quality in early afternoon. I’m fortunate that I’m generally not affected by S.A.D. Doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally feel blue on a gray day, but it’s usually not the season… it’s something else. Right now? It’s a lot of small things piling up and becoming “a thing” – my anxiety, my struggle with it, and my stress about the state of the world. It looms large in my awareness, and lurks in my very dreams, most of which, right now, are nightmares.

I’m just feeling a bit low is all. It happens. It’ll pass. Feels even a bit “hormonal”, although I cling to the thinking that menopause should have put an end to that mess. Maybe it doesn’t entirely? Considering the state of medical science regarding women’s bodies and health, I can’t be surprised that we don’t know more even in 2022.

…So, this is where I am today. I feel bleak, a bit blue, not quite overcome by anhedonia. I feel beat down. Silenced. I’m not actually any of those things in any practical or real way. These are just feelings. Perceptions. They have only whatever life I give them, myself. So I keep fighting it. Self-care steps of various sorts – you’re looking at one of those right now. 🙂

I get an irritating email from the VA just as the sun breaks through the clouds for a minute. My aggravation brushes aside the blues and the stabbing pain of a flash of sunshine through an uncovered window straight into my eye are at least enough to distract me from my shitty mood momentarily. So. Here I am. Beginning again. Again.

Oh my god this day. It’s hard to bitch… good job. I’m enjoying it. Great partnership. I’m super in love with that guy. Lovely little house just outside a small town. I love it here. All the practical details of an amazing and comfortable life are in place. In spite of that, this morning, I absolutely melted down over the dumbest shit, and wrecked my day in a stew of tears and drama. My mental health wellness is at risk because it is not as well-managed and supported as it could be. Part of that is in my hands; I needed to return to therapy, but I delayed that because I figured I was “honestly fine”. Compounding that, I moved to a new community (what, two years ago now? ffs) and haven’t yet found new healthcare providers. So… yeah. My therapist impressed upon me that he’d like me to consider giving medication another try for my anxiety. (I see his point, and my Traveling Partner’s as well.) So… sure, but… he’s a PhD and can’t prescribe, so I need a clinician who does to partner with him. Someone more local, perhaps? Fuck-fuck-fuck…

…Today I may have finally found someone…

My whole day today has been a weird series of otherwise-welcome interruptions of various sorts from various people for various purposes. None of them especially urgent. All of them important enough to want to support or respond to immediately… which starts setting up cascading conflicts in my priorities, and quickly destroyed my bandwidth with the buckshot of “pings”. Email. Slack. Calls. Text messages. Errands. My to-do list. “Quick questions.” It was peculiar that it was so quickly “too much for me”… I think I slept well..? My self-care hasn’t been horrible… but I also don’t feel like I’ve truly been caring for myself, so… yeah. I finally disintegrated into tears and just let that be what it was for awhile. I know it passes… eventually.

My headache is… a headache. Worse from crying. I feel “low” – the chemical aftermath of that emotional storm may last a bit longer. My back aches. I got enough done to feel productive. Even took time to get my nails done. I feel drained, though, and tired. Disengaged. Moody. I’d call it “hormones” – but theoretically I’m well passed all that!

I “don’t know” what to do now… a shower? A nap? More coffee? Do a thing? I feel distracted and pulled into separate pieces of consciousness and getting my shit together right now is like herding kittens (only less cute). Fuck.

…I’m okay, though. Truly. For most values of “okay” I’m not only okay, I’m living a good life in a good place surrounded by love and all is well. The only messy bit is this fucking emotional construction zone in my head and I’m getting fed up with the constant fucking remodeling (to stretch the analogy way too far). I know I need to begin again, I’m just too annoyed to do that – at least for the moment.

I’ll get there soon enough, I just need to practice some practices and stay on the path. Sometimes there are stairs to climb. Sometimes it rains.

It’s a journey with a lot of stairs to climb…

Today’s emotional weather forecast seemed sunny, clear, and breezy. Forecasts are not always accurate. Reality is not always according to plan. Moments are what they are. This moment? Me, now? Partly cloudy with hints of storm clouds on the horizon, which is to say, I’m in kind of a shitty mood. What is most aggravating about that, at present, is that there is no real reason for that to be the case, that is at all obvious to me. I’m feeling rather cross, and I’m not up for bullshit, today. :-\

I had a lovely walk. It was hard, though, to focus on the surroundings; the trail was rather crowded, and with a lot of families and children. So, while the healthy exercise was… healthy… it was also unfortunately very “people-y”, as well, and thus not at all what I was going there for. My ankle ached the entire distance. My headache joined me about midway, and has been loyal to a fault ever since.

Yeah, buddy, I get it, I really do.

I arrived home after some errands, and my walk, and enjoyed a bite of lunch with my Traveling Partner. He didn’t hang out with me very long, and although I “feel fine” in every practical respect (aside from this aching ankle, and my persistent headache), I guess something about my vibe just feels off, from the vantage point of trying to hang out with me. I didn’t fight it. He headed to his shop. I ran another errand, came home, and had a pleasant shower. Still have this headache. Ankle still aches. Back has started to ache, too. All quite “within specifications” for my day-to-day experience of wellness and relative comfort, and there’s nothing much to do about any of that. I take a handful of ibuprofen and assure myself it’s got to do something. My partner had pointed out that I sounded “stuffy”, so I take some allergy medication, too. Whatever. Maybe something will help somehow.

…I honestly just want to relax…

Tears well up in my eyes. I don’t know why. I’m suddenly hit hard by a surprisingly visceral awareness of loss… the people who are gone… why now?? I am, for a moment, too aware that I’ll never send my mother a birthday card again. Never pick up the phone and talk to my father, or grandfather. Never grab a beer on a weekend with old buddies, now long gone. Never “get closure”… oh, so many fucked up things fit in that bucket. What a weird, hard, sharp, fierce, painful emotional moment this one happens to be. What the fuck?? Tears begin streaming down my face. This would feel like “hormones” if I were not 8 years past menopause. What kind of problematic nonsense is this shit??

I get it. I’m grieving. It’s been in my dreams, too. I don’t really know what to do with it, honestly. The timing is most peculiar, and detached from any relevant experience now. Maybe the pandemic and it’s weird vast isolation and distancing is working on my mind – maybe I just feel “lonely” in spite of being so fortunate as to spend the pandemic with my partner, loved and loving? It could be that. Wouldn’t that be enough?

…I don’t even like spending time around people all that much, so…um… whatever this shit is? Not okay.

I sigh out loud in this quiet room. I really just want to sit down and write my Mom or my Granny a long letter about oh so many things, and maybe even tucking in some photographs (remember when those were a physical thing, to hold in one’s hand?), or some small sketch or trinket or pressed flower. There’s no one to receive that letter…

And it’s time to begin again.

…Unexpectedly, just at the point of typing that period, my Traveling Partner calls to me through the closed door, “You should come out to the shop!” I reply “Okay”, and as I open the door, we meet in the hallway. His warm brown eyes scan my face attentively. I don’t recall if he explicitly asked how I was doing, but I do remember saying “I’m in pain, and I have a sad” and a handful more words, and a few tears, tumbled out. I remember saying something about “my bullshit” and “please just ignore it” (I’m too familiar with how it can spiral out of control with any measure of authentic kindness being shown, and I’m really not going for that.). I remember his hug. His reassuring presence. He shows me his finished work, and how well the CNC is working. It’s pretty cool, and a definite mood-lifter. After all… what are new beginnings for, if not to connect, to share, and to find real joy? So… yeah. I’m trying to put my bullshit aside, and enjoy these moments. There really isn’t any reason not to, and so many reasons to embrace every bit of joy life provides. I’ll guess I’ll go do that. 😉

An emotional storm of unexpected magnitude blew in from deep within the darkest recesses of lingering chaos and damage. Maybe it’s my “fault” – it nearly always feels like it must be. I am, after all, the broken one in many interactions. It is, at least, how I often see myself. It feels, in such moments, as if “it” (meaning my experience of self in the context of my own life) is inescapable. An ugly tantrum. Hurt feelings all around. Yelling. My explosion of emotion. My tears. My apologies.

…This shit again??…

I can’t seem to hold on to the slippery recollection of how rare this really is these days, post-menopause. I’m reluctant to point to “hormones” as a root cause (can’t I do better than be a slave to biology?), but in acknowledging a recent rare use of HRT, I find myself wondering.

It’s frustrating. Small issues blow up and become seemingly larger than life. A moment of frustration develops into a cesspool of futility and despair. I end up weighed down by baggage I thought I’d set down a long time ago. Fucking hell.

Breathe

Another coffee. Another moment. A break to stand in what remains of the morning’s sunshine, watching the storm on the horizon approach as if to mock me. Nah… It’s not that bad. I’m okay right now. I’m fortunate to be in a partnership with someone who loves me even beyond moments of tears or madness. It’s fucking hard, though. Having to apologize, again, while sweeping up shards of emotion, and mopping up tears… it’s not on my list of favorite experiences. I could do without it. I don’t mean the act of apology or experience of remorse and contrition – I mean having put myself in a position that earnestly requires it. That sucks. It’s very human. I still don’t like it.

My Traveling Partner doesn’t bullshit me when he’s angry, or hurt, or cross. We’re pretty real with each other. We find our way to a more comfortable place, emotionally, pretty quickly. He understands the trauma history, and the lasting damage. He has his own. We’re in this together, more than many people understand to be. It’s enough, generally, and fairly often it’s far more than enough. Doesn’t make a difficult moment less difficult in the moment, sometimes, although we do both try.

My tears dry. The ringing in my ears left over from my … whatever that shit was… will likely last the day. I mean, the tinnitus is always there, it’s just a bit worse right now. That’ll pass. So will this gray fog of ennui and anhedonia. I remind myself not to confuse these states as having any sort of permanence, and to allow them to pass as if clouds on the horizon. I remind myself they are only the chemical aftermath of strong emotions, and not to be taken personally.

…We begin again.