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.

Previous Older Entries