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.

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!

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.

Therapy Tuesday

Today’s Happy Note: Getting out of the city!  Got to go visit a college in PA with my babies (aka high school students I work with).  It showed me that I am a capable leader and mentor.  Plus, it was kinda nice driving through the Poconos.

This has gotta be a major quickie; I might just have the busiest day of my life tomorrow — including a sweet surprise that I promise to blog about (with pictorial evidence, of course)!

Yesterday workout: 6 miles (2 GP — general pace –, 2 tempo, 2 GP) plus four accidental walking miles.

Today was not the best day in terms of eating OR marathon training.  With the training, I was supposed to do an easy three miles with strides; I just decided to swap that out with Friday’s rest day.  I am so busy during the middle of the week.  Hopefully that settles down once school starts.  I walked a few miles and did some gentle stretching.  Eating: I did take pictures of everything, and most of it was relatively healthy, but it was too much.  I know I wasn’t hungry for all of it.  Do you ever just feel like you desperately need to eat even though you aren’t hungry? Oh well.  Tomorrow is a new day, and there are far worse things in life than consuming extra calories via almond butter, fruit, yogurt, and dark chocolate.

I am proud of myself because, even if my eating is still not perfect, I am beginning to recognize my patterns. I know Monica is working on this right now too and it is harder than it sounds.  Am I hungry?  Sad?  Ecstatic?  Confused?  Do I eat a lot in the evening?  Do I feel fuller when I have PB for dessert or cereal (PB!)?  Am I lonely?  Am I restricting and then overcompensating?  Am I eating enough to fuel me through a six or eight mile run — or am I using that as an excuse to eat too much?

I DON’T have all the answers, but I AM realizing that the journey is pretty fun.  I am learning so much about myself.  For example, I just noticed something important today: computer troubles=eating troubles para Caronae.  Nothing stresses me out quite like a computer problem — even if it’s something really small.  So I have noticed this, and I know that I have an arsenal of alternative tools (i.e., not emotional eating): beautifying myself (painting my nails, eyebrow plucking, doing my hair, getting a massage), and curling up with tea and a stack of magazines.  Those are just two little things that make me happy right now!

A few eats:

Bacon has been involved.

Yum!

Therapy Tuesday

Today was characterized by our shared laughter.   I don’t really know how this happened — certainly not everything I said (or L said) was funny — but it happened, and once we started finding humor or joy in things, we couldn’t stop.  It was lovely.  I had two main announcements to make (both of which you already know):

1. I am applying to law school in the fall and,

2. I am going to be running the marathon come November.

I honestly just haven’t had a chance to tell L either of these things yet.  I started with number one.  I was a little bit surprised by her reaction, which was not one of warmth, and undying support.  Looking back, I guess I didn’t really need that anyways.  Sometimes I feel like L knows what’s best for me even when I don’t know what’s best!  Anyways, she basically encouraged me, but also reminded me that I am young, that I can and should do more research, and that I should think about what exactly this means to me and what I want to do with my life.  These are big questions that I am not necessarily ready to tackle, but I am glad she reminded me that, at the very least, that can be floating around in the back of my head.  I was mildly annoyed at her because I sort of thought she was lecturing me and sounding exactly like my mom does about school stuff.  I felt as though she was telling me that I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m a baby and blah blah blah.  I told her this and she sort of gently pointed out what she really meant and noticed that I was doing a bit of projection of my mother onto her.  Point taken.

But I was feeling a bit wound up, unsettled, and anxious at this point.  But: I let her in.  I let L know about this, about the turmoil that was mounting inside me over such a small thing.  And one of the things she said actually comforted me quite a lot: I stated that when this happens — when I get anxious and panic in the moment of therapy — I feel like I’m wasting my(limited) time with her, and she said that this is my life; this is real and these are my feelings and what better thing than for them to happen in the moment with her, so that she can help me figure them out?  Brilliant!

She sort of walked me into talking about the marathon, even though I didn’t want to.  And guess what?  Again,  I ended up feeling better.  She is so damn smart sometimes it scares me.

L was happy for me about the marathon.  Sometimes I wish she could be more involved in my real life.  But it was nice today to have that brief moment where my real life and therapy sort of merged.  That was new.  And to have everything be sort of light — I actually don’t think I cried at all, which is highly unusual.  It was just like the littlest things about our relationship became humorous; like we know each other so well that we can laugh about each other, at each other.

So today was new.  Refreshing.  Intense but calming.  Funny, real, jarring.  Wonderful in many ways.

Therapy Tuesday

Today’s Happy Note: Despite my long, stressful day I was able to consciously take some time for myself.  I got up early to do a little workout and ate a quick dinner when I got home at nine so I could read/blog/read blogs. These few small moments have made a big difference in my anxiety level (compared to the middle of the day).

So. I ended up at four different doctors today.  Four.  That’s more doctor’s appointments than I would like in a year. Yuck.  I had two in the morning, then therapy, then went to my office for a whopping half hour, scarfed lunch, then headed to see my doctor for lab stuff, then went to another doctor/radiology for more labs, then rushed to my other job.  So, long day.  Not a bad day, just exhausting, physically and emotionally.

The first doctor I saw (reproductive endocrinology) was The.  Biggest.  Bitch. Ever.  She treated me like I was a complete idiot who knew nothing about my condition or my body, was shockingly rude, and did a hurried and poor physical exam.  She tossed all my questions about fertility aside.  I’m not really one to complain about these things, but my hormones are one of the major components of my health affected by the PE and I just don’t want them to be screwed up.  I have PCOS, I cannot now (or ever again) take birth control or any other hormones, and I have concerns about how this will affect my ability to make babies in the future.  I think that’s valid.  She told me that concern was irrelevant, and didn’t hardly even explain why.  She then spent the rest of the visit screaming at me to lose weight, which I had told her at the very beginning I was trying to do.  She seemed to have little concern for my psychologically precarious position regarding weight and body image.

The other doctors were wonderful and understanding though.  I still need to have a lot more tests done to determine the cause of the PE.

Meh.  Not documenting all the eats today because I need to write about therapy.  But I kept track and didn’t do any unnecessary snacking.

I know I have some new readers out there!  In case any of you are wondering what Therapy Tuesday is: I go to therapy with my lovely (although sometimes we clash) psychologist L.  It has been a very important experience to me.  I know that people often don’t “get” therapy or just don’t know what it’s about.  For me, it has meant several things: I have someone who consistently cares about me, listens to me, and thinks about me; I have someone to relate to, vent to, or cry to, every week, rain or shine; I have someone who helps me understand  how the different pieces of my life fit together; I have someone who wants me to live a happy and satisfying life and will do anything to help me get there.

I usually write about both the content and the process of each session.  I don’t always share it all on the blog, for obvious reasons, although I am pretty open about it, so please feel free to ask me questions about my experience or what therapy is like.  I think it’s really important to record my feelings and thoughts from the session and from after the session.

Therapy Tuesday

The overarching theme of today was dealing with stress in healthy ways (although that is a slight oversimplification).  I have had a lot of stressors lately: being so ill, family issues, anxiety/panic about work, confusion about the future/law school, and just generally feeling a bit run down by my busy summer (not to mention the stressful doctor’s appointments I had just come from). I told L about all these things.  We had a nice back and forth thing going today.  I love that she actually talks to me and doesn’t just sit there like a piece of wood.  So I would talk a little bit about a stressor and then we would look more closely at what it felt like, what it reminded me of, how I might respond.  I felt like our conversation, particularly her responses, was very direct today (which is nice), but also very intimate/emotional.  I didn’t cry at all.  That hasn’t happened in a long time.

We also talked about how I connect with the people I love in my life.  How I reach out to them and how I perceive them and how they might perceive me.  It’s sort of funny; we tend to think that we are always doing everything “right” in a relationship, but it is so easy to overlook the intricacies of the other person’s feelings, thoughts, and concerns.  I think it’s important to really think about how our actions affect those around us, and how we might be more compassionate (always).  I am not so good at this yet, it’s just a seedling of a thought in my head right now. Friends and family are truly lifelines.

It sort of felt like we kept reaching dead ends today – we would talk about one thing and look at my feelings or concerns and then have trouble connecting that to something else.  But I don’t know that that was really the case.  Instead, I would say that we simply leafed through a lot of different “pages.”  It wasn’t necessarily disconnected, and I wasn’t uncomfortable.  Feeling physically comfortable in the moment of discussion is very important.  I have gotten better and better at this – there were times in the past where I would just sort of sit in the far corner of the couch, away from L, and not look at her, and just sort of be in my own little world.  It sounds a bit hokey, but I feel like our little physical worlds are connecting more and more, and I think that this means our emotional worlds are moving closer and closer together as well.

One other thing we talked about was yoga.  I was telling L about my newfound discovery that soothing myself or talking myself down or doing nice things for me is “allowed.” She pointed out that it’s okay for me to feel all those stresses mentioned above (they aren’t just going to disappear!), but I can learn to just be with them and not have them take over my life.  In order to do this, it is helpful to be kind to myself.  At some point she sort of randomly asked me if I do yoga.  Looking back, it wasn’t so random, since we were talking about being kind to myself and learning how to manage my feelings, and I feel like those things are absolutely tied to yoga.  I told her yes and we had a whole wonderful conversation about that: what it means to me, why I like it, what sort I like to do, when, how often, what the class is like, what the spiritual and emotional components are like.  Her curiosity made me curious and I asked her if she does yoga.  She said that she does.  We talked some more about each of our practice.  It was really nice to connect with over this.  It just felt soothing, or right, or comfortable.  And the truth is that yoga has helped both my mind and my heart grow so much in the last year or two.

Therapy Tuesday. And Chocolate.

Today’s Happy Note: Someone who is very important to me reached out and expressed how much she cares about me.  The love and concern of family and friends lately has been almost overwhelming.  I love people and people love me!

I am still in awe over how many emails, phone calls, deliveries, etc. that I have had in the past week.  Today, my oldest friend’s family sent me Godiva (we met in fourth grade)!  It is a gigantic box.  Chocolate overdose.  Hey, sometimes that’s a good thing.  I actually just bought myself a few good bars of dark chocolate and a block of Belgian milk chocolate two days ago.  Right now, I probably have enough to last me until….September.

I just had a few of the “classic Belgian chocolates.”  I love how they’re so rich that you really only want a little bit.  Major noms, Godiva.  Major noms.

When I was a kid, I used to hang out at the Godiva store at the mall.  No joke.  I liked Gap and Limited Too, but I knew deep down even then that I was a foodie.  More specifically, a chocolate connoisseur.   My friend and I would hang out and try to get free samples.  We were on the mailing list and everything.  For Easter, I would get a chocolate bunny, creme eggs, and a box of Godiva.  I would only eat one each day!

So I have decided that I am going to talk about the awesome restaurants I went to this weekend in tomorrow’s post.  As a little preview: I went here and here.  Today I need to talk about therapy!

Therapy Tuesday

So today was…a lot.  I almost don’t know where to begin.  I guess I’ll start with how I feel now, which is good.  Not joyful, but good.  This has to do with several things, not all related to therapy (my mother being here to take care of me, feeling close to friends, relaxing and reading a lot, all my wonderful chocolate).

The funny thing about today was that I worked myself up into a total frenzy; I became very overwhelmed and panicked during the hour.  But.  Somehow L talked me down from this terror, and in doing so, she helped me uncover some very valuable tools that I can use in the future when I am anxious.

I’ll start from the beginning of the hour.  I told L about the Pulmonary Emboli and the hospitalization first.  For the first time ever, she seemed visibly shaken.  I could tell that she was trying to keep calm and compose herself but it seemed like she was having a certain sadness and anxiety for me underneath that.  This was reassuring to me (although I did not want her to be suffering) — it illustrated how much she cares about me.  She also verbalized this at one point.  I actually sort of wished she could have come to see me in the hospital — maybe in the ER or the next morning when I was still scared.  I know she is my therapist and not my friend, but regardless, she is an important person in my life and a major source of comfort, and I wanted her there, but felt like I shouldn’t call.   She sort of said (today) that I can call her anytime.  This was sweet of her.  If I have any more hospitalizations (God forbid), I might take her up on that offer.

After we got over the initial details of all this, we talked about how I felt and what I was thinking about.  There were a few things: worry (what if I die in my sleep?  What if I end up back in the ER alone again?), food (not sure how much to eat right now; afraid of gaining weight), and a general anxiety/fear/sadness.  This last thing is the big one.  I feel terribly anxious right now.  The hospitalization sort of brought up a lot of little things: friends, relationships, health/eating, my spirit, work/school, writing, exercise, and future plans.  So now, in addition to the general anxiety, thoughts about all these things are floating around in my head.

At some point in the session, L brought up the whole “feeling things in your body” idea again.  I immediately became very upset and angry at her.  I said, “I don’t know why or what’s wrong with me, but that strategy is very upsetting to me (not to mention stupid) and it really agitates me.”  She said that was fine and we could take a different approach.  I responded by saying “obviously it’s not fine or you wouldn’t be bringing it up over and over again.  I am obviously wrong and I suck at managing my feelings.”  L then made it clear that I am not wrong or bad and that maybe this just isn’t something that will work for me, and she was sorry she had brought it up and made me upset.  I was grateful for her apology but by this point I was just too worked up.  I told her this and explained that now there would be no going back.  I said “I am meant to be upset right now — once I am here, in this frenzied, overwhelmed state, I cannot leave.  I cannot try to leave.  I cannot soothe myself or think about letting it pass.  These things are not allowed.  That’s how it has always been.  I am sad and anxious and semi-hysterical and there is nothing that I can (or should) do about that.”

So I was kind of hysterical.  I don’t know why, but when I get into that kind of state, I lock myself in there.

But.  I did something wonderful at this point.  I let L into my panic.  I told her what was happening and told her that it is very hard for me when this happens in therapy.  And then she did something wonderful: over the fifteen minutes we had left, she talked me down.  She brought me back from the frenzy precipice.  Or rather, we brought me back.  As far as I can recall, this has only ever happened once before: my dearest friend in HS once talked me out of a panic attack, somehow.  I was very close with her (and still am).  I have always been afraid that I could never share that same closeness with any other friend/lover/person again.  So to have that happen with L is a very beautiful and powerful thing to happen right now.

In talking me down form my panic, L (and I) looked at the script that was playing in my head.  We talked about how it is okay to consciously shut-off the script or change it.  It sounds stupid (and obvious), but I totally did not realize this was “allowed.”  We sort of practiced a few things that I could say to myself when I get into this anxious, panicked state, like “this shall pass and I will come out alive” or “I don’t have to think about this.  I can think about something that makes me happy instead, like my favorite books.”  I was especially proud of the last thing I thought up and told her about: I am sick.  I am exhausted and emotionally drained and my life is not easy right now.  I am going to give myself a break.  I am going to be kind to myself.

So simple.  Yet huge.  When I said this to her, out loud, it was like something clicked inside me and I actually believed what I was saying.  I do have the ability to be kind to myself.  I deserve a break.  I deserve to be loving and caring towards myself.

These are all things I have thought of before but I have never truly felt them or believed them until today.  I am very proud of myself for that.  And I am proud of myself for letting L in to help me get to this place.

Therapy Tuesday

Today’s Happy Note: It rained.  Hard.  And I didn’t have an umbrella.  And not one but TWO people loaned me umbrellas.  I do indeed have people who love me. 🙂

Got to go to bed early tonight so I can run in the morning!  I’m a tired girl right now — Tuesdays and Thursdays I work 9-9 so not much time for a workout.  Excited to run tomorrow AM though!

Therapy Tuesday

Therapy today was actually quite soothing.  I have struggled a lot lately with opening up and letting L into my world, but today I felt comfortable and contented exactly where I was at.  I felt like we sort of met each other in the middle; like I could be open to her because she was being open with me.  I also think I did a better job today of consciously soothing myself when I began to feel panicky.

I mentioned last week that I was going to compile all my therapy thoughts since January (all of which are documented on the blog) into one epic therapy saga and give it to L.  When I arrived, I decided that it would be helpful for both of us for me to read the entry from last week out loud.  I was a bit nervous since it feels so personal and a little painful, but I did it.  Afterwards, I asked her if she thought it was mean or unkindly or offensive.  She was quiet for a while, actually.  I don’t usually see her thinking like this — she tends to think very quickly most of the time.  She said that she didn’t feel a sense of meanness, but a lot of sadness for both of us.  For me, because clearly I have been in pain and have struggled to let her in; for her because she has not been helpful to me and has left me feeling tense and shaken lately.  For once, we were on the same plane, we were thinking and feeling the exact same things.  This felt wonderfully powerful for me.  It was a lovely connection, even if it did revolve around a sense of sadness.

I feel like it’s sort of hard to describe the rest of the session; like if I try to explain what we were talking about or how we were relating, I’ll just fuck it up.  Basically, we looked at what it means to share yourself in an emotionally intimate way with someone; what it might mean to heal or to help someone else heal.  It was a very back and forth thing; I think she opened up to me in a new way today as I opened up to her as well.  I have felt a lot of curiosity about her lately and told her this.  I asked her a little bit about herself and it was not just interesting for me to hear her responses, but also helpful, I think, for me to know a little bit about what she has been through.  I like to know what “real adult” lives are like sometimes.   I know she has had her fair share of struggles and this,  somehow, gives me a newfound confidence in our relationship: it is easier to know that her life has not been perfect.  All of this is very vague, but that was sort of the tone of our conversation.  Vague, yet comfortably intimate.

I talked a lot about how I perceive her and what she seems like to me.  I definitely mentioned how much I feel like a loser who sucks at therapy and doesn’t deserve to get better.  She calmed me down here and praised me for my openness, honesty, and consistency in therapy.  I felt really just…nice…when she told me this.  It was nice to hear her tell me that she knows I am very dedicated to therapy and to learning about myself.  We all want to be liked and praised sometimes.  And to be honest, I am starting to feel like maybe I am learning new things about myself and about how I relate to others.  I tend to have pretty low self-confidence, and feeling like I am bad at therapy has destroyed what little belief in myself I have had.  So starting to feel like I am doing well at therapy again — like it is meaningful and I am lovable — is quite significant.

I know this is all really unclear.  Our conversation today was not the most concrete.  But I think the important thing to take away is that I feel soothed and calmer and happier, which is such a blessing for me right now.  Leaving therapy feeling tense and angry the past few weeks has been tremendously painful for me, and I am glad that this has turned around, even if it is not necessarily clear what direction we are headed on.

I am excited to get to know myself better through getting to know L better. Does that make sense?  When I ask her questions and learn about her intimate life, even if only a little bit, I learn about my vulnerabilities and tender parts.

Hope you are all having a wonderful week!  I’m off to bed, goodnight friends.

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