Somewhere beyond the bitter end is where I want to be.


There is a butt-load of change happening in my little world right now. Well, I say a butt-load, but it's probably more like a thimble-load. It feels like a butt-load to me. I promise not to use the word 'butt-load' again in this post. I do not promise that this will be a short post, so read on at your own leisure/boredom!

I thought that yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of my first surgery, and I was like, "I should write a blog post" but then I couldn't be bothered to stay awake for more than 2 hours at a time! I thought that was a fitting way to remember all that forced bed-rest--with voluntary bed-rest! (Hey, I didn't have a drop of alcohol. Small victories, ok?) But then I looked at my Outlook calendar today, and my first surgery was actually on October 5th, not October 9th.

So I looked at what I did on October 5th, and fortunately it still turned out to be a good day of remembrance: I met with my new therapist for the first time! And so, in the end, I still spent at least an hour of that day sobbing so hard I couldn't see or talk! Which is Change #1: I'm seeing a therapist again! And not a moment too soon. (Probably quite a lot of moments too late.)

She's wonderful and I can't wait for our next appointment. I wish I could see her for hours at a time. I already feel like I am going to be a better friend and family member as a result of working with her on my 'stuff.' Huzzah!

Change #2 (and 3 and 4): Taking care of myself! In ways other than Do Whatever the Hell You Want Because You're Worth It. Things that fall into the DWTHYWBYWI category include, but are not limited to: watching hours and hours of movies and television, eating mint Milano cookies and milk as a meal, sleeping at least 12 hours at a time, etc.

You see, DWTHYWBYWI has been a very real way of 'taking care of myself' since June 2009, even though it might not sound like it. I'm sure I've talked about this on the blog before, but I can't be arsed to look it up. I made a fairly strict routine for myself post-surgeries. It wouldn't look strict to the outside world, but it took my flying to London, and therefore being stripped of much of said routine for an entire week, to realize just how strict it was. This routine, as I figured out, looked like this:

- Loads of Alone Time: I've lived alone since 2009. I don't like it. I love it. I will never stop living alone unless I lose my job or get married. I love that living alone means things happen on my schedule, no one else's. Go grocery shopping at 11pm? Sure! Do the dishes at 1am? Sure! Leave clothes strewn on every surface? Done! Sleep in until 3pm? NO ONE CAN JUDGE ME BUT GOD.

- Loads of Cat Time: My relationship with my cat is hard to describe. (That sentence in itself should scare you. It scares me.) Let me be clear in saying that I do not think of him as a substitute for a child or boyfriend, so put that out of your mind. But he is extremely dear to me. EXTREMELY DEAR. Will 2012 be the year I get a tattoo of his face over my heart? I don't know. But it could happen, people. I love every hair on his furry little body. Even the ones I have to vacuum off everything I own twice weekly.

- Loads of Media Intake: I watch loads and loads of television and movies. Quality television and movies! Not Jersey Shore or Housewives of [Rich Men], but good stuff. Good stuff that simultaneously allows me to escape but also engages my life story. Strong narratives, complex characters, compelling writing. And an episode or two of Glee. (Oooh, burn!)

- Almost Zero Silence: This means when I am in the car, I'm listening to music. When I'm in my home, the television is on. When I'm at work, I'm on the computer with music playing or if I'm not on the computer, my iPod is on. I must not be alone with my thoughts. Period.

- Loads of Laughter: You were probably wondering when other people came in to the equation! Here they are. I am very blessed to have some hilarious friends. Almost every day at work I eat lunch with people whose purpose is two-fold: to make you laugh so hard you choke on your food, and then to give you the Heimlich. In addition, I have friends outside of work who make me laugh and make me want to make them laugh. I try to get in a lot of laughter, ok? It's important to my survival. I know it sounds like a sappy chain e-mail, but I have to laugh every day or I'm in trouble.

- Food Bends To My Will: I don't eat breakfast. Unless I want to. I eat dinner at 4pm or 10pm or 6pm. I eat nothing but pasta one day, and nothing but smoothies the next. I drink with every meal. I'm never drinking again! I'm buying a succulent feast from Whole Foods because I deserve it! I'm eating a can of soup because it's all that I deserve.

- Loads of Hygiene: I must shower every day. Sometimes I have to shower twice. I used to skip a day and just wear a hat. No more! All it took was going about two weeks on bed-rest without any showers to cure me of that. I know it might sound wasteful (it is) and over-the-top, but Katharine Hepburn showered at least twice a day--sometimes 8 times a day!--and she lived to 96.

- Loads of Control: To sum up, I have become accustomed to being Lady of my time. (A Timelady if you will. It sounds much better to say 'Lord' than Lady, but oh well.)

I didn't realize it, but I believe this was the biggest part of my post-surgeries recovery. I've had a very narrow set of habits and activities. It didn't seem like it because in my mind, I was doing whatever the fuck I wanted, but in truth, I was doing a very specific set of the same things (that were also exactly what I wanted). Does that make sense? If things veered from these habits, I was wallowed up in fear, anxiety, regret, and despair. Examples?

- Camping with friends. What should have been fun and relaxing turned into "Why am I alone in this tent? I'm SO ALONE. Where is my cat? I MISS MY CAT. I wish my TV was here. I'M SURROUNDED BY COUPLES. I'm never camping again, this was a mistake."

- Going to a dance party. "Whoo-hoo! We're dancing! We're having fun! I'm enjoying my body and feeling good! Oh God, I shouldn't have worn this shirt. It's too tight. YOU'RE NEVER ALLOWED TO BUY ANYTHING SMALLER THAN AN EXTRA LARGE AGAIN. Are those girls talking about my tattoos? I should have worn long sleeves. YOU'RE NEVER ALLOWED TO WEAR SHORT SLEEVES AGAIN. I don't know this song. Every one else knows this song. I'm going to stand against the wall. Ugh, I'm so sweaty. GO HOME AND SHOWER. I'm never going to dance party again, this was a mistake."

- And the ultimate example, the one that in my mind before I left was totally ruin-proof: Going to London. "Yes! I'm in London! England! The United Kingdom! All my dreams are coming true, I am the very best version of myself, no more tears! ...I'm having trouble reading this map. God, I'm AN IDIOT. That man at the counter was slightly rude to me. I'm an idiot AND people hate me. God, I'm in everyone's way. Probably because I'm a loud, fat American who everyone hates. What am I doing in London? Why I am here? Oh, that's right, I'm a sad pathetic sap who spends money she should be putting into her savings on a trip to see actors from a sci-fi show who don't know she exists. I'm a fat, lonely idiot who's covered in ugly physical and emotional scars who leads a sad, small life who should never leave her condo until she dies. I'm never traveling again, this was a mistake." And--scene!

Alright, so things got a bit dark. So I cried in the shower every day and on the plane ride home. It was a wake-up call. A very expensive wake-up call. Which finally (are you still with me?) leads to the #2, #3, and #4 changes I promised you like, 83 paragraphs ago! I could still have my other routine, but it was time to add some positive changes to it that might make me feel a bit better about my self and my life. Finding a new therapist to help me sort through everything was step one, but here are the others.

Change #2: Going to the dentist. Yes! I've avoided the dentist for ages. But I've found a new one and she and her hygienists are lovely. I'm flossing, and even sometimes mouth-washing. It's an oral miracle. An oracle, if you will. *Snort.*

Change #3: Going to the doctor. Yes! I went! The good news is that as far as we know, my over-sized meningocele hasn't grown! Why is that as far as we know? Because I was crying so hard that the doctor didn't want to do an examination! True story. Other true story? She told me to try online dating. Don't even get me started. Final true story? I'm back on anti-depressants. Apparently she couldn't hear me saying "I lead a functional and healthy life full of enjoyment and the only reason I'm crying is because I'm in a medical office right now and having severe PTSD" over the sound of the sobs convulsing out of me between every other word.

Change #4: Joining a gym. Yes, it's true. It's open 24 hours. AWESOME. But even more awesome? Each cardio machine has its own television attached to it with...wait for it...CABLE. I was close to signing up for cable in my condo, but this will be cheaper and I will get a workout while I do it! I'm on the gym's week long free trial and have already gone three nights, and plan to go tonight and tomorrow as well. I've had a love-hate relationship with working out all my life, but the idea of power-walking on a treadmill in an almost or completely empty room for two hours while I watch anything my heart desires? That's love. Plus, there's a pool!

Changes 2-4 still fall outside my normal routine and give me some anxiety (especially #3) but they feel like baby steps to a more whole life, and manage to push me outside my comfort zone in small spurts that are pretty recoverable from with enough chocolate and Doctor Who and hugs.

I still hope to have changes 5-6 come about shortly. They are 5) Find a church and 6) volunteer again. I'd kind of like them to go together, like find a church that has opportunities for me to volunteer. Both of these things scare me, though, especially #5. Due to my past 'Let's Journey Outside the Routine' adventures going horribly awry, I am already worried with worst-case scenarios. "Ah, this church is nice. Nice people, nice service, nice building. But man, there are a lot of couples. And a lot of families. And now I'm just reminded about how many complicated feelings I have towards God. Oh SHIT, now I'm crying and it's time for the 'passing of the peace' and everyone will know I'm crying, but they're all strangers, and I just want to have 'God time' and not 'Smug couples pitying me time'! QUICK, GET OUT, GET OUT AND NEVER COME BACK!"

So I'm planning on talking with my fabulous new therapist before I try going back to church. But hey, four new changes ain't too shabby. This is my current theme song:

If you don't love Petula Clark we can't be friends.


Courtney said...

My advice (not that you asked for it, I'm not even sure if I've commented here before) is to make the smallest, easiest changes possible. Like, the smallest half of a baby step toward the big change. That's kind of where I'm at, and I felt compelled to comment because your life (in some ways) mirrors my own. It's nice to hear that someone else loves living alone! I adore it. It's just me and my cat and it's wonderful. I also have trouble making myself go to the dentist and the doctor. The gym too, I don't go there.

Good luck to you!

Maryann said...

Hi Courtney!

Thanks for the sweet comment! And yay to living alone and cats! And to small changes. Good luck to you too!

Jess said...

Oh, Maryann. I miss you. You are so genuine and honest. I'm glad that you have co-workers/friends that make you laugh. I know that that is something that I really miss with having moved back to the Bay Area. I can definitely relate to feelings you're having with church! I've been involved in a singles' group at my church for 6 months now, and I still kinda feel like an outsider. I try to keep in mind that they are just fellow believers that aren't perfect either, but it doesn't always help when I would just like a close friend to fall back on and always have to talk to!
Aaaand I feel like I may have left too long of a comment! Haha. Bye friend

Holly said...

I just want to tell the world and God and you: spending time with you (which is what your blog feels like) is never less than a super valuable and simultaneously fun experience. You're always making me think harder and wider because you always tell the truth. And that makes me want to tell the truth too.

Maryann said...

Jess, I miss you too! Wow, you're so brave to go to a singles group! You give me courage to do the uncomfortable! :) We are so overdue for a loooooong coffee date.

And Holly, I want to print that comment out and stick it on my bathroom mirror. And my living room mirror. And my dining room mirror. My condo has a lot of mirrors.

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jonathan edmund said...

SO happy for good changes in your life, and that I get to be your friend!