Book recommendation: The Humans

One of my favourite things in the world is to curl up with a book.

Even better, doing so with a cup of tea and the sounds of gentle rain falling outside.

That is what I’ve been doing all morning, reading a lovely novel: The Humans by Matt Haig.  I absolutely adored this book and learning that the idea was sparked while he suffered from panic disorder just made me love it all the more.  In brief form, it is a tale of an alien among humans and discovering what it is to be human.  The revelations and insights that emerge are beautiful and poetic.  If you are looking for a tale to both take you away and ground you, in equal measure, this is it.

The link above to the review at The Speculative Scotsman contains a much more in depth review and summary than I have.  I’ll just keep it simple and recommend you read this book if you want to feel connected, sweetly, to our common human journey.

The smile

Have you ever forgotten to undo your smile?

I do it all the time.

The situation goes like this: I am walking down the street and smile at someone (often a busker or person asking for money).  Then about 10 steps later, I get a funny look from a passerby (usually someone in a suit, dressed for the office) looking confused.  That’s when I realize that I forgot to stop smiling.

The look from the second person always throws me for a minute until I realize why.  The whole situation repeats itself multiple times each week and is a source of endless amusement (and embarrassment from time to time!) for me.

As it happened today, it got me thinking how it kind of makes a good metaphor for other parts of life.

How often do we end up carrying forward an emotion or behaviour simply because it was already there?

It’s just another way of looking at our habits and learned patterns, really.  Because I am attempting to be mindful of my emotional states lately, I notice how frequently the feeling that I have in one moment often filters in to the feeling of the next moment.  This, of course, is nothing revolutionary.  We can all call to mind experiences where feeling good made the day seem rosier and feeling bad made the slightest slight feel even worse.

Noticing how and when that happens, though, is the key.  Being mindful enough to bring to mind that each moment is often predicted by the moments just gone by helps me to be able to choose my response, rather than just carrying on the wave of that past.  While I may choose to respond just as I have been doing habitually, there is something powerful in making the habit an intentional act.  It reminds me that I have some influence over my experiences.

I am not helpless or hopeless.

Which doesn’t mean automaticity won’t ever rear it’s head.  It will.  This way, though, when I notice it happen, I can choose to treat myself with kindness.  I can choose to acknowledge my humanity in my responses.  I can choose acceptance and self love.

I can choose to keep that smile on my face.

The agony of indecision

I feel paralyzed by fear.  Again.

If you have been with me for any length of time, you know that I recently broke up with my long term partner.  When I wrote about it last time, I sounded sure and confident; it was definitely over and done with.  He and I simply couldn’t be there for each other and so we had to say goodbye.

Like a fishingly vague Facebook status, it’s been complicated.  And anything but clear cut and simple.

(Please feel free to stop reading now, I’m painfully aware of how repetitive this story is).

He has been contacting me off and on, and claiming to have reached a new level of commitment and love.  He wants the chance to be there for me and to support me in my struggles and my recovery.  The irony of course, is that I am highly resistant to letting him show me that precisely b/c I don’t trust it, and need proof.  Proof I won’t let him give me.  The circle goes on.

The spiral worsens as I’m not even sure that’s the real issue.  I get caught up in ‘should we just give it one more “all in” try’?  I arrive at some decision (depending on the day and time, it could go either way).  Then I rapidly switch gears and start questioning whether or not we are compatible in the first place, regardless of commitment level!  I go round and round that issue for awhile and then head back to the commitment issue for another go there.

Throw into the mix that I just don’t trust myself too.  I have a hard time sorting out where is my healthy voice and where is my ed voice.  I worry that I am giving in to the eating disordered mandate of isolation.

And though others can say (as I have said to friends myself) that if it’s meant to be, it will be,  I’m still terrified of making the “wrong” choice.  Of one day regretting it, no matter what I do.  It’s all well and good to tell someone else that they are lovable and will find the love they deserve, but it’s another thing altogether when YOU are facing the unknown future.  The possibility of alone.

I’m exhausted.

And yet (you had to know I’d use that!)… as my therapist pointed out, and as I see in what I wrote above, I’m in no position to make a decision right now.  Which actually is a decision b/c that means if he pushes for now, I have to say no.  I have to respect myself and my journey enough to face the uncertainty, accept the consequences, and to know that I will be okay.

I may one day have regrets, or I may not.  Either way, I will still be okay.  That is the message I need to heed.  Whatever happens… I. Will. Be. Okay.

 

Repeat:

I   Will   Be   Okay

 

Thanks for tuning in to my rant.

Six Things

I’ve been tagged by two of my favourite bloggers for the Six Things You Should Know About Me – thank you so much Erika from Chimerikal and Amy from Many the Miles!  I loved reading their entries and had fun answering the ones proposed by Amy.youshouldknow

What is your biggest dream?
To truly know and believe in my own worth and to live with peaceful acceptance each day.  To live a life that is authentic and genuine and fully my own.  All of this amidst a backdrop of calm community and presence.  It all sounds a little airy-fairy and yet, that’s truly what I want for myself.
What are you passionate about?
Mindfulness.  I am not always able to implement it but when I do, it has such a profound effect on how I relate to the world.  I think it should be taught in schools so that children learn to tune in to the world rather than tune out.  We live in a world that is so quick to pull us away from the present moment and it takes intentional effort to be where we really are.
Homemade food or going out?
Tricky question for me.  Mostly I prefer homemade food these days but that’s still eating disorder related – if I make it, I can control it.
How do you balance work and free time?

This is something I’m still learning to do.  I am slowly coming to accept that in order to function, I need a good deal of solitude and quiet moments to sustain myself.  I used to think this was boring but I am beginning to realize that it’s my life, and if moments of peace are needed and precious to me, that’s okay.
What is your favorite thing about YOU?
I think that would be my compassion.  I believe that having empathy for other people’s experiences allows me to connect with people at a deep level.  I feel such honour when someone is willing to share their journey with me and I treasure each story.
What is one thing that will always lift your spirits no matter what?
Hmm…  I think being in nature.  The specifics change with the season.  Right now, it is the beautiful time just after a storm.  I love the peace that can settle over the world in these moments.  I feel calmed by the refreshing breeze and the scent of wet earth.

Thanks again for the tag ladies!

Family, immediately

Unlike my last family post, this one deals with my immediate family in real time.  There is so much mixed emotion when it comes to our blood relatives…

On the one hand, I am so grateful for the family that I have and how it has shaped me.  I have loving parents and a precious older sister and they all provide me with a safe haven of unconditional love and acceptance.  I know how lucky I am.

And yet… it is simultaneously wonderful and overwhelming to visit with the whole gang in one house.  There’s no one to blame in that, it is simple truth.

Because I live alone, I find that it feels a bit like being thrown into a fishbowl when we are all together.  Not that anyone is judging, but it’s still impossible to maintain full privacy when you live with others…  Now part of me knows that this is my ed voice demanding I stay alone so I can keep restricting.  It is also my healthy voice recognizing that I am an introvert who needs regular bouts of solitude and that’s okay.  Those alone times allow me to maintain peace and balance.

I try not to live too much in the land of “what if”, but I admit that I frequently find myself wishing we all lived in the same city.  I would love to be able to spend more time overall with my family, but spread out rather than these brief total immersions.  To be able to return to my own cocoon at the end of the night.

During this visit I am working hard to remember acceptance of where I am.  Yes, one day I want to be (and WILL be!) recovered so that I have more ownership of what I am needing and wanting (as opposed to my current dance of being “on” for periods and then mentally crashing and burning out).  I’m not there yet.  I’m working on it but it is important for me to allow myself to be where I am.  To know I’m taking baby steps and that this route and this journey will ultimately be successful because I am cultivating my soul slowly.  Slow, careful, tender loving of my self.

A beautiful self who is part of a beautiful family who often accept her better than she accepts herself.  I will learn to see myself through their eyes.

The idea of “self”

Disclaimer: I am writing this post on about 4 hours sleep – sorry if it doesn’t make sense!

I am visiting my family for the next couple of weeks (so my posting may be a little sporadic!)… they live a 5 hour drive away so I had a lot of time on my way today to think while I drove 🙂

On my mind today were a couple of “self” words: selfish and selfless.

Selfish – generally taken as a negative trait.  Selfless – generally viewed as a desirable quality.  Given my current goal of figuring out my “self” and learning to love her, I don’t think the structure of either word really fits with the connotations.

Selfish.  Associated with ignoring others needs and putting oneself first with little regard for who it might hurt.  Selfless.  Associated with putting other people first and denying one’s own needs.  A quality of kindness and generosity.

Yet when looking at the words… self-ish, seems more to denote simply relating to oneself.  And selfless, to lack a sense of self, to be “less” than a self.

In looking at how I perceive each word, I certainly don’t think a selfless person (like my mother, for example) lacks a sense of self.  If anything, I’d say that the most selfless people I know have a very sure sense of self and ownership of who they are.  That pride of self allows them to be open and giving with others.  They have such a confidence and surety that they are able to act in support of others “self”s.  It is almost as if the word for such a person should be self-full as he or she is so beautifully rich in self that there is no need to subsume one’s own self or anyone else’s.  The self remains secure no matter what the container or situation.

And selfish people – they seem to be trying to glean pieces of other people’s self-hood because they lack a personal mastery of who they are.  This lack of wholeness spurs them to “borrow” from other peoples bounty in order to bolster themselves.  In essence, this type of person would seem to be a far better match for the word self-less.

In my journey to become an ever more whole and grounded version of me, I want my sense of self to become so solid that I am able to move into connection and community with no fear of losing that self.  I want to be self-full.