Building

March 6, 2013

Well, I did absolutely nothing yesterday, and yet the day was full.  I don’t know where the time went.  When I say, “nothing”, I mean nothing I had planned to do.  No vacuuming, no computer work searching for a job.  I did my journaling and self-help work.  I did yoga for the first time.  I talked to M on the phone.  I took P in to have a teeth float.  I met up with dear S for dinner, and then later a nighttime tea at Starbucks.  I got home at 11 PM, and it was too late to even think of vacuuming.  Instead, I glued F’s hair barrette again.  The one that we made during our craft time together last Friday.

My heart is pumping blood at a furious rate.  I can feel it right through my housecoat.  Am I anxious because I didn’t go on the computer yesterday after announcing to one and all that that was my goal?  I realized yesterday AGAIN how afraid I am of failing.  Perhaps it wasn’t so much a realization as it was a pristine moment of clarity where I was slapped in the face with my own reality.  It’s one thing to SAY I am afraid of failing.  It is another thing altogether to FEEL it soaking through my bones, drenching me from head to toe with suffocating completeness.  I also became aware of the fact that I have no confidence.  That seems like a rather redundant statement to make after living a life with the absence of self-esteem.  But somehow this new understanding of my lack of confidence is profoundly disturbing. What do I do to regain it?  Or if it was never there in the first place, how do I develop  something I’ve never seen or felt before?  ‘Fake it ’till you make it’ cannot apply in this circumstance because I have no understanding or innate sensibility of what it is that I must fake.  What IS confidence?  I know some people are born with it, and others are not so lucky.  Can I truly gain something; an entity I have no previous or background knowledge of; and propel myself forward with it in tact, as I motor down the freeway of success?

Success.  It is a beautiful concept, and one that has been absent in all aspects of my life.  I guess that statement is not exactly true.  A few instances do come to mind:  being awarded ‘Most Improved’ ball player at the end of my first year playing baseball in a league, to being named ‘MVP of the Year’ in the same league, in my third and final year of play; moving to LA a few months shy of the ten year deadline I had set for myself to land there; and graduating ‘With Distinction’ in the two University degrees I completed in four years time.  But that is about it.  Oh wait…I should include being my high school Class President and Valedictorian in Grade 12; and giving the Invocation at my University graduation in the spring of 2008.  I should be proud of these achievements, but instead I am achingly aware of what a pathetically short list of accomplishments that is for someone who has been wandering the planet for 47 years.  Blundering and plodding along, blindly and continually stepping into great potholes in the road, and falling several decades into pits of despair.  No sidestepping for me.  No circuitous routes.  Straight down the line, over monstrous mountains and through unfathomably deep valleys.  Why do I feel like taking a short cut is a ‘bad’ thing?  That strategizing and avoiding definite road blocks and bumps along the line instead of tackling whatever comes my way is shirking my responsibilities.  In other words, my attitude is, “Take it as it comes…EXACTLY as it comes.”  It is not acceptable to avoid any grievances that may come up.  I must face whatever confronts me, and confront IT!  It is cowardly to turn my head and look for another option.  I must persevere through each trial, growing stronger with every obstacle cleared.  What a load of hogwash!  Since when is looking for alternative methods of action or responses a negative experience?  Where does it state that tribulations can only be met as they are presented, head on?  Who said that only adversity makes me grow?  My whole belief system needs to be dismantled and retired.  Or abandoned altogether, and thrown into the round file.  I’ve got to start all over and develop a new scheme with which to live by.  But how do I do that?  Where do I begin, and with what do I begin with?  Which takes me right back to my original question:  How do I develop something I’ve never seen or felt before?

Maybe all of this thinking is meaningless.  Perhaps it is just a matter of doing.  To greet each day and do the best I can with what I’ve got, each moment as it comes.  I could recognize each minute success I achieve, and celebrate these moments as they arrive.  For instance, congratulations me for steadfastly making the time to write in this journal.  Good on me for completing the rewriting of my notes from the courses in the hospital program into my Big Blue Binder.  Way to go for establishing a cleaning schedule, and then making a concerted effort to stick to it each day.  Kudos to me for pulling myself up off of the putrified floor of Depression, and struggling to find meaning and purpose in a life that has been devoid of these properties for multiple decades.  Wow!  What a change in mindset THAT was.  Was that really ME speaking?  What a foreign way to think.  This may not be permanent, but I will say, “Thank you”, Universe, for suddenly opening the windows of my mind to acknowledge these realizations in real time.  May this type of thinking be the substratum with which I construct my new belief system on.

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January 14, 2018

As I reread this journal entry, a flicker of hope flashes through my brain.  Five years ago, for an instance, I got a glimpse of what the other side might look like.  It came out of nowhere, a surprise of the sweetest kind.  An opportunity to view an alternate way of thinking, of being, that no matter how brief, did flare into existence.

I continue to compose my ‘new’ belief system to this day.  Sometimes I experience days when a positive truth gleams forth, and a new brick of enlightenment can be placed to reinforce the others around it.  At other times, I am beset with insecurity and I feel like the fabrication of my foundation is crumbling all around me.  In moments of weakness, I worry that the distance I have travelled from then until now is minimal.  In moments of strength, I don’t compare.  I am content in the knowledge that I am in the spot intended for me at this particular time in my history, and that my building, as it stands, is one that I can love and be proud of.

 

 

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Amnesia

March 5, 2013

I am reading a new novel about a woman who has a rare form of amnesia.  She doesn’t remember who she is and she wakes up in an unfamiliar world every morning.  Her circumstances seem quite horrific, and yet I find myself wishing I was her.  Preposterous.  Why do I constantly want to be someone other than who I am?  That woman’s life would be a veritable nightmare, but because she is ill, there are no expectations on her to be or to do anything.  Not to have a job, or support herself.  She barely even has to take care of herself.  That is all the responsibility she has.  Her husband can do the rest.  And I want that ?!  Where is my fight to survive?  My will to live?  My apparent need to be independent?  It’s like I just want to be taken care of.  To be told what to do and where to go.  To be directed as if I am an actor on a stage waiting for my blocking.  What has happened to me that I feel so inept and incapable as a person to be able to take care of myself?  I can pseudo care for T, S, B, and P, but when it comes to me, I want someone else to do it for me.

I don’t know if I can hold a steady job again, or not.  In the past I have met with fiascos regarding my careers.  I work myself to the bone for my employer, desperately looking for approval and acceptance, only to burn out and be replaced.  Then in my recovery, I sit at home and slumber my life away, afraid to get out and tackle life.  In a warped way, I think if I am ill, I won’t be expected to go out and support myself.  What is wrong with me?!  The truth is, I have no one in my life who will take care of me.  I am a single woman with financial responsibilities.  If I don’t work I will end up on the street.

Today I broadcast to my family that I would go online and search for a job.  Is this why I am panicking?  Or is it because I fear I cannot hold a job, and whatever one I get I will eventually lose amidst shame and pain?  Is the writing already on the wall?  Why can’t I just die and be done with this Earth?  I don’t want to be tested anymore.  I don’t want to try and try and try again, only to end up in a pitiful heap on the floor, a doormat for those who are seeking one.  I don’t want to live anymore.  It’s so odd.  I don’t actually feel depressed, or the usual depressed feeling I have come to know and dread.  Instead, I feel inordinately afraid of what is to come.  Afraid I will fail once again and be left struggling in the pit, with the dusty remains of my past dreams for company.  I feel squashed flat.  I can taste the grit embedded in my teeth from being one of the downtrodden for so long.  Why can’t I fight back?  Why can’t I pull myself up and talk to myself kindly, gently?  Encourage myself to take the next baby step, no matter how small.  Forward.  Onwards and upwards.  I need to be talking to myself in a positive manner.  Instilling beneficial ideas and beliefs into my heart and soul.  Nurturing my broken self.  Tenderly piecing back together the fragments of my life that lay scattered haphazardly around my feet, like dry breadcrumbs I feed the birds.  How is it that I know what I SHOULD do, but I am incompetent when it comes to the doing of it?  Am I slipping?  Am I heading towards another tumble into the abyss; the depths of darkness and despair which I have come to consider my only reality?

Another sleepless night.  I walk and move as if I am another person when I am not feeding like a leech on my depression.  I don’t feel real.  I possess a lightness of spirit and mind that is foreign to me, as the times between my bouts of depression are so short lived I forget what they are like, and what I am like in them.  In a way, I experience my own amnesia regarding my happy self.  What does it feel like to be happy?  Who am I when I AM feeling brighter and more alive?  How long will this feeling last, and where do I go at its end?  Down.  Down.  Down.  It’s been several weeks now, however.  It has been since the end of January that I had a sense of feeling uplifted.  How much longer do I get to benefit and bask in the sunshine before I become buried in the putrid blackness of my soul?  Please let this medication work.  I know I am not feeling as high as I have in the past when my burden lifted unexpectedly, and I was free of the chains of my morose and tortured thoughts.  Maybe the meds are taking the edge off of the high, which hopefully means the edge will be equally relieved off of the inevitable low that will follow.

Am I someone who can work and exist in the world like an average person (whatever that is), or do I need to go on assistance and only work part of the time?  Tutoring and holding a part-time job.  Why do I feel like a failure if that is my lot in life?   And is there a ‘lot in life’, or does it all come about by the personal choices that I do or do not make?  I feel somewhat relieved when I write maybe that is all I CAN do.  A part-time job, tutoring, and some kind of assistance.  But does that make me a slouch?  Or am I being realistic?  Can I only manage so much?  Have I pushed beyond the limits of my stamina from years of abstinence from food?  Have the limits of my personal strength been exhausted?  Have my ‘will’ and ‘power’ deserted me from horrendous overuse in my endless anorexic years?  I know one thing for sure.  I won’t meet any eligible men who can take care of me, if that is what I REALLY want, going the part-time/assistance route.  But maybe I’m not supposed to.  I just can’t bear the thought of another public humiliation when I fail at yet another job.  I am just beginning to get the hang of cleaning the house, for heaven’s sake.  How will I keep that up AND work full time?  OK.  My thoughts are escalating and my panic is increasing.  I need to stop.  I need to look at my handouts from the hospital program. I need to read and think good thoughts for a while.

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January 2, 2018

Amnesia.  It is a funny thing.  Not the condition itself, rather the fact that during certain periods in our lives, we all encounter a form of it in some way or another.  Mothers might remember the difficulties they had birthing their babies, but they forget the actual physical pain they experienced at the time, when recounting the details of each child’s birth.  So too, could be said of the surgeries I have undergone.  I can recall the events of the hospitalizations, but the excruciating pain itself, and the knife-like stabs that occurred whenever I moved are thankfully forever removed from my memory.  I think the same applies to my depression.  When I am lost in it, I am swamped with the distorted feelings of hopelessness, self-hate, and the familiar desire to die.  On the other side, however, those feelings too, fade into the recesses of my brain.  All I have to remember them by are the scars that were left behind.  It is the belief that the other side exists, though; that is the understanding that I must adhere to.  That it IS feasible for someone like me, who lives in darkness, to reach the other side where possibilities abound.  That the journey I have embarked on, with concerted effort, will eventually bring me to a truth that holds a new promise.  One that justifies my travels along an arduous path, and makes some kind of sense in the larger scheme of things.  Where the memory of the razor’s edge of depression is sliced away and tossed out into the ether, enabling me to walk out of the forbidding shadows and into the light of day.

A Valentine’s Day Surprise!

February 14, 2013

I had the loveliest surprise on Valentine’s Day!  N popped by.  I had made him chocolates, but I didn’t know when I would get them to him due to the nature of our circumstances.  But sure enough, his familiar knock echoed through my living room in the evening and there he was!  He came in for tea and I could tell he was pleasantly pleased with the candy.  We dove into another one of our fantastic conversations and entertained ourselves accordingly for quite some time.  Then, out of the blue he announced that he wanted to treat me to a new haircut and a colour!  I was totally taken aback, as he had never given me a gift before.  What a lovely gesture!  And so unexpected.  My next thought was that my hair must look pretty darn dreadful for him to warrant such an offer!  Hah!  When I asked him what his motivation was for making such a suggestion, he simply said he had noticed how hard I have been working on putting my life back in order, and he wanted to honour my efforts.

At that moment I don’t think I knew what to think or feel!  My eyes welled up with tears of happiness because I was touched by his kindness, but I was embarrassed as well that I should be in a position where I NEEDED to gather the shards of my existence together and put them in some semblance of order to resemble “normal life.”  I could feel my face begin to redden in anger that he would assume I would need such a gift because I was unable to provide for myself in this matter.  But I also felt sadness because a simple gift exchange such as this was an occurrence that rarely happened in my life because I no longer had many friends.  Anorexia had ruthlessly taken care of that years ago.  Then the sad feeling was chased out by the frustration I experienced because I really DID need his help on many occasions.  Whether it be to open a jar I was not strong enough to crack the seal on, or to listen to me talk and to provide feedback when I felt completely alone in the world, N has been here to help me through.  Albeit on his own schedule, but he does have an uncanny talent for appearing just when I need him most.  And I am always so ill-prepared to return a favour to him.  Shame on me for not being a reciprocating friend.

I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh, or cry, or yell, but I could feel something untoward building in my chest.  It started as a ball of fire that began to swirl upwards into my esophagus.  Its heat grew in intensity as it rose until it felt like my throat was being burned by acid.  The fire caught my tongue and I could feel my eyes begin to water.  Sensing my inner turmoil, N moved closer to me in concern.  He placed his big, strong hand on my shoulder and he leaned forward towards me.  I had no idea what I was going to say to him because of all my conflicting emotions, but I knew I was going to say something.  Just as the heat threatened to blow off the top of my head, I opened my mouth to speak and…I burped!  Loudly!  Of all of the responses to his generosity that I could have elicited at that moment, that one had to be the least anticipated!  The air was deadly quiet, as my eyes flew open in horror at my faux pas.  I heard the steady, ‘Tick, tick, tick’ of my living room clock, and then…we both erupted in peals of laughter!  “Dear me,” he finally said in his soft accented speech, and I showered him with a jumbled up combination of apologies and thank you’s until we both settled back down.

It was so great to see him on Valentine’s Day!  It is super to see him on ANY day, but today was special.  He is a dear man.  I care about him deeply, but I can do nothing more that that because of the impossible situation.

N confirmed again tonight that we would do my yard in the spring.  I really look forward to that.  I’m sure it will be hard work, but I love being outside.  I also really like physical labour.  There is something really satisfying about working with the dirt.  The land that I live on.  The land that I cherish.  My little piece of utopia.  My heaven on earth.

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July 18, 2017

What a funny memory for me!  Laughing with a good friend is one of my favourite pastimes.  I have come to appreciate how both laughter and friendships are priceless commodities that must never be taken for granted.  They both provide great joy, and they need to be valued in kind.

Being the best friend I can be brings me tremendous happiness, as well.  To me, friendships are living, breathing entities that require nurturing and attention at all times.  I know, however, that they are well worth the effort and the time I invest in them.  The give and take between friends is a natural phenomenon and not something where a score needs to be kept to ensure each partner is giving the same amount as the other.   When the connection is true, balance ensues.  As the years roll along, I find I have fewer friends than I did when I was younger.  But the ones that I do have, are rare finds that I treasure with all of my heart.

Facing the Day

February 6, 2013

Another sleepless night for me.  I am weary today, but I am afraid to take a nap in case I don’t sleep tonight.  I haven’t followed my schedule today, or for that matter, in several days, as I lay in bed for a long time willing myself to get out of bed.  Getting up each morning is still so hard.  I don’t hate the day the minute I wake up anymore, but I just don’t seem to want to get going.  I guess I am still hiding out from the world.

I have made some good strides forward.  Dr. F is amazed at the big leap I have taken.  But I fear that this supposed progress is only temporary.  I hope I am not falling back.  I couldn’t take that.  Being on my own is difficult, as I no longer have an enforced set of activities I am required to complete.  I am my own boss.  This is a role I am not comfortable taking.  More truthfully, this is a role I have not a clue how to adopt and take on for myself.  How can I not know how to manage me?  How is it that I have never learned this basic survival technique?  It is unfathomable how I could have gotten so far into my life without grasping this simple premise.  And yet here I am.  Blindly making a muck out of experience after experience.  Terrified to step out on my own.

How do other people manage themselves?  Why is it that I have never thought about this crucial piece of reality until now?  What a simple concept, and yet it is one I don’t understand.  I have been ill so much in my life.  Hospitalization after hospitalization, to the point of sometimes becoming institutionalized due to the length of my stays.  I think of all the help I have received and the care that has been given me.  I have required this attention because of my illnesses, but at what cost?  Is it any wonder that I have difficulties standing on my own two feet?  Couple that with the fact that my family sees me as being fragile and unable to cope.  They have tried to protect me from what?  Myself?  The world that surrounds me?  Whatever the answer I am left lost and alone.  Feeling unprepared and unable to face each day as it greets me.

OK.  My heart is pounding, my chest feels constricted, and I have a nauseous feeling in my gut.  These physical signs are telling me that I am panic spiralling.  Never a good thing.  I must do some breathing exercises and focus on the moment of now.

I look at my luscious plants.  They are so beautiful and green.  Such a variety of different shades of colour.  It’s quite remarkable and spectacular at the same time.  Like me, they love the sun!  Basking in it each day brings me warmth and satisfaction.  A comfortable feeling of contentment creeps in as I feel the subtle warmth of the rays on my arms and hands.  This morning it was cloudy.  A greyness permeated the sky that suggested snow was on the way.  But now it is delightfully sunny with a slight haze in the sky.  It is like the clouds from this morning haven’t completely burned off.  I look up into the depths above me and marvel at its perfection.  With all of its different moods, the sky remains constant.  Something I can count on seeing each day and night.  If only I could learn to count on myself, then I, too, would be able to take care of me and face each day with dignity.

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May 27, 2017

I like most mornings, now.  I arise very early and then relax into my day by luxuriating in the downy folds of my cotton bedding while repeating my positive mantras at a lazy pace.  I am then able to eat breakfast, and although I cannot say I enjoy it particularly, I like the idea that I am feeding my brain and my body for whatever comes my way.

There are still days when I struggle to get out of bed, dreading what awaits me.  During those times, I strive to think of what I have to be grateful for, and I do my daily affirmations with a blind fervour, trying to occupy my mind with positivity, as opposed to focusing on what is negative.  This can be a challenging activity because for so many years my brain has been bent in the direction of negativity that I naturally navigate towards it.  But the more work I do establishing new positive neurological connections within myself, the better able I am to reach and remain on the bright side of that spectrum.

Now the grand question is whether I have learned how to take care of myself.  Anorexia has shattered what little self-esteem I possessed before its onset, so many decades ago.  It has not been built up significantly to date, despite my concerted efforts in this area.  And I remain rail thin, which would indicate that my ability to care for my basic need of sustenance is one that is sketchy at best.  But I AM functioning in the real world.  I have maintained a career for several years, and although I would like to have a partner, I live somewhat successfully on my own with my dear doggy and kitty.

True happiness still eludes me, as countless years of self hate have taken their toll, and the ability to be kind to myself is grossly impeded by my inner critic.  But I have learned to accept most days as they come, and to do my best to focus on the moments that occur, in real time, regardless of whether they are moments to remember, or ones to forget.  I hold onto the belief that with continued hard work on myself as a person, I WILL find total peace, and even true happiness.  In the meantime, I welcome contentment as my companion as I face the days that come before me.