Dear Miranda, I learned about my bucket.

Yesterday I went to a Permanency Summit in Abilene. The summit had a lot of trauma and grief training. It was and extremely intense training and I went and saw my therapist after to process all of it but at the end of the training they focused on workplace well being. They talked all about the secondary trauma we experience in this field if we don’t take care of ourselves. If I were to paraphrase what she said and take of the pretty wrapping she used to be unoffensive it would have sounded a lot like this:

“You are all a bunch of codependence, that’s why you are drawn to this type of work and thank God for that, but you need to keep that shit in check and make sure your nurturing yourselves because otherwise you will end up broken, bitter, and you will unintentionally fuck up the families you work with.”

Then she talked about our “bucket” and it was such an awesome visual analogy for something we know happened to us emotionally (apparently there is a book about this and when I get a chance I’m going to read it). So the idea is simple: Everyone has an invisible bucket next to there heart with all the good things that make them them and we all give and take from each others buckets when we need to. In social work that is every day. The problem is that since you are the only one who can “see” your bucket, you are the only one who knows when its empty and people will continue to take even after there is nothing left. And that can break you down. So in order to ensure that doesn’t happen you have to A) set up firm boundaries when your bucket gets low (ie. I don’t work on weekends. My bucket is low or empty at the end of the week and I need my family time. My family time is something you cant have. Or w/e your boundary is.) and B) to make sure you are doing things that refill your bucket!

Her examples of refilling your bucket were going on a date night with her husband, playing board games with her kids, going to an art exhibit or hanging out with friends who make her laugh and laugh. She really stressed the importance of making sure you didn’t always rely on your spouse to refill your bucket because then it can become drain on their bucket to fill yours. Obviously a date night fills both your buckets and its fine to take from their bucket every once in a while just like they take from yours but having friends and activities that help fill your bucket as well is a must.

She said that everyone in her family knows what “my buckets low” or “I need help filling my bucket” means and they all use it. If her kids throw a fit in the middle of the store and her bucket gets dumped out she can set them down and let them know her buckets low and they will offer things like “If I get my PJ’s on without you having to tell me, will that help fill your bucket?”  and if her husband comes home from work and says his bucket is on empty and need something for the rest of the week she might get take out and let him pick the Netflix they watch that night. If the kids buckets are low she will cuddle them or play a silly song and dance with them. You get the idea.

Anyway I loved the idea of the Bucket and Zachary and I have decided to use it because its such an easy way to communicate a common need. It’s something Emily will understand at least mostly. And I was thinking about what are some things that help refill my bucket.

Some quick little fills I use during the week are:

15 minutes of quiet or outside sounds, like sitting on the patio and listening to the birds and wind chimes

Listening to a “pick me up” song

Reading Emily a bedtime story at night

Taking a shower with Zac

Getting a text message from a friend

Good Coffee

hunting through pintrest for ideas

seeing someone I know and having them smile/wave at me

Some Medium fills I use are:

at least one hour spent doing something fun outside, be it relaxing or swimming or taking a walk

talking on the phone for 20+ min. with a friend

a long soaking bubble bath

board games with Zac and/or Emily

nighttime cuddles

Doodling

Reading a chapter or two of a good book

watching a funny show/movie or a good documentary

a nap (that I don’t wake up feeling shitty from)

yoga

a really delicious meal

And the big fillers are:

A deep and meaningful conversation with someone I care about

Seeing Emily have a total blast at somewhere I have taken her

Lunch with a friend who lives here

A letter/Blog post/email/ long call/ long IM session from a friend who lives outside of here

Being able to read as much as I want in one sitting

A whole day with no obligations

Having time to sit and write out my thoughts and feelings

Therapy

A Vacation with Zac and/or Emily

“Date night” with Zac

Reading something that I feel like enlightens me or gives me a new coping skill

The other big thing she preached about the buckets was that we need to all carefully consider the people who help fill you up vs. the people who empty you. And get rid of the ones who empty you and work to foster and nurture the connections with the ones who fill you up.

I thought you might like all this too and I just want you to know I miss you and you help fill me up. ❤ -Me

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Dear Miranda, Sometimes text on paper (or computer) is a fail.

After reading you last post I couldn’t help but feel like a child who was being scolded. I’m 98% sure that was not at all your intent but just the same way I may have accidentally taken your words can out of context because I didn’t have the speech patters and tone of your voice to rely on I wonder if perhaps it has been feeling the same for you with me. So just in case let me clear the air (and if not, the second half of this post is about books so just skip this bit).

I often ask about how you and Matt are doing for two primary reasons. The first one you pegged. I am not there and I have literally no idea what all goes on in your day to day life. It’s just general curiosity. The second is your relationship, whomever it is with, is going to be a pretty major part of your life, effecting many aspects, so anytime I talk to ANY of my friends I always ask for a status update. “How’s it like being single?” “Are you still seeing that scuba instructor?” “How is So&So doing?” I’m not asking because I’m expecting that things have changed or that I’m looking to catch someone in a lie. I’m not even looking for gossip and it doesn’t matter I you’ve been together 2 days or 20 years I’d still ask, all the same.

I genuinely apologize if I accidentally came of as unbelieving or doubtful. That’s not at all how it would have sounded if you had been able to hear my voice. I love that you and Matt are back together (You know I always have considered him a friend as well) and it makes me smile every time you say you are doing well.

I can see how me asking what y’all are working on or how y’alls communication is going might come across as skepticism. It isn’t. As you said, you two are a little too mature and realistic for the “honeymoon” stage and I simply am making conversation. You certainly don’t have to tell me any of the “little stuff”, though I hope you don’t mind me telling YOU the small stuff. I love my husband dearly, but sometimes he does things that bug me and I need to vent or I need insight or I just need to process my thoughts. Likewise sometimes I struggle with figuring out how my behavior is affecting him. Sometimes just like you, there isn’t really anything to report. Since growth is pretty core to who I am though, that’s rare. If we aren’t working on something(s) as a couple, then I am working on ME.

Anyway I hope this clears things up a bit. I don’t doubt yall are doing awesome and I’m really really happy for you. I’m not hunting for something negative when I ask how yall are doing. That’s fantastic that yall changed together in such a sync way.

So the OTHER thing I was going to write to you about was I was curious if you have a particular method when you choose the order in which you read books? I ask because I have to put a lot of thought into it. For example the book I just finished was an easy read verbiage wise but it was extremely thought provoking and mentally taxing, leaving me with so much to think about. As a result of that it would be a poor idea for me to read anything very “deep” at this point and time, simply because I’m still digesting the other book. If I started reading something to heavy I would end up feeling burnt out and would put the book down. For me that’s a killer. If I stop reading a book partway through I almost never finish it again. So right now I’m thinking that I’ll read some fantasy. I’ll let you know if I read anything good.

❤ Kettle

Dear Catie, the older I get, the less I care.

I’m not talking empathy. That is still high and I will always feel unmeasurable pangs of guilt, sorrow, sympathy, empathy, happiness… etc. That’s part of BPD. I’ll never be ‘mellow yellow’, but you get used to living with that after a while.

What I am talking about is the older I get, the less fucks I give about things like:

  • How someone other than me parents (as long as it doesn’t hurt the kid)
  • How someone other than me loves another person (gays, bisexuals, etc)
  • How someone other than me lives their life (as long as it doesn’t hurt someone)
  • What I eat, what I weight, and have I told you how much I love my body lately?

  • Where someone lives and the pictures of their ‘life’ they allow us to see on social medias
  • Keeping up on my own ‘social media’.

I try to post enough to let my grandmother not freak out, but honestly, I have found the tools on Facebook considering who is allowed to Follow you, See what you post, etc to be very helpful. I can now feel comfortable that I won’t step on any toes and other bullshit like that when I post things about how I feel with friends who are like minded. My family is southern, conservative for the most part, and not as… progressive? And that’s fine. I’ve learned that I don’t want to change them at all. Let them live how they always have, cause it’s not hurting anyone. While they disagree with gay marriage, they aren’t going out of their way to kill, abuse, or otherwise hurt gay people. *shrugs* And I know that I give less effs about what other people think, but Facebook is full of little ways that people can pipe up with their opinions and disagree with mine and make me feel like, in general, using facebook to share my opinions is a waste of time because they will be shit on every fucking time. (Which is why I hide a good majority of it now from those who do that.) (I’m looking at you, Joseph. I hope he reads this with the same humor as me, but damn, that guy is as much of an instigator as ever. AGAIN, THOUGH, WOULDN’T CHANGE ‘EM.)

  • What people think of me.

A good part of social media for me, way back before I left it, was I put way too much stock in to

  1. What people posted and how their lives that they let everyone see must be all there is to it.
  2. What people see of my life must be perfection, just like theirs, and wtf, why isn’t my life perfection like theirs?

A great part of learning people are full of shit and all about The Game of fronts and perceptions is that I don’t give a fuck to play a game I didn’t realize I was playing. Fuck the rules, fuck the ‘my life is perfect #blessed’ bullshit. I don’t care. I’m glad everyone’s so happy, but they got nothing on my life. Sorry ’boutcha.

And I mean that. You ask on the regular how I am doing, and I feel bad and like a parrot when I repeatedly state: “I’m good. We’re good. Everything’s groovy.” — But it’s the truth. Matthew and I are —

Oh wait. The readers have no idea about that. Oops. Summary recap.

Matt and I split up last summer in July 2014.

We were fantastic apart. We were nothing but nice and friendly to each other the entire split.

The worst part was divorcing not only him, but his parents. — And that’s a lesson we learned. We were married, but his parents were a heavy portion of our marriage. While, in their own lives, Matt’s grandparents were a huge part of their marriage, they felt that was the norm for everyone – so they including their lives so heavily on ours. I don’t mean ‘come and visit me once an a while’. I mean, where we live (apartment vs house), how much we pay, the city we live (was 7 minutes from their house), how often Elijah sees them else we hear about it, the things we spent our money on, keeping up appearances and visiting extended family at functions, going to the lake and outdoorsy things all the time when the weather allows.

None of these things are awful traits. They honestly do it because they care and that’s how they know how to care. They have always wanted what is best for Matthew and I, and if it worked for them, it must be ‘best’, right? I used to be so frustrated and angry with them and the way I feel they personally drove more stress and anxiety in to my life – in to Matt’s life – and then, in to our marriage because they ultimately ended up pinning Matt and I against each other on the regular. It was so unhealthy — but they aren’t solely responsible.

Boundaries are important, and if Matt and I never speak up, and never hold up to our end of the fence post, then they would never know where the boundary began.

Anyhow, so they were hard to divorce because they were hurting and I was the one to blame and blah blah. It was pretty ugly there, but I remained trying to be as nice as humanly possible because that’s how I was raised, and I didn’t want Elijah to think Nana and Pops were some horrible people. They’re not, and I don’t want him ever to think they’re anything than super heroes in his eyes.

Matt and I dated other people. Our paperwork wasn’t filed yet, but damn, do you know how expensive that crap is? You do, cause you’ve done it, but we agreed that we were both divorced, that neither would use in court some adultery charge if we were to date before we filed, etc etc. So we agreed to date others. We didn’t live together, we dated, we would occasionally update each other on how that was going, and we became best friends again. It was amazing.

And then, one night we decided to take Elijah out to eat together. And then we took him back to Matt’s place. And then I didn’t leave, and we fell back in love. It went something like this:

The most important thing I took from this separation is: We grew up.

We were not so focused on the other person, and would they still like the other person if we liked this or didn’t like that, or had a preference to this or that. We weren’t able to grow up healthily in our former relationship, between each other and his parents. I wasn’t allowed to feel comfortable, and feel like I wasn’t some freak because I didn’t like fishing like the others did. Or that I preferred to read. Or whatever.

We got to grow up when we were apart, and dating again was complete and total new territory. We were different people, who loved ourselves, and we went in to this relationship like this:

-Do we feel the same religiously? (Because I gained way more faith when I discovered I was Super Mom as a single mother)

-Can we communicate? (A huge problem before, where Matt would rather bottle things up than speak up about them at the risk I would blow up at him — and I would definitely blow up at him at every chance, with tensions so high.)

-Can we be our own people, but also still love each other? (I’m sorry, Matthew, but Grunge was so hard for me to pretend to like. While some is fine, I just can’t get behind Sound Garden. It’s not my jam, mannnn.)

-Can we be us, and not let anyone else intrude on our relationship? (We decided, if this would happen, that this time around we would gently let everyone know that it’s us against the world. Just us.)

Naturally, we came to an agreement. We dated in secret for a while, because while we can forgive each other and fall in love all over again as new people — everyone else that we knew in our family would likely be confused, hurt, and not know what the fuck was going on. I was definitely worried for his side of the family, who had every right to be bitter I feel. I was never worried for my family, though. They’ve always loved him and his family. I half expected a celebration — one that will come.

When we eventually came public, Matthew told his parents and informed them as gently as he could that it was he and I, and that this time, while he knows they love him, he would do his own thing with me. They didn’t quite understand, and he tried to explain, but again. That may be something that never changes, and that’s life. Gotta let it go.

Sooooo. Long story short, we’re happy. Still. I wouldn’t say it’s ‘honeymoon’ phase, because we’re smarter than that. We know there’s hardship, and we struggle – but our struggles are easier now. They seem so easy. Communication has been key. We both make more money, and love our jobs, which is huge. We live in Frisco — which is perfect for our lifestyles. We go on dates, with or without Elijah, weekly and without having to plan it.

I tell you, spontaneously asking the other person if they wanna go see a Movie tonight and knowing you can afford it without having to skimp on some bill is the best feeling in the world.

But, despite how amazing we are, I don’t like to go in to detail anymore. Why? Well..

  • It’s my life. Our life. And that’s between us. It’s a boundary.
  • Life really is great for us, but rather than post all the damn time about it on social medias, I’d rather people witness it if they’re curious if we’re just as happy as we seem.
  • I don’t have time any more to post on the regular about my life when I’m busy trying to write my book and relax on the small amounts of times I have. I work pretty heavily now (which I love), and Matt works opposite schedules, and Elijah is on a schedule, and while there is always time for the three of us – we don’t back burner each other, and that means things like this and gaming are not prioritized and it’s just hard to keep everyone updated.

I know you ask because you care, and because you can’t just ‘come over and chill’ and witness the glorious harmony yourself, but believe me when I tell you.. Things are groovy. We’re so lucky. No one I know has the love story we do, and let me say, just because it worked out for us, doesn’t mean it will work out for everyone going through divorce. I’m not one of those blindingly positive people who thinks people need to try harder. Not at all.

Also, just because he and I ended up never getting an official divorce on paper, we do consider ourselves divorced in our hearts, because we dated other people and truly attempted to live apart.  We fell out, definitely.

Which means as of today, we consider ourselves Boyfriend and Girlfriend, or dating. Someday, when we decide this is forever, and Matthew asks me to marry him again, we will have a ceremony in which we reconfirm our love for one another — but this time, with God involved, and on a personal scale. But that’s the future.

We’re enjoying the now.

Love you, Pot.

Dear Miranda, it’s been a while…

I have been meaning to write you for some time now. This is the first chance I’ve had and I feel like there are 100 different topics I want to cover, most of witch I will undoubtedly not be able to recall now that I am actually siting in front of my computer. One of the things I remember wanting to update you on and talk to you about was my medication and mental health currently.

As you know I am taking 120mg of Cymbalta and 20mg of Buspar daily in order to combat depression and anxiety. I can honestly say that everyone, myself most of all, can tell what a massive difference it makes. The constant crying spells are gone and the emotional intensity through which even the most mundane things were filtered though has greatly lessened, inurn making life much more livable. I do have to say that while overall the effects of these drugs have been positive there are a few things that are rather unpleasant.

For one thing, I can not stop taking my medication even for a few days without experiencing withdraw. And let me tell you…the comedown impossible to mistake. Migraines, dizziness, extreme light headedness, nausea & vomiting, and horrific mood swings. It’s extremely unpleasant. The other major thing I dislike is that it greatly reduces my sex drive (I know, I know, Welcome to the land of basically every anti depressant ever). I’m a young newlywed and this is something I’d rather not have to deal with but it looks like I’m going to have to.

At this point the pros still vastly outweigh the cons, as I am able to function as a “normal” adult. I can finally have deep thoughts (or really ANY thoughts) without it culminating into me feeling unlovable, like a failure, or just generally unhappy and turning me into a sobbing heap on the floor/bed/bathroom/car/where ever I happen to be. I know this might sound trivial but I can listen to music. Always before this was a struggle as music seemed to often ease my mind down unhealthy trains of though before I was conscious of it and by the time I was it was to late. That doesn’t happen much anymore and when it does I’m able to sit calmly with my feelings for a moment, mull them over, and then let them pass.

The nicest thing I thing is that at this point I have hit that “evening out” place they always talk about. The medication is fully in my system and my body has adjusted to and learned to regulate it. It’s an interesting place to be because I’m not sure that I have ever been able to really sit with my feelings and analyze them. It seems the task of getting out from under some of the bad habits I have learned over the years is not quite so daunting or seemingly impossible. My mind is, in a word, much more clear.

That sort of leads me to my next topic, therapy. I still see my therapist, though not as regularly since I am doing quite a bit better. I am going to see her this Thursday and talk to her about the possibility of doing a group therapy session for codependents. I know one of there person that is really interested and I am sure that she would know several. I think it would be highly beneficial. The issue is that our local chapter of ALANON is, to be honest, not what I’m looking for. I don’t want to fix someone else. I want to fix ME and though that’s the goal of ALANON, I think it sort of gets missed sometimes here.

I want to work on my need to control my situation, my fear of royally screwing up Emily (doing all the things that messed me up as a kid), subconscious manipulation, my fear of abandonment, and several other big issues that need to continuously be addressed until they are easy for me t identify and work on.

Outside of mental health and into just day to day stuff I think I have done a descent job of keeping you up to date.

Zac and I are doing well. We are reaching that “evening out” place in our relationship as well which is nice. We have a little independence from each other while still doing/desiring to spend the majority of our time hanging out with each other. I desperately want to start eating better and doing SOME for of working out which is hard because I’ll be doing it alone but at least were at a place where that’s ok.

We were planning  to go look at manufactured homes this weekend but it I the first weekend in such a long time that we didn’t have Emily, and didn’t have a huge to do list, that we decided to just try and enjoy a lazy weekend. I’m glad too. I finished a book, laid around on the sofa, cuddled in bed, sat around in my underwear. I needed a life break.

This was the first time in ages I have simultaneously had a book that really sucked me in AND had the ability to just sit on my ass and read for hours. I took full advantage of it and read my book in roughly a day. Its such a fantastic feeling. I have book afterglow and this book left me with lots and lots to mull over and ponder and consider. I really enjoyed it and now I’m sifting through the stack by my bed deciding which one to read next.

Work is crazy right now. We have doubled if not tripled our client intake in a matter of a week or to and I’m STILL working on intakes. I am really excited by the prospect of this program getting so big and doing so well. I’m also excited to finally be overseeing someone. Monique is crazy easy to oversee as well. Right now about 25% of my time is spent doing visits while the rest is in the office trying to play catch up. Don’t misconstrue this as complaining…I LOVE when its busy and function better the more work there is to do. The only thing I don’t like are deadlines I don’t create but I mean duh… who doesn’t.

There are a few thing I’m frustrated with at work. For one thing I don’t think I should have been required to help write the protocol manual and it has eaten up a lot of valuable time that I feel like could have been better spent. Part of the issue is that my boss is having to do like 6 different jobs right now because of administrative changes in other programs. She filling in while they get new people hired and placed/people come back from maternity leave, ect. It also makes it hard because she isn’t often available for questions. Lastly they let go of my best friend up there and frankly I’m pretty bitter about it. Mostly I just miss her company and support. She always made me feel valued and important.

Emily is doing well. She is testing out being bossy and throwing hissyfits again, which is irritating but usually short lived. And overall she is a pleasant child. She is doing gymnastics and seems to really enjoy it. I’m loving her age because we can play lots of little games together. Candy land, Cooties, Don’t Break the Ice, the matching game, and I SPY are staples. She likes kerplunk and Janga too. Best of all she is interested in anything you want to show her/explore with her. She still loves her books and when we get a place of our own I want to get her a nice, real, bookshelf just like mine.

Overall life is good out here in the desert, hope you are doing well too. ❤ Catie