One Word (surrounded by lots of others)

A very wise, very dear friend of mine posted this morning that she chose #oneword to help direct her intent for the new year and I immediately fell in love with this idea. Not only because her reasoning and insight was so powerful, but also because I’ve never much bought into New Year’s resolutions. I’ve always been the kind of person who continually tries to work on things (often to my detriment, but I’m working on that, too! ;P). I don’t know if I do this because I enjoy challenges, because I’m stubborn, or what, but having a chronic illness ties into this mentality even more because every day is, essentially, a new resolution. I'm always weighing what I can and can't do. What I would like to accomplish vs. what I is even possible. And, generally, my daily goals are usually the same as they've always been (with variations like "managing to put on real pants" vs. "completing a marathon" depending on how I feel).

As one could imagine though, always trying to better yourself can be exhausting, unhealthy, and counteractive. (Only took me 12+ years of eating disorders and chronic fatigue/dysautonomia to teach me that! Like I said – stubborn.)  Lately, within the past few years, I've been trying my best to live by “balance” and “acceptance”. In fact, they’ve become little mantras for me without even realizing it I think, and have been immeasurable in their ability to draw me out of old patterns and back into the present moment in my daily life and mind. As well as related to my chronic illness by balancing pushing myself and working toward those daily resolutions with accepting my limitations (still SO HARD FOR ME AAAH!).

So, just as my beautiful friend has chosen to “embrace” this one word concept, I decided to also. (Thank you, Favorite! <3)

With that, I dove into reading and hearing about other peoples’ words and their reasonings for them. They were all magnificent and perfect in their own right and I felt like, with each “oneword”, every person gifted me something about themselves I would never have known otherwise. I, however, had yet to come up with mine. Patience, maybe? But that ship sailed a long time ago (and I’ve accepted that. (SeewhatIdidthere?!)). Bravery? Hmmm, good – but doesn’t quiet feel right. Vulnerability? Oh god, that one scares me, so no.

And then I stopped myself – if it scares me then maybe that is exactly the one I need.

So I mulled this over between dog-snores and dog-farts and decided on a variation of vulnerability:

Honesty.

And all of the sudden, all the concepts started pouring out:

First it started with being honest and putting my writing out there. I mean – out there out there. Telling people I’m doing it and owning it even if it makes me feel kind of pukey to do so, especially allowing strangers and people I know to read it (and I still can’t figure out which one of these is more terrifying to me)!

Then it moved to being honest with others. Saying what I need, saying what I think, saying what I feel. And not in the round-about way I’ve built myself up to doing after years of practice. Now I need to do it with that final leap – with to-the-point-words and sentences ending in big, fat periods.

Which drifted to being honest as to why that scares me so much. In being honest in all my fears and honest in my vulnerabilities. And being honest in why feeling vulnerable scares the everliving shit out of me. I mean, I’ve tried to dabble in it (Vulnerability: The Gateway Fear). In fact, just the other day I texted someone – actually initiated a conversation to talk about how I was feeling and needing help – and I got a reaction that didn’t suit me. So I shut down. “Oh, they don’t really care to know and I’m already uncomfortable and feeling vulnerable so at least I tried.” I said to myself, and that was that. But why not take the next step? Why not say, "Hey, I was trying to open up just then and I need more from you."? That way I know I gave my honest self to the situation. And if it still doesn't pan out like I need, then I have to walk away and accept it.

I need to be careful in honesty, yes. Not just spout everything off to everyone. I need to be conscionable and learn the balance within this just like I have worked for balance in so many different things. But I also need to be forthcoming so people know when I do say something important, I really mean it.

Which finally led to being honest with myself. When my Dysautonomia or fibromyalgia is too much and I can't walk the dogs or do all the things. Or, conversely, being honest when I really can push myself and just don't want to. And always examining the honesty in, and of, my intentions – in writing, in interacting, in everything.

And then I thought, “Man… I should’ve chosen another word.”

Anyway, I will continue to mull over this for a while. I do think it could be especially powerful for those of us who are in #edrecovery, though, as we tend to focus on specifics, black and white things, etc. Whereas a single world can encompass a lot, be very broad and forgiving, and force us to move more freely in our expectations or ourselves and our worlds.

 

What do you think? What would your #oneword/intent be?

Honestly, I want to know.

Sit Quietly...

There used to be so many feelings I couldn't handle.

As time has continued and I have focused my energy, new thought processes, and lots of practice, most have become easier to manage. To be mostly OK with and settle in to. Or, perhaps at the very least, to recognize more quickly than I used to (which, often times, was not at all).

I have to stay on top of my thoughts or else they can overtake me. Whether they revolve around self-worth, the eating disorder voice, anxieties, my penchant for obsessive thinking -- it can be any, or all, or something else entirely different. But my mind will run... and run... and run if I let it.

Even if it is with genuinely good intent: writing more, connecting, doing things around the house -- I can get so caught up in end results, what I want to accomplish, that I wind up feeling disjointed, rushed, and not present. Like I've climbed onto a lamppost to see far beyond the crowd rather than letting myself wade through it, brushing shoulders with people, stepping on popcorn, petting dogs parked under awnings waiting for their owners.

It’s not about being better – not this time – even though that is often a common theme for me. It is, for lack of a better word, tunnel vision. And I don’t think that is necessarily a "bad" thing unless you have a tendency to get 'stuck' like I do.

Since eight years ago when I started my recovery, I have worked very hard to keep myself in the moment. It is vital in helping me stay grounded, present, and not get swooped up into my mind like I so frequently can be. Sometimes I resort to sayings or platitudes to help ‘reign myself in’, but these can often be difficult for me to buy into. Especially when there are things I want, and am ready, to accomplish. Goals are not about the journey, but about the end result, aren’t they?

I wonder if this is one of many reasons why recovery can be so difficult. Because there is a place we know we want to be – we have made the choice, we have decided this is what we want to pursue and this is what we want to accomplish – and then we have to slug our way to it.

Most of the time, staying present makes sense to me. It serves many purposes that I can see and feel. But when I’m working toward something, I have discovered staying present seems less relevant. And though I have been practicing for the last eight years to bring myself back HERE, wherever I am, again and again, it is like I sometimes get so caught up in the vortex of my mind that even if I find the ground it doesn't seem like it will serve a means to this particular end.

Perhaps there is a lesson in all this. In staying present when it feels unrelated. In fighting to stay grounded even when it doesn’t make sense.

Or, perhaps, as I sit here and think, maybe what drives my determination toward more of an obsessive focus is not being satisfied with where I am currently.

But what is wrong with where I am? What is wrong with slowly finding my way to my goals? What is wrong with us being right where we are in our recovery?

There used to be so many feelings I couldn’t handle. So many I've been able to grow into. So why is moving at a pace different than what I want still one of them?

Why is it still so hard sometimes for me to sit quietly and let the grass grow by itself?

Dysautonomia Awareness Month

I feel like my autonomic nervous system got wind that it was Dysautonomia Awareness Month and decided to give me some talking points. Vis a vis (I feel all nerd-glowy for using that in a sentence...)

Vis a vis, I neared my record for shittiest blood pressure ever this week. A whopping 63/44. This is second only to the 50something/30something I had a few years ago. I... uh... can't remember exactly because I'm not entirely sure I was fully conscious at the time.

What I am sure of is that those of us with chronic illnesses are some of the most resiliant, badass people out there. We manage to do a lot more with far less than most people could even think of doing. Because we have to. Because we refuse to give up. And, for the most part, I've been doing pretty well lately. Things have been manageable. No running marathons or the like but I've been able to get dressed most days, go to appointments if I need to, take my dog for walks now and again, make dinners (with, like, actual cutting and pans and veggies and crap!), and focus long enough to get some writing in.

But here I am on Day 4 of Ridiculously Shitty (as opposed to Typically Shitty) Blood Pressure and while, yes, I'm trying to figure out potential causes as well as balance and take care of myself, I can't help but think, "Wellp, it was a good run while it lasted." And isn't that one of the biggest fears for anyone with a chronic illness? We value the crap out of the days where we can do stuff -- even "little" things like making dinner for cripes sake. We don't take the hours, or days, or weeks, or months for granted where we feel like we're living rather than just getting by. And, through it all, we never forget the worst it has been for us, which makes it so we can't help but think -- when we catch that cold, or push too hard, or the weather changes too quickly -- that it's going to finally, and permanently, take us back to that life that wasn't living at all.

Driving back from my appointment yesterday (instead of running errands like I wanted to, because my blood pressure plummeted), I thought about people who've gone into remission with cancer. How do they do it? Because God, now there is a fear of a hammer dropping for sure. Holy shit. Seriously, how do they do it? It's like the fear I have but ten-fold. And, in no way am I comparing cancer to dysautonomia but, rather, trying to acknolwedge the freakish badassery of cancer patients -- because with Dysautonomia, I can at least know I'm not necessarily fighting against death.

I also know I am armed with more knowledge now than when I was bed-ridden for 2 years. I know things to do that help and things to avoid. But none of it is a given. My nervous system could just decide to go flooshotty and no amount of water, or salt, or whatever could necessarily right it.

Except, nothing is a given for anyone. No one is guaranteed to wake up tomorrow. I know that platitude as well as the next person. Except, most people don't have to choose between taking a shower or feeding themselves in the morning. And maybe the fear of losing it all keeps me trying my best to live well -- which might not be something most people get to have either.

"Enough"

"Enough" is a trap.

Whatever words you put in front of it devalues what really is.

I'm not PRETTY enough.
I'm not SMART enough.

Whatever you put after it can be even worse.

I'm not THIN enough to have an eating disorder.
I'm not GOOD enough for him.

There is no "enough". Nothing will fill it so that it suddenly goes away. "Enough" is a hole in your mind that stays and echos and will never be filled up.

Instead, it has to be shown for what it really is. It has to be challenged.
Enough for whom? For him? For her? For Mom? For Dad? For them? For you?

Nothing will be enough unless you say so.

You.

Because you are powerful and strong and worth fighting for.

You.


You are so much more than "enough".

K, M, J...

I've been struggling lately with the fact that people come and go.

I suppose I always thought if I wanted someone in my life, and put forth the effort, they would stay. But that isn't always the case.

It is not really a secret that I haven't always been the best at keeping in touch (read: um, I'm kind of horrible at it). I realize this could be a lot of it. But, over the last couple years, I have reached out to a few people from my past, and it always seems to be a reach that is never met. Is that because I did something wrong? Because I did such a poor job in communicating? Or just because people grow apart through no ones fault, and that is something I need to accept?

I think one of the hardest things for me is when this happens, when people don't want to talk to me/don't want to be my friend anymore/move on, and I don't know why.

But that's just how the cookie crumbles. There are people who I was absolutely, positively, certain would always be in my life and, for whatever reason, they no longer are. I guess the worst part is that I wonder if my depression or anxiety and such had something to do with it. Not in the sense that they couldn't accept me with those, but more that I withdrew into myself so much that I just wasn't really "there" to them anymore. Maybe they kept reaching out to me and I was the one who never returned their effort.

Or, of course, it could all just be because people come and go.

It makes me sad, but it makes sense. You change, people change. Your heart has to make way for those who help serve it at this point in your life. But, I suppose what doesn't change is the fact that there are some people who were really important to you, and -- for whatever reason -- they aren't anymore.

Do they know that they were? If they did, would we still have grown apart? Maybe, what it comes down to, is that they were more important to me than I was to them. Not in a vindictive way, but just because our hearts are our hearts.

I don't know what I'm trying to accomplish when I try to get back in touch with people from the past. Maybe I want to understand what happened. It might be my way of trying to say sorry, Or, perhaps I am just trying to be at peace with the fact that, at one point, we sat next to each other in a car, driving through a late night, singing songs and laughing as the future was splayed out in front of us.

And now, for whatever reason, there is only space and memory between us.

Memory which, in all possibility, is alive only for me.