I am fucking proud of myself.

I got off of work at 1pm. I drove home, changed, and walked right back out the door to head to the city my new girl lives in. She doesn’t get off of work until 6pm, but traffic is so bad if I leave anywhere after 2pm, I’ll be sitting for over an hour. So, I made it to the nearest Starbucks in about 30 minutes with minimal traffic.

Once at Starbucks, I ordered a venti decaf white peppermint mocha. Man, that’s a mouthful. I went to bathroom while they prepared it and when I came out, I grabbed my drink and headed for one of the couches. There were not many people in here at this time.

I started by going through my work email and responding to them. I checked my personal email as well. Then, I moved to my blog- the one you are currently on. I wrote 3 articles about topics that are at least somewhat emotionally charged. I went to the bathroom once more.

When I came back, I started to get the familiar unwelcome shortness of breath feeling. I thought that maybe my coffee was caffeinated after all. I tried to stay a little while longer, but eventually I had to pack up my things, pee one more time, and nervously head out the door. I still had about an hour to kill, though.

I walked to my car and breathed a small sigh of relief as I sat down. The simple thing of not being around other people is already enough to take a huge weight off. I drove to a nearby parking lot of a shopping center and parked. I pulled up some YouTube videos and wrote in my journal. I also talked to myself trying to rationalize the situation in my brain.

I was not able to completely shake that anxious, heavy feeling in my chest- even once I got to her apartment. It died down a little bit, but it was still very much present. I was nervous to drive home. Having a panic attack while on the road is a huge fear of mine.

Anyway, it did finally come time for me to drive home. I got in my car and drove away. It’s a 30 minute drive of nothing but highway. I got about 5 minutes in before I felt that feeling again. I started biting my nails and I hiked my left leg up on the seat- my go to position when I feel anxious in the car. Then, I decided to try and focus on my breathing.

I counted about 4-5 counts inhaling and 8-10 counts exhaling to counteract my hyperventilation. It was working. Then the feeling came back. I tried again to really focus on my breathing and the road. I felt myself calm down a little bit and I was able to get home quickly and safely with a lot less panic than if I had not focused so much on this breathing pattern.

This is big for me. I am rarely able to focus enough on my breathing to actually slow it down, but I did it. Practice makes better, I guess. I’m just proud that I made it home alright.

I’m in bed now. It’s late. I have work tomorrow. My roommates are both out of town and sleeping alone in this house makes me nervous. My neighborhood is not exactly the safest, but that’s Atlanta for you. My doors are all locked and I left one living room light on. We also have all 3 of our cars in the driveway, so it looks like their are plenty of people here. I’ve done this before, I think I can do it again.

Goodnight, all.

Something I Don’t Like To Admit

I fall fast and I fall hard.

Outwardly, I do a stellar job of acting “normal” and keeping my obsessive brain under control, but internally I have eloped, moved to Europe, and birthed 20 children. And the person I have done this with I have known for 10 days.

In all seriousness, I do develop feelings for people I date very quickly once I’ve determined that they are a desirable candidate for courting. I fall for their quirks and their flaws and the way they move. I memorize what their voice sounds like, what they smell like, and what their touch feels like. And then I want it all the time. Again, I have only known them for an extremely short time.

I feel myself already attaching myself to the person I just started seeing. I have also had an increase in nightmares and anxiety, so I think I’m doing my panic dance concerning commitment (even though my brain clearly wants it?!?!?!).

I’ll be fine. I can take a chill pill and just take it slow. At the same time, I will try to enjoy this person and learn as much about them as I can so that I know I’m not leading my heart into a pit of fire and death. Well, that was dramatic, wasn’t it.

What is something that YOU don’t like to admit about yourself concerning dating?

It’s One of “Those” Days

I think it began last night, when I drove home during a thunderstorm/flash flood warning. I was driving 40mph on the interstate and trying to focus on my breathing. I don’t know what it is about driving through the rain at night, but it makes me so incredibly anxious. I wore my headphones to block out some of the noise.

This morning, I woke up a 6:00am. I got dressed, grabbed my food, and walked about the door. As I sat in my car and listened to the radio for a few minutes. Then I turned it off. I could feel that my mind was tired. I didn’t sleep terribly and I went to bed before midnight. I just felt really weak.

On my way to work I picked up some Post Its at Kroger. There were a lot of school buses on the roads because school has started again.

Now I’m in the office building. I went to the bathroom to adjust my bra straps; they were too loose and falling off of my shoulders. I returned to my work area and poured some of my homemade granola into a mug because I did not bring a bowl. The granola proceeded to spill into my mug and everywhere else as well. I got up to get the broom and ran my right thigh into the pointy handle of the drawer next to it. I grabbed the broom and returned to the crime scene.

So, here I am. I’m eating mediocre granola cereal and trying to keep my eyes open. I’m hungry and full at the same time. I feel like I could both sleep forever and never sleep again. I could cry and laugh simultaniously.

I’ll be staying late at work today. We’re doing troubleshooting exercises and there’s a new girl to train. There’s nothing interesting at my house anyway.

Being Kind To My Guilt

Today in therapy we discussed being kind to negative thought processes and also giving thanks to negative past experiences and people who were involved in them. Lastly, we touched on guilt and how it can be a positive thing.

I think it was most difficult to give any sort of thanks to the people and the situations that were not kind to me in the past. My therapist says I don’t need to thank them for what they did, but rather for giving me the opportunity to get through that and know what to look out for the next time around. I understand what he was saying, but I still struggle with being grateful for any of those experiences.

I have always had such an issue with guilt. I struggle with accepting gifts and letting people do favors for me. I struggle the most with feeling guilty about not always being able to be there for people. I know that I don’t HAVE to see X amount of people each week, but I feel that they rely on me. They depend on me. They count on me. I forget to be there for myself, and I know that, and I’m working on it.

My therapist says that I don’t always have to claim the emotions I experience when I talk about them in our session. For example, he asked me how I could practice being kind to guilt. I immediately asked, “MY guilt?”. He said I can own it, but I don’t have to. I decided to own it.

I guess what I learned today was to see the silver lining. I don’t think it’s always a good idea to have that mindset, but I’d much rather look at my past experiences as moments of learning and growth rather than as moments of devastation and shame.

A Little Dark Cloud

As I was driving home from a very nice evening with Chelsea last night, a slightly terrifying thought crept into my mind. With it also came a familiar feeling from 2014. The things that were attracting me to her were very similar to the things that attracted me to my emotional abusive and manipulative ex.

My ex was very “guilt trippy” and manipulative. Chelsea is nothing like that, but neither was my ex in the first 4-6 months. I see in Chelsea many of the good parts of my ex. They are fundamentally very different people and their personalities are also quite different. Their approach to life, emotions, and conflict is very similar though. It’s also very similar to mine.

To be honest, though, the way I deal with my emotions and anxiety has changed profoundly since I started therapy. I’m much more prone to crying and just letting those sad feelings take over me for however long my body needs it. So, I see parts of my old self in Chelsea, too. I suppose every person is different and maybe what she’s doing works for her. She doesn’t seem to have any huge issues and she seems pretty self aware, so I guess I shouldn’t be concerned.

All in all, I’m not worried. If I see red flags, I leave. If I don’t, I look forward to seeing where this goes.

Meeting Number 4

Today I will be going to my date’s apartment. I’ve been there once before, this past Monday. I feel that I will be writing about this development quite a bit so let’s call her Chelsea so we have a name.

We started talking via Bumble on July 16th. We met for the first time in person on July 23rd. Since then, we’ve seen each other twice, so today will be the fourth meeting.

She’s funny and kind and considerate. She’s very attentive when I tell stories. I made her take the love language test because I suspected that she would have similar results to me and I was right. We both score 10 points or more towards Quality Time and both of our second category was Acts of Service. Her Myers Briggs type is also INTJ, so that was also interesting to discover.

I think there are many people who struggle with long term dating because they’re addicted to the feeling they get during the first few meetings. I, too, find the first few weeks, maybe first 2-3 months, the most exciting, but I also greatly look forward to being fully comfortable with someone. Nerves are fun and tingly, but they also create a lot of anxiety for me.

I feel that this is the first time in a long time that I have been fully myself with someone from the beginning. In previous partnerships, I often had a wall. A large wall. A large concrete wall with spikes. It wasn’t great and it was draining to keep up, but I was doing it to protect my feelings and heart. I don’t feel that I have a wall with Chelsea. She makes me feel very comfortable and I feel free to be however I want to be in the moment.

Without giving away too much of her personal information, she hasn’t had as much experience with women as I have, and that made me nervous at first. I think she has a fear or concern of not living up to my past experiences, but she should know that I have a fear of fucking it up as well. It goes both ways and I think that’s a healthy discussion to have.

Right now, there is a definite safe space to have any conversation and I hope we are able to maintain that. I really like her and I’m excited to see where this goes. I’m allowing myself to feel giddy and I’m embracing it.

Relationships Take Work

I hear many people talk about their ideal relationship and it always involves minimal conflict, disagreement, and never going to bed angry. While that would be lovely, I don’t think that’s actually possible and I believe that the strongest relationships actually do need disagreement in order to learn and grow and exercise compromise.

I had partners who always tried to avoid conflict by compromising their own interests instead of telling me they would rather do something else. I also had partners who would twist any sort of argument to be my fault and that lead me to believe that it was me that was the problematic partner in the relationship. Both of these scenarios are common and wrong.

My most successful relationship was my last one. It was short, about 6 months with less contact than I would have liked given the program we were in, but we made it work. We were very different, but I think we were very smitten with each other regardless of our differences.

I want to interject the fact that I hate conflict. I don’t like confrontation or arguments; HOWEVER, I won’t back down if I feel like a conversation needs to be had. I understand that while it makes me uncomfortable, the relationship will be more uncomfortable if I don’t speak up.

So, this 6 month relationship with this beautiful woman was a dream in terms of communication and respect. I never felt disrespected or taken advantage of. I always felt safe and open to voice any concerns or thoughts. This hasn’t always been the case.

When there were things that arose as potential problems, we were quick to talk about it and “clear the air”. That was hard work for me. It was easy in terms of it was easy for me to open my mouth and speak words; however, it was difficult for me to get over the fear of confrontation ending in the termination of the relationship.

Oftentimes, conflict seems like the end of something, but it’s just a bump. It’s an opportunity for growth, for learning, and for better understanding your partner and your relationship.

This previous girlfriend taught me that and I love her for that. I am now far more comfortable having conversations sparked by a possible issue in my relationships (both platonic and romantic). I understand that disagreements don’t have to be explosions, and they don’t have to cause the relationship to implode, so it’s okay to have them.

An Unfamiliar Feeling…

The girl I have been talking to just asked me if I have anxiety. For the first time EVER, I was hesitant to say yes.

I have always been very open about my mental health struggles with my friends and close family. Even if strangers ask, I am also very open because it’s nice to tell your story and bond with other people about similar issues. I’ve collected many preventative and coping skills this way.

So, when she asked me if I had anxiety, I was surprised at the feeling I got. I felt a little bit of embarrassment. I felt a little bit of shame. I felt a little bit exposed. However, I responded with a calm “yes” because I wasn’t going to hide something that is such a big part of my life. Eventually, it would have come up anyway.

I also explained to her that it doesn’t keep me from living my life. It makes living life more difficult, but it doesn’t keep me inside [anymore]. When I was much younger, I refused to leave the house for any reason other than to go to school. Now, I feel the same hesitancy, but I push through and do it anyway.

I think I felt a certain type of way about her asking because I have been going to therapy for over 2 months now. To me, therapy feels like taking medication that hides the symptoms, but it doesn’t cure the actual problem- it just helps you understand and deal with it. I guess I felt that because I was dealing with the problem (and its very visible symptoms), she didn’t need to be aware of its actual existence.

I think it’ll be fine. She did respond with a positive message after I said yes, so I don’t think I have anything to worry about.

Do any of you guys feel embarrassed or hesitant about informing possible romantic partners about your mental health struggles?

Update on My Date

My first date with this woman was this past Tuesday. We met at California Pizza Kitchen. We split the bill if anyone is curious about those things, although she did offer to pay.

Long story short is the date went well and we are seeing each other again.

We had so many things to talk about, so my worst fear was definitely avoided. I hate when you’re unable to bounce off of each other in conversation because at that point I’ve lost interest and am looking for an out. So, again, that was not the case; the conversation flowed and I had many questions that she answered without hesitation.

Our next “date” is going to be cooking a meal at her apartment. I say meal, but I actually just wanted to show her how amazing homemade banana pudding was. She lives about 30 minutes away from me without traffic, so it could be worse.

A peek inside my mind: I have commitment issues and I am well aware of them. In previous relationships, I always looked for an out or a convenient excuse for the relationship to end because I figured the relationship was going to end sooner or later anyway, so I might as well end it now. I’m trying to change that mindset a little bit and it will be something I discuss with my therapist in the near future. For now, I am trying to enjoy getting to know this woman and not worry so much about sabotaging something that doesn’t even exist.

Sound Proofing My Room

I live in Atlanta- it is loud as fuck at 2am. I am right next to the highway and a train station. I hear cars, train horns, sirens, people yelling, and yes, sometimes the occasional gunshots. It’s fine. However, when you take all of that and add a roommate who comes in at 12am with her friend, the noise is no longer just coming from the outside.

This is how I began soundproofing my room so that I could get a better night’s sleep:

  • I added weatherstripping to my door because there were very large gaps between the bottom of the door and the floor, as well as on the sides.
  • I hung up 2 tapestries and am in the middle of figuring out how to hang a heavy 4×6 carpet on the wall that is opposite to the living room/TV.
  • I have carpets on my floor for sound insulation from music or talking on the inside of my room.
  • I bought blackout/sound blocking curtains to lessen the noise I hear from the outside world and to block the porch light that comes on every time my roommate’s friend visits at 12am.
  • In addition to all of this, I also wear earplugs AND use a white noise machine that I can hear through my earplugs.

I wanted to buy foam boards to put on my wall, but it’s quite expensive, so I’m working with what I’ve got. We’ll see if this does anything. Last night was actually the first night that I didn’t wake up more than 3-4 times. I’m hoping that hanging that carpet will do the final trick.