I’m a bitch…

I’m almost done with my first full week as a college student and it’s been…more good than bad. The campus is in the downtown metro area so parking can be a challenge. One of my classes got cancelled and we weren’t told until after we waited in an empty classroom for 20 minutes. I was fortunate that I was able to get into the online version of that same class at the last-minute (thank you God!) so my financial aid didn’t take a hit.

I’m not going to lie, the nights before my classes I would get nervous and even think about just not showing up at all. However, as I would head to the school, taking my time and just enjoying the drive, I would get this wave of exhilaration over the fact that I was doing this because it was my choice. No one is forcing, my parents aren’t paying for anything and Uncle Sam isn’t holding a contract over my head anymore, I was going to school because I wanted to and that filled me with joy beyond words.

It has also brought to light another, kind of unattractive side of myself. On the second day of my Intro to Psych class we were put into small groups of about 5 to 6 people each. The task given to us seemed really fun and easy, to me anyways. The other girls I was grouped with didn’t feel the same. They were talking about how stressed they were with class already and that this tiny hour-long project that we were working on had to be absolutely perfect. Mind you this was project was worth 4 points…out of 975, seriously, no exaggeration. They were talking stress and anxiety over this meanwhile I was running a list of things through my head that were way more stressful than this little group project. This list included things like doing a combat landing into Afghanistan in the middle of the night and hoping terrorists don’t see you and shoot the plane, being told that you’re deploying in 5 days, speaking to a room full of officers about why one of your programs is busted, stepping on a bus to go to the airport where you will be shipped for 6 weeks of training and people yelling at you for no reason, you get the point.

I already knew my age would set me apart from my new peers but I, naively, forgot about the unique experiences I’ve had because I’ve waited so long to go to college. I just couldn’t take their complaints of stress and anxiety seriously because that wasn’t stressful to me at all. I don’t want to be that bitch that is condescending and diminishing of everyone else’s feelings though. They will not understand my life experience¬† and I don’t know theirs so I need to be the bigger person and validate their feelings…which is so hard because I am struggling to take them seriously. Actually, I think the hardest part is just going to be finding someone to relate to in the sea of youth. Ugh, I miss adults.

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Don’t let the bastards get you down…

Tomorrow is a day that has been over eleven years in the making. Tomorrow is my last day of military service. Monday morning, I will wake up and no longer be a Technical Sergeant but a Miss or, simply, Dawn. The government collar will be off and I will no longer have to worry about shipping off for 6 months to a middle eastern desert or even back to the Korean peninsula. That is liberating. I will also no longer have a regular paycheck or health insurance. That is terrifying.

On January 10th, 2006, I was a mess. A 22-year-old kid getting on a bus who was having severe anxiety about leaving her mother because it had always been my responsibility to look after her, make sure she wasn’t alone. I completely understand the irony of the fact that I left home, left her only to come back to where I started, living under my mother’s roof. I’m not the same person I was when I stepped on that bus though. If you were to chart a line from who I was then to who I am now, it would be all over the place. It would drop to the lowest of lows to the highest of highs. When I was in basic training I was walking with a fellow trainee who gently chided for walking with a slump. ‘Put your shoulders, hold your head high, you’re in the Air Force’. I did as instructed but my slumping walk was never far away, it kept me hidden.

The Air Force made me strong. It gave me a sense of pride and it gave me a reason to get out of bed on days when I just wanted to hide from everything. The people in the Air Force became my family and friends. They cheered for me as I walked across the stage to get my associate’s degree. They comforted me after my dad died. They made me get help when I didn’t know how to ask for it. I have so many good memories that when I think about them I try to remember the bad ones too because I know there were many, many of those as well. The funny thing is though, I don’t remember the details of the bad nearly as vividly as the good. The bad is like an old film negative while the good are in HD. It almost seems silly to think that I could get so worked up about something and now, 1, 5 or 10 years later not even remember the specifics of it. It just goes to show that you shouldn’t let the little shit get you down, because you probably won’t remember it anyway.

Come break me down…

Here’s the dealio, I think I have found a better way to articulate what I’m feeling right now since yesterday’s post was a complete jumblefuck. I’m afraid. I’m afraid that when I get back to my mom’s house in Indiana, I’m going to lay my head down, go to sleep and wake up in a world where the past 12 years never happened. This is not a metaphor, this is really what has me riled up right now. I will go to sleep, wake up and be 22 again with no direction and no purpose for my life, just back in a major depressive episode. You know how some people say they wish they could go back to their 20’s, I’m not one of them. Sure I wish I had the physical stamina of my late 20’s but that would be the only thing I want from that decade. Everything else was a complete mess.

Alternate scenario though: I go to sleep, wake up and I’m 34 years old, obese, living with mom and on my way to my job stocking shelves at Wal-Mart (an honorable job but just not what I want to do). The fear in both scenarios is the same, that the last 12 years never happened. I never travelled the world, I never met my greatest friends, I never laughed until I cried, I never did anything. I’m legitimately worried that I’ll go home and the last 12 years won’t have happened. Yes, I see the metaphor, I’m scared I’ll go home and regress. I texted one of my closest friends last night and made her take a blood oath to hit me with the tough love if I lose my way, drop out of school and go back into retail (again, another noble occupation but I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt and don’t want to do back). She agreed to be ruthless when necessary which gave me some comfort. It’s just happening and, from a distance, it was really exciting but the closer it gets, it’s scary.

Breathe me…

I am on the brink of downward spiral. I can feel it. There seems to be a perfect storm of…shit about to happen. There’s a good side to this though, I know it’s coming and I see the warning signs.

Warning sign 1: I am bored at work. Really bored. I do enough to last me a couple of hours, at most, and then I do nothing but stare at a computer screen and think about how bored I am. I’ve handed over almost all of my job duties and responsibilities to my replacement so she can start finding her own flow and call on me if she needs to but I’ve left myself with 40 hours a week of nothing. Due to work time boredom, I’m completely unmotivated at home and I just want to sit and dwell on how bored I am at work which starts a bad thought chain. Oh yeah, being bored is leading me to wanting to eat all the time and that’s causing me to crave terribly unhealthy foods.

Warning sign 2: Thoughts of the future don’t make me happy and giddy, they make me stressed. Not the thoughts of leaving the military and going to school, those are still amazing. I’m maid of honor in two spring weddings and I’m already feeling resentful. I’ll get to the whole forever alone thing in the next warning sign, this one I’m being resentful because I don’t get to focus on me. Yes, very selfish, but I will be a full-time student and I want to focus on doing well on that but I’ll have to share my time and attention with being involved in two weddings. That upsets me. To be fair, I don’t think I’m dealing with bridezillas so I think they will be understanding but the potential of a melt down while I’m working on something for school has me on edge.

Warning sign 3: Weddings. 2 weddings that I’m in and, as of now, I have no date prospects for either. I’m seriously considering male escorts because, well, it works in the movies right? I like my independence and I do well being on my own until something comes along, like a wedding, and rubs my face in it. It’s like the universe going ‘haha bitch, you’re never going to get there, enjoy the spot next to the bride because you’ll never be the one in white.’ As I’m sure you can imagine, that doesn’t feel great.

Warning sign 4: A huge change is coming and I’m walking away from my routine. Routine is a big thing for me and it’s why I’ve done so well in the air force. Routine give me structure which gives me sanity. After many a long weekend or time off of work I am more than ready to get back in the office because without my routine I become a blob that does nothing for days except eat and think about all the great things I should be doing. I do want some time off when I move back home to settle in and relax and eventually I’ll get a part-time job and start school but until then, I feel like I will be free wheeling into the devil’s playground.

Warning sign 5: Unexpected expenses. I have budgeted all my money from now until the end of the year so I know that I can survive without a job until end of January, maybe February. Today I learned that, traditionally, the maid of honor organizes the bridal shower on her own dime (two bridal showers for me). I was already planning on paying for my dresses and I’m cool with that. Oh, I forgot to mention, one wedding is in New Jersey and one is in Texas and I live in Indiana so hello travel costs and time out of classes. I don’t know what I’ll do if they ask me to make a trip before to help plan. I really wanted to get out of the military and leave stress behind…I’m kind of resentful of that too.

That’s most of the warning signs, the big ones anyways. Maybe they’re more triggers, I don’t know. Like I said, it’s good that I see and acknowledge these and for the first time maybe in my whole life, I realize that I don’t want to do the dark downward spiral. It sucks and it hurts and it doesn’t make me special and it doesn’t get me love. It hurts me and takes me further back from my goals. I can divert my path to avoid this. The hardest part is going to be keeping myself busy at work because I can’t just leave whenever I want to (yet), I have to still be available to my airmen so I have to come up with something to do and fast. Today I want to fight this, tomorrow I may not. The other stuff…I don’t know what to do about that. Maybe the law of attraction will help me manifest a date for these shindigs. I think first I need to start productive in my work days.

Today I like(d):

  1. Realizing that I don’t want to be depressed and appreciating that I can recognize my warning signs and triggers.
  2. My dog’s tail wagging when I came home during lunch and at the end of the day.

I saw the sign…

I am worn. I felt much better today than I did yesterday, probably because I ate a little more. I felt so good that I decided that some hot air wasn’t going to keep me from running after work. I went to the track and ran in the 100 degree heat. I wanted to do my 14 minutes running with one minute walking but I didn’t make it. I got to 7 minutes running and needed a break. I walked a minute, ran the 3 or 4 minutes to the starting line, picked up a friend and ran a half mile (didn’t track the time) then we walked a half mile and she busted out another running lap. After the third lap I was done but, to be fair, it was a mile and a half and I ran most of it so, YAY! Since I have a flexible schedule tomorrow I am going to run in the morning before the heat sets in. I just really wanted to get the legs moving today so I wouldn’t feel so stiff. Luckily, next week our temperatures are supposed to drop into the 70’s so I can start working on 30 minutes running and 5k training!

Today I like(d)…

  1. That I had a nice conversation with someone I had never met, a young lady that works in the same group as me.
  2. That a friend of mine checked up on me after I confided in her about a personal problem yesterday.
  3. That my best friend and I can be so supportive of each other even though we’re far away.
  4. That I got a clean bill of health from the oral surgeon I saw today.
  5. That I’m starting to look good.

Promise of a new day…

Today was shit. Drama from the weekend spilled over into today, work was unnecessarily stressful, people were assholes, I am just not a fan of this day. I struggled to keep myself together at work but when I got home and started texting my bestie about it, I finally felt safe to let it out. I got everything out that needed to get out and I enjoyed just staring at my sweet dog’s smiling face. I’m still feeling the after effects of it, the rawness that comes from feeling vulnerable and emotional for a period of time, but tomorrow will be a better day. I tried so hard to start today off good. I woke up early and worked out, I listened to positive YouTube videos and music, but it still just fell apart, maybe I tried too hard. Tomorrow is a new day!

Today I like(d)…

  1. That I have become resilient enough to keep myself together at work.
  2. That I survived.
  3. That my best friend was there for me all day with her love and positivity.

As time goes by…

Exciting stuff: I registered for my first official post-injury race today! I’m even going an extra step with it and I’m going to try to fundraise for a local homeless shelter. I don’t particularly like to ask people for money but I figure it’s worth a shot since it’s for a good cause. Even if only a few dollars get raised, it’s better than nothing. It’s on Thanksgiving day so at least I know I’ll eat really good afterwards. It’s going to be a 4.5 mile run so it gives me a new challenge to work toward. This is going to be my final week of my walk-to-run program, 14 minutes running with 1 minute walking. After this week the next challenge is 30 minutes and then I think it’s going transition to distance tracking rather than time. I would like to start a 10k training program once I get comfortable with 5k’s which will hopefully be in a month or so.

I’ve noticed an interesting thing lately. When I’m getting ready to run, I really don’t want to do it. I mean, I’ll put all my gear on and then I hesitate because I feel like I just don’t want to do it, but I want to look good and eat all day so I do it anyways. Then when I finish, I feel strong and amazing especially when I consider where I started from, getting winded after only a minute or two, now I’m running over a mile at a time. I’m worried a day will come when the ‘don’t want to’ feeling will trump the ‘want to’ feeling and then I’ll end up back where I started. I don’t want that to happen, I’ve come too far and I’m not getting younger, the longer I take to get healthy the harder it’s going to be. Maybe that’s what I need to be reminding myself.

Side note…a couple weeks ago I was listening to a YouTube video about gratitude. I was intrigued at the context that was used to convey gratitude. They weren’t constantly repeating ‘I am grateful for,’ they were saying ‘I like…’ as their way to express gratitude. I heard that and it was like a weight lifted from my shoulders. Gratitude is a beautiful thing but that word can be so heavy. So, instead of saying ‘I’m grateful for’, I’m going to start saying ‘I like(d)’. So…

Today I like(d)…

  1. The cooler weather.
  2. That I was able to take the dog on two walks.
  3. The very nice lady we met on the second walk.
  4. That I have friends who know the real me and stand by me.