Today I learned that it’s Mental Health Awareness Week. While I have major issues with the term “mental illness” (implying that all people who are sensitive to the traumas faced by so many, or who can’t conform properly to our strict and often unreasonable societal rules, written and unwritten, are just “sick” and need to be shut away or medicated), I still think mental health it’s a very important topic.

It made me realize how much I’ve neglected this blog, and how much I left unsaid after my long, grief-filled absence. I think now is the most important time of all for me to share my experiences with the few of you who want to hear them, and the many out there who might benefit from stumbling upon them on this great resource we call the internet, now that I’ve conquered the worst of it and am living a fairly “normal”, happy and independent life.

This is a long story and will have to be written in installments since at the moment I’m suffering from severe tendonitis and am unable to use my right hand.

So I’ll need to go back in time first, I think. When I stopped writing over a year ago, it was spurred by a very traumatic event for me. In therapy, I spoke out for the first time in my life about the trauma in my past and less than a month later my boyfriend (who was not only my lover and my rock but also my main caregiver while I was locked away from the world, and my advocate to the outside, legally and informally) was gone. The pressures of loving and caring for someone so broken and incapable had finally gotten the best of him. He stood by me for so long and I greatly appreciate it and can understand why he left, but at the time I was only angry, hurt and depressed beyond belief. At the same time, an argument with my sister left us not speaking for quite some time. And some poor decisions made by my therapist resulted in me quitting her as well.

I spent months completely secluded in my studio, having multiple panic attacks per day and unable to eat or sleep much at all. I began exercising compulsively, in an attempt to wear myself out so that when I lay down to sleep I wouldn’t feel as if I were being electrocuted. I worked on some very intense and disturbing art pieces and spent the rest of my time crying, walking on the treadmill and doing sit-ups push-ups and any other type of exercise I could think of until I could barely stand.

Around this time, my mother decided it was time for me to come home. Being the most loving and dedicated mother (even when her baby is far too old to be considered to need babying) she spent far more time and money than she had to give flying to Washington, loading my belongings into a truck and renting a car to drive the two of us, my dog and two cats 3,000 miles across the country and back to Vermont.

Stop in later for more of the story, hopefully I’ll have it up in week or so but perhaps longer considering WordPress barely works with dial-up and old-ass computers.

June 16, 2010

Well, it’s hard to follow that last post. I was so angry at everyone and everything. I’m not feeling like that anymore, but I’ve still given up the whole social anxiety forum bit. One of the main reasons that I am embracing my agoraphobia rather than trying to get over it is because I have this compulsion to try to help others, and end up neglecting my own needs. So I don’t think that writing on a forum where I’m just giving advice all day is really very healthy for me right now. Somehow I need to find the balance between the two, to take good care of myself so that I am able to care for others, because it’s what I love to do.

I still don’t have much to show as far as pictures go, or art. I have been wanting to make art (I even got a request to make a doll from our local currency group) but I can’t do anything. The garage is just that, a garage. In order for it to be a studio, we have to take down all the cardboard and put up drywall, but Joe is so busy, who knows when that will happen. So at the moment all of my art supplies are in a pile in the corner, I can’t get to my things and so I am sitting around waiting for something to happen.

These pictures don't really go with this post, they seem to hold promise of sun and summer which is not the reality here at the moment. I took them when we first moved in, and I've been waiting for a reason to use them. I just plopped them in here because of my lack of pictures, though I find them a bit boring.

The weather has also been pretty rotten, so I haven’t been outside much. It’s been cold and rainy, spring is seemingly going to go on forever. We did have a couple nice days, but I don’t think I utilized them as much as I should have. At least we finally planted in the garden. We were waiting for our foodstamps to come in, because we needed them to buy starts, and once they did we got some good stuff. We planted a bit late in the season, but at least we planted! Now we’ll have pole beans and tomatoes, greens and basil, zucchini and brussel sprouts. Also, the strawberries are starting to ripen, but I read that they should have been thinned in the spring, so we might get a smaller yield than we expected.

What I’m really excited about the pole beans. I don’t know why but I just love them! It’s not even for the beans, which are terrific and so yummy, but mostly for the way they grow. Perhaps it’s just a lovely childhood memory for me, the tee pee seemingly made only leaves that I would climb under to play. It’s such a lovely thing to be inside a bean tee pee, surrounded by beautiful lush green leaves and to just sit and pick and eat what is growing there. I wanted to post an old picture from my childhood, of my father standing in the bean tee pee, but I don’t have it anymore. I think my external hard drive is dead… I may have lost most of my pictures.

May 28, 2010

Lately this blog seems pointless. I really wanted to start it in order to get my experiences with my social anxiety out into the ether and to have a place to talk about my art, but lately I’m not using it for either.

I recently joined a forum called SocialPhobiaWorld. com. I’ve been writing on it a lot and I was really enjoying it. I was doing what I do best which is giving advice and trying to help people. It was going well and I even got a bit of inspiration from reading other people’s stories. But the other day, I replied to a thread called “Why can’t I talk about myself” where I voiced that the reason I spend all my time on the forum giving advice and not talking about my deep-seeded issues is because I feel that no one wants to listen. I had just written on another thread where I had said something extremely personal and intense. It was a rarity for me, I usually don’t do that, but I was really feeling like this forum actually WAS some sort of community for me. The problem is, after I bared my soul, everyone who had been writing back and forth stopped. Then when I wrote about it on the “why can’t I talk about myself” thread, the conversation there also stopped. I keep trying to tell myself that I’m expecting too much from this internet “community”, but I can’t help but feel hurt and angry.

My whole life, I’ve always had trouble finding people who actually will listen to me, when I’m not giving advice. I’ve had one friend after another, from middle school all the way through my adult life who would rather turn the conversation around to themselves or hang up the phone rather than hear what is bothering ME. Because of this, I stopped talking about me. Now, I actually HAVE people who want to listen. My boyfriend, my sister, my friend who I lived with two years ago but I don’t talk to them. Now this aversion to speaking my heart has become a habit. It’s so hard to be real with people because somewhere inside me I feel that they don’t actually care, even when they say they do.

Right now, I am angry. I don’t want to tell anyone anything ever again. I am so mad at all the world for being so selfish. I am so frustrated that I actually trusted random strangers on the internet to listen to me, when I couldn’t even get it from people I called my friends. I am so full of rage, I keep lashing out at Joe and Sarah. I don’t know what to do with myself. I have no desire to make art, no desire to do anything. I’m just angry. And I’m definitely not going to write on that forum anymore. It makes me feel so used when everyone loves to listen to me talk about them, but they wont even respond when I talk about myself.

I’m pretty sure I antidoted my remedy, and I hope that I feel better when I take it again. I know that anger is a huge step up from how I usually feel without it, which is depressed and unmotivated, but anger feels so awful. I don’t want to feel like this anymore, it’s so painful.

So I wonder what the point is of this blog? I have 9 subscribers and at least three of them are family. Who am I even talking to? Who is listening? Who cares? It seems pointless to keep it up when I don’t even know if anyone is reading. And it’s been so long since I made any art… I don’t even have pictures for my posts right now… And I don’t care enough to find any. I just don’t care. So maybe I’ll keep writing, maybe I wont. I guess the only way I’m going to keep this up is if I care enough, because I’m not going to sit around waiting for other people to.

A bit of a wreck…

May 27, 2010

I’m not doing so well right now. It’s been raining for a week and a half, I think I antidoted my remedy and now I’m just angry at everyone and everything, and my studio still isn’t done. Apparently, the landlord never okayed the whole covering-the-walls-in-cardboard-boxes thing, so now we’ve got to take it all out and put in drywall (which we can’t really afford). I wouldn’t really care except that I am just so miserable right now.

I really just want to spend the next week hiding in there, but I don’t have a computer in there yet (which is music and radio and email and everything),  and it’s just so messy and unwelcoming and I can’t really finish setting it up! One of the reasons I haven’t written in so long is because I haven’t been able to take any good photos… Between rain and my ugly garage that wishes it was an art studio, there’s nothing worth taking photos of.

YAY!! New house ♥

May 5, 2010

So we’re pretty much all moved in! I’ve been on overdrive for days. My whole body is sore and I feel like I haven’t stopped moving in so long.

Our new living room view

Our new house is in such a beautiful place, the yard is so lovely with the garden beds and lots of birds and trees. I wish the weather wasn’t so cold and yucky! I want to be outside all the time! I want to roll around in the grass and fall asleep in the sunshine. But I have to wait until there actually IS sunshine.

Just a tiny portion of our yard

My studio is crazy! It’s gonna need some work before it can really be considered my studio, right now it’s really just a garage. We need to put up insulation and to put in a floor (probably just plywood) so it will be warmer. The landlord said it was okay to install a pellet stove, too, so it’ll be a toasty little house for me! It really is more like a house than a room. It’s so big! It’s really hard to see from the photos, but it’s absolutely massive! It’s making my head spin with giant art project ideas… Oh the things I could do, now I just need to get over my compulsion to make such teeny tiny art.

Here's the inside of my new studio. It's hard to tell how big it is, but that slatted thing that looks like a dressing screen is a futon frame and the desk took up my WHOLE ROOM at the old house.

So that’s all the things that make this place awesome, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I haven’t said anything about the actual house… That’s because the house is just weird. It’s one of those “modular homes”, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in person until now. It’s like living in a giant play house. I keep imagining that it was made in a factory where they have giant molds shaped like a house frame and they fill it with plastic. I can’t understand why anyone would ever build or buy a house like this willingly! It’s so cheap and crappy! The cabinets have weird laminate over them that’s coming off, the bathtubs are shallow with no overfill drains (odd.) the cupboards in the kitchen are a bit lacking, there’s really not that much space and only two drawers! And there are no closets in the main house, no place to put a broom or a vacuum or coats. And the worst part, we can’t put tacks or nails in the walls!! The landlord said the walls are coated with vinyl and if you put little holes in them, you can’t spackle them, you have to just replace the whole wall! We’re going to have to get creative to cover all the ugly white walls and the ridiculously large mirror in the kitchen.

This house is just silly. It’s not very well designed and it’s ugly. But I don’t care!! It’s a house! And it’ll totally work for the next year. Plus, I’ll have my studio and that’s all I really care about. That and the gardening space. I have my studio, and a lovely, sunny yard to garden in. Joe has his music room. Sarah has her own big bedroom and me and Joe have our own little bedroom. I have my kitties and my pooch, and it’s starting to look like home ^.^

S.D., lost in the moving mess

WE ARE MOVING!!!!!!

May 1, 2010

Oh, I am so happy, we found a house!! Finally! It’s not perfect, mostly because it’s super far away and the landlord is trying to sell it, so we may only live there for a year, but regardless, we have a home to go to! Hooray! HOoray!!!! (you can’t see me but I’m bouncing up and down a lot with excitement)

Me and Sarah had this big long talk yesterday where we were entertaining the idea of moving down to Eugene, where Joe’s family is. We’re really worried about him cause he’s just so burnt out on my whole social phobia issue. I like to think that I don’t ask much of him anymore, but that’s really not true. Sometimes I get upset in the middle of the night (usually when he has to wake up super early and then work for 10 hours) and Joe wakes up and talks me down for hours. Whenever I get upset, he’s there. He’s always there for me when I need him and I can see the strain. So me and Sarah thought maybe if we moved down to where he wants to be, he’d have his family’s support and he’d feel better. But neither me nor Sarah actually wants to move down there. Where we live now is like a magical wonderland, how could we leave it?? This town is just so lovely and peaceful and beautiful… And to try to find a house that far away would be grueling. What if we couldn’t find one, what then? And Joe and Sarah would have to get new jobs and all the logistics just make it sound like such a bad idea. We decided that if we didn’t get the house we had just applied for, we’d take it as a sign that we should move to Oregon.

Less than an hour later, Sarah wrote me to say that we got the house! So I guess we’ll stay another year ^.^ We wont actually be in Port Townsend any more, we’ll be in Chimacum, the next town over. But none of us really mind. I know Sarah will really miss being able to ride her bike everywhere, but we can have a garden and we’ll have a big, private, sunny yard for a whole year, so it’s worth it. We’ll probably move back here after that, unless we move to Oregon.

So almost as soon as Sarah told me about the house, she went to Safeway and got some boxes, then more boxes. And I filled them up with stuff in record time. I’ve already packed all my art stuff, all our books, most of the pictures and fabrics off the walls, and a good deal of kitchen stuff. Right now Sarah’s at work and Joe’s in Portland. I’m not sure when either of them will be home but it’s sort of torturous to sit and wait with no more boxes to fill… I could pack this whole house in two days if I had all the boxes I need….

I’m so excited and I have nothing to do!!! I need to jump up and down or run around in circles or something! WE’RE MOVING OH MY GOD I’M SO EXCITED AAAAHHHH!!!!!

Panic vs. Temper?

April 28, 2010

So a strange thing happened to me the other day, but let me start at the beginning.

Our closest neighbor (I can see his outhouse from my art room... YUCK!)

We’re trying to move. The house we live in is nice and cheap, but it has a lot of downfalls. We’re really close to the paper mill, which is stinky. We don’t have any privacy since we live on a little plot of land with like 8 or 9 other people and our yard is small. We get NO sun, and our house is always cold and moldy. There are lots of reasons to move, but for me the biggest, for me, is that our house has no doors inside. I have no privacy unless Joe and Sarah leave, which is just awful. I would like to be alone sometimes without having to ask them to leave. And I really need more space for my art. The space I have now is okay, but I really could use more. Plus if I ever start the stop-motion project I have in my head, I need to know it’s not going to be knocked over by some cat.

We’ve been looking for a house for a couple months now. It’s turned out to be incredibly hard! There are so few houses for rent and the houses that are for sale are either way too expensive, have no land or are giant mansions. We don’t want a huge house, just a little one with space to garden. One day I found this house that looked so perfect. It was way too expensive, but I couldn’t help but be drawn to it. It’s on 3 acres, very private with lots of sun but it’s only one mile outside of the city limits. I thought perhaps there was a way.. Maybe we could work something out? So I wrote to the owners.

The woman who wrote to me was so wonderful and sweet, I really was hoping she would just rent to us! But the rent they charge is a lot and they really want to sell. So I forgot about it.

Then, last week, I saw the same house on craigslist again, and the price had come down! It was still too expensive for us, but I thought maybe they would bring it down more. Sarah told me I should write to them again and ask if they would consider renting to own, so I did. The answer I received was so exciting! The woman told me that she would talk to her husband and that they were going to try to sell it for two more weeks, then they would consider renting to own! There’s just something about this house, I feel so drawn to it…

What happened next was really hard. Sarah and Joe went to look at the house and came home saying that there was no way. The woman’s husband was very firm on the price and wanted $50k for the down-payment, which we don’t have. So that was that. But I can’t seem to let go… For some reason, I KNOW this house is ours. I don’t know what it is, it’s not a belief, it just is. I don’t know how to describe it, and I need to move so badly…. I was so heart broken when I heard the verdict.

But instead of getting sad, I got angry. I started to feel very angry with Joe. I felt that he hadn’t done anything to try to find us a new house. I check the internet daily and Sarah calls people and sets up appointments, all Joe had to do was fill out our loan application but after what feels like forever he still hasn’t, he just forgets. I got so frustrated I started to yell at him, why can’t he make this incredibly important little thing a priority?? I feel really bad now for yelling at him. I know he does so much for me and he’s very busy, but our living situation is a constant source of anxiety for me. We have to move by July 15 and I am terrified the move-out date will come and we wont have another house. It’s happened to me before and even though Sarah and Joe assure me it wont happen this time, I am so scared. I need a home right now, I can’t be homeless in the state that I’m in right now…

So I started getting mad at Joe. Instead of standing around being yelled at, he decided to leave and when he did I started to scream. I screamed so loud and so long, I’m really surprised I didn’t loose my voice. I screamed and I cried and I rocked myself in my bed. It was really hard but it wasn’t a panic attack. It was something else.

Sometimes my therapist talks about my inner child “taking over”. She says that when I freak out that is my inner child taking over and throwing a tantrum of some sort. I never really knew what that meant until the other day. When I was screaming and going through this experience, I tried to get talk to my inner child, to find her and figure out what was going on with her. But I couldn’t. It wasn’t that she didn’t answer, I couldn’t even focus on the question! I was so overwhelmed with emotion I could barely focus at all. I really felt like I couldn’t contact my inner child because she was consuming my being. The only thing I could think of was how afraid I am and how much I wish I had a safe home. I kept thinking “I want my mom”, like if my mom was there, she would make sure I had a home, and she probably would! But I’m supposed to be an adult! I am supposed to take care of my own problems with a clear head. I’ve never understood until now how much this “inner child” controls me when she’s upset.

But what is amazing is that I didn’t have a panic attack! I know this isn’t that much better, but I believe that anger and frustration is WAY more positive than fear and panic. I don’t want to stay here, getting so unreasonably angry, but it was much better than panicking. I have such a huge problem getting angry.

When I was young, I used to have such a temper. I would kick and scream and just cause a general ruckus. It was a real problem for my mom, I don’t think she knew quite how to deal with this loud, angry, obstinate child. She used to tell me that I needed to learn to control my temper and eventually I did, but not in a healthy way. I stopped getting angry. I stopped being obstinate. I started being more complacent and empathetic. If someone was mean to me, I would feel hurt but I would say “they probably have a bad home life, maybe their parents aren’t very nice to them” Instead of getting angry, I internalized it and those feelings turned to depression. I stopped standing up for myself and started feeling like everything people said that was bad about me had merit and that I must be bad.

Over the past 4 or 5 years, I’ve been trying to get my anger back. I try to get angry or at least fight for what I believe in, but it’s been hard. Usually, as soon as I start to feel anger, it begins to dissipate. Anger doesn’t hold me like it used to, and usually I can’t hold on to it no matter how hard I try. And more often than not, my anger disappears and in it’s place comes a panic attack. That is why (as I’ve explained in another post) when my body shakes and convulses, it feels so necessary. Like there’s so much energy inside me and it’s going to come out no matter what I do.

I really think that doing this inner child work is what helped me to feel angry. I don’t want to stay here, where I scream at people I love, but I feel like if I’m going to learn how to deal with my feelings in a positive way the first step is to un-learn what hurts me. Things like bottling up my anger will never do me any good and I think I’m ready to let it go and to move onto something new and different. It’s time for me to finally learn how to honor my feelings and to find a way to feel like I’m being heard without screaming.

Little me

April 15, 2010

This is my favorite picture of little me

My therapist has been trying to get me to do this “inner child” work for some time now. It always seemed important, but also sort of ridiculous. She would give me this stuffed bear and tell me to imagine it was a little me and tell it things. I would take the bear and look at it and think “what? that’s not me… This is silly, I can’t feel anything for this bear” Then she would tell me to separate myself. To have my adult self talk to my child self and help her, but that just didn’t click in my brain!

I feel like I don’t have an adult self, I don’t really feel like an adult. Most of the time I feel like a confused kid stuck in this adult body. I’m supposed to be responsible and grown-up and I don’t want to! I want to run and play and be silly. I don’t want to do the dishes and go to the bank and file my taxes. Being a “grown-up” seems like such a horrible thing to be. I just didn’t get how the hell I was supposed to separate me from me…

I talked to my naturopath today. So often I’ll be dealing with something in my therapy and totally stuck and then I’ll ask my naturopath and she’ll help me understand. For some reason, I just get it when she says it. Anyway, today I asked her about this “inner child” stuff. I’ve been talking with my mom about it recently and it was on my mind. And amazingly, every thing I asked her, every piece I was stuck on, she answered and made sense of for me!

I’m a bit embarrassed to share all this stuff, it’s so personal, but that’s the point of this blog, to share my journey through my condition and this is definitely a part of it… So here’s what I learned for anyone else who feels like they want to do this work but it doesn’t make sense.

I don’t feel like I have two people inside me (inner child and adult) and I don’t really like the idea of being split!

Well, the idea isn’t that you’re split, but that part of your thinking is stuck being a kid. When I cry and panic because I broke a glass, the little kid in me is feeling that I am bad because I did something wrong, and afraid because the process of cleaning up seems so big and daunting. But if I could think clearly, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. In that instance, the child in me is taking control, because an adult would just say “damn!” and then pick it up. The trick (so I hear) is to have my child self and my adult self separate in my mind so that I can talk that irrational child down from her anxiety, instead of letting her control my emotional state. When that child-like side doesn’t have so much control anymore, there wont be a reason to separate these two ideas of “myself”. So really it’s just a tool, something finite.

How do I talk to my inner child? It seems so silly to talk to a stuffed toy.

That’s not the only way! You just have to be creative and figure out what holds the most weight for you. For me, I figured out that writing in my journal would work best. Having an imaginary conversation is so much easier for me in writing. I used a pen to represent me and a colored pencil for my inner child. I just asked her how she was feeling, and I could actually feel that the feelings were hers. It’s hard to explain, but I really felt like I was talking to my little me, not just to myself. I don’t think that writing will work for everyone, but I used to write to imaginary people in my journal all the time when I was young (I started writing to my mémé when she died) so it came easily.

Talking to my “inner child” does seem totally silly, but to imagine that I’m talking to an actual child made it easier. I realized that I do have an adult me, it’s the same me that would talk to Eva (my friend’s daughter who I lived with for years) and try to help her figure out the world. I may not feel like an adult, buy I am definitely capable of talking to children and I know how talk to them about how they’re feeling and help them figure it out for themselves, so that’s what I needed to do with my own inner child. 

What do I say?

Ask her what she wants. My naturopath said that it’s important to try to see what is really driving the “wants”. If a child says they want to go to the park all day, it’s not that they wish they could just go to the park whenever they want all alone, they want to go to the park with you. They want to play with you and feel loved by you. And obviously you can’t always spend the whole day at the park, you have other things to do! So the trick is to recognize how she’s feeling (she wants to go to the park and spend time with you) and honor that within reason. So you would say “Well, we can’t go to the park ALL day, but we could go for two hours and do whatever you like” And when you keep that little promise you are proving to her that you do love her and you do want to hang out with her, even if you can’t do it all day.

So it’s the same idea with your inner child. Mine told me she wants to hang out with her daddy, which is sooo not going to happen. My father was very loving and fun when I was little, but at some point (around when I was 6, I think) he just stopped. He started hiding away in his office all day and didn’t want to play and would tell me he was busy if I tried to go to him. At that point he stopped being my daddy and became my father. He was still there, physically, but mentally and emotionally he was as far away as he could get. I always felt like it was my fault, that I could have done something differently and maybe my daddy wouldn’t have stopped loving me.  So that was high on my my inner child’s list of what she wants. What I told her was that he does love her, I know he does. He just has his own thoughts and feelings and he forgot about hers. It doesn’t feel good, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her. I told her that she can’t hang out with her daddy, it’s just not going to happen, but she can hang out with me and I’ll love her. She said that wasn’t good enough (which is the way I feel, how can I be a substitute for my own father?) I asked her what she would do if she could be with him right now and the answer was just to snuggle. That’s all I want and it makes my eyes well up to think about it, but I just want to feel loved by my father and if he just wanted to sit with me and hold me, I’d be so happy. So I offered to snuggle her.

This seemed so impossible, how the hell do I snuggle and comfort myself? But I thought about it and it seemed like the best way to simulate being held would be to wrap up in big blankets, so I did. I wrapped myself all up and that’s when I realized something was missing. That’s when I could see the sense in the stuffed animal “inner child” because my arms felt empty and I wasn’t comforted. So I grabbed Bonky.

Bonky is what Joe (jokingly) refers to as his inner child. He’s a stuffed bear that Joe’s had since he was little. His name is Bonky because Joe used to throw him against the ceiling (BONK!)

Laying there, holding Bonky I really started to feel like I was comforting myself. I started to sing a little made up song to my little me about how I thought she was great and not to change herself because it’s the you in you that makes you great, and I started to cry. I cried so hard I had to get up to blow my nose. It was so real and so moving to be there, rocking my imaginary little me and telling her all the things I wish someone had told me. I never thought that this would work for me, but somehow it did.

After a bit I told my little me “In seven minutes, I’m going to get up”. She didn’t want to, none of me did. I was so comfortable and felt so peaceful there, but I had things I had to do. When the seven minutes passed, she held me there. I wanted to stay like that forever, feeling safe and loved, holding this little me that feels so unloved most of the time. But I was the adult. I said “It’s been seven minutes and now I have to get up. I want to stay, but I have to go put away the groceries and make myself some food and do other things. But I promise, we’ll do this again soon”

I’m so glad I finally figured out how to connect with my little me. I really think this will help me immensely in my quest to conquer my anxiety and agoraphobia. If I could just be that little girl in the picture again, be that girl who thinks she looks amazing with her plastic beads and giant bow and green umbrella… I want to be her again, but I wont until I can heal all the hurt that she feels.

My naturopath said to do this everyday, just check in with my little me and pay attention to her, so she feels loved. It’s going to be hard to stick with that but I know it’s important. I put a reminder on my Google calendar to tell me every morning to check in with her before I check my email, so that should help.

I know this was an incredibly long post, but I hope you’ve made it this far and that you’ll share with me your experiences with inner child therapy. Whether you love it or think it’s a crock, I’d love to hear your opinion.

Screw you, failure.

April 8, 2010

So isn’t it appropriate that I wrote that whole post about failure and what that word denotes to me, and here I am, feeling like a failure. Well, I’m making a considerable effort NOT to think of myself as a failure, or to think that I failed in some way, I’m just stuck.

Desk of disaster

I’m so incredibly frustrated. This is one of those times where I wish wholeheartedly that I had gone to art school, or taken some sort of classes somewhere. Well, I did go to an art boarding school for part of my highschool junior year, but I really didn’t learn much. Right now I’m stuck with all these ideas in my head of exactly what I want to create and no practical knowledge of how to do it! I’ve been experimenting with mediums that I know and don’t know and it’s left me feeling quite frazzled. Well, I’d probably just be despondent if I hadn’t had caffeine today, which probably wasn’t the best idea >.<

So here’s my exercise in not being afraid of failure. I am going to post photos of all my crappy half-finished projects. I’m going to show you things that I really really would rather not. I’m going to expose the fact that I’m not always perfect and that I do make a serious mess of a lot of the art projects I undertake. And last, I’m going to ask for help and advice from anyone who reads this on how to get past these hurtles.

So first up is my boat project. I’ve been hesitant to divulge information on it because I wanted to make it and have it be a big surprise, since I think it’s a pretty awesome idea, but now I’m so stuck it may never happen. I’ll tell you this, inside my boat I was planning on making a little room, sort of like a dollhouse. That’s why I was working on the tiny wood stove and little shelves and all that, but now that project has hit a dead end. The problem is, I have no idea how to make the tiny things inside the room! At first I thought I’d make them from cardboard then paper mache over it and paint them, but here’s the problem with that: I can’t seem to get paper mache to be smooth enough on those tiny surfaces to look good and I suck at painting.

I thought maybe I would cover the cardboard in paper clay, to make it easier to smooth and shape, but trying to paper clay these tiny little things has proved very difficult and the uncertainty as to whether or not it will work has caused me to stop trying all together. What do I do?? How can I make tiny furniture and things for my boat house? I really don’t want to use fimo or any sort of polymer clay, although I know it would be easier. I just don’t like that stuff. It’s super toxic and freaks me out, I wouldn’t want to bake anything unless I put my toaster oven outside. Any suggestions?

Next is my serious painting problem. I finally got gesso and brushes and some used canvas to try to work with. I watched some videos on Youtube about painting, but I really just don’t get it. I can paint with watercolors alright, but not acrylics. I think my main problem is that I’m not entirely sure what I want to paint or how I want it to look. That’s what I like about water colors (and fabric), the piece morphs as I’m making it. With dolls it’s the same, I have a basic idea of what I want and I go for that but nothing ever comes out exactly as I planned and usually morphs into something way better!

I was attempting to try a couple techniques I thought I learned in a video… It didn’t really work out

I think maybe I need to stick to water color, since I prefer creating as I go rather than laboriously sketching and planning before making something. But then how will I paint things like my boat and my centaur? Those things require skills I just don’t have. Being able to paint a face or a wood stove to make it look real is a bit beyond me at this point… I just don’t understand acrylic paint!! When I paint with acrylics, I just sort of draw with color which doesn’t really work. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to add shadows and things and have them blend seamlessly. Plus the brushstrokes always bother the hell out me. They always seem so prominent and wrong. How can I learn to paint when I’m not able at this time in my life to take a class?

If you’ve been reading my blog, then you know that lately I’ve been feeling a bit crumby. My body is aching and I have pains that I know could be cured by getting shiatsu twice a week instead of once, but we have very little money. We pay for shiatsu now with local currency through The Fourth Corner Exchange, where we don’t have to use real money, but it does require giving back to the Fourth Corner community. (If you’d like to learn more about Fourth Corner and local currency, here’s a link: http://www.fourthcornerexchange.com/index.php ) But there’s only so much we’ve been able to do to earn our keep there. We’re getting pretty low on funds in the exchange and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make some more. At the moment, I offer to make custom dolls and to do mending, but it’s just not panning out. So I thought maybe if I could make some simple stuffed animals and sell them at a low price, I might be able to earn a bit so that I could get more shiatsu. I thought it would be so easy… but it’s not.

Sewing disaster

Trying to come up with a good pattern for a stuffed animal has been really difficult. I think I might be at the end of my rope with it, actually. I’m sick of sewing a million different ideas and then having them not turn out quite right. While I do like the way sewing projects morph due to my lack of serious training in the medium, it doesn’t really work for me to have a little bunny with a lumpy face and stiff limbs that stick out all wrong. I don’t like using other people’s patterns and I prefer to make them myself, but I really need some sort of insight into the art of making patterns to create creatures that have the proper shapes. Although, the more complicated I make this endeavor, the longer it will take and the more I’ll want to charge for each toy. Ahhh!! It’s so hard for me to make anything in a simple and easy way, I always have to make everything so detailed and complicated, it’s a compulsion that can make my art a lot better but can make me totally crazy!

So there we are. I’m stuck, I’m admitting to the ether that I don’t know how to do everything and that trying to figure it out on my own is a bit more than I can handle at the moment. I would love some suggestions on these projects, please give me all your ideas!! Help me get out of my slump!!

So last night, Joe stayed up with me until about 3am talking. We were talking about all sorts of things but the one thing that really stood out to me was what a huge role the fear of failure seems to play in my life. I don’t want to think of everything in my life as pass/fail, but I think I do it a lot of the time.

Sometimes I’m not sure if agoraphobia is the right way to describe my situation. Agoraphobia is a fear of crowded and public places, and also of leaving a safe space, which I suppose I am. But I also identify a bit with anthropophobia, the fear of people and society. Maybe I’m afraid of crowded places and leaving my safe place because I’m afraid of people and society.

People really scare me. It’s been many years since I’ve made a real bond with another person, other than Joe. For some reason, I trust the men I date more than anyone else and sometimes more than I should, but I don’t trust anyone else. Most of my fear comes from the idea that if they knew the real me, they wouldn’t like me. I’m so terrified of not being liked, of failing to win people over, it dominates my being when I’m around other people. I’m terrified of their rejection, and rejection=failure.

I’ve noticed that when I’m around other people (even Joe and my sister) that I’m constantly scrutinizing everything I’m doing and saying. Did I laugh too loudly at that joke? Is what I’m saying interesting? Am I annoying them with my babbling? It’s really uncomfortable to be around people because I’m not myself. That’s why I need to be completely alone so often, because when I’m alone that noise stops. When I’m alone I don’t think about how I should be acting or what I should be saying or if my clothes look ugly or I’ve gained weight, I think about art and I dance to loud music and sing and talk to myself. I’m so happy and comfortable all alone.

Photo of me from my doll skit in Circo Mutante by Kathryn Wilson at http://www.junkhousedollyard.com/

Before this got really bad, before I stopped going out and started having panic attacks, I lived a very full life. I was traveling, hitch hiking, living in a van, playing music on the street, performing in a circus. I was outgoing and friendly, but I wasn’t really living 100%. I always had that part of my brain that was scrutinizing, picking every little situation apart. I was never sure if the people I called my friends were really my friends. I couldn’t tell if they really liked me or if they were just being polite. I still feel like most of the people I know aren’t really my friends. When Joe tells me about people in town who miss me and like me, I don’t believe him. Those people barely know me, how could they really like me? And why would they like me? It’s safer to stay far away from all people then to risk being rejected.

One of this biggest problems in my previous social life was music. I play accordion, well I used to play accordion. I haven’t really played in so long. When I started I was so proud of myself, because when I learn something new I tend to obsess over it completely and I can learn very fast. But I hit a point with my music where I felt like I wasn’t good enough.

Photo of me busking in Asheville in 2007 taken by Anoldent at http://www.flickr.com/photos/anoldent/2129910156/

Most of my friends were amazing musicians, making money busking or playing at bars. They write fabulous music and at parties they capture everyone’s attention, playing all night long. I’m terrified to fail, to hit a wrong note or make a sound that’s not perfect so when I was learning, I played by myself. I would try to find a secluded spot to practice where I couldn’t annoy anyone if I sounded bad. So because of this, I never learned how to play with other people, how to improvise or even relax. Most of the time I don’t even enjoy playing because I’m so worried about not being amazing. This made me nervous and awkward around the people I know who are talented musicians. It seemed they were better than me, and I felt that I had to walk on eggshells around them, in case they were to realize that I didn’t deserve to hang out with them.

Sometimes I feel these fears when I’m with Joe. I know he loves me and that is an amazing and wonderful thing. He’s stuck by me through all the good and awful times. When I hear that voice in my head that tells me “he’s only there because he’s a good guy” or whatever, I try to remember the love I KNOW is there. To say that he’s only with me because he’s too good of a person to leave me when I’m so down and out does an injustice to him, I think. Because he truly is a wonderful and amazing person, and I know he loves me.

When he looks at me like this, I know he loves me ♥

So I know that I have all these fears and I know that they are unreasonable.  I know that it’s ridiculous to be afraid of what other people are thinking of me, that I shouldn’t care, and believe me I wish I didn’t care. But for anyone who can relate to these fears you know, it’s not that easy. When I see my therapist this week, I’m going to talk about this stuff. Not that we haven’t talked about it before, I just didn’t realize until last night the importance of this stupid word “failure” and what it’s done to me. For now I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, trying to reason with the unreasonable voice in my head, tell it it’s wrong when I have the energy and try to ignore it when I don’t. That’s really all I can do at this point.

I know it sounds totally cheesy but what I need is to love myself, and that’s the hardest trick of all… I wish I had a clue how to do it.