Back to “Normal”

So, last week was different. Adam had union arbitration hearing training for work all week, and they held the classes at a hotel that is located near his parents’ house. That meant that we changed things up a little bit.  I traveled down south with him at dawn, and spent the day at the Majka house.

We arrived at his parents’ house at around 7 a.m. every day. I made him eggs for breakfast, and then he went to training and I went back to sleep for a little while.  Ann (Adam’s aunt) and Gerry (Adam’s dad) are disabled also, so I got to spend time with both of them.  Each day, Ann would take me to the grocery store to get ingredients for dinner, and each day, I made dinner for a family of 6. (Adam’s parents, aunt, brother Jeremy, and the two of us)

I really liked how the days flowed.  Waking up at 5:30, getting showered, fixing my baby breakfast, and then focusing on preparing a good meal for the whole family for the rest of the day made me feel like I was really making a positive difference in the lives of everyone around me.  I didn’t even have much time at all for Facebook.

But today, things are back to normal. I told Adam that I was going to wake up with him and make him breakfast this morning, since that had become a thing we did, and I liked it — but I barely remember him kissing me goodbye this morning. I must have slept through the alarms, and he didn’t want to wake me.  I’m going to try harder tomorrow morning.

It seems almost sad, sitting here in my pajamas at 10:30 a.m., having no idea what I’m going to cook for a supper for two, knowing that I just have to take care of us.  I guess it’s a good thing. I mean, it’s been a week since I’ve done the dishes here, and there’s definitely laundry to do as well.  There’s no food in the fridge to make dinner, so I’m going to have to walk to the grocery store as well. It’s not like I don’t have anything to do today.

I suppose the thing for me to do is to focus on the same things that I would have focused on if I were at the parents’ house: making it as nice for Adam to come home as possible — instead of focusing on the things that have come to mind this morning: the fact that I’m alone all day and kind of lack direction.

At least it will be easier to get back to meditating. I didn’t have time to do that at all last week, which made the latest 21 day Chopra Center challenge kind of a wash.

If spending time at the parents’ house showed me anything, it’s this: I enjoy family… and truly want kids. I want more people in my life to care for. And I’m deeply tired of spending so much time alone.

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Just life.

Life is pretty good right now.

I’m down to 50 mg of Topamax a day, and for whatever reason, I’m still seizure-free.  This makes me very happy. It makes me wonder what was causing the inflammation that created all of my seizures before, and what the difference is between now and then, but I’m mostly okay with not knowing, aside from being worried that they’re going to come back when I least expect them.  I guess that’s the nature of MS.  I mean, they’ve shown me on MRIs where the lesions are that cause the seizure activity, so I’m not so brazen as to think I’m done with the shaking forever — but I’ll take the respite for as long as it lasts.

Now that it’s been a couple of months that I’ve been stable, I’ve started looking for employment.  It’s not that I don’t love the freedom that comes with being a housewife, it’s just that I need interaction with people and to be challenged on an intellectual level.  It also wouldn’t hurt my self-esteem to know that I could actually provide a living for myself again, despite the fact that I’m well taken care of by my wonderful husband.  I feel like I need to take advantage of the time I have while I’m well enough to work.

Getting back into the job market after 8 years out of it is daunting. It’s hard to believe that the last time I worked a serious full-time job before I went to law school was in 2005, and now it’s 2013. Everything I’m applying to is entry level, and that sort of ignores my experience entirely… but it’s the only way I think I’m going to get my foot back in the door.

Then there’s a part of me that thinks that trying to get a job is just folly, and that my health is as good as it is because I live in a low stress environment.  This same part of me thinks that I should look for volunteering opportunities, and just take on things that make me happy because I am one of the few people out there who have the benefit of living this way.  And aside from that – we still want to have kids sometime in the next few years – so it doesn’t make a ton of sense to get back into the working world only to leave it again to care for a family.

*shrug*

I am getting better at actually keeping the house clean, getting the laundry done, and I’m even getting back into cooking, which is making me feel more capable overall. Doing all of that and not feeling suicidal has been a pretty big deal for me.

As a child, the role of the housewife was always one that feminist dogma had taught me was loathsome. I looked down on the position and saw it as being someone’s maid and slave. I thought of women who chose that position as being lazy, stupid, and having no ambition. The reality is very different.

Sure, there are days when I think to myself, “Why did I go to college? Why did I go to law school? Wasn’t that all a waste of energy and money and effort?” but I wouldn’t be living this life if I hadn’t done those things.  I wouldn’t have met Adam. I wouldn’t be me.  I have to believe that everything I’ve done was towards making a better Rae, and that my family will benefit from the knowledge that I gained.  I didn’t know I’d end up being a housewife, and I probably won’t be one for the rest of my life. Heck, I might not be one for the rest of this year if any of the companies I’ve applied with like my resume.

So for now, I’ll just keep on truckin along… and I’ll let you know if anything cool happens.

Living A Meaningful Life

One of the existential traps that I constantly work to keep myself out of is that of questioning the meaning in my life.

It is a constant battle, because somewhere along the line, I picked up the mistaken idea that everything you do in life is a part of a path towards something bigger… so when I would get down about where I was in life, or would start questioning what I was doing (or not doing) I would get super down, thinking that my life was meaningless, because I could not, at that moment, extrapolate a “lesson” or divine some greater “meaning” from the events that had previously unfolded.  Nevermind the fact that in a book, you must finish the work before you understand the thrust of the story, I very frequently had gotten it in my head that I needed to have life figured out, and have it under control — right then. Admittedly, this came from impatience with myself and with the situation that I was in at the time.

Because I did not (or could not at some points) have a job, and I did not know what I wanted to do (or worse what I judgmentally thought I ought to be doing), I decided that I, myself, was worthless, and therefore my life was meaningless as well. This sort of thinking is, of course, deeply unhealthy: a combination of overgeneralization, catastrophizing, and emotional reasoning, 3 ANTs (automatic negative thoughts) that go together so frequently you could almost consider them a sort of mirepoix of misery.

Oftentimes, this sort of thinking can continue to eat away at your self esteem and to spiral until you become suicidal, because the thought of ending your life carries with it the only sliver of control that you think you have left. It has a sort of comforting side to it, carrying on death’s shoulders the burden of all of the awfulness you’ve created through the ANTs and saying, “You can make it all stop/go away,” despite the fact that the delusion would end in death and not in an improvement in your life, which is what you actually want. This is how suicidal thinking can become addictive. It lets you abdicate responsibility for your way of thinking and imagine that there’s a way out of your situation without having to work hard for it.

But the truth of existence is something entirely different. Nothing good and lasting ever comes (or stays) without effort. What I have found is that life is something that cannot be experienced passively if you hope to attain and prolong happiness.  It must be constantly infused with meaning, the same way that plants must be watered and fed — each day must be lived purposefully, driven with intent to create or to drive you towards one or more of the goals you have set for yourself.  Anything less than recognizing your duty to yourself and choosing to be empowered will cause sadness and decline.

Of course, with this empowerment comes the responsibility of taking action, and for many people, it is a difficult pill to swallow. It is not pleasant to recognize that happiness and a good life are the responsibility of each and every person individually for themselves — and that no one can do the work for them, no matter how much they may want to. It is especially difficult to believe that you can rise to the occasion when you are in the depths of depression.  We can only tell folks what we know — there isn’t anyone else who can tell them exactly how to achieve it for themselves: not even life coaches, because everyone’s life is special, different, and unique. But what we do know is that everyone inherently has the power to make things better for themselves.

So, for those of you who feel like you’re towards the bottom today, I’m going to ask some questions that I think might help you find your way toward light:

1.) What does happiness mean to me? How does it feel? What people/activities/places make me feel that way?  Can I contact those people or find my way to those things?

2.) If I were happy, what would I be doing right now that I’m currently not doing? Can I do that anyway and see how it makes me feel?

3.) What does gratitude feel like? What am I grateful for today? What can I do to show thanks?

4.) What’s one thing I can do today that will bring me or my family pride?

5.) Am I showing myself love by giving myself good care? What can I do today to care for and love my body?

I hope these questions help get you going down the path towards making choices that make you feel good about yourself and better about life in general.

Today, for me, writing this blog entry was something that made me feel like I was making a difference in my own life and in the lives of others. I hope it was helpful for you!

 

 

 

What Can I Do To Make Things Better?

One good thing about keeping up a blog is that, unless you’re just not looking, you start to see patterns in your life.

When I initially began writing today, I realized that I was, in truth, creating a bad day for myself. I was repeating sad-sack behavior, sitting in the dark, having not eaten breakfast, with no music on, preparing to write about what was on my mind — and those thoughts were all ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts).

It was when I saw myself typing the situation out that I realized: I have the power to change my situation, immediately.  I got up, turned on the lights, turned on Spotify (and chose a playlist of happy music), and poured myself a bowl of cereal.

Now, I’m feeling more in control of my day, more in control of myself, and more in control of my thoughts – and all of that is good.

There Are Problems In The World That I Just Can’t Change, No Matter How Badly I Want To.

Yesterday, I made a rookie error in thinking. I watched a viral video about Wealth Inequality in America and asked some of the smartest people I know how I could help fix things… because, you know, little ole me wants to do whatever she can to make things better, no matter how small that part may be.

That’s right. You read that correctly: I wanted to see what I could do to help fix the self-defeating problem inherent in capitalism.  1 Rae vs. a ginormous economic system.

I was stuck in this sort of rule-utilitarian mindset that said, “If you can figure out what the average person can do to help regulate things, without involving Congress, and you start doing it, you can help others to start doing it, and then things will be better!”  But that’s not how real life works.

In case anyone’s curious what the very smart folks answers were as to what the average person can do, they were:

1.) Increase political discussion about Land Value Taxation

2.) Create “stuff” to increase overall wealth (This includes rock music.) and then my favorite

3.) Make first contact with aliens and have them abduct all the rich people and their heirs.

Also, important to the discussion was the concept of caring for yourself first, then caring for society, as one follows the other.

I think the hardest thing to deal with was recognizing that I have to accept that I cannot fix everything for everybody. I also cannot cure AIDS, cancer, or MS. I have moments where I really dislike the fact that I am not Godlike in those ways. I just want to be magic so nobody has to hurt anymore, and I fault myself for not being that way. And I know that’s nothing but destructive.

But I Can Make My Life Better, And I Am Working On It.

So I have a few goals: Being fit, having a job, having a band, and liking myself – which includes accepting that I am not ever going to be able to fix everything.

One thing that has been difficult for me over the last week is that I have taken the leap and started applying for jobs.  There’s a certain kind of melancholy that comes with applying to positions and hearing absolutely nothing back – not even a confirmation of receipt. You start doubting if you really have been sending out your applications and cover letters, or if you’ve just been imagining the hours of job searching.

It’s a weird position to be in, having a juris doctor degree and no law license. I’m overqualified for most administrative jobs and underqualified for most legal jobs.  (A J.D. does not substitute for a paralegal certificate either, I’m finding.) Add to it 5 years of being disabled with seizures, and it makes sense that I’m not hearing back from anyone. At this point, I’m beginning to think that my best bet is to sign up with a temp agency and see if I can get any work based solely on my skills.

As for having a band: tomorrow, I have a final audition with a local band, which makes practicing the order of the day today.

Well, practicing, doing dishes, doing laundry, and cleaning. But what is life without a little housework? Gotta stay humble, right?