Free Fall

anxiety

I heard a rumor yesterday that the next job opportunity that I thought might present itself to me maybe wouldn’t be after all. Today that rumor was a confirmed fact. The job prospect that felt so right is no longer an option.

When I first heard that maybe this wouldn’t work out after all I felt a bit panicked. I didn’t realize how much I was hanging hope on this. Then today when it was confirmed another feeling popped up, an unexpected feeling.. Relief.

Suddenly that panic of Oh my gosh what am I going to do? morphed into I don’t know and it is okay.

I don’t think the idea of not having a job lined up is what has been stressing me out, I think it is the not knowing what the job will be. I have every confidence I will get a job, I just really want to know what it is going to be. I feel like I am trying to skip chapters in a book because I just really want to know how it ends. I need to relax, keep reading, and try to enjoy the story.

I have been speaking with my husband about everything and as per usual he is pretty chill and supportive about the whole thing. He has no worry in terms of me gaining employment and who knows what else will happen this year? Maybe I am not meant to have a job immediately.

There was another piece of me that felt like I have to get licensed ASAP as well. I had this long check list of all the things I have to do the second I graduate but the truth is I don’t. I don’t have to do any of this immediately.

I can wait to attach with a LCSW supervisor. I can wait to apply to be a registered intern. I can wait to take the test. I can wait to get a job. It can all wait. My life is not going to fall down around me if these things don’t happen the second I am done with school. It will be okay. I will be okay.

Once I apply to be an intern I have 5 years to get my hours and pass the test. If for any reason I cannot make these things happen within that 5 year window I do not get my license in the state of Florida. Ever.

I am trying to balance myself as I finish this last semester but this is all weighing heavy on my mind. This is a big life transition. Once I graduate I am walking back into full-time employment, and everything that comes along with the licensure process, and hopefully parenthood, and building my own practice at some point.

I am excited about most of these things. I am also a bit overwhelmed, and scared. I am also grateful. I am also curious. I am also wanting to speed up time and start doing it all. I am also trying to keep my balance and remain grateful for the moment I am in.

It will all be okay. I will be okay.

Remember Yourself

Yesterday morning I wrote this post and then the internet went down so it is posting a day late.

 

This week has been a lot. It has left me feeling disconnected from myself and stressed. I have been working late at internship, in some cases I have come home multiple hours late leaving me just an hour to have dinner and be with my family before out normal bedtime. I also find myself thinking about my clients after I leave the office. I know what is happening and I know better, yet here I am being human.

I have what feel like valid reasons for all of it. I am a mandated reporter, I cannot walk out after a session where an abuse report needs to be made. and I cannot walk out on a client making threats, I have to meet and see if a suicide risk assessment is needed. and There is documentation with all of this, I cannot walk out without documenting what took place.

All of this is true. This is the job I signed up for. Yet at the end of the day when I a deep breath for the first time all day and check in with myself I recognize there somewhere in the midst of all the chaos and good social working I abandoned myself.

This begs the question, is there a way to stay late and do all these things I need to do to protect my clients AND take care of me at the same time. How do I keep my connection with myself while doing this very emotionally draining work?

I came home last night and found that my books had come in. Part of this order was a pack of self-care cards I ordered. It is a deck of 52 cards, you pull one and see what kind of self-care it suggests. So I plopped on the couch with my dinner to start exploring all my books and pulled a self-care card from the middle of the deck..

Boundaries.

Ha! The universe was sending me a very clear message and  I could do was laugh, shake my head, and say Um Yeah, I know.

So today I am going in late because I already know that I will have to stay late. Boundary #1.
I have also decided to bring one of my diffusers in with me so I can put on some oils and set a better environment for myself in the office to ease feelings of stress and tension. Boundary #2. I am also going to make a concerted effort to leave the office at the office. Boundary #3.

I also think that I need to be more mindful and check in with myself more throughout the day, take that sacred pause from time to time.

I have a lot of anxiety going into today so I would like to air some of that out as well so the burden can be released.

I am running group today and I do not feel ready because of how my week has turned out. I built time into my day to figure it out though and I already have a plan. It will be fine.

I had to make a call to the abuse hotline last night on behalf of a client and the report was accepted. This is the first time I have called and felt afraid after. I am sure everything will be fine but I do plan to speak to my supervisor again today just to make her aware of my concern.

Those are my two largest stressors right now.  I also know this is going to be a long day and I am not excited about that. I thought about putting a “but” in there after I made that statement, it didn’t feel right though. I am not excited about having to work late today end of story. I do not need to try to put a positive spin on that. I am aloud to feel the way I feel about it and that is frustrated.

This is me staying connected to myself, not trying to make pieces of myself pretty because we are not supposed to admit that sometimes we are just annoyed or frustrated or overwhelmed. Yesterday I was completely overwhelmed and I soldiered on and it felt like shit. Today I am frustrated and I will allow myself to have that. I will do what I can to make the day easier for myself but I will not tell myself that I am not allowed to feel the way I feel about it. All feelings are welcome here.

This is what connection looks like for me. Today will be a better day even if everything goes to shit because I taking care of me while I take care of everything else.

 

Let Your Soul Shine

This morning my husband woke me as he usually does on a weekday morning, by kissing me and snuggling into me before he leaves for work. He laughed this morning and told me I was making ridiculous faces right when I woke up. Well if he knew what he was waking me up from he would understand.

I was having a dream about a song. Immediately after hubs left I closed my eyes and remember the melody but it was gone. The words stayed with me though. It was a song that talked about being able to see the pain a person’s eyes and knowing the suffering that dwelled underneath. Then it built into this beautiful crescendo and the lyrics sang let your soul shine! Let it shine through for all to see!

I felt so at peace and filled with joy.

I have been sitting with some dread recently related to obtaining employment after grad school. I have already talked about my fear and worry a bit here, unfortunately these feelings persist. I am grateful for what has been put in my path AND I don’t know that any of it feels right for me.

I have been filled with a fear that my concern about being hired will result in me abandoning myself. I feel the song I woke up singing myself was a song of hope. It was a message about my purpose. Everything will work out so long as I do what feels true to my soul.

I have already turned down a position I knew wasn’t right. I have an interview later this week and I don’t know that it is the answer either but I am going to go with an open mind and see.

I keep reminding myself I have time. It is only January, I do not have to have it all figured out right now. There is time.

 

 

Did You Hear That?

ptsd

One last post tonight to put myself at ease and to experience my own unburdening with the hopes of then falling into a restful sleep.

I have been sitting alone in the living room for the last hour writing. Normally I enjoy this quiet time; just me and the house and my tea and my thoughts. Normally. Sometimes though when I sit alone at night in my living room my PTSD creeps up on me, an unwelcome guest crashing my party, here to terrify me until I can barely breathe.

It started with a noise.

Was that a knock at the door? It can’t be, what time is it? No it’s much too late.. Then what was that noise?

Get up, heart pounding, stomach has already dropped out, adrenaline pumping. Walk into the bedroom;

Babe? Was that you?..
Oh it wasn’t? Then did you hear that?..
Oh you didn’t?.. Well I am sure I heard a knocking..
No but you don’t understand, I am sure I heard a knocking..
Okay, you’re probably right..

Return to my nest on the couch. Continue writing, but not without first enlisting the company of my trusty guard dog.

It was nothing. It was nothing.

Check to make sure the doors are locked..

It was nothing. You are safe. You are alone. You are safe. It was nothing.

Sit back on the couch continue writing.

Hear a knocking. Look at the dog. She didn’t react.

It was nothing. She would have reacted. She would have barked. It was nothing. You are safe. You are alone. You are safe.

You are alone. You are alone. You are alone. It is dark. You are alone.

You are okay. You are okay.

Continue writing.

Feel a bump on the couch. All systems on red alert. Heightened sense of hearing and touch. Aware of every inch of your surroundings. Listen… Listen…. Listen… Nothing.
Look at the dog. She didn’t react.

What was that? I am sure I felt something. Is there a monster under the couch?

You are not a child. Monsters are not real.

How do you know?

Try to convince the dog to come sit on the couch by you.

Come here baby.. C’mon.. Come here honey.

Give up. She is not moving. Continue writing.

No more noises. Heart rate back to normal. Menacing thoughts silence. Ability to focus restored. Sense of safety restored.

Normally I enjoy this quiet time; just me and the house and my tea and my thoughts.

Normally.

 

 

Find Me, Dear Heart: An Ode to Infinite Worthiness

worthy

Tonight I checked in with a friend. I am glad I did, she apparently has been struggling and I was not aware. I know it took a lot for her to even be open with me about her struggle. I am glad that I have done enough for our relationship to feel safe for her to share even a little bit, I know how scary it can feel to be honest during dark times. We talked for a while and her pain hurt my heart. It was not just her pain, but the shame she was unknowingly expressing.

She talked of the burden. The burden we all have felt at some point. The burden we carry that we will not allow others to shoulder for fear of burdening them. We don’t want to be too much, we don’t want to ask too much, we don’t want to risk running others off with our darkness. We don’t feel worthy of the comfort, and love, and connection that can come from allowing others in and trusting that they will want to stay and hold our hand through it.

I gave her my words, I tried to make her feel heard and loved and understood. Ultimately I know from my own experience that you can never feel connected with others and truly allow yourself to be unburdened until you begin to work on the relationship you have with yourself. Until you love yourself you will never feel worthy of the love and comfort that can come from others because you will not believe you are worthy of it. It is an up hill climb and it is a long road she is on, but I know she is on it and that gives me hope.

I am no poet but tonight I want to close this post by sending a message out into the universe with the hope that my friend will feel it and feel comfort..

Find me, dear heart.
I know the pain you carry.
The pain of I cannot burden another person with my load.
The pain of I am not worthy of your time, your consideration, your love.
The pain of the awful voices in your head that torture you with hurtful untruths about yourself.
Find me, dear heart.

I see you.
I see your greatness.
I know what bubbles beneath your surface.
I know because what dwells in your soul dwells in mine as well.
I am darkness too, your dark does not frighten me, it is not too much.
And like me, you contain the brightest light, a light that is uniquely and magnificently you.
So find me, dear heart, and let me be your mirror.

A mirror that can reflect for you the love, and connection, and wholeness you are worthy of.

Anxiety’s Funny Like That

So that post earlier where I talked about letting go of control and asking the universe for clarity.. It is as if it never happened.

I felt better for like 5 minutes and then spent hours researching different job opportunities and getting hopelessly disappointed by how disconnected I felt from everything I was seeing. Then my husband got home and I cried for a while about how hopeless I feel and my enormous fear of backsliding and not being able to continue my direction of growth.

Yeah… So that happened. So much for not getting all wound up and trying to control it. I lasted like 15 minutes. I am not as zen as I would like to think I am. So much for meditation and intuition, I’ll just freak out over the future and catastrophize the shit out of my entire life.

So now I feel the need to balance my mini-meltdown with some rationale..

Here is my truth:

Everything has always turned out.
I am surrounded by abundance.
I have never settled but I have had to wait for the right thing.
Patience has been worth it.
When I become clear on what I want in my life it comes to me.

I do not have to have everything figured out right this moment. I do not have to have all the answers right now, they will come when they are meant to.

And now I would like to take this balance once step further and throw in some gratitude because the rationale may help ground me but the gratitude is what makes me feel better.

Tonight I am grateful for my husband, for our home, and for our sweet fur baby. I am grateful for the surplus of canvas I have left over from Christmas gifts. I am thankful for books and the worlds I am transported to when reading. I am thankful for all the growth I have experienced in the last 5 years. I am really really thankful for the growth.

I am also thankful to be in a position in my life where these are the kinds of things I worry about. I know even this is something to be thankful for. The things that give me anxiety now are things I could not even dreamed of asking for 5 years ago.

Unraveling a Scribble

All day I have been on the fence about writing. Now that it is closer to bed time I have decided to get this out for fear it will keep me up if I don’t. Day two of the New Year was met with all consuming anxiety. I almost had a panic attack while we were running an errand earlier and it took me quite sometime to release the energy once we were home.

I have been on the verge of a panic attack for over a month now, it pops up at random times but the current of anxiety has been constant for sometime.

I am pretty sure I have my finger on the cause, that does not mean I have control over how it is making me feel though.

Today while hubs was helping me through it I discussed the possibility of going back on the anxiety meds I was on 5 years ago. I have been reluctant because I am in therapy and literally learning therapeutic techniques in school on how to cope.. I keep telling myself I should be able to get by without the meds.

I have not seen my therapist in a few weeks because of the holiday so I have decided to wait and process everything with her before making a final decision.

My family is definitely part of the recent flare up. Even creating a physical boundary between myself and the drama is not enough if I am not better about my emotional boundaries. There are certain family members I do not have good emotional boundaries with and it is as if I can feel what they are feeling. It is exhausting. I am exhausted.

Another source of the recent panic I am sure has to do with my being sick for over a month. Illness is an anxiety trigger for me. A lot of my trauma centers around me not feeling in control over my body during different parts of my life and for different reasons. When I am sick I am not in control of my body, it is a major trigger for me. The last antibiotic I took for my ear infection did not take so I am still walking around feeling swimmy headed with clogged ears. I know to most it seems like just a simple inconvenience but for me it feels scary, like I am out of control.

This brings me to the last source that I have identified and that is the work I am committed to doing in therapy this year. I mentioned previously that this year I am going to start working on my relationship with my body. That  means a lot of things and they all scare me. I don’t think there is anyway to get around the fact that this is going to be painful and the probability of me seriously struggling is high.

When I was talking with hubs today about possibly getting back on the meds I told him it was primarily because I do not want to suffer. That is my fear, that is what I have been trying to numb and escape all these years, suffering. At the time of that conversation i was talking specifically about my fear of having panic attacks and that I do not want to suffer in that regard but honestly I think it was a deeper piece that was speaking up. I am afraid of what comes next in my work. I know it is an important part and will be so healing but I am afraid of how much it will hurt and I do not want to suffer. There are things I do not want to relive. My body is still holding things that I think it will only be able to release if I do this work but I am so scared.

It feels better to say some of this out loud and be honest about how scared I feel right now.. AND it hurts too. I can feel the tension my shoulders and neck as I write this, it is as if an elephant is sitting on my shoulders.

To make myself feel better today I put on some oils, I cleansed myself with sage and a bell (it may sound hippy woo woo but it works for me), I stretched, I played a game with hubs to help distract myself, I lit candles, I drank a balancing tea blend, I watched a movie from childhood that brings me joy, and when I was finally feeling a bit more like myself I put on music and danced. That last part is what really yanked me out of it. I put on my Sade station on Pandora and danced while making dinner. Hubs laughed as Lucy and I danced to Creep by TLC and then he spun me around the kitchen to Georgia by Ray Charles.

Something else I did that really helped was paint. I was sitting on the couch in the sun room with the Buddha board hubs got me for Christmas and I noticed the shadow I was casting on it. I started painting my shadow and there was something very symbolic about that to me. So I got a canvas, returned to the couch, and painted my very first self portrait..

self-potrait

I think it somehow very appropriate that my first self portrait would be of my shadow. I think it speaks to the work I have to do yet with my own shadow pieces.. I think it speaks to the dark place I was in today.. I think it speaks to my need to dig deeper within myself so I may know myself better.. It also speaks to deeper things that I do not discuss openly on this forum but that are very meaningful as well. It was symbolic to say the least. This was my first painting of 2017 and at first something about that made me sad, like I was starting the year off in darkness but then I read this..

transformation1

My mantra for this year is one of transformation, that will not take place just in light and love.. I have to be willing to go back to places of darkness and pain and bring light and love to the pieces of me that are still residing there. I have to take light and love to the parts of my body I am afraid to look at because of the trauma they experienced. This will be scary, and I have always been afraid of the dark, but there will be light and it is up to me to shine it.  My hope is that by years end I will have the courage to paint another self-portrait and from this darkness my deep hope is to find the butterfly.

Tomorrow is my first day of therapy, I am excited and scared. I just keep telling myself You are safe and it is going to be okay.

You are safe. And it is going to be okay. You are going to be okay. You are going to be okay.

That Wasn’t My Best Me

energy

This last week was not one of my best and I certainly did not show up with my light turned up. Between bad energy at internship, Thanksgiving not going according to plan, and then hubs and I both getting the flu over the weekend.. I have not been at my best emotionally, physically, or mentally.

I am so close to the end of the semester and having a break from internship, there is piece of me that is tempted to just sit in this place of anxiety and negativity until the break. Why though? Why would I deliberately put off feeling better? Because it would be more work to actively try and feel better while I still have work to do and assignments to complete rather than just allow myself to give into what feels easy, this negative energy.

I had been doing so well with my intention of turning up my light. I am disappointed that I was so easily derailed by other people’s energy, illness, and just life in general. How committed was I if it was that easy to give in?

I think it is good though. It causes me to reflect and realize how easy it is to forget our purpose. This is not something I can be passive about. It is something I have to be actively engaged in everyday. Waking with intention, going to bed with gratitude. I admit I have been doing neither for last few days.

I can give myself space though, I have been ill and in a medicated delirium. Now that I am starting to feel better though I would like to get back to having mindful intention and gratitude. I have felt incredibly unbalanced the last week or so. That is how it goes sometimes though. I can try to show up as my best self everyday but the truth is I am human and sometimes I am going to show up in very human ways which may not feel like my best spiritual self.

So tonight as I am getting ready for a very big week that I know I have underlying anxiety around I would like to show my dark pieces love. My sick pieces, my vulnerable pieces, my scorned pieces, my jealous and angry pieces, my very human and beautifully flawed pieces that show up in painfully honest ways.

I am doing my best and my best looks different depending on the day. Today my best was taking care of body while it healed from the flu and giving Lu a bath after she rolled in the dirt even though I was completely exhausted.

Yesterday my best was making a conscious effort not to puke on my husband.

Tomorrow I will start my day with whatever intention is awake inside of me and I will give the day my best, whatever that looks like tomorrow.

Self-Sabotage

self-sabotage

This afternoon in class our professor asked us to break into groups of three and share a few words that speak to each of our individual life stories. It had to do with an exercise around narrative therapy. I got with two other classmates and initially we just stared at each other. This felt vulnerable. Then one of them started; the first words out of her mouth was self-sabotage. I was thinking man, that is fucking honest, good for her for being so real. Her authenticity gave me and the other group member permission (and a feeling of safety) to show up in our truth as well.

A little while later I linked up with two different classmates for a role play on solution focused therapy. Neither of the women I was working with wanted to be the clinician so I agreed to. I know this is an area I need practice anyway. I use parts of solution focused theory with my clients currently and did so with my clients from my last internship on occasion  as well. It doesn’t really speak to me on the whole though because it is very “now” focused where as I lean more towards psychodynamic approaches which focus on the roots of issues. I think it is good for acute issues but long standing challenges I think are better addressed through deeper work.

So I opened my text to the solution focused chapter so I had an outline to keep me on track and we began. I was not sure I was doing too well because I was so focused on not diving too deep with my classmate playing the role of client. I paused and broke character once or twice to keep myself on track and make sure I was staying with the theme of solution focused. Each time I did my classmates I was working with were super complimentary of my style. I appreciated the validation. They both gave my professor wonderful feedback about how I incorporated different techniques. After class one of the women I worked with told me I was so good that she wanted to bring me her actual problems to get my insight, she was just paying a compliment and was not serious but that was pretty cool.

I had a meeting with my professor after class and was on a high after the class going so well. We talked about certification opportunities and how to search for them. She gave me contact information for some professionals locally that can help me towards certain certifications. She also gave me information about national institutes that do yearly trainings and certifications in case I was willing to travel at any point and make a trip out of it. That was kind of neat too.

So I got home and started doing research based on the information she provided and as I got closer to options I know I am definitely interested in I began to think of my classmate from today.. There is one certification I am really excited about and as I read about what is involved in becoming certified I suddenly felt terrified.  I can’t do this. I am going to fail! I can’t do private practice. I will just work for an agency for the rest of my life. I am not good enough.

The words self-sabotage flashed into my mind.

So I stepped back from my search and took a breath. There is absolutely a fear of failure associated with any step I take towards preparing myself for private practice. There is also a fear of success. There are pieces of me that still do not believe I am worthy of all that I have and all the things I want for myself in life. There are still pieces of me that do not feel good enough.

No amount of positive feedback from colleagues, no amount of validation by professors or supervisors, no credential behind my name is going to change this for me. It just shows me I still have work to do. The best thing I will ever do for my clients is the work I do for myself. Of course I need the degrees, and I would like some certifications just to make sure I am competent in certain modalities, but ultimately I need to be modeling this for them too. I should not be asking my clients to do work I am not willing to do myself. I know doing the work myself is part of what will make me a good therapist because I know the struggle involved in being committed to this work.

I can do this. I am doing it. I have been doing it. I have not just been doing it, I am doing well. It will all come as it is meant to and I feel confident I will succeed in all of it. I may have moments of doubt along the way and I will be gentle with myself in those moments. I will get there though, I know I will.

courage

Letting It All Out: Part I

smudge

I needed a lot of space for self-care this weekend. I think hubs and I both did. I do not think we were alone. With every interaction I had with the world this weekend I saw it around me.. I felt it. That need to be gentler, softer, to taking a deeper breath..

Negative energy was hanging over our home Saturday mid-morning. I was on a deadline all weekend and was feeling the anxiety associated with that. Hubs came to me because his anxiety was building over the level of disarray in the home. We could both feel this energy building and decided to hit the reset button. I took a break from my paper and we went for a walk with Lu. As we were walking I was helping him be in the moment using mindfulness. I was walking him through how to let go of the anxiety associated with our mess at home. We focused on the feeling of the breeze against our skin, the different colored leaves we were seeing all around us, we made sure not to rush Lucy and allow her to smell everything she wanted to smell – it was her walk too. We decided to walk up to the vegan tea shop and have lunch. We both ordered a tea and a light lunch and then sat outside with Lu reading various vegetarian and music magazines.

As we ate people came up to love on Lu, others stopped to chat about this or that. I bonded with the employee who took our order over the hat I was wearing, my HRC Love Conquers Hate cap, as it was pride weekend downtown. She was also wearing her rainbow ribbon in support. It was nice.

After our lunch we took our tea to go and walked over to the park. Lucy and I chased squirrels together and then chased each other around a pine tree until she decided to jump in a huge pile of pine needles, I followed suit. Hubs just sat back and laughed at us.

On the walk home I found a great stick I thought Lucy would like; turns out she was much too tired after our romp in the pine needles. I thought it was too great to leave behind so I added it to my growing collection of leaves and acorns I had been picking up along the way and took it home with us.

Hubs asked what I was going to do with the stick, I paused for a moment and then replied that I planned to paint it, tie ribbons to it, and glue on some bells. This way when our home has funky energy in the future we can use our joyous bell stick (I have decided that will be its name) and clear the energy.

When we got home hubs came up with a priorities list for what part of the mess bothers him most and we got to work. Before we got started I had him pick out an oil and a color he wanted the diffuser set to as well as an intention for the work we were doing. We both said the intention out loud a few times, I dropped in the oil he chose – serenity- and set the diffuser to light blue. It took us less than an hour to completely clear the negative energy from our home once we were home as well as get it picked up. Hubs said this was his version of smudging the house, I’d say it was pretty effective.

Here is the mid-point result of my joyous bell stick. It is painted and ready for adornment.

self-care

Please Don’t Make Me Party

parties

I have never been a big fan of parties. I know in the past I have really dissected this topic so forgive any redundancies in this post.

My modus operandi at parties is to either hover over the food, find an animal and spend the whole night petting and talking to the dog or cat at the party, play with any kids at the party and avoid adults all together, or maybe if I am lucky I will find one or two people I can have a real conversation with that is not small talk.

If all else fails I will walk outside and sit by myself contently.

My hang ups at parties are:

  1. It’s crowded
  2. Small talk
  3. Drunken shenanigans (I run into this less now, it was more prevalent in my twenties)
  4. Too much stimulus (sight, sound, smell.. there is too much to take in, I get overwhelmed)
  5. And finally, the feeling of being an outsider. I am uncomfortable before I ever show up, I don’t tend to calm down and fit in once I get there.

Before I found my hubs who is a fellow introvert and feels the same way I do about all of this, I dated extroverts. Two of my former partners were musicians and big partiers. This was rough on our relationship because I could not hang. This is no slight on them, I just could not do it.

So all this build up leads to this story.. Yesterday hubs and I went to two parties. We were at parties from 11am until 9pm last night. A piece of me had been dreading yesterday for weeks.

The first party was a surprise 30th bday party for a close friend. Hubs was involved in getting the bday boy out of the house while I helped his wife set up. The set up part was great, it was me, her, and one other wife. Then it was time for the party. People started showing up and I fell into my comfort zone – hide by the food table, hang out with the dog. Then hubs showed up with the bday boy and all was well. Eventually I did warm up a bit and play some games and socialize but if a dog came out to visit for a bit you knew where to find me.

Early evening we left this party and headed home to prepare for our next party – this is when my anxiety really started to ramp up.

Some of our neighbors were hosting a block party for just our block of the street. The street was closed off, a stage was set up for an acoustic performer, twinkle lights were hung from the trees lining the sidewalk, games were set up for all the kids on the street, tables with food to share, chairs, beer coolers.. It was beautiful and welcoming and I was scared.

When we arrived home I started making our food contribution for the party, spanakopita, and started trying to talk hubs out of making me go. We could go to a movie, we could stay home and play Monopoly, we could go play cards at my parents house, we could go to dinner, we could watch a movie at home.. It was no use, he said we needed to go and be social with our neighbors and I knew he was right.

We know our neighbors who live right next to us, to the left, to the right, across the street, and diagonally. Past that there were going to be a bunch of new people to meet and I was scared. I was scared of once again feeling like an outsider. I was scared of forced small talk- which I usually fail at.

A little after 6 we grabbed our offering, hubs had a cooler of beer and I had my coconut water, and we headed down the sidewalk to where the festivities were taking place. Deep breaths, it is going to be okay. I kept looking at hubs for reassurance which he gave freely.

The outcome: It was amazing. I am so glad he didn’t let me talk myself out of it.

My favorite neighbors (I really like this older middle aged couple across the street) showed up and set up with us. Then another couple, then another. An hour in a little group had formed around us. The weather was stunning, there was breeze and a slight chill in the air.

My favorite part: no awful small talk.

The wife who lives across the street is an artist like me, her medium is clay, and she works downtown. We talked at length about art and the community downtown I did community work in and the gentrification taking place. Awesome!

Then I met Ms. Ruth. Ms. Ruth is an older woman who lives at the end of the block. She has lived on our street since the 50’s. I plopped down right next to her and we talked for a long time. I learned so much about the history of our street, my own property, and our community. She told me about her family, and how she met her late husband at a YMCA dance and how they danced together throughout their marriage. She asked me about my interests in social work, and how hubs and I met.. Ms. Ruth was the best part of my day. Being with Ms. Ruth made me miss my previous population of older adults. I love stories, my older adult clients always had plenty to share. It was so good.

True to form I also visited with all the dogs at the block party and I played with some of the kids. I ended up covered in juice box, ice cream finger prints, and with a forgotten pink glow stick. It was a great night.

We met a lot of out neighbors, got to know a few much better, and were reminded again why we love our community. As long as we live in Central Florida we will not leave this community, it is a truly wonderful place to live. My heart was so full. I cannot wait to have our own babies who will get to grow up here and have all these wonderful memories growing up.

 

Fight, Flight, Total Freak Out

All the bad energy I have been talking about for weeks came to a head this afternoon as I was driving home from internship and it was terrifying.

There is a point on my drive home from internship where the road I am on merges with oncoming traffic. I am usually timid as I make this merge because typically there is a lot of oncoming traffic and the ptsd I have related to a previous car accident keeps me cautious when I drive. So I got to my merge today and there was a lot of oncoming traffic, it was a Friday a 4:45pm so this was not surprising.

I was slowly inching down the merge lane waiting for my opportunity to get in when the car behind me started blaring on their horn. This alone was really startling for me, I wasn’t sure what they were honking for. I looked in my rear view to see the lady behind me screaming (I am not exaggerating here, she was screaming) and waving her hands around in a motion that I interpreted as her wanting me to go. Go where? There was a solid line of at least 4 or 5 cars, there was no where to go until this clearedShe continued with his behavior and laying on her horn until finally there was break in traffic and I was able to finish merging. While I was waiting for traffic to clear I waved back at her trying to signal that Yes I hear you, I will go when I can. It was no use, she was unrelenting.

I was rattled. Her behavior was over the top. My nervous system kicked into over drive.

Once I was able to merge she let off her horn and I thought it was all over. I was wrong. She proceeded to tailgate me down the road, practically sitting on my bumper. All I could think was please don’t cause an accident. Please don’t hit my husband’s car.

My turn for home is not far from that merge area so soon enough I was in my turn lane, again thinking I would be done with this lady and the whole situation. Wrong again. She was turning left too. Then I thought Oh crap. She is one of my neighbors.

When I turned left there was a car coming but I had time to turn, the lady behind me turned left in front of the car cutting it off. I drove down a few blocks and she continued to tailgate me, staying dangerously close to the bumper of my car. I came to a four way stop sign, I needed to go straight but something told me not to go straight home. I turned right. Almost without stopping she turned right as well. I then turned left, she stayed with me. At this point I called my husband. I was not far from home and I did not know what to do. Should I go home? Should I call the police? Was she following me or was she a neighbor?

While explaining to my husband what was happening I decided to pull over to the side of the road to see if she would pass me. She didn’t. She pulled up behind my car. I immediately started driving again. That was all the confirmation I needed. I was around the corner from our home, I asked my husband to come outside, that I thought we would need to call the police but that I wanted to get her plate. I made my left turn at the last stop sign before home and instead of following me she hit the gas and went straight.

I was only partially relieved.

I got home, parked, and immediately went inside. I was shaking so hard my husband had to hold me. I laid on his chest and mimicked his deep breathing until I was breathing normally again. I did not stop shaking for 20 minutes.

After processing it with my husband what we think happened is she saw me on my phone and after the maneuver I did to confirm she was following me she assumed I was on the phone with the police. She made sure to drive off fast and in a direction where it would be very difficult for me to get her license plate information.

As my husband was walking back through the whole situation with from beginning to end I found myself trying to make sense of everything. Why did she do that? I just do not understand. My husband tried to explain that she probably had a bad day and was taking it out on me through her road rage. Ok, but I still do not understand what about me and the way I was driving set her off. There was literally no where for me to go. If I had gone forward like she wanted me to I would have caused a massive accident.What did she want? What was going on inside her head?

I have never been involved in road rage before. I am a very cautious driver, I always let people in, I do not speed.. I just do not see myself as an obvious target for someone’s aggression in this way, especially in this specific situation. I mean if it was what my husband said and she was projecting her anger on me that is scary. This woman allowed herself to get so wrapped up in it that she was following someone home. What did she think she was going to do once I stopped? Was she going to confront me? Was she planning to get out of her car? I mean to what end was she planning to take this situation? And again why?

This all just goes back to the really bad energy stewing our there right now. It does not matter how zen I try to be or how committed to keeping balance and perspective I am.. I cannot control the rest of the world.

Let this scary situation be a voice in the back of all of our heads the next time we feel ourselves feeding into negativity.. To what end? Why? What am I hoping to accomplish with this? 

We are all in this (surviving life) together folks. Lets not make it harder on ourselves or each other. Be kind. Show love. Forgive. Take a breath. Be patient.

It all may sound cliche and recycled but this woman forgot all of it today. We are capable of getting caught up in our own negativity or the negative energy swirling around out in the world. We all have the potential to forget. So be mindful, be kind, and be grateful whenever you can.

Although this lady sent me into a full on ptsd episode I still trying to find compassion. I know it is hard, I am sorry you are struggling with whatever it is you are struggling with, I am sending you light.

Listening and Knowing

A few weeks ago I wrote this post about my direction and growth and walking into what scares me. It was a vulnerable post for me to share because what I was discussing, my dream/intention of owning my own practice as a clinician, is something that I want so badly and I am afraid of at the same time. There is something very vulnerable in sharing a dream openly like that. You are letting the whole world, or at least whoever is listening, know that there is this thing that means a whole lot to you; which in turn also means it is something that could potentially cause a great deal of pain. The things we love most have a way of doing that sometimes.

Since writing that post I have been thinking more about this dream/intention and my fear surrounding it. I have been thinking about it a lot for a while now actually. The deeper my connection grows with myself the louder this voice becomes around doing this amazing/terrifying thing. With each day I feel the vibration grow, I feel the energy surrounding this intention get bigger and bigger until finally I will take the plunge because I know there will be no other thing that will feel as right as this in terms of the work I do out in the world for the world.

With every day that passes my fear lessens. And while that is true I also still have felt that it is very important for me to truly understand my underlying fears about this direction. I feel the only way to feel completely connected to this path is to have a relationship with the parts of this direction that feel scary to me.

I talked in the previous post about worries over the business end of things, I know if I need to I can bring in help in this area though. This will not be a fear that causes a road block, it will be a detail to figure out and nothing more in the grand scheme of things. Another piece I shared that makes me uneasy is flying solo. Here is the thing about that though, if I am going to do this any time in the near future I will not truly be flying solo. Licensing laws require that I have supervision while I am unlicensed. That means I am not able to be completely on my own until I am licensed. I will have to share a space with a clinician who is licensed and I will be in regular supervision. This too will amount to no more than a detail to work out when the time comes.

So what am I actually afraid of? These two things worry me yes, and there is some fear attached with them but I feel a fear bigger than both of these pieces as well. After sitting with this for a while since meeting with my mentor to discuss my intentions I have recognized another piece that I am troubled by.

There is a piece of me that has internalized some outside message, I am not sure yet where from, that I cannot do this because I am too new to the field. What if I wanted to do this right out of school next summer? What if all the time I spend in internship, classes, therapy, and life leads to me deciding this is exactly what I want to do after graduation and I want to start immediately. There is someone else’s voice in my head telling me that I would be breaking the rules. You are not experienced enough. You have no right. You did not pay your dues in the field. What do you know? You are too young.

I have been taking a lot of time sitting with each one of these statements and more that bubble up, again I am trying to have a relationship with the fear. I truly believe that is the only way to be successful in reaching my goals and as a human being in general.

So here is what I have so far to counterbalance these statements.

  1. I do not owe anyone an explanation about my direction.
  2. I know what I bring to the table as a clinician and as a human being, I know what my experiences are and why they are not only important but how they have prepared me for this work.
  3. I do have a right to be here. That is my truth.

Ultimately while these affirmations help quiet these voices they do not remove them all together. That cannot happen until I get to know them better.I need to understand where they came from and why they are here in the first place, then I need to show them love so they will no longer hold this fear for me.

I am sure as I continue down this path I will begin to have relationships with more fears that arise. I am making the commitment to myself and to this dream to do that. This means enough to me to do all the needed work to see it through the way I know it needs to be done.

I feel myself getting closer and my excitement grows with each passing day, with every milestone met, with every challenge overcome, and fear met head on. I will share this part of my journey as new pieces come up but for tonight I am grateful to have recognized where some of my work is so I can start doing it.

direction1

 

 

Ready Ready Ready To Go!

I woke up 5 am ready to start the day. I’d like to think that I don’t have anxiety about what this week holds for me but if that were true I probably would have slept in until 7.

Right now my perfectionist self is running the show making sure I am ready for what lies ahead. I got all of my introductory discussion posts done before 8:30 so I can check my first assignments of the semester off my list. I have ordered and paid for my parking decal. I had breakfast and exercised. I picked out my clothes, organized my school bag, and have started making a list of questions to go over with my intern supervisor when I start on Wednesday. I also did a load of dishes and pulled out what is needed to make dinner when we get home later. I may not be a J or a Type A but I can pull things together when motivated.

Now I feel the need to balance all that excited/nervous energy with some calm. I figured I would right for a bit, taking a nice long shower, and meditate before making my lunch and getting ready for school.

I feel like I need to harness and focus this energy behind a certain intention for the day or I will be so wired up when I arrive on campus, search for parking, and finally get to class that I won’t be as present as I would like to be.

I think my intention today is to be grounded. I know I am excited and wound up, I think I need to focus on tethering myself to the ground, having a still mind, and being connected to what is going on around me.

I look forward to sharing all the details of my first week as an MSW clinical intern. I am sure as the semester moves forward I will have plenty of stories.

ready to go

Walking into Your Greatest Fears

As I continue to wake up to my truth and become more connected to my soul self somethings are becoming clearer to me. Things like who I want to be as a social worker, what whole-hearted parenting will look like to me, and that the things we are afraid of are maybe exactly what we should be pursuing in life.

There are things I know that I want for myself but I am afraid. Not so afraid that my fear will stop me but afraid enough that it could delay a natural flow that already happening. I do not want to stand in my own way.

One of my fears is of owning my own practice as a therapist. I am afraid for so many reasons. I am afraid of the business end of things, I don’t know anything about owning a business, it is scary to think about. I am afraid of being on my own and not having someone there in the moment to guide me. At some point it is going to be just me and the client, I am so afraid of not being what they need, I am afraid my words or skills will fail me when put to the test. I am afraid of my own success. It may seem irrational, maybe it is, but it is also my truth in this moment. I am afraid of having the exact life that I want. I am afraid of success on that level.

I see it though. I know this is part of my path. I do not know how large of role this part will play in my overall story but I know in my heart that it is part of it.

I started the social work program with an intention and that little intention grew so much larger than I had ever dreamed possible. That intention is still growing. I am so much more than I thought I could be. Nothing has been forced, it has been difficult at times, but I have tried to allow the process to be what it is. I have spoken my truth when it felt like I needed to. I have tried to be connected and present. I have allowed myself to be real, which in my past life was a terrifying proposition that I would not have never considered.

I am meeting with my mentor in a few hours to talk about my next steps. It felt important to me to set time aside to focus on my intention moving forward. Having intention in life gives you a place to focus your energy and from there comes the growth. I have had intention in my role as a student and have experienced momentous growth. I have had intention towards self-compassion and acceptance and have felt my energy towards myself evolve. I have had intention with the way I engage with the world and I have seen the impact that intention has had on my life.

When people talk about being mindful I think a big part of that is just knowing what your intentions are and honoring them. I am grateful for this life and everything I have been given.

 

Lost in Translation

Back to busy starting today. The last few days were nice but now I am back at it. Today of group members from my community assessment project are coming over and we are going together into the community to hopefully meet with community members and interview them. In preparing for this part of the assignment my group members and myself have reached out to a few people to introduce ourselves and request meetings. The two I have set up for our group are with a local school official and an employee at one of the local community centers.

Professional emailing was a big part of my job while at the hospital so I understand professional etiquette in email pretty well. I do not particularly enjoy this form of correspondence however. Like other forms of written communication I feel like a lot can get lost in translation. This is especially true when you have not met the person with whom you are emailing in person, or talked by phone. I have no way of knowing if a short response is in the interest of efficiency or possible annoyance. I have no way of knowing if a three day response period is due to a busy schedule or lack of enthusiasm about responding at all. I always assume the best and give benefit of the doubt but my nervousness about this project in the first place makes it harder for me to be completely objective.

I don’t want us, my group and this project, to be burdensome to those who have agreed to meet with us. I also don’t want anyone to feel they have to participate in this assignment just because we requested either. I know I am over thinking this and again I think it is due to my own nervousness about the assignment. I am sure I am projecting some of my own feelings on to these interactions without intention. I just need to put all of that aside, be professional and in tune with nonverbal cues when we meet with these individuals in person.

I am very intuitive but I also recognize there is a difference between intuition  and anxiety which is what I think is actually at play here. This is probably less about the emails and more about anxiety I have about taking the next step with this assignment. And that’s fine, as long as I can tell the difference.

Owning My Life

gift

 

Todd and I had our annual check up right before we left for Chicago and while we there our doctor pointed something out to me I did not realize. We were finishing up my exam, checking the ears etc and she said So it has been two years since we weened you off the Lexapro, how have you been feeling? I told her I have been great, she was already aware of some of the life style changes I have made in regards to having an exercise routine, healthy eating habits and having a bedtime routine so I did not go into great detail. She said she was glad to hear it and that was that.

When I was leaving the office I was thinking about the last two years, has it really been that long? Yeah, I guess so. I was diagnosed and prescribed the Lexapro by a doctor that was not directly involved in my counseling at the time, it was about a 5 minute visit. I saw my counselor a few days later and he said that while the Lexapro will help short term he did not feel I would need it long term and continuing to work on myself would be what ultimately makes things better. He was right.

In the last 4 years, since first being diagnosed with anxiety and depression I have made a lot of important changes. The exercising and eating definitely play a role in my over all well being. When I first started counseling I was absolutely someone who would numb my emotions with food. I did not realize at first and once I did it was very intimidating because that is how I had been dealing with things for so long I did not even know where to begin my work on that area. It was gradual, we started (I say we because this change impacted Todd as well) by eating better. This made me feel better physically. I felt less tired and lethargic after eating, which really helped with my initial motivation to work out, I actually started to enjoy it. Once I was more active and eating less processed food I felt so good the need/want to emotional eat really wasn’t there. To really drive the new routine home and help prevent any back sliding we stopped keeping the food in the house that I would go to for comfort. Now it is not even something I crave. That was a huge hurdle to overcome, that alone would be enough to be proud of but I didn’t stop there.

Taking more time for myself, time to be quiet and reflective, time to write down my thoughts and feelings.. This has all be a integral part of my growth as well. Before, during my dark time I was very reactionary. I think part of that was because I was hurting so much at the time that everything was spilling over but I also think it is because I was not paying attention to what was really going on in side of me. It is not that I don’t still experience frustration and anger and other negative emotions occasionally, I just do not immediately react. I take time to reflect, figure out why I am feeling this way, what exactly is causing me to feel the way I do. Since being diagnosed and being in counseling I have not had a single episode where I allowed my negative emotions to get the best of me. No hysterical crying, no fury driven lashing out. I have been completely collected and calm in situations that would have previously sent me into a tailspin.

On that same note Todd and I have been together going on four years, he has been with me through the entire growth process, sometimes involved and actively cheering me on but more often watching proudly from the side lines. In that time we have never fought. For a while I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, because inevitably, in every other relationship I had been in it would. I finally realized I was different, this was different and I was doing things right this time which meant that other shoe was never going to drop. It is not that we never disagree. We are both fiercely independent people, who believe in autonomy and have our own outlook on life. It helps that our values are in line but nevertheless we do not always see eye to eye. That has never been a problem though. we discuss our differences, we discuss ways in which we can improve, nothing in our relationship has ever been taboo. We do not ignore issues that arise, we do not leave anything unsaid. And if a discussion begins to feel tense or emotional we take a break and shelf it for a while. It has worked every time. It allows us time to cool off and it also allows time to really reflect on what the other person was saying. Sometimes in a discussion you get so stuck on your own point you aren’t really allowing the other side in. We have a pretty great communication style if I do say so myself.

One of the biggest healthy changes I have made is learning how to say No. It goes back to what I was talking about yesterday with boundaries. I think flimsy boundaries may have had a lot to do with why I would experience anxiety earlier on in life. In other relationships, at work, in social situations.. I think I had boundary issues which can absolutely be a huge source of anxiety. I always had my values, what I didn’t always have was conviction. Saying No isn’t easy. It was something I had to learn how to do, it also helped that I cut ties with some of the people that continually tested my boundaries. I think first and foremost it is important to have healthy relationships with people who also believe in healthy boundaries therefore yours are rarely being tested. In cases where that is not possible, like with family who maybe don’t have good boundaries you just have to learn how to protect your own. Having boundaries does not mean always saying No either, I like to be able to say Yes as well. For me it is knowing that I have the right to say No and if I choose to say Yes I have the right to define my Yes. Someone asks me for a favor I am not comfortable granting? I have the right to say No, if I would like to help though I have the right to define what kind of help I am comfortable giving.

Having strong boundaries and a partner who supports them as well I think has made the biggest difference. I feel strong, healthy and unafraid. I really could not say any of those things a few years ago. I am owning my life and my decisions, I need no validation now from the outside world. I know I am actively and mindfully living my life and I have never felt so good.

If there was anything you were ever meant to do, this is it.

negative self talk

Those were some of the last words Todd said to me before bed last night and it was exactly what I needed to hear. Yesterday was not one of my best days in recent history.

I woke up early with Todd as usual and we both got ready for the day. When he left for work I left for campus to go buy one of my books. I arrived on campus around 9:45 and went to the bookstore to buy my book. Then I walked over to the Starbucks that is attached to my building, bought a chai tea and settled into a leather chair to read. I have a tendency to block everything out when I am reading, so it was not until a crack of thunder broke my concentration that I realized how long I had been sitting there reading. My empty tea-cup sat beside me, the last sip long ago swallowed and I looked at my watch, 2:00.

My gut reaction, Shit 2:00! Where did the day go?! Then I looked outside to see nothing but ominous storms clouds closing in. Double shit! I have to get home to Lucy.

I packed all my belongings back into my bag, threw away my tea-cup and headed for the car. As I approached my car I saw a piece of paper on the wind shield, when I got closer I saw the words parking citation (or maybe it said ticket, honestly now I cannot remember).

Triple shit. what is this for? I have a sticker and I am in the appropriate lot.. Then I realized this was not my car. Oh thank goodness. The car looked just like mine but in fact my car was parked one more row back.

So I get in my car and head home hoping to beat the storm. I was hoping to be able to let Lucy out without her having to get all wet but also I hate driving in the rain. Driving in the rain, especially a bad storm is a huge anxiety trigger for me. I am able to do it but it puts me hugely on edge.

I get to the toll road and merge into traffic and after a minute or two I notice there seems to be an unusually high number of police cars on the road. I assume something must be going on, maybe an accident or something and keep driving. After I paid the first toll I am trying to merge into traffic and notice there is a police car on the shoulder near where I need to merge. I am able to merge and try to switch lanes again to be in a middle lane but am unable because there is a car right next to me.

I don’t think much else about it and continue driving. As I am going along all I am thinking is how I am such a bad puppy mother leaving Lucy in the crate all day and how it is probably already storming downtown. In the middle of me mentally kicking myself my phone starts to ring, interrupting the Pandora station streaming through my car’s stereo. I reach over and send the call to voice mail and continue on.

Suddenly I notice red and blue flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. I assume I am in the way of this police car and move one lane to the right in order to let it pass me. The car follows me into the right lane. Crap. So I switch lanes again even further to the right, follows me again. Oh yeah, I am definitely getting pulled over. Crum. I pull over to the shoulder, park, turn off my music, roll down my window and wait to be approached. While I am sitting there my mind is racing trying to figure out why I am getting pulled over. There is no way I was speeding, I never speed and if it was about to storm I was probably going 5 under out of fear. The only thing I could think is maybe he saw me pick up my phone to send the call to voice mail and thought I was texting? Wouldn’t that be ironic. Little miss anti-technology gets a ticket for “texting while driving”. I would have argued that one to the end.

The officer walks up and identifies himself and asks for my information. I hand over my license and relevant paperwork, he then proceeds to explain my transgression. He pulled me over because of what happened when I merged into traffic after paying my toll. He informed me that because there was a police car stopped on the shoulder of the road I should have removed myself from the right lane for the safety of the officer. He then said he did see that there was a car next to me making it impossible for me to switch lanes but in that case what I should have done was reduce my speed to half speed when passing the officer.

That makes total sense but the truth is I did not know that was the law. I thanked him for the information and apologized saying I was unaware. I was technically going under the speed limit at the time because I was in the acceleration process at the time trying to merge but my speed was not low enough to keep me out of trouble unfortunately. He walked back to his car for a few minutes and returned with my ticket.

I thanked him for the information again and apologized again and we parted ways. As soon as he walked away I started to cry. I have never cried when being pulled over before. The few times I have been pulled over either I had done nothing wrong therefore had nothing to worry about or I have known what I did wrong and was not upset about being pulled over because I knew I was wrong and the cop was right to pull me over. This to me felt unfair though, which I already know is ridiculous so please save your judgement. My anxiety was stirred up before the officer ever got to me so that is what brought me to tears. Being pulled over was just a physical confirmation of what I was already feeling, you suck Jill. The ride home was awful. I was mad at myself for losing track of time, my anxiety was stirred up by the threatening weather, I felt like a terrible puppy mother and imagined Lucy just sitting there miserable and having to pee. Then I put an officer’s life in danger (in the eyes of the law). I suck. My pity party was brief though because almost as soon as I pulled away from the shoulder it began to down pour.

It was the torrential type of rain that causes a complete white out making it near impossible to see a foot in front of your face. Great, this is my nightmare, I thought. It got me to stop crying though because now I had to be hyper focused on what I was doing. I ended up exiting sooner than I needed to just to be off such a busy road in bad weather. 10 minutes later I was home and amazingly Lucy still loved me and was happy to see me. Dogs are sweet that way.

I let her out and toweled her off when she came back in. Then I set up a blanket and pillow fort. Lucy and I spent the rest of the afternoon cuddling and studying until Todd came home. That helped my mood quite a bit.

When Todd called to let me know he was on his way home later I told him my story. I did my best not to cry but towards the end I couldn’t help myself. I spent most of the afternoon berating myself and I was feeling pretty low. He consoled me and admitted he familiar with that law either. It made me feel a little better to know I wasn’t the only one in the dark but ultimately I know that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it.

Todd arrived home about twenty minutes later. We ate dinner and then the three of us laid in the blanket fort on our pillows and watched New Girl. At the end of the night I had my textbook open but I wasn’t actually reading it, my mind was wandering. I was thinking about the day and still not feeling great about myself and self-doubt was starting to creep in from all sides. Todd was laying next to me starting t0 fall asleep and I asked him if he ever doubted himself when he was in the engineering program. He said Yes and that it was hard work at times but that he knew he would do well. I told him how I was feeling and that the “not good enoughs” were starting to creep back in. Then he looked at me and said If there was anything you were ever meant to do I know for a fact this is it.

That’s all I needed. A little reassurance. A vote of confidence. I am not perfect and sometimes I am really hard on myself. I am just thankful I have someone to remind I am OK when I forget. Another blogger once commented on one of my posts saying that all she could do is try her best everyday and be OK with that. She is right. I knew it then and I know it now. I have to allow myself to make mistakes and be imperfect. I care so much and do my best everyday, that is all I can ask of myself.

 

Bad eggs

 

Everything was going along fine this evening, we had dinner, talked about what we both did today, we talked about me starting classes tomorrow and then a little later we decided to watch an episode of New Girl together. The story I am going to share illustrates how easy it is for me to go from zero to anxiety over something ridiculous in a matter or minutes. The title of the episode was Eggs. The episode was about Zooey Deschanel’s character panicking over the fact that she is 30 with no prospects for having children in the near future. Her friend told her after turning 30 about 90% of your eggs die making it harder to get pregnant.

Todd turned and looked at me right after that line on the show. Zooey’s character, Jess, and I started freaking out simultaneously. Todd knew it was coming and started to laugh. I was half kidding and he knew it. He knows because we have talked about this before though that I am scared about the future and our chances of having children.

zooey eggs1

I have discussed this topic before and to recap I am essentially just worried that putting children off until after I am finished with school and am able to start working may be waiting too long. We agree that having children while I am still in school is not ideal though.

This episode really hit home for me. There are a lot of scary studies and statistics out there when it comes to having children over 30. I haven’t worried much about the subject for a while because the last time I went to see my lady doctor for my annual  I spoke to her at length about it. We discussed my concerns and some of the studies I have read and she definitely put me at ease. She said I am young and still have plenty of time.

The last time Todd and I talked in-depth about it we agreed that we are going to do what feels right to us. We will know when we are ready and that will be the right time regardless of age, school or work. We also agreed that on the off-chance that we have trouble getting pregnant there are plenty of options out there that we can look into.

Everything in our relationship has happened organically, nothing has ever felt forced or unnatural so I know this will be the same. We will know when we are ready and that will be the right time.

 

 

When in doubt, write.

writing2

In one of my early posts entitled Anxiety is a Layer Cake I shared my struggle to overcome a compulsive behavior. In the post I was hesitant to divulge too much as I was still in the thick of it and did not want further scrutiny while working on my issues. Now that I have been able to successfully manage this compulsion for sometime I do not mind sharing that I struggled with emotional eating for sometime. Food for me, like so many others, was a means for immediate gratification when feeling down or anxious. Thankfully even at my worst I always had a certain degree of control over the situation. I knew when to stop, the fact that I was allowing food to be a crutch in first place was an issue though. In the earlier posting, towards the end of the entry, I mentioned that it was my hope that writing could possibly take the place of this crutch as a positive coping tool. I do believe that is exactly what has taken place.

I was reflecting on the last five years the other day as Todd and I are coming up on our three-year anniversary next month. Looking back and holding my former life up against my current reality I feel strong and proud. The amount of change my life has undergone in a relatively short span of time is really remarkable. I have set goals for myself and worked to meet each one.

Writing has absolutely played a huge role in all of this positive change. I feel more centered and sure of myself thanks to the quiet time for introspection and growth that writing allows. Now when things come up in life I find that instead of being reactionary the opposite is true for me. I take time to process everything. I think before I speak. I am acutely aware of everything I am feeling and have a better handle on what to do with those feelings whether they be good or bad.

Further, being with someone of similar ideals who genuinely understands me has made all the difference as well. All in  all I find myself in a very healthy place. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. My road towards all around personal growth was a long one and one I will continue to travel down. My initial epiphany that started me down this road came in 2007 after a crushing but much-needed end to a relationship. 7 years later all I can say is I am pleased with my progress.

Having a platform where I have allowed myself to be vulnerable and honest and truly feel things as I work through whatever is banging around in my head has been invaluable. I may have started this blog as a way to keep a record of my experiences as an adult student but it has become so much more than that. I am grateful I have had somewhere to just be me. I read back through my entries and it is all me, raw and uncensored, for better or for worse. I am so glad I decided to do this, unaware back then what it would mean to me. It does though, it means so much.