Fresh Burnout and Emotional Exhaustion

After an incredibly exhausting start to my year, things are starting to calm down. All of the major events that showed up in the first weeks of this month have passed and I’ve had at least a couple days where very little has happened. Additionally, I went to my most recent session of family therapy, reflected on how it had gone for a few days afterwards, and decided that it would be my last. It was only a single hour every week, but it took up a disproportionate amount of my idle thoughts and most of my active ones as well, so I’m looking forward to thinking about things I enjoy again, such as my various writing projects, fun video games, and the other aspects of my life that I want to work on to improve myself rather than attempting to lead my parents toward growth. Hopefully I will have a chance to rest and recover from everything that’s been going on so that I can once again enjoy myself rather than continue the staving off of misery that I’ve been doing lately. And while I have made little progress on any of my major worries for the rest of 2023, I’ve done what I can for now.

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Intentionally Past Tense

Content Warning: This poem references loss of parents, grief, mourning, and also non-specific references to childhood trauma.

I speak about my parents in the past tense.
It is an old habit,
Hard-won as the only measure
I could take to build the distance
I needed to feel alright,
But this years-long practice
Of linguistic intentionality
Has served me well
In more ways than this.

Every so often,
When I speak to someone who doesn’t know
About the history behind my words
And they notice my particular phrasing,
They offer me their sympathies.
“I’m sorry for your loss”
Or “oh, I didn’t realize…”
Sometimes even followed by
“How long has it been since they passed?”
At which point I simply explain
That they’re still alive and well,
They’re just not a part of my life anymore.

From there, the roads diverge.
Some towards silence,
Uncertain or awkward or sympathetic,
Some towards fumbling words
That all echo each other
Despite some intending empathy
And some intending gentle reproach.
I do not take it personally, though,
Since it is clear they all mean well.
My view took me decades to understand,
So what hope did they have in five minutes?

Now it only hurts on the rare occasion
When I see someone openly mourning
Or dedicating some great endeavor
In memory of a past-tense parent
And I find myself wishing
I could have grieved like this as well.
When I realized I had lost something,
It was not the people who had made me
That I found myself missing,
But the family I imagined I had,
What my life would have been
If everything had been different.

I speak to them now and again,
As a part of another’s journey,
And I feel grateful for the hours
I spent practicing intentionality
In every word that leaves my lips
Because all I really want to say is
“I have finished mourning you
And there’s nothing left in the well
That once held the childish love you twisted
Into servitude and self-sacrifice.”

I will grieve again when they pass,
But it will not be for them.
It will be for the final disappearance
Of everything I thought I wanted
Before I learned just how well
People will treat someone
That they properly care about. 

Holiday Preparations

I just spent most of the last three days cleaning my apartment. Got everything sorted out, finally, before I sat down to write this post following my post-cleaning shower (I tend to break out pretty bad if I don’t shower right away after doing all the vacuuming and similar dust-disturbing chores). My apartment is clean, tomorrow is a holiday, and I have zero time-sensitive obligations. I’m on my own for Thanksgiving this year, but that’s fine. I’ve had practice the past few and this means I can eat whenever I want, don’t have to get out of my pajamas, and can mix up the mashed potatoes with a bunch of little extras just the way I liked it. It also means I’m going to have a boatload of turkey since I bought a turkey breast (bone-in) and then a frozen boneless turkey breast as a backup in case I mess up the bone-in one. I usually do ham because it’s easier and doesn’t require the delicate finagling that a whole turkey demands, but I figured I’d just do a more simple version of turkey this year.

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Breaking Old Holiday Habits

As this post goes up, I will be in the middle of my winter holiday vacation. My (currently in-progress) celebration of Candlenights will have ended, I will have observed Christmas, and I will be gearing up for a visit from the two biological family members I am still on speaking and visiting terms with. I will be eyeing the approach of New Year’s Eve with some skepticism, not sure if whatever I wind up doing to mark the end of 2021 will be celebrating a new year, celebrating the end of this year, fortifying myself against whatever is coming in 2022 (given, you know, that things have pretty much just gotten steadily worse since 2016), or maybe all three at the same time. Or maybe just the last two, since I’m not sure I can bring myself to hope that 2022 will be better.

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Managing Mental Health Over The Holidays

I need a t-shirt that says “I went outdoors to treat my depression and all I got was this mild tan.” One of the efforts I started last year to combat my feelings of isolation and worsening depression was to make sure that I take daily walks. I didn’t really expect it to solve all my problems, but I did hope that it would have a more marked improvement on my mood and general mental health. The daily walks sure help me make sure I can get my average of six hours of sleep per night, but the emotional benefits of getting daily sunlight or daily fresh air have largely vanished at this point.

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Holiday Reflections

I am at the beginning of a entire week (including two weekends) off of work. The first such week I’ve had since the winter holidays of 2020. I’ve taken the time off to work on some writing projects, rest, and grapple with the issues inherent with navigating the holiday season separate from a toxic family situation. Which, you know, is emotionally fraught enough on it’s own without throwing the holidays into the mix, which is an exponential increase rather than additive or even multiplicative. But I’ve planned some writing projects to keep me busy and engaged, some projects around the house to keep me moving and give me time outside my own head, and enough fun plans to keep me from feeling like I’m not using my time well.

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Writing For Myself

We’re approaching the halfway point in the month as this goes up, but it’s only the end of the first week when I’m writing it. I hope I’m still doing as well with my NaNoWriMo challenge when this posts as I am when I’m writing this. Right now, I’ve not only written every day, but I’ve also passed the daily average for National Novel Writing Month’s 50,000 word goal. I’m, you know, only five days in, so there’s plenty of time for that to change, but given that I was able to do last night’s words in about an hour, I think I’m in a good place to succeed.

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Some of these Toxic People Apologists Really Need a Mirror

There is a segment of the population that, for whatever reason, views severing ties with someone as always the fault of the person creating distance. I say “whatever reason,” because you can usually figure out why if you dig a bit, but the reasons tend to vary per person and most of them deny it if confronted (at least they do in my experience). Normally, I’d list exceptions here, things that even these people wouldn’t argue with, but I couldn’t type out a single one without thinking of a time someone faulted me for ending a relationship with someone for exactly that reason. It is staggering, sometimes, to think about the number of relationship and abuser apologists I’ve encountered in my life, and how many of them were otherwise good, friendly, sensible people.

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