Emotional and "Real World" Progress

Life keeps rolling along... relationships take focus and energy; I find myself with less blogging motivation. But I still appreciate having a space to process and record the journey, so here I am again.

I started seeing a cognitive behavioral counselor yesterday for help working through intimacy and commitment fears, which I recently identified as a specific phobia and OCD, without the compulsions. Somehow, it's helpful to have a label for these fears and anxieties that arise in the context of intimate relationship, often in the form of judgments. It's already led to some helpful insights and reframing.

One of the underlying fears is that if I commit to something that is not "perfection," then I will lose the opportunity to be "un-abandoned" and have ideal, completely safe unconditional love and merging with someone. I will also become dependent on one person to meet all my needs. There is a sense I will be "trapped."

Obviously, these thoughts and fears are not rational and have as one main source my mother dying when I was four-years-old (and never really bonding with my step-mother). I think there are other layers, sources, and faulty beliefs acquired over the years, as well.

My relationship with RC has continued to grow. We connect emotionally, spiritually, romantically, and sexually. Also mentally, but a little less than I hope it grows into, as he engages more with an external passion or interest. Though we are physically affectionate and regularly sexual, I would like more fire from him, in terms of feeling his intense desire for me. I realized this dynamic of someone wanting me helps spark my own passion. He says he is strongly attracted to me and hasn't really felt this type of unbridled intense physical passion with someone before, that he can remember. So, it's something he's asking himself about - how can he feel open to losing some control in that way?

Overall, I feel excited and happy, hopeful about our future. We are having some spontaneous and relaxed, playful phone calls, which I am enjoying. I can be my quirky, silly self with him and feel comfortable. I can get frustrated or have strong feelings with him and feel comfortable. He is starting to show me edges I haven't seen before, which, while sometimes uncomfortable, I really appreciate.

So, we are moving forward both emotionally and in the "real world," as he is planning to move up here with me in May. This will only be about seven months into our romantic relationship, but considering our past friendship of several years, during which we spent a lot of time together, I think we are at a different place than many couples would be. I am tired of trying to maintain our intimacy over long distance between times we are together. I'm also really looking forward to having a life companion and someone who is "with" me in the journey of adopting or having a child. Combining finances and splitting rent will certainly not hurt my security and stability either.

He's coming up here for a couple of weeks over Spring Break, starting next weekend, during which we plan to get matching tattoos (!). Not the elaborate one we've talked about, but a simple celtic-style one of a combined heart and infinity sign. I'm excited to spend more time with him and learning more about each other and getting comfortable living with one another. So glad that my procedure is behind me and we won't have that stress and annoyance hanging over us!


Valentine's Visit - Part2

 Sorry, that was more of a delay between posts than I intended… Things have been a little hectic, but overall I'm feeling good.

To finish sharing about RC's visit,  we had a wonderful Valentines dinner at the same place we went for my birthday. We were seated in the back room so it felt a little more intimate, and we both ordered surf and turf with steak and scallops. Amazing! I think we both ate nearly all of it.

Backing up a little, I had to work during Valentine's Day. When I got home, RC had red roses, a balloon saying I love you, chocolate and red wine waiting for me. All the traditional romantic stuff; very sweet. We spent a few hours before our late dinner – we made our reservation last minute, oops - enjoying our own private party at my place. We lit candles, played music and danced, and did some creative stuff like drawing animals on cards, then picking one and looking up its symbolism.

We also had some deeper conversation about tension that's come up a couple times during the transition into going to sleep. In part, it was because we have developed our own nightly rituals and they weren't fitting together well. He has insomnia and is currently smoking a little pot before bed to help. I don't have a problem with that except for that then we are on different wavelengths and he has diminished communication skills. I like to take my melatonin, then look at my phone for a while until I feel sleepy...but then he was waiting for me so that we could cuddle a little and kiss good night, which was just not working for either of us. Anyway we talked this out and came up with some good strategies, so that was positive. We had a fun time dressing up for dinner, too.

My procedure was rescheduled for the following Tuesday. He planned to leave Wednesday morning, so, after Valentine's Day, we had a few days through the weekend to spend together. Our activities included:

  • Going to the DMV together to get some paperwork I needed. So nice to have a partner in these practical things. Grocery shopping was also fun, though it would be more fun if he wasn't so restricted on his diet! 
  • Taking a walk around the lake at the sanctuary we visited before. I love this. It's so beautiful, and we end up having some really meaningful conversation while walking with Zoey. 
  • Watching our show together at night. We have developed a ritual of watching a Netflix series together and texting comments during it when we are apart, so it was fun to watch and comment in person. 
  • Enjoying a yummy brunch of blueberry pancakes (gluten-free for him), bacon, and fruit. He ends up doing more of the dinner cooking, in large part because he makes things he knows he can eat. I usually help out by making a salad or prepping the veggies or something, but he often does the majority. I love making breakfast and desserts, so I feel good to be able to cook for him in those ways. 
  • Taking Zoey for her daily walks together, often late at night when she has free run of the park. It feels romantic holding hands and looking at the stars, although we have to pay attention to navigating her leash and uneven surfaces in the dark. I may not have mentioned but RC is not the most coordinated person…He has fallen several times over the years, so I feel like I need to look out for him sometimes in that way. 
  • Envisioning our lives with a child and what decisions and activities may be part of the journey. 
  • Drinking a little too much wine one night and laughing hysterically. I don't think the jokes would translate LOL but boy were they funny at the time.  
  • Part of the reason we got so tipsy that evening was because we started in the afternoon with some winetasting. Winetasting is so fun! It was a sunny day, we were out on the patio, and we took the opportunity to review and revise the goal cards we initially created on New Year's. Then we walked around downtown and ended up making an appointment to get a collaboratively-designed tattoo over spring break. Eek
  • The day before my procedure, we went to get some lunch, during which we also looked at an anxiety/phobia workbook (more on that later). I started feeling really crabby and unsettled for no real reason. We had talked before about how we are both introverts and need to set boundaries and take alone time, but had so far not managed to follow through. This day, after walking out to the car, I just blurted out, "I need some alone time!" He said he could walk home, but I said, "Well, that's about 15-20 minutes; I need an hour." So, he decided to walk around downtown, and I went home. You would not believe what a difference it made! Within a half hour, I was thinking of him and missing him a little, and when he got home, we shared an emotional embrace, feeling a lot of love and warmth towards one another. Interesting.
The last experience I want to share is getting the hysteroscopy done to remove my uterine polyp. The doctor was so awesome. He explained the details thoroughly and also added some humor, putting us at ease. I was really nervous the day before and when I woke up that morning, but taking the hydrocodone and anti-anxiety medication they gave me an hour before we went really helped. I thought the two fibroids would be removed also, but he explained that they were in the outer lining of the uterus and weren't causing any problems. Also, they can only be removed through more invasive laparoscopy. Best of all, the procedure was not painful, and he was obviously very skilled; it seems like it was done in no time.

RC drove me through the McDonald's drive-through on the way home as a reward, and I spent much of the day resting with him, but honestly I didn't feel too bad. I just took the pain medication on the schedule they suggested and didn't really feel much cramping at all. Here's to not having ongoing random bleeding!

p.s. We cheated and tried some "modified" sexual activity. It didn't seem to create any negative effects, and it was a connected way to end our trip. :) 


Valentine's Visit - Part 1

RC arrived for a 9-day visit last Saturday. We have been getting used to each other again, talking and spending time at my place, as well as doing "normal" activities like grocery shopping and picking up a few items at T@rget.

This time, he decided to bring his beautiful, orange kitty cat, Calvin, so it has been fun and entertaining watching Calvin and Zoey interact and gradually make (sometimes an uneasy) peace with each other. They are definitely not in the cuddling or grooming each other phase, but they can walk by each other more easily now and even lie next to one another on the floor.

When RC first arrived, after not seeing each other since January 2nd, I felt a powerful wave of joy and attraction to him. The intensity of this was unexpected. He looked so good and I just wanted to be close to him and look at him. Of course, that has mellowed, but I'm still feeling super happy to have him around. We have been watching some TV in the evening, but for the most part, have been out and about or eating meals. We also did a guided meditation at one point up in my room, which was lovely.

Yesterday afternoon, we finally watched the movie, "The Shape of  Water, which was dramatic, touching, and romantic. Then, later on, we went out to one of our favorite local restaurants, Central Market. We ordered oyster shooters to start, then he had chicken and I had a super yummy chorizo and mussel dish, accompanied by a nice red wine.

As of yesterday morning, back is out of alignment or something and I've been experiencing some pain. RC has been caring and helpful with that. After reading that we could not be intimate for at least a week, possibly longer, following the hysteroscopy procedure, I decided to postpone it for a month or so until my spring break in March. So it's ironic that my back pain is getting in the way of us being intimate, though we did have a chance to connect in that way for a day or two before it flaired up.

I may regret postponing the procedure but literally started crying when I read that guideline and felt that we really needed to have normal connection this week after over a month apart and going through the progesterone hell. It's not an urgent situation, so I don't think another month will make a difference. And maybe it will allow us to time the procedure better in terms of my cycle and lining production, etc.

Today, we plan to walk around downtown, back permitting, and maybe revisit the goal cards we first created on New Year's, as well as guide him through a career values exercise I've been meaning to share. I think I may have said that he's  been in semi-retirement after burning out of a PG&E management job of several decades, and he's wanting to find more meaningful work for the next 10-15 years.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and I look forward to creating some romantic memories, including another nice dinner. Hope your day is filled with love and connection, as well.


Health Update

So I spoke with my doctor on Monday, and she solved the bleeding mystery. Unfortunately, it wasn't the best case scenario I'd hoped for, but it wasn't the worst case scenario either.

She said I have a polyp in the uterine lining that has disrupted the natural formation and shedding cycle; thus, the odd spotting/bleeding. Additionally, I have two small fibroids, one outside the uterus and one inside that are, I guess, re-growing since my surgery a few years ago. Boo.

The good news is that I can get all that taken care off with a hysteroscopy, at the same time I get the uterine biopsy. Just now, in this moment, the question arises for me as to "why" I still need the biopsy if we have determined the reason for the problems. But I guess it's a good idea to play it safe.

I'm going to the medical center today to sign the consent and pick up the medications, then the outpatient procedure is scheduled for the 12th. RC will be here that week and can be my ride, as I'll be kind of out of it.

I wonder if I can go to work the following day? Anyone know? I think I had a biopsy a long time ago but I don't remember, and this is also removing the polyp and fibroids. She said there might be some cramping, but I go home right after the procedure.

There was a question as to whether my lining would  be "too thick" when they do the procedure. As mentioned the (less than stellar) doctor I originally saw put me on progesterone until last Friday. It worked perfectly, as it stopped the spotting and when I went off it, my full period came four days later.

But apparently, there would ideally be less time between my cycle ending and date of the procedure. There was "no way" that I was going back on progesterone, however, as it just about drove me, and RC, insane. We did move the procedure up a few days from Friday to Monday, though, and she seemed to think that would be okay.

That's the latest news...please send good thoughts that this procedure goes well and I can put this whole "interesting" health journey behind me. I'm sooo glad the wicked month of January is over, and I am looking forward to my training next week and RC's visit and I guess just generally getting my health and life stabilized again.


Developments: Body, Business, Baby, Boyfriend

As I mentioned in my last post, I had been having off and on spotting but not a true cycle for over a month, so after a visit to the doctor, I was put on progesterone tablets to try and  reboot my cycle. My last day on these pills was yesterday, thank God.

It is an understatement to say my mood was affected.  At one point, I said to RC on the phone, "I'm just so angry!" lol  Several times, I've become bent out of shape about things that normally would be no big deal. Poor RC. And on top of that, I haven't had energy to do anything but go to work and come home and do a chore here and there when I have to.

The good news is, I am done with the pills, and they did work as far as stopping the bleeding immediately after I began taking them. I had an ultrasound yesterday, but I don't get to know the results until I talk to the doctor early next week. She measured a lot of things, including from what I could see pretty large follicles.

Hopefully I'll get a full cycle in a few days. Fingers crossed. I really hope I don't have fibroids redeveloping. Best case scenario, maybe it was a a cyst coupled with stress and some hormone imbalance causing the problems.

I do have some work developments to report. As background, when we started back this semester, I asked my program director what were the chances that I would have a counseling job in the program next fall. I asked her because last semester we found out that my college would no longer be paying for college counselors in the program. I had heard she was looking for other ways to pay for counseling, but these would likely involve high school district funding, not college.  She replied that there would be maybe a 35% chance of my employment in the fall.

Well, needless to say that was not reassuring, and I began talking to RC about some different options like considering a move to Oregon or to Austin where his family lives. It was actually kind of exciting to consider these possibilities, and I even applied for a couple of jobs in these cities.

But then suddenly life, as it can do, took a turn. I got a call from my college counseling department chair, and she proceeded to offer me three classes to teach in the fall! Two Introduction to Career Counseling courses and one College Survival Skills course. I had bid on a lot of classes, but considering I'm still fairly new to the college and hadn't had luck bidding before, I didn't expect to be offered anything. Then, to be offered three was shocking!

Of course, I.immediately said yes, knowing I could change my mind later. But I don't think that will happen unless I were offered a job somewhere else. Plus, it supports my continued adoption efforts in this area versus starting over.

Speaking of adoption efforts, I have received no further news of being submitted for a match, since my social worker submitted me for a an 18-month boy at the beginning of this month.  That was an exciting couple of days until I heard I was not chosen.

There are a couple events coming up, however, that I'm looking forward to. The first one is an adoption fair next Thursday in a town about an hour and a half south. My worker will be there and said she would bring the home study/family packets I can share with county representatives.

The second one is a training February 9th through my agency called, "Nurtured Heart Training."  I generally enjoy trainings and want to learn as much as I can, so I'm looking forward to it.

RC has completed and submitted all his paperwork, which means if a child was suddenly placed with me, he can stay in the same house and even watch the child if needed. We have ventured into talking about what it might be like if he moved up here this summer and stayed with me in my place for a while. It would be challenging for sure, and he would definitely need to put a lot of stuff in storage.

But talking through it, it would be possible I think, at least in the shorter term of a year or two.  If we didn't live several hours apart, we might wait a little longer, but all things considered, neither of us enjoy the long drives and a long distance relationship isn't sustainable. Yikes!  We'll see...


Wrapping Up and Moving Forward

Sometimes I can't believe how time flies by! I'm ready to be done talking about the holidays, but I do want to write a brief record of RC and my final days of holiday break here where I live, and also share a couple more recent happenings...

After Christmas-time in Oregon, it felt good to get here and relax more and make our own schedule. We walked around downtown, as we like to do, and one afternoon, we went to the sanctuary/recreation area where he had spread his families ashes. It was much different this time, with lots of folks walking around the long, scenic circular pathway, so we - RC, Zoey, and I -  joined in and began walking and talking.

After a while, we got into some deeper conversation about the prospect of my adopting a child. Every time this comes up, I feel him lean into it and really seem interested and "with" me in the journey. This feels wonderful. Although I was and am prepared to move forward alone, I've always felt I would do better as a parent with a partner. Partly because of being introverted and partly because I'm not a super organized, decisive person. I think I would benefit from collaborative decision making and sharing the logistics. In any case, so far, I feel good about our conversations.

He asked about what would be required of him as far as background check, finger printing, etc., and I said I would ask my social worker. I did ask her later and forwarded the information and forms for finger printing, TB and health checkup to him. He has a doctor's appointment scheduled for a week or two and has taken the next steps to complete the background check, as well.

The last holiday experience I want to share is New Year's Eve... We went shopping, watched some TV, and took a nap, then got ready and headed down to an oyster bar we had been wanting to try. We ordered this delicious fresh seafood tray, with four types of oysters, uber-fresh shrimp, salmon, and a couple other types of raw or smoked fish. So good! Accompanied by some yummy Pinot. It felt romantic, too, as we sat at the bar and held hands under the counter.

Afterwards, we went home and spent some meaningful time on a NYE ritual of releasing the old and welcoming in the new. We did some writing and discussed these things in-depth, especially our goals for the new year. We even made some goal cards and set the intention to read them every night and chip away at them, creating new goals when these are complete. We also drank a glass of super expensive Cab -  not so great! That was the only disappointing part of the evening. Price often leads to most yummy with wine, but not always. We ended the evening listening to bands on TV and watching the ball drop.

In the big picture, everything is not perfect, but so far, I'm feeling really good about moving forward. Occasionally, I seem to hit an "intimacy wall," where I feel overwhelmed. This has happened two or three times now, and he has been able to hear me and talk through it, without escalating or withdrawing, like what used to happen with my ex. Having someone new in my space, with all that entails, can feel overwhelming to the senses. I'm sure this is partly due to the fact that I'm an HSP (highly sensitive person), which means being extra sensitive to lights, smells, sounds, energy, etc. So, having lots of "foreign" sensory input from someone other than myself can feel scary sometimes. I think fear of intimacy because of my past can at times heighten these sensitivities. So far, we've been able to navigate this well. I'm strongly attracted to him and being physically playful is fun!

Since he left, we have resumed our daily texting and talking on the phone a couple times a week, sometimes more. A new development is that when something significant happens, he is the first person I want to call. When I call, he's usually available and I appreciate the support and being able to talk through things. He has especially been there for me through one particular ongoing development...

As some of you know, I had a bleeding event over the holidays; basically bleeding off an on for a month. He was my partner through that, including a short time when we even considered we might be pregnant (it was not rational, as those who have gone through infertility know about), and when I went to the doctor and had an upsetting experience with an attempted non-medicated uterine biopsy, he was there to support me.

As an update, I have an ultrasound scheduled for the 23rd to check on my lining (and see if I had a cyst) and a phone call with the doctor calendared soon after. I'm taking progesterone for three weeks to hopefully "reboot" my body, fingers crossed. If the doctor - MY doctor not the one I scheduled through Kaiser online - affirms I need a uterine biopsy, you can bet I'm getting all the good drugs I can. A friend said they won't prescribe drugs for those in her state. WTF?! Not okay. I won't get started, but my strong belief is that if we can prevent or mediate pain, we absolutely should, unless there is a compelling reason the patient chooses not to.

There are some developments with work and plans that RC and I are considering, including upcoming trips, but I'll share more about those in another post. For today, I am appreciating this three-day weekend and catching up on laundry and sleep.


Holiday Time - at home and in Oregon - with RC

It's been a while since I posted! Happy New Year!

In the meanwhile, my new guy, RC, and I survived, and dare I say, pretty much thrived through two weeks straight together. We spent a few days together before leaving to drive up to Oregon, and also spent three days here together at the end, over New Years, before he left. Highlights of our time prior to Christmas in Oregon included:
  • Shopping together is so much more fun than doing all the shopping alone.
  • Help with wrapping presents!
  • I tried a healthy gluten-free zucchini bread recipe, and it was gratifying because he gobbled it up. He doesn't eat much bread, so I felt like I really gave him a treat.
  • My birthday celebration! We went out to a yummy surf and turf and shrimp and grits dinner with some great Pinot to go with it. My favorite thing, as you know. I also got my hair foiled with lots of blonde which has been fun and made me feel pampered.
Then we packed and hit the road with Zoey in her backseat perch behind us. RC accidentally took the scenic coastal route, and I was too spacey to catch it. It took a couple hours more but at least we had a beautiful view. We had to rush when we arrived, though, to check into our hotel and get to my family business' Christmas party. We made it in time to have a few drinks and nosh on some hors d'oeuvres, catch up with my brother and sister and their spouses, and have some funny conversations with intoxicated employees, as well. That's what a company Christmas party should be, I guess!

The next day, after a slightly hungover breakfast at the nearby pancake house, we unpacked and organized our room and went shopping at the mall for some last Christmas items. Other trip adventures and highlights included:
  • Making the sugar cookie dough with my little nieces at my brother's house Friday night, while RC and my brother got to know one another. I'm glad they seemed to connect and get along well! Then, we finished the cookies and frosted them with all the nieces and my nephew there Christmas Eve. RC was super helpful and made and colored all the frosting bowls. I will say that my second to youngest niece has matured in her attention span and, most surprising, my nephew was actually helpful and fairly calm during the process. Quite a difference! The littlest one kept wanting to lick the frosting off the cookies. lol
  • RC driving me, my oldest niece and nephew around to look at Christmas lights and sing some carols after we all got hot chocolate and cookies at Starbucks. It was super sweet of RC to drive - though I could tell it was stressful at times since he doesn't know the area - so that I could interact and talk more with J and E.
  • Christmas at my sister's house, formerly my mom and dad's house. We opened presents and it was really nice having RC there. He was able to be supportive and engage where appropriate but also fall back a bit when appropriate in a way that S never was able to do. I got some really nice earrings from both Rich and my dad and M, as well as a pretty dress (my first item of clothing with shoulder cut-outs) and cool short leather boots I love. Everyone seemed to like my gifts: my niece V loved the breathing dog I got her, which was awesome because she's learning how not to be afraid of dogs; and RC loved the leather bag I got him and immediately put his computer, notebook, books, etc. in it when we returned to the hotel later. :) My sister's family all received bathrobes, which they tried on, and I did the honor of catching that funny cuteness on camera. Breakfast frittata and fruit was yummy! And a bonus was that, after others had left, RC and I went to my oldest nieces room and my nephew's room to see the changes they had made and just chat a little more. I wish I could  have had more time with them but we made the most of it.
  • Since my sister's family was leaving the next morning and needed to pack, and my brother left with his family to head up to Portland to spend time with his wife's family, RC and I had no where to go for Christmas dinner. We hadn't really thought it through and of course nothing was open - except for Chinese restaurants which had an hour or two wait times. So, hilariously, we went to 7-11 and loaded up on stuff we could eat from there and made a dent in our Christmas wine gifts, while watching a movie.
  • Visiting my Aunt and Uncle's house and giving the little cousin's gifts and zucchini bread to the grown-ups, introducing RC, and spending time talking, eating cookies, and just enjoying ourselves and laughing. As I get older, I really value my Aunt and Uncle and their kids... having the love and connection with my birth mom's side of the family. It's definitely a feeling of warmth and acceptance. At one point, my Aunt pulled me to the side and said, "I really like him!" Yay!
  • Sharing a lunch and nice dinner with my Dad and his partner, M. On his own, versus with the whole family, my Dad can seem to connect and have more meaningful conversation with us. We talked a little about politics at dinner, and I was shocked to realize that my Dad and I have a very similar view of Trump! (he's a Republican). M was nice and made an effort to get to know Rich, which I appreciated.
  • We went to my older cousin on my dad's side's house, as I often do, but she talked even more than usual, it seemed. This cousin of mine can talk a blue streak, especially when she's been drinking. It was good to see her son, though, who she adopted from China and give him a little gift I brought.
  • The night before we left, we went to the athletic club restaurant (my family developed and runs an athletic club in downtown Eugene) to have drinks with a few friends and acquantances of mine from high school. It was pretty fun but somewhat exhausting at that point, especially for this introvert. RC hung in like a champ.
I think I will need to finish out this holiday report in a "Part 2" over the next few days. I was really glad to have the few days on our own after we returned, and we had some meaningful conversation and experiences. Hope your holiday time was loving and fun!