Self-Compassion (Days 13 - 17)

Monday, August 17, 2015

I had breakfast with a friend today, and we talked about how we’ve been feeling lately. I told her that I’m not sure what I’ve been doing with my life since my brain surgery 6 months ago, and she said I’ve been recovering. And now it’s time for me to take care of me. I’ve been struggling with where to begin with taking care of myself, because the best I could do was take care of my son, by myself, with very little help from his dad. At least I know I’ve done a decent job with that. Valen is healthy and happy, and he’s doing well in school. He loves that we adopted the stray cat, Honey. And he loves me.

I forgot to write about how great Valen has been treating me lately. He was very sweet on my birthday, wanting to make sure that I did something special for my special day. He jumped into my bed the other morning, and the first thing he said was, “I know that you love me.” He keeps thanking me for letting him keep his new pet, Honey. And he’s been doing awesome during homework time, and with his behavior chart at school.

My main focus, ever since I found out that I was pregnant, has always been to make sure that Valen is healthy, happy, and safe. I stayed with his dad a lot longer than was good for me, because I thought it was best for Valen (and his dad, who wasn’t able to be self-supportive at the time). I spent $10,000 of the savings I had before I got pregnant, and we ran up credit card bills (as well as medical bills) over the years, because Valen’s dad struggled with helping me financially. I also struggled, because I made a lot of poor decisions during years of depression.

Then my dad died last May, my son’s dad came out as transgender about a week later, we tried to start therapy a month later, and then Valen got sick in between all of that happening. So we made 8-hour round trip drives to see specialists at Duke who tried to save Valen’s eye that was infected. But he still lost 100% vision in that eye. Luckily he can still see out of his other eye. And I’m grateful that whatever caused the illness wasn’t cancer. (We’re still not sure what caused it -- possibly a virus).

After that chaotic summer last year, I went back to work, and my ex moved out, and Valen and I were on our own. Work was so stressful that I tried to ignore the intense headaches that I was getting. But eventually I had to go to the ER after vomiting all day (because of the excruciating pain from the headaches). And then the second ER doctor (who actually listened to me when I explained my symptoms) ordered an MRI. About an hour later he told me I had a brain tumor.

That was 6 months ago. In the meantime I quit a job that I shouldn’t have quit (because my work changed managers while I was in the hospital, and my new manager treated my employees and me like crap). After surviving brain surgery I wasn’t going to put up with a horrible new boss, but I should have waited it out, because now she’s moving on to a different position.

I’ve also been dating a lot, and that hasn’t been working out well at all. I’ve made a few friends, but I know I need to step away from the actual dating scene.

Friday and Saturday were spent half fighting, half trying to work things out with the most recent guy, but all of that ended badly. Luckily I had a friend who went hiking with me on Sunday and cheered me up. And then today another friend cheered me up at breakfast this morning. And I just got off the phone with my brother, and we had a nice conversation.

I also bought healthy groceries yesterday, because my hiking friend and I talked a lot about healthy living. He wants to lose weight, too, and he’s a great hiking buddy. We climbed up the side of a waterfall yesterday, and our total hiking time was an hour and 45 minutes. It made me feel good about myself to make healthy choices yesterday. And I was proud of myself for physically being able to complete that hike.

My left leg and foot are still mostly numb, post-brain surgery. But it seems like exercise will help me regain some of the sensation that I’ve lost. My neurosurgeon’s secretary is supposed to set up an appointment with a neurologist who can help explain some of what I’ve been going through. I hope the neurologist can also help me make sense of the intense emotional symptoms I’ve been having. I was dealing with depression before brain surgery, but my moods and emotions are still way off, and much more intense. It seems like I have very little control over what sends me into new bouts of depression.

I’m very scared, and mostly alone. My best friend lives 7 hours away, and even though we write every day, and she’s very supportive, we both acknowledge the realities of a long-distance friendship. I see my breakfast friend once or twice a month, but she’s dealing with a lot of her own issues right now. And my other in-person friend just lost her mom, 3 days before her new daughter was born. We both want to be there for each other, but we’re each struggling so much with our own issues that it has been difficult to find times to meet.

My son’s dad and I used to be friends, but now she’s in a new relationship, and she pretty much dropped the friendship with me the second she started dating her girlfriend. I’m still very hurt by that, because I gave her years of my life (as well as my life savings, and eventually beyond), and I was also a good friend during her transition last summer. Plus I’m raising her child, almost completely on my own, and all she does is enjoy the once-a-week novelty of having fun with Valen, while I take care of all the real parenting the other 6 days of the week.

So… I have my first therapy appointment on Wednesday, and this is what I will be talking about (as long as the insurance stuff works out, and I’m actually able to see the therapist). Until then, I have cleaning to do, as well as shopping, spending time with my son, helping with homework, taking the cat to the vet, and starting a new job search (as soon as I can get myself emotionally organized). I’m going to eat healthy and exercise, too, and I have a few friends who said they’d like to go hiking with me soon.

But right now I’m exhausted. I’m going to take a few hours of quiet time before my son gets home from school. I think I’ll look up self-compassion advice online, and then maybe write about what I find tomorrow ;)
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