This year has sucked a lot.

I want to begin by saying that 2020 hasn’t been ALL bad, but damn, it’s been rough.

I got a call yesterday that a good friend of mine died on July 31st. She was 78 years old and she died after what seemed like a successful surgery. Her husband, also a good friend to me, called me right before my girlfriend and I were going for a walk.

I’m okay, but it’s just sad. It’s one more shitty thing to add to this year.

Also, last weekend was a packed weekend for me and my lady. On Saturday we had plans to visit my grandmother and walk her very energetic dog for her. On Sunday, my mom, my sister, my stepdad, and my best friend were going to come over to grill out with us.

So, once we arrived at my grandma’s house on Saturday, I ran inside to pick up the dog. On my way out, she asked me if I would be able to stay and help her out with a few things. I said that I was sorry, but I [for once in my life] had to clean the house and start meal-prepping for Sunday. I usually say yes to my grandma because I normally have nothing going on. She was obviously not pleased with my answer, but didn’t say anything in that moment.

About an hour later, when we got back to her house, I ran inside again to drop off the dog and say good-bye. I found her putting chemicals into her pool and I told her about Cleo’s (the dog) behavior at the dog park. While I was talking, my grandma wasn’t really looking at me and when she did respond, she was very short with me.

She started making little jabs about how no one ever has time for her and that none of my family ever helps her out, etc. She also told me that I am free to go to now since I clearly have better things to do.

Disclaimer: this behavior is very normal for my grandma. She is super emotional, super sensitive, and has no problem making people feel sorry for things they didn’t even do. This day was just a shock to me because out of everyone in the family, I have been there for her the most, even spending a week at a time with her and helping her with outdoor and indoor work.

Anyway, I told her that I did not appreciate being guilt-tripped and that I help her out every time she asks, but I just couldn’t do that today. She pouted and told me to go then, go do the other things I had to do.

I walked out and I was definitely upset because, like I said, I have helped my grandmother out more than anyone. I also never ask for anything, unlike other family members. It was just really hurtful that she would talk to me like that.

Additionally, I will admit that it is very difficult to want to help out this grandmother anyway because she is the most vocal about her belief that my being gay is simply a phase and also that she prays for me and my sin daily. She has spoken to her church about me and outed me to them without my knowing. She referred to me to her friend as “the granddaughter that thinks she’s gay”. During Christmas two years ago, she met my girlfriend at the time and told me that she was lovely, but that she still prayed for me.

It’s an ongoing battle with this grandmother, and she’s always been quirky, but lately it’s just gotten more and more exhausting being around her.

Nightmares

I’ve been having consistent nightmares for about one month. I have them pretty regularly anyway, but they don’t wake me up and I don’t get up in a sweat when I do finally wake up. They don’t scare me- they’re just annoying.

I had one last night about my ex. It was very uncomfortable. I got the same feeling I used to get when I was with her. She would make me feel like a child.

My therapist has a new theory that my suppressed emotions from the past 10 years are coming forth while I’m unconscious. He might be right, I suppose.

Most of my nightmares are not about clowns or falling off of cliffs; they’re mostly about things, events, or people that I’ve had negative interactions with or that I haven’t grieved for.

Sadness and grief are my most suppressed emotions. Since starting therapy, I’ve started dealing with current sadness when it comes, but there’s a decade worth of events that I haven’t “dealt with”, so this is fun.

Why Therapy?

I went to therapy for the first time when I was about 9 years old. It was shortly after my parents divorced. I had my first panic attack around that time as well. I think most of it stemmed from separation anxiety I had when my mother wasn’t close by.

When I got a little older, I didn’t continue therapy because I didn’t notice much change and I was also told that I would probably “grow out of it”. To some extent, I think I did. I don’t have separation anxiety anymore, but I do have anxiety towards other things.

Not dealing with loss and grief has been a huge issue for me that I was recently made aware of by my current therapist. If we define “loss” as the “ending of something” (not necessarily death), then I have experienced a lot of loss in my life that I have chosen not to emotionally or mentally process/deal with. As a result, my body stores those emotions as anxiety and it gets periodically released as symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attacks.

For a while, I thought I was able to track my triggers (loud music, crowds, thunderstorms, tornado sirens, yelling/shouting), but over time, the attacks seemed to be more random.

I was able to count the number attacks I had during 2018-2019 on one hand up until the end of May of this year. As I was looking for a home, a job, and I was also dealing with (I actually wasn’t dealing with it at all) a fresh breakup, I found myself hyperventilating at the nail salon. The old familiar feeling was back in full swing.

2 weeks, a house, and a job later, the panic attacks and anxious feelings subsided. I’m 99.9% sure that my anxiety was caused by the stress of not having a home or being employed.

Let’s fast forward to today- to today’s therapy session to be exact. Today was one of the best sessions I’ve had since starting. I’ve discovered a lot of things in the past 2 months. I’ve also acknowledged a lot of things in the past 2 months.

  • I am hard on myself.
  • I have a fear of failure.
  • To me, setting goals+achieving said goals=success/life purpose

Today was the first step of me including all parts of me in an acknowledgement. What that looks like is: “I acknowledge that when I think about [insert whatever makes you anxious/scared here (for me it was elaborate solo travel)], I get scared and nervous, but I also have powered through similar things that have also made me scared and nervous.

Instead of saying “X makes me feel scared”, I’m including the fact that yes, I feel this fear, but I’ve also fucking powered through fear before.

I’ve shut parts of myself down over the years. I’ve shut down Grieving Megan. I’ve shut down Angry Megan. I’ve shut down Sad Megan. I’ve even shut down Excited/Hopeful/Optimistic Megan because I have a fear of getting my hopes up and then being let down and feeling stupid for letting myself get them up in the first place. I’ve silenced all these parts of me and the voices that belong to them. Today was a step in letting them be heard.