Underneath my yellow skin

The more things change…part two

In part one, I talked about my frustrations with things that do not change over time. In this post, I want to talk about the things that have changed without notice from me. I’ve mentioned some of them in the past such as my sleep. To summarize briefly, when I was in college, I rarely slept more than three hours a night. Then, when I went home on breaks, I slept for fifteen hours the first night. Partly because it was my sleep deprivation catching up to me and partly I would get sick, but fight it off until I got home. In my late twenties, I slept maybe four hours a night. I will say I have thyroid issues, but at that point of my life, I had hypothyroidism and not hyper, so insomnia should not have been a problem. If anything, it should have been the opposite. I got my thyroid destroyed when I was fourteen (radiation), so any insomnia before hand could be attributed to hyperthyroidism (well, at least partly), but afterwards, it should have course-corrected.

I also learned yesterday that having vivid dreams is a symptom of not getting deep REM sleep. It was like a light bulb went off in my head. I used to have very graphic and disturbing dreams all the time when I was sleeping four hours a night. I woke up after two hours, usually in a cold sweat because of a weird and intense dream, and then I’d drift off into another uneasy, unsettling dream before waking up again. I knew I wasn’t getting REM sleep, so it was weirdly validating to read that I wasn’t just imaging things.

In the time I’ve been studying taiji–over ten years–I’ve slowly started sleeping more and more. I’m up to six hours on a good night, and I rarely remember my dreams any longer. If I do, they’re anxiety dreams. While not great, they’re much better than the murder dreams I used to have. Six hours is a huge leap for me, but it’s hard not to get fixated on the fact that I’m not getting the requisite eight hours unless I’m sick as I am now. Currently, I’m going from five hours in one night to nine hours the next. That’s how I know I’m sick. It’s actually one thing I like about being sick–I actually get a long chunk of sleep without disturbance. Other than that, though, it pretty much sucks.

Some of the changes. I mentioned that I hated Christmas. This year, for whatever reason, I didn’t mind it at all. Or rather, it simply wasn’t on my radar. I didn’t care when I saw posts about it online, and if someone wished me a Merry Christmas, I just smiled and wished them one in return. I will acknowledge that I don’t watch TV so I didn’t have to deal with the deeply insipid commercials so that’s a plus. Yes, I was mildly annoyed by the Christmas music in stores, but whatever. It might sound like a backhanded diss by saying I didn’t even notice it, but I really mean it in the best possible way.

The thing is, it wasn’t something I set out to do. It’s not like I deliberately told myself to ignore Christmas or pretend it wasn’t happening. I simply did not care. It’s a weird feeling, but oddly liberating. I still didn’t like it, but I did decide to go to my brother’s for Christmas Eve, and I had a nice time with my nephews, niece, and other family. I’m not saying I’ll do it again next year, but it was nice not to feel oppressed by the holidays as I normally do. It’s liberating and a weight off my shoulders.

I’m a negative person, which will not surprise anyone who knows me. I can always find the cloud around the silver lining, and I’m the one who notices about a million of ways something can go wrong. I’m the downer who will rain on your parade, even if I only do it internally. Yes, at nearly half a century years old, I have learned to have an inside voice and an outside voice. I keep 90% of my opinions/thoughts to myself because ain’t nobody got time for all that shit.

I’m dealing with a lot of food/immunity issues. I have for quite some time, but it’s getting worse each year. I gave up gluten, dairy, and caffeine, and I thought it would be enough. It was for two years, but it’s not any longer. It’s similar to how I used to take Lactaid before I ate dairy, and it worked–until it didn’t. There was a point where the pain was not worth the pleasure, and I gave up dairy for good.

I have been resistant to the idea of doing an elimination diet for roughly a year. I was pissed about the fact that I had already given up so much, and now I was forced to give up more. It’s partly because I love food, so increasingly whittling down the list of foods I can eat is profoundly depressing. In addition, I am already weird in so many ways, I do not need to add this to the list. At some point, though, I simply could not put up with the internal irrigation issues any longer. I hated having to rush to the bathroom and spending a half hour shitting my brains out, thinking I was done, returning to the couch, only to have to race back five minutes later.

So. I have reluctantly started the FODMAP elimination diet, which I call food map. I’m not doing it completely right, I’m sure, because there are several sneaky ingredients that show up in the weirdest places. It’s depressing the hell out of me because onion and garlic are in everything. Honey is also on the list of high FODMAP, which means I’ve had to cut it out of my ginger honey lemon tea. I could use sugar, but it wouldn’t taste right. Honey is by far my favorite sweetener, and it’s hard to let it go.

I’m not happy about it. Let me be clear about that. However, I have been telling people that as annoying as it is (and it’s fucking annoying), it’s not the worst problem in the world. I mean, it’s not life-threatening, and I’m lucky enough that I can test for it in a fairly controlled setting. I don’t have to worry about racing to the bathroom at work and wondering what my coworkers think of me. If I have an accident, I can immediately take a shower, change pants, wash the old ones, etc. I’m not being a Pollyanna about it, but I can put it in some perspective. Again, it’s not something I’m forcing myself to do or chanting positive affirmations to myself or whatever. I have never found those to work; indeed, they make me cranky. In this case, however, I genuinely feel that as much of a pain in the ass (literally and figuratively) it is to do all this, it’s really not the end of the world.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I can’t force myself to change the way I feel. I can do all the positive thinking or rational talk possible, and it won’t change the way
I feel. It has to be something that happens organically, and it always surprises me when it happens. It’s an interesting side effect of taiji, and it’s another reason I’m always happy to natter on about taiji, especially the weapons.

Oh! That’s one thing else that has changed without me actually doing anything to make it happen. the Sabre Form. I did not like it the first time my teacher taught it to me. I was expecting it to be like the sword, and it was anything but. I learned the movements, but I was resenting it the whole time. This time, I started learning it again because I wanted to push past my reluctance. We stopped the lessons the first time because of a series of unfortunate events, starting with my minor car crash. The second time, I was determined to get through it even if I didn’t like it.

To my surprise, I loved it. I’m still digging it even though I’ve encountered a few hiccups. I recently described my love for weapons in terms of relationships. The sword is my spouse. The saber is my steady side piece. The cane is the hot piece of ass I want to tap on a regular but not-emotional basis. The double saber is like the friend you indulge with when there’s no one else available. I know my sword feels neglected, but I do make sure to at least do drills every day. Sword will be in my heart forever because it was the first weapon I leaned. They are so different, though. The sword is a finesse weapon (and a scholar’s weapon) whereas the saber is a barbarian weapon. I love them both, though, and it’s such a change.

At any rate, I’ll take it. We’ll see how the new year goes for changes that sneak up on me.


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