Establishing routines

Last year I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done in an effort to try to be more organized.

I started to try to keep at least some of the lists he says to keep.

It didn’t last long.

I know keeping lists can be good for people with ADD and other such attention problems. (While I have not been diagnosed as ADD, it often goes hand-in-hand with bipolar and when you look at some of my patterns of behavior, it’s really similar to ADD people.)

But I just can’t seem to keep up with it for more than a week or two.

I can see how, once the routine is established, it can make things easier. But establishing it as a routine seems to be beyond my capabilities.

Yesterday and today, I started to go through a big stack of paperwork, shredding and throwing stuff away that needed to be gone and filing what needed to be kept (I found my DD-214 and disability award letter from the VA, but still can’t find either one of our birth certificates or my driver’s license.)

Yesterday, I started on the most recent stuff. It was mostly from this year, a little from December last year. It was all still in my inbox.

I thought I was done.

Then I found another whole paper grocery bag’s worth of stuff that was mostly from last year and I went through that today.

I’m pretty sure that I have piles shoved in boxes and bags from the time we lost our last apartment in 2006, because I don’t remember doing a really big purge in all this time.

An established routine of dealing with stuff as it comes in would be very beneficial. If I could handle this stuff once a week or even once a month, it would only take a few minutes, instead of hours over a few days.

And I always tell myself I’m going to.

But then I don’t actually follow through and do it.

This is all wrapped up in that self-discipline thing, the same way housework is.

And I have the same problem with housework.

While C was in FL, I did a lot of deeper cleaning than normal, and I was even pretty good about getting dishes done most days.

Now she’s back, and she’s still never home, and everything is going to shit again.

I mean, really. She’s home to sleep, shower and get dressed and then she’s off either being social or working or at tae kwon do.

It’s not much different than when she was gone.

And yet, I find myself abandoning things that had almost become routine while she was gone.

WTF?

When I look back on my past, the times my home has been cleanest and I’ve done better at routine things are the times I’ve lived completely alone, or for a brief period when C was tiny after I kicked Deadbeat Roommate out.

My bedroom was mostly a mess, but the rest of the place was just fine.

Why is that?

I’ve lived with roommates, friends and lovers. I’ve noticed that whenever I first move in with someone, I get depressed almost immediately. Which, you know, can’t be good.

But why can’t I keep the place clean when I live with someone else when I obviously CAN when I live alone?

I know part of it is because when I’m alone, any mess is mine. I made it, I gotta clean it up. And things are always where I left them. Now that C is home, she’s leaving stuff laying all over the place, says she’ll pick it up , but doesn’t, etc. And I think that’s part of it.

But it can’t be all of it.

Now, I *did* grow up with routines. My stepfather made sure of that. Dishes done every day, other stuff done once a week or once a month, and I was the one responsible for pretty much everything except his laundry. Mop the kitchen floor once a week, once a month, scrub it and wax it. Bathroom cleaned every week. Vacuuming and dusting at least once a week. I probably only cleaned my room about every other month, though. And I always did the best job on that when it was something I wanted to do instead of being forced to do it.

I know the benefits of having that routine. If it never gets really bad, then it’s not that much work.

So, why do I let it get bad before I do anything about it?

I was talking to Pale today and I pointed out that I always SAY I don’t have time. But if you add up all the time I spend online and/or in front of the TV, I’ve got plenty of time.

So, why can’t I make myself Just Do It?

I am making myself go to the gym, and that’s going well, even though I don’t have an established routine. I don’t go at the same time of day when I work out. I always mean to go in the morning, but then I don’t. I don’t want to go during the busy hours of the day (especially the 4pm-9pm crowd), so sometimes I go at 10 p.m. or later. Or maybe I’ll go around 10 a.m. or even 8 a.m.

But the point is, I’m going. I did take 10 days off recently, but I’m still going. So, I can be somewhat disciplined.

I had tracked every meal for about 15 weeks. Seriously. And now I’m starting to slack off on that.

Why am I slacking? After 15 weeks, that should certainly be routine, no?

Aaaaaaand, maybe not. . .

I took my OkCupid profile down.

I had some nice online conversations, but I didn’t want to meet any of them. And the ones that wanted to meet me were extremely creepy. (Although foot fetish guy was probably the nicest one).

Maybe online dating sites is not a good way for me to meet people, which is funny because I have several close friends that I’ve met online, and have had really open conversations with them.


Or maybe I’m not ready to date, even after over 12 years alone.

Or maybe I’m just better off by myself.

Roller coaster, anyone?

As I mentioned on Las Flacas blog, the past two weeks have been an emotional roller coaster.

I’m not sure what’s going on; I have been pretty consistent with my meds, but my emotions are all over the place.

Crying one minute, setting up a profile on a dating site and flirting with strangers online the next.

I got up enough courage (or mania or something) to re-enter an old hobby with other people in it (most of my hobbies are solo pursuits).

The public areas of my apartment are cleaner than usual, but still not where I would like them, but I’ve let them go a bit in the last few days.

I’m behind on things I want and need to do, but I’ve knit more than half a dozen star-shaped cotton cloths (I’m really obsessed with this pattern in a self-striping yarn because it comes out looking so cool!)

Seriously, don’t they look cool? And every one is slightly different, even when I use the same yarn because each skein starts in a different place on the color pattern.

  Self-striping yarn from Sugar n’ Cream.

(And if anyone wants one, let me know. I can’t sell them because it’s totally someone else’s pattern, but I’ll send you one if you want. They can be used as a dishcloth, wash cloth, altar cloth or any number of other things. I would NOT use them as a hot pad or pot holder though; they are not thick enough for that.)

Anyway. . . . that’s my mind lately: either mindlessly performing a simple task or bouncing around and not able to concentrate at all.

If it continues, I may have to contact my pdoc and have meds adjusted. But I also did not lift for 10 days, and it’s possible my body was getting used to the exercise and the sudden stop screwed up some hormones or other brain chemicals. Now that I’m lifting again, maybe it will all calm down?

Reminiscing, Realization

I’m over the almost 2 month freak out about THE ex calling, I think. It hit a peak earlier this week, and suddenly, my feelings are very. . . different.

I started thinking about other men from my past that have looked me up.

I was talking to an old friend last night; let’s call him Jerry*, since using only initials will get confusing very quickly here.

Jerry and I didn’t really interact that much in high school. He was a close friend of my boyfriend back then. Funny thing is at this point in our lives, I have much more in common with him than I do with the high school boyfriend. . . It was kind of fun to remember that time. I was all of a size 10 (thought I was fat!)**, I was one of the cutest girls in our group of misfits, I was happy most of the time.

The high school boyfriend, A, has looked me up several times. He’s happily married to the girl he started dating after we broke up, and he proudly refers to her as “his high school sweetheart”. (We dated for almost 2 school years, and he only dated her for the last 4 months of his senior year, but, whatever. . . )

Jerry says, “I think he is generally concerned with your well-being. I dunno, maybe he wants to see if he missed out on something.”

Maybe. 

I always thought it was more of the latter, but he is a good guy, and there’s probably a lot of the former. Considering how screwed up my life has been at times, I’m sure he hasn’t missed out on anything, considering all the years of crazy.
But, that aside, after I stopped talking to Jerry, I started thinking about another ex, M.

M was probably the biggest ex-bf before THE ex discussed before.

M and I had a very passionate on-again-off-again affair for quite some time. We stayed in touch and on the periphery of each other’s lives for several years. I even invited him (and his then-wife) to my wedding. (They didn’t come.)

M has also looked me up several times over the years. The last time, he spent months trying to find me on the internet. There are literally hundreds of people in the country with my first name/last name combination, and he combed the ‘net looking for me in a time when I had virtually no web presence. The last couple of times, it was very easy for me to realize that he doesn’t hold that big a part of me any more. He did, for a long time, but now he’s pretty much a stranger.

There was a point in my life when I never thought I’d feel that way about him. I thought he was The One, until I fell for THE ex.

A brief aside here, as someone with bipolar disorder who wasn’t diagnosed until I was 30 years old, I had several years that were. . . adventurous. I often had more than one romance going on at a time. I slept with a lot of people.

The number of times I’ve been in love can fit on one hand, but I don’t know the number of men I’ve had sex with. I know that I have broken a few hearts, especially my first husband (I had two marriages end before I was 25).

My first husband looked me up a couple of times, but I felt so bad about how I treated him, that I didn’t even respond.

So, J is not the only ex to locate and contact me. He’s not the only ex that sometimes thinks of me. All of them are married to other people.

On the one hand, it’s nice to know that some of the people that meant a lot to me at one point think of me.

On another, I can’t help feeling like they think of me as a crazy bullet they dodged.

My friend synchronicity says you should always sleep with someone crazier than you.

I think I’m the crazier one for quite a few people.

That’s a little sobering.

Anyway, as I was reminiscing, I recall a time when a girlfriend and I discussed a group of friends. If girlfriend 1, girlfriend 2 and I were in the same room and a guy walked in, the guy would want to sleep with me, marry GF 2, and be a big brother to GF 1. No idea why, but that is the way men acted around us. Something about how we presented ourselves, I guess.

And I realized. . .

I’ve always been the one that guys wanted to sleep with, not the one they marry. The one they have an affair with, but not leave their wives/girlfriends for.

At one point, I liked that, even needed it in a sick sort of way.

But by the time I was with husband 2, I didn’t want to be that one any more. I really was ready to settle down and grow up and be the married one. But I had trouble making the transition from superficial relationships to a real, intimate relationship.

I think the reason his betrayal cut so deep was that I was ready for that, and desperately wanted it.

I also realized that part of what I wanted from him was for us to. . . grow up together. You know, all that stuff you learn in your 20s about being independent, living away from parents, taking care of yourself, learning each other’s quirks and compromising. . . I wanted someone to grow with while learning those things together. I wanted to raise kids with him, to share all those little moments of babyhood, toddler years and school years that you go through with kids.

And since I cannot go back and relive these last twenty years, I will never have that.

My reunion fantasies?

Can’t ever happen.

Because we can’t go back and do those things together.

Even if, by some miracle, he was suddenly single, neither one of us is who we were.

I’ve said that before, many times.

But I don’t think I really internalized it, really believed it, until I went through it from this direction.

I also think part of the reason I’ve stayed alone this long is that I don’t want to play the same role I did before, as the one men want to have sex with. For one thing, I don’t channel my manic energy in that way any more. I want more respect than that. But I’ve never really learned how to act with men when I’m not manic.

This seems to be my next challenge.

And it’s scary.

*names changed
** I know, I know! Jerry said he remembers me as ” you looked soft, for lack of a better word. but that was a good thing. ” 

Mood swings and food

My mood state has been all over the place in the last few days.

Monday, I was completely manic, doing deep cleaning in the apartment, writing a couple posts plus in my journal.

Tuesday and Wednesday, I was anxious  and alternated between being irritated, optimistic, and crying for no reason.

I barely ate anything at all those three days, which is not at all like me.

I need to get to the gym today, but this is even more volatile than usual for me.

I’ve had Mirena for 11 weeks now, but I haven’t stopped spotting/bleeding the whole time. When it hits 12 weeks, I’m going to contact my doctor, because it’s really annoying. I’m wondering if this is having an effect on my mood? It is hormonal, but one of the reasons I had it put in was that the hormones were supposed to stay local instead of going through my whole system. Also, it was supposed to make my periods LESS annoying.

I meant to go to the gym yesterday and I never made it out of the apartment. Now that my air conditioner is finally working, I don’t want to leave! I need to go today. Lifting may help my mood.

I need to redirect my energy to other things than where they have been. I don’t want to talk about where they have been, because it’s stupid and annoying.

Directing my energy into cleaning on Monday helped a bit, I think. Maybe I can do more of that today.

I also put a profile up on OKCupid. But every time I start talking to someone or look at profiles, I’m rejecting them or just getting scared.

I did it because I thought it might be nice to meet someone now, but I also don’t think I’m ready to meet anyone yet.

For years, I’ve been saying that I’m ok alone, and most of the time, I believe that.

The inner turmoil that I’ve felt since the ex called, though, is what prompted me to set up a profile. I thought if I could meet someone, that might help me push him back into the recesses of my mind. I do not want him cluttering up my mind and screwing with my emotions. I can’t believe I’m still obsessing over it 9 weeks later. He does not deserve this much of me.

But, I don’t think I’m ready to meet someone.

How can I not be ready after this long alone? Am I just that damaged? Or do I need to be actually teaching and feeling secure in my life before I meet someone?

I have an answer!

I’ve been beating myself up over becoming obsessed since the ex called. But I found a Psychology Today article that I think is helping me, a LOT.

Go ahead, read the article, I’ll wait (it’s four pages long). . .

Some of the quotes that got me:

These relationships may be so indelible, so off-the-charts intense, because they’re forged in the hormonal fire of the teenage brain. . .

Dan McAdams, a narrative psychologist from Northwestern University in Illinois, has found that it is during these years that most individuals also form their core identity and sense of self—their personal mythology. The teens and 20s give birth to our personal narratives and our lifelong ideals. . .

“The adolescent brain is exposed to heightened levels of testosterone and progesterone, the steroid sex hormones involved in sexual intensity,” he says. “There’s also an increase in oxytocin, the same hormone that aids mother-and-child bonding following birth.” Chemistry thus sets the stage for once-in-a-lifetime sexual intensity paired with a unique opportunity for attachment—creating a model of love that persists for life. . .

To explain why separation and other adversities can make the heart grow fonder, she has coined the term “frustration attraction,” the idea that threats to the relationship can actually increase feelings of longing and ardor. Passionate love stimulates dopamine-producing neurons, which generate the motivation to seek out the beloved. But if the lover is absent, those brain cells prolong their activities, Fisher hypothesizes in her book Why We Love. “As the adored one slips away, the very chemicals that contribute to feelings of romance grow even more potent, intensifying ardent passion and impelling us to try with all our strength to secure our reward, the departing loved one,” she writes. . .

Many say they want closure, but closure is a myth, says Kalish. “The old feelings come back. Married people who want to keep their marriages should understand this before they search for a lost love and get in over their heads. Once these relationships take off, they aren’t fantasies, nostalgia or midlife crises. They are loves that were interrupted, and the urge to give them another chance is very strong.”

This explains EVERYTHING.

My response and feelings are not magick or some Divine fate or a lost mythical “soul mate” or any of the other stupid overly-romantic things I was thinking.

It’s a biochemical response!

And hell, I fight biochemical responses every day. I’m not always successful but because I know what’s going on, I can deal with it.

And when I say it explains everything, I mean everything!

While J (the ex) was not my first love, I can clearly see a line connecting dots. I didn’t get over my high school boyfriend A until I met M (curiously, first husband was in between there, and didn’t make the cut. Hmmm, probably why I dumped him).

I didn’t really get over M until I was with J (again, despite other affairs in between).

I can clearly see how my feelings from the other two relationships were transferred to J.

J and I were forced apart by circumstances beyond our control: a military deployment – one of the factors of creating this bond. He couldn’t deal with the forced separation (something I was always aware of) and transferred his feelings to Her.

This explains:

  •  Why I haven’t been able to totally let go.
  •  Why I have the fantasies I have 
  •  Why he looked me up now. . . EVERYTHING.

And as G.I. Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.”

Medication Discovery

While my daughter is visiting family back east, I’ve been working on getting some stuff organized in the apartment.

Today, I started going through my old medicine bottles. I’m a little freaked out.

I know that I’m not always “good” about taking my meds. Sometimes I skip a dose (or three). For several months, I only took half of the anti-depressant I was supposed to take. I’m *usually* good about the mood stabilizer, because I find it difficult to sleep without it. My prescription for that is “one or two as needed” and most of the time, I only take one. I only take two if I’ve have trouble sleeping for a few nights.

I’ve also got anti-anxiety meds that are supposed to be on an “as needed” basis. Since they are addictive, I very rarely take them.

Then there’s the vitamins, calcium with vitamin D and iron pills (all prescriptions). And the allergy nose spray, and the new prescription nose spray that’s supposed to stop my nose from running. . .

Is it any wonder I didn’t want to go back on birth control pills? Sheesh, I’ve got a lot of meds.

Anyway, I was going through, consolidating half-full bottles and the like*, and found unopened bottles from 2009, 2010 and last year. Holy crap! No wonder my mood states had been all over the place! I’ve been “better” about taking them since about the time I started working on fitness, but still skip the vitamins and such quite a bit.

This is just yet another area where self-discipline comes into play.

If I’m not disciplined enough to take my medications regularly, which I know help me with other parts of my life, how can I be disciplined in other ways?

I was talking to my high school BFF the other day and one of the things we talked about was having a clean and organized house. Neither one of us has been good about that for some time. She grew up in a very organized home. My home wasn’t as organized, but my step-father really, really tried to make it so.

There have been times that I can vaguely remember that I was much more organized. Particularly when I had this small apartment in Chula Vista, after my ex left. Things had been chaotic for several months (including having several roommates), and I reveled in having my own space, with my own things, organized in a way I wanted. That was the most organized and clean place I’ve ever lived. I liked having people over. I didn’t have much to be embarrassed about. I even had a party there. It was a bit non-traditional (I didn’t have a couch and only one chair in the living room), but it was mine. Once a week, I did a deep clean, and it wasn’t hard because everything else was mostly ok.

I miss that place.

Even when my daughter was small, I was better about things than I am now, particularly after I got rid of the (then) deadbeat roommate (who has apparently turned out to be a really good guy).

I was writing in my journal** and talked about how I would sometimes “clear the decks”. By that I mean I would clean, organize, throw stuff out, make things fresh. I was always like that. Things would get out of control, and then I would spend a whole day clearing the decks. Even that was better than what I have in place now (i.e. chaos).

It made sense, when I was working full-time, running the tutoring business AND going to grad school. But since January, I haven’t had that excuse and I still haven’t done more than casual cleaning and the stuff that HAS TO get done.

I have gotten into a fairly good routine with working out. Now, I need to make sure I’m taking my meds the way I’m supposed to and get other routines into place. When I start working again, I’m going to need those routines.

*If I misplaced the current open bottle, I know I have more, and so just crack open another one. Yes, I’m really that disorganized.

**I swear I’ve done more writing in the last two or three days than I have in the last three years. Am I manic?