25 February 2017 @ 07:43 am
light bulb  
This week was a good week. Despite some frustrating blips, it was mostly a week in which I got my work done, was able to use my flex hours, and felt rested enough to give time and attention to other people. That's a win. It all started with giving myself last weekend off, so I plan to take a bunch of time for myself this weekend, too.

But what also made this week so important / good was a realization I had half way through it. I was emailing with a friend who also has PTSD and who has been having a rough time of it. We've been talking about what it's like to navigate a neurotypical world with these kinds of brains. And the other day zie wrote '[something something] because I'm disabled.'

My whole world slowed. Of course zie's disabled. And if zie is disabled, I'm disabled. Talk about a light bulb moment. So many things fell into place and I had an explanatory framework for the things I find difficult and the things I don't all at once. I remember thinking - how has it taken me this long to realize this? How have I called PTSD a disability but not said 'I am disabled'? It was a really good moment, completely empowering, because instead of thinking of myself of someone who tries but just can't work 8 or 9 hours a day, especially not in my office, I was able to think about how it is literally impossible for me to that with the brain and body that I have. Being able to leave early or work from home are not just personal choices, they're the accommodations I need to be able to function.

So that was huge. But perhaps bigger yet was Thursday, when I was at work for 8.30 as usual, but was scheduled for a meeting (with many other department heads) at 4.15pm I knew that was going to be challenging to do; I knew I was going to be exhausted and unable to think straight by then. But at lunchtime I talked to a close colleague about my realization about disability and she affirmed everything, and I suddenly thought - why am I trying to go to this meeting? So I wrote my boss, apologized, and explained that my disability meant that by 3pm I was completely spent and unable to process new information, so I'd catch up on what happened from someone else who was there.

She never replied, but that's beside the point - it was the first time I'd said "I have a disability" to someone and honored my own limitations. It felt awesome. And it's continued to feel awesome this week to think clearly about what I can and cannot do, and to give myself the space to do exactly that. Instead of constantly feeling like I'm falling short of the ideal worker, I'm realizing how much I do do, and that finding alternate ways to support myself - like working from home in the morning, or napping late afternoon and then working on my laptop afterwards - are absolutely legitimate.

I feel like I woke up to a whole new world on Tuesday. YAY.
23 February 2017 @ 07:45 am
I had a meeting yesterday about something a colleague and I are trying to get done at work. Our proposal has to be vetted by a committee, and the committee declined to approve our proposal on their first try. Instead they had a lot of questions for us, so we met the chair of that committee to talk about things. The chair was not the problem - he was the bearer of bad tidings, but not himself opposed to anything - but the conversation was deeply frustrating and completely tanked my day. I've been trying to figure out why ever since.

And this morning it struck me - it's because all the questions pointed to the ways that racism and sexism are structurally embedded in the place where I work. The questions the committee had weren't simply questions, they were dog-whistles for anxieties about race and sexuality and gender that they would never in a hundred years own up to possessing. No wonder I'm so aggravated!

But at least I know, now, what we're up against, and can fight back against that in every thoughtful way my colleague and I have at our disposal.

Some people. I just. *hands*
19 February 2017 @ 09:46 am
The local newspaper wrote a story about my citizenship that was published this week, and my cousin shared this on facebook, thereby making the story visible to my mother through my father's FB account. Mid-interview I asked people to consider that people who were prevented from getting back into the country on their visa or green card might have lived in the U.S. their whole adult lives, have their families here, and have no meaningful connection to their country of origin anymore.

My mother read this as I have no meaningful connection to my country of origin anymore and was quite put out, something she took up with me on our weekly phone call this morning. I pointed out that I said this about other people, but my mother continued to worry the idea to death. Mercy.

It's been that kind of week! I made a powerpoint for a presentation I had to give to our Board on Friday, and spent two hours making sure it was beautiful - sleek, minimalist, and visually accessible. I then sent it to our IT department because they wanted to combine slides from three of us into one slide presentation. When I next saw my powerpoint, all the formatting had been stripped out, and all my fonts changed to something scarily close to Comic Sans. So the Board may know more about X innovation at my job, but they surely think myself and my co-presenters have the powerpoint skills of a pre-schooler. Oy. There have also some yucky political things going on this week that make me alternately mad and resigned. *shakes fist* Boo!

Of the good, however - on Friday I hosted a midwife from Doctors Without Borders who was in private practice for twenty-five years, and then retired specifically to go work for MSF. She's now birthed babies and taken care of new mothers all over the world, and trained other midwives and nurses in all kinds of pre- and post-natal care. She's off to Uganda next, to establish an anti-sexual violence program for a refugee camp receiving refugees from South Sudan at the rate of 100,000 people a week. She's about 70. She kicks so much ass, and her presentations were amazing. I also got to meet her husband at a dinner and he has represented the Klamath nation of Oregon for twenty-five years, so we got to talk about all kinds of Native history and legal stuff, including No DAPL. They were a DELIGHT, and so my week ended on a really good note.

Yesterday I took a real day off (okay, after first doing some stuff for the Board), which is the first day off I've taken in three weeks. Working all weekend is a terrible idea, I know, but I felt like it was the only way to catch up with everything I had to do. But that manifested this week in me being bitter and crotchety, so I resolved I would not do that anymore. Instead I went to my friend's house and babysat her youngest daughter so that mom could go get a pedicure. We painted, we read books, and I painted youngest's toenails. While we were waiting for them to dry I asked her why she loves Frozen so much (because she loves it more powerfully than anything imaginable. She's also four.) "Because it's beautiful and I love their outfits," she said firmly. So now I know.

I stuck around after my friend came home. Youngest and I were coloring pages from her Frozen coloring book by that point, so my friend joined in, and when her eldest came home, she, too, started coloring. It was so chill! And then we did jigsaw puzzles, had excellent pizza for dinner, and the adults hung out in the kitchen drinking wine while the kids watched some TV. A lovely way to spend the day.

My slow cooker adventures continue. Yesterday I made some dal for lunch this week, and this afternoon I'll put in a classic chicken stew to cook for dinners. It has worked out exactly as I had hoped - that I eat well, do not have to cook when I'm tired, and don't spend money eating out. Yay!

Today it's going to be 68F/20C, which is deeply concerning for February, and yet I cannot help but respond with joy to the sun and the warmth. We really need more winter, including a couple of heavy snows, but today I'm going to enjoy that it's so beautiful. Have good days, all, wherever you might be! ♥
11 February 2017 @ 09:07 am
I have been radio silent all week (including in comments - I apologize for that) because I have been absolutely tapped out. Part of my job includes meeting with people one-on-one and actively listening to their situation, then offering what advice I can (or better yet, asking questions so that the person figures out what they need to do on their own). These meetings rarely run more than half-an-hour, but they require a lot of emotional stamina - stamina I have not had to give. I finally got my last, missing mental health medication on Tuesday night, but because I was without it for two weeks, it's taking some time to build back up in my system. I definitely feel the lack. Not uncoincidentally I'm experiencing some S.A.D., and that makes things that much tougher.

I was supposed to go to a big meeting on Monday, and decided not to go. As I told a colleague, I'd be happy to be there if my boss wanted another irrationally angry person in the room, but I figured the white men had that covered. Zing.

I applied for a new position on Monday, still within my organization. It's hard to explain, but I would basically be swapping out part of my existing job for this new opportunity, and I think it could be cool. I applied as soon as the announcement went out, and then actually looked at the closing date for applications. March 27th. So I guess I have a leetle bit of time to wait :D

My friend G has her birthday on Wednesday, so I went to the store this morning to buy the fixings for pecan pie (her favorite). This will be my gift this year, and it's odd to scale things back so much (I love giving gifts), but so absolutely what needs to happen. And I know she'll love it! It's just part of the ongoing work of shifting my mentality around money that feels uncertain and weird to me. My other friend, AM, directly asked me in an email yesterday whether I was doing okay financially, and so now I have to tell her about the bankruptcy. I was avoiding this because I am just so convinced she will shame me (she has done before, albeit unintentionally - our relationships to money are just so radically different) and I didn't want to deal with it. But now I have to. And perhaps that's as it should be. I would have to tell her eventually.

I have some curried cauliflower soup cooking in my slow cooker right now. Last weekend was my first weekend making food in the slow cooker, and it delighted me - as did having food for the whole week in my fridge and not having to think about cooking when I got home each evening. So today I'm making the soup, and tomorrow I'll make a Moroccan chickpea and chicken stew. I also baked scones last night, and plan to make vegan muffins to take to work on Monday (one of my colleagues is a vegan, and regularly gets left out of morning treats). There's something very soothing about cutting and measuring and processing, and it helps me save money, too. All good things!

I hope your weekends are lovely. Do something that speaks of kindness for yourself today!
04 February 2017 @ 11:18 am
Holy majestic moley, it's been a week. The insurance debacle continues. I still don't have my Abilify, which is a mood stabilizer, and my god can I tell I don't have it in my system now. And I went two days without Adderall because again with the prior authorization nonsense. I picked up the released prescription this morning and now I'm waiting to return to some semblance of myself.

It's not just inconvenient, it's debilitating. I have to fight to get up, to get out of the house, to do my job. I can't concentrate. I find it hard to prioritize things, or express a coherent thought. My brain sets itself to 'panicky' and I find myself jumpy and distracted. I am the grumpiest imaginable grumphead.

Amid all of that, I got paid, and - imagine this - my lawyers were right when they said that companies would claw back unpaid bills if I didn't close my bank account. The *moment* I got paid, a shitload of people I didn't pay last month (at my lawyer's direction) swooped in and took money. I hadn't been able to close my account because I was overdrawn, so there is absolutely no way I could have avoided this. But now I am left with very, very little for another month. (I did close the account yesterday, and opened a new one at my local credit union, which feels good.) (Oh, and did I mention that my therapy has gone up by 50% under the new insurance plan? GOOD GRIEF.)

(Jan continues to be wonderful. I'm sure she'd say hi if she realized she had a following here, so let's just say she said hi.)

But of the good: this article in the Washington Post which throws truly epic amounts of shade at Trump. I imagine Trump hearing about it and I laaaaaaaugh.

♥s to all
02 February 2017 @ 07:37 pm
My Abilify prescription is now in insurance hell.

31 January 2017 @ 07:41 pm
goddamn mother puss bucket.

I finally got my prescription covered by insurance.

My co-pay has gone up 60%.
28 January 2017 @ 01:25 pm
Yesterday afternoon was a doozy. I hit the 'serious physical consequences of withdrawal' spot: waves of nausea, cold sweats, panicked thinking. I had asked a friend if she could loan me enough to buy five pills off-insurance until payday (Tuesday), but hadn't heard back, but decided I should spend my last $30 to get two regardless, because I was a mess. Getting to the pharmacy was hard - I truly thought I was going to hurl all over myself - and then when I got there they were out of the drug. "It'll be in tomorrow!" they told me, cheerfully, and I wanted to do someone harm.

So I went to Target, checked that they had the drug, and waited while they called my pharmacy to transfer the prescription. It took about an hour all told, me sitting waiting and trying to concentrate on not losing my mind, and then I got two precious pills. I took one immediately, and it took about four hours to really have an effect. But today I am feeling SO much better. Thank goodness!

Friend did give me money, so I went back and got more pills this lunchtime. The Target staff were so kind - asking if I was okay, did I feel better today? etc. Thumbs up to you, Target.

I slept twelve solid hours last night. I think my body was just ready for some temporary oblivion.
27 January 2017 @ 01:13 pm
This week. This week. Goodness. Pull up a chair and listen to the story of how the American healthcare system blows.

First, you should know that my company changed healthcare administration vendors on January 1. We were told that nothing would change with our insurance but the name of the company doing the administration.

At the very beginning of last week I called my psychiatrist for just enough Pristiq (my main anti-depressant) and Lunesta (a sleeping pill) to get me through to my appointment with her on February 2nd. I got the Lunesta right away, but didn't hear anything about the Pristiq. Thinking they'd perhaps forgotten, I called again on Monday. The receptionist told me the script had been sent to my pharmacy, so off to my pharmacy I go.

My pharmacy tells me that my insurance company wants prior authorization from my doctor. I find this astonishing, because I've been on this drug for three or four years now. My super lovely pharmacy tech tells me yeah, that's not the issue. This hold means they really want you to be on a different drug, so they're making your doctor swear that a different drug won't do.

Oy. Because my insurance company is in the business of practicing medicine now?

So I call my doctor's office again, and talk to her nurse this time. Nurse confirms they got the details they needed from my pharmacy and they've sent off the authorization. She will call me when she hears back from the insurance company, whether they confirm or deny the authorization.

I hear nothing.

Yesterday I was out of Pristiq. I wrote the director of HR at my company and asked if she could help with the situation. She did - she called the administrators right away, and found out that the problem was that my doctor hadn't written "urgent" on the form. (How my doctor was supposed to know she needed to do this is unclear.) Without the "urgent" the insurance company couldn't fast-track approval (or denial) - only a doctor could indicate that that needed to happen. So I call my doctor's office, speak to the nurse, explain the shenanigans, and she sends of another authorization with URGENT written in big letters.

The HR director also told me two other things. 1) No one seemed to know what "fast track" means. It could be later in the day? It could be Tuesday. 2) My co-pay might not be the same as before if my drug was not on the approved list with the new administration vendor. (In all the discussions of the changes to our health insurance last fall, no one EVER mentioned that our co-pays could change. My one friend has seen a 100% increase in the price of her anti-depressants, and another friend has seen her birth control go from $0 to $158.)

So now I'm on day two of no anti-depressant. I have brain zaps, my body feels all wrong, I'm tired, I'm slow, I'm not in a great mood (imagine!). And there is no information anyone can offer on when I might get the drugs I so very much need. Or what they will cost me if they arrive.

I took an actual mental health day today, and for once it didn't mean "I need a break" but "no, really, my mental health is terrible."

What the what, America.

eta: the insurance company has the authorization, apparently, but it will take 72 hours for an 'urgent' request to be processed. My HR person suggests that I buy five pills without insurance to see me through to after that 72 hours is up (because that's of course 72 hours in business days, not real days). $68.99 says my pharmacy and I have $30 left til Tuesday. GAH. I have emailed a friend to ask if she can float me until Tuesday, but seriously, this month could not be more fired.
24 January 2017 @ 03:51 pm
after the lawyer  
Of the good:

1) The junior lawyer and paralegal with whom I'll be working are both sweet, generous, kind people.

2) The head lawyer outlined a standard of living for me that is better than I had imagined for myself. They will advocate for me to live comfortably, while paying off debt, rather than me living bare-to-the-bone, as I had imagined.

3) I should get to keep my house and my car. (I am considerably wedded to the former, less to the latter. But I owe more on the car than it is worth, so . . . )

Of the difficult:

1) I went in fully cognizant of my failures and weaknesses, and did not need the head lawyer to harp on them. His judgment at one point that he wasn't sure bankruptcy would work for me "because of your lousy spending habits" and him insisting on an explanation for "how you got into this mess" were editorial comments that I could have done without.

2) He made me sit and cut up all my credit cards in front of him. I am quite sure he does this because he has experience with people who say they won't spend more on their cards and then do, and I cannot fault him for supposing the same about me – he doesn't know me. But my god, that was humiliating.

3) He asked questions about every inch of my finances down to whether I had illnesses ("diseases") that required prescription coverage, and when I said yes, I have MDD and PTSD, he wanted to know who my psychiatrist was and where she was located, and who my therapist was and where she was located, and that's when I felt my last shred of dignity leave me. There will be, I realized, no such thing as privacy in this process.

I have to work out the last charges I made on my cards, and then we need to wait 60 days after that to file. I know I haven't spent anything on a card in two weeks, so that means about six weeks of waiting. I may not have spent anything on a card in longer than that – I need to check my statements and let the paralegal know.

I would now like to eat all the chocolate.
24 January 2017 @ 06:34 am
How I got here  
One of the things that most moved me about the citizenship ceremony on Friday was when the presiding judge took a moment to reflect on all the reasons someone might have chosen to become a citizen, and all the things they may have had to leave behind. She spoke about refugees, asylum seekers, people who needed a new start for any reason, people leaving behind abuse . . . and I teared up, because there I was in her words. That was my story.

I came to the U.S. twenty-three years ago to go to graduate school. I'd won a fellowship from my British undergrad institution to go to the U.S. and get an MA and be a teaching assistant (crucial, because it meant I could support myself). I thought, at the time, that I would get that MA, see the world a little bit, and then go back to England, having figured out what I wanted to do with my life.

What actually happened was that I figured out I wanted my life to be in the U.S. So after my MA I went on to get my PhD, and then I stayed to work.

That's the official story - and it's all true. But the other story that I didn't work out until I was in my 30s was that when I came for the MA, I was saving my life. I was leaving behind a history of abuse that at that point spoke to 2/3rds of my years on earth. I was putting distance between me and my abuser so that I could breathe, live, survive. I was depressed and in a terrible mental state, but the distance of those thousands of miles meant I could start over. I muddled through my twenties in a haze of depression and undiagnosed PTSD, but I lived. And I know I might not have had I stayed where I was born.

I could likely have run anywhere - it was simply the U.S. where the opportunity lay at the time - but I'm so glad to have run here. I have made friendships that sustain and support me in a way that family could not and did not. ([profile] scooterlaru and I have been friends since one week after I stepped off the plane way back when.) I have a job I love, and live in a town I love, and have built a whole new world here.

I am so grateful I had this place to run to, and that now, I never have to leave unless it is my choice. That twenty-one year old who was trying to save her own life has done it. I'm here. I get to stay. And that heals something that has been raw and uncertain for most of my adult life.
24 January 2017 @ 06:21 am
I see the bankruptcy lawyer today, and ohhhhhh boy am I nervous. I'm steadfastly pulling myself back from jumping down rabbit holes of thought, because I will know the reality soon enough, but my gosh, I am all a flutter this morning.

Of the good: I have stopped (for the time being) taking a medication that was to help clear up my skin. I stopped taking it over the holidays because I was traveling so much and the pill was a diuretic, and then I continued not taking it because of this sinus infection (24 days and counting!). My skin has been fine, which is fabulous, and I have the meds should I start to break out again. But here is the wonderful thing - a side effect of the med was that it made you hold on to potassium, so my doctor told me not to eat bananas while I was taking it. I realized yesterday that I could now eat bananas again, and had one, and it was GLORIOUS. Who'd have thought a banana could bring so much joy?

Work is going okay, although I am behind on one specific part of my job, but I will catch up. The bigger thing is that I've been put in charge of a new project that will allow me to do something I'm very good at (organize things), related to a subject that I adore, and for which they're paying me some extra money. By March I should be able to work on it - I have to clear a couple of things first - and it will be so fun. I'm creating something from the ground up, and I get to spread money and support to a bunch of people who need it. Win!

Today I may go and register myself to vote. I went to the Social Security office yesterday to get a new card (agh, I think I'm going to have to remember a whole new SS number from now on, because my last number cued people that they needed to see immigration paperwork, which is no longer true) and it was actually so soon after my ceremony that I wasn't yet in the system. I should get a new card in about ten days. But registering to vote will be more immediate! And that will be very fun.

All right. Here's to a tough day - may I conquer it in style. ♥
21 January 2017 @ 06:42 am
Yesterday was an awesome day.

My friends and I got to the courthouse in plenty of time, even given our unintentional thwarting of the rules about what should go through the x-ray machine (when they said 'no cell phones' they really also meant 'no cameras and no umbrellas' so we held things up a while because our bags had to be hand searched). Immediately, there was a beautiful, buoyant atmosphere about the place - there were already dozens of family groups, everyone turned out in their best outfits, including many outfits celebrating a person's home culture, and everyone was buzzing with low-key excitement.

They started letting us into the courtroom at 9.30am but the ceremony didn't actually begin until 11am. This meant I was taking my oath at the same time as That Guy, but I actually enjoyed that turned of events - while he was getting sworn in, thinking he's the boss of everything, I got sworn in as one of his genuine bosses.

The oath was the first thing we did, and then there were various short welcome speeches from representatives of local Congresspeople and a Sargent Major from the local military base. What I particularly loved about this part of things, given what's important to me about my America, was that three black women spoke in a row, welcoming us to the U.S., and that of all the people who spoke, only one person was a man, and he was apologetic about speaking at all, ha! The judge who presided was female, and gave a beautiful speech. In fact all the speeches were wonderful - low on hackneyed patriotism, high on thoughtful reflections on what it meant to have journeyed to this day. I teared up more than once, and could cheerfully have sobbed on one occasion, but kept it together.

And then we got our certificates of naturalization, the Daughters of the Revolution fed us cookies, and then we got to have our pictures taken with the judge and Sargent Major. We were allowed to stay in the court room as long as we wanted, to take as many pictures as we wanted, with as many people as we wanted, and I got interviewed by two local news stations about the event. (I think that was because my outfit was red, white, and blue, and I was wearing a red, white, and blue corsage that my friend brought for me. So cute!)

We celebrated with Thai food after the event, and then two of my friends and I drove to Iowa to go to a fundraiser for an independent women's health clinic. (Because what better way to stick it to That Guy than to support an independent women's clinic on his inauguration day?) The main speaker was Lindy West, who we got to meet, and she was so lovely, approachable, and down to earth. And her speech was wickedly funny, truthful, and motivating - I came out of the event feeling the most hope I've felt in a long time, and not because she peddled some vision of a happy-go-lucky future. Instead she offered us a vision of how much we can do, and all the ways we can do it, and I have a little crush now.

Then home, where there was a delivery of chocolate-dipped strawberries waiting for me from a friend, and I couldn't get to sleep because I was too full of buzzes.

I'm a citizen! It feels completely unreal to me that I no longer have to worry about my immigration status - that I belong here. I could not have picked a better day to level up in the resistance :D
20 January 2017 @ 06:08 am
It's More Joy / Citizenship Day!  
Friends! In a few short hours I will be sworn in as a U.S. citizen, after 23 years living here. WOOHOO! I like to think I'm leveling up in the resistance :D

What sums up your America? What images, poetry, quotes? Spam me! I'll only have my phone with me today, so won't be able to reply, but I will be able to see!

♥ Inaugural Cate Day \o/
19 January 2017 @ 06:32 am
In an unexpected turn of events yesterday, my doctor confirmed that my sinus infection lives on. I feel like I was thrown a lifeline. I've been feeling so miserable not *just* because Big Things Are Happening, but because I'm sick. So I'm on a new course of antibiotics and already my energy is at a better place than it was. The idea that I'm going to keep improving over the next few days is positively miraculous.

In other news, as That Guy's inauguration looms, a reminder that tomorrow is also my inauguration day as an American citizen. My ceremony begins at 9.30am CT, so if you'd like to have something to celebrate tomorrow amid all the awful stuff, please do! I'll make a post in the morning, and feel free to spam it with things that you think represent *your* America. ♥
18 January 2017 @ 07:27 am
Of the good: I have finished the bankruptcy paperwork, pulled together every scrap of financial documentation I have, and set up an appointment with my lawyer (next Tuesday, 9.30am).

Of the thought-provoking: I think I'm dissociating. I'm certainly experiencing terrible dizziness, and there's a sense of unreality that comes with that. I also have big pressure headaches, so I'm going to the doctor today to check that there's no lingering problem from the sinus infection, but I think it very, very likely this is all just stress. In some ways it doesn't surprise me to consider that I'm dissociating - it has been my primary emotional defense for years - but it's in reaction to something that's not about assault, and that leaves me a bit at sea. I have therapy tomorrow, so I will know doubt know more then, but I'm not sure how this stress transforms into a defensive response related to my childhood. Except that this experience is rooted in my childhood. Maybe that's enough?

I'm trying to sort through the practical and the meta of what's happened. On the practical level I have made a series of poor financial choices. On the meta level, I've made those choices because of a wide array of emotional connections to money, and when I consider those, I just get sad. That's not a wild response to what's going on, I know, but I'm finding it difficult to just let myself be sad. On some level that's because it's totalizing, and I feel like I might drown in it. On another level it's because I don't feel like I get to be sad about this, for reasons that aren't exactly clear to me.

I notice it most in transitional moments. Right now, for example, I don't want to go get ready for work. It feels like an insurmountable obstacle. But if I think about staying home, I feel unsatisfied - I want to go do my job. The trouble is getting from point A to point B. I'll do it. I just have to psych myself up to get it done.

Dealing is hard. I think I'd forgotten how much.
14 January 2017 @ 08:44 am
I'm struck this morning by a new consideration. Without money, I'm thrown back on myself in ways I haven't thought about in a long time. I can't structure my day around spending money in any fashion, and I'm committed to spending at least one day a week not working, so that leaves me . . . where?

It seems cliched to admit that I'm wondering who I am now, but I am. (Which tells me just how much I have used money to prop up my sense of self for a long time.) What choices do I make to pass the time today, what feeds me, what will restore my energy and joy? I can see a range of choices ahead of me - I have about a dozen books I want to read, for example, and I want to cook things that will make me happy, and I have yarn I haven't done anything with yet - and each one is imbued with new meaning. What will help me flourish? What will restore myself to me?

It's a thought-provoking moment. And one that I'm glad to reach. This is important, that I know who I am when I'm not working or patching over cracks. What an unexpected side effect of this week's events.

I'll begin with tea, since that is where I begin most things, and see how the day unfolds. This is, I'm realizing, a journey of self-discovery as much as a reckoning with things I've done.
13 January 2017 @ 07:21 am
The filling out of the bankruptcy questionnaire continues. I'm at the point (page 10) where you have to estimate the worth of everything in your house at yard sale value. For some reason this is even harder than listing my debts or who I've given financial information to in the last two years. It's saying 'this is how much my stuff is worth' but it's also saying 'but only sort of, because I couldn't recoup all that money even if I tried.' Which is a thing I need to sit with - a thing I need to learn on a cellular level. Things are just things. Things can't protect me. Things can't prevent me from hurting or being scared. I have invested them with magical power, and they're just stuff.

This is one of the hardest things I've ever done. It's akin to when I moved from England to the United States, knowing no one, and started over. I remember every day back then having to get up and face the day without a safety net of any kind - mostly emotional - and how relentless that was. It didn't fade for months. It feels the same now - I can't turn away from this, it's reality, and I have to keep stepping up, day after day. And it's on my mind at every moment. I woke up and immediately started thinking how much my kitchen utensils were worth. No way out but through.

I have friends who have been very kind. SO kind. Including all of you. Your understanding and generosity of spirit have been astonishing. I'm realizing that I equate self-worth with having money, that a big part of who I believe I am is tied to money, so to be told that's not true strikes me right at my heart every time (in a good way). It's going to be a wild ride to discover who I am without money. But I know I'll be better for it on the other side.


Yesterday I co-facilitated a conversation about sexuality at work. The conversation was wide rainging, but the part that's stayed with me is my realization of just how much I was rewarded by society - and by people close to me - when I dated a guy who ultimately was one of the most poisonous people I could have invited into my life. I don't blame people - there is enormous power bearing down on each of us to celebrate heteronormativity, and I'm quite sure people had no idea that in communicating how thrilled they were that I was dating, and dating a man, they were flagging my life before that relationship as abnormal. But it's striking, looking back, to consider the validation and affirmation I got, even as he was emotionally and sexually abusive to me. And no wonder that it took me so long to grasp the abuse when everyone was subtley (and not subtley) telling me that this was a wonderful thing.

What would it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where one's dating status was of absolutely no consequence, where we wouldn't presume that dating was a prize or a mark of success? Where we treasured people no matter whether they were attached to another human being in romantic or sexual ways? I'm going to try and shift my mental attitude toward that, toward simply valuing people for who they are, and not treating dating (or partnership in any fashion) as a peak that someone has reached. Human connection is a wonderful thing, be it platonic or otherwise. But I want to focus on "are you happy, whole, and thriving?" not "are you partnered? Can I affirm you because of that?".

Many thinky thoughts for this Friday morning.

Wherever you are in the world, whatever the time of day, whatever the day itself, I hope for a lovely day for you, filled with things that affirm you. ♥
12 January 2017 @ 07:32 am
We had an ice storm overnight, and now we have freezing rain. I have therapy and psychiatry appointments in a town an hour away and can't get to them. I called to let them know, and the psychiatrist's receptionist let me know she won't refill my meds until I see her (which I understand), but she can't get me in until February 2, before which I will need refills. UGH. I asked to be put on the cancellation list - can we all send good vibes into the universe that something will come through?

And has anyone had the experience of crushing headaches *after* a sinus infection seems to have cleared up? All evidence (from my nose) suggests the sinus infection is done now that I've finished my course of antibiotics, but I keep getting terrible headaches and pressure, and my ears are still not open all the way. I'm considering going to the walk-in clinic today to see what's up, but I don't want to be overreacting.

Thursday, I'm gonna need you to step up and improve from this point forward.
11 January 2017 @ 05:01 pm
I just got done filling out the first six pages of a bankruptcy questionnaire from a local, trusted law firm. I only managed six before it became overwhelming, and I suspect that will be a pattern, so I plan to fill the thing out (all twenty-two pages) in little bites over the next few days and have it ready to go by Monday.

But yep. I'm looking at bankruptcy.

I went to credit counseling on Monday evening. The woman who worked with me was incredibly kind, and I went with the attitude of 'suck it up, buttercup,' but it was still a hard, hard thing to do. She had all my financials (which I uploaded earlier in the day online), and we ran the numbers every which way we could, but I was still $600 short every month no matter what we did. (That's with her organization offering a debt management plan. Without it, I'd be looking at $1000 per month short.)

So I'm left with bankruptcy. It's likely that I make too much for chapter seven, and will have to file chapter thirteen; the credit counselor told me the conditions under which I should accept chapter thirteen, and is available for me to call at any time to have a second read of the situation. (All for free. The folks at Greenpath are good people.) I have an acquaintance who's a lawyer, and who recommended a bankruptcy attorney, and the first consultation fee is being waived. People are being very kind.

But, oh, I would like to fall through the floor. I would like to sleep for about a year. I would like to go back in time to September and make utterly different choices. I would like to bury my own head.

I have no money. My checking account is overdrawn, with bills yet to pay, and I have about $100 for the rest of the month that a friend gave me in cash. I am a disaster. I wish I could wriggle out from under this, but this is a thing I did to myself, and much like the car accident last June, it's horrible, but no one's fault but mine.

Ironically, I got the insight I needed into my own financial thinking over break, when I finished reading Hillbilly Elegy. Toward the very end, as the author reflects on a life that's much more secure and stable than it was when he was small, he talks about Christmas, and how his girlfriend's family exchanged modest gifts. This is a revelation to him because, as he puts it, Christmas in his childhood home was an exercise in making sure that if anyone peeked in the window at the situation under the tree, they wouldn't guess you were poor.

They wouldn't guess you were poor.

That's been my whole life, trying to make sure that no one would guess I was poor - and, I guess, as I grew older, making sure that no one would guess I came from poor. And all of that spending has added up to me having to wipe everything out. Ugh. There are moments when I think shame is going to eat me whole.

There is no way out of this but through it. There is no way to save myself other than to fill out the questionnaire, piece by piece, and go see a lawyer next week. If I could put into words the inarticulate noises that sum up how I feel, I would. But I can't. This is the best I can do.

I feel like such an idiot. But I'm determined. I'll make this right, somehow. I just . . . would like to undo what's done. And can't.

This is life.

I have to deal.