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Being Overwhelmed

Sometimes it seems like there are just too many things to do and not enough time to do all of them. Or any of them, once in a while.

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of times like that. I had two books release within less than a week, one under each of my two pen names, and that led to trying to scramble to promote both of them. I’ve been trying to help my 17-year-old with college applications and the dreaded financial aid applications, as well as trying to give her moral support about her classwork. I have a couple of writing projects I’m working on, and was just given another by a friend.

And then there’s housework. And appointments. And errands. And… auuughhh!

Fortunately, I have a group of really good friends who’ve had their own “auuughhh!” moments from time to time, and who understand having too much to do. Over the weekend, I reached out to them and asked for whatever help, support, and encouragement they could give. And all of them agreed to help in one way or another, whether it’s helping me break down some large tasks into smaller bits (which is always difficult for me), or being a “brainstorm buddy” for the stories I’m working on, or just reminding me I’m capable of getting these things done and telling me to stop procrastinating.

It isn’t always easy to reach out and ask for help, especially knowing that you aren’t the only one who gets overwhelmed and has a lot to do. But it’s always good to have support, and the people in your life don’t know you need support if you don’t ask.

Giving an Apology

Over the weekend, my kids (ages 17 and 20, so not exactly kids anymore if you want to be technical) had a conflict that left both of them feeling hurt and angry. This post is essentially what I told the 20-year-old as they were trying to get over the situation.

Apologizing to someone doesn’t always mean you’ve done something wrong. It doesn’t mean you *think* you’ve done something wrong, or that you agree with their perspective.

Sometimes an apology is best translated as “I know I did something that hurt you (or made you angry, or upset you, or whatever), and I regret making you feel that way.”

In the particular conflict in my household, the 20-year-old had said they would do something with the 17-year-old.  The 20-year-old woke up feeling ill and with a fairly high fever, so wasn’t up to doing what they’d said they would do. The 17-year-old was angry and disappointed about this, with the result that she didn’t speak to the 20-year-old much of the rest of the day. The 20-year-old was having a hard time with it, so I asked if they’d apologized to their sister.

“No,” they said. “Why should I apologize? I can’t help being sick.”

That was when I explained my thoughts on apologizing. They wouldn’t be telling their sister they were sorry for being sick. They wouldn’t be agreeing with their sister’s reaction. They would just be acknowledging that they recognize how their sister feels and regret causing her to feel that way. I told them, “Don’t even make an excuse or try to explain. Just say ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t go with you’ and leave her alone.”

They didn’t seem to like the idea, because to them, apology means “I was wrong and you were right.” But they gave it a try anyway. As I told them, when there’s a conflict, someone has to be the first to say they’re sorry, or nothing gets resolved. Fortunately, this got resolved.

Worried

On Friday, I briefly met up with a friend whom I hadn’t seen in a couple of months. He had something of mine that I’d asked to get back, and he couldn’t stay to talk because he was in the middle of a time-sensitive project at work. I appreciated that he was willing to even take the time to meet me at all, though it might have been nice to have a bit of conversation with him since we haven’t talked since the last time we saw each other.

He looked different from the last time I saw him, though. It’s hard to explain. He was always a fairly happy, high-energy kind of guy, but Friday he appeared weary. Not just physically tired, but completely “I need a break and I’m never going to get one” weary. Even when he smiled at me, it was a tired smile.

Even though he and I don’t interact much anymore, he’s still my friend and still matters to me. And, partly because friends are important to me and likely partly because I have anxiety disorder, I worry about the people who matter to me. All I can do right now is hope that he’s okay, and that if he isn’t, he’ll reach out to me for support as he’s done in the past. Meanwhile, I’m just going to keep him in my thoughts and hope that if things aren’t okay for him right now, they will be.

Stock Cover Images

Since a lot of publishers tend to use stock images in the creation of their covers, it isn’t surprising that occasionally the same image shows up in more than one place. Sometimes in a lot of places.

I’ve had it happen with a couple of my own books, though one of the books in question is now out of print, so I don’t have that cover anymore. But I had two books, one a male/male and the other a hetero, that I would swear had the same guy as part of the cover image, just reversed from one to the other.

After changing my website theme, it occurred to me that I probably had way too much in this site’s media library, including the covers of all of my out of print books. So I decided to go through and clean things out. And then I saw this:

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I uploaded that image in late 2012 for a guest author’s post. Tonya Kinzer, I believe. According to the tag on the image, it was meant to represent a character named Nick. I had to check on that, especially to find out when I’d uploaded that image, because it looked very, very familiar.

Does “Nick” look familiar to you? He should…

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Two years later, one of Loose Id’s cover artists decided this guy made a perfect Erich Zahn.

And it amused me so much I had to do a blog post about it.

Honesty

In a relationship, honesty is one of the most important components. If you aren’t honest with your partner, you’re betraying their trust, even if they don’t find out about it. Relationships need a foundation of trust and respect, and being dishonest erodes that foundation.

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Sometimes people are dishonest with their partners so they won’t hurt the partner’s feelings. I don’t mean things like “Sure, that dress looks great” when it doesn’t. I mean saying things about your relationship or your feelings that are untrue, or making promises you don’t intend to or know you won’t be able to keep. When you love someone, you don’t want to hurt them, but finding out that one’s partner has been dishonest can hurt far more than the truth would have.

Of course, sometimes dishonesty is intentional. You’re trying to cover up something you don’t want your partner to know about because they’ll get angry, or they might leave, or you don’t respect them enough to admit what you’ve done wrong. Sometimes you just don’t care about their feelings; it’s more important to hide the truth than it is to face the consequences.

Regardless of the intention behind dishonesty, when someone learns that their partner has been dishonest, it hurts. And it can destroy a relationship. If someone has lied to you, you can’t know for sure whether other things they say are true or not. If they’ve lied once, they might lie again. Worse, if the dishonesty was about the relationship itself, you’re left wondering whether the entire thing has been based on lies. Whether you ever mattered to your partner in the first place.

There are times when being dishonest is a matter of safety, particularly in an abusive relationship. If you believe you’re in danger, then yeah, do what you need to do in order to keep yourself from being hurt or killed.

But this post is about the dishonesty that serves no real purpose. If you’re in a relationship with someone you say you love, part of that love, in my opinion, should be respecting them enough to be honest no matter what. We all hide some things, but when you know the other person would be hurt if they learned the truth, how do you think they’d feel if they not only found out the truth but also found out you’d lied?

Keep your partner’s trust. Keep their respect. Be honest.

Thoughts About Love

Just some random observations…

“Being in love” the way most people mean is like a firework. It’s bright as hell. Lights everything around it. And it’s beautiful. But fireworks fall apart and burn out, leaving only darkness. Love is more like a campfire. Sometimes it burns so brightly it hurts; other times you can barely find an ember. But either way, there’s warmth and at least a speck of light, and it doesn’t completely go out unless someone puts it out.

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Love is when you feel more like yourself when you’re with that person than at any other time in your life. As if they see the you that you wish you could be and reflect it back at you so you realize you’re already there.

Love is when you feel their arms around you and know that no matter what, you’ll always be safe there.

Love is when you want to spend time with the other person, even when you aren’t really doing anything together, even when you’ve had a stressful, crappy day or week and don’t want to deal with the rest of the world.

Love is when the other person looks at you as if you’re the most valuable, incredible treasure they’ve ever seen, and they’re the most valuable treasure you’ve ever had.

Love is letting the other person see your needs and vulnerabilities because you know they won’t judge you for them, and it’s realizing that showing the other person those parts of yourself makes you stronger.

Love is trying to remember your life before them and not being able to, because it feels like they’ve always been there. And it’s wondering what your life would be like without them and hoping you never find out.

Love is recognizing the other person the first time you meet, even if you’ve never seen them before. Not recognizing their face; recognizing THEM.

Love isn’t about labels or names. It’s knowing that the person is there for you, and wanting to be there for them no matter what’s going on in your life. It’s smiling when you see their name on your friends list, and cheering up even on your worst days when you remember time you spent with them or a silly joke they told. It’s accepting them at their worst and knowing they’ll accept you at yours.

Love is realizing the other person knows you better and more deeply than anyone else—and that they accept and want you not in spite of it all, but because all of those things, all the flaws and scars and fucked-upness, are part of you, and you are valuable to them. And it’s accepting and wanting them fully and completely as they are, because even the things about them that make you nuts are part of them, and they’re valuable to you.

Random Thoughts

Because I was having a hard time thinking of topics for this week’s blog, I decided to just be random about it. I guess these are more questions than thoughts, so feel free to answer if you’re so inclined.

Why do some people think hugs can be given to total strangers with no hesitation, while others think hugs are foreplay?

Do cats have some kind of radar that tells them where you are at any given moment? Because mine always lurk near me, even when I try to hide…

Same thing with kids. How do kids always know where you are?

How many dishes have to get broken before I stop my 20-year-old from washing them?

How does my 20-year-old not know how to wash dishes yet?

How the heck is she 20??? That makes me… old!

Why is it that sometimes friendship seems more intimate than a relationship?

Why does it have to Monday?

About My Cats

I had a hard time figuring out a topic for this week’s post, so I decided to talk about my cats.

I have three cats. Technically none of them are mine. Two belong to my 16-year-old and one to my 19-year-old. At least that’s the way we see it as humans.

Cats see it differently. The oldest cat agrees that she belongs to my 16-year-old. The middle cat, however, considers my husband to be her human, rather than the 19-year-old. And the youngest can’t make up her mind, though she tends to gravitate to me most of the time.

Right now I’m trying to figure out how to get the youngest cat into the carrier for a trip to the vet. This might not be as easy as it seems. She’s a small cat but she fights mightily, and she really doesn’t like the carrier… But she’s going to have to deal with it, because if we don’t get her spayed soon, she’s going to drive all of us bananas.

She won’t be as difficult as the other two, though, each of which has to go to the vet within the next few days. I might need to wear armor to load the middle cat into the carrier…

I’m glad to have the cats around, because since I work from home, there are hours on end where they’re the only living beings I have to interact with. And bonus points that they’re soft and fuzzy. (The pic below is the youngest cat in March 2014. Apparently I have no other cat pics…)MoonySm

Music-y Stuff

Since I haven’t been working a lot on writing (because the ideas just aren’t flowing well), I’ve been working more on music. I’ve posted on here a few times about my musician friend and the songs we’re writing together, and I’ve posted a trailer or two that he and I did the music in.

We’re working now on a few cover songs, and more originals. It’s fun, and it’s relaxing. Writing used to be that for me, but once I started getting published, writing became more pressure. Now music has taken up the “something relaxing” role in my life, and I’m trying hard to keep it that way. I don’t need to have my songs widely available, or to perform in front of thousands or even hundreds. I do want to perform in front of an audience, and that’s another thing my friend and I are working toward, since he has a lot of experience performing live.

Our original songs run the gamut from one about a drug addict begging a vampire to turn her and then committing suicide when he walks away, to one from the point of view of someone leaving a controlling/abusive partner. We’ve done tentative recordings of a couple of them, and hopefully soon we’ll have the recordings finalized.

Meanwhile, it’s just fun. And it gives us something to do to spend time together, which is never a bad thing.

Hang In There

Life is stressful. No question about that.

I have depression and anxiety disorder, which I don’t make a secret about because I’m sick of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. A stigma I’ve engaged in myself, mostly aimed at me. I can accept someone else having a mental illness, but when I get depressed or anxious, I start wondering why I can’t “just get over it.” And why I’m so weak, and whiny, and whatever.

Of course, those thoughts are a component of the illnesses. Vicious circle.

The problem is that when my life hits a stressful patch, whether it’s family-related, or financial, or whatever, those illnesses sometimes impact how I handle things. Mostly, I do handle them. My past has taught me that it doesn’t matter how I’m feeling, I have to put on the face and do what everyone else needs me to do, and screw whether I’m okay.

My past–or the people in it–also taught me that if there’s stress, it’s because I’ve done something wrong and deserve the bad stuff.

This is kind of a dark, sad post, and I’m not sorry about that. Because the thing is, this is how having a mental illness works sometimes. Sometimes you get stuck in the dark, sad mire of your illness, and the only way to claw yourself out of it is to let others know where you are. Even if they don’t care. Even if they insult you for it. Just bringing those thoughts, stresses, fears, etc. out of the darkness sometimes helps.

I know I’m far from the only person who deals with stress, or who has mental illness, or who gets stuck in the mire.

Just remember when you hit those times… you’ve been there before. And every single time, you’ve survived it, and things have improved.

You’ll survive this time too. And things will improve this time. Because even if you can’t tell the future, you can see the past, and the fact that every single time before has ended and things have gotten better means that odds are pretty damn good that will be the case this time as well.

So hang in there, and remember you aren’t alone. There’s a light. (“Over at the Frankenstein place”, maybe? Sorry, had to make a bad joke to lighten the mood.)