Therapy Thursday: On Love

Today’s Happy Note: Wearing one of my favorite skirts.  My mom gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago.  It’s long and fuschia and looks sort of like crepe paper.  Makes me feel like I should twirl.  Sometimes I do.

Marathon Training: My legs hurt yesterday after Tuesday’s 20-miler.  I am pretty nervous about this Sunday’s 22-miler (which will be done with a special friend!  I’m going to keep you in suspense as to who, mwahahaha — she is a blogger though).  I think the key to the run will be overcoming my psychic pain and anxiety; the physical pain is so much less intense sometimes.  Last night I did 15 minutes of abs followed by a lovely vinyasa class at Yoga Vida (my favorite studio in the city, that I’ve been to so far).  This afternoon I busted out 8 miles of speedwork: 1 WU, 3×1 mile @ Tempo pace with easy 400 between, 3×800 Fast with easy 400 between, 1 mile CD.  I’m not sure if that adds up to 8 but whatever, that’s how much I did in total.  I estimated on the easy portions.  I was super anxious about even starting this workout but it turned out fine!  Silly Caronae.

Therapy Thursday

FYI: It might be helpful to read last week’s thoughts first, since a lot of thoughts from today are sort of continuations from last week.

USB was in my room last Sunday and we were talking, cuddling, etc.  My computer was open and I wanted to show him what the blog looked like (he is very curious about the blog; I have told him all about it but he doesn’t actually read it, at this point — I am not trying to keep it from him at all, I just am not sure if I am ready to completely share it.  I think maybe I am).  Anyways I was showing him the title and the layout and a post where I talked about him a bit was up.  He asked if he could read it and I said, “no, read my therapy post instead”.  He knows about my mental issues/general craziness and a bit about my therapy, so I didn’t think it would be a big deal.  I thought that I spent most of the post talking about my relationship with L and how she cried and it moved me and I feel fat and lalala — the usual therapy stuff.  I completely and totally forgot that I said I told L I think I might love him.  So I said “sure, go ahead, read that post” and left him to it while I went to cook some squash.

I came back about ten minutes later and immediately realized what I had done.  I had just told USB, the first man I have ever loved (it’s only been two months, but I am quite certain of what I’m feeling — I feel things very intensely, in general) that I loved him through a blog post about therapy.

I was mortified.  Not just mortified but I also felt bad.  That was never, in my mind, how I planned on saying I Love You.

He laughed and held me and was very sweet about it all.  It’s a funny story, I guess.  Bizarre.  Maybe I should be tighter-lipped on the blog.  I don’t want to be, though.

I just realized that has nothing to do with my thoughts about therapy this week but whatever.  I wanted to share.

This week was all about relationships, of the romantic love variety.  I especially talked about my parents and what seeing their relationship has been like for me. It has changed a lot over the years and has in some ways been a big source of confusion for me.  They are divorced, but still seem to love each other.  This actually isn’t where we started — we began by talking about her crying last week and what that was like for both of us.  I expressed to L that it was tremendously moving, for me.  It made me see her as more human.  It also made me reflect back on myself — how can I be kinder to me?  Anyways, she said that she had been embarrassed, but also seemed to express that it was a genuine moment of emotion for her.  It was serious — I feel like there are meaningful tears and not meaningful tears.  Her tears were meaningful.

I asked her about how it made her feel and what she was thinking about the subject that made her cry in the first place (which I won’t get into).  She was very honest with me, and very tender.  She told me that she cried even more after I left.  I felt bad.  I know that I don’t have to take care of her — indeed, that is one reason why, in therapy, the therapist is not supposed to reveal much about him or herself or show many of his or her emotions, so that the patient can be completely vulnerable and cared for and loved.  But I sort of want to.  I think I see a lot of similarities between us.  There are obvious differences as well, though.

Love relationships are all different.  It’s funny because I always imagined it would be a certain way, but it isn’t that way.  It’s its own way.  And if and when I love another man, that will happen in its own way as well.  And the way my grandparents love each other is different, and the way my best friend from MI loves her boyfriend is different.  I like that love is an adaptable thing.  It doesn’t always have to be the same; that’s part of the reason it’s so fun.  With USB I feel like everyday is something new but I also feel like there is a consistency to it.

I thought some more about my parents and their love.  I kept coming back to that today.

I arrive at 12:10 to therapy.  I usually come upstairs and settle in around 12:15 and then L checks her messages and we start around 12:20.  Then we finish around 1:10-1:15 when the next person is ready to come up.  Pretty straightforward pattern.

At the end of the hour today, that pattern was completely disrupted when the next person rang the bell at 1:00.  I practically had a panic attack.  I could not handle it.  I want to say that I have no idea why it upset me so much, but I do know.  I like consistency in general, but with L, that consistency is pretty much sacred. It’s not that I was feeling jealous that my hour would end early or peeved that I would still be paying the full ten dollars.  I didn’t care about those things.  What I couldn’t handle was the fact that something about therapy was going to change. The content may seem infinitely more important than the structure for therapy, but that isn’t always true.  I was literally shaking.

L, bless her, knows me quite well at this point.  I also feel comfortable being open with her.  I told her that it was upsetting me greatly, and I think she could tell. She told the other person to wait or come back in ten minutes.

That sounded really selfish and mean.  I probably would have been annoyed if I were that other person.  But at the same time, it was tremendously graceful and thoughtful of her and it meant a lot to me.  It meant that I could breathe again, for one thing.  It meant that I could talk for ten more minutes.  But more importantly, it meant that she values me and cares about me.  I already know this, of course, but have not necessarily felt it through her actions before.

I definitely have a love for L.  I have not talked to her about this yet, but will say that I am very nervous about the prospect of law school, not because the idea of law school scares me, but because the idea of leaving L, in 8 months or so, scares me.  My dream is to get into a law school in NYC so I can still have her.  I don’t know if I am being overly dependent.  I don’t think so.  L isn’t the only reason I want to stay in NYC by any means — I love the city, I love my friends here, I love the life I have set up here.  And she is an important part of that life, at this moment in time.  I think she is genuinely helpful to me on an ongoing basis.  She has a kindness and a consistency and a compassion that I need in my life.  She helped lead me out of a very scary place.

The future is a scary thing.

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Grete’s Great Gallop/Mental Health Update

Today’s Happy Note: The sunshine on my skin in the afternoon.

Mental Health Note: I have been struggling a bit lately, I must admit.  I don’t necessarily feel sadder than usual — in fact, I feel more in control of my depression than I have since, well, before I was depressed (which was long, long ago — like middle school long ago).  It’s the body image stuff.  It’s miserable.  It’s painful.  It makes me want to die, in certain ways. I feel like I’m being taken back to a dark place in my life — say 2-4 years ago — where my body was never good enough.  Every single day was spent hating myself, because of my body.  Everyday.  I thought of so many ways to say “I hate you” that it isn’t even funny.  It wouldn’t even make a bad comedy routine.  It’s too sad.

So this moment finds me facing difficulties with my body and my weight, and, as a consequence, my mental well being.  The most frustrating thing about this anxiety and weight gain and hatred and queasiness — whatever you want to call it — is the fact that I know better than this. I know not to do this.  Not to work myself up into this state.

I guess that admitting how much I am struggling is a good first step.  Better than outright saying “alright, I’m a failure, I’ll just give up and let it all get worse.”

Also, I surprised myself and opened up to USB about it.  That was a big step for me, I think.  A really big step that I’m proud of.  And L, as always, has been there for me.  I think I sent her an email late last night and she responded today, a Saturday, with a long comforting response.  I guess I haven’t talked a lot about therapy/L lately, as things have become more and more private, I guess.  It’s a really beautiful feeling to know that someone is there for you 24/7, no matter what, when, where, why.  She’s there.  And I need her, very much, at this moment in my life.

Grete’s Great Gallop Race Report!

This morning was my third official half-marathon! Unlike my first two (read my recap of the NYC half here), I was not going into this one with the goal of running fast or PRing.  I had two goals:

1. Get into a “race mentality” — early wake-up, race breakfast, getting ready to run fast.

2. Run slightly under Marathon Goal Pace.

That’s it.  Plain and simple.  And I satisfied those two goals, which means that I am happy with the experience.

A few notes:

~I probably should have slept for more than 4.5 hours last night.  USB is such a wonderful, wonderful distraction though…I’ll be sure to get 8-10 hours of sleep before the marathon.

~I went out at a solid 10:00 pace and worked my way down to a 9:00 (overall average pace was 9:36).  This is good.  I would like to replicate this slower-to-faster strategy on marathon day (although probably being a bit slower overall).

~I think GU Shot Blox are my favorite mid-run fuel.  I had to take a clif mojo bar today which wasn’t ideal.  I also need to figure out my ideal method of carrying fuel or water.

~It’s time to get new shoes!

~If I can run a half marathon in 2:05:50 at the end of a 57-mile week, with relative ease, I most definitely can run a marathon, while tapered and well-rested and properly-fueled, under my goal pace of 4:30!

So today was an experiment of sorts.  A happy, succesful experiment.  I’m pleased.

Oh, and USB took me to get a foot massage afterwards.  I can’t really explain what I feel for him.  But just know that it’s a lot.  I feel a lot.

Tell me about your weekends thus far?!?!  Any races? Long runs?  Non-running related exciting happenings?

What do you do when you feel like you’re in a mental health rut — like you’re slipping and you want to be able to get a better hold of things but you don’t know how?

Goodnight friends!

BoysEatingTherapyWorkouts

Today’s Happy Note: Flirting with a British guy at the grocery store…

Boys

I don’t know if my Happy Note has ever involved a boy.  But male specimens have been flying around in my life like crazy lately!  I don’t know where they’re coming from.  Well, I do: the library, the gym, the specialty market.  I suppose they have always been there.  But now I’m noticing them.  And they’re noticing me.  And this is all so strange and new and, well, a little bit wonderful, for me.  It’s sort of a little self-confidence feedback loop: as I have become more and more confident in my abilities, my personality, and my body, I think other people notice that confidence. Feeling loved and sought out then reinforces the confidence, etc., etc.

I will NEVER base my self-worth off of men.  I am my own woman, my own beauty, my own happiness.  But having others involved in my life is a beautiful, fulfilling thing.  Relationships — of all varieties — are a component of happiness and self-fulfillment.

I am not sure if all this flirtation (interaction? fun?) means anything or will lead to anything.  But I honestly regret not introducing myself to the man at the store.  He truly seemed wonderful, and it couldn’t have hurt to say my name.  I rarely get that sensation in my gut like “I should have done something differently.”  I did this evening.  But I can’t go back and talk to him now, can I?  I’m pretty sure he’s gone by now. 🙂

Eating

I definitely was emotionally snacking this evening.  I sort of got onto a weird eating schedule today and ended up being hungry at 10:00.  Once I have one snack in the evening, I can never have just one.  Does anyone else have this issue?  I am still in the process of observing my eating habits, emotions, rhythms, and associations. I am not getting angry at myself at this point.  More and more, I am beginning to realize that I deserve the best: I deserve to feel happy in my mind and body and to treat myself with love and care and kindness and respect.  I know this sounds all soft and new age-y, but it is what I am thinking about a lot lately.  In the past few months, I have felt like I have actually begun thinking about and repairing my relationship with food.  The funny thing is that I’m probably at my highest weight ever right now.

A big realization in this process has been that hunger is not a character flaw. Food is not the enemy.  Wanting to eat does not indicate some horrific problem in my body or in my heart.  I haven’t had a chance to talk about this with L much, but do plan to soon.  We have talked ever so slightly about my body image and general eating concerns, but that just isn’t an area we have explored yet.  I am anxious to do so.  Our weekly hour-long sessions never seem long enough!

I think this is a good segue into some vague therapy thoughts…

Therapy

As I said last week, my relationship with L and my thoughts about the process of therapy are changing.  This is okay.  Thanks for all your sweet thoughts on this — I was a little nervous that people wouldn’t want to read if I changed the content of my therapy posts.  But I need to do what I am comfortable with and what is right for my mental health at the moment.  I still struggle with depression and anxiety, daily.

So I am not entirely sure of the direction my therapy posts will go on at the moment.  I still write detailed thoughts in my journal.  I might share all or some of those thoughts on the blog, or some days, none.  I might just talk about the process, or something tangential, or simply verbalize some questions.

All I know is that my relationship with L has undergone a subtle but powerful, sudden shift over the summer.  It is now painfully intimate.  Lovely, raw, tender, delicate.  Different.

It’s funny how sometimes my biggest revelations in therapy aren’t necessarily related directly to what we talk about. Sometimes the breakthroughs come from connecting things in new ways, or from writing about it afterwards.  This week we talked a lot about stressors and money and the little things that tend to build up and make me crazy.  Not in a structured way at all — our sessions are terribly unstructured, and I like it that way.  I like that she never says things like “tell me a list of things that stress you out, and how those things make you feel.”  It is so much more organic than that.  That’s part of the beauty of it.  It is simply, on one level, a deep conversation between two people — an open wound.

The revelation this week was that I am capable of relating to and empathizing with people. And, therefore, I am capable of growing and sustaining satisfying friendships, relationships, etc.  I need not judge others — or myself — on their feelings.  I can be calm and gentle with others.  I can open up to them (even if it takes some time).  This ties back to what I said about food earlier; I deserve love, caring, affection.  From myself and those around me.  In fact, I deserve it so much that I can (and should) be an active participant in the development of relationships in my life.  In the last year, as I have come to understand myself better,  I have also begun understanding others.  And the ways in which we relate.

Sometimes, my relationships with other people hurt.  And other times they are very, very soothing and right.

I loved how our dialog went back and forth this week.  I love learning new things about L; it is important for me in terms of my ability to open up to her.  She told me a lot about her career trajectory, especially in her 20s, yesterday.  This was helpful to me both in terms of figuring out how the next few years of my own life might look and in terms of understanding and relating to her better.  She got married when she was 22 and divorced at 40.  I can’t imagine being married so young.  I almost didn’t believe her.  I don’t think that uncovering bits and pieces of her life is unproductive to my therapy at all.  Many psychotherapists and mental health professionals thing it is.  But I don’t.  It might be hard for her to sustain several of these intimate relationships, but, first of all, I know that not every patient is as interested in knowing her and, secondly, I get so much more out of it when I have this verbal, emotional dance with her.

Random but important thoughts.  That’s all for this week, I think.

Workouts

Yesterday I did four miles easy, with 5×100 meter strides thrown in, and 45 minutes full body strength training.  Today I did seven miles with hills.  Marathon training=hungry Caronae.  I will admit, I have a lot of anxiety about losing weight while training.  I might need to come up with some more specific goals and plans.  We shall see.

Goodnight friends!  Have I ever mentioned how wonderful you all are?  Seriously, every comment warms my heart.  Blogging has led me to such wonderful friends.  Even if you just stop by to read for a few minutes, I know you’re there, and it makes me feel so happy and connected.

Happy Friday!

In A Day’s Eats

Today’s Happy Note: I was feeling a lot of anxiety last night and sent my therapist a rant email and she sent me back a very soothing message.  She really is a major comfort.  It’s pretty sweet that she is there for me even on the weekend.

Thank you everyone for your kind, insightful comments yesterday. One thing that a lot of people pointed out was that I am still me, regardless of my size.  Additionally, most people on the beach are not looking at me at all!  They have better things to do than pay attention to the minutiae of my body. And in fact I have better things to do than pay attention to the minutiae of my body!

I feel like I have been lazy today.  The weird thing is that I can’t decide if this is actually true.  I mean, I did stuff, I just feel like it wasn’t enough stuff. I feel like Sundays should be devoted to getting-things-done.  I didn’t even workout (although I did walk maybe two or so miles).  Meh.  I guess maybe some Sundays are meant for total relaxation, perhaps?  What do you prefer — crazy busy Sundays that prepare you for the week ahead or lazy Sundays?

I did manage to pick myself up off the couch for a quick Adventure to the farmer’s market and the Cathedral. Fresh local peaches from the farmer’s market in summer are truly heavenly.  They might be my favorite food, ever.  I can’t even eat store bought ones anymore.  Other finds: crunchy cucumbers, rainbow chard, pea shoots, and mixed lettuces.

Started the day with a giant, real NY bagel (seven grain) with walnut raisin cream cheese (which, by the way, is cream cheese perfection).   I feel like bagels are a traditional NY Sunday brunch, so how could I say no?  I went with the family.  I am not a big bread person, but I really like a good bagel once a week or so.  And the cream cheese is wonderful because it’s so full of fat and keeps me full for hours.  I had this around eleven and didn’t even begin to think about eating again until after four.

My late afternoon snack was a SIAB made with vanilla soy milk, a splash of kefir, vanilla hemp/whey protein powder, lots of ice, frozen blueberries and frozen cherries.  Toppings: kashi heart to  heart cereal and Justin’s maple almond butter.

I also had a tiny bowl of cereal afterwards to satisfy my  giant cereal craving.

At some point between this and dinner I had a tiny handful of nuts and a piece of chocolate.

Dinner=meat. Dear meat, I love you.  I will never, ever leave you.

This is a multigrain wrap stuffed with home made meatballs (from farmer’s market ground beef), jarlsberg cheese, and baked yellow squash.  I made my meatballs with EVOO, salt, lemon pepper, garlic, and dried basil.  I had lots of cukes and carrots on the side.

At this point in my life, I know that eating meat (of all varieties — red, poultry, seafood) is the right choice for me.  I physically feel so much better with it in my life.  I have more energy, stay fuller longer, and I feel healthier on the inside too.  I try to eat red meat once or twice a week, along with a few servings of fish/chicken/turkey/shrimp, etc.  I know that some people may have trouble digesting meat or they just don’t like it or it does not work for them in some way, and I absolutely respect that.  But I crave and need protein.  And not just any protein: meat protein. And if I have learned anything about my relationship with food in the last few years, it’s that denying what my body wants is asking for trouble.

Phew, glad I got that out.  After dinner I had two spoonfuls of Maranatha dark chocolate peanut spread before making my real dessert.

Coconut peanut butter protein ice cream!  Topped with dark chocolate.

So pillowy.  I also had a Godiva dark chocolate truffle.

I won’t continue posting all my meals for long. It’s just something that I think I need to do for myself for a few days. I am getting used to “closing the kitchen” after a small-ish dessert, and not mindlessly munching my way through the evening.  I am hoping this will become a habit!  There are so many other things I like to do in the evening instead, especially reading.  There is never enough time for all the books I want to read, sadly.

I am a little nervous about working again full time this week.  I have lots to do, but hopefully I will give myself a break if need be.  I also need to make sure I get enough sleep.  Goodnight friends!

Therapy Monday

Today’s Happy Note: Wearing one of my favorite shirts that I haven’t worn in forever because I though it didn’t fit!  It’s white with buttons and orange, red, and purple flowers.

Finals Week Health Challenge (Day1):

1. Oddly enough I did not meet my easiest goal today!  But that was my own choosing; I wanted to make it a rest day since I did a lot of running this weekend.  I might do abs before bed, we shall see.

2. Check!  I’ve had a banana, blackberries, frozen berries, dried fruit (in trail mix), spinach, and carrots.  Not bad for finals week!

3. Check!  I find that when I don’t work out, I am never hungry in the evenings.  It’s strange because I think that my evening snackage habit is tied to emotional/stress patterns, but it also is, on some level, rooted in actual hunger.  I still have not found the precise balance between the amount of food and exercise my body needs, but I’m okay with that.  I’ll get there someday.

4. Check-ish.  I was pretty hard on myself today, but turned it around by being kinder in the evening.  I visited Operation Beautiful and the notes made me feel a lot better!  I read some of them out loud to myself, so I think that counts as positive self-talk.

Therapy Monday:

Today was the strangest day.  I came in with a lot of things on my mind but as soon as I sat down on the couch (which, by the way, is wonderfully comfortable) I did NOT want to talk about anything.  Let me rephrase — I wanted to talk about things, but not important things.  Does that make sense?  I have never ever felt this way in therapy before.  I actually had a little list of things I wanted to mention: stress eating and strategies to avoid it, my plans for the rest of the month, the financial aid process, the date/boy, some of my friendships.  But as soon as I got there I just entered into this ambivalent state.  And then the ambivalence turned to hostility!

First of all, I always arrive on time.  In fact, I relish the consistency so much that I almost always ring the doorbell at exactly 12:10 for my 12:15 appointment.  This gives my therapist several minutes to let the client before me out and to prepare to see me.  Sometimes she takes a few extra mintues and I really don’t mind at all.  But today she took 15 minutes; we didn’t sit down to talk until 12:30.  I do understand that things come up — she had an emergency phone call, or something of the like — but she also knows how very important the routine and pattern of our schedule is to me.  I found this especially disruptive (although I did occupy myself with a very interesting book while I waited — I am going to borrow it next week and then hopefully do a review).  When we started talking I just felt frazzled from the get-go.  Frazzled and anxious.

The first thing I mentioned was that I was happy that, finally, the client before me is the same person every week.  For most of the semester, there was a different person every week and I did not like that.  Granted, this is a silly thing for me not to like, but no matter.  I told her that I was happy it was the same person now and that I enjoyed having this small moment of consistency; it’s a little thing that makes me happy.  I made it clear, though (or at least I thought I had made it clear), that I would not feel destroyed or distraught if it went back to being a different person.  Basically, it was something I mentioned but didn’t want to talk about.  Maybe this was a mistake on my part and I should have started off talking about something I actually wanted to focus on.  But she spent practically the next 15 minutes telling me that having the same client before me offered an illusion of control.  I disagreed, told her it wasn’t that big of a deal, and made it clear that because it wasn’t a big deal I wanted to move on.

After 15 minutes of this she finally seemed to get the point and said that she respected my wishes as to what I wanted to talk about or not.  Even this annoyed me because I felt like what she said still had an air of “well, ultimately I’m right and I think this is a bigger issue that we should talk about, but whatever.”  Annoying.  Very annoying.

After that I honestly didn’t want to mention anything.  I begrudgingly brought up a few things (like the fact that I am very strongly feeling the desire to be a mother right now — not sure why or what that might mean) but never really got into it after that.  I was very reluctant and resistant.  I feel like this is the first time where issues of process have arisen really strongly for me.  I absolutely see my therapist as a motherly figure and this is both a good thing and a bad thing: I feel very comfortable with her and loved by her, but I also feel the full range of emotions.  Sometimes she makes me angry, sometimes happy.  For the most part, things tend toward the positive, but today just felt weird.  Icky.  Different.  I did not want to listen to any psychobabble or hear any interpretations of what things in my life might mean.  Most of the time, I think it’s quite important to look at what’s going on in my life, what has gone on in my life, how I’m feeling, etc.  But I honestly just wanted a hug today.  I don’t think therapists are supposed to give patients hugs.  But that was what I wanted, I think.

I know I have mentioned the idea of comfort before.  Achieving a sense of comfort has been one of the biggest struggles for me in my recovery and growth; I have been able to change my mindset to a more broadly positive one (i.e, I no longer tell myself “you’re fat, you’re undeserving, you’re stupid”) and I have definitely noticed changes in my understanding of myself and my relationships with others, but I just can’t seem to enter a space of comfort, which is what I am most craving right now.

There are some weeks when I feel extraordinarily comforted during therapy, and there are some weeks when that isn’t something I need.  But today I needed it and didn’t feel it, and I think that is where the frustration was coming from.  I like my therapist very, very much and consider myself lucky to have her, even on days like this, I think.  The process isn’t supposed to be perfect — there are bumps in my relationships with friends, family members, etc., and I have to address those.  Maybe addressing this will make me a better friend or sister or daughter or girlfriend or classmate or whatever.

Hopefully I’ll have some more serious commentary next week.  Although in a way I guess this is serious commentary.  But it’s nice to actually feel like I’m working through things, most of the time at least.