Nothing overly dramatic to report.

I went to see The Nutcracker last night with the group ladies, as the local newspaper gave us all free tickets. That was really neat, and I took a friend from school with me. It's nice to be making friends, although I notice that I'm much more reserved here than I have been in the past. I think it has to do with the low energy levels... I just don't have it in me to maintain my current relationships and then add some on top of that! Anyway, the ballet was cool. They mixed in some contemporary-style numbers throughout the show, so it ended up being more like "Nutcracker: The Remix". I enjoyed it.

I'm making a crockpot roast for me and the guys today. We'll have a nice dinner together before Nerd Night starts up, and I'm looking forward to it. I even picked up some of those mini Martinelli's from the dollar store last week, since I had five extra dollars over my normal weekly food budget. C bought me dates and OJ concentrate, so I blended them together for a faux-pineapple glaze. We'll see how that turns out...

Finals are in ten days, so I'm really applying myself to schoolwork and study. Good news! I didn't miss a single day of class this last week! Also, I'm like .08 points away from having an A in my algebra class. That is exciting. I found this last week that I have a 99.6% in my A&P class, and I have over 100% in my other class. In addition to all that exciting stuff, I checked with financial aid, and I'm covered for this next semester, which means I can breathe easy about the massage course. Yesssssss! I'm still planning to apply for scholarships, however. The less of the government's money I have to use, the happier I'll be.

I'm doing better with the med side effects. Well, I was, anyway. The pharmacist told me that I can expect to be dealing with them for about a month or so... And that's probably when the meds will start really kicking in. It takes several weeks for them to begin to work. The side effects were diminishing toward the end of the first week, and I was optimistic, but then my dosage had a scheduled increase, so I'm going through it again. Thankfully, it's not quite as severe this time. Boy, can you imagine if they had started me off on the high dosage right away? I would have jumped off a bridge or something.

Unfortunately, from what I read about SNRI's (and Cymbalta in particular), it has "the discontinuation syndrome from hell", which means that, should I ever need/decide to quit, it's going to be rough. Really rough. I mean, the stuff is not addicting, but it's messing with brain chemicals, and that takes adjusting... and has ramifications. *sigh* Calculated risks, you know?

The day after my "I'm scared" day was better. I felt pretty good, so I put up the Christmas tree and studied and went to class and all kinds of stuff... then came down with a roaring headache. Ah, well, can't be completely free, I guess.

Yesterday was okay. I was limping by the end of the day, but it wasn't too bad. C didn't notice until we were walking and his arm was over my shoulder, so it couldn't have been too severe. I spent most of the day asleep, honestly. I woke up in time to throw on some clothes and drive to school, but class let out early so I came home and napped for... the whole afternoon. I think I woke up once to use the restroom, then I was out again. I got up in time to shower and get ready for the ballet last night. By the time my regular bedtime rolled around, I could barely crawl into bed. I didn't even brush my teeth.

So, besides the nausea/lack of appetite and the difficulty sleeping/unbelievable fatigue and the crazy dehydration... I'm doing okay. I have a headache today, too, but that's nothing a couple NSAIDs can't fix.

Oh, and guess what? If I drink alcohol while I'm on my new meds, my liver might explode! Enforced sobriety :) Not that I was a drinker before... Oh, yeah, and smoking will decrease the effectiveness. So I'm forcefully on the track to healthy living. That's funny... because I didn't do any of those things, anyway, but now I couldn't even if I wanted to!

Ahhh, yes. I forgot. SOULS is in town, as of today. Well... I'm sure there will be posts on that forthcoming.

I want to just avoid them (you know, 'cause I'm a backslidden heathen these days), but that's not healthy or productive. Plus I want to see A. I just don't want to get judged or criticized... and SOULS kids are so, so good at doing that... all in the name of the gospel. Of course.

So, we'll see. We shall see.

(Did I mention that I've got my tickets to go home for Christmas?!?!?!?! I get to see Peanut!! Uh, and the rest of the family too. Of course. ^_^)

Scared.

I haven't told this to anyone yet... not even C... but I'm scared.

I'm scared of this fibromyalgia.

I'm scared at how rapidly and fiercely it's developing.

In the span of just a few short weeks it's moved from my lower body to my upper, and then on some days it hurts to walk now, and sometimes it hurts to use my arms/hands, and it's gotten to the point (and getting worse) that it hurts to be touched significantly. It hurts to exert effort. My muscles get fatigued with very little provocation. Even doing my hair can push me to the limit some mornings.

I'm scared.

I'm scared because, although it's hurt to walk some lately, today it hurt to walk. I thought about crying a couple of times today because of the pain, but then I thought better of it and worked on being grateful. But when I gave hugs all around to the girls at group... it hurt me.

That makes me want to cry.

My house is falling into disrepair because I can't keep up on the housework due to fatigue, and, well... pain. I made the bed just now, and it took a lot. And it hurt.

It hurt to make the bed.

You can't see it, but I'm crying.

I feel like my life is being taken from me.... and I'm scared.
The cute and sweet: C and I went grocery shopping last night. He came home and I mentioned that I needed to go buy water, but that I was tired and hurting and didn't want to... so he put on his jeans and made me go with him. And, because I was super fatigued and it hurt to walk, he suggested that I ride on the front of the cart while he pushed me. So I did.

While browsing the meat section, C automatically began checking the ingredients on the various products he was interested in, putting each one back when he came to some ingredient I couldn't eat. He knows my allergies just about as well as I do, and he automatically checks for them. Isn't that sweet?

Also, he won't kiss me for at least half an hour after he's eaten something I'm allergic to, and usually after washing it all down with some sort of drink that's safe.

Since we made the agreement that he would help support me until I'm out of school, he has given me money every Sunday without my ever saying anything. And he pays for whatever groceries I pick out while I'm with him.

While pulling out of the store parking lot last night, I told him, "I really appreciate your taking care of me."

"I don't mind."

"I know you don't, and it really impresses me. I mean, if you're taking care of me like this when I'm 'just your fiance' and you're not even legally responsible for me or anything, I know that I can trust you in the future, no matter what happens. I feel totally safe."

"Well, good."

"Yeah. It shows your character. You're a good guy."

And I know that, whatever kind of little family we end up with, I can trust him to take care of us and provide for us or die trying. I also know that he won't leave me because we fall on difficult times. Very, very comforting.

Now for the ridiculous: part of all this joint stuff that turned out to be fibro is that, at times, it can hurt to be touched a lot. And I'm super fatigued and don't have much energy to exert right now.

I'm going into a massage therapy training program where we'll be working on each other for literally hours a day.

Ahh, what curve balls life throws at me... I mean, who would have thought that the year I finally decide I'm going for my massage license I come down with something like this?!

Oh, well. At least it makes for a good, inspiring story :) Because I am going to complete this course and get my license. Even if it kills me. Which it very well may.
I went to the church that the fibro support group was at, only to be cornered by the pastor for half an hour while waiting to find that the meeting had been canceled. (The facilitator is in the hospital, so no one else showed.)

While making initial small talk, I mentioned that I'd moved here not too long ago, and that I ended up staying because of school and the fact that I got engaged. He asked where we went for premarital counseling, I told him, and he asked if that's the church we went to on Sundays. I said no, I don't go to church and C's an atheist.

And he was off.

I am angry. Angry because he automatically assumed that C has no morals, simply because he doesn't derive them from God or the Bible. Angry because obviously I must be making a rushed, ill-informed choice, getting married that quickly. Angry because I'm only 24, and so that means that I'm making a mistake no matter how well-intentioned I am, because he was just like me at that age. (So it must be true!)

He's not only a pastor, he's a counselor. That means that he's insufferable in his certainty that he knows more than I, and he can counsel me into doing the right thing. Here's the deal: everything he told me during that half hour (including the sermonizing on God's love and his plan for my life, etc. etc.), I already knew. Talking about baggage and how my baggage and C's baggage will compound and we won't be able to work it out... Yeah. I already know the effects of negative life experiences on relationships, thanks. He drew the "love triangle"- you know, agape, phileo, and eros? As soon as he drew that triangle, I labeled it for him.

*Pointing at each tip of the triangle* "Agape, eros, phileo."

He didn't even pause. He just wrote down the names and kept going. Oh, yeah, but he drew a heart in the middle and labeled it Jesus, I think. Because none of them are possible without God's love.

Dude, I went to Bible college. An SDA Bible college. You can't pull something as basic as that (thanks, Hope!) and expect me not to call it.

It was just so angering. I felt so invalidated as a person, like my experiences and thoughts and life don't matter, because this guy knows more than I do, and apparently knows more about my life from the six sentences he heard, and he can tell me how to run it better than I could ever do on my own. And because I'm young, I can't make valid decisions. Right.

He gave me a piece of paper that he signed, and said that I should bring it back to him in a year and tell him how miserable I am in my marriage and how I want a divorce, because it's going to happen.

Yeah.

He blatantly said that I will be unhappy and get divorced. Mostly because I'm 24 and too young to make good decisions yet, and because I have baggage (which he just assumed I haven't dealt with at all, ever), and because C's an atheist.

All that was interspersed with the predictable Christian spiel about God's love and salvation and healing (the healing stuff came after he found out that I had "baggage") and how he planned my life down to the very details. I was getting real tired of this, so I outright told him that God's planning sucks, because my life has been terrible.

Then he changed his tune and said that it was because of the pain other people have caused, and then went off on this tangent about the people that he's counseled and how he helped them find healing, etc., and then he got back on the baggage tack again, which was unfortunate. And annoying.

Sometime in there, mixed in with his testimony about how empty his life was before God even though he "had it all" (Right. Like I said-- predictable.), he asked if there were ever a time that I felt really hopeless and empty. I said yes-- while I was at Bible college. (Probably not what he expected to hear. But he forgets that he doesn't know me.)

So then it was because religion; religion doesn't save you, only God's love. Only Jesus.

Ugh. Get me OUTTA HERE!

I'm just... seething.

Like, dude. You don't know me. You don't know anything about me except for the surface things that I mentioned to you. Just because you're a counselor you think you automatically have me figured out? And that you can "fix" me? How dare you presume to tell me that I will be ready to divorce my husband in a year? Who do you think you are?!

Oh, because love is blind, and you don't see the flaws when you're in love....

Yeah, well, I think that C and I must have something else going on besides "love" then, because we've faced plenty of real struggles and obstacles together, and we're not in "happy floaty fairytale time" like you assume we are.

So I was tossing around the idea of maybe going back to church lately.... but now I'm just like, "Oh. Yeah. Christians. I forgot."

I hate knowing that I used to do that to people in my quest to be a good Christian. I feel shame and regret.

And the worst part is that he's probably off whistling through the rest of his day, happy because he "witnessed" to some cynical girl who was going to make a terrible mistake.... and I'm over here, steamed and seething, wanting NOTHING to do with happy-sappy-love and dire predictions of doom because I won't accept sage wisdom.

No wonder C steers clear of churches.

Ugh. Insufferable.

Later Note: I forgot to mention that the pastor also wrote his phone number down by his signature, in case I ever needed to talk, because he can counsel me and recommend some books and stuff.  Sure. Thanks, pastor.

He also emphasized that he didn't mean it as a challenge. It's not a challenge. Um, yeah, actually it is! When I told the story, all of us had the same reaction: "Challenge accepted." 

C is of the opinion that I ought to troll him-- keep his phone number, get his e-mail, and keep him forcibly updated on the continued health and happiness of my marriage. You better believe that I will be hunting him down in a year, paper in hand and C by my side, to prove him wrong. I want to frame that piece of paper for reasons that I can't fully articulate here... but partially as a reminder that naysayers do not determine the fate of any of my choices or the success of my marriage. It is up to me to choose a healthy and happy marriage each day.

The guys all tell me they're proud of me. I'm proud of me too, for standing up and vocalizing some of my disagreements with him, rather than just nodding along and smiling.

C laughed and laughed while I vented, because now I understand from personal experience what he goes through when he talks to "church people".  The automatic assumptions and blanket generalizations that are so infuriating are not unfamiliar to him.

It's funny, but I feel closer to C now, after this annoying incident... I understand him better, empathize with him. Funny.

Side effects

My new medicine is not kind to me.

I took it before bed time last night, hoping that I'd be able to sleep through the ill effects, but I actually woke up because I was so sick. Though I managed to make it back to bed a few hours later, it was not a good night.

C thinks it's my body adjusting to the new meds... He won't let me quit taking them, not until I get ahold of my doctor on Monday. It's cause he sees people on psychotic medication (which anti-depressants fall under, I think) all the time at the jail, and he sees what happens when they abruptly stop their medicine, rather than tapering off. I guess he knows what he's talking about, but I still feel pretty miserable.

I'm headed off to that fibro support group in just a little bit. Maybe they'll have some insight or helpful tips?

I told C last night after we climbed into bed, "Well, we've got the 'in sickness' part down. Let's work on the 'in health' part!"

He replied, "Oh, that's the part that I've got. We're covered."

Hah. Funny boy.
Well, the two sides of the family have met at last. (Parts of them, at least.)

Gramma, Grampa, and I went to C's parent's house for Thanksgiving dinner. (Sort of parents... C's dad, R, and R's girlfriend, D.) D went out and bought me/cooked me all kinds of special food so that I could partake along with everyone else. I was flabbergasted and really honored. I think she likes me! :) Also, she's just a pretty amazing, generous person.

I remember being amazing at how wonderful and generous D's mom S was, back in up in Id, yet there was always something about her that made me a little uncomfortable... like she was expecting something from you somehow... There was a pressure to her generosity that made it so I was never fully at ease with her. D, though, is not like that. She's just generous, and you never feel pressured to be effusive in your thanks or that you'll have to match the gift later, nothing like that. It's kind of refreshing, actually. I want to be like that! (I have a feeling that I'm more of the former than the latter... and I know that I have some passive-aggressive ways about me. Trying to change that.)

Unfortunately, my new meds pretty much destroy me if I take them during the day, so I'm going to try taking them at night from now on. I took them in the morning so I was "off" all day, sad to say. I did thoroughly enjoy my time over there, though. My grandparents hit it off with C's family real well. Gramma hung out over by the kitchen with D and they swapped stories, and Grampa and R commandeered the couches to watch Dallas get slaughtered. (Ah, well, they made a good comeback, so I can't actually say slaughtered...)

During dinner, R kept us practically rolling with funny stories from his job (he is a deputy with the local Sheriff's Department). There was this one story about a couple of emus that they were called out to corral some years back that was hilarious. I can totally see C's facial expressions and gestures in R when he gets animated. (Or is it vice versa?) It's kinda weird, seeing him so happy and animated. I never saw that side of him when C's mom was still in the picture, sad to say. I'm glad to say that I (and everyone else who knows him) can see that I bring out the liveliness in C just like D does for R, and that's a good thing.

Also, roomie S showed up to hang out with D, C's brother, so that was fun. C and I (and S) went back over to his parent's after he got off of work, and D told me that she really liked my grandparents. Even S said that they were cool, which surprised him, because he knows they're very religious.

So, basically?  Project: Introduce The Families was a resounding success! D invited Gramma and Grampa over for New Year's, even though I won't be there, and they were pleased to accept the invitation! *Whew* I'm glad that went so well. I mean, I didn't expect it to be a problem, but you never know when drama might spring up for no good reason.
Well, I had my special doctor's appointment this morning. It ran super loooooong, and I ended up missing math class (and a big test). I did, however, get a doctor's note, and I can make up the test, so it's okay. Between a test and a diagnosis, I think I made the right choice. (Even if I did have to call Mom to help me decide whether to stay or not!)

So.

I have Fibromyalgia.

The doc's are also doing auto-immune tests to see what kind of involvement is going on there. They suspect connective tissue disease (but there are over 200 specific diseases under that umbrella, so we'll see where that leads!).

While conversing about this with J, she pointed out that I sounded really optimistic, and was I really okay with this?

Well, yes and no.

Part of me is ecstatic. I have a name for this soul-sucking nonsense. I can focus my energies on managing something real. Most importantly, I'm not crazy. This is a legitimate illness, albeit "invisible". And I can do research, figure out what kind of lifestyle changes I need to make to manage this better. I can manage something I have a name for. It's no longer that nebulous, nameless sickness that steals so much time from me, but something concrete that I can fight, manage, and work with. It's hard to fight a faceless enemy. You never really know if you're doing the right thing... or if it's all just chance.

Part of me though, is a bit crushed. I'll be honest. To be laden with the mantle of "chronic illness" at 24 is... well, it seems unfair. Why is my body so fragile and broken? I have my whole life ahead of me, and now it's tinged with the expectation of pain. It may go away, but it may not. It could be pain like this, every day, for the rest of my life. Fatigue, crippling me... keeping me from being the kind of mom that I want to be, the kind of wife that I want to be... the kind of employee that I want to be.

Will I be able to hike the Grand Canyon next summer? I don't know.

Will I end up in a wheelchair because it hurts too much to walk? It's a possibility.

Will I have days that I can barely muster the physical energy it takes to walk from my car to the classroom? Likely.

And the thought of facing that for the rest of my life is... daunting.

But.

But.

I'm sure some good is going to come out of this. Do I dare call it a tragedy? It feels a little like one to me, but on the other hand it doesn't. Maybe it's an opportragedy. Mostly opportunity with a little tragedy thrown in :)

So the docs put me on this antidepressant that's been proven to help with fibro. As uneasy as I was at the thought of being on antidepressants earlier this year (when I went to beg my doctor to help me overcome my horrific depression, and was told by my employer that if I got on antidepressants they'd have to let me go, which STILL irks me to no end), I don't mind so much now. Probably because it's not a mental thing that I'm working with, so I don't feel like "I can fix myself given enough time". It's physical, it's here, it's "permanent", and I know I can't go on living like I am.

And hey, this'll probably help with my depression, too. Two birds, one stone :) (Also, it's non-habit forming. Wheee-hew.)

I think more research is in order. I'm not just going to be like, "Okay, I have this, life goes on as normal." No way! I bet there are lifestyle changes I can make that would help... beginning with regular massages ;)

Also, I'm seriously asking questions about the role of seratonin now... Why does a Seratonin and Norepinephrine Re-uptake Inhibitor help with fibro? Is there some connection with chemical imbalance and the likelihood of fibro? Why is it mostly women in a certain age bracket that get it? What connection is there between depression and fibro/overactive nervous system? Because that's what fibromyalgia is, basically-- a hypersensitive nervous system. There's a bust in the chain somewhere that keeps pain signals going when there's no stimulus or reason for pain. A broken feedback loop.

It makes me want to go into neuropsychology even more. Oh, how I want to research these things!!!!
One thing I am so, so, SO looking forward to about "The House" (when it's just me and C, of course) is that I will have full reign of the kitchen. It will be a Safe kitchen, since C doesn't really cook, and he understands the importance of my eliminating even incidental allergen contamination. (Did I mention that I'm going to start cracking down on purchasing items that are processed in facilities that also process my allergens? Yep. You know that's gonna save me money on groceries! ^_^)

S, however... doesn't seem to grasp this.

I've stopped doing the guy's dishes. Since I implemented the Separate Sponge Policy (they have a sponge for their dishes, I have a sponge for my dishes) and have taken to using the same bowl and plate again and again, I've noticed improvements. I realized that doing regular dishes along with mine and using the same sponge was basically smearing allergic things all over my eating implements and my skin. No bueno.

At first S was really good about doing his own dishes. But the past few days... they've started to pile up. And for me it's kind of a matter of stubborn pride. Like, dude, I'm busier than you are, I'm allergic to the stuff you eat, so you're going to do your own dishes, k?

But last night when I came home from class, the counters are spattered with flour, there's a bowl of seasoned flour sitting out, and he fried his flour-covered food right next to where my muffins were cooling!

Really? Really??

I know it's hard to grasp these things when you don't have to worry about what you eat. But I guess what annoys me the most is not that he doesn't understand, but that when he does stuff like that it takes away my ability to choose. If I decide that I want to ingest an allergen and pay the cost, that's one thing. But when I am exposed with no say-so, that annoys me. Actually, it makes me a little angry.

So I'm really looking forward to having my own Safe kitchen. Until then... I'll keep coping the best I can.

And no, I'm not cleaning up that flour mess. I did that last time, with rubber gloves on. (I will, however, clean the counters again after he does, to get rid of as many lingering flour smears as I can. He's not as... thorough... as I am.)

And really? How do you ask someone to not make food in their own house? You don't. So I just have to put up with it, I think.
Today... is like hiking waist-deep through molasses.

Or, for those in cooler climes... like making the trek up to Stanley in 3 feet of fresh snow, posting at every step.

Wheeeee-hooooo.

But it's okay, because I have that doctor's appointment the day after tomorrow!

And you know what? I managed a hike with friends this weekend!

But you know what? This joint stuff is starting to affect my shoulders, elbows, and... my wrists and hands. An arthritic massage therapist? Oh, dear... (It's getting my ribs, too, which is a little weird, but hey, whatevs.)

I'm just grateful that I have a few hours to accomplish things before my next class. Like studying. Switching the sheets on the bed. And stringing white christmas lights all round the top of our room :) So even though I'm moving through molasses... I've got the time to do so.

Oh, yeah. I ought to shower some time today, too. Heh.
I've been craving sweets lately, despite having to eliminate sugar to kick this blasted respiratory infection. (It's retreated to a simple upper respiratory infection again, thank goodness!)

So I made a pan of Rice Krispies treats the other day, and I'm the only one that really likes them because they're a little "off". C says that, considering there's no butter and I used GF Rice Krispies, they're really quite good. However, they don't taste like the regular ones.

So I'm stuck with a ton of RK treats, and I'm having to eat them all before they go stale!

Ugh...

I'm tired of Rice Krispies treats.
There have been a few interesting twists and turns of events in the past few days. I just haven't had the energy to think about them, only react in real-time.

So Tuesday was kind of a sad day, with this giant wall of "shoulds" looming over me that I felt in no way equipped to fight. I felt trapped by my body and my health problems, trapped by my financial situation, trapped by my living situation (more on that in a minute), like I was failing as an employee and a productive member of society, and just generally defeated.

See, it's one thing when the Should Monster (who bears a striking resemblance to the Cookie Monster) is stridently insisting upon one particular Should. It's a whole 'nother ball of wax when it feels like a veritable tidal wave of Should is bearing down upon you, and you can't pick out one particular thing to combat.

I can't be too hard on myself, though, because truly, I'm still learning how to pull out my tools and deal with this stuff. I'm not going to get it perfectly the first time, or every time for that matter. So I forgive myself for not immediately bouncing up and away from the sadness and the Shoulds and the defeated attitude.

Wednesday, I had my last session with my counselor. It was a good one, and I realized something interesting towards the end, beyond the things I already know. Like, I know that the Should Monster is handing me a load of crap and I need to stand up to it, and self-affirmations will help a ton in this regard; that I am afraid of either living up to or acknowledging and owning my awesomeness, because then I feel like I have to perform at this super-high level all the time and that just kind of sets me up for failure and disappointment, so it's better and easier to just put myself down all the time and operate under the premise of "I'm messed up, I'm sick, I'm so screwed up" all the time.

I learned that I perform in spurts. Seriously. This is how I operate best. Rather than having to be operating or performing at a certain level all the time (think 9-5 job, 5 days a week), I am way more productive and don't have meltdowns when I have a spurt of awesome (however long that lasts) and then can retreat into non-productive mode. Think artist, or wedding planner, or somesuch. Musician. Trapeze artist. Writer. Whatever. Being "on" all the time doesn't work for me. And realizing that is super freeing and empowering. Like, just realizing how I operate is... cool. Part of what's been such a downer about the struggle with work is that I "SHOULD" be able to do that 9-5 thing and make it work and get over myself and just survive, right? Dude, I'm just not wired that way. Even if I weren't sick, I would still hate it and get burnt out. Which I have. Again and again. And being frustrated by it because I couldn't understand what was going on.

I also realized that I tend to live so much in the present that it's hard for me to see past this moment. I know it's a little weird, because I have struggles with being fully present in the moment, but let me explain... It's like, whatever is happening now is how things will be forever. If I'm happy now, I will always be happy. If I'm sad now, I will always be sad. If I'm in a place of limbo (which I am), things will never change and it will always be like this and I've failed. If I'm succeeding, it will always be like this... and when it changes, I'm devastated. Destroyed. Because I must have done something wrong, or else it would have always been like that.

I have a hard time understanding on a very fundamental level the ebb and flow of life, the changing, and the fact that whatever is happening now... will not be this way forever.

Maybe it comes from the type of childhood I lived. When things are crazy and dysfunctional, you're not thinking of the future. You're reacting to right now, and this is all there is. "Right now" is your world, because you never, ever know how things are going to change in three seconds. They could stay the same (Daddy's happy. Good. He's been happy all afternoon. Good.), or they could change in the blink of an eye. (Daddy was happy, but then I made a noise and annoyed him and now he's really mad and I'm being punished and he'll be in a bad mood the rest of the night.) The present moment is your world.

So. Interesting things.

But I am learning, and growing, and learning how to wield my tools with yet more proficiency. I was sad about things ending with my counselor, but I'm grateful for all she taught me and showed me. It was really a good little phase, and I know I'll always remember her fondly.

So then I've been fighting Food Stamps for two weeks, 'cause they're playing these stupid games with me. They called me for my interview a couple of times during the time when I specifically wrote down that I was unavailable, and when I (finally!) got a hold of them again, they said they'd put me back on the call list. Days later, when I haven't heard anything, I call back and find out that they never actually put me back on the list. That happened several times. Finally, yesterday, I decided to go down there after school. It was the first day that my schedule allowed me to, so I figured I'd take advantage of it. Plus they'd pissed me off the day before. After another round of calling me during unavailable hours, my calling them and them promising to call me back that day, I called them just before closing and got put on hold... for over twenty minutes. Then they hung up on me and wouldn't answer the phone anymore. (Did I mention this isn't the first time they've put me on hold and then hung up on me?) I was ticked.

As I'm walking up the sidewalk to the Food Stamp building's front doors, my phone rings. It's them, and they're calling for my interview. So I talk to the lady while I'm standing in front of the building! Hah! Long story short? I don't qualify for Food Stamps, because I'm a student and I'm working less than twenty hours a week.

Now, let me get this straight.

You won't help me because I'm in a position where I need help?

Right. Because, the lady explains, food stamps are meant to be a supplement, not the sole source of support.

Yeah, okay, so supplement me. I don't need to be fully supported. If you only knew how I'd been scraping by...! I can make it with your supplement. I'm not asking for welfare, here.

So I explained that I'm physically incapable of working 20+ hours a week while in school, but it makes no difference.

The door is closed in my face.

So I did what any normal woman would do... I went to my car and I cried. Because I don't know how I'm going to survive. Food stamps are out, disability isn't an option at this point... work is a mess right now anyway, but I'm doing all I can there... I'm out of options, and the only thing I can do at this point is live off of my credit card.

So I cried.

Then I called my mom. And she sympathized, but had no ideas for me, except that C should be supporting me.

I've heard that from people before, and I disagree.

It's not that he won't help me out if I ask, because he will. He's proven it, and he's blatantly stated that he won't let me go hungry. That's great. But, though we are engaged... I am not his financial responsibility. I didn't move in with him so that he would take care of me. We never, ever agreed to that, and I refuse to place a burden of responsibility on him that doesn't belong there. Just like if I moved back in with Gramma and Grampa, it wouldn't be their responsibility to take care of me, just because I'm living with them, just because I'm their granddaughter. It doesn't work like that. So I guess I get a little up in arms when people question C's moral integrity for not "taking care" of me while I'm in my dire straits here, because it's like judging him for failing to do a job that's not his. You know?

So I thought about it all day, and I finally decided to bite the bullet. Unfortunately for me, I didn't even think of the fact that I'd had all day to mull it over and C had just gotten home from work and needed some time to decompress, because I just hit him with it right after he walked in the door! I apologized later-- it was thoughtless of me, and rude. He accepted the apology and told me it was fine. Whew.

Now, we've had several "serious" conversations the past few days. There was Tuesday, when I broke down crying because I felt like a failure. (He maintains that I'm not.) Then there was Wednesday, when I had realized from Tuesday's conversation about having space of my own and feeling like a hangers-on that it's really, really important to me that a.) I know that when the house is purchased that it's our house and not just his, and b.) it's really important to me that after we're married we have our own place and space (i.e. no roommates). That was a good convo, and it went well. And, yes, it will be OUR home, OUR house, not just his. It's hard for me to feel that way now, because he's the one putting all the finances toward it... but when we're married, we're partners. Equals. His house, my house. (Right now, in the bachelor apartment, my stuff is kind of socked away in convenient locations because I came along last. He was already settled, and so was S, so it's their place, it feels... I just happen to live here.) And I'll be the one decorating it and cleaning it and all that, so I think I will feel more ownership. Right now is just a weird time of trying to fit myself into convenient little gaps.

I explained what happened with the food stamps, and C was sympathetic. He was very upset on my behalf when they were being so frustrating, so I knew he'd understand my disappointment at being turned down. So then I told him how I went and cried, and then I just asked him... I asked him if he'd be willing to support me until I can graduate and get a job. I know it's bad timing, what with trying to save for a house, but I'm trying my best and I'm doing all that I can, but I'm stuck in this weird limbo and falling between the cracks and I just don't know what else to do.

He asked how much I thought I'd need a week, and then he kissed the top of my head after I told him, "Sorry." He said that he knows I'm trying my best, and that means a lot to him. It's not like I'm just sitting back and doing nothing. So I asked for $200 a month. That will cover gas and should cover most basic food. I will continue to work and go to school... none of that will change. I'm just getting some help from my sugar daddy :) He says he knows what he can afford, and he's told me before that it's not like I'm a gold-digger. I hate to ask him to do this for me, but... I can't see any other way at this point.

It was funny-- I had texted him during the day that I wanted to make Rice Krispies treats, but he doesn't get the texts until he picks up his phone from the weapons locker at the end of his shift. So he's walking out the door with some other guy, and his phone goes off. When he sees it's from me, he's like, "Uh-oh, that's never good..." So he opens it and reads, "I want to make Rice Krispies treats...", and he's like, "I can deal with that. I can very, very much deal with that!" LOL He told me the story when he got home.

So we traipsed off to Wally World to get the ingredients, and while we were there, do you know what he got me?!??!

A neon/fluorescent sweater! Like the one I used to have in high school! (Actually, he's the one who bought the first one for me, while we were up at Ren Fair the year it was super cold and rainy.) I wore that thing to death, and finally got rid of it at SOULS, because I learned that you weren't supposed to draw attention to yourself with your clothes... and neon is definitely attention garnering. In the years since, I've regretted getting rid of it, since I figured I'd never have an opportunity to own one again.

I thought wrong!

You should see this baby in the sunlight. It'll sear your retinas right off :D

So. That has been my past few days. What an adventure. *sigh*

And what a good guy I've found.

Thank you, God, for my fiance.

And with that... I'm off to make the promised RK treats.
"You're not a failure. You just haven't succeeded yet."
and
"You're not a failure until you stop trying."

C's words of wisdom to me this morning as I expressed my fears and my feelings of failure regarding finances. I seem to swing back and forth between zen acceptance and full-blown panic. It always gets worse when I'm forced to use my credit card to purchase basic life necessities because I don't have any other money to do so. I mean... I could dip into my saved tithe money, but that's earmarked for Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch, and I REALLY don't want to do that. (Maybe I ought to send that off today, so I'm not tempted...) Plus I don't want to get in debt with God. I hate the thought of owing him.

I'm doing my best, dammit. I really am. So why is this so hard? Why can't I make ends meet? And "work" isn't helping to ease my mind, either... It's gotten so sporadic. Either I'm down sick or she's busy. It's like two ships in the night, and it's stressing me out. I'm not working this week because I'm out today with the end of this respiratory infection (which I thought was getting better, but seems to be getting worse?!) and she's busy every other day of the week. But the thing is that I never know when E will be busy or not, so if I don't grasp that (hidden) window of opportunity... I'm out of work for the week. And that means that my livelihood suffers. Because, really... I'm trying to survive on $160 a month (food, gas, misc. expenses)... if I'm lucky. I rarely get that much. And if I get gipped on a week or more of work? I get to do November on $80, probably.

I have no idea how I'm going to pay for my next tank of gas. I know C will buy me groceries. It's not like I'm going to end up on the streets.

I just don't feel like I should be allowed to plan a wedding in the midst of "I can't support myself", you know?

And I do feel like I'm failing. Not that I'm a failure, per se, because I know I'm trying my hardest. It's just that apparently my best isn't good enough, and that's really, really frustrating and scary...

If I could only get on food stamps, that would help so much... but they're playing games and being stupid. I really don't need to go into the details, but I've called them 6 times so far today alone and haven't received an answer... when I was supposed to have been contacted by them on at least three separate occasions in the past two weeks. *sigh*

Okay, now on to the positives and the gratefuls, to even out my perspective and calm my turbulent emotions.

My fiance refuses to view me as a failure, and encourages me, and will not abandon me in the face of these difficulties. I know I can rely on him to help me get through.

I got a call from the rheumatologist's office this morning and am going in to get my referral ball rolling as soon as I'm done with this post.

The massage program is really, legitimately starting in January. That means that I'll be able to get trained and licensed like, half a year sooner than I had previously thought. That also means that I'll be "scraping along" for less time than I had dreaded.

I met with my Jedi friend last night, and he's going to officiate our wedding for free! He and his wife are awesome, and I'm looking forward to working with them. They are the same couple that put on the zombie haunted house, and they're really excited about the wedding, too.

Despite being poverty-level, I am able to get health-care due to insurance and the generosity and care of my dad. I am so overwhelmingly grateful for that...

Note: I need to go back and re-vamp the post that I wrote during/after the initial shock of that "Domestic Violence Incident". I didn't have all the facts, I was seriously being affected by my biases in that area, and I just want the whole wide world to know right now that, though I haven't gone back and fixed that post (i.e. added the objective facts alongside my emotional interpretation of the incident), my dad is not what I made him out to be at that time.

That's a grateful, too. R is still the same guy that he always was. He didn't mysteriously turn into an abuser; he never was an abuser. I've realized that just because dysfunction exists in a family, that doesn't automatically mean it's an abusive situation. My family has dysfunctions. Oh, does it ever... but it's also a lot healthier than it used to be. I can say that for each individual member of the family unit too, I think. Including R.

So, note to world? R is not an abuser. He made some bad judgment calls, but so did Mom, and so did I in how I reacted. And I also realize that most of what I hear about family life comes with Mom's slant on things... including stories of R. So if Mom is feeling a certain way about R, or if there's some misunderstanding between them, her words are filtered through that mental screen. I had not really realized that before. So all this time when Mom didn't "get it" about money, it came across as "R is selfish" or "R is controlling with money" or whatever. Now, she "gets it". R is sane, logical, and makes perfect sense. Funny how that works, isn't it? Our biases bias us. Go figure, eh?

I'm also grateful that I'm going to be home for Christmas soon, and I'll get to see little Peanut for the first time! And Mom and I will be wedding crafting. And I miss the dogs. And I miss my siblings. And I have the best idea ever for Christmas presents for the family, since I can't afford to get them anything. (So I'll MAKE them something!)

And I'm grateful that C's family is accepting me as one of their own. I talked to D about getting together as one big family during the holidays, so Gramma, Grampa, and I will be having Thanksgiving dinner with the R's! Coolio.

And I'm grateful that wedding invitations got sent out. I'm happy about that.

I'm very, very grateful that I'm marrying a man who tells me, "You're not a failure. You are only a failure when you stop trying." Yeah. I'm grateful for that. (Also, he got upset on my behalf when I told him the food stamps saga. He wants to go down there tomorrow and call them racist! LOL)
Had myself a little breakdown last night... C and I were having a great conversation on styles and principles of disciplining our future children. Great conversation, so that's not what upset me.

In the middle of our conversation, S came to the bedroom door and asked about his Magic cards and why one drawer of the dresser that's by the snake cage was empty. I explained that I was in the process of cleaning/organizing it, and he got visibly upset because I had moved the Magic cards around. In my defense (and C agrees), it was in total disarray and looked like no one had touched it in months... at least. I thought it was abandoned. I told them that I had put all the Magic stuff together in one drawer (not knowing that there were other drawers of Magic cards that I hadn't gotten to yet, which held C's cards), and they thought that I had consolidated both of their Magic sets into one drawer and now they were all mixed together and the apocalypse would ensue and we would all die. (Okay. Slight exaggeration. But that's how it felt to me.)

So anyway, C says he'll go out there and fix it, and we resume our conversation, but I'm totally not into it anymore. It's all I can do to fight back tears. So when I tell C, "I'm sorry, but I'm just not really able to be a part of this conversation right now," he jokingly popped me on the head (because he couldn't see my face and didn't realize that I was upset), and I lost it. I rocket-launched myself to the side of the bed in tears, but C grabbed my hand and reeled me back toward him.

"Hey, hey... what's wrong? What's going on? Hey... hey. Look at me. What's wrong?"

So as I'm shaking and sniffling, and C's trying to get me to stop crying (because apparently guys have this freak-out reflex when girls start crying, and the only thing they can think of is "get her to stop crying"), I managed to blubber out what was going on.

With all the uncertainty of my finances lately, and with school winding down, and being sick, and with wedding stuff, I just feel very out of control. So to feel like I'm more in control, I start cleaning and organizing and "setting things to rights", and that's what I was doing with the dresser in the dining room. And you know, I thought I was doing a good thing, like "Yay, I'm making this a more pleasant place to live, and I'm keeping things manageable" etc. But then it turns out that I royally screwed up, which is bad in the first place because I hate making mistakes, especially when I think that I'm doing something right. And on top of that, the guys have all these unspoken "lines and rules" around their gaming stuff that I just don't know about, and so I keep tripping over them, and it's frustrating. Also, my pride was wounded, because I have the reputation of being able to clean while keeping everything in a place where it'll be easily found again. This time, I bungled that.

Or so I thought. Come to find out that all I had done was move S's cards, and left C's untouched, so it was fine.

Anyway, C held me and kissed me and listened to me and smoothed my hair back and wiped my tears away and apologized for bopping me on the head (which I assured him was not his fault, because in a different situation it would have been funny and cute, but he couldn't see that I was upset, so it was okay) and assured me that it would be okay, that I would be fine. He held me close and said that sometimes he forgets how hard things still are for me. I kissed him back and told him how much I appreciate him.

I'm very glad for him. And it's just funny how the littlest things can set you off sometimes, isn't it? I was totally fine after those brief minutes of tears and consolation.
Well, got all the long-distance invitations mailed out today but one. I'm still waiting on the address for that one. And D, C's dad's gf (figure that one out! lol) has been texting me about the cake. I was just going to pick up a cake from the Fry's bakery, but she and R have taken over monetary responsibility for the cake, and she seems to really, really want to go to a "real" bakery to get the cake made. I don't really care, since I won't be eating it, and if it's a big deal to her then I may as let her go for it. I mean... she did say that price doesn't matter. (A direct quote from a text.) So, sure! She can go to a bakery if she wants! lol This is the cake we want (but with white chocolate shavings on the ganache as well).



I'm still trying to absorb the fact that I just sent out our wedding invitations. It seems like I keep running up against these moments that hit me with the reality, once again, that this is really happening. I never made it this far last time we were engaged. So it's all kind of new to me.

Plus we've begun working on the ceremony. It's still in the VERY fledgling stages, and I'll probably do more thinking on it as I walk tonight, but still...

We're making a wedding.

Good grief.

I wonder if it's this momentous for everyone who gets married??

Edit: Found this comment on a post over at A Practical Wedding, and it really spoke to me, especially  given the sentiments I've been expressing/feeling lately with all this wedding stuff...

"MARINA writes:
This is what wedding planning was for me–a series of choices that would have seemed small any other time (what to wear, whether to rent plates or use disposable, what freaking color of envelopes to put the invitations in) taking on really significant meaning and becoming epiphanies about how I want to live my life. It was really, really hard, and I frequently felt ridiculous (seriously, I spent several hours trying to choose between off-white and ivory envelopes), but oh my it was worth it to get to the epiphanies."

Oh. Okay. Guess I'm not the only one! :) Emphasis mine, btw. 
I had just finished writing on Offbeat Bride about how I was anxiously awaiting the invitations' arrival. To quell my restlessness, I mosied outside to check the mail, and let out a big WHOOP! when I realized that the invitations were sitting in my mailbox right in front of my eyes!

I'm so stoked! I'm going to go address them right now. No joke. I can actually have all the long-distance ones in the mailbox tonight, because I already bought the stamps and sealing wax and all that.

So, on the agenda for today: address and seal wedding invitations, do homework, and continue to fight off this respiratory infection that has me in its grip.

Oh, and one more thing that's got me shivering with excitement! Well, okay, two things.

Firstly, C and I began working on our ceremony last night! I'm excited :) It's happening, y'all, it's really happening! Do you SEE how many exclamation points this post has?!

Secondly, my friend agreed to be our officiant, and C's on board with it, too! The best part is that this man is an actual certified Jedi. Yes. We are going to be married by a Jedi.

I feel like the best fiancee ever just writing that. "Why yes, my nerdy darling, I scored us a Jedi to preside over our wedding. Aren't you glad you're marrying me?" LOL

I'm just so excited over how much fun this is going to be-- a wonderful, eclectic blend of formal, hippie, nerd-gamer, and traditional. Yes. It's going to be fun. So, so much fun.
Last night when C came to bed, I woke up and we snuggled into a comfortable position. (Sometimes I wake up, sometimes I don't.) His face was resting on the back of my neck, and as I began drifting off I felt him lean in and give me a kiss right there on the back of my neck. I didn't move, because I was in a daze of sleepiness and satisfaction, but after a couple seconds pause, he angled his face around to the side of my face and gave me another kiss.

"Hmm?" I managed to murmur.

"I just wanted to make sure you were okay," he said as he settled back into our comfortable embrace.

It's moments like this that make life worth living, I think. Or at least worth loving.
A post I wrote on one of the bride-sites I'm a part of...


Settling on my dress took me both more and less time than I'd expected. The problem is, I like beautiful things. And wedding dresses are, by definition, beautiful things, created to make you look beautiful (ostensibly). I both did and didn't want the big, froofy white dress. I mean, seriously, when else besides a costume party will I ever have a chance to dress up like the fairytale princess again? I'm one of those that actually want that "princess vibe", I guess.
So I saw a dress that took my breath away, a lovely and slightly unconventional Justin Alexander creation. Problem: it's in super high demand, and since my dress budget was/is on the "department store" side of things, it just wasn't going to happen. Until, that is, I found a delightful seamstress through Etsy who was willing to make the dress in my price range, and in grey to boot! I hadn't bought the dress yet, because I hadn't saved the money, but that was the dress. I mean, I was sure of it. I even found shoes. (For eight bucks. At Goodwill. Thrifting FTW!)
I don't even know how it happened. Though I had found "the dress" that I wanted, I was still window shopping like a woman possessed, because what if I found a dress that I liked better and had that "aha!" moment after I'd already ordered the one I liked? That would be a travesty!! Also, did I mention that I like beautiful things? I mean, it's not like I wasn't going to use the dress again, but... what if?
So as I'm cruising along Etsy one day, I somehow came across armstreet (Shameless plug: http://www.etsy.com/shop/armstreet), and fell in love with their "Autumn Princess" dress. I mean, in love. But... it's flax and linen. And green. And not... a wedding dress. Won't my more traditional fiance be appalled? It's not like I care whether it's a "wedding dress" or not, but this is so obviously NOT a standard wedding dress that I at first tried to think of ways to make it more "wedding-y". Could they, perhaps, make it in the natural off white flax? And maybe with a different trim? (Though I think now that the natural flax and green trim would also be stunning.) After several days of clicking back to that particular dress at least 6 times a day, I finally came to grips with the fact that I loved this dress. And I will wear it so much more often than the other froofy princess-ier dress. (Hello, Ren Faire!) And it looks fantastic in green. And I happen to look good in green. And it's slightly cheaper than the other dress. And seriously, how romantic would it be to wear my wedding dress to the very Ren Faire that we began dating at?
So I finally embraced the true speakings of my spirit and bought the dress. (Once I had enough money, of course.) It was a little sad, putting away that hopeful princess that I'd carried around for so long, but I've realized that I'm really more of an Irish princess, anyway. And besides, princesses have to keep their elbows off of the table and all other sorts of annoying things, so it's just as well.
Since I settled on and subsequently ordered my delightful green gown, I haven't looked at other dresses. I was afraid, I guess, that I'd get buyer's remorse. I already had some pretty heady and slightly complex issues come up after buying my dress in the first place, mostly having to do with money and the spending thereof, and I didn't want or need any other complications.
However, the past couple of days I've found myself window shopping again, even after ordering my dress. I see these frothy white concoctions, or their slim ivory counterparts, and you know what?
I am so, so satisfied with my choice. It is an echo, an outpouring, of who I am. Yes, I could play the princess for a day. I've kind of always wanted to. But rather than indulging just one aspect of my self for one day, I've found a way to encompass multiple aspects of my self in a way that will last for much longer than a scattered day or two. Also, helpfully... my mate is fine with my wearing green down the aisle. Also also? The dress is called Autumn Princess, for crying out loud! I will be a princess, after all.
Houston, we've got a problem.

I'm starting to realize that I fundamentally disagree with Christianity on some key points of life... (or maybe it's just SDA?)

That's... not conducive to adopting a Christian worldview, now is it? Or maybe I just need to work with what I know to be true and not worry about it... God and I will sort it out together, whatever it turns out to be.

My latest status update on fb (from Eat, Pray, Love, which is ten zillion-ka-trillion times more wonderful and enlightening than the movie! Everything that I didn't like about the movie wasn't actually what happened, and everything that I loved was amplified a thousand times. Good stuff.):

"People universally tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will maybe descend upon you like fine weather if you're fortunate enough. But that's not how happiness works. Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings." {Elizabeth Gilbert}"

Replies?

"Funny, happiness to me doesn't come from anything I can do...except maybe reach out and hold Jesus hand while we walk together!"

"If happiness, contentment and peace of mind are one in the same, then I have to agree with SJ, the world nor I can manifest it, nor can the world take it away. These blessings are given to me by my choosing to abide with Jesus. Hay! I bet you could write a song with that thought: "The world can't give it and the world can't take it away"."

Hmm. Sorry. Disagree.

And why? Because happiness, contentment, and peace of mind aren't things that I found much of in Christianity except in short bursts. (Have you seen my blog posts from the past?!) It hasn't been until I have fought for my own happiness, been kind to myself, and, yes, insisted upon my happiness, that I am finding any kind of lasting happiness/contentment/peace of mind. (See last blog post.) Much of my happiness is generated from within me.

I guess this kind of hearkens back to my theory developed earlier this year... the one about how God works in the world and changes people's lives... I think a lot of it is people. It's us. I really don't think the "supernatural" work of God changing the world or changing people's lives/minds/hearts is terribly  supernatural at all. Maybe I'm just more aware of and intentional about the changes going on within me, but I think that much of the work is us, and we just ascribe it to God. I mean, it is God, but it's us. 

I guess what bothers me about the mindset of my two friends it that it just seems so damn passive. Like, "just hold on to Jesus' hand and you'll be fine." Well, first of all, Jesus' hands are metaphorical, so that's ridiculously hard. Secondly, if I had just sat around and waited for God to change me, I'd still be stuck in the depression that God didn't heal me from. I'm healing myself of depression. I am participating relentlessly in the manifestation of my own blessings, and I think that's the way it's supposed to be.

God didn't make us free moral agents for us to sit on our butts and wait for him to do everything for us, I think... even when it comes to something as "trivial" as happiness.

(But do I dare disagree on facebook? Hah! Hardly.)
I think the biggest tools that I've gained from this round of counseling are mindfulness and intentionality.

Today, I don't feel well. And I feel that I should feel well, because I've been "taking it easy" for the past few days (not feeling up to par then, either), and isn't there stuff I could be doing besides resting? I mean, I took two naps yesterday and slept for 10 hours last night, for crying out loud! Shouldn't I be better by now?

Well, Brain says yes.

I've had a crystallizing moment of clarity over the past few days. I have known/suspected for a while that my health and my depression were interrelated, but I didn't know just how. Getting depressed makes me sick? That's what I thought. Now that I'm fighting the depression slide/triggers with new tools, however, a different dance has come into the forefront.

When I'm not feeling well, I have several symptoms that correlate with what I typically consider to be my depressive episodes-- fatigue, apathy, inability to be motivated, irritation, lack of appetite, etc. I have a tendency, however, to being "shoulding" myself and being very, very judgmental when I'm not performing at the level I feel that I should be. I'm thinking that, sometimes, (not ALL the time, necessarily), the "slide downward" begins when I'm just not doing well physically. Then the mental gymnastics kick into play, and I end up spiraling downward into a super dark hole that I can't seem to claw my way out of.

This last depression session was different than previous ones, as I noted. It seemed to be strictly biological, without any of the negative emotional flogging and dark, twisted recoil that typically accompany my spells. Apathy and fatigue, sure. Negative physical effects? You betcha. But the emotional involvement? Limited. It was there, I won't lie. But it wasn't like it usually is.

I think that the diminished health is the catalyst, and then the negative messages, harsh judgment, and unrealistic expectations are what send my soul into paroxysms of grief.

Back to today. Brain says, "You haven't done anything today. Why are you so lazy? You could totally be doing stuff. And don't give me that 'I don't feel well' crap. When do you ever feel well? So many excuses..." And so I start feeling guilty and thinking, "Mleh, I'm a poor excuse for a productive human being. This sucks. I suck."

When I finally made it into the shower today (yet another reason to feel guilty, because I didn't make it into the shower soon enough-- is that silly or what??), Voice of Reason spoke up. She said, "Can you be compassionate enough with yourself to simply inhabit this illness today without judgment?"

Something clicked inside of me. Yes. Yes, I can. I do not have any obligations today except those I've placed upon myself. My schedule is forgiving, set up in such a way that I can do this very thing-- have days where I'm just blah. I did that on purpose, and here I am resenting the very safeguards I built in? How silly.

This mindful breathing that I've been practicing is teaching me to simply observe without judgment. My counselor is teaching me to be compassionate with myself, self-aware, and self-affirming. (I'll admit- it's hard to be kind to myself on days when I don't feel like I've earned it... like today.) To be mindful- aware without judgment- and to be intentional with my compassion and self-awareness are the tools that I think will finally help break the mental aspect of my spirals of depression.

Today, I am experiencing many of the characteristics of a depressive slide. I am aware of this, and I recognize it. But I will not judge. I will simply accept. And I will be compassionate enough with myself that I can simply inhabit today (illness and all) as I need to without passing judgment.

Also, I had to realize that I am not a chronically ill person. I am a person with a chronic illness. Semantics? Possibly. But a very, very important reality shift.

RSVP's

We got our first RSVP on the wedding website today! Whaaaaaaa! (That's a shout of excitement, btw.) It's C's uncle S, but truthfully I have no idea how he ended up with the website, because we haven't even sent out invitations yet. I mean, I haven't even gotten the invitations yet! But my hunch is that C's dad's girlfriend, D, gave it to him either directly or via e-mail because I had given the address to her last week. Either that or D gave it to C's gramma when she was in town yesterday for C's bro D's graduation from the training academy for DO that he was in. C's gramma then may have passed it on to S.

Or I could just not bother trying to figure out and just be excited about it. Yep, I think that's the route I'm gonna go.

Whoo!
Aaaaaaaand... we ordered our invitations last night! (They should arrive in a week, week and a half or so.) When I announced that to S and K who were hanging out in the living room, I accidentally said, "I ordered my wedding invitations! Oh, no, our invitations! I mean that we ordered our invitations!!"

The guys burst out laughing, and C said, "Well, I'm glad to know that we ended up with pirate invitations-- 'aaaargh invitations'!" (L.O.L. Seriously! How can you not be smitten with his cuteness?!)

And with some finagling, I saved us like, 12 bucks on our order. Every little bit counts! I also got my SmartyPig card in the mail, so I loaded it up with what money I've saved so far. Now I can buy stamps for the invites, and I can pay off the dress that I put on my credit card. (They didn't have the green available for a while, so when it came back I wanted to snatch it up as soon as possible!)

It's crazy, knowing that today, somewhere, someone is working on printing out my wedding invitations. Someone who doesn't even know me is seeing those pieces of paper. I wonder if they wonder about the people who will receive them? I would. Like, "Hmm. I wonder who C and C are? What will their wedding be like? I hope they'll be happy. Whoever they are, they've got great taste!" (Hehe.) Maybe I think of that because I worked in a graphics printing shop, laboring with love over someone else's creation. (Last night, as I was doing a final proofread and shifting text around in infinitesimal degrees, C said I was nitpicking. You're darn right! I used to do this for a job! I'm a professional. Sort of.)

Also, funny to note: it was C who admonished me to make sure we had one extra invitation. I couldn't comprehend why, but he pointed out that we'll want to have a box of wedding stuff, so that one day we can pull it out and be like, "And these were our invitations..." He's so smart. But seriously? How did he think of that and I didn't?!

And now, on a more solemn note...

I belong to a couple of "indie-wedding" websites, and in one of the forums I posted this little rant yesterday.

"Divorce.


Good grief, I even hate the sound of it... yet it's so common. Thrown around all the time. Nonchalantly. Like two people who built up years of shared history and inside jokes and back-and-forth banter and serious, heavy, mutual decisions didn't decide to call it quits and go their separate ways.
And that's what scares me the most, I think... the fact that, in order to be divorced, you must be married. You have to plan the ceremony and the reception, and say those vows, and promise to be with your partner forever and ever, until one of you is pushing daisies. You have to have once been where I am now: the single side of a wedding, planning to connect your life with someone else's in a very meaningful and permanent way.
But then, it's not so permanent after all, is it?
In the past three weeks, I've heard divorce announcements from two close couple friends of mine and rumblings from my parents.
Really? I mean, really?!
It's like I'm standing near a swimming pool, and all these people are jumping in the pool, splashing around, having a great time... to all appearances. But when I take a second look, I see that only a few people are actually hanging out in the pool. Most of the people are jumping out and shaking off, and I think to myself, "Why the hell would I get in that water if everyone else is getting out? What, is Jaws lurking or something?"
Because you know that most of these peoples had the best intentions. (Just like me.) And you know that they loved their partners. (Just like me.) And you know that they totally thought they were doing the right thing. (Just like me.) And they never, ever envisioned themselves splitting up later down the road. (Just like me.)
It's enough to make me question the purpose of the whole thing. Like, what's the point? You just end up splitting up later, anyway. Because it's not that I don't love my mate and want to spend the rest of my life with him. I totally do! I just... am shaken to my core at the fallibility of what I had once perceived to be an unshakeable ideal.
And I can't help but (morbidly) wonder... all these neat weddings that I see on OBB and APW... how many of those cool "Wordless Weddings" couples will actually stick together long-term?
Or maybe we have a better chance of it, here in the tribe, because we're intentional, honest communicators. We think critically through issues, and we strive for authenticity. We try to practice the things that make real life, and real relationships, work.
So maybe I shouldn't be so scared, after all. Maybe I should look at this as a chance to prove the world wrong. I mean, sure the divorce statistics are totally nauseating. But if I don't go through with my wedding, how can I ever hope to sway them back the other way?
(Not so much a "Primal Scream" as a "Primal WhatthehellamIdoing?! Oh Yeah, That's Right".)
So what say you, tribe? Is divorce just "one of those things" that just happen in a relationship? Like you have no control over it? (Like "falling out of love"?) And how, how, HOW, does one avoid being jaded by the sea of relationship flotsam?"
I called J and got her perspective. (We actually came up with the pool metaphor simultaneously, if you can believe that! Go besties! lol)

I talked it over with C last night, and realized a few things. Firstly, I really, really, really want this to work, and I honestly believe we have a great shot at it... and because I want it, I'm scared to get hurt. I'm afraid that horrible things will happen. I'm freaking out because I like/want this, and I'm just waiting for the bad thing to come along and ruin it. Right?

Secondly, I haven't really had much in the way of good role models to prove to me that the institution of marriage is a.) lasting, or b.) worthwhile/enjoyable/mutually beneficial. Like, even if people stick it out, they're miserable. Right? (Hello, sitcoms... ugh. I hate tv.) Now that I'm more grown up, sure... I can think of maybe one or two, but probably not more than I could count on one hand. So no wonder I'm wary.

C's perspective is a little different. He pointed out that, yes, there are still people in the water, so you know that it's not all a failure. Secondly, bad news travels more than good news. People don't talk about the ones who stay together until they split up, and then you hear all about it. The ones who are solidly, quietly together? They get no medals, no awards, no news coverage. They're just... there. Like, he brought up the old couple who don't have much to say to each other anymore because they've said it all. It's not bad, it's just that they're super comfortable around each other and they pretty much know what the other is thinking/feeling/how they would react, etc. Or the other kind of old couple that kind of banter and tease each other and stuff, but you can tell that they still really like each other. (No malicious teasing, here.) He says to look at them. And he thinks that we can be that someday.

Also, apparently marriage/divorce is like a shark attack. How many shark attacks actually happen? Not very many. But you hear about every. single. one. So it seems like there are a whole bunch. However, in reality, it is more likely for you to be struck by lightning three times than to be attacked by a shark. It goes along with that bad news thing. It's not exactly the scourge I'm feeling it is (because, obviously, there are still people in the pool), but if all I'm hearing about are the shark attacks, it's gonna feel like it's happening a whole lot more often than it actually is.

So that's C's take on it. There was more, but I was/am tired, and that was the meat of the conversation. I came out okay on the other side, more ready than before to take this plunge.

I mean... who else is gonna protect C from shark attacks??