Therapy Thursday

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

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

Are you a travel lover or hater?

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

Therapy Thursday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone just wants to be loved.

******

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

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Love Your Body Day And Therapy Thursday

Today’s Happy Note: Willow Smith and her song “Whip My Hair”.  She uses her braids to fling paint.  Enough said.

I got in my nine miles this morning!  And they were really, really sucky.  It was just one of those runs that I needed to push through, and I did.  I did three miles at tempo pace in the first half.  I was supposed to do three fast 800s in the second half but there was no way that was going to happen.  Part of the problem was that I was inappropriately dressed.  I have running clothes for 55 degrees and higher and 40 degrees and lower.  I can never seem to dress appropriately for that 15 degree gap in between.  Ugh.  I really should invest in some long sleeve tech tees.

Thank you everyone for your sweet comments yesterday!  Every single one of them felt like a little gift in my inbox.  I talked through a lot of it with L today, which was nice.  I’ll share those thoughts at the end of the post.

First, in honor of yesterday’s National Love Your Body Day, I present you with 16 reasons why I love my body.  [FYI: there are many more reasons why I don’t love my body; I’m not perfect.  But I think that enumerating things my body does for me is not a futile exercise.  It does remind me of the good.]

  1. It’s super bendy!  I am seriously the most flexible adult ever.  I can do the splits and get into pretty much any yoga position.  I like this.
  2. My eyes are deep and dark and mysterious and nice.  I like how they fit under my eyebrows.
  3. I have really strong arms and can lift all kinds of things.
  4. My heart and lungs pulled me through my pulmonary emboli hospitalization this summer.  For that, I am eternally grateful to my body.
  5. I have nice hips for dancing.
  6. The skin on my hands is soft; I have good hand-holding hands.  USB tells me this.
  7. My spine and torso are very graceful — dancerly, I like to think
  8. In fact, I think I’m kind of good at dancing. I would love to be in a dance recital some day.  Is that weird?
  9. My feet take a beating through running, but they forgive me.  Thank you, feet.  You work damn hard.
  10. I have great hair.
  11. My body has let me climb mountains in Mexico, hike through cloud forests in Costa Rica, and run up the stairs of the Eiffel Tower.
  12. I scar really easily and have some really unique, beautiful scars.  My favorite is on my right kneecap.  I like how scars tell important stories.
  13. My hands!  Oh, how much hands do for us.  I mean, come on, opposable thumbs?  How awesome can our bodies be?!?!
  14. My senses.  I have wonderful eyesight and hearing.  My senses let me interact with the world and respond in my own way, through sensory writing.  My senses help me create poems and prose and essays.
  15. Ribs.  I like how they form a cage around my middle, protecting me.  My body has ways of protecting and defending itself.  That’s beautiful.
  16. We cannot forget my legs, obviously.  They have carried me through three half-marathons, two ultramarathons, countless long runs, and hopefully, a marathon (soon)!  They are strong and forceful.  Sometimes they just keep going even when I don’t tell them to — when my mind is too exhausted to function, my legs have a way of working, regardless.
I have much to be grateful for!  What are you grateful for, at this very moment, in terms fo your body and its amazing capabilities?
Therapy Thursday
I think I’ll keep my therapy thoughts brief today (haha, am I even capable of that?).  I don’t want to get into certain things.  We spent a while talking about my anxiety surrounding the timeliness of our session and then we talked about how I characterize myself as “lazy” and then about how I operate, socially (how I make friends, how there have been some very lonely periods in my life).  I told her about my first day at my second high school.  I was a junior.  It was August, 2005.  I cried, recounting it to her.  It broke my heart, looking back.  But I was also crying happy tears about it — I was stubborn (I had this really geeky yellow lunchbox that I refused to give up; I spent the whole lunch hour walking around the school by myself on that first day, desperately wanting a friend) and held tight to my beliefs and identity.  If that meant being alone, so be it.  I think that in some ways I am better at being alone now — I manage it; it isn’t always a lonely alone.  I will always be a person who needs her alone.  I need to be by myself, often for long stretches of time.  I can’t fathom spending time with friends every single day.  One of the things I like best about USB is that he doesn’t fear being alone — he relishes it.  He uses that time to unwind and rewire; it also means that we are comfortable not spending every single second together.  I think that’s healthy.
I used most of the second half of the session to talk about my weight/body/health problems.  For a pretty straightforward summary, see yesterday’s post. I liked that L was both tremendously compassionate and objective about it all.  I actually just got an appointment with an endocrinologist today.  We agreed that I will try that — and I will make a serious effort to try any diet variations or medications she recommends or have tests done — and move forward from there.   As I was outlining my health problems to L, she said something like “having a chronic illness is hard; it’s not fun.”  I looked up at her, started crying harder, and told her “I might be able to handle one, but having two is destroying me” — the clotting issue and the endocrine issue.  Her face softened and she just said, “I wish so much that I could make it go away.”   It was comforting.  She was comforting.
And that is the honest truth — I don’t know how much longer I can handle having both of these things.  It’s exhausting.  I don’t know what takes precedence over the other.  I am tired of scheduling follow up appointments and having my weekly blood draws and having heart echoes and breathing tests and living in terror that I’m clotting again.  Seven doctors is more than any healthy 20 year old should have to face.  It was actually kind of nice to just have that moment of complete breakdown and vulnerability with L this afternoon: I basically told her “I can’t do it.”  And she acknowledged that.  That was all I really needed out of today, I think.
I have to keep living one day at a time.  The next few months will be full of visits to specialists and blood tests and endless round of medication trial and error.  But in some sense, I’m already used to that.  I feel like I will feel less burdened when I at least know that we are doing things to try and figure it all out.  I like journeys. This feels like a journey to me.  I’m trying to stay positive.
Goodnight friends!  Happy Friday to you all!

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.

Therapy Thursday

Today’s Happy Note: Herbert: Herbert George is my big, soft yellow stuffed duck that I got for Easter when I was 14 or 15. I fell in love with him at the store; I don’t know why.  He is just special to me and makes me very calm.  He has been to Michigan, New York, California, Canada, and Paris.

Marathon Training: I got over my weird running anxiety that I’ve had for the whole week!  Well, it took me about 45 minutes of running to get into it, but once I got into the zone, it was all good.  I think I just needed to take the speedwork pressure off myself.  I did 8.5 miles in about 90 minutes.

Last night I ended up doing 35 minutes of strength and gymnastics moves (like back walkovers and such — I was a gymnast until I was almost 14).

Today was an intense day – and not in the normally intense way, either.  It wasn’t about me opening up about something that has been locked inside me for a while, although I did tell her that I think I am starting to love USB, which might just be the most terrifying feeling I’ve ever felt.  The intensity and fieriness came from what was happening between L and me.  I meant for today to be about my body and my weight and my anxieties surrounding the dissonance between the shape of my body and my lifestyle and blah blah blah but sometimes, therapy just goes in a whole other direction entirely than what you had planned.  And when that happens, I accept it, and go with it – usually my random thoughts end up turning into deeper musings and then we have a lovely, revealing dialogue.  I think that a big part of my journey through therapy had been about recognizing that sometimes things want to go in a different direction than what I had planned, and that accepting this (rather than fighting it) might be a little bit fun and adventuresome.  I like to be adventuresome.

So I began today by talking about pillows.  I told her that I love the four main pillows she has on the couch (which I always rearrange to my liking when I come in – is that weird?) but that she has these two little ones that just don’t fit in.  One of them matches the coverings on the couch but doesn’t logically fit anywhere (it’s a small couch) and the other one has no actual pillow fluff content and clashes with everything else.  It was obvious that it was there for some sort of sentimental purpose, which L readily confessed.  I wasn’t mean about my pillow-criticism at all; I was pointing it out unintentionally at first just because it was something I wanted to say, but then I realized how much my frantic pillow rearranging (and the degree to which I get upset about their mismatched-ness) is a reflection of anxiety.  I tend to go through anxiety phases every few weeks or few months.  They are periods, lasting from a few hours to a few days, and usually not much longer, where I feel very anxious, tense, nervous, and uptight.  I am easily rattled and shaken.  Last night, I dropped my water bottle as I was getting into the elevator.  There were a few people already in the elevator who had obviously seen me.  I felt humiliated – like I couldn’t be in the elevator for another second longer.  The feeling went away relatively quickly, thankfully, but it’s an illustrative example.  I guess I would say that I go through brief periods of heightened self-consciousness.

During these moments, I find that controlling my external environment – for example, the pillows on L’s couch – can be a huge source of comfort and relief.  I am famous for rearranging scrabble or rummikub tiles such that they are all perfectly straight.  I hate when books on a shelf are not properly arranged.  There are a few big sources of anxiety in my life right now, and as I talked through all this with L, I noticed more and more where the anxiety is coming from and where I reroute it.  This might sound pointless, but it is actually very useful and calming for me to be able to sort through the tensions in my life in a quiet, non-judgmental, comforting environment with someone who cares about me deeply.  Big sources of anxiety: body image issues, LSAT, and USB.  USB isn’t making me anxious in a negative way at all; it’s just that the intensity of my feelings for him (and the fact that I have never felt these things before) is scary and wonderful and confusing all at the same time.  The word ‘love’ entered my head for the first time this week.  I’ll leave it at that.

A lot of today was about what therapy means.  That probably sounds vague, and if you have never been in an intense therapeutic relationship, I don’t know that I can explain it to you.  But there is a lot that goes on in the relationship between therapist and client – far more than you would ever think.  There is a lot of complicated material and tensions and meaningful things in what happens between the two of us.  We spent the rest of the hour talking about this.  In an email L sent me a few days ago, she expressed that many people in this world – herself included – would be sad if I were to leave it.  I don’t know what exactly her wording was, but it was the simplest, most powerful expression of caring that I have ever felt from her.  I told her this today.  Then we got into this whole thing about why she cares about me.  I know that many people don’t want to know anything about how their therapist feels or his or life, but as someone who has struggled tremendously with a pretty solidly formed identity based around non-lovability, it is very important for me to hear how and why she might care about me, as my therapist.  Wow, that was a long sentence.  So we went back and forth on that for a while, her telling me the ways in which she cares about me and why, and explaining that she can care about people in different ways (I hadn’t thought about this before).  This might sounds really self-centered, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s actually true: I think she might direct slightly more caring-energy to me than some other patients.  In other words, I think she just plain old likes me a lot and feels close with me in certain (appropriate) ways.  She said one of the biggest reasons for the intense mutual caring we have for one another is simple: that I’m genuine.  And this is true.  I have been looking for that word for a while, actually.  I am intensely genuine both in my life and in therapy.  In her words, if I don’t want to fucking talk about something, I don’t.

We spent a long while after that talking about me revealing things versus her revealing things.  It’s a fascinating subject, for me.  Both because I am curious and I like to know things about her (I also think it’s useful in many cases, which I’ll get to in a minute) and because the idea behind therapy – this relationship where one person is sort of the caretaker and receptacle and the other has the entire burden of identity – is of genuine interest to me.  L has told me in the past that some patients really ask very little of her, or nothing.  Some people just talk.  Some people don’t know that she has two sons or anything about her basic life facts, let alone what she is thinking.  For me, it’s important to know both of these things.  It helps me contextualize her.  Otherwise, she is just an empty figure sitting a few feet away from me.  My guess would be that I probably know more about her than 90% of other patients.  Mostly just because I ask.  Only once has she not wanted to talk about something.

Today, something happened that has never ever happened before.  I was trying to think about love and relationships – I have a rough idea of how this has worked in her life.  I probed a little deeper, intentionally but gently.  I can’t stand the idea of never taking care of her, in a weird way.  I sometimes genuinely just want to listen to her.  If other people don’t want that in a therapy relationship, fine.  But that’s not me.  I obviously won’t talk about what it is that I asked her or what her response were because that is her business.  But she cried.  She cried. I pointed out that she had never cried in front of me before and she said that she has cried in front of a patient very, very few times.

I wanted to hold her.  I think I did provide some verbal comfort.  It was a fascinating, humanizing experience for me.  It was both heart-wrenching and touching. The saddest thing was when she first started to cry and I realized that she was going to cry and she said “you’re going to make me cry now.”  It was like suddenly a shade had parted between us and our relationship was in color and I understood something very tender and painful in her life.  And this made me connect with her in a different, deeper way than I have before.  A good way, for me, although I certainly don’t enjoy seeing her in pain.  I wanted to make her pain go away.  My heart ached for her.

I don’t think that it was a waste of my energy or time to feel so intensely towards her, because in a way, that caring was redirected back at me.  Listening to the outline of her experience (she obviously doesn’t go into nearly as much detail as I do), the pain and reality of it was so stark; it made me realize that sometimes my own experiences are exactly like this and I need to be kinder to myself.

So in sum: L cried in front of me, for the first time ever (and not because she was emotionally moved by something I said – it was entirely about her) today and it was immensely moving and helpful for me.

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!

Therapy Thursday

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.

Therapy Thursday

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.

Therapy Thoughts: Body Hatred

Today’s Happy Note: Had a wonderful little “me” day.  I did what I wanted — lifted weights, tried some new recipes,  had an amazing, teary, breakthrough therapy sesh, baked, napped, and read.  I took care of me in a way that I haven’t done in a while.

Marathon Training: I made it through 8 hilly miles yesterday.  My legs felt very tight for some reason, and no amount of stretching breaks seemed to help.  Meh.  At least it got done.  The general arc of my training plan is the same from week to week:

Sunday: long run

Monday: rest (weights/cross train/yoga)

Tuesday: speed work

Wednesday: short, easy run with 100 meter strides (3-5 miles)

Thursday: medium long run with hills

Friday: rest (weights/cross train/yoga)

Saturday: short, easy run (4-6 miles)

Pretty straightforward, no?  It has been working for me quite well, minus the nagging pain in the back left hip.  I have been making sure to rest and stretch.  I suppose I could ice as well (the guys at one of the delis near me have been giving me small bags of ice that fit in my freezer for a dollar!!!!!).  In the next one or two weeks, I plan on adding a sixth day of running in, probably on Fridays, just 3-6 easy miles.  I will hit 41 miles this week, and would like to inch up to 50-55 over the next month, until mid-October when I “peak”, then taper.  I have done a great job of increasing mileage slowly — I started around 25.  I just think it is going to be very hard to get to 50-55 miles per week on 5 days of running.  As long as the hip isn’t bothering me too much, I think I will take it up to six.

Thoughts?  Anyone trained on six days a week before?  What has been your peak mileage, if you’re a runner?

I know I have hit 55 before, maybe even 58-60.   I am definitely capable of it.  I went ahead and took the rest day today.  I lifted weights for an hour or so, which felt great.

I came home and had my first-ever blended hot cereal creation a la Katie!

Okay, so I freely admit that it does not look like the most appetizing thing you have ever seen.  But holy amazing. This was easily the best way I have ever eaten my breakfast grains! I made a big batch of quinoa last night.  This morning I used about 1.5 servings — I simply dumped it in the blender, added about another 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk, 1/2 cup water, a generous sprinkling of cinnamon, and a scoop of vanilla protein powder.  Then I blended and tossed in a sprinkle of xantham gum.  When it was thoroughly blended, I poured it into a bowl and heated, then topped with sunbutter.

I thought I loved grains before.  I think I might be in love with them now.  This just took it to the next level.  Hello creaminess, volume, and gloriousness.  You must try this, if you are a breakfast grain eater (and who isn’t???).

Thank you Chocolate-Covered Katie! You’re my whole-grain hero.

Other food endeavors today involved Angela’s salt-kissed chunky PB chocolate chip cookies.  I didn’t end up kissing them with salt though, as I am not a huge salt fan.  I also subbed AB for the PB and used an egg instead of the canola oil, which worked fine.  I didn’t mean to de-veganize it, but I had no canola oil and thought EVOO would taste weird.

The verdict?  I loved them!  These cookies managed to do something few cookies can do: they tasted healthy and earthy and not overly-sweet, but were also indulgent and satisfying. Cookie perfection, pretty much.

Bonus: they’re super easy — those two bowls contained all the ingredients (minus the chocolate chips).  I’m pretty sure a 12 year old boy could do this.

The dough was really fun to shape into balls.  I added about a billion extra chocolate chips. 🙂

I enjoyed one warm and fresh with vanilla almond milk.  This was one of the best Cookie Friday’s ever!

Lots of delicious food today — my mind and body feel nourished!

Onto heavier things…(FYI: this post is heavily focused on weight and body image — if these things are upsetting to you or not helpful in your recovery, please please please skip this section).

Therapy Thoughts

Today was a wonderful, amazing, painful breakthrough day.  It hurt very, very much.  It might have been the most pain I have ever felt during the moment of therapy, but afterwards, I felt like this giant burden was gone from me. Like a little bird had carried it away, across a mountain, never to return again.  Today was sort of like a raging river, with no bridge across it: I had to go through it to get to the other side.  There was no alternate route, no detour.  The river was big and scary and it hurt.  I felt like I was going to drown.  But L was there with me.  It was sort of like I knew I couldn’t drown with her there, but I came as close to drowning as one can — I could feel the water welling up against all the sides of me.

That was dramatic.  But today was a dramatic day, obviously.  One that I need very much to write about and share with you all.

Today was the day that I finally completely and totally opened up to L (and myself, in a way) about my body-hatred and my struggles with my weight and my eating.  I have always been open with you guys, but never to this extent.  In fact, there are some things about this journey that I have not and probably will not tell you all.   Forgive me.  The body is the most personal space.

The anguish I feel over my weight (which is approximately 10-15 pounds above what I would ideally like it to be right now, and a few pounds above the uppermost limit of the “healthy” BMI) is greater than any other anguish I feel (0r have felt) in my life.  There is nothing that makes me want to die as much as the shape and size of my body does.

I feel tremendous guilt over this; it’s ridiculous.  I am an educated, smart, creative, lovely young person with many many talents and all I can think about is my body, sometimes.  For God’s sake, I study human rights: I know all about the real horrors that are happening in this world (genocide, gang rape, starvation) and my weight is not one of them.

As I spoke with L — sobbed to her is more accurate, actually — she was simultaneously gentle and compassionate and firm and serious.  It was a miraculous combination.  Somehow, in some way, her responses made it clear to me the ways in which I am judging myself.  And it isn’t very nice.  I would never, ever even think these things about another person.  So why is it that my 15 extra pounds incapacitate me?  Why do I feel morally reprehesnible and irresponsible and disgusting?

Well, of course, I don’t know exactly why I have come to feel this way — why this is the only way I have understood my body, since early adolescence.  Maybe it is related to the face that I am not (and never will be) naturally thin.  That is simply not the way I am built.  I have spent the last five years trying to change that.  Recovering from the pulmonary embolism has showed me that life isn’t fair.  My body isn’t fair.  I eat well.  Sometimes I overeat.  But I can run ultramarathons.  I can run 50 miles a week and lift weights and do yoga.  I love vegetables.  So why me?  I think “why me” is the wrong question and “when can I start loving myself regardless of the shape of my body” is the right question.

I have never actually been suicidal, but I have wanted to die.  Because of my body.  What is this world coming to that someone as talented and smart as I am wants to die because of the way she looks?  More importantly, what is happening in my world that makes me want to die because of my looks?

Between the now-uncontrolled PCOS (I can not take hormones now or ever again because of the PE), the sudden ending of the birth control pills, the stress, the physical recovery, and a few other things, my body is out of whack right now.  There are, quite simply, things beyond my control.  As I was sitting on the couch, rocking back and forth,. holding my face in my hands, so distraught that I couldn’t speak — I realized, clearly and distinctly, that I have to change the way I think about my body.  Certainly there are moments when I like myself, physically.  But there are many more moments where I despise my thighs or my breasts or my neck or the space just above my elbow.

And these moments are only hurting me more.  Now that I say it out loud, it sounds obvious.  But hating myself only sucks out more energy and makes me feel worse.  These 15 pounds do not represent my life.  I am so much more than 15 fucking pounds.

FYI: I am NOT suicidal, by any means, at this moment.  If you think you need help, please get help — you deserve to live. I have a list of resources on my Mental Health page, here. Although I am NOT a health professional, you are always welcome to email me as well.

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