There could be a long explanation about no new posts for nearly 2 years. Eh. Life happens.
Or doesn’t. I’m writing now to reflect on this turn of events over the last day. And years.
I’ve been feeling incredibly stuck over the past 6 months to a year, but I hadn’t really allowed myself to fully acknowledge it. All I know is that things were getting worse as the fall came and bled into the holidays. Since Barb and Grama died, I have not really enjoyed the holidays, and in fact, I’ve dreaded them. The first ones were because it felt uncomfortable to be around family and not talk about the elephant in the room: Here we sit, in Barb’s living room, the scene of the crime, but none of us are really talking about it. Just catching up, laughing, being around new people, silently missing the old. This year was different because my cousin sold the house. Her house. Where I’ve spent every Christmas of my entire life. Without telling us. I still haven’t talked to him. He still never told me. So for the first time ever I think, we didn’t spend Christmas with Barb’s family. It was super weird. A relief in a way because it was so casual, it was like nothing. But definitely not special.
I made it through the holidays but things weren’t really a big relief like they usually are. I’ve found myself over the past year having the best times in recent past (great self-care, excitement about creating my future), but then also really icky lows (hermitting and binge watching/eating/drinking). This has been on a rapid cycle as of late, and my friendships started to suffer.
There’s a number of reasons that my therapist brain can point to: the death of my father last year and experiencing mourning in mild, drawn out waves; the death of another family pet; friends moving on in partnerships and family planning; being 39, still single, still never having had a strong need to have my own children, but acutely aware that time’s almost up and I likely won’t have that experience, and the knowledge that Grama’s line and my dad’s line won’t pass through me; the abstract loss of my sister as he came out as trans; the absence of a clear, sure goal in the near future; settling into just… life… and wanting to make it something else, expanding life outside of work/school/caregiving, yet being terrified that nothing will ever change. I’ve identified in my brain these things that have kept me on a weird, tired loop of leaps forward and plummets back, never really gaining any momentum into creating this next phase of my life.
I’m self-reflective, I write. I do EMDR on myself and identified and worked through some negative beliefs. I was almost ready to return to therapy myself (still considering it) when I remembered that a recent client told me that acupuncture worked in amazing ways with their anxiety. Last year, I had my first experience with acupuncture in the form of a cosmetic facial treatment series. It was interesting but I never knew what I was supposed to be looking for. Toward the end of those treatments I asked my acupuncturist to explain what my client experienced with acupuncture. I was impressed and interested to hear more about treating the body as a whole and that certain points on the body connect with certain emotions and organs. I told her I would probably try that treatment next. I looked a little bit into research and testimonials so I kind of knew what to expect.
A couple of months later, yesterday, I scheduled an appointment and went back in. I told my acupuncturist that I’d been feeling some depression and anxiety lately, lingering grief, explained briefly about the cycling moods and behaviors. I told her I knew all of the pieces that were contributing to this, but couldn’t figure it out. I just felt like something was stuck in my spirit, in my energy. She told me she understood, and that Chinese medicine is perfect for these kinds of things. She took some pulses, looked at my tongue, asked about my digestion, and started sticking me. She warned me that I might experience a wave of emotion. I got comfortable for the 40 minute rest. I cried a little bit early on related to grief. I had thoughts of Barb and Grama and acknowledged that I was afraid to let go. My next thought was that it was ok to let go because they were still with me. I continued to lay there, thinking sometimes and not thinking other times. Tears on and off. I was more aware of physical sensations in my body. Then it was time to get up. She told me to drink a lot of water and don’t do anything strenuous, and reminded me that waves of emotional release was normal. She told me to come back once per week for a couple of weeks and then we’ll re-evaluate.
I left the clinic feeling exhausted. And my left arm felt super heavy and sore. I was dazed as I drove myself home. I got a little weepy about my dad. I made a snack and got back into bed for a couple of hours to rest. I got up later and decided to run some errands. I got a horrible sinking urge to go into unhealthy mode again and was terrified that nothing was going to change. But I got to where I was going, my mind shifted, and it turned into a productive day. I grocery shopped. I picked up a big storage container. I was exhausted again when I got home, and got into bed again.
I woke up at what I assume was way too early of an hour and just laid in bed and paid attention to my body and my breathing. I noticed that depending on who or what I was thinking about, parts of my body lit up with sounds, tingles, or emotions. I’ve historically been terrible about living from inside my body. My brain is a mile a minute, so physical and emotional mindfulness is not something that is natural for me, but I’ve been working on it. It was an interesting experience, and gradually I drifted back to sleep. I dreamed of a family reunion with my second family, an artsy bus, and skating. Just before I woke up, I dreamed of leaning over to my friend with the epiphany that we needed to buy a roller rink together.
My body felt slow and heavy and tired, but my brain wanted to get up. I had coffee and started laundry and set some intentions for my day while reflecting on the experience from yesterday. I did some budgeting and paid bills, putzed around a little bit, made breakfast, then got exhausted again and went back to bed to rest.
After finishing a movie, I knew I wanted to take on the overdue task of taking down the Christmas tree. I barely got the thing up before Christmas. Frankly, I plugged it in and haven’t unplugged it since. It’s had the same design for a few years – it’s a raggedy old Charlie Brown looking tree from my grandfather’s basement, with red ribbons and tinsel left over from years ago, disco ball ornaments, and some handmade ornaments from 2011. That year I gave all my friends and family personalized ornaments with pictures of them. I used old family pictures for family members and made some for myself. As I removed them this morning, it struck me that pretty much everyone on my ornaments is dead. Sugar, my dad, Grama, Barb and Rick, Grampa. It didn’t make me sad, it just struck me. Parts of my apartment and my life are just a shrine to people who are gone now. They died and what I understand now that I have more experience with death and a shifted spiritual perspective is that everyone dies, it’s natural, and it’s sad, but it is what it is. The problem is that I hadn’t moved on. It’s time to move on.
After I got the tree packed up in the big storage bin I picked up yesterday, I looked around at my plants. They were in pretty bad shape, so I decided to do some pruning that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. They were so overgrown in some places, rotting in others. As I cut the long tendrils for clipping to start new ones, it reminded me of cutting hair. I got a significant haircut this year as well. Looking at the plants, I kept thinking that I don’t know why I let them get this overgrown when I could’ve started fresh, but I was avoiding cutting the length. I now have much healthier looking plants that aren’t so tangled and bound together (they can breathe!) and I may have a healthy new crop on the way via clippings.
I still had the energy so I kept with my momentum. Another project that’s been calling my name was starting to sew. I’ve had Barb’s machine but never officially used it in the last 3 years. It’s a nice looking table! But I also meant to bring together all the Nigerian clothes that have been made for or given to me. For the ones I have never worn – some are outfits my dad sent me before we ever met – make them into something I actually want or use them as practice material. I pulled them out from closets and storage, hung the ones that didn’t need altering on the hangers I bought a couple of months ago, and sorted the rest into my old Christmas bin. I thought about how long I’ve avoided doing anything with these clothes because they were made for me and I thought it would be bad to alter them. But were they any better, hanging out in storage not getting used? The fabric is ready when I’m ready to begin.
In a final use of my energy, I transferred all my CDs and very old tapes from a cardboard box my cats had been scratching at for several months into another bin. And I packed some of the Christmas stuff I’m giving away into the cardboard box. I now have 3 tidy containers waiting to go into storage or given away, rather than a ransacked wasteland of unfinished projects.
Is it the acupuncture that unblocked some energy and got my Qi moving around again? Is it positive expectation and a real desire to move forward in my life? Is it an incredibly cold Minnesota weekend that kept me cooped up and coincidentally productive? Who knows. I’m just grateful I haven’t wasted another day on the couch binge watching some crappy show. (I take it back, Nurse Jackie is a really good and important show, I’m not sorry for that time spent!)
I keep having this vision of Grama waving and waving to me. “Bye bye! Bye bye!” But it’s not sad.