Dear Internet,
There is a before before to this story.
I’m currently wrapped up like a mummy at the cabin where it is currently 60F outside, prepping it for winterizing for TheExHusband. I stopped by a local village to have dinner one night when I saw TheEx. Remember TheEx? Oh, I sure as hell do. My rage against him may have subsided but the idea of cutting off his member and dissecting his testes still tastes warm and fresh in my mouth.
So there I was, having dinner, and I see him with a woman and some kid. Maybe his wife? Why else would he be up in this area? His parents have a condo in a large ski/golfing resort that is so full of white privilege, you may contract hives. Why else would he be up here if not with his (current) woman? Why do I care so much?
Because I’m nosy as hell and all of my questions must be answered.
He saw me; of course he saw me. How could you miss me and my overly obnoxious laugh? We played peek a boo through stranger’s shoulders. I forced dessert down my throat to prevent leaving before him. I won the fake war of insolence.
And of course we didn’t say a word to the other! What kind of heathen do you think I am?
Once when we were together, actually many times, his road rage almost killed us. As I said in the above piece, he would beg, cajole, and plead his apologies; me forgiving him as a woman (then) rightly should. I was blinded by everything — he was the (then) closest substitute to TheBassist and I was hungry for that connection. TheBassist and I had been broken up for 1 1/2 years – the thought that I found someone so much like him (but not him) was too much to ignore. I was blinded by the probability. Lusted after the possibility of a TheBassist lesser.
Boy, was I glamorized.
Seven years later, TheEx and I are side-eying each other in a restaurant.
TheEx left me a gift all those years ago, not that you swine, but a new anxiety that causes a fear of driving. Specifically on highways.
It’s called catastrophic thinking, and I had no idea it had a name until a clinician recently asked me a few questions as I spoke, giving a name to the demon.
I run scenarios in my head, while driving, from getting decapitated by a semi getting out of control to careening into cement barriers to having my car going dead in the middle of a major construction area. This despite all of the assurances I give myself such as if Jeeves broke down every 1000 miles, you have bigger problems to there are others who are sharing this anxiety with you right this very second (thanks meditation!). No matter what I do, short of taking drugs, I can’t shake the thoughts of something happening while I’m driving.
To illustrate the point of the ridiculousness of this thinking, last week I drove a thousand miles from the east coast to ThrobbingCabin to help TheExHusband out. I wasn’t getting any job offers, or even interviews, I was going stir crazy, so I left. Again. I figured the sojourn to the cabin would do me good (true), help me think clearly (true), save on finances (also true).
I drove alone.
The only hiccup was getting lost because fuck a Ohio turnpike and their terrible directions!
So I drove a thousand miles, nothing happened, and I’m more or less (more) driving a thousand miles back at the end of the month.
Rationally, RATIONALLY, I know what I’m thinking is irrational. I know that the likelihood of a fatal car accident is .0103% or 1 in 10,000 for every 100,000 people. The likelihood of getting into a car accident at all is 1.76%.  I KNOW THIS. I know this, but I cannot stop thinking about what that less than 1% means to me.
(This thought process exploded last night as I came back from the city to cabin; 20 miles of unlit highway. Me with my Xenon beams and assholes with their brights, in front and behind. My eyes ached and I had a headache for most of the night after my driving escapade. Tonight I’m heading back to the city and I’m nervous, ALREADY THOUGH IT’S HOURS AND HOURS AWAY, of coming back here. Fuck a duck.)
I talk myself down. I remind myself I have driven across these United States with nary a thought, TWICE. I’ve driven from Michigan to the east coast at least six times in the last year. Some of it alone. I’ve driven to lots of long places, by myself, and I come out fine. So why the freak out?
With me, anxiety can be drilled down to a singular incident which builds upon itself into this catastrophic thinking. TheEx’s road rage has finally manifested itself all these years later, which causes me even more irritation than anger because I just want to be done with him. This hold over me is paper thin but it ill not rip. It’s annoying and in some ways, it’s fucking with my life.
Because it’s paralyzes me. It paralyzes me to the point I often cannot leave the house, enjoy my time socially with other people, or even enjoy a nice car ride.
My therapist says most anxieties can be worked through, controlled, and often cured. I am too impatient to get rid of the driving one, I want it to begone! But it’s something I have to control and work on, slowly and methodically.
Something that only I can deliver myself from. And lots of Klonopin.


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This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2010, 2008, 2008, 2000, 1999

daily entry: February 4, 2015

Dear Internet,

  • Wake up to a text from the airline that today’s flight has been “delayed” and that I need to possibly reschedule. Check and discover that I would have a 20 minute change between my two flights; able to rebook slightly later flight going to another hub. Fuck MSP
  • Morning ritual: Wake up, use the facilities, pop contacts in, take drugs, turn kettle on for tea, figure out breakfast. While the kettle is heating up, fill last nights Bopple and also the humidifier. With tea and breakfast in hand, check email, Facebook, Twitter. Respond as necessary
  • Shower, finish up packing, get dressed
  • Meditate using Headspace
  • Read RSS feeds (never caught up)
  • Get to the airport, check bag for flight (I know, I know; BUT, they were calling for volunteers to get off the flight so I knew it was going to be tight getting my bag in)
  • Flight is delayed because of weight issues; people are taken off the flight. Plane needs to be deiced, we’re now nearly 30 minutes late leaving GRR; which is fine. My original flight is now four hours delayed and I would have never made it to my destination. Fuck MSP. Again
  • Get to DTW and book cheeks to another concourse to make connecting flight.  Make it, but flight ends up being delayed for 1.5 hours due to maintenance issues, then more maintenance issues, then deicing. It’s like we’re flying on Gertie.
  • Arrive at destination
  • Sleep


This Day in Lisa-Universe:

done consciously and intentionally

Dear Internet,
I’m at Philly international airport on my way to my final destination and I’m debating the merits of being a woman who is about to start menstruating. I know my breasts are firmer and more round. I also know I’m throwing off pheromones like no one’s business because I have a crowd of gentlemen clustered me in this otherwise empty section of the airport. It could be my charm and wit, or it could be the Lisa-puffs, but I’m betting it is pheromones.
Today will be a long day. I drove 2 hours to the airport to catch an early afternoon flight to the east coast and now I’m on my layover in Philly before the final leg. There were plans to be had this evening, but I’m betting once I make it to my final destination, head will hit pillow and the drool will come forth.
I made an observation this afternoon while I played Tetris on my iPad, in that if I played the game deliberately, I could easily get to level 9, which is nearly a 100 rows. If I do not play deliberately, I am dead within the first 10 rows. I found this to be interesting.
But being deliberate about the game also meant I had to be patient. It also meant I had to focus on the game and not on what was happening around my world. Not too surprising, the more I put my energy into paying attention to the game rather than my usual mashing of buttons, I did really, really well.
This is similar to how meditation works. You concentrate on the body and then you open yourself up to the world to let it wash over you. Then you learn how to reign the focus back into yourself while the world is awash, so you can find stillness in the chaos.
Since being a good Tetris player requires much of the same philosophy, it makes sense to me that once I started putting my meditation practice to work in the game, my game got increasingly better.
Imagine if this was applied to everything?!
Interesting hypothesis, yes?

This Day In Lisa-Universe: 2013, 2012, 1998


Dear Internet,
I was gifted with a year long subscription to Headspace, a site that teaches you guided meditation in easy, bit sized chunks. In true Lisa fashion, I’m having panic attacks left and right during and after the exercises which sets off a whole slew of everything elses.
That surprised me. Aren’t you supposed to feel whole and unconflicted while doing your meditation and not a hot fucking mess? The answer is no: This is apparently a normal part of the process, as is sadness.
When I posted my experiences on Facebook, there were numerous comments from others that had similar feelings when practicing; hearing I was not alone was comforting. There are times when my own feelings seem to overrule so much of who I am, it is almost incomprehensible others may feel the same way or could fathom where these feelings themselves. Hearing related stories is helpful in addition to being comforting as it indicates no matter how much my brain tells me otherwise, I am not so alone in the world.
That is often very important bit of knowledge that I need to remember: I am not so alone in the world.
The big question Headspace asks is what do you intend to get out of the practice? I’ve been gnawing at this for the last five days as I’ve been working through my foundation pack and I realized the first thing I came up with was: I expected instant gratification and for all the emotional pain to just go away (which explains since I’m not getting instant gratification, I’m going into panic mode when I begin my session). That answer was not the direction I wanted to go in, so it helped for me to actual vocalize what and why I was thinking these thoughts so I can begin to formulate a healthier plan.
I’ve been in such an emotional free fall these last few months which has been amplified by the lack of a solid foundation that should have existed before making any big moves. I know people have got me, but I need to have myself and more often than not, I don’t.
While I find myself acting impulsively at times, mainly with money, I tend to catch myself before I’m entirely stupid. My thoughts are often racing. My verbal word retrieval, which is usually an indicator of how bad the racing thoughts are occurring, is fairly awful on most days. I often find myself attempting to panic on things that I cannot control, no matter how minute or out of my control they are or how ridiculous it would be to panic over that thing. Let’s say I need to do something in the next week. I’ll start the panic process on anything else related to that thing even if that thing is as benign on sorting items out to donate to the local Goodwill.
I have forgotten me in all of this. I have forgotten self-care.
Knowing that this feeling of panic is part of the process, that it is normal to feel this way, takes a bit of the sting out of the attack when it happens. While I’m still panicking during and after practicing, I know where the root of some of the panic comes from. I know that by bringing the focus back to the body more and less on attempting to follow my herringbone mind is totally okay and will get better with practice.
Headspace used the analogy sitting on the side of the road watching the cars go by, something I found I don’t really do at all. Often I’m so busy wanting TO BE the car I forget that I can just let the cars go by and not having to actually interact with them. Working on the meditation allows me to really see that sometimes these thoughts are really just that: thoughts and not concrete methods of decision making.
This was this week’s lesson learned: it’s okay to worry or have a panic thought, this is normal part of all the changes I’m going through. It’s okay to want to always begin with building your own foundation. Thus, for now, that’s what I want to get out of Headspace is the ability to make more mindful decisions, recognize thoughts are just thoughts, and to remind myself to be present in this world while building a solid foundation for myself as I do so.