Freedom of choice

Not sure, but I wanted to start this blog post with Hi, how are you, as if I was writing a letter to someone. Writing this blog, has been a way to capture moments in my life and share them with people. This specific post, perhaps is mostly for myself.

I have had this topic turning over in my head the past few days about jealousy. I’ve almost cracked open my laptop several times to write about this jealousy I had been having about other women and their bodies. Today… Perspective hit the fan and the wheels wouldn’t stop moving.

I work with homeless youth ages 18-24. A lot of them are from very poverish families, and even more s have very intensive and complex histories of trauma. Some of the things we are asking of them: Get a job, pay rent… are really far from their scope. Their idea’s of normal, are so wrapped up in anxiety and are consistently living in survival mode. —in many different forms. My co-worker was talking about this with me as she was reflecting on a youth who was making a lot of excuses about why she couldn’t do something. The crappy part is, at the end of the day, despite the complicated levels of trauma, they have to do it.

With this example, just touching on the surface of the real issues… and going back to my own life. I recognized this level of privilege I hadn’t seen before. It has taken me nearly 12 years to get to this place, and on-and off counseling. But… It is a privilege to say that there are a lot of consistencies in my life, and I don’t feel so crazy all of the time. Until the last few years, I’m not sure I would have been able to see that. I have lived in a very dark victim world, where I couldn’t see positives, I’ve been “lazy” as people may call it. ALL of my past choices perhaps have been due to overcoming past trauma.

Because I have put in work to un-due all of the shit I was taught to believe about myself, I’m in a better position to make choices. I have the power to do, or not do. The youth’s excuses to not do those things, she has those choices to do… But her brain isn’t anywhere near where mine is, and her excuses are far more out of trauma and learned behavior than mine. She has the power to do or not do as well… As any of us does. But until she accepts she needs mental health help, she may never get of of living in a victim mind set.

My excuses for not working out, are fucking stupid. We don’t work out because we like it… (well some people love it) We work out because we know it’s good for us, we also know that in the long run it will make us feel better.

Just interesting to put it in perspective… Is it hard? Yes! But we do it anyways because if we don’t, we spend a lot of time being jealous of other peoples lives when we are able to make changes ourselves (if we can). Did I work out after writing this blog post? No way! Will I tomorrow? Maybe? —What I learned is, It’s okay if I hate exercising…Like really okay if I hate it, but I could find ways to make it more fun, and more engaging so I don’t totally hate it. Either way, I’m making a choice, and I know that I can work out if I wanted to.

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Shattering effects.

I smashed my scale a few weeks ago, on the pavement in my driveway with a sledge hammer.

What I learned from this experience was more than what I anticipated. I wanted to do it as some sort of relief, and ritual in order to finally stop the worry and get rid of the thing in a way that was more fun than just throwing it in the trash. If you decide to take on this endeavor, I suggest put it in some sort of container before you actually do it, wear long pants, and goggles.

What happened: When the sledge hammer hit the glass, it exploded. I didn’t realize until after I had cleaned it up that it had actually hit me, and made my knee bleed. Also, the glass was everywhere, under our cars, in the grass, on my body… everywhere. I did not expect this to happen… But I guess I’m not surprised either.

When I was cleaning it up, it became this metaphor of eating disorders and weight obsession. Anything could trigger me at any point, which would leave this shattering effect on my life (or so I felt). When ever I felt like I had accomplished something (weight loss goal, conquering food goal), things would come up that I hadn’t fully addressed and then more would unfold, and then suddenly I was entrenched in food again and the obsession.

When I was cleaning the glass up with the broom, I would find new patches of glass I hadn’t quite gotten and would find more as I would push it to the main pile.

And after all the glass was swept up, all that was left were shards that were glimmering in the sunshine. Letting me know that the issues will probably always be around in some form or another.

Few weeks, or months later—–I can’t believe that I didn’t actually post this or finish it when I had written it… At this point it’s just this distant memory of shattered memories. Unrecognizable and I’m glad I thought It was something that I deemed important to write about. Smashing it was liberating and super telling. As I moved into my new place, I no longer have a scale to determine my worth. I’m not sure if it’s liberating or if I’m just curious. At this point, I am not in a mind set to be curious. I’m pretty stressed about my weight.

Avoiding.

Avoiding anything, especially the inevitable packs the pounds.

My weight spirals because I emotionally eat, I make excuses for my behavior and I spend more time playing video games, or watching re-runs of my favorite shows instead of living my life. Wait, I spend time checking out in-stead of living through the pain, and emotions of life.

I noticed myself doing this recently. I also noticed my teeth grinding increasing. Meaning, I’m not taking care of myself and whatever that means. This time it means, too much caffeine, not enough water, and drifting further away from my dreams than I anticipate.

I am in love with my partner, we have a pretty good thing going. We are fairly balanced, we enjoy doing things together, we make an amazing team in the kitchen, the yard, the house etc. Or at-least that’s my perception. He’s my person, what can I say? He listens when I’m not doing well, he’s patient and kind, cares about my well being, and happiness.

But we have different life goals, and I’ve been avoiding leaving, because the loss of him would be so great and grieving sucks.

I also have a really good thing where I live. I have a whole room to myself where I can paint and I have a garden to grow fresh vegetables and fruit. I feel really blessed to have had the opportunity to live here, and share my life with him.

I’m not serving myself continuing to stay here. I am deserving of something that I’ve always wanted (Marriage and at-least one child) and he doesn’t want those things. Which completely sucks.

I also have really tried not to want those things, which really only affirmed that I want them more. Also, I think what sucks out of all of the thought process I did around being married and having children, is I think my self worth is dependent on it and that If he really loved me as much as he did, he would want to marry me and have children. Which isn’t true. But I’m trained to think that my worthiness is depended on it, and also that because he doesn’t want those things… He believes that I’m not worth anything.

It’s a complete mind fuck of a situation actually. The longer I stay in this relationship (even if I think it is good), the longer I will deep down think that I’m truly not worthy, which only mind fucks my ED thinking and circulates the food intake. It’s pretty messed up.

I’ve been neglecting my writing not necessarily because of this, but it’s been a part of it. I’ve been spending more time disassociating with video games and re-runs than I have been engaging in life. Growing up in a DV home makes you a pro at disassociation, well at least for me it has been.

Sneaky grateful moments

It’s funny how my last post was about the changed girl, and then today I’m writing about something unexpected that came up that made me feel crappy at work.

Actually it’s been an off week, period, because of my period. Sorry if that is TMI, and not sorry at the same time because it’s totally a real thing for me and I shouldn’t pretend like I don’t get my period.

I couldn’t believe what happened on Monday and I was left embarrassed and on the verge of a panic attack. I had forgotten to turn in a paper to receive some money that I needed for my job. There is a process, a process which I’m familiar with and had used several times, over and over again. It was a surprise to me when I went upstairs and things had changed. I wasn’t able to formulate sentences about what I was asking for (Not really un-common for me). But my usual process usually looked like me putting a paper that I had signed from my boss in someones box, and then I would go to the front desk and their would be money in an envelope. I had forgotten to do the step where I put the paper in someones box, and when I went upstairs, I explained the process in which got miss understood for a different process. I am probably not making any sense…. Anyway, what ended up happening was 3 people were telling me something that I couldn’t identify with. What really happened, was I realized that maybe I forgot to turn the paper in. I put up my hand, stated I was feeling frustrated and that I needed to walk away. The result for me was: I felt stupid, unprepared, didn’t know my job and everything I strive not to be. I don’t like looking like I don’t know how to do my job. I literally stated to someone I worked with on my way back to my desk that I “was stupid” and with out anyone knowing I went into a back room and cried.

*On a side note: After hearing myself say “I am stupid” out loud to someone, made me stop in my tracks. At that moment, I wasn’t sure if I was going to laugh at myself or cry because it sounded so silly. I chose the latter.

Who is this girl?

It was triggering and un-expected. It was also a miss-understanding and a mistake. I haven’t had a melt down in a while, and I haven’t felt so negatively in months about myself. While I was in the back room crying, I could feel my body fill with anxiety. I took some breaths, and talked myself down. I really was okay. I had to remind myself that they were not intentionally attacking me, and not intentionally making me feel stupid. They were explaining a process that I knew, I just didn’t use. Also… because of being in that moment, and being confused, I couldn’t find my words.

Having practiced new patterns, positive self talk and self soothing… I am now able to recover from these moments quicker, and they happen less and less.

I am grateful for that.

 

Snow day!

Remember when you were a little kid and you prayed and prayed for a snow day? Once it started to snow you would sit by the window, and watch it fall, or go outside and run around, make a snowman out of hand fulls of snow that barley even covered the ground. Or… Stayed up late, watching it fall, and praying for school to be canceled. Only to wake up and there is more snow on the ground and school actually has been canceled!

That’s like me today, big kid snow day!!! YAY! And I’m using it to my full advantage. I laid in bed this morning, so tired from staying up the night before, fully taking advantage of the not having to wake up early for work thing. So it was 9 am when I blinkingly opened my eyes. I groaned a bit, and closed them, wishing to be sleeping again, but said NO RACHAEL.

Backing up a bit, I’ve been watching Glee re-runs. I know I know, cheesy right? Well, after the last year I’ve been sitting on the couch a lot, playing video games and watching TV. I’ve been running through re-run after re-run of the same old shit, and well… Glee makes me happy. So I started to watch it, and I started to get excited with all of the dancing and movement that takes place… So before going to bed I googled some youtube beginners dance videos to prepare for the next day, well… I wasn’t sure if I was going to actually do them, but I knew I had to at-least start somewhere.

So… This morning when I woke up. I thought about coffee as usual, and a shower, and then I thought.. Well if I’m going to shower today at some point, I should work out, and if I’m going to work out I need coffee. I pulled out my work-out clothes from the bottom of my dresser drawers, and put them on almost unwillingly, took my socks from my top drawer and bobbled down the stairs. I didn’t have any coffee at my house, and assessed the road situation with the snow. (PS it is still snowing) The main road looks fine, but in order to get there I’d have to plow my driveway. PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR WORKING OUT… DID I DO IT. NOPE!

I did make some green tea, I did pull my laptop out and set it up for a work out video. I did two-15 minute intensive dance video’s. A friend was writing to me through out the first one, so I took a lot of breaks, and the second one I went right through. I mean 30 minuets isn’t a lot, but it’s a start right?

I also have a small coaching business on the side and at this time I only have one client. She had written back to some questions I had asked her, and I jumped on board with responding, and here I am writing this post.

My short term goal: Work out for 30 min three times this week, or every week at any point in the day.

My long term goal: Get up early, like 6 am early, and work out for 30-45 minutes every morning.

Mindful eating.

This weekend in addition to my painting, I tried being mindful in other ways.

We went out to lunch yesterday and I caught myself in the moment, being in the moment and allowing myself to stay present with my food. Okay, with the chips and salsa, and some with my entree also. We went out for Mexican somewhere we’ve never gone before. They obviously make their own salsa there and it was tasty. With every bite, I stopped and paused, I was trying to figure out what was in it. It didn’t dawn on me for another 5 minutes that I was actually being mindful when I do this. I mean as an obvious lover of food, figuring out what is in food…  is second nature. It was a surprising moment in my day catching myself being mindful

I also spent a few more countless hours painting this weekend, and writing.

Mindful eating is hard for me to do… and It’s something I need to prioritize more over the next few weeks… and years of my life.

This post was short, only because the last one was a bit long and I wanted to include this. Thank you for reading.

 

Mindfulness

I have been challenged to be more mindful lately. IT’s something I’ve been trying to incorporate into my life over the past few years.

Coming from a life that was pretty disengaging, into a more engaging one, is a consistent struggle.

I’ve had moments of mindfulness in my days, and this is what it has looked like in the past 24 hours.

Yesterday I took the day off, after being off most of the week for being sick. I already had the day pre-planned off… I spent the day doing some self care, shopping and getting my hair done. I came home, cleaned the house and worked on a painting. I am including it below, but will describe it and where my mind wandered and how I pulled myself back.

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I had the background of this painting painted, and hasn’t known what to add to it because it hadn’t seemed complete. It dawned on me a few weeks ago, but I had been fighting the urge to do it, and I think it’s because there are a lot of positive words on there I wasn’t sure I was able to own up to.

As I was doing it, I had to look up positive self affirmation words. For someone who doesn’t talk to herself positively, it can be challenging to think of positive words. The words I had a hard time writing were valued, gorgeous, eye-catching, desirable, able and pretty. Those are words I have not practiced saying to myself, or feel true. I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed.  I do have to say, I checked out briefly, I was watching tv, and our cable guy came to fix our cable box.

 

I AM… Whatever I say I am.

Before I even knew what I knew when I wrote the last few blog posts I started changing the way that I was thinking. I mean… Come on, who wouldn’t want to stop that vicious and violent cycle running through your brain?

I started a painting series that is called “I AM”. (Painting has always been apart of my self care, and my own process.) I started creating this series before Thanksgiving and it came to me as I was seeing all of the signs around be say things like “Be Thankful” or “Be Grateful”. I grew up in a church that used affirmations to create change with in ourselves, so if you say something enough in your brain, you start to believe it, and then the goal is you become it. It’s a little cheesy. Anyway, when you read signs like that, it says “be ___________”, whatever that blank line is, it says BE that… Like you are not already that? Or you hadn’t been all along, or you are not right now.

My idea around the “I AM” seriese that I’ve been creating… is that when you read it as “I am Thankful”, it’s more action oriented. You don’t have to be it, you are it. It’s affirming you are “_____________”. I started to play with this a little more as a tool to help change some of my negative spiral thinking.

I had them all over my house for a while, and then I pulled them back and put them in my craft room so I can see them when I enter. It’s like a wall of positive self compliments. What’s better than that? I had some paintings that I painted that were all of the negativeness from my brain and body, and I replaced them with the positive ones. I will post both pictures. 🙂

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Moving on.

Right now, I feel fairly raw and newer in my skin than I ever have.

I am in the process of letting go of all of my knowledge about weight loss and food I’ve ever known, and letting go of expectations of being skinny, weight loss, and how I will get there. I am in a place of uncertainty, excitement and my motivation is no longer about a “how will I look” result.

***on a side bar, my motivation before was driven on this idea that I wasn’t good enough, thin enough, pretty enough… whatever enough… the motivation was always to make myself better, or look better for someone else. . When we get to the “better” state for someone else, there will always be something to continue to change right? Who is this someone else exactly, and what are we trying to achieve here?

I started this Blog (I know I say this a lot), to talk about my process, and what is happening right now. As a place to see the growth over time, as someone puts in the work along their journey.

Rarely do we hear about the process and the journey, and we usually when we see people who are at a different place in their journey from our own we usually see the before and after picture and gather some of the journey, but rarely do we capture how hard it was to transform into whatever their after picture is.

We wish, we hope we dream about being where they are, wherever they are. We drool over their bodies, because we also want the admiration from people. We also want to stop that negative cycle and self talk I’ve talked about so much. Like I said before, we have been conditioned to not like ourselves and we have to be something were not. We are conditioned to believe we are not enough, exactly as we are.

As I step into this new un-adventured part of my journey, I have surrendered in a way. I have not surrendered to a higher power, and I’m not saying I’m powerless against sugar. Because that is bullshit. Seriously, it’s an excuse to not truly take care of myself. (I can say that I do better staying on track when I don’t eat lots of sugar, carbs etc. I tried that several times, I KNOW that if I DEPRIVE myself completely… It doesn’t work.) I have surrendered to myself, and the control, to the feelings of shame, guilt and living in the moment mindfully. Addressing the things, ALL OF THE THINGS.

I am de-constructing years and years of negative thinking based off of what other people have allowed me to believe about myself. I keep saying this statement to my therapist “Slowing it down the process even more” and when I say that I mean really… taking my time through the day and the things that I encounter. Not being willing to budge on my wanting to get better. This looks like… If I feel uncomfortable, instead of ignoring it (which would end up with me eating all of the scones like I mentioned in my last post), addressing it. Speaking my truth, and also talking myself through it in my mind. Giving myself a voice, not only out loud, but in my brain. My goal is to quiet that negative Nancy so much that all I hear is positive self talk when I encounter things.

If I KNOW ANYTHING, everything takes practice. It’s a slow process, and won’t happen over night.

Thank you for reading, I feel more grateful now than ever.

 

Parallels of two

I am not sure If I’ve written about this before, but with this food addiction stuff I’ve always felt like I was two people. The girl, the human struggling to be Rachael, and then the addict, something bigger and almost outside of myself that wants me to stay in this victim, shaming place with food, and my body.

Recently I have found even more parallels between these two that I wasn’t really expecting. Because I’ve been doing these patterns on and off for so long with weight loss and gain, I became really good at understanding what those felt like. It was late one night and I was on lots of cold medicine, but I saw the parallels between how I felt as a kid with my father and how I felt when I was totally out of control with my food and the spiral thinking.

Growing up I was always walking on egg shells and was always trying to make my father happy. I was always waiting for him to get angry, I got good at predicting his yelling, though it never stopped the way that I felt when it happened. I felt rejected, hurt, let down and left always dreaming for more. I quickly learned how to check out, and disassociate. It didn’t matter what you said back to him, he would make it your fault, he would harass and bully me.

I remember one time as a child, my mom was being yelled at, and I jumped into defend her. I remember his yelling switching to me, and me feeling all of those things I just mentioned which I did quite often in that house. I remember going into our computer room, locking the door, and sitting in the closet with my arms wrapped around my knees. My body felt shaky, or anxious and I felt like I did something wrong, or that I was the bad guy. I felt ashamed, I was to blame, and like I did something bad. Which eventually translated later to “I am bad”.

Of my lowest times, when I felt like I hit rock bottom with my food and body stuff… I remember I was about 240-250. I cannot remember exactly how much, and it doesn’t really matter the number, but it wasn’t my highest. I was in college, alone in my room, and I was sitting up against the wall, in the furthest corner in my bed, with my arms wrapped around my knees (as much as I could with a bigger body). I remember feeling full to the brim of food, anxiousness, uncertainty, starving for help, on the verge of a panic attack, scared, stress, fear and… well you know the feelings when you’ve lost control.

Both experiences, all though were different, were similar in how I was reacting. I essentially, just kept this abusive person with me all along with my body and food. I mean he did tell my mom once that I needed mental and physical help with my weight. That didn’t help my perception of myself and my body, at all.

Sorry for this long post… I promise I’m almost done. When I decided to stop the dv with my father, I stopped talking to him for a while. Because he couldn’t hear very well, he argued with me in email, IN EMAIL. I can’t remember what I said to him at the time, but it pretty much said “I’m done”. I tell people now that I stopped talking to him because I was tired of being abused as an adult. I was tired of having my expectations of him be shattered all of the time. I was tired of feeling like, maybe this time will be different and then allow it to continue to happen. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I had to change my perspective and approach in our relationship if I wanted anything from it, and of course my expectations. We can’t change anyone but ourselves.

I had attended like 5 alanon meetings, let go of my expectations. I grieved for months, and maybe still do today to an extent about what I would not get from him. It was hard, and since then I have taken the emotional piece out of our relationship and approach things tangibly, and factually. I let him know what is happening in my life, and do not engage any sort of emotion with him. Once, he yelled at me on the phone. I said… “Dad you can be angry, but you do not get to yell at me”, then he told me why he hated talking on the phone. I learned my lesson, while standing my ground at the same time.

A lot of this food and body stuff will shift in time, as I let go of the control and the dv aspect of it. I am seeking a new relationship with myself which includes building on positive thinking, being in the moment more with who I am. All of this is hard, and new to me, and I’m sure there will be plenty of grieving.. And I’m ready for it.