My entire young life I had heard that I need to grow up and be an adult. When I turned 18, pregnant with my first child, I did not magically feel like an adult. I got married, had another daughter, and still the enlightenment of being a year older never felt like the definition of adult. If time is a concept that society created in order to have structure but does not tangibly exist, could the concept of being an adult also be a myth used to explain the in-explainable?
While typing Edith’s Memoir “The Book of Edith”, her caregiver would forewarn me of the bad days as they happened. For Edith a bad day is mass confusion within dementia and her body is locked into place from Parkinson’s, with her failing site producing hallucinations. As I would come every weekend and read her the journals I had typed onto my computer, we would relive her childhood. The journals were especially fond in the memories of her childhood, even though she lived in refugee camps and was busy running to the woods to escape the bombs reigning down all around their hometown of Stuttgart, Germany. Her childhood is told in a way that reminds me of my own childhood, the feeling of nostalgia accompanying the reading. Edith, in the last sector of life, loved hearing the stories she herself wrote, especially the early stories that tell of her defiance with her mother, and later the mothers love she found as a woman, as an adult.
As I would read, her caregiver would report odd happenings through her day that happened to coincide with the stories we read. The characters who once were live humans have long past, and this memory and need to remember becomes imminent. We finished the book and printed it, as you may know, and Edith said she was “Kaput”.
Edith’s health began deteriorating quickly, and my friend (her caregiver) asked if I would be interested in sitting with Edith on weekends. I had been a caregiver for adults in my past career in the decade prior, but had been working with children as of most recent. Months passed and Edith’s health rapidly fell into 24 hour care. I arrived with a duffel bag full of home comforts for the 24 hour shift and appreciated the view from her apartment as a gift of perspective. The observation ritual I noticed seemed backwards from the magical words of “Someday, you’ll be an adult.”
As a kid, that statement meant freedom, as thoughts of paying rent and mortgages and utility bills were not in the view for my younger self at that time. I could not wait to be an adult and be independent. My definition of adult meant I no longer had to listen to my parents, which ironically is still a great value I have on being an adult. Growing up meant understanding as well, becoming wise in my elder years. And all of this was supposed to just happen at the moment I turned 18, then I would be 40, and then maybe retire and die. Life had been cut into chunks that I wasn’t aware had been studied by the brilliant psychologists, one of the observations being about Lifespan Psychology, and the four sectors of aging. Carl Jung referred to this idea as simply the “Stages of Life.”
Jung’s work in archetypes lent to his study of the human psyche in regards to the stages of life, naming four in particular; the Athletic stage, the Warrior stage, the Statement stage and the stage of the Spirit. While ages varied, Jung found that the stages were loosely based on approximate ages, and if given the opportunity to live through the years he found that there was a psychological viewpoint within each archetype.
The athletic stage is based on looks and performance. Humans enter this stage at birth, grow exponentially for the 5 years, and learn cognitive functioning. This stage lends fascination to the visual of the body and its usage. The athletic stage lasts until approximately the age of 25, which coincides with the biology of brain development changing around this time.
The warrior stage begins with restructuring this new life. The value of freedom and to conquer in career and life overall is strongest at this stage. The adults are gone, and now we get to make choices that state our importance to the world. The warrior raised children, builds her career, and learns to physically and emotionally support ourselves in self-awareness.
The statement stage is about realizing our place within the world as a warrior while understanding that community and the humans we love are more important than the career and money we spent the last 15 years building. The statement is a realization that there is more to life than the items we own, and we want to be a part of the fabric that holds the world, our individual world, together. So far we have progressed through stages of confidence building in our physical and mental prowess, have self-actualized our lives.
The spirit stage is recognition of the body and mind being separate. For most of our life we depend on our legs to carry us, we do not see old age bringing sticky muscles and cracking bones. As I watched Edith try 3 times to push herself up from her chair, I could not help but think of all the mountains she climbed throughout her life. Now there is a separation, and with that separation frustration or acceptance. I look around the dining room and recognize the frustration of working an entire life just so the kids can sell the house and lock their parents in for their own safety, the child becoming the adult for the now adult child. I watch two older men, white haired and missing teeth, gossiping about the ladies with arms folded and little smirks and I think to myself what a cosmic joke. We spend all this time and money on looking good, and in reality none of that actually exists, just like time, it has no value unless value is given to it. The spirit stage is acceptance of childlike wonder, as we regress to our less physical life. The recognition of spirit is a beautiful gift as it specifically outlines the idea that you are still, indeed, you. In fact, the other 3 stages of you were not fully formed until this very moment. We are able to become the observer, with all the unique information about ourselves, in an effort to ease out of the body without fear and trauma.
My definition of being an adult has changed due to my life experience. I have no desire to fulfill the stereotype of being an adult as defined in my past stage(s). Instead, I will continue to be me as only I know it and learn the acceptance of the difference between body and mind. Where are you in the stages of life?
P.S. I have included a link to this highly recommend reading about Maslow’s self-actualizers.
The Following information was taken from here; https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
Characteristics of self-actualizers:
(a) Experiencing life like a child, with full absorption and concentration;
(b) Trying new things instead of sticking to safe paths;
(c) Listening to your own feelings in evaluating experiences instead of the voice of tradition, authority or the majority;
(d) Avoiding pretense (‘game playing’) and being honest;
(e) Being prepared to be unpopular if your views do not coincide with those of the majority;
(f) Taking responsibility and working hard;
(g) Trying to identify your defenses and having the courage to give them up.
The characteristics of self-actualizers and the behaviors leading to self-actualization are shown in the list above. Although people achieve self-actualization in their own unique way, they tend to share certain characteristics. However, self-actualization is a matter of degree, ‘There are no perfect human beings’ (Maslow,1970a, p. 176).
Twenty days; yes the countdown to THAT day in my life is on, and it’s coming like a slow moving storm in the distance that you know that you can’t avoid no matter what direction you go . It’s a day that I would give anything to just be out on the beach at Kalaloch all day; just to be in the place where you loved to go and we released you to your final resting place. Where I could sit and listen to the ocean beat the shore with its calming heartbeat as the wind blows around me. But that day I will be the responsible adult that you taught me to be at work.
Ten years and it’s hard for me to fathom that it’s been this long since that day that started the massive tsunami of change that has overtaken my life. Little did I know that the change would come at the cost of one of my biggest losses and heartbreaks of my life. I knew you were sick, it was why I chose to stay in this small town and why we didn’t move across country, but I thought i had more time than we did. What I thought could be years turned into only a year and a few months.
That day is still burned forever in my memories, most of the time I can block it out but this year little clips of it keep popping into my head like little flashes of a broken film with no sound. With each little fragment of a memory it catches my breath and I have to fight back the urge to allow the whole nightmare of a day and the following weeks to play out in my mind. Followed by the overwhelming questioning; did I tell you how much I loved you and give you one more hug before I left the house after picking up your granddaughter? Did you know that you were my favorite person to have coffee with and my best adviser? How much I have missed you in the last ten years and would give to have one more talk?
I hope that you are proud of the woman your daughter has become dad. I have struggled, I have fallen to my knees, and been broken and battle worn.Your passing pushed me to fight for my self worth and my daughter’s right to have her parents not end up hating each other. I have handled my divorce with grace and my head held high,showed as much respect as possible, taken care of mom like you would want me to (even if at times we drive each other crazy, but hey, we are mother and daughter and that’s normal and we love each other dearly), I am raising my own daughter to be strong and yet kind with just a touch of sass, and I have survived a round or two of emotional and mental abuse. Through it all I fought hard to keep my heart kind,but with the fire and grit of a warrior.
While I know your passing was the hardest on mom, it still lingers for her in ways that can only be expressed by her, but for me as your child even though I was not yours by blood you were my daddy. You raised me and loved me like your own. It’s an ache only someone who has lost a parent can understand. I have learned that grief comes in so many forms and we all have our own ways of coming to terms with this unimaginable loss.
For me I choose to remember the day you left not only because it marks a sad moment in my life but because in the long run it marks a turning point in my life. It marks the moment I started to become the woman that my family always knew I could be and the woman my family needed me to be. It marks the moment I started crawling out of the darkness of pain and depression I was in. I became a warrior that day for my family and above all for my own life. Death changes people. Yours showed me that I need to become a stronger woman. I miss you so much Dad.
As Yule approaches im faced with my last years reality and wounds that have resurfaced. I thank the Goddess for the opportunity to admit that I am not yet healed and also to recognize that a healing is necessary but not so much that I have to reshape my paradigm. In years passed i have completely broken and started from scratch.
I was told that I was angry and yes, I was. I was told though that it was something that needed to be healed. I do not find this to be true. I stated my limits and what was healthy for me. Then I was told I was not allowed them.
This was a lie on my other halves part due to her own fears. I am allowed my limits and when I am told I have a worth that is less than a right to my own safety I get angry. The truth is I placed myself and my family in a position to be mistreated in order to obtain love from a potential partner.
My partners’ family judged my love, my writing, my feelings, and my heart because they could not recognize my humor. They could not see the validation that their family member was receiving. They did not want her to feel the importance I was handing to her……. I wonder why they would be so disgusted by her rise. The rise to importance no less.
While calling me names and commanding that I was dangerous they were promoting their own idea of love. The limiting love that they had handed her and themselves. People who don’t want to grow want you to join them in their stagnancy. I am aware that what I offered looked foolish to them. How sad they must be in an existence where self-importance is dangerous. In a world where being openly loved is an embarrassment, being appreciated extravagantly is shameful, and showing a glowing thankfulness for sheer happiness in one’s life should cause guilt. My partner was in danger of being no less than fucking fabulous and her family might realize that they handed her a shitty deal. That is scary shit.
I am dangerous… But only to those who would have her submit to a self-worth that is just shy of tolerable. To those who would be pleased to limit her to a life of depression for the sake of not having to look at a picture painted by a matriarch who falls short in creative art.
Years ago I relieved myself of my own mothers images of me. Which unfortunately were really her own. I was on a mission to explore what kinds of love were out there. I was limited. As we know my mother had no choice but to create me in her image. Like the limited God she knew my mother had no idea that a matriarch / goddess/ creator can create in any image. She treated me how she felt about herself and to my souls dismay there was no self to educate.
I walked away but I never handed her my truth. And today I see my anger rise as im being judged by others about loving in my view. I lack control. people are suddenly allowed to overstep my boundaries and im somehow expected to stay calm….. And not try to change that. I’ve done my homework i’ve explored and accepted my faults. I have no progress in stifling another’s growth so, why am I the bad guy?
I didn’t hand my mother back her shit i accept that people can treat me how they feel justified to ….I own this… This feeling I have about being judged by people who have no clue is nothing but a projection of them, and quite frankly, allowed only by my acceptance that I may be deserving of ridicule. That’s my mother. She loved to ridicule me when she was the one who agreed we were worth nothing but the pain she allowed…… not on purpose but , as usual, by her own lack of self love…..
I was careful with my love. I accepted my partner’s fears and faults and agreed to work with her on them. That was my love for her. Only my mother’s belief that I have no right to be GOOD makes me question my heart
So, for Yule this year I will begin by getting rid of her idea about what my worth is, for real, by handing it back to her personally and in writing. May it begin my cycle of recognizing who is good for me and standing by it……..without allowing anyone, ever again, to shake my reality and will. I intend to love fully
Had you asked me six months ago if I wanted to go out for a drink with friends I would have hesitated and there would have been a long pause especially if hard liquor like Whiskey was involved. My situation with my partner at that time was one where adding alcohol into the mix left me ridden with anxiety and walking on eggshells. The nights of us going out and being social usually ended in dark places, raised voices and tear stained faces. The brokenness that ensues from dark side of an addiction leaves such a lasting stamp on everyone that it touches in ways that you would not expect. After three years of tip toes and egg shells you begin to wonder if going out will ever be fun or worth it again.
Fast forward to almost four months post breakup, most of the darkness seems to be gone and life feels like it’s full of light and laughter. It’s not about a happily ever after with anyone one person but a happily ever after with the amazing people already in my life and making my life the best fullest version that I can right here right now. A lesson taught to me by a good friend recently. So in that I have chosen to take that step to go out and drink and be a responsible social adult and see friends and live music again.
The first few times were a bit hard, I barely had a drink, and was still constantly looking over my shoulder waiting for the need to need to start walking on eggshells to happen again, I was always a little tense and couldn’t fully relax. Then it happened. I ran into an old friend we reconnected and went out for a couple drinks and this friend got me to have a Whiskey and ginger ale.
I was so apprehensive that my insides were shaking, I hid the fear with a smile. We had a couple drinks. We laughed, joked, talked, we had fun for hours. It became a refreshing dose of a new reality. Somewhere in the middle of those drinks and the good company I relaxed and I felt safe enough to no longer worry about looking over my shoulder, the fear and anxiety melted away like the ice in my glass. I went home for the evening and was left reeling from this new found freedom in my life. Could it really be true and possible that I am finally free of that dark cloud of anxiety and fear of chaos and projectile vomit of an addict with cruelty in his mind when he drank? I was nervously excited that my paradigm shift has happened and had finally made me free.
So when I had the opportunity to go out again with my old friend I took and it was the same relaxed atmosphere of laughter, and freedom. The night ended with a smile on my face and that true sense of being free from my past. I am trying to have no ill will towards my past and those whom are a part of it but when they affect your life to the point where being social with others leave you riddled with anxiety of fear it’s hard not to have some kind of pent up resentment. I am working on letting that go,
Here is to almost four months of growth, to making my own happily ever after in the moment surrounded by my little family and the amazing tribe of friends that I have supporting me and loving me in the fierce blazing glory of goddess love that I am. I raise my glass to my old friend who helped me lose some fears and relax. Cheers to Whiskey and Ginger ale may it always put a smile on my face.
It’s been a long year of turmoil and happiness and somewhere in my mess I’ve forgotten my purpose.
I seem to have forgotten what I live for. And this woman’s testimony is my life’s purpose.
When I was 27 I was broken. I had just had my second child with my best friend. He was my world. We were going to do this right. We loved each other. We fought and supported each other. We were driven toward each other. One day (when my newborn was 3 days old) I was confronted with my biggest fear ever. My step daughter, my partners biological daughter informed me that she had been sexually abused by her dad. She was descriptive and focused. I’m a sexual woman but the things I heard made me blush. All the anger and hate I had for my mother came rushing into my body…. I was RED…… and just like that my world fell apart. I had to protect this baby, myself, and my daughters from this man, my best friend.
I was broken … two of my children removed from my home. Left to deal with two kids, no job, no friend, and no mind to hold onto…… I had to face him and the people who didn’t believe her. I was spit on… literally. Confronted by my own family, questioned by police about what reasons I might have to make this story up, or the little girl who he used, perhaps she was lying. My mothering abilities were questioned by my ex-husband. He threatened to try my ability in court and take my oldest daughter from me for relying on someone so dangerous. I had a seven year old who was angry with her sister for ruining our family because I couldn’t explain in detail why my partner was wrong .and honestly, to top it all off, somewhere deep down I missed my friend…. 24 hours…… is what time I had to make all the right decisions. And I failed.
I was broken but I did what I could… I traded my ability to put on shoes for the act of breathing. I traded my ability to fight for me for nursing my new baby… I traded my worth for everyone else’s. And though it was right… it broke me. I remember seeing a shrink for a week. I told her I was fine. Lol I lied if I said I was broken I would have fallen apart.
Three years later I was made a visit to my lpn. I was having these chest pains. I would shake in public, I couldn’t focus and I cried erratically at very inappropriate times. I was alone. Nobody loved a woman like me. I sometimes still could not do dishes. When we spoke he got right down deep with me. He stated that I had no physical problems. They were all internal and he wasn’t taking a blood test. He said,” Carmen hold my hand”.
He got in my face looked deep in my eyes a came very close to me and said, “I want you to look at me like you want me and tell me”.
I was nervous, but made it happen in an awkward, “I want you “my eyes did most of the talking.
He smiled sadly, shook his head and asked,” Why, if you don’t want me, didn’t you tell me no?”
I smiled, thanking the goddess that he didn’t really want to fuck, and told him it wasn’t worth my fight.
He openly asked me if saying “no” meant I had to fight for it.
And I just teared up. I did not have the ability to say no. No meant conversation and explanation. I couldn’t say no to anyone, even if it meant my body was to be used, unless there was a fight. I said, “Yes, I didn’t want to yell at you or hit you in the face so I just did it”
“Carmen, you need to understand your worth as a woman. What is intrinsically yours as a right? You don’t have to hit me or explain. You don’t have to make excuses for why you don’t want what I want.” Then he said,” you always smile. Smile at me, move my hand and say NO”
We talked for quite a while about my stress. WE discussed how I had so much to do and I was hurt and how I felt guilty when I couldn’t handle everything. He stated that I needed to take time for what makes me smile and that I needed space to hold for myself and that starts with “no”. No, I won’t help you with your funds, no, I won’t go grab you this, no, and I do not want to discuss what you think I should do at this time. NO, you cannot stay up late. No, I will not watch your child, I do not care to have dinner. No, I do not want to fuck. At the end of the appointment he handed me a prescription. I had already stated that I did not want any pills! Why wasn’t he listening!!?
The script read, “RELEASE YOUR INNER BITCH” around the outside. In the middle was a big huge “N O!” He told me I was to yell and scream and say NO to whomever and for however long it took me to just say it like Carmen would when she’s confident that she is worth her chosen actions. When Carmen does not feel guilty anymore.
He said, “Tell your friends and family that when they see this on your front door it means they are entering at their own risk. They are at fault if they don’t like your no. then make sure you say it. When you know your worth they will too. You won’t have to get mad you will respect yourself and those who don’t will go away”
Today my whole self is my right. Nobody gets an explanation unless I deem them worthy of one. I don’t have anxiety attacks anymore. I am not depressed, slow, self-loathing or a victim. I’m Carmen right where the fuck I need to be.
In all my chaos I’ve forgotten my self-worth. I’ve quit taking time for me and have succumbed to explaining myself to people who don’t know me or care to understand. These people, just like in my past have decided that they know better than I, and tell me what my intentions, limits, and goals are. And I listened.
Perhaps I need another script.
Its race week for me and I have race brain. It’s Thursday and trying to focus at work or anywhere is like asking a kid to focus on school work while having them sit in a candy store. My brain is all over the place. I have about four different lists going on; packing, my race day rear, after race gear, weekend clothes, and the rest of the crap I will need. I am craving the feel of dirt under my feet and mud on my skin, and the feeling of my body aching from the strain of the different carries, and the joy that comes from discovering all the bruises in the shower after the race, I want the filling of my soul!!
See this weekend’s race is a big one for me it’s my sixth Spartan Race of my 2017 OCR (Obstacle Course Race) season and it marks my completion of my very first double trifecta and let me give brief explanation for all my non-OCR readers here. In the Spartan Race Series you have three different race lengths A Sprint which is the shortest at 4-5 Miles long with 20-25 obstacles, Next is a Super which is 8-10 Miles with 25-30 Obstacles, and the Longest is a Beast which is 12+ miles and 30+ Obstacles. If you complete all three in one calendar year you earn what Spartan calls a Trifecta and you can earn multiple Trifectas in a year.
I have had a goal of a double trifecta for two years now and last year in 2016 I was on my way to that shiny double trifecta medal when at my favorite venue of the year the Portland Sprint I sprained my ankle badly, to the point that it sidelined me for the rest of my 2016 season and my goal of a double trifecta got put on hold. It was crushing to be pulled from the race and then have to face the fact that my season was really over. I was devastated and I spiraled into a major depression but in the early part of January 2017 I came to a realization.
I was being put in a position to learn some valuable lessons on listening to my body and refocusing my goals. I have spent this last year changing my training, my diet,my mental health, and most important I have been listening to my body. I am injury free this year which is a first in the four years of racing for me so far, I am on my way to being the fittest I have ever been in my life. I am down 52 lbs since the start of the year, and mentally I am doing better than I have in the last fifteen years.
This weekends double trifecta marks not only the reaching of a major goal for me but it also marks the solid transition into the next metamorphosis in my life. It marks the evolution of me transforming myself into the athletic and strong woman that I can feel is roaring and clawing to climb to the surface. She has been slowing emerging for the last four years and the 2018 OCR season is going to mark my five year anniversary. I am going to make it one for the memory books!!!
I feel like I need to mention that when I found OCR’s I found my home, my soul, my quiet place. Being out on a race course with hundreds and at times thousands of people may seem like an odd place to find quiet but I do. Out there on the course, even when I am surround by my amazing and supportive teammates,I still find moments of solitude. I come off of a race course with a clear head although my mind and body are usually utterly exhausted. It’s the most alive and exhilarating feeling in the world for me. I don’t care how covered in mud I am, or how wet, or hot/cold I am. I know that I am ALIVE! I have found a passion a drive something that I won’t give up. There is something to be said about a sport that can challenge you both physically and mentally like OCR’s do. I know for some its Martial Art, or Moto Cross, or Baseball we all find something that does it.
I finally get it, I get that drive that peace that comes from the push, the physical exhaustion, the mental drain. It recharges you in a way that a day that the spa can’t do. I love my spa days don’t get me wrong but it’s RACE WEEKEND!!!!
Peggy wrote a document on jealousy and as I read I t I was thankful due to the fact that I am currently experiencing this phenomenon. I have to be real and in the scheme of things I realize that as a rule im not jealous. I do everything in my power to make sure I’m not in a position to be jealous. However, I was talking to my therapist last night and ………….. even where there is self talk, rationalization, logic and the truth, jealousy and its venom are always an option and sometimes makes room for itself in the beast when your attached to something.
I needed an explanation.
She stated to me that love is messy. That’s what it is… by definition. Its actually, healing, but it manifests as messy. You open yourself up to something you believe might be worth your truth. And the truth does come. Making love is no longer just a hobby and you want them to know everything about you and the truth does come…… I am an ignorant woman and stick firm to the idea that love means somebody giving me what I want. And when that doesn’t happen……. Shit blows up. I’m scared, I’m angry I take my love back and love is something I define as a problem or a rub-ix cube… unsolvable. I’ve never been very mathematical. “ I didn’t sign up for this problem.” “I can’t love someone if I’m experiencing this feeling.” “ how can I show love to someone who makes me weak enough to express something as disgusting as jealousy!?” I was discussing my argument with my jealousy to my last boyfriend a month back and he laughed, “ You’re an intelligent woman Carmen…. I know your so committed to living a life in the light but you fail to allow yourself to be human” So , I have to explore this . To be human is to be jealous? I still cannot accept this ….
I SUPPOSE that to be human is to experience all emotion since emotion is human. I can accept that to have emotion is human..
I took my day today to sit inside my jealousy and be a functional mother, employee, partner, and patient………. As it turns out I was right. To be emotional is human. And Jealousy only lasted a couple hours. Through my jealousy, I learned that I love, I want, and also that I can function while I’m “not myself”. It is ok for me to be jealous .. Until I’m not anymore then I can be something else something more like what I want to show the world. Without this jealousy I can’t, for now anyway, really love.
I was small. Coincidentally, I was less heavy. Small is light. I didn’t have to intimidate anyone. I had more fun. I wasn’t responsible for anyone but me. Me exactly how I am. To be human is to be free. I told people how I felt. They still smiled at me. I got to make jokes about myself again. To be human is to be funny. Coincidentally I got more done yesterday than I have any day in months. It got done well. My ego did not have to save the day.
I have a new idea. To express jealousy to people who might share what your ego is saying through your mouth while jealousy has you on lock is not an option. Id hate for the people I was jealous of to have to hear my limiting labels about themselves. Especially since two hours later the truth of the matter expresses itself…… thankfully my people can hear my jealousy and let it be mine….
There is a fine line for a woman like me who has a mental illness and struggles with low self esteem. See, it’s a daily struggle to wake up and find some reason to love that person I see reflected back at me in the mirror. It’s taken 37 years to be able to hold my own gaze in the mirror. I can’t even tell you how many times I have broken down in tears, loathing the person I see reflected back.
See I don’t see the person my close friends and family tell me I am, I don’t see the strong, beautiful, amazing, kind hearted, loving mother… I see a weak, broken, crazy mess. I see an ugly overweight being. The list I have knocks me down and goes miles long.
I have had two attempts with Suicide and both times I stopped myself before I reached the point of no return. I reached to a friend the first time and that was what led to me to finding out my diagnosis of Bipolar, which was over twenty years ago. The second attempt I was on meds and I didn’t reach out to anyone and yet I stopped, something held me back, and I have only spoken to one person about it and I am still not ready to talk.
See life really isn’t that bad on a daily basis it has amazing ebbs and flows to it and when you add to it being a mother, life takes on a beauty that is so remarkable and challenging it makes it worth living to the fullest, it sparks a force to want to BE. But when you have a mental illness that dances in your head some days it’s hard to put on the weight of it all.
To be strong for my daughter, to be strong for my mom, someday’s I don’t have enough to be strong for them let alone myself, yet I do.. How do I love me? Even on the best of days sometimes a little snippet of darkness creeps in and I have to battle the negative mind set. I make the choice to fight to be active in understanding my mental health. I know my good and bad days.
I see patterns and have learned which are good ones and I am figuring out the bad ones and am breaking them and learning and growing, its lessons learned from attempts of suicide, growing up, and finally understanding that self esteem equals self care which in turn is that self love that we all seek. I am taking care of my physical health, I take care of my spiritual health and now finally I am taking full and complete care of my mental health. That is self love.
Life is utterly messy at times and I still feel like I am nowhere near having my shit together and I feel like I am beautiful disaster falling apart completely in some areas while thriving fully in other areas of my life, at least somewhere here in the middle of it all I am finding a little peace of happiness in my head.
November 2, 2017
Take a chill pill…
Isn’t that a pretty saying? So many people need to take meds to regulate their hormones and keep them in their jobs, keep them from alienating everyone they love, and to help them just be able to breath when surrounded by other people. It is such a common thing that it should be considered the norm anymore. There is still such a stigma surrounding mental health. Even with the suicide rate climbing and the divorce rate skyrocketing.
I was prescribed my first antidepressants at 19, after I made plans to kill myself.Thankfully those plans were thwarted by my poor Mama. Being a person that feels everything deeply, that wants to “fix” the things that hurt those I love…this has always been a struggle for me. They throw around the word “Empath” these days like a trend, everyone thinks they are one. If as many people were that think they are, the world would be a lot more loving. It has taken me almost 40 years to learn how to interpret this gift… this gift that as often has felt like a curse.
I stopped taking meds. I don’t suggest this for everyone and I’m not sure it will be forever. I had to stop numbing it though. The pain, the fear, even the joy was faded somehow. When I did this, I was able to see that I had surrounded myself with individuals that wanted me to step in and save them. The thing is, it became incredibly clear that there was this unhealthy dynamic. The harder I fought to save them, the more I drowned. It may have even been my own fault. Someone once said that you train others how to treat you by what behavior and treatment you accept. I most certainly set it up poorly. I had to ask tough questions. Was I surrounding myself with these people so I could feel better about my life? To be a sort of Martyr? Did I want them to get better, to succeed in life?
Thankfully, after some tough self love I was able to say honestly that my motives were good. My intentions were honorable. Except with one person, and here’s the kicker…there was no getting away from her. I am that person. I allowed myself to speak such crap about what I deserve. When I struggled, I was the first one there with a glare and judgmental word. When I was bleeding and weeping, instead of showing myself grace I decided I needed to berate myself on how weak I was, how unworthy of love. As I am sure it is clear to all that know me, I would never treat another hurting person so abhorrently. This had to change. I let the wrong voices be my inner dialog. I gave power to the wrong side.
Nobody changes in a day…a week…even a year. This journey is lifelong. I have never been so thankful for that as I was when I woke up from this self mutilating fog. I learned long ago that big changes are all about the little daily actions we take to disrupt our patterns. So what am I doing?
I will just name a few this time, more will come in future posts. The first thing I did was stop myself every single time I went to say something negative about myself. No more flippant comments about the size of my stomach or how “dumb” I was to trust the wrong person. I would look in the mirror and find just ONE thing that I liked that day. Did my lipstick look nice? Were my eyes a pretty green color after I cried? Anything, even if it is about your clothes or shoes or makeup….at first. Anything that builds up your confidence in how you look. Then I started to notice the way my eyes lit up when I was thinking about someone I loved, the way my smile looked diabolical when I had a joke to tell. I started complimenting people I came into contact with. Not empty compliments for the sake of giving them, but ones that showed I saw them and they are valued. Eventually I started to notice that other people received me differently. They saw me the way I wanted to see myself.
The second thing I did was find things that made my soul dance, and do them often. Music has always been huge for me. Listening, dancing, singing, playing….all of it. My life is a series of songs, strung together by harmony and dreams ( good and bad). I picked up my guitar and tried learning songs that spoke to me. No fluff.
Being in nature, especially under the stars was another thing.I want to preface this by saying that I am terrified of the dark outside. I am blind as a bat, have no depth perception, and was raised by parents that watched a lot of unsolved mysteries. I am also terrified of water you can’t see the bottom of. But I decided I was going to step out and do something crazy for me. I went out to the lake in the pitch dark and got in the water. I swam under the stars, stars that seemed close enough to reach out and touch. I could hear the water lapping against the shore, the blood pulsating in my ears, my breath as it left my body and the deep sigh of contentment that came when I realized I am just me. Just this tiny speck in the universe, but made of stardust from these majestic glowing stars I was swimming under. Nothing I did or didn’t do in those nights swimming was going to make or break my life. I am allowed to stop, to step off the crazy train that is my life every once in awhile and just exist. The chores, the job, the parenting…they are still there in the morning. And when I am more relaxed, I am better able to tackle the bigger problems. I am a kinder person to those I love and people I come into contact with.
There are a lot of Goliath’s in this world. We can expect that the next difficulty can and probably is around the next corner.But we don’t have to let negative thoughts rule our lives. We don’t have to give away our power, our health to the stress. Every single one of us can do only so much. The rest is out of our hands. We can choose to live lives of kindness, to ourselves and others. When we are knocked down, we can choose to get back up.
Relaxing, to me, is a set up.
For me to relax I feel I need to get everything done.I relax often by taking a bath or by going on a trip, but the reality is that unless I just put my face into the fire and handle what needs to be done, I can’t.Truth be told.To relax I must…
Do the dishes. I can’t stand having dishes in my sink.It notes to me that I am so far off my house game that my life is falling apart.Once the dishes are finally done I can see my kitchen. I want to mop my floors by hand and make sure there is no dust on the trim around my counter tops. Then I can light a candle, grab some cold water, and make my way back to the living room.
Hahaha, oh but before we discuss the ending,let’s talk about where it starts. Laundry. I can’t even get to the living room until my bedroom is dusted and the laundry is started and at least one load of items has been hung to dry.Only then can I clean my tub well and make sure the faucet handles and mirrors are shiny.
Once this is done I can dust the living room and re-situate the books Heaven misplaced while listening to some great music. Vacuuming is one of my favorite things to do before I spray all my furniture with my newest creative rosemary blend with some sort of other fruity scented water and then: The dishes.
Relaxing takes hours….
Once I’m done with the dishes I’ll usually run a hot bath in my newly cleaned tub and settle down with a book. Finally, naked and clean and alone I can plan my next jog, finally think about a to do list and write down some new goals, make a new schedule and a plan of action,then its relax time….
Dinner with a friend, gifting someone an evening out. Having a good conversation. And coming home to an empty house with not one mess except the lighter next to my candles waiting to be re-lit. And a good book with some warm jammies and the time to follow through with the days plans tomorrow because everything is done.
That is relaxing to me. About twice a year I become over full. At these junctures, relaxing means Cali or Mexico. Lots of misbehaving and other things that don’t get talked about for the sake of release and a new structure. To remember I’m a person and shake off all the funk that Windex can’t quite get to…
Hello, I’m Arian, a 43 year old divorced father of 3, and a small business owner. I find life to be extremely busy from all directions. Being a businessman, I am working 70-80 hours most weeks but as a parent I’m pretty much always on the job! I know we are busier now than ever, especially with cell phones linked to all emails, texts, social media and so on…We can’t really “punch out” and go home. So, how have I found ways to care for myself? My family? My sanity?
I tend to look at it as separate things that are equally important. With family it’s all about a common interest or hobby. Finding something the entire family enjoys (actually enjoys!) is a tough thing to find but I feel it starts there. For my family it’s dirt bikes and the act of getting outside, middle of nowhere, camping and exploring from our bikes.
We’ve made it an important part of our routine. Every other weekend, no matter what, we go. We unplug for two days, no TV, no phones, no distractions. It makes our world small and manageable and I think it helps with the over-stimulation and constant pressure kids have now. It’s not even really about the bikes, it’s about the commitment to each other and reserving that time as a priority.
Now as far as my own personal health I see the family time as 30% of the equation…The rest I see as a physical repair or mental repair. Physically I set time aside once a month for stress relief. Like a spa day, I will steam for an hour to loosen up, followed by a massage. I think this works very well to physically remove built up stress in my body. Mental health I approach through adventure.
As a parent or professional I’m constantly caring for someone else or being an accessory to their paradigm, I need solitary time to return to me. I do this in a very deliberate fashion. I plan 2-3 trips a year, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. I plan something that isn’t necessarily dangerous but maybe scares me a little. Sometimes doing something by yourself is scary enough, haha..I use these little adventures as, first of all, something to look forward to. Life can be bust or stressful but I don’t have to look far to see a break, something fun and unknown that feeds me energy to get through it.
The alone time allows discovery, yourself and the world around you. The alone time allows reflection and self-analysis. It also allows chances to deal with setbacks and roadblock and finding ways around, overcoming and succeeding at something. It’s about rediscovering who I am and returning to that part of life where there’s no requirement or schedule.
That’s the important part of the adventure. I might make a loose plan but never a strict schedule that I must be there at such a time…no. Taking a break includes any schedule. It’s actually hard to set off to do nothing but it’s easier each time…I return refreshed and ready to take on the busy life.