The Last Unicorn

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When I was a kid, I don’t remember how old, I was watching TV and a cartoon with a unicorn came on. I only saw a snippet of it, but there was this unicorn who just found out she was the last unicorn. She is distressed by this news and begins a journey to find the others. I didn’t see more than that, I had to go to the dentist or something. But I never forgot that small scene. I felt immediately drawn to this non-humanoid character who wanted to find others like her. Much of my life, I felt like I was searching for someone who understood me. I didn’t know what that would look like, but I thought somewhere there must be someone who thinks like me. I had a deep desire to share my innermost thoughts and to have those thoughts be understood by someone else.

I didn’t search in vain. It wasn’t until high school that I found a kindred spirit, but it was worth the wait. I’ll call her L. She usually calls herself that anyway. We’re still friends. We were brought together by dragons, drawings of dragons that is. She had a sketchbook and she was always drawing in it. She never felt the need to hide it and so I knew that here was someone I could talk to. She probably didn’t know right away about me. I hid myself pretty well. One wouldn’t know by looking at me that I was a fairy, dragon, and unicorn sort of girl. I asked her about her drawings and she started telling me stories.

The energy that came from this friendship was extremely valuable. Our shared interest in stories, especially those involving magic, brought out more creativity in me than I ever thought possible. We fed off of each other’s imaginations and became inseparable. In fact, it was in a conversation with her that I mentioned my memory of that unicorn and she knew exactly what I was talking about. While wandering the aisles of Blockbuster Video, we found the movie, The Last Unicorn. We shared the joy of finding a long lost treasure from childhood. Later, while watching the movie, we marveled at the crude animation, the beautiful music (though not always well-sung), and my imagination flew. It was that moment when I came up with the main character of my current work in progress and with the idea for the story. The movie was based on the book “The Last Unicorn” by Peter Beagle. It’s now one of my favorite books. After coming up with that one story, my mind didn’t know how to stop. I came up with two sequels as well as several other novel-length stories that played in my head while I was supposed to be paying attention in English class.

Without that friendship, I don’t believe that I would have come up with those stories and I don’t think I ever would have started writing them down. L refused to let me just tell her my stories, I had to write them. I didn’t want to write. I hated writing and I wasn’t any good at it. I’d rather just tell them. But she was stubborn.

She was my only  close friend in high school and I felt that was all I needed. For me it was always about quality rather than quantity. I knew I would feel content with just one person I could really talk to. Our lives have drifted us apart through the years. She lives in another state and jobs and kids keep us busy. Regardless, we still manage to keep in touch, even though we are both terrible at keeping in touch. It doesn’t matter, though. We still share our love for stories involving dragons and encourage each other in our writing.

I’ve had some other friendships that were close and filled me with energy and sparked my imagination. These people always come and go as life interferes. It used to bother me when people would come and go, but I’ve learned to accept it. When someone parts, I wait for another to come and inspire me in a different way. For a long time, I just assumed people wouldn’t understand me. When I met a new person, I could tell within a few minutes whether they were a kindred spirit. But life has shown me that I’m often wrong. Sometimes the people I think I’ll never be friends with, are the people I need at that moment in my life.

I realized, after finding out about The Highly Sensitive Person and reading Elaine Aron’s book, that my search was for another HSP. Who else could understand me except another who felt misunderstood in the same way? My therapist, who first told me I was HSP, said that it’s like coming up for air. When you’re on a completely different wavelength than everyone else, all of a sudden someone comes along and it’s harmony. That’s what she told me, anyway. I think she said that because it’s what happened to her. When she met her husband, another HSP, he read her like a book. I’ve never had that happen to me. L and I had common interest and a wonderful friendship, but she wasn’t an HSP.

So I can’t help but wonder what that feels like, to really resonate with someone at that level. If not even my closest friendships involved another HSP, and those were really good friendships, what would it feel like to know another HSP? Is it really that important?

My husband is also another close friendship. He and I immediately “clicked” and had an easy and natural romantic relationship that led to marriage. He’s not an HSP either. Are there times when I feel he doesn’t understand me? Oh, yes. My therapist encouraged me to help him understand, but I sometimes don’t know how.

My therapist told me it was important for me to have at least one HSP in my life. I need at least one person who understands that part of me. That’s nice, but how? It’s not as though people walk around with a sign on their foreheads. Even when I do meet other HSP’s, and since learning about it, I’ve met 3 not counting my therapist, it’s not like I can just go up to them and say, “You’re an HSP? Me too! Let’s be friends forever and ever!” Making friends is one of the main struggles of an HSP. I feel socially awkward. Not to mention, I tend to overthink things. I’ll think about emailing someone, then wonder if they even want to hear from me. Maybe I’m interrupting them. Maybe they’ll think I’m crazy or weird. Maybe they’re too busy to read my email much less respond to it. Maybe they don’t have time for me. I don’t want to bother anyone. What if they’re annoyed that I deigned to presume a friendship of any kind with them? After all those maybes and what ifs, I’m too exhausted to even open a blank email page. Not to mention the fact that every sentence I write comes with a similar flood of maybes.

So now I wonder why the Last Unicorn even bothered leaving her forest. She didn’t know she was the only one. Why leave the comfort of her own home to go on a perilous journey where she would encounter many difficult things, including becoming something she wasn’t? What is it that drove her? And the answer, of course, is loneliness. A person might do just about anything to avoid being lonely. That has been a great struggle for me. Desiring very much to have meaningful relationships with others, but lacking the skills.

 

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May 7, 2014 · 3:51 pm

Good Friday

I know I’m late on this, but I had these thoughts on Good Friday and, with three kids, no one should expect me to have time to write them down on the actual day they happen.

 

In The Highly Sensitive Person, Elain Aron claims that HSP’s tend to be drawn to religion and spirituality. This was true for me as I always felt drawn to my religion, Catholicism. I remember being aware of a general complaint from non-catholics or former catholics that the Church wasn’t friendly enough. While I would acknowledge that some might find that fact off-putting, I never did. I never realized how much I preferred the less emphasis on “friendliness” until I visited a Methodist service that was rather noisy for my taste. People were so friendly, I wanted to run the other way.

 

Traditionally, Catholicism has a quieter liturgy. There are moments of silence, or music with no singing. I actually prefer my liturgy with no singing at all. I love the stark quality of it and stripping the mass to its bare bones. Probably because just a little is enough for me. I don’t need anything fancy to put me in a prayerful mood. Give me quiet and a crucifix and I’m there. Some Catholic churches have been trying to go for the friendlier bent. I’ve been to masses where they start by telling you to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. I get annoyed with this. It’s not because I don’t like people, I just don’t like false friendliness. I’m never going to see those people again. I don’t care for handholding during the Our Father. It’s not actually in the rubric of the mass and therefore unnecessary. But I do it anyway to be polite. In fact, my church growing up was on the friendlier side as far as Catholic churches go. The place sounded like an auditorium before mass began. It always drove my father crazy when people would come up to him and talk while he was trying to pray.

 

I never attended a Good Friday liturgy until I was in high school. My father, probably noticing my increasing interest in religion, brought me to one at a more traditional parish downtown. This first experience of a Good Friday liturgy left such a strong impression in me. Even with three kids, or when traveling, I always have to find a way to go. It only comes once a year and I can’t stay away. It is the starkest of all our liturgies. The tabernacle is empty and I feel it the moment I walk in. The priest processes forward in silence and immediately prostrates himself before the altar. This especially struck me the first time since I never saw a priest do that. The rest of the congregation kneels. Then follows the beautiful retelling of the most dramatic moment in salvation history.

 

This past Good Friday, I almost didn’t go. I wasn’t in a great mood and I had three kids. I knew of one church on the other side of town that had childcare during their service, but I couldn’t bring myself to drive that far. Then I saw a post on facebook that a parish near me had childcare. I stuffed the kids with their lunch, left the kitchen a mess and threw everyone in the car. I brought the baby into the church with me, but he was content to sit in his car seat and “sing” with the choir.

 

I sat and I soaked it in, the silence that is more than the absence of sound, the starkness, the somber atmosphere. No one tries to break me from my reverie. They’re there for the same reason. We come to observe, to remember. The music is never up-beat. It’s slow and somber. The choir at this particular parish is a little louder than I would like, but I can forgive that. Then there are the petitions. This is my favorite moment throughout the liturgical year. I find it beautiful that we pray for not only ourselves, our Church, but specifically for other Christians, Jews, non-Christians, atheists, political leaders, and those who suffer. I feel more connected to my fellow man throughout the world than I ever do when asked to introduce myself to the person next to me. I don’t need “friendly” to feel connected.

 

Throughout it all, I think what draws me to Good Friday the most is that finally someone will acknowledge that the world is full of pain. Finally, we all must see what I see almost every day, that we are weighed down with sorrow. We don’t have to let it keep us down. It is enough for us to acknowledge it. Then we can live with the hope that it will not last forever. But first we must acknowledge it. This introverted, melancholic, HSP thanks you for it, for allowing me this one day just once a year.

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How to Toughen Up

One of these ponies is clearly highly sensitive.

This clip reminds me of myself growing up. I remember when I had to get up in front of class and speak. The teacher, in a commanding voice, would tell me to speak up. This embarrassed me and made me want to hide in a corner. All through my school years I assumed shyness was a bad thing. Why wouldn’t it be? Kids didn’t talk to you as a result. Teachers yelled at you to speak up. I wanted to be invisible because I didn’t want people to see my faults. But I also didn’t want anyone to know that I wanted to be invisible. It’s an interesting paradox. What do you do with someone who sinks further away when you try to coax her out of her shell?

The clip above actually reminds me of my older sister, M, and me. We’re opposites. She would say things like, “How come you never talk?” I don’t know that I would have even noticed that I never talked if she didn’t point it out. I stressed so much over how to fit into her idea of how I should be, into anyone’s idea of how I should be. I just didn’t want that chastisement and I would do anything to avoid it. The more I tried to be someone else, the more awkward I got. I now know that M had her own anxieties about what people thought of her and she was projecting her own insecurities onto me. She still struggles a little with accepting other people’s differences, but she’s come a long way. We get along a lot better now and only fight every other time we talk.

But there really was a lot of positive to living with someone the opposites of myself. I don’t know that I would have done as much if it weren’t for M. She was in swim team, track and cross country, and powder puff football. I was the younger sister and I watched her do all that she did. As the younger sister I’m sure I was in awe of her and didn’t think I could do what she did. But she thought I could. She convinced me to try swim team. I didn’t like it so I didn’t stick with it, but I still tried. She convinced me to do gymnastics and I did it even though that didn’t stick either. I played soccer because I wanted to, but seeing the athlete in her made me want to play a sport. She watched me on the sidelines and during breaks would encourage me to be more aggressive. I didn’t know I could be more aggressive, but she convinced me I could. I did track with her voice in my head while I ran. I was good at track and I knew I would be. I could even outrun M. But I still had to train to be as good as my teammates and I was determined to show them what I could do.

We butted heads, M and I, but she was able to inspire determination in me. When she was able to do that, it was when she was clearly rooting for me and not for what she wanted me to be. Lately, my writing group has gotten more aggressive, there are new people not as familiar with my story and the one guy who likes to harp on my “and’s” is still there. It’s been a little stressful. I lamented about it to a friend. Her response was, “Maybe you need to toughen up.” It’s possible a phrase like that could hurt and cause me to melt inside with resentment. Instead, I smiled and said, “I know I need to toughen up.” Because she and I had other conversations and a connection in that she has shown that she understands me, this didn’t hurt. In fact, I was able to take her advice as something positive. If I can’t take a few people in a writing group, how will I take criticisms as a published author?

It won’t be easy. I have no illusions that my shyness won’t be a constant struggle. Shyness doesn’t define me, I know. It’s a weakness, but not who I am. I was right to be sensitive to that. I knew I was more than the quiet girl. My sister found it. Looking back now, as much as I wanted to prove myself to everyone I met, the person I really needed to prove myself to was myself. I still need to. Maybe that’s why I started this blog, to find myself that I buried so deep down out of fear, and coax myself out. Maybe at least to just understand myself a little better.

At the end of the episode of the above clip, the little yellow pony (appropriately named Fluttershy), is the one cheering the loudest for Rainbow Dash (My daughter is obsessed with this cartoon. Yes, I know the names of practically all the ponies). She can barely contain herself with how loud she is and bouncing high above the other friends. It’s just the perfect picture of a highly sensitive person. Ask her to cheer loud, and she’ll over think it and be too afraid to overwhelm you as she is so overwhelmed by the world. But in the moment, she’ll lose those barriers, because deep down she can’t cheer loud enough for her friend. There is a passion so deep and strong inside of her. She’s terrified of letting it burst because she knows it would overwhelm others. I know I’ve intimidated others when I let my intensity go. I’ve seen people just sit and stare after I’ve spoken. I think, “Damn, I’m weird. Quick, make a joke to cover it up.” But while everyone is surprised by Fluttershy’s outburst of emotion, no one is overwhelmed. They’re all proud of her. Maybe I just need to remember that people noticing me and being proud of me isn’t harmful to me. Or maybe I just need a toughness coach. Someone who can inspire what’s already there inside me like M used to do.

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That Time I Didn’t Have Thrush

Other than my first baby not latching well at first, breastfeeding has been fairly easy for me. After a month, my daughter figured it out and I nursed her for a year like I wanted. My son latched on right away with no problems and I nursed him a year as well. This baby was no different. He latched on and we got through the initial pain until breastfeeding became a breeze for both of us. I like breastfeeding. I find it convenient and I like the bonding experience. Even though it keeps me tied down for a year, the payoff of bonding with my baby is worth it. I can’t imagine having to buy formula and remembering to wash bottles and nipples. Yes, I’m that lazy.

So, when I started getting sore, itchy nipples after two months of no issues, I immediately set about problem solving. I must fix this problem because I cannot let anything get in the way of how good baby and I have it right now.

I did everything right. I called the breastfeeding helpline at the hospital and discussed my symptoms with a lactation consultant. After several questions she thought it was likely I had a yeast infection on my breast. The baby had no symptoms, but sometimes it can be the case that a baby has thrush and shows no signs of it. So I went on antifungal medicine for two weeks. I also had to give the baby medication. Two weeks went by and, while the itching went away for a time, the redness never did and the itching came back by the time my course of medication was done. I did some research on that wonderful invention called the internet and I had read that yeast can be really hard to get rid of. I have some experience with diseases that are hard to get rid of so I decided to go all out and show no mercy to this fungus or to myself.

I got put on another 10 days of the same medication and in the meantime looked up every remedy imaginable. I washed my clothes on hot every day, this included the baby’s clothes and burp cloths. After each feeding (about 8 times a day) I rinsed my nipples in a vinegar solution, patted them dry and applied antifungal cream. I stopped wearing a bra, which is interesting trying to get used to. This may not seem all that stressful, but I’m one of those people for whom any change in my normal, is stressful. Having a baby is already a huge change in my normal, but I was prepared. After all this was my third time doing this. I know what to expect, right?

So of course I had stocked up on disposable nursing bra pads because I leak all the time and don’t really want to be caught out of the house with dark circles on my shirt. But no bra and no nursing pads while trying to get rid of yeast? Why go out?

On top of all this, I decided I should go ahead and cut dairy and refined sugar out of my diet. I’d never really had to cut out any food group before, so why not? It can’t be that bad and I could use a little depravity now and then. Besides, it was temporary and I was determined to get rid of this thing and get back to my normal crazy life with three kids 5 and under.

All my efforts seemed to be making some progress. Then we went to my in-laws for Thanksgiving. I continued to do all my treatments as well as avoiding dairy and sugar. I don’t think my Mother-in-law knew what to do with my food restrictions. My husband tried to assure me that she just felt bad for me, but I couldn’t help but think that she was annoyed. Was this in my head? Probably. Meanwhile, the itching just kept coming and going and I realized it wasn’t going away. I tried grapefruit seed extract as well. By then my antifungal medicine ran out and I was trying every natural remedy recommended. One website said 6 capsules of acidophilus a day, 4 capsules of garlic, 3 of Echinacea, and I added grapefruit seed extract on top of that.

It was a fun Thanksgiving. I missed chocolate so much that I made a sugar and dairy free chocolate pie from a paleo website. It was actually really good. But I found myself wanting everything I couldn’t have. I just wanted a cookie and to eat all the cheese I could find.

The epic continued after we got home. I was finally able to call the lactation consultants again and say, what now? This time she suggested I take an antibiotic because at this point it probably wasn’t yeast. What? I’d been doing all this stuff and it might not be yeast? I didn’t believe her. What else would it be? A nurse friend of mine convinced me to try it anyway. I did, but when it didn’t go away and, in fact, seemed to be getting worse, I started to panic. Antibiotics are the thing that usually cause yeast infections. What if I’ve made it worse? I will never ever get rid of this fungal invasion or taste cheesy sugary goodness again.

I saw a lactation consultant through her private practice. She watched me feed the baby, looked at the nipple area and discussed with me all the things it could be. We basically ruled out everything but yeast, even though the baby still had no symptoms of thrush. The only other thing she wasn’t sure about was some kind of rash or eczema and suggested I see a dermatologist. For some reason, I thought it was weird to see a dermatologist for a breastfeeding issue. I was convinced the dermatologist would look at me like, why are you here? Also, I couldn’t figure out why in the world I would have eczema on my nipples. I never had it with the other two. Then again, I never had yeast either.

A few days later, I saw my OB and she did a culture. The culture would take two weeks, but I’d been dealing with it for so long, I figured what’s another two weeks? Meanwhile, we decided it was probably yeast and I should go on a stronger dose of antifungal medicine for longer as well as continue all the natural remedies, washing stuff like crazy, and rinsing nipples in vinegar, etc. I thought for sure with diligence I would beat this thing.

I didn’t. It came back worse than ever.

I was finally open to the fact that this may not be yeast after all. I emailed my lactation consultant friend and said, “Am I going to have to wean?” I called my doctor’s office to see if they had my results even though it had only been a week. When they called me back, the results were negative. What? Can I trust that? I read on the most helpful internet that lab results aren’t always reliable. Was it a yeast infection or not? I decided to just call a dermatologist and get it looked at.

When I called, my usual dermatologist had an opening in a month. No way. I said just give me anyone. The receptionist made my appointment for the next Monday. I called on a Thursday. When I explained what I was coming in for she said, “Oh, yes.” Like she knew what I was talking about. Then two seconds after I hung up, she called me right back and asked if I could come in the next morning. My daughter’s kindergarten Christmas party was the next morning, but I said yes. I’d waited long enough.

I have decided that the dermatologist is my favorite of all healthcare providers. The receptionist was the friendliest I ever met. She saw my address and asked if I knew that one house where the guy rents a cherry picker to put up all his lights. Why, yes. Then went crazy over my baby and on cue all the medical assistants came to the desk and ogled over my baby. I didn’t mind. He is pretty cute. Takes after me of course.

The dermatologist was the sweetest woman ever. She took a look and said, “Doesn’t look like infection. It looks like eczema.” Really? Really?? Put on Vaseline twice a day and if I need it, she said she’d fill a prescription for a strong hydrocortisone cream. But I didn’t need that. The Vaseline was enough. Just like that my Christmas went from most depressing ever, to super wonderful. I made it to my daughter’s Christmas party and had a blast watching her and her class sing Christmas songs in a donkey costume.

So all that time I suffered with the wrong ailment. The moral of the story is…Who cares? I don’t have thrush! I can eat whatever I want! I can let my dirty clothes sit for a week. I can wear a bra! It’s amazing what brings you excitement what you realize you have been fighting the wrong battle. I’m sure there are all kinds of lessons and metaphors I can pull out of this—It’s no good putting a lot of effort into something if you don’t know what the problem is; don’t think you know what the problem is, just cover all bases; get a stupid culture to begin with; don’t get diagnosed over the phone; be more assertive when it comes to your health; don’t be afraid to go to the dermatologist when it seems weird; go to the dermatologist for all your healthcare needs. Whatever. I’m exhausted and can barely think. All that matters is that I do not have thrush. I am sorry to anyone who does have it. It sucks. Especially when you don’t actually have it.

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Please stop kicking me from the inside.

I realize that being highly sensitive makes me sensitive to criticism. Being pregnant has heightened those sensitivities, also being sleep deprived and generally stressed because my daughter keeps getting UTI’s and refused to take the antibiotic and we spend two hours twice a day trying to get her to drink the juice, ice cream, smoothie, whatever we can put it in to hide the taste, yet she can still taste it. Meanwhile, I’m being kicked from the inside. Not just now and then, but constantly. There is always a little heel sticking in my ribs or jabbing my hip bone. It keeps me awake at night and hurts me during the day. I love you child, but please stop hurting me. Maybe this is my cry every time the highly sensitive trait takes something the wrong way. Those around me whom I love, while simply trying to live are constantly kicking me from the inside. Whether it’s criticism or just perceived criticism on my part, or negative emotions that affect my own mood, I feel the need to escape that which I cannot escape. I carry those I love inside me. They are as much a part of me as my own body and it hurts.

Meanwhile, I write. I write to escape, to have my own thing. Ideas flood my mind and I can’t keep up. I workshopped a novel draft until the end with a writing group. They critiqued my work, praising and offering advice on where it could be improved. Sometimes the criticism was hard, but I wanted the book to be good and I wanted to learn the craft of writing. It gave me confidence and I’m glad I did it. I’ve sent it through a second time and realize that even after spending hours making all kinds of edits and rewrites, evaluating which comments I agree with and which to disregard, people still came back with comments like, “You used the word ‘look’ too many times.” So I work even harder each week to eliminate this word that I seem to like too much. Things have been better, but now there is this new guy who every week says something like, “You use too many ‘ands'” and gives very little positive. The next week its too many ‘buts.’ Another week I don’t use enough contractions. This past week it was my repeated description of a minor character as green-eyed. This character had no name and I had no way of giving him a name so to avoid confusion I called him the green-eyed man and kept with that one description so readers would know who I referred to. I also used the word eyes too many times. I like eyes, dammit. No one else, not even my teacher who usually points out if a word is overly used, pointed this out.

For the most part I’ve been trying to ignore this person as he’s the only one making these observations, but it’s really hard and it’s making me second guess my writing ability. Maybe I’m just not a great stylist. Maybe I never will be. I’m not out to reinvent the english language, just tell a good story. And really I don’t think my writing is that terrible. Maybe it’s not to his taste. As I continue to write, will I cater to this one person’s tastes? No, I’ll forget about him and go right back to using as many ‘ands’ and ‘buts’ as I please. I’ll submit to my workshop the work I spend hours on, knowing at least one person will find a million things wrong with it and I’ll feel a little depressed. Then I’ll sit down and do more editing, picking a choosing which comments I agree with and which I don’t. At the end, hopefully I’ll have a polished piece of work written in my own voice and not the all over the place opinions of my critique group. This is my latest worry, that in the effort to be too perfect, I might not be developing my own voice. Some of the stories I love the most, I love because of their flaws. A friend of mine used to complain that Tolkien was a terrible writer. Based on her standards, I guess he was, but I love his terrible writing. It has character and its part of the entertainment of reading it. He’s not for everyone and that’s okay.

As a highly sensitive person, I’m also a perfectionist. Criticism hurts so I do my best to avoid flaws so as not to be criticized. It’s a horrible way to live and has been the struggle of my life. So I’m constantly working on it. I try not to be obsessed with imperfection. I try even more not to let negative criticism bother me. Either I try to turn it for the good or I remind myself that people have different tastes and personalities and that’s okay. I don’t have to be liked by everyone. It’s not even possible. It still hurts, though, and it’s a pain I can’t stop. Like the baby kicking inside of me, I can’t escape it. I love my baby. There’s no doubt about that. I have nothing against the people who criticize me, or people in general who I might occasionally hide from. I just don’t want to be hurt constantly. I need a break. I need to read something for fun and not for how many repeated words there are or how many times they use the word ‘had.’ Who cares about POV slips? When I read a story, I don’t think about those things. I think about the characters and what they go through. I especially enjoy the adventure and the moments that surprise me. I just want to be taken somewhere else and be mesmerized. It’s what I love about reading and writing. I may never be a successful writer. This story may never be published even after all this work. I know the writing industry is competitive and tough. Maybe this workshop is a good prep for the criticism that will inevitably come should I break into the publishing world.

Meanwhile, I will do my best to bring my characters alive. I’ll read the Neil Gaiman novel I picked up and count how many ‘ands’ he uses. I don’t know how to evaluate that, though, since I don’t know how one determines too much is too much for a word like ‘and.’ In the first few pages he doesn’t use a lot of contractions and has no problem with the word ‘had.’ It doesn’t bother me so why should I care if it’s in my own writing? So I will do what I can. I’ll write on. I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to.

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The World is Made of Glass

“For this thin glitter of glass everywhere is the expression of the fact that the happiness is bright but brittle, like the substance most easily smashed by a housemaid or a cat. And this fairy-tale sentiment also sank into me and became my sentiment towards the whole world. I felt and feel that life itself is as bright as the diamond, but brittle as the window-pane; and when the heavens were compared to the terrible crystal I can remember a shudder. I was afraid that God would drop the cosmos with a crash.” G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

I was going to write about something else, but then my son broke a glass so naturally I had to write about death. When my husband and I were first married, we received two sets of glasses. We kept both knowing how easily glasses break. After six years of marriage this was the first time we broke one, so we’re doing pretty well so far. If we only break one glass every six years, it’ll be 48 years before we need to buy a new set. Of course, if this next baby is a boy, we’re likely to break them all within another six years.

From early on, I remember feeling deep sadness when something broke. It’s odd because it’s only a thing, but that didn’t seem to matter to me. Something was lost and it didn’t feel right. Something was missing from the world. Something that used to be no longer was. It wasn’t right. It was tragic.

If I was that distraught over things, one can imagine what I felt when I learned of death. I was horrified. I didn’t know what I would do if someone close to me died. I didn’t even know how I was going to cope with my cats’ deaths. Luckily, I was spared the death of a loved one through my childhood. I was in high school when my cat died, and by then was resolved enough to know that things couldn’t last forever. My grandpa died when I was in college, but he died so well that it was hard to be too broken up about it, though I still miss him.

I spent much of my childhood trying to cope with the reality of loss, the unfairness of it. Even though I didn’t experience it, knowing it was a possibility was enough to bother me. It seemed to me that beautiful things should last forever and yet they didn’t. My fears eventually turned into fascination. Perhaps that’s how I coped in the end. I thought about it and tried to make sense of it. My mind eventually would turn to story. I was recently told in my writing class that for someone so gentle and quiet, I did well with fight scenes and horror scenes. It is odd since I don’t like violence in real life. I can barely handle getting a shot. But there is something about writing a story and being in control. I know what’s going to happen and I know it won’t be for nothing. There is a reason behind what I do, even if the only reason is to cope with my own fears, to give my characters a challenge to overcome, to show that beauty is fragile but worth fighting for.

When I first read that passage from G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, I shuddered just as he describes himself doing. It was like meeting someone else who shared my experience and saying “Me too!” to the dead man’s words. It seemed to me to that life was so fragile. It took so little to break something, just one wrong movement. It took so little to hurt someone, just the wrong word or the wrong tone of voice. It was terrifying and yet there is an adventure to terror. Life is not bland when you see things this way, when everything carries so much weight. You’re never bored when you always have a treasure to protect, a treasure to find without losing your way. One wrong turn can set you back farther than you’d like. It can seem unfair and even depressing, but it’s how things are when there is something worth seeking and something worth protecting.

I never liked dealing with loss, but I always loved fantasy. It was never an escape for me, as in a way to escape the pain of real life. Fantasy can be more horrific than real life. We were joking at my last writing group about my fantasy world and the things to avoid. Don’t go near rivers, in fact just stay away from water in general. Forests too, wait, just stay out of Agnes’ world altogether. Trust me, most fantasy worlds are far more perilous than the one we’re in. No it wasn’t an escape in that sense, it was a way to make sense of the world I lived in and the things that frightened and puzzled me. It doesn’t take away the uncertainty. Fear will always be fear. Pain will always be pain. But there is meaning behind it. The world is fragile. Happiness can be shattered to a million pieces. Take care of what you hold dear.

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June 20, 2013 · 2:43 am

Decisions, Salespeople, and Feet

Being HSP makes me uncomfortable in social situations. If the crowd is too large, I am overwhelmed. On the other hand, if it’s me and one other person, I feel pressure to keep up a conversation and I’m no good at conversation so I start thinking things like, “I am so boring. This person is probably wishing she were somewhere else.” Then I’ve overwhelmed myself with my nervousness. It doesn’t matter if this one person is someone I’m trying to get to know or someone I will never see again. I’m going to be uncomfortable unless this person is extroverted enough that they don’t care whether I say anything other than to acknowledge what they’ve said, or I have a lot to talk about with this other person.

When it comes to salespeople, I don’t have much to say. I’d rather they do all the talking so that I can do all the thinking. Decisions are difficult for me. A decision is not just a decision. It means analyzing the pros and cons of all my options and worrying over any regrets I may have if I make the wrong decision. This takes time and a lot of mental energy. Not to mention the fact that if I have to make a decision, I want to make it fast because otherwise I am living with an uncertainty. No matter how small that uncertainty may be, it’s going to annoy me until I get it figured out. More mental energy there.

I have been physically and mentally exhausted the past week. Some decisions can wait and I’m okay with that, but I need to start research now. House hunting and learning about schools for my daughter are two of those. Alone, they aren’t bothering me, but with two school meetings this past week, I had a lot of mental scrutiny going on. Physically, I am 6 months pregnant with my third living child and the achiness is getting to me. On top of that, I seem to have caught some kind of bug that is also keeping me down. On top of both those things, my foot started hurting. Not just the achy tired feet that comes with pregnancy, but a sharp pain in my right foot. It affects my ability to walk. Who knew walking was so necessary? Grocery shopping is now torture, more so than it was that is, and anytime I have to get up to get a child something or break up a fight, which is often, it is so painful.

I immediately took to the internet. I need my feet to function. I need to be able to walk. There is just too much to do and no one can do it for me. I bought four pairs of shoes to try and hoping at least one works, but then I started researching the area where my foot hurts and figuring out what kind of support I need. Obviously, I’ll need to see a doctor to know for sure, but in the meantime all my shoes hurt the minute I put them on. Barefoot is also painful. I need something comfortable and supportive and I need it now.

Shoes cost money, especially the supportive kind, and if I want a new house in a year and a new van before the baby comes, I have to be careful with money. But I am in pain. So of course I spend hours online researching which shoes are good and which ones I can get at a discount. Then I get decision-making overload and am no good to anyone after that. Not to mention the fact that I am no closer to making a decision. You really can’t tell from pictures online which shoes would be good for you.

After walking around yesterday, looking at vans and worrying over which van to get, my mind was done and my feet were killing me. I felt like I was falling apart. Good thing it was the weekend, and my husband could take care of me, but the poor guy also needs a break. I need something magical to make me feel better now.

One thing I like about online shopping, is that I don’t have to talk to anyone. But talking to people is also very helpful. So I swallowed my discomfort and went to a local shoe store where they sell high quality, supportive shoes. I walked around looking at shoes waiting for someone to come ask if I needed help and hope they would be able to do something with, “I hurt. Help.” So when a lady finally did come up and I babbled a little about being in pain and needing something supportive, but not knowing where to start, she directed me to a few brands. Not wanting to get too hung up on deciding which particular shoes to try on, I pointed to the first I saw that looked decent and waited for her to try them on. It’s a little awkward having someone put shoes on your feet, but it was really nice to have someone put something on and shake her head right away, “Nope, not a good fit.” It saves time and it saves me having to think about it.

It was also awkward having her watch me as I walked around in them. I like to quietly deliberate over things and she was just watching me. It makes me wonder if I’m supposed to be saying anything or not. Then I wonder if she feels awkward because I’m so quiet or if she’s wondering whether or not I’ll buy anything. Will she be annoyed if I don’t? I can’t help but care what other people think even if I never have to see them again. It makes me nervous and uncomfortable. But the discomfort was all worth it. I did find a few pairs that were amazing. The pain lessened the more I walked in them. I almost wanted to cry it was so relieving. The problem? My favorites were $120. Is it worth it? I have never bought shoes that expensive. My husband reading this will have a heart attack, but I think I’ve shown my crippling state well enough that he may not care. We’ll see. I did find the pair on an online store where they are offering $20 off. But they don’t have them in brown. They have them in black and silver. There is nothing wrong with those colors, I just happen to wear more browns. Can you still wear black shoes with brown on top? I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound right. I wore black sandals with khakis today because the black sandals were the shoes that hurt the least. Is that bad? I am a fashion idiot. Does silver go with brown or khakis? If I’m going to buy expensive shoes, I better be able to wear them with most of my outfits.

I managed to get out of the store without spending anything or feeling guilty about it. I should be able to think about these things before spending and possibly try to find a discount if I can. I went to another store and tried a few more and felt even more awkward. The guy barely talked to me. I didn’t like the shoes, though, so I just got out of there.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, I would like to be able to write the short stories I have in my head. I’ve got a chapter in the longer work I’m writing that doesn’t work, but can be a short story. A few weeks ago I had a few vivid dreams that will make good stories if I can actually get them down. Pregnancy dreams are awesome for creativity. I’m so tired, and yet I know if I just get myself started and write something creative, I will feel so much more energized. It always turns out that way. I just have to get myself going, and stop worrying about shoes. It’ll be okay. I’ll be able to walk. We’ll get a van that will be roomy enough to keep my kids as far away from me as possible while I’m driving. It will all turn out. It usually does. These things are just too small to waste my energy on. I’ve got a baby on the way and ideas for short stories when I almost never get them. I’m listening to Loreena McKennit. Life is good. Now somebody find me a wheelchair.

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