Mental Illness: Overcoming Ourselves

As you know, I’m in a new romantic relationship. I could go on and on about all the great things that revolve around this life change, but this is a widow’s blog and I want to be real. I want to talk about what all of this means, how it has affected me, how I’m handling things as it pertains to my past and my pain.

The news isn’t all good.

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, happening really quickly. It feels unbelievable at times. But beyond that, as I am getting to know who I am now I am discovering that I have lots of emotional and mental issues. SURPRISE!! I already knew this much, but I wasn’t aware of how things would play out in terms of being with someone new. I have had a couple really intense breakdowns and I discover new triggers and observe my reactions to things quite frequently.

I’m exhausted.

DOGS: There are two roommates here, and I’m very mindful/ self-conscious about the dogs. They’re barking omg. They’ve run off omg. Someone peed in the house omg.

My dogs aren’t bad dogs. They’re undisciplined. They’ve lived their whole lives with a completely fenced and closed off yard to play in. Not here. The property isn’t secured around the edges and my dogs take off all the time. Mostly Walter and Rosie.

Walter is at the end of his rope. Resident boy Django is a DOLL but he won’t leave Walter alone. This results in Walter being on edge and pissy a lot.

SOUNDS: This is what I would consider a loud house. It’s not really LOUD, but there are lots of moving parts and the sounds get completely overwhelming. One roommate is a musician and plays the same music over and over again as he mixes and tweaks things. Dogs. Music. Conversation. People. It’s a lot for someone who has social anxiety and has been living alone for almost 3 years. A lot of peopling.

NUTRITION: This has been tough. I’m not eating properly. Not really eating much at all tbh. Roommates present a challenge with kitchen space, therefore presenting a challenge with grocery shopping or meal planning. This is really hard for me. REALLY hard.

COMPROMISES: Yes there are quite a few for all parties. I guess my biggest compromise is giving up having my own kitchen, and allowing my dogs to be dogs. I know Scott has made FAR bigger compromises. He moved me and the dogs in, for fucks sake. So his adjustments and patience are plenty.

Other compromises? I miss eating what I want when I want. I miss watching what I want to. I miss having space that is all mine. I miss the things that make a home feel like home to me, like pictures on the walls or anything that resembles my taste or decorating stuff. These are all just adjustments from being alone to living with someone. But for me, they sometimes eat me up. I literally cry sometimes because I just want to meal prep for the week, or because I can’t find something, or because this house doesn’t feel like “me”.

SHAME: Did you know that I am singlehandedly responsible for every bad thing? It’s true. If the weather sucks, I’m sorry. If you lost your keys, I’m sorry. If you had a bad day, I’m sorry. You’re angry at me? It’s my fault. You left me? My fault for driving you away. Things could be so much better if I wasn’t such a fuckup and a loser. I try to take up as LITTLE space as possible so I don’t “intrude”. Welcome to my brain!

LIFE: Scott has lived in the area for a long long time. He knows everyone. His kids are here. His friends, his childhood memories, all of it. Flip the coin and I have none of that. I’m completely a guest/ newcomer into his life and his world and I feel a little like I’m tumbling through space. Trying to navigate and reconcile that none of our shared experiences are new to him and that none of what we see is remotely familiar to me has been tough. It’s not easy to be the newcomer in a club of peeps who’ve known each other for years or even decades.

EMOTIONS: Wow. Where do I start. I feel all of the following things, even though not one person has done anything to make me feel this way.

  • Scared
  • Like he’s mad at me
  • Like he’s losing patience with me or the dogs
  • Like the roommate situation might be too much for me to deal with
  • Always on edge making sure the dogs aren’t making a mess
  • Always on edge making sure I do enough around the house
  • Unable to trust myself
  • Like I’m wearing out my welcome
  • Like I’m a crappy partner

ANTSY: Scott is afraid I’m going to run away. Sometimes I feel like running away. Not because things are bad – they’re not. They’re pretty wonderful except for my meltdowns. But I don’t trust myself. My fight or flight struggle is real and something I’ve never been really good at overcoming.

QUESTIONING MYSELF: Man. For almost 3 years I’ve worked on shedding my possessions. Minimizing my baggage (mental and literal baggage). Becoming more light and readily able to move or travel. And now I’m settling into a big house with a huge piece of property, and I’m wondering who the fuck I am. I was “domesticated” while married, but I’m a bit more “feral” now. I want to LIVE. I don’t give a FUCK about money (I know, immature or unrealistic right?). I don’t give a fuck about a job. I have the smallest wardrobe I’ve ever had or ever known anyone to have. I don’t want to spend my life doing household chores and tasks. I went through hell, and I’m still climbing out. I didn’t go through all of this to end up back in the grind. I have no desire to be back in any grind. I just want to LIVE life, every single day.

Yes, there are a lot of challenges – mostly self-made. But it’s the bigger picture here. Fear of losing control of my life and my choices. Fear that my mental health will drive him away.

Now, the good stuff?

It feels really good to be loved and needed.

Scott is a wonderful sweet man who treats me (and the dogs) so well. He’s kind, respectful, and understanding.

The dogs and I are safe.

The roommates are cool people.

I’m living in a beautiful home on a sprawling piece of land, because I met a man who opened his heart and his home to me and the dogs.

I’m living in a beautiful area that is rich with gorgeous sunsets, peace and quiet, cool outdoor activities and a 2 hour drive to San Francisco.

There is life, and love, after loss.

And in reality, all is well. I know this is just an adjustment and lots of growing pains. I’m not unhappy at all. I’m content and happy overall. It’s just a reminder that loss is heavy. PTSD is real. Mental illness is pretty scary. And ultimately, I got this. Everything is going to be okay. ❤

Peace, friends. ❤

~ Lisa

So much in so little time

Well, that’ll teach me! I haven’t written since the New Year and so much has happened. Where to start.

Well, I left Colorado for a California retreat. Melissa loaned me her spare van to make the trip, and I’m currently staying in Pasadena in a cool and funky experimental situation.

The van is liveable with a bed and a full kitchen. And then I rented an Airbnb camper. The camper is stationary, basically a permanent “guest house”. It’s hooked up to city plumbing and electricity so it’s not EXACTLY camper living, but it’s giving me a taste of living small and deciding if this life works for me.

It doesn’t look like much but it’s a full kitchen. I have a rice cooker, burners, tiny oven, and can make full meals.

The camper is very tiny but has a cute and nice-sized fenced yard around it. It’s working out really well. And if I can still say that in a few weeks, this will be my new existence. There’s a lot I love about it – freedom to live where I want with my dogs, flexibility to move around, and a lack of housing costs just to name a few. Downsides? Many. But the freedom and independence are worth it.

Emotionally, I’m actually in a pretty good place considering I was living in an ocean view mcmansion a few months ago! The reverse culture shock, the roller coaster, the tough adjustment, losing my independence, and gaining it again in just a couple of months feels exhausting at times but I have to say I’m in a better mental place than I’ve been in a long time.

Not everything is rosy. There have been some deep and dark challenges and I struggle with loneliness and a sense of purpose. But it’s all an ever-evolving process and I think I’m right where I belong.

My RA is strangely under control. I stopped the chemo drugs a while ago again because of the side effects so I’m drug free. The climate here seems perfect because I’m not having pain.

The dogs are great. Sadly I left Donovan in Colorado with my friend for this time. I miss him a lot but it was the right thing for him while I’m figuring this out.

I’ll update more often now that I’m in a bit of a groove. I’m hoping to share epic adventures and be able to see a side of life where I belong. 🙂

Peace.

~ Lisa

2020: Reflections, Thanks, and Stress

I’ve never been a “New Year” person. It’s never really mattered to me what a page on a calendar says, and I have definitely never held any sort of belief or superstition that flipping a page on that calendar is symbolic of anything but another passing day.

So all of this “out with 2020” and excitement for 2021 to arrive isn’t in my scope of understanding. To me, it’s another day closer to Trump leaving the WH. Other than that, it’s not much.

However, I think we can all agree that this has been a horrible year for all of us. And while it’s easy to look back on this year and think it completely sucked, I am looking back at the year with some pretty deep thoughts and intensely deep humility and gratitude.

One of the worst parts was/ is the isolation in general. But it occurred to me more than once that this new reality isn’t much different than my life felt before covid. The difference started to become that other people were, for the very first time, experiencing the world I have been stuck in since late 2018. Witnessing the impact of isolation on everyone else was fascinating, sad, scary, funny, and heartbreaking all at once. Me? I just felt less alone in my aloneness and was suddenly surrounded by people who had empathy for me whether they knew it or not. I never pointed it out or made any comments; I just observed their behavior and reaction to living for a brief moment in my shoes – alone, terrified, isolated, unsure about the future, helpless, out of control, restless, unhappy, paralyzed but hyper, in denial, whatever you all were feeling in that moment was an all-to-familiar feeling to me well before the pandemic.

When I look back at this awful year, I actually see a mixed bag. The history books will tell the truth and people truly won’t believe what Americans, and really the entire world, went through during this time. But beyond that, 2020 will always be the year that I learned what true friends I have in the world. I learned that friendship doesn’t have to mean daily contact or face-to-face friendships and that there are friends I’ve had for years that I’ve never actually met <3. I’ve learned that those are the friendships that really add up because when you admit that you’re in trouble, those are the people who help without judging. Who don’t imply that I should leave my dogs behind. Who just know that if I’m raising the white flag, I’m in trouble. Who pitch in if they can, and send love if they can’t. Friends who drive 60 hours round trip to get me in Florida and bring me back to invade their home for an indeterminate amount of time. Friends who reach out in PM and just say hi, or post something for you, or click a heart here and there just to let you know you’ve got people. Friends in the DR who let you share your shit and who understand and don’t judge and who can relate. Friends who become a part of your soul even though you don’t speak each other’s language at all. Friends from France, Germany, Canada, Russia, DR, Peru, Haiti, Holland, Mexico, and I know I’m forgetting other places. Friends all over the world who you would have never known, had you not been in the DR. Friends who are in your life for a reason – thereby meaning that I went to the DR for a reason.

I can look back at this awful year as the year I got to enact something out of an action movie where I got out of the DR running across a rainy tarmac with dogs in crates and on leashes and climbing the steepest tiniest stairs onto the tiniest propeller plane I ever knew existed (the van I rode in across country was larger inside I am NOT exaggerating!) across the ocean for hours because prop planes are slower. And the coolest (?) part, I got to do all my own stunts. I had the bruises, cuts, gashes, and torn clothing to prove it.

I can look back at this awful year as the year that I put my efforts into something and went against all the answers and made something happen. Against all common sense and literally everywhere I turned telling me it wasn’t possible to leave the DR, I learned that it was. I learned that fierce independence is a trauma response, and that it’s okay to ask for help. I learned that people WANT to help if they know WHAT you need. And by myself, I boarded a plane with seven dogs and everything I owned, flew across the ocean, got off the plane in the US, got into a van for another 30 hours with same seven dogs, and drove to a place I’d never seen before (again) to try and figure life out (again).

I can look back at this year as the year I ended up in the same state where I was born and raised, just by simple coincidence. But yet full circle…

I can actually look back at this awful year as a year when I learned SO much. I learned some hard lessons; I learned what really matters to me; I learned that in some ways I’m so much stronger than I ever knew, but I’m also disappointed in myself for failing and for my moments of weakness. BUT then I give myself the motivational speech that failure is just opportunity for growth. I guess I’m wondering, when can I say “uncle”? I think I’ve learned and grown and experienced a hell of a lot in a short period of time and I’m still standing, but can I please get a break? Can someone push the fucking Pause Button?

2020 hasn’t been my worst year. 2018 still holds that honor and hopefully will always be the worst and most painful year of my life (fingers crossed!!). I mostly look back and look at where I am with a bag of mixed emotions. My unknown is looming large and I literally have no idea what steps to take, but I am feeling drawn back to animal rescue. I know I don’t want to do another foster-based rescue organization, but there are countless other ideas and ways for me to rescue animals so I am trying to explore and find cool opportunities around the (preferably western) US.

And I’ll turn the page on the calendar and then it’ll be the next day. ❤

Dogs. Just dogs.

So, the situation here is different. I thought I would explain my living circumstances/environment for anyone who cares!

My host friend Melissa has eight dogs. I’ve been trying to find the right words for their way of life and I think I finally landed on Pet Hotel. They’re permanent residents at a pet hotel.

6 of the tenants were last-chance rescues. All of them have bite records. They’re unpredictable with other dogs. They’re great dogs but they aren’t adoptable. She has had many of these dogs for years. In fact, one of them came from me/Good Karma.

Each of those 6 dogs has their own run in an indoor climate-controlled attached garage. There are “shifts” in place for feeding, let-outs, cleaning the pens, replacing bedding no matter what, etc. They have to be let out one at a time for play because they are unpredictable with one another. They’re all large strong dogs who are teddy bears as long as they are separated.

Shadow, one of the hotel residents. He loves to fetch. Beautiful guy. He’s probably 60 pounds?

There are two more “hotel” residents. They live inside the house and get along great, but they can’t mingle with others. So they spend their time together, but separately from everyone else. All of the dogs seem content and know their routines. They’re happy and clean. And there’s a system that makes it all manageable. Well, on paper. It’s a lot of physical work that won’t be manageable for me.

Jack, an indoor hotel resident. He’s so cute and fun and I love him!

Then, add my seven and that’s 15 dogs if you’re counting. My seven are basically the only open reign mixing and mingling dogs, so they aren’t affected. I simply put them in my room in crates while the other dogs are getting their free time.

It’s no award winner, but it’s a very rare photo that actually contains all 7 of my dogs in one frame. Dinnertime!

So, it sounds hectic. And it is, but really the whole thing is so incredibly organized that it never feels like there are that many dogs.

My dogs are all physically “off”. Their moods seem great, but Walter is slipping on his back legs again and dragging his back end sometimes. Cass is nursing an eye injury likely inflicted by playing with Donovan. Bella is now barking in the middle of the night to wake me up for no reason. Donovan has COMPLETELY regressed to puppyhood and quite honestly he’s awful. Lol I adore this dog but he’s young and strong and needs parents who are the same. He is a different dog here. It’s only been a week so I’m holding out hope that he will settle down.

Omg whose dog is this

My dogs are quite comfortable here and seem to be taking it in stride. They’ve been so good through the flight, the long drive, a new house to learn. I’m a lucky dog momma.

My Cass, Baby Faye, and Rosie. Not a care in the world!