Third Wheel

For the most part, I don’t have a lot of complaints about my life. My job leaves me sore, but that’s pretty easy to take care of. No, most of my worries these day are about the people I care about. And there are certainly times where that can be painful. One of my closest friends is currently out of town, and doesn’t really have much in the way of means of contact. She can only call out occasionally, can’t be reached by computer, and I can’t directly call her.

I’m really worried about her, because I care for her a lot; but I don’t hear from her often. In fact, on the list of people she seems to want to contact, I seem to run pretty close to last. She calls her close friend – who, to be honest, she’s known longer than me, and who has dealt with a lot of the same problems and come out the other side. She calls her family – who, let’s face it, are her family, even if they do have a fair amount to do with her problems at their root. Me? I don’t really know where I stand.

She says she has feelings for me, which I don’t doubt on some level. I know I have them for her. But it’s a little hard not to feel hurt when I am always the last person to hear any news, and what little I do hear is almost always second- or third-hand. I know she is dealing with her own issues, and they’re serious, and I get that. I had to deal with my own not so long ago, and I’m not sure that in her position I wouldn’t be doing the same thing.

But at the same time, it is hard not knowing. I do everything I can to contact her, and it’s just not easy to know that I’m not going to be any of the people she tries to contact first. She says she feels like a burden, but she’s never been that to me. I just want to hear her voice, to know that she feels she can contact me. I won’t abandon her, though I know she’s afraid of that. I’m not giving up, I’m just scared, and hurt, and feeling helpless. It may sound childish, and you know, it might be – I don’t have a lot of experience with these kind of things.

But I just don’t like being the last to know anything from someone who says she cares. I know it’s hard, when you don’t feel like you can trust anyone, to take that chance and reach out to someone – but I wish she’d reach out to me. I’m here.And I’ll be here as long as she wants me to be. I just don’t know that she does.

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This whole work things is really exhausting, but I think I’m getting used to it now. As long as I pop a couple Advil or Excedrin or Aleve, the various aches and pains are pretty minimal, and I’m getting pretty good at navigating the job. I wish my schedule was a little more regular – rotating my schedule every week is a little old, and it makes planning things with friends a lot tougher. It’s kind of nice getting to know a whole new group of people, though, and the crew at Barnes & Noble are a pretty cool bunch.

I haven’t been keeping in touch with a lot of people that I would like to, and I feel sorry about that. Friends from college, from Omaha, friends from Menninger and the stepdown, there are some of all of them that I wish I was closer to or haven’t been in contact with recently, and I am working on changing that. I’m not isolating by any means, but I think the craziness of work and adjusting to the new schedule has kept me from being as close to other people as I want to be. Some people are just hard to get in touch with, and sometimes I’m not great at scheduling (OK, most of the time, I can’t schedule my way out of a paper bag). But I want to find a way to get back in touch, because there are a lot of people I miss hearing from.

I’m still trying to understand a lot of what goes on in my own head, and things happening with other people (Calla specifically, but she’s not the only one). I know I’ve mentioned in the past that I have a lot of trouble actually talking, face-to-face, to other people, even close friends, about my feelings. I have trouble a lot of the time telling Calla how I feel, and it’s not just because we don’t have a lot of opportunity for private conversations.I’m not sure what I can do about it, though, because it’s hard to practice.I’m open to advice, though.

I sometimes get the feeling that there a lot of things that Calla doesn’t tell me because she’s worried that she’ll scare me off or drive me away. That worries me, because I don’t know how to prove to her that I’m not going anywhere. I don’t know that I can, really. I know that her fear of abandonment is probably justified, and I know that makes it hard to trust people; it took me a long time to learn how to trust people, and for me it’s still kind of an all-or-nothing thing – I either don’t trust someone, or trust them completely. But I care about her, a lot, and I just want to be someone she can count on.

Anyway, in my free time, I’ve started watching Supernatural, which is kinda all about two brothers driving around in a muscle car killing supernatural creatures and being laconic and brooding. Eventually angels and demons and things get mixed in. I bought a book called Supernatural and Philosophy, that I bet deconstructs this show and looks at deeper philosophical issues – good vs. evil, free will, Chevy vs. Ford, things like that. I don’t know how much I really want to bring philosophy into what is essentially kind of mindless, but fun, action-horror, but I find the idea intriguing. I’ve got other stuff to read before that, though, so I guess I’ll find out later.

Also, on the cooking front, I’ve cooked a lot of things involving broccoli and cauliflower, a couple types of risotto, a very tasty potato soup, and a deep-dish pizza with crust just a little too thick.. I’ve also made pumpkin butterscotch cookies, which are quite tasty, and I have my place set up to make apple pie egg rolls, complete with caramel dipping sauce, should I have the company. I’m looking for something else, though; I don’t really know what yet. I take requests, but nobody has requested anything, so I’m at a loss currently. I also take suggestions here.

Trust Company

It’s hard knowing that sometimes the people we love don’t trust us.

Personally, I can’t blame them. In the past, I lied quite a lot. It was part of my effort to conceal how badly I felt; I remembered how hard my friends and family took it after my first suicide attempt. When I realized that I was getting worse, I didn’t think that anything could be done to help; after all, I thought, nothing had kept me from getting worse, so I didn’t think anything would help me get better.

Now, I realize that the impulse to lie, to conceal how I felt was itself a part of my depression. It was one of the most insidious parts of depression as an illness; it seemed to almost have a mind, a will of its own, to keep itself growing more serious until it killed me.And yet, there is no scan that will show depression, no blood test that will make it reveal itself.

I have friends here who don’t always trust me, either, but that is more understandable, at least to me. They have reasons to not trust me, or anyone, really. Whether because of severe anxiety, or trauma, or their own depression, or any one of a number of other issues, they each have reasons not to trust other people. There’s not much I can do about that, except be someone who I hope is worth trusting. 

It’s times like this I know that just because the people we love sometimes don’t trust us doesn’t mean they care any less.

Trust Company

Trust is an issue I spend a fair amount of time thinking about. A lot of the people I have spent time with have trust issues of various sorts, and I certainly do, as well. I tend to be pretty binary where trust is concerned. Most people, I don’t trust at all. Now, I imagine most people have this, to some degree – you have no reason to trust most of the people around you, the people you only see for a fraction of a second a day. But I don’t tend to trust even people I see more often, people I might have casual conversation with, even know on a first-name basis. It probably has something to do with a childhood spent moving around a lot, never having much chance to get to know people before moving on again.

The other side of that coin is that once I do trust someone, I tend to trust them completely. I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I have I would do anything for. It’s kind of an all-or-nothing deal, which I think bothers some people; they feel uncomfortable with that amount of trust being placed in them. That is something that I don’t understand, probably because we see the world in different ways. But it’s not a deal where I expect reciprocity. It’s not even a deal at all. If I consider someone a friend, I trust them. I don’t expect anything back. I’ve heard it said that trust is something that has to go both ways, but that hasn’t been my experience; I am entirely capable of trusting someone who doesn’t trust me in return.

This is probably good, because many of my friends that I have developed here have trust issues. They are very reluctant to trust, and some of them may never trust anyone completely. It hurts me to know that they’ve been hurt like that. But this isn’t about them, and I don’t want to talk about how they work; it isn’t my place, and talking about them here without their knowledge would be a betrayal. This is about me and my issues.

Being such a black-and-white person in the trust area is probably not a very good thing for me. For one thing, it means that I am not an easy person to get to know, because it takes a lot to get through to me enough for me to consider someone a friend. I tend to be pretty laconic, and it makes conversations with me…frustrating. I hear this even from my good friends, the people who I let my guard down with, so just imagine how much worse it is with people I don’t know or trust. For months now, since my second suicide attempt, I have been trying to work on a principle of total openness and honesty – there is nothing secret about my life, especially to my friends.

The problem there is that even when I answer questions that people ask, it doesn’t tend to get them the answers they want. I’ve been giving short, terse answers for so long that it is a hard habit to break, and so my friends often don’t get the information they want because the answers I give them don’t give them enough to work with. That’s another things I have to work on, believe me. I may seem chatty here, but it is much harder for me out in real life, face to face with another person. Things that seem normal in writing seem much more melodramatic in actual conversation.

But I digress. Trust is something I am working on, not because I want to trust the friends I have any less, but because I am trying to widen the scope of my lens, as it were. Instead of black-and-white, all-or-nothing thinking in the trust area, I am trying to introduce some shades of grey – people I know enough and trust to some degree, but not as completely as I do my good friends. Maybe it will ease off some of the pressure I put on my friends – having to deal with knowing that someone trusts you completely and unconditionally is probably pretty stressful to them. It’s not on purpose; I don’t try to cause any more strain on the lives of my friends than they already have. I always figured that that trust would be something of a sign of respect and love, if nothing else, but I’ve been in treatment long enough to know that most people don’t see things the way I do.

So part of that is making my apartment here someplace where people who are or were in the program can hang out. I have an open-door policy; as long as I am awake and around, the door is open, and people are free to come by, watch TV or movies, play games, read my books, and just hang out. I know who they all are, but they aren’t all good friends, but I think having that kind of policy not only helps increase my odds of socializing, but also shows some degree of trust. I don’t know if they’ll become good friends; hell, some of the people I would consider good friends since coming to Menninger aren’t even really speaking to me anymore, and I don’t know why. It might have been me, or it might be them, but regardless, I still consider them friends. And maybe some of the people who decide to come hang out at my place will become good friends, too. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see – and trust, to some degree.

Occupational Hazard (Gratitude Challenge, Day 5)

Today was day two of Job Search 3: The Search for Employment (nerds will get that). It gave me the chance to fill out a few more applications, which was time well spent. There was some interesting time spent on the phone with my mother, which, while anxiety-inducing, I think helped to solve some communication problems. There were other issues that came up today, issues involving my treatment here at the step-down, but they still need some hashing out before I’ll feel up to talking about them here, if at all.

I think the big thing today was the chance to get out and help some friends here in Houston. I’ve been going to a Tuesday DBSA meeting with one for the last few weeks, and today I went to help her move some furniture into her sister’s house, along with another gal formerly in the step-down. I think this was a big step, because it tends to be important when someone chooses to expose their family to other people from the program. It requires a degree of trust that is slow to come by, and so I was not only happy to help but felt honored to be trusted that much. I know how hard it can be to come to trust others – I have pretty big issues with trust and friendship myself. I hope I can prove myself worthy of that trust.

That trust being placed in me is, in fact, the first thing I am grateful for today. With what many of us in the program have been through, trust is a rare commodity. It is hard for people outside of the mental health community often to understand what those of us with mental illnesses and disorders have gone through, and that separation can make it difficult on us. It makes it hard to get to know people when you don’t know who will understand you, and when you don’t know who will understand, you don’t know who to trust. Mix in a fair amount of issues like abuse, anxiety, and other social problems and trust can be as rare as gold. So for the trust that has placed in me, both today and by others here, I am grateful.

I hate to say it, but I am also grateful for a little privacy. After my previous roommate left, he was replaced with another guy yesterday, barely giving me time to clean up the room. In an odd twist, he decided to take up residence in one of the step-down program’s other apartments, leaving me alone in my room again. While I liked my first roommate here, it is nice to be able to read in bed before going to sleep, and I don’t have to rush myself in the shower so that two people can get washed up before heading to groups in the morning. There are definitely perks from being alone in a room, though I do still prefer to have an apartment-mate, something I am still working on for my apartment once I leave the step-down program.

Third, and this one is ridiculously shallow, I am grateful for pizza. After some intense furniture-moving in ridiculously hot temperatures, and eating a small breakfast and a healthy lunch, my stomach was crying out for something worse for me, and pizza (pardon the pun) delivered.I tried out a new place for delivery, and it is good, even trying out mushrooms on my pizza (something I’ve never done before – I didn’t like them before coming to Menninger). Pizza is one of my favorite foods, even though it is bad for me – which is a subject I an go on about for a while, believe me – and I’ve been trying to ferret out the good pizza places in the area. Other places too, but more pizza places deliver than any other cuisine.

As for a positive experience, I again have to go with earlier today when I got to help my friend move furniture. I got to spend time with friends, which is always nice, especially when they’re such cool people. I got free lunch, as the mother of the furniture-needing sister (and my friend) insisted on picking up the tab in return for the help moving furniture. I got the chance to exercise in a setting where I didn’t have to worry about keeping myself occupied, which is always something I have problems with – keeping my mind occupied while my body is busy exercising is always rough. All in all, it was a good time with good people, and I’d be happy to do it again.

As far as exercise, the aforementioned furniture-moving handled that; in the heat here in Houston, it was like running a marathon carrying heavy things. Meditation was a little more difficult today, because I was pretty busy for most of the day, but I managed to fit in a few minutes here and there. And I did manage to send off a note to a friend – two, actually, one who left the program today and the one who trusted me enough to help her with moving.

There were some appointments that got rescheduled today, but both were rescheduled for tomorrow. Both promise to be interesting, at the very least. So tomorrow will indeed be another day. I imagine I’ll have some more issues to bring up tomorrow, so I will need to be looking hard for reasons to be grateful. Wish me luck.