I moved five years ago to leave an abusive workplace and further my education. Might as well have been a lifetime.
Two days into keto, and I’m down 3.8 pounds. I apparently hit ketosis fast – woohoo!
It feels really good to practice discipline in what I eat, something I have struggled with for so long. I attribute it to the hard work I’ve done in PTSD recovery, to working through shame issues, anxiety, realizing how much I’ve been numbing, learning what I use to cope and seeing that I have other options – options that take work and practice, but that are improving my life so much.
I think I may have stopped numbing. I’m stopping work when it’s at a stopping point and I can reasonably be done for the day – and I don’t feel bad about being done and I don’t feel like I didn’t do enough. I’m not eating to ignore my feelings, and I’m conscious of what I eat. Work and food have been my go-tos to ignore my feelings and my problems for years. This feels pretty good.
I had a lot of creativity last night and was able to think through some ideas I’ve been stalled out on for several months. That felt great too! The other side is that now I’m feeling, I’m also feeling hurt. The emotions I’ve been blocking and ignoring for a long time are still there and still have to be dealt with, and I understand that…and am slowly accepting it. But that also leaves from for happy and a lot of other good things, so here’s to exploring that.
I’m a planner. My comfort zone is knowing the status, having a plan and being on schedule.
I’m living day-to-day right now. Not in a barely surviving way (although it feels like that without a plan and status), but in an I don’t know and don’t have the information to make a decision yet way. I hate it. I hate uncertainty, and that’s all I have right now.
I’m learning a lot about myself. I’m growing. I’m maturing, although it feels like if I mature any further my soul will pass the millennium mark. I’m grateful for that, and I’m grateful I’m now more honest and less avoidant.
But this shit is hard.
I’m back in neutral. It’s such a tenuous place, and I expect to be thrown out of it at any moment. Not exactly being present or living in the moment, but it’s going to take a lot of practice for me to be able to be comfortable with not freaking out. That may sound ridiculous, but the constant scan for threats to my perceived safety and security is beyond hard to turn off.
I’m noticing that I’m starting to be able to find some balance. It’s been nearly manic activity or hiding in bed for so long, and now, even if initially I find a task to be challenging, I can usually calmly consider it and get to a place that I can tackle it. If I don’t want to do something I think about it until I can calmly approach it. I even considered doing something that I then decided would be too stressful and told myself no.
Creativity is slowly starting to unfurl in my brain. I get little bits and pieces, glimpses of ideas and a hint of the motivation to pursue it. I’ve been in survival mode, then get standing mode, for so long that it feels like a new game to begin to get close to moving forward. And I’m kind of looking forward to it, and starting to believe I can.
I have been pretty intense this week about sorting myself and my environment out. Brené Brown has a great comment from her therapist, which is rather than put on a shell, get yourself out of the briar patch. I’ve been living in a briar patch and blaming the thorns for being there. Time to get out!
I started purging my belongings yesterday. A quick, temporary move has turned into five years of stuff stored in boxes, stuff that I don’t even remember that I have and certainly a lot that I don’t need or someone else could use. There are some family heirlooms and some things that I will use later in a different living situation, but there is also a lot that I can release: the bag of info and giveaways from a conference I attended over a decade ago. The scraps from handcutting invitation postcards for a program I ran over fifteen years ago. Yep, hoarder tendencies run deep in my family, and I used to keep some weird and unnecessary stuff because I found it painful to throw anything away. Now I understand the weight these things place around your ankles, and how difficult it makes it to get up and walk again when you fall. So out it goes!
I’m halfway done, and that’s enough for now. Usually I will force myself through a task like that until it’s done, and I’ve been forcing myself through some tough stuff already this week. Then I get to Monday and wonder where the weekend went and why I am so exhausted?
So it can wait, I can take a break and rest, because it will still be there to deal with this week, like everything else on my schedule. But I will feel better and be more prepared to handle it.
You’ve likely heard the same messages I’ve heard my whole life. Men are the leaders, men are in charge, men are the protectors, men go first, they set the tone, they set the expectations, they set the example, they provide and you, woman, are here to respond.
If I held to that bullshit, I wouldn’t be half the person I am today, because I would have continued to lose myself in an abusive relationship thinking it wasn’t for me to step up and change things for the better.
If I didn’t have the courage to step away from all of the messages I’ve heard for decades about my gender role, I wouldn’t have learned so much about who I am and why – and it wasn’t because I submitted myself to someone else’s ideas about my role, it’s because I shattered that box and asked really hard questions about who I am and who I want to be – then stepped up and asked a man the same hard questions and had the courage to take the risk that the answers were going to break my heart.
I’ve limited myself for so long because I was told that I was just a girl. Girls shouldn’t be leaders, they shouldn’t fight for better and they really shouldn’t say, “this isn’t ok and we can both do better, but I can’t do it for you.”
I’m working on the practice of holding two opposing ideas at once, and this, intentional recovery, has been both hell and freedom. And the best part of freedom might be freeing myself from bullshit gender messages that have prevented me from living as the best possible version of myself, a person of courage, honesty and compassion.
My boyfriend and I continue to have difficult conversations. I keep doubting I have the energy to keep going, but I keep pushing through.
We don’t have anything to hide behind. We don’t have money and job security, we don’t have a lot of time together, we don’t have a long history of trust and connection, we don’t even have a certain belief that we belong together. It’s fucking hard.
Because we don’t have anything to hide behind, and because we’re both sticking with the difficult conversations long enough to get past the darts and jabs, we’re starting to get honest. The kind of honest where you face shame and admit you’ve been hiding things because you’re not sure they’ll like you anymore if they know. The kind of honest where you say what isn’t ok. The kind of honest where you admit you might be the problem but this little bit is all you know and you haven’t learned enough to figure out the rest yet.
I’m not sure how many people ever get this honest in a relationship, but I don’t think many do it within the first nine months. It takes more courage than I knew I had. And I do it because I believe I matter enough to speak and hear the truth. To not walk away because I’m scared and this is really hard, but because walking away is the right thing for me. And I don’t know that yet because I don’t have enough information.
And there’s no backing down now, because we’re here, rumbling with the truth no matter how scary or how hard. AND IT’S HARD. I’m still not in neutral, and I’m not comfortable with some of the surprises I’m getting. I’m constantly in high threat mode and no one else is bringing me back down to my version of calm. While I’m rumbling with a really painful series of realizations about who I am and how I got here.
But worth it, because I’m worth it. And so is he.