A stray kitty that has been hanging around the neighborhood for around a year came inside today. He has been here for hours. He lets me pet him as much as I want. He has gotten on top of me and cuddled with me. We talk to each other. I was planning to adopt a kitty from a shelter, but I’m hitting it off so well with him that if he wants to stick around, I’d be happy to have him. I hope that I can take him with me when I get my own place. If not, plan B is getting one from a shelter.
Olive Kiterridge is a collection of short stories about people who live in a small town, and Olive, a retired schoolteacher (who’s also an asshole) is the most prominent character. The author’s website’s description made the book sound appealing to me: “As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life…” I expected to read a poignant, thought provoking book.
I didn’t even make it through the first short story. I dislike the way that Strout seems to think about women. She assigned gender to a task when she wrote, “…[Denise’s hands] that would, with the quiet authority of a woman, someday pin a baby’s diaper…” (11). Parenting is a task for people of all a/gender identities.
Stout kept comparing one character, Denise, to a child, such as when she wrote, “Her child-face, made serious by her glasses, would be intent on the page, her knees poked up, her shoulders slumped forward” (13).” Women are grown ups, not children. Equating a woman to a child is insulting.
Another problem I have with the book is that she describes sex between Olive and her husband, Henry, in a really disgusting way. If you don’t wanna read about it, skip the rest of this paragraph. I forgot to record the page number, but at some point in the first story, she used the word “heaving” to refer to their sexual relations. As I recall, it was something like “[Henry] heaved in the night.” The word heave makes me think of vomiting or moving a heavy object, neither of which is something I wanna think about in relation to sex.
Overall, this book disgusts me on multiple levels.
Strout, Elizabeth. Olive Kitteridge. Random House, 2008.
On top of the problems I’m having with Social Security, now my payee isn’t helping with my bills like she’s supposed to. She didn’t pay my half of the rent or internet, and she paid my half of the power bill late. I ran into the landlord on my way home, and he told me that he only received half of the rent. I told him that I’d talk to my payee.
My daddy and I could have late fees. We could wind up homeless. The power could get turned off. Even if we get things sorted out this month, I could still wind up homeless later, cuz starting in October, Social Security wants to pay me only $216 a month, despite the fact that I’m not getting financial help from my family (Social Security normally reduces a check cuz of that). I pay for my own food and bills.
I thought I finally caught a break after a lifetime of hardly ever having any money, and it looks like that’s already over. I’ve been homeless a couple of times before, and it looks like I might be homeless again.
I was gonna go to a temporary apartment to leave my bad living environment, but now I probably won’t be able to afford it.
The stress is absolutely crushing.
I mentioned earlier that I was worried that my friendship with Kellie wouldn’t last, and I turned out to be right. We’re both going through stressful times in our lives. I became more anxious, and she became inconsistent, cancelling plans at the last minute or even not showing up without telling me she couldn’t make it, which spiked my anxiety even more.
I couldn’t handle it anymore and ended the friendship. I take responsibility for my role in our problems. We were in a cycle of neediness on my part and inconsistency on her part. I could’ve been more understanding. I’m not sure yet if I’ll need to limit myself to being friends with people who are able to be reliable to protect myself from anxiety, or if I’ll get to a point that I can handle my anxiety well enough to be more understanding of people who act like this.
I’m sad about the end of our friendship. I remember when she told me that I have a kind heart and that she looked forward to learning about my and my outlook on life. I felt the same way about her. What she said was a big boost to my self esteem, since people had complained before about how boring I am. I’m self conscious now about if people are having enough fun when we’re hanging out. Now the healing effect has been undone. My anxiety contaminated our friendship, and I find myself wondering if she’s glad that it’s over.
I keep ruminating about how things could’ve gone differently.
I’m trying to keep in mind that I don’t have much social experience. It was only a few months ago that I finally started to understand, thanks the my therapist, how making conversation works. Since I was mostly nonverbal for most of my life, I didn’t have much experience socializing. During what little socializing I did, I mostly just sat quietly with the other person till they got bored and moved on. Due to my lack of experience, I shouldn’t expect myself to be perfectly smooth at relationships right now. With this insight, I’m able to forgive myself for this failure and begin moving on.
I recently got a letter from Social Security that makes it sound like they wanna cut my income from $735 a month to $216. I emailed my payee about it. She said that my money is “fluctuating” and that “there are no concrete answers.” She estimates that it’ll take about two months to find out how much money I’ll be getting.
The stress is unbearable. After a lifetime of severe financial strain, I thought things were looking up when I started getting Social Security. I only got to enjoy that for a short while before being plunged back into chaos. I’m worried about if I’ll be able to keep myself housed. I’m just worried in general about being able to make it if they reduce my money.
It’s very hard to get through life right now.
Content note: self harm
I asked for advice on a forum about how to deal with an abusive living situation and it seemed like the people who responded blamed me for it. It seemed like they were ganging up on me. I got so upset that I stabbed myself. I was even more upset that I stabbed myself cuz it’s a setback in my recovery from mental illness. I then sent several sad, anxious, increasingly paranoid messages to a friend about the whole thing and am worried that she won’t wanna deal with me anymore.
I don’t think that I can deal with going back to that website. I’m disappointed that it didn’t work out, cuz I got some good encouragement from people before today’s incident. I’ll look for other forums to post on. I hope I find at least one that’s a good fit for me. I haven’t had good luck with forums lately, so I’ll talk to my therapist before trying anymore.
I’m trying to get myself back on track. Here are some things that I’ve done or will do:
- I scheduled an im session with another friend that we’ll have in a couple of days. Even if my friendship with Kellie doesn’t survive, I still have Clare, and can do better with her and friends that I make in the future. The chat session gives me something to look forward to.
- I sent a final message to Kellie to apologize, say I won’t send more messages unless I hear from her, and promise not to send a bunch of emotional messages all at once again. It’s up to her if she’ll accept that. It’s out of my hands now and all I can do now is distract myself.
- I’ll take a PRN for anxiety.
- I’ll work on compiling a list of 100 songs that I like and do some more research about psychology.
- I’ll limit myself to checking Facebook once a day while I’m waiting for a reply from Kellie to keep myself from getting too obsessive about the situation.
At my last session with my therapist, I mentioned that I had read about personality in the book Psychology for Dummies. She had me take an online personality test to build on that. One thing that my results said was that I’m altruistic. She said, “If things in your life were different, you’d be out there saving the world right now.”
What she said makes me wonder if I’m not doing enough to help others. I thought that blogging was a good way to help others, but maybe it doesn’t have enough of an impact. I’ve wanted to do more even since before she said what she did. Some ideas that I’ve had include joining the care team at my church, doing volunteer work, or running a support group. Also, when I’m ready, I’d like to go back to school to become a therapist.
I talked to my mommy about what my therapist said. My mommy said that there’s no way to know if that’s true. She said that even if my life had gone better, I might still have had to take a break from school/working cuz of a genetic predisposition to mental illness. Her theory makes sense to me.
However, I also think that I might’ve been able to do more by now if things had gone differently, like my therapist said. For example, if my daddy had treated me better, I would’ve had a lot less stress in my life. His constant, heatedly expressed anger was one of the contributing factors that lead to my mental breakdown towards the end of my first attempt at college.
I’m sad for myself and the other people that I would’ve helped by now that I haven’t done more.
One thing that just came to mind, though, is that, bit by bit, I’m laying a foundation for helping others in the future. Even if nobody finds Oasis Charm helpful, this blog has been good for my mental health by giving me a place to process my thoughts, feelings, and the lessons I’ve been learning, which will put me in a better position to help others. I’ve been doing a lot of research about mental health, and psychology in general, which I can apply to my career when I become a therapist. I’m not doing much now, but I think the time will come when there will be more depth to my contributions. A good analogy would me a Pokemon like Bulbasaur doing a Solar Beam attack, first gathering energy from the sun before unleashing a powerful blast. I’ve had major setbacks, such as not being able to start understanding basic social skills till recently (a few years into adulthood), but I’ve decided to have compassion for myself instead of beating myself up about it.
Now I’m trying to use my empathy skill. I have a long history with my therapist of her supporting me. I don’t think that intended for me to feel bad about myself when she made that comment. She may actually have been trying to reassure me that it’s not my fault that I haven’t done more to help others. Yes, I prefer the positive interpretation. It’s kinder both to her and to myself.
Writing this article has helped me process how I feel about her comment and how I’ll incorporate into how I see myself. I feel better now.