Therapy Thursday

Hello hello!  Sorry for my little absence; I traveled back from Michigan to New York this week. I don’t find traveling itself stressful, per se, but I do have difficulty conceptually transitioning from one place to another.  This means that the weeks before and after I have to switch places are stressful for me, which just prolongs the whole ordeal.

I like new places though!  I like being on my own and figuring out how to navigate a new place.

Are you a travel lover or hater?

Sugar update: The experiment has been going well!  I have been working on consuming less sugar, not zero sugar altogether.  I think a low sugar diet might be best for me (at least low in processed/refined/added sugar).  I have still been enjoying a moderate amount of fruit, tea with stevia, and 1-2 servings of something that has sugar in it (like a protein bar or chocolate) per day.  It has actually felt like I have gotten rid of a burden, somehow.  And I don’t miss it too much, since I still let myself have a moderate amount!

Therapy Thursday

I know I went through a period where I didn’t really want to blog about therapy, and I will probably feel that way again someday, but at the moment, I do want to blog about it.

I feel like it’s a hallmark of my blog; it is, after all, in the title!

It was scary for me to “be on my own” for almost a whole month, without L.  I ended up calling her once or twice, as it was a difficult period for me in a lot of ways (breaking up with USB, dealing with my sometimes crazy family, applying to law school).  But at the same time, I feel like she is always in the background of my life — like I can feel her there, somewhere slightly distant, but not terribly far away, on the whole.  Just knowing that I have this person who exists, who does not judge me, who cares deeply about me is so comforting.

I’m someone who needs a lot of comfort in general.  I told L about one of my particular “rituals” today, which involves taking this tiny wind-up otter toy that I have (his name is Oliver Henry Hudson) on planes with me and winding him up when the plane takes off.  I have lots of little animals — a plushy key chain duck, a small cloth elephant ornament.  I find small animal toys comforting.  I also like to name things.  The elephant is called Leila Emlyn Giovanna and the duck is called Leland.

Maybe it’s odd or childlike, but I think that the way I look for comfort is a little bit heartwarming.  I find objects very meaningful; I cling to things.  I can typically explain when it is from and why it is meaningful.  My mother gave me my first set of measuring spoons for Christmas.  They’re black and silver and the measure amount (e.g., “1 tbsp”, “1 tsp”, etc.) is marked in colorful letters on the handle.

I have a feeling I will still be using them in thirty five years.   And my children will snarl at them and think they are old or ugly or outdated, just as I snarled at the plain blue plastic ones my mother has used since I was a baby.  But it won’t matter.  One day, I hope my children understand the importance if little objects.

I broke down with L; told her how sometimes I feel like such a child.  How this is the way my extended family sees me and I hate it.  I want to be grown-up and mature and kind, but I am afraid to step out of certain boxes I have lived in all of my life (particularly the “bad” box and the “mean” box).  I have always had a little mean streak, wherein I hurt other people’s feelings.  Most often, it is completely unintentional.  I tend to latch onto an idea or a word or a topic and never let go of it, even when it has become hurtful or upsetting or annoying to someone else.

I don’t want to be mean anymore.  But at the same time, I feel like I’m looking out at the world from below the flap of my trusty box and it’s scary — being inside the little box is comforting to me, and I seek out comfort wherever I find it.

I suspect that one day I will suddenly be ready and I will step out of all the boxes that I need to step out of when the time is right.

Until then, I have L.  I have my otter and my elephant and my ducks.  I have stories that I like to read and habits and ways of looking at the world that comfort me.

At the bottom of everything, I simply want to befriend people.  Almost every action that I undertake or every thought that I speak comes from a place inside me wherein I feel deeply lonely and want to make friends.  It’s funny, that I would be “mean” or “bad” and expect to make friends.  But it’s true, in a strange way.  It’s like I’m announcing my flaws and I want to be loved anyway.

Everyone just wants to be loved.

******

FYI: I’m trying to make the blog a wee bit more anonymous at the moment.  If you see a comment on your blog from “Run Write Therapy Life” or “CH”, it’s still me. 🙂

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Love And Spaghetti Squash And Jeans

Today’s I am proud of myself because: of how open and brave I was that day in the park when I met USB.  At that point in my life, I was truly convinced that I was unlovable, romantically speaking.  That no one would ever want to be with me. Sure, there were parts of myself that I liked.  But I thought that I was just too weird for anyone else to ever like those elements of me.  I wanted to meet someone.  I was 20 years old, about to start my senior year of college and had never had a serious relationship.  I had made out with a few boys.  But that was about  it.  Nothing ever clicked.  With USB, everything clicks.  I didn’t know it then, but I think a big part of the sadness I have felt over the last three or four years — the constant aching in my chest — was simply because I wanted to share my life with someone.  And now I do. And it is even more wonderful than I imagined.

I didn’t do a happy note!  It was really hard for me to change, lol.  But sometimes change is good, as USB has taught me. 🙂

Just wanted to say hello quickly and hear about your weekends!  I haven’t done any full workouts yesterday (Friday) or today.  The social time is infinitely more important for my health.  I probably walked a few miles both days anyways.   I also got in plenty of studying.

Other exciting things:

My first spaghetti squash!

Believe it or not, spaghetti squash has always been a secret fear of mine!  I steamed it in the microwave for about 10 minutes (cut in two halves, with the flat side down).  At first, I took it out and didn’t see any spaghetti!  I freaked out, thinking that I was a spaghetti squash failure.  That, or the farmer had simply sold me a different type of squash by accident.  But then I noticed about a teaspoon worth of “noodles” and scraped those out.  Lo, and behold, the scraping produced more noodles.  So I kept scraping and more and more noodles appeared!  Slowly, a giant smile crept onto my face.  It was great fun.  Seriously, if you’re ever super stressed, try scraping the noodles out of a spaghetti squash.

Totally unrelated, but relevant to the blog as a whole: yesterday, I went shopping.  Clothes shopping.  Clothes shopping is not easy for someone who hates every little part of her body.  I went to a bunch of different stores and kept telling myself over and over again, “you will look fat and horrible in that; you should not even try it on.”  I was starting to get really down on myself.  Eventually, I wound up in a designer jeans section at a discount store.  I am NOT a clothes elitist — I don’t have the money to be — but I truly believe that with things like jeans, and dresses, a really nice brand can sometimes look and feel better, making it worth the price.  I got into my determined mode and said “Caronae, you are going to try on some jeans and find a pair that you like and you will look beautiful and you will buy them.”

And I did.  I found a pair of jeans.  They are Seven brand.  I have never had a pair of Seven jeans before, but these really are quite nice.  I like them a lot, and a tiny part of me thinks I look decent in them.

So there. Take that, jeans.

Time to go find USB! 🙂

What are you all up to this weekend?

Letting Love In

Today’s Happy Note: There are so many happy things in my life right now, it’s hard to choose!  I’m going to go with the fact that I feel very, very connected to many people in my life at this moment.  Strong human connections=pure happiness.

Marathon Training: Speed Work Tuesday yesterday!  I won’t lie, a good speed work session makes me feel amazing, but sometimes it is really hard to get out the door for one.  I finally figured out why there are so many “Goal Pace” miles in my training plan: my marathon goal pace is approximately ten minutes per mile, which is basically what my general pace is.  Duh.  Silly Caronae.  A marathon — at least for me — is not a fast race.  If I were training for a 10k, so many “goal pace” miles would be impossible.  But for a marathon, it’s just fine.  All this is to say that my speed workout yesterday involved:

2 miles GP (goal pace) miles warm-up

2 x 2 miles tempo pace (approximately 9 minute miles) — I worked HARD here and it felt great; did an easy half-mile between the two sets.

2.5 miles GP

Total: 9 miles

Today I did a total of 4 miles with 6×100 meter strides sprinkled in through the last mile.  I also did a 45 minute strength class at the gym.  I have been getting a little bit bored with my regular weight-lifting routine lately and this was fun.  It was nice to switch things up.  I loved the tricep exercises we did.

Therapy Thoughts

Sorry for flaking out again yesterday.  I was out all too late for a weeknight.  This whole having fun thing is nerve-wracking and thrilling at the same time.  I kind of like it.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about people and the way we interact and relate and love one another.  I think that opening up to other people — learning and listening and loving and losing — has become the most important thing in my life right now.  Friends, family, loves. Ultimately, running will not save me.  Having a perfect body or a perfect relationship with food or an ideal body weight won’t save me.  People save me — I save me, other people save me.  Not that I even need saving, really. When I say ‘saving’, I mean becoming a better me.  Learning how I work.  Learning how I love.  I have so many special people in my life.  Two caring, wonderful parents.  A beautiful sister.  A handful of close, fun friends.  A very special therapist.  Lovely, insightful coworkers. Cousins, acquaintances, smart classmates.

It scares me a little bit that I retreat inward when things become difficult for me.  I want to reach out with my arms and my heart to those who care about me — I want to reach out with all the edges of my face and say “I love you” to everyone important to me.  I may not quite be there yet, but I am figuring out how I work with others.  The most important thing has been to figure out me.  It’s something that I have known all along — something that has always been inside me.  I know that when I am anxious I bite my nails; that February is the hardest month of the year for me; that I have really flexible knees and hips; that when I love someone I will love them with every angle of my body.  I will let them into spaces that I didn’t know existed —  I will feel them inching along my crooked chest and I’ll smile a little.  I’m coming to accept the way my mouth doesn’t like to sit quite parallel with my chin.  And even more, I am coming to accept the fact that others accept this fact.  Indeed, maybe this makes my face a little more unique.  Maybe it makes me mysterious and readable all at the same time.

It’s been a year that I have seen L, almost. I am trying very hard not to exalt her, but she has pretty much been nothing short of heroic: she has taught me that not only can I save myself, but that I can let other humans slide into my life and curl up there.  I can let others settle into my life and stay a while.  Or maybe even forever.  I have a gratitude for L that I have had for few others in my twenty years.  I don’t know how she does it, to be honest. But the last 12 months have shown me how beautifully capable I am of connecting with another person.  It’s such a simple act, really, but also difficult, at times.  Coming to love myself has helped the most.  As I am about to start my senior year of college, I’m looking back at where I was one year ago, two years; three years.  I have been lost, wild, isolated, crazy, sad, confused.  But most of all, I have been growing. I have begun to let people burrow deeper into my life.

Yesterday I asked L why I deserve to be loved and cared for and thought of.  She responded by saying that, by virtue of being human, I deserve love. We all do.  Every single being on this earth is equally deserving of love, affection, warmth, and connection.  It is a simple but powerful answer.  Sometimes I catch myself out of the corner of my eye — I see my cheek in a furniture store window; I feel suddenly exposed and unmasked.  Usually, I am not sure what to think.  Most often I say something about how hideous that cheek is, how un-centered and pockmarked and off-color it is.  I am not sure that I will ever entirely leave this way of seeing myself behind.  But I am clear about one thing: I want to be loved more than anything else in the world, and, hideous cheek or not, other people want to love me.  Not in a greedy, silly, childish way.  But deeply and clearly and smoothly.  This kind of love can come from all sorts of places.  I can name maybe 8 or 10 people right now for whom I feel this.

But there is also another kind of love as well.  It’s all this but also more intimate.  When I started seeing L, about this time last year (beginning of September), I felt very alone.  Alone is not a happy place to be.  I believe that much of my unhappiness has come from this loneliness.  I can’t even describe how thrilling it is to hear a friend’s voice on the phone or to hug someone after not seeing him or her for three months.   That’s happiness.  A year ago I did not believe it was possible to carve a small crack in my being and let another person in.  I could not fathom the crack, even from a distance.

Well, there’s a crack now.  A small one.  But it’s there.  It may not get any bigger with this particular connection, this person.  But I have reached a turning-point because I now understand the possibility of the crack.

I met a beautiful, sweet man two weeks ago in the park.  He sort of fell into my lap.  I feel vulnerable and nervous. Alternately pretty/unique and bizarre/disproportionate.  I have been doing a lot of rethinking of my body.

I like him a lot. I feel like I don’t deserve this.  Then I feel mad at myself for feeling like I don’t deserve it.  Silly, really.  The thing is, so far, he is making me very, very happy.  When he touches my arm or my shoulder or my chin, I am so very proud of myself for letting this happen.  I am being brave and open and exposed in new ways.

What do people mean?  What is it to let someone into your life?  How do you know who to let in?  How do you know they won’t break your heart?

The answer is that you don’t know precisely who to let in and how and whether or not they will hurt you.  But it will be right and beautiful and soft.

I want to go back to my 17 year old self and hold her and rock her in my arms and let her know that she will love and be loved.  It will not be easy but it will be happy.

I don’t know how long this particular connection will last; dating and relationships are scary things.  I think I have gone on dates with two other boys this year; both fizzled out.  I hardly consider making out in a club romantic.  So I am not writing this to say that I have met a man and my life is different and perfect and everything has been fixed.  Not at all.  What I’m saying is that I understand the crevice — the opening in me where others might step in and offer me their love.

Okay.  That was a little bit intense.  But my feelings are intense right now.  I’m processing and sorting and figuring it all out.  I’m pretty sure I’ll always be figuring it all out, even when I’m 101.  The point here is that this last year has been monumental for me.  I understand myself better.  I understand how important my friends and family are.  And I can see the possibility of romantic love.

Thoughts?  How have you let love into your life lately?  What does it feel like, for you?

I promise I will be less intense and serious tomorrow.  🙂  Love and people and connections=happy Caronae.  Happy mental self, happy physical self, happy Caronae.

Therapy Tuesday

Today’s Happy Note: I felt like I was back to my old running self again this morning!  Hooray!  I did six miles — 2 warm up/2 tempo/2 cool down and felt great!  Not just faster, but freer.  I love the flying feeling that comes with running, and because I have been so slow and out of shape, I haven’t had that in a while.  But it’s back and I’m happy. 🙂

Also walked three miles.  On my marathon training plan, adapted from the Runner’s World Intermediate Plan, today was supposed to be 2 miles GP (goal pace)/2 miles tempo/2 miles GP.  In what alternate universe does this make sense?  Who can do that for six miles in the second week of training?  Does anyone even do that ever? Any runners out there have ideas about this? I am totally confused, and for now I am just sticking to 2-3 miles of tempo running.

Therapy Tuesday

Today wasn’t a breakthrough day or anything, but not a bad day either.  It just was.  And I am okay with that.  I was content and comforted just being with L.  I honestly crave our little hour together every week — not to obsess over her or worship her, but because it is my special time with someone who listens.  That’s why it is so devastating for me when sessions go badly; it’s my special time every week.  We both know how much energy and emotional effort I put into the work of therapy.

Often, sitting there, I wonder what she thinks of me.  I want to know if she thinks I am compassionate, lovely, bright, annoying.  I can think any thing about her and then tell her, but I don’t get to hear what she thinks of me very often, at least not directly.  One of the golden rules of being a therapist is “only reveal things about yourself (or your thoughts) to the extent that they will help the patient.”  I get that, but I am curious.  And I know that, as we have finally begun to understand the dynamics of our relationship (and each other), this isn’t going to work for us perfectly.  I think it is clear to L how important it is for me to hear about her and to hear what she thinks and what she’s been through sometimes.  It is unsaid, but we both clearly know that we need each other, even if for her it is only in a very small way (and in a much bigger way for me).  You know how you can kind of feel it in your heart and your limbs when someone likes you and is becoming attached to you?  Well, I feel like that with L.  Maybe that is what all good therapists do, but I don’t think so.  Maybe I am ascribing more importance to myself than need be.  But I think she is getting attached.  God knows I have been attached for quite some time now.

I feel a deep need for her approval of my whole person.  The funny thing is, I already know she does approve of (and deeply care about) me, based on how we interact and what she says.

I have moved completely past the point of thinking about our relationship in even remotely clinical terms.  I think that I am moving into a space where we have a much deeper relationship.  A little bit hard to explain I suppose.  But it is no longer doctor and patient — in fact, from the beginning I felt it wasn’t.  It is still a professional relationship.  But when I heard her refer to herself as “L” (her first name) the other day, I knew definitively that we are not just clinical anymore.  This is my real life unfolding with her.  Which is wonderful, but also means that I feel every aspect of our relationship quite intensely.  I want her to believe in me.  I want her to bond specially with me.  I know she has many patients, but I don’t know how many of them need the closeness with her as much as I do right now.  I don’t have a significant other now (or ever have) who I have really shared my life with.  I have many close friendships but this is just different.  I have an emotional intimacy with her that I have not shared with anyone else in many, many years (since before college started).  When I think about it, there are a lot of totally reasonable explanations for why I snapped shut a bit in the last few years.  That is for another post.

All I know is that I truly love and need L right now. And probably will for a long ime.  It’s been almost a year now (already?) and I would be perfectly happy to spend another ten years with her, learning about myself, my way of fitting into the world, my dreams, my history.  How things connect.

Today’s topics: sex and money.  Not the most blog appropriate, obviously.  It was a good conversation though.  I felt a lot of relief.  What I came away with was a new understanding of how I relate to people in my life and how I can shape and guide those relationships (consciously) so that they are more healing and more positive for all involved.

Sorry if this was vague.  It is getting harder and harder for me to write about therapy, as my relationship with L solidifies.  I am moving into a place where I almost feel more loyalty to her than to the blog posts about therapy. That obviously changes everything.  We’ll see how I feel in the next few weeks.  I may continue writing about things, I may not.  I may just do it in my personal journal — I think it is important for me to sort out my thoughts about it, and I will do so in whatever way proves most healing for my heart.