Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I Miss Writing

More often than not, I'm not able to write or I'm not able to write more than a few sentences. It's rare that I've been able to write for long periods of time like I used to in the past. And I miss it. It's almost like a part of me has been missing from not writing. Yes, I've been able to write poetry, but I haven't been able to write that much prose and I especially haven't been able to write that many blog posts either (as any readers here may or may not have noticed).
It's like a craving that pops up at random times. So often I just want to write and write and write, but there's just always another class for me to go to or other obligations for me to go to. So I'm forced to attend to those. On the weekend, there's always something for me to do as well, which is incredibly frustrating.
Writing is such a huge part of who I am that I feel such a hole without it in my life. I definitely need to find an outlet for these urges some more, but I don't know when to find it. There just seems like there's always something else to do.
There just doesn't seem to be enough time for everything that I want to do. Even on the weekend, time races away from me and it's Monday right before I know it. It's incredibly frustrating. 
At the very least, I'm still finding that I'm able to read. That's something. 

Still, I long for summer. Maybe in the summertime, I'll be able to catch up on everything. 

I wish...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Self-Love and Self-Hatred

I can't remember when I started hating myself. Self-hatred is one of those things that happen in little stages, subtle shifts in thinking that you don't even notice until it adds up to something significant.

I never really quite loved myself, I know that. I never looked at myself and felt the same stirrings I felt for those that I cared about. At best, my thoughts towards myself have been neutral. From time to time, I have tried a "fake it 'til I make it" mentality, but, contrary to what so many seem to suggest, it never worked. I only got better at faking it, but never any better at loving myself. At the very least, being neutral about yourself allows you to last a day without having to be reminded about the state of your being and how truly awful it is.

There are some people who seem to exude this natural confidence from Day 1. No matter what life throws at them, they get right back up. In the face of crisis, they're like grass blowing in the wind: they get tossed around a little bit, but they always spring right back up and stay put. I've always seemed to turn everything into hurricanes (no, I think I'm just one big hurricane myself). Maybe they're just naturals at the Art of Bluffing It, but maybe some of them are actually naturals at loving themselves too. Either way, I envy them.

I don't even know what loving yourself even means, and how it's supposed to manifest. I know that narcissism isn't actually self-love, but arrogance masking deep insecurity. I thought I had, but I didn't.

Maybe self-love is one of those things that happens to you when you stop looking for it. Sometimes, for me, it seems that I get things after I've stopped actively seeking them. I'm not sure; I've been actively seeking this for a while, and I don't want to just stop. I'm not entirely sure of what to do. Maybe I should be happy with the way things are.

It did take a lot of hard work to stop utterly loathing myself and develop more neutral feelings for myself. I had to break a lot of bad habits towards myself. I had developed a habit of bullying myself in a way of a sort of emotional self-harm (along with the occasional physical self-harm). That made me feel better, because it gave me a place to lash out, a way to release my frustration. But I realized that if I was going to feel better, this would only make me worse. I had to stop. It was incredibly difficult to do, because I had made this a way of life and bullying myself became an automatic reflex. I had to replace those bullying thoughts with kinder thoughts. I realized that I couldn't be my own best friend overnight, but I thought that if I wouldn't say/do these sorts of things to someone else when I made mistakes, then I shouldn't be doing them to me either.

A friend told me last week that she was impressed by how confident I seemed, how comfortable with myself I was. Have I mastered the Art of Bluffing It? Perhaps I have, perhaps not according to the untrained eye. But the truth is I still care about what other people think of me, that if I don't have any friends, I start feeling like there's a reason I don't have any friends. I've only been friends with her for a short while, but still.

At the very least, I can say that I don't hate myself anymore. Logically, I know that there are good qualities about myself and I'm generally a pretty cool person, even if I don't actually feel that I am emotionally. I might yearn to be like others, but I at least acknowledge that I don't really need to.  I see myself in the way that I would see an acquaintance.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Black-and-White Thinking

All too often I think and act in extremes. That much, I know, and accept. I'm either all in or all out. I've been trying to see things in more balanced terms, but my old way of thinking comes back more often than not as a sort of automatic reflex. It's a black-and-white way of thinking that I can't do anything about.

I become obsessed or I become apathetic. I know it's unhealthy to think this way, but I can't help it really. I'm all focused on something or I'm not focused on it at all.

Not only do I think in black-and-white terms like "This is my life" or "I don't care at all about this", but I so often use black-and-white thinking in everything else as well. 
Life is so much more complicated in ambiguity that it feels so much safer to think this way, so much easier. To judge everyone this way, to classify. The world is more definite, more sure, so I'm more sure in my reactions. Less hesitant. 
It's so much easier to make decisions that way too, because when I think in black-and-white terms, there aren't too many decisions to make. There's only about two, maybe a few more, but nothing all that much really. Sometimes, I feel like it means I'm less likely to make mistakes that way, but that's not necessarily true. 

The truth is that I know that this sort of black-and-white thinking takes away so many opportunities from me, blinds me to so many wonderful things. When I allow myself to see in all different shades, I realize this. But sometimes habit and fear brings me right back to this black-and-white thinking and I'm stuck back right where I was before, sent right back at square one.

So often, this makes me stubborn. I'm so caught up in this kind of thinking that it's the only way I can see things. Of course I cling to it, especially if I believe it so strongly. In those moments, I'm usually too irrational to do anything else.

Yet sometimes I have moments of rationality.
I know this is a very human mistake, but I feel like I have it worse than other people sometimes. A lot of people make it. It's quite annoying and sometimes even embarrassing. But it is what it is, I suppose. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014


Last night was my very first prom. I didn't know quite what I was supposed to expect there, but I tried to go there with an open mind. To my surprise, I actually had a lot of fun. I didn't think that dancing would be my thing, but I enjoyed it. 

I spent most of the afternoon getting dolled up. This meant getting my hair, makeup and nails done, as well as getting my eyebrows waxed. It was a lot of fun and I felt like a queen. I thought this would be my favorite part, but it wasn't. 

Then came the photography part. My parents photographed me in essentially every manner possible and then photographed my date and I in every manner possible once we got to the banquet hall. I have to admit, I was absolutely giddy over the corsage he gave me; it matched great with my dress. 

Originally, I was supposed to go with my boyfriend, but when he broke up with me, I had to find someone else to go with. Luckily, I'm good friends with my chemistry partner and he agreed to go with me as a favor. 

I think I had more fun with him and everyone else than I would have if I went with my (now ex) boyfriend, so maybe it was better off. We came to prom a little early, but that was okay because we got to hang out. Then we met up with our other friends, and that was nice. The dinner was a little too light for my liking, but it tasted wonderful. I was seated at the same table as my ex, but it wasn't as bad as I was afraid that it might be. 

After everyone ate, the banquet opened up the dance floor. And it was great! I'm an awkward dancer, but so were a lot of other people, so it was fine. I just let loose and let myself have fun. I even slow-danced once with my date, although it was awkward because he's so tall I had trouble reaching his shoulders (he's 6'6"). So the dancing was my favorite part, even though it was the part I dreaded most originally. 

My school is nice and small, so everyone (even the underclassmen) got to go. It seems like a lot of prom is about stupid drama and girls fighting each other to have the best dress, but this wasn't like that at all. 

When I left, they were giving out roses. I was actually really sad to leave, though, even though I was tired. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Springtime is Here!

When I walked outside today, I breathed in the beautiful crisp air, I realized something: springtime is here! The air smells like mulch and fresh, and the air has been cool without being freezing. The weather has been coming in ups and downs, but I'm hoping it's going to stick around for a while (with how the weather's been, though, that's not a guarantee). 
Seriously, it's wonderful: walking outside and looking at the flowers that are starting to finally bloom, instead of a bleak, stark, miserable place. It's especially wonderful after all of the heaps of snow that my area has had, and it's long, long winter.
There are so many things that I'm able to do now that it's spring, unencumbered by the cold. I can take walks outside and I can take pictures of things other than snow. I can actually do things outside. I can drive home at seven and it will still be light outside.
Spring is the perfect weather: not too cold, not too hot. It's so temporary, though, because soon enough it will be broiling outside. So I'll enjoy it while I can.
Strangely enough, my allergies aren't acting up this year, which makes it even better. I certainly feel sympathy for those who it is acting, because that can take all of the fun out of spring.

I'll enjoy this while I can, though. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wrangling the Dog

This dog kind of looks like Tuck, but with darker eyes

It may be common knowledge never handle a dog who weighs more than you do, but it was common knowledge that escaped me this Tuesday morning. Alas, this did not bode well for me. 
Since the school I go to is a private school, they're allowed to bend the rules a little bit. One of the ways they bend the rules is letting the teachers' dogs roam everywhere. The teachers walk them during their free periods, let us all pet him, and even occasionally brings them to class (only certain teachers take advantage of this rule, but still). My one teacher usually drops her dog off with another teacher, but that teacher wasn't there. The only place for this dog, Tuck, was in the classroom.
This was all well and good. Everyone in the classroom loved dogs and Tuck got plenty of pets even as the lesson went on. At one point, he seemed especially fascinated with my feet for some reason, at first sniffing them and then licking them. He wasn't in my figurative doghouse yet, though; I actually thought it was cute.
Alas, this cuteness would not stay for long. Tuck, it would seem, had other plans. 
It was all because I had free period next, of course. My teacher, realizing that the other teacher was in, asked me if I could bring Tuck to that other teacher. Of course, not  knowing what was in store for me, I said yes. She gave me a leash with a smile.

I started out the door. Tuck immediately started dragging me in various directions, pulling me along as if I were the one on the leash. I tried to drag him back, but he was too strong for me. At one point, he turned in my direction and just leapt on me. Did I mention that Tuck is absolutely gargantuan? When he leapt on me, his paws reached my shoulders and he was as tall as I was! I have been told I should have kneed him, but that's always seemed cruel to me and he's also not my dog to knee; I pushed him off instead. Eventually, my teacher came out from her classroom and tried to help me out. Tuck proceeded to jump on her, muddying her white pants (my own clothes fortunately did not suffer the same fate). After she had calmed him down a little, I tried again.

So it was a rough start, admittedly, but after that, Tuck calmed down significantly. He was walking with me on the path, walking in a straight line like a normal dog. We passed by people who pet him, but even then he kept his cool. I really did think I was going to get to that other teacher's office.

As I said, Tuck had other plans. For whatever reason, he lost it, as if he had been replaced by some sort of demon. He started to run as fast as he possibly could and I was no match for him. Instinct forced me to let go of the leash (which is a good thing, because otherwise my shoulder would have been dislocated).

Unfortunately, that meant this crazy animal was on the loose! Being as I agreed to take him on, I had to go get him, so I ran after him. Some other good Samaritans did as well. This caused quite a bit of commotion, so much so that said teacher finally had to come outside. Tuck ran right to her.

I went to her, emotionally and physically exhausted from my ordeal and said, "I tried."

"It was a valiant effort, Tori," she said before going back to class.

Thankfully, yet another teacher passed by and agreed to take him. Decidedly stronger and more masculine, she seemed like a much better fit for Tuck and he instantly respected her. She walked him on a short leash.

"When it comes to dogs," this other stronger teacher said, "you have to show them who's boss."

Then she walked away.

Usually, I try to do this through brute force. All of the dogs that I've tended to have been decidedly smaller than Tuck. They tug; I tug back. I couldn't do this with Tuck. Anyway, how am I supposed to make him think that he's the boss when he has the power to kill me if he so chose to? Labs might be stupid sometimes, but not that stupid. 

"Do you forgive him, Tori?" the teacher asked after apologizing to me, although too lightly for my taste.

I sighed and said, "I don't know." The truth, however, is that I'm a total sucker, though. I know I should be mad at him, but I can't. There's something about dogs that makes my heart melt in a way that it can't with anyone else. I'm probably going to pet him and let him lick my foot again, and I will have (almost) forgotten his deviousness.

What happened, but black lab version

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

This past week has not been a fun one for me, to say the very least. The start of this one is better, but not by much. Anxiety has a way of doing that to me. I'm on edge all of the time, waiting for the next wave to come my way. 

Mostly, it's been physical. I feel like someone has taken a belt and tied it around my chest, tightening and loosening it at random moments. I feel the same sort of nerves l do before I'm about to do this major presentation, except for no discernible reason whatsoever. Everything will be tense: my shoulders, my chest, the muscles in my eyebrows. And then it will hurt when I breathe, and the more I try to breathe, the shorter my breath feels. Yet sometimes, the panic hits me all at once, and I have to go into a bathroom stall to wait it out. Then, it doubles me over and I hyperventilate. That's only happened once this week, but it was exhausting.
Usually, a panic attack happens when the thoughts in my head too much. They make me freeze up like a computer with too many browsers open. This panic attack seemed random, but I believe it was a delayed reaction to my anxiety over driving to school by myself for the first time (I was feeling one come on the road, but I did everything I could to suppress it, because obviously having a panic attack on the road is really, really dangerous. It was pretty much the only time I was able to do that, though).

I've been getting some of the thoughts too. They used to be really bad when I was younger, with different thoughts of how minor things would lead to some cataclysmic, horrible catastrophe. I'm not sure what's coming first in the situation (I guess it's like the chicken and the egg), but it still sucks. 

The actual anxiety part is one thing, but it has quite an awful byproduct: my insomnia, which leads to my sleepiness during the day. It's such a frustrating feeling to stare up at the ceiling with bleary eyes trying (no, praying) to fall asleep, especially knowing the result that the lack of sleep will have. It's even worse when, as I try to fall asleep, I think of something and can't stop thinking about it and then it's even worse. The next day, I'll drink some tea to keep me awake, and that will work for the next two periods until the caffeine wears off and I crash. Literally, I crash within a number of minutes. When that happens, my eyelids become bowling balls and it's a struggle to keep them open. They flutter and as they do, my vision starts to swim. Things start to move around the room and duplicate. Every other muscle becomes heavy too, so I can't get up. It is a battle of wills that I inevitably lose and my body forces me to sleep until something will wake me up. Then the cycle repeats. I literally have no control over my body in those moments. Insomnia has been my enemy long before my mental health problems started, but still. Driving to school has helped me gain hours of precious sleep time, but this still happens.

I'm not quite sure why these past two weeks have evoked these feelings of panic more than any other time has. I have a few guesses, but I'm not quite sure. It doesn't actually quite matter, because either way that it sucks. But that's what anxiety is.