Monday, January 31, 2011

all sorts of things

So my mind traipses through reality and the internet at random...

You must love this site as much as I do.
The blogger narrates the lives of Gary and Elaine, the people who live in your catalogs. For example:


Elaine was relieved to discover what Gary meant by "the dog stool in the kitchen."


This provides really useful information, and who doesn't love quizzes? Do you need therapy? It correctly concludes that I do. (It also thinks I'm bipolar. Dude, that is so the wrong pathology. I would get so much more accomplished.) Naturally, I am still working on getting in touch with Mr. Therapy Guy. Got him on the phone today...he is his own secretary, which of course means nightmarish organization...he's moved away from psychotherapy and toward "pastoral counseling," which might be helpful, but is less likely covered by insurance (and more likely redundant with my spiritual direction)...do I look for an ordinary shrink somewhere that takes my insurance? Or do I stick to looking for a Catholic who can help with my faith-related issues as well? Why is it so difficult even to get help?

Also on that subject...


My DH has this brilliant idea we should move to Denver. No, no reason. Of course, I already found us a house, but actually, what I would need is a job. Also, a good reason we should up and move to Denver. I just thought of a good way to decide: are there any nice bloggers in Denver? C'mon, y'all potential Mountain Region lurkers. Is Denver a good place for an infertile girl? If all the childless infertile bloggers were going to move somewhere, where should that place be?


A lot of people are pregnant lately. No, I don't mean Natalie Portman, and maybe Angie again (wait, no, they're adopting), and Nicole and Keith's surrogate (I guess that means they're IF? Wait, I think I already knew that) and whoever whatever. I mean bloggers. Is this a beginning-of-the-calendar-year thing? 'Cause I think it happened that way last year too. Sociologists should study this. They should study us.

I know avoiding the foods that give me abdominal pain is good for me (and no, that doesn't include gluten and dairy. Life is difficult enough!). And I generally am pretty disciplined about that these days. But I miss this:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

serenity now

I have probably used this post title before. The mindset of the vigorously mentally unbalanced appeals to me greatly.

I owe you all an enormous debt of gratitude for your prayers, your kind words, and your support. I have been able to write some of you back but not all, but I want to update everyone because I don't want any of you to worry.

I know I have trouble lately holding onto the picture of a God loving enough to busy Himself with little things, and bear me up in the ups and downs of life. But I found myself calming down more and more after my DH left, and realizing that there are things for which I need to apologize (hurting someone's feelings is not OK even if not intentional), and that I can't blame him for the fact that I feel like I'm not able to tell him things or seek support from friends, or that I fail to recognize or articulate my needs until I reach the point of crisis. There are lots of things I can improve if I'm wise enough and mature enough to recognize them and express them calmly. Even if I don't cause every problem, I can contribute to solutions...I'm an adult. Sometimes :). And though I wasn't expecting to hear from him until Monday night, he called Sunday morning and was completely calm, apologized, told me how much he loved me, and said that he wanted to come home and had never wanted to leave me and should never have said so.

Not every fight we have ends with us both being kind and calm and getting there overnight. Even when I don't have the presence of mind or the strength in faith to pray for myself, I have the blessing of your love and your prayers, something I never expected when I started this blog to yell at the internet about how I hate the OB/GYN two years ago, and something I know I don't deserve. Thank you all so much.

Although I am getting (very gradually) more mature about recognizing that I need to work on having a good life in the long term rather than having a great day (in life in general as well as in married life in particular), I have decided that one thing I need to do - in addition to improving my mood and attitude and time management and a lot of other things - is view every day as part of the journey up the mountain. It's uphill, it's tiring, and it's difficult. That's not a sign that I'm doing something wrong or should be horrified; there's just a mountain in front of me and I have to climb it. Along with my DH.

We can't see the other side and that makes it harder to hope, and I have a love/hate relationship with hope as I may perhaps have mentioned; but I like to think, in my slightly-hopeful moments, that the surprise view from the top is going to be stunning. And man, would I enjoy walking downhill for a while. I hope "the top of the mountain" does not mean the end of the earthly life...I'm sort of looking forward to a plateau at some point before I die. But who knows?

Also, because this is my blog and I do things like this, last night I conquered chocolate chip cookies, and I wanted to share. Um, not in the sense that I have sworn off them and their attendant empty calories. That would be rash and unjustifiable. But chocolate chip cookies have been the bane of my existence for some time. I want a cookie that's taller than the chips, and mine look like they've been run over by a truck no matter how many times I try.

But I did not examine the problem rationally. Cookies flatten because the butter (or other fat) melts as they bake, as I knew perfectly well - I just never made the logical adjustment. So last night I brazenly removed 25% of the recommended fat from a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe. I waited until they were just tinged with gold (mistake. You really do need to shorten the baking time, or they will no longer be soft by the next day), and removed from the oven the most adorable round chocolate chip cookies you ever saw. Cookies shall not confound me again. I have conquered, and soon I shall make my conquest complete.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

he left

Just for two or three nights, he said, but who knows. And although obviously on one level I care a lot, on another level, I don't even care if it's three nights or thirty. I'm upset - still crying from the last fight - but I'll tell you what, when he walked out the door and locked it behind him, I felt like an elephant had climbed off my chest (to be replaced by a slightly smaller elephant). I love my husband. But on our run this morning (we've started - had started? - a regimen of going on admittedly short runs twice a week together) he wanted to talk about how annoyed he was that a friend "checked up" on him and told him that he should get back to AA meetings (he's a recovering alcoholic, but hasn't gone to meetings in about three years), and when my husband said that he didn't really think that AA offered what he needed (or words to that effect), and he doesn't buy this "higher power" stuff anyway, his friend said, "You're a garden variety alcoholic. And this existential crisis stuff is, frankly, boring." (God bless him.) My husband didn't like that. What he really meant, perhaps, was that he needs more, or different, help than AA offers, and that may well be true. But everyone whose life difficulties manifest themselves in flirtation with atheism wants to think that they're special - like they've discovered antimatter, and high school students haven't been reading Nietzsche's syphilitic tripe and calling it "deeeep" for forever. It makes me weary.

Anyway, I said that I appreciated why he was upset, but I was on the whole more sympathetic to his friend. And then he went on about how he was not just angry with God, he really didn't believe in a personal God (he's full of crap - I can tell when someone is lying to himself and me, and that is what is happening here), and I never listen. I listened to him for probably twenty minutes, five to ten of which had no interjection from me. I finally responded starting with, "I'm interrupting you now," because he had changed topic three times and was just, really, ranting about all the things he hates and is angry about. I rant; I know what ranting is.

The problem is that all the conversations I have had with my husband since, maybe, November when he stopped traveling, fall into four categories: (1) sweet sentimental nothings about how much we love each other that aren't grounded to challenges and realities in our actual lives; (2) administrative nonsense about where the car is and what we're getting at the store; (3) him spewing venom about things he hates or is angry or miserable about, unpunctuated with humor or self-deprecation; (4) us screaming at each other. I thought I had won some sort of victory because lately we'd managed to cut down on #4. But I can't do a thing about #3.

I thought the shrink would help and I think in many ways it has. (I haven't jumped through enough administrivia to get myself an actual therapy appointment yet, and I know that has not helped.) The only clearly noticeable change so far is that he wants to talk to me about things more. That's good, I think, but unfortunately there are only two things he ever wants to talk about: how much he hates his life and how miserable he is and how he wants to die (I could insert quotation marks), which he ascribes to his job but which obviously couldn't be explained by a measly job unless he were an executioner or maybe a pimp; or, how much he hates the faith and the fact that he was raised in the faith. He never wants to share or discuss deeply about his ponderings about the meaning of this or the future of that; it's never up, or out, always down. Straight down, into an endless abyss.

Loving someone means being there for them in dark times, too, listening to them when they suffer, offering them words of reassurance. But there are people who not only reject words of reassurance, but attack them. Who will say, when you say helplessly, "I love you," "I love you too, but [continue despair]." To be a good wife to someone I knew beforehand was depressive, I know I have to have some stamina for that. But it ran out so long ago I couldn't pinpoint it specifically.

When I am coming home from work, I give him a call to say that I'm on my way and I'm looking forward to seeing him and I love him. If he doesn't answer, or answers in a foul mood, I know to brace myself for an evening with the devil. Sometimes I forget to call, and as I step off the bus, I am filled with dread.

I'm not a sentimentalist. I'm just not coping any more.

Toward the end of our rather awful conversation on our run/walk, he said something foul - took the Lord's name in vain, for the millionth time this month - and I snapped. I call him on that sometimes, but if I did every time, it would be every other word. I told him for the dozenth time at least that as long as one of us was a Christian, he was not to blaspheme. (How could that POSSIBLY be difficult to remember?) I had been trying to listen, trying to be patient, already upset, but with that, I lost my temper. And when we got to our house, I told him I was going another two miles, and I would be back.

The whole time I ran, I thought about what I would do if I had to leave him. When I'm angry or scared, I think about the worst things that could happen - maybe to toughen myself up in case they do. But this time I wasn't angry, I was just thinking. I pictured in my mind asking the question of my spiritual director. If he abandons the faith, I will have grounds for annulment under the Pauline privilege, I believe. But I don't want to start over with somebody healthier. I don't love anyone else. I don't want to leave him. I just don't know how to have a marriage that's not grounded in the faith - a struggling faith, fine, but something. And I realized that leaving him isn't revenge or rebellion or melodrama or disobeying God. If he leaves the faith, and I have grounds to leave him, there is only one question that matters: can I live my life as a Christian if I stay in this marriage? I realized that I didn't know the answer.

I came back. I got my street clothes, and I decided to finish watching a TV show I'd started before we left. He came in twenty minutes later with a heavy sigh and, "Can I ask you something?" I didn't have the peace and equanimity to start it again, but of course, there's no saying "I'm not ready to talk about this," with him. (Then I get "you never listen," an accusation I will always get no matter how much I do listen, and then we have a fight anyway.) He asked me - it's funny, I forget what he asked. When we were walking, I had said something to the effect that I believed he was lying to himself about what he did and didn't believe. (I'm certain that's true.) And he asked me whether he wouldn't know that. I said he wouldn't. I said he hasn't been grounded in a long, long time; he changes moods and personalities almost every day; many of the things he says are unhinged. I've noticed this for more than a year. I haven't said it, because he does not take comments like that well; to say it is a guaranteed fight. (What unhinged person takes being called on it well? Not many, I suppose...) But he asked. And I am so tired from keeping these things from him. I can't do diplomacy moves with a blasphemer and God-hater who shares my bed every day. I'm actually not that strong a person, and the crosses I already carry have taken all I have.

He told me our marriage was more stable than it had ever been and I told him he was wrong. It was more stable two years before; before his six-month unemployment stint (which was horrible), which was followed immediately by him finding out that he would have to testify at the RE-trial of his murdered roommates. The trial was in the same month I had my surgery. Also in the same month in which he had to show up in court for two traffic tickets, which is obviously irrelevant, but which he viewed as more or less akin to crucifixion at the time (and for some significant period thereafter). And around that time, he started with the not believing in a loving God. Nothing has been the same since. We both needed help before, but there's a difference between latent defects and things that are right on the surface, ruining everything.

One of the things I told him in the "not grounded" explanation is that he is paranoid. Now I'm not a psychiatrist...I know there's a technical definition. Heck if I know what it is. He knows I'm not a psychiatrist, he knows I mean it in the colloquial sense. But that's one of his "words." If you ever find yourself married to my husband, and you want to see if you can get him to scare the living hell out of you, use one of the following phrases:
  • "You're paranoid." (Also, "You're a conspiracy theorist.")
  • "You're -------- abusive." ("You're being emotionally abusive" works. It doesn't matter if it's true.)
  • "Your behavior is threatening."
Those things are deal-breakers, marriage-enders, to him. If he actually hit me (he never has), he might not think that physical abuse would be a deal-breaker. But if I stood there with a black eye and said, "You are physically abusive," that would be a deal-breaker. In other words - I have to lie to my husband, about my husband. I already need help and support, but I have to lie to him - and I have to lie to everyone else.

And for the record, he does act paranoid. He applied for a promotion (at a job he hates, remember) that he didn't even want, and he didn't get it. This ruined - totally - at least two straight days. I never know when some moderately-significant thing in his life will not go his way and all of life will be forfeit - no plans, no time spent with him, no ttc, favors I needed him to do will not be done, possibly raging fights, he'll cancel social plans and I'll be forbidden to say why. This is living with an alcoholic, just without the ethanol. So, anyway, the paranoia - he said that he thought the girl who got it had said bad things about him to everyone at the office and maybe that was why he didn't get it. Let's be honest: that could be true. But he had no evidence and he said himself that she's a nice girl. The next day, he even took the statement back. But he does things like that all the time. Whenever he's in a bad mood, he says outlandish things about others' actions and motives. When he's in a better mood, he says moderate things. What will set him into a bad mood - I mean, there are things I can predict, but not everything can be predicted.

Anyway - he lost it after I used the word "paranoid." He demanded an example. I can never give an example when I'm already being yelled at, but I offered the ones with this job. You know why that doesn't work? Because anyone can come up with a rational explanation for any one instance of paranoid behavior. Of course she might have done what he accused her of. (I forgot to trot out "even the paranoid have enemies" - stupid me.) Then he said I was attacking him, that I pushed his buttons on purpose, I know that he hates that word. Yes, I know, but I was answering him. And I never tell him what I really think of his behavior, because I know he'll lose it. This time I did, because he asked; it was daylight, I couldn't say it was too late to discuss it; and how long can you keep things to yourself? When is the right time to start telling the truth? And I want to be clear. I wasn't shouting, I wasn't angry. I was upset, but I wasn't trying to hurt him or attack him. I do that, I have done that, but it's not what I was doing. He said that I had some points but I was only half-right, he wouldn't accept the paranoid comment, what was I talking about. After he started nit-picking my examples I told him that he never listened and I recanted all the examples but I wasn't backing down from my conclusion; he's not grounded. He took the Lord's name in vain again, and I told him that from now on, I was not talking to him after he did that, and the conversation was over.

At that point he lost it. He started shouting at me, blasphemed several more times (what does that accomplish if there's no God?), told me I was deliberately pushing his buttons since I know he hates the word "paranoid," I was attacking him and he only attacked me afterward (I never attacked him. I said things I know he finds offensive, but I can't help that. He asked what I think and that is what I think), and then, that he was leaving me. And I said, "Good!" And usually when I say that, it's because I'm so angry, and he's hurt me, and I want to hurt him. But this time, it wasn't...I just felt calm. Like whatever would happen, would happen. He actually started packing. Apparently he packed a bag to spend several nights in a hotel. I used to descend into a hysteria of tears when he would suggest this (he threatened it a lot, because he gets emotionally claustrophobic and feels trapped, and because he knew it upset me), and beg him to stay, usually successfully. I resumed watching my TV show, and I found myself laughing - I felt happy. Somehow, I had a light heart.

He came back in with the bag on his shoulder and told me that he would not be attending our friend's birthday tonight (he knows it's important to her that we come), he would be gone two nights, possibly three, staying in a hotel. And I should just tell everyone that he isn't feeling well. I told him that I wasn't lying to everyone. He said - repeatedly - that if I told people we were separated, then he would really leave me. I told him that he had choices - don't do something no one can be told about, or deal with them being told. We have serious problems - what other people think is completely irrelevant. He accused me of being trailer trash and airing our dirty laundry (he says this regularly - I grew up very poor and my mother is mentally ill. I want to clarify here that I am no saint, but comments that I know cut too close to home I avoid in fights, because he is very sensitive and has a very bad temper. He attacks things about my family and childhood that he thinks will really hurt me whenever he is angry). I told him that it wasn't dirty laundry, but I was tired of lying to people and I would not be put in a position to lie to people any more. I'm not broadcasting it from the rooftops; I just won't promise to lie. I told him I was tired of living in emotional isolation - he was no support, and I wasn't allowed to seek anyone else's, either. If he left and I wanted to talk to someone, could he even name one person I was permitted to tell what was happening? He resisted the implication (though it's obviously true) that I'm constrained to keep secrets. He said it wasn't his fault that I don't have any close friends around here. I asked for a name, and he named an IRL friend who's IF. I asked whether I could quote her the whole conversation, and he became visibly uncomfortable - he didn't say no, but he wanted to. He said that I shouldn't be telling everyone at the party that he'd left, but that wasn't the position with which he started out. Honestly, if I refused to say something, it would be to protect the listener (and that I will do, because most people are too fragile to hear most things. Like you all don't know that). But I WILL NOT LIE for him any more.

I think he just realized that emotional isolation is a variety of emotional abuse. I hope that he's calm enough, by the time he gets to his hotel, not just to realize that he needs to add that to the list of Forbidden Words, but to realize that that's what he's actually been doing to me with the "tell them I'm not feeling well." (Sometimes I do say that, since he clearly isn't; but I realize, although he doesn't, that a lot of obvious lies and euphemisms raise way more eyebrows than the truth. If I show up at a party and say, "My DH isn't coming because we got in a fight and he refuses to be seen in public with me," people will laugh, even though they know it's also true. If I say that he's feeling poorly (when they talked to him on the phone an hour before), they probably talk about us behind our backs.) So I tell them that he's feeling depressed, or antisocial, or can't deal with people right now, or is really unpleasant company, or is mad at me. I've been doing this for a little while. It's such a relief to tell the truth. And you can see in their faces that they know it's true - but that it's not the end of the world. Amazing. The truth really will set you free.

Anyway, throughout this last conversation, I kept telling him that I had already established that I didn't want to talk to him, and I just wanted him to leave already if he was leaving. He stuck around to try to badger me into agreeing not to tell anyone that he was going. He kept at it for quite a while. And eventually I broke down and started crying. I told him that he had not been himself for more than a year. That I couldn't take the personality changes. The rage. The venom. The depression. I'm not that tough. I can't listen to this. I told him clearly that I am not coping and I can't take any more of this. I told him that I wanted him to go. There is no lighter side - sometimes he is heavily sentimental about how much he loves me, and that's sweet, but he is never light-hearted. He never wakes me early in the morning to see the sunrise. He is never "so excited" about anything - anything. He never skips anywhere. He is never patient in traffic (or any delay or inconvenience); he never lives in the moment. Sometimes I can persuade him to fret less and be nice to people, but that never goes the other way - he is never calming me down or making me more patient. And lately my appreciation of even his affection is tinged with darker thoughts - about how little that might really mean when it's important, and how fast his mood could change. Around my husband, I now guard my heart almost at all times.

I am so tired. The burden is so heavy, but I didn't even notice until I could set it down, and that, even now, only partly. When he left, I walked up to the door, slid the chain, drew the curtains. My heart beat faster in fear that he might have forgotten something and would come back, but he didn't. I know the panic and hysteria and heartache are hovering right on the edge, but right now, I feel so much relief. I want him to come back when he is better. If that's 2012, I think that might be fine.

I am willing to have a "serious talk" with him, and my calendar opens up around...March 1. I have frankly already filled my quota of serious talks for 2011. First I would like him to prove that he can have important but not serious talks - a hope-filled, light-hearted discussion about our future home, jobs, etc., phrased in terms of the possibilities open to us, rather than the horrible things we need to run away from. A conversation about the things in life for which he's grateful, in a tone of wonder, not spite. A conversation about how much he loves his parents and how grateful he is for his childhood that's not a prelude to the all-important "but" that introduces how they failed him by not forcing him to work harder in school (so that he now has this horrible ridiculously well-paid job that's just giving him no reason to live), or by raising him in the faith (so that now, when he later abandons the faith, he feels a great loss because the world suddenly doesn't have meaning and all these rotten lying people raised him to rely on the idea that it did). I don't know when I've had a conversation like that with him. It might have been...four years? It might not have been ever.

I haven't decided yet whether I feel like going to the grocery store. I think I have to scratch making the whole fancy cake I was going to because I no longer have time, but I'm going to my friend's party, and I'm going to have a good time. And I may also gather the energy to finish my blitz-cleaning of the house - I did five rooms and he was supposed to do the sixth, but he didn't. But I can do that. And tomorrow - will take care of itself.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

by the way

Sunday, January 2, 2011, was my two-year blogoversary. Apparently, I wrote 191 posts in 2009, but only 130 in 2010. (Became less long-winded? That doesn't seem likely.) But I have averaged over a post every other day for more than two years now, making me prolific even if not necessarily edifying. When I read, I think, Stirrup Queen's post on tips for new bloggers (she was my introduction to the blog world, and Dear Gherkin was the first blog I read front-to-back), she suggested typing two or three posts before you actually start the blog, because people get really intimidated once they "have to write," and sometimes they get scared and never come back. It didn't sound likely to me at the time, and, sure enough, it's not a temptation with which I've struggled much.

The first of the Catholic bloggers I found was...Praying for Hope. (Isn't that awesome?) I just went back through reading my very first few comments when some patient souls started reading my blog. Some who have long since crossed over into new worlds; some who have gone private or off the grid; one comment from Jo (hi Jo!) whom I thought I discovered only a few months ago. (Isn't that funny?) And comments from bloggers I've loved since early on, including several that made me smile from shinejil.

Another fun (less fun) fact is that when I started blogging, I was 26. No, really. Isn't that ridiculously young? Today, I would give serious thought to not reading a blogger who was 26, on the basis that she was just too young to know what she's talking about. But next month, I will turn 29. It seems like an eternity from 26 to 29, doesn't it? It does to me.

And of course, even though I have deliberately set different milestones for myself (retiring from ttc and treatment by 30, principally), I know that that 29th birthday will bring with it a slew of involuntary milestones. In May, it will be if I don't conceive this month, I can't possibly deliver a child before my thirties. In January 2012, it will be, if I don't conceive this month, I will be 30 and childless. Please, God, let something happen between now and then to cast my life and its value in different terms. (Terminal illness or the loss of my husband would technically fulfill that request, but I want to stress that they are not what I have in mind.)

So, to everyone I've met and "met" in these two years - thank you for sharing your precious learning so that my treatment-apathetic self could have new medicines to argue for with the doctor. Thank you for sharing your stories, even (especially) the difficult ones, so that I didn't feel like the only crazy person, the only person made sad by infertility, the only person trying to be a good Catholic but badly rocked by challenges I wasn't strong enough to take with equanimity. Thank you for sharing your own journeys of incredible faith, so that I have influences in my life reminding me that I need to get my act together, and how much I could be trying.

Thank you for your encouragement and advice and much-needed prayers and often hilarious comments and fabulous intricate knowledge of hormone supplementation and delightful procedures performed on the female reproductive system, and thank you, above all, just for reading. I know I'm not an easy blogger to read, because I never say in ten words what could be said in a thousand, and because of my million tangents, and inability to focus on one topic (even infertility. Did I mention I just bought a day bed frame on craigslist yesterday? It's awesome; now I'm excited to have guests!), and excessive opinions, and probably disturbing struggles with faith, and intermittent rage and constant ranting. I like to think of myself as a good writer (and I swear that, in a professional context, this is true. I have been told by people who know what they're talking about and probably aren't lying), but I go back and read previous posts, and I realize that this blog is just the ramblings of a loon. At well over 300 posts, it would be nice if it were a lovely sampling of delicately phrased, meticulously edited, truly inspired prose. But it was meant to serve a different purpose, I suppose - to move me along the difficult road of infertility, and take me, on my path, past all of you.

God bless you all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The seller's contacted our agent this morning and said that they would not be making a counter-offer and our counter-offer was rejected.

We knew this would happen, and it's OK. Less OK is that my husband informed me (as of 1AM last night...when everyone should make all their important decisions) that he does not want to buy a house. That's fine, too, because we have this argument every few weeks, and so I keep searching rather passively, and periodically I get him to visit something, and then I go further forward with it if he says that he wants to. And only if. I've never twisted his arm to do anything other than visit. (Although after he said he wanted to put an offer on this house, and I told our agent, and he drew up the paperwork, and we had an appointment to sign it, he asked, "Why are we doing this? We don't want to put an offer on this house," and I put my foot down, because seriously, we are adults, and we don't do business with people in that way.)

We are, of course, in the perennial debate: which (or neither) of the following ways will we burden our finances - my DH gets a (third) degree, or we buy a house? The tie-breaker is "neither," and I can work with that, because it just means I get to buy a house later (although it annoys me, so I shop for more things to put in the tiny house we are now renting, which is OK too, I guess). My position on this subject is fairly well-documented. Buying a house means moving forward with adulthood and with the maturing of our financial position, and from the decades-long perspective, will ultimately be profitable to our asset/liability ratio. Getting a (third) degree represents regressing in adulthood and financially, takes on a substantial financial burden that will not mature into an asset, and very likely will be a net financial loss no matter how many years in the future you do the math.

I recognize that I need to learn some sort of wifely submission at some point. However, I think that sort of general principle is somewhat compromised by other facts. My husband suffers from PTSD and survivor's guilt. Since long before I've met him (and very markedly throughout the time I've known him), he has been motivated by a desire to do something "special" with his life to justify the fact that he is still here at all. While I (and most people) also feel that drive to something "special," in my case I mean that I want to do something that God has picked out for me personally as being profoundly worthwhile for me. It doesn't really matter if it's scrubbing floors (naturally in my daydreams it would be something more exciting).

For my DH, the primary characteristic of this "special" thing is that it has to be extraordinary, and better than what everyone else is doing. It's not vanity - it's not that he wants other people to see or think that what he's doing is better (and it doesn't make him feel better that many already do - I've tried this angle). He just has to be able to see that it's better on a comparison - with everyone else in the world. Of course, happiness does not lie in that direction. It's not difficult to project your existing unhappiness toward that kind of solution - "if only I were doing X, then I wouldn't be so miserable" - but all of us who've given that sort of thinking one try (usually in adolescence - whether it was making that team, or winning that prize, or dating that boy, or getting into that college, or even having that dress) learn that it produces a significant initial high and then a HUGE crash. Because it takes apart an entire belief system - we define happiness that way, we attain it, we are not happy, and we are lost.

So I know that if he got this degree, and then he got the consequent job, he would dislike the job within 6 months and truly hate it within a year. Because it had been built up way too high, of course; and because in any case, all jobs are jobs. Everyone has some aggravating coworkers and some demeaning tasks and some slow days and some days when they are overworked and some memos from corporate that cause them to question whether anyone in the entire outfit has an IQ above ten. Jobs do not create earthly happiness. The right job for you might give you an opportunity to serve in a way that utilizes your gifts and gives you something important to do with your life, but that fulfillment would come from you, not the job.

I also know that if he spent all this time and money and energy getting this additional degree that he wants, it would have a limited statistical effect on him getting the kind of job that he wants. (Though he tries to rein in his phrasing around me due to my criticism, in his eyes, as I can plainly see, one master's degree [keep in mind he already has a JD] is the difference between a nearly 0% chance at getting his favored category of jobs, and a virtually 100% chance of getting them, maybe with a little patience. In my fair moments when I consider the question carefully, I'm thinking the difference is maybe 35% versus 40%, and while that is an improvement, it has to be weighed against the cost. And it does not outweigh the cost.)

Also to be considered is the fact (and he admits this) that he has not spent so much as five minutes on the internet looking into scholarship opportunities for a master's degree so that it would cost less, or found the schedules of local universities to see whether he could work and go to school at the same time. (If he could do it with zero net financial loss, I would stop arguing; not because I think it would be any real use to him, but because, in view of its virtual uselessness, I am unwilling to compromise our financial position.) This degree isn't a career move; it's a talisman. It's something he can argue about that represents why he is unhappy.

It is also a severe aggravation to me. He attempts to counter my criticisms and concerns with grand gestures intended to show his generosity of spirit - "you should stop working and get another degree at the same time," he says. Probably every 2-4 weeks for the last year I have told him again, "I do not want another degree. I have several, and I am done with school. Also, you have not explained how two lost incomes and two sets of tuition payments would cancel out the problems I see with one lost income and one set of tuition payments." (No, I have never received an answer.) The fact that I have to restate these responses continually indicates that he's not trying to offer me something he thinks I actually want or need; he's just trying to demonstrate to me that he's not selfish, trying to live off of me. So what? Financial ruin can come with good motives or bad. It's the financial ruin I'm concerned about. I've made that as clear as it could be to anyone who is listening.

My husband does not want us to be financially ruined either. (In fact, we have constant arguments over his desire to pay our low-interest student loan debt off rapidly; I want us to pay it steadily and keep other funds on hand as savings or investments. I know that my position is objectively superior as a matter of financial planning; it's not a matter of personal taste or preference. I have told him why. His repeated raising of the specter of the remaining debt makes clear that he has an emotional objection to it. Why, therefore, his desire to take on much more debt before our current debt is even half repaid? Exactly.) If it occurred, he would be very unhappy indeed. The problem is that he is not able to project realistically the probability that ruin will occur. The need to do something to justify his existence occupies his entire field of view, and nothing else can really be seen around that. I could win this entire argument by letting him get his degree, demonstrating that it won't help his job potential that significantly; and then that when he eventually gets the job that he won't like it; and then ten years later by a look at our balance sheets - see, we'll never come out ahead. Obviously, only a lunatic would want to win an argument that way. I like winning arguments, but I'm not crazy - not that crazy, anyway.

I know that this is all a product of his deeper issues, which, blessedly, he is working through. The fact that they manifest themselves as a massive warping of our ability to plan the basic logistics of our marriage is a heavy cross indeed, however. Any marriage with two rational and unselfish people is going to have serious disagreements over finances, plans, careers, what-have-you. We have those as well. And then we have this. So I'm his wife, supposed to have him as the head of my household (further complicated by the fact that he is nearly an atheist now and proceeding full-steam ahead), and I'm forcing decisions my way on an almost daily basis just to keep us from plunging our finances into destruction.

I need to contact that therapy guy again...

Monday, January 17, 2011

prop.erty vir.gins

So you know how we made the offer on the house? We signed the papers Saturday and our realtor (who is awesome and wears a cowboy hat and writes emails in the most fabulous colloquial English I have ever read in email form) presented the offer on Sunday. We offered a whopping $174,000 below list. To my shock, on Sunday - the seller actually countered, instead of rejecting us flat. Even more surprising was that his counter was $30,000 below his list price. (For reference, his list price is $218,000 above the tax-assessed value. We're not just crazy people harassing home sellers.) So while I don't think he's yet near the value of his house, that's a big concession, and he's not just messing around.

I am reading into this heavily, for sure, but it seems to bear a wealth of good signs, to me. He's taking us seriously, and he's really trying. That means he hasn't received (and don't expect to) any serious offers near his list price - or he would tell us to go away.

More important to me is the end-game. I never expected that this offer would directly result in a sale. I see a couple of possibilities for this house. The big question is why it is on the market. If that's because the seller cannot manage mortgage payments any more and has to get out from under the house, then I think in the long run, he'll either drop the price and bring money to the table (to pay off his own loans against the house), or be forced into short sale or foreclosure. If it's because he needs cash right now and thinks that he can get some by selling the house at a profit, then once he finally realizes that this won't happen (it really won't), he will pull it from the market - there's nothing we can do. (Other than spend $100,000+ of our own money on his bad financial decision.)

So my hope is to set ourselves up well in case he drops the price or sells the house short later. I managed to convince my DH of this, and we countered at what we had agreed was the most we would pay - $20,000 more than our initial offer. We need to scan and send the latest signature pages to the realtor, so that counter will be made tomorrow. This one, too, will be rejected, but if we're lucky, it will lead to a house in the long run, right?

Apparently, despite my super-rational attitude going into this process, I have a lot of emotional investment tied up in it. I conclude this based on the fact that, in the past three or four days, I have watched...um...about twenty total episodes of House Hunters, My First Place, and Property Virgins. I can pick out which of three houses the buyers will choose at near 100% accuracy, even when I think their decisions are stupid, and I yell at the TV about their poor taste, judgment, and reasoning skills. Unfortunately, this exercise is not getting me closer to a house.

Interesting times.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Reports of my Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Er, by me. Heh heh. Oops.

I am alive. Miraculously, Wednesday morning I woke up and felt normal (for an endo patient). And I had lost three pounds. Not worth a useless and extremely unpleasant day, but acceptable, I suppose.

Tomorrow, we are signing the papers for the offer on The Overpriced House. It will be our first offer. It will also be rejected, but that's OK, because we have not made an offer before, and it will be a learning experience. (This is sort of like taking an HPT so you can mark another box on your charts, even though you know full well what the outcome will be. Except probably less fraught.)

If any of you has nothing else to pray for (and I think this takes a distant infinity-second to the intentions of every blogger on your blogroll, my blogroll, and all of their blogrolls, plus most of the people I know in real life, all of whom have real problems), you could maybe say a prayer that they for some reason accept our offer. But they won't, so probably that's not a good use of an intention.

Also, touching on Tuesday again: at the beginning of the morning I did offer up the unpleasantness for all of your intentions (rarely do I remember such things). I didn't have quite the energy to go through everyone systematically, but I did have a general but firm mental impression of babies who should not be miscarried, cycles that should not be futile, and jobs that should be worked out. And then at the very end - I almost forgot! - I offered my small suffering for the restoration of my husband's faith.

A few minutes before, he later told me, in the shower, he had said a prayer - God, if you're real, and if my brother (his oldest brother) gets into treatment for the alcoholism that's killing him, I will at least try to be a good Catholic, even if I'm not sure I believe it in my heart.

That evening, while I tried to be supportive from my rather maudlin nest of blankets, I listened while my husband talked to his parents and siblings, and then his eldest brother and the brother's wife - and the stubborn, possibly suicidal brother agreed to seek treatment for the first time, ever (he's in his forties). Of course, he was very drunk and incoherent, and would never remember by morning.

The next morning, he checked into detox. His BAC was .447. (Look that one up.) Now he's agreed to go to AA.

Praise God.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

reason #743 I hate endometriosis

So I clearly spoke too soon with my last post. After CD1 and CD2 being unobtrusive "VL" days, CD3 (yesterday) was "H" for "hemmorrhagic." And that comment I made about not having any cramps? Yes, I do usually get them on my first full cycle day, for a whole day. But apparently this cycle had multiple tricks up its sleeve, and it waited until CD3.

Unfortunately (I think), after a half-hearted effort last cycle, I have now fully jumped on the "no NSAIDs" bandwagon. NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a major subclass of pain relievers. They include ibuprofen in all its forms, including Advil (that's ibuprofen, right?), and, tragically, naproxen sodium (Aleve).

Since I was a teenager, I have lived on naproxen sodium during my menstrual cycle. I think one day in tenth grade (when I was - oh, crap - only 15), I realized I had taken 16 extra-strength Tylenol since morning, and the day was far from over. I think Aleve came out around that time, and though I am typically skeptical of advertising, when I heard that it had unprecedented effectiveness for an OTC pain reliever, I made another uncharacteristic move and paid for brand-name medicine. (The generic versions came out soon after.) They're magical tiny tablets possessed of immense power: the power to make my life survivable, and me into a functional member of the adult community and the productive workplace. Rather than the creature that lived several of my teenage years - a convalescent who spends at least one day a month curled into the fetal position moaning from an indiscernible cause, unable to perform any useful functions other than praying for death. Taught well by my abortive adventures with acetaminophen (Tylenol, for you label-droppers), I never overdosed on Aleve ever, lest it should succumb to the creeping ineffectiveness the Tylenol had. What I didn't realize was that the Tylenol had not become less effective as I overdosed. It had never been effective...at all.

You see, for those with very serious cramps or female-reproductive-system-related pain, Tylenol is sort of a joke. I know, I'm not telling you endometriosis sufferers anything you don't know. Apparently, NSAIDs (including my precious Aleve) function as prostaglandin inhibitors, which (and you'll have to forgive my lack of medical knowledge here) means that they act directly on some of the female reproductive hormones that are the culprit in that murderous endometriosis pain. In other words (setting up the first term of my Equation of Hideous Unfairness): all serious endometriosis sufferers are more or less NSAID addicts. Not because the little pills create some sort of euphoric high, or have any attraction outside of the days when we have the horrible cramps - but because we need them to enjoy the kind of basic survival that healthy people (you know, healthy people who can, among other things, have children) take for granted every day.

You can tell that the reliance borders on addiction, because if an endometriosis sufferer starting her period asks whether you have pain relievers on you, she will ask for her preferred type by name (a healthy woman will probably accept whatever variety you have). And if you offer her your preferred type (which you always carry with you - you have them in your desk at work, your bathroom at home, AND your purse, and sometimes you have a fourth bottle elsewhere, just in case), even if you swear that they have kept you alive through years of endometriosis, she will not accept them - she will ask a restaurant full of strangers until she gets the ones she wants. She cannot risk that yours will not work the way hers do, and she will spend an evening in agony. You wouldn't either, of course.

Are you ready for the second term of the Equation of Hideous Unfairness? Well, buckle up. Apparently, there is some research (not, as yet, widespread) that links the use of NSAIDs with luteinized unruptured follicle syndrom (LUFS). My RE actually said (in more or less these words) that she's not super-excited to find out whether I have unruptured follicles, because there is almost nothing they can do to treat LUFS successfully. (Before you attack her for the phrasing, I'd have put it the same way myself, honestly.) I have a friend who sees Dr. H in Nebraska who heard (from him I believe) about the NSAID-LUFS connection, which Dr. L/C has not mentioned to me. She may not be aware of it. (In her defense, though Dr. H is aware of it, the phalanx of treatments he's tried on my friend have not yet worked, any of them; treatment of LUFS is probably one of those things on the next frontier of fertility treatment.)

I didn't want to believe it for a few months (I cannot live without my Aleve), but I finally did some googling and realized that there was a decent amount of documentation. Not everybody who takes NSAIDs will have LUFS (or Aleve would be way popular as a means of birth control!); I imagine that the LUFS incidence is probably higher in people who already have other fertility issues (the second term of the Equation is imminent now). If you are interested in reading more about this or introducing your doctor to the idea, this looks like an early scholarly treatment of the issue and should be enough to get the attention of a doctor. (It studied arthritis patients; I believe naproxen sodium was originally developed as an effective treatment for arthritis.)

(I promise I am not holding out on everyone. I didn't really believe that swearing off Aleve would make a difference - it still might not, other than the pain - and I always figure that everyone else hears of everything before me. But I am now sharing an article to make up for my delay! Also, in another not-holding-out-on step, here is the link to the generic proxeed website TCIE so kindly shared. Scroll to the bottom. I got mine on Amazon, at a further savings off the prices listed on the site, actually.)

So what non-NSAID pain reliever is an option for those of us who have not yet gotten pregnant, and are not 100% sure we are ovulating normally (at least, not 100% of the time)? Well...Tylenol, actually. Acetaminophen is not an NSAID and is not (that I know of) linked with LUFS. Of course, it's also almost completely ineffective. So, here's the entire Equation of Hideous Unfairness:

If you have severe endometriosis, you will need to take NSAIDs, so that your basic life activities are not inhibited by debilitating pain.

If you have severe endometriosis, you are likely to experience problems with fertility.

If you have problems with fertility, it is very possible that taking NSAIDs will prevent you from ovulating properly.

While your doctor tells you that your endometriosis can best be treated by pregnancy and you wait to get pregnant, you are preventing yourself from getting pregnant without knowing it.

If you stop taking the NSAIDs, the LUFS problem (insofar as it is caused by the NSAIDs) should go away...but this is no guarantee you will get pregnant. And while you wait to see whether it helps, you will be in pain.

People without endometriosis are not in this kind of pain. They do not appear to have these NSAID side effects. And they generally don't have trouble getting pregnant.

Congratulations! You are the recipient of...Hideous Unfairness.


That's the equation.

So yesterday, I sat in my office and tried to be productive, resentfully swallowing the occasional (ineffective) extra-strength acetaminophen. I had meant to spend evenings this week getting my home ship-shape and generally catching up on everything to a degree that would make my friends and acquaintances jealous and unhappy, but I felt like garbage when I got home, so I got in bed. That was fine.

Then this morning, I woke up with - actually, was awakened by - Raging Pain. Other than the fact that it seems to radiate from my right ovary (and occasionally involve phantom pains in my left ovary and elsewhere), I really have no idea what it is. After lying there for a few minutes wondering whether I should go to the emergency room and trying to convince myself to get up and take a shower (ridiculous. I could barely move, and would have spent the whole day in my desk chair writhing to find a less-painful position, and giving a dying expression to anyone foolish enough to wander by and ask for legal advice), I called in sick to work. I debated telling my coworker that there is something wrong with my ovary, the thing they found on the ultrasound last month clearly is an endometrioma (but it's like my sixth and I've never had one hurt like this), and I want to die, but I just said I was sick. And then sat there wracked with guilt, because I wasn't audibly sneezing or anything, and of course she would think I'm lying. I take maaaaybe two sick days a year (for my laparotomy in 2009, I took four). I also hoped (bizarrely) that the pain wouldn't go away at 10AM or something embarrassing like that, because then I would have to go in halfway through the day and they would really think I was lying.

I needn't have worried. It is now almost 10PM and I am still in pain. If I stay under the covers and keep my stomach warm, it's a little better, but not good. If I'm actually asleep (I slept all morning, because I felt too awful to do anything else), it doesn't bother me too much. I took a hot bath earlier, which really did help, except that I then decided I needed a shower to get really clean. I almost passed out, and ended up leaping around, freezing cold and wet trying not to throw up from the dizziness, and in the process making the pain worse than it had been at any point previously. I collapsed in bed and couldn't move for an hour; blessedly, I eventually fell asleep again.

Whatever this is, it isn't cramps. To be responsible, I figured I had to rule out anything life-threatening. I have decided the pain isn't sharp enough to be a cyst turning my fallopian tube back on itself and causing a necrotic ovary (I've been a touch paranoid about that ever since I was told about it in 2004, but apparently it is very rare, and I've had a lot of cysts by now that haven't done that). I also got my very patient DH to pick up some Dollar Store pregnancy tests on his way home so I could eliminate the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy (super-unlikely, I know, but the sort of thing for which I should visit the emergency room, so I figured I should make sure). Negative, of course, and after four days of bleeding, I think it would be positive even in the afternoon, if I had a fertilized egg in there somewhere.

I am supposed to make an appointment for a peak-day(ish) ultrasound, so I figure that if it's not life-threatening, it will get diagnosed in a reasonable time and I can figure out what to do about it going forward.

Maybe it will be better tomorrow. (2011 - to be clear, this is not what I had in mind.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

quiet

After the spiritedness of Christmas, and New Year's, and Epiphany, all is returned to an almost pressing quiet. Even my menstrual cycle has been uncharacteristically understated. First far less CM than I'm used to, then my attempt to take HCG fell through (I shall try again next cycle), and I didn't bother to use the progesterone cream. Nevertheless, I had less spotting even than I usually have with the cream. Yesterday was CD1, but I haven't yet had cramps, and by this time, it would seem that I'm not going to. Not that I'm complaining, it's just rather a demure presentation for AF.

My DH and I have been muddling through. Of course taking the long view (and perspective is not one of my strong suits, I must admit) we are blessed to have one another to share with us life's adventures, whether they're hardships or victories. That's what we signed up for and we are genuinely grateful for the opportunity. But when the challenge ahead is looming (let alone multiple challenges), it can be so hard to see anything at all but that.

I think we have hit a somewhat lighter patch, though. We've been having wonderful times just spending time together of late. Of course snuggling is one of our preferred winter-time activities, and I feel that my sound stewardship of my household (and, thereby, my marriage) is exemplified by the down comforter I bought at Ikea, which has kept us warm and cozy on many cold evenings (and afternoon naps) now.

In addition, my DH has been a very good sport and gone with me to see some houses. First there's the one I mentioned before, I'm sure, for which the owner is asking far more than assessed and so forth. As I had hoped, when he finally agreed to go, my DH loved the house and the neighborhood. In fact, he wants to put an offer on it, which we may be doing as soon as this week. It would be our very first offer, and it would be very exciting. But before trying to dramatize it over-much, I should note that our offer will not be accepted. It will be almost $200,000 below what the owner is asking (I'm not kidding). If he has to sell because he can no longer afford the payments on his refis, then we may eventually win this (because he will be forced into foreclosure or short sale). But if he's selling because he needs cash and thinks he can make money on the house, then he will simply pull it off the market when he realizes this is impossible.

After that offer is rejected, we move our focus to the houses we saw yesterday. They are...fairly extraordinary houses (there are two similar ones we're interested in). They're from the pinnacle of Victorian-architecture-as-undisciplined-aesthetic-excess, which obviously means that I find them enchanting (and so does my DH). However, they have been abandoned for almost 40 years, and they are not currently fit for human habitation. Of course this means taking on simultaneous rental expenses for a safe place to live, mortgage payments for a newly acquired property, and high-dollar up-front renovation costs to get heat, electricity, and water working (the plumbing and wiring are already in, thank God), and also install...structurally sound floors. Ahem.

I don't think I can show pictures, because the houses are actually pretty famous and would be relatively easy to recognize. They are on for bargain prices (because of all the work they need), but may not be affordable (for us) as a project, anyway. But you'll have to take my word for it that they are extraordinary-looking. And often when I read old-house type websites or publications, I am sad, because while I only look at historic homes to purchase, practically nothing I've been able to consider seriously has the sort of architectural fascination that the journals feature. These houses have ludicrous ornamentation, impractical floor plans (one of the houses has an entire floor devoted to a ballroom), and features that are pure fascination. They lack things like parking and any usable acreage, and stable floors, but...well, life is full of these trade-offs! So I have something to keep me entertained.

But that's really all I have to report. Life is quiet...perhaps 2011 is building up to reveal some extraordinary development, do you think?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

RAAAAAHHH!

This is the sound of me conquering the vexatious trivialities with which life persecutes me to take time and energy away from my efforts to address that which is essential. (Such as baking cookies, for example.)

Today I finally got a chance to head over and pick up my re-issued passport. When they issued it in September (in exchange for a colossal amount of money, which I paid not because it would expire before I returned from our October trip [to Canada], nor because it would be within six months of expiring when I returned, but because it would be within three days of being within six months of expiring, and I figured I would be detained for that), they randomly added an extra letter to my first name. You'll have to trust me here - it didn't need another letter. And certainly not a (consecutive) consonant. It has lots.

So last week I turned it back in and they agreed to fix it (for free). I lose one visa stamp (er, to Canada), which is sad, but as of this afternoon, I have all my travel documents, with correct first, middle, and last names, date of birth, date of issuance, expiration date, location of birth...I am set to visit the siblings in Poland in February! Nothing can stop me (except flight cancellations at Heathrow, which will not happen).

RAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011

I am, of course, behind on the ideas for 2011 thing. I thought about doing the post several times in December (so I would have been early!), but I didn't know what I wanted to resolve to DO. I'm still not sure, but I've had a few extra days to think about it, so I think I should just put a sketch here to keep me honest.

Infertility and Treatment
While I am not pleased that this has to be a category of endeavor for my year (or any other year), this is the life I was given. Blooms and thorns, it's a gift, and I need to be responsible enough to live it well. While I've never been given a detailed diagnosis of reasons for infertility (Dr. L/C just thinks it's the endo - likely true), I think I've finally come up with one of my own, so part of 2011 is to test, diagnose, and treat the things I've decided I should be addressing. In 2011, I will:
  • identify the latest cyst
  • determine for sure whether I am ovulating (or have LUFS)
  • if I have LUFS, quit Aleve and other NSAIDs long enough to see whether this helps (ah, 2011...the year of pain)
  • have another HSG (I know), this time during my fertile phase (screw you, stupid doctor preferences) so it doesn't batter my cervix as much and mess up my CM again; and see whether either tube is open
  • if I have no open tubes and that cyst is something suspicious, have my first laparoscopy that's not accompanied by a laparotomy
  • start injections of HCG and see whether it improves my hormone levels
  • add femara if it looks like my cycle needs more help after HCG
  • get my husband to take the generic proxeed (already ordered) when I start on the HCG
  • visit another RE (appointment scheduled for March) and get a second opinion (well, third - the second opinion is mine!)
  • if I am not pregnant by December 2011, make my peace with infertility for good
Career
I can't keep showing up at my job and just doing my assignments for the day. I am unsatisfied with my progress and I need to do something about it before it becomes a major source of unhappiness. I think the IF and its attendant big hurtful failures, as well as the small daily failure of being a woman whose body does not work to create new life, has made me extremely gun-shy. I don't want to put myself out there in life - apply for something I might not get, try something I may not be able to do. But, as they say, you lose every round you don't play. In 2011, I will:
  • write a law review article. For real, this time. By the end of January, I will collect the major legal sources I'm writing about, and write an outline
  • check every law school in the area as to whether they employ working attorneys as adjunct faculty, and apply to all those that do by August 15
Family and Friends
I've spent too much of my life planning to reconnect with people, take trips, or make the people I love a priority in my life, later. I have decided that 2011 is the year of Later is Now. I've already made a substantial start on this priority in December 2010, but in 2011:
  • at least once each month, I will reach out to a dear friend with whom I have not spoken recently
  • at least once each quarter, I will travel to visit a friend or family member I have not seen in five years or more
  • unless I have an important reason not to, I will accept invitations to see people I love even if I am required to travel (to weddings, birthday parties in different cities, etc.)
  • I will attend at least two alumni functions for my undergraduate alma mater
Life in General
Sometimes when I reflect on my life and where I think it should be, I realize that what matters most to me is the summation of all the little things, which can be easy to overlook. I think an investment in improving some of the little things would be handsomely repaid. Therefore, in 2011, I will:
  • cook or bake something for my wee household at least once a week (I've been pulling this off like a trooper starting in October 2010, and it makes me happy)
  • learn a new recipe once a month
  • every month, clean something in my house I have never cleaned before (culling overgrown collections of things will count for this purpose)
  • run or take a long walk at least three times a week (I've been pretty good about doing this the last several months, and I need to keep it up)
  • start seeing a therapist/counselor/psychologist/what-have-you (my husband started seeing someone in December already, and I am so grateful for this development and hopeful for its potential for healing for us)
Faith
This is the hardest section for me to write. Of all my massive comprehensive resolutions for 2010 that I refuse to recap now - the faith-related ones were the dismal failures. I accomplished resolutions that are usually deadweight - losing weight, getting exercise, etc. But as far as the prayer and spirituality-related resolutions, not only did I not fulfill them, in most cases I made not even a start. Worse than failure. Making similar resolutions for 2011 would not be some virtuous act if it similarly leads to no accomplishment and massive guilt. But affirmatively planning to make no improvement when plenty of improvement is needed sounds like a mistake as well. So, with substantial doubts and misgivings, in 2011, I plan to:
  • go to confession once a month
  • pray the Angelus (or Regina Caeli) at noon as often as I can remember
  • continue seeing my spiritual director
  • finish my St. Therese book, the St. Catherine of Siena book, and read the Psalms start to finish
  • say at least one novena to St. Catherine of Siena (my saint for the year) and one to the Infant of Prague (who has been stalking me)
  • register at a parish
  • offer to volunteer somewhere, doing something (whether they take me or not...not my problem)
  • make a visit to the nearby chapel once a week, even if only for five minutes
Here's to a 2011 that avoids the sadnesses and pitfalls of 2010, even if it manages to come up with entirely new ones.