He Likes Me! He Really Likes Me!

There are some people in your life that know when you need a little pick-me-up, even when you don’t know it. I had just had a meeting with my manager, whose last day will be the end of this week, and I was a little down. I checked my phone to see if anyone had called, and was greeted with the photo below.

As soon as I saw this, my grin spread from ear to ear.

What a sweet surprise!

My husband Lee, who I’ve been with for more than six years, sent me this precious note. He is a wonderful person who appreciates me in a way that I did not know was possible.

I used to think that being in a relationship would be too much work. I would say that if I ever got married, my husband and I would live in separate houses so that we could be together when we wanted. And then, when things got too much for me and I needed space to myself, I could go back to my house.

Of course, that never happened. I found out I could cohabitate just fine in my first marriage, but when that relationship crumbled, the apartment seemed to close in on me. By that time, my anxiety and depression invaded my life again and pulled me down into the abyss. It took me a while to climb back up, but I did it.

Once I was back living on my own, I decided to join MySpace to reconnect with friends and build a strong base around me. Every so often I would dwell about the divorce, and I even wrote a blog entry about it. I talked about how I was like a duck; on the surface I looked calm, but my legs were going a mile a minute underneath the water.

A few days later, I got an email.

March 16, 2005

just a random word of encouragement from a stranger.

hang in there. it gets better.

what I did to get my mind together was find something I’d always wanted to do but never had the time for … and channeled all of my energy into that whenever I thought about that “missing person” in my life.

now I can play bass. thanks, ex!

the cool part is when you realize you’re doing it because you love it, not because it’s a distraction. when you reach that point it’s amazing.

or get an assortment of krispy kremes, some coffee (black as midnight on a mooooonless night) and load up the twin peaks box set.

works for me when I get overwhelmed.

I thought it was a nice note and so I decided to write back to thank him. I didn’t expect him to write back, which he did. I also didn’t expect for one email exchange to blossom into a friendship, which it did. He never pressured me into anything else until I was ready.

Our first photo together

I had so many “what ifs” in my head. What if we’re not compatible? What if he finds out he can’t live with some of my querks? What if I have a panic attack on the way to his house and have to go back home and he’s disappointed? What if we decide to live together and then break up? What if my heart gets broken again?

But it turns out, just like anticipatory anxiety, things turned out not as bad as I feared. In fact, Lee has been the calm in my storm. And I have found that I can be calm for him, too, which I didn’t think was possible.

Not every day is a piece of cake, but having Lee as my friend and husband is the sweetest thing in the world.

Getting married in our backyard on New Year's Eve, 2008

Why I Knit (and Spin)

My first socks

There’s a reason that this blog is called “On Pins and Needles.” Not only does it refer to my anxiety and panic attacks, but the title also refers to the activities that keep me calm: knitting and spinning.

I started knitting because I wanted to learn a new hobby. I loved to read and listen to music and to work all kinds of puzzles (Hello PennyPress!), but I was yearning to do something more creative. And at the time, Stitch n’ Bitch was becoming all the rage. Luckily I met someone who loved to knit and taught me how in the break room at work. I didn’t realize that I would come to love knitting not only because of the beautiful yarns and patterns, but also because it was therapeutic . . . in ways I never imagined.

One of the most vivid memories is when I went to an outdoor concert with Lee and his sister and brother-in-law. I was excited because I had never seen Ween before, but nervous because we were away from home in a venue I had never been before and there were going to be a lot of people there. I brought knitting with me to work on while we waited for the show to start.

The show was packed. At first I was fine and was having a great time, but then I started feeling anxious. I didn’t want to ask Lee to leave the concert because he was having a great time, but at the same time I felt trapped. I felt nauseous and my heart was pounding. I was dizzy and had a hard time catching my breath. I told Lee I was going to stand away from the crowd for a bit to get some air.

I found a place by the entrance gate and sat down. Then I pulled the project from my bag and started to knit. There were some curious onlookers, and even one woman who took my picture, but all I cared about was following the pattern. Knit the knits; purl the purls. The methodical winding of yarn around needles and pulling it through over and over. My restless thoughts started to settle. I was able to breathe. My panic attack had passed.

And later on, I had something to show for it: my first pair of socks.

Kromski Sonata

Kromski Sonata

Knitting isn’t a miraculous cure for my anxiety, but it definitely helps calm my nerves now and then.

Spinning I picked up much later. At first I found it very frustrating, but I was told that there would come a time when I would just GET it. And I did.

So now I can sit at my wheel and just watch the fibers pull from my fingers and twist into yarn. It’s mesmerizing, really. And Lee has gotten into the dyeing process, so it’s fun to see how his colors intertwine.

I am truly grateful that I have been introduced to two activities that not only divert my mind from negative and anxious thoughts, but that also create amazingly beautiful things.