*TW* Assuming the Position

I had a most interesting thought today.

I have a right to defend myself.

Now, this might seem obvious to some people, that should they find themselves in a position of being attacked, whether physically or verbally, that they have a right to defend themselves. For me though, it’s kind of new information. I didn’t think I had the right.

I felt so deserving of any attack aimed at me, by friends, by family or by strangers, they all had the right to attack me. They all had the right to insult me, mock me, and abuse me. And I was basically just supposed to sit there and take it. Welcome it, in fact.

And today somehow it occurred to me that that isn’t right. That isn’t right at all. I have the right to defend myself. And no one has the right to attack me or assault me or mock me or abuse me. They just don’t. Sadly, this doesn’t mean that someone won’t. But do they have the right? Hell no.

Human rights can seem pretty vague and flexible at times, how you can treat and talk to people a certain way and get away with it. That you can call someone names, insult them, mock them, even belittle their existence. But as easy as it seems to be able to do that, in no way does it give them the right. Not by a long shot. And if someone does feel the need to come at them, or me, they have every right to defend themselves, and I have the right to defend myself.

One of the reasons I get anxiety on public transit is because I worry about what others may be thinking of me, and that they are judging me, and should they feel inclined to attack me they will. I feel this more on subways than trains because the subway is much more isolating than the buses are.

So for example, there could be a man that comes on the train and sits near to me and I see him look at me and he doesn’t look menacing exactly but maybe the way he’s dressed or the expression on his face might tell me that he could insult me or mock me or in some way humiliate me.

Now I know this is stereotyping, and I shouldn’t make assumptions based on how someone looks, but in my defense, my brain is taking my last experience with a person who looked or dressed like this, and I was humiliated, insulted and mocked, therefore me and my brain are expecting this next guy to do the same thing. And once my brain makes that assumption, it locks onto that past experience, and I will suddenly be totally on guard and terrified that the guy will say something to me.

I will be terrified that he will do something that will either directly or indirectly tell me I am nothing and am an offence to the senses. My heart will pound in my chest and I will hold my breath bracing for the inevitable impact. No matter how many stops it takes for one of us to get off the train, I will be on guard.

What is most stunning about this thought, is that at no time do I ever consider defending myself. At no time do I even consider any kind of comeback for whatever smart ass remark he might make. At no time have I considered that he’s a total jerk who isn’t even worth my time let alone my tears. At no time have I considered that I don’t have to put up with what insults or comments this man might make. At no time have I ever NOT expected to be on the receiving end of an assault. And willingly so.

I have always just “assumed the position” of being the victim. Ready to take what was coming to me, what was supposedly deserved, and then I can run and hide and cry and feel awful that I offended someone so greatly with my presence.

And lest you think that this is a specific response to men, please allow me to allay those concerns because women can easily equally evoke this response as well. Especially if there are a group of girls or women, you know the age where girls watch and judge and gossip to their friends. I have been the subject of that before too so again my response will be fear and I can only pray that they will exit the train soon and not have noticed me at all. I use the train as an example because this is one of the few places you are literally stuck with other people for an extended amount of time. Make no mistake though, this can happen anywhere— on the street, at a restaurant, at the mall, just anywhere there are other people. So it leaves few, if any, places where I feel totally safe. And this has left me with the constant state of “assuming the position”, and I’ve been doing it since I was young. That’s a long time to stay in one position. Especially one of defeat and fear.

It has honestly never occurred to me to ever defend myself. Not one time, in the thousands of these fear experiences, has it ever crossed my mind. Sure I’ve had many instances where I’ve walked away wishing I had said or done something and never did. Even those moments are not quite defending myself. They’re more about proving the other person wrong, that I am not a waste of space, or that I am not as offensive to the senses as they believe that I am, or making them feel as bad as I do.

It’s always about self-preservation. My next best tactic was to ignore the person. Pretend what they say doesn’t hurt me. Pretend that their opinion of me doesn’t make me cringe or want to hide. Make it look like I’m not at all about to cry and beg for mercy.

I hate to say that I’ve always imagined that if I were to be sexually assaulted that I would just find a way to take it and try to move on. I would just concede defeat and give the attacker what he wanted. I wouldn’t even think to fight back let alone try. I’d like to say that this is a defensive strategy to not get injured or killed but it’s not.

I just assume that I will be attacked and there is nothing I can do about it. Especially since I most likely deserve it.

Today is the first time in my life that I realized that all this time I have been mistaken.

All these years, as experiences have conditioned me that it was safer to just stay quiet and take the abuse, while they may have gotten me through the moment, they weren’t totally accurate in what they taught me. That I don’t have the right to defend myself, and that I deserve whatever mistreatment a person can throw at me.

There have been enough attacks over the years that I learned, over and over again, to take it. No matter what. It has pummelled me into a perpetual position of defeat. I know that not every instance will be a good opportunity to stand my ground and defend myself to the death. No doubt there will still be times where just taking it is the best, and safest thing to do.

But sometimes it won’t be. Sometimes it will actually better for me to not just take it. Sometimes I should very much defend myself, and at the very least, let myself know that I don’t deserve to be attacked, and that I have every right to defend myself.

This feels like I’ve discovered a BIG secret about life. I actually wonder if others know. Do others, who have suffered physical and verbal attacks, know that they don’t deserve the abuse? Do they know that they have rights? Do they know that they don’t have to take it? Do they know that, circumstances permitting, they can defend themselves? Have they ever considered it? Has it even crossed their minds?

I don’t know if I ever will defend myself, should the situation call for it. I don’t know if I will remember that I have rights. I may just once again assume the position, stay quiet, and hope for the best. I hope that now that I know I won’t but I can’t say for sure because I’ve had years of experience that taught me otherwise. And if it does turn around, it may take some time. I hope I don’t have to test this anytime soon, or ever again to be honest.

But if it does happen, should I one day find myself on the receiving end of an attack, I hope I find a new position.

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Uncomfortable with Discomfort

I don’t like feeling discomfort. It makes me uncomfortable. And for as long as I can remember I will do whatever it takes to avoid feeling discomfort. Anything. Eating, sleeping, shopping, interneting, whatever distracts me and takes me away from discomfort, I am game.

What makes me the most uncomfortable are my emotions and the urges that come with those emotions. I feel like I cannot tolerate my emotions. Nor can I tolerate the urges. At least that’s what I used to think.

One day I said that to my DBT therapist, and she said to me, “That is an assumption.” I looked at her, indignant, ‘Uh, say what? How can she say that to me?’ I was not making any assumptions. I knew I couldn’t tolerate my emotions. I had spent almost my entire life avoiding them. Mostly successfully. Mostly. Sort of.

I felt like maybe she didn’t know as much as I thought she did. Maybe she didn’t know me as well as I thought she did. And I thought she knew me pretty well. I had felt so understood by her for so long, and for her to turn around and tell me that I was making assumptions about how I felt about my emotions. Excuse me?

When she asked me if I had tried to sit with my emotions, I snorted derisively in response, of course not. Had she not been listening? I have worked very hard to avoid my emotions. Very hard. I have developed firm, deep roots in using self-destructive tactics in order to avoid the-

Oh.

Let’s just say, I appreciated her patience as it slowly dawned on me that because I had worked so hard, and somewhat successfully, if not destructively successful, at avoiding my emotions, I was assuming that I couldn’t tolerate them. I had never sat with them long enough to know if I could tolerate them. I had spent almost no time sitting with my emotions. Ever.

So maybe she did know me.

Any emotion that would overwhelm me, even positive emotions, would be too much for me, and within minutes, sometimes seconds, after I would start to feel the emotion, I would immediately squash them. I had done it for so long and so well that it became automatic for me to just suppress an emotion as soon as I felt it.

My emotions never really had a chance. Because I would do anything to avoid the discomfort of emotions.

Now, I should note that being uncomfortable with discomfort isn’t all bad. It does have a plus side for me. Because I dislike discomfort so much I am unable to stay stuck and the uncomfortable feelings and urges that come as a result of using destructive coping methods has pushed me to resolve those as well.

I am not at all fond of the effects that came with the destructive coping methods. In fact, I would say they are even more uncomfortable than the initial discomfort I felt in the first place, so the discomfort has spurned me on to heal and move forward from using coping methods that in the long run are incredibly uncomfortable. Long term anyway.

It’s kind of nice to have my own discomfort motivate me to not have further discomfort. It’s done more to push me than almost anything else.

It’s a double-edged sword though because as much as the coping methods are uncomfortable, so are the initial emotions. So it seems no matter which way I go I will be uncomfortable. And that makes me, well, uncomfortable.

I am getting better at it though. Whereas I used to suppress the discomfort immediately, I actually sit with it a little now, and on many occasions I have managed to ride the wave of the emotions and the urges and come out the other side okay.

It’s hard as hell and I hope that someday I won’t be so uncomfortable with discomfort because there is A LOT in this life that causes discomfort, and I need to learn to accept that. As uncomfortable as it may be.

44,000 and Counting…

I saw a commercial today that really got to me and got me thinking. It was for a brand that wants to “help” you choose great foods for the thousands of meals you’re going to eat over the course of your life, with heavy emphasis on the thousands of meals you are going to be consuming. Endless possibilities…

This got me thinking though. I got stuck on the words “thousands”. Are there really that many meals in a lifetime? Thousands?? Really??

So I did the math…

Three meals a day. Three hundred and sixty-five days a year (with the exception of leap years). And for myself, at least forty years of a life, so far.

And you know what, it is thousands. To be approximate, it worked out to about 44,000.

44,000.

Let that sink in for a minute.

There are thousands of decisions that go into food and meals. Thousands and thousands of decisions that have already been made in my life about food and eating. Or decisions that have not been made, as the case may be. And let’s say I’m only about halfway through my life (hopefully), then I am on the top of a HUGE mountain with approximately another 44,000 meals ahead of me.

44,000.

44,000 meals. 44,000 decisions. 44,000 opportunities. 44,000 moments. So far.

And since most of my life I’ve struggled with an eating disorder that also means 44,000 struggles with an eating disorder. 44,000 times I felt like food was my enemy and my saviour all at once. 44,000 battles inside my head about what to eat, when to eat and if it was even okay to eat. 44,000 times I hated myself for not being “better” about food. 44,000 moments where I loved and hated food more than life itself.

Forty. Four. Thousand.

There were a number of times as a kid where we didn’t have food so there’s a good portion of that 44,000 where the decision about food was that there was no food. I’m guessing it would definitely be in the hundreds. I shudder to think it crept into the thousands but I’m pretty sure it’s only in the hundreds. (As if being in the hundreds is a good thing)

Not to mention the meals I purposely missed because I didn’t think I deserved to eat, or I thought it was better if I didn’t eat since I ate so much during a binge. Or I didn’t eat because I thought I was too fat to eat or if I ate it meant I was failure. There are definitely thousands of those moments.

Between the eating disorder and my childhood that’s a hell of a lot of missed meals of that 44,000.

I just can’t get over that. 44,000 meals. Or at least opportunity for a meal. Thousands and thousands and thousands of moments that I dreaded because it involved food and eating. That’s a long time to struggle. That’s a lot of battles.

No wonder I can’t just turn it around in just a few months. I am dealing with 44,000 (at least) times it was ingrained in me to dread food and eating. I am dealing with 44,000 meals, a huge number of which never even happened.

Me against 44,000.

If I do the math just for the last several months I’ve been trying to recover from my eating disorder, that’s three meals a day for about four months, and that works out to approximately 360 meals.

Wow.

That is a drop in the bucket. 360 against 44,000. I think maybe I need to give myself some leeway on my efforts. I am often very hard on myself because I feel like I should have my eating disorder under control, and I should be eating regularly by now. Really? Really, me? You think in barely a fraction of the time it should be all perfect and rosy by now?! Maybe time for a reality check me.

Considering the length and complexity of the battle I’ve had over the course of 44,000 meals, or potential meals, I think I’d be lucky if I managed to turn it around in 1,000, let alone in 360. Let’s have some perspective on this, shall we?

I’m a little sorry I saw that commercial because the number of 44,000 just astounds me, especially considering how many meals were missed or half-assed, cementing my disorder with every opportunity that came and went.

I’m also not sorry though because seeing it from a numbers perspective has shown me that I am up against a lot. And whereas my efforts are not to be discounted, because it has to start with one to get to thousands, I still have a ways to go. And I need to be patient. I also need to be kinder with myself about my efforts because it is not easy to turn this around.

44,000 down…

No One Gets Out Alive

The last several days have been a little rough for me. I feel like all my triggers are right on the surface and ready to strike.

There are several reasons that have accumulated to me feeling like I am ready to shut down. In no particular order, the weather, poor sleep, poor nutrition, Luke Perry’s passing, and a book called Educated by Tara Westover.

And if you’re wondering what those things have in common, it’s because one-by-one they have either triggered me or contributed with other factors leading to me getting triggered.

Starting with the weather, which has been crap, almost every day for the last several weeks. We’ve had several major snowfalls that have led to an accumulation of snow that hasn’t had a chance to melt yet. And in addition to the snowfall there have been several extreme cold weather days, where it has been a minimum of -15 degrees, without the windchill. This has meant that the few “warmer” days of zero degrees has led to some melting snow which then turns to ice because the temperature doesn’t stay “warm” enough for the snow to properly melt.

And what does the weather have to do with the price of eggs? Well, it means that I haven’t been able to get out much. A few of the last several weeks I’ve only been able to get out once or twice a week. Part of this is definitely my fear of falling and breaking something on the ice or frozen snow, and there are probably a couple of times where my fear was overreacting. It kept me housebound, regardless.

Not being able to get outside means I am stuck inside, and there is only so much TV and Netflix I can take. Especially since Netflix took a lot of my shows off. So this leaves me bored a lot. And when I’m bored, I eat. And when I’m bored and uncomfortable from not being productive, I eat a lot.

Hence, the poor nutrition.

I’ve either overeaten or eaten extremely poorly because it would help to shut down how uncomfortable it feels to be so unproductive and housebound. I’ve tried reading to help pass time but it seems like a few of the books I’ve tried reading are triggering in regards to their content, which takes me to Educated by Tara Westover.

A very good book, and extremely well-written, and extremely triggering. I didn’t realize there would be so much abuse and trauma in the book. I’m reading it for a book club, otherwise I don’t think I would have read it. There are just too many triggers for me.

And lastly, the untimely passing of the actor Luke Perry, whom I used to watch very regularly on 90210. For those who aren’t aware, he suffered a massive stroke and then several days later passed away. This hits very close to home for me because that is what happened to my mother.

His passing reminded me of how random and devastating suffering a stroke can be. You aren’t given any real warning and when it does happen time is so critical. Although, there are unfortunately some strokes that are so severe, like Perry’s, and like my mom’s, where time doesn’t help as much as it could. The damage is so severe that the person doesn’t recover at all.

This absolutely terrifies me. Sometimes it can paralyze me to stay still perfectly still for hours at a time. I can’t speak to the factors that led to Perry’s situation, I do know a number of the factors that led to my mothers though. And I myself have a number of those factors as well. With a few additional factors of my own as well.

I am doing my best to mitigate these factors, except it’s not always successful. And sadly, I also know that you can do everything right and still have something really bad, like suffering a stroke, still happen. It’s that unknown and uncertainty that terrifies me.

If I do nothing and I suffer a stroke it feels like that is a reasonable consequence. If you don’t take care of your health, mental and physical, the consequences can be serious, if not deadly. But what about when you do try, and you do take steps to take care of yourself and something bad still happens. This makes me feel so unsafe.

A stroke, even one that doesn’t lead to death, can be life-changing. As I’ve experienced with my mom. The idea that that could be my fate, it terrifies me so much. I don’t want to suffer a stroke. I don’t want to suffer the consequences of a stroke, up to and including death. It is not a pleasant experience at all. Admittedly I don’t know how much my mom was aware of, but if she was even aware of small parts of it, then she must have been scared and it had to feel as awful as it looked.

I know that certain steps will reduce my chances of this happening, and I will continue to take them so that I can keep those chances low, but frankly as long as there is even an 1% chance that it could happen to me, then even that is too much. Even a 1% chance terrifies me. It makes me want to cocoon myself into a quiet area and not come out again.

I imagine a blanket fort where I would post guards, because even if they won’t stop a stroke from finding me, it will make me feel better. And I will hold up in my fort and wait until someone can absolutely, 100% guarantee for me that that is not my fate. Now or ever.

In this life, no one gets out alive. Death will find us no matter how well we take care of ourselves, no matter how terrified we are of it, no matter where we are, and no matter what we do, death will one day find us and take us. Hopefully it will be painless and not until much, much later from where we are now. At least that’s what I hope for myself. I feel like life has crapped on me a lot, the least it could do is give me an easy death.

A reasonable request? Probably not. No one else gets that assurance, why should I? I don’t know. I guess I’m just rambling. I just want some reprieve. Some sign that maybe everything won’t always be so tough and painful, even my death.

Tips for Managing and/or Reducing Anxiety

Here are a few tips that have helped me when I’ve been having high anxiety slash panic attacks.

I use all of these on a regular basis. Some of them are effective right away, some of them I have to try several of them before I find one that is effective, and sometimes none of them work. It really depends on the day, my mood, and any number of other factors. Some of these you can do anywhere, at any time, and some you may have to plan ahead for.

Since anxiety is a body-up experience what helps the most will be whatever brings you into the present moment and out of your body experience.

ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE
Start first with your breath. And I know that may seem simplistic but it’s not just inhaling and exhaling, it’s how you inhale and exhale that will be key to bringing your awareness away from your body and into the moment.

  • Take a deep breath in and count to four, and then on the exhale, count to eight. Count to six if eight feels too long. The exhale should be longer than the inhale because this is what triggers the parasympathetic system, this is counter to the sympathetic (fight-flight-freeze) response that comes with anxiety and panic attacks. Take in several deep breaths and let out the exhale as slowly as you can. If it helps, purse your lips as if you were blowing up a balloon or blowing through a straw, this will help to make the exhale longer than the inhale.

So I know that sometimes breathing doesn’t help as much as it could. Either it comes too fast or you just can’t focus on it. No worries, it is a starting point, and is always worth a try.

  • If you’re able to, get up and take a walk, or start pacing if your space is limited, or climb a flight of stairs. This is a physcial way to try and expend some of the energy that comes with the anxiety. It does require several minutes of walking or pacing, and may require a few flights of stairs before you start to reduce the anxiety. You may have to walk or pace faster in order to feel the full effect of the energy being expelled though. If you are able to, do it so that you start breathing hard from exertion. This can be done pretty much anywhere, as long as you have the freedom and space to do so.
  • Shaking out your hands and arms can also help to expend some of the energy. If you’re able to, shake out your whole body–hands, arms, feet, legs etc.
  • If you don’t have the space and freedom to move around then you can still try tensing and relaxing muscle groups. For example, clench and release your fists several times, or tense and shrug your shoulders several times, you can tense and release your thigh muscles, and your calves by stretching and relaxing your feet. This can be done pretty much anywhere, at any time, however, it may take several tries of tensing and relaxing before you start to notice a reduction in your anxiety.
  • If you are near a washroom, at your house, or a close friend or family member’s house, then go to the bathroom and splash cold water on your face. Do this several times, and with the water as cold as you can tolerate it. This will shock the nervous system, and can help reduce the tension and agitation that comes with anxiety. Cold showers also can do this, however, a shower might be best done at home.

Getting outside of the body, we next have naming and/or counting that you can try…

The best thing about naming or counting is you can do this wherever you are, inside or outside, sitting at home, at a friend’s house, or outside travelling on public transit. I can’t speak to whether any of these can work while driving as I don’t drive. However, if you are able to do any of these safely while driving then I hope it helps.

  • Start looking around you and naming things you see. For example, if you’re in a living room, just start naming what is in the room: a couch, a chair, the tv, coffee table, carpet, television, remote control, lamp, bookcase, it doesn’t matter what you name, just name it. In your head or out loud, doesn’t matter.
  • If you’re in a car or on the bus or subway, start naming things around you. For example, that man sitting across from you on the bus has dark hair and is wearing a blue shirt and blue jeans and has on black running shoes, and that woman has dark hair and is wearing a red dress and a black jacket and has red shoes on, she is carrying a red purse over her shoulder, and so on.
  • If you’re not able to focus on one person or it feels too much like staring, then start naming or observing everyone around you. For example, that man has a black coat, that woman has a red coat, that other woman has a blue coat and blue hat, etc.
  • If you don’t want to name things, or you’re unable to focus enough to name things, then start counting. How many people are around you wearing black pants, or how many people have dark hair, or how many people are on their cellphones, or you could look out the window and start counting all the red cars you see, or count how many four door sedans you pass, or start naming the stores you see or count how many people walking, or how many people walking wearing running shoes.
  • If naming and counting seem a little too focused for you in the moment, then try A, B, C-ing. For example, start with A and then start naming countries, or cities, or foods, or boys’ names, or girls’ names. For example: A=apple, or A=Allison, or A=Afghanistan, B=banana, or B=Brenda, or B=Berlin, and so on

It doesn’t matter what you name or count, just keep counting or naming. Do it for a few minutes or more, and you should feel your anxiety at least start to reduce.

AT HOME
There are a few tricks you can try that are usually best to be done at home, mostly because they are not very travel-friendly skills, and may require some alone time to do.

  • An ice pack, placed by your neck or face, is also effective in shocking the system into reducing anxiety. Do this for as long as you can tolerate. Keep a couple of gel ice packs in your freezer, if you can. Frozen vegetables can also work in a pinch, just try not to let them totally thaw.
  • Holding an ice cube in your hand can be a very useful distraction skill. You will need to hold it until it starts to hurt because this is what will shock the system and distract you out of your mind and into your body, specfically whichever hand you are holding the ice cube in.

*If you are sensitive to cold then I wouldn’t suggest using any of the cold water or ice pack methods, and to try some of the other suggestions.

PLANNING AHEAD
There are several things that you can plan ahead with in order to help manage or reduce anxiety.

  • One way that can help you change your breathing, is to chew gum and blowing bubbles with the gum. This can be very helpful with releasing tension in the jaw. As does sucking on a mint or candy. Unless you’re near a store where you can get some, this you will have to plan ahead to have on hand. I carry both gum and mints with me because I never know what will help.
  • If you don’t like chewing gum, and prefer candies or mints, this can still help, as you can focus on the mint or candy in terms of texture and taste. What does it taste like, what does it feel like, is it smooth or rough in texture, can you smell anything, is it a hard candy or a soft candy? And with a mint or candy you can see how long you can hold it in your mouth without chewing on it or swallowing it. This can help distract you, especially if holding it in your mouth starts to create a physical reaction, like it starts to feel like burning on the inside of your mouth if you hold it one place too long.
  • If you need something more tangible and/or cerebral to distract you and take you out of your body, particularly if you like words or numbers, I recommend crosswords, word seek or sudoku, whichever suits you. There are also kids phonics books you can get that are easy enough to focus on in the moment, but not too hard that it won’t distract you. This would be for the word and numbers people. And it would also require having to bring it with you, so I recommend carrying a pocket size, if you can find one, so you can have it on hand or bringing it with you when you know you’re going somewhere that can raise your anxiety.
  • For the non-word lovers who still need something tangible, there are Rubik’s cube, wooden puzzles, metal puzzles and rings, and yo-yos, fidget spinners, silly putty, play doh, or a slinky can be helpful but they mean carrying with you at all times and that isn’t always feasible. Plus things to fidget with tend to be more to keep anxiety stable and are not always helpful when anxiety spikes or becomes a panic attack. They certainly don’t hurt to have on hand either way if you can.
  • Small plush toys, keychains or pieces of fabrics can be helpful to soothe and distract.

This isn’t a comprehensive list, as there are so many things that can help manage and reduce anxiety, and it can be very personal or specific to the moment. One way to help you find what might work for you, is the next time you are feeling anxious, think about what do you think would help you in this moment? If you could have something or do something in this moment that might help you reduce the anxiety you’re feeling, what would that be? Would you prefer something tangible or do you want something that doesn’t require external stimuli? Would you prefer something you can taste or something you can touch?

It will probably take some time and practice to find what works for you and that’s okay. Listen to yourself and whatever works for you, works for you, and that is all that matters. Be patient and try not to discount anything. Sometimes what works for you can surprise you, or it might seem “weird”. Don’t worry about that, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else, or encroaching on their space, then do what works best for you.

Remember that this may only reduce your anxiety. The goal is to try and at least manage whats going on for you in this moment, until you are able to get home, or wherever you feel safe. Mix and match, test and practice, you never know what will happen or when, and you never know what will work or won’t. Be prepared ahead when you can, and hopefully some of these might help you with your anxiety.

I Hate Myself

No I don’t. I don’t hate myself. I’m just frustrated.

I’m frustrated because I am struggling. I’m frustrated because I’m on a waitlist for therapy that is still at least two months away, minimum. I’m frustrated because my eating disorder has been coming and going and I’m having a hard time managing it. I’m frustrated because I want to take care of myself and some days I’m not that successful.

I’m frustrated that I’ve been struggling with my sleep and my dreams have been waking me up. I’m frustrated that my anxiety keeps skyrocketing. I’m frustrated that the weather has been keeping me home because it’s either a snowstorm outside or frozen over previously fallen snow making the sidewalks feel like ice rinks.

I’m frustrated that it feels like my autoimmune disorder is on a broken roller coaster that can’t be turned off, so I am left feeling sick and dehydrated and dizzy and tired.

I’m just frustrated. Really, really frustrated.

I don’t actually hate myself. I’m going to treat myself kinder than that because right now I’m going through a lot and it’s understandable that I would feel so frustrated. Hating myself was my original go-to, except that’s not fair, nor it is called for, nor does it help.

So I will stop the self-hate right in its tracks, and instead remind myself that it is okay to feel so frustrated given my current situation. And I am still doing what I can, when I can, and some days I may hit all my goals, and some days I may not, and that’s okay.

And hopefully tomorrow I will be able to hit my goals. And if I don’t, then I don’t. Either way I’ll just see how it goes, and remember that I don’t hate myself.

Giving and Receiving

I just had a realization.

I just spent about ten minutes snuggling with my little fur baby. He purred and rubbed his soft, little head against my cheek. He was curled up by shoulder and under my neck. It was so sweet and cosy. And then he jumped down and I went to get ready to go out.

As I was getting ready the little furball came back to me. And he kept walking around me and meowing and of course I had no idea what he was saying (although that would be so cool if I did) and finally I bent over to pet him and ask him what was wrong and he responded by going up on his hind legs and with his front legs he crawled up to my shoulder where he curled into me and snuggled again as I stood back up. Actually he more clawed than crawled but you get the idea.

And at first I was kind of irritated because we had just snuggled a few minutes ago and I had to go out in a few minutes. What did he want from me? And as I felt him relax into me and his purr made my chest vibrate I softened to him. And then I realized that for whatever reason he just wanted more time and affection. Even though we’d had some already and he had ended it he wanted more.

I don’t know if maybe he needed comforting or what. But his need and my initial resistance to giving more gave me pause. It made me think of when I was a child and needed comforting and it wasn’t there. Or when I needed more and didn’t get it. It made me realize that sometimes giving affection and time to another is not always easy.

Some days you’re good on needing comfort, and some days you need it, and some days you need more, and whereas receiving comfort is easy to fall into, giving comfort to someone is not always easy. Especially when it’s physical comfort. Sometimes you’re not feeling very affectionate, you have your own worries and problems that are on your mind, and sometimes you just don’t have it in you to give. Sometimes you may even feel an aversion to physical contact. Which can make it hard to receive too.

But giving physical affection is not always easy. Usually in those moments you give it because you care and someone you care about is need. And hopefully it helps and it’s done. What about when they want more? How do you give more when you don’t know how? And it hit me as my little fur ball snuggled into me that I really didn’t. I know how to give comfort but only so much. If someone needs more then I panic and resist it. I don’t know why.

It made me wonder, was that how my mom felt? Was this what she had experienced when I had needed comfort? Did she have a limit too? Did she not feel she had more to give? Did she feel she had any to give at all? Did she feel panic too when what she had given me hadn’t been enough? Did she panic when I wanted more?

As I softened with my fur ball, suddenly wanting to give him all the snuggles in the world, it almost made me cry. I don’t know if I was too demanding for my mom or maybe I was too needy, and for whatever reason she only gave so much. And the idea of giving more made her shut down.

It made her say dismissive things to me. It made me believe that something was wrong with me because I had wanted more. Maybe it scared her because she didn’t know how to comfort someone else. I don’t think she knew how to comfort herself. I sincerely doubt she had ever received a lot of comfort when she was young. In fact I know she didn’t. And as much as that affects us for when we need support, it also affects how much we can give too. I hadn’t realized that before.

So even when a pet looks to us for attention and affection if we are scared or we feel we don’t know how to give even that can push us away from it. It can push us away from giving. It certainly pushed me away. I felt bad that my sweet boy had just wanted some affection and I was put out to give it to him. Fortunately, I was starting to understand why I did it and no matter how put out I had initially felt hearing his sweet purr by my ear melted all that irritation away.

I am only recently learning how to comfort myself, and sometimes I need some outside help, and so I turn to others. Which is still really hard for me. Even with my husband there are times where I need extra hugs and I fear to ask for it. And times where he has needed comfort and I have panicked.

I don’t quite understand the fear behind it though. Is it because giving comfort means being vulnerable? I always think that it’s receiving that makes us vulnerable but I think giving does too. Giving of yourself is not easy. It can deplete your own resources and it can take attention away from your own needs and thoughts.

Hm.

Maybe that’s why I fear it. If I give of myself will there be any left for me? What if I give too much and then there’s nothing left for me? I worry about that a lot, that there will be nothing left for me. Even when I haven’t given anything.

And as I write that I feel like this might be an ancient wound. This feels like it goes way back to my childhood and the many times I wasn’t given something in the first place. And the times I was given just enough to get by. When asking for more was met with a dismissive hand and a scolding voice. When asking for more was frowned upon and often discouraged. When I was told that I was lucky to have even gotten what I did, which sadly wasn’t as much as it sounds.

And the more that I think about it, and as I write this, I realize that it is very much rooted in my childhood and all that I wasn’t given or hadn’t received. As much as I am learning how to ask so I can receive, I think I will also need to work on being able to give as well. I don’t want to feel panic if someone needs something from me and I just shut down so I can preserve whatever is there for myself. If I am willing to receive, I need to be willing to give too.

I’m going to have to talk to my psychiatrist about this thing too. Try to work through this fear. I don’t want to be a taker and never be a giver. I know what it’s like to feel alone and need support and comfort, and if someone, especially someone I care about needs that, then I want to be able to give it, and to give it without limitation.