Monday, July 15, 2013

See You Tomorrow...

It's been a pretty rough last few years.  And this past year, things have gotten a little tougher.  As a consequence, I've started to go to counseling.  I'd say I've "gone back to counseling", but in truth, seeing someone once, hating them, seeing someone else, hating them, and then giving up entirely is not really the same as "seeing a counselor".  I saw them.  I just didn't see them for long.

If you know me well, you know this post is difficult for me to write.  If you don't know me well, you should at least know what you're in for if you stick around.

1.  I'm a pretty private person.  I'm outgoing.  I have lots of friends.  I love to have a good time.  And I will talk to you at length about what's going on in your life.  Mostly so I don't have to share what's up with mine.  This comes from a long-standing "don't put your dirty panties out on the front porch" policy in my family.  I tend to swallow my feelings until they start seeping out in other ways (or just exploding all over an unsuspecting friend who just thought we were going out for drinks).  It's not healthy, and I've gotten better about sharing -- but, in truth, I'm way more comfortable with my head in the sand.

2.  I'm a people-pleaser to the nth degree.  (Is that how you say it? To the "nth"?  Feels weird.)  I'm the baby in the family.  I was painfully shy as a child.  I have an inordinate fear of making mistakes.  I detest confrontation.  So, my coping technique of choice, for most of my life, is to just agree.  Be polite.  Don't cause a ruckus.  Take what you're given and be grateful for it.  I didn't realize this was such an obvious thing until one day at Whataburger, about 5 years into our friendship, Courtney said, "You know... if you just ask for 'no pickles, no tomatoes', they'll most likely serve it to you that way."  It had never occurred to me; I just picked off what I didn't like.  No muss, no fuss.  I am in awe of people forthright enough to send their food back when it's prepared incorrectly.  I aspire to one day just send back the soup.

3.  I'm a good listener.  I'm not that great of a talker.  Talking = sharing, and that's uncomfortable sometimes.  Again, I'm so much better than I used to be, but when cornered, I go mute.  Most people don't mind.  Most people are content to talk away.  It pleases them to find a good listener.  (Are you sensing a pattern?)  It's not that I never talk or that I'm patronizing the speaker somehow and doing a half-ass job.... I REALLY am a great listener, and I am genuinely interested in everything you have to say.  It's just that when you go to a counselor, he doesn't really like to do a ton of talking.  There was lots of awkward silence on our first visit.

4.  I'm a caretaker by nature.  I like to fix things.  I'm easily frustrated by things I can't fix.  I've ruined a few relationships trying to "fix" the other person.  I've lovingly dubbed it the "Wounded Bird Syndrome".  I'm a sucker for strays, and I struggle with just throwing out broken stuff.  I realize now that it's just a way to avoid working on my own shit, but again, it truly does feel good to help someone else.  It's like a drug to me.  Being needed is my drug of choice.  Well, being needed and Diet Coke.

5.  I crack jokes when I'm nervous.  I'm nervous right now.  Hence the lame jokes and parenthetical asides.  
I shouldn't be nervous.  If you're my friend or if you care even an ounce about me, none of this matters.  If you're not, then get lost.  I didn't need you anyway.  Again, I'm kidding.  Please don't go.

6.  I don't feel like I NEED counseling.  I feel like I should be able to handle my own problems.  I'm a grown-up; I should be able to figure this out and just deal.  My brother says I'm full of crap for this.  So do my friends.  And, in fact, if any of them were struggling, I'd advise them to -- guess what -- go to therapy.  Talk it out.  It will feel better.  Maybe I am sort of full of crap.  I'll tell you what, there's nothing like being on the edge of out-of-control to really open your eyes to your own control issues.

So several things have led me to finally try making a change.  This past year at work was one of the most pressure-filled and emotionally intense times of my life.  And the upcoming school year will surely only bring more moments under the microscope.  I have had to take a much bigger role in my family.  I don't get to be the baby anymore, letting my parents just make decisions and worry about themselves.  I am still learning to deal with the physical and emotional changes that my father's illness has brought about not only within himself but within all of us.  I am living the first July in 18 years with nothing to keep my attention.  Every other year, I ended school and within 24 hours I was working at camp.  I would end camp, and within 48 more hours, I was back at school.  Not only was camp my home, but it kept my focus 24 hours a day, 6 days a week -- especially the last 5 years.  I managed June with summer school, but once July hit, I really started to notice some traits I didn't care for.  I noticed that the one glass of wine I wanted at the end of a long day was turning into several that I felt like I needed.  I stopped wanting to go spend time with people that I really, really love because their joy was just too overwhelming for me.  How effed up is that?  I love these people; their joy should reflect within me.  I found myself smiling less, talking less, celebrating less, and I hated it.  I was becoming like so many people I didn't want to be -- that I swore I'd never be.

When I finally started talking on that first visit, and I expressed some of this, it wasn't a surprise -- not to me or to the counselor (duh).  We talked about several things that I do that make me feel better (other than a box of wine).  I expressed that I love to write and that I had a blog.  The next question was how long it had been since I wrote anything on it.  I honestly couldn't remember (It had been almost 4 months).  And my only conclusion was that I didn't feel like I had anything good to say.  For me, I've tried to be one of two things a majority of the time on the blog -- funny or hopeful -- because that's what I wanted to hear.  It's what I was desperate to hear.  I didn't want to be controversial because I didn't want to fight.  I didn't want to be sad because I didn't want to bring others down and heap my problems onto everyone else.  I didn't want to put my panties on the porch because what if someone read what I had to say (i.e. my family) and it hurt them? And I was so emotionally exhausted that I didn't know how to be funny.  And everything else seemed so bleak that feeling hopeful just felt fraudulent.

And then he reminded me that people wouldn't come here to the blog if they didn't care.  Or if they weren't interested.  Or if they couldn't relate.  And if they didn't like what I had to say, they'd close the page.  Maybe they'd be back, maybe they wouldn't.  But if I'm writing to make myself feel better, why the Hell am I worried about anyone else?

Well.  Huh.  I hadn't thought of that.

Because I won't see him often (which is sort of okay to me -- that silence was painful), he asked me to choose one thing that made me feel better (writing, going for a walk, seeing friends, reading, etc) and then challenged me to do it every day for a month.  I might not make it (and that's okay which minimized my fear of messing up and missing a day), but I'm going to try.  I started a couple of days ago, intending to post at least once a day, but I realized that I'm the kind of person who needs accountability.  I'm famous for my procrastination and leaving unfinished projects, and I know this about myself all too well.  So that's why I'm writing today; to let you (whomever you may be) know that I plan to be here every day.  It might not be a long post; it might not even be a great post.  But by midnight every night, there will be a post here.  And it's okay for you to text me or message me or tweet me and goad me on if you see me slipping.  I do better with someone antagonizing me.  I'm competitive that way. 

I'll try not to make every post sad or angry.  I'd still much rather have a laugh or a smile any day.  But I need you (whomever you are) to know that it's a possibility that I might be frustrated, I may hurt your feelings, I may even make you angry or sad sometimes.  I'll try not to, but sometimes what needs to be purged isn't pretty once it comes out.  (That image wasn't pretty either -- sorry.)  And if I do any of those things, feel free to hit the big red "X".  I'll never know.

My next post will be about something really good -- the adoption of my two sweet nephews -- which was completed on Friday.  There will be many cute baby pictures, I promise.  It's important to celebrate a little, I think.  And just breathe.

Watch Pearl Jam "Just Breathe" on PBS. See more from Austin City Limits.

So, with that knowledge, I'll see you here tomorrow, friends.


  1. Man am I proud of you!!! And I can't wait to read. No matter what the tone. Thank you counselor! Whomever you are. I'm bursting with a big ol smile on my face.

  2. Deana - I've been there too. I'm not going to say that I can understand what you are going through, because we all have our different feelings. I, too, sometimes feel like I have to keep up my happy persona. But sometimes, you just have to be sad, or mad or confused or well, just not know what you feel. But if you can share so can I. Again, thank you for your words and keep them coming - I'll keep my eye on you! ;) -AP

  3. I will be reading. You are such a talented writer. Pour out your soul.

  4. Love you Deana!!! Jami

  5. So proud of you and your commitment to change! I keep thinking I need some blog accountability, maybe you'll be that for me. Or at least I'll read. I'll be updated on YOU, my other sister.


  6. So I commented yesterday and Blogger ate it. I am so proud of you for your incredible strength. The fact that life hurts and you keep going, keep laughing, keep crying is a measure of strength, not weakness. One of your favorite quotes is true: "The world breaks everyone. Some become strong at the broken place." That Hemingway knew a little something.

  7. I've been reading for a long time and love and admire you and your writing. Your raw emotion is conveyed in so many if your posts, thank you for sharing what so many people struggle with. I'm along for the ride ��. -ap

  8. Your blogs are amazing - because YOU are AMAZING!!!

  9. I love y'all. Thank you for your words and support. You keep me going...