How I Yearn to Be Distracted

I made a resolution to write daily and shop less.

So far, shopping less and not buying unnecessary things has been easier. Christmas was just 17 days ago.  So I have more than enough everything and can’t afford to splurge on luxuries right now anyway.  I still browse slickdeals.com, which is a bad sign.  Buying stuff that was a good deal was a big part of 2017’s too much shopping.  And it’s amazing how much a toddler step stool seems like a need if you have nothing else to buy.

But, certainly I do feel a shift away from shopping.  It’s focusing on writing from my often painful interior world that is hardest.  I’d much rather: SHOP, eat, read articles, watch TV, play videogames… really anything else.  After a bad break up 4 years ago, I was miserable and needed to fix my life. So instead of that, I read the entire Harry Potter series almost obsessively.  My therapist viewed it as self care. I viewed it as distraction and avoidance.

Maybe it could be argued that Harry Potter is a very satisfying, fulfilling fiction to read.  I do love those books, even the Order of the Phoenix.

But I definitely see a pattern in my life of picking easy, mundane tasks over big, multi-step projects.  Daily effort towards a goal despite setbacks that come as part of life could be named grit.  I have no grit.

I’d rather do a simple task I don’t think is important than work on developing a meaningful career.  Or learn a language. Or make art.  Or learn and practice a new skill.  I have an ukelele I never plan on learning how to play.  I’d rather do a one-off like mail a friend a package, bake cookies, research something I will never do, go on an errand, than embark on a journey that depends on showing up each day.

Maybe I am afraid of not feeling like doing the work over and over.  Or not making noticable progress even if I do try again and again.  Maybe I won’t make a decision or commit to anything.  Maybe I have a failure mindset and anxiety about failing makes trying impossible.  Maybe I really don’t want to be successful, ambitious, or happy.  Whatever it is, I have no grit.

And I would much rather shop for some item I could live without than write about not being disciplined enough to write everyday.

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Fucked up dating and life

In terms of dating outside of one’s culture, I think people who really fit in well or have pride in their culture would have a hard time but even then, every family is unique.  Even dating here, a lot of guys drink with their families and my parents never drank hardly at all.  Then I joined a religious cult in college that disparaged drinking.  I still have a hard time with families that drink together.

My mom’s friends are all unmarried.  And one mentioned at NYE that because of her parents, she never thought she could make marriage work.  My mom later said that she thought if her friend had met the right someone, she would have married and I pointed out that if she met a great guy and her response was to run the other way that she’d not marry.  And it got me to thinking why I am single still.  My mom’s encouraging me to be silent and shy sat badly with my generation, when women were expected (correctly) to respond.  And I spent time in groups that I didn’t find belonging in.  All my closest friends while I was an Evangelical had a hard time getting married.  They were too smart, opinionated, and weren’t especially beautiful and took the Bible verses about not putting a lot of effort/money in your looks seriously.  Basically, we weren’t prizes within that culture of women are pretty, happy little helpmates.  One girl got married at 37 because she went to a different church in Ohio (the river is a big division geographically still). The other is talking to some guy and I don’t know about one.  One girl got married before 30 and I don’t know much about their relationship except her husband is quiet.

My old therapist said that anger is a symptom of frustration.  And I find that my family dealt with challenges and conflict by seeing themselves as victims.  So, to this day, I still have trouble realizing that if someone hurts me, I can let go of that pain by knowing I can limit my contact with that painful person in the future.  Or better yet, try to talk openly with them about how I felt in the situation and state I will not be allowing it to continue.  One of my mom’s friends made a comment about my parenting and I realized a) I should not open up and share with them about Jake, b) that I could simply state that it hurt my feelings and ask not to hear more from her, c) avoid her if she says nothing or says she’ll say whatever she likes.  C would be hard because me crying all night over a comment her friend made doesn’t matter to my mom.  My mom has let relatives hit me, let anyone insult me, and values her friends more than me.  So, I would have to hide in my room or go outside with Jake somewhere every other Saturday night to avoid her.  But, at my age, with my medical history, I totally would get upset enough to do that because 30 years of thinking and feeling like a victim, getting dumped on by the world with no recourse has just left me easily frustrated aka angry.

All that being said, I think being healthy emotionally, mentally and communication-wise is super important, no matter what culture or family you have.

My feelings being my responsibility is the hardest part of being healthy in relationships for me because childhood.  I repressed my feelings for decades and figuring out who to trust, how to share, and how to not bully others is hard.

I was a mess when I moved to California.  I met a lot of healthy people and I received wisdom from them but I didn’t become close friends with most of them.  Your roommates and Grace were my healthiest, closest friends and I met them all through Maggie who I think has put appropriate distance enough to me to remain civil with me, which is nice, because if she had demanded her friends not allow me over, I’d have no friends.  But I think healthy people can only visit unhealthy/sick people.  Too much time/too close of a relationship destroys their zen.  Healthy people pointed out things I didn’t know, didn’t want to face, couldn’t understand, or never experienced, but changing took time and required my own effort.  I don’t think anyone who was invested in me getting “better” was satisfied.  Now, I want more reciprocal relationships.  People who talk about how I need to change throw up red signs.  People I feel need to change, I need to give distance and from that distance practice acceptance.

Aging Elders

My grandmother and grandfather have poor physical and mental health so there was a bit of drama at Christmas and probably will continue for a while.  I have a very selfish uncle and he lives with them, but my mom and her other brother feel like he does nothing to help them.  And of course, being the oldest grandchild and my mom is a bit of a gossip, I do agree.  But I think I need to remind myself to not become invested in drama no one is asking me to try to solve.  My mom’s friend was giving her advice and I felt like I was seeing myself: wanting to reduce harm and create results but it’s neither of our problem.

Haha, but I think focusing on other people’s drama is easier than handling my own problems.  I feel so much anxiety over my own problems that I really avoid trying to deal with them.  If my mom is doing the same with hers, who am I to get on her case?  If I had my life all put together, I wouldn’t be in a position to be in the know about my grandmother’s declining health.  I assume my emotions are more debilitating and intense than my mom’s, but that’s only conjecture based on her lack of breakdowns and her ability to keep up appearances of normacy.

And it’s not like I don’t care what happens to them, but it is out of my control.  And I resent constant advice givers very much, personally.  I know my mom won’t use my advice, regardless.  So this situation seems like a perfect time to practice deliberate presence while giving up on managing, predicting, or even trying worrying about my grandmother.  It’s not my place.  And now, as an adult, I can claim my own distance.

New Year’s Resolutions 2018

I’ve already failed on my New Year’s Resolutions the first day.  I shopped online and I didn’t journal or write.

Before waking up at 4pm on the 1st day of a new year, I was up all night.  And at the time I was still optimistic about two new goals.

I read about a year of not shopping here and I found it compelling.  I gained weight three years ago and so I know I have enough clothes for any size I might weigh (except more 😲 ).  I could still buy kids’ birthday gifts and do Christmas in 12 months.  Books, children’s clothes, food, household items would all be allowed.  But clothes, toys, shoes, make-up, accessories, furniture and all other sorts of luxuries would be banned for a year.  I could make an exception for tennis shoes if mine fall apart and I kno I need a toddler’s step stool. But I really don’t forsee needing to buy so much of the other stuff I do want to buy.  Although I have bought decorations and paper products for Jake’s past birthday parties, this year balloons and cake would be fine, but the themed plates, napkins, and hanging decorations would not.  

I hope I will see noticeable savings.  It would be exciting in 12 months if I might have a list of items I truly want for Christmas (like tennis shoes).

Honestly, I spent a lot of money last year, even for me, thus I think I have excess of everything.  I shopped a lot.  Probably like the author of the article, I too wanted a distraction from the pessimism I feel so regularly.

Writing is a longterm practice I want to make a daily habit.  Sort of, because I actually feel ambivalence about writing daily since it means I will have to slow down and peek into my current state of being.  I am afraid to deal with my negative feelings.

Which is why I bought myself a pair of leggings and played videogames for almost 12 hours straight.  Shopping and distracting media keep uncomfortable emotions on the peripheral of my consciousness.

So, post one, a day late.  I feel sick and guilty, and don’t want to commit to resolutions I found too hard to keep for even 24 hours.

But I suppose that’s why daily practice matters.  You have to try every day first until you develop  a habit.