A Little Self-Reflection Time

I’m feeling a little bit uncomfortable today.

But why, you may ask? It’s a beautiful day–hell, it’s been a beautiful week. I got my speeding ticket and its accompanying punishments out of the way. I have some pretty great people in my life who have been very supportive of the whole ordeal, and who have all kept a smile on my face as I spent two days in a jail in Wyoming (yes, that happened, and yes, I plan to write all about it soon. xD), and made me feel very lucky. And, it’s my favorite season! I can feel the air cooling, and I can smell the leaves burning up in the late summer sun, preparing for their descent as autumn watches from the sidelines, ready to make a full swing into action. A few days ago, I was absolutely soaring! It’s a great feeling to drive on the highway, windows rolled down, singing as loud as you can to your favorite song and laughing as you do about how ridiculous you probably look, but how jubilant you are to be here, in this day, in this body, knowing the things you do and experiencing life in the way you are right at that moment!

I love days like that, and I cherish them. They don’t happen every day, but when they do, I feel alive! Days like that, I forget about my anxiety. I stop worrying about when I’m going to irreparably mess things up for myself, or about where I’ll be a month or six from now.  I place my negative thoughts on the backburner, tell them to shut the hell up, tell myself “WHO CARES? WOOOO,” and I go into the world with a fresh mind and a smile on my face.

Anxiety sucks. It feels like your mind is racing a hundred miles a minute, with dozens of different thoughts and tasks…and the best part is that half of them (or maybe more) are things that I’ve made up in my own head! My anxiety has gotten progressively more noticeable as I’ve gotten older, probably because of the mass amounts of adulting that I’ve had to do now that I’m–well, an adult. xD But around this time of year, my anxiety always gets a little bit worse.

My brain is on a timer, with everything. Even when I was in jail and couldn’t see the sun or the sky, I always knew what time it was. I can feel the seasons change, independent of what the calendar says. I can go back in time and remember this time last year, or a few years ago, and I can experience those emotions simply because the timing is the same, and that alone is enough to take me back. It’s both a blessing and a curse.

But I’m feeling uncomfortable because this is the time of year that changed my life nine years ago. It’s insane sometimes to think that it really happened nine years ago…and then I think to myself, “Wow, and this still affects me like this? Every year, same time?” Part of me gets mad at that, at my inability to dismiss the remnants of negativity that accompany this time of year. It’s irrational for me to expect that I can just make that go away, but it never stops me from being frustrated. “Other people have moved past this. Other people have moved past way worse things, and they don’t have anxiety or anything like that. You are weird, self. STOP DOING THAT.”

But then the other part of me understands and almost accepts that this particular life lesson that I’m referring to is a thing that happened, a thing that changed my perspective, and a thing that won’t be so easily forgotten. Maybe some people have persevered through much more, but some have been met with even less and still been reduced to crumbling ruins at their foundation. Should I feel lucky that I can feel so deeply and still stand, or even that I can feel so deeply at all? Should I realize that my reactions to the world around me have shaped me, and I wouldn’t be who I am without them? And do I understand that without this event, MAYBE I wouldn’t be so jubilant on my favorite days in my favorite season, feeling free and humble and lucky despite everything? Isn’t that a possibility to consider?

These are questions that I remind myself of whenever I start to feel that uncomfortable shadow of anxiety creeping over my shoulders, and it makes me feel a little less angry. It makes me feel a little bit more capable, and it reminds me that there are many things I can change, but that I am who I am, and I deal with things how I deal with things. My way may be different than other people’s, and that’s FINE. Other people might be in the same shoes as me with something that’s happened in their lives, and that’s FINE too!

Good job self, I feel a little bit better now. Now stop being a whiny little emo writer and go enjoy the beautiful day, because you can.

The Moment I Knew

Greetings! So this morning I was reading a post where Huffington Post readers shared their divorce stories via Twitter with the hashtag #themomentIknew. It was interesting to read, and even more interesting to think about. With past long-term relationships, I’m sure we all had that one moment where we realized that things just weren’t going to work out.

It made me think about my last long-term relationship, 4 1/2 years with someone that I assumed I would someday marry, but who had never asked. No, that isn’t the moment that I knew, that’s an afterthought. xD But as I thought about it, the moment that I knew things weren’t going to work actually happened about 3 1/2 months before our relationship finally ended.

Part One-Planning the Trip

In January of 2014, my ex and I were shopping at the local Bass Pro shop when a salesman approached us offering us a vacation deal. 3 days, 2 nights in a Bass Pro sponsored hotel suite, in a city of our choice, for only $99! Optional bonus packages included, which varied depending on which of their 20 locations. AND they would give us Bass Pro gift cards! We’d receive one when we signed up and the other two after our stay. We paid the airfare, got $75 worth of gift cards and in turn all we had to do was sit through a 2 hour presentation about owning a time share.

“Hmmm…” I was skeptical. It was my ex who said, “We should do it! It’s a great deal, you’ve been talking about how you wanted to go to Las Vegas…let’s do it!”

We were allowed to plan the trip any time before January of the following year, which gave us ample time to save up for the airfare and extra expenses, and to take time off work and really plan an awesome getaway. This would be the first time that he and I had ever traveled alone, as a couple, without friends or family to meet up with or accompany us. How romantic! So I warmed up to the idea, spent the $99, got a $25 gift card, and we went on our way. I was super excited!

Well, a lot can happen in the span of a year, which is when we finally found time to go on our vacation. Fast forward to December of last year, after moving to a different location, several job changes on my ex’s part, and a slew of relationship stuff that had always been there, but was coming to the surface now with greater and greater persistence. These problems had been ones I’d mentioned many times over the course of over two years, but the nature of that game was that I’d bring them up, my ex would get defensive, he’d turn it around on me and claim my feelings were invalid because he didn’t understand them, we would argue about things that had nothing to do with the problem at hand, I’d cry, he’d yell, we’d go to bed at 2 a.m., he’d fall asleep, I would stay up staring at the ceiling through my tears and wondering what had gone wrong. And the next day, he would apologize for losing his temper and we’d pretend everything was fine, without ever resurfacing onto the issue that caused the argument in the first place. It was a vicious cycle of pretending and walking on eggshells, and the facade was cracking beyond repair by this point, about 3 months after our 4 year anniversary.

I was still as excited as ever to go on this trip, if not for the experience itself, but also because I still loved my then-boyfriend and was looking forward to spending some time with him. It goes without saying perhaps that our sex life had been deeply affected by the lack of communication in our relationship, for so long in fact that it seemed normal for it to suck as much as it did. I hoped that this getaway would mend some of that, bring us closer, and give us time together to appreciate one another and maybe bring about an attitude of change that would allow us to work on some of the failings of our relationship, before it was too late. It was a ship that I knew was sinking, ever so slowly, but I didn’t want to bail out just yet.

And so I planned meticulously starting in late October. I got the time off work, I encouraged my ex to do the same. I bought an extra “Romance” package that included a gondola ride through the Venetian, dinner vouchers for an Italian restaurant down the hall, and tickets to Madame Tussaude’s wax museum, all for an awesome price, and I also bought a city lights tour that would shuttle us around the various landmarks of Las Vegas without us having to drive around (which was a godsend…if you’ve ever been to Las Vegas, DO NOT DRIVE EVER THE PEOPLE ARE CRAZY AND I DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND). The more I planned, the more excited I became.

I tried to involve him in our plans. “What day do you want to do the wax museum and all that stuff?” I asked him. “And we have extra time on Day 2 after our stupid timeshare presentation…is there anything that you wanted to see or do while we’re out there?”

I got a lackluster response each time, usually as he stared at the TV or his phone. Distractions from the world that was closing in around us. The trip was in about two weeks. “I don’t know,” he mumbled. “Whatever works…it sounds like you already have a lot of stuff planned for us to do, so I’ll just trust you.”

I was a little disappointed. “Well yeah, I’m trying to organize everything, but we’re BOTH going on this trip. So if there’s anything you want to do, tell me.”

He stretched out and leaned back on the couch. “I mean…Vegas has never really been on my bucket list. This is more kind of your thing.”

I raised my eyebrow. “But you’re the one who told me to buy the vacation package, and you’re the one who suggested we go to Las Vegas instead of any of the other places.”

“Well yeah, but that’s because I knew you wanted to go! I honestly am not even sure if I’ll be able to go, because it’s in the middle of the week and I’ll have to take a lot of time off work, and I just took off time for hunting last month.”

My world stopped for a moment. Not…go? “You said you requested the time off weeks ago and it was okay!” I was starting to get upset, but I tried not to show it.

“Maybe you can just go with your best friend…I’m sure you guys would have lots of fun!”

“No, it doesn’t work that way. WE have to go to the timeshare, or WE have to pay full price for everything. And you don’t even have to buy the plane tickets, or anything but food and the car rental while we’re out there! It’s supposed to be a trip for the two of us. Why would you want me to go with someone else?”

Part Two-Las Vegas

My ex and I boarded the plane together, and our previous scuff where it had become apparent to me that he didn’t even want to be there with me was forgotten. He showed the obligatory signs of excitement as we took off and landed, calling his mom and excitedly reporting that we had made it before we even got off the plane. I set the issue aside in favor of taking in the scenery; warm late afternoon sun basked the city in an orange glow. Palm trees, lights, a pyramid-shaped building with a freakin’ Batman-worthy spotlight shining out of it…a paradise of sin nestled in the desert. It was beautiful in its own way, and I could feel the city’s pulse before we even left the airport.

The trip itself, in my eyes, was a magnificent success. Our hotel was gorgeous, and had a couch, TV, dining room table, kitchenette, microwave, enormous king-size bed, a stand-in shower that was literally as big as my walk-in closet, separate from the bathroom that held more towels than any one human should ever need, especially in the short time that we’d be there. (He complained about the view from the room, but I didn’t care. $50 a night for all of this? Heck yes!) We spent our first night at the Venetian, eating at the Italian restaurant that was, admittedly, a little suspect, but decent nonetheless for the price, while staring up at the ceiling that looks just like the sky. The whole thing looks like a tiny Italian town, lined with designer shops, restaurants, and divided by a gondola-wielding “river.” Downstairs, the casino was decked out in red and gold, and the hotel lobby was embellished with gold EVERYTHING, painted ceilings, crown moulding, and fancy tile. Here we discovered the joys of free valet parking–the only benefit of driving in Las Vegas. xD

We did the gondola ride, which my ex claimed was “the most humiliating thing” he had ever knowingly done. I thought it was awesome! An androgynous man who majored in theatre and music for four years sang to us in traditional Italian style and kept up pleasant conversation on our journey. Afterwards, we went to the “town square” portion of the Venetian, ate some amazing ice cream, and listened to a live quartet perform to the seating tables, and watched people listening from the balconies overhead. They belonged to hotel rooms…you could literally rent a room here, then stand on your balcony and look at people performing in the mall. MAGIC. The Venetian was definitely my favorite place here.

My feet, bruised on the bottoms from wearing heels and walking the entire place twice over, were tired of walking, and so was he. We called it an early night, headed to the hotel hot tub for a bit, and crashed at 11pm. The next day was the HORRIBLE time share presentation, which is a story in itself, so we’ll just skip that and on to the rest of the fun.

OTHER AWESOME THINGS THAT HAPPENED:

  • Watching the volcano show at the Mirage Hotel
  • Visiting Freemont Street, dancing in the street to The Doors while enormous screens overhead played visual cues for the songs.
  • My ex meeting an old man dressed in a diaper and wings as cupid. We have photographic evidence of this immense time.
  • That first time driving down the Las Vegas strip and looking at all the beautiful lights!
  • Watching the fountain show at the Bellagio
  • Seeing the giant Christmas tree in the Bellagio
  • Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum…specifically, the Jerry Springer portion of this where I took a picture on a “Jerry Springer set” with his wax figure. We also posed with Simon Cowell, Robert DeNiro, Bruce Willis, and many more. Interesting place, that one is…xD
  • Walking through the Cosmopolitan and feeling fancy as fuck, with its giant chandelier and Liberaci’s glitzed out, silver-sequined car.
  • Watching the Mac King comedy show at Harrah’s casino and having him sign our tickets.
  • Eating breakfast at the GREATEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT OF ALL TIME.

Granted, there were less awesome moments too, like when we went to In n’ Out and waited a HALF HOUR in line…that was NOT “in and out.” Or when we saw that a taxi cab had been obliterated by a Mustang that was going the wrong way down Tropicana street. Or any of the part, really, that involved driving ANYWHERE remotely near the Strip. But aside from that, sounds like an awesome time, right? I mean, we’re coming up on a year here since all this happened, and I still remember it like it was yesterday! It was incredible…absolutely incredible.

Well, at least it was for me.

Part Three-The Moment I Knew

When we got back home, things continued on as normal…my ex was distant and lazy when it came the house and our relationship, and we prepared for Christmas the way we always did, with the addition of the mourning of our hamster pet that we’d bought only a few weeks before (thanks to our lovely dog… ._.) and also, add in a fight that happened the night we brought home a Christmas tree that resulted from me saying “I’m not stupid” as an answer to something my ex said that I thought had seemed fairly obvious. A little snark from years of resentment on my part, coupled with a lack of communication and a short temper on his part, led to a somewhat explosive argument concerning how we treated each other.

It was during this argument that he brought up Las Vegas. “To be honest, and I didn’t want to tell you before because I know you had so much fun, but I didn’t really even LIKE going to Vegas that much. There were too many people, I wasn’t allowed to drink (he had become sober two months prior by his own choice), and we didn’t get to do any of the things I wanted to do.”

I was absolutely crushed, hurt, and angry, all at once. “What the hell do you mean? I ASKED you what you wanted to do! YOU HAD NOTHING. You wanted to gamble! Which we would have done more of, if you’d saved up more money to do that. Or did you expect me to pay for you to do that too, in addition to paying for 90% of this trip as it is?”

“See, this is what I mean, about the way you treat me.”

“No, this is what I mean.” I was becoming upset, my voice was rising, but I tried to keep it in check, because this was important. “I singlehandedly planned an entire vacation for us, a romantic getaway, complete with a fucking GONDOLA RIDE and all the other awesome shit we did, and you didn’t have fun because we didn’t get to do what you wanted to do, even though when asked what you wanted, you said you DIDN’T CARE? We got to spend time together…I had fun just because I was with you. I’m sorry you didn’t feel the same way.”

I was broken, defeated. I retreated to the bedroom to cry my eyes out into my journal, writing down the trip in great detail so I could remember it in my head the way I did before he ever put the notion into my head that he hadn’t had any fun.

It was then I made the realization: if my significant other of 4 years was so miserable with me that he couldn’t enjoy a basically free vacation, planned by someone who loves him and who wanted to make the time together special, we were doomed. It wasn’t that he didn’t get to do what he wanted while we were out there…it was that he didn’t even want to go in the first place. He didn’t want to go with me. He didn’t want to share special moments with me. We were past that. He no longer enjoyed spending time with me, even in a setting where I thought it would be impossible to avoid a romantic connection. But he managed to. He even asked me “A trip to Las Vegas was supposed to be romantic?” And if you’re wondering, no, it did nothing at all for our sex life. The lingerie I brought on the trip stayed hung up in the closet of that suite until I put it back in my luggage pack for our return home.

And that is when I knew. It’s when I started to really disconnect. And 3 1/2 months later, we split, and I wasn’t even a little surprised, because I’d known everything I needed to know about how he felt being with me in that one moment.

New Painting!

Well…I DID start this as an art blog, so I guess it would be appropriate for me to..you know, post art. xD SO, here it is!

BirdPainting

This was my first attempt with oil paints…I kind of hate them a little bit because I’m so used to acrylics. xD But, I’ve seen some really amazing oil paintings, so I think I’d like to keep trying with a few more small-scale paintings. This one is only 5″x7″..=)

In other news, I’ve been reading a book called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It was recommended to me by a very smart and sexy friend, so I decided I should give it a try. =D  It’s very philosophical…a bit hard to get through as far as it being a “fiction” work, but still interesting so far!

“From all this awareness we must select, and what we select and call consciousness is never the same as the awareness because the process of selection mutates it. We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.”