What I Want

I’ve had a lot of time to think lately, and a lot of it has been about relationships. Now, historically, I have not had a lot of luck in this department – two attempts and two failures makes for a record that is frankly abysmal even by the percentage standards of Major League Baseball. And a part of this is because, for a lot of the time I’ve been on the market, I have had some serious issues. The first try I made, I was seriously having emotional issues, and I was just not very emotionally available – probably among other problems. This time around, I was just unaware of the kinds of things I wanted from the relationship, and so it caused me a lot of heartache and other troubles that could have been avoided. So I thought that it might be helpful – maybe as a guide for myself in the future, or maybe to provide some insight into what is going on in my head, or maybe just to be helpful to someone else with similar problems. So, here’s a list – probably an incomplete one, but at least a start – of what I am looking for in a relationship.

First, I want to find someone who is comfortable being intimate with me, both physically and emotionally. I’m not necessarily talking about sex, though I imagine that would be a part of it. But I want someone who will want to spend a fair amount of time with me, and want to be close – someone who will listen to me when I have something important to say, and who I can listen to as well. I’m generally pretty good as a listener, but I’m still working on how good I am at expressing myself. That will probably take some time, so I want someone who can be patient in that regard. Being able to be close to the other person is important, too, because I just want someone who will be comfortable curling up on the couch watching TV, or huddling together at a movie, or really anything along those lines.

I also have difficulty explaining what I want or what is bothering me at times, so someone who is patient with me is a big must. Even with two degrees in English, I still struggle to find the right way to try to express what is going through my head, and that can be both confusing and frustrating. I want to be able to help my partner through any of her own such struggles, as well, because I think it’s important to know what’s really going on in the other person’s head.

Third, I want a partner who can take part in, or at least not have a problem with, my hobbies. I’m a pretty big nerd – I like comic books, I love Lord of the Rings, I play RPGs and video games, I’m a fan of Star Wars and Star Trek… I could go on, but that would get tedious. And those things are an important part of my life and who I am, so having a partner who understands that, and is willing to be a part of it is important. I hope that I can do the same with my partner’s interests; I’m pretty open to things, so I like to think that is something that can work out.

I’m sensitive to signs of rejection, as someone with an anxious attachment style, so I know that will come up. I want someone who will be patient and try to reassure me when I start freaking out, who can help me lessen my worries and who is consistent and relatively reliable.

I like to treat the people who are important to me as well as I can; I don’t have a problem going all-out for birthdays, holidays, or any kind of important event, and sometimes I just want to do something unexpected and cool. I want to be with someone I can do that for, who will appreciate it and maybe reciprocate. I want to know that I am as important to them as they are to me.

I don’t want a partner who will make me feel bad because I can come off as ‘needy’ or ‘dependent’. I don’t think those are bad things, as long as I can try to keep them in check, and I like to think they help me to show how much the other person means to me. I want someone who can accept that those are parts of who I am, and who likes that about me. I want someone who can be up-front about their feeling with me, especially concerning her feelings about me, and who wants to be in a relationship.

Yeah, I don’t really talk about a lot of things here, but then, a lot of them aren’t as important. I don’t have a particular body type, hair color, ethnicity, or religion I’d want in a partner, because I think those are all kind of secondary; as long as we both like, even love, each other, and find each other attractive and desirable, that’s good enough. Mostly, I just want someone who will be as good to me as I am trying to be to them, and who won’t just let me try to flail around int he dark trying to figure out what is going on. I’m tired of being alone, romantically speaking. I’ve only had a very small taste of what a good relationship can be like, but I want more. And now I have a better idea of what I am looking for, to hopefully eliminate at least some heartache.

I’m not sure how much sense this is all making; this has really all just been bouncing around in my head all day, and I felt the need to get it out somehow. So I hope it makes sense, but I welcome any questions, comments, or other criticisms to try to help me flesh out these ideas further.

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Future Tripping

Future tripping is one of the things that they warn us about in therapy – obsessing about the future, of what could be, when the future will get here and when will it be, is unhealthy. It can keep us from focusing on the present, of becoming so enamored of what is in the future that we completely lose track of what is happening around us. No matter how much you resist what is happening now, you can’t avoid it, and trying to will just make the present – and the future – miserable.

But right now, I am looking at the future, and trying to figure out what to do with mine. There’s always the possibility of going back to school for a PhD in English – I have much of the work done, after all. But as much as I like the material, and learning new things about it, the idea of going through all the stressing out over exams again, as well as worrying about what I would have to publish and how often to keep a job I may or may not even get just doesn’t really appeal to me.

I’m actually really thinking about social work. My sister just got her MSW, and while she is more interested in helping children, I (predictably) have a great degree of interest in the mental health field. Having seen what several psychiatric hospital are like, and having gone through a lot of mental health care, I think that I would like to help others who are having problems like mine, and try to see if there isn’t more that can be done for the state of mental illness care. I don’t have any experience in the field as an employee, but I have seen quite a lot from the other side of the table, as it were, and I think that a view like mine could be useful. 

Now, I am just starting to do research into schooling for social work, so I have no idea if this is feasible. But it is the path that is currently of the most interest to me, and I hope that something good will come of it. 

 

Friday Discovery

So, it’s late, and it was a long day at work – I worked from noon to 8:30, anf today was a big day for the store, being essentially the warm-up for Black Friday. It went relatively well, though I need to remember to start bringing Advil or Excedrin, because I had a massive headache for the last half of my shift. But that’s nothing really deep or psychological, so let’s move on.

I got an invitation for Thanksgiving with Calla and her family this morning (well, yesterday morning, but who’s counting), assuming she can get a pass to go out for some time with her family. Like I sad last time, I’ve never really spent the holidays with anyone besides my family, let alone the family of someone who, frankly, I’m still very interested in. I want to go, mostly because, in lieu of my family, I think some family, even if it isn’t mine, would be nice, and because I want to spend time with Calla. At the same time, though, it’s a little intimidating. Not a situation I’ve been in before, I have to say.

I keep thinking about Calla, and how she might be headed somewhere else, possibly far away, for six months or so. I want her to get treatment that will help her, but I know I’ll miss her a lot when she’s gone. But she’s such an amazing person, even though she doesn’t see it, and I think seeing her when she’s better, or at least better able to manage her issues, would be worth waiting all the time it takes. I know I seem to write about her a lot, and I don’t want other people in my life to feel like they mean less to me, but she is currently the one with the most pressing issues.

My own issues, really, seem pretty small these days. I have my friends, my place, my job, and a life for myself. Granted, none of it is perfect, and I certainly have my moments of depression and doubt. But I have people to talk to, therapy to help me unburden myself, medication to help me manage what I’m feeling, and things to keep my mind off the times when life doesn’t look so great. If you had told me I would be here a year ago, I would have – well, not laughed in your face, because I wouldn’t have really felt like laughing, but been skeptical and sarcastic enough to cause physical damage.

I’m not really sure where to go with this blog, really. I don’t have groups anymore to talk about them, and while I am familiar with many of the issues of people I know, I don’t want to talk about them without permission. My depression, while not – and never – cured, has at least become pretty manageable, to the point where at least one or two people who knew me before Menninger say I’m not the same person. I don’t want to just make a diary of what I do, because honestly, I don’t do anything all that thrilling – and if I talk too much about working for Barnes & Noble, I might get in trouble, because they can apparently be touchy about that sort of thing.

So, any suggestions? I know this isn’t the most widely-read blog of all time, but I’d guess that some of you, even those who don’t know me personally, have been reading this blog for long enough to have some suggestions. I’m sure there are things I could talk about that just haven’t occurred to me yet, or areas that would be interesting to open up some kind of a dialogue on. Honestly, I’m nudging towards 200 blog posts in around six months, so some relief ideas from a fresh set of eyes or minds would be more than welcome.And yes, I just mixed up a baseball metaphor, deal with it.

 

Into the Future

I think it is official, sports fans, I am staying in Houston. It’s been basically official for a bit now, but I needed to wait and have the conversation with my parents first before talking about it here. This is a big move for me, because aside from undergrad, I haven’t lived anywhere away from my family in my life. It’s a relatively new city – despite having been here since late February, I haven’t gotten a chance to see much of the city, and most of what I have seen has been with other people at the wheel, so navigating is something that I’ll have to pick up. Traffic in Houston seems like it is enough to cause spontaneous mental illness by itself, so we’ll see.

It’s big in a lot of ways, really. When I spoke with my parents, I took charge this time, telling them what I wanted, what I was planning, and what I wanted from them as far as support and what I would accept in terms of checking in and keeping track of me. It was pretty high on the assertiveness scale for me, which actually felt really good; my parents seemed to be relatively impressed, too, because they listened, asked a few questions, and then agreed that it sounded like I had a good plan and that they wanted to help and make sure I was happy. It was a far cry from our conversation last week, where I sort of mildly expressed some interest in things, was indecisive about others, and withdrew from the conversation entirely when my father started getting angry.

I feel nervous about a step like this, but I am comforted by the support network I have built, and am continuing to build, here in Houston. I have a number of good friends from Menninger and the step-down program who are remaining, or already lived, in Houston, I am finding new support groups to be a part of outside of my step-down community, and I have started reaching out to local gaming groups to find someplace I can get together and roll some funny dice with on occasion. I think having all these people who I care about, and who care about me, as well as people I can just go do strange things with, will really help to keep me grounded and from withdrawing into myself.

I can understand why people are worried about this move; it’s a big one, and I’m worried too. But I think it is a necessary step to continue my life from what I have built up in treatment; I think that going back to St. Louis would be a step backwards rather than forwards. But just being able to express myself and my feelings, and assert what I want, over the past few days has made me feel a lot better about myself and my progress, because I don’t think those are things I could have done six months ago.  I am open to any suggestions about life in Houston, since I will likely be moving into my own apartment in the relatively near future, as well as having to find myself some form of automotive transportation. These are things I’ve never had to handle on my own before, so any help or advice is appreciated.

I want to be able to count on my friends here, and elsewhere, for support, but I also want them to feel like they can count on me – that I am not so broken by my problems that I can’t talk about problems they might be having and listen to what is on their minds. I want to be in a place in my life where I can get a job, go out, work, come home, and then have a life I can be active in with friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and other people. I want to be able to express myself in a way that people around me, especially those closest to me, can understand, so they aren’t having to pry things out of me – and I want them to feel they can be themselves and show what they feel around me because I won’t judge them. For the first time in a long time, I think I am making big steps towards those goals, and it feels good.

Forward, Not Backward, Upward, Not Forward…

The future for me has been a tricky subject for me since January. When I tried to kill myself, I obviously didn’t think I was going to have a future. Ever since, though, things have seemed very up in the air. For the month after my hospital stay, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know if I would be going back to school or not, getting a job or not, going to treatment or not. 

In February, I knew that I was going to Menninger, but while I was there at Menninger, I didn’t think about the future much. Mostly, I was very focused on my treatment, so I didn’t want to think too far into the future; some of the other people on my unit spent a lot of time thinking about the future, sometimes to the point of scheduling the exact date of their discharge far in advance, and it really got in the way of their treatment. It wasn’t until my 6th or 7th week that my team and I even thought about what or where I would be going or doing after the clinic.

When we did start thinking about what would be next, I never even considered a step-down program; I had just assumed I would be going directly back to St. Louis. When we did start talking about it, I was initially resistant to the idea, because I didn’t know if I would want to be spending several more months in treatment. After talking things over with my sister who is going into social work, though, I began rethinking my future. I looked into several step-down programs, and eventually decided that going to a step-down would be a good next step for me.

Coming to the step-down proved to be a good idea, especially since I was reunited with a number of friends from Menninger – at least one of whom is currently one of my closest friends. The independence provided by living in an apartment was a vast improvement over the close, constantly surveilled quarters of the clinic. The groups were both more relaxed and more involved, and I think I’ve gotten a lot from them. And one of the most important things is the focus on a meaningful role – something I can go on to after leaving the step-down.

For a long time, I have been assuming that once I returned to St. Louis, I would, of course, be returning to school to finish my PhD. But after coming to the step-down,I am coming to realize that maybe that isn’t the best path for me. There are a lot of areas that, after having been in academia for so long, I have never even considered for a career – editing, website content writing, teaching at a high school or community college, or even becoming a mental health advocate. Now that I find myself looking into them, I wonder whether getting my PhD is the right direction for me to go.

Many of these things are things that it would be easy to accomplish in Houston, because it is a much bigger city. Also, since a number of people I know are already here, or planning to stay here for some time, I have a somewhat built-in support network, something I don’t have much of in St. Louis aside from my parents. There are plenty of support groups in the area, as well, for continued therapy after I leave the step-down. Also, I know that the gaming population in Houston is much more active than the one in St. Louis. The summer weather isn’t my favorite, since I’m a cold weather person, but it is something I would certainly endure to be around friends..

So there are a lot of reasons for me to stay in Houston. And in St. Louis? Well, my parents are there, which would be cool, but I have been living with them for quite some time; independence is a nice idea. Obviously, my school is there, and St. Louis University is one of the few schools with a good medieval studies program. There are some people there I like, but I’ve never really taken the opportunity to go out and do anything with them. The gaming community in St. Louis has something I’ve never really made much contact with, either. School is the biggest reason for me to stay, and if I’m not sure about that, it’s not a very good reason.

I’ll be going back to St. Louis for a few days soon, and it is likely that then is when I will be figuring out whether I return to St. Louis or stay in Houston. So my future is very much up in the air at this point. It makes me kind of nervous, and likely only moreso as the trip comes closer.It’s one of many issues about my future that is up in the air now, and it is on my mind a lot. If you have any thoughts, let me know; I could sure use the input.