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Tito’s rejection really threw me more than I cared to admit. To his credit, he was kind, and he did, in fact, continue our friendship, but boy was I down, fucking depressed actually. I still am. The truth is, It’s all my own fault. I can’t blame Tito for this. He has actually been incredibly decent, a true gentleman. In fact, the way that he handled the situation makes me like him even more (it would be easier to be mad at him and not like him anymore, but the fact is he is pretty awesome). The other night we were texting on WhatsApp and he made me realize that what I’m doing just isn’t working. What I need to do is take action. What I have concluded is that the best action, in the romance department, is no action at all. I tried. I tried so hard … too hard.

Goal: I want to be happy

Thought: My desire to be loved is making me miserable (dare I say to the point where I am no longer finding joy in life – it is truly that bad. I feel awful and hopeless, and I’m just wanting to give up … pretty much on everything). In the last few years I have been absolutely obsessed with the idea that I need to find someone to love and be loved by in return. The results have been absolutely catastrophic to my mental health. I know this. Love isn’t about fun anymore, it’s more about desperation, and I am so sick of being in despair. For fuck sake, I’ve become more of miserable goth now than I ever was in high school, and quite frankly, it feels like shit. Yeah black is sexy and slimming, but being depressed? So ovah!!!

Action: As we enter the new month of April, maybe this is as good a point as any to start something new. Maybe I’ll just give the whole dating deal a rest for now. The highs and lows I am experiencing from dating really aren’t doing me any good. I feel like crap. Too much of my heart and mind is being focused on wether or not someone loves me. Well, what if I cut that out? What if I just stopped trying? What if I give myself a break? What would happen?!?!?!

Action: I am going to revisit the Birthday Challenge. No more dating websites, no more reaching out to men for the purpose of filling this ugly hole in my heart. Though they make me feel better for a little while, the hole just seems to be made deeper once they leave. I think I have to start letting it heal the old fashioned way: with a little time and introspection.

Do you have any idea how much mental energy I give to finding a partner? Maybe you have some idea if you have been reading my blog on a regular basis, but truthfully, it doesn’t even scratch the surface. It’s time to give this a break. I want to see what else I can do with my energy. I want to see what other goals I can focus on.

Yes, I do want a partner, but I DO actually have other goals too. They just kind of got pushed to the side. It’s time to move those to the front and put the relationship stuff on the back burner, because quite frankly, it just isn’t fun anymore. These days it’s downright painful. Here is a list of what I’d like to accomplish as my birthday gift to myself:

  • A steady and upbeat mood
  • Physical well being, I’ve been letting myself go and have lost some of the hard earned progress I worked so hard for. I want to feel better about my appearance.
  • Pride in my work
  • Effort into my friendships
  • Caring about myself and how I feel above all others… aka learning to be selfish.

As a reward, not only do I expect to have accomplished much, but I think some fabulous vacation will be in order. Krazy Cat… you reading this girlie? Let’s plan something! Also I think I’m going to finally buy myself the laptop I’ve been wanting at the end of it. That would be kind of a cool birthday present.

Yeah, fuck boyfriends (for now).

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Nigel Van Wieck. Q Train (1990). From the Working Girl series.
I really don’t like to focus on the negative, but I have been really depressed, and I think I should talk about it. Something just came over me this week. Every day at work’s end I am in tears. I’m embarrassed to admit that after work on Friday someone actually discovered me crying in the parking lot. I have been going through so many of the same emotions I dealt with when I first came back to America. I was really struggling then. While I have been overwhelmed at work, and I feel truly worn out and just plain old tired, the way I feel goes way deeper than than that.

I believe that in life we all have some kind of purpose. I feel that the closer we align with that purpose the happier we become, and the farther we get, the more unhappy. I feel like I have deviated from my purpose… deviated way too far. I am really starting to believe that I might never achieve it now. I realize how stupid it might sound when I tell you that I have always believed that my purpose in life was to love and be loved. I also realize you might think I’m silly that I’ve concluded that I am just not loveable… but what else am I to think? After three years of separating from my ex husband, no man has found it in his heart to love me. And as I get older, as my looks fade, as the drudgery of daily life becomes my norm, it becomes increasingly unlikely. With this thought I feel like I am grieving very deeply for what I wanted more than anything.

At first I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to shake this sadness. My positive thinking videos that I watch on YouTube weren’t pulling me out of my feelings like they normally do. Do I just need to rest?

Well this morning I woke up with my solution: it’s time to redefine myself, to find a new purpose. Love was what I always thought would bring me happiness, but instead of looking for what would lead me to happiness, I’m just going to focus on happiness itself. Maybe love will show up somewhere along the way, maybe it won’t. I have to be okay with that.

And how do I do that? I have a lot of thinking to do.

Monday is my mother’s birthday. The first person in my life to love me… truly love me without condition. A mother’s love is special, incomparable. No bond comes close to it. I have no doubt she is also the person behind my first smile and my first taste of happiness. My very first memory is being with my mother in the park. I was being wheeled by her in the carriage. I could see sunlight making it’s way through the leaves of the trees. The feeling I remember is joy. I don’t know how I got it in my head that this feeling had to come from a man. All of my life I have been surrounded by women that I adore, women who are survivors. I want to be one of those women. I want to be proud of myself. I want to create happiness out of nothing, just like they do.

Today I am making a change. I dedicate this blog to my mother, and I am changing the title from “Totally Caroline” to “Totally Caroline … in pursuit of happiness.” It’s time to unfuck myself. I need to find the woman inside me that I was meant to be, before all the “stuff” happened. This blog will be where I document that journey.

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I don’t know what possessed me exactly, but I was going through some very old emails, and I found this:

From: Caroline
Date: October 15, 2014 at 7:25:09 AM EDT
To: xxx1234 <xxxx1234@gmail.com>
Subject:Bad dream

I dream about you a lot. My dreams are very vivid. Last night I dreamed you killed yourself.

So now it’s Wednesday. I made it to mid week.

Here is something I wrote yesterday:

What it feels like to be invisible:

I started back at work, after ten long years. The training is long, and most of it seems to go over my head. Sometimes I find myself tuning out. I don’t care that much, it’s only a job. A paycheck. I’ll never be one of those people who lives to work. Work, to me, is more of an unfortunate necessity.

The hardest thing I find about work is once work ends. I go home to a place where nobody really cares about my day. There’s nobody to rush home to and tell them about where I was and what I did in the last eight hours. I am pretty much alone. I am invisible.

The first thing I do when I finish work is remove the fake smile I wear in order to look “normal.” Once I get home I change out of my work clothes. I’m usually crying when I do this. I put on my old and ugly gym clothes (because they are comfy), discard my daily contact lenses, and I sit out on my mother’s porch trying to catch the remnants of the Florida heat before the sun goes down. I do this in clothes that are unseasonably warm. Nobody sits in layers of clothes when it’s this hot. Well, nobody except me. I like that almost oppressive feeling, the heat plus the heaviness of my clothes. It is the closest I come near to hug. It is the closest I get to the “I love you” that I wish I could hear.

I am merely going through the motions. I don’t know how to exist without love. On a good day, I might be able to cheer myself up with some comforting words, a conversation with an old friend, or maybe something fun in my email; but for the most part, this is how I live.

That was so hard for me to read. At the time, I just started my first job in America, and I wasn’t coping well. My divorce process was in full steam. I think I was severely depressed — but I had weaned myself off my medication by this point. I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t afford to see a doctor.

This morning, when I came across this email, I was transported back to my 2014 mindset, a mindset that doesn’t (and never did) serve me.  The floodgates opened. I’m sure you’ve been here too my lovelies, when you past comes to bite you in the ass just a little too hard?

Let me tell you how to fight back. First recognize that this is the past. It’s not your present, and it will only be your future if you give it power. Remember who the fuck you are. You are that badass bitch who kicked that shit to the curb. Don’t look back. If you have looked back, and it does and will happen on occasion, look at all that you’ve accomplished since then. That pain, those tears, don’t let it be for nothing. Don’t let those bad memories lead to more bad. Tears exist to wash away the hurt, but at some point you must remember to turn off the faucet or you will drown. Although tears have their purpose, and sadness needs to be felt so that you can move on, there is also a time for stepping back into your power. Trust me, it IS there. 

In an effort to banish the sadness I felt, I asked myself: okay, that’s old news, what have I done for me lately 😜? Here are some things I came up with.

  • In two years I have doubled my salary.
  • I’ve had, and continue to have, some excellent adventures, and I’ve made new friends to share them with.
  • I can handle loss a lot better. I am no longer desperate to hold on to people who don’t recognize my value. I am enough. I have enough.
  • I have learned the art of self care. I am able to stop myself when I feel myself heading towards a downward spiral (not always, but most of the time). Now I spend more time happy than sad.
  • I am so many steps closer to becoming the woman I’m supposed to be.

I urge you to try this out too next time you are feeling a bit low. Let’s not give our bad moments too much power over us. What have you accomplished since D-day? Or if you haven’t experienced one, how far have you come in two years? I bet it’s a lot more than you realize, we just have a nasty habit of focusing on the negative. Let’s change that.

1f6ec8d7eb52ab07915480f4328f1800Today marks a very special day for me. It is one year ago that I got off my depression medication, and it is something I am immensely proud of. I will never forget sitting in that waiting room in Harley Street, waiting to be seen by my doctor. My sister-in-law came with me. She was holding my hand and trying to comfort me, but I was inconsolable. Things were really bad. I wasn’t just overwhelmed with my feelings of sadness, I was also furious. I was angry because not only did my ex take every THING I owned, but he had also taken some very intangible things that I took for granted, such as my sanity.

It had been a week since Dr ManWhore kicked me out of our home. I loved that man with all my heart. I would have died for him. Isn’t it ironic though when the person you think will always protect you is the one who the trigger?  I would wake up with my heart racing, and I kind of wanted to die. I didn’t want to live without him, despite everything he had done to me. The pain was unbearable. I just wanted it to go away. I had never faced this kind of overwhelming sadness before.

Now truth be told, I had always looked down on people who used medication to solve psychological issues. My mother suffers from bouts of them every once in a while, and I always thought of her as “weak.” I used to think, this is what people do when they aren’t strong enough to handle their problems by actually facing them like an adult. Now that I was suffering from it myself, however, I had been toppled from my high horse and my smug way of thinking. Now that it was happening to me, I felt a little bit like I was dying.

Finally I was seen by  doctor. It didn’t take me long before I started blubbering like a baby. She prescribed me a high dose of anti-depressants called Citalopram (I don’t know what this drug is refereed to as in the US). The next week was spent in a drowsy fog, until eventually I got used to them.

I don’t know if it helped. I was still very sad, but slowly I started to feel a little more human. I will never know if it was it the medication, the passage of time, the counseling (I had an awesome counselor, I’ll never forget him) or a combination of the three that helped me. But I remained angry. Why? Because I didn’t want to give my bastard of a husband the pleasure of my mental breakdown along with everything else. No, I was a good wife, a good person, a daughter, a sister… I didn’t deserve this, and I would not let him destroy me. I was determined to get off of it… and that is exactly what I did. I slowly weaned myself off them (without the help of a doctor because Dr ManWhore had completely cut me off and I couldn’t afford help). Of course this is something that should only be done under the supervision of a health professional, but I did it anyway. I did it myself, and I feel proud.

There are times when I still get extremely low. Sometimes I wonder if I made myself come off them too fast. I think perhaps I did, but I have no regrets.