Swinging

One step forward…2 steps back?
I’ve been feeling (my feelings are behaving?) like a pendulum – good, bad, good, meh, good, bad, etc. etc.
It’s like I’m one of those carnival or amusement park rides that swing back and forth and back and forth until eventually the spin you upside down and in a complete loop.
Either that or Edgar Allen Poe’s pendulum is slowly decending.
I’m not sure which is worse…the ride that results in nausea and a headache, or watching and waiting for the pendulum to strike a death blow.
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Challenged

My therapist challenged me this week. Challenged me to do something and trust that it was enough.

I’m not good at that. I constantly wonder if I’m enough, if I’ve done enough. I wonder if people really trust and believe me, or if I have to prove myself to them. Prove that I’m genuine, that what I’m saying and doing and feeling is honest. Perpetually justify my existence or presence, prove that I have a right to be here and now.

He pointed out that my questioning if what I’ve done or who I am is enough is a barrier I put up against trust. Not trust in others, but trust in myself. I have to truly believe that I am and what I’m doing is honest and genuine. And then I have to let it go and trust that it will be enough. It’s enough because I know I’m being honest and genuine and true. I can’t control whether or not the other person believes me, but that’s the challenge, isn’t it? To trust that I’m enough or what I’ve done is enough, and then let it go. Stop the cycle of self-doubt and questioning in my head about what the other person may or may not think. I make myself physically ill wondering if people believe me or hate me or if I am enough or have done enough, until the self-doubt and fear is all consuming and paralyzing.

So he challenged me to stop that cycle with ONE thing this week. Just one. Not everything in my life, but one thing. Do something for someone believing that I’m enough or that what I’ve done is enough and trust that because I know it’s genuine, the other person will too.

I tried. And immediately wondered if what I’m doing was enough to be believable before I was even done.

Dammit. This shit if fucking hard.

Try again, right? Fail, fail again, fail better, right?

A friend I love and admire so much has a tattoo on her inner arm that simply says “enough” in beautiful script. For her it’s a reminder that she sees every day, when doing mundane things, big things, or even nothing. A reminder that yes, she is enough.

So I decided to write the word “enough” out on sticky notes and tack them all the places I’d see them. My bathroom mirror. The door to the fridge. On the wall behind the kitchen sink. The wall by the dog leash hook. Above the screen on my laptop. Challenged myself to believe it. I was enough. I did enough.

I am enough.

And I tried again to do one thing, trust that it was enough for the person/people to believe me because I know it’s honest and true and genuine, and let it go. It didn’t have to be perfect or a big grand thing for it to be believable. It just had to be honest and genuine. That was enough.

This time, I was able to believe it and stop analyzing/thinking about it immediately. I did it, and let it go. It took until I went to bed until the self doubt cycle crept in and started up the refrain in my head questioning if it was enough to be believable. The self doubt wasn’t immediate so I count that as a victory.

Trust myself. I am enough. I did enough. 

Trust.

And I did it. I let it go again. And again. And again. I trusted myself, even if it was for a split second. Or just an hour. Or a whole day.

I did enough because I was honest and did my best and I am enough.

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Stutter steps

My absence from work was not planned. Nor did I think I’d be out as long as I was/have been. I thought I’d bounce back and jump back into work and life in January. Didn’t happen. I started to pull it together again the beginning of February after the medication roller coaster. And then I collapsed again. My depression and anxiety has laid me flat in a way I’m still trying to understand. My steps to rejoin life and work has been hesitant and full of fear and incredibly uneven. Some days I think “I can do this” and then 2 hours later or the next morning I’m a sobbing shaking mess on the floor with a very concerned dog sticking her cold nose in my ear.

I’m struggling with feeling guilty. I’ve left folks hanging to pick up the pieces for me. As the one that usually is picking up the pieces for everyone else and “powering through” I know how frustrating/angering/irritating that can me. Which is where the guilt kicks in. And the shame that I can’t pull my shit together.

And there’s all consuming fear. That everyone will hate me. That I’ve damaged relationships and friendships beyond repair. That other’s trust in me has been broken permanently. That I’ll never be able to pull my shit together. That I’ve hurt people I love and care about. That people will never be able to move past the resentment and hurt and anger. It makes me sick to my stomach, the fear, especially on top of my fear of disappointing people because I know I have and I hate that.

I know that some folks won’t be able to understand or forgive me for the past few months. That I have lost some friendships and colleagues. And as much as it pains me (emotionally and physically), I have to accept that. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make everything OK, but the world doesn’t work like that.

I’ve questioned everything in my life since June. Questioned every decision (or non-decision/decision by default). Questioned every relationship. Wondered if I am in the career I am because I had to pick something and it was there in front of me when I was being forced to decide and “move forward” with my life. Wondered the same thing about what I studied in college and grad school. Looked at my hobbies and tried to figure out why I did them (because I enjoyed them? or because someone told me I was good at it so I should do it?). Did I pick the “default” because it’s what I was “supposed” to do? Looked at everything with new eyes, with an acknowledgement of my fear/terror of disappointing people, and my fear of being alone. Analyzed everything, trying to figure out if I was doing it by choice, out of fear, or because it was expected I just did it without wondering if it was right for me. And I don’t have any answers. None.

I’ve spent so much of my life turning myself inside out and into pretzels trying to be what everyone around me needs. Trying to be what they expect. Hiding my insecurity and hurt. And people have taken advantage of that. And I’ve let them. Why? Because I was so desperate to be included, to be needed, to not be alone. Desperate to belong and to not be different for once. I don’t remember the last time, or if I ever, truly felt like and trusted that I belonged and was accepted.

I really do want the people around me to be happy. Honest. I’ve put everyone else’s happiness and needs and interests above mine, done what was expected of me, to the point that I don’t even know how to define my own happy or my own wants and needs are anymore. What do I need? What do I want? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.

And it’s hard. And I’m so fucking tired. And I still want the people in my life to be happy. Which is why I feel so guilty. And angry at myself. Because me falling apart and being absent has made the life of others difficult and frustrating.

I’ll be 41 in a few weeks. And as I look at my life, I don’t see what 20 or even 25 year old me envisioned. Or even 30 year old me. Some of that is good, but a whole lot of it is because I pushed what I needed and what I wanted to the back of the queue so long that I’ve forgotten and now I’m floundering. Wondering if it would be easier for everyone if I just walked away. Wondering if it would be easier for me if I just walked away.* Try something completely new and random that has nothing to do with my current life and career in the hope it will help me figure out what I need and/or what I want my life to be.

But, there are good things in my life. I’ve receive an incredible amount of support from so many people, which I never expected. And I am very very grateful for each and every gesture, email, text, voicemail, or other effort to support me, even if I don’t say it or respond. I’m trying to focus on the good and get back to work, even if it’s one stuttering step at a time.

 

*Please do not freak out…I am NOT suicidal. I mean literally walking away from all the expectations and responsibilities and letting things move forward without having people try to save my “place” in it.

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