Today’s Happy Note: Owls. Something about fall just makes me think of owls. I doubt there are any in NYC. They are such beautiful, intriguing creatures. I wish, right now, that I could be in a cool, wet forest, camping out, watching owls fly overhead. That would be nice.
Sometimes I love New York and sometimes I desperately want to leave. It’s a strange mecca, really. I have fallen in love with the city over and over and over again and I am not sure I will ever be able to leave — the sounds and lights and people and neighborhoods. The buildings. The way the architecture seems to merge with the humans flawlessly. But there is a small part of me that is a small-town girl. Or even a rural girl. I love meadows, streams, forests, mountains; scrambling over rocks in National Parks, kayaking down long windy rivers, climbing big old willow trees in a huge backyard, rambling endlessly on dirt roads surrounded by corn fields. And owls, of course! I like all that. I just want to have that and New York. And it scares me, because I don’t think that it’s possible.
Are you a country girl? City girl? Wilderness girl? Suburban girl? Or boy. I might have some male readers, I suppose.
For the first time in a long time today I did nothing, really, exercise-wise. And it felt damn good. I walked around campus all day, of course, and did about 10 minutes of yoga to stretch out a bit. I have been really exhausted lately. This tends to happen when I am stressed/making a life transition. I think it may also be tied to whatever is happening with my body, hormonally or otherwise. Sick Caronae=Tired Caronae.
I don’t think I was being lazy by not running or working out today. I genuinely listened to my body, which is harder to do than it sounds. I love running, but I also think that it tends to make me a little bit out of touch with my body. I can never figure out my hunger cues when I am running a lot. So no run today. I am still running five days a week, with some yoga and strength training thrown in there. I think that is perfectly acceptable for now. 🙂 NYC Marathon, here I come!
I have a confession: I have a vision of myself breaking up with running, one day. Not necessarily soon, but it is something I have known will happen for a while now. Maybe in a few years. After a few more marathons and ultras. Maybe even sooner than that, or maybe later. Maybe after I have babies. Maybe I’ll stop for several years and then come back to it. I have amazing natural endurance — in fact, I would argue that that is my only real physical talent — but I also have arthritis, sciatica, weak joints, a problem in my sacrum, and frequent generalized muscular/skeletal/nerve pain. Right now running is working for me, but barely. I love when Heather talks about this because I relate so well.
Anyways. Just some rambling.
First: do you know how long I have waited to have my appointment with L be on Thursdays just so that I could write “Therapy Thursday”? I love alliteration. I am such a geek.
Second: This post is a little bit emotional, a little bit heavy and difficult and painful. I won’t be afraid if you don’t want to read it. Sometimes when I am sad, reading about someone else’s sadness only makes it worse — if you’re like that, I highly recommend skipping. 🙂
Last night’s blog post was in the back of my mind for the whole session. I didn’t talk explicitly about it, but talked about those issues — weight, body image, health, self-hatred, self-esteem, the essence of me. It is sort of strange, but I feel like the whole last year with L (it’s officially been a year, this week) has been leading up to this point, where I feel comfortable sharing the deepest, darkest secrets I have about myself, all of which have to do with the body. I do have other deep, dark secrets, but I think I have mostly already shared those things with her. The body is the hardest thing, because it is entirely real. It is not a ghost or a memory or a scar. It is not something that happened to me when I was six or an ephemeral feeling. It is not something that goes unspoken, like love or growth or opening myself up. It sits right in front of me. It is me. Always.
It’s strange, I suppose, because it (the body — my body) is so obvious and cerebral, but also so subtle and hidden and emotional. There are some moments when I feel like my relationship with my own body is incredibly straightforward — like there are signs plastered across my stomach or words scrawled on my arms. But most times, I don’t even understand the relationship. I get confused — I eat when I am not hungry or don’t eat when I am hungry. I tell myself I am lovely and I have dark, reflective, mysterious eyes. I tell myself that my stomach and hips and thighs are so big that I should take a carving knife to them. I have not tried this, but it has been a horrible fantasy of mine for many years.
Tonight, for example. I almost didn’t eat dinner. I wanted a piece of pizza or a half of a giant burrito, with chicken. But I didn’t have any of those things. I had a salad, which ended up being really good, but it wasn’t what I wanted. It was the lower calorie version of what I wanted. I almost didn’t eat at all. I did not listen. Or I did listen, but it was to the mean part of me that has “you are fat and horrible and unworthy” on an endless repeat cycle in my head.
I can’t outline exactly how long I have had this struggle. Let’s say six years. Six years into this and I still hate myself so much? I still struggle to eat a meal sometimes. Or to stop eating sometimes. Obviously, the intensity of these feelings has been triggered by recent events. I have never handled stresses well — I feel things so deeply that it hurts every part of my being. When something is upsetting, every tiny crack in my body will be upset.
Today, with L, was about all of this. I am not really sure how to characterize her responses, both verbal and non-verbal. I can definitely say that they were comforting. She was comforting. At one point, I felt like she was looking at me like a mother — that shook me, more than anything else. It made me realize just how much she cares about me, and how much I care about her. Strange things happen in a psychotherapy relationship. I wish I could say that I wasn’t too attached, that it was completely clinical. But that is not the case — I’m long past that point, and there is no turning back, for good or for bad. She continually reminds me that there is something wonderful and engaging and warm about me that has nothing to do with my body. I just don’t know what that is exactly, yet.
L and I agreed that we don’t know where the hatred comes from, and that I feel better on days when it is not there. I can’t tell you how many windows and mirrors and bottles I find my reflection in. More than should be allowed. Sometimes I wish the world could be devoid of these things. I want to scream at the makers of bus shelters, “don’t you know there are girls walking by who want more than anything not to see themselves; don’t you know that this one moment — this reflection in the glass — is the most horrible moment of their lives, and it happens a thousand times a day; don’t you know?”
Hurt is human. L reminds me of this, a lot. It makes me feel less alien. We all have our demons. I happen to have more than many people, and I also think I feel them more. But everyone has them. There are so many things we don’t know about the people we walk by on the street, or even the people we work with or have class with.
The agony surrounding my body and my physical self is not helpful: the hours every day I spend hating myself actually do not make me happier. In fact, they suck away my time and my energy. What a revelation! L was telling me how, when I finally accept myself exactly as I am, the agony will go away. And I know she is right. I think that maybe it might be in the process of going away — this process started a year and a half ago, in February of 2009, when I left school (don’t worry, I came back). It’s painful. It’s not like I can just say “okay agony and hatred — be gone, I’m done with you!” It helps to say that, sometimes (like in yesterday’s post), but it doesn’t necessarily make it true. I guess I don’t understand why the process can’t be faster.
Sometimes when I write about therapy, afterwards, it sounds like L wasn’t there or involved at all. That is not the case, ever. She is very involved — she probably talks at least 30% of the time, which I like. It’s such a wonderful combination of helping me see things differently, listening, and sharing her own experiences. Sometimes I can’t remember what it is that she said. Usually I just know that it made sense and made me feel better. I guess that my own narrative kind of takes up most of the space in my head, which is okay, as long as I’m being honest with myself. There are, of course, stories that we tell ourselves, which are not always accurate reflections of reality.
For example, I tell myself that I am basically unlovable. But I know this not to be true. My friends and family love me, I can feel it and hear it and sense it. And on another level, romantically, USB is attracted to me. He wants to be with me. For someone who hardly wants to be with herself most of the time, this is a large does of cognitive dissonance. I like USB so much that it hurts, and I think he likes me back similarly. So I can’t be completely unlovable, completely horrible. USB is making me so happy that I cry about it, sometimes. Slow, big, quiet tears.
I think things have been a bit heavy on the blog lately. With reason, of course, seeing as this is me and this is how I am feeling — I began the blog on the premise of honesty regarding my mental/emotional and physical health. I try to keep things real in both areas. But with that said, I also don’t mean to overwhelm you with all these darker things at once.
I promise a lighter, cheerier post tomorrow! Involving delicious foods. 🙂
Thanks for staying with me here; this is simultaneously a very exciting and happy and scary and dark moment in my life.