Friday, 27 February 2015

I Love you Please don't call me Call me!

It’s Friday afternoon and the weekend is here. My friends are annoyed that I don’t keep in better touch with them. Fair statement.

I am scared to answer the phone.

There, I said it. To all the people in my life who get annoyed when I don’t pick up, don’t always return calls and hardly ever reach out by phone, now you know. Is it rational? Of course not, but when has that every stopped me?

The phone is a necessary tool for communication, I get that. It's miraculous and just keeps getting more and more miraculous with every smartphone incarnation.

The fact is, I don’t care how smart the damn things are, they scare me. I am still intimidated when it rings (or in my case, plays the theme from the A Team) demanding my attention. I have a real phobia about answering the phone and I have to strategize my way through it every single time. I rarely pick up the first time around. Usually, I wait for the little message icon to show up in the upper left side of my screen and then take a little longer to determine if I am capable of listening to the message at that time. The deciding factor usually comes when the phobia of seeing the little message icon outweighs the phobia of not answering the phone.

All kinds of deep seeded anxieties are at play here and we are only scratching the surface. To be fair, my phone phobia really has nothing to do with the phone. I think it might be because I don’t like being caught off guard. I am a very jumpy person. In my last post, I described how I definitely do not go with the flow. This is a prime example of how I need to try and control my every interaction with people, especially those closest to me. I have no idea why. I definitely love my friends and family and most definitely want to be included in the lives, but the phone is both my conduit and my barrier to the outside world.

Here’s how this usually plays out. Inevitably what happens is that I am bummed that no one wants to hang out with me. I sulk and feel alone and unloved. One of my friends calls to invite me out. I do not pick up the phone. I have a panic attack. Then I calm down. Then I have a panic attack again when I realize that everyone is hanging out without me. If that isn’t bad enough, then I log into Facebook and see photos of my friends hanging out without me and laughing and enjoying themselves because I am not there. I have another panic attack.

It a vicious circle that keeps me awake at night. Anxiety is my gift that keeps on giving because as I sit here typing this post, you may be trying to call me and I see you on call display. There must be a 12 step program for this, but for now, I love you, but I am not picking up.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Falling Flat on my Face

Failure reared its ugly head a couple of days ago and forced me to pay attention.

Like anyone else, I try to look upon failure as an opportunity to learn. I try to tell myself that it’s those failures in life that make me stronger and wiser. That the mistakes of today will become the successes of tomorrow.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

The reality is simple; failure, on any level, sucks. I have to admit that to myself first, before I can hope to accept things gracefully. I don’t feel full of grace at the moment. In fact, I feel the opposite of grace. I feel whiny, rejected, stupid, and incompetent.

You see, for me, I take things perhaps a little further than some shall we say, more level headed individuals? That is not to say that I don’t get to where I need to be in order to accept and move on, it simply means that I have a series of “unconventional” steps I need to take to get there.

First, once receiving word that I have, um, failed, I have to automatically assume that I have failed at any and all things I have tried over the years. This one particular failure represents every perceived shortcoming I have ever experienced in my life. Next, I have to run and hide. If there is no physical place to hide, I pretend that I am invisible and therefore I am “hiding”.

Following that, I generally work myself into a state of complete nervousness that has me second guessing every decision I have ever made in my life. I believe myself to be a fraud and therefore undeserving of any positive recognition or reinforcement. I also believe that any compliments I have been given in the past should and will be revoked by the giver now that I am a colossal failure.

This process may take days, hours or even mere minutes. The point is, this is a process that is unavoidable for me. I accept that I am built this way. I will never allow things to roll off my back like the proverbial duck. I will never be able to go with flow. I have never, ever taken things as they come. Easy going is not my middle name.

However, despite the high drama I find myself embroiled in (mostly in my head), I do come out the other side relatively unscathed and looking fabulous. The lesson I have learned from this latest failing, is that my acceptance of the situation has occurred faster than it ever has before. I have not melted into a puddle and presumed that every undertaking from now on will be like this last one.

It has in fact, become clear to me that I am capable of managing any outcome, positive or otherwise and there is a sense of peace in that for me. The peace comes at a price (sleepless nights, never ending what-ifs), but come it does.

Now, I must end this entry and go and take my antacid which is key to my overall "dealing with failure process.” It used to be whisky in a flask, but I digress.

Friday, 20 February 2015

The Truth about Butterflies

Anxious butterflies have served me well in the romance department. Not real life romance of course, but all the glorious romantic situations that constantly unfold in my head.

In my head, there are always dramatic plot twists, soaring musical scores and a mandated happily ever after. The heroine (that’s me), rarely makes a misstep and when she (I) does, it’s utterly adorable and forgivable. Her (My) missteps make her that much more endearing and lovable to the hero.

I have spent my fair share of time over the years trying to duplicate the perfect romance in real life. I have not always been successful (pause for uproarious laughter from those who know me), but I have never given up on those happy endings.

Anxiety, as I may have mentioned at some point in earlier posts, is a great tool to fuel the imagination. Since everything negative is amplified by the anxious spirit, I’ve always believed that the opposite holds true as well.

I am certain that I have had dragons slain for me, broken dozens of hearts, had ballads written about me, and forced many a poor soul into monkhood because they can’t have me. All of this while still maintaining the lovable girl next store image that all men secretly want and all women want to be. Every now and then I switch to the vixen role, but the results are usually disastrous and end with me either falling down or apologizing profusely.

At any rate, romance and anxiety go hand in hand because while I may be scared of the paperboy coming to the door, I have never been scared to chase those romantic dreams. I have never shied away from love (again, pause for uproarious laughter) and believe in forever, even after a few false starts.

My husband, Paul, is a prime example of this perseverance. When I was 14 and he was 18, I used to follow him around the mall, discreetly of course, most Saturdays. I felt sure that if he saw me, it would all be over and he would have to sweep me into his arms and ride off into the sunset. It didn’t matter to me that I was just starting grade 9, you can’t fight destiny.

Side note: when my friend Michelle and I would go into Big Boy’s after him and I asked to sit a few booths away so he “wouldn’t notice me” (didn’t want the spell to be broken too soon, you see), she brought it all back to reality as only she can, “Lori, he wouldn’t notice you if you sat in his lap.”

Hurtful, but in hindsight, I guess it was an appropriate statement since he likely could have been arrested if he took up with me at that time. Knowing that he obviously had to fight his feelings in accordance with the law at that time, just makes me appreciate him more now.

There are positives to living with sometimes crippling anxiety. That kind of intensity was made for romance! Just keep an eye on the creepy factor so as not to stumble into stalker territory.


Thursday, 12 February 2015

My Moral Compass and Organized Crime

It’s been said that I would make a terrible criminal. I think that’s ironic given that I am obsessed with organized crime and murder programs. I can’t get enough of Investigation ID. I think I could give up just about any of my cable channels if I could keep that one.

The titles of the shows themselves are inspired. Snapped, Murder Comes to Town, Mobsters, Homicide Hunter (love that one!), Forensic Factor, Deadly Sins, Sins and Secrets, Deadly Affairs, Fatal Vows. Ok, admittedly, maybe inspired is a bit strong since reading those titles back put me in mind of several romance novels from the 70s.

But I digress.

I picture myself as a mob boss quite often. I feel that I could totally pull this off. I imagine myself sitting at a boardroom table tenting my fingers and deciding who needs to get “whacked.” I think I would call myself The Face, but sit with my back to people, shrouded in shadows so people wouldn’t actually see my face. I think that’s a pretty intimidating image, don’t you?

Anyway, I would run all kinds of raquets (or is it rackets?) and have many soldiers out on the streets taking care of business. I would never have to put air in my own tires or pump my own gas. I would never have to take out the recycling, compost or touch anything gross and I would have people to piggyback me around town with a pedometer on so I will clock the steps without having to actually step. I would also be first in line at Starbucks (particularly sweet when the Saturday morning “run club” comes in and tries to takeover).

I would have a few rules too;  no teasing puppies,  no stealing from the Salvation Army drums (although I’m flexible on whether or not they steal the jingle bells at Christmas), no yelling at pharmacists as they are my friends and no overdoing it at the Costco sample tables (that’s just tacky).

The truth of all of this lies in the fact that as much as I would like to be flexible with my moral crime compass, the idea of actually getting in any kind of trouble leaves me palpitating and incapable of talking. Just ask my husband. I freeze up during RIDE season and I don’t even drink for God’s sake.

Still, participating in a crime spree does hold appeal for me, but don’t tell my mom. She doesn’t like crime as much as I do and wouldn’t understand.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Raven Lunatic Has Entered the Building

For me, my anxiety is so physical, I can hardly uncurl from the fetal position. Even if I’m standing upright, inside, I am curled in on myself as much as possible. I am hidden inside my own body if that makes any sense.

Then Raven Lunatic pops up (my anxious alter ego – and don’t be offended by the name, humour and bad taste are key ingredients to my working through the sucky stuff) and she is calling the shots. In fact, I feel like I’ve been blindfolded and turned around and around and left in the woods to find my way out. The only trouble is, I can’t move my legs to even start. I watch from a distant as my alter ego skips out of the forest and wreaks havoc for a few days.

The havoc, I should mention, is not earth shattering, but it is painful for me. Let’s start at the beginning. Waking up is harrowing. Have you every woken up in a full blown panic attack? If you have, you know of what I speak. It is like an internal burglar alarm going off in your brain. There is indescribable panic that has you running for the bathroom to pee. Usually, I hit the door first, fall down and then scramble down the hall, all the while hoping no one else wakes up and notices.

I am filled with dread and coated in sweat. If my day begins like this, I have to spend the rest of the day in an internal battle with Raven to at least balance some of the control she has stolen from me. She sees herself as playful, I see her as a pain in the ass. She makes me question everything and wonder about everyone’s motives.

Is everyone I care about ok? Did I turn my flat iron off? What happens if the fire alarm goes off? Will I get a bill if it’s a false alarm? What if I run out of gas and can’t find my CAA card? What if the CAA guy abducts me? What if I go to yoga and get stuck in the lotus position and someone has to untangle me? What if I fall asleep and never wake up? Where does a person go when they dream? Will I stick with one decision when it comes to Rogers or Bell? Will my husband ever stop smoking even though he quit? I feel sick. My head hurts. Raven has total control when I’m in this state.


I am exhausted after a visit from Raven Lunatic and the trouble is, I never know how long she plans to stay. When I was younger, it wasn’t so much of a problem because I could self-medicate and actually enjoy her highly erratic vibe. Those days are long gone and I just don’t have the energy to fuel her. But she still comes and I have to manage. Her visits are further between, maybe she is starting to realize I am not the fun buddy I used to be. Maybe she will start just emailing every once in a while and not just show up on my doorstep whenever she feels like it.

Who knows? She is part of me, but taming her is getting a little easier the older I get. I may never be completely free or her, but I’m going to stop letting her leave me in the woods. It’s scary in there.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Happy Birthday Dead Guy and other Peeves

It’s a month into 2015 and my optimism is still intact.

That said, every once in a while I think it’s healthy to let off a little steam. Pull out that list of pet peeves that, if left unchecked, can really start to put a damper on one’s otherwise sunny disposition. Oh don’t get me wrong, just because I call myself an optimist, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a laundry list of stuff that run the gambit of mild irritation to all out wild with rage.

So, as part of my good mental health hygiene (new for 2015), I thought I’d share some of the top contenders on my laundry list of peeves. Maybe you share a few. Maybe you don’t because you are a much more tolerant, spiritually awakened human being than I’ll ever hope to be (but I doubt it).

1.       Wishing dead people a happy birthday – first of all, the person is dead therefore unlikely to be keeping track of how many candles are on a cake much less able to appreciate the effort of party favours, presents and cards. The person cannot collect any more birthdays because, as I’ve pointed out, they are dead. By all means, mark the anniversary of a beloved person’s birth, but to actually say “Happy Birthday” to a dead person is just plain mean since you are obviously just rubbing their face into the fact that they are dead and will not get the first piece of cake

2.       Making things plural that are clearly singular – Happy Ground Hogs Day or Happy New Years for example. The opposite also bugs me. For example, can you drop me off at the No Frill? No? How about at Sobey?

3.       People who know how to artfully and effortlessly layer their scarves. Equally people who can wear bangles without making their wrists look fat

4.       When Keith Morrison has the night off from Dateline Real Life Mysteries

5.       When the bathtub stopper doesn’t fit exactly right and it makes fart sounds thus ruining the tranquility of my soak

Those are just a few of the peeves that send me into a spin and make it hard for me to concentrate on other areas of self-improvement (like learning how to align my own chakras and getting my dogs to learn to use the toilet)

I’ve learned over the years that my anxieties are just part of the magic of me and I am embracing them. As my good friend Donna has pointed out, and I quote “Lor, everyone has their things. Everyone. And I know because I’m bat shit crazy.”

These my friends, are words to live by….