Weep — Everyday Poet

My face contorts, twisting muscle, pulling skin – tears again A familiar posture – SURVIVAL, then pain, then muscle memory. Maybe bending my brows and pursing my cheeks will alter reality Or perhaps offer salve. They travel- tear to eyes- face to heart and back again. Temporary agony. I know. Brief, I’m certain. But deep. […]

via Weep — Everyday Poet

 

I was scanning my Reader while on a break from writing a paper this afternoon and found this emotional gem from my dear poetic friend. I felt compelled to share it as it so completely illustrates with words how I have been feeling recently. She is right, these moments of emotional fall out may be brief but they also can feel all consuming. I am always amazed how she is able to capture with words so vividly something  that I personally understand but would never fully have words for. As always I am in awe my friend. Thank you for this, the stinging imagery makes me feel connected to our fragile humanity on a greater level.

 

 

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Letting Go of What Does Not Serve Me

borrowed identity

You know that voice in your head, the “not good enough” voice, the bully?.. Where did that voice come from? Who gifted you the negative messages that you play over and over? Does your truest self actually believe these negative things or are they someone else’s words or actions that you absorbed and have turned into your own personal torture device?

Maybe it is a little bit of both (most things are after all). Our internal bully can be made up of social messaging from society, messages received in close relationships, and things we say to ourselves that have a foundation in one of the first two.

Listening to one of our clients in group yesterday made me think about this. What the client was sharing made me wonder, Where did they first receive that message? As I was processing the day on my way home I was thinking about some of my own messages I have internalized over the years and who they came from. I had some major I show myself love moments on the drive home and have decided it is time to release some of these messages because I no longer believe them and they do not serve me.

I am crazy. That was a gift from a former intimate partner that could not cope with my depression and grief after the death of a loved one. I was in pain, a pain so deep it scared him. I release this message. It is not my truth and it does not serve me.

My body is not good enough. This was also a gift from a former intimate partner. My body belongs to me alone and I know she is worthy of my love. That is my truth. I release this message. It is not my truth and does not serve me.

I am manipulative. There were times when this was other’s truth about me. I recognize times in my life when I was without and did what I needed to make myself feel safe and loved. I am grateful to the pieces of myself that took care of me during that time. I send love and light to those I hurt with my actions when I was trying to take care of myself. I release this message. It is not my truth and does not serve me.

I am not deserving, I am not worthy. I release these messages. They are not my truth and do not serve me.

I am unlovable. This was one of my most painful messages, and one that I have had the longest relationship with. This is not my truth now because I love myself. I am worthy of love and I show all the pieces of myself unconditional love. I receive love from without and within. I RELEASE THIS MESSAGE. IT IS NOT MY TRUTH AND IT DOES NOT SERVE ME.

I know my truth. These messages can no longer hurt me. These words no longer have meaning in my life and no one will ever be able to use them to hurt me again. I am stable and safe, my body belongs to me and I am in love with it just as it is, I have everything I need to take care of myself, I deserve to be here and I am worthy of the goodness of life, I feel love, I give love, I am love.

Finding Light in the Dark

dark spaces

Counseling has been a delicate balance for me this time around. A balance between the life I have now which makes me feel nothing but gratitude and love, and a life from before that was darker at times. Last week I felt like I was dwelling in those dark spaces with ghosts. Phantoms of people I used to know, and people I used to be. I felt overwhelmed. And much like a child, I was afraid of the dark. After a few days of dark I discovered maybe it is not quite so scary as I had originally thought, maybe there can be love and gratitude there as well.

Among the broken pieces of a past life I found inspiration. Drawing, painting, creativity seemed to flow out of my finger tips.

lucy blank canvas          painting          screaming            jill art backyard view

I did start to feel a little lost though so Todd came and sat in the dark with me and helped guide me back out. Whats more, he wasn’t afraid of my dark like I was. The journey back out of the dark started slow with talking and hugs. Then came little adventures like walking to the nearby park for a picnic and going to the nicer grocery to wander around and marvel at the enormous produce section. In the end we were cuddling on the couch eating dehydrated okra and it was as if the dark was never there.

While we cuddled on the couch I started to think about the lyrics from our wedding song and suddenly they took on a much deeper meaning,

“Bring me your Love Tonight,

No I am not Where I Belong,

So Shine your Light and Guide me Back Home.”

So today I sit here feeling like myself again, living in the light rather than dwelling in the dark, and I am grateful. I am grateful for the work I am doing on me so I can finally feel whole and not haunted by my dark and the ghosts that dwell there. I am grateful for my life as it is now and the path I have been walking down for the past 5 years. These last few days have really given me new gratitude for my husband though. While he knows of my dark and my ghosts I have never wanted to let him in to actually see it, I was afraid it would be too much. It is not his job to save me from it or try to fix it, that is not what I want, but I appreciate it that he is not afraid to get in there with me when that is where I am. I appreciate that when I am ready to come out from under my cloud he will hold my hand to steady my footing. He said that I will never be alone, I realize now what he meant and I am grateful.

Living in the Uncomfortable Place

growth

This semester has been the most difficult for me thus far. It is not specifically the semester that has been challenging, it is just this moment in time, is that makes sense. The issues I have been struggling with have been building slowing over time and recently it came to a point where I could no longer ignore what I was feeling. I had to take sometime, withdraw and focus on these feelings.

In doing this I set my blog to private for a while. I flirted with the idea of deleting it all together because I was not sure if I could be authentic going forward and that has always been my purpose, if that was no longer possible this blog serves no purpose. I hesitated though and I am glad I did because this place has been therapeutic in way over the years as I have been on this journey and I think it will continue to be now that I have a few things figured out.

I have definitely experienced some major growth in a short period of time, a lot of it is thanks to the social work program. I am excited about this but it also means I have been in this really uncomfortable transition place for a while. That is what growth is though sometimes, painful and awkward but incredibly satisfying once you make it to the other side. To be clear, I am not on the other side yet, I am living in this place of awkward discomfort and doing my best to embrace it and process everything.

Another aspect of my withdraw has been with family. This is where I felt concern about my ability to be authentic so I am going to try this on and see how it fits. I have felt a bit disconnected from my family for a while now. There are multiple reasons for this and it has been gradually building. My concern about being able to be authentic with this is that I do not know how comfortable I feel discussing my family issues on here. I am always reminding myself that I have to own everything I put out here for people to read and that is hard when it is something so personal.

Here is where I landed with my feelings on sharing this; I recognize that it is completely up to me what I choose to share here and what I don’t. This is my experience and I don’t owe anyone anything. This is something I need to process though and this blog has been a place for me to do just that over the years. I think it will be baby steps but there will undoubtedly be some personal posts coming out in the near future.

With that being said, for anyone that has been following my blog from the beginning (THANK YOU) you may notice some changes as I figure myself out. I do not know yet what this changes will look like yet but I feel a need to bring this blog up to date for where I am now instead staying in the place I was when I started it.

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.

A New Year of Growth

better

 

I do not do new years resolutions per se, however, I do take time at the end of the year/beginning of the year to think about what I want the new year to look like. For example, last year I wanted to start volunteering with Hospice, I wanted to start the Social Work program and I wanted to work on improving some of my relationships. There are a few things that carry over from year to year as well. Each year I challenge myself to live healthier than the year prior, emotionally, mentally and physically. I also strive to be kinder and more patient each year (this falls in with living a more emotionally healthy life each year).

To call any of these goals new years resolutions though just doesn’t work for me. I recognize that is essentially what they are but I find that when I label things so the likelihood of any progress continuing past January decreases greatly. Instead I choose to see them in a different light and find the follow through easier.

Along with my big goals for each year come little aspirations for the year as well, here are a few from this years list..

The first I can already check off. For years I have wanted to cut my hair short, like Rosemary’s baby short, but I did not have the courage. I would see girls with pixie haircuts and always think they looked so bold and feminine. I finally made up my mind I was going to do it a few years ago but no sooner than I decided, Todd and I got engaged. At the time I had recently cut my hair into an angled bob and decided not to go shorter as I knew I wanted to wear my hair up for our wedding.With this I started growing my hair out but I told Todd that as soon as we were married I was going to carry out my wish to cut my hair short. That is exactly what I did.

As soon as we returned from our honeymoon I went to the stylist and chopped it all off. The poor stylist was very apprehensive about my request. My hair was past my shoulders when I walked in and I think she was concerned I was going to regret making such a drastic change, at one point she even asked, your not very attached to your hair are you?. I laughed and explained that my beauty and self-worth are not at all wrapped up in my hair. I am happy to share that I did not regret the change in the least! This is unquestionably my favorite hair cut and style to date. The cut is delicate and edgy all at the same time, I love it. Todd was a bit shocked when he came home the first night as I did not tell him what I was doing that day. After the shock wore off he admitted that it suits me well, to which I wholly agree.

new hair

Another idea I have been mulling over for quite a while is learning how to sew. Up to this point I have never made time to learn. I think this will be the year I get around to it. I already have my first project in mind. I have wanted a basic mid-length circle skirt for sometime and have never seemed to find just the right one. I think a circle skirt would be the perfect first attempt. When I was younger from time to time my mother would sew me dresses and tops. I always enjoyed going to the fabric store with her to pick out the pattern and materials. I would like to have this skill set in case I ever have a daughter. If our cards do not play out that way it is still a skill I would like to posses for myself. Not to mention I think this will be a fun mother/daughter activity for my mother and myself.

Another small self improvement I have decided to take on was inspired by something Todd and I read recently. We were in a store searching for the perfect gift for his mother over the holiday break and stumbled upon a book that was loaded with advice intended to be passed down from father to son. We agreed, after leafing through a few pages together, that for the most part the book was filled with solid advice. One piece that stuck with me was “Figure out what your most used word or expression is and eliminate it”. What good advice. A lot of people have expressions they use with such frequency they no longer recognize it but others surely do. For me it is You know what I mean. When I am telling a story or explaining something I might use this expression at the end of almost every sentence. No one has ever complained about my over use of this phrase, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone but when I started thinking about it I realized it is equivalent to a person that says like or um and inordinate amount of times while speaking. Maybe everyone is just being polite and not showing their annoyance, either way I do not want to be someone that uses filler words and phrases. I want to speak concisely and with purpose. So that is a goal for this year, eliminate thoughtless language from my everyday vernacular.

The last possible plan for self improvement this year has not materialized into an ambition quite yet. I am still working out how I feel about it and where I stand. Some of the smaller things I worked on last year had to do with maintaining better boundaries in relationships (social, professional – which in my case means school, and with family and close loved ones), being honest with myself and others about what I want and with that I also worked on having difficult conversations in a loving, supportive, constructive manner. At years end I looked back at my progress and felt good, like warm and tingly proud-of-myself good. I definitely had some difficult conversations last year that resulted in better communication, understanding and respect in those relationships. I was honest with my feelings and did not hold back when I felt that doing so would hurt me. The area of boundaries is where I felt the most pride. I was balanced and stood up for myself, kindly and with respect, when my boundaries were tested.

My mother mentioned on numerous occasions last year how proud she feels to have raised such a strong independent woman. Those are deeply meaningful words to me and make me feel that much more resolute about the direction I am taking towards self-awareness and growth. Still there is this nagging feeling inside that causes me concern. For example, in one case of a difficult conversation last year about boundaries and where I stand on something the conversation was not successful. It was unsuccessful in that when I began to explain my position on a request that was made the other party completely shut down and shut me out. All they heard was me saying No, they had no interest in my reason for doing so. I know that my No was hurtful to that person, even though they shut down and did not want to talk about it further, and their reaction was hurtful to me.

The most regrettable part of the whole ordeal is what this did to the relationship. The thing is my boundaries had always been there, they were just invisible because they were never tested. I do not regret my decision, I just wish this person was open to a dialogue. I know they were hurt by my decision and I can handle them telling me so, I believe they probably feel let down and although I hate to think I would ever cause someone else disappointment I can still handle being told so. Our relationship is still sound but it is not thriving the way it had been years prior.

So what I am struggling with after having more success than not last year in this area is how to continue to improve. For starters I would like to get this relationship back on track. I realize this relationship might look different going forward than it did before but I still feel we can do better than we are now and that is important to me, I do not like to ignore that kind of thing.

The next thought I have is about how to continue being honest about my feelings and maintaining boundaries without causing damage to any other relationships. A piece of me feels like if a relationship is so easily damaged in this way than maybe it was never that strong to begin with. Although, another piece of me thinks maybe some people are just more fragile than others and it is my responsibility to be true to myself and my way of life while taking others feelings into account.

Half Agony, Half Hope

jane austen

 

I have mentioned, on more than one occasion I suppose, how I do not care much for texting. Here is one reason to add to the ever-growing list of why I feel this way about this particular technology.

Today was my first day back at Hospice, it was a lovely day. I had missed MaryLou, my 80+ year-old counter part whom I have come to regard as a dear friend. Not to mention the IPU itself and the role I play there, and of course my mentor. It was a nice first shift back.

Towards the end of my shift I pulled out my cell for a moment, I was expecting a response from my girlfriend about dinner plans we are currently orchestrating. Upon unlocking my phone I found that I had multiple missed text messages from family. I was alarmed, this was unusual. I checked the first one, it was a simple “Are you busy? Can you talk?”. I decided to wait to check the others until I had completed my shift, my parents and Todd have my number at Hospice if it were an emergency they would have called and because they did not I felt that any other news that was maybe important but not emergent and possibly negative in nature would just distract me from my duties. There were only 15 minutes left to my shift anyway, it could wait.

When I left Hospice I had all but forgotten about the pile of text messages until I went to plug my phone into my car charger. I picked it up to call my sister-in-law back but decided I would check the other messages first.

Here is the part where I don’t like texting. It was shocking news, news that I took very hard. That is NOT the way to deliver that kind of news to a person. For example, this is not what happened but here is a scenario, a person’s father dies in an accident and you cannot get a hold of them.. You do not text them and say “your father died, call me asap.” That is awful. ” You say, I do not want to startle you but there is a family emergency please call me as soon as you get this message.” Gosh, I don’t know maybe that is even a little much. One way or the other you have to be careful what you put in a text, they are not delicate, they are just there, in your face. It is the bluntest form of bad news.

I immediately called my sister-in-law as instructed to find out what exactly was going on. That is the most I feel comfortable sharing about the news I received today. Like other cases of bad news before it, it is not mine to share therefore I choose not to divulge any details.

I do need to release some of what I am feeling right now though and after some consideration I have decided to allow myself to do it here.

I read something while at Hospice today and it resonated with me so much that I copied it down and put it in my purse, not knowing at the time that it would have further significance to me so soon after stumbling upon it.

So here is what I read:

To Draw Outside the Lines by Brian Bailey

The stories we love are filled with struggle, conflict, and failure, yet so often the stories we present to others are a highlight reel of accomplishments, perfect meals, and sunny days.

This excerpt made me think a little bit about society and myself of course. We put our best face forward at work, school, online, in social settings. We all strive desperately to have the rest of the world believe we are happier than we are, wealthier, more successful at work or in school, more loved or admired. I would be willing to wager that at least one of these items I have listed is true for everyone, I know it is the case for me even though of course I would be more comfortable not admitting that, if not these than something else I didn’t think of. The point is we fake it a bit. It goes back to vulnerability and what Brene Brown says about wearing armor etc. Whether it is because we are in some fruitless competition with the rest of society or just trying to save ourselves from the judgement of the outside world, we all, at times, omit truths about our lives. We all run that highlight reel and sell it as the whole picture.

So with these words ringing in my ears and a knot in my throat from emotions I have been trying to swallow all afternoon I have decided to share a little more than my highlight reel, I have made an agreement with myself to allow myself to be vulnerable. Now although I cannot share specifics about the situation I can at least share how devastated I feel.

When I read that text message today I felt like the wind had been knocked out of my lungs. After gathering as much info as possible I felt overwhelmed. I felt regret, worry, frustration and deep deep sorrow for another person. There is nothing I can do about what is going on, it is truthfully none of my personal business, although I may be affected later by the outcome. All I can really do is wait and see and be supportive to everyone involved. There is one person though that I worry for so deeply. I just hope someone, just one person at least has that person’s best interest in mind. I hope at least one person is in that person’s corner. I wish for that so desperately.

All afternoon since returning home I have done my best to busy myself as a way to distract from the ever-growing lump in my throat. I kept telling myself I just have to keep it together until Todd gets home then we can talk about it and I can let everything I am feeling out to be processed. I read emails, assembled our Christmas tree, started dinner early attempting to lose myself in the catharsis of vegetable chopping as I sometimes like to do. It was no use, half way through watching It’s a Wonderful Life I started to cry. Life isn’t fair and I don’t care if I do sound like a five-year old in the midst of a tantrum when I say that. It’s true. Some people get a raw deal with little chance to overcome it and just isn’t fair.

I wish Todd would come home already. My heart is so broken in this moment and I need some help to see past this hurt.