I passed!

It was a terrifying process, and I had a few moments of real uncertainty of the outcome, but I am so excited to say that I passed my exam!  I am so unbelievably relieved and excited.

Three more weeks of courses and papers and I will be done… I’m a little dazed about that.

Thank you for the words of support and encouragement – it was a real comfort during my preparation.  It’s so good to have people rooting for you in times of stress and struggle.

Hold, please

Eek!  I have my final qualifying exam for my new career coming up in the near future.  I’m nervous and by nervous, I mean terrified.  Must read more.  And more.  And maybe then a bit more.

So I will be busy studying (or avoiding studying with mindless tasks 🙂 ) for the next little while and will get back to posting more after that.

Happy summer to all!

Frazzled

My life feels discombobulated right now for so many reasons…

… Dealing with feelings regarding my ex and the dissolution of that relationship.

 

… Frustration in dealing with my diabetes and the inconsistent ups and downs.

 

… A distressing medical appointment that pointed to dismal prospects for recovery

 

… Lots to do for my final semester at school

 

… Anxiety about my qualifying exam for counselling

 

… Unfamiliarity in my return to work

 

… Internal pressure to complete creative works along with academic ones

 

… Summer events on the go

 

… Missing my family and wishing we all lived closer

 

… Feeling like I do too much and too little all at the same time

 

… Uncertain of so much in myself and my life.

 

 

Potluck

To go or not to go, that is my question?

Next week is the last class of the semester for what has been one of my favourite courses of this degree.  As part of the culmination, we are set to have a potluck to celebrate.

Oy.

It’s over a week away and already my anxiety it through the roof about the whole thing.  Even before my eating disorder, these events were difficult because of the diabetes… trying to crunch the numbers in my head and adjust the insulin during an event that is usually grazing over a few hours – it’s not easy, I tell you.

Throw in the recovery process and the whole thing becomes a bit torturous to navigate.

So why go at all?  Because I want to be able to do it.  I want to be free of this weight pressing down on me and preventing me from engaging with others.  I want to feel connected to people rather than feeling so alone in this illness. And yet I don’t know if I am there yet.

I find this part of recovery hard.  Well, I find all parts hard, but this is the part I’m talking about today. 😉

This stage where I am becoming more and more committed and I know that I want to change (and AM changing) and I want my life to be different.  This stage where I am not recovered yet, though, and I know sometimes I need to accept there are limitations and know it won’t always be this way.  While I am in this place, it seems that every decision about events and food become laden with double meanings… is it something that will affirm my choice to recover?  Or is it something that will set me back because at this point the anxiety is so high that I make poor choices?

I know there isn’t a *right* answer and yet my mind keeps turning it over and over again as if there is.

As I write, I am channeling my therapist and imagining what she might say.  I believe her advice would be to table it in my mind for the time being.  I don’t need to decide today and so there is no point in agonizing over it.  Instead, I will set it aside, discuss it with her during our therapy and make the choice with her support and assistance.  Just like the ketchup, this are no dire consequences to this and so I can take the pressure off for now and work to rest easy and know no matter what, I am okay.

A better week

This has been a far better, though no less busier, week than last (at least in terms of academic pursuits – my romantic life is a mess!  But that’s another story for another day).

Related to the romance mess was an interesting lesson in presence with my clients this week.  I had a painful and tortured discussion early this week that led to very poor sleep and overall mental burn out.  I was tempted to call in sick the following day but I had two clients booked and was acutely aware of my ongoing need to accumulate direct client hours.  And so I went in…

I had two of the best sessions that I’ve had in my entire practicum!  It was lovely and pleasant surprise.  I was so worn down that I had no defenses left.  Because of that, I simply didn’t have the cognitive ability to be “in my head” during the sessions.  Normally, I am highly conscious of myself in any exchange and I am quietly attempting to craft the best and most elegant response.  I spend so much time in my own head that I can lose track of my client’s moment by moment experience.

That day, my mental fragility did not allow for me to over think in that manner.  I felt raw and exposed and that forced me to simply follow my clients leads and respond in a genuine and unpracticed manner.  And my clients responded to that openness.  I ended up taking risks in my reflections and questions.  Those risks resulted in deeper emotion and new directions.  It was fantastic.

Out of my pain, I gained a valuable awareness of the therapeutic importance of genuineness and authenticity.  I have been taught these concepts repeatedly during my education, but as with any learning, the real life experience crystallized knowledge in a whole new way.

Exhaustion

Holy moley!  First week back at practicum and classes and I am exhausted.  I don’t know the last time I’ve felt this bone-weary tired and spent.  My body feels heavy and simply moving around my apartment feels like wading through quicksand.

This will be a short post… I just need to vent about my fatigue.  And to remind myself that it doesn’t necessarily “mean” anything.  Other than that I need to take care of myself and keep up with self care over the next while.

My start back has been bittersweet.  I keep telling myself I just need to get through the next 4 months and that 4 months will pass in a flash.  Of course, knowing that and feeling that are two different things.  I recognize that I will be doing a lot of self-talk and cheerleading over this semester.

I am also allowing myself to remain open to the possibility that if it all gets too much, I can stop.  I am not pulling the plug at this point, and yet I find it helpful to remember that I always can stop.  I am not sure if that is a healthy mindset but it’s getting me through right now.

I think I’ll have many early nights ahead…

How do I know?

One month in to my counselling internship and I am racked with doubt.

How do I distinguish between newbie nerves and having chosen the wrong (second) career path?  I feel terrified and trapped.  Which is a terrible place from which to make any decision, I know.

My placement is in a social service agency and serves many under privileged clients.  This social service is so important to me.  And yet I wonder if it is the best environment for me as I am continuing to fight through my own struggles with depression, anxiety, chronic illness (diabetes), relationship uncertainty… oh yeah, and an eating disorder.  I find that I am fighting to keep myself in equilibrium.  I find myself triggered at every turn.

And I don’t know that I am best serving either my clients or myself.

Ethics are drilled into us in grad school.  One particular tenet that keeps rising in my mind is self awareness and being mindful of our own issues, limits and boundaries.  Given all my internal “stuff”, am I actually being unethical in continuing to work with clients?  Or is that just an excuse because I find this overwhelming?

As so frequently happens for me, I think the thing I need is to tolerate the uncertainty.

My distaste for uncertainty seems to only grow.  Its ever present nature is driving me crazy.  Which means I really do need to come to some kind of acceptance – the nature of life is that I will never outrun ambiguity and the unknown.

For now, I am reminding myself that this is a learning opportunity and that I am not supposed to have it all figured out yet.  I am also remaining open to what I am experiencing as I try on this counselling hat.  It may be that I am on the wrong track and I need to allow myself to learn what I can even if I end up changing my mind.  Letting go of the resistance to the path I am on will help me to reorient and notice if I like the direction.  A little later, I can figure out what to do with the information I gather.

Yet again, acceptance and mindfulness of each moment are my tools of choice and necessity.

 

Tongue tied

I find myself having trouble expressing myself clearly these days.  This is particularly problematic as I have just started my counselling internship – I need to be able to talk!

I think it may be a reflection of all the inner turmoil, escaping when I open my mouth and try to be coherent.

I feel like I have these ideas and thoughts and feelings in my head and then when I try to verbalize them, I am awkwardly tripping all over myself.  It all comes out in a jumble and then I am disappointed when the response I get is not what I wanted.  When it is clear that I have NOT conveyed the message I was trying to get across.

I’m even feeling it here, now, in this post.  It’s like I just can’t quite choose the right combination of words to break through.  It is extremely frustrating as someone who loves words and language so much!

I think, at least in part, it’s because I am digging deep internally these days.  I’m looking within and finding this journey to be lonely and difficult.  I have some social propriety, though, and I know that I can’t simply express the deep doubts and longings of my soul to every person who steps across my path.  And so, when I do go to speak (which I’m having to do far more of lately than I have in months!), the words need to somehow navigate through all the muck to emerge.  They must be filtered in order to not overwhelm the poor soul who merely asked how my day was.  Somehow that filtering system is jamming up and words get tossed out and then clumsily try to crawl back in when they don’t fit outside.

If you could see me, you would have just observed a big sigh as I realize I have no clever or eloquent direction to take this post.  So I think I will stop writing before I did myself deeper with words I seem unable to control.

Uncertain

Everything in life feels uncertain.  And in truth everything in life IS uncertain.  We really never know what tomorrow will bring.  I have a feeling I will be writing a lot of posts on this theme.

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I find this ambiguity very unsettling.

My immediate reaction is to want to run from everything in my life.  After all, if one thing is uncertain or unclear, then the best thing is to change everything, right?  Apparently this doesn’t work long term.  Apparently I just end up running away and/or feeling unsettled and anxious all the time.  My mind spins trying to settle on the “right” solution.  For me, this leads to restricting and numbing which I am acknowledging more every day is NOT a healthy solution.

This week has felt particularly hard.  I just can’t seem to get my bearings.  I am doubting everything.  Can I manage school in May?  Is there any hope for my relationship?  Can I actually recover?  Is my diabetes out of control?  Should I even bother with all this introspection?  Am I letting everyone down?  The ‘and yet‘ construction isn’t providing me with much comfort.  I know that ambivalence and incongruity is simply a part of life but I don’t know how to accept that.  How to process that.  I’m left feeling sad and scared and discouraged.

I suppose maybe the lesson is in there.  Feeling the whole range of emotions means I have to feel the negative ones and that, unsurprisingly, doesn’t feel good.  Maybe this is actually a positive step in some ways.  The fact that I feel low and down means that I am actually feeling at all.

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Red Heart by George Hodan

So I will sit with it, I suppose.  Let myself feel and not run away, even though every fibre of my being wants to distract and run away.  I will let it all in and know that it is part of growing into the woman I want to be.

In feeling the hard feelings, I will learn how to be open enough to also feel the joy and love and wonderful feelings when they are present in my life.

Fear… of failure and success

Winter

I woke up at 3 am today.  Suddenly terrified that I have to go back to some semblance of “normal” life in the next few weeks.  I feel like I am supposed to say that “I am getting bored being off work and that I feel ready to have some structure to my daily life”.

But I don’t feel that way at all!

I like being off work and school.  I like having unstructured free days.  I’m not filling them with crazy adventures, unless the adventure of getting to know oneself can be considered a crazy adventure.  I *should* say that I’m sure this feeling will pass, and that, yes, eventually I will want to engage and be productive.  Maybe that’s true.  I have spent the last couple of years thoroughly burning myself out and my body and mind need a rest.  Yes, other people are also burnt out, and yes, many other people have to push through it and just get by without having a break.  Which I feel guilty about.  I also feel, strongly, that my guilt stems partly from my ongoing reliance on other people’s opinions of me.  I don’t want others to scoff at me.  I don’t want others to think I’m selfish.  I want people to see me as strong and enduring.

I’m tired of all that pretending though.  I’m just tired.  So I am striving with all my being to let this time be, without making it into another project.  This time is my time.  In so many senses of truth.

My time to find out who I am.  My time to refresh and recover in whatever way makes sense for me.  Am I lucky to have this time? Yes. Is that all the more reason to use it in ways that are healing to me? Yes.

It may sound like I am trying to justify myself (partly because I am), but if I return to the old routines and schedules and way of living, I won’t last.  I have been killing myself slowly (yes, that’s what I believe I’ve been doing with my anorexia and I will write more on that in the future).  Nobody’s opinion or judgment matters if I am unable to live and function – I need to see that, feel that, live that.  For me.

As I re-read the above text, it feels as if I am rising to some awe-inspiring conclusion of life changing, self-affirming proportions. Something worthy of Oprah.

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I want to bring myself back down though.  Some of the important learning I am gaining involves failure.  My view of what counts as failure, unsurprisingly, involves someone else’s judgements. I remind myself, now, here, that life involves constantly changing purposes and paths.  My early morning fear today centered largely on my readiness to return to school in May (I register for classes today).  My insight over the last 4 hours is that I want to try.  I may not be able to finish.  I can still try and I can be kind to myself if I doubt my ability as I go on.  I can be kind to myself if I decide that my health can not sustain the rigours of graduate school.

This little insight dampens the terror of “real life re-entry”.  I don’t have to do it perfectly.  What a relief.  I can work to change and adapt to life in the ways that make sense for me and with the supports I am so lucky to have.  I will be worthy of those supports primarily by using those supports.