Oh! What a tangle web we weave…

It all started with a very large flat screen TV, one in which my father had for a little over a  year, was replaced by the newest technology of flat screens – something about a 4K. The size was way too large for our small townhouse. But he did have another flat screen that would be the maximum width for our basement wall waiting for us for a couple of years now. Since Doug found a suitor for the too-big-screen-for-us, his co-worker, a fellow firefighter, the deal was this:

“Sean, take my father-in-law’s TV and while you are there, help me load the other one into the van. Then come and help me carry it in to our basement.” Doug arranged for a date when they were going off shift.

Sean asked, “Doesn’t your FIL want anything for his TV?”

“Well, you can offer him something but he really just wants to get rid of it. And it’s a 2 person job – he doesn’t want to do any of the heavy lifting.”

And both of the flat screens were very heavy. When Sean’s wife came home her reaction was, “Whoa! That’s big. Bigger than I thought!”

To which happy and ecstatic Sean replied, “I KNOW! ISN’T IT AWESOME!!!”

The thing is Doug and I will have to make some adjustments to our basement before we can mount our new-used flat screen up on our wall. And my family is always so concerned about him getting injured. Believe me, I am too. We may need to bride a friend or two to come over to help for exchange of a really nice dinner and very good alcohol. (Now that we are at this stage of life, pizza and beer doesn’t seem to be that great of an exchange anymore.)

My family, however, are relentless. And if they think for one minute Doug has no one to help him they will harp and harp and harp on us to the boundaries of one’s sanity. So to eliminate the process of harping which was, on Friday night, on the edge of happening, Doug said, “Sean’s coming over Sunday on the way home from our shift to help out.”

The problem with this white lie – I had no idea this was a white lie. There wasn’t any game plan between Doug and I to plan this lie. It was just a lie – an on the spot lie.

I said, in front of my family, “Really? Sean’s coming over. Huh. And when were you going to tell me this? I would have been romping around in my PJ’s when you guys come home!”

So this morning, I woke up early. I normally wake up 7:30 AM and wait for Doug to come home from his shift. But today, I woke up around 6:30 AM. So I could make sure our powder room was clean enough for guests. So I could do my hair, take a shower, put on some decent clothes. So I could touch my face up with light make-up, take Hobbes outside and put away the dishes from the dishwasher which was turned on before going to bed. After all, we needed clean dishes in case Sean stays for breakfast. I was about to grind and press some fresh coffee, too, so the boys could have a nice mug of hot java when they come in. I did a lot of things I normally would not do on a Sunday morning between 6:30 am and 7:30 am.

Then Doug came home.

Alone.

I asked, “Where’s Sean?”

His response, “Oh, he’s not coming.”

“What – tough shift? Too tired?”

“No.”

“Is he coming over another day?”

“No. I just told your family he was coming so they didn’t worry about me doing the heavy work on my own.”

“Oh. Wait… what? He never was going to come and help?”

“No. Oh – Sorry. I forgot to text you yesterday.”

“Doug. I woke up early and did a lot of unnecessary things on my Sunday morning thinking we were going to have a guest over.”

“Well, at least now you’re up and awake and got some stuff done!”

I don’t think that was really an apology. But I do admit it was nice to be up early and have the whole day ahead of me!

My Birthday – Take Two!

My 44th birthday was not what I imagined it to be. And I’m not picky. Believe me! I’m the less-is-more type of person. Some birthday wishes from good friends through whatever means they prefer (Facebook, email, text, etc.) puts a smile to my face. A quiet day where I can have my own loose schedule – allowing time to read, go to the gym, do yoga and then chill out in front of our Christmas tree listening to more Xmas tunes as a way to preserve and lengthen Christmas which comes and goes faster and faster each year for just little longer. Ending the day with dinner with my extended family is somewhat of a “requirement” but if it’s like the take-out sushi we had yesterday at home I can be okay with that.

Except that on the way home from the gym, a man cut-me off and then at the right lights, came out of his car and started yelling at me for having my left signal on all the way he was behind me on the highway. Of course, it wasn’t me. I know which driver was doing that because I was behind the guilty driver. Point is even if it were me, I had every right to honk at this road-rage-of-an-asshole because I had to break in order to avoid him colliding his car into mind. And he had no right to yell at me and then hit my side-rear mirror with his hand. Hello? Who was pulling the illegal move? That’s called assault. If I had recorded it all with my phone I’d have a solid report at the police station right now.

He was also driving like a maniac on the highway. At one point he rolled down his window and waved what looked like an alt-right support flag at me (I could be wrong but I am certain it was definitely not a ‘lets be friends’ flag). Older, middle-aged, white-haired man, with a white beard, black rim-glasses, short (of course) and I would say in his late 50’s to mid 60’s. He’s not the first that fits under that description to target me (and probably many other women like me). I suppose they feel justified in trying to make up for their small penises in whatever way they can.

Anyway – after that scare, I felt my birthday could not get any worse.

Until… my parents, aunt and uncle arrived.

I spent the evening hosting people on my birthday who just wanted to monopolize the conversation with how horrible their 2016 has been… and about who is dying. Or who has died. Or one negative shit after another.

The only one who didn’t grade on my nerves with my father who at one point between all his napping said, “It could have been worse.”

I love my family. But I didn’t need that. Not on my birthday. Not on my time off. As I said, I’m a simple person. If all I had was a quiet evening with my husband and daughter, either doing something like watching a new Blu-ray I received for my birthday or just doing a whole bunch of nothing together, I would have gone to bed content.

So I woke up this morning with a plan. I told my husband and daughter that I’m asking for a birthday re-do. I would very much like, I asked them both, for a birthday brunch. With coconut waffles and a birthday candle in the middle of my waffle. And then later, after digesting with my current fabulous read I intend to finish soon – “Life After Life” – I will do 90 minutes of yoga as my only workout today. And then who knows what else – maybe something, maybe nothing. So long as I don’t have to see anyone outside my own household, I will be happy.

Fuck having to celebrate one’s birthday just on one’s birthday!

Post-Christmas quiet

Past Christmas to New Year’s week use to be a swarm of activities. I used to have a packed schedule, usually with family plus in between visits with friends.

I also used to email with my girlfriend almost every single year, both of us with one vent – the same vent year after year – “Why can’t we just be left alone to relax?”

Obligations – we were continuously planning our schedule to make everyone else happy.

Christmas Stockings

Christmas morning – our stockings are stuffed.

This year, the same thing happens. I’m working myself hard at work while preparing for our holiday festivities to the point where I’m burnt out, exhausted beyond hope and eventually, finding myself with a very uncomfortable cold. The bug bit down on me overnight from December 23rd to Christmas Eve morning. As if to say, Well, now that you’re done working 60 hours a week, cramming the last bit of crap in the office, it’s time for you the pay for what you’ve done to your body!

I’ve gotten better, of course. My family always thinks, year after year, that just because I take the whole week off, I’m available to meet up with them 5 times for lunch, get-togethers, dinners, etc. The truth is, I’m not the social butterfly I use to be in my 20’s. Even that was short-lived. The honest to God truth is that I need a lot of downtime now to recharge myself for the next social gathering.

So, this year, I limited the celebrations to Christmas dinner at my aunt’s place (on Christmas Eve), my birthday, and my mom’s birthday at the very end of the week. It’s down to 3 times with family, no visits with friends and staying home as much as I can with just my family in between. Including New Year’s Eve – a holiday my husband and I don’t really care for anyway. And I wonder why we pushed ourselves to do it every year when truth be told, we’re so tired by NYE that I’m literally looking at the time every 10 minutes or so starting 9pm until midnight, praying time will go faster so I can just go home and go to bed!

And the family is getting better at understanding how tired I am and the amount of rest I need. I use to get awful backlash for not being as available as they want me to be. Finally, in the past few years I have been brutally honest – that I just want to be left alone, left to have NO SCHEDULE and just time to unwind. That’s basically it. Call me anti-social but that’s the only way I’ll be happy.

Still, it’s a hard habit to kick. When it came to my birthday, without realizing it, I was even planning the day to make everyone else happy. My husband and daughter really wanted to see Star Wars – Rogue One, and I knew my parents wanted to see it as well. To minimize having to go a different day and therefore, having to see them again (because you see, it’s not just going to a movie but there will be an expected dinner afterwards with the whole family) I planned on the day we were to have my birthday dinner at our house (take-out sushi). See how that works? I had to squeeze in the movie the same day just so I could free up the following days.

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She’s been living in her new onesie

After getting sick, we called off the movie and possibly the sushi dinner as well, but as soon as I started to feel better, the dinner was back on (which I didn’t mind since it’s sushi and at our place), my husband started to get all excited that the movie was back on too.

I told him, “Hold it. I didn’t say the movie was back on.”

He said, “But don’t you want to see it?”

“I do. But I’m not in as much of a rush to see it as you.”

“So we see it later in the week?”

“No – because that means I’ll have to see my family. Again!”

“So why don’t the 3 of us see it and then see it again with your parents?”

“I don’t have the time or energy to do that! The movie will still be around the following weekend.”

“But…”

“Look – it’s too much for me. Go see it with C. If it’s that good you can see it again with me. Or not and I’ll go on my own.” (Truth be told I use to love seeing movies on my own!)

He was disappointed but also realized that the plans I had to see Star Wars was more for everyone else and not really for myself. As much as I hate to disappoint him, and there’s this small voice in my head that is nagging me to just do it – get it over with and make everyone happy about seeing the movie on my birthday – I just know I’ll feel worn out and this cold may never truly go away in time for me to enjoy the rest of my holiday.

People get use to the “reliable” you when you are always the one that makes everyone else happy. And it’s really about striking that balance to keep them happy and keep myself happy. I love my family, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy getting together with them for Christmas, birthdays and just family time every now and then.

But I can’t see them so often that it feels that they are getting their way, and not giving me what I need – solitude. It’s nothing personal.It’s not that I love them any less. But I love solitude. I love having free time to do as I please because I rarely get that anymore.

pooped dog

What can make this dog so pooped!

Like my dog in the above photo, I’m just so… exhausted.

That alone feeling…

Sometimes I get really down about myself… having anxiety issues really makes me feel alone.

It is worse when I get into an argument with Doug. He is so relaxed about everything. And sometimes that is good but I feel then the extra burden of carrying all the worrying for the whole family.

The world is still also very unequal. I think that the woman of the household does more – more multi-tasking, more balancing and of course, more worrying. Add anxiety disorder on top of all that and it just weighs down on my shoulders at an unbelievable weight.

I so desperately wish to be understood. And the worse feeling is that my own family just doesn’t seem to understand. Don’t get me wrong – I know they love me very much. But I just want to be understood.

When Doug tells me I need to relax – in whatever way he is telling me – I want to scream (and sometimes I do), “DO YOU REALIZE AND UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE ASKING ME?”

I feel like it’s my fault I can’t relax. I feel like it’s my fault that I invest so much time into Chaeli’s academics (hello? does he not realize he married an Asian – I’m parenting the only way I know how), I feel like it’s my fault that if I do not stay organized, my world will fall apart because doing everything last minute only causes more anxiety. I feel like it is my fault I have to live in an organized house (I use to keep it more organized but since Doug is home most of  time while I’m at work – any cleaning/organizing gets messed up within a day). I feel like it is my fault I am not normal. I feel like it is my fault that I get anxiety attacks.

My fault. All my fault. Because I simply can not relax. Or go with the flow. Or stop my mind from moving ten steps ahead.

All. My. Fault.

And so, I am feeling incredibly lonely. I can hear voices of people who mean well tell me that I am not alone. That there are a lot of people who go through what I am going through.

But these people are lonely too. And it does not make me feel less lonely by banning together with others that are just as lonely. Negative plus negative = a greater negative.

I did not want to have dinner with my family but hunger won over. It took me so much effort to finish my dinner while fighting the tears back.

A little peace of heaven

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Regal Princess at Port in Antigua

We came back recently from a 7-day Caribbean Cruise on the Regal Princess.

A splurge and gift to ourselves was upgrading to a mini-suite with a balcony.

Best. Decision. Ever.

The extra space made it a little home away from home. The balcony allowed an escape from the busy crowd. And the extra attention from our cabin steward… Magnifico!

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View from our balcony.

Having constant view of the ocean really helped me calm my nerves. Even in the dark, just the sound of the vessel cutting through the waves was enough to sooth me. If there was any room for me to drag a mattress out on the balcony so I could sleep under the stars, I would have!

This just confirmed how burnt out I am. With work. With everyday life. Though, everyday life would not be as hard if it weren’t for work… Work is slowly killing me. My blood pressure is up, my body weight is up…ugh! I can’t even stand to look at myself in the mirror!

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Our private over-the-water cabana in Amber Cover, Dominican Republic

Getting away, though, sort of let me forget all that I had temporarily left behind. And even though I worked out everyday, walked a lot and took the stairs as much as I could, I escaped my body image. I wore a 2-piece and didn’t quite care but just took the liberty and feeling good not being bound or restricted with too much clothing. On formal nights, I brought formal pants and loose, sparkly tops. Comfort was what I aimed for and it was wonderful.

But now, I am back to reality. I need to do something – my work, my physical health and my mental health. Of course all of theses things are tightly connected.

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Mountain top view in St. Thomas

So for the next 2 weeks it is going to be hell at work as we wrap things up for the year while also getting ready for the first of January.

There’s little I can do about minimizing stress with work for the next 2 weeks. Until the holidays come I will visualize the sea and the view from our balcony… just to try and escape in whatever capacity I can.

Sunset from our balcony – Antigua port