Friday, January 31, 2020

Getting out of my head

Tension makes a tangle 
Of each thought 
Becomes an inconvenient
Sound as it never penetrates
As circle edges 
Break and 

Proving once again that biochemistry is a capricious bitch, without rhyme or reason, I have been feeling much better on the whole.

So much so, that I bumped my medication dose back down. Yes I know the perils of the medication contradiction. The meds make you feel better so you stop taking them and revert to feeling badly. In this case, I haven’t quit, just ramped back down to my maintenance dose, after bumping it up to get me through a rough spell.

And who knows, the dark cloud descends at whim, so I’ll enjoy the respite while I can and remain prepared to up the meds again, as needed.

I’ve stayed busy this month. I’m in two knitting groups, I’m taking classes at one of the yarn shops, doing my homework and knitting for fun daily. At least, it’s supposed to be for fun, more about that in a minute. When I’m not knitting, I’m looking at patterns and yarn and planning future projects.

We’ve also been fleshing out our vacation plans for the year, Houston and Atlanta in February, New York in March, Dallas in April, a visit from Chelsea in May, Boston and Maine in June, the west coast in August. It feels like a lot, but I’ll take each trip one by one.

I’ve had appointments with my PA, optometrist, dentist, and therapist. I’m not sure whether I’ll continue to see my therapist. I’m not sure either one of us knows why I’m there or what I expect to get from the sessions.

Ostensibly, I’m there to work through my problems with loneliness, with my ongoing struggle to make new friends, to connect with people, to find a way to feel less isolated. Practically, I wonder if I’m using therapy as a placebo for having a relationship with another person. She is someone to talk to, a reason to get dressed and leave the house, even if I have to pay a copay to do so.

We’ve talked about the things that I already know I could and should do, such as taking classes, volunteer work, even a part-time job. Day by day, I postpone taking action. First I was getting over my cold. Lately I’ve been busy, with this or that. Appointments. Activities, even if that just means a trip to Sam’s or a movie, or a walk to Starbucks.

Neil has been here, and it looks like his knees will prevent him from playing on a traveling softball team this year. That means I’m not facing at least one weekend a month when he’s gone from Thursday through Sunday. He’s still planning a driving trip to New Jersey, which could be a week or more long, but I’ll deal with that when it happens.

None of this really explains the absence of the scary, horrible feelings of isolation and disconnection, the ones that even made me question whether I was tired of living. Followed by terrible guilt for feeling that way, when I have so much good in my life, happy marriage, healthy children and grandchildren, financial independence, everything that is truly important. Of course I know that you feel the way you feel, and that feelings are driven by physiology, which to some degree you can influence by taking pills.

Today, nothing has changed, yet I’m content to sit by the fire. I still want to do the other things, to find a yoga class, to visit the animal shelter and ask about volunteering. But it's less urgent.

Maybe that’s why I scheduled another appointment with the therapist, to help me hold myself accountable to follow through, since I’ve been planning to do these things for months yet haven’t done them. My therapist thinks it’s a numbers game, that if I put myself out there and increase my interactions with new people, something will stick, something will click, and I’ll make a friend or two.

I’m not so sure, my history of defeat in this regard is too persuasive, too discouraging. I doubt myself, and avoid taking risks, to protect myself from any chance of rejection. My therapist says she doesn’t understand why I allow my self worth to be defined by the validation of others. I say, it’s the only way I know how to be. Even if I ever learn to truly love myself, it won’t be enough. I'll always crave the approval of others.

She also says I’m not alone, that there are lots of people like me, introverts who are lonely and can’t figure out how to connect with others. We don’t see them because they’re not out in the world, socializing, drinking, dancing, performing. They’re probably home with a book and a cat, wondering what is wrong with themselves, while at the same time, not really wanting to exert the effort to make changes.

No one is going to start a meetup group for introverts. That would take an extrovert.

So, as I said, I’ve been knitting a lot, looking at yarn and patterns online a lot, trying to keep a mental inventory of projects and supplies, until my head feels like it’s about to explode. I really need to stop buying yarn because it’s a good deal and only buy what I specifically need, because somehow, as large as my stash has become, I rarely have all the right yarn for any given project I want to do. And just because I need two skeins of black sock yarn doesn’t mean I need to buy seven so that I get free shipping.

For other reasons, I’m feeling just a little frustrated with knitting right now. For example, I’ll get to the end of a work in progress only to hose up the bind off, or I’ll be a couple of rows shy of the color I need to finish, or I’ll order more yarn to finish something and the color will be completely different. Sometimes two skeins in the same dye lot won’t even match well. Sometimes yarn I buy online looks completely different from the photo. That’s an argument for buying locally, but I balk at paying so much more.

Another peeve is patterns. I’m finding mistakes in them, everything from rows run together in the text to stitch counts or row counts being wrong, to math mistakes. And yes, there’s a lot of math in knitting. Speaking of stitch counts, and this can only be user error, it’s quite baffling to wind up a stitch or two short somewhere in the middle of a project and not be able to find where I dropped them. So I just adjust by doing an increase or two when I must, or just ignoring the miscount when I can. But it makes me mistrust my work. I want it to be perfect, even if I am the only one who would ever notice an error.

I wonder if this is something that will come with practice and experience. Perfection may be an overstated goal, but I’d like to make fewer inexplicable mistakes. I don’t mind as much if I can see where things went wrong, because then I can decide if I want to fix it or live with it. I’m OK with imperfection if I understand it. I don’t like mysterious anomalies.

For now, I’ll muddle on and see how it all shakes out. I’ve acquired such a ridiculous amount of yarn that I’ve made a long-term commitment. So I’m going to challenge myself to choose projects that use yarn I already have. Right after I buy some mohair or alpaca for the sweater class that’s coming up. But that’s it. Really.

So that’s January, done, dusted. The world spins on its wild axis, with presidential impeachment hearings, global pandemic threat, celebrity helicopter crashes, international trade talks and peace talks. And my biggest problems are knitting snafus. At least I’m paying attention, following current events more, having spirited discussions with Neil about issues.

And now that my neurotransmitters are firing again, I'm hoping to get my thoughts out of my head for a change.

As frail hinges
Pivot on a case's door
Souvenirs from places
Containers change
With each occasion

A cellophane encased
Display of paper
To credit years of service
A tool of central enterprises

The early hope
For permanence
The words
The rings
The social security
A miracle's high tragedy

Thought mistaken
For a memory
Clear the dust from
Smiles in boxes
Pass a patterned wall
Recall their voices

A local post
Will list your friends
In order of
The lawn scattered
Tins feed birds
A portion baked for
Absent guests

And the mass edition icon
God sent comfort
Your salvation
But who grants absolution
For sins that
Never were committed

Tension makes a tangle
Of each thought
Becomes an inconvenient
Sound as it never penetrates
As circle edges
Break and

Thought mistaken
For a memory
A dress length
A fractured family tie
Another christening
A christening
A fractured family tie
Another christening

(John Lombardo, Natalie Merchant © Nettwerk Music Group)