I keep moving forward

I stood up for myself today. One of my roommates talks about me when I’m in the other room, and it’s been bothering me. When she got home earlier I heard her say to her girlfriend “There are papers coming out of her room!” I stepped out of my room and said, “excuse me?” and then told her that if something I’m doing is bothering her she can tell me directly and that I feel disrespected when she talks about me when I can hear her. It was very satisfying to witness her stunned facial expression. I grabbed my shoulder bag and purse and left. It was raining outside and I held back tears on my way to the coffee shop. I felt really lonely.

Quitting coffee is going well. Black tea is my methadone. I read online that a cup of black tea has half the amount of caffeine as coffee, which proved to be just the right amount to stave off a headache. I had only one cup around 9:30 this morning and all day long I was headache free!

At work today the librarian was out for a meeting so one of the fourth grade teachers came in to sub for a kindergarten class. She sat the kids on the carpet before check-out to go over how library works. She was really funny and outgoing. It was uplifting and reminded me of how to have fun. I also thought of how I’m not living up to my potential. I am funny and outgoing. If I had showed those qualities at work, I could have presented story time and engaged the kids and made them laugh. HOWEVER, I am taking baby steps. Last year at work I was quiet and ran away from people when they talked to me. This year I’ve been more aware of how I come across (awkward, shy and uncomfortable), and have been making an effort to come across as more open, comfortable, and confident.

I like my job, and believe in what I do, but I don’t feel at home there. I don’t connect with the people there. I keep asking myself, why am I still here? This is my life – why am I spending it somewhere I don’t want to be? My heart sinks when I see people happy with their families and friend groups. They are settled. They have a full life. That’s what I want, but right now I’m sort of drifting. I don’t know where I’ll be living three weeks from now, when my temporary rental agreement ends.

I’m still so sad about my un-lived twenties, and the fact that I’m 29 with so few experiences to show for it. Some days I feel okay about it, though, and sometimes I’m almost completely at peace with it, and I’m moving forward one step at a time.

Dropping the coffee habit

Today was another solitary day, but I am feeling hopeful about the future. I’m ready to step back into the world. I’m going to make time for fun every day. I temporarily deactivated my Facebook account to make it easier to settle back into the physical world. I quit coffee cold turkey on Friday and since I had the worst headache of my life decided I was being too unkind to myself and allowed for one cup Saturday and one cup today. Tomorrow I’m going to switch to one cup of black tea at work, and will do that for the rest of the week.

I even bought fancy cups to make it fun:

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I expect to be completely coffee free in 21 days, which they say is the length of time it takes to change a habit. I will probably have a cup here or there with a friend, but that’s it.

There are several reasons why I’m quitting coffee. It makes my anxiety worse, for one.
My therapist once said that someone with anxiety should not be drinking coffee. She was right. I might specify that someone with ocd tendencies should not be drinking coffee. Part of my ocd involves obsessing over bodily symptoms. I do this when I drink coffee to the point of it effecting my ability to live a normal life. I drink coffee until I get so jittery I’m uncomfortable in public, which reinforces staying home and not living my life, which is a huge regret of mine. Secondly, I use coffee drinking as a substitute for richer experiences, like going out and connecting with people. Third, I depend on caffeine for energy, when it would be much healthier to run on natural energy.

I am a little bit afraid of the negative side effects. The initial headache and fatigue, of course. Mostly, though, I’m afraid of depression and mental fog. Coffee helps my brain operate efficiently, and I’m worried that my performance at work will be affected. Also, I’m starting to write again, and I’m worried that I won’t be able to write well. I used to drink at least two cups of coffee before I’d write a blog post, and the manic energy and hyper-focus helped the writing flow. Also, the elevated mood helped me feel like a better writer. The elevated mood helped me feel better about everything in general. That’s a big reason why it’s taken me so long to quit.

The reasons for quitting, though, outweigh the fears. I won’t be living from coffee to coffee. Natural energy will be restored and I won’t be tired all the time. I won’t feel too jittery on dates, or in social situations in general. I won’t be living for my next coffee fix.

Every day this week I’m going to schedule time for fun, and I’m going to be more social.

Autumn in Andersonville

For over a month I’ve been living in a garden apartment in Andersonville, a Chicago neighborhood known as the place where all of the lesbians live. I’m renting a tiny window-less room from a lesbian couple, one of whom I often mistake for a troll. I’ve been spending most of my time alone, and I’m struggling with being 29. I’m not afraid of getting older, but I am sad about an un-lived life, and afraid of my dreams not coming true. I’ve been trying to buy hiking boots for months but can’t find the right pair. I want to go hiking and horseback riding this month. After work yesterday I went out for drinks with a few of the teachers and felt out of place. I’m not living the life I want to live. It’s hard for me to have fun, so I’ve made it a goal to have fun every day. Most days I fail. Today, for instance, I had vague plans of an adventure out of the city to go hiking or horseback riding somewhere. Instead I wandered the streets for three hours, coming back to the apartment a couple of times for food breaks. Each time I had a pita with hommus and pretended it was LEMDAS bread. Most of Andersonville is peaceful and tree-lined, with lots of beautiful old brick houses. As I walked around I passed families putting up Halloween decorations on their front lawns and porches. The walk wasn’t fun, but I might call it pleasant if it weren’t for the ache in my chest. Fall leaves and front lawn scarecrows would be nicer to take in if I had someone next to me, or even someone to think about. I stopped at the grocery store and bought apple cider, hoping that the taste of it would help me remember happier autumns. Lately I’ve been relying on old memories for emotional sustenance.

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