Another spin around the sun…

oldI was brushing my teeth last night then could feel a wave of doom hovering over me. I snuggled Smudge, who purred and drooled all over my hand, read a good book, ate vegan ice cream, chatted with my Mom and Colin on the phone, and listened to quiet music. The wave stayed, crested and silent, and once in bed, I slowly slipped into an exhausted slumber only to wake again at midnight. The wave crashed as I got up, drowning me in terror barely before my feet hit the floor. This time breathing and quiet music were not going to cut it, not on their own. So I took some Ativan, listened to some tunes, and finally crashed. It wasn’t until morning that I realized today’s the first anniversary of me moving into this apartment.

Back in 2012 I picked out an apartment for Colin and I to live in. I fully figured that he’d need to stay living with me so I picked an apartment that seemed perfect for us. Two bedrooms, two balconies, lots of closets, two storage lockers (one en suite), gym, indoor and outdoor pool, nearby library, and lots of shopping. We had three grocery stores plus a Giant Tiger (with a good size grocery area) all within a 10 minute walk plus a Dollarama, Value Village, and three drug stores. It was convenient and, between the two of us, affordable. I just hadn’t factored in one thing. I couldn’t handle living with Colin.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Colin dearly. He’s an amazing person with great insights into a lot of topics but we often disagree (especially over politics). And I’m not interested in Reddit. I’m really not interested in hearing about the Men’s Rights Forums on Reddit. And I completely, absolutely, do not want to hear about their topic of the day at 3:30am. Colin knows he’s only supposed to wake me in case of emergency. Unfortunately he seems to thinks that big feelings are an emergency and will do anything, up to and including flicking on and off my lights and yelling at me, to keep me up to hear why he has big feelings. I have explained the difference between emotions and the apartment burning down more than once, he simply doesn’t see the difference. To him they’re both BIG. We also have completely different standards on clutter, where I prefer none and he prefers decidedly more. Which is why, when I was offered this apartment back in the beginning of 2019, I hesitated for a moment and then took it. The town was farther away from my family and I’d never set foot in it but the unit was subsidized and it would just be the cats and I. Saying “yes” felt awfully like jumping off a cliff but I still did it. And, with that, I changed our lives.

Moving here was such a huge change for me. Not only had I left Colin behind in a half empty apartment, I’d also left behind close friends and supportive groups. Our closest grocery store and Dollarama were a five minute walk away before; I could see Metro from our windows. Now they were between 20 minutes to a half hour away. We were supposed to have groups and activities start in my new building then covid hit a month later and everything got canceled. We had exactly one card night. Thankfully I became friends with my neighbour because the options for making friends were very small. And just as thankfully, groups reopened on Zoom so I could still see my old friends and discuss new topics. I even joined a zoom exercise group with my parents and began singing karaoke with friends via Facebook chat.

Getting used to the size of my apartment was another issue. I joke that it’s my tiny apartment but it really is just that. More than one person has described it as “a one bedroom but it’s kind of like a bachelor”. It’s open concept but has a separate bathroom and bedroom. I’m used to it now, and moving the kitchen table from in front of the hutch to right in the centre of the kitchen helped, but there have been several times the smallness of the apartment has triggered a panic attack. I’ve spent quite a bit of time this year buying relaxing decor. It wasn’t just out of some need to shop. Thankfully time and feeling soothed have made a difference. Every corner I look at holds something I love and the apartment has slowly become home.

Covid curtailed a lot of exploration too. My new town has quite an expansive old downtown with lots of small shops and little cafes. In pre-covid times my Mom and I planned on doing quite a bit of window shopping and ambling until we found a place to eat. Hard to do when everything’s closed. There’s a Thai restaurant I’ve been planning on ordering from for over a year now but they don’t do delivery and have fairly odd hours. Maybe this summer?

newAs for now, I’ve got an online grocery store to shop through, I’ve sorted out the bus system, I’ve found several nearby walking paths, I’ve got a dentist, doctor, and optometrist, and I’ve got three local Dollaramas and a Winners for happy shopping. Life is starting to settle and, thankfully, it’s settling well.

I have no idea what’s going to have happened by the time February 5, 2022 arrives but I hope I have some amazing things to write about and a whole lot less covid outside my door!

Self help coming out my ears…

The first time I saw a therapist was in college. She was a nice lady and I felt so bad for her because all I did was sob through each session, I couldn’t manage to say anything. She suggested Prozac, in fact she might have been qualified enough to prescribe it, it’s been a long time since I saw her. But my Mom worked at the drug store and the pharmacist terrified her with the side effects. It was another decade before I took that medication.

Years later my marriage was rapidly dissolving. My ex haughtily informed me that I was being too hasty and he wanted to try counselling. Except he didn’t want to look and he’d only go if it was free. So I asked my doctor about that and about counselling for myself only to be told that both were expensive and free would be years… probably close to a decade. I left feeling defeated about the counselling for me and relieved I could guilt-free yeet my husband out of the apartment. No way was I putting up with ten more years of his bullshit!

It was again another decade before I found out about free therapy in my neighbourhood and I called immediately. I went on my own then I went jointly with my daughter and then Colin went on his own. Sadly there was a cap on the number of sessions we could take but it was definitely a help. Since then I’ve had another short term therapist who was really kind and friendly. Unfortunately he wanted me to carry a clipboard with me everywhere I went and fill out an 8.5×11 inch chart during every anxiety and panic attack. Because there’s nothing I want to do more when I feel like I’m going to die than fill out a chart! Needless to say my clipboard stays at home. Then I got a therapist, a friendly elderly man who immediately became severely ill and is on indefinite sick leave.

This would have ordinarily left me at loose ends but, thanks to covid (and I’m floored to say that), I’m doing fine. Because of covid there are zoom classes available from every organization and I signed up to every single one I could find. Which means that I joined four 1 1/2 hour long self-help classes this fall. This is on top of the three zoom exercises classes a week I’m already taking. And all the self-help classes had reading and homework.

It definitely wasn’t easy. My memory is awful so I’d forget which instructor said what plus three of the four classes were very similar, two of them even had “self compassion” in the name. I have noticed a difference in how I treat myself though. I treat myself kinder, forgive myself easier. I try to grant myself patience, especially during those times when I’m in a whirlwind of panic, positive I’ve screwed up everything… even though absolutely. nothing. is. going. on.

Would I ever do it again? I’d say no, it was too busy except… I saw the information for the winter groups and quite a few of them sound interesting. I’m going to have to take a closer look and make a few calls on Monday.

so many groups