Lots of stuff is going on lately, inside my mind and out. I'm having difficulty focusing my thoughts. I think I need to try to take them one at a time, especially since these entries can get long.
My main source of external stress right now is a potential change in my living situation. I have no idea when it will take place, but I do know that at some point it will.
I am currently living in the upper half of a duplex owned by my parents--they live downstairs. Originally I had one cat when we moved in here. I took her to Florida when me in 2002 and came back last fall with her and two additional cats: one adopted from a place that rescues stray cats and who has turned out to be very adept at alerting to migraine symptoms, anxiety, apneas, etc and one who I kept after one of the Florida roomies moved away. I kept Sable because she has a history of aggressive behavior and I knew she would likely be euthanized instead of put up for adoption--and she's so hostile that I can't imagine anyone would select her anyway. My dad fought me about bringing any of the cats back, including Inca (the original cat who I've had since 1996). They had kept two of my aging animals (my first guide dog and a very elderly cat), and both animals died while I was in Florida. So my dad's very strong position now is, "I don't want any more animals." It was very upsetting for me to think of getting rid of my cats, and I lobbied based on the fact that my cats wouldn't be in his space and that if I left on vacation I would only need someone to check on them once every four days as opposed to the twice-daily checks he does for my sister's dogs when she travels.
My parents have decided to prepare the building for sale and get out of this area of town. At first they said they wanted to find something equivalent that was all on the ground floor because of my vertigo. The vertigo is something I'm learning to live with, and I so far have managed the stairs with no falls, haven't required help getting my dog guide outside to relieve herself, etc. Now the issue really shows itself: this area is becoming run-down and most of the residents are poor. Mom dislikes living on a main street, although I find it interesting that she didn't consider that when buying the place four years ago.
In any case, I'm looking at an eventual move. I still have no regular income except SSI, and I've been acknowledging inside myself that where I go from here is back to school at AU to prepare for professional ministry work. So the search for jobs in other areas has ceased. I would take a job in town if one was available, but so far none have been available. I contacted HUD, and they aren't taking applications for vouchers because their budget has been cut. There are two complexes in the county with HUD sections. I called both yesterday. If you live in the non-HUD section, you're allowed to have pets; if you live in the HUD section, you're only allowed assistance animals. I could justify in my mind having my doctor write Sierra in as a companion animal because of her alerting behavior. I am uncomfortable with the idea of having my therapist write something about it being emotionally overwhelming to live without Inca and Sable, which is what some people have suggested to me. Inca displays some types of alerting behavior (mostly to thunderstorms which could be important because I can no longer hear the tornado warning siren), but I have difficulty emotionally with the concept of having two cats registered as service animals when I don't technically need the extra alerting behavior. It would be extremely painful, though, for me to part with Inca; and I doubt I could deal well with trying to find a home for Sable.
The only alternative I saw yesterday was moving into whatever house my parents buy, which creates another set of problems. I need my space and they need theirs. I live my life independently, and we don't need each other's guests in our spaces. There's also the issue of my dad's feelings about my cats. I asked last night if they would be willing to keep Inca if I had to find homes for her and Sable. He didn't just say no. He said in a very irritated tone, "I don't want any more animals." I have a feeling that if I moved in with them he would fight me again about the cats, and I would be no better off.
I'm trying very hard to get a CD produced and a book self-published without going into debt. Most of the CD production is easy--I'm using borrowed software and doing the production myself. These would give me a small bit of income, I think, and I might be able to afford one of the cheaper apartments in town at a regular rate. I'm very upset and scared about my living situation, mostly afraid that if I let this go for now the sale of the house will sneak up on me and I will have nowhere to go with my kitties except to a bedroom in my irritated parents' house. Mom will stick up for me because she knows that my emotional state is not good. Dad's opinion of my emotional state is that it's the result of choices I've made. He's right, but in many situations I've had to choose the lesser of two evils. I've done the best with what I had to work with.
I hope that God will provide me a place to go with my kitties. I don't view them as commodities.
I had a discussion with Amy (my former roomie) about the concept of anxiety... She talked about some feelings she had about going to massage school and things not going as well as she thought they would. What I wrote to her has some implications for my move situation.
Sometimes anxiety and "overreaction" can become a viscious cycle--that's something I've been thinking about a lot lately. When a person is used to living with pain (any kind of pain), it's easy to come to expect it and fear it. It's like the way we lived last summer... Charley came, and we went into preparation mode but we also were scared. Then Charley was over, and we had a chance to regroup, and when Frances came we were scared but more able to go into prep mode. Of course, the difference was that Frances was something we experienced, and it amplified the fear. You saw how I responded to that, and that was how I knew my body had reached its limit, and I knew that if another storm came I wouldn't be able to handle it physically or emotionally--and I also knew that one was on the way. So into prep mode again, and we all run away because here is this big storm headed right for us again. Come back and clean up, and almost immediately here's another one. So into prep mode again, but there's nowhere to go. Fortunately it was a little storm by the time it reached you. But it was hard to settle down after that, and even from here it was hard for me to settle down. I kept watching the NHC bulletins on every storm. I wasn't afraid for me necessarily--I knew the storms wouldn't affect me. I was afraid for you, and I know you were afraid and shaken up. Then when we had winter storms with high winds, I relived all that, and to some extent I still do. Here weather season is fairly predictable and I know exactly what to do about it. Tornado warning equals trip to the basement. There isn't a question of whether I have to do something different to be "more safe" because I have ten minutes at most to do whatever I'm going to do. So the fear is the same, but the prep stress is less because I don't have to plan on top of that fear.
There really is a point to all this weather rambling. You've moved to Florida in terms of your career, and you got there during the sunny season and it got stormy later. It wasn't what you thought it would be, and because you've lived the last few months in emotional turmoil your body and mind have been wired to expect it and need to plan for it. It's not like a tornado where you can know exactly what to do because there's only one option. It's like a hurricane because you don't have any idea how severe the emotional trauma will be or what to do to prepare for it because you don't even know what's coming. Trauma produces anxiety and anxiety produces anxiety, anxiety produces anxiety, etc. That's something very familiar to me.
What we call "overreaction" is really just a reaction to one situation that would be totally appropriate in another (more severe) situation. It's like boarding the windows when there's a little rainstorm outside. Boarding the windows would be appropriate if that little storm was a hurricane, and it makes total sense that if you've just been through ten hurricanes in a row you might tense up and board those windows if you saw clouds and didn't have a radio to tell you it's just a little rainstorm. People probably used to live like that. You need an emotional radio, and you need to know you can trust it to tell you what's a little rainstorm and what's a hurricane. That's where you've got to hold those emotions in check long enough to take a peek at the situation and be your own emotional radio. ... In psych terms they call this desensitization. It can take some time, and your fight-or-flight responses will work hard against the facts because they've learned that your perceptions have betrayed you in the past. But eventually it does pay off.
Being my own emotional radio is very difficult in this move situation. I can't get enough information to make decisions. I'm fine right now: my life is like the sunny day people experience while knowing that at some point that sun is going to disappear and be replaced by very very bad weather. My parents can't tell me when they'll put the house on the market, and no one knows how long it will take to sell. I'm reminded of the way I felt when the hurricanes were sitting out southeast of Jamaica. There was no way to predict which direction they would move. Once we knew that one was headed in our direction, the question was no longer "if" but "when" and "how strong." Charley surprised us all by becoming a category 4 storm in just a couple of hours, and we had all prepared for a category 2 storm. I feel right now like I don't know what I'm preparing for or even what my preparation options are. When the storm comes, will I even be able to prepare? With HUD apartments, I may have to wait a year for housing.