Sunday, October 4, 2015
"Sure. Is it good things or bad things?" -- Me.
"It can be either." -- Counselor.
I tell her that even good memories have something bad tied to it. Fun times with friends in high school brings back memories of losing those friends because of the emotional roller coaster I was on. Drunken nights. Fights. This continued well into college, and even bouts of this post-college. Embarrassing.
College graduation. A good memory, right? Still bad is tied to it. Graduated with my fiance, who just a few months later became my ex under terrible circumstances.
With the good always comes bad. A lot of bad. This is my timeline. I'm not trying to sound tragic or pitiful or gain pity. This is just my timeline. So, I can't change the little marks and scribbles of my past on that legal-sized document, but I can change how I remember those tick marks. Not naturally, of course. This will take effort. Once again, my life journey will take effort.
Okay, this may sound really cheesy but I just had this thought - I can't right my wrongs, but I can write my wrongs. Meaning, I can't go back. I can't make things right. But I can write them, shape them how I want to remember them, just like I'm doing now.
This lady I work with was walking next door to this deli next to our building one morning at work, and I offered to walk with her. I actually bombarded her and said I'd go with her, but I'm sure she didn't mind. She has given me advice on God and marriage, and I feel a connection with her, like I just want her to talk to me and tell me everything she knows. Well on the way back to our building, we were talking about God and how I feel like I'm slipping backwards and have been ever since I was baptized. I don't know what was said to lead this woman to say this, but she said, "And I've been through a lot. A whole, whole lot." I thought better and didn't ask her what, even though this statement made me so curious and sad. Is this where her wisdom and relationship with God comes from? I picture her timeline with a painful experience, and right next to that experience is when she found Christ. Another painful experience is coupled with meeting her husband. And maybe I'm even on her timeline somehow, because this conversation with her is a mark I'll make on my own timeline.
I've gotten knocked down so many times, and most of the time is was because of me. Choices I made, people I chose to have in my life, actions I took with those people. But, I always get back up. It's almost like I knock myself down just to see how strong I am, just to see how good my next comeback will be. Talk about exhausting.
Exciting things are going on around me, and it is really bringing out my anxiety. It feels like all these good things that involve me are circling around me and I'm not actually a part of them, just viewing them as an outsider. I'm definitely going to talk to my doctor and counselor about these feelings, but in the meantime, I must make some kind of change so that I can experience life and not just watch it go on around me. I want to talk to my fiance about this, but he doesn't always have the best advice or know the right things to say. He's a man and an engineer - sweet talk isn't his strong suit. But I'm anxious to tell someone this feeling of watching life happen to me, so I'll give it a shot.
My timeline is slowly developing. During my last two counseling sessions we worked on it, and it's coming together. I'm not sure how far we'll go with filling in the spaces around the parallel line of eternity, but for now I'm going to focus on writing my memories.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
I'd like to share with you one of my latest "scraps." It's theme is what I would tell my younger self, early to mid 20's, when I was depressed, drinking too much and completely out of control of my emotions with no self-awareness or self-care. It also hits home to my much younger years as well, when all of the above (except for drinking because I was like 14) was happening. I'm working on two more, which are extremely personal, and I have not decided yet if I will make those public. I mentioned my work on these two incognito scraps and she seemed quite pleased that I was doing "work" outside of our sessions. She also can't wait to see them.
Now, getting on to the picture. At first glance it may appear a hot mess, but it really does have a [somewhat] organized structure. I wanted this scrap to have more images, with just a few words sprinkled in. I did "cheat" and include a passage that I found in Oprah magazine, but it was just too darn good not to include. Now let's begin the tour.
We'll start with the picture of the lady lounging on the left side of the page. She is the center of this whole scrap--theses images and phrases are hers to both create, and to discover. She appears to be on a mountain looking up at the sky. When we look up at the sky, often we are looking up at the stars. You'll see that there is a star right next to her foot, which signifies that she is looking above to find the stars when there is a shining star already next to her. She's searching for what she already has.
Top left you will see my one "cheat," a full sentence clipping from O magazine. It says, "Experience Renewal. Discover the place where you can be at your best." Pretty self-explanatory. I also have the phrase "keep your years" because my younger self is wasting away her years being sad, beat down, drunk. Keep your years! "It's time," I add.
Bottom left is possibly my favorite part of the scrap, aside from the chandelier (I'm obsessed with chandeliers). In words it says "life is" and then there are two images: one is a shake and one is a cupcake. Put it together and you have "Life is Shakes and Cupcakes." Love it. What I'm saying here is that life is sweet. Yes, it's sour and gross sometimes, but when you look at the bigger picture (i.e., this picture) it's sweet as pie (or shakes and cupcakes).
Let's move to the right. I do include some silly images, just to add character to this scrap. There is a straw hat and sunglasses, an old-fashioned record, and a giraffe peeking his head out of a pitcher of "peace." You'll notice that the pitcher filled with peace has a butterfly coming out of it. Butterflies have been transformed from their past, and it is when you have transformed into the true you that you will find peace. I have the words "Respect Yourself" next to a cat. I think cats respect themselves. They are always cleaning themselves, walking slowly, taking in their surroundings, saving their affection for the right person at the right time. Top right are the words "love the whole you." Again, self-explanatory. In this instance, the whole "me" is this whole scrap.
Bottom right sums up what I tell myself now. Dear Pain, Thank You. I finally feel comfort.Without pain, you'll never know true, unconditional, down to your bones comfort. I'm still slowly discovering bits of it, adding these parts to my "comfort basket," but I can attest to this statement (mostly because I wrote it).
So, there it is folks. My childish hobby come to light. The thing is, childish or not, the excercise of going through magazines, meticulously cutting out images and words to form phrases and thoughts, is calming. I put on light music, and scrap away. It's my getaway, my release. And it's cheap, harmless, and not illegal. So what's the harm?
Saturday, June 27, 2015
It could be that I'm reading Beautiful Fools: The Last Affair of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald by R. Clifton Spargo. I have a growing interest in the Lost Generation and have been reading a lot of non-fiction and historical fiction about this time period and the "stars" of the age. In my readings, I learned that Zelda went insane, having mental breaks, arguable schizophrenia with eczema creeping up her neck with every breakdown. It may sound far-fetched and book snob-ish of me, but I feel a connection with Zelda and her struggles with mental illness. Depression, anxiety and the likes have lasted generations and will continue to infiltrate the lives of those inflicted. It sounds so bleak and hopeless, but I'm finding hope where it seemingly doesn't exist.
While my great-grant parents couldn't "save" me from mental illness, they did save me from myself. I certainly had horrible episodes of depression, drug use, alcohol-induced rage, and a revolving door of relationships, but deep inside my soul, past my flesh and earthly organs, I always held inside a sense of security and acceptance because they provided that to me during my most impressionable years.
Despite changing schools and apartments every year and verbal and mental chaos injected into my veins by my mother, I always had them. I had the cookie jar super glued back together after I broke it, I had my great-grandma's house heels I'd clink clink around in, their big backyard with a tire swing and vegetable garden, with a workshop I would use to "build" things and a hothouse where I would tend to the plants. Memories of putting every pot and pan and bucket in the driveway when it rained, weekends at their modest lake house. These memories are planted so deep inside of me, deeper than depression and drunkenness can invade.
They are both gone now, my great-grandma for 9 years and my great-grandpa for 15 years. I miss them. I wish I could tell them thank you and hug them infinitely for their saving graces. But, I can thank them and honor them in the present by living my best life, not succumbing to mental illness, reading and writing -- two things they always praised me for doing.
I realize that I repeat my past, the negative parts of my past, the failing, the feelings of sadness and inadequacy, excessive sleeping to escape. Instead, I'm going to work on repeating the positive parts of my past, the excitement of catching fireflies and having fun watching my great-grandpa grilling the minnows I caught at the lake. And while I won't be putting pots and pans in my driveway during a rainstorm, I will find hobbies and parts of life that take me to happy places, where I am loved and accepted and good enough just the way I am.
Saturday, June 20, 2015
I had moved in with my now fiance and the plan was for me to be a "house-girlfriend." That was until we added up my debt and realized I need to go straight to work. But, during my non-working days, I delved into to Engel's Healing Your Emotional Self and journaled like crazy.
Has that writing healed painful places I hold inside? It feels like the answer is "no" when I think of how I sometimes go to bed immediately after work because I don't want to be awake anymore; when I have screaming fits with my fiance and threaten to end our relationship; when I feel judged upon walking into a room; when I feel so far from God. Have parts of me healed?
There are noticeable parts of pain I hold, and it is showing on the outside. I need to lose weight. I've gained roughly 40 pounds since college (2008) and I'm unhappy with how I look. I need to lose about 33 pounds. I feel like I am dragging around anger and regret and sadness that is weighing me down, literally. 33 pounds for 33 years - I just realized the relation. I ask again, have parts of me healed?
The answer is yes. I'm revisiting journal entries and feeling inspired by the wisdom and insight I was having during some of my most difficult times. What will I think of myself and my writing in 4 years? I'm stronger than I was in 2011, and I'll be stronger than I am today in 2019. This is all really defining the meaning of "journey."
Now I'm going to pick back up Engel's Healing Your Emotional Self and reread the chapter I was last on a few weeks ago. Prior to this, I hadn't picked this book up for about 3 years, so I need to refresh where I last left off. The chapter I will be reading is chapter 11 titled If You Were Neglected, Rejected or Abandoned: Healing the "I am unlovable" and "I am worthless" mirrors. And while I do feel led to complete this book, I can honestly say that I don't feel "worthless" today as I have in years past. But, I also don't feel "full of worth", so I know this chapter will strike chord today as it did in 2011.
Read some of my 2011/2012 entries after reading Engel's Healing Your Emotional Self by clicking here and here.
Monday, June 15, 2015
I was first introduced to the terzanelle my senior year of college when I took a poetry class. We were tasked to write one, and it took so much time and I was so meticulous; you have to be when forming the lines. What I created was amazing -- it spoke my soul's truth and hidden shame. I received an A in the class, and I believe it was because of the poem.
I recently began writing another terzanelle, but it can get frustrating making every line just right. So, I decided in the meantime, I'll repost the terzanelle I wrote in college.
Finally, I scream for what should have been.
Acquired in my first breath, still seems I’m
tied like a puppet with your painful thread
woven in womb from the tightrope you walk.
Stranded and frayed from your needle-sharp voice
acquired in my first breath. Still seems I’m
knotted with sorrow, for no other choice
I rot with the moon’s fading strand of light,
stranded and frayed from your needle-sharp voice.
Delivered, then bounded to all that’s foul,
dripping with tears, Mom you strangle my soul.
I rot with the moon’s fading strand of light
that flickers once more before bowing its head.
Reaching the end of entangled delight
dripping with tears. Mom, you strangle my soul.
Wrapped within layers of unanswered plight,
finally I scream for what should have been.
Reaching the end of entangled delight,
tied like a puppet with your painful thread.
Friday, June 12, 2015
Most of my life I have steered clear of my sisters' dad's family. When we would go and visit the aunts and uncles and cousins, I felt out of place and like I was wearing a sign that said "Not Related." I would excuse myself and go walk around by myself or go in another room, where I sometimes cried out of loneliness and not belonging.
It was through the help of one of my sisters that I realized, just a little bit, that this side of the family does accept me. This realization came very recently. What's interesting is that while I felt I didn't fit in, I wanted to invite all of them to the wedding. And I found myself worried that they wouldn't want to come.
Again, at my sister's urging, she told me, "Everyone loves you. They always ask how you're doing and they are always happy to see you." I started to believe her.
My healing journey has included, over the past few months, me attending some family gatherings. The comforting fact is that I no longer held that sign. I was in my own body among others and I felt a part of them.
Years and years of struggles and sadness and self-hate are slowly transforming into something better; I am transforming into something better. My "better" means accepting I am loved and I am wanted and I am okay.
Monday, June 8, 2015
During my last doctor's appointment, I talked to my doctor about my weight gain. I've been emotionally and "bored" eating and I must lose weight. It looks like I could stand to lose a few pounds, when in reality I need to lose about 30. Thankfully I carry my weight well, but I'm unhappy and need some help. So he provided it.
I'm on a medicine that causes loss of appetite. This will help with the amount I eat, but not what I eat. And it certainly doesn't replace the nees for exercise. It's just a little "boost" to help get me going.
The only noticeable change is that nothing sounds appetizing. I'm a little hungry, but can't decide what I want, and when I do eat, a lot of the times the food isn't satisfying. But I also feel guilty when I eat. Unless it's an apple, seriously an apple, the guilt surfaces and the voices start. "I shouldn't eat at all because I'm overweight." "Just lose weight by not eating." "You don't deserve, nor do you.need the calories."
I am thinking about my weight all the time. None of my clothes fit so the tightness in all of my work clothes is a constant reminder of my weight. I look in the mirror and feel gross. I want to stay indoors because I feel like people notice I'm pudgy. I need a little help, and my doctor prescribed me some.
To add to the stress is the fact that I have no choice whether or not I lose weight. I have a wedding dress to fit into, and at this point in time, it doesn't come close to fitting. I absolutely cannot and will not be this weight on my wedding day. I would feel unattractive and guilty for not having lost the weight.
Tomorrow is a new day and a new week. If I hit the gym hard and cut back on my calories, I think I can lose 4 pounds. You always lose a lot in the beginning. If I can lose 4 pounds, I'll be in the next lower weight class which will lift my spirits.
Hopefully in 7 days I'll be reporting this significant weight loss. Until then, I need some help from above. Help to stop beating myself up over how I look. My beauty lies within, no matter what the scale says. This I must remember.
Thursday, June 4, 2015
I found an aceo art piece on Etsy, and as soon as I read those words, I knew this art was meant for me.
To think, when the artist was creating this piece, she had no idea about the story behind the person who would soon purchase it. Me, so gracefully broken and searching for healing, found stillness in her art. These words stopped my racing mind, my anxiety was calmed momentarily and love was beating from my chest.
...the real part...the most interesting part.
I have a counseling appointment today, and as difficult as these sessions can be, and even with the dreadful anxiety I experience in the hours leading up to our meeting, I now see this is the real part, and my journey is the most interesting part.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
I take extra, then have to go a wretched week without it, wishing I hadn't taken extra and vowing to not do it again. Then I get my refill for the month and it starts all over again. To stay on track so I don't have to go to work without it, I need to hold on taking my medicines for two weekends. That should put me back on track.
I know ADHD meds can be difficult managing correctly, and I am currently on two - Vyvanse and Ritalin. I wish I could experience the first two hours of my Vyvanse all day, but the "high" productivity fades, and that's where the Ritalin comes in. I take one twice a day, four hours apart from each other. But those four hours are often cut in half, and sometimes I take double doses. This leaves me even more anxious with regret and shame sprinkled in.
I write about my medication struggles in hopes that it helps someone reading this know they are not alone in this daily battle. I realize I have not prayed for the strength to take my ADHD meds as prescribed. Prayer and faith may be just what the Doctor ordered.
Monday, June 1, 2015
The narcissistic traits my mother possesses are making everything about herself, rejecting my feelings and beliefs because they do not align with her own, and placing blame on others for her mistakes/feelings/thoughts rather than taking responsibility. Does this make her a narcissist? Only a doctor can diagnose her.
I find reading these books about neglectful mothers helps me on my journey. One thing that "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?" touches upon is how taboo it is to talk about mothers in a negative sense. Mothers are adored, placed on pedestals; Mother's Day is the most observed holiday. It is more common to speak about neglectful and abusive fathers. But this is my truth - withholding attention and love, shaming and blaming when I did something bad, when I wasn't "good enough" -- actions of my mother toward me.
McBride includes a questionnaire with 33 questions. The questions that I identified with are the following:
- Have you consistently felt a lack of emotional closeness with your mother?
- Have you consistently questioned whether or not your mother likes or loves you?
- Does your mother deny her own feelings?
- Does your mother blame things on you or others rather than own responsibility for her own feelings and actions?
- Is your mother hurt easily and does she carry a grudge for a long time without resolving the problem?
- Do you feel unaccepted by your mother?
- Do you feel your mother is critical of you?
- Are you shamed often by your mother?
- Do you find it difficult to be a separate person from your mother?
- Did you feel you had to take care of your mother's emotional needs as a child?
- Is your mother controlling, acting like a victim or martyr?
- We flail around, we make mistakes, feel deep unworthiness, and sabotage ourselves and our lives (introduction).
- We have been taught to repress and deny, but we have to face the truth of our experiences that our longing for a maternal warmth and mothering is not going to be fulfilled and our wishing and hoping that things will be different are not going to change things (introduction).
- You hear familiar inner voices delivering negative messages that weaken your self-respect and confidence (pg. 17).
- I beat myself up for what I think I've done poorly or should have done better (pg. 5).
- These incessantly disapproving voices never gave me a moment's peace. They harangued, nagged, and demeaned me with the overall message that no matter how hard I tried, I could never succeed, could never be good enough. They created such an extreme sensitivity in me that I constantly assumed others were judging me as critically as I was judging myself (pg. 4).