Fresh Air

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I feel I am a cliche in stopping for so long and then shyly creeping back, but here I am.

It’s been quite the few months… an amazing vacation to Europe, a desperate try at reconciliation with my ex, a new business venture, and the ultimate break-up of the relationship (no contact for over a month – crazy!).  Lots of ups and downs.  The break-up has hit me hard (you’d think this time would be easier, but it’s not.  More familiar, yes.  But not less painful).  The new career activity is exciting and terrifying and exhilirating and overwhelming all at once.

Then there is the eating disorder.

I’m both embarrassed and proud in that respect.  Embarrassed that it is still a very active issue.  Proud that since the break-up I have actively devoted time and energy to recovery (the relationship would always pull off that attention).

The busy-ness of life means I am choosing to spend much of my time in areas of my life beyond this site.  However, my therapist has been encouraging me to resume celebrating the wins in my recovery journey.  I decided the place for me to do that is here.

I plan to use this space to record my little wins and my big wins. I have lots of places and people that help me to process the challenges and this will be my place to acknowledge the successes.

 

Seriously

I’ve realized I take people too seriously.  We already know I take myself too seriously, but I promise, this is a much lighter topic than many of my last posts. 🙂

You know how people often say, “we should get together”?  After living for 35 years on this planet, I still somehow think that people really mean it when they say those words.

This came to my attention recently when I ran into an old work colleague.  We chatted briefly and it was lovely to talk for a few minutes.  As we parted ways, she commented that we should get together with another old colleague for drinks soon and catch up on life.

I took that to mean “let’s actually contact friend #3, actually make a plan, actually set a date and actually get together.”

Days later, when I hadn’t heard back, it dawned on me that this was one of those cases where the words were not meant to be taken seriously.

Not in the sense that I think she didn’t mean them.  I think she did.  In fact, I am quite confident that she truly was happy to see me, she really was enjoying talking and she fully intended that we should get together as she said it in the moment.

Where it all went awry, I surmise, is that 2 seconds after we parted ways, her life started occurring again and all thoughts of what she had said just slipped away.  It’s easy to forget about that which is not directly in front of us.

This doesn’t make me angry and this post is NOT a negative social commentary or anything of the sort.  Rather, it just perplexes me that I continue to consistently misread such situations.  I am still surprised that I don’t have that social norm internalized at this point in my life.  I keep trying to make the plan come to fruition.

I think this is why work friendships often end up being the ones we regularly maintain.  Our colleagues are right there every day.  We remember to schedule “dates” with each other because we see each other.  We see each other enough to make the plan, and then we see each other later to remember the plan and finally we know we will see each other the next day so we keep the plan.  Nothing dire or dark about it, it’s just human nature to respond to immediate inputs.

My lesson in all this?  Human nature is fascinating.  We should get a drink and chat more about this. 🙂

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.

 

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.

An opportunity

I’m going to be going on disability until later this year.  I’m simultaneously incredibly relieved and also dizzyingly scared.  Which is rather fitting given my love of contrast.

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It means I don’t have to go back to work yet and I am so grateful for that.  I am slowly, slowly beginning to heal and recover.  My anxiety about returning to work has been weighing heavily on my mind and there is such relief in knowing it is not imminent.  I am also thankful to the woman who is nudging me down this path.  I don’t actually know if I could have said “no, I want to go back to work instead.”  I didn’t try.  I heard her concern and her belief that this is the best decision for me,  for now, and I chose to simply let that be.  I chose to not resist what she was putting forth.

My fears are rampant right now, though.. what about money?  what about all this time on my hands?  what about school? what will other people think? What if, despite this gift of time, I still can’t recover?

Big questions.

Ones that I don’t have answers to right now.  Right now I am going to trust the process.  Really, it was not long ago (days, really) that I was imagining how wonderful it would be if I didn’t have to go back to work right now.  And now I don’t.  Sounds like synchronicity to me.

So if you are out there, help me to see this as an opportunity.  Tell me about a time when you have faced something you really wanted and yet also really feared all at the same time.  Give me hope.

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.