The Tolerations Checklist was fantastic. I had so many things that I was tolerating. One of my friends being too clingy, one of my friends being a bit of a dick, one of my friends only talking to me via texts when she was drunk, having to parent my dad, having no space to myself, the pushy lady at the spa who wouldn’t give me the chance to talk about getting a refund for a series of treatments I’d ordered that I didn’t want anymore, and the list went on and on.
There was something freeing about writing these things down. Instead of lurking in the depths of my awareness, by writing them down they were brought to the fore. And this made me start acting on them.
I talked to my friend who was being too clingy and told her I appreciated her as a friend and as a person and how much she’d supported me in the past, but I was just processing so much after this last year, and this summer, and I just really needed my own space right now, and I couldn’t be there for her right now. I would be able to in the future again, I just didn’t know when. She took this extremely well and was grateful to be communicating (she probably had no idea that I’d felt that way) and told me she was sorry if she’d pressured me, and to just let her know when I felt ready to hang out again.
I went in to the spa and talked to the pushy lady’s assistant (the pushy lady herself was away for two weeks) and was very firm about needing a refund. The assistant kept telling me she wasn’t authorized to do it, but I finally got her to check with her higher-up and get the okay, and she refunded my card.
I confronted my friend who was being a dick and told him that the comments he’d made were completely unacceptable, and if he wanted to stay friends he needed to stop talking like that. He also apologized.
Some things were going on in my romantic relationship too. After having the most amazing time together in LA, Jess had suddenly been really off with me this whole week. On Friday night, after a week of practicing being more assertive, I decided to bring it up. I told him he’d been really grumpy with me all week and I wanted to know what was going on, I felt ignored and unappreciated.
It turns out a whole stew of things had been going on for him that I hadn’t known about. His best friends had just moved across the country, he was trying to get back into the swing of classes and homework, felt he might need more space to himself, and then a big one, he was considering going travelling abroad for a year, in the future, and if he decided to do that might not be able to continue having a relationship with me. But it was all up in the air still.
Well, of course that threw me for a loop. I told him so, and told him how I felt about it all, and how I felt about everything being on the fence (I didn’t like it), and about how I felt about him (totally in love), and brought up possible solutions or other approaches to the travelling/long distance quandary. It didn’t bring any of the answers that I was craving so badly, but at least we were communicating.
At the same time I was moving back into my old apartment. For the last year after my dad had the stroke I have been living with him to take care of him, but slowly I built up a very competent team of caregivers that he has bonded well with, and they were now on a 24/7 shift schedule with him, so I could slowly start moving back into my own life. However, this was hard for my dad. My dad’s biggest fear has always been being alone, and even though the caregivers are around all the time providing good company for him, I’m sure this started flaring up again. I told him I’d be spending more time at my apartment, and probably sleeping there (my apartment is five minutes down the road from his), but I also arranged to do Daddy-daughter dates Mondays and Thursdays where we would have dinner and then I’d help him get ready for bed and tuck him in. Despite this, Dad was still sad about me being at the apartment less. After just one day had gone by, he told me he was missing me so much, and he really wanted to see me again. This was hard, because I felt terribly guilty for leaving. On the other hand, I’m 26, and I needed to start getting my life back after a whole year of putting it completely on hold.
This weekend I was also supposed to do a motorcycle training class to learn how to ride. I got to the first class just fine, and did great, but the second day my road was closed off due to a marathon and I was 45 minutes late to the class. Even though I gave them the policeman’s card who had told me I couldn’t leave, they had a strict late policy, and my instructor was a square, so they wouldn’t let me finish the course. This was the last straw in my already stressful weekend, and I drove a little ways, then pulled over and cried. It was early in the morning so no one was awake, and even if they were, who could I call? I was raising my standards and that meant there were a lot of “friends” I no longer really considered friends anymore. I had put a lot on Jess in the last few months, but I couldn’t talk to him right now because a). he was asleep and b). he was part of the problem. Out of desperation, I tried calling my mom, but that went terribly. She seems to have turned to her hippy friends for consolation from her problems lately, and now she talks just like them. I was told the universe seems to be shifting things around for me, and I should go out and listen to the wisdom my horses have to offer. I told her I had to go. Finally I texted TC that I was having a terrible weekend and she called me and we talked for probably about a half hour.
She calmed me down and told me she wanted me to go home and spend the rest of the day doing things that were nice just for me. “I want you to have a self-care day,” she said. “Whatever it is that makes you feel good. You can’t control Jess. You can’t control your dad, or your mom. But you can control you. So whether it’s watching movies and eating ice cream, or having a hot bath, or whatever, I want you to go home and do that.”
I explained that I really wanted to watch movies, but the TV cables weren’t set up yet, and the furniture was all in disorder, and my suitcases weren’t even unpacked, and there wasn’t any food at the apartment. “I want to pamper myself, but nothing’s set up to do it with,” I protested.
“Look, don’t worry about unpacking for today,” was her answer. “I know you want to get your apartment all cute and organized, and you will, but not today, and probably not tomorrow. Just make sure you have the basics, set up a little corner in one of the rooms that’s yours, and camp out in it. Just get the basic what you need to take care of you.”
Then it struck me that I’d been taking care of other people so long I didn’t even know what I would want to do that was relaxing and nice for myself. The whole concept seemed a little mind-boggling to me.
“So what you’re telling me,” said TC. “Is that you’ve put your own life on the shelf and you put it up so high and for so long that you’ve forgotten where you put it or what’s even up there.”
That was exactly it. I needed to get it back down and wipe that dust off.
We talked a little more until she was sure I was calm and focused again. I drove back home. I still couldn’t get back to my apartment because of the marathon, but I finally parked some blocks away and just walked back. I had a long, hot bath with candles, and spent the afternoon reading my book (which I haven’t gotten to do since I can’t remember when), and then my best girlfriend brought wine and snacks over and we had a good girl talk. This was Sunday, and TC and I would continue the self-care lesson the following day.