Archive for February, 2009

The letter I won’t hand over

So much has been on my mind lately, it’s hard to think straight. The lines of communication as to further procedure have once again been capped, so it’s turned into one more chapter of silent co-existence under the same roof. Every so often, I think I’ll go crazy.

A few days ago, I decided to put all those stray thoughts down in the form of a letter. What a relief it was to put into words what I have not been able to express, what was just a vague feeling before. When I was finished writing it, I cried with relief as well as sadness. There is a lot of pain and sadness involved in this story. Then I decided to keep it, sleep on it, and see how I felt the next day.

In the meantime, a few days have passed. I have decided that it was good for me to get the clarity, but rather than dump the whole thing on him at once, I will keep this clarity for myself and apply it when appropriate. I want to stay focussed on the now. Rather than discuss hypothetical situations, let the situations arise and then deal with them.

This is a new way to function. Rather than saboutage myself with an outburst of all-encompassing honesty which might make me feel better at the moment but later complicate things, I learn to think, act responsibly, and consider the consequences, as well as to consider what I want and how to achieve it.

I have a couple of concerts coming up. They could be anything: final exams, presentations, job interviews. Whatever they are, they are important. I recognize that I tend to screw things up for myself when something important is pending. It’s a fake sense of control: If I screw it up ahead of time, then nothing can go wrong — or I can blame a bad performance on my own mistakes, rather than do my best and leave it up to fate. (The experienced bulimic will notice immediately: “Ah! That’s what I do with binges sometimes! I binge before an important event, and then blame the less-than-optimal outcome on the binge. I tell myself I could have done it so much better if I hadn’t binged!” Sound familiar?)

When I had exams to study for, I used to especially notice my messy room or closets, and they had to be cleaned out before I could get to work. Sometimes I regretted that wasted time. If I had spent more time studying, I could have done better. It seems to be a combination of wanting to control the situation, needing order around me in order to concentrate, or like I mentioned before: If I screw it up myself, then no one else can. In a strange way, that frees me somehow — but not really. It doesn’t free me to do the absolute best I can.

And so, I wrote my letter, put it in my diary, and that I hid under my mattress. I figure nobody will look there. After all, MOTHERS don’t hide their diaries under their mattresses, do they? That is not my concern at the moment. Nor is it my concern to clear up the mess in my life today. I will simply prepare for the concerts and trust that I am coping the best I can as each day goes by.

February 27, 2009 at 7:13 pm 2 comments

Beyond Survival

I’ve been thinking more about goals lately, and I realized that my main goal for a long time had been survival. In the survival mode, I couldn’t really move forwards. Survival is fairly well-defined and structured: If I have a roof over my head, clothes to wear and food to eat, I’m doing okay. When the scope broadens, it can be a bit overwhelming.

Although I’ve come a long way with recovery, I’m still in the survival mode. I’m still holding out and hoping that things will eventually get better. Where does this come from? That ugly old divorce my parents went through over 30 years ago. The resulting loneliness, poverty, fear of losing my home, lack of heat, and lost hope with a pinch of loyalty conflict to spice things up a bit (but it ended up being way more than a pinch).

So I lost hope and made friends with the “learned helplessness” phenomenon. I gave up and figured it wasn’t worth trying or hoping for, since it wouldn’t work out and I didn’t deserve it anyway. That was why I never really took the steps to go to college. It was too expensive, I didn’t deserve it, and I just didn’t see myself getting there. So sad.

Today that is over. Today my life is totally different. Now, much of the limitation is within me. It’s up to me to do things, say things, take certain steps to move forward, but I am afraid. I am afraid of losing again. I am afraid of going back to those old days. But I won’t! I am healthy. I am an adult. I have a voice and I can use it. I have a say in the matter. That is completely different to the situation of that lost 13-year-old. Even if hard times come (which wouldn’t be totally surprising, considering the economy at the moment), I am in a position to take care of things. I can take action. I have my faith and trust that higher power is watching over me.

Hmmm… if I keep writing like this, I just might convince myself to take some steps this weekend. Again I’ve been procrastinating about another discussion regarding the future. Maybe now is the time. There’s such a solid block inside of me. I feel it. I feel old fears and tears rising up when I even just think about the drastic changes I want to make.

But at this point, I feel kind of stuck in a corner. I can no longer go on as I have, because that has become unbearable. It always was unbearable, but I denied it and tried to simply ignore it. That is no longer possible. So, looking at the situation objectively, there is only one way to go! And I don’t mean backwards! 🙂

February 20, 2009 at 8:54 am 2 comments

Say “No” for a happy ending

It was a simple enough situation. A work colleague called to ask if I could take over her night shift on the spur of the moment, because her father isn’t well and she wanted to spend the time with him. I hesitated, as I have two night shifts this week anyway and had plans that evening. She said it was okay and that she would ask another colleague. If that colleague couldn’t, then it wasn’t meant to be. I told her to call me back if that colleague couldn’t and I could change my plans.

Unaware of the developments, I called her back to ask if things had worked out, still willing to change my plans if necessary. She told me the other colleague had agreed to take over the night shift. What a relief! I had to go in for a few hours that evening, so I was able to convince myself that it was truly okay.

As it turned out, our other colleague was delighted! She’d had day duty and we were in the midst of a terrible snowstorm — nearly 1 meter of snow in 24 hours. The roads were a disaster. This other colleague happens to live rather high up along a windy road on a mountain. Her sister had called her earlier to warn her that she would have to park lower down and hike home. So it was perfect for her that she could stay put in the warm building and deal with going home the next day. By then things would hopefully have calmed down somewhat.

So, it was good that I followed the inner voice and said, “No.” Of course, if push came to shove, I would have done the overnight, but only if there was no other solution. I’ve done three night shifts in one week and I can tell you, I’m out of commission for a while! On the other hand, I know someone whose father suddenly became ill and died a week later, so I would have insisted that I take over the duty if the other colleague couldn’t. She needed that precious time with her father. That certainly outweighs the drag of being tired for a week.

Oh, and as for my plans that evening. I’d been out driving in the morning and was thankful to get home safe and sound. I took the train to work that afternoon. Later on I cancelled the plans anyway and enjoyed a quiet evening at home. The roads were too treacherous to risk going out just for fun — and the train connection would not have worked.

I’m happy for this experience, as I’ve tended to say “Yes” way too often and then been grumpy, exhausted, resentful and sometimes found out that it really wouldn’t have been necessary. Thus I take this as an encouraging wink. Sure, it is important to be willing to help others out in times of need, but I also need to evaluate my own situation — and trust that if I say “No” they will find an equally good or even better solution! In addition, my colleagues know they can ask me and I will be honest. When another one was sick last month, I told her on the spot to go ahead and go home and I would take the rest of her shift. Absolutely no problem.

I am finally learning that the world will turn without me — quite well in fact! I don’t have to do everything, help everyone, save everyone — not if it means I run myself ragged in the process. I’m learning to say, “It would be too much, or rather inconvenient, or I have other plans, but if you can’t find a solution, then get back to me.” That also gives me time to rethink it and accept the fact that I just might end up changing my plans. And I follow up if she doesn’t call me. My colleague knows she can rely on me to be honest, but also to be there for her in an emergency. That’s a good thing to know.

February 19, 2009 at 8:26 am Leave a comment

What are my goals?

Oh my goodness gracious! Is this me writing about goals? The same me who just lives for today and several years ago only had the goal to recover? Yes. It’s me.

In a rather roundabout way, today I have discovered something very important. (I discovered it for me. I’m sure other people already know about it. But just in case anybody else hasn’t figured it out yet, I’ll share my insight. For what it’s worth.) I discovered that I need ambition and goals.

Up until quite recently (last week!), my goals were not all that clear. It was a wishy-washy affair, sort of based on what I don’t want. Through the focus on goals during last weekend’s seminar, I started thinking about my own goals. Day by day, they became clearer. I just asked myself: What do I want? And after a few days of reflection, now I actually know what I want!!!

Just a few minutes ago, I was laughing at myself. Once again I make a brilliant, earth-shattering discovery of something that lots of other people have known about for a long time. But that doesn’t make it any less special. It just humbles me, as I am once again reminded that I’m a simple human being who progresses at her own speed.

In the middle of that laughter, another thought occurred: the bulimia! Why did I get over it back then? For years and years my goal had been to stop bingeing and puking, but it didn’t work. When did it work? When I formed a positive goal of what I wanted! It was about what I wanted, not about what I didn’t want. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to eat normally. I wanted to eat whatever I wanted and be slim. I wanted to do well at school. I wanted a job. I wanted to study Psychology. I wanted children.

All of those wants have been fulfilled. I stopped bingeing when I changed the wording from: “I don’t want to binge anymore” to “I want to eat normally.” They say the universe doesn’t understand negation. It is positively oriented. Thus, “I don’t want to binge” was actually “I want to binge”. I was focussing on that activity.

So, here’s crazy, hippie, non-materialistic me saying: “All you need is a goal!” (But I do still believe that “All you need is love” is also quite appropriate!) I always thought goals and ambition were superficial, flaky and substitutes for something better in life. I changed my mind. It’s not about whether or not I have goals, it’s the content that matters.

In a rather exuberant mood, I wish you all that you analyze your goals and word them well. Think positively! Dare to say what you want! You don’t have to tell anybody if you don’t want to. It’s enough that you can admit them to yourself. I don’t dare tell you all of my goals, or you just might think I’m nuts! But that’s okay. I just might be.

In memory of John, who was my higher power for a while.

Love, love, love.
Love, love, love.
Love, love, love.

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done.
Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game.
It’s easy.

Nothing you can make that can’t be made.
No one you can save that can’t be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time.
It’s easy.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

Nothing you can know that isn’t known.
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy.

All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.

All you need is love (all together, now!)
All you need is love. (everybody!)
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need (love is all you need).

Yee-hai!
Oh yeah!
She loves you, yeah yeah yeah.
She loves you, yeah yeah yeah.

February 16, 2009 at 1:24 pm Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day

Well, here in Europe, Valentine’s Day will be over in just about an hour. I thought about it on and off today — about whether or not I had anything to say about it. I decided to be quiet, since I’m so cynical. But now that it’s almost over, I need to put in my two cents.

It has been promoted along with Christmas and Mother’s Day to be an incredible day of consumerism. We are encouraged to “prove” our love with some little trinket, candy, a meal out, a piece of jewelry or some other expensive gift. If you ask me, I can do without it.

Okay, okay, I know. I’m in a lousy relationship, so why would I even think about it? Of course I’m cynical! But that’s not the point. Believe me! As far as I’m concerned, when I love someone and someone loves me, I know it all year round. Simple as that. They don’t have to prove it one day a year. In fact, several years ago, I used to get the Valentine’s bouquet and it used to make me angry. I felt like he was trying to make up for the lack of respect and appreciation during the rest of the year.

So, all I’m trying to say is: If you love someone, love them all year — and let them know it! And don’t buy into the hype. That is definitely not about love — in my humble opinion. But I do wish all the lovers out there a very happy day!

February 14, 2009 at 10:12 pm Leave a comment

The morning after

After four days of intense interaction and communication among a group of 24 people, I am feeling slightly lost this morning. I didn’t notice at first what bothered me, as I sat there all alone at the breakfast table reading the newspapers. It occurred to me that I might want to write a little bit about the weekend, just to keep my memory clear. Part of the assignment for the smaller groups (see previous post) is to meet in a few weeks and reflect on the weekend. Just that thought brought me to the sudden realization that I feel rather lonely.

It was amazing how quickly the group developed a certain degree of trust and intimacy. By the second day we were sharing life stories during the breaks, laughing over jokes, and even crying — as if we’d all known each other for years. That is an incredible phenomenon by such group seminars.

So this morning I sat all alone with my breakfast and had no conversation. My husband is away on business and the kids are still asleep. I’ve already checked my emails, unpacked the suitcase, done a bit of grocery shopping, and last night I even made a brief appearance at a relative’s birthday celebration! I didn’t look forward to going, because I thought it would be too much after the intense weekend. It turned out to be pleasant enough, and perhaps it even did me good to drift into another group, so as not to fall down quite as hard. That’s just an assumptive sort of suspicion on my part. After two hours I was quite tired and happy to come back home.

And, yes, I have to mention this all in relation to bingeing. This morning would be the perfect lost sort of morning to get into the food. So many feelings, memories and issues were stirred up over the weekend, and today this lost feeling doesn’t help much. I’m not really sure what to do with all of this. I feel alone, open and exposed, ready to continue sharing and experiencing, but the setting has changed drastically. I decided to write about it — here and in my handwritten journal — and then I just might call one of the women from the group and see how she’s doing. The thought just crossed my mind that I might not be the only one who feels like this today.

February 10, 2009 at 9:50 am 2 comments

Weekend workshop

Holy moly! I didn’t quite expect this. I went to a combined self-development & continued education workshop this past weekend. It is one in a series of several weekends spread out over the next few years. I went there expecting to learn a lot, and I was open. It was clear to me that I would be faced with issues and learn things.

BUT I went there thinking that this weekend would be easy. Since I’ve gone through so much in my life, worked so hard to deal with so much, I assumed I would sail through this weekend. I figured the other participants would have more issues, and I kind of basked on my cushion of experience.

“So, what happened?” one might ask. Well, the first couple of days went along just fine. I learned a lot and found it extremely valuable. Today, on the last day, I was quite unexpectedly confronted with some of my worst issues. All of a sudden I was catapulted into a situation that was not at all comfortable. We had to choose sub-groups from the larger group. And the sub-groups would work together for the next year or so. There I was, all at once faced with all of my worst issues: wanting to be in a group, but feeling like an intruder; not wanting to get stuck working with someone to whom I developed an immediate aversion (even though I know it has something to do with me); wondering if I’m being childish and should compromise; not sure where the border is between compromise and resignation.

Luckily we had a lunch break in between. We were instructed not to discuss details of that process, and that it would resume after lunch. There were a few other discontented, frustrated people at my table and I joked: “Well, we all said we knew it wasn’t going to be just fun and that we were open to challenges. Here’s the first big one!” It did help to commiserate, even though we didn’t know the details of each other’s suffering.

I went inside myself a bit and reflected, asking myself what was important to me, what compromise I was willing to make. I knew that I did not want to simply resign myself to something I felt so strongly against. I have a problem with people overstepping my energetic boundary and coming too close — without it being mutual. It really annoys me, because I have a hard time extricating myself — for fear of hurting their feelings. I decided that I would not give in. I would not simply let it happen to me.

After lunch we assembled in the conference room, joining our “groups” to see if they would stay as they were or change. I saw someone standing all alone who hadn’t found a group, and decided to join him. A few more joined us (who’d happened to be frustrated during the lunch break), and suddenly we all smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. We actually laughed.

It had been an agonizing process, but it took me a step further. I realized that I don’t have to give in, be nice, and not make waves. Nor do I have to cry and/or throw a temper tantrum. I can look out for myself and find a space to work in. It wasn’t the “perfect” group, and there were a few other people with whom I would have really liked to be in the same group with, but I found a workable group with potential.

I am satisfied with the results. This was just one exercise. I know I’ll still have to face the “don’t come so close to me” issue over the course of time with that specific person, but I feel a little stronger and I think I’ll manage. Boy, it sure is easier to say, “I’m looking forward to a challenge!” than it is to face one!

February 9, 2009 at 6:13 pm Leave a comment

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