Unfollow

I’m just going to say it: Facebook sucks.

I mean it’s amazing, but it sucks.

I have learned that my mind just can’t handle the constant comparisons. So-and-so is engaged! So-and-so is married! So-and-so is pregnant! So-and-so bought a house! So-and-so got a new “grown up” job! So-and-so had so much fun drinking with friends last night! So-and-so went on an incredible vacation! So-and-so has the best family!

Carrie doesn’t care! Or rather, Carrie does care and is actually a little jealous.

See, all I hear in my mind is: I’m not engaged, I’m not married, I’m not pregnant, I didn’t buy a new house, I don’t have a “grown up” job, I don’t go drinking with friends, I didn’t go on an incredible vacation, I don’t have the best family.

I’m not recognizing the joys of the little things in my life. It’s making me question my relationships (we don’t do that, so we must not be as close as them). It’s making me feel inferior. I’m such a loser.

And I’m done with that mindset. I’m done with the comparisons. I can’t live like that anymore.

Last week I did a little experiment. It was hard, but I kind of gave up Facebook. I only let myself check it once in the morning. That’s it. (We actually did have an incredible little day trip, (which I should share with you sometime) which helped for about 2 days.)

Then my sister-in-law posted a video of my niece. And my cousin posted a picture of her little one. And one of my best friends posted a picture of her family on vacation.

I realized that I was a lot happier without it, but I didn’t want to give it up completely. I still love seeing posts from my closest friends and my extended family that I don’t get to see often. And oddly enough, those don’t stir up any jealous feelings.

So today I unfollowed everyone I wouldn’t acknowledge if they walked past me on the street. Which ended up being most of my “friends.”

We’ll see if I feel like I’m missing out on anything, although I don’t think I will.

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Baggage

The teeter-totter continues.

I don’t know how to talk about this stuff anymore. It’s a big thing to put your baggage out there for the world to see. Even if it’s only a teensy, tiny corner of the great big blogosphere. Even if it’s only one of your best friends.

After causing what I might call a stink, I finally got to hang out with one of my best (and busiest) friends this week. I had made a loose promise to myself and to her that I was going to talk about certain deep subjects. I made a promise to myself that I was going to let myself go and just go with the flow. I broke both of those promises.

Now, however, I think it turned out exactly how it was supposed to. In the aftermath, I made some more bad decisions and, somehow, got the message and validation I was yearning for all along.

I don’t know what this means. I can’t sit around and analyze everything anymore. That’s one of the lessons I learned that night.

I actually had an anxiety attack as I was trying to fall asleep. I know that there are people out there whose anxiety strikes more powerfully and more often than mine, but that was a wake-up call for me. My mind is constantly playing games with me and taking me places it doesn’t need to, but it usually quiets down enough for me to be able to fake it and, damn it, fall asleep!

But that night my mind just kept screaming at me and replaying the days events through a darkened lens. I couldn’t escape the thoughts. I needed a release. I felt like I was possessed. I sat up and yelled at my brain to STOP as loud as I felt comfortable doing with my parents a few rooms away. I didn’t notice for a few seconds that I was sobbing uncontrollably.

I made no effort to stop.

I watched the clock as the minutes ticked by. After the longest five minutes of my life, I realized I wasn’t crying anymore.

A few minutes later, I received the texts I had been waiting for. One of them simply said, “Don’t let your mind start running.”

I don’t think anything had ever hit home like that. All of a sudden I felt very secure.

The next morning I woke up feeling motivated and happy. The feeling hasn’t really left all week and it’s starting to give me more confidence. I finally feel like I can stop trying to prove myself and just be myself.

My anxiety never goes away completely, but I’m starting to notice some triggers that really cause it to spiral out of control. If I can identify them, I can avoid them. Learning to live with anxiety is also a lesson in self-control. It’s definitely a process.

My birthday is in about a week, so I’m really curious to see how that unfolds. 22 has taught me a lot, but I have a feeling it still has a few more surprises in store.

As always, I will try my best to Keep Calm & Carrie On.

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Summer of Change

There are lot of changes happening this summer.

My parents are currently at my mom’s retirement dinner with her coworkers. She has one more day of work left, next Tuesday, followed by a few weeks of moving everything out and then she’s done. It’s very exciting for her, but a little scary for my dad and I. We have no idea how she’s going to fill her time–she’s starting to show signs of maybe being ready to slow down a bit, but she’s always been a very busy and involved person. We’ve learned how to keep the house running without her around and, honestly, really like it that way.

We are also in the midst of a bathroom renovation that rapidly grew to include siding, trim, carpet and other odd jobs around the house. My dad and I spent a good portion of Mother’s Day moving everything from my room and bathroom down to the guest bedroom and bathroom. (We let my mom do whatever she wanted; she chose gardening.) We didn’t realize how bad the bathroom looked until it was all emptied out!

Since I moved downstairs, we’ve discovered more and more things to improve in that bathroom. We’re replacing just about everything that doesn’t require more than a drill or a wrench to remove.

 

My bathroom is getting a little more work done…

I was really dreading the first day of demo. I thought I would really miss my space, but now that it’s all torn apart I’m just really excited for the finished product, which should be stunning! They’re putting up drywall next week, so things will really start taking shape!

On the less exciting end of the spectrum, my parents think they’ve found a new home for our last llama, Rosie. The process really sped up after a visit from one of my uncles. He tends to make things happen and straight up asked my dad why we still had Rosie. He hadn’t even been in the house five minutes when he called up a llama farm in eastern Wisconsin. That didn’t pan out, but he was applying some pressure and my dad finally decided to look into it seriously. They found a petting zoo about 90 minutes south of here that’s interested.

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I’m having trouble adjusting to the thought of not having any llamas. I was only two when my parents got the first two, which means that we’ve had them for 20 years. And Rosie was the only one who was born here. She’s never known anything different and now they’re going to send her to a petting zoo? She still seems to be pretty happy here, even if she doesn’t have any other llamas to socialize with. And I can’t imagine not having llamas around for my niece and nephew. My dad can understand that. Which is why he’s agreed to having chicks, ducks or pheasants every spring. Birds fly away before winter! So we now have four chicks.

So, yeah. Lots of changes. This will be an interesting summer.

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Midnight Musings

I wrote this last night as I was lying in bed. I was determined to not touch my phone once I crawled into bed. But as I lay there with my eyes closed, I felt content. I haven’t felt that level of contentment in a long time, so I knew I had to write about it.


I really do feel like I’ve been learning a lot about myself this year. I mean, I better be; I said this has to be the Year of Carrie.

On paper it may not look like much has changed, but I’m starting to feel different inside. I’m starting to discover new parts of myself and learning how to label and deal with some older parts.

I think a lot of that has to do with shifting my focus from kids to me. At the end of last year I made the decision to stop dedicating entire posts to my niece, who basically was my 2016. That started the domino effect. I found a perfect outlet for all of my excitement surrounding the kids and all of a sudden it started feeling okay to put myself first.

I started paying attention to the things I swept under the rug for years. I did research and came to a better understanding of why I am the way I am. I started to notice how individual things make me feel–physically and emotionally. I started listening to my body and doing things that felt good and–this was big for me–stopped doing things that didn’t. I started making conscious decisions about my relationships with family and friends. Everything seems to have become more deliberate.

But I feel so much more free.

I cannot believe we’re almost at the halfway point of 2017. What more can I possibly learn about myself?!

Just kidding!

I can’t wait to see what else 2017 will teach me!

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Stop Wishing; Take Action

I wasn’t planning on writing again so soon, but something miraculous just happened and I need to write about it while all of the emotions are still fresh.

I’ve slowly but surely been watching every movie Emma Stone has appeared in and last night it was time for Irrational Man. Surprisingly, I really liked it (I haven’t liked Woody Allen in the past). One of the main points of the movie is that you can’t just wish for something to happen; you have to take action.

So with that in the back of my mind, I sat down this afternoon and wrote the most heartfelt and honest letter of my life. I was only half serious about sending it. Until Facebook automatically sent it after I selected it from my files.

The purpose of this letter was to explain why I’ve approached a certain friendship the way I have for so long. I had wanted to explain this face to face for about 6 years, but the opportunity (and courage) never arose.

During those 6 years I had fantasized about how it would all go down. Next time we hang out, I’m just going to come right out and say it as soon as we get in the car (so I don’t lose my nerve). And after every outing, I would return home disappointed in myself for not bringing it up. But I would keep wishing that maybe it would come up organically. Maybe it would just come up in conversation during one of our 2 outings a year. Maybe she would text me one day and it would just feel like the right time to share.

But today, I stopped wishing and took action.

I don’t even remember how that blank page got opened and how I started spilling my guts. All of a sudden, I just was. And just as quickly, it was sent.

I was, of course, hoping for the best case scenario, but steeling myself for no response.

I left my phone in the kitchen and went to my room to distract myself. That alone was strange. I never leave my phone in another room, especially when there’s a chance that I could be getting a text or call.

10 minutes later, I returned to the kitchen and glanced at my phone–the blue light wasn’t blinking, which meant no response. But I noticed an extra icon below the time.

It was the Messenger icon.

She responded.

I unlocked my phone and, in no big hurry, checked my messages, like this was just my dad saying he was on his way home.

I couldn’t even comprehend what I was reading. I think I got half way through before I realized this was the best case scenario. It happened.

I literally fell to the floor and just started sobbing. I couldn’t believe that what I had wished for for so long was finally coming true.

All I could muster for a response was “Oh my god, you have no idea–I’m literally sobbing right now! THANK YOU SO MUCH!” I felt like a blubbering idiot.

But I did it. I stopped wishing, took action and got exactly what I wanted.

I feel invigorated and motivated! I can get whatever I want if I do something instead of relying on wishing.

That’s all!

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Story Time

I don’t know why, but it feels weird to be writing in this space again.

I’ve been writing a lot lately in more of a story format. I use what I’m experiencing in the moment (sights, sounds, feelings, etc.) and create what I imagine would be background for characters in a story. The thing that bothers me is that there’s really only one character: me. Because I’m using everything around me, I decided to just let it fly and embrace the fact that it’s extremely personal. So far, I haven’t changed any details. I am literally just writing my life in a book format.

That terrifies me a little bit, because I feel like if I continue with it and it evolves into some kind of narrative, I’m going to be too attached to change things around and make it less personal. But at the same time, I would never let anyone read it the way it is because it is so personal.

It also terrifies me because it’s making me think a lot. And I don’t have a great history with thinking a lot. It feels like something that could lead me down a rabbit hole. But it also feels like something that could help me uncover my potential.

So, as I mentioned, I’ve decided to just embrace it and cherish it as something just for me.

I realized that I really like writing in that format, though. And if nothing else, it’s good practice.

There are so many other things going on right now, and I would love to catch you up, but I just felt like this was important to get out of the way first. I hope that in the coming weeks I will be able to find some time and motivation to tell you about everything!

But if not, Happy Spring, Happy Earth Day, Happy April, Happy May, and Happy Friday!

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(P.S. La La Land comes out on DVD next week! I’ve been abstaining (from watching the movie/clips–can’t give up the music), so, hopefully, when I watch it again on Tuesday it will be just as magical as the first time! #morethananobsession)

Breakthrough

I think I just had a breakthrough.

I have always been a very anxious person. I worry about everything. And then I worry about the fact that I worry about everything. No exaggeration.

Before sending pretty much any text, I have to reread it at least 3 times–are there any grammatical errors? Embarrassing. Is the wording perfect? Is that really the right emoji? I don’t want to be offensive in any way. Do I use too many emojis? Not enough? Ugh, again, embarrassing. Is it too long? Too short? Don’t want to drone on and be a bore or appear rude. Have I texted this person too often lately? Don’t want to look desperate. Not enough? Don’t want to appear uninterested. *Send* Why did I just do that?! They probably won’t read it anyway. And if they do, they definitely won’t respond. 

I need to know how a day is going to play out the night before. If I don’t have a general idea of what is going to happen, I can’t fall asleep. If plans change, it’s like the world was turned upside down. You want to try a NEW restaurant for dinner?! But I was excited about making a roast! Where is it? That’s kind of a sketchy area. What if we get lost and something bad happens? What if the restaurant isn’t clean? What if the food is terrible? What if there’s no one else there, so everyone can hear what we’re talking about? What if there are too many people there and it’s so loud we can’t hear each other? 

I used to be terrified that someone was going to break into our house and kidnap me or kill my family in front of me. Those were real thoughts that I had nightly and sometimes they seeped into my dreams. I can still remember one recurring dream I had where these thugs came in the middle of the day posing as some kind of tradesmen and they would threaten my parents and I would sneak out of the house and run as far as I could. But they would always find me. I would ask my parents multiple times before bed to check that all the doors were locked (even though we live in a very safe area). I also asked them to leave a TV on as long as they were awake, so I would know they were still safe. Every rustle or creak convinced me that those thoughts were finally coming true. There was definitely someone walking around the house with a gun. Because of those thoughts and dreams, I became scared of answering the phone and the door. To this day, I will not answer a phone call or the door unless I know without a doubt who it is and what their purpose is. (I literally hide from UPS and FedEx.)

I also have social anxiety. I’ve always been shy, but I think this goes beyond it. If I’m talking to someone I don’t know face to face, especially if they are in some position of authority, my face gets beet red, I start sweating like a crazy person and come this close to crying. My brain shuts down. I can’t process anything. If I have to initiate a phone call with someone I don’t know, it takes at least 45 minutes for me to actually dial and press send. I have to psych myself up. That’s okay as a kid, but it’s pretty hard to function in the adult world if you can’t effectively communicate with people you don’t know.

There were periods in my life when that anxiousness completely took over and smothered the real me. (I would prefer not to revisit that time, so let your imagination run free. It’ll probably end up where mine did.)

For some reason I really felt like I was supposed to learn more about anxiety last night (I don’t know why I had never done so in the past). I remembered reading something about Emma Stone being very anxious (finally the La La Land obsession paid off!). I did a quick search and came across this article where she talks about how debilitating it was when she was younger and a book she made to help deal with it.

“I wrote this book called I Am Bigger Than My Anxiety that I still have: I drew a little green monster on my shoulder that speaks to me in my ear and tells me all these things that aren’t true. And every time I listen to it, it grows bigger. If I listen to it enough, it crushes me. But if I turn my head and keep doing what I’m doing – let it speak to me, but don’t give it the credit it needs – then it shrinks down and fades away.”

As I kept rereading that quote last night, I realized that that felt familiar. It wasn’t until this morning when I started reflecting on it in my journal that it really hit me.

I’ve been thinking of myself as this negative person for years. But when I’m not listening to that little voice in my ear, I’m actually a very happy and positive person! I don’t like being a Debbie Downer. It doesn’t feel natural. Happiness feels natural. Laughing feels natural. Joking feels natural. Being hopeful and positive feels natural. It’s the voice that brings me down. I’ve been feeding it for far too long.

It’s made me realize that I don’t have a million huge problems, like it sometimes feels. I have one major problem that presents itself in a million little ways. And it always seems easier to fix one problem than a million all at once!

I feel like I can finally see the sun coming out from behind the clouds!

I don’t know how much this new outlook will change, but I feel a lot more hopeful than I have in a long time!

(I definitely reread this 3 times before pressing “Publish.” I’m hoping this will be helpful to someone, just like Emma’s story was helpful to me.)

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