TRUST – Eggshells & Steel

 

Let me begin by saying for the record that trusting anything or anyone has always been difficult for me.  I don’t trust my gut, I rarely trust other people, and when I am hurt by a friend – or anyone for that matter – due to trust, or lack thereof – I blame myself.  As a child, I trusted everyone I met, giving no thought to things such as betrayal, pain, suffering…it’s a shame we grow up and lose that innocence.  Some days I wish I had it back; other days I’m glad I have my wall built around me  – and only I have the ability to tear it down brick by brick.

Trust is one of those words that people toss around like they do the word Love.  Both can be shown or said, but the true meaning behind it can be frivolous.  In my case of trusting others, it is like eggshells and steel.  Fragile in the beginning, strong when gained, but impenetrable when lost.  Seems like every day I am faced with this quagmire between my heart and my head – do I take a chance and trust or keep myself safe behind my wall?  The majority of days, it is the latter.  Anyway, when asked to write a post about trust and my experiences with it, several scenarios in my life come to mind.  There have been many recent examples; however, I am staying away from those because they are too raw and as I write this, I am not up to debating with myself again about what I did wrong.

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I met my first best friend in grammar school; Nita and I were in the same sixth grade class and we automatically clicked.  To this day, I don’t know why.  She was prettier, more fashionable, skinnier and her family had more money than mine did.  But we were joined at the hip every day and because she lived around the corner from me, we hung out after school too.  Once we started junior high, our relationship changed a bit as friendships often do.  She became more interested in boys, clothes, music and especially sex.  None of that interested me at the time so I was forced to do my own thing – whatever that was.  Our relationship suffered a lot throughout school – mainly normal teenage maladies – jealousy, fighting, anger, feeling left out and deserted…I could go on and on.  After high school – during which we never spoke or saw each other – I never saw or heard from her again. I never even thought about her – not once.

Five years later when I was 23 and still living with my folks, I was at home and heard a knock on the front door. When I opened it, to my surprise Nita was standing right there.  As the saying goes – you could have knocked me over with a feather!  Being the trusting person that I was at the time, I was so happy to see her; she hugged me as she walked through the door, smiling and laughing that I looked good and it was great to see me again.  We spent some time catching up and it was during this conversation that she asked me if I wanted to look for an apartment together.  Thoughts of our former friendship immediately came rushing back and I immediately said yes.  My folks weren’t too happy – they were never a fan of Nita’s and told me flat out that they didn’t think it was a good idea. I should have listened to them.

We found a place right away, a nice little townhouse across the street from the same high school that we graduated from. We shopped for furniture together, stocked the kitchen together and made decisions on the decor together.  The first couple of months were great – we were living as roommates and I was happy to be out on my own.  After that second month, her boyfriend – whom I never knew about – started spending more and more time at our place.  Jimmy was bad news – I knew it from the moment I met him.  He was into drugs, had been arrested several times for stealing and dealing, and in all honesty I was afraid of him.  Eventually he pretty much moved in and with him the parties and drug deals too.

I felt like an outsider – my space had been violated and I was no longer welcome in my own home.  My bedroom – which was also my living room and dining room at this point, was my only solace.  The only time I left it was to go to work or to the bathroom.  I ate out or at my folks’ whenever I could and it took me awhile to realize that this was the reason that Nita showed up at my front door a couple of months prior.  She needed another person – that her parents liked – to live with so that she could eventually live with her boyfriend.

Each day was more hellish than the next.  Nita and Jimmy turned the closet in her bedroom into a marijuana greenhouse complete with florescent lights.  The plants grew, drug deals were made, parties were had – by the time month four hit, I had had enough.  I came home from work one evening and Nita and Jimmy were sitting on the couch – of which I had paid half – and Jimmy had a knife in his hand.  He looked at me in a way that still haunts me to this day and said with a rage in his voice I will never forget, “Who has been fucking with my plants?”  Nita just sat there with her arm around him, not saying a word.  “I don’t know what you are talking about,” I replied.  And then he came at me.  I ran, but he grabbed me, put the knife to my throat and asked me the same question in a calmer, more sinister tone.  I was even more terrified; I started to cry and screamed that I didn’t know.  Nita must have started to get scared too, because she finally found her conscience and screamed at Jimmy to stop.  He let go of me and I ran out the front door to my car and drove straight to my folks.  I never went back.

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Thank God for my parents, who along with several friends moved me out of there the next day.  I made arrangements with the rental office to pay my half of the rent directly to them until our lease was up.  I never knew or cared what happened to Nita and Jimmy; I do know that when they eventually did move out they trashed the place and because my name was still on the lease, I was responsible for the charges.  Luckily, again the apartment complex worked with me to pay my half.  I don’t know if they ever collected from Nita.

It is because of this one incident a lifetime ago that I rarely trust anyone. Those people in my life that have earned my trust today don’t take it for granted, and those that lost my trust will never get it back.  As I get older, I have no time for people who don’t know or care about the meaning of trust.  I just don’t have the patience anymore.  My heart is mine and I will not give a piece of it to anyone who treats my feelings as an afterthought.

If there is an upside to this story, Nita did reach out to me about five years ago via Facebook.  She was married (not to Jimmy), living in California with her husband and two kids, and saw the posts about the passing of my dad a few weeks prior.  She said she was going to be in town the following week and asked if I would be willing to meet for dinner.  Primarily because I was  curious, I said yes.

We had a good dinner; we actually laughed as we talked about old times, and she even broke down and cried as she apologized for the hell that she put me through all those years ago.  I accepted her tears of “please forgive me” at face value and promised to keep in touch.  I called her when my mom passed three years later and she was very comforting and supportive and said how much she loved both my parents.  She reacted like a friend should.

Am I glad I saw her and that I reached out to her as well?  Yes.  Do I trust her?  No.  And I never will.

~Sophie

Survival

The Daily Post

Survival

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I woke up this morning and got out of bed
I am lucky


I enjoyed my morning coffee

I am grateful


I felt the love of my cats
I am blessed


I have a roof over my head
I am thankful


So much to do today

I am overwhelmed


Stuck in traffic
I am frustrated


My lunch falls on the floor
I am angry


The afternoon flies by
I am sleepy


I trip and fall on the way to my car
I am embarrassed

 

It is crowded at the grocery store
I am irritated

 

I arrive home safely
I am thankful


I enjoy my afternoon coffee
I am grateful


My cats run to me as I climb the stairs
I am blessed


I do some work as I eat my dinner
I am content


I climb into bed at night
I survived.

Why?

Questions someone living with anxiety asks every day:

Why can’t I cut people out of my life when I’ve had enough?

Why can’t I treat people in the same shitty way they treat me?

Why am I so trusting?

Why do I continue to care about people even after I’ve been used and thrown away?

Why do I feel so alone even when I am surrounded by friends?

Why can’t I have a relationship that I’m not scared of losing?

Why am I a giver, but don’t have the courage to take?

Why do I have a hard time asking for what I need?

Why am I not good enough?

Why does my life seem like an endless circle of confusion and frustration?

Why am I afraid of the future – the next day, hour and minute?

Why have I turned into someone I don’t recognize anymore?

Why can’t I be happy with what I have?

Why do people see love as just a word and not an action?

Why can’t I say No when all I want to do is curl up in a ball?

Why do I feel like it will never get better?

~Sophie

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The Job Hunt Continues….

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Who knew that staring at a computer screen every day for hours on end, reading job descriptions and filling out employment applications would turn one’s brain into a pile of mush?  Seriously, as I write this blog post I can feel my brain cells oozing out of my ears.  Not a pretty picture is it?

This whole experience has sent my anxiety level through the roof.  I have posted my resume on every job board I can find, applied for every job I am qualified for – and even some I am not – and contacted employers directly to discuss my skills and my willingness to learn.  What is up with corporate America today?  If my life were perfect – I’d even settle for “okay” – I’d make a living talking to you on a daily basis.  There are so many things I want to write about but unfortunately the search for a “traditional” job must take precedence.

My job history used to be excellent; ten years at one company, five years at several others. But the last couple of years, ever since my mom got sick and eventually passed away, my dedication to the corporate world has dwindled.  I’ve had two jobs in the last three years, mainly because my desire is gone.  My ability to conform to what my employer expects of me does not exist anymore.

All of this is my fault, I know, but I am now overwhelmed by what I want to do battling with what I should do.  I want to ork at home as a writer and blogger and gain hundreds of thousands of followers and earn enough money to live comfortably.  But I should find a job in an office with benefits and stability so that I can afford to eat and pay my bills.  Unfortunately, my strong desire for what I want is affecting the outcome of what I need.

I’ve shared with you before that I cared for my mom until the day she died.  I took care of both my parents, but when my mom died life got more complicated. I was always the caretaker and with her gone, there was no place for me.  I didn’t know who I was – still don’t and maybe that is why finding a job is so difficult and why I don’t feel “settled” anywhere I go.

Well, I guess I better get back to the job hunt.  Thank you for listening to me vent.  I would love to hear your stories or thoughts about a time when you have felt unsettled or out of place in your own skin.

~ Sophie

An Open Letter to Teens

Dear Current and Future Generations:

As you grow into adulthood you will be faced with a lot of temptation, challenges, sadness and even the occasional happy day.  You will make and lose friends and be the source of frustration and joy for your parents every day. Trust me, I’ve been in your shoes and trying to find your way in today’s world will be difficult – much more so than it was when I was a kid.

No, I didn’t have to walk 10 miles barefoot uphill in the snow to get to school every day, I didn’t have go outside to use the bathroom, and I didn’t have to fall asleep every night in a room right out of “Little House on the Prairie” – although I loved that show.  But I did have my own problems growing up; so did your parents and their parents, and their parents before them.

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The changes in the world as kids are growing up today has really bothered me.  There seems to be a lackadaisical attitude among our youth and an inability to be grateful for what they have.  At the risk of sounding “preachy” I want to offer some words of wisdom that I learned the hard way and whether you want my advice or not, I’m going to give it to you anyway.  So put down your phone and tablet, take off your headphones and listen up.  You just might learn something:

  1. The world does not revolve around you.  Believe it or not, when you leave a room life does go on.
  2. You are not entitled to anything, so don’t expect your every wish to be granted..
  3. Get a job the day you turn 16.  If you wait until you are in your 20’s to enter the job market, you will miss out on some vital experience and people skills that you will desperately need when you get older.
  4. Do not let your parents buy your first car.  Get it yourself with the money you’ll be making when you start working at 16.
  5. Pay your own way.  When you start earning your own money, you are old enough to take care of yourself – this includes (but not limited to) buying your own clothes and paying for your own cell phone bill.
  6. Open your own checking and savings account with your first paycheck.  Learning the value of money and how to budget early on will save you excessive stress and worry later in life.
  7. Be careful who you trust your secrets to – as they say, “not everyone who smiles at you is your friend.”
  8. Say Hi to the new kid in school, and the outcast and the nerd.  You are no better than them so don’t make them feel that way.
  9. Do not rely on other people to take care of you.  As you go through your teenage years, you must learn to take care of yourself.  You will eventually learn that YOU are the only one who can do this.
  10. Do not lose yourself in an attempt to follow others.  This is incredibly easy to do when trying to fit in and trust me, you will regret it.
  11. Work your ass off for what you want – becoming who you are meant to is a struggle every day; but if you study, pay attention and above all, LISTEN, the journey will be worth it.
  12. Don’t take anyone or anything for granted.  Just because you have it today, doesn’t mean it will be there tomorrow.  Life can change in the blink of an eye.
  13. Perhaps the most important lesson is this – Your parents did the best they could with what they knew at the time.  Love them, respect them and don’t let a day go by without telling them how you feel.

I’ve been through a lot in my own life, and I’ve made my share of mistakes.  But I’ve learned from them and hopefully changed for the better.  But I wish someone had given me the same advice I’m trying to give you. So take it to heart.  As Drew Barrymore said in the film Never Been Kissed, “You will spend your lives trying to keep others down because it makes you feel more important.  All of you people, there is a big world out there… bigger than prom, bigger than high school and it won’t matter if you were the prom queen, the quarterback of the football team, or the biggest nerd in school. Find out who you are and try not to be afraid of it.”

~Sophie

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Advice for Coping…

Happy Saturday Friends,

It’s finally sunny here in the South, although a bit cloudy, but hopefully the weather will brighten.

For those of us living with anxiety and depression, this Mother’s Day may be particularly hard so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a post from a couple of years ago. Maybe it will help a little.   Enjoy!

~Sophie

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Just Get Over It? – It’s Not that Simple

― Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation

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Anyone else shed a tear or two last night during Billy Crystal’s moving tribute to Robin Williams?  Although I wish they would have shown more footage of the talented actor, the message came across loud and clear – what we see on the outside has nothing to do with what is on the inside.   It is sad that it took the death of one of the funniest men in show business to finally bring depression out from under the carpet and into the spotlight, recognizing it for what it really is….a crippling disease.

Depression is one of the most prevalent and serious mental illnesses in the world today, affecting approximately one in four women and one in eight men and an estimated 121 million people around the world currently suffer from some form of depression.  Further, over 80% of people have symptoms of clinical depression but are not receiving any specified treatment, perhaps because they believe it will pass, or even worse, they feel ashamed.

Almost every one of us has, at one point or another, felt “blue” due to a disruptive life event or day-to-day stress.  However, true depression is a persistent feeling of sadness that impairs our general functioning and lasts for more than two weeks.  Although the word “depressed” is often tossed around like a baseball to describe periodic unhappiness, depression is actually a biological illness that doesn’t disappear like a cold or the flu.  The sad thing is that a diagnosis of depression is not always believed by some doctors; therefore, a clinically depressed person who needs help will continue their day to day lives without any kind of treatment.  Our society has spent centuries blaming depression on the individual and creating excuses for those living with depression.

As someone who has suffered from depression in the past, and still struggles from time to time, I know how it feels.  The number of unfounded myths about depression is many; therefore, after a bit of research, I found a few that I have heard before and I’m ashamed to admit, have used on myself:

  •  Being Sad Leads to Depression – while sadness is considered a cause, anger is much more common. Feeling normal sadness due to a loss or disappointment rarely leads to depression.
  • Depression Symptoms are all Mental – nothing could be further from the truth. Mental symptoms such as sadness, anger, anger, anxiety, confusion, feeling of hopelessness and emptiness are present; however, physical symptoms are very common including lack of energy, changes in sleeping and eating habits, stomach problems, headaches and body aches.
  • Only Women Get Depressed – this one is such a crock! Men are told to tough it out and get over it; such advice is very damaging as depression can even more dangerous in men than women as they are more likely to avoid treatment because of the stigma attached to it.
  • It’s Just PMS, Not Depression – okay so women can blame depression on PMS, what can men blame it on? This is perhaps one of the stupidest misnomers I have ever heard.  Yes, PMS can affect their physical and mental state, but a woman’s cycle can last 5-7 days – true depression doesn’t go away when the period is over.

So what do you do when you have been diagnosed with depression?  The most important thing to realize is that you are not alone and you have people in your life who love you. Although the tips below are not a cure, they are a good place to start on the road to recovery.

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If diagnosed and treated properly, people can “live with” not “suffer from” depression.   Don’t lose sight of your friends and family as they will be your source of strength and guidance – lean on them in difficult times and let them help you.  It is amazing what one “I love you” can do.

Ref:

Dealing with Depression and Loneliness (2013).  Retrieved from http://www.everydayhealth.com/health-report/depression-pictures/depression-myths-debunked.aspx#/slide-10

Dealing with Depression – Self-Help and Coping Tips to Overcome Depression. (2014).  Retrieved from http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm

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Good People Really Do Exist

Hello Friends,

As you know from my prior posts, the last few weeks have been extremely difficult for me. The loss of my job, being down with a respiratory infection, wondering how in the hell I am going to pay my bills, eat and ultimately survive.  It’s a scary thing if you’ve never been out of work before and you begin to question the point of everything in your life.  My anxiety level has been through the roof and I have been living on Xanax in an attempt to keep myself from losing it – although I’ve come close a few times.  But yesterday, something happened that put me over the edge and confirmed that there was in fact somebody out there throwing darts at a picture of my face.

I had to go up to the drugstore to pick up a prescription refill – I hadn’t been out of the house in three days so I figured it would do me some good – even if it was cloudy and rainy here in the South.  I got in my car and as I backed out of the driveway I heard a loud snap in my right rear tire.  Thinking I had simply rolled over a rock or large stick, I kept going.  As I continued down the street, the clicking didn’t go away and started to sound like I had a flat tire.  “Oh SHIT!” I thought as I pulled over and checked out the tires.  All looked okay, no flats, so I got back in the car and started out again.  But the noise was still there.  I broke down crying in the car in the middle of the road, not caring that I was blocking traffic, listening to the horns honk at me as they passed.

Once I pulled myself together, I drove back home; with the luck I’ve had the last couple of weeks, I didn’t want to take any chances that I would increase whatever the problem was by driving it more.

When I got back home, I called the local Firestone, explained the problem and they told me to go ahead and bring it in.  My brother came over and followed me up there and I explained the problem again in detail to the mechanic.  I explicitly told him not to make any repairs until he called  to inform me what was wrong.  “I just lost my job,” I told him, “I have no money, and if this is going to be expensive I need to find some way to come up with the funds.”  He assured me no repairs would be made without first speaking to me.

A few hours later, the mechanic called and said my car was ready.  “The clicking sound is gone,” he said.  Thinking it was nothing more than a rock or pebble in my hubcap, I asked what the problem was. “Well, your rear breaks were worn down and the rear rotors were corroded and had to be replaced.”   I completely lost it, yelling that I specifically asked that no repairs be made without first speaking to me. “How in the hell am I going to pay for this?” I asked.  “I need my car to get around! How am I going to get a job without a car?”  The mechanic listened patiently, let me yell and cry and cuss –  the poor guy must have thought I was a total nut job.  After my venting rage, he calmly replied, “Ma’am, there’s no charge.”   What?  Did I hear right?  Did something good actually happen?  I couldn’t believe this man’s kindness and compassion – it overwhelmed me.

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When I went to pick up my car I hugged the mechanic and cried (yes, again.)  I thanked him so much for what he did and how much I appreciated this small gift among the cacophony of crap going on in my life.  He smiled, said “no problem” and wished me luck.  It was only when I got in my car that I noticed the invoice – this angel performed over $400 of work on my car and didn’t charge me a dime.

God works in mysterious ways, I know.  And I know that my timeline is not his, and he has a plan for me, etc.  But everyone once in awhile he sends a reminder that he is with me and that the way my life is now is not the way it will always be.  Who knew my reminder would be in the form of gray-haired man missing a front tooth, wearing glasses and a grease-covered Firestone shirt?  If he is out there and reading this – you gave me a gift I can never repay – Faith.

~ Sophie

The Daily Post

The Beach
 

A book, a beer, a towel and a chair –  I have all I want.

As the sun shines down on me, not a cloud in the sky, I feel the warmth of those I have lost surrounding me – protecting me.  I think of my mom and dad and how much I miss them – wishing for just one more hour or day with them.

I run the sand through my toes and my fingers, as I think of the difficulties in  life and how quickly everything can fall out from under you.  Like a mound of sand – nothing is solid; however, as water is to sand, friends and family are to life – creating a solid foundation from which to survive and grow.

The beach

 

I stare out at the ocean, watching the waves – the whitecaps as the children play at the edge, laughing as they dodge the cold water when the tide comes in.  The peaks and valleys of the waves are akin to the ups and downs of life. There will be times of peace and joy as the ocean is calm; but the troubling winds will come again to create pain and turmoil, throwing me against conflict after conflict.  I do my best to tread water and hold on, as I remember my mantra, “When you’re tired of fighting the current, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, for in the blink of an eye, the current can shift and things are calm again.”

A book,a beer, a towel and a chair – I have all I need.

~ Sophie