Chemical Cocktail, Please

His hand is outstretched with an ornament in his palm; he says, “Do you want to hang this one?”

A week ago, Bryan and I put up the Christmas tree in my living room.

With the new Gilmore Girls Series playing in the background, we spread all of the ornaments across the floor and began to hang.

It was a home-made ornament from my co-worker Heather with one of my favorite photos of Zen and me on it: I’m in my thread-bare bathrobe, snuggling him in a deep embrace while smiling.

me-and-zen

I immediately broke out into tears. Big alligator tears.

I don’t know if it was that I was completely taken by surprise or that it was the beginning of the week where my hormones get all wacky thanks to my silent passenger, PMDD. It probably was a combination of the two, but I was a tiny ball on my living room rug, crying hard while apologizing through snotty wails.

Losing Zen a month before Christmas last year was such a whirlwind that I had erased from my memory that I ever received that ornament. And unfortunately, it wasn’t the only one. After I recovered myself, we continued to hang ornaments, and minutes later, Bryan finds another customized Zen ornament that my sister had made. Another one I had forgotten about. He hands it to me, and once again, I am on the floor, tears streaming down my face.

I have always been “highly sensitive” and “overly emotional” since I was a child. In the past few years, it has intensified. Recently, I’ve discovered I have what is labeled as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, where my hormones go hay-wire for approximately a week to a week and a half each month, usually during ovulation.

So, it makes me wonder, was I really that distraught over my deceased cat or was it just my crazy hormones acting up?

Knowing that I have a hormone imbalance and being able to regulate it with birth control and natural remedies, such as exercise, dietary changes, and herbal supplements, has basically saved me from losing my mind and firing off at people with no self-control. Yet, it has also enabled me to use it as a crutch or an excuse when I do act ‘roided up on emotions.

That bothers me, sometimes.

Some of the magic of life’s moments are blanched when I have the knowledge that a specific combination of neurochemicals and hormones are having a rager in my body and that’s the reason why something makes me wistful, depressed, nostalgic, deeply affected, or impassioned. Things like my libido and emotional acuity can be altered with the application of a pill each day.

However, I cannot deny that PMDD is a real thing and I can actually see the signs of it now that I know what it is. It’s not just a made-up crutch with which I scapegoat my behaviors. I’ll come home from work and have that “I just want to go to bed now” feeling that I used to attribute to laziness and always gave myself a hard time about, but I know now that it is the onset of PMDD. Knowing that helps me get through it and actually motivates me to go to yoga, start cleaning the apartment, or make dinner. These subtle signs always happen during a specific time of the month, providing some proof that the chemical cocktail is coursing through my body.

Crying over Zen was unexpected and real. It may have been heightened by my levels of hormones in that moment, but I love and miss him fiercely.

I refuse to let the knowledge that we’re all varying mixtures of chemicals ruin the incredible luster that is cherishing a lost one, smiling because a memory with an old partner feels painfully beautiful, or hurting because my heart is breaking. It might not always be a fun feeling, but it’s me.

It’s always been me.

A Different Kind of Christmas

I don’t mean to sound like a grinch or a curmudgeon, but I generally kinda hate this time of year.

I didn’t always. When I was little, Christmas was my favorite holiday. Of course. Then, across my teenage years to early twenties, it became somewhat lackluster. I didn’t HATE it; I just found the “magic” of it to be unimpressive.

When J and I were together, there was a resurgence of the splendor. I made home-made cards for everyone each year, I decorated our home, we put up a tree. I loved wrapping gifts.

Then, my sister got engaged right before Christmas. She had been with her man a way shorter time than J and I had. J and I had been together for years. I was disappointed, naturally. A year later, right before Christmas, J proposed. That was a great Christmas; unfortunately, the jealousy spiked after we were engaged (seems counter-intuitive, I know) and he sabotaged our relationship in the following months.

Since then, I have celebrated three Christmases and this year will be the fourth. The first Christmas was great; I was dating someone new and went to his house to be with his family on Christmas Day. It was the next two years to follow that have made me entirely skeptical of the Christmas season.

For the past two years, absolutely horrific things have happened right around Christmas. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the events, because they are very private in nature, but both were severely traumatizing and heart-wrenching.

This year, I experienced yet another traumatizing event right after a good friend passed away. I reconnected with a man who made me forget everyone who’s ever hurt me, and then I sadly ended things with him at the end of summer. Of course, we are not very good at staying away from one another, so that’s a whole other thing. Then, my cat unexpectedly passed away, a friend’s mother passed away, and other friends have been experiencing a lot of upheaval in their own lives.

This Christmas? Despite all of that, it seems way better than the last two. It’s amazing what a little perspective will do. My roommate and I put up the tree on December 1st. I have decorations out. I have no money to purchase any gifts for anyone this year, because I am in quite a bit of debt from my cat’s vet bills, but I am not fearful of the day of Christmas, itself.

I don’t know if I’ll be waking up alone Christmas Day. I don’t know if I’ll be spending it alone this year. Strangely, I haven’t really thought about it too much. And New Years? I haven’t even made plans yet.

I’m still struggling and having a hard time with things. It’s been a very emotional year, but I don’t feel the overwhelming devastation of years past. What I feel is a want and a need to reconnect with myself in an even deeper way than I have been for the past year. To become healthy again. To write, write, write. And anything else that happens in between, well, we’ll see.

Sometimes, not really having expectations is a healthy mindset. Going with the flow of things has never stabbed me in the back.

This year, perhaps, I just have to “be”.