Reclaiming Purposeful Anger and Finding Forgiveness

I have always been proud of being a sort of nonconformist. I never tried to be popular. I followed enough of the rules to be generally respectful, but do not allow others to change who I am. I am a control freak, but only as it applies to my own life.

When my grandson was born I started weaning myself off of my ADHD medication. My psychiatrist was fairly liberal with dosage, so I was on an extended release Adderall along with an additional short acting pill in case I still had to accomplish something later in the day.

Being medicated for my ADHD did a lot to help me focus, and allowed be to get by as a freelance writer. Not every day was productive, but enough of the days were that I usually felt pretty decent about what I was doing. However, the meds did make me extra irritable, and sometimes the rage would overtake me in a way that frightened me. I did not want to feel that way with an infant grandchild. Rage is a scary emotion, and your own rage can be the most frightening of all, especially when you don’t understand it.

Revelations My ADHD Diagnosis Brought About Life and Writing

Although it was right around my 42nd birthday that I was diagnosed with ADHD , I had a feeling for most of my life that my brain did not work quite the same as most people’s. Injustice upset me, and I wanted things to be fair even as I knew that was unlikely. I took it for granted that one way or another life was going to hand me the short end of the stick, and I just needed to make the best of it.

I wrote from an early age, made up stories where characters would suffer worse fates than mine. I felt less unfortunate, and like I had something within me that could set me free eventually. At age 50 I am still waiting for this.

Anger is Not Wrong, It Just Needs the Right Direction

One truth I keep going back to is that if I am in a position to help someone, I will do it. I will turn my life completely upside down without a second thought. This is just what I did for my daughter and grandson. I have no regrets, but it has taken its toll. I turned all the anger that I felt about the world, and my situation, and my deteriorating physical and mental health and I breathed it in as guilt. I lost my functionality. I lost days at a time to tears and anguish. I decided I couldn’t keep living like that. I had to reclaim my life, and that was probably going to mean reclaiming my own anger in a healthy way.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Despite my difficulties, I have rights as a human being, and as an adult, and I deserve basic respect. I deserve to interject my personality into the air and not have it barreled over as if it does not matter. When I denied this to myself, I had regular serious breakdowns. I was not giving myself the right to be angry, nor express those feelings. Lately, journaling has helped a lot in that respect. Doing things as simple as choosing the background music playing in the house, rather than letting one person dictate it has helped. Headphones have helped, for listening to podcasts and audiobooks that reinforce by own beliefs and give me an opportunity to grow have helped, even when they might not be something I want to share with everyone.

The sadder and more broken I am, the harder it is to form original ideas and have creative thoughts, which is pretty important as a writer. The pandemic has heightened many of the challenges I already faced, with Social Anxiety and Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria (RSD).

RSD is a common byproduct of ADHD that leads to grand adverse reactions to rejections that others see as minimal or trivial. In some this shows itself as breakdowns with excessive crying and depressive symptoms. In others this may show itself in fits of rage, that can lead to verbal attacks and perhaps even physical attacks or property destruction. It is also sometimes referred to emotional dysregulation.

I have had RSD episodes periodically throughout my life, sometimes with greater spaces between them. It seems that crying would be safer, but I have come to wonder if it always is. Internalizing pain just allows it to recycle within you. It amplifies your own doubts about yourself and makes you more vulnerable to the next attack. Things like focusing, being productive, or even being a decent example fall by the wayside, and you spiral with guilt. Only forgiveness can really free you, because everywhere you go, there you are.

If you are a child or an adult with ADHD, or some other condition, or probably just anyone alive the Universe has likely wronged you somewhere along the way. If you are brave you can stand before the external demons, look them in the eye and say. I deserve better. I am rarely so brave. Forgiving yourself is an act that needs to be set on an autoloop, and it means at least attempting to find little bits of olive branches, whether anyone else grabs onto them or not.

Getting Back on the Ostrich

ostrich standing on green grass
Photo by Jean van der Meulen on Pexels.com

I haven’t blogged since July 18 and it is November. The garden yielded less than I hoped, and my bunnies grew up and moved away.

Photo by author, the day the bunny mom told her bunnies it was time to leave the nest

Now I will have to pull up the old tomatoes. Reassess how I am going to handle the whole thing next year.

My Medium Life

It wasn’t just this blog that suffered. I was less active on Medium for a while too, and my earnings took a dip. I have emerged, however as somewhat of a poet. At least half of what I post there is poetry. Based on various factors, I think I can get somewhere around $40 per month from there. Making anything from poetry is satisfying. Having written articles while content writing for several years, and getting paid more, it upsets me more when mere pennies trickle in on the longer stuff.

That’s a big part of my slacking hiatus. I had a depression flare-up, and it was all I could do to tread water.

But not all poems are sad. Consider this recent one as well. Autumn Yardwork

Author’s grandson, playing in leaves; photo by author

One of the things I have had to figure out has been how to put the right amount of pressure on myself, so I can move forward without feeling like I am on a too hectic of a roller coaster. To some extent, I believe I will always feel somewhat like I am on a carnival ride, but I am finding if I can catch those emotions when they first start to brew, I can channel them into poetry, and get back to functioning much quicker than if let them eat at me or build until I burst. I still write articles, essays, and blog-type posts, but poetry has become my big thing.

I’m doing some other experimenting too. I’ve started selecting poems to imprint on graphics suitable for Instagram. Like this.

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I’m also trying to figure out Kofi for a little added support

Links provided on my blog to my Medium work are “friend links,” meaning those who are not paying members won’t see the paywall. Membership is dirt cheap though, just $5 a month for all you can read with no ads, and $50 if you commit to a year. Even when I was down in the dumps I earned back the fee writing in the Medium Partner Program, and I have the satisfaction of knowing I’m helping ou other writers as well.

Embracing Little Failures

food healthy yellow broken
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am a royal screw up. I don’t say this to put myself down. I’m simply stating a fact. For the most part, I’m okay with it. That doesn’t mean I don’t try to find ways to be a better me. I simply know that I am not going to correct all my flaws. I am going to do things the wrong way pretty much every day. I’m going to try, and miss the mark over and over and over again. Some days this will bother me more than others. Hopefully, I will take it all in stride more often than not.

Letting People Accept Me as I Am

If you are still reading, you perhaps are a royal screw up in your own right. Maybe not as bad as me. Maybe worse. Congratulations. Screwing up means you try. It means your efforts matter, even if they are not always successful. It means things do not come easy to you, and you get back on your ostrich and try again. (Yes, I suppose it might be easier to get a horse, but how would you know it’s me?)

Later today, people are supposed to be stopping by. An old me would be frantic, rushing to make everything perfect before their arrival even though it will only be a few minutes. I will make an effort to clean, but I am not going to drop everything so I can present myself differently than I am. There are neatniks in the world, but I am not one. I prefer some basic order, and I am trying to do better with that. It will come in small increments, and I am likely to drop the ball often. I will keep picking it up. I will remind myself that juggling is hard.

When I try sometimes others will appreciate the effort, and sometimes they won’t. They will look at their own values and priorities and they will decide what they would do to correct my behavior “if they were me.” The only problem is… they aren’t me. If they were they would be doing exactly what I’m doing.  Chances are, they are dropping a ball somewhere in their lives as well and they will keep trying to pick it up time and time again. Maybe it is well hidden. Perhaps they are the only one that knows.

Slowing Down, Shifting Priorities and Making Progress

For the past few months I have done a good deal of writing on Medium.com as a way to earn a bit of money writing what I want to write.  To read there without limitations, people need to spend $5 a month or $50 per year. These fees are distributed to writers. On my blog, I distribute “friend links” that provide access to my work.  That means blog followers can read it, even if they aren’t paying members. There’s an option of not putting something behind the paywall as well, but most of the time I prefer to be paid.

I have not written new fiction in a while, but I have posted the first chapter of my novel, No Sensible People, on Medium, and over time I will post the other chapters as well. The first chapter installments will be behind the paywall. Other chapters will be unlisted, but links will be provided. My blog followers will have access to “friend links.”

The characters in my novel, like me, are royal screw-ups … in completely different ways than I am, mostly. I enjoyed getting to know them. I look forward to visiting them again. Perhaps you would too.

Here are the friend links for the first chapter– these include audio as well, and each will link to the next section as it becomes available.

Chapter one, Part One

Chapter One, Part Two

Chapter One, Part Three

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Gretchen Lee Bourquin obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature/Creative Writing in another life, and worked in disability care, customer service, and education administration — and as a single mom of two, now grown, kids- before delving into freelancing as a content writer. She’s enjoying the opportunity that Medium provides to get a little more personal and put the creativity back in her writing. Follow me on my Facebook Writing PageTwitter, or WordPress

Stepping Back to Move Forward

two brown rabbits
Photo by Jim Long on Pexels.com

On the morning of July 4th, I went outside to check on my garden. No sooner was I on the back step when I noticed a rabbit had hopped into my garden again. Rabbits have been abundant this summer.  To my dog, they have become the new squirrels. Instinctively, I shouted at it, “Out of my garden, Bunny!” my tune changed quickly when I actually got to the garden. The rabbit I had yelled at had retreated to some nearby bushes, but she hadn’t been alone. There were four newborn bunnies laying in a weedy patch near my peas.

“Omigod, omigod, omigod,” I said. “Don’t worry babies, I won’t hurt you.”  I felt horrible for shooing their mother away. My daughter and grandson were visiting, and I quickly called to them that newborn bunnies were in the garden. The bunnies started wriggling. They were still bald and blind, but they made their way through a small hole in the ground. By the time my daughter and grandson made it outside, the last bunny was making its way into the hole.

That afternoon, I saw a couple more adult rabbits, but now adult rabbit sightings are down considerably. I saw one of the babies today, just a face with some fur, and I think a sliver of an eye. From what I’ve read, it isn’t unusual for baby bunnies to be left home alone. Often, they are only fed by Mom Rabbit at dawn and dusk. Mom mixes her fur with grass in order to leave her scent and keep the bunnies protected.

I am still hoping my peas stay safe.  There is one of my bell pepper plants that appear to have vanished completely, and there are plenty of bites out of my strawberry leaves. It’s the second year on my strawberry plant. There was nothing edible last year, at least not by humans. Tomatoes are slow, but finally, all the plants are at least flowering. The only thing edible has been a few pea pods, and they are delicious. I’m trying to let most of them grow into full-sized peas. Bell peppers are still pretty little too.

Waiting for Progress

it is hard for me to wait for progress. Of everything in my garden, I think it is my yellow tomatoes that I obsess about the most. A few years ago, I suffered from Vocal Cord Dysfunction and a serious case of GERD and was forced to cut down on acidic food dramatically.  Yellow tomatoes have far less acid than red ones, so I can eat more of them. They are harder to find in the store, so I grow them. I really want a decent harvest. My biggest plant is my Golden Boy tomatoes. It was the last to flower. It is the only one of five plants I have not found any mini tomatoes on. I stopped staring at it for a few days, and the flowers finally came.

It took spring and summer a while to come to Minnesota, and I am hoping that I get plenty of ripe tomatoes without having to resort too much to tricks, like placing them in paper bags with other fruit. I hadn’t seen the bunnies for a few days either since they wiggled into their hole, and it was good to know they were growing.

Managing the Slow Days

I’m progressing too with my writing, but had my own little setback. I finally got curated on Medium, which means the powers that be started reading and appreciating my stories, but after a mini-windfall of curation, I saw a couple pieces get passed by again. That’s okay, though. I blame no one.

The last couple of pieces had less punch to them, and I took some extra time off from writing. It stunted my growth a bit, but I am ready to build momentum. Eventually, I will have things recognized again, and I’ll grow into who I want to be as a writer.

My garden will catch up too. There is still a lot of summer left. My little yellow flowers will become tomatoes. My pea pods will fill with peas. I might even get a bell pepper or a strawberry by season’s end — if the bunnies don’t eat them first.

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story links in italics are “friend links” and can be viewed on Medium with no membership restrictions

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Gretchen Lee Bourquin obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature/Creative Writing in another life, and worked in disability care, customer service, and education administration — and as a single mom of two, now grown, kids- before delving into freelancing as a content writer. She’s enjoying the opportunity that Medium provides to get a little more personal and put the creativity back in her writing. Follow me on my Facebook Writing PageTwitter, or WordPress

Appreciating the Little Wins of Life

achievement activity adolescent arms
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

Right now, I am feeling a bit better about how my writing and life are going than I did a week ago. In the grand scheme of things, the changes aren’t that dramatic, but they still feel important.  It’s been just over a week since I was first curated on Medium with the piece Self-Diagnosis and Dr. Google. Since then four more pieces were curated, which means they are visible as people search topics in the first page of results. They aren’t viral, by any means. I have a decent following considering the relatively short time I have been there.

Some of the personal bugs I had have now settled somewhat, and I feel grateful. I’m still glad I stuck up for myself, and am only sorry I haven’t done it a bit more often in other situations. More than ever, I think, I feel a right to exist in my space and have a voice. There is a power there, and at the risk of sounding corny, there is a responsibility, although I don’t fully understand what it means for me, I will keep paying attention. I’ll keep learning.

One thing that I have known for a long time is that life isn’t always fair. Some guys have all the luck, and some get the shaft time and time again. But being at the far end of either of these places is pretty rare. In a lot of ways, I feel like I do better with small wins rather than larger ones. In addition to my own work, and breaking through the curation wall, I have started my own publication on the site, Brave&Inspired, on Medium, I have felt braver, and I have certainly been inspired by several writers there for different reasons.

Whether someone is conquering their own mental health demons or raising their voice for a stronger sense of social consciousness, it is something that needs attention. We need knowledge that puts a bug in our ears to be more self-conscious, and to think about how our actions affect the world around us long term. I’ve been reminded of the obstacles I have overcome and the people who helped me overcome them

No one does this life thing alone. Some assume writing is a lonely pursuit, but I believe that it is anything but. You expand your understanding of yourself. The more you let others in, the more you come to understand others as well. I have always worried about overstaying my welcome, but I have realized it is harder to do if you always bring a gift to the party. That’s the next turn my writing journey needs to take. Giving back. Little wins are wonderful, Their even better when others get to win too.

 

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story links in italics are “friend links” and can be viewed on Medium with no membership restrictions

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Gretchen Lee Bourquin obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Literature/Creative Writing in another life, and worked in disability care, customer service, and education administration — and as a single mom of two, now grown, kids- before delving into freelancing as a content writer. She’s enjoying the opportunity that Medium provides to get a little more personal and put the creativity back in her writing. Follow me on my Facebook Writing PageTwitter, or WordPress