Who would You be?

I think sometimes we forget how to be other than how we are. We all have our “norms”; how we usually are. It can be like how Eeyore is always sad or how Tigger is always bouncy. We become so accustomed to being one way that we are programmed to have that as our nature.

If you drive a wagon the same route on the same road every day, ruts will develop in the road. The route will eventually become habit and routine and just the way you always go. If it’s drawn by a horse, you will eventually not have to even direct the horse anymore after enough time. It will know where to go, when to turn, when to slow and when to speed up. The whole act becomes a rut.
We do this with our driving too. I have been shocked before to arrive somewhere and to have had my mind on my thoughts so much that I don’t actually remember the minutiae of the act of driving to where I ended up at. I went through the right streets and made the correct turns… I could only assume that I stopped at the appropriate lights and crossing.. I made it where I was going safely but I was on the driving equivalent of auto-pilot.
The same thing happens with life is so many areas. The worst one is in our feelings though. We become so used to the same feelings and the same way of relating that, after a while, even unhealthy or uncomfortable feelings become “easy”. A way of life.

We try to make changes and every now and then, the changes hit their mark. A moment happens when we realize that we don’t feel the same… that we feel differently… that change not only can happen but has… and yet somehow… we revert back to the “norm”.

We react differently than “usual” to a situation. Reacting in a healthy way instead of the “usual” way that nurtures hurt and fear and isolation… and somehow talk ourselves around again into the unhealthy feelings being dominant. Why? Because that how it’s supposed to be. Doesn’t’ matter if it’s not right… it’s usual… and that, in a twisted way, makes it comfortable even in it’s wrongness.
We consistently choose sameness over uncharted territory – even when that sameness is exactly what we profess to not want anymore.. what we struggle against and tear at and say we want to change – more than anything…

What would happen to the story of piglet asked Eeyore how he was and Eeyore said he felt great, that the day looked beautiful (instead of the usual gloomy) and that he was in a terrific mood…Impossible… that’s not Eeyore’s “story”. No one would know how to relate to him; and the worst affected would be Eeyore himself. Sure, he might enjoy his new-found giddiness for a bit but it’s easier for him to be how he always has been. It’s easier to complain and mope and be comfortable… because at the end of the day, it’s easier to be unhappy and cozy with the usual than it is to finally be the change you say you’ve always wanted. Once you change your story and make it how you want it… you have to take responsibility for the state of affairs and own that.

For so many, it’s easier to remain a victim of being caught in the same old trap of mood and feelings and behaviours.
I asked myself today… “What would you be if you had nothing “wrong” to complain about… if you loved yourself for how you are right now… not how you want to be…if you looked in the mirror and saw the beautiful and sexy and caring person that you are that you never see? You’d be amazingly who you were meant to be.” A harsh truth but one that I told myself over a decade ago and one that I forgot about recently.

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Me, my Self and I

Me, my Self and I.

No, I’m not talking about multiple personalities or dissociative identity disorder or anything like that. I’m referring to how I relate to “Me”.

There’s the joke that it’s ok to talk to yourself… it’s not ok if you answer yourself ;). Yet, at the end of the day and at the root of it all is solitude and your Self. Regardless of anyone else’s influence or impact in your life, what matters and counts and is fundamental is your relationship with your Self.

You can be surrounded by people who give you validation and affirmations and lift you up but if you don’t have that coming from inside of you, it makes no difference and won’t give you what you need to be confident and comfortable with who you are, the way you live and the choices you make.

For me, that is a concept that it has taken me a lifetime – and a loss that has almost killed me – to start to internalize. After struggling with self-hatred and loathing for years, it’s a realization that it’s inside of me that I am finding the strength and the empowerment to love my Self.

Sometimes I need to let my Self have a day of tears and quiet and sleep … other times I need to accept and embrace and allow the laughter and the silliness and giddiness that overflows… sometimes its being surrounded by friends that makes me feel good… it’s the calm of a book and the couch… the raw sweat and heavy breath of a hard run… the fortitude to push through the edge of physical endurance … and the surrender of the softness found in the release of a stretch. All parts of a whole and all equal in importance to the fullness of my expression of Me.

My physical, mental and emotional Selves need solitude to grow and connect with each other and foster the strength that’s there… To be empowered to show the strength and the confidence that is so necessary to living the way that brings me joy. The strength and the confidence that is there, just buried underneath a lifetime of disconnect between Me, my Self and I.

It’s not a fractured view of Self but rather an understanding that it’s a team effort of one whole person together to live the life that I want and deserve.

This goes out to my Self… for my Self… I won’t give up on “Us”

Self-harm

This is a very difficult post not only to write but to publish. I am publishing this to give voice to what I know isn’t just my struggle. This blog is not only Willie’s blog but also a vehicle for dialogue about mental health. This is part of that. I have carried a lifetime of shame over my feelings addressed here and part of me healing is letting go of the shame and the guilt for how I feel and my way of dealing with those feelings.

Self-harm is, for me, the epitome of complicated. It’s not as simple as I want to hurt myself. If only it were, then it might be believable to myself that I’ll be able to end it. I am no stranger to this and it’s something that has been a part of my life since as far back as my pre-teen years; really kicking into habitual behaviour in my very early teens and continuing in some form or another in varying degrees even now. Speaking only for myself and my experiences…

Self-harm is something that happens essentially one of two ways for me. The most obvious and the way most people relate to it, is by actually physically hurting myself. The other way which has been the predominant way for years is a purposeful and conscious refusal to do what is “good” or what will benefit me, either physically or emotionally. This is different from choosing to be not well… it is calculatingly choosing to harm myself by denying myself something I need to be “better”.

I know how this sounds; when I write it out I have so much shame and guilt and disgust for myself and what I do that I don’t want to let anyone read it or know what goes on inside of me. I have written this out in so many forms over the last couple of years and every time I have destroyed/deleted it. I may still with this version; I’m not sure yet.

Breaking this down even further; physically hurting myself falls into a couple of different slots as well. When I first started doing it, it was actually therapeutic – or at least that was how I saw it. I would exercise or run whenever I would get overwhelmed emotionally. If I was stressed and needed to “blow off steam” I would throw on my shoes and run – fast and as far as I could go. I would run until I was exhausted. Or I would go to the studio after work and put on loud music and turn the lights off and dance until I was sweating and panting and couldn’t move. I would do Yoga strenuously after that until my body ached and my muscles were shaking. All the while telling myself that it was healthy… this was a healthy choice to release stress. And for a while it was. Until I started to hurt when I ran.. my knees or hips would scream and I would feel that and then I would push harder. The pain was nothing more than a sensation. To me, it became a way of physically feeling what was inside of me that hurt so much. A way of transferring the emotional pain into something tangible that I could feel, process and release. I started to run seeking that pain and not stopping until I found it. And it worked for a long time… years in fact. Until it stopped working. The last year and a half the pain has been too much and injuries had sidelined me from running for a while. Cutting became something that took me by surprise. Done one night when I was in so much pain that I had no idea what to do. The cutting, for me, was a way to pull myself back to the present from where my mind had gone it its turmoil. It was the vessel for the emotions that were swirling inside and threatening worse. Again, seemingly destructive but in actuality, a safer release. I know how “crazy” that may sound but it is just that. The scars I have now a testament that during those times that I couldn’t take it anymore, I got through it. Every cut followed by the mantra that I wouldn’t do it again – and the shame. Fresh cuts again now on my arms tell a different story though. Still doing what I need to when it gets too much. Providing release but also fueling the other side of the self-harming…

The side that isn’t a “healthy” way of dealing with internal struggles. The side that is intentionally hurtful and destructive and hateful. The side that has been here the longest. Starting with control and eventually growing into a way to punish and inflict hurt on someone who doesn’t deserve anything better – me. Anorexia and bulimia in my early teen years morphing into a lifetime of disordered eating that has at its roots the belief that I am fundamentally broken and flawed. The body dysmorphia that I logically know is there but that I can’t control or alter. It skews my vision of myself and my ability to embrace behaviours and habits that will bring my body pleasure and enjoyment. Decades of self-hatred that can’t be accurately described no matter how hard I try. A self-image that isn’t dissuaded by anyone elses opinion.

This has now become an almost debilitating condition with the result that I am terrified at the idea of anyone seeing or touching me. Physical, sexual contact is horrifying to me as I can’t stand the concept of being naked in front of someone and having them explore my body. My own grotesqueness, in my mind, repulsive to me… so it must be to them. No matter what anyone tells me, I can’t believe otherwise. My sexual desires dwindling as I recoil from the chance of ever having to be in that situation again. The frustration over my physical loneliness and wanting coupled with the internal distaste for contact right now.

I see this inside of me and I see my inability to change it… regardless of how aware I am or how many times I’ve tried it never goes away. The result is that it fuels the self-hatred even more… I can’t control myself and because of that I hate myself. My weakness, my disgusting lack of ability to make myself better. I see friends who try to make me see what they do and I see their frustration and eventual annoyance at me and I hate myself more. Or worse yet, the friends who believe that it’s all an act to garner compliments. Nothing could be further from the truth. I want to be different, I want to be free of the thoughts in my mind and the way that my eyes see my shape and how my body feels to my hands. And as the years go by I lose faith that I will ever be free of this.

How many times can you start over and believe that THIS time it will be different… that this time, I’ll be able to change what needs to change and learn to love myself? What is inside of me that has that base belief that I am not deserving of love and nurturing? It’s been there so long that it was hidden… it took me a long time – and some professional help – to discover that this is one of the reason for these behaviours.

It’s not anything that anyone else can convince me of. It began inside me and that’s where it has to be resolved.