Saturday, September 28, 2013

Home is where your pain is...

"Pain or fear may appear inviting if that’s what you’re accustomed to; a comforting place to stay and feel at home."
From article September 19th 2013 

This is certainly apropos for me today. I've been talking a lot about this in various therapy sessions and journal entries this week. 

I talked about how I've been feeling lonely and that I don't have many friends; I don't have any with whom I "hang" to just have fun outside of work. I mentioned that I've been invited by a few of my husband's colleagues from the other middle school for a Ladies weekend. He's encouraging me to go (even though I'll be gone for two whole days.) So I am going, even though I'll be missing my son's last football game of the regular season. The invitation came out of the blue - one of the Ladies' daughter goes to my daugher's daycare and she told me about the weekend a few weeks ago. I thought it was nice for her to think of me, but I hadn't heard anything about it so was beginning to think it was all a misunderstanding.
But then I got the email inviting me. I still can't believe they are including me. I mean I went to some of the get-togethers, but always because my hubby was invited. 

I told my equine therapist that I am worried - what if the weekend turns into the elementary/junior high/senior high sleepovers of my past. Where I was there, but not really fitting in... She told me that from her observation I was building a wall before I had reason to - the overnight is a month away, after all. She had a point. I told her that I was scared of getting hurt - better to have never loved, then I won't know what I'm missing. She reminded me that I have a choice. That I don't have to open myself up completely; I can still maintain a boundary.
I think she and I will be working on that more next week with CeCe - the horse whom I connect with the most of any of the horses. CeCe lets me lean on her and hug her - so long as she has food nearby.

Also this week my nutritionist said that she thinks I'm ready to start seeing her every other week. She said I've learned and have been using a lot of good skills and that she thinks I'm ready to start trying them on my own. She listed how I've moved away completely from food logging (implied that I have maintained my weight through intuitive eating), but still have been able to incorporate new foods for a variety of reasons. How I am able to eat out and not get freaked about it. She mentioned a few other positive things as well. Oh and now I'm getting better at incorporating movement into each day. 

I feel proud that I've made progress, but I also feel abandoned (completely and utterly irrational.) Her job is to help me be okay without her. But I have become attached to her / her support. I look forward to seeing her every week. 

Of course, this comes right after my main therapist and I talked about my loneliness and how I don't have friends who I see outside of work; how I don't do anything truly "fun" with no side of therapy (like volunteering with horses gives me extra equine therapy and yoga allows me meditation and mind-body connection practice.) 

I went shopping after my appointment to return a dress that I tried on at my session with nutritionist (the cut wasn't right for me); as I pulled clothes off the rack, I wished she was there with me. I channeled her - reminded myself that I'm not a size, it's the fit and feel that matter. But it still was a lonely experience. 

In addition to loneliness, I also feel scared. Scared because I worry that my nutritionist is misplacing her confidence in me. When I'm overwhelmed and scared and feel lonely, I tend to want to hurt myself to keep functioning. My equine therapist said that it is and will continue to be important for me to honor my feelings - whatever and whenever they are, but that just because people may not be near me, that doesn't mean that I don't have their support. That's when she mentioned that I need to think about how I can create a safe place (inside myself) where the support can live, even if the people can't be there.

My homework is to work on creating this truly safe place (in my head) where I can go and know that the support I need will be there, even if the individuals who give that support aren't always physically there. 

But the familiar and comforting place for me is one of pain (self-inflicted now); especially when I'm overwhelmed. Which I am now. Not only am I still figuring out this perimenopause crud while maintaining recovery, work is amping up. One of my co-workers is on maternity leave (2+ months earlier than anticipated) and the other co-worker at the other branch is being scrutinized by my higher ups. And my boss is being hyper critical of my efforts all of a sudden. 

Stress - table of 1. 

I've been trying to take things one at a time; one minute/task at a time, but that only works for the short term. 

I don't know how I'm going to build this safe place when my familiar basement (dungeon, oubliette?) is already tricked out and waiting for me??


Monday, September 9, 2013

My life in grays. Gray sucks.


Peri-menopause and Eating Disorders/Perimenopause and Eating Anxiety Disorder just don't mix. Not. One. Bit.

My latest revelation in recovery is the need for consistency. I've been able to find consistency in my meal plan, but what I need most right now is consistency in feedback - from those around me as I reveal my hidden self (the vulnerable emotions and thoughts I keep close), from my body to support my efforts to keep on a consistent meal plan and movement routine, from the world at large to help me remember that the big picture remains the same. 

So here I am, in the beginnings of perimenopause. A time in a woman's life when nothing is consistent. My once clock-work periods - gone. I have no predictability as to when I may get my next period, to what my PMS will be, to how long my period will last and what it will be (heavy or light bleeding, long or short, severe or mild cramping...) Nothing is predictable. Add to it mood swings where I feel weepy for no "good" reason and little things annoy the snot out of me.  

My husband mentioned that it seems like everything in my life falls into the gray area. I don't have anorexia (never qualified for all the points) - I have ED-NOS which is easier for people to shrug off as "not a real threat." I had to fight to be treated for hypothyroidism because I was borderline. And now, I'm in perimenopause - a diagnosis that is only given by age and symptoms, because hormone levels at this time are a veritable roller coaster that one would need to track the levels every day for months to "prove" scientifically that I am in perimenopause. 

This gray area - where you are dismissed by laypeople and health pros alike as not having a "real" illness - leads to invalidation which becomes frustration and anger (and don't you dare tell me it's perimenopausal rage!) For me, these are feelings that I've always turned back onto myself with thoughts of "I'll show them how sick I am" or "I must be making all of this up; I don't deserve care." I isolate from people - because I'm afraid that I'll just receive more invalidation. The anger and frustration have no outlet - except for my tried and true, albeit unhealthy, coping methods.

Meditation, yoga, walking, deep breathing - these are budding skills I've added to my coping basket recently. What I'm finding though is that using these skills only increases my isolation. Loneliness descends like a wet wool blanket - heavy and suffocating under the weight, dragging me under, smothering. Not an unfamiliar feeling, but not as comforting as it once was.

The mantra that keeps repeating in my head, "The only way out is through." 


  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Upon hearing "The Body is Not an Apology" by Sonya Renee

Upon hearing "The Body is Not an Apology" by Sonya Renee
Be inspired by Sonya Renee at http://youtu.be/JrbUTI95o3U

MY body is not an apology 
It did not ask to be abused
To be used
To be black and blued

My body is not an apology

It did nothing wrong
The sagging breasts which nursed two children
The wrinkled belly that twice created life 
The arthritic joints worn carrying my son's world
My daughter's world
Supporting them until they are ready to fly

My body is not a crime

Though victim to many
Touches inappropriate
Sneers and jeers unthought through
Glances, advances uncalled for
Hated for attention
Carved into for relief
Held me together 

My body is NOT an apology 

My body is Temple
Acceptance and love
Unconditional offerings bring
Anointed with sweet oils
Kneel before it
In reverence
In praise
In awe of its power
Its wonder 
Its grace
Its knowledge

My body is not an apology

Blessed be the pimples
The cramping 
The aches
Blessed are the freckles 
The scars
The wrinkles
Blessings to the world
Receive them

My body is Sacred. 
Hallowed be its name.



Monday, June 3, 2013

Unlearning

@WomanDoItAll: The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn. -Gloria Steinem
Posted on Monday, June 3, 2013

Our first teachers were our parents. Out of the womb and into our parents' arms, our first lesson began. Some parents were phenomenal teachers who showed them the way to confidence, independence, and love. Through patient instruction and attention to their children's needs through each age, these patients raised children who believed in themselves - their abilities, their flaws, their strengths, their weaknesses. These children grew up knowing they were loved unconditionally, that mistakes happen so we can learn from them. That they don't have to be perfect to be loved. 

My parents were not of this ilk. Perhaps I understate that. Because they didn't teach me to love myself, I've spent the last decade in therapy trying to learn how (and consequently unlearn what I was taught.)

When my son was born over 11 years ago, I made him a promise that I would go with the flow with him. His milestones were his to make. I would support him, help him the best I could, but I wouldn't push him to be someone he wasn't or do things he wasn't comfortable doing. I treated him as the individual he is from the time I first knew I was pregnant. I talked him out of time outs when he thought he was bad. I counseled him through the early years of preschool and school about bullies and how they were the damaged ones. I hugged him as he cried out all his tears when he would be teased. I practiced deep breathing with him when below anxiety about presenting in front of his class paralyzed him. I walked him through tough assignments which he didn't think he could do. 

Today, my son was promoted to middle school - he starts 6th grade in September. In preparation, we made a mall run last night for a button down shirt and new sneakers (my son only has Syracuse University shirts - it's where he'd like to attend college.) We found a suitable shirt (button down but still casual) then we went off to the sneaker store. He scanned the shelves of all the brightly colored kicks. I pointed out some all black ones because since he's been able and interested in choosing, he has always gravitated to the nondescript, blend in all black shoes. 

So I was mildly surprised when he picked up a pair of orange and blue sneakers. "Of course," I thought, "SU's colors." Unfortunately, they were far beyond our price range. So he picked out a white and navy pair of higher tops. They felt great on, were in our price range, my son loved them.  SOLD! 

On our way home, he said, "I'm starting middle school; I think it's time I got into a new style. After all, I am awesome."

I smiled a huge grin and replied, "yep, you ARE awesome." As I drove us home, all those teaching moments I had with him flashed before my mind's eye and I knew in that instant I had done something right. 

I am so proud of my son. No matter what honors he earns (like today's Presential Award for Academic Excellence), I am most proud of the fact that he knows how awesome he is and he wants the world to know it too. And the best thing of all... I think my son knows my love for him is completely and utterly unconditional. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Opposing Vision of Champions

"@Fit_Motivator: The vision of a champion is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion, when nobody else is looking. -Mia Hamm"

Posted on Twitter on Sunday, June 2, 2013. 

Once again, another tweet that is supposed to inspire the masses. Somehow that isn't the picture it draws for me. 

For me, this quote paints a story of a lonely person, afraid to trust that others might be able to help burden her load. Someone who suffers in silence while the world loads more expectations onto her shoulders - because she can handle it. She is strong. She shows no sign of the cracked fragility of her spirit, her soul which needs time and space and support to heal properly. 

I see myself. Always competent. Always able to add another task, another person, another concern onto the list. 

My cracked shell inside continues to split with each "yes" added to the millstone round my neck. My voice weak from underuse all these many decades. I bend to catch my breath; to wipe the sweat that mingles with tears from my face. Desperate to ask for help; frightened that no one will understand how this capable young woman, for all appearances say thus, may possibly need support. 

I am learning to speak. To say words that will be understood as I meant them. The process is long. The pain unseen. 

For me, the vision of a champion is one of a person, surrounded by her team of loved ones, professionals, friends who reach out a hand when she falls, who wipe the sweat from her head, who hold her in her weariness, who lay her down in her exhaustion to sleep.

No one is a champion alone. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Jump, crash, waiting to burn... Rise from ashes?

"@WomenOfHistory: You cannot always wait for the perfect time. Sometimes you must dare to jump."

One of my equine therapists said something similar. She said that there will never be the right moment and that you just have to wait until your fear/anxiety has lessened enough to go for it. That particular day was to mount a horse named Tess. 
So I stood in mountain (minus the arms above my head), petted Tess' shoulder, and talked to her. My therapist reminded me to bend my knees and breathe. 
I relaxed after a few minutes,then with Tess' permission, up I went into the saddle to sit in a naturally perfect posture ("seat.") my therapist instructed me into a mountain pose - this time hands in the air - while still in the stirrups. I breathed through my fear to safety. In fact, this was the first time I ever felt completely safe and at home in my life (that I can remember.) I was amazing. At the end of the session, Tess and I trotted. It felt so natural, so freeing, so safe. 

My therapist took my picture in mountain pose and sent it with the text reminder: "Centered, grounded, breathing, and safe!" 

During the same session, she also said that I have good instincts and should trust my gut. 

Easier said than done when important relationships are on the line. 

My hubby and I have been abstaining from ... [deep breath] sex for about a year - my choice not his - in an attempt to truly heal from the sexual abuse I survived during my childhood. In this time, we learned some tools to communicate better through sessions with a couples therapist. We made leaps of progress while we still were being guided by the therapist (who also happened to be the equine therapist I mentioned above), especially right after I had an equine therapy session. 
There is something special about horses. The safety and trust I feel when I'm around them is hard to describe. So I started lessons to learn to ride. My instructor is impressed with the progress I've made in my confidence. When I'm with horses, I am confident. I'm not afraid of them any more. I think they see and sense the real me inside - gentle and caring, fragile, but willing to learn. I see and am in awe of each horse's unique beauty. No words need to be said between us. (Though I talk constantly to whichever horse I am privileged to ride.)
If only human relationships were as easy!? While I seem to be hypersensitive to the emotions and moods of each creature around me, I don't seem to be able to find anyone who is able to reciprocate to me. 
And that saddens me. Speaking words, using this voice of mine which for most of my many decades on this Earth has been silenced through abuse, is one of the hardest tasks for me. It involves believing in my right to need, to want. Believing so much in those rights that I can not only stand firm against those who want to violate my rights in favor of their own needs and wants, but speak out loud my belief in my rights.
For a year, I held my ground, but struggled and still struggle to voice my stance. 
This last Saturday, I compromised my ground. I gave in when I wasn't feeling even close to ready for sex (because as the quote says, supposed you just need to have faith that you are ready.) I was not able to verbalized what I needed to be ready. I didn't believe enough that my need to not have sex yet deserved a higher priority than my hubby's need for sex.
I crashed into the canyon. 
I haven't burst into flames yet - though the temptation is very strong to self-abuse. I spoke with my hubby the next day and again yesterday (after I started to process the event with my therapist) about how I felt on Saturday. I kept a positive spin because my hubby's narcissistic tendencies does not allow him to hear criticism. Besides, he saw the whole experience as extremely positive while I felt violated. 
Feeling violated is the spark that may ignite the flames of self-abuse. Feeling violated causes a massive internal volley in my head:
How can I feel violated when I didn't say no?
But I didn't give an unequivocal yes either.
On and on; back and forth until I just want my head to explode already and put me out of my misery. But I have children who need me and I choose to keep living for them. 

But the temptation is great to cope with self-abuse as I have done most of my life.

How do I regain my ground and strength?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Strength in smiling but not in tears?

@WomenofHistory tweeted something that is bothering me immensely. The tweet was:
"Strength is when you have so much to cry for but you prefer to smile instead."
 Wow. Does that make my ED shout for joy.
For years, I have starved and pushed and ran my pain into the deep recesses of my mind and body so that I could put on a smile and a friendly demeanor. So I could function in the world. So I could be "successful" in my work and home. All the starvation, the pushing, the running, the subjugation of my pain and my tears and my emotions, has led me no one good.
Today, I struggle to open up, to share those tears, those feelings, the pain with others in my life. While true Star Trek Vulcans do not smile either, I vulcanized myself through flames and heat into a mold of the perfect approachable friendly person - ready and willing to help others with anything at any time. 
For me, strength is not in smiling in the face of so much pain. For me, strength is allowing myself to show my vulnerable side to others. Bravery is to bare my pain and tears to the world; to let them see that I am a human, after all. This is what I have been trying to teach my children. That it is okay to feel all emotions - anger, sadness, joy, pain. That you must allow yourself to feel them as each comes to the surface. "The only way out is through."
 My equine therapist said to me that I am a strong and brave woman. I have a hard time believing that (though I accepted that she believed that and thanked her.) Partly because in our society, a show of strength is seen as facing fears and pain with smiles.
So while I understand that the tweet was trying to send a positive message, personally, I think a better one would be "Strength is when you have so much to cry for, you let the tears water the seeds of a new day."