Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “self help”

Julie Becomes a Self Help Guru or Something

TODAY’S BREW: Mistobox Colombia Banexport. Coffee that makes me feel as important as the person who gave it to me does.

By Julie 

One month into this year and I’ve already had a boatload on the agenda. Surgery, a million doc appointments, recovery from said surgery which is more mentally draining than physically, a hundred and fifty snow days from school, Ben’s birthday, a lot of emotional (and A LOT of hormonal) trouble.

And yet, though it’s already been an incredibly taxing year, one that I’ve emotionally hit bottom in a little, I feel better still than I did in all of 2014 probably.

But in 2014 I TRIED so hard, I set so many expectations of myself, tried to stay ahead of the curve of all the things that were assaulting me and my family, and I failed. I. Failed.

I’ve refused to let that follow me into 2015. I have intended to make this year as good as last year was difficult.

I’ve grown to realize a lot this week alone. One thing I knew going into 2015 was that perfection is not going to occur. But how I deal with my difficulties and traumas can change. My reactions and my expectations can change. So I’m changing them:

  • I recognized an emotional descent into Hades and I called a hotline. Trying to work it out myself has not done me any good. It may have saved me until the next 5 minutes, but it didn’t HELP me. So I called a hotline that could help me just by acknowledging that I KNOW I’m in trouble. And that alone felt brave and proactive. (I’ll talk a helluva lot more about that in another post.)
  • I listened to doctor’s orders. Had surgery. I feel (physically) GREAT and did literally the day after. But I’m not to exercise, lift anything heavier than 30 pounds (including Sam, which I do by the minute usually), and I’m to get plenty of rest. Though I heal with Wolverine speed, I’m shutting up and listening. I’m not a doctor, and pushing myself is only going to have me working at half-Julie in some capacity again sometime soon.
  • I’m listening to my own self-diminishing thoughts. And purging them.  Having had such a hard time recently, and being one who likes to help people as much as I can, I’ve felt like an absolute life-suck for some time. I’ve tried to convince myself that asking for help and not being the one to help everyone is okay, it’s smart, it’s courageous. But it doesn’t feel that way. It feels like my life is one big emotional handout. I can’t get past it. So I have to start doing what I can do which is LISTEN when people say that I’m important in their lives and try to give back the way I am accustomed to.
  • Purging self-diminishing thoughts, continued: Every time I think something like “I don’t deserve to be sitting here, reading,” “All I do is crybaby and people still talk to me,” “I can’t do anything right (spurned by something as simple as not getting a stain out of a shirt)”, I’ve started writing it down in a pretty pink notebook. I’ve already started looking at those words and seeing how INSANE some of them are. But they’re mine and they’re mine to get rid of.
  • Realizing that because the world sees me as strong that I assume responsibility for every. little. thing.   Just now, Bennett was bored. That’s my fault. Sam has to nap after his meds, my fault. I say the wrong thing, I’ve ruined everything and nobody will want to talk to me again. The wallpaper is peeling, I’m a terrible mother. I spent time alone in my room and felt awful that I was wasting family time. Seriously. I’m crying right now because my kid is seeing me cry and I think it will do some irreparable damage to him. I have to try to realize that every single thing I do does not mean life or death for everyone, and that just because I’m important doesn’t mean the world will end without me.
  • I asked people to read an unpublished work.  It’s being resubmitted now and I don’t need critique on it, but I wanted someone to know the book like I did and be able to say sometimes, “this is good. This is important. You’re not just Ellie Morgan and Nicholas French and that’s it.”
  • Eating what IS better for me, not just what will FEEL better for me.  I’ll push myself until I feel “well fuck this, I deserve to eat an entire cake.” Tastes good, doesn’t feel good. So I’m working hard to make smart food choices which has helped a lot. Lettuce instead of bread. Water and ginger ale (a comfort food I’ve really clung to recently) instead of all coffee all the time. Instead of a cookie every time I walk in the kitchen, a couple of tiny cookies with a cup of coffee. And letting myself have what I want when the time is right because I don’t want to feel like I’m punishing myself for not being as thin as I was 10 years ago.
  • Sitting up straight, taking deep breaths, having mini meditations all day, and wearing lipstick even when I’m home. 
  • Realizing that my own writing deadlines may be doing me more harm than good. 
  • Drinking.  Yes, drinking. I had champagne last night and just picked up my laptop and started writing. I haven’t had a casual drink for a long time. All it’s done is add to my irritation when asked by a doctor if I drink, smoke, do drugs, have any history of x diseases and I say “no” only to find out I have some uber weird physical shit wrong with me anyway. That champagne felt GOOD. And yes, I said some risky stuff on Twitter, and felt guilty about it later, but then I realized IT’S OKAY. When have I EVER been afraid to say what I feel like saying as long as I’m not hurting anyone? So yeah, a drink here and there is on the agenda. Hell, Kristen and I used to drink ourselves silly every Monday night and we got so much writing done it was crazy. I need to loosen up the brain muscles, let myself create instead of letting myself “work.”
  • Helping people.  I feel like a better person when I’m helping people. So as soon as I called that hotline the other day, I contacted someone I knew was having similar issues and told her I was thinking of her, and that I think we should blog together about our experiences. I want to run a short story series again like we did in the good old days on the blog (surprise, Kristen) and help some new writers get their feet wet. I want to give back so I don’t always feel like I’m taking.
  • Surrounding myself with people when I’m at my worst.  I spent 7 hours at a playdate the other day because I knew that being alone would only open me up for more overthinking. And I was right. I played Twister, had pizza with friends, talked to adults, connected outside of my home. And I said out loud, “there is nothing else I can be doing right now. Only this.” And it felt damn good.
  • Finally, recognizing that my harmful thoughts are very much a product of my physical state post surgery and not “just my head.”  And vice versa. Just because it’s triggered by my hormones doesn’t mean it isn’t real. The depression is there no matter what right now, despite its causes, and that’s important. Letting myself accept that I’m a work in progress is a big change.

I’ve always been of the mind that any change is good. Trying anything is a good idea. Not staying stagnant is smart. And so far, I’ve been goddamn right. This isn’t me telling a depressed person to “cheer up” or sending them funny memes of a cat eating celery or something. It’s me saying that you can be part of your own change to get better. Growth should never stop, you owe that to yourself. Remember that you don’t have to have all the answers, but you can try to come up with them. You can make up your own. And for just that one simple thing, you are important.


Julie Takes the Gloves Off For 2015

TODAY’S BREW: Trader Joe’s Winter Blend. I love this stuff.

By Julie

You guys know me pretty well. What you see is what you get here, so if you think you don’t know me, then you haven’t seen anything. In any case here are some solid truths about me that are important these days:

I’m a determined, will-do sonofabitch. Nothing stops me, I don’t make excuses and I make damn sure that I turn every slip-up, every “failure” or rejection into a building block. I make plans, I change them, and I trust my gut. I’m true to me, I believe in myself and I make my own luck. Even when I lose, I win. And I have a helluva time doing it.

I firmly don’t believe in bad days. I’m a resilient motherfucker, and part of that means not getting bogged down by a string of bad moments, but brushing them off and creating the day you want. This also works for week, month, year, life.

If you know me REALLY well, you know that these things weren’t true of me in 2014. This year was a ballbuster. Hardest year of my life. And it beat me down. I’m one that’s quick to say that things can only beat you down if you let them, and more accurately I exemplify it. I’ve had a lot of experiences that change lives, and I’ve made a lot of life changing choices. I NEVER let my circumstances decide my life for me.

Then New Year’s Eve 2013 came. And my husband suddenly didn’t have a job. We already lived pretty goddamn minimally, and were perfectly happy about it. But this? This removed all of our steady income. Not to mention that we’re creatures of routine and habit. We like familiarity around here. Tim had worked at that job down the street from us since we were in high school. Imagine that feeling at 40 and what it does to a person. But as poor as we were, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t love being at home together all the time! The kids, Tim and me? We rarely got irritated by each other, we genuinely enjoyed our time. But it was hard because money and the inevitable depression of unemployment as hard-working people.

Not long after Tim got a new (wonderful for the heart) job, our then 3 year old baby began…. losing himself. WE were losing him. He was always a wild card, earning himself the nickname “Frats” because he was a walking frat party from birth. Without getting too in-depth, his spirit took a turn for violence, debilitating habits that had us walking on eggshells at best, and holding each other sobbing in parking lots at worst. Long, draining story short, we saw (and continue to see) several psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors, finally determining that our boy is not only extremely hyperactive, but has OCD and we need to be on the lookout for bi-polar disorder. Just keeping up with it, the medication, the constant shifting of gears, the effect of changing lots of rules in a house of routine and trying to be fair, nurturing, FUN, and a warrior for my kids’ health while one thrived and grew and the other struggled…. it tore me to shreds. A million times over. The whole time I was virtually isolated due to the new work schedule and my exhaustion. A dark night of the soul indeed.

The hits just kept coming, all year long, one after the other right up until this very week when I found out I have a large fibroid and some other vascular growth to be meddled with.

All of this put my writing and editing jobs into a flummox, and that last of my very own routines was demolished. The thing that was all my own that kept me sane, gone. Sure, RUNNING AWAY came out, and I’m grateful for that, but I wasn’t able to give it the attention it deserves upon publication, and the new book I’m working on has been recently shelved just to give myself a break. (Not for long. I start work again second week of January, so Jolene Haley, don’t freak out. THE WIND BETWEEN WORLDS is still very much alive.) In other book news, THE HARPY, which was being pitched to traditional publishers by my agent was determined overall to be too dangerous, too risky, too unorthodox and too “abrasive.” Rejections rolled in. But that is a story for another post.

In any case, this post for as little as it touches on our troubles this year, would have had me shuddering and scream-crying even a couple of weeks ago. Not now.

We were determined to give my boys an amazing Christmas. Sam, with all of the hard work he put in this year as just a baby, to simply be happy with himself deserved everything in the world for all his incredible progress. Doctors are shocked that he is so fantastic in public, so wonderful with other kids, so communicative and incredible in his first year of preschool because it must be exhausting for him. This baby tries so hard, most adults will never know how to control their emotions the way this child does. In the meantime, Bennett at 7 years old, is being asked to bend the rules over and over for his brother. He sacrifices, sees violence that he shouldn’t, and yet is happiest when he’s at home. He won an academic achievement award at school, not to mention countless little good behavior tickets from teachers. He’s sensitive, thoughtful, kind, hilarious, and loves his little brother more than I have ever seen any kid love their sibling. He taught him how to write, for chrissakes.

So these kids get ALL THE CHRISTMAS PRESENTS. Because if there’s one way to reward a kid for a great year, it’s that way. Simple. Fun. The final pat on the back of the year. Not to mention that our family was all together, when work has not permitted it as much, and we were so happy. Best Christmas ever.

I wanted a Christmas that kicked 2014 in the ass and said, “YOU’RE OVER. YOU CAN GO NOW.” It was my favorite Christmas ever, and Christmas vacation is still as amazing as the days leading up to it. We’re so happy. That’s all I want.

2014 knocked me to the ground and kicked me over and over. I was defensive. There was no plan, only reaction. There was little personal victory because I was always just trying to get up on my knees again.

Those days are over. I’m a warrior at heart, always have been. Any warrior worth his armor takes serious beating before their greatest victory.

Watch out, 2015. I’m coming for you.

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